Glorious Decade

On Monday America the moon cast its shadow all across America, a “happening” from coast to coast. Here on Long Island we got a 70% partial eclipse, which did not stop my cats from going absolutely wild in the weird astronomical low light of mid-day. I was there to record just how the strange ions (or whatever) affected the teeny tiny brains of Taffy (the buff-colored one) and Bibs (the striped one), who do not like each other at all.

As you can see, this eclipse really did have weird  spiritual/psychological ramifications of peace and love for catkind.

The commotion started at 1:23 pm:

Things got even more exciting around 1:55:

At 2:12 we were absolutely frantic with anticipation:

Peak umbra was 2:44 local time and the crowds went bat-shit crazy dancing in the streets and crying tears of hallejualla :

The situation became positively frenzied as the moon slid onto the other side of brightness at 3:15:

And when it was all over at 4:00, and we were all hung over from the soulful impact of the heavens doing their immortal thing and normal behavior and boundaries were re-established, Dennis, from next door,  came over to compare wacky eclipse stories:

But when it comes to moon-dancing in your dreams during an eclipse of the Sun, Lickety really nailed it:

For just five minutes, I want to be in the mind of that cat.

Thank you all, Dear Commuters, last week who, by the judiciousness and passion of your words, confirmed what I’ve know all along: you all are much smarter than I. I rant, I rave, but it’s nothing personal dear Maryanne in SC, and as for Going High When They Go Low . . . yeah, well, we all saw how well that worked for Hillary. I’m sorry to the Dear Readers whom I offend, but it’s time to fight fire with fire NOT LITERALLY. The other side has no morals, no respect for truth, no decency. They are evil, and standing up to them is standing up for democracy.

I wonder what would happen if, the next time the Klan and the Nazis march upon an American city, all us good citizens of sound mind met them and just pointed to their little tiny Jolly Rogers and laughed?

Seems to me that these creatures of the night take themselves very seriously, and they are all too repulsive to get girl friends, and they relish the way they can tie us hordes of do-gooders into little knots of bewilderment that such stupid can exist in the world; so if we just laughed might that not make their heads explode?  Just wondering.

Anyhoo, I did not come here to rehash the atrocity that is our every waking day here in America in the time of der Drumpf.

I came here to tell you a story about Liz Smith.


Liz Smith used to be a well known newspaper gossip columnist in New York City. She was a hot gossip columnist in New York City back in the 1970s and ’80s, maybe the ’90s.

That’s a photo of her (above) in 1987 with the kind of trash people one rubs shoulders with when you’re a gossip columnist in NYC in the ’80s. Liz Smith is the lady who is not Drumpfy-sparkly.

And then newspapers went the way of the world: away, on line; and so did gossip columnists, now that everyone’s a gossip columnist because of easy access to “celebrities” and easy access to distribution of “information” (see: this very blog you are reading).

And then Liz Smith got old:

Photo credit: Hilary Swift, New York Times

The New York Times published an interview with Liz Smith on July 28 of this year and I’ve been dying to blog about it AND HERE’S MY CHANCE. Because she talks about being old, in her case 94 years old, in a way that I found quite thought provoking. Especially this bit:

“I am in search of Liz Smith,” she said softly, musing at the thought. “After a lifetime of fun and excitement and money and feeling important and being in the thick of it, I am just shocked every day that I’m not the same person. I think that happens to all old people. They’re searching for a glimmer of what they call their real self. They’re boring, mostly.

“I’m always thinking falsely, expending what little energy I have, believing every day I may just rediscover that person. I try to be all of the things I was, but it inevitably fails. I don’t feel like myself at all.”

You might react, at first, as I did:  Get a grip Liz Smith. You were a gossip columnist for New York’s worst newspaper (the Post), and by definition a hack, leech, a bottom-feeder. What’s with this “feeling important” crap??

But then, like me, I hope you pause and let her words sink in.

Don’t we all feel important as the central figure in our own lives, surrounded by bit players and second leads?

And isn’t “feeling important” just a very naked, and honest, way of saying that Liz Smith used to feel relevant?  And doesn’t that wonderful feeling of being important, being in the thick of things, relevant, fade for us all, year by year, year by year?

Verily, I say unto you, Liz Smith has spoken a Great Truth.

It starts when you discover that not only do you not know what is the hit song of the moment, but you don’t even care what the hit song of the moment is. All the “celebrities” that pop up your Yahoo home page have names that mean nothing to you. People all around you start wearing clothes and beards that repulse you. You start voting against the local school budget. You lust after a good night’s sleep instead of the cute guy at the Stop ‘N’ Shop deli. You watch a lot of Law and Order re-runs because the predictability of the “procedural” is right up your alley. You get my drift. We drift out of relevance, and we hardly notice it until we do.

It was on a late Spring day this year that  I had my own utterly appalling Liz Smith-like reckoning about how the OLD version of us bores the daylights out of the YOUNG version of us that we can still feel in our bones.

It was a Monday and I had a long To Do List, which included going to the bank. I plotted the 7 or 8-mile route that would take me from home and back again, via To Do List #1, To Do List #2, etc. For maximum efficiency, I even plotted a course to a new bank branch office so I didn’t have back track out of my way to stop in at my usual bank (which is almost exactly 1 mile from my house).

So I pull up at this new bank branch, I park in a strange parking lot, I walk into a totally foreign bank lobby, I stand in a wholly different configuration of queue than I am used to, I make a transaction with a teller who is completely unknown to me, I exit through a set of unfamiliar automatic doors, and I get back into my car. And I am feeling really, really proud of myself: for the first time in 13 years of living on Long Island, I have discovered that there exists a whole new place to do my banking! How exciting.

I hate to say that the glow lasted until ten minutes later when I was stuck in traffic on Old Country Road and I realized what was wrong with this picture.

How can it be that I, Vivian Swift, who once traveled on one-way tickets / impulse -jetted / left in the middle of the night / jumped on stage . . .  to places I’ve never been before / African countries I never even heard of / to hitch hike with Buddhists and Hell’s Angeles / at rock concerts . . . have let myself drift into the kind of life where I, that Vivian Swift, am proud of finding a new Chase bank branch office five miles from my house on Long Island?

Oh, man. I was really disgusted with myself.

Because all-text blogs are dull, here’s a pic of Top Cat tending to his awesome tomato plants.

So all that happened about four months ago.

That’s my white wine, and Top Cat’s red; with emmenthaler and french bread and Top Cat’s tomato with basil hors d’ouvres.

Like Liz Smith said, I’m shocked that I’m not the same person I used to be. Shocked.

All this Summer I’ve been taking to Top Cat about how this decade, the ten years between our ages of 60 and 70, is our last chance to Be Who We Used To Be. And how this decade is the Time Of Our Lives. And how we have to make plans to take maximum advantage of this last wonderful years (before decrepitude, as it seems to me, blame Liz Smith if I’m getting too far ahead of myself).

It’s an on-going conversation, as you can imagine, because of how hard it is to grapple with the fact that we’re talking about our mortality. Yeeesh. In 9 years I’ll be 70. If I’m lucky (ha ha).

Faced with this feeling of doom, I got myself a personal trainer for the first time n my life, and she knocks the snot out of me once a week. I also joined a gym so I can swim in between my push ups etc.

It turns out that I love swimming. I love it because I can not think of anything else but the swimming, the stokes through water. I’m never this Zen. I swim a 25-meter lap pool and I do about 70 laps in an hour.  I keep count. Because I keep count, I have to concentrate, which is extremely difficult to do: If my mind wanders, which it is apt to do, I lose count and I am flummoxed and liable to start counting backwards. TRUE STORY.

My mind is more likely to take off on its own tangent in the 40s and 50s. It’s just too much counting.

So I have found that I can be trusted to keep count up to 35. After that, I have to start over from 1 (one) and go back up to 35. So that’s what I do, I count to 35 twice.

Like I said, I hate counting to 70, but it’s a count I must figure out how to do.

In my life so far, I’ve had two careers. It looks to me like it’s time for me to start my third, the one that takes me though my 60s to at least my 70s, so I don’t end up bored with myself or feeling like I’ve accomplished a great thing because I ventured to a new bank branch office. I have no idea what that new venture will be, but I hope to swim my way there soon. I hope to have something worked out — a timetable, a Mission Statement, or a Wish List — to be Not Boring for my Glorious 60s — before the end of the year, and I will let you know what we have decided is the best way we can experience these last years of vitality.

Have a great weekend, my Dear Readers and Commenters, and I hope that whatever side of 70 you find yourself on, that you are still the fascinating and wily and cute creatures you’ve always been.

Stay away from the news, surround yourselves with fat fluffy cats, and, oh yeah, der Drumpf is is politically inept, morally barren, and temperamentally unfit for office.

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