Upgrade Me, Please

by ruthpennebaker on July 23, 2014 · 1 comment

It’s probably my own fault for using three electronic devices. This explains why I spend half my life being hounded about updates for my apps.

Right now, I need to update 11 apps on my iPad, three on my iPhone, and my computer is constantly bugging me to install some new gizmo and then restart. (Restart! Like I don’t have more pressing things to do like reading Jezebel.) Anyway, I could have sworn I just did all of this yesterday, so why don’t they leave me alone, since I am not in the mood to update today, so get off my back.

Can’t I just enjoy the boring old status quo for, say, a few hours? No, not in the high-tech age. Every millisecond bursts with new apps, updates for old apps, hot new venues that everybody but you is using, improvements that will change your life, devices that will transform your world.

I try to embrace it all in my poky, plodding, late middle-aged way, all the while ignoring invectives that email is over, baby, and blogging is passe. But too much progress every micro-minute of the day and I become a little churlish.

Thank you for thinking of me so relentlessly, high-tech world, but you’re not giving me the updates I really need to enhance my life. Let me tell you what I need. (And, oh sure, I should note I purloined the idea from my friend Betsy, who’s been insufferable ever since her doctor told her she has the colon of a 25-year-old.) Anyway:

PERSONAL UPDATES WISH LIST FOR MS. R. PENNEBAKER

* Energy upgrade. I needed this five years ago, but I’m not greedy or unrealistic. I don’t need the energy of a child or an adolescent — just the firepower I had in my forties;

An upgraded right shoulder that doesn’t ache when I use it;

* A new set of choppers that don’t chip or crack or know the cruel meaning of the term “sensitive teeth.”

Believe me, I could go on and on laying out my growing number of physical complaints and fears, but I can’t think of anything more boring. Suffice it to say I would really appreciate the high-tech world addressing whatever’s about to break down in my body and just leave Dropbox the way it is (since I never use Dropbox, anyway, and am not even sure what it’s for).

While writing this, I emailed Betsy to see if her doctor had really said she had the colon of a 25-year-old and whether she’d mind my mentioning it. She wrote back that I could tell the world about it, but the doctor had really said she had the colon of a 20-year-old.

You see what I mean? I am surrounded by unnecessary updates and corrections that usually only make me feel worse.

(Copyright 2014 by Ruth Pennebaker)

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Question: Why Do We Cry at Weddings?

by ruthpennebaker on July 16, 2014 · 9 comments

The question today is why do some of us cry at weddings? As a weeper, I will count the many reasons:

1) The couple is young and hopeful and perfect together;

2) The couple is young and hopeful and a disaster together; won’t somebody stop this train wreck?;

3) You are allergic to the flowers or to the dog that’s serving as the ring bearer;

4) You needed a good cry, anyway, so here’s your excuse. Why hold back the waterworks now?;

5) You just spied your ex and he’s overweight and slovenly. So is his new wife, the former bombshell he left you for. Those are tears of joy!;

6) The music is whiny and tasteless.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Wedding weepers have myriad reasons. We’re profligate, we’re basket cases, we are moved to primal excess by Wagner, even if nobody is playing Wagner any more, which is really a shame.

Well! Last weekend, my husband and I attended a real weeper of a wedding celebration in Missouri for two longtime friends. These are friends who shared my obsession with the British TV series Absolutely Fabulous in the mid-90s. When I went through chemo in 1995, they brought me Ab-Fab paraphernalia like hats and T-shirts so I could get infused in style. They’re warm, they’re funny, they’re loving, they’re two of the most doting parents I’ve ever seen.

At the rehearsal dinner, I looked around at their gathered group of family and close friends and thought about how the typical American family had stretched in recent years to include same-sex partners like Laura and Lisa. Once, it had been earth-shattering; now, it was simply another fact of life.

The next day, we celebrated the wedding, which had taken place a few weeks earlier in Chicago. Laura, the designated extrovert of the two (well, let’s be honest: Laura is the designated extrovert of any group she’s in), spoke about how she and Lisa had first fallen in love in 1986. They were young and scared of the choice they were making, she said. It was another, harsher time then. They never dreamed they would one day be able to own a house, raise a child, marry.

“I want to dedicate this ceremony to those two scared girls who were in love,” Laura said.

photo (11)

They exchanged rings and danced the first dance together and we all drank champagne and some of us cried. I cried because:

7) Maybe we now live in a world where boys and girls can be happy, not scared, no matter who they fall in love with — and maybe, just maybe, the world is moving in a better, more tolerant direction;

and 8) There is something wonderful about seeing two people (men, women, a combination of each, who cares?) look at each other with such openhearted love and appreciation and delight after almost 30 years together.

Mazel tov, Laura and Lisa. You are and you always have been absolutely fabulous.

(Copyright 2014 by Ruth Pennebaker)

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A Vacation in Three Acts

July 9, 2014

ACT ONE I like Canada so much that sometimes I think my husband and I should just get it over with and move there. I mean, we speak the language(s) and that country’s politics and beliefs are more similar to ours than our own nation’s. I mention this to my husband. He looks around. It’s […]

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Dream Makers and Heart Breakers

July 1, 2014

Every summer, downtown Austin’s Paramount Theater hosts a series of classic movies. You can escape the heat, grab some fresh popcorn, settle into a seat, and find yourself staring up at Humphrey Bogart or Elizabeth Taylor or Peter O’Toole. Who cares about the triple-digit heat when you’re transfixed by O’Toole’s gorgeous blue eyes? Who’s churlish enough to notice that the seats are like hard-shell Protestant church pews when you are surrounded by so much glamour?

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On Being the Mother of the Bride

June 27, 2014

See my recent article in Texas Monthly‘s July issue.

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