The Blog

You know how when you go to the doctor or dentist she often gives you something to relax so whatever it is doesn’t hurt as much?

A while back on one of those visits I relaxed so much I fell asleep. It wasn’t a deep sleep. It was so light, in fact, I realized I was asleep -- and I knew the whirring I heard probably wasn’t the equipment. It was me.

When I came to I was embarrassed at being caught snoring.

My doctor corrected me.

“You were purring,” he said.

Purring!

Can you imagine how many times we’ve smiled about that, since?

No matter how flat you make a pancake, as the saying goes, it still has two sides. This exchange makes me think no matter what’s happened, there’s always a way to frame it that makes you feel a little better about yourself.

Talk about healing.

“How old were you when you gave up on your dreams?”

I forget where I heard that question, but it haunts me. I think whoever posed it added most of us give up on our dreams in our fifties.

I felt like I was just getting started on the best part of my life the summer I turned fifty -- and I’ve had a heck of a lot of fun since then.

But the question remains: “Are you going to give up? And if so, when?”

If your dream is to take your college basketball team to the NCAA championship game pretty much singlehandedly, sure. There comes a time when that becomes impossible. You get your degree, you’re ineligible to play anymore, whatever.

Let’s change the definition of success, shall we? Let’s not decide the best part of life is behind us. Maybe our stories are only now starting to get interesting.

Let’s at least give ourselves that chance.

It might be fun. It might make you wonder what you thought success was.

“Does she have a thing for Dad?”

That was Katie’s question about an acquaintance of ours after a graduation party last spring. And yes, the woman she was talking about most definitely seems to have “a thing” for “Dad.”

What made Katie’s observation hilarious is that she’d spent all of about -- what? -- ninety seconds talking with the woman. She hadn’t met her until this party. And the gal was with her husband as she waxed smitten on “Dad.”

Some things you just know.

I wonder what kind of life I would’ve had if I would’ve trusted my instincts about people the way Katie does!

I had a crush on my high school drafting teacher. He was the nicest guy, just the nicest. That’s all I remember about him, really -- besides how special he made me feel.

One day he walked up next to me while I worked on a drawing. He held his thumbs out so I could see where he’d picked at the cuticles until they were raw. It was an act of compassion I thought I’d never recover from.

My nails were a mess.

But without a word, he made me feel a little less ashamed. So much less alone in the world.

It’s difficult for me to be with anyone for more than about two seconds without wondering if he loves what he does for a living. I used to feel sorry for my dentist, for example, because -- while I’m not of his world, obviously -- his work seemed so boring, such a (if you’ll forgive me) grind.

I persuaded Dr. Tim Posch into being on the show recently, and it was obvious as he talked how much he loves his job. I told him how much I love the challenge of outlining the next program, or coming up with something new for the blog. Nothing like a blank screen to make my heart soar.

“But maybe,” I suddenly conceded, “the next person’s mouth is for you what a blank screen is to me. Maybe you just can’t wait to get in there and make something happen.”

The look on his face suggested I’d nailed it. He loves getting up and going to work in the morning. So do the people who work with him.

“My hygienists get very excited when they see heavy buildup on teeth,” Tim said. “They love the challenge. It’s a thrill.”

Well, cool.

Somewhere along the line our family motto became, “We’ll figure it out.”

That wasn’t always my default reaction to the latest baffling. It was more like, “Oh, no! We have a problem! Houston! Somebody! We have a problem.”

Somewhere along the line I realized the only people who didn’t have problems were dead.

Having problems, I decided, was a good thing. It meant I wasn’t dead yet.

And sure, I do regular checkups to make sure my days are filled with mostly the kinds of problems I like to solve.

Railing against them only creates a new problem.

As a friend once said, “Of course it’s difficult! That’s why you do it.”

I mean, really. How boring would it be to move through your days without challenges?

No, thanks. I’ll take problems for the duration, Alex.

I would’ve been a good smoker.

By that I mean I would’ve had the second cigarette lit before the first one was out. I would’ve had a deeper radio voice, temporarily at least -- until it failed me altogether. And I would’ve perfected the art of smooshing the butt as a way of saying, “This conversation’s over.”

I imagine all kinds of little affectations that would’ve made me seem cooler than I am.

Smoking was fun. I tried it a couple of times. It gave me something to do with my hands, something to color while I waited out a boring conversation. No wonder the smooshing thing I just mentioned was part of the fantasy.

I’d read enough about smokers to know they almost always found it difficult to break the habit, though. And for once in my life I stopped something before it got started.

Which was, as they say, a good move.

A woman I know never signed up for Facebook. She knew Facebook would’ve been to her what smoking would’ve been to me. It would’ve created many more problems than it solved.

Now her friends -- many of whom wish they could quit Facebook but don’t know how -- tell her how wise she was not to get started.

A man I know is bewildered when men complain of being hit on -- as if that’s a thing -- even though they’re married. My friend says that’s no accident. He claims the reason he isn’t hit on is that he gives off a most undeniable scent of, “I would never cheat on my wife.”

Temptation is interesting that way, isn’t it? Open the door even a little, and you might have one heck of a problem.

Keep that door locked. End of problem!

new Coach PoppyLast summer Katie had some money left on a gift card she got for high school graduation. It was from Target, and there isn’t one of those near the NYU campus where she’d settle in after our summer vacation.

I suggested she splurge on special cologne -- so every time she took a whiff she’d remember being in Europe for the first time with us. She thought that was a good idea. Once home, once it started working its aromatic magic, she thought it had been a great idea.

I’ve always been amazed by the transformative power of scent.

There’s an armoire in the basement of the house I grew up in where my parents keep the World Book Encyclopedias. Nothing, and I mean nothing, calls up my childhood faster than opening those doors and taking a breath.

I wore Ciara in high school. One whiff of that at Target and I’m right back in the drafting room, plotting what I thought was my future as a civil engineer.

The aroma of creosote (yep, aroma) when I pass a railroad yard whisks me back to the construction crew I worked on the summer after my sophomore year in college.

Katie’s always slathered in something heavenly. Getting into a car with her is like climbing into a piña colada. On a morning not long before we took her to NYU I rounded the corner downstairs on my way to her dressing room. It’s the only part of the house that’s finished, and it’s movie-star dreamy. I inhaled whatever she’d bathed herself in that morning as it hit me: “I will miss her scents.”

Now I treat her to a big bottle of something yummy she uses when she’s home. I finish it up after she’s gone, and it keeps her a little closer.

How do you store your memories?

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson