Posted by midiguru on October 21, 2010
I’ve never moved anyone into assisted living before. I talked to people, asked questions, looked at various facilities, and selected the one that seemed best for Mom. Mom is now on oxygen. When the head of the medical staff of Rosewood Gardens visited us, Mom was sitting there with oxygen tubes up her nose, so there would have been no question that they knew about it before she was admitted. However, I can’t swear that the medical person didn’t say, “She’ll have to manage her own oxygen, because we don’t do that.” Maybe she said it, maybe not. I had a lot on my mind.
Also, I didn’t know yet that the portable oxygen system that uses the small tanks is more complex than the portable system that uses the big tanks. Mom was using a big tank when she came home from the hospital. Nobody told me that the small tanks were refillable, or that the valve they used was more complex, or that the refilling unit sits on top of the oxygen concentrator that’s the fixed, in-home system, thus making a hardware unit that’s more complex and requires some additional steps to learn.
Mom’s eyes aren’t good enough to read the little dials. She doesn’t suffer from dementia, but she has no background in technology, she’s 88 years old, and it’s probably harder Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in random musings | Tagged: aging | 1 Comment »
Posted by midiguru on September 29, 2010
Getting old is a messy, messy business. This is the dark side of modern medical science. People who would once have expired after a few days or weeks of misery can now live on for years. At a certain point, what’s being extended is pretty much just the misery. You always hope for the best, but the best becomes more and more elusive.
Since bringing my mom home from the hospital on Sunday, I’ve been staying at her house to take care of various things — food, oxygen, assorted appointments, and making sure the medication regimen is set up. Mom is taking nine or ten different kinds of pills. She has a very nice day-by-day pill dispenser box with four separate compartments for each day, but we have now reached the point where four compartments are not enough. She takes pills at 7:00 AM, after breakfast, at 1:00 PM, after dinner, and at bedtime. And of course the eyedrops.
Mom is 88. Up until last week, she was able to live independently in her own home. She did her own shopping. Not only did she drive to the weekly card games with her friends, she provided taxi service to friends who are no longer able to drive.
Those days are over now. She’s still mentally alert (when she’s awake), but she’s not going to be driving any more. She’s getting up and down the hall to the bathroom with a walker, and moving very slowly indeed.
She’d like to continue living in her own home. Nobody likes the idea of moving to assisted living. It means loss of privacy, loss of control over your own schedule, loss of control over Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by midiguru on July 24, 2010
When I was 20-something, the bitter, out-of-touch old fogeys who had grown up with Benny Goodman and other big jazz bands would listen to the Amazing, Wonderful pop music of the ’60s, growl dyspeptically, and say, “That’s not music! You call that music? They only know three chords!”
What goes around, comes around. This afternoon I checked out an assortment of tracks — some on SoundCloud, some on other websites — and I failed to find a single track that showed, in my quite well educated opinion, the slightest trace of musical talent.
Three chords would be a huge improvement. The music being promulgated by today’s swinging young people is flat-out garbage. (Just to be clear: I’m using the word “swinging” in an ironic sense here, to indicate that I myself am seriously out of touch.) There’s no melody at all. The obsessive repetition of ideas that were dull to begin with is beyond stultifying. It’s just noise. And that’s the part that isn’t just noise. There is also, by design, quite a lot of noise.
What’s to be done? Should I submit to a massive re-education effort? Download a bunch of dance mixes and rap and buy a subwoofer for my car? Or should I stroll quietly into the sunset humming the catchy, memorable melodies recorded so many years ago by Simon & Garfunkel?
I hope I have the good grace not to complain about it. (Oops … that’s exactly what I’m doing.) Nor would it be useful to try to educate these artists. They’re not going to pay any attention to me, that’s for sure. They know what they’re doing. Or at least, I’m guessing they must know what they’re doing. Whatever it is. If they didn’t know what they were doing, don’t you think at least some of them would have the honesty and humility to admit it? Maybe ask for lessons or something?
Listen, darling — they’re playing our song! Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa-thumpa gxxxxpfflggqqxxxhgtttphhgxxx….
Posted in music, random musings, technology | Tagged: aging, music | 2 Comments »
Posted by midiguru on June 13, 2010
One of the annoyances of being over 60 — and it can range from trivial all the way to fatal — is that your arms and legs aren’t always where you expect them to be.
Maybe you’re walking. Maybe you’re opening a cupboard or setting down a hot casserole. At a certain moment, your brain sends a rapid and highly coordinated stream of messages to your muscles, exactly as it has been doing for years — but then, in the blink of an eye, something bad happens.
Any of a number of things might cause a malfunction. Maybe the brain module responsible for sending the stream of messages got a little mixed up and sent them in the wrong order, or failed to send one of them at all. Or maybe the limb didn’t move the way it usually does. That could happen because a joint is a little stiff or the muscle tissues don’t have quite enough blood flow for the cells to contract energetically. Maybe the limb moved flawlessly, but your torso wasn’t oriented at the angle you thought it was, or the object you were trying to manipulate wasn’t quite where your brain thought it was. Maybe the module in your brain that’s supposed to monitor feedback from the limb during the procedure was taking a little nap, so the feedback messages never got to the module that was sending the messages to the muscles.
For whatever reason, you have an oops.
This morning I jammed my little finger coming out the door of the gym. For no reason whatever. I had pushed open the door, and I was stepping past/around the door, but my hand didn’t completely clear the doorframe as I swung around it. Oops.
That was minor. A friend of mine recently had an oops while walking around the corner of his vintage sports car, which was parked in the garage. His calf swung in a little too close to the sharp edge of the fender. The fender laid open a flap of skin, and he had to be rushed to the hospital.
You want to know why that old lady is driving 45 in the slow lane? It’s because she needs to go somewhere in her car. She doesn’t want to have an oops while behind the wheel. Far from being pissed off, you should be grateful that she knows how to be careful.
Posted in random musings | Tagged: aging | Leave a Comment »
Posted by midiguru on February 14, 2010
Sunday morning at 24 Hour Fitness, and 35 or 40 people are working out. It’s the usual assortment of types — guys with major tattoos, guys for whom weight-lifting is probably an intellectual achievement, couples in sweats who park their kids in the child care room, guys whose bearing suggests they’re probably on parole after a few years in lockdown, skinny Latino teenagers slouching around, cute girls wearing iPods, whatever.
While marching along on the treadmill, and again while moving chunks of iron further away from the floor (temporarily) using handy systems of cables, gears, and levers, I’m looking around the room. And it strikes me that everybody there is at least 20 years younger than me. There may be a few over-40s, but not a single head of gray hair is to be seen.
So where are my peers? Is everybody else in such great shape that they don’t need to exercise? No, that doesn’t seem a very satisfactory explanation.
I’m not a jock, for Pete’s sake — I’m an intellectual. I don’t even know who played in the Superbowl, and I’m baffled that anybody would care. So why is it that, among the thousands of steadily maturing Baby Boomers in this town, I’m the only one who cares enough about health and fitness to get out on a Sunday morning and get a little vigorous exercise?
Sure, some of them are coming in in the afternoon, after I’ve gone. Or Monday morning or whatever. I’m not saying nobody ever works out. What I’m saying is that the demographic in the gym is seriously skewed away from my generation. Statistically speaking, if this is a valid sample (and it is — today wasn’t an anomaly), most people in the 55-and-over age group are not getting nearly enough exercise.
Considering the known benefits of regular exercise, this is a little weird. That’s all I’m saying.
Or … no, maybe there’s another thing. As much as I enjoy watching the cute 20-year-old girls work out, I wouldn’t mind feeling, once in a while, that I was doing an activity in the company of my peer group. It’s a little lonely, if you want to know the truth.
Posted in health, random musings, society & culture | Tagged: aging, health | Leave a Comment »
Posted by midiguru on July 28, 2009
Having dropped out of college in the Sixties (long story…) I have a recurring fascination with the idea of returning to school to finally get my B.A. Maybe even a Master’s. Why not?
The main reason why not: It would cost a whole lot of money. Tuition and living expenses for three or four years at UC would pretty much wipe out my retirement nest egg. A few years ago I tried going to Cal State EBay, but the drive is pretty awful, and the school itself isn’t much better.
Now, I can learn pretty much anything I care to learn, just by buying books and reading them. I’m an accomplished auto-didact. I don’t need to be a college student to learn about archaeology or calculus or the motets of Palestrina. On meditating about it, I’ve realized that I have two primary reasons for wanting to go to school: I’d love to be part of a community where intellectual accomplishments are valued, and I’d benefit from the structure.
Left to my own devices, I tend to wibble around like a mound of jello. I’m fascinated by this, that, and the other thing, but I tend not to stick with any of my fascinations for very long. If I try imposing a structure and goals of my own devising, I tend to change my mind and lose interest within a few days.
I like being creative and spontaneous, but I do much better when a structure is imposed from without. For 25 years I worked as an editor at a magazine. Every month, someone told me Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by midiguru on July 9, 2009
One of the disheartening things about getting old (there are several) is when you’re walking along the sidewalk and you see some sad-looking, worn-out, white-haired guy doddering down the steps, or some barrel-shaped, shuffling matron with frizzy orange hair and orthopedic shoes, and you realize these are your contemporaries.
Didn’t they go to Woodstock? Or at least watch the movie? Wasn’t it all supposed to turn out different?
I was at a rehearsal tonight for an upcoming local theater production of Peter Pan — the musical version. Rest assured: I’m not playing Captain Hook. I’m playing cello in the orchestra.
The rehearsal room has a day job as a dance studio, and has mirrors all along one wall. So the kids in the cast are doing Indian whoops while they’re scampering around, and that’s okay except when they swing the drumsticks they’re brandishing too close to my head as they leap past. But when I look in the mirror, I realize I’m 20 years older than anybody else in the orchestra. I’m the geezer.
And I’m not, like, the eminence grise or the father-figure or anything. I’m just the guy playing cello. I don’t think of myself as being any older than the other musicians — not even the ones who are still in college — but the mirror doesn’t lie.
Plus … Peter Pan. The script is just amazingly stupid. You’d think it would be too stupid for kids, even, they grow up so fast these days, but apparently not. How did I get myself into this?
Oh, right. They’re paying me. Not very much, but they’re paying me.
Somebody should make a musical of The Cherry Orchard. I’d enjoy playing in the pit for that.
Posted in random musings | Tagged: aging | 2 Comments »
Posted by midiguru on March 12, 2009
Thinking vaguely (and not for the first time) about doing some gigs as a solo cellist. I have a couple of hours of very nice backing tracks, which I recorded into my computer. All finished, mixed, and ready to go. Doing two sets would be easy.
Not easy: cartage. I’ve had a minor but persistent backache for the past three days. Looking at the amp I use for my electric cello, I’m thinking, “There is no friggin’ way I could lift that thing in and out of the trunk of my car.” I’ve done it many times, but this week I wouldn’t even attempt it. I know better.
This whole thing about being 60 — it sucks. And I’m ridiculously healthy compared to a lot of people my age. I work out. I look around 24 Hour Fitness and I’m generally the oldest guy in the gym. But then I get a backache from sitting too long in my easy chair.
I need acolytes. Minions. Roadies. Servants. I suppose I could dragoon one of my high-school-age cello students into helping me load in for a gig. That would work once. But not as a regular thing.
Last year I looked into buying a car with a lower rear cargo compartment. Forget it — they don’t exist. And you don’t even want to know how much a van with an electric lift costs.
If I book a gig, I have to know I’ll be able to show up and do it. A backache is not a reason to cancel a gig.
Posted in health, music, technology | Tagged: aging, health, music | 1 Comment »
Posted by midiguru on November 23, 2008
I’ve just started re-reading a self-help book I bought 20 years ago, Marsha Sinetar’s Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow. It’s short and easy to read, and has wonderful supportive things to say on every page. All the same, her central thesis seems just a bit naive to me. Maybe I’m just wearing my cranky pants today. Not sure.
I love doing what I love, and because I have a natural interest in having a roof over my head, I’d certainly like the money to follow. So I’m going to keep reading. But it seems to me her thesis rests on a few unstated and problematical assumptions.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in random musings, society & culture | Tagged: aging, career, money | 6 Comments »