Conscious Aging: Gratitude

On Friday evening I went to a going away party in the building for one of our front desk staff, a leasing agent. Angie is a black women with big hair — when it’s not tied up in a pony tail — and a big heart. She and her husband are returning to Florida, where they have family. She is beloved in the building. She is also highly competent. People think she is the manager, because she works as if she was — getting to know residents, solving resident concerns, planning events to create a sense of community. If the national real estate management company that runs this building had an ounce of sense, they’d have moved heaven and earth to keep her.

I have a particular sense of gratitude for Angie’s presence here in the building. Getting out of a lease early is not an easy thing. All of the leverage is on the side of the management company. It could have cost me thousands of dollars to break my lease before the Sept. 1 renewal date.

Angie found new renters for my unit, and basically was a one-woman dynamo in making the transition happen so that I’m out clean and the new residents are thrilled to land a place with a view. She went way above the call of duty, and she did it because she has a good heart, not because she had a financial incentive.

Angie told me that she prays every day that Christ will allow her to bring goodness into the world. I’m not a religious person, so the language wouldn’t be mine. But the impetus to be a force for good in the world is something I wholeheartedly support.

I’m grateful for people with good hearts, when and where I meet them. I’m grateful for Angie, and I wish her and her husband well.

Bolton +1

One day after the announcement that John Bolton will be the new National Security Advisor, the pundits have it that the guy is truly dangerous, but maybe the ineptness of Trump’s White House operation will blunt the damage Bolton can actually effect.

God help us.

Conscious Aging: Progress

In the three weeks that I’ve been trying to shed the four pounds I gained during my travels, I’m down 2.5 pounds — a bit shy of where I’d like to be, but the trend is in the right direction. I’m making progress toward my goal.

My body is the poster child for the current understanding that weight loss is hard to maintain because the body fights to regain what it has lost. My significant weight loss, 30 pounds, was two years ago. I’m still pretty close to that number, but it’s been a struggle.

Some of you have asked in emails if I’m trying to get down to too low a number, and the answer is Lord, no. I have too big a body frame to even think of being sylph-like. I’m trying to get to a number that I think I can hold, that helps my blood pressure stay under control, and that keeps me looking and feeling the way I want to be. I gave up on trying to be Twiggy in high school. 🙂

I am back into my exercise routine, so I’m confident I’ll reach my goal soon. But I have the kind of metabolism, even with exercise, that says I’ll never get a pass on adding back sugar or carbs or much alcohol into my diet.

McMaster’s Choice

I often turn on CNN while eating lunch, and on occasion that’s when Sarah Huckabee Sanders comes on to do the daily press briefing. I’ve become inured to her dodging and weaving around any serious questions, often muting the set until she is gone. Then I return the sound to see what the pundits have to say.

But I wonder, given that Sanders is a mother and person of evangelical faith, why it isn’t stomach-churning for her to defend Trump’s womanizing, payoffs, and ruthless efforts to silence the porn stars and Playmates who have filled in his sex life around Melania and his marriage.

Sanders is still firmly in as White House Press Secretary. HR McMaster is out.

Eliot Cohen, writing for the Atlantic, wonders if McMaster’s stomach-churning quotient was exceeded enough for him to write an honest and courageous memoir telling us what really goes on in the House of Trump:

“The national-security adviser had to, or in some cases chose to, say things that his inner nature must have abhorred. As a scholar trained by one of the best military historians in the country, for example, McMaster knows just how rancid a slogan America First is, what dangerous and even vile policy sentiments of 1940 and 1941 it reflected. It will be a hard memoir to write if he confronts that and other facts. Whether he chooses to do so will say something about him, of course, but something too about the readiness of decent and prominent men and women who have served or justified this administration to face the truth. From start to finish, the question about Trump and those who have served, supported, or opposed him has come down to character. McMaster’s memoir, should he write one, will, in many ways illuminate the battering to individual integrity the president has caused. It may also indicate whether the cuts can heal, leaving scars, as one hopes, rather than suppurating wounds.”

Given that Trump is raising the sycophant quotient a lot in his new hires, I for one would welcome an honest memoir.

I’m still going to mute the sound when Sarah Sanders comes on TV.

Conscious Aging: Talking with Minga

Minga’s daughter Ana called on Thursday, a WhatsApp video call where I can not only hear Minga but get to see her face. She looked terribly tired, although it wasn’t a dialysis day and she said she felt okay. Soon the doctors are going to move her port, not to the most likely alternate sites in her forearm or abdomen, but a little down from where the port is now. I asked her why, and she was unclear. She said the doctor told her that her veins are thin, whatever that means.

I’m not sure if Minga isn’t getting much information from her treatment team, or whether they are explaining things and she’s not understanding. Her hearing loss doesn’t help, and although she has to have a family member with her on dialysis days, it isn’t always the same family member. They all work, and they have to take turns at the all day commitment. Minga is adamant that when she first went to the hospital, no one told her she was going to begin dialysis and that she would have to continue dialysis forever in order to stay alive. She says they simply told her they were going to do something that would make her feel better. On the other hand, she was critically ill in September, when her son Angel drove to the village and brought her into the city, and who knows what information she was able to take in. I believe that one of her daughters signed the permission for Minga to be treated.

I wish I knew if moving the port was a good sign, a neutral sign, or a bad omen.

Ana asked if I will come again in November, like I did last year — a second trip, beyond my usual mid-winter two week visit. I said I will try.

Ana said that Minga is having trouble walking up the stairs to Ana’s second floor apartment after dialysis, on those days that Minga chooses to stay in the city after treatment. I’m not surprised. On the two days I accompanied Minga to dialysis, I thought she was exhausted and dizzy when she came out. I have no idea how she was taking three busses to Filipio, or for that matter, how she gets herself to the central terminal and then on a transport on those days that she goes home to the village.

I fear that we’re on a gradual downward slope, although I have no hard evidence of it. Minga is entering month 7 of dialysis, managing as best she can. She might just have been having a bad day — all of us do. Or, dialysis is taking a terrible toll, and it’s beginning to show.

Biden and Trump

Please, God, don’t let the Democrats nominate Biden for president in 2020. If they do we’ll have the spectacle of two pasty, out of shape old white men bloviating over knocking each other down behind the high school gym. Honestly, it’s like the septuagenarian World Wrestling smackdown, all the more ridiculous because of the two men involved.

Are Trump voters really in that much denial, that they can’t see how ridiculous the Trump presidency has become?

Melania and Bullying

While we’re on the topic of ridiculous things, Melania speaking against bullying is right up there. She reminds me of a powerful episode of the HBO hit series The Sopranos, when Carmela Soprano visits a therapist to seek support for the complications of living as the wife of a mob boss. The elderly psychologist is unequivocal: as long as she lives under Tony’s roof and benefits from the flow of his illegal income, Carmela is complicit. She cannot expect sympathy for living with a man who kills for a living as long as she actively gives him cover in the role of a normal family man.

Melania is in a similar position. As long as she gives Trump cover for his crude, thuggish, and vindictive behavior, she’s simply not credible as a spokesperson on the topic of bullying. I’m quite sure Trump has her tied up with a pre-nup, which limits her choice of whether to go or stay  — but no matter. As long as she’s complicit, her opinions on bullying are irrelevant.

Return of John Bolton

John Bolton was one of the architects of the Iraq invasion, widely considered one of the biggest foreign policy blunders of the era. Now Bolton replaces HR McMaster as Trump’s national security whisperer.

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times and David Gergen, advisor to presidents, were on CNN discussing the change, and the level of their somberness and worry added greatly to my own concerns. I hate to see someone like Bolton recycled.

I can hardly see how Mattis holds out among this collection of loonies and failed retreads. Rough times ahead.