Monday, May 20, 2013


Sometime last summer, my earbuds stopped working. Or rather, one earbud stopped working. I noticed that I was only hearing GIVE 'EM THE OL' RAZZLE DAZZLE in my left ear. So after forgetting about it a lot, I finally went to Target and bought new, not even remotely expensive, earbuds and audiological parity was restored for the rest of mowing and then the start of snowblowing seasons.

So the last time I blew snow before I broke my arm, Steve's iPod...which I started using because it was slim, light, fit easily in my pocket, but mostly because it was his.... made the unhappy face. Nothing I did could make the unhappy face go away. So I stuck the new earbuds on my first generation iPod and used that one. Then I broke my arm and there went snowblowing. The iPods...his and hers...went in the "iPot" in the kitchen, complete with chargers and earbuds..old and new. 

Last week, I mentioned I got the tractor up and running and mowed with earbuds. Not exactly true. I cannot find the new earbuds. The old ones were in the iPot so after tearing the house apart, the old one-eared earbuds were pressed back into service but this time with the iPod Touch handed down from the junior son when he got a smartphone. (No, I don't want a smartphone.)

I have to take Steve's iPod over to the Apple Store at HugeDale to see if the geniuses at the Genius Bar can make the unhappy face go away. I have to go spring for another pair of earbuds....but not at the Apple Store where they will cost way too much. And why does this all bother me so much?

Probably because 4 years ago right about now, Steve gave me back the iPod I gave him for his birthday the year before. And the key to the tractor. And the key to the Rx-7. He told me not to lose any of them. And also gave me the key to the tool lockbox he built in the garage and warned me against ever letting the junior son put said key in his pocket because I'd never see it again. I live by these rules. I think I live by them because in the deepest part of me I want to believe these are the talismans which keep me connected to Steve. Not to the past. Not to wishful thinking, but to the idea that he passed these things to me for safe-keeping. 

His iPod still has the unhappy face and I don't know what to make of that. I am resisting the idea that it is an omen, a harbinger of more changes to come that I don't want to make. I want a soupçon of status quo, a  crumb of calm, or even just a strand, silken or otherwise, of serenity. Is that asking so much?

I was talking to one of the other widows in shul this week. Two years behind me in widowland, she was telling me about a current challenge, and commented that one of the hardest things was not have her husband to talk it through with her. "I'll never get used to that part," she insisted. And I agreed; I can't get used to that part either. It's the worst part.  You do something, you reach a milestone, you hear an old joke.....and the silence is deafening. 

Instead, you learn to listen in the silence. At first, you listen for the sound that will never be. Then you listen to the sounds of the house. Eventually you listen to yourself. If you're smart, you tell yourself the truth. If you're not that smart...well, things just take longer than they need to.

There's no stopping forward progress. You breathe, you keep going. 

Friday at sundown starts Steve's yahrzeit. Neither kid will be here. The senior son and his significant other have a wedding to attend in Chicago. Junior son and his spouse are taking the long weekend to go camping with their best friends to celebrate their engagement. But I'm actually okay with that. This is a year for a little bit of space. 

As this fifth year of widowness begins, I have two goals: one is to see the book in publisher tells me 2014 is the year...and the second is to figure out my taste in furniture. I'm not planning on buying anything or even re-decorating. I just figure if I can decide how I want to populate my visual life, it'll mean I'm finally figuring out who I am on my own terms.

Yeah, I know. It sounds easy. It isn't. I think I might be Danish modern: teak and sleek. I'll let you know.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you missed AMERICAN MASTERS: MEL BROOKS on PBS it. It's terrific. 


  1. SOS (z"l) may his memory only be a blessing

  2. RE: Frowny face on Dad's iPod. It's only an omen if you choose it to be one. Omens, like so many things, are very subjective. If you choose to, you can see omens everywhere you go. Instead, accept it for what it is: an old piece of electronic gadgetry decided to go for a walk.

    1. Gee, thanks. That makes me feel _so_ much better.

    2. The only point I'm making is that sometimes when you look for an omen, ANYTHING could be considered one. Many times in my career I've taken things as omen (both good or bad...) only to have the complete opposite occur or a totally neutral outcome.

      I'm not overly superstitious by nature. Both you and Dad raised me to believe in taking control of your circumstances for yourself. Some quote from Moses about "the answer isn't out there, it's in here" comes to mind. The most superstitious thing I do these days is when we're about to leave for a road trip with the band, I always tell the guys the same things about our van, the HMS Hotspur: "Treat her like a lady and she'll bring you home every time."

    3. Duly chastised. But that said, can't a mammy unit wax even the tiniest bit poetic? Just wonderin'........

    4. I wouldn't say chastised. Just a gentle reminder to keep your spirits up.

      Unless, of course, you WANT three Scottish hags following you around screaming "Boil, toil, and trouble! Your lawnmower is going to die!"

  3. Lovely and sweet writing, Susan.

    Hoping that things continue to get easier for you.

    Susan, eager for a whole compilation of your writings to be in print.

    Misha, you sound like such a grown - up ... how is that possible?!?

  4. Read your NYT comment. You don't know where wealth comes from. You want a "long term plan that puts job creation, universal health care, and support of education first AND creates a tax structure that puts good and welfare first, not only will there be no recovery, there will continue this slide into decay. There needs to be incentive to reinvest in people, community, and industry. And it needs to begin with the federal government."
    Decay is happening because people like you vote for parasitic legislators who make parasitic policy which punishes success and rewards laziness and failure. Things are build through trade, not decree. You want to redistribute equally, but to do so requires such enormous totalitarian force that no one will build anything except on pain of imprisonment or death. that is North Korea. Your ideology is a failure, and you don't even know that the things you enjoy were designed and made by traders, not bureaucrats or welfare rats. There is a great reckoning coming, and it is decay, but hopefully decay by the death of parasites, not traders. We need to cull the fat idiot parasite cows out of the herd so idiots like you stop reproducing, and the fit ones survive to perpetuate a rugged species, not the docile, dependent one you idealize. Bad collectivist ideas and the people holding them will die eventually, and the sooner the better.