Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

It's Hard In Here For A Wimp

by Arlene L. Mandell

Now that I'm a Medicare-card-carrying woman, I find life has become almost impossibly complex. I'm drowning in a sea of exhortations, fearful that anything I do, or don't do, will hasten my demise.

Take food, for example. When I was growing up in a working class Brooklyn neighborhood in the 1940s, my parents were proud they could provide three square meals a day. Dinner consisted of meat, potatoes, and some sort of vegetable from a can. Today I don't know what I'm supposed to eat . . . or not eat. Every day the newspapers warn: Eat less fat. Eat fewer carbs. Eat more carrots. Exercise to keep all the major bones in your body from becoming brittle and breaking. The TV ads command: Take this pill. Take that pill. Ask your doctor. May cause your heart to stop beating. Exercise caution while standing up, bending down, or opening a can of baked beans.

This year the song that won the Oscar was "It's Hard Out There for a Pimp." Well it's hard in here for a wimp, too, especially one who's trying to use the latest version of a computer program I've been using for twenty years. Last month I replaced my old copier with a new HP Photosmart 3210 All-in One Printer Scanner Copier. I know how to turn it on, press the print button, then turn it off. I put the 197- page manual in a file folder.

For my 65th birthday, my dear husband bought me a Canon PowerShot A620 Digital Camera. It came with three different Guides. I'm still using that cute little Canon point-and-shoot I bought in 1992. It takes terrific pictures. I don't have to crop, resize, reformat or turn photos into CDs or DVDs. I can just admire my pictures, send a few to my grandson, then paste the rest in a plain, old-fashioned photo album.

I'm proud that I can still accomplish many small and useful tasks, such as pasting recipes on index cards, buying the ingredients, preparing the dish and enjoying the results with my husband, and sometimes sharing them with friends and family at a brunch or dinner party.

And I'm handy, too. When I noticed a light bulb blinking on and off in our antique Italian chandelier, I went into our supply closet, found a new bulb, and voila - the chandelier stopped blinking. Unfortunately, there are more complex devices that resist such simple solutions, such as our seven-zone drip irrigation system that drips all the time when it's turned off, but only drips some of the time in some of the zones when it's turned on. I've called Ira, the Irrigation Man, who may get here by mid-August.

Really, I shouldn't complain. Considering the alternatives, my life is delightful, almost perfect, and will be even better once I get my Advance Health Care Directive Kit filled out and notarized, just in case I don't exercise sufficient caution while opening that can of baked beans.

Arlene L. Mandell, poet, short-story writer and essayist, is occasionally hard at work on her book: My Life on Hemlock Street: A Brooklyn Memoir. E-Mail Arlene

Eighth Flash

Dead End by Jo Lauer
The Knife by Farrell Winter
Beans by G. David Schwartz
Alone In The Dark by Margot Miller
I Thought I Was Asleep by Catherine Montague
Puppy Love by Jack Swenson
We Never Talk About It by Laurel Ollstein
Tech Support by David Macpherson
My Anthem by Bryon D. Howell
Frantic by Suzanne Aubin
Screwed Again by Lauran G. Strait

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