Grumble and then move on

Grumble and then move on

Following an aggravation, I often think, “Maybe I can get a blog post out of this.” Last week’s aggravations could have supplied more than one post.

“Glad you weren’t planning to go to Yellowstone this year,” my sister texted after the park flooded. Guess I’d forgotten to tell her. “I was,” I answered. “Not just planning. I have all my reservations — flight, car, hotels.” She was the first of several people who asked whether I’d still go. The decision depends on what reopens at the park.

On Friday my right knee buckled as I tried to get out of bed. In pain and limping a few hours later, I hobbled downtown to meet tourists who had scheduled a Chicago Greeter tour. They were no-shows.

My over-the-range microwave died. I’ve been cursing every time I go to warm up the cat’s food or reheat leftovers or want popcorn. The replacement won’t be installed for another week.

My siblings and I had an upsetting Zoom visit with our mother, who lives in a nursing home. Crying throughout, Mom kept saying that the music therapist supposedly called her “good for nothing.” You can’t reason a dementia patient out of a misperception, leaving us feeling unhelpful and sad. 

My online Scrabble partner said she wanted to take a hiatus from our biweekly games. I felt disappointed about losing a favorite pastime. 

All upsetting — but not calamitous. Things could be much worse.

When a friend and I spoke about Yellowstone, I said, “Of all the places I could have traveled this year, I had to pick Yellowstone,” as if I deserve some blame if the trip falls through. She laughed. I was trying to be funny, but the comment also showed some negative self-talk to which I unfortunately am prone.

So, here’s a try at positive self-talk.

If I don’t get to Yellowstone this year, it will be bad luck but not a calamity. I’ll go somewhere. Maybe I’ll get to Yellowstone and see only part of the park. The catastrophe is not the disrupted vacations of those who planned to go to Yellowstone this summer but the damage to the park and the climate change at least partly responsible for it.

I’m not necessarily destined for knee replacement surgery. Instead of self-diagnosing, I will see my doctor about the knee.

My 18-year-old kitchen appliances have lasted longer than expected. It was fortunate that the first to go was the microwave instead of the refrigerator. Instead of waiting for each to die, I’ve decided to replace them all now — microwave, refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, even the garbage disposal. I’m lucky to have the money to do so.

My mother is an ongoing issue about which I’ve blogged repeatedly, the last time in May. Her moods change, and we have to try to not be swept into them. By the next Zoom call, she seemed to have forgotten her distress.

I don’t have to give up online Scrabble. I can request games with others on the website whenever I feel like playing.

I don’t want to brush aside annoyances but put them in perspective. Give myself some time to grumble and then move on. Most irritations are not worth much attention. Fretting can be saved for real problems.

In the middle of things going wrong, I got a text invitation from a woman in my building to join her with a cold drink around the pool. I’ve been trying to make more nearby friends. Getting together with her may have more lasting impact than any of the week’s downers.

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Marianne Goss

A retired university publications editor and journalist, I live in the South Loop and volunteer as a Chicago Greeter. Getting the most out of retired life in the big city will be a recurrent theme of this blog, but I consider any topic fair game because the perspective will be that of a retiree.

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