Technologically Challenged

When the electronic age began to pick up momentum in the public, we were amused by it.  New gadgets and wizardry were mostly expensive toys or luxuries.  I remember getting a private line telephone, a luxury that freed us from the intrusive party line.  When I went to Expo 67, Bell demonstrated video phones where we could see the person we were talking to and we didn’t like it!

I let technology get way ahead of me with this mindset, which wasn’t all that bothersome.  I lived happily in the dark ages for a long period of time.  I was able to function.  I had my share of crappy cell phones with limited range, far too small screens and buttons, and never used them much. They were an interesting thing to have, but not a necessity.


I was going to visit my brother.  I haven’t traveled in decades.  The trip required 3 connecting flights.  As is the case, quite frequently, I now understand, my first connecting flight was delayed.  The airport was under construction, so I was not surprised that the one pay phone I found was not working.  No worries.  Lots of time left. I can call him when I get to Denver if I am going to be late.

I am going to be late.  12 hours late!


There are rows and rows and rows! of phones at the Denver airport.  And not one of them work.  I know.  I tried them all.

So I see a big guy sporting an even bigger cowboy hat and a badge that said Information.

“Am I doing something wrong?” I ask him about the phones.

“Nope.  None of them work.  Haven’t worked in months.  Is your phone dead?”

“I don’t have one.”

He shrugs and walks past me.

Around me everyone has their face illuminated by blue phone light.  I don’t even know how to use one.

I walk over to a man with his nose to the screen.  “Kind sir.  I am in a fix.  I will pay you $20 to make a phone call for me.”

He looks at me, blinks in disbelief.  He hands me his phone “Go ahead” he says “You don’t have to pay me.”

I explain it is a long distance call.  He says that doesn’t matter.  I hand the phone back to him.

“Can you dial it for me? – I don’t know how.”

He gives me a silly grin as if I am joking, but dials the number. “Just talk into the screen” he is half serious.  He stands there gawking at me, suspecting some kind of prank.  As fortunes have it, the line is busy.  “Can you try another number?”

Mission accomplished, I get to leave a message. He waits as I collect my suitcase, give him a heartfelt thank you, and head for the nearest eatery.  He looks around, waiting for some TV host and camera crew to show up, tell him it was all just a gag and can we use it on our show?

My unfortunate brother had to page a reply to me at the airport and pick me up at midnight, instead of noon.  And oh yeah, he waited quite a while at the airport for me, didn’t get my message until he went back home.

“Get this” he shows me the blue screen when I arrive.

I comply.

Now I’m hooked on the thing.  How did I ever manage without one?!

Aging GraceLESSly

Someone is trotting down the stairs behind me.  Footsteps rapidly grow louder and gain momentum until the owner sweeps past the landing and encounters me.

“Oh” a young man pops out earbuds and looks at my feet “Can I help you?”

“I’m just slow” I reassure him “I have a sore knee”

He looks concerned but never looks me in the eye.  “Really, go ahead” I touch his arm which brings his eyes to mine.  I give him my best smile ever.

“Okay” he pushes his ear buds back in.  The first few steps away he hesitates, then he dances away.  I spend the next ten minutes navigating a one minute stairway.

I forgot I can’t do stairs for a while yet. I hurt my knee several weeks ago and it doesn’t like to bend anymore.

It makes me feel very old to be inflexible, it always did.  But now injuries take a long time to heal.

Of course this current injury is my doing.  It comes from a common fault of getting older.  Your brain and your body do not agree on your age.  The brain says I’m 19! Whoopee!  The body says nothing at first, but shows you your real age very shortly after.

When I was young the mind ruled.  My body followed.  I could bounce back from most of my punishments in record time.  If I wanted to lose weight it only took several trips to the gym, or a good run.

Now the body rules and the mind, well, is just stupid about this change in power and wisdom of the body.  It does not understand age – what is age?

We wage war with this.  We try to defeat age.  But age is not a phase you are going through or a disease that you get better from with the right exercise and diet.  There is no battle to fight.  Age is a process.  It is Mother Nature.

Science and consumerism give us promises of renewed youth; perfect eyesight, dancing until dawn, or sex all weekend, with chemicals and surgery.  We come from the Star Trek generation where lasers can fix anything or, simply make you vanish.

Not to say some of this isn’t useful.  But once you have your twentieth birthday you cannot go back.  Ever.  In any way.

Thank God.

I would not ever want to go back to those emotional years.  Things are SO much better emotionally. I will probably blab about that later.

It is good of course to be physically fit and as healthy as you can be.  You cannot let yourself go to seed at any age, this just adds problems and takes away the ability to have a good quality of life (and later on, you will pay).  But it is going to take a lot more effort after 50.  You’re gonna be tired.

I still have a lot to learn, but I do get this.  Slow – exercises must be done slowly and carefully until I am back in shape.  Consistency – No more run once in a while.  Exercise has to be daily to maintain a certain level.

For now, I try to find elevators.


My parents had a traditional retirement.  Winters in Florida.  Good pensions.  Interest rates were at an all time high.  They sold their home and lived well in a beautiful apartment.

The definition of retirement then was to stop and do nothing, or walk forever on a beach and collect sea shells. Although my parents had the ‘traditional’ retirement they were far from inactive. My Dad became an amateur geologist and my Mom and him traveled all over in this pursuit.

Things are a lot different for me.


Times have changed.

I have read a depressing number of books happily informing me that there is absolutely no way I can retire.  I basically have two choices; work until I drop, or live in poverty.  I am penalized because I am not married, I don’t own a house, I am a low income earner, I didn’t save a ton of money either, and good grief, I am a woman!

I don’t have a pension, or any benefits other than an annual vacation from work.  Although I have a degree, I never used it in a professional way (life got in the way).  And I really don’t have enough time, energy, interest or money! to come up to speed and pursue a new academic career (this topic I will pursue later).

I know, I really messed up my life.  But it ain’t over yet!  I can mess it up more!

When I examine the whole idea of traditional retirement, I realize it is a fairy tale, at least for me, in line with the knight in shining armor.  Retirement needs a new definition. Do I want to live happily ever after – YES!  So what is my definition of that?

Well, first of all – stop reading crappy retirement books, and take a look at myself and what I can make happen in the years I have left, with what I have left of me!  Perhaps I can inspire you to do the same.  That is what I am going to share with you in this blog.