Yes, it’s that time again, BOLLI friends – sunscreen! Good sunscreen of the right strength prescribed by your doctor. If you have been leaving it off your daily ablutions during the winter months, now is the time to check the dates on the bottles or cans in your bathroom cabinet, car, and purse. You should have one available at all times, especially when traveling with grandkids!
Feel the Burn? That’s Called Skin Cancer.
Yup, the sunshine warming your face as you drive down the Turnpike is full of ultraviolet radiation which causes serious damage to your skin, even if you aren’t blonde. Until a dozen years ago, medical experts did not differentiate between Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B, but we now know that UVB is blocked by the glass and windshield in your car and that the persistent UVA is responsible for over 90% of skin cancers in America. “The increase in left-sided skin cancers may be from the UV exposure we get when driving a car. It is likely that the older women in our study were primarily passengers rather than drivers, and therefore did not show a [significant] left-sided predominance,” explained Dr. Butler, of the California Skin Institute in San Mateo. Over 70% of all melanomas in situ (non-invasive, early detection that have not spread to lymph nodes and other organs) are found on the left side of your face and neck. And yes, there is such a thing as Stage zero Melanoma.
Don’t Let Cancer Get Under Your Skin.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 96,500 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2019, and as many as 7,230 people are expected to die of melanoma this year.
Cancer. It’ll Grow on You.
Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service. She says she “hails from Woosta– educated at BOLLI.”
John Donne leans leisurely against King Arthur. Arthur Rex snuggles soundly with Sweet Will Shakespeare. Towering above them is Fanny Farmer, sans covers, coated with stains from holiday feasts. My books and shelves are home from a long exile in the land of Public Storage. They will never know how challenging it was to rescue them.
The kingdom of Public Storage is ruled by a troll named Chuck. Long of beard and mostly bald, he sits behind a long expanse of counter on a black mesh desk chair with wheels. He never stands or walks. He rolls from side to side, trying mightily to be as unhelpful as possible while appearing to be helpful. King Chuck, like many rulers, is cursed. His computer is always down.
I take a deep breath and walk through the empty room to the counter of power. Chuck squints up at me. “Hello,” he says brightly. “How may I help you today?” He sounds sincere, but I know from previous encounters that he is not.
“I’m emptying my storage unit today. I’ve already done the online notification and canceled the autopay. They said I needed to notify the manager.” Snap! This should be easy.
“They said to notify me?” He looks puzzled and alarmed, as though I had just announced my intention to set fire to his counter.
“Yes.” I begin to sweat. I have deviated from the King Chuck playbook.
“Huh.” Chuck wheels his way to his computer and peers at the screen. He strokes his beard thoughtfully. “Gee, my computer is down.”
I say nothing. I checked when I came in. His wifi is up and running.
“Did you take your lock?” he barks into the silence. I hold up the padlock to prove I’ve obeyed orders. Then drop it on my big toe. A genuine Chuck smile emerges. He enjoys his customers’ pain.
“Well, when my computer is working I will email your receipt. I hope you have had a good experience with Public Storage. It’s been a pleasure serving you.” OK, so maybe I’ve been a little harsh.
I walk back through the parking lot to the loading dock. My daughter and her boyfriend, who are the muscle behind the moving operation, are cramming a bed frame into the crowded UHaul. It doesn’t fit, so they break it up. It is not my bed. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had thrown her old bed in my storage space. They head upstairs in the elevator to retrieve the last remaining occupant of my storage space: a mattress.
I wait outside the elevator doors for their return. Then my cell phone rings. I answer and a nasal voice demands, “Are you in the lobby?”
“Excuse me?” I answer. “Who is this?”
“It’s Chuck. Are you in the lobby?” I look around in confusion. As near as I can tell, this isn’t a lobby, it’s a loading dock. I was in the lobby when I last saw the demon Chuck.
“No. At least I don’t think I’m in the lobby. I’m….”
“I know you’re in the lobby. I can see you.” He chuckles, a rusty sound straight out of a Stephen King movie.
I resist the impulse to hide behind a pillar. I look around and realize there are security cameras pointed at me. “Well, OK then, I guess this is the lobby.”
“There is a mattress in your storage unit.” Contempt drips from every word. “Did you think you could just leave it behind? That’s against the rules.”
A pause while I resist the impulse to run for my life. “They’re picking it up now,” I blurt. The phone goes dead. I never even get the chance to say goodbye.
The kids arrive right after the phone call. We quickly shove the mattress into the truck, and we speed out of the parking lot of Public Storage, never ever to return. Chuck waved as we passed his window. We didn’t wave back.
This morning, I fill the empty bookcases with my beloved books. As I dust each one, I promise, “You’ll never have to live in the land of Public Storage again.”
Donna is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.
A great many of our BOLLI members have been exploring new avenues of expression since arriving at 60 Turner Street. Writing and photography classes have been fully subscribed, and our Special Interest Groups in these areas have offered additional venues for creative endeavor as well. Wonderful work has come from these sources which has, in some cases, actually been something of a surprise to the artists and writers themselves!
I know that’s true–because that’s what happened to me.
When I first joined BOLLI, I signed up to take Betsy Campbell’s “Five Short Stories in Five Weeks” writing course and got really nervous. While I had always toyed with writing and had always dreamed of being published one day, I had never actually finished anything. So, I figured this was going to be one last shot–if I couldn’t finish one story, much less five, I was going to just bag the whole thing.
To my delight, when the course ended, I found that I had actually finished not one but five short pieces. I was thrilled! But what had made the difference, I wondered. Why had I finally been able to actually finish something after decades of not having been able to do so. The answer was actually an easy one: the class. And I don’t mean the class content (although that was fun). I mean the class members and instructor.
You see, in that class, we read our work out loud. Every week. And the class and instructor made comments. The group made excellent observations and suggestions. The strengths that we noted in each other’s pieces helped each of us to strengthen our own. None of us, I realized, was in this thing alone.
But when it comes to the Journal, we don’t have that kind of support, do we? Well, actually, yes, we do.
This year, we have decided to operate in a somewhat different way. Our editors will be reading and viewing work all along the way. They will offer suggestions that they feel will strengthen the work and provide you with an opportunity to revise and resubmit it if you choose to do so. Clearly, this applies more to literary work than visual art–but when it comes to images of your paintings, mosaics, furniture, sculpture, and the like, they may be able to help you show off those pieces in an even more positive light.
We hope that, by working with our writers and artists in this way, more of our BOLLI members will experience the satisfaction of seeing their items in print.
After all, none of us is in this thing alone!
It’s hard to believe that this is already my fourth year at BOLLI–it’s been quite a ride!
With the clarity of 20-20 vision, the Police Action in Vietnam was my first war. I was too young to know anything about the earlier Police Action north of the DMZ. M*A*S*H provided me with an education about both fronts.
Daddy was in the Army before I was even thought of; uniforms, photographs, souvenirs, and tangible memories were stored down cellar. At the age of eight, I watched and learned about Cossacks who were murdering students in my father’s homeland. When the cousins arrived in late December, I practiced my Hungarian phrases on them.
Here’s where the 20-20 gets a little foggy. There was a man on television—a sailor, a soldier, a cowboy. A super hero. Our parents told us that John Wayne was the real deal.
But he wasn’t.
His films taught us to hate and fear Indians. And Japanese people. And German people. And then, in real life, Communists.
And while Duke was considered a patriot, appearing on posters for savings bonds, seeming to live a life of True Grit, he never served in the military, in any capacity, in any war.
At the end of the day, the man never wore a uniform of his own.
Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service. She says she “hails from Woosta–and is educated at BOLLI.” Lydia co-chairs BOLLI’s Writers Guild and takes writing courses every term.
A blog devoted to the interests of BOLLI members and potential members