Songs In The Key of WTF

No one under forty, unless they’re like me, will probably relate to this post,  but wow, what a reinforcing night out.

My beau & I went to a club with several friends, and we had been at another event, so I wasn’t as jazzed for dancing as I normally would be, which was fine because the people watching was instructive enough.

They keep coming.  Every year the next crowd becomes old enough to go clubbing which means I’m unwillingly that further along.  Not that any of us ever go willingly, or anticipate getting older with glee, but it happens regardless.  I feel like Rafiki, from The Lion King, when he tells Simba that he can run from the past, or learn from it.  I get the spiritual lesson, or idea, or justification, or whatever, that we’re on a journey; we all die, we’re all headed toward the same end – from being here to not being here, and then what the hell does that mean for the in between time, I suppose.  Are we granted a certain amount of time from the start?  Is this world as random as I hope it is?  If it’s not random then that means that the rapists and child molesters and murderers are all acceptable, but if it’s random that means we can kill those degenerates with impunity.

I live in a nebulous state most of the time.  I don’t want to harm anyone, but I definitely don’t want that reprehensible behavior to continue.  Woe is me, right?

I saw myself tonight in a way I’ve not experienced before, but also with an envy I’ve not had for a while.  It was strange because while I felt envious, I also felt pity for all those unmet desires.  The girls seeking love and the boys seeking sex.  Maybe they all wanted a mix, but my experience has shown me that it’s more true than not that men play at love to get sex and women play at sex to get love.

Understand that I know that’s the mid-line – it’s a wide continuum.

I wanted recognition tonight.

After peeing, I looked into women’s room mirror, and was sad that my reflection showed me as I am rather than how I wish I were. I would be indistinguishable from everybody else there, which isn’t the most desirable outcome, really, but it is what I feel I deserve.  If I were more self-assured I’d want to be the most visible in the room.

I must see getting old as a punishment rather than a privilege, and it’s vital that I stop putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect.  It’s acceptable being who I am, which is one of the hardest lessons of my life.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

What It Is

So much goes on in my head it’s hard to sort out the various threads.  An old friend of mine lost her son several months ago when he drove during a storm and crashed.  His friends urged him not to go, but he decided to chance it, and luck was not with him.  His mother is grieving so much that her life is now in danger, which I found out from her daughter today at the grocery store.  Another friend’s son died from a heroin overdose, then his older brother died from cancer a few months later, and then his father passed away a few months after that.

I know we’re supposed to turn the pain into a positive so everyone can feel better and get on with their lives and not have to think about the horror of living, because it’s not all terrible.  It often feels that way though.  Maybe it is all attitude, and maybe we should all be shitting cute puppies and kitties all the time, but from where I sit, it’s a big mess that I’m constantly trying to prettify with glitter and perfume, but, damn, if I’m not fresh out.

Shit is still shit no matter what you do to it.  Yeah, I suppose I could feel it and somehow use it so Hallmark will one day make an inspirational movie about it, but that’s not happening.

My physical pain is still constant, and I do things to moderate it, and continue my information hoarding by bookmarking every exercise available that might help heal me, along with every article or blurb about a new fruit, vegetable, berry, leaf, spice, tea, tincture, salve, and potions and lotions – recently discovered! developed! formulated! uncovered from the ancient far-away people who had the secret of lasting youth!, – don’t pay any attention to the fact that they are long dead and rotted because while they were alive they had it going on way better than I or anyone else has ever had it!  And it will definitely increase my vitality, and make me appear decades* younger!  It must be true, I found it online, and several corroborating sites and write-ups confirmed it.

*by squinting in a darkened room’s mirror

I plan to buy every single one of those life-enhancing, revolutionary scientific break-through products as soon as I get another credit card to put it on because I’m just not as good at parting people from their money as they are.

They sure were glad I was born though, sucker that I am.

The irony is that I chide my younger brother for believing in The Secret, when I’m just as bad.  Maybe I see myself mirrored in him and hate to see his time wasted on the latest snake-oil, when it could be as much his salvation as the christian bible is for others.  I’m all for live and let live as long as we all keep proper boundaries, and stop trying to legislate through fairy tales.

I’m tired of the yelling on all sides.

Here’s the reality: humanity sucks.  Evil is rampant.  Good exists.  We’re awash in corruption, mired by well intentions, and this is always true.  We are not evolving intellectually, although we will eventually evolve physically.  Mostly we’re replicating.  People sometimes rise above their circumstances, but that is an exception.

If I were the Koch brothers, I’d get the hell out of America and just buy an island and live there.  I guess they feel the need to suck as much life out of the Earth as possible before they die, and make sure there is legislation in place so their heirs inherit their fortunate mess.

With all their money, they could have bought eternal youth.  Maybe I should forward them all my bookmarks.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

November Mood

Snow bent trees

It’s become quiet outside.  The naked trees have drawn their life inside, awaiting winter’s arrival.  They have no retreat and will survive or perish at the season’s pleasure; nature, now the demigod, saving some while allowing others to perish.  Strong trees might be felled by fierce storms, while weaker saplings bend, but live, showing the winter’s scars all their lives, twisted and blown – heavy snow and ice altering their course skyward.

So it is with us, our life’s seasons bowing us low or allowing our growth on a truer path.  We do have choice.  We are free to move and change – to escape some of life’s pressures. Even so, we are always at the mercy of happenstance.  We cannot outrun everything, and sometimes run into harm by trying to prevent it.

Some call that fate, destiny, karma, or a myriad of justifications and excuses for the randomness of life.

We’re fragile beings, even when we’re strong, and when we die, our energy will be left, and those particles will attach to other forms of life – an unending cycle of growth and decay, until finally, the Earth itself will cease to exist, and perhaps all that collective energy will cluster to form a new Sun, another journey.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Happy Thanksgiving Meal

My mother brines and dresses the turkey, cramming the cranberry and celery stuffing into the rinsed cavity, and then trussing the legs before placing the bird in the black and white speckled enamel roasting pan.

Percolating coffee on the stove draws me near, and I perch on the kitchen stool next to the stove, watching as the hot water browns more with each eruption into the glass top of the percolator.  I wish my mother would let me drink coffee, but she makes me a weak ‘tea’ out of cinnamon, and sugar in warmed water, with a splash of milk.  She calls it Cambric Tea, although she substitutes cinnamon for tea.

One of my older brothers is washing a mound of potatoes, carrots, and turnips, while my next oldest brother is on peeling duty. Never a turnip lover, I hate that she mixes them with the carrots, but at least she keeps the potatoes on their own.  My sisters will do the mashing later, while my little brother and I squirm in our impatience, and our pleas of when dinner will be ready, is met with ‘every time you ask me that, it will take longer’, by my mother.

Around 1 p.m., relatives begin arriving into the now steamy house.  Most of my cousins are older and don’t pay my little brother and I much attention, but we always eavesdrop on their conversations until told to go away by our older siblings.  Sometimes we get to play Monopoly, or, Life, with my cousins, although, Mouse Trap, is my favorite.  My older brothers consider Mouse Trap a baby game, so usually my little brother and I play that on our own, or with my next oldest sister, but it turns out that, Mouse Trap, is the only game we have they don’t, so we play it several times.

My aunts keep council with my mother in the kitchen, placing the desserts and sides they brought up on the refrigerator – and out of the reach of any hungry marauders, and then they set the main table, while enlisting me and my brother who made the mistake of coming into the kitchen, to set the card tables.  My father and uncles arrange the card tables and the folding chairs they brought, and then retreat to the den for cocktails, while they smoke and watch football.

There is nothing better to me than sitting on the kitchen stool and listening to the laughter and chatter of my mother and aunts.  They fill an otherwise stressful and dreary house with fun and good cheer.  Even my father is approachable as the relatives take his mind off of everyday life too.

Once everything is ready and platters fill out the tables, my father comes in and carves up the turkey.  Then the assembly line of passed plates circles the room until everyone has their dinner in front of them.  My father intones the Thanks-giving prayer over our bowed heads, and then the happy moment of digging in begins.

Dark meat is my favorite, drizzled with the turkey dripping gravy, a pool of which floats in the center of my mashed potatoes.  I manage to feed our dog the carrot and turnip mash, even though she will throw most of it up later from so many helpings of rich food greedily chowed down.

My mother’s cranberry relish is one of my favorite dishes. Most of the cranberries are ground up well, but an unmixed half a cranberry made it through the mixer, so tart I need a mouthful of potato, or a sip of milk to swallow it.  Hot, buttered, rolls steam on the white cloth napkin in their straw basket, and we know that later on, after the adults have retired in the den for talk and more coffee, and we children have finished the dishes, dessert would finally be served.

Pumpkin, Pecan, and Minced Meat pies, cinnamon rolls, and bread pudding with homemade whipped cream.  Even though we are stuffed from dinner, we’ll find room for dessert!

All too soon the relatives begin saying their goodbyes, and proceed out: our uncles and aunts, laden with the card tables, chairs, and extra dishes, followed by our cousins, start down the cement path, the chilled air swirling into the front hall, as my little brother and I call out tearful goodbyes, knowing a bath and bed are soon to follow.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Hospitality – Writing 101, Death To Adverbs Assignment

As for most of us, hospitals evoke a mix of feelings, and my hometown hospital memories reach back to the 1980’s, before it merged with a larger state hospital system, to today, where I’m sipping coffee in the beige-walled, wood-paneled cafeteria, while waiting for my mother’s testing to finish.

The rectangular fluorescent ceiling lighting casts unflattering shadows across the sitting area, while the laminate wood flooring bolsters whatever warmth this institutional setting offers. The square, white, cork board ceiling tiles absorbs some noise, but the clanging of pots and pans from the stainless steel inner kitchen area is still jarring.

A dozen wood-trimmed tables with aqua and tan faux stone tops – looking more like oxidized copper, or some strange chemical spills – block most of the sitting area, with three or four tables offsetting the conformity.

Four dark-grey enameled metal chairs with greenish-blue vinyl seats square each table, with white and black ridged plastic salt and pepper shakers centering each table.

Six greyish-blue column supports divide the room by a third, with local art hung a foot or so apart down each wall – all for sale – while you ponder the cost of your hospital stay.  What’s another four hundred dollars for a nice still-life to remind of you of your ruptured appendix for the rest of your life?

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Red Sweater – Writing 101 – Point Of View

Divorce.  It’s just a word, until it’s happening to you.  Oh, you’ve felt it. You’ve known it since your best friend in junior high parent’s got divorced.  It was like someone getting cancer but not dying. You didn’t know what to say except ‘sorry’, the lamest of words when your friend’s world is falling apart.

Marcia stopped loving me.  It was little things all gathering at the dam, and then it broke, and she didn’t want me anymore.

It felt like she dropped a fucking anvil on my heart off the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building.  Right there, on 5th Avenue, I had my first heart attack – but nothing was wrong with me.  We had been holding hands, and the last thing I remember is an old lady sitting there on one of those wooden camping chairs with the canvas seat, holding out a red sweater. Marcia let go of my hand and I don’t know how I knew, but my heart started pounding like that time we were walking near North Slope and that douche-bag crack-addict pulled out a knife, and I dropped him.  How the hell I did it still awes me, but we got through it – and it was like a war medal. I protected my wife from an attacker – without even really trying.  It almost felt too easy – like whenever we brought it up at parties, I was somehow lying – but I just got lucky.

As lucky as it felt to be Marcia’s husband.  Except I’m not anymore. That old lady must have thought I was some kinda freak after Marcia said she wanted a divorce right there on the street.  On the fucking street!  I’m not a crier, but I did that day, because I knew.  There was no going back.  No reconciliation.  How a crater didn’t open up and swallow me whole is mind-blowing.  I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t speak.  I was a fucking gusher right there for the world to see.

The old woman actually told me to move along – something like I was hampering business.

And I did.

My legs carried me into the Empire State Building lobby and I considered buying a ticket and just staying up there to rot, but I somehow got a cab to our friend, Tim Malory’s, down on West Houston.

It’s been a year today.  Some days are better than others, but I’m still here.  It’s true what they say – life goes on.

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Last year, I finally broke away from my go nowhere life.  Jack and I hadn’t been fighting, but life wasn’t happy.  I wasn’t happy.  Life is neutral.  It’s just a thing, ya know?  You gotta make it be what you want or it’s never gonna go anywhere.  Jack and I went out for brunch at the Martinique, and everything was fine.  We were going along.  He always liked holding hands, and I did, even though it wasn’t really me – but it was sweet, right?  He loved me, and I really wanted to love him.

We were walking down 33rd after eating and I had to tell him.  I couldn’t live with myself anymore. I needed more – or different.  I don’t know, ya know?  I just had to tell him.  I let go of his hand  –  a hawker was holding out this horrid red sweater – but I told him right then and there.  I’m awful, I know, I’m awful.  I’m a horrible, terrible person, but I feel so much better – so sue me.

I make it sound easier than it was, because I did love Jack.  I loved his kind heart and his – simplicity.  He reminded me of the country, but I’m a city girl.  City girls don’t do well in the country.

I hope Jack found someone really great.  I do.

I don’t care if I’m single the rest of my life.  I’m happy.  I mean, really happy.  Not everyone belongs with someone, I guess. I hope he’s good.  I really do.  I hope he’s happy too.

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Mavis Staples.  That’s my name, and if you ask me again, I’ll tell you the same.  Oh, hooowee – you know she’s a singer?  Well, good for you, sugar.  It’s still my name.

I’ve been an in-de-pen-dent con-tract-tor for plenty of years now.  I’ve seen plenty.  I know what it’s like to live here for real.  I make my money though, maybe mostly pity funds, but I take it.  I knit, and I find bargains, and sometimes I get a boost in inventory from some of the other in-de-pen-dent con-tract-tors you see here on our street.  We don’t let just anybody sell here.  No, missy.  We’re a family and we look out for each other – mostly.

We’re watchers.  We know who might bite and who probably won’t, but we’re equal opp-or-tun-ity sellers, so we call everybody to look at our inventory.  Yes, missy, we do.

We’ve seen good days, bad days, and all in between.  Once I saw a lover’s quarrel that didn’t let out more than a squeak, but I saw the bottom drop out of that man.  Yes, I did!  I saw his heart dangle there while his woman’s eyes remained dry.  Dry!  I wish my red sweater could have held his poor heart – or stopped hers – oh, yes!, I mean that sin-cere-ly.  I had to tell him to move on by.  He needed direction, and I gave it to him straight!  “I’m doing business here, you move on down the street.”

He looked just like a little lost puppy.  Yes, missy, he did.  I felt bad for him, but I gotta make a living, and I knew he’d be okay.  Not that day, but he would.  He just needed some direction.  But her, she brought that cool breeze in, and it buffeted him all the way to the Empire State!  I wouldn’t let her sell on our street.  No, missy, I would not.

Now, are you going to buy something, or do I have to move you along too?

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101 – Give & Take – Contrasted Dialogue

“I twinkle, and sparkle, and rarely run out of light.”

“Unless someone un-plugs you, whereas, I, keep burning into the night, and my glow varies from soft and low, to high and flickering.”

“Until you run out of wick!.  I don’t have a wick, and all someone has to do is replace a bulb every once in a while, while you have to be replaced entirely.  It’s clear that I’m superior.”

“Superior?  How many people replace the bulb – if they can even find the culprit?  A person sees my remains clearly, and I’m so popular that more of my kind are bought every day than your ilk could ever hope to attain!  Not only that, but I’ve been used since people discovered that fat can burn – what’s your heritage?”

“We come from more distinguished minds than ‘fat-burners’ – ha, you’re more like drool-wipers.  If you call that sophistication, then you’re clearly deluded – and speaking of clear, my lineage includes colors, blinking brights, steady, reliable illumination that replaced your kind pretty soon after the knuckle-walkers left caves.”

“Maybe you high-tech air-sniffers with all your fancy gadgetry wow some, but we still dominate at the heart, where love, and poetry, and art – the very seat of the soul – lives!”

“Oh ho! Seat of the soul?  We inspire too!  We are used more often, in more places than…”

“Heh, heh, I guess you just got shut down, los…”

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“Goodnight honey.”

“Goodnight dear.”

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Bucket Of Need

I wish I had never become a parent.  I hope my child does well in the world, faces all of his challenges with aplomb, and gets all he needs and most of what he wants, but I have to back out entirely.

This isn’t about him, it’s about my mental health, my well-being, my terrible coping skills.

Putting my focus elsewhere in my life is what I need to do, and I know that eventually I’ll stop being sad, and just move on.

Life is an endurance feat for some of us, and I am glad for life’s beauty – for all of those moments of appreciation – but there are times when the hurt is so deep it goes beyond the issue at hand to the heart of my soul, and all I can do is cry out for relief.

Please, if there is a compassionate force that cares, please help me get over this.  Please.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101 – Hauntingly Interesting Person

Annie Keithline, owner/operator of the new, Valley Ghost Tours, out of Northampton, MA, met us in the square next to the town parking garage on a balmy September 8th, under the full, harvest, moon.  A mid-waist, black cape draped over her short-sleeved shirt, framed her slight figure, her ebullience apparent before she even spoke.

Several people had signed up for the evening, but she explained two couples had to cancel, and two more no-shows left just my man & I for the Haunted History Tour, which felt weird at first, but her confident manner and knowledge captured our attention and we eased into her introduction and tour explanation.

Just a few years older than my son, she shared what led her to start the tours, having walked across America(!), and still in college as a declared English major who loves history and sharing it with others.

Ours was more like a conversational walk than a dedicated tour, and I shared some of my paranormal experiences both as a student at Smith, where a few ghost stops were, and throughout my life so far, and my man shared a few ghostly stories he’s heard as well.

Her disarming manner, obvious intelligence, and conviviality made the hour and a half fly by.  I had hoped to see some of the apparitions she talked about, like the ghost dog that walks up and down the street where a Starbucks currently sits, to a floating partial-apparition of a man on State Street, speculated to be seeking pledges for investing in the failed canal, to the teen-aged specter down under the Coolidge Bridge on Route 9, seemingly inviting you into the water with him, but Annie believes he might have been a ferry operator who continues to offer passage across the river, and frowns at you when you don’t follow him.  But, as Annie says, with the River Styx symbolism, who would want to oblige him?

We ended the evening on the busy Main Street, outside of the Hampshire Council of Governments, where Annie told us of a worker at the nearby Shop Therapy, which had long ago housed a bank, who had seen a male apparition, dressed in a long coat, sporting a bowler hat, who walked toward the back of the store and disappeared.

We touched on, but didn’t explore, the old Northampton State Hospital, the institution housing long razed, but an eerie, someone-is-watching-me, creepy office building remained that I had a meeting at several years ago, and was all too happy to leave.  All of the buildings are now torn down, and condominiums are either being planned, or built, on the land. I expect many of those owners will experience paranormal events with all that traumatic energy concentrated there.

Annie spoke of other fairly well-known and not-so-known encounters, unexplained phenomena, legends, and personal experience that made my spine tingle, and I want to visit some of the places to hopefully experience a few ghostly scenes for myself.

Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, or the paranormal, Annie’s, Haunted History Tour, lends insight to Northampton, and the Pioneer Valley’s past, and how we’re always walking in history – and one day soon – we’ll be part of that pageant too.

May you live and die well.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

Writing 101 – About A Loss

Oh woe – our tomatoes!  They started out so plump and meaty, the early summer heat, and our diligent weeding and watering made our first gardening endeavor seem assured.  We staked and secured the heavy fruit, tending our plants with love and care.

Then came the rain – days and nights of torrential downpours, and along with the rain came blight, a black cancer through the stems, the fungus seeping into the just ripening crop, and no amount of trimming stemmed the disease.

 

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101 – Three Songs of Importance

Seasons In The Sun, Terry Jacks.  No, it’s not important to me now – it’s not even that great a song – but when I was a kid, hearing that song for the first time, it was so sad.  Someone who sounded young was dying!  He was telling his friends and his father, and his little daughter, Michelle, (or at least that’s how I interpreted the lyrics) how hard it was to die, how much he would miss everything.  It was the first time I thought about death from a first person point of view, and it was heartbreaking, and I totally got it. I wished I could save him.

You May Be Right, and My Life, Billy Joel. I had a messed up childhood and Billy Joel provided an outlet for my anger at the world. You think I’m crazy?  Well, maybe I am, but maybe crazy is what you need to survive this world, and ‘I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life, go ahead with your own life, leave me alone’.  I remember friends telling me that my posturing looked like I had a ‘stay away from me’ note taped to my back.  Sadly that never stopped the predators.

Stevie Wonder provided the backdrop to much of my childhood and young adult life, starting with several songs on his, Songs In The Key Of Life, album, and continuing to this day.

During one of the most difficult periods of my life I particularly resonated with You Will Know:

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101: A Room with a View (or Just a View)

He murmurs and rustles around in his bed, and I find myself holding my breath, hoping his movements cease.  I settle back into my pillow, turning onto my right side to go back to sleep.  The street light filters in through the gaps in the blue cotton sheet curtains Jennie made for me several years ago, and I can’t get back to sleep, worrying that his fever is back up.

I sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed, touching the cool, worn, dark wood floor.  The ill-fitted glass door handle takes an extra turn to disengage it, but I hear nothing as I tip-toe through the sitting room, trying to step easy on the creaking boards as I make my way past the built-in, glass-covered cabinet where the eight setting, black and green accented, White Lily Corelle dishware, glints in the dusky moon-lit room, the mismatched drinking glasses and Tupperware sippy-cups taking up the second shelf.  The double windows across the room are flanked by hideous floor-length, white polyester, purple and blue-rose patterned drapes, given to me by my aunt, Mary, after the last time she visited and saw the bare windows throughout the apartment.

The kitchen’s tan and white stone textured linoleum flooring feels cooler than the wood floors, but doesn’t creak.  The 1950’s era white Formica kitchen table stands next to the kitchen window, where the hanging spider plant casts an elongated shadow across the table’s surface.

Over the sink, the green Granny Smith-apple shaped clock’s minute hand sounds its steady tick-tick-tick, the time reading 2:30 a. m.

He cries out, as though he knows I’m standing there, and I wait before entering his room, knowing the very creaky old floor boards will fully wake him if I go in now.  I decide to grab the ear thermometer and step lightly off to the right of his room, entering the narrow bathroom, going past the tub to the mirrored medicine cabinet on the opposite side of the room above the sink.  I find the thermometer on the middle glass shelf, and push the cabinet door into the squeeze latch to shut it.

I tip-toe back to his room and stifle a laugh as I see his little body turned sideways, his legs draping over his toddler bed while the upper half of his body remains on the bed.  He must have tried to get up and fell back asleep in the trying.  I move stealthily, kneeling beside him to lift up his legs back onto the bed.  He rouses and starts to cry and I tell him I’m there, and I’ll rub his back after I take his temperature.  The thermometer reads 99°F.  He has fallen asleep again, but I lay down beside him and rub his back lightly over his Elmo pajamas.

He wakes me up several hours later, laughing that ‘mommy’s in his room’.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101 – Unlock The Mind

I guess I need a structure to write.  I’m a better follower than I am a self-motivator.  I enjoy writing, and most of my writing lately has been private journal entries.

I can’t think of anything to write, and fear that I’ve lost my passion for it.  I was once advised that if you can’t keep a flow of writing going, then make lists.

1. Writing is important to me because I get out all the tumbled thoughts burning inside of me.

2. If I make my writing public, it’s possible to connect with someone else who can relate.

3. I would like to make a living as a writer, and I have to WRITE for that to happen.

4. I worry that my thoughts are too intense, my hurt too deep, and would leave myself too vulnerable to the slings and arrows of others.

5. I’m not that important, is a good thing to remember.

6. I love my child with all my heart, and he’s off into his own life now & sharply separating from me.

7. I was made to endure.  I might not like it, but I can do it.

8. Writing nearly always helps the weight shift, if not lift.

9. I’m grateful for the opportunity to take this chance again.

10. I don’t have to worry about how anything is received, I only have to write.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Tabula Rasa

Empty space frightens me.  A blank page is so foreboding, and thoughts of the future, while they can be hopeful and inspiring, are often laced with dread.

What am I going to do?  What can I do?  How can I make a worthwhile life and not merely exist.

I read a blurb about a couple who stopped to take a picture of a beautiful sunset in Boston. The woman posted the picture through Instagram, and almost immediately after, a car near them struck another car, sending that car careening into the couple, killing them.  What the fuck?!

Seriously, how do we have any sense of stability or safety – ever.  We can’t, but we do.  We inure ourselves to how fragile we are, how fleeting this existence, and if you’re not religious, how final it all is.

There’s a certain beauty in life being here and now and nowhere else.  We don’t exist anywhere else – when it’s over, it’s over!  We wouldn’t know, and we couldn’t care.  It doesn’t matter how long or short our life is – only that we lived it.  Whatever portion we have, be here now.

Be here now.

Why does that elude me?  I’m in the past so often you’d think the present doesn’t exist for me.  Maybe the present is too uncertain for me.  The past is full of memory, of life, of friends, of excitement, adventure, and of hell too, but I get to choose what I focus on more often than not about the past.

For instance, summer has several levels. I remember my childhood summers as fairly care-free, and some of that was because I was so young. I was still discovering the world, and how things worked.  That’s still true, but now, I have experience and perspective, and that dulls so much of life’s brilliance for me.  Then, there is the pre-teen and teen year recollections.  Those years were fraught with a mix of hell and heaven.  I mostly think about my friends at that time, and how much they meant to me.  They were my tribe.  We’d spend time together nearly every day.  We hitch-hiked to the beach, or just spent time talking, getting stoned, laughing, swimming, working in various capacities, but mostly enjoying each other’s contribution to the whole of us.

It wasn’t perfect.  Friends got bitchy, plans didn’t work out, things went awry, but the charitable haze of summer memories favors the best times, and it makes me long for my friends, and to re-experience those precious moments – only known to me because I got to keep living.

I am thankful for that.

Summers throughout my twenties collected friend and love-soaked reminiscences, but also loneliness and a heap of broken heart rubble.  Having my son was the best and most terrible decision of my life.

Through my distant view, I needed way more help than I had.  I feel I was an 80% good mother, but that 20% sucked, and hurt my son through my Momzilla phases when I would yell for stupid things, and yell to rail against my circumstances, only I never managed to change.  He will never write a Mommy Dearest-esque diatribe about me, but he did tell me, when I apologized for the hundredth time about my lack of volume control, that I taught him how to deal with angry people.  Damned with faint praise.

We did have many sweet summer times though, so I am glad for that.

My thirties were all about parenting, and less time with old friends.  I was finally diagnosed with major depressive disorder, PTSD, anxiety and panic disorder, and it wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I got proper treatment, and found help for my ongoing trauma re-enactment.  This knowledge gave me a context, and a way to deal with some of my mental health issues, but just because I finally understood what had happened and how my brain was effected didn’t suddenly make the clouds part and birds start chirping.  It’s taken a long time to be more good with myself than not, and there are plenty of days when checking out seems like the best solution to my problems.

Now that my son is grown and off into making his own set of adult memories, I’m relishing summer again.  I long for carefree days with friends, for swimming, and lying on the beach, for talking about anything and the bonds of deep connection.  I’ve had that with my oldest sister this summer, and it’s been wonderful.  We’ve talked for hours on the edge of the lake, basking in the sun, then cooling off in the refreshing water.  I am her sister again, two women with shared history merging paths anew, a choice bringing us immeasurable personal value.

I desire that with all of my friends and family,  Communion is the only true currency, the most worthy pursuit I can imagine.

If I die and that is the end without any residual consciousness, or sentience, then living well is my gold standard.  If there is existence beyond our physical demise, I have no idea what that will mean – for I certainly don’t accept a heinous god and the precepts put forth by various religious tracts – but I do think I will be at peace, and surrounded by the love given to me, as well as the love I gave.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Broken

I’m filled with fantasies of how my life could be, but it’s not.  I ask for help, and none arrives.  I don’t begrudge the lack of help, I understand it’s not always possible, or available.

I get it.

So, what do I do?  My choices are slim, my failure to thrive.  I don’t blame anyone but myself.  I understand my life is in a context: there’s a prologue and pre-amble, and there’s a body of supporting evidence, and outcomes, and anecdotes – but no dénouement yet.

I convince myself it’s going to be alright, but I act in ways to ensure the opposite.  I don’t understand myself, but I keep trying to make better choices.  I look for ways to help myself, and use what’s available, and it’s not enough.

The price of poverty is high, and getting out of it unassisted is improbable.  The guilt and shame I live with becomes unbearable, as it is today. I did this to myself, and I’ve strived for so long to undo it, and still, I’m sinking.

This sickness consumes me.

I might be worthy, but I’m still poor, and I’m weak.  I give up too easily, I’ve been told, but it’s been years of struggle.

Summer Times

Summertime reminds me most of my next oldest sister, Allona.  I think of my eldest sister, Rachel, too, but Allona was more adventurous and high-spirited.  Allona could also be intractable and bossy, but thankfully those times were less when we were younger.

Allona lived in several Rhode Island towns over the years, some areas better than others. She was gifted with a parrot when she was in her early 20’s, whom she still has.  Her parrot was cool when she first got him, except for his deafening jungle squawking early in the morning & whenever the humans around him got loud.  Now, he’s a cranky old bird who delights in going after exposed toes, or snapping at anyone foolish enough to try to touch him.  Allona has taken very good care of him over the years, but they’ve both grown more ornery over time.  I wouldn’t mind him so much if he could be trained not to squawk so piercingly.

Summers in the 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s were often delightful, however.  We’d spend days by the shore, go dancing at night, and mostly enjoy each others’ company playing card games like Pitch or Spades.  Sometimes we’d go camping, my favorite part being the smell of brewing coffee on the camp stove those early mornings.  Camping lost its thrill for me as time went on and my body’s aches rebelled at bed rolls and even at air mattresses, but it was the least expensive option to go anywhere and stay for several days.

Life changed when I had my son.  I wasn’t as carefree anymore, and though we camped a few times when my son was a baby and toddler, it was more stressful than enjoyable.  I camped several times with my son and some of his friends in his pre-teens and teens, but after he was 13 or 14, my company was no longer desirable, which worked out because my body didn’t desire camping anymore either!

I always felt welcome at my sister’s house in my teens and twenties, and considered it a home away from home.  I am still comfortable at my sister’s, but I feel more like a guest these days.  Part of that is maturity – I’m more helpful and recognize that she has an order to her home that she likes, just as I have – so I try to keep my footprint small when I’m there.  In our teens and twenties, I didn’t think about respecting her space and resources – not that I was slovenly or over-consuming – it just wasn’t foremost in my mind back then, and neither was it in hers.

Allona was an energetic, adventurous, go-getter – and she still is – but now her efforts are more inwardly directed.  We figure out what’s important to us as we mature, and, often, our world becomes smaller as we let go of people and things that no longer serve us.

I don’t want to let go of Allona, or any of my family.  They’ve become more precious to me with time’s passage, and now that my son is grown, I feel I’ve reverted back to young adulthood – wanting adventure and close, happy, and carefree friendships to spend my time.  My body’s limitations tell me otherwise, and the sad distance between my son & I, when I had hoped to grow closer as friends once he was an adult on his own.

But today I feel a titillating warm summer breeze calling me to the beach, calling me to adventure, and I wish I were with Allona to share it.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Wish Granted

Daily Prompt, DailyPost

 

Undoubtedly you’ve heard of me.  I’ve been granting wishes for millennia, chained to my ornate prison.  I was once flesh, like yourself.  Once free to roam, dream – unfettered…

Be careful what you wish for.  My sullied dreams turned to dark thoughts with darker action.

You’re grateful it’s no longer possible for you to come upon my chamber.  All comes at a cost, but that was never my concern.  I granted that asked of me.  Only one ever asked what price might be exacted.  Once asked, I am obliged to answer.

You judge me?  I, who have suffered far beyond what your limited intellect could possibly fathom?  Be glad in the hearing, when my lust for revenge has gone, my anger, abated.  You are limited, and that now engenders more envy than contempt.

Once, I dared command the Unseen, Unknowable, to show Itself and imbue me with its power – but I would not acknowledge my limits – and so, was imprisoned and made to serve others.

A young woman sought me out, having heard my legend.  She found and followed the treacherous path to my dwelling.  One wish did she request – a wish for another – thus saving herself, and though we knew it not, released my bonds as well.

As I demand of all who find me, she told how she came to be there.  How pleased I was to hear the growing power of my legend, to feel the fear quivering in front of me, she, having survived the way, was awed beyond all expectation to behold my countenance!

She followed the sea path, the well-worn passage of many failures before her.  The conditions of fierce storm and icy wind being met, she wore seal-skin coverings – more clever than many others before her – she carried a gold knife to open the seal of my dwelling, and once entered, she gave the customary smoke offering.  She had navigated the underwater sea cave more skillfully than many, and traversed unrequited remains through the steep mountain terrain.

One of my only pleasures came through the accounts of successful petitioners.  I do not hope to arouse your pity; I offer context of my existence.

Upon finding my vessel, I heard her utter the incantation, her quavering voice interested me, her desperation so familiar, so wretched, I wanted only to watch her wither and fail her quest.  Her voice became stronger, her resolve quieting her outward fear.

I revealed myself through a slow vapor, enjoying the astonished look that the legend was true, and more quizzically, a relief and calm enveloping her – an unknown sensation to behold.  Her humility assuaged my resentment at being summoned.  Her shaking limbs betrayed her resolve, but she did not waver in purpose.

As I rose, filling all before her, towering above her, and the unexpected heat and putrid stench nearly making her retch, she squeezed shut her eyes, drawing shallow breath through her mouth, clenched her hands, and made herself look up into the solid-seeming giant before her.  My over-large head grazed the cave’s top, allowing her a full realization of her foolishness before I bent toward her, bringing my vile face down as though to swallow her entire.

She expected her demise; her quest was true, but I did not diminish.  She spoke clearly, though I knew her heart quickened to painfulness, and her hands continued trembling.  She asked permission to request her wish.

She did not demand, nor display arrogance, and I knew she was prepared for denial.  She believed some of my legend, but not all.

Curious, I baited her.  Didn’t she know I had no choice but to grant her desire?  She heard rumors, but she wasn’t here for herself, she croaked.

I nearly deflated in front of her.  Recovering, and puffing myself out, I pressed her against the cave’s wall, then withdrew enough to allow her room to stand and speak, if she dared.  Was this some clever ruse to chain me afresh?  Did she carry a container I could not sense that she hoped to carry me away in?  ‘I wish help for my brother’, she uttered.

‘And what allowance would make you endure your passage for this brother?, I demanded.

‘His heart is failing, and his kingdom will fall without his guidance, but he would never seek help for himself’, she replied.

‘So what will you gain in the transaction?’, I countered.

‘Peace, and safety for my family’, she responded.

‘Then request peace!’, I bellowed.

‘I do not wish peace without merit.’

She did not wish peace without merit!?  She understood that proper wording could gain her the world, yet she chose nothing for herself.  I understood courage and worthiness then, and willed myself to her height.

‘Your request is granted’, I replied, ‘but a favor is wanted in return’.  She submitted as though she expected more suffering, but I brought forth a sweetly fragrant and soothing breeze that quieted her soul as I knelt before her, and asked for her hands, that I might absorb some humility.

We were equally impressed by this behavior – she from astonishment that her body and soul remained unmolested – and I, by the release of my unseen chains which I hadn’t known was possible until that moment.

My powers were diminishing, but I retained enough to return her to the head of the sea path.  I left her with instructions to tell of vanquishing me. Ever after, all those seeking me were thwarted as my cavern dwelling laid in ruins, the sea passage and coastal trail destroyed soon after she stepped off the way toward her home.

Though my vessel was destroyed, ending my bondage, I chose to stay within the mountain, my containment voluntary, even though the burden of my folly will always remain.  I have related this to you that you might think on it, and recall to those dear to you of any wisdom found in the telling.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Agreements

I agreed to my life even when I railed against things I couldn’t change.  I always wanted something more, or different.  I’ve been searching for the spark that would make me feel satisfied and content.  I’ve never found the magic formula, and have been told it is a Don Quixote worthy quest.  I have enough perspective now to look back over my life and examine its contents.  It would be helpful if my life were a container I could pour out and toss what is no longer useful, and clean up lack-luster parts.  Memory changes with time, even if specific notations remain.  My “I will always remembers” or “I will never forgets” are less sharp, though some have grown in poignancy.

Some memory seems encased in amber – music and lyrics I recall entirely without active thought, for instance, while I often struggle to remember the past days’ events.  I know it’s because young brains absorb information at a dramatic rate, until, soon – too soon – dendrites start withering as that not used loses access, and because music assimilates differently than other information.

Even recently, I wanted to end my life, quelling my agreement to this unremitting existence, but it will happen anyway, and sooner than I’ll probably like at the time.  Life abounds in irony, those who want it can’t keep it while careless others have abundance. Is that life’s trick, life’s paradox?  You only get what you want by not wanting it?  Become less, and I’ll be more?  Life also employs exceptions, so there are never any hard and fast rules, but there are typical truisms I’m wise to follow.

Life’s cruelty is the payment it exacts, but my hope hedges against the cost being worthwhile, so I keep playing, searching for satisfaction, for purpose, and, ultimately, for redemption.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Not Really Here

He avoided my glance and we sat in silence, the palpable awkwardness filling the space between and around us.  I searched for interesting topics, but nothing came.

I only see him every few months, you’d think I’d have stored up things to say or ask, but everything I brought up was rebuffed with a shrug or monotone brevity.

I dreamed we were on a school trip I must have been chaperoning, and he wasn’t as distant as usual, but I was guarded throughout, worried I’d say or do something reproachable.  I woke up sadder than I’ve been in a while, grieving a new piece of this unfamiliar landscape.

I read Necessary Losses. I remember it was insightful and helpful.  Maybe I’ll read it again.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day Twenty: Diaries, Cards & Letters

I started my first diary at eleven years old, but lost it when I left it in the back of a car and it got thrown away by the car’s owner.  I had only written a few entries, but I learned never to take a journal with me unless I could carry it in my back-pack or handbag.  I began collecting cards and letters around the same time.  I saved every letter my Australian pen-pal wrote me, and then I saved all the letters from various friends and relatives over the years.  These are my most prized possessions.

I moved around the country several times, going as far as San Diego, California from South Portland, Maine, and then back home to Massachusetts where I’ve remained ever since.  On the move back to MA, I shipped mine and my son’s belongings while we flew home.  Some driver along the way dropped one of the pallets our things were on and damaged our bicycles, mine especially, and a couple of boxes were lost and never found.  One of the boxes had many of my son’s books, and some of my saved cards and letters, but I’m fortunate that none of my journals were lost.

Re-reading the letters was experiencing those moments again.  I remembered the time so much more vividly than simply looking at pictures, and it’s interesting to remember incidents long forgotten, disagreements, difficult, or easeful times.  The few love letters I saved still bring back deep emotions, even though the guy was a jerk most of the time, and I am forever grateful the relationship ended.

These missives of friends and family fill me with gratitude as I read words of encouragement, kindness, or the re-telling of those time snapshots.  I feel badly for how much suffering was shared, or the worry about each other.  The caring is apparent, the love and friendship we shared is endless, and I am still in touch with almost all of the senders.  A few have died, so I cherish those cards and letters all the more.

My journals are harder to read because I wrote most when things were the worst.  Writing helped me purge all that raw emotion on the page, helping me to compartmentalize my tortured mind and keep slogging through my life.  I champion that young woman who found insight and reason to keep going as much as I wipe away tears for her because she couldn’t find solace.  I have enough distance now, enough perspective, that I am not dogged by the horror of my life as much as I used to be.  Growing up with physical and sexual violence leaves its mark, and my lack of coping skills bleeds through far too many pages.

The happier times are a joy to read, the enjoyable days with my son especially, and my friends and family too.  I drew my strength from others, but I hope I wasn’t a huge drain on those around me.  I kept my hell contained as best I could, but I was the Eeyore of my peers, although my outer nature was sunnier!

Eeyore

Most of my focus is discovery now – getting to see how I’ve grown, and that I have endured – and while I still have a lot of rough edges, I do get out of my darkness faster than I used to.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

 

Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin’ – Or The Pissin’ & Moanin’ ;-p

My left arm still isn’t functioning.  At first the surgeon said 2 days, then it was 2 weeks, it’s now 4 months, since yesterday, and there has been a very slight change.  My bicep is coming back a bit because I can feel it try to tighten, but my deltoid is still MIA. I’ve been slacking on PT exercises not because I don’t want to but because I have so many other things to do.  The exercises are to keep my arm from further atrophy, and remind my brain that my arm is still willing to work.  I am doing the shoulder crunches and trying to bring my shoulder blades together all through the day, so I suppose that’s something.  My arm is just hanging by my side most of the time and the sling sucks because I can’t get anything done when I have my arm in the stupid thing.  I will wear it when I go for a walk or activities that I don’t need both hands, because my left hand is still working – my triceps are fine – but I’m getting super tired of this bullshit.  I want my arm back.  I’m reminded of the scary story about the Golden Arm, and how silly it is now, but how scary it was hearing it when I was six or seven.  It was in the same genre as the Camp Murderer, when someone tells the story about the asylum that is only a few miles from the campground, and they heard on the news today about a psychotic killer having escaped.  Someone will leave the tent, but the story was so absorbing I didn’t notice, and at the climax of the story, there is scraping against the tent, and the screams probably woke anyone sleeping in the campground.

God, I was so gullible!  I’m not supposed to edit or trash self-talk or anything for this post, and I am doing my level best because I just want to delete it all and find something better to say.  Waa, waa, waa.  Is that how to spell that, the baby crying back door way of dissing myself for having feelings?  Yeah, don’t stew in the self-pity, I get that, but you can still be pissed at the condition you’re in, and then move on as best you can.  No one likes a downer, man.  A buzz killer, etc.  I just noticed I nearly wrote 400 words on my free write, so that’s cool because now I’m done!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

Writing 101, Day Eighteen, Neighborhood Troubles

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

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Today’s Saturday.  It’s Cinco de Mayo, which is Spanish for the fifth of May.  We learned that yesterday in history.  Ms. Jenkins told us about the Battle of Puebla victory against the French army that the Mexicans won, even though they didn’t win the war, but it’s sort of like how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  Mom helped me decorate the window with red, yellow, and green crêpe paper streamers, but she wouldn’t let me have a piñata, but at least we’re having tacos for supper and some fried ice cream for dessert.

I wanted to put some of the streamers around the stair railings outside, so I put on my favorite Hello Kitty cap, pulling it down so the sun was shaded all the way and went out.  It was still morning but it was hot already.  There was a green and yellow car with, Marble County Sheriff, in big white letters outlined in black parked outside Mrs. Pauley’s apartment. The sheriff got out of the car and went up the cement stairs to Mrs. Pauley’s apartment.  Some other guy I’ve seen a couple of times was standing outside Mrs. Pauley’s too.  He’s shorter than the sheriff, and the grey suit he’s wearing looks a little big on him.  I hope Mrs. Pauley’s not in trouble, or maybe something happened to one of her kids?  She’s got six kids, but they’re all grown up, and I only know George, who moved out last year.  He was there a few times when Mrs. Pauley watched me.  George liked building card houses with me, but I could never get mine to stay up as well as his.

The last time I saw George, and all of Mrs. Pauley’s family, was when Mr. Pauley died. It was the same day I started school last September, and I watched through the living room window that night when the ambulance took him away, and after that the Pauleys’ apartment was dark for a few days.

Mom and I went to the memorial service because the Pauley’s were nice to us – they were nice to everyone – but, like I said, Mrs. Pauley watched me sometimes when Mom worked late.  I really liked going over to the Pauley’s with mom in the summer when Mrs. Pauley was weeding her flowers she planted on both sides of the stoop.  All the flowers made her house look happier than all the other houses on the block.  Mom would make up a batch of iced tea or, my favorite, lemonade, and we’d bring some to Mrs. Pauley.  We’d all sit down and have a drink while Mom and Mrs. Pauley talked about the terrible Peterson’s next door, with their bratty kids who got in trouble for spray painting swears on the side of City Market at the end of the block, and stuff like that. Mrs. Pauley got sad talking about Mr. Pauley losing his job, and how they weren’t doing so good lately.

I felt bad for Mrs. Pauley, and started helping pull some of her weeds until she asked me to stop because I accidentally pulled up some things that weren’t weeds. I started watching the ants scurry around the sidewalk instead.  One was pulling a dead bug that was way bigger than it was, and I wondered how it could do that.  I liked being there with mom and Mrs. Pauley. I liked the way the breeze felt on my arms and legs, and how it ruffled my mom’s hair.  Only a few of Mrs. Pauley’s grey hairs moved around because she wears it up in bun all the time.

Mrs. Pauley is my favorite neighbor because she doesn’t ask too many questions, and she likes baking chocolate chip cookies – the chewy kind that I never want to stop eating.  I loved helping make cookies the last time she watched me because I got to eat one almost right out of the oven, and the chips were all melted and tasted so good.  Mrs. Pauley also likes that I have good posture and that I keep my clothes clean.  I guess she doesn’t see me much because I do not always keep my clothes clean!  I didn’t like it when we were on sitting on the stoop and Mrs. Pauley said that someday I’d find someone ‘as good as her Harold to marry’.  Eww, I don’t ever want to get married.  Mom laughed and said, “Jeanine’s barely cut her second molars, it’s not time to start talking about husbands!”  Then mom took off my hat and ruffled my hair, which she knows I hate, but I let her that time because she looked so happy sitting there with Mrs. Pauley, and she’s usually so stressed out.

Mrs. Pauley started crying after the sheriff handed her a piece of paper, and I decided to go over and see what happened.  I pushed my hat up a little so I could see better, and went across the street as soon as there were no cars coming.  I’ve been wearing my hat since I got in for my birthday last June, and it’s getting dingy looking around the brim, but I won’t let mom wash it because I’m afraid it will get ruined.

The sheriff was telling Mrs. Pauley that she had to have all her stuff out by Monday, and the other man said he was sorry, but the rent was long overdue.  Mrs. Pauley didn’t even see me standing there.  She just closed her door and the sheriff and the other man left.

I ran back across the street and told Mom that Mrs. Pauley was getting kicked out of her house.  Mom’s eyes widened, and she said ‘oh, no’, and then she took out her phone and called Mrs. Pauley.  They talked for a little while and mom had tears in her eyes when she ended the call.

I decided that we had to help Mrs. Pauley.  I asked Mom what we could do and she suggested starting a collection to help, but Mrs. Pauley was going to need a way to continue paying her rent.  I thought of calling George, and her other sons – maybe they could help.  Mom helped me find George’s number off the internet, and we called him right then.  He didn’t even know Mrs. Pauley was in trouble, never mind lots of trouble!  I didn’t understand why George didn’t know, but mom said some people have too much pride to let others know when they’re not doing well.

The day I saw Mrs. Pauley almost lose her home was a terrible, horrible day – kind of like Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which was one of my favorite books when I was nine. George must have called his other brothers and got their help too because Mrs. Pauley didn’t move out.  Mom and I went to the City Market and they gave us a bunch of old plastic containers, and I used a red marker to write ‘Help Mrs. Pauley’ in my best lettering.  City Market let me put a container on their counter, and we brought the others to the library, the Happy Bean coffee shop, and I brought one to the school office, while mom brought the last one to work.

We only got a hundred dollars the whole month, but Mrs. Pauley thanked me over and over.  We’re going to keep the containers there, and try to find other ways to help too.  I told Mrs. Pauley she should start selling chocolate chip cookies, and she thought that was a good idea.  It may not be like the Battle of Puebla, but it did start on Cinco de Mayo.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day Seventeen, Fear With A Twist

One of my worst fears?  That the bartender won’t bring my drink soon enough!  That’s my fear with a twist – get it?

Fine, a real fear. I could say something pedestrian and banal like ‘I’ll never find love’, or ‘dying alone’, etcetera, but an honest fear is dying of AIDS, or being burned alive.

The context is ‘address one of your worst fears’.  Of the two mentioned above, being burned alive is probably the worst because there are good drugs for AIDS, but I watched a friend perish from AIDS, each day worse than the last, his broken body wracked with pain, blistering sores, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and he endured each new opportunistic bacteria, fungus, or virus that destroyed his fragile immune system.

Maybe being burned alive is a piece of cake after that, but I don’t know.  I don’t want to find out.  This was a stupid fucking exercise, and I’m not even sure why I did it, but there, it’s done.

Writing 101, Day Sixteen, Labor Of Love

My job keeps me humble.  Every day broken hearts and lost love by the thousands come through the Clearing House, and part of my job is sorting through the morass, deciding what’s repairable, and we send that up to the Techs with the appropriate work orders, but the tough ones are those we ship back for further grief processing.  Sometimes hearts that looked relatively untarnished come back several more times – each time more ragged and bruised.  I’ve been tempted to send encouraging notes with those, but I’m not a Technician, and I’d probably only make it worse.

The Clearing House selected me when I was fifteen, and my empathic powers weren’t developing as my parents had hoped.  I couldn’t repel others’ grief, and you have to keep your emotions out of it if you’re going to be a Technician.  Filtering others’ emotions through my heart used to cause me terrible sadness, but being a Sorter has clarified what’s mine, and how to not attach my heart to others.

Not that I’m immune to heartbreak – I’ve had several leaves of absence while my heart was sorted – and my work review has had several underscores in grief differentiation skills, and too much entanglement.  It has taken me nearly twenty years to learn the craft, and I still slip up now and then.  The older crew worried about me, and a few times I was almost done for, but I made it back, and I hope the last leave was exactly that!

Trey swore he’d never seen a heart that torn up mend, and I owe a lot to the techies – especially Marcia, bless her heart, who took my heart home for some extra care, even though she wasn’t supposed to.  I guess even Technicians can score low on entanglement sometimes.

Dealing with lost love is trickier than straight-up broken hearts.  There’s often so much hope left that you’d think it would be easier to sort out, but lost love is like a bottomless pit.  You send it up to Tech, and it comes right back down to be sorted as hopes rise and fall, and we do our best to piece it all back together into something workable.  Sometimes the best that Tech can do is rearrange pieces to fit, but sometimes there’s only a shell left, the insides are all fragments.

The best part of the job is seeing mended hearts, and when love is found – either old or new.  It’s difficult, but the world couldn’t exist without our work.  The Techs get most of the gratitude, but they share it with us because the entire operation is only as good as its parts.

Last week, I picked up a heart, and was just about to toss it into the irretrievable pile, when it fluttered and shimmered for several seconds.  It wasn’t really enough to send up to Tech, but my empathy must be getting better because I couldn’t toss it.  I knew I might get reprimanded, but I was prepared to defend my decision.  Turns out, I didn’t have to.  We don’t always get to know particular stories, but yesterday Marcia came down to tell me that the heart I saved was from a young woman who reminded Marcia of me.  She almost didn’t make it, Marcia confided, but just as Marcia was about to stop resuscitation, the heart leaped and glowed stronger than ever.  Marcia delivered it personally – she might be the one reprimanded if management finds out! – but the woman decided to love herself, and finally knew that she was enough.

I’m so glad Marcia shared that with me because it helps keep me strong too.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.