Freak Out!

No car, unemployed, but still housed.  I’ve got it pretty good, I understand, but when a major surgery leaves you with one arm unusable, and no job, and a slick spot that crunched your car so much that the repairs are costlier than the car’s value, and you don’t have the money even if the car were worth repairing, and you’re depressed along with your anxiety disorder, and you haven’t found any medication that works – yet, and you’re supposed to carry on as though nothing has happened, and you’re still trudging your way through ‘empty nest syndrome’, and you go to a library for a day to get the hell out of the house, and it’s closing at noon, so you have to find somewhere else to go, and it’s below 0℉, with a wind chill bringing it to -14℉, you start to understand what vagrant means, never expecting its application toward you, but also realizing in that moment how judgmental you are for having any reaction at all toward the word, as though it means you’re a pariah, unworthy of notice or respect, and you decide that it’s time to hop off this particular world, but you can’t because you have a child who it will affect, regardless of said child’s lack of interaction, and not only that, but what would those who love me feel; so I freaked out instead, and yet, my boyfriend said he still likes and loves me, and wants to be with me, and besides the mental health evaluation that I thought he should have, having his arms around me while I broke down felt like a warm pool on a cold night, and my anxiety and fear started dissipating, and he said he’s right where he wants to be, and how great is that? – and winter is ending, and spring will unfold, and there’s hope I’ll find a job I can do, and eventually have money for a car again, if that’s what I need, or maybe we’ll move to a city where public transport is good, and there are new medications and depression treatments coming out all the time, and yeah, it sucks being a government-sponsored guinea pig, (and having conspiracy paranoia?), and we could live off the grid if we want to, and we have plenty to eat, which is good because we were hungry by then, and my prayer to the non-god is to help all those without basic needs, and more than that – my prayer is for everyone’s self-actualization as Abraham Maslow postulated in his hierarchy of needs.

Outside of that, it’s good to remember to breathe – slow and deep – and show gratitude for at least one thing a day, and laugh, even if it makes me cry, because eventually, it won’t.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Go West! (even though you’re bound to return)

When I revised my about page, I thought about all the places I’ve lived, and why I kept moving.  I didn’t really have wanderlust, although I did enjoy traveling when I could.  I wasn’t even very restless, but I never felt satisfied or content.

In my twenties, I saw a greeting card illustrated by Mary Engelbreit that read: ‘Wherever you go, there you are’, and it was an epiphany.

I was running away from myself – only I kept coming with me.  The places, faces, and jobs would change, but the one constant was me.

Once I understood that I could only change myself, life started improving.  Unfortunately the process has taken many years, and lots of ‘one step forward, two steps back’, but, being drawn to proverbs, I also read an alleged Chinese proverb which goes: ‘Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still’, and that gave me hope that I wasn’t the only one muddling through life.

These days, traveling is journeying to, rather than running from – unless, of course, I’ve broken a law, and then I’ll definitely be on the run…

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Mission & Vision

Who am I writing to anyway?  I’m writing to you; I’m blogging for those in my metaphoric choir, and those interesting in joining, or needing practice…

My political being craves righteousness, dignity, kindness, and caring.  One of my Twitter buddies recently posted:

I’ve always been politically focused because I think it’s how we change socially.  We’re all responsible for this habitat we’ve created since humanity began building, domesticating, industrializing, proselytizing and politicizing our society.

I think we owe future generations a livable world, and while that flies in the face of corporate interests, as I’ve heard: ‘you can’t eat money’.

Nor can we have a just society when our solution is to kill people we don’t agree with, or murdering those we see as ‘other’, and therefore less valuable, less human.  There cannot be a true deity that would accept any rationale for killing others except self-defense. Following a bloodthirsty, petulant, deity is pure egotism, or another form of psychosis.

We’re masters at justification, filled with hatred, greed, and lust for power – so my desire for peace, cooperation, and understanding continues needing champions – and I gain strength from co-conspirators in creating a more just world.

Blogging 101 – Saying Hello To The Neighbors

I follow a lot of blogs, and while I want to read and visit each one of them every day, it’s impossible time-wise.  I check in with those I’ve been long connected to here, and sometimes weeks will go by and I’ve barely read anything, never mind write! I’m working on lessening that, and staying more connected.

I found several more blogs while thinking of topics I wanted to follow specifically:

Poetry, Music, Parenting, Humor, and, Politics.  To that end I’ve recently followed:

In Noir Velvet – Beautiful poetry & gorgeous photography

Jacke Wilson – Music & interest

KnowPlaceInTheWorld – Politics & interest

I’ve Become My Parents – Parenting, Humor & interest

Ben’s Bitter Blog – Humor & interest

My friends whose blogs I follow mostly have specific categories like book reviews: pyrajane, cooking: Quarter LIfe (Crisis) Cuisine, and help and support for parents with severely allergic, or ill children: Multiple Food Allergy Help.

It’s incredible to realize that I grew up without computers, or cell phones, or any of the constant contact devices overwhelming our world – for better and worse.

My grandparents saw mass production of automobiles, air travel, rail travel, and automated industry – and I’d say they have this generation beat, because while all that we have now is life-changing and revolutionary, we’ve not gone as far physically as my grandparents’ and great grandparents’ generations.

Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear what you think!

 

 

 

 

Blogging 101 – Title and Tagline Change

Wow, this is a tough one!  I looked at suggestions, other blogs, and am trying to figure out what to settle into – and I have nothing but a general compilation of rants, poems, stories or amusing (at least to me) anecdotes.

I decided on Abstractly Distracted with the tag line: “So many thoughts, so little concentration.”  But my blog isn’t about my A.D.D., but I feel like my writing sometimes shows some of my quirks, my difficulty focusing, and completing tasks.

I’ll have to keep thinking about this because I’m not sure I want to keep this one, but it’s a start.

 

Blogging 101 – Introductions

Well, hello there!  I’m Jerri, but I like writing under a pen name, and I usually choose Hermionejh.  I first heard the name Hermione from an anthology literature class, and I really liked it, even as far as considering changing my name legally.  I think I’m glad I didn’t because J.K. Rowling has immortalized it and I felt I’d always be somehow suspect for having that name.  ( I could say that she got the idea for her name from me…)

Blogging gives me a way to write, and hopefully, find a readership.  I’ve read a lot of blogs, and I enjoy the immediacy, and the colloquial quality of blogging.  Bloggers engage with their readers, and other writers they follow, and I know that interaction has shaped what I write about, and inspires excellence in my craft.

When I started my blog I felt lost and hoped to find companionable others to share some of this life journey with, even if only through writing.  I did find what I was looking for, which was and is wonderful, but I think I’m still trying to find my voice & platform, which is what I hope this course, and others offered here, will help me do.

I look forward to the course, and I’m thankful for the company & other writers buckled in (or not) for the ride!

Cheers. ;-)

Cult Zeroes

Cults abound.  I grew up in one, and the apologists continue trying to convince more reasonable people of the cultists’ righteousness, that they have the answer(s), and you should give them all your money and worldly possessions in pursuit of oneness with their cult leader – because you can be damn sure there is a hierarchy, and they get the best of the best.

With.out.fail.

That’s why it’s a cult – or the politically correct assignment of ‘high-demand group’.   I don’t understand the more pleasant moniker, I suppose it seeks to lessen shame.

There are so many incarnations (pun intended?) of cults, it’s hard to know whether you’re dealing with one.

Here are a few handy tips, taken from Janja Lalich & Madeleine Tobias’s work: Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree Publishing, 2006). It is adapted from a checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.

Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups – Revised

Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.

Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a “cult scale” or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.

‪ The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

‪ Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

‪ Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

‪ The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry – or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

‪ The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar – or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

‪ The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

‪ The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

‪ The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

‪ The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

‪ Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

‪ The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

‪ The group is preoccupied with making money.

‪ Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

‪ Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

‪ The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group. 

Not all of these need to be present for the cult classification, and apologists for cults will read the list, discounting what they read as ‘not entirely applying’, thereby allowing them to justify their beliefs about their group not being a cult.

It took a lot of work to de-program myself, especially when people like my mother still value their experience there.

I ended most of my relationships with ex-culters, and try to only communicate with those de-programmed, or non-apologists.

Several peers with whom I survived the cult continue reinforcing old cultisms such as believing the best, most positive, most understanding people were from their time there, when the reality is that bonds formed in childhood and young adulthood gain stature as time passes because you are known more completely than others recently met, such as co-workers, or casual friends.

The deep friendships I made outside the cult revealed how damaging that place was, because we forged lasting, trusting connections, while acquaintances, and co-workers, currently, and through the years, often increased my sense of isolation rather than connection.  Had I not made those honest and abiding friendships, I too, might believe that the cultists were right, and we were a special group, designated by god.

It’s also the ultimate egomania to believe that you were, or are, ‘chosen’, or accepted into, such lofty ranks, above all on earth but those who worship or live as you do.

I’m grateful to have claimed back my autonomy, my power, and my voice.

*

*

*

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

The Evening Before The Morning After

Everything crowds in.  My life is all before me.  I don’t know the future, but all the possibles are jockeying for position. ‘I’m just one person!‘ I yell to the cosmos.  Just one.

This is how it often feels.  I have several paths laid out – pretty much all equally appealing, or, repelling, and I freeze.  I am the poster of the ‘deer-caught-in-headlights’.

Sometimes I believe that getting blasted will obliterate the hell in my head, and it sometimes does, but I pay for it.  I can’t sleep and then the hang-over wastes most of the next day – especially now – when life is flying by & I can’t afford wasted days.

My maudlin remembrances dampen my free-spirited, excessive romp, and being aware of my inebriation is the worse for it.

*

*

*

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

War On Winter

Aching fingertips numbing as the frozen air rushes to sting my exposed skin. After wiping the fog from my glasses, I ram my hands back into the relative warmth of my glove after adjusting my scarf to cover more of my face from the biting wind.

There is no bad weather, only being poorly dressed for it, echoes through my mind, clearly uttered by some masochist with something to prove, his or her badge of honor.

Really, punk?  How about hurricanes?  What about tornadoes?  Dust storms so fierce they obliterate all they pass over?  How do you dress for those, I spit at all those idiots in my mind.

Well, who’s the real idiot?  Them for uttering it, or me trying to prove it?

Reveling in the rush of warmth greeting me at my door, I’ll let those hardier (and therefore better?) souls keep their icy company without me.

*

*

*

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

Progressive Liberal

That’s me.  I eschew religion, and anything that tries to micro-manage my life.  I believe in goodness, in caring, in loving, in reason, in live and let live – as long as your ‘let live’ doesn’t include legislation to make me try to live my life as you want me to.

I’m pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-doing-what-works-for-you unless it harms me directly or harms those already born.  I don’t care about the arguments against abortion because that is a woman’s decision to grow a being in her body, and it is NOT a person, just as any egg is not that being, until after, in a human’s case, the first trimester, and even then, there are circumstances where the woman’s life, or the child’s existence outside the womb, are in grave danger, and that woman, her doctor, and her family are the ones making that private, personal, and gut-wrenching decision.

abortion_not_a_difficult_concept

Use whatever inflammatory terms you wish, exaggerate to promote your position, and keep on supporting war and poverty, or denigrating impoverished women with children once those children are born.

Some will agree, and some won’t, but I don’t need to read your words and you don’t need to read mine.

I stay away from this charged topic normally, but today my goat was got.

if only my uterus could shoot bullets

Moment over.

*

*

*

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

Top Ten Why I Don’t Drive So Fast Anymore

10. Wanting to join the hypermilers.

Go, GO! – but not too fast – or too slow…

 

9. Avoiding those damn squirrels is harder the faster you’re going.

8. Having to brake for a line of just moving cars after hitting all the other green lights on that road.

I didn’t expect this!

 

7. Stupid people in rotaries, traffic circles, or roundabouts

Taking control of the traffic circle?

 

6. Speeding tickets.

Kid gets speeding ticket

Kid gets speeding ticket

5. Insurance rates going up.

Pffffttt!!

 

4. Hitting potholes at 50 mph.

Dum de, dum de, dum de, – AHHHHH!

 

3. Getting the finger from the normally sweet dog-walker lady on my road.

 

Slow down! _http://i600.photobucket.com/albums/tt84/ericuzialko/OLD-LADY-MIDDLE-FINGER.jpg

2. Hydro-planing isn’t just a fun-sounding activity.

When they told me it was like a slip & slide, I didn’t believe it at first.

And the #1 reason for no longer driving so fast:

I no longer have a car.

Sigh…

Contraindications

Old friendships mean the world to me, but we’ve all changed – and our lives don’t always mesh anymore.

Connection matters so much, but being vulnerable is often too risky.

We sometimes want others to be what we need them to be when we need them to be it, but, at the same time, or at least in that moment, we don’t want them to need the same from us!

I deserve respect, but I loathe confrontation.

The greatest pain I ever felt was from my love being rejected, but it allowed me to figure out how to love myself instead.

I often freak out before I can calm down and see situations rightly.

The idea of a new career, or creative pursuit, energizes me while the reality is often enervating.

I’m always a morning person until I wake up.

*

*

*

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

 

 

 

On Further Examination

I’m so scared of taking medication, but medication could probably improve my mood.  I think it’s a slippery slope.  If I take the medication, I might have to be on it for the rest of my life, and is it just the pharmaceutical company trying to make a buck on an unproven chemical cocktail that has had enough results for FDA approval, but then all the side effects and dangers that the announcer or ticker races through makes me wonder how many died, or were seriously messed-up from it while they were counting it a success?

The stigma sucks too, but I’m already stigmatized.  It’s not like my friends and family don’t know that I have issues.  They like to kid me about it, and try to love and comfort me through being me, too, but all the help I’ve ever received has allowed my survival, not my success.  Merely existing sucks.  I want to live, to thrive, if I have to be here.

I cycle through horrible depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation & planning, and then I swing back ‘up’, but my ‘ups’ are really just stasis.  I don’t have grandiose thoughts, or beliefs – except for absolutely knowing I’m going to win the lottery – ;-) – but otherwise, it’s mostly anxiety & depression…

The issue of considering medication seriously is when I’m on the upswing from depression I realize that it’s all up to me to keep level and achieve my goals & dreams and it’s a horrifying thought, when typical people experience that idea with energy and excitement.  Or, I begin a project only to abandon it half-way through – and if I had a room for half-way through projects or plans – you couldn’t open the door for the onslaught you’d be caught in.

Goddess love me though, I keep trying.  I know I’m patronizing myself, but it’s working for me at the moment, so let’s carry on.

I remember an advertisement about creativity – maybe it was an Apple ad, or some such entity – but it showed various people thinking up amazing ideas and then not following through, only to see shortly after that someone else having the same idea realized it.  Every time I saw that ad, I’d break-down, but felt helpless to change.  I’d win the award on ‘person most wanting change’.  That kind of hunger is supposed to motivate me to act - dammit!

Am I the butt of the joke where a woman (or it could easily be a man!  – jeez, work with me) is on her roof after flood waters chased her up there, and she’s praying for help when a helicopter comes by offering assistance, and then a boat, and then something else, and when she refuses all saying she’s waiting for god’s help, she finally drowns and, astonished to be dead, asks god why it didn’t help her, and god replies that it sent a helicopter, a boat, and whatever else – but the joke didn’t include god’s final remark, which I imagine to be ‘you dumbass!’

But that joke is stupid because I would have accepted the first help sent, and so would have that person in the ‘joke’, it’s too obvious.  A better joke is the prisoner at the guillotine about to be executed and the priest asks if the prisoner has any last words. The prisoner says: ‘I only ask that god choose to spare my life.’  The executioner releases the rope, and the blade falls an inch short of the guys neck.  The executioner examines the guillotine, finds nothing wrong, and sets it back up. The priest asks the prisoner for his last words again, and again, the prisoner asks that his life be spared.  The rope is let go of, again stopping short an inch from the prisoner’s neck.  The executioner puzzles over the guillotine, but fails to find anything wrong.  The the prisoner looks up from his vantage point and notices a crimp way up in the rope, points to it, and says ‘Oh, I see the problem.’

You see my problem?

*

*

*

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

 

 

Deconstructing

A load of dirt

Matter is created In the raw depths.  Getting there takes fortitude – carrying on, motoring through, shoveling out the muck.

Maybe there is precious metal and a few gems to uncover, and clean up for display – to show it was worth the toil.

As a child, I dug in the sand for hours, carefully piling the wet sand out of the hole.  A wave rode into my nearly finished pit – crumbling it to a smooth dent – and I sat there in tears for all my lost work.

My brother was working further up on the beach, but the sand wasn’t wet enough.  I told him it wasn’t going to work, but he was happy digging and watching it fill, content to throw sand around.

I took the pail and filled it with water and began pooling the water in the smaller hole I carved out near my brother.  When the water stayed in the pool, we dug a trench down to the wave line and kept filling the bucket, pouring it into the pool, and watching it run down our trench until we tired of it.

We ended up making a moat around a sand hill and defended the fort from the sea-gull enemy by chucking shells and wet sand at them.  They didn’t play along, but kept away from the crazy humans, thus ensuring our defensive victory.

Like the gulls of long ago, I’ve become my unwitting enemy.  I might prove a formidable foe now that I recognize the game.

*

*

*

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

Fear And Loathing In Massachusetts

Worry, worry, worry.  It rarely lets me be.  Will I accomplish what I need to today?  In my life?  What do I need to make it all work?

It feels beyond my ability, so I struggle staying alive, staying present, remaining hopeful.

My son has grown and gone, and I’m supposed to be alright with that, or strong about that, or happy about that, but I’m just sad.  I’m broken-hearted and it’s like a piece of my heart has left and doesn’t want to be reminded that it’s part of me.

I’m getting up every day, living my life.  I brush my teeth and my hair.  I shower and do laundry.  The dishes get washed, the floor and rugs sometimes get vacuumed, dusting happens when it’s an embarrassing coat over whatever I notice at the time.

Anxiety is my nemesis.  I often – and I mean often – find I’m holding my breath and have to guide myself to inhale deeply and slowly – and regularly.

I’ve tried meditation, and I cannot shut the fuck up inside, and then I get anxious about that.  I feel wired wrong.  I like being kind, and taking care of myself, but so much of my time is anxiety based.  I eat well because I’m afraid of the consequences of not eating well, not because I take pleasure in having a healthy body – although having a healthy body is a nice side effect of that particular anxiety.

Then I think, well, how healthy can my body be when I have so much anxiety?  Am I writing the word anxiety too much?  Should I be searching the thesaurus for alternative words so my writing remains interesting and fresh?

I’m sad I’ve never been picked for showcasing because it says I’m not quite good enough as a writer – not quite interesting enough.  I see so many writers who have hundreds of likes on every post, and I understand why, because I like what they’re writing too, but all I ever wanted to shine at was writing, singing, and acting, and I feel I’ve failed all three.

Writing, like singing, is my soul food, so I’ll continue regardless, as I will with acting, because what else can I do?

I’m not well suited for this world, and after deciding to leave it, and then finding reason to continue, I had hoped it wouldn’t stay as much of a struggle, but it is.

Every day hurts, or goes by in anxious confusion and self-loathing.

I’m running out of ‘some-days’ in my life.  It’s come to ‘now or never’.  I understand that that’s the way it is.  Not everyone wins.  Not everyone succeeds.  It’s my work to keep trying, but the pay is terrible.

*

*

*

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

Marx Brothers & Not Going Gentle Into That ‘Good’ Night

While watching a Marx Brothers documentary I grieved seeing them in their later years as all I’ve ever really experienced from them are their movies, and it was strange to realize that they were my Grandparents’ contemporaries, even if their crazy comic genius lives on unchanged, and new generations continue discovering them in all their zany wonderfulness.

The ache I felt reminded me that I vacillate between aligning more with Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Nightand feeling that death is as right as life.

I grieve for those who’ve left this world.  I wonder where they’ve gone.  I’ve heard tales of being visited by relatives and loved ones, but I’ve never experienced it myself.

My mother told me that her mother visited her when my mother was gardening.  My mother was in her forties and my grandmother appeared trying to advise her on planting to which my mother responded by telling my grandmother to go away, that my mother was doing things her own way.

It was stunning and scary to hear that when I was a kid, but it’s comforting now.  I want to believe that we continue on with consciousness, and the scientist in me knows we continue energetically because energy is neither created nor destroyed, and another principle of mass conservation is that everything must go somewhere.

Is everyone who has died still sentient though? This world makes little sense to me and I’ve been puzzled over what good is being born just to die since I was little.  I’m still angry with an alleged Creator about that.  Why take on solid forms that can be damaged and feel pain and have emotions?  It’s a cruelty I’ll never understand.

My father thought this is a penitentiary planet.  We’re the scum of the Universe, playing out our time as the lowest form of evolution.  What must we have done to deserve that?!

I couldn’t agree with that because of sunsets and puppies and kittens, and all manner of beauty that continues to delight and enthrall me, and I can share feelings, have intimacy, vulnerability, and care.

If we were the worst of the Universe, wouldn’t we be even more horrible more of the time, or even all of the time?  I guess we couldn’t survive then, so maybe having some goodness is necessary to keep us replicating, but also having to endure or witness evil, or watch those we love grow old and die is part of our punishment?

On the other hand, there are those we’re glad to see leave this world, and know the world is better for them being gone, so the questions remain.

When I followed a religion, I remember reading that god, or the creator, is a ‘unknowable essence’, so trying to understand or know It is a form of insanity.

I feel best when I ask the least questions, but I seem unable to stop seeking answers anyway.

*

*

*

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

Our Time Comes

My mother is in her 80’s now.  80’s!  I realized what that means at our holiday family gathering when we were opening presents, and I gave my mother her gift to open, and something was happening to her, freaking us all out.  She closed her eyes, and seemed to be struggling internally, swallowing, all the while drifting away.  I called out, “MOM”!, as though my voice could stop her slipping into – whatever the hell was happening.  Her eyes fluttered, then half-opened in response, and I could see it was taking extraordinary energy for her to come to awareness, and then she tried to get up to use the bathroom, but she nearly passed out upon rising.  I grabbed her, but my left arm is still weak and I couldn’t hold her, yelling to my sibs: “Help me! I can’t hold her.”  She was in stocking feet and sliding down our wood floor when my oldest sister grabbed her, and then my next oldest sister, the nurse, took her other side and they helped her into the bathroom.

I felt like we were witnessing her dying, and it was terrifying.  After what seemed like an eternity, one of my sisters came out of the bathroom saying she took her blood pressure, but couldn’t get it accurately – that it was reading so low she’d be dead – and all I could think was ‘duh, she was dying!’, but stopped myself from saying it. I wanted to call 911, or get her to a hospital, but my sisters asked me to wait and see if she worsened.  After 10 minutes or so, she had recovered, becoming her chipper, aware, self within a half-hour or so, which was actually more unsettling, because – what happened?

While the drama unfolded in the bathroom, the rest of us, my son and his girlfriend – who was at our holiday gathering for the first time – my S.O., my sister’s husband, and another long-time family friend were unsure what to do.  Once my mother was starting to feel better but wanted to stay in the bathroom for a while longer, my oldest sister stayed with her and we proceeded with the gift exchange, which seemed rude, but my son had to leave shortly, as did my next oldest sister, and our family friend, so we halfheartedly continued.

I feel like a total shit now, like, of course we should have waited for my mother and sister to come out of the bathroom, but we felt the danger had passed as my oldest sister was staying in there against my mother’s protests that she was fine.  I was trying to weigh carrying on with making everyone wait for however long it would be.  That feels like a co-dependent decision now.

But this is life.  I make crappy decisions all the time, no matter how I try for perfection.

My mother is going to die, and maybe soon.  Perhaps, though, she’ll accomplish her goal of reaching 103, thereby outliving her father, who died at 102 – but as John Lennon famously sung in, Beautiful Boy, and others have voiced before him: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

I don’t want to lose her from this world, though.  There’s the rub.  I know it’s inevitable and I have to prepare for that happening sooner rather than later – but it could also be that I pass before her.  Not being assured another minute is scary, but the odds of me dying soon are lower than that of my mother’s. So, I am embracing whatever time we have left.

Good memories of connection, love, fun, great conversation and family history are what I’m focusing on now, and I hope that my son will feel the desire to know and understand where he came from, and what my young life was like sooner than I did with my folks.

I remember a gravestone that read something like, ‘Know that whenever I was taken, the end came too soon’. I still have more time with my mother, so I will honor our gift of time the best I can.

cropped-meandmom2010.jpg

*

*

*

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

 

 

 

 

Frozen World

our iced over back yard SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

It was -0.6°F when I looked at the weather station around 8:30 a.m..  Glancing out the kitchen window made me pause, the whole back yard looked like a badly groomed skating rink, but I still wish I had a pair of ice skates.  I wouldn’t last very long at that temperature, but it could have been a fun (or disastrous) ride down our hill to the back field where my favorite Willow trees grace the tree line.

I wondered what it would have been like to live here before humanity figured out how to build houses.  Would I be huddled with my tribe in the woods?  Like the Inuit, or other Peoples, we would have figured it out of necessity – which is how any of our modern world came to be, really.  Once we decided on permanent settlements, becoming farmers and builders instead of hunter/gatherer nomads, we became ever more elaborate, continuing to separate ourselves from the land all the while.

I’m not complaining.  I’d rather have modernity than be huddled together in some sheltered spot for warmth, but I haven’t left the house in two days, so perhaps I’m not all that far from ancient ancestors.  Cold weather is like pain for me – I avoid it as much as possible.  I would move to warmer climes, but my life is here for now because of finances and family obligations, however gladly met.

This time of year is the toughest – but the season is turning, the light increasing, and my isolation is more by choice than by circumstances.  Depression dulls my activity, keeping my world small, but staying removed only increases my distress.  It’s a terrible syndrome, especially during the dark, lonelier months, but writing here helps because I feel more connected to my readers, and to those blogs I read, or discover through tags or recommendations.

There is also a loveliness of a winter morning’s quiet, as though the landscape is caught in the Snow Queen‘s frozen spell, and while I like the afternoon light, Emily Dickinson’s poem often comes to mind: (from The Poetry Foundation)

There’s a certain Slant of light (320)

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
***

Reprinted electronically by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983, 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Although I resonate with that poem, the afternoon light isn’t oppressive when it hits the top of the three towering Willows, emblazoning their top branches in glowing yellow-orange light, gladdening my heart to see it.

*

*

*

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

 

All I Want For Christmas Is A Valium

My family came to celebrate our Christmas gathering on the Solstice, which worked out nicely for my mother and me, the two de facto pagans in the bunch.  My mother is more of a ‘in fact’ pagan as she follows the religion and I just like their ideas more than I like any other ideas, religious or spiritually speaking.

Mostly, I like the return of the light.  Summer cannot get here fast enough now.  Winter is still and lovely at times, but it’s also cold and depressing for me.  Spring is sweeter than I want to admit here, but I live for the season that won’t be here for several more months – so suck it up, I must.

Out of my two sisters, one doesn’t like me much, and no matter what I do, my actions, or inaction, are interpreted in the worst way.  My other sister and I get along much better, and we have mutual respect for each other, but religion will always be our barrier.

The brother who showed up is the youngest of our bunch, and because he’s intelligent and relatively typical, I forget that his brain is different.  He’s in the autism spectrum, as well as being a trauma survivor.  Various medications have left him paranoid at times, or haven’t helped his depression and anger.  He’s got a better doctor, new medication, and seems more even than I’ve seen him in a while, but he’s involved with an active alcoholic who only likes him when she’s drunk, but my brother has such low self-regard that he takes it.

He was hit by a car while riding his bike last summer and is waiting for his settlement to get a car again and maybe elevate his living circumstances, but I get the feeling this new love interest of his is just waiting around to see what she can get out of him, because he was also talking about the things he’d like to do for her once he has some money.  It’s good to be generous, but he doesn’t get that people suck and ‘hurt people, hurt people’.  I’ve never met the woman, but from the few times he’s spoken of her, she seems like a bucket of trouble.  Not that my brother isn’t, but he doesn’t need a bigger trouble-bucket, and because his brain doesn’t connect well socially, he cannot listen to reason, or accept that he’s being used.  Again.  For like the thousandth time.

No, you can’t have his number.

Then my S.O.’s family came to our place for Christmas Eve dinner, and while they’re nice people, and I love his folks, his brother’s kid isn’t given clear boundaries or consequences.  He was given an acoustic guitar among his presents, which he proceeded to slam on like he was a slash rocker, and every feeble ‘stop that’ resulted in about five seconds of quiet followed by doubled-down ‘playing’.  I’m still a nobody but I wanted to grab the guitar and show him how some rockers use to leave hotel rooms, or finish their shows in equipment destruction.  If one of his parents had taken the damn thing away from him and told him he could have it back when they left, or some other obvious solution, it could have been a nice end to the night.  As it is, I am investing in noise cancelling headphones for next year.

My boyfriend said that in past years, their son would jump on my boyfriend’s couch, and his parents half-halfheartedly told him to stop, which the kid never did because the parents suck at follow-through.  Because my boyfriend is family, he could have intervened, but he feels it’s the parents job to manage their child’s behavior.

I hate that I’m also the slowest eater of the bunch, and around the dinner table, the kid kept whispering to his father about how much longer I was going to take.  I took even longer after that.  It was immature, I know, but revenge is still sweet as he had to sit there and wait for me to finish.

After that, I excused myself, and like the Rolling Stones intoned many years ago, I went ‘running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper‘ – Valium.  The evening became much more enjoyable, and, of course, they got ready to leave shortly after.  That was fine because my anxiety was already so high that the sedating effects barely registered.  I considered taking another one, but didn’t want to feel like a Lindsay Lohan trainee anymore than I already did.

Christmas is over, but my plans for next year are already forming: they involve a beach, my boyfriend as a Cabana boy, and no other relatives anywhere in sight.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

*

*

*

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

 

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 the 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.

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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?

*

*

*

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