Structuring The Blog

I have a couple of pages for my blog, and am thinking about a new theme too, but it will have to be one that supports pages, unless all themes do.

This link makes shorter work of finding posts from my youth and young adulthood, as well as more current adventures.

http://wp.me/PSXDe-U3

My other page is about my blog, about me, and a bit of why I write.  Mostly I write because I need to, whether it’s read or not.  Getting thoughts out on paper or on the screen helps release some of the charge, and I’ve been fortunate to read others who inspire, and comfort, and lessen the burden.

I purged many old posts the other day, and it was good to let so much go.

Cheers all, and happy writing & reading. <3

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

Clothes Shopping

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/20/old-navy-plus-size_n_6180846.html

An employee organizes clothing at an Old Navy Inc. store in Santa Monica, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, a survey which measures attitudes about the economy, is scheduled to be released on Oct. 10. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Does anyone else get anxious going into a clothing store?  I like clothes, adore cute styles, patterns, textures, and varied material, but I ordered shorts online, and they were too big – a happy problem, for sure – but going to the store to try to find the right size was a freakish experience.

Shopping has never been my favorite past time, but I was struck with too many possibilities, and yet, variety is the spice of clothing!  Maybe it wasn’t having a lot of time to wander around and try on everything that caught my eye, but it felt visually overwhelming.

Would I look good in that cute sailboat pattern Capri pants?  What about the palm tree print?  Oooo, the flowered cut-offs?  Wait, that pretty star-spangled skirt is so cute!

Oh, do I even have a shirt to go with it?  Well, hold on, I’m just here to switch the cute flower-patterned khaki linen shorts I got, and I can either stick with those or choose one of these others.  Oh, no, I can’t.  I got the shorts because they were significantly marked down, and all the other things I’d like are full-price.  Maybe there’ll still be a few items at the end of the season.

The thought of the end of the season depresses me further, because time moves faster now that I’m older, and then I’m enervated and look for the right size shorts, which of course they don’t have, and the sales lady suggests I go online and maybe they’ll waive the shipping fee if I find the size I want, but in the meantime, is there anything else she can sell me, uh, show me?

My S.O. watches my changing state from our store entrance to our store exit, and he’s learned to not say anything, but takes my hand, and kisses my cheek.

What I need is a personal shopper – who works for free. Ha, ha, ha, ha.

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

All I Want To Eat Is Crap

I have apples, oranges, cheese, yogurt, kale, lettuce, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, beans, rice, potatoes – and all I want to eat is junk.

If I could survive on chips and chocolate, I’d be a happy woman.  I try to diet, I do.  I try to make salmon and kale my best food friends, and I eat them like one being forced to eat sludge.  I made Maple-glazed salmon, faithfully executing the recipe, only to choke the shit down.  I nearly ate a box of cookies later to make up for it.

Why can’t I like what’s good for me?  Have you tried eating kale?  I think even cows pass it over because of all the chewing.

Sugar and caffeine, two of my favorite things in the world are slowly killing me.  One of my favorite people in the world died when she was 99 – and she lived a happy life eating her Georgia-peach pies and drinking pots full of coffee.

I exercise, and laugh, and play, and my waistline keeps increasing from all the love I shower myself with in the form of chips and hummus and guacamole.

Moderation.  I’m told that’s the key, but my brain doesn’t distinguish between ‘full’ and ‘time to stop eating’.  My mother is in her eighties, rail thin, and eats pints of ice cream at a time.  She has a fast metabolism, I do not.  I’d call her a bad word, but she’s my mother…

I’m doing the tricks to make my metabolism faster – taking specific herb and spice combinations, drinking water first thing in the morning, interval run/walking.  I can white-knuckle it with the best of them – not giving into cravings, until finally, I do – and then I’m off & running again.

I know there’s a better way, but my brain would like me to shut the hell up and keep the chocolate coming.

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

 

Summer Day, Twelve

The cool breeze and shade diminished the heat of the sun as I walked down the road to Marie’s house.  I watched the big maples and oaks as I walked, their leaves rippling and swaying in the wind, the sun filtering through them creating dappled patterns, moving kaleidoscope-like on the pavement.  I tried leaping into spots of sun but the dance was too fast, I kept losing the game.

The rustle of chipmunks and squirrels startled me as much as I startled them, leaving me relieved to see them scampering under the leaf cover, over a log, or up a tree.  When the woods got thicker, the sun spots all but disappearing from the road, I worried about hungry bears and wolves attacking me, and I’d quicken my pace, but never run.  Running was cowardly, and the rule was, I’d only run if I actually saw a bear or wolf, otherwise, I just had to feel the fear, knowing that it wouldn’t be far until the trees thinned out, giving way to the fields, where I’d be back under the hot sun, hoping the breeze kept up.

Some days, when there was no breeze, I’d pretend I was lost in the desert, the shimmer of heat up from the pavement was a mirage – that wasn’t Marie’s house up ahead, really.  It would disappear when I got closer, my parched lips, dry mouth, and swollen tongue would find no respite.

The game ended when I reached her driveway, and sometimes she would be outside waiting for me, and then we’d go off, away from her nosy little brothers, and play games with her Barbie and Ken doll – marrying them and then making them get divorced for various reasons.  The hottest days, when she was inside, I’d revel in the cooler inside air, going over the kitchen sink, helping myself to a long drink of water – rescuing the poor desert wanderer.

My parents had divorced about two years then, and I liked being at Marie’s house where her mother and father were together, and they lived a life as normal as I wish I had.

It was many years later, when I had my child, that I realized what it must have seemed like to Marie’s parents – that no one wondered where I was, that I could stay over any time I wanted, no permissions needed.  Her parents talked of wanting to adopt me that summer, a conversation I heard and related to my mother, begging her to let me live there.  My mother, her pride kicking in, refused, thus sealing my fate – and I wish I had known how to ask skillfully, maybe requesting to stay at Marie’s for the summer, and not mentioning adoption…

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

 

I Forgive Me

Maybe I’ll get a wide-screen view of my life when I die, and I’ll have the perspective of a stranger, seeing all I did and didn’t do, and perhaps it won’t be as terrible as I fear.

I know where I fucked-up, and I know where I tried to right things, and I know where I did well.

I parented a child mostly on my own, and I finally forgave myself for all that I wasn’t.  I can catalog a list of what I didn’t do to him that was done to me, and I can catalog a list of what I did, and didn’t do that could have made his life better.

Sometimes I was a real shit.  Sometimes my selfishness, and lack of perspective, or just self-righteous justifications, ruled the day.  I wish I had done better.

I forgive me because I haven’t yet.  My guilt and shame have made my life a tough place to be, and I yelled and lived so much in my anger when I was raising him, and I’m sure that caused lasting harm.

I think I made him afraid of emotions, afraid that they would always overwhelm him, so it’s better not to have them.

I forgive myself for causing his anxiety, or adding to his challenges in this unforgiving life.  While I appreciate his forgiveness, it’s most important that I stop adding more shame.  At my worst, I worry that I’m unable to change – that I wouldn’t be any better if I could do it over.  I’m grateful we need not find out.

I forgive me for not caring enough about myself, for not having a fight reaction when my flight reaction was dissociation rather than getting myself out of the situation.  I forgive myself for not being stronger, more willful.

I’ve learned how to fight – how to scratch, and kick, and tear skin – to make sure I have some DNA.  I almost welcome anyone to try to mess with me now, now that my rage is outward, and I’m no longer cowed.  I could have prevented so much harm, but I think it’s better to learn late than not at all.

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

One Of Those Days

I woke up sad.  Like someone close just died sad.  I can’t seem to connect today, have no interest in talking, but I thought maybe writing would help, and I’m sure there are many folks out there who can relate.

There’s nothing wrong, and life is going on as it always does.  Nothing happened, nothing’s coming up, and as far as I know, no one I’m close to has died.

My gratitude list includes my health, my senses, my friends, my lover, and the beautiful area I live.  I’m safe, I have food, and clothing, and shelter.

The sky is blue, the grass and trees are green, the lilacs are blooming and a clipping sits in a vase on the counter where I can inhale its lovely scent.

There is work at home I’ve been intermittently doing, and I’ve been exercising, but I’ve also been tearing up all day, the sense of loss hitting me intensely, then subsiding.

I’m staying away from social media where I will only feel worse, and I’m doing what typically helps on days like today, but I’m still battling surging emotions that make me wish I could go home – the longing for some existential comfort I’m failing to find in myself today.

Perspective is knowing this will pass, and believing I’ll get through it.

I’m trying to find a reason I feel as I do, but maybe the answer is that I’m human, and some days suck – no matter how hard I try to make it better. I don’t need to wallow in my feelings either, but maybe I can just accept that this is how it is today, and with luck, I will feel glad again sooner rather than later.

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

Spring To Summer in A Flash

It’s supposed to hit the mid-80°F’s today, and it’s been in the high 70°F’s & 80°F’s for nearly a week now.  We had a few true spring days, high 50°F’s & 60°F’s, but now it’s ‘spring unhinged’, or an impatient summer.  I’ll take it!  I’m in love with the world today, and I’ll ride this pink cloud into the ground, I know, but it’s a happy cruise now.

The blossoming trees, bushes, blooming flowers, glorious green grass – nature’s eye candy, and its spell is working.  Getting dumped by nature will suck, as it always does, but life’s intermittent reinforcement is working, and I’m charmed all over again.

The crab-apple tree next door is ‘tickle-me-pink’ hued, more lush and vibrant than last year, and standing under it, the light honey-ed apple scent, and the electric-field buzz of hundreds of bumblebees gathering pollen is nearly over-whelming.

Crab Apple in bloom, Montague, MA Photo: Jerri Higgins

Blooming Crab Apple Tree, Montague, MA Photo: Jerri Higgins

Blooming Crab Apple Tree, Montague, MA
Photo: Jerri Higgins

If there’s a heaven, I hope it’s a lot like this, without things like having to stop writing so you can pee – that’s so annoying!

If you’re in this part of the world, in the Eastern time zone, or better, I hope you enjoy this gorgeous day.  Cheers!

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

Purposeful Life?

She reminds me of my mother, slowly lifting her leg up the step, unsteady with her cane, as I hold the door open and offer my other arm to help keep her balance.  She smiles warmly, her whole face lighting up, and thanks me for my kindness.

I’m not being kind, I’m being human, I think, but I smile back and tell her it’s my pleasure.  I’m you in several decades, I think.  Decades that will come sooner than I want, if I live that long.

She waits for her husband, a man who shuffles along with his walker, his gait slower as he pulls his unwilling body along, she, with the patience of one long used to this, keeps the door open for him after telling me not to wait.

Inside the office, she sees an acquaintance.  The woman rises to hug her and tell her how sorry she is for her loss of her brother.  The old woman hugs her tighter, thanks her, then cries, telling the younger woman that she’s the only one left now.  The younger woman tears up and kisses the older woman’s cheek, and tears well up in my eyes too.

I wish I knew something comforting to say.  ‘You’ll be reunited with your loved ones one day’, I think, but the words feel hollow and trite as I think them.

This life of sorrow weighs us down.  We’re challenged to the end, and I’m not sure there’s anything after this to make it all worthwhile.  I know the experience itself is valuable, but it’s ephemeral, unless we retain consciousness after we leave this world.

I’ve heard that life’s only meaning is what we bring to it, the kindness and care that we show others, and how much suffering we can alleviate while we’re here.  Maybe suffering is spiritual honor, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in it.  It just hurts.  And worse, after a life of enduring, our bodies betray us by breaking down, adding insult to injury, regardless of any wisdom gained through experience and the mere passage of time.

But there is joy, and beauty, and laughter, and pain-free living too.

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

Online Concerns

An account at an online drugstore that I rarely used – and thankfully didn’t store my financial information – was hacked, and the person tried to purchase something using their name and financials, but using my email.  I got a notice from the company that I had changed my information and to contact them if it wasn’t me, so I tried to log in, but they changed my password, and I contacted the site admin immediately and they cancelled and blocked my account, but then either the same person, people, bot? tried to change my Twitter account to their name and another password using my email, and I’m not sure why?

Maybe they wanted to spam anyone who follows me?  They can try to spam anyone without gaining access to my account.  I do my best not to store any financial information online, always asking any place I purchase from to remove any sensitive information.

I signed up for a healthcare portal at my doctor’s office, and when I accessed it, it was creepy seeing all my health information displayed.  Who else is looking at that?

Being able to check my bank account, or update my healthcare information, or make purchases online is so convenient and easy, but how vulnerable are we making ourselves?

Groups like Anonymous have shown that they can hack into the most allegedly secure sites, so what chance do I stand?  I’m sure my beliefs and activism pisses off plenty of people, but I feel like I’m one of the decent folks – trying to keep our society more free, our air breathable, our water drinkable – and accessible – and our food edible and nutritious, and I don’t try to hack into accounts to make a point, or steal from them.

I don’t have a specific god, but I’m spiritual, and that alone is enough for radicals to wish me dead, or at least silenced.  They follow fear rather than love and goodwill.

I’ve noticed followers on my blog that only want to sell something, and hits from countries known for hacking, and maybe these folks, if they are people and not bots, genuinely like or enjoy what I write, and I apologize if I’m wrong, but my sense is they have no interest in my thoughts.

If anyone reading this has dealt with online attacks, and staying safe online, or just has experience to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you, and I hope you all have safe and kind online presence.  Cheers.

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

Can’t Get Here Fast Enough

Soon, these will grace the front garden again.

Soon, these will grace the front garden again.

Spring.  Warm, earthy, noisy Spring!  Typically, winter passes, melding into spring, and often, too soon into the hot weather without much fanfare, but this year, I need a parade!

I have the ridiculous desire to get out and rid the yard of snow, but I know it’s nitrogen for the soil – ‘poor man’s fertilizer’ – as I’ve heard.  This year I’ve obsessed mostly on the roof snow leaving, as if that’s somehow the harbinger of winter’s end.

I saw myself somewhat objectively after several days of roof viewing, and shook my head at my newest compulsion – as though my observation increases the snow’s decrease. Quantum physics holds that observation changes a thing, but the effect must also be on a quantum level as all the stupid snow did was mock me for the last few weeks by seeming not to budge.

Complaining doesn’t change a damn thing, but I read or listen to all the grousing about the weather with silent, but insincere, repudiation because I want the motherfucking winter over too – probably worse than they do!

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

Marching Into Spring, and Smith College Spring Bulb Show

March is only calendar Spring, but it helps psychologically.  I’ve seen a foot of snow in April, and sometimes snow in May.  It melts more quickly, but with climate change, I have no idea what the weather patterns are doing.  Yes, we’ve had fierce winters forever, and there were ice ages too, but we’re in another change pattern facilitated by human industry – whether or not we believe it.

I found this article from The Guardian helpful in understanding the pattern change.  I also appreciated this Guardian article about consensus on climate change, and while it’s not going to change any minds that don’t want to be changed, it’s helpful for a way to talk about climate change.

Mostly I think about how to adapt.  Do I move – even if it’s only 4 or 5 months a year?  I love my area, its beauty, and familiarity, but I’m not coping well with harsh weather.  I know that no matter where I go, there is always something unfavorable, but it’s about what I’m willing to accept, or what I can deal with.

Likely, I am only fantasizing as I have no money to live in two places, and barely enough to live in one, but if there is work I can find to sustain me & my S.O. through a few months a year in milder climes, I will jump on it!

In the meantime, I really enjoyed the Smith College Bulb Show last week, and hope you enjoy these photos from our excursion through all of their plant houses from the tropics to the desert (if you click on a picture to enlarge it, you can click your browser back button to continue with the next photos):

smithbulbshow04 smithbulbshow06 smithbulbshow07 smithbulbshow10 smithbulbshow15 smithbulbshow16 smithbulbshow20 smithbulbshow21 smithbulbshow24 smithbulbshow28 smithbulbshow38 smithbulbshow42 smithbulbshow52 smithbulbshow66 smithbulbshow75 smithbulbshow86 smithbulbshow96a smithbulbshow102a smithbulbshow108a smithbulbshow109a smithbulbshow110 smithbulbshow128a

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

Website Home

My latest endeavor: Get Creative e-business.

It’s my new business platform – anything from freelance writing, acting, singing, and all kinds of creativity to keep my inspiration hopping!

I look forward to the day when I have a brick & mortar business to have a site for, but for now, you can hire me for writing, singing, acting, or telling you how great you are. :-)

Cheers!

Signs of Spring

Wrapped by this bright day’s light, I know it’s still cold outside, but it’s nice to pretend the air is balmy, with warm spring breezes tinkling the chimes hanging from the porch outside our front window.

Winter’s quiet, now broken by trilling birds seeking mates, claiming their territory, and readying their nests over this side of the hill, is another welcome sign of Spring.

As the day wears on, clouds dim the sky, but not our hope.  The steady drip of snow off our roof belies winter’s frigid grip on the land, and it won’t be long before my fingers feel the warmth of soft, rich, dirt as we sow our garden’s first seeds.

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© 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…

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

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.

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© 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…

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.

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© 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

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© 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 –
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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.

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© 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?

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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 junior high when your best friend’s parents 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.