Missed It By ‘This’ Much

Dammit, younger me!  I was back fifteen years ago for a few moments, clearly and completely.  The experience was less picture memory, and more intense sensory memory;

I was in San Diego, California, when I lived in the Clairemont neighborhood with a woman who remains one of my best friends, and her two girls, one of whom was five, and the other was two.  I liked living in that area, but I was failing in my life, nearly ending it before I was able to get help and start my healing journey.  I was trying with all that I had to be well and do well.  I took a small computer systems course that condensed a two-year program into eight months.  My son was four, and attending pre-school. When I picked him up in the afternoon, we’d play, and then I’d get dinner ready, and after dinner I got my son ready for bed, reading a book and lying down with him, rubbing his back until he fell asleep – or he didn’t fall asleep until I did – which was awful on the nights that no matter what I did he wouldn’t go to sleep.  Then I’d do homework until about 2:30 or 3am – every night – except weekends when I had the luxury of studying some during the day, and I wonder why I was such an emotional wreck!  I applied for dozens of jobs after the course and my internship was over, and all of the places I applied wanted someone with at least two years experience.

In our current political climate, I’d be told that I didn’t make a good choice, and if I wasn’t ‘making it’, it must be my fault, and too bad I wasn’t smart enough, or working as hard as those who were successful. But, I digress…

I wish I could convey what a complete experience being back there again was, but words can only lead – they cannot fully represent.  Words can suggest, hint, attempt, but they cannot encompass.  Encompassing requires several levels of sensation, and understanding requires being present, otherwise you can only approximate an experience.  Alas, it was gone before I could fully appreciate the scene.  It was a simple, ordinary slice of my life back then, and if it ever happens again I hope I get to stay there longer!

I tend to think I’ve heard, or read about, or encountered, everything life is capable of, and then I get surprised by a new paradigm.  Life sure has been an interesting trip.

*

*

*

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fall

I love the colors and flowers of autumn.  The leaves are just starting to turn color in our area (and I sometimes remember that they are slowly asphyxiating and turning colors just before they die…).

I took these pictures on my drive through the hills this past weekend; I hope you enjoy them:

Regardless of the process, autumn in New England is beautiful.  I like the untamed, scraggy, and disarrayed look of harvested fields and country roadsides.  There is a particular New England feel to it that reminds me of my maternal grandparents’ home, and of playing out on their land when we got to visit them when I was little.

I’m doing what I can to prepare for the changing season, although perpetual summer would work for me.

*

*

*

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

On The Eve Of My Son’s 21st Birthday

Twenty-one years ago I was pregnant with my son.  I had wanted more children, but it didn’t work out that way.  I can still have a child, but wouldn’t want to.  It was a beautiful, balmy, late September day today, but it started out more overcast and muggy than it was twenty-one years ago.  It was sunny by this afternoon, and I decided to take a drive in the hills.  The leaves are just starting to turn, but the scenery was lovely anyway.

All those years ago I had woken up feeling fine, and had to run some errands.  My mother was staying with me at my apartment in Vernon, Vermont, to help out after my son’s birth.  I began feeling strange shortly after waking up, but thought it was just Braxton-Hicks contractions, so I went about my day, driving my mother into Brattleboro later that afternoon to do some grocery shopping.  While we were at the grocery store, I began feeling more odd and nauseated, but I didn’t feel like I was having contractions because I had some serious contractions the week before and gone to the hospital in the middle of the night where I was chided by the nurse on duty for not knowing false contractions from true ones.  If it were all happening again, I’d tell her what a stupid thing that was to say to someone who, a) never had a baby before, and 2) could have been in real labor regardless of what she thought.  I know she was just taking out her bad day on me, but I wish I had been more outspoken back then!

So, I reluctantly went to the hospital so that they could run a monitor strip on me to check contractions.  I got to the hospital around 5pm, and my mother and I were put in a room and the nurse on duty asked us if we wanted something to eat while we were waiting as it was dinner time.  I had some peanut butter crackers because I wasn’t feeling very well, but thought I should eat something, and my mother got a meal.  It was after 6pm by this time, and I was still waiting for the nurse to come and hook me up to the monitor when my water broke.  My mother started laughing as I blurted out “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit”, while trying unsuccessfully to make it into the bathroom – as though I had an uncontrolled bladder issue…

The nurse came in moments later and said: “Well, you’re not going anywhere now!”  I got moved into a room in The Birthing Center, and I told my mother she could just take my car back to my apartment until I had the baby and would have my sister drive me back, but my mother no longer had her license and didn’t feel comfortable driving in the dark anyway.  My sister was living fairly close to the hospital so she was able to get Mom and have my brother-in-law bring her back to the apartment after my birth coach arrived.

My son’s dad was living in New Jersey during the week for work and told me he couldn’t get back until that Friday night or Saturday morning, and it was only Tuesday.  That was disappointing, but not really unexpected.  My birth coach, Ruth, was a friend I had known since college, and she had two teenaged girls and was probably the best person to have with me.  I had decided to forgo any drugs, and even an episiotomy.  (I’m just grateful being tied to a tree wasn’t still in vogue.)  I was determined to do everything ‘right’.  I ended up with forty-two stitches that my doctor said would have been less if I had let her do an episiotomy.  Lesson learned, doc!

Not to be too graphic, but my response to the more intense contractions was throwing up.  Ruth ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while I was resting, and I had to ask her to please chew some gum, or somehow get rid of the smell of peanut butter on her breath because it was making me more nauseated than I already was.

She laughed because I was worried about hurting her feelings.  At the height of contractions (nearing the, literally, eleventh hour of labor) I told Ruth that I didn’t think I could keep doing it, and to her great credit she didn’t laugh at me, or roll her eyes, but just squeezed my hand and told me that I could, in fact, see it through.  I didn’t freak out and scream like the clichéd ‘woman having a baby’ motif, but it was the hardest, most painful, experience I’ve ever endured.  After my doctor sewed me up I told her that I was never going to have another baby.  She said “If I had a nickel for every patient that said that, I could retire now!”

At 5:49am on September 26, 1990, I gave birth to an 8 lb.,1 oz., 19.5 inch long, beautiful boy.  He remains the absolute best thing I have done in my life, and I would do it all again.

I love you, my dear son, more than I have ever loved anyone else.  I am so happy I got to be your Mom.

*

*

*

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Faces

I took this picture while I was with one of my sisters and other friends in Providence, Rhode Island, this past weekend.  I wonder who or what it represents, and if it’s a specific person or a general persona, but I find it as intimidating as I do interesting.

*

*

*

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

Evocation

I’m evoking the indomitable spirit that I came into this world with.  I was a handful as a toddler, my mother told me.  I was not someone to be trifled with, even at two.  I learned how to be cowed because of the violence I lived with, but staying oppressed has never been my nature.  My mother says that I was always vocal about what I liked and didn’t like.  I told her I was sorry for being a complainer, and she was quick to correct me that I never complained, I just let everyone know how I felt.  I appreciate my mother making that distinction.  I have never lost that quality, but I know it’s not always a strength.

I do pretty well in keeping quiet and trying to accept how things are rather than how I wish they were, but I can forgive myself more knowing that it’s a personality trait and not just dissatisfaction with life.  If I have a purpose, and that quirk has never left me, I imagine that I am one of those people who provides an irritant until things change.  Maintaining the status quo doesn’t allow creativity to flourish.

I can’t see myself as others see me, but I know that I’ve changed over the years, and I do the best I can in my life.  I probably have less anger than fear at this point in my life, but the fear that remains sometimes stops me from pursuing my dreams.  Anger is often useful to replace fear or procrastination.  Unfortunately, the kind of anger my father had is usually sparked to memory when I’m angry, so it can also hurt more than help me.

Fortunately, I have an easy sense of humor which can trump both anger and fear.  I have also found friends everywhere I’ve lived or gone, which has helped me through this life, and I enjoy the variety of personalities in this world.  When I stayed at the hostel in Israel, the owners, Rachel and Rahmin, were wonderful hosts, and I was usually in the breakfast room before anyone else (or perhaps after everyone else!), but I got a chance to have conversations with Rachel on everything from religion and politics to the many people she has seen come and go through the years of running the hostel, and I was flattered that she felt I was one of the better ones.  One of Rachel’s friends came to Haifa to stay for a week a few days after I arrived and we shared the women’s dorm for the rest of the week.  She was a lovely, personable woman and we also talked a lot about life and humanity’s follies.

I was on a spiritual quest, and ironically found out that the path I was on was not the path for me in a traditional sense, but I still love aspects of the religion I was following at the time.  I found out that I cannot tolerate having my life micro-managed by some unseen, unknowable essence, and while religions aren’t usually horrible, the followers can be.

I’m grateful that my early experiences made it nearly impossible for me to be a faithful follower or believer in anything.  As a result, I’m forced to believe in myself, and trust that I’m where I’m supposed to be.  It’s somewhat ‘Zen’-like that it’s the right path for me because I’m on it, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy walk.

I remember when I first got into a recovery group I learned that we were ‘trudging the road to happy destiny’, not skipping it.  The recovery community has its own dysfunction through its followers, but I always defaulted to the founders who stated they ‘knew but a little’, that more would ‘constantly be revealed’.  I began understanding that whenever you concretize a fluid principle, it starts to lose its meaning and value.

I especially appreciate Grandma Moses’ statement that: “Life is what you make it.  Always has been, always will be.”

*

*

*

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

Ocean Scene

Nothing else attracts me like the ocean does.  I don’t have to be on or in it, but I’m happy to see its wide expanse, listen to the rhythm of the waves, or stand at the water’s edge feeling the wonderful coolness of the rushing water and the way it carves out the sand around and under my feet as the water recedes.

Up in town, it’s fun to sit back and watch people go by, wondering what their everyday lives are like.  It must be tiresome for the year-round residents and shop owners, or maybe they just get used to it as a feature of the seasons.

It’s been a wonderfully satisfying weekend spent with family and friends in one of my favorite natural settings.

*

*

*

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

What A Trip

A few women friends and I are trying to plan a trip to Ireland this winter.  I will have to put most of the amount on credit, and while I’m used to living this way, I’m also hesitant because I know that the trip will end up costing twice as much as it would if I could pay outright.  Still, it’s an opportunity for adventure, and maybe have a better experience than the last time I was there.

Part of planning is trying to get the best deals on flights and lodging, but then there’s food, transportation, and incidentals to consider.  One of the women used public transit when she was last there, but having a car means more scheduling freedom.  I’m open to whatever works best for all of us, and is the least expensive.  We’re also thinking of staying in hostels, and I stayed at a hostel while I was in Israel, and it was fine.  I actually enjoyed rooming with others, and my luggage was safe.  Plus, when I was in Israel, I was on my own, and stuck up for myself when a rip-off Sherut driver tried to make me pay twice.  He acted like he was going to keep my luggage unless I paid him again, yelling at me in either Hebrew or Arabic, or Farsi, or whatever language he spoke, pretending he didn’t understand what I was saying, but I just kept shaking my head ‘no’, and repeating “I already paid”, until finally, he threw my bags down at my feet and got back in his taxi grumbling loudly as he went.

Living on a shoestring budget is difficult, and I know I have to pay for what I get, but the last time I traveled, the plane tickets dropped by a hundred dollars a week after I bought mine.  The airline gave me a credit to use within a year, but I couldn’t because one trip every five or ten years is the most I’m willing to pay off long-term.

I’m still paying off the last Ireland trip and that was only a few years ago.  I know I’m privileged compared to a large portion of the world’s population to even consider leisure travel.  I am very grateful for the trips I’ve taken, and for living in the United States as opposed to somewhere like Uganda or any other impoverished and/or war-torn nation.  It’s all relative.

*

*

*

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

September 11th, 2011

Ten years ago I had woken up around six-thirty am, so sick I could barely see, and called my upstairs neighbor whose son and mine went to the same school, to ask her if she could bring my son to school.

I woke my son up to get ready for school, telling him our neighbor would bring him in.  Not only was I physically sick, but I was so emotionally distraught that I was telling my son how sorry I was for anything I had ever done, or that he was sad about, and that I loved him and wanted him to be okay in his life.  I’m sure it frightened him but I had no control over what was happening to me and thought I might not make it through the day.  I was sobbing and hugged my son goodbye, telling him I loved him.  I suppose I should have gone to a hospital, but I just wanted to go back to bed.

Several hours later I woke up feeling much better, and realized I had missed an appointment so I called to apologize and reschedule.  The woman on the phone sounded incredulous that I’d be calling over something so petty as she said “don’t you know we’re under attack?”  I said, “What?!”, and she said, “Haven’t you been watching TV, or listening to what’s happened?!”  I felt defensive and responded that I was ill and just got up and hadn’t done anything yet except to call her office.  She softened her tone a bit and told me to go turn on the TV, and then we hung up.

It was just after ten am, and I couldn’t fully grasp what had happened for quite a while, and in a daze from whatever strange illness (now gone) that had overtaken me, and the events that had happened while I slept, I got dressed and drove to my son’s school to bring him home early, and went to pick up my mother to come be with us, and then I rented four comedies that I cannot remember the titles of.  I find it interesting now that in my shock I wanted my son, and my mother, and to laugh.

There was a gathering in the local park for anyone who wanted to process the attacks as a community, and I went to that, still in shock. It felt so incongruous that it was such a gorgeous, sunny day.  It seemed that it should have been raining and dark at the very least.

It took several weeks to really process it all, and I canceled going to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park within the first few days of the attack because Boston was on alert for terrorist attacks, and Fenway Park was a target – as was anywhere with a large gathering of people at that point.  Nothing happened, of course, and I’ve always regretted not going as though by that act I let the terrorists win, but I wasn’t willing to put my son or myself in danger for an ideal.

During that time I found out how much my son was affected by the attacks when he told me he was afraid that the terrorists were going to blow up the bridge we drove over every day on the way to and from his school.  I told him that the terrorists wanted to harm what they perceived as our money and power centers most of all, and that I hoped he could stop feeling afraid because now that we were aware that some people wanted to cause America harm, it would be much harder for them to do that again.

I think it took about six years before I stopped being so hyper-vigilant about traveling, especially because I flew to San Diego in 2005 and there was a high terror alert when I changed planes in Maryland.  I suppose it was good to be aware, but unless I wanted to take a bus home from there, there wasn’t much I could do about it.  It was a very anxious plane ride back to Hartford that night, and while I love flying, I’ve not been able to relax on a commercial flight since September 11th, 2001, and that fear has only been reinforced by the various attempts at blowing up a plane since then.

I thought about my sickness that morning of the terrorist attacks, and how utterly emotionally out of control I was, and I believe I had an empathic premonition of the attacks.  I have no other explanation for the extreme state I was in, and how it was gone a few hours later when I woke up, except for feeling somewhat groggy.

I am so sad for the loss of life that occurred, and sadder that it led our country into a war on false premises.  We lost far more people in Iraq through the actions of a President and politicians opportunistically ramming through their agendas while the populace cowered in fear and allowed actions to be taken in our name which we would never have allowed otherwise.

If there is a prayer-answering God, I pray that will never happen again, but I understand humanity well enough to know that we’ll always be duped when you drape the flag across whatever crisis you’re trying to sell and shame people into feeling unpatriotic if they disagree.  Now I need to go get some Freedom Fries and slap a magnetic yellow ribbon bumper sticker on my car…

*

*

*

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

County Fair

This is the weekend of our yearly county fair and it’s always fun.  I only like roller coasters these days, so the rides don’t attract me, but I enjoy people-watching, and looking at all the offerings of food and merchandise.

It’s still hilarious to walk down the game aisle, listening to the hawkers trying to draw customers in.  My favorite is the Quarter Game.  It’s an easy win game that takes in a lot of money because there’s no limit to how many people can place quarters on a square.  The game isn’t gaffed because the house already always takes in much more than it gives out.

I like seeing if I can figure out how the other games are gaffed.  I read an article on that once, but can’t remember how most of the games cheat the player.  Several games cost so much to participate now that it’s not worth trying to win something.

The fairs in my area are mostly agricultural, and have sheep-shearing and cow-milking contests during the day, as well as all the prizes for best in show for all the farm animals and poultry entered.  Farmers, gardeners and other hobbyists enter their produce or creative works in the hopes of taking first prize, and the big parade that officially opens the Fair is also a prize-winning venture for the best float.

During the Fair there are tractor-pulls and pig races, comedians, magicians, and even a death-defying act or two.  The biggest draw is still the Demolition Derby held on the last day of the Fair.  I think my favorite aspect is the food.  It’s the only time I eat fried dough (with maple cream) from one of the local farm vendors, and of course, french fries with salt and vinegar.  They never taste as good as they do any other time I’ve had them outside of the Fair.

I used to go with my mother and my son every year, which my son tolerated for his Grandmother’s sake as he entered his teens.  He’d spend the day with us and go off with his friends for the rides in the evening.

It’s especially fun to see people I almost only see at the Fair, whether they be vendors, or the bathroom attendant who has such a big personality that I’m sure she garners the most tips.  She told me that she travels to all the fairs up and down the Eastern Seaboard during the summer and fall, and makes enough money to live on the rest of the year.  I can’t imagine doing that for a living, but it obviously works for her as this is the sixth year I’ve seen her at the Fair.

There is something about a carnival atmosphere where personality aspects not normally present are coaxed out – much like Halloween.  I feel like that most of the time around my group, but it’s so fun when others meet me there.

*

*

*

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

Heading down my mother’s path, Wendell, Massachusetts.

Back up to the garden near the top of the path

One of the two plank bridges

I so enjoy seeing the seasonal changes down the pathway to my mother’s place.  A guy she hired, and one of my sisters, labored diligently a few summers ago to smooth out the passage, making it easier for my mother to push her wheelbarrow up to the garden and back.  They cleared all the weeds and other plants encroaching on the path, spread wood chips, replaced the old plank bridges with new ones, installed solar garden lights, and did what they could to make the pathway straighter.

If this winter is anything like the last, I think all of my siblings and I should chip in and get my mother a snow-blower.

*

*

*

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

Cruisin’ Back To School

My son and I rode to Boston this morning.  He drove and I did my best not to be anxious.  I had to trust, yet again, that he was paying close attention.  Even if the potential consequence was a smashed car and no injuries, I can’t afford losing my vehicle, or having to get major repairs.  I got a ticket for speeding on our last trip back from Boston, and I made sure to stay with traffic this time, or to only go a few miles above the speed limit.  I, unfortunately, love driving fast.  It is so hard for me to plod along wasting my time driving when life is waiting for me to get where I need to be.  I am not one of those who looks at the journey as part of the experience unless I’m traveling where I’ve never been.  If I could teleport, that probably wouldn’t be fast enough for me most of the time.  I want to live in the future and be able to come back to the past at my leisure while everyone else is catching up with me.

The hundred-dollar ticket would have been worth it if my insurance didn’t also go up as a result.  Today, ironically, I didn’t pass one police cruiser on the way home, but the people behind me sure were annoyed with my reasonable travel speed when the double-lane road changed to two-way traffic.  I could have driven in the breakdown lane to let people pass, which I sometimes do, but I was going over the speed limit, so they needed to wait to pass me on a straightaway, and glared at me as they went by.  I always hope that people like that will be stopped up ahead because I appreciate a good comeuppance, but I also hate it when that happens to me, so I just thought: ‘whatever’, as they zoomed out of sight.

Driving in Boston is always a hassle when school’s starting up because people triple park sometimes, or the usual two lanes which are already choked with traffic becomes one lane for miles, and blaring horns are just a pressure release valve because no one can go anywhere no matter how long or insistently they beep.  I’ve become better at not adding to gridlock.  I’ve learned to stop before a cross-walk, or at a yellow light, if I can see that traffic up beyond the intersection isn’t moving.  I try to drive considerately, and I have had excellent luck driving into and out of Boston over the last few years.  It helps that I’m getting to know the city somewhat as well.

I do think I could enjoy living in the city but, like most other people, I’d rather live outside of the constant din of traffic and people.  I’d rather have my home in a more bucolic setting and my career in the frenetic city center.

My son’s dorm is closer to the campus center this year, and I hope that will be a nice change for him.  He’s anxious about the work-load and being disciplined enough to maintain decent grades, and I reminded him that his scholarships depend upon him staying at a B average.  He’s motivated enough that a poor mid-term showing would kick him into high gear, but it’s more stressful that way.  I was one of those students whose every paper turned in may as well have been soaked with sweat for how hard I had to work at it, and while other classmates of mine breezed through and gathered A’s, I rarely got higher than a B for my efforts.

My son will get through it, regardless of the stress or ease, and it will be sooner than he could imagine now.

*

*

*

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