Oh, Boy

Because that’s how I see you. Not really a boy, though. More like a young adult. Emphasis on young.

How would I treat you if I weren’t your mother? I’d still be concerned, and I know that because that’s me. I care for everyone I love – and my problem is being too attached – and I know all the ‘how to live a happy (er) life’ teachers, guides, gurus, masters, etc. say that attachment is the source of my pain. Stop being attached. Just stop.

It’s possible, but it’s not like turning off a switch. And if it is, then I don’t want to know you because you’re probably psychotic.

Little by little I am letting go. Issue by issue. If my job was to keep you safe – and let you take risks – I was a successful failure. I did let you fall off your bike. I did watch as I knew you might scratch your knees when you were running so fast downhill and took a header – and I was grateful that was the worst of it – but I did not let you run out into traffic and face those natural consequences. In fact, I smacked your ass and told you in no uncertain terms that you will never do that again.

Yeah, yeah, violence is never the answer, but it wasn’t violence I was going for. It was reaction from unadulterated fear – from my not being everywhere at once – from what felt like my failure, at the time. As far as that toddler you were, I was god(dess).

The next terrible two incident was finding you surrounded by unsheathed freshly sharpened knives in Beth’s kitchen. You had to open the drawer that was over your head, and take out the knives one by one. You were like every other toddler on the planet – curious and non-stop. And you didn’t have one scratch on you. There is a god(dess)! – but it’s not me…

It was exhausting, and I was in the midst of newly single parenting, and trying to find work, and our own apartment, and was doing the best I could to be present and available for you. You were such a lovely being. Your ‘up, Mama up,’ from your crib in the morning was so precious. How could I not get my ass out of bed for that, no matter how tired I was?

When you were three, and we were living in our South Portland apartment, and I had just been Momzilla about some stupid shit, and I was sitting on the floor crying, you took my face in your sweet little hands and said: “the anger blocks the love, mama”.

That was your way of grabbing my full attention. If I was distracted and you had something. to. say. you’d grab my face in your hands and force my presence. Thankfully that wasn’t a constant occurrence, but more, that you were resourceful, even as a toddler.

I watched you deal with disappointment in your grade school years, watched as every kid in your class got a party invitation but you, and we ended up going to the public river swimming area that day. I was livid, but I hugged you and dealt with your hurt, and called those parents later, saying that they could have at least invited you for the cake once they knew you were there. I got it, not everyone is going to like you, but when the whole class was there? I started wondering if you had ADHD or something, but really, you were just already your own person, and at that age, conformity was king. You faced social challenges early on, and I did the best I could to support the great kid I knew you were – as well as try to get you to conform some – for your ease, not mine.

It wasn’t until junior high, at Four Rivers Charter Public School, that you found your posse. It was a great fit for you, and I watched you blossom there. You were pulling away from me, as life dictates, and I told you that you were changing but I wasn’t, and I’d always be here.

I feel like I need to say that again. I’m always here. Same as it ever was – to borrow a Talking Heads phrase. Maybe I’ve changed a lot too, but it doesn’t feel that way. I love you and like you and want you in my life as much – or even more now – as I always have.

But, to the point of letting go: it’s for my benefit that I release my bond to you.

You know where to find me, and my love is unchanging.

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

 

 

 

Which Way To Here?

‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

I don’t know who coined that phrase, but hearing it changed my life.  I bring me with me – moving away never solved my problems, though it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.  Looking back to my 20’s and 30’s, I’m surprised I survived.  Even if I had tried to off myself, I would likely have been unsuccessful, and then maimed for life.  So life would still suck, and I’d be scarred, or worse.  Great.

Getting over self-preservation is no small undertaking.  No one makes it out of here alive, so there’s that reasoning, but what we might do here goes beyond us.

A therapist told me that if I kill myself, I give my son permission to end his life too. I fluffed that off, but since I know 3 people who were successful in the last few years, it’s been working on me in whispers at vulnerable times.

‘You’ll never get out of debt, loser girl.’  That’s one of the lovely names my inner asshole has for me.  The ‘girl’ is a nice touch – colloquial and derogatory at once. ‘You’re worth more dead than alive’ – true – as long as I can keep paying the insurance, which looks less likely each time the payment’s due. ‘You’re aging now and you’re losing the little looks you had, and you’re worth less and less.’  ‘You’ve failed everything you’ve tried, and it’s too late to make it anywhere.’  ‘You can’t even get a regular job! Not one interview, and no prospects.’

The most significant, however, is the voice that tells me that I’ll end my pain.  No more suffering.  No more challenges.  No more heartache.

Except, wherever I go, there I am.

Maybe I’ll have a consciousness, maybe I won’t. I’ve never died before. I’ve read lots of books and studies on people who have died and been revived, and they usually talk about bright light, and seeing loved ones who’ve passed on, or of spirits – ghosts – that seem to be stuck in the thoughts and feelings they had when they died.

Finding work I can do has been the bane of my existence. Clearly, I have to get entrepreneurial, but figuring that out is the rub.

The positives of staying alive are seeing the beautiful land where I live, hearing birds trilling, and flying around, watching the fireflies this time of year, and listening to tree frogs and crickets.  Cats and dogs don’t care what I look like as long as I can scratch behind their ears and feed them. They aren’t body-based, or judgmental, but humans sure are.

And when depression’s shroud descends, none of that matters in my messed up head. I don’t care about anyone, and that disconnection is bizarre to witness.

Grandma Moses said: ‘Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.’  She began painting her quaint village scenes in her 80’s, and she lived another 20 years, so not only do I have those phrases to shore me up, but Yogi Berra‘s: ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over’, is another adage to hang onto.

So, wherever I’m headed, I can’t escape myself – and I prefer self-love over self-loathing, but there I am – whatever it is.

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

 

 

Summertime Songs

From musicals like Porgy & Bess, and Grease, to pop songs through every decade, summer songs create, or re-create feelings of freedom, ease, love – especially young love with all that angst and yearning – and even if the heat and humidity are hard to take in the moment, I look back fondly to sticky summer nights spent hanging out with my group of friends, skinny-dipping in the river, or pool-hopping around the neighborhood, with or without permission…

Songs heard in my youth stir me more deeply than newer summer-themed tunes, or even old ones newly discovered. Those tunes center me in time and place unlike most anything else in my life.

The following links worked at this posting, but you can always search the song names yourself if any links become broken.  Perhaps a few are already in your play list!

George Gershwin’s, Summertime, an aria in 1935’s, Porgy and Bess, evokes a haunting sweetness of that which is hoped for, however unattainable, for the impoverished Bess singing to her baby.

Another “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, from 1991, breathes summer’s relative freedom, and speaks to slowing down and enjoying summer’s romantic possibilities.

Eddie Cochran told us there’s no cure for the “Summertime Blues” in his 1958 rockabilly number, referring to his having to work and not getting to be with his girlfriend or friends all out having fun.

The Drifters’ trill about their relaxing seaside summer in 1964’s: Under The Boardwalk.  You can feel summer’s heat, smells, sights, and sounds, while taking a chance at falling in love near the surf, away from the boardwalk’s crowds.

1966’s, Summer in the City, by The Lovin’ Spoonful, brings you into the city’s grit and grime from the first guitar strains just as Under The Boardwalk conveys a carnival feel from the start.  And while the city heat shimmers off the asphalt, a cooler breeze and romance prevail at night.

Juxtapose that with, In the Summertime, by Mungo Jerry, 1970’s bubble-gum ditty, where finding a date was summer’s full-time pursuit – and dig the mutton chops, man!:

The late 1960’s and early 1970’s released several songs intoning summer’s graces and privileges for young and old alike.  Several appeared in the summer of 1972.

Seals and Crofts’ Summer Breeze, is more folk than pop, and makes me want to lie under my favorite maple watching the leaves sway and hush each other in the warm breezes.

Saturday in the Park, Chicago’s ode to summer, also invokes a festival atmosphere, celebrating old-time holiday conviviality with street vendors and singers.

Alice Cooper’s, School’s Outbrought harder rock and attitude to summer’s opening, and remains one of my top summer songs:

Hot Fun In the Summertime, 1969’s summer hit by Sly and The Family Stone, also speaks to freedom from school in a mellow blues style, just as memorable for its ease and friendliness as Alice Cooper’s is for its ‘screw you’ ethos.

Flash forward to 1977 and The Ramones punking out with Rockaway Beachanother of their non-stop, driving beats insistent on another popular summer pursuit, days at the beach.

I don’t think Sandy Olsson from, Grease, would have been as attracted to one of the Ramones as much as she was to Danny Zuko, because meeting him on the beach was more like a Beach Boys’ dream song than the tough guy he portrayed in front of his friends, confusing poor Sandy.  But, oh, what fun they had in those Summer Nights:

Sandy Olsson could have used Bananarama’s pop tune, Cruel Summer, to console her, but 1983 was too far in the future for the 1950’s character, and besides, it wouldn’t have been broody enough for our melancholy Sandy.  Many of us with broken hearts related to their pop ballad while we danced away our sad summer nights.

A year later, in 1984, Don Henley rocked out smoothly with
The Boys of Summer, crooning his heart out about the girl who got away – while those mean girls kept walking – pushing their Wayfarers a bit further up on their pretty little noses.

While this list isn’t in any particular order, excepting its mostly chronological look at summer songs, no list would be complete without Bryan Adams’, Summer of ’69the youth rockers ode and anthem – finding belonging, following a passion – both in love and artful expression, and the sweet remembrance of summers past.

Make sure you add your favorite summer songs and why you like them in the comments!

Cheers, happy writing, and happy Summer 2016!

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

 

Flagging Down Summer

Today is Flag Day.  We learn about and honor what our flag represents in our country, and how to respect our flag.  I was raised a patriot – a lover of America: ‘Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave.’  I believed in the Grand ole’ Flag, and the pledge of allegiance.  America the Beautiful and our National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, still mist up my eyes with every hearing.  Yankee Doodle Dandy was one of my favorite songs as a child, and I even changed the lyrics to reflect being a girl.  I would sing: ‘…a real, live, niece’ – rather than nephew – ‘of my Uncle Sam’, as well as my ‘Yankee Doodle Sweetheart’ being ‘my pal’ to the end where ‘I am that Yankee Doodle gal’.  I never realized it was just a boat-load of propaganda designed to stir up nationalistic fervor and xenophobia.  Every nation on earth does it to lesser or greater extents.

A high wind is blowing all around as I write this out on the summer porch.  Whistling through the windows, I smell cut grass, honeysuckle, roses, and plowed earth on its way through – the scents of early summer.

Although the solstice is over a week away, Memorial Day has always signaled the start of summer for me.  Even though calendars declare that ‘Summer Begins’ with the June solstice, farmers and others close to nature’s cycles know that it’s really the half-way point of the season.  After that, daylight decreases daily with our orbit towards autumn.

But I’m not to think about that now.  Being here now is my goal as time tends to bunch up the older I get.  I want to have my younger self’s sense of time.  A leisure summer day could seem like a weekend then, but my adult life’s demands and concerns are often greater, along with the broader view of time that age affords.

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

Parental Freak-out

My child is grown and gone.  He’s 25, and living large in the city, and yet, I have trouble not interfering.  I want to say, ‘please listen to my advice because I never listened to those wiser than me, and I totally screwed up my life as a result.’  But, I know it wouldn’t do any good.  That was me, not him.

I try to remember that I survived domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.  He had a pretty solid upbringing, regardless of my Momzilla-ness.  I was present and available.  I provided structure, love, and guidance.

Did he have cotton in his ears the whole time?  I warned him about my DNA, about his father’s DNA – that the likelihood of him becoming alcoholic is stronger than it was for me, and for his father – but I think he took that as a challenge.  He can defy history.  He can out-drink his DNA.

It’s painful, and I know he’s young, and he’ll probably survive – but he also might not.

And there’s nothing I can do.

I don’t want to badger, advise, attempt management, or control.  It’s not my job anymore. Maybe I fucked up so bad that drinking is his way of getting through life, but that doesn’t make sense.  I know I did a mostly good job, and he appreciates my influence in his life.

Letting go and letting him figure it out is what I need to do, I know, but it’s proving very difficult.

I continue to love him as fiercely as ever.

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