Weight Of The Day

I grieve in the morning, before I’m fully awake, the weight of things done and undone open to attack.

I’m as undressed in my psyche as I am on my body, and it takes my beginning routine to shake it off.

Make the bed, start coffee – unsettling thoughts crowd my mind while thinking about the day ahead.

Dreams can be the impetus for the unwelcome feelings as I recall specters of children I might have had, old friends and new, and a parade of strangers helping or hurting.

I had a baby in last night’s dream.  She was beautiful, but I couldn’t get to her, I had so much else to do in preparation.

My purpose is the baby, I think, dying from neglect, while I’m desperate to get to her.  Perhaps she is my core self, the unblemished bit of me needing attention.

The dream doesn’t account for the weight I’m shouldering, and then I remembered how I shared some of my story to help an interviewer understand the needs of those abused, how we pay even in the telling, but how necessary the sharing is for change and healing.

*

*

*

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

Dear Son, Sorry

I was reading lists of things to teach your children before it’s too late on my news feed.

To quote former Texas Governor, Rick Perry: ‘oops’.

I didn’t teach you about money very well.  You need to pay your rent, and your bills, and your student loan, and get food, for godssake!  Oh, for all that, you need to budget.  Don’t know what that is?  I didn’t either, yet somehow, we both lived.  Yeah, I have about $8,000 in credit debt, but they’re the ones who gave me the cards!  Also, my debt is down from $15,000, and if I helped you with math, you’ll know I’ve paid down nearly half!

Interest.

They charge you to keep that pretend money  – often a lot! – especially if your credit rating sucks, which mine did.  Because I managed to pay back nearly half, I have better credit now – will they ever learn?

Food.

You really shouldn’t eat all the crap I fed you until I found out that it was crap I was feeding you.  McDonald’s didn’t get rich off us, but we loved their french fries, and sadly, the proof is still in our arteries.  I’m sorry!

Sugar isn’t your friend, fat isn’t either – unless it’s good fat, and then – not too much, OK?

Are you exercising?  Yes, I made you go out and play – holy crap – I managed to do something right – but are you keeping your muscles and bones strong and safe?

I was a helicopter parent, or maybe a light experimental craft, because I hovered, but not to the extent I’ve read about some parents – sheesh!  I can at least feel good about that while I’m wringing my hands over what I failed to teach you.

Teachable moments.  I missed so many.  Again, sorry.  I was winging it.  I did have positive reinforcement skills – telling you to use an inside voice, use your walking feet, and gave you choices – even if it was a choice between two shitty options.

Also, I didn’t swear much when I was raising you, and that was a huge accomplishment, believe me.  I fucking swear all the fucking time now, and before I had you.  I was trying to teach you, and myself, that swearing isn’t necessary, it’s just fun.

I wouldn’t, however, swear when talking to your boss, or anybody who might ever possibly have power over you.

People suck, and life isn’t fair.  Did I tell you that enough?  There are many good people too, they’re just harder to spot, and are suffering from being dumped on by all the jerks.  Be nice to them.

Remember this mis-attributed Mark Twain quote:

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

There are so many things I forgot to teach you, but thankfully, you’re smarter than me, so you’ll figure it all out before you have children – if you have children – which I recommend and I don’t recommend.

If you know that I love you, that you conquered my selfishness, that you made me a better person, that I always wish the best for you – wish for stamina to withstand all the challenges you’ll face, keeping your humor, your hope, and your humanity intact, then I’ll believe I’ve done a good enough job.

Love,

Mom

*

*

*

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

Hike Come Hell Or High Water

Chicken of the Woods mushroom Photo: Andy Kostecki
Chicken of the Woods mushroom
Photo: Andy Kostecki

My beau & I won a White Mountains 3-day Adventure package through the Appalachian Mountain Club at the Boston Globe Travel Show this year.  The biggest mountain I have ever hiked was two years ago, Mt. Chocorua.

The hike was moderately challenging, but soul-soothing through the woods and past streams and waterfalls.  However, when we got above the treeline, I panicked.  I thought the wind was going to send me tumbling out into the forest below, as though there was less gravity up there.  I asked my beau to please not let me fall off the mountain, and he promised I’d stay put unless I jumped on purpose.  There was a further rocky peak, maybe fifty more feet up, but my courage left me, so I sat and watched his progress in the too wide open air from my safe perch in the middle of the granite slab.

After a while, I was able to get up and walk around, even peer over an edge to the valley below.  The view was well-worth my challenge getting there.

Today we took our first hike in preparation for the Presidential Range, but I think I’ll only make it as far as Congress did.  We hiked just over 5 miles to Mt. Toby’s summit and back, and I’m achy, cranky, and wondering how this ever gets addicting.

We pressed on through the torrential downpour for about a quarter of the hike, and we believed we were prepared for rain, but found a few chinks in our system when our rain hats poured water down our backs, and our jeans grew heavier with the soaking.

Along with benefiting from exercise and fresh air, we saw many orange salamanders along the path, a couple of garter snakes, and a friendly dog, that we at first thought might be a bear.  Outside of a few more hikers on their way down, we had the mountain to ourselves.

Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki

We were thoroughly chilled by the time we got back to the car, and hungry, making our arrival home that much nicer as we got into warm, dry clothes, and sipped the morning’s leftover coffee, still hot enough from the carafe, while we made some soup and grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches.

*

*

*

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

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. ❤

*

*

*

© 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 those 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.

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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…

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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!

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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!

*

*

*

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

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.

*

*

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

*

*

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

Top Ten Why I Don’t Drive So Fast Anymore

10. Wanting to join the hypermilers.

shutterstock_hypermiling_edited-1-620x349

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.

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

I no longer have a car.

Sigh…

All I Want For Christmas Is A Valium

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

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

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

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

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

No, you can’t have his number.

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

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

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

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

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

A girl can dream, can’t she?

*

*

*

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

Hospitality – Writing 101, Death To Adverbs Assignment

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

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

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

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

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

*

*

*

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

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.

***************

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.

*********

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?

*

*

*

© 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…”

*

“Goodnight honey.”

“Goodnight dear.”

*

*

*

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

Writing 101 – Hauntingly Interesting Person

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May you live and die well.

*

*

*

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

 

Writing 101 – Three Songs of Importance

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

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

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

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

*

*

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

*

*

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

Writing 101, Day Eight: Adverbs Schmabverbs

A detailed description of somewhere I go today, and the twist is to write without using adverbs.

Tucked inside a low, single-level brick building, housing a law practice, and four other health practitioners, is Dr. Brad’s office. The asphalt frontage allows ten parking slots, one for handicapped parking, and I try to use a different space each time I go because I read that staying away from rote behavior helps your brain.

There is a six or seven-foot tall evergreen tree that reminds me of a Norfolk pine except it’s bent over like someone stuck some branches in the ground and called it a tree, but I can see that it’s alive.  I giggle every time I see it. Maybe it’s a young hemlock that got crossed with a Willow tree in a grotesque plant science experiment?  The landscaping also includes magenta-flowered rhododendrons, and low shrubs, set in a brick-lined, elongated s-curve in front, stopping at the three concrete stairs to the glass door, as well as a Zen sand garden enclosed by small white rock chunks.

Warm air flows over me as I open the door, and I walk over the wall-to-wall, multi-colored, low pile carpeting as I head to Dr. Brad’s door.  A slatted blonde wooden bench, and low white plastic table, garnished with several old copies of, Coastal Living, sit against the wall opposite the office door.  As we live nowhere near a coast, the choice of magazine is odd, but I’m glad to peruse the pages for tips on my future beach digs.

I hear noise from within the office, and see the doctor striding over to unlock the door. He smiles and holds his hand up in greeting. I return the gesture, and place the magazine back where it was while saying, ‘hello’, as he utters his, ‘Come on in!’ – a routine that has varied, in the five visits I’ve had with, ‘Glad to see you’, or ‘Welcome’.

Brass coat hooks line a wooden strip on the wall, and a black rubber mat with a sign reading ‘Please take your shoes off’, are to the right next to the door as I enter the waiting room.  Two deep-red fabric-cushioned, mahogany chairs are to my left, and four more of the same chairs edge the white wall leading up to the sliding glass-paneled window separating the business area and treatment rooms.

Three Van Gogh reproductions hang in gold metal frames over the three windowless walls, and New Age music plays out of round, white, ceiling speakers, but I follow the doctor through the tan wooden door to the left of the business window, through the blue carpeted hall, and into the sage-green painted treatment room, its central features a black treatment table, and a large window taking up three-quarters of the wall across the room, framed with light-yellow cotton curtains shading the room from the outside.  A mounted pull shade sits inside the top of the window frame, with a white-ringed cord at the center hanging down an inch or so.  Dr. Brad places a tissue-paper cover on the split-cushion top of the treatment table, and says, “Please lie face down, and let’s see what needs adjusting today.”

*

*

*

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

Writing 101, Day Five, Found A Letter

“Darling Lisa”, it began, “I am so happy you said yes.  My life without you would be less fun, far less beautiful, and I would only know a life half-lived.”  The letter was signed ‘Paul’, and it was well-worn.  I spied it next to an E Station bench, curiosity overtaking me.  I looked around hoping to find her, unless she had discarded it?  Oh Lisa, where are you?  Two trains had come and gone already – was she on one?  Had the letter been here for days?  I watched a worker removing refuse and felt it was lost today.

I hope it wasn’t Paul who dropped it.

*

*

*

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