Waking is dangerous this emotionally tenuous time of the year. The world we occupy, the new/old challenges surrounding me, our country, and everywhere, & I wonder if slitting my wrists would cause too much pain? Where would I do it? A stream bed in the woods, so romantic and peaceful sounding, until the age-old question of ‘if a woman screams in the forest in the moments before her death, and for being a dumb fuck, will anyone hear?’ Bueller? Anyone?
So, I wrench my lagging self out of bed and get fucking dressed, because that’s what we’re doing, and the inner three-year-old is not in charge today.
Sure, the world’s falling apart – literally in some places – and, yeah, life sure doesn’t match up to the brochure, but, then, so few things do.
You’d think people would stop procreating, but honestly, sex is about the best thing on the planet, that’s free – often…
So, on with the day. I’m dragging my ass through my life, but momentum is forward, today.
There’s no dress rehearsal. This is it – whatever that contains – but all that matters is the end. Am I in a tragedy, or a comedy? Life ending on a high note is preferable, thus, comedy it is.
At twelve I knew I wanted to act. It was what I thought I’d be in adulthood. I guess it was just going to happen naturally because I never had a plan. I failed to position myself for that occupation, relying on the ‘will of the universe’, or ‘fate’, or whatever my idiot mind told itself – so it never happened.
My first foray into Community Theater was in the early 2000’s. I had auditioned for a play in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, but didn’t get cast, so I probably told myself I wasn’t ready yet.
I spent the better part of today as an extra in a film, driving over two hours to the set, and riding back home after 10 p.m., exhausted, and probably shouldn’t have been driving, but had I stayed at a motel, I would have spent more than I earned, and had I tried to sleep in a parking lot somewhere I would have been too paranoid to sleep.
This was the fifth movie I’ve been a paid prop in, oops, I mean background work, and I finally realized tonight, after almost getting a featured spot that the director, or the universe, or fate, decided to nix, that chasing acting is trauma re-enactment. I’m still trying to convince those in control that I’m worthy of notice. I’m so tired of my psyche trying to reconcile my neglectful past. It’s not going to happen.
The same cast of characters appears each time, albeit in different physical forms. There are non-protecting bystanders, abusers, and victims. (Victim is often a loaded word, so hear it un-weighted.)
Rising early, I rush about readying myself for the day’s work, ensuring I have collected all I need and might want, and set out into the dank, murky pre-dawn. The creeping light flings itself out in eye-searing magnitude just as the crush of rush-hour traffic gathers at the crest of an eastward hill, and I jam on the car’s hazard button, hoping to avoid rear-collision while slamming on the brakes in what appears choreographed timing – as though the traffic were all swimmers breaking the surface one after the other in dizzying succession.
Surviving the first sun-caused hazards, we attempt merging with the big boys and girls zooming along on the super-highway at their break-neck pace: a feat reminiscent of double-dutch jumping without tangling both jumpers in the ropes – only with higher stakes in the highway metaphor.
Once successfully merged, we soon come to several stand-stills, where many of us frustratingly shift from stopped lane to nearly stopped lane, seeing the traffic gods punish us with every lane but ours beginning to move.
An hour later, fleeing the chaos of four-lanes, for the migraine of two lanes, and a GPS with a shitty sense of humor, or probably just sadistic, I double back to the left turn it told me to take as I was passing it in the wrong lane, and I finally rumble into a bumpy lot, park, and kiss the steering wheel for getting me there without bodily harm or auto damage.
A dozen other, sleepy, hopeful stars ascend the shuttle bus stairs and settle in for our ride to the set.
Once there, we queue up to fill out our pay slip forms, find space to don our costumes, and then stand in the next line for hair, and then one for make-up, and finally find our way into the holding area where there is coffee and juice and cereal and muffins, and why are they feeding us all this crap when we’re trying to stay svelte for when we’re discovered the nineteenth time we cross that street when the director calls: ‘action’? So, I opt for coffee and a banana, and wait for our day’s adventure.
Extra work is similar to traumatic childhood in that we’re never told exactly what is happening that day, and what our role is. We have to become ‘instant experts’ once we’re schlepped to location and placed. Then we’re told that we’re excited, or mad, or confused, or disgruntled, or perhaps all of the above, and the day continues with each of us trying to out prop the other.
I swear the women who were behind us who ended up in front of us toward the end of that particular scene were going to end up in the car with the principal actors by the end of the shot.
And here’s the thing: the principal actors are who matter. Background is sound and color, and does serve a core purpose, but you wouldn’t know it by the haphazard treatment that I’ve experienced on every set I’ve worked on.
My goal is for principal actor roles. My reality is that extra work will never meet that goal. I need to change my approach, or nothing will ever change. In life, or on film.
Occupying the middle part of my life is odd. I’m noticing my body changing in unfamiliar and distressing ways. I think I have arthritis (!) in my hands. I’m learning guitar, but when I curl my fingers they snap at me like I’m trying to bend them in ways they shouldn’t be bent. Idiots.
I drove through a town I lived and had friends in from ages eleven through thirteen, remembering the home of a friend whose birthday fell around Halloween so her parents had created a haunted house for several twelve-year-old girls. I wonder if she ever remembers that? What she, or her parents, couldn’t know is how abnormal that was for me. I was living in a commune/cult where everyday was somewhat surreal, and definitely un-nuclear family-ish. She and the other school girls there, along with her parents, and attending a typical family party were an oasis in the desert of my life. Sure, I grew up learning how to deal with a few hundred adults, and a gaggle of children daily, but I craved closeness and structure.
The commune/cult was diffuse and casually neglectful. Most of them weren’t malicious, but there was so much going on all the time that people naturally found their cliques – circled their wagons, so to speak – only they didn’t realize that exposed the most vulnerable to predation and harmful neglect.
I see advertisements now and don’t recognize anyone I can relate to, not that I ever really could, but at least I was in the same age bracket. The only relatable ads I see are for fiber products, or erectile dysfunction, neither of which do I care about, or apply. Well, fiber is good at any age – we all need to poop.
A sea change is needed, but what do I do? Do I leave my relationship to head out for parts unknown? And what if parts unknown end up on a heating grate in some city, trying to keep warm and guard my few belongings from being stolen – again?
Maybe things could work out, but my life has always been just managing, and never actually living. Do I have the courage? And if I have the courage, can I manage it? I have boxes of books but nothing, except my son’s childhood art and other keepsakes, keeping me from packing it all up, ditching my books at some lucky bookstore, and setting out.
I know there are soup kitchens across the nation, and I suppose my big worry is where I can safely sleep, but otherwise, what have I got to lose? I lose my boyfriend, and that would suck, but I’m failing, and don’t have other ideas to help myself.
My vague plan is heading out to California again and doing my best to get into television or films there – the acting mecca – but it’s also the land of bitter disappointment and ruin.
If I had the money, I’d pay a reputable psychic to help guide me – but if I had the money, I wouldn’t need the guidance…
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.
I subscribe to four magazines, and I’m not sure how that happened. Three months worth of Home and Garden sit on the table, gathering dust, while Women’s Health, InStyle, and Popular Science are only a month behind – hey, I like to feel a little healthy, smart, and at least appear like a fashionista.
Fine, I fail on almost all counts.
At least a decade ago I subscribed to three family oriented magazines, and rarely read any of them through. I chalked it up to the demands of single-parenting, and stopped subscribing after a couple of years because I read more when I went to doctor’s appointments than I ever did at home – at least feeling productive with all that waiting time.
The parenting magazines only helped me feel inadequate, and mostly envious of all the energy those interviewed parents had to make those incredible birthday cakes from scratch, plan a beautiful, even if simple, party, and have happy party guests go home with clever little gift bags (hey, it was my kid’s birthday – why should the other kids go home with gifts?).
I would have been a hit on ‘cake-fail’ sites, and the parenting magazine was the first to go, even though, yes, I did read them at my son’s doctor appointments. At least I wasn’t paying for the guilt and inadequacy anymore.
The daycare I worked at a few years before I became a mother gave me good skills I actually practiced. I think I only yelled ‘shut-up!’ once as a parent. ‘Use your inside voice’ was my go-to phrase.
One skill I learned after my son was well past the incessant questioning age, and was never addressed in those parenting ‘zines – and I can save you months of pain and suffering by revealing – is this simple phrase: ‘why do you think that is?’.
We have to go inside now.
Because it’s nearly time for lunch.
Because food keeps us all happier, and healthier.
Because food breaks down into vitamins and nutrients that give us energy.
‘Why do you think that is?’
The above example would have gone on for close to ten minutes with my son, whom I was patient and tolerant with, and I would try to keep answering until he was out of questions – especially because I was not allowed to ask questions when I was growing up. One time the ‘whys’ ended tearfully when I said ‘because I’m stupid, that’s why’! (My tears, not my sons.)
My father’s standard answer to asking ‘why’ was: ‘because y is a crooked letter’ – when he was in a good mood… I had no idea what his answer meant, especially as I wasn’t clever enough to realize he was talking about the letter rather than the word, but it did signal no more questions, as getting beat was likely as not to happen next.
The parenting magazines often showed fabulous ‘easy’ home-made costumes for Halloween, and the best (and only, really) home-made costume for my son was when he was twelve or thirteen, and very into the Final Fantasy video game, he wanted to be a blackmage for Halloween.
I am not a seamstress. I have sewed hems, badly, and patches and repaired rips, equally badly, but my son, really, really, wanted this home. made. I guess it would give him street cred, or whatever the video-gamer equivalent is, and so help me god, I heard ‘OK’ come out of my mouth.
OK?! What the hell was I thinking? That sweet boy face – that kid who was already starting to pull away from me and acting like I was the very epitome of ineptitude – was asking me to make him a costume!?
Well, when I put it that way, we can all see why I said OK.
Mind you, the internet was still fairly new in 2002, and all I could afford was dial-up internet anyway, and I wasn’t very internet savvy. Hell, the internet wasn’t very internet savvy then.
I saw what the black mage looked like from a poster my son had, and I went to work: measuring, and figuring out how to make a wizard’s hat, shirt, and cloak – something that would make him proud, and maybe be nicer to me? (Ha!)
I found the right material for the cape – on sale!, and buttons for the shirt that were fantastic, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be making the shirt and cloak, but I nearly went insane (fine, insane-er) when I was making the hat.
I made it out of heavy felt, and found a pattern for a similar hat, but it needed tweaking, so I expanded on the pattern the best I could, and while I began the project in late September, it was a few days before Halloween when I was ready to give up and just let the ‘I hate my idiot Mom’ campaign begin in earnest. But persevere I did, and the hat got made, and it came out beautiful.
Best of all, his friends thought he looked amazing.
Ironically, I never thought to write-up and submit that experience for an article because I found the experience abysmal, and didn’t think any parents out there would relate. Now, of course, I know that at least a few others out there might have sighed in relief knowing that the ‘good-parent’ bar was set just a bit too high in those magazines…
These days I can read magazines without feeling (as) inadequate, but there’s no reason to re-subscribe if all they’re doing is collecting dust.
One of my first experiences of body appreciation was by reading Peanuts. That’s right, my philosophical beginning came through a comic strip. Not to diminish Mr. Schultz’s worldly observations, but I was a 5 or 6-year-old reading Snoopy’s exploits, or maybe it was Charlie Brown’s? – giving his legs and feet a pep talk, something like: ‘feet don’t fail me now’, as though they had brains of their own. It was revelatory for me to think about my legs and feet as maybe failing me, or that they deserved recognition for their constant work on my behalf.
Flash forward more decades than I wish, reluctantly wearing reading (in this case, writing…) glasses, experiencing appreciation for what was. I was going to eradicate aging though, merely by believing I could. Hey, the cultists told me we only age because we think we’re going to – that it’s all attitude and belief. That I’ve aged merely indicates my lack of faith…
One of my sisters needed glasses her whole life, so I guess she was spiritually lacking from the get-go. Idiocy aside, aging means diminished ability – no matter how well we eat, or how many vitamins and minerals we take to slow the process. The only way to stop aging is to die. That’s it. Plastic surgery doesn’t stop bodily degeneration, unless we start implanting baby organs, and stem cells to replenish our damaged cells. And there’s a bodily cost for those ‘interventions’: getting surgically sliced and diced causes damage too.
Fighting the inevitable – outside of being my Native American, or, First People, name – is exhausting. Acceptance feels like giving up. I know it’s not, but my emotional self says: ‘Screw you! – you’ll never take me alive’. And my body replies: ‘Well, that’s the intention…’.
So I extend my gratitude backwards. My body served me well, and still does.
I admit the first tender flakes made me smile and think of making snow sculptures, and sledding, to sipping hot cocoa by the fireside, and I was taken in by the romance, like the blush of new love.
My giddiness lasted through the day, especially as the snow was light, sparkling, and easy to move.
It’s right that there’s snow in February in the Northeastern U.S., but I’d like it to end with February too. Alas, nature thinks winter should continue through March, and sometimes well into April – even though the calendar plainly notes the vernal equinox – Spring – dammit!
Unable to leave for warmer, snow-free, climes, enduring whatever comes is our lot, so I’ll drink a cup of cocoa, pretending it isn’t going right to my hips, and try to enjoy the fire that rockets glowing embers, while belching smoke at me, filling my nose and burning my eyes with its acrid stench – no matter how often I change spots around the bonfire – and appreciate my efforts toward the graceful, artfully rendered sculpture in my mind’s eye looking more like quasi-moto than the angel it was supposed to represent, while begrudgingly appreciating nature’s ice I’m pressing my bruised tail bone against from the ill-advised sledding, and subsequent and spectacular ejection from said sled, earlier in the day.
At least I snapped a few photos before the worst:
By the way, while Lena Horne is famous for her rendition of Stormy Weather, among others, I think Ella Fitzgerald sings it better.
What type are you? Like to throw lavish parties, or perhaps a more intimate gathering? Whatever your festivity profile is, here are some simple steps to make this Halloween fabulously fun!
If you like lavish costume parties, or unhooked dance-a-thons, you’re a planner, so you have nearly everything ready; but, if you’re like me, it seems party day comes up all too soon.
Don’t have that scarecrow you were going to have made yet? Neither do I! Dig out some balloons, if you can find them, or if you have them – or go buy a package at a dollar store. Long skinny balloons fill the arms and legs nicely, and round balloons will fill the body. * Tip: Bigger balloons are better to fill the main body, but you might like a variety of sizes – experiment!
If you don’t fill the balloons too much, they’ll be less likely to pop when you’re stuffing, or moving your scarecrow into position. You can use a pumpkin-shaped bucket with a straw hat for the head, decorate a large balloon, and tie a hat on it, or sew a head-shaped pattern, draw your scarecrow’s face, put a balloon in the opening you left for stuffing, and then blow the balloon up, or stuff your scarecrow’s head with fiber-fill or some other suitable material, and add some straw coming out of the hat, as well as straw sticking out from the cuffs of the sleeves and the pant legs.
This year, I shoved a bunch of cornstalks up against the garage, meaning to make an artistic arrangement later, but I never got to that either, so putting a pumpkin next to it makes it look rustic – and I saved myself a bunch of time!
Making your home festive is a snap too! Press a few vinyl clings on your window, or glass door, get a Halloween or fall-themed dish towel, some pumpkins, gourds, and a few pots of mums, and you’re done!
Now for the invites. If you’re a planner, you’ve already sent them, and because your parties are always fab, you’ve gotten RSVP’s too. However, if you’re like me, you’ll have to contact everyone by phone, email, and social media to alert them of your event.
Of course, they all already have plans, so they won’t make it, but I can freeze my Harvest Pumpkin Soup, my Cinnamon-Nutmeg Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, and my roasted Brussels’ sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes, for another day.
The pumpkin pie, and meticulously made (ordered) graveyard cake will last forever in pictures, even though the scent of the hot-buttered rum cider can’t be captured, and it will be drunk – and I’ll be drunk – by myself, as my S. O. rarely drinks, and doesn’t like rum. Yo, ho, ho…
It’s too bad I ran out of time to carve the pumpkin, it really was the perfect shape.
No to the creaky knees, no to the aching joints. What the hell is my problem, I think. I am not that old! I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when I’m really old – do I even want to make it that far if I’m already in daily pain? Wtf?
I’m in denial. Aging is a slow progression. You don’t wake up one day ‘old’. How the fuck would that be? No, you get to hurt slowly, like a mild torture device that can be full throttle any time.
The problems begin to add up. Oh, your eyes aren’t seeing so well anymore, and you ignore it, it’s temporary. Soon, though, you begrudgingly get the dollar reading glasses, because why are you going to pay very much for this bullshit condition? – and you know you’ll lose them eventually…
Oh, you can still drop it low, my friend. The twenty year olds have nothing on you – until the day that dropping it low causes a twinge that you have a hard time getting back up from, so you sort of slide into what you hope is a cool-looking dance move, and then, oh, you’re just too hot to keep dancing. Hot flashes have descended (ascended?), and it’s only 11:30, still another hour & a half before you can go home with a modicum of youthful dignity.
The girls want to do another shot? Ha, ha. OK, sure. Let’s drink to partying forever – hell, yeah! – oops – mine spilled, ha, ha. Oh, well, that’s fine. I had a shot while y’all were dancin’, and I’m feelin’ fine! Wooo, hooo! Because, if I had had another shot, my whole day would have been ruined, and I know I’m not going to sleep much anyway, because – idk – thanks Obama?
I feel like the chaperone more and more, and I’ve probably been looked at like one for far longer than I realized. This isn’t about them, anyway. They have their own shit to contend with – their young shit, which I am honestly grateful to not be in the midst of anymore – but here I am with a new set of sucky life issues to navigate.
I don’t want to be old or get old, but the only way to prevent it is to die, and I’m not ready for that yet either.
Whatever ‘god’ worked this design out is an idiot. Hopefully he was fired and a woman was put on the job so the men can start evolving with all the hell we’ve had to endure, oh, sorry, continue to endure.
I do all the things that I can afford to not age. If it weren’t a psychosis, there wouldn’t be a thousand products on the market promising to keep or make us younger. I really don’t think they made all those anti-aging formulas just for me. Those companies know I’m broke.
My S. O. & I won a 3-day adventure trip through the AMC – Appalachian Mountain Club – from a sweepstakes form we filled out at the Boston Globe Travel Show this past February.
We drove up early Thursday morning, visiting a dear friend of mine in North Conway, New Hampshire, before heading out to the Highland Center at Crawford Notch, N. H., for the first night of our stay. It was sunny, dry, and in the low 70°F’s. We had supper at the center, met a lovely couple who gave us some suggestions of an easier hike the next morning before we headed up to the Mizpah Spring Hut, where we’d be spending our second night.
A fire alarm went off at 1:30 a.m., and I thought it was some AMC hyper-awareness drill, but it turned out there was an electrical fire that started in the basement. We didn’t learn this until the next day. What we knew is that a fire truck showed up about 15 or 20 minutes into the ‘drill’, and by then I figured out it was a real thing, and my S.O. ran back for something he needed, stupid in hindsight, but it’s not like there was smoke or open flames or anything.
An hour and a half or so, and three firetrucks later, I decided to go back up to our room and grab our backpacks so we could at least try to sleep in our car – having no idea if or when we’d get back, and my S.O. hung back while I surreptitiously made my way up to the third floor, ducking low to keep out of sight – my adrenaline surging – as I imagined the place blowing up before reaching our room. After a minute or so, my guy was there with me, grabbing what we could, freaked out about being discovered, and the trouble we’d be in for being colossally stupid. It would have served us right to be burned up, but thankfully we weren’t. Were there open flames or smoke, I’d have counted my losses, and not risked it, but I figured we weren’t getting back in, and I wanted to go get some sleep.
About 5 minutes after retrieving our packs, we were given the all clear to go back in. I understand the risk I took, and I’m grateful it was as I suspected, and not a crisis situation.
Three hours, and no sleep later, we got breakfast, and hiked a mile and a half up a smaller trail that was twice as steep as any I’ve hiked so far, except Mt. Chochura, which we hiked two years ago. The pay-off was astoundingly worth it:
After that, we hiked down and chilled out before heading out for Mizpah Spring Hut, which we’ve heard referred to as ‘a brief jaunt‘. I guess they’re professional hikers because I was wiped out halfway up. A brief jaunt? Are you kidding me?
I’m holding back the ‘f-bombs’ as one of my aunts reads this and feels it’s unnecessary. I understand that, but still type my satisfying swears, and then backspace…
The temperature had climbed to near 80°F, and the sweat was starting to drip off me. My S.O. fared better, but it wasn’t a skip in the woods for him either.
We had supper at the hut, which was the best part of our being there, outside of meeting some really great people, as well as some not so great ones, and some truly odd folks, but sleep mostly eluded me and my normally easy and deep-sleeping beau, being in a full capacity three triple-bunk room, and not much space to move around in.
Being a hut, there was no shower – even if it were simply cold water – and we forgot to pack in towels, reading that they were provided at the huts during the high season (not true). The only paper product is toilet tissue (thank you, thank you, thank you), and I totally get it, but I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE. I am not a super outdoorsy, mountaineering, person, and this didn’t charm me into becoming one.
We were supposed to continue to Mt. Washington, and stay at the Lake of the Clouds Hut, which sounds so fantastical, and dream-like, but it poured into the early hours, and was still lightly raining when we got up to have breakfast at 6:30 this morning. We got out after 8 a.m., and headed for Mt. Pierce, where we decided to take the Crawford Path back down instead of trudging on into the 25 – 30 mph winds, rain, and thunderstorms forecast along the open ridge we’d be hiking. Plus, the hiking boots I got had already given me a few blisters, and I had liners under my ‘smartwool’ hiking socks. The lovely Linda, a former nurse, and her friend, Carla, who had hiked up to stay for the weekend at Mizpah Hut, bandaged and taped my blisters and sore spots for the trek down – I thank their kindness and expertise!
My S. O. and I decided to hike the 0.9 miles to Mt. Pierce from Mizpah to at least make it to one of the 4,000 footers, but the beginning was intimidating. It could nearly be called a ladder trail, if the ladder were unevenly spaced and nearly 3/4 of a mile long.
Our goal was accomplished, but the day being what it was, Mt. Pierce was enshrouded in dense fog, often an ominous deep grayish-green. I was glad to make it up, but gladder to head back down.
I’d like to hike Mt. Washington some day, but it won’t be a carefree romp. I’ll have earned every foot, sweat out every meter.
Going away on a whim used to include making sure I had my toothbrush and a change of clothes, and depending on the time of year, my bathing suit and sunblock.
When my child was born, I tried to keep spontaneity alive, and suffered for it. Oh, no – I forgot his red blanket! We have to turn around! He won’t sleep without it, therefore I won’t sleep without it, therefore anyone with me will be miserable – I’ll make sure of that… Suffering in silence just isn’t fun.
Today, my child grown, and no longer needing his red blanket – I think – probably takes off on a lark all the time. May the pox of child-rearing fall on his house!
I now pack a minimum of three days worth of crap. It’s ingrained. I’ve tried to make do, to be free again, but I need the earplugs – and this lamp. And this ashtray… I can’t sleep without them. Sure, we could pick some up at the store, but for me, it would be steal them from the store because our budget is so tight – yeah, yeah, first world problem – there is no room for anything else. The credit cards are maxed, and the goal is to pay down, not add. No, not even $5 which will be closer to $25 by the time the debt is paid down.
A detailed list is a must for me, and the stress surrounding trips takes a lot of fun out of it, for sure. Personal items, check. Three pairs of underwear for two days. Yes. Two pant choices, three shirts, two pairs of shoes, and my sneakers. Should I bring those shoes? Will I want my sundress?
My mind is an unforgiving landscape, a dark back alley where the worst of humanity gives me a wide berth. You crazy, woman!
Snacks! We’re on a budget! Pack sandwich making supplies in smaller containers. Don’t forget the water! Who knows if it’s drinkable where we’re going! Beach stuff, bug spray, sunblock. Holy crap, we almost forgot the tent! I guess we could have slept under the stars for a night. Except, we’ll be in a crowded campground with screaming babies and marauding teens. Wildlife bothers me much less – at least they’re quiet.
My S.O., on the other hand, packed one day’s worth of clothing, and his toothbrush.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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…
I was just getting used to it being September. This happens every year. I’m not a good planner. After the holidays – which I consider Halloween to be the start of – I always intend to get a jump on the new year, and plan out the holiday season. I think I’ll plan a Halloween party, or try to get a group together to go somewhere interesting, like Salem, MA, for the day. And then, I think I’ll be better prepared for Thanksgiving, and have a new dish to bring, and invariably I spend the day before running around to just get a pie or two made, never mind experimenting with a new recipe for the holiday. Then our family Christmas gathering will be upon us, and then Christmas Day with my son. I wonder what that will be like this year because he doesn’t live at home anymore? Maybe he’ll gift me with his presence this holiday! Hope springs eternal – and speaking of spring – I didn’t even do my fall cleaning, never mind what spring expects! Oh, but, summer, I can hardly wait for that! I want to have some lake-side parties, and a couple of beach days, and before I know it, autumn will be here again. Darn, I had wanted to have a scarecrow making day with a group of friends. Oh well, maybe next year. Wait! It’s only October 2nd! I have plenty of time…
My apartment building has been the site of major street reconstruction and infrastructure upgrade. Someone down the street had natural gas installed in their home, so a new line, or updated line, had to go in, where they discovered that the sewer line needed to be upgraded as well.
Unfortunately, the sewer line runs directly under my apartment building, and I live on the first floor. I am happy for those guys that have jobs, I just wish they didn’t have to be at it so early!
I woke up and heard noise outside the window and saw the bucket of the back-hoe loader lift up, like the imagined maw of a Tyrannosaurus-Rex. It was a very surreal and scary experience, and made me infinitely grateful that those beasts no longer roam the Earth. I was a bit worried about my window being accidentally smashed, so I moved away from the window after taking a few snapshots:
One of the upsides, and something I have written about before, is my serendipitous/mystical heart sightings/gifts. The construction crew is done on the right side of the house, and now they’re working on the left side. I looked out the right-hand side window this morning to see this embedded in the ground below:
I think what I like most about blogging is discovering other blogs that make me want to read more, and often change how I perceive the world, and/or myself. I so enjoy these folks who have blogged on topics impersonal and personal, tragic and uplifting (sometimes in the same post, or at least on the same blog), and my favorites are those who can pen nearly all those states with a sense of humor. Some have made me snort out whatever I’m drinking at the moment in a fit of laughter (which is a cautionary tale about not drinking while reading blogs), while others have left me leaving my chair for a tissue to wipe my eyes (which is why I now keep a box of tissues by my computer desk).
Here are the requirements for having such an honor bestowed upon you (should you choose to fulfill it)
1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.
I found Renee’s blog after she ‘liked’ one of my posts, and I was riveted from the start. Although the first post I read was intense in subject matter, it was the way she wrote that pulled me along and invested me in what was happening, making me want to know more. I’ve since found her to be delightfully sarcastic, hilarious, and real. I’m grateful to have found another writing sista in the blogosphere.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
~ I go out of my way to find humor. I seek out friends who I can make laugh, but more appreciate when they make me laugh, or when we laugh together.
~ I can mimic accents fairly well (as long as I can practice them for a while before trying to speak them authentically – or at least what I hope is authentically…)
~ I have been singing since I was four or five, and first recorded a song for a local advertisement when I was seven or eight (with my entire second grade class). I am not a great singer, but I am a good singer. Singing is one of the few things I ever cared about excelling at. Acting and writing are my other life pursuits.
~ I like meeting people and learning about their lives. Humans, for the most part, are so cool.
~ I dislike judgment around age so much I never tell anyone, and I lie if pressed to reveal it. It’s less about vanity and more about not wanting to be codified.
~ Fear and procrastination have been the biggest obstacles to achieving what I desire in life.
~ I am sometimes ridiculously selfish and petty, but I am also often generous and magnanimous.
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.
5. Post a picture of the Versatile Blogger Award on your site.
http://brendamarroyauthor.com/ – Brenda’s is one of the first blogs I discovered that speaks to my heart and soul, adding fun, joy, comfort and another woman writing friend on the journey! Thanks Brenda!
http://belleofthecarnival.com/ – I don’t know Belle Of The Carnival’s real name, but I do know she’s hilarious, entertaining, and thought-provoking. I’m happy to have found another phenomenal woman writer out here in Internet-land.
http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/ – Lesley Carter’s blog is about LIVING! Reading her blog has inspired me to be braver, laugh more at myself, and just do whatever I can to enjoy this limited time I’m given. She’s who you want cheering you on when you’re not quite sure you can do it.
http://quotidianhudsonriver.com/ – I found Robert Johnson’s blog after he had ‘liked’ one of my photo-challenge posts, and I’ve come back to his site again and again. His pictures of the Hudson River and take on life around it make for a fascinating photo journal.
http://lifeasiknowitv1.wordpress.com/ – I first met Molly through another blog that she had chronicling some of her life and times in Alaska, particularly a hiking challenge she embarked on. It was comforting to have her posts during a time that was not so great, and I love her new blog: ‘Life as I know it’.
http://talinorfali.wordpress.com/ – Talin had me at Lemon cake! Her blog isn’t a food blog, but she posts recipes sometimes that I can’t wait to try, and her writing style is comfortable and familiar.
http://kanatyler.wordpress.com/ – Kana’s Chronicles makes me smile and want to read more (ok, sometimes I cringe like when I saw the picture of the stitched up leg, but it was a good post…). I appreciate her humor and take on life.
http://findinglifeinadeath.wordpress.com/ – I only know her as ‘Rising On The Road’, but as with many of my favorite blogs, I found her blog because she found mine. Her writing is lovely, and her life journey is as varied as it is beautiful to read about.
http://melodygodfred.com/ – Another versatile woman writer I found on WordPress is Melody Godfred. I’ve learned so much from reading her blog posts, and am looking forward to reading her début novel!
http://blinkutopia.com/ – I’ve followed Jim Culleny’s topical commentary for years in my local newspaper, and I’m delighted to read more of his writing and even some of his poetry too.
http://chicoryskies.com/blog/ – Deborah Gregg Folk Art Paintings. I so enjoy Deborah’s art. The colors, style and subject matter keep me going back to look at her latest creations. Thanks, Deborah!
There are many other blogs that I’ve come across and read, so it was hard to pick some and not others for my count of fifteen, but there are some that would have been on the list no matter what. I think I appreciate the varied audience that writer’s have. Some only like humor, some only horror, while others go in for adventure or romance, and there are those who take a pass on fiction altogether and stick with facts – which we all know is often stranger than fiction anyway. I appreciate being given this award, and I hope those I returned the favor to will feel honored as well.
I am on several e-lists of vacation-hawking sites, and most of the time I look at the Grecian seaside pictures, the trips down the Nile, to the Great Pyramids, and the Sphinx in Egypt, the azure waters of so close, yet so far away locales, drooling over them all. After wiping the drool off my computer keyboard, I sigh, and think: someday, I’ll get to all of those places. Then to console myself when reality sets in, I remember that most of the places the brochures depict are aerial shots on perfect days (and often air-brushed or otherwise tweaked) that never show cockroaches, bed-bugs, or the final room bill…
Yeah, if you need a sour-grape story, I’m your girl!
Just a while ago, I was looking at one such travel site advertising an Inn in New Hampshire (basically my neck of the woods), for a lovely winter vacation spot. First off, my idea of a winter vacation is somewhere more southerly than New Hampshire – and I don’t mean Rhode Island. Secondly, the picture the site shows makes me think of the Stanley hotel in Colorado that inspired Stephen King‘s novel: The Shining:
I know it’s a beautiful resort, and it’s probably a lovely place to stay, but it creeps me out. Now, if they wanted to pay my way to stay there for a weekend and write about my experience, I wouldn’t turn them down. I just wouldn’t think of it as a ‘vacation’ per se, but maybe more like an investigation.
I know that there are many people who look forward to, and really enjoy, cold weather, and snow, and all the winter activities therein. I, however, would rather write about those frigid climes and enterprise from the warmth of an Aruban beach. Heck, I’m not picky, any equatorial or South Pacific locale suits me just fine.