The Bullshit of Aging

Thinner skin, and that’s not a metaphor. Droopy, collagen-lacking, dull skin. Eyes receding into my skull as the muscles grow lax. The free ride was over a decade or more ago, but I didn’t do all the work necessary to keep up appearances (I also didn’t & don’t have the money for restoration).

Even if I did have the money for body reconstruction, who knows how I’d end up looking. Is a circus-freak look better than looking old? For some, that’s a resounding yes, for others, there’s no going back once you head down that rabbit hole no matter the regret.

What am I chasing? Eternal youth? No, just the appearance. Relevance, inclusion, and respect are my aims – and self needs to go in front of those words. Why do I feel less worthy of notice? Advertising and youth culture are certainly a part of that, but loss is the main theme, along with fear.

My nemesis.

I can’t hear you, or see you as well as I used to, and my joints make exercise slower going, but I’m still doing it. Use it or lose it isn’t some far away mantra anymore.

We are pure biology – and maybe there’s a spirit or soul that animates us and gives us individuality – but there’s no stopping the facts of life. Once the baby-making years are over, and menopause is in full swing, libido nose-dives, vaginal skin thins and makes sex painful. The good news is that the E-String & Estrace work wonders for that. The bad news is increased cancer risk. Aye yi yi.

I finally have a good man with a great bod who loves me & sex won’t lead to kids, and my desire is more for reading a good book by a warm fire no matter how much I psyche myself up. Sex is rumored to be 99% mental – the fuck you say! Nope, it’s biological. Of course mood & circumstances come in to play, but when you are right there, doing all you can to feel sexy & have a willing partner who’s totally sexified, and your bod says, ‘meh’ – that’s just bullshit.

I guess there’s Viagra for women now, but the fact we need these pills and potions to fight nature’s course just sucks. We face death by a thousand cuts long before we succumb to whatever it is that’s going to get us.

I will NOT go gentle into that good night, and I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

You & I, Dylan Thomas, you & I.

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

 

 

Tell Me

So many things I’d like to know – please tell me about your life. You think I worry too much, or that I think you’re in trouble all the time, and I’d like to change that.

Are you happy?  Is your life as full of joy as it is of challenges?

If I start asking the right questions, maybe you’ll know that I want enough for you, in all your life.  Balance is key.  Laugh, love, sing, dance, study, question, believe, cry, fail, succeed, care, think, and act.

I trust you and your life path, and that replaces my fear.  Believing in you, believing that you won’t waste this short life, or that if you do, that’s your choice, and it’s your prerogative.

My only ‘job’ (I wrote ‘joy’ by mistake, first, but I think it also applies) is loving you.  For sure, ‘love’ is a big word.  It encompasses all of life – not just the easy or joyful parts.

Life is learning.  That never stops, so I’m still learning too.  My emotion self is still immature, but my life experience is ever evolving.

Thank you for increasing my growth opportunities, and my dearest hope is staying connected – even as you wander further away.

I am grateful.

The Day You Were Born
At the beach
At the beach
Austen & me June 2009
High School Graduation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man/ Boy and Mama Aug. 2012
Summer Before College Graduation

 

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

Love To Andy

In the time that’s gone by, I tried to see a reason for us, but ‘it’s one of those things’ is said, and ‘be glad you found it before you’re dead’, and I am.

I am.

Thousands of songs and poems say why: ‘it’s not the colors in his eyes, or the way he wears his clothes, or how he knows the things he knows, but it’s in how he thinks of and looks at me.’ It’s how he loves me so thoroughly – it’s so new.

I keep deciding to pull away, to leave and find my life another way, but I’ve started asking what I’m running for, because I truly know that there’s no better than this.

But this is not all there is, I know, and we don’t live to make the best in show; we have found happiness and joy, a port in a storm, a bond I won’t destroy – again.

So settle down I tell myself, this love we’ve found is real and precious.

You are the compass that points true, you are everything I needed but never knew, and if I tell the fear to leave me be, then it will always be you and me, together.

This is my song to you – to us – to love – to life’s joyful expression amidst life’s agony.

Thank you for your love, for your steadfast care and hope, and for giving me a chance to truly love you too.

IMG_20160612_100300
Andy & me at Yaquina Head light, Oregon, June 2016

 

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

 

 

Trouble, Trouble, Trouble

UNDATED FILE PHOTO: Fred Rogers, the host of the children's television series, "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," sits for a promotional portrait in this picture from the 1980's. (Photo by Family Communications Inc./Getty Images)
UNDATED FILE PHOTO: Fred Rogers, the host of the children’s television series, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” sits for a promotional portrait in this picture from the 1980’s. (Photo by Family Communications Inc./Getty Images)

I keep remembering what Fred Rogers, (Mr. Rogers), said about times of trouble – to look for the helpers.  There are so many helpers everywhere.  We should take in all the refugees we can – they are desperate to leave their homeland.

Their HOMELAND.

There is nothing there for them but desperation, sickness, torture, and death.  They want to live.

Will they bite the hand that feeds them?  Would you?  Maybe someone will, but that’s a sick soul, and maybe those sick souls will find healing instead of more ways to hurt.  We have many sick souls born here – children killing children, men and women shooting up schools, theaters, restaurants – all seemingly random – or told to them by terrible voices in their head.

We’re not going to rid the world of evil, but we can minimize it with goodness.  It’s the only advantage in the face of evil – our way to ‘light a candle instead of cursing the darkness’.

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It takes logistics, money, volunteers – or paid workers – to help house, feed, clothe, and educate refugees – so much that is beyond my abilities – but that will be good use of government.  Accepting refugees will put more people to work, give more people purpose, and certainly give those tired, hungry, and poor, some hope.

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

Birthday Wishes

Cinderellacakecandles

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Birthdays were so exciting when I was younger.  Getting older was somehow an achievement, and I suppose it was, depending on how many risks were taken, or accidents met and survived the previous year.

Celebrating someone for their birthday is a wonderful time for connection, reflection, and, especially, festivity!

Time’s passage is tough the older I get because I want to keep the problems of the relatively young and not get any problems of aging.  Too bad, I know.  Perspective is a perk as time moves on, as well as caring less about how I’m received, but this ship of life I’m sailing leaves a wider berth the further I get from port, leaving some things smaller, although not less significant, as they recede and I travel on.

Even though I often feel that I’ve not accomplished anything, or much of what I wish I had done, I have traveled.  I won a ten-day tour of Switzerland, with a side trip to Liechtenstein.  I made it to Australia, where I stayed with my childhood pen-pal, and her family, and we met each other’s children (child in my case), and saw lots of Victoria, including a day in Melbourne, hiking in the Dandenong Mountain Ranges, a rain forest walk in the Yarra ranges, and a gorgeous trip down the Great Ocean Road, ending in Warrnembool, and the site of the Twelve Apostles rock formations, during our stay.

I’ve driven through or visited at least half of the United States, including Hawaii, but not Alaska. I’ve been to Canada, and Mexico, though not extensively in either country.  I brought my son to Ireland for his high school graduation present, but really because I’d wanted to go my whole life and that justified the expense well enough – or at least, it did – until I just wrote that.

Pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel, was the last big journey I took, a gift that I’ve not well repaid seeing as I’m now an atheistic-leaning agnostic.

I’ve climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty, back when you could do that, and have been on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, when it was free. (It’s hard to believe that anyone would pay $57 for the dubious privilege nowadays).

Contentment with my lot is the message I try to embrace, but my adventurous spirit doesn’t understand that sentiment.  There are so many more places to see, things to do, and the beautiful aspects of life on Earth that I’ll never have again.

As long as I can get through the rough patches, the pain, suffering, and challenges we all endure, and hopefully, surmount,  I will add more sweet than bitter to each year that I’m graced with, have more meaningful time with those I like and love, and be glad for what’s been given.

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

Writing 101, Day Fifteen, They Canceled The Fair

fryeburgfairnightHow many years has it been? Twenty-five, no, thirty!  I’ve been going to the Down Home Agricultural County Fair since I was seven or eight, and now it’s canceled.  Sure, there are other fairs, I suppose – other fairs that are not the Down Home!

I had my first kiss underneath the bleachers next to where Frank’s Fabulous Pigs raced. I had turned thirteen the previous September, and Jimmy Reynolds, my friend and secret crush since third grade, grabbed a hold of my hand and pulled me under the bleachers.  At first I thought we were just going where we shouldn’t be, maybe to look for lost money, him beaming that ten-megawatt smile at me, and me awaiting further instruction, when he leaned in and kissed me.  My heart pounded and my hands were instantly sweaty as I kissed him back, and we stood there until the sound of feet stomping above us broke the spell.

We held hands the rest of the night, and although it was usually hard to shut me up, I couldn’t think of a thing to say – and neither could he.  We just kept riding the rides, playing the carnival games, and sharing fried dough, and a fresh-squeezed lemonade.

Jimmy moved to Florida at the end of the summer, and we wrote letters back and forth for a while, promising to visit, which we never managed, and after a year went by the letters slowed, and by the next summer, I stopped hoping for a response to my last few letters.

The Down Home County Agricultural Fair was a near guarantee to see everyone I knew – and the chance to eat my fill of french fries with vinegar, fried dough, and over-priced lemonade, that I enjoyed watching the vendor make for me.  “You like it sweet or tart, honey?”  Sweet for me, tart for Jimmy.

Time wore on, and every year the events that attracted me changed from thrill rides to animal shows, and after my son was born I went with friends who had children, and we’d meet year after year, first riding with our children on the kiddie rides, our knees scrunched up, or wider hips not quite fitting into the tot-sized cars, and when they were big enough, putting our children on the kiddie rides alone, and watching with happy trepidation as they thrilled or freaked-out, and when they were older, bidding them farewell with instructions to meet later by the front gate, and having them pretend they didn’t see us whenever they’d pass by.

With my son in college, and friends scattered around, I went to the Down Home by myself last year, and spent most of my time looking at prize-winning quilts, home-made clothing, garden and preserve entrants’ displays, and shook my head at the carnies luring game players to win prizes not worth the two dollars to play one game.  Back in my day, I find myself thinking, it was a quarter, and the prizes were bigger, and better quality too.  I might as well start yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.  I catch myself and laugh, I don’t want to be in the ‘old coot’ category – not now, not ever.

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

 

Willing Life

Chester smiled at Bree, squeezing her hand, “What an absolutely gorgeous day!”

“I know! After all the rain, it’s nice to feel the sun again.”  Bree lifted her face toward the sun, she and Chester standing still for a long moment on the park’s dirt path, just past the weathered magnolia tree not yet in bloom.  “The air smells so clean, doesn’t it?” Bree inhaled and exhaled, looking at Chester who nodded his affirmation, his eyes still closed against the sun.

Bree clasped her fingers through Chester’s and they walked on, enjoying the greening grass, the azaleas, rhododendrons, dogwood, cherry, and ornamental pear trees in varied states of blossoming.  Spring was the hardest for Bree, the time of re-birth and awakening, but this was the fifth spring without Jason, and Chester seemed to sense her thoughts as he brought her hand up, kissing her fingers.

The path turned onto the broader paved bike lane where concrete benches sat every few hundred yards, and shade trees offered respite from the sun.  A calm breeze ruffled the edge of Bree’s new spring skirt and she hoped the wind would stay mild.  She bought it because she needed something new and pretty, but more because it was Chester’s favorite cerulean blue, and he liked it when she wore something other than jeans and t-shirts.

A woman sat knitting on a bench, and Bree felt her stomach tighten as she noticed it was a small, red, sweater.  Chester put his arm around Bree’s shoulder as he felt her trembling, and guided her beyond the bench.  Tears welled up in Chester’s eyes at the memory of Jason at two years old, in the red sweater Bree had knitted him, the sweater he was wearing that awful October day.

Bree had been doing laundry down cellar while Jason napped.  He had fallen asleep on their drive to the store and hadn’t woken when she brought him inside.  She put him in his crib and rushed to get some chores done while she could.  She had just finished transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer when she was seized with terror.  She ran upstairs and into Jason’s room to find him hanging over the side of the crib, the neck of the sweater having gotten caught and twisted on the crib’s edge, choking him.  He wasn’t breathing, his body tinted a grey-blue, and Bree heard herself scream but it seemed that someone else far away was screaming.  She frantically untangled him and began CPR, but it wasn’t working.  She scrambled to get the phone, her shaky fingers missing 911 twice before she connected.

She begged them to call Chester at work, not able to remember where he was at first.  The first responders found her clutching Jason to her, her face swollen from sobbing, and unable to speak.  She heard herself growl as they tried to pry Jason out of her arms, and she came back to herself when they told her she would have to let them help her child.  She thought that meant he was alive and she jerked herself up holding Jason out to his redeemer.  She didn’t notice the other responder had taken her arm and was pulling her back.  She heard soothing tones, but she didn’t know what he was saying.

Jason wasn’t coming back to life, and Bree felt hers slip away too as the edges of her sight narrowed and she was no more.

She woke up in Presbyterian Hospital, Chester holding her hand, looking gaunt and vacant. “Hi, love”, he said, bringing his face closer to hers, taking her face in his hands, and kissing her. “We almost lost you, too.”  Tears dropped onto her face, mingling with her own.

“He’s gone.  Our baby’s gone, isn’t he?  They lied. They didn’t save him.”

Chester kept his face next to Bree’s.  “They tried, honey.  They tried with all their might. I love you so much, please stay with me.  I can’t lose you too.”

Bree wailed, the sound chilling to all who heard her grief, and Chester dropped his head down to her shoulder, sobbing along with her.

The next year went by in a blur for both of them.  Their families and friends rallied around them, providing them with meals, comfort, and distraction.  They decided to sell the house and move into a condo.  Chester and Bree took leaves of absence from work, and it was several months before Bree stopped contemplating suicide daily.

Several years passed until Bree’s mourning was less surface, and she and Chester were learning to live side by side with their grief.  The first time Chester and Bree laughed felt like a new ability to Bree, but she felt guilty for having mirth, as though the world should be in black and white now, and always raining.

Bree had a psychic friend who came to tell her that Jason needed to see her happy.  He was waiting for her, just out of sight on the ‘other side’, and her joy would make him glad, and comforted.  Bree wasn’t sure she believed her, but she appreciated her friend being kind and consoling, and trying to guide Bree into the present.  Chester often looked lost and not as ready with a laugh or a joke as he used to be, but he went back to work sooner than Bree, and he started telling her about his daily routine again.

This year Jason would be seven, and Bree saw Jason in any boys about his age, wondering what he would be like.  She and Chester thought about trying to have another baby, but neither of them were ready yet.

Bree forced herself to breathe deep and slow, and find an object to focus on.  A beautiful maple tree grew several hundred feet off the path, and Bree noticed the tiny yellow-green leaves against the dark wood branches.  She looked at Chester who was also admiring the majestic tree.

“Life keeps going, honey.  Maybe we can think about trying to have another baby before we’re too old.”

Bree let the statement hang in the air, but she held Chester closer, and murmured, “I love you so much.  I’m happy to be with you, but I’ll think about more.”

Chester leaned in, kissing Bree full on the mouth, kissing her across her face and down to her neck.  He knew it embarrassed her, but he couldn’t help himself.  Being together in the beautiful day with his gorgeous wife, having survived such loss, but willing to risk again made life feel new for the first time in many years.

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

Things Remembered

When he was a boy
When he was a boy

101 Dalmatian pajamas, 4T. I breathe into the fabric, trying to catch the scent of my little boy, but I forgot that I washed them before packing them away in the box of baby remembrances when he had outgrown them.  The box also contained his cloth Madeleine doll, which showed where the scar was from her appendectomy, and the yellow rubber duck received at his baby shower that he had to have at every bath time.  I say ‘contained’ because when his sister, my nearly step-daughter, had her first child four years ago, I sent the rubber duck, after sterilizing it, with a letter, saying that I hoped her daughter would like it, and if she remembered how her brother had loved it when he was a baby.

His sister emailed me after she got the package, telling me how sweet that was, and her daughter liked it too.  When we went to visit them a few years ago, it was gratifying to see the rubber duck in among the bathtub toy collection.

She mentioned in a post how her daughter was enjoying the Madeleine books, and I knew it was time to send along the Madeleine doll, so beloved by my son at her daughter’s age, along with a little monkey puppet for her latest family addition, who is now a year old, and I haven’t yet met.  I got a note the other day telling me they received the package, and her daughter asked if she could keep the doll forever.

It seemed overly sentimental and silly to keep those few things from my son’s childhood, but I have no keepsakes, and no pictures from mine, so it was important to me, and I thought my son would one day appreciate the link back to his youth.  He thought it was cool that I had sent his niece the Madeleine doll, and we spoke about how he used to watch the Madeleine cartoon, and have me read the books over and over.  Rather than merely keeping useless things that only had meaning to me, the items became an heirloom of sorts, and re-connected my son and I with a happy memory from the past, as well as furthering my son and his sister’s bond, with her children too.

Keeping sentimental things just adds to my pile of stuff, so I’ve done my best to pare down, taking pictures of things before giving them away or recycling them. Having some tactile link to the past is important to me though, so the 101 Dalmatian pajamas will remain in the (now smaller) keepsake box.

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

Evolution Of A Boy

I found this letter/ode I had written to my son in a bunch of old papers I was going through to recycle today.  I wrote it when he was twelve, and pulling further and further away from me – right on schedule!  But just because biology dictates a thing so, doesn’t mean it wasn’t terrible for me…

                                 Evolution Of A Boy

When you were born I held you close, rocked you, walked you back and forth while you screamed with colic – or was it protest at being out in this cold, drafty world from the temperature controlled, fluid womb?

You stayed in a crib until you were two and a half and began crying to me of your needs in the night, or in the morning, coaxing me with “Up, Mommy? Up, Mommy – peas.  Peas, Mommy?”  How could I ignore that?  You asked so politely, so pleadingly.

As a toddler, and ever since you were born, I read to you day and night.  It became the bedtime routine: books and a back rub until you fell asleep.  Often you would play with my ear – a throw back from your nursing days – a comfort habit that never bothered me.  Whoever held you until you were four or five would have their ear manipulated by you.

Nighttime was our time.  It was sometimes the only peace in the day.  I was really present most of the time for you then, and we both knew it wouldn’t be a struggle of wills; it was a time any outside observer wouldn’t question my parenting skills.

That nighttime routine when you wanted me to lay down with you after reading and rubbing your back until you fell asleep – or nearly – lasted until you were eight or nine.  I would sing Mockingbird – replacing Papa with Mama, of course – and Lily Of The Valley, three or four times each, and sometimes you would sing along.  Then we would always play the ‘I love you more than’ game.  “More than chocolate cream pie with ice cream and marshmallows, and a ton of whipped cream” – or whatever we would dream up.  A phrase we had read: “I love you to the moon and back”, began a long tradition of sometimes jokingly arguing over who loved the other more – “I love you the most – eternity, infinity!”

The mornings nearly always had me picking you up and carrying you into the kitchen for breakfast until you were about seven years old.  It seemed to help you wake up just that little bit more.

Sometimes you would jump up into my arms for a hug and you did that until you got too heavy for me to grab you up into a hug like that.

Now you’re twelve.  You are on that precipice between knowing you are not a dependent child to knowing you are not quite grown-up either.  It can be confusing, frustrating, and scary – but exciting too.

You are, at times and often, so much more than you think you are.  You have so much to offer this suffering world.  She needs boys and men who care, as you do.  Societies may seem indifferent or hostile to boys and men who care, but that is because societies are not grown-up either.  They don’t know how to accept the whole boy or the whole man – but they are learning.  Just as I am learning to let go – but I have built a path from my heart to yours – and there is a path from your heart to mine too – so that we’ll always know there is a home for us, especially when you find the need, or just to be reassured that it’s there.

I love you my dear child.

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

Air Waves

I turn on my hometown radio station almost every morning.  I feel comforted hearing the DJ’s voice – a guy who’s been on that station since I was a teenager and the only way to hear the latest songs back then, besides going to see bands, or buying random CD’s to try out, was to listen to the radio.

The station had been family owned since its inception, but was sold, or became managed, by one of the larger market outfits a decade ago, when they tried to make the format more hip by adding a morning talk component with one of the DJs who’s still there, and a guy who did a regular sports spot and was a substitute DJ.  The new format was a clumsy intrusion, and didn’t change their listener numbers.  The format changed back over to the main DJ within a year, I think.  I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did.

I’m glad the station is still there.  I don’t have cable, or get any stations on my television, so I turn to the radio and internet for my news.

This morning I turned on the radio and was transported back to the days of getting my son ready for school, the days before I woke in terrible pain every day, the days that I still wouldn’t trade for today unless I could be a different person.  Nostalgia colors the past in pastels so often.  But my life was harsh in other ways.  I was severely depressed, single parenting, in poverty, and don’t know how I got through, but I’m grateful because now is better, even if still somewhat desolate.  Back then I was assured that life would get better, I just didn’t know it would take ten years…

Radio is quaint now with our smart phones, tablets, and other electronic devices streaming music and video, our mp3 players shutting us out from collective experience.  I don’t have a smart phone and I don’t think I want one.  I think there are going to be a lot of neck problems in a few years, and I know firsthand how youth’s disregard exacts payment later.  I asked my doctor what causes our bodies to break down over such a short lifespan and her answer was: “Walking upright”.

The DJ is bidding his listening audience a good day as his shift ends and signals the shrinking time I have left to get out the door myself.  I realize that tuning into this station most mornings isn’t an unconscious habit, but part of my ancestral drive for continuity – for being part of a collective, even if the mode seems trivial.  It’s this DJ, this radio station, that has barely changed from my youth throughout my adult years.  I moved from Maine to California, and finally ended up back where I started, and that station remained mostly as is while much around me has changed, indeed, while I’ve changed too.

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

Holiday Events

The town next to me has a theater built in the late 1870s.  It has seen several revivals of sorts throughout the years, its most infamous use being when the Renaissance Community – the commune/cult I grew up in – owned it.  I spent many days and nights in that theater as a teenager, so it has a difficult history for me, but that history has become less overwhelming since 2000 when I auditioned for my first play at what is now the Shea Theater.  Its renovation removed the gaudiness that Michael Rapunzel (née, Metalica) imposed on the once beautiful theater, but the balcony was removed, leaving only a light and sound booth for shows, and tiered rows of seats down to the ground floor of the theater.

The other night, several community groups helped present a large screen showing of: It’s A Wonderful Life, for free, but people were encouraged to bring canned goods or monetary donations for our regional food bank and local food pantries.

I wasn’t going to go, but I wasn’t born when that movie was first shown in theaters, so I thought it would be fun to see on a big screen, even though I suspected I’d be in a largely empty theater.  Boy was I wrong!  The theater was packed and there were many families in attendance.  It was a festive experience to see the film with all those people, some seeing it for the first time, and probably plenty for the last as well.  I mean that last part to convey that it’s an outdated movie whose quaint filming and content don’t satisfy a movie going public in the way it might have when it was first released.

After the show, the crowd was told that the pub across the street was serving ‘flaming rum punch’, a drink that Clarence, the angel (second class), tries to order at Martini’s in the alternate world he’s escorting George Bailey through.  I decided to go over, and again, thought I’d be among very few, but the pub was crowded, with more filing in after me, and many there had just come from seeing the film.  It was a very jovial crowd, and it felt somewhat surreal, like we were all characters from the story somehow. I half expected a saxophone rendition of Auld Lang Syne to play over the pub’s stereo.

The rum punch was just spiced cider with rum, but it was warm and soothing on a cold, dreary night.  The people sitting next to me at the bar started chatting with me, and I asked them if they had ever seen the movie before, and they hadn’t.  They said they liked it, and thought it was a great idea to offer, and hoped there would be more community events like that.  A young woman related that she had always wanted to see the film, but her mother hated it, saying it was too depressing, and turned it off any time it was on television, so the woman just assumed she’d hate it too.  She was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more uplifting than depressing, even if set during the Great Depression and World War II.

It was a lovely oasis in a difficult time, not only for recent tragedies, but for this dark time of year that starts my yearly descent.  I hope this will be the year I fall no further.

Enjoy each other, tell those who matter that you love them, tell strangers you’re glad to meet them, be helpful, and kind, and you may receive no heavenly reward, but you will uplift humanity, and I think we can all use more gladness, even if momentary.   Peace.

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

My Grandfather’s Birthday

Today my maternal Grandfather would have been 129.  He died in the Spring of his 102nd year.  My mother’s side of the family enjoys longevity, my father’s side, not so much.  My mother’s line comes from hearty French-Canadian farming family stock, and my father’s came from Scots-Irish and English fighting family lineage.  My father’s side carried the banner of anger and scrappiness, while my mother’s touted ‘get along and go along’.   My father’s ancestors were outwardly ill-fitted to society, while my mother’s forebears had more decorum, but certainly had their fair share of dirty laundry, so to speak.

I loved my maternal Grandfather, but never really knew or cared for my father’s father.  I remember him being a somewhat grumpy old man with a mean little Chihuahua named, Tippy, who would growl at you if it wasn’t trying to hump you.  That dog summed up my father’s side of the family to me.  My uncle, Chuck, was a burly man, like my father, whom I barely recall, but I do remember his wife, my Aunt Shirley, who was so kind, and pretty, having what my mother called ‘spanking blue eyes’.  She also had long fingernails and would chase my brothers with her hands curled, claw-like, toward them.  She was the only good thing about my Dad’s family, as far as I was concerned.  I don’t remember my Dad’s mother at all.  I think we visited with them twice, that I can remember, because they lived in another state, several hours away.

My mother’s family lived mostly nearby, which is probably why I have such a drive to stay near my siblings and mother as well.  I often think about my mother’s family in terms of how we all ‘turned out’.  My mother was the last of eleven children, all born in the depression era, five boys and six girls.  My mother was the surprise baby, born after my Grandmother thought she was fertile anymore.  My mother was born into a hard-working family, my grandfather and several of his sons worked on the railroad, while several others made military careers.  The women in the family mostly ran their families, and a few held outside jobs, or pursued passions other than domestic concerns, but they all fared well, mostly.

My mother is the only child whose marriage ended in divorce, the only child who married an unpredictable, angry man, and the only child, that we know of, whose first child was the outcome of a rape, that she was nearly disowned for keeping after being sent to a home for unwed mothers with the express purpose of giving up her child upon birth.  My mother stayed with one of her older sisters for a while, and her parents finally relented and let her go home with my eldest brother.  She flailed for some time, but found work, and an apartment, and shortly after met my father.  He was in the navy, handsome, and fresh out of a hellacious home life, and a disastrous first marriage.

I saw Back To The Future, when it first came out, and I remember thinking that my life would have been so much better if my mother had made a better choice to begin with.  Of course, were that the case, I likely wouldn’t have been born, so it was a moot point, but I would gladly not have been born to have spared my mother from my father.

My grandfather was kind to me, and used to call me ‘tiger eyes’.  He would also buy me Lucky Charms cereal, a treat my mother would never have approved of, but he also used to give me Jordan Almonds, which I hated, and still do.  I enjoyed visits from my Grandpa Brousseau, and vaguely remember my Grandma Brousseau, who died when I was just three.  It’s odd that I still feel connected to her even though I never really knew her.  I suppose it’s a testament to how much my grandfather meant to me that my grandmother means just as much.  My grandfather was kind to me, but he was also strict.  One of the first things he’d demand upon seeing us was to show him our fingernails.  It was important to him that we keep our hands and fingernails clean.  I guess that was his determination of good breeding.  Thankfully, we usually had enough warning of his visits to clean our fingernails before he arrived.

I remember visiting my grandfather in the last few years of his life, and he said how tired he was.  He could barely hear anymore, and was fairly blind, losing his two favorite pastimes: listening to baseball games on the radio, and reading the newspaper.  He said he didn’t know why he kept waking up every day, and that was one of the saddest things to hear.

It’s hard to see someone you remember as robust seeming so frail and lackluster.  During my last visit, when I was in my twenties, he asked me to come sit next to him on his bed, and then he asked me to comb his hair.  I wish I had the understanding that I do now.  I was so embarrassed because it seemed like such a silly request to me then.  I’d give anything to go back with the understanding I have now and comb his hair – and he still had a fair amount of hair even at a hundred.  I recognize his request as a way to connect with me, but I was too self-conscious then.  It wasn’t like when I was eight and would have combed his hair gleefully.  I can’t get that time back, and all I hope is that my grandfather’s spirit knows that I understand now, and that I’m sorry I was so awkward then that he took the comb out of my hand and said ‘never mind’.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa.  I love you, wherever you are.

Here’s a video link to a short video shot by one of my cousins when my Grandpa Brousseau was 101: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV-gmdb-w3A

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

Streetcar Dreams

I brought a new character into the play, in my dream, last night – a child.  In the beginning of the dream, the child wasn’t known to me, but later she was a girl I have worked with on a couple of other shows.  She threw up in the rehearsal space/apartment the cast was staying at, and she threw up on the stage.  No one was cleaning it up, and I couldn’t find anything to mop it up myself.  I was so anxious about not stepping in it, and of getting it cleaned up before we would be performing that evening.

An old boyfriend of mine was outside in a parking lot, perhaps of the theater we were bringing the show to.  He was taller and broader than I remembered him, and was aged several years, as he would be, and I thought, ‘oh, maybe we’ll get back together!’, but when I said hello to him, and asked about his life, he looked somewhat disdainfully at me and told me he’s married, and works for himself.

Houses represent the self, so perhaps this show is helping my ‘inner child’ purge the emotional vestiges from my young life, or perhaps the opposite is true and I need to purge Blanche’s character out of me.  No matter what the similarities are, we are not the same.  I have options, and I am availing myself of those options.

This has been a lonely experience, but also a gratifying one in learning the lines, and being present to the other actors as best I can, bringing an excellent production to the community.  We have two more shows before the run is through, and I am looking forward to re-organizing my life once the play closes.

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

First Show Weekend Done

The intensity of playing Blanche DuBois is slowly receding, but we have a pick-up rehearsal on Thursday, and then the last shows over next weekend.  I’ve been sad that we’ve had a sparse audience, but happy that we’ve got a great show – well worth the $12 dollar ticket price.

It’s been an interesting journey, and I have much more confidence that I can tackle most anything now.  I understand Blanche the way I was always going to understand her, but more deeply now.  She has much more depth, and even strength, than I’ve heard most people attribute to her, but Blanche is doomed, no matter what.

My dreams keep writing Blanche’s character differently.  She has more to say, and isn’t alright with her fate as written.  That’s good news, isn’t it?  My psyche isn’t willing to resign her to what’s been told.  In my mind, she heals in the institution.  Her psychotic break isn’t permanent.  The beauty of that ending is that I know it happens.  People go through horrific things and continue on, relatively intact.

I gave my best performances, and will continue to.  I have enjoyed evolving through each night.  I find a different nuance to Blanche’s character, or a better way to interact with the other characters.  Theater is beautiful because unlike life, you get to do the same thing over and over, and maybe not create different results, but bring something more to each performance.

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

September 26th, 2012

Happy Birthday to my beautiful son.  He is the best thing I have ever done, although I take no credit for his amazing capacities and talents.  He is his own person; I just ate well while he was growing inside me, and then made sure I fed him good food, gave him as many opportunities as I could afford, or could imagine, and taught him to appreciate reading, which he now loves.  His cognitive intelligence exceeded mine when he was about twelve, but my emotional intelligence stills beats his – hah!

He is bound to fare better in his life than I did in mine, and that is the best a parent can ask for.  I love you, my dear boy/man.

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

Through The Years

My son is getting his first apartment with college friends.  I’m pretending it’s not a big deal.  I mean, he’s been away at college for two years now, so, it’s basically the same thing.  Except it isn’t.  He’s had his bed and most of his stuff here, and in three days and several hours, it will all be gone.  I’m trying to stay in the moment, and not trouble trouble until trouble troubles me, as the saying goes.

I was in my son’s room packing up what I can until he gets here and pares down what he wants to get rid of.  He already told me he’s not sentimental and doesn’t want his old school year books, or photos, or other keepsakes, but I am sentimental, so I’m keeping most of it.  He may have a wife and/or children some day who will actually enjoy seeing some of the things from his youth.  It isn’t exactly archeology, but it is history, and I loved seeing my ex-boyfriends’ childhood pictures.  It’s a way to connect the past to the present and beyond.  I so enjoy looking at my Mom and Dad’s pictures of their youth and childhood.  Ever since my Dad died several years ago, those pictures have taken on more meaning.  Even though I often rail against life, I also revel in life’s complexity and variety.  I embrace change as much as I loathe it.  I may not like changing all the time, but as long as I have company, it’s really not too bad.

I’ll be fine with this new life passage, I’m just not overjoyed.  I also know that many people are overjoyed to have their personal time back when their children get older and leave home, and maybe I’ll feel that way, eventually.

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

Christmas Eves

1989: I spent the evening with Joe; I moved in with him here in Vernon, Vermont, a few weeks ago.  I’m happy that there’s snow on the ground so it will be a white Christmas.  My brother, Scott, died in October, and I’m sad for my mom this holiday season.  I still feel nothing.  I don’t know why death doesn’t affect me directly, I guess that’s a coping mechanism.

1990: Our son’s first Christmas.  He’s only two months old, so it’s not really a big deal for him, but Joe’s daughter is spending Christmas morning with us, and she’ll be happy to get the Super Nintendo game system with, The Mario Brothers/Duck Hunt, and, Donkey Kong, games, and spend time with her brother.  Things have not been good between Joe and I, but we’re trying to work it out.

1991: My father and step-mother are visiting from Florida.  I’m happy that my father is getting to spend some time with his grandson, although it’s been kind of awkward when they’re here because my mom is spending Christmas here in my new apartment.

1992: I’m in my new apartment in South Portland, Maine.  My mom is here with me, and there is a lot of snow this winter, which Austen loves to play in.  My car broke down a few weeks after moving in here, and I can’t afford another one, but there’s a bus stop down at the end of the street, and a few of the Bahá’í‘s here in South Portland bring me to run errands once a week.  Joe is visiting over the holidays, and it’s been horrible and stressful – as usual.

1994: San Diego Christmas is quite different from what I’m used to.  It’s not really warm, about the mid-50°F’s, and rainy, but the air feels different, and I’m not sure I like it.  I’m at a 10-day program because I don’t want to live anymore but Tammy convinced me to see if this will help me.  I’ll get a counselor, and start an antidepressant, and I know it’s what I need to do, but I feel horrible being away for Christmas.

1996: Back in Massachusetts.  My mother is spending Christmas with me and Austen in our tiny apartment.  Things have been awful.  I’m still not getting child support, so that just makes everything tougher.

1999: It’s been a strange year.  I’m wondering if the Y2K thing is really going to screw up computers worldwide – I doubt it.  I told Austen that Santa was a real person a long time ago, and his spirit still lives on through all of us.  The other kids at school were picking on him for still believing in Santa.  He refused to believe me when I told him Santa isn’t still alive.  I don’t know if I did the right thing.

2001: I consider this the millennium year, even though I know many people considered 2000 to be the turn of the century.  I guess it’s both: 2000 because it’s no longer 19-something, but 2001 because CE started with year 1, so 2001 makes two-thousand years.  We’re still here, although a bunch of freaks were trying to convince whomever they could that the world was going to end.

2011: I think my favorite aspect of Christmas Eve is filling my son’s stocking.  When he was little, it was so gratifying to see his delight, and share in how fun Christmas was for him.  He used to love Christmas carols and we’d sing them together, and now he can barely stand them.  He’s feeling so much better tonight, but still coughing a lot.  I might watch, It’s A Wonderful Life, but I’m feeling tired, so maybe I’ll just go to sleep.  My throat is feeling a bit scratchy, and I hope I don’t get sick too.

This year has been so strange.  As I looked back through old diaries and read so much of where I’ve been, and what my life is like now, I appreciate now so much.  I don’t care if someone reads my old journals someday, but I sincerely doubt they’d read for very long.  I’m just grateful that I’m not as affected by the vicissitudes of life anymore.  I also did a great deal of healing work to get where I am now, and will most likely finish that work with my last breath.  I’m thankful to be alive, and hope I won’t die until I accomplish most, if not all, of my goals.

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

Son Day

I’m so excited to see my son today!  I get to have him home an extra day for the Thanksgiving holiday, even though most of his time will be spent with his friends who are also coming home for the holiday.  Just knowing he’ll be here feels so good to me, although I know it feels nearly opposite to him.  It’s not that he doesn’t like being home and seeing me and his other family, it’s that his life is at school now, with his own group.  He told me he doesn’t sleep well when he’s home, and doesn’t know why.  I think it’s because he’d rather be in his world.  We will always belong to one another, but he has his own life now, one in which he sleeps better than when he’s here…

It made me sad to hear that, but I got over it.  It’s not personal in a mean way, it’s just life stages.  I had a really different childhood experience, and was separated too early from my mother, after her divorce from my father (which was a very good thing for all of us, but still disruptive and chaotic).  My son got to have a healthy, self-directed separation, and he’s so much less emotional or sentimental than I am, so it sucks for me…

We have the same sense of humor and like to talk about a myriad of subjects (when he’s willing to talk), but when he’s home and not with his friends, he prefers to spend his time reading or working on the computer.

I’m doing my best to find common interests to connect with him on, but it’s tough when our personalities and styles are so different.  Maybe if he ever has children, we’ll get to re-bond then.

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

Westward Ho!

“I just can’t take it anymore,” I complained to Tammy, cradling the phone with my neck while I finished washing the dishes.  “I need a serious change and I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, why don’t you come live out here with me and Dean?  That way you have a place to stay for a while until you get on your feet, and I’m happy to help out.”

I was quiet on the phone for a minute. “Wow”, I finally said through my tears.  “Really, you’d do that for me?   You do remember what it’s like to live with a three-year old, right?”

Tammy laughed and said: “Yes, and I miss having a little boy around.  Danny wants to continue living with his father in New Hampshire, and that’s been really hard for me, but he’s thirteen, and he has good friends there, and I just have to accept that I’m only going to see him for vacations.  I think it’ll be good for both of us if you come live out here.”

“Let me think about it some more, and I’ll get back to you.”

“I’m here for you, whether you stay in Maine, or come out to San Diego.”

“Thanks, Tammy.  I love you.”

“Love you too.  Bye.”

“Bye.”

That conversation in March of 1994 changed my life.  I had a new option, and while I had friends and some support where I was, I was a single mom in poverty, with no car and only a part-time job that I was about to lose.  It snowed over a hundred inches that winter in South Portland, Maine, and I was very close to giving up my son to his alcohol-addicted father, and committing suicide.  I had a plan, and I was getting the courage to implement it when chance circumstances re-connected me with a friend I hadn’t talked to in nearly ten years.

Imagining a different life helped make the life I was in a bit more tolerable, and I began preparations to make the move.  Several friends and relatives told me that it would be stupid to move so far away with someone I hadn’t seen in so long, even though we had been best friends through high school, and I had a young child to consider, and what was I thinking, dragging him across the country?

The other contingent, whom I sided with, saw it as an opportunity to better myself and give my son a chance at a better life too.  As I went, so went my son, type of thing.

I made my decision, and Tammy, who was going to fly back East in July to stay with her father for a few weeks while spending time with her son, decided to drive out with a friend, and bring me and my son back out with them on their return trip.

She had a pick-up truck with a tall shell for the truck bed, which she furnished with a mattress, and I was to sell my beds and other large belongings because they wouldn’t fit in the small trailer we’d rent for the trip back to California.  She had a guest room with a bed that my son would sleep on, and I would stay on the couch until I found work and could buy new beds.  I sold all of our big furniture, and kept my son’s books and most of his toys, as well as dishes and whatever else could fit in the trailer, because we’d be taking turns driving while one of us slept in the back of the truck.  I ended up paying for one night in a motel room so we could have a shower and get a decent night’s sleep.

My boyfriend at the time and I had a rocky relationship, but we liked each other enough to work through issues.  He asked me to stay in Maine, but conceded that he didn’t know where he saw our relationship going.  The week before I left, he told me he would have asked me to marry him if I didn’t have a child.  After he said that, I knew leaving was the right decision.  So many choices in my life translated to ‘damned if I don’t, damned if I do’ propositions.

August 4th, moving day: Tammy and her friend, Ann, were to arrive around Noon.  I spent the morning cleaning my apartment, and bringing whatever didn’t sell, and I didn’t want, outside to bring to the dump when my friend arrived.  My son was upset that most of our things were gone, and he didn’t want to go anywhere.  By the time Tammy got there, I was sweaty and irritated, and wondering if this had been such a good idea after all.

It was really good to see Tammy, and Ann and I pretty much instantly disliked one another. She made some remark about my attitude, and I was kind of stunned that this person I barely knew was openly judging me after having worked my ass off all morning, with a crabby child in tow, and no other help.  “Fuck you”, I wish I had said, but having a bit more grace than her, I fluffed it off and asked Tammy if she’d bring the junk pile to the dump, while I got some lunch for my son and played with him for a while. She, being a parent herself, was completely empathetic about my state of mind, and told me to take a break, and she’d deal with the trash and help me finish whatever cleaning was left to do later.

It took several more hours than expected to finish up, rent the trailer, and make sure we were ready to hit the road.  We left Maine around 5pm, with my son and I in the back of the truck for the overnight drive.  Luckily the truck’s motion put my son to sleep fairly soon, but I had too much anxiety, so I slept very little.

We drove through the night, choosing a route through the Poconos, which Tammy later told me creeped her out because Ann had fallen asleep, and my son and I were out of view in the way back – the window into the cab being hidden behind boxes, blankets, and pillows – and she was thinking about the Sleepy Hollow legend, imagining seeing the Headless Horseman as she drove through the darkness, with few other travelers that late.  We could have kept each other company, but I wouldn’t have been comfortable leaving my son in the back of the truck where I wouldn’t know what was going on with him, or with Ann, who wasn’t fond of children.

I drove the next morning, our route taking us through most of Ohio, and then down through Kentucky, and finally into Tennessee where we would stay on I-40 for the bulk of the trip.

We stayed in a motel in Tennessee the one night we didn’t drive through.  One bane of the trip was automatic flush toilets, which seemed to be installed at every stop we made, and which my son was afraid of, along with any loud, not-easily understood noises, so we had to find rest stops with a Port-A-Potty (or a wooded area) for most of the journey.

By the third day, we were all miserable, and my son was the only one vocalizing it freely and frequently, to which Ann questioned my child-rearing style of just letting him complain. I told her I had learned to tune out most of what he said, and did my best to keep him entertained by imitating his favorite Sesame Street characters voices, while making up stories, singing songs, and playing games, which seemed to annoy Ann, and made it even more pleasurable for me.  Poor Tammy was caught between trying to support her friend, but enjoying being with my son, grumpy or not.

I’m sure Ann was most happy when my son and I were riding in the back of the truck, or when she was back there sleeping.  I was most happy when it was just Tammy, my son, and I, riding up front.  I was driving when we neared Flagstaff, Arizona, and I saw a ‘Grand Canyon, 50 miles’ sign.  Ann was riding up front with me and my son, and I asked her if it would be ok if we took a detour as I had never seen the Grand Canyon, and thought it would be a perfect opportunity.  Ann said she’d rather not, but if Tammy was willing, then she’d go along with it.  The hitch was that I’d have to wake Tammy up to ask her, and I didn’t want to interrupt her sleep, so we continued on into California where Ann took over the driving until we reached her apartment in Ocean Beach.

I’ve always regretted not making a unilateral decision and just driving to the Grand Canyon because I still have not been there.

I was talking to Tammy on the phone the other day, both of us amazed at how much time has gone by, and she suggested I move back out once my son is through college, and I’m seriously considering it.

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

All Hallows

Rabbit, Rabbit.  The ancient Celtic year begins today, marking the start of winter.  Winter was already ushered in rather harshly with our recent Nor’easter dumping thirty inches of snow in some areas.  I feel lucky that my town escaped with just over a foot of the heavy, wet snow.  I was only out of power for part of a day, while some of my friends are yet to get back their electricity.

Yesterday, I visited my Mom because her phone was out and I wanted to make sure she made it through the storm alright, even though I know that one of my aunts was staying with her, and the guy who works for her and lives nearby would also have checked on her and I figured I’d have gotten a call if anything bad had happened.  Then I thought that all phone service in the area might be out, and I just wanted to visit regardless of anything else.  I was a bit worried that fallen trees or downed wires would prevent me from making it to my mother’s house, and it might well have earlier in the day because I saw evidence of cleared trees and other debris all the way there.

It was almost evening when I arrived, and I brought a flashlight in case it was dark by the time I left.  My mom doesn’t have electricity or running water, so the storm changed nothing for her except interrupted phone service.

The glow of the kerosene lamps, and warmth from the wood stove, enveloped and welcomed me even as I was welcomed by my mother and aunt.  They were happy for my unexpected company and we chatted about the snowstorm’s effects, and how weird it was to have a major storm before Hallowe’en, as we sipped coffee and evening began settling in.  I don’t know if it was the time of day and the way the lamplight glowed and cast slight shadows on the walls, or the steamed windows and cooking smells from whatever dinner my mother was making, or simply spending time with my mother and one of her sisters, but there was something so extraordinary about being there that I noticed and enjoyed in the moment, and that feeling, or experience, actually, has stayed with me since.

I left before it was dark and made my way up the path without needing my flashlight.  I noticed the stillness of the woods around me as I walked, and had a sense of being present to life in a way that I rarely sense.

I got up this morning and began working on things that I often think about doing rather than starting – or finishing.  I feel my life changing, almost radically (for the better), and I hope that’s true.

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

Good Dog

My friend’s dog died two weeks ago.  He was one of my favorite dogs.  I met him a few years ago at a party I attended at my friend’s house.  I had a plate of food and sat down outside and there were at least twenty other party guests sitting around with a plate of food on their lap, but Cooper decided that he wanted to sit next to me.  He followed me all day long even though I never offered, or dropped, a bite of food.  I didn’t know it then, but we had just become friends.

Any time I went to my friends’ house after that, Cooper would follow me around and be so happy when I would pet him or pay attention to him.  He was a sweet bulldog and I’m so happy I got to know him.

I went to my friend’s house tonight after a fun night out on the town, and we were so full of our evening that I didn’t even absorb Cooper’s absence until I went into their living room, and it hit me so fully that he is gone.  I was misty-eyed as I remarked that it was so weird that Cooper wasn’t there, and my friend’s husband said: ‘here he is’, and pointed to the pretty box with his ashes.  I held the box for a while, even though I know Cooper’s soul isn’t in there, but I really felt that beautiful dog’s presence in the room with us.

There are very few times in one’s life that the feeling of unconditional love is encompassing, and tonight was one of those nights.  My friends said that Cooper’s spirit now lives on ‘Bulldog Island’.  When I was a child, and our dog had to be put down, my father told me that she went to live in the ‘happy hunting grounds’.

All I really know is that Cooper was a good dog, and he will be missed.

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

I Spy October

Rabbit, rabbit!  October feels like an appropriate month to open with a folklore-ish incantation.  As I trudge my way into the dark months, October at least carries a supernatural mystique as the month ends with All Hallow’s Eve.

I enjoy the metaphor of the changing leaves; their often brilliant, sometimes muted, but always beautiful colors defiantly – or perhaps joyously – meeting their end.  I hope to meet my death fearlessly and spectacularly!  I’d rather not have anyone piling my body with others to jump in, though, or leaving me out on the lawn.  Let the metaphor end with the flamboyant dying thing…

My favorite thing about October is Halloween and the excitement leading up to it.  The two boys that I do occasional childcare for, and I, made construction paper Jack-o’-lantern’s the other day, and the older boy drew a skeleton that was quite good.  He could be an amazing artist if he enjoys it enough to pursue it.  The younger boy, always wanting to copy his brother, yet make it his own, drew a skeleton with a pumpkin head.  The older boy started to criticize it, but I nipped that little dig in the bud, and told them how each one was unique and fantastic.  I know that’s what older siblings often do to younger ones – I was a fifth child out of six – but I do not let slights go unchallenged.  The younger one has enough gumption when encouraged to stick up for himself, but I also see how the older brother’s chiding affects his younger brother’s esteem.  They know, with me at least, it’s fair play, and helpful words, or time out.

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

Six and Four

That’s how old the boys are that I provide child care for occasionally, and spent my day with at a lake yesterday.  I used to watch them regularly but changed jobs last year.  The older boy was just two months old when I started the job.

My son was in full-blown adolescence then so it was perfect work for me to watch a child who needed and wanted me as my child was pulling away.  The difference between my son as a baby and the baby I was caring for was so stark.  I didn’t know a child could be so easy to care for.  My son’s pediatrician told me that my son was a ‘high need’ baby as I sat in his office back then, crying from lack of sleep and feeling so inadequate as a parent, and indeed, I was nursing him every two hours, which continued for seven months before he stopped nursing so voraciously, and he was colicky as well.  My mother came to help me during that time, while my son’s father was two states away at his job, coming back on weekends.  My son’s father and I weren’t happy as it was, and having a child only put more stress on our relationship.  We broke up and I moved out when our son turned a year old.

When my friend’s second boy was born, I began watching him at two weeks old, and he was an easy baby as well.  I loved caring for those boys.  It was so good for me because I wasn’t watching a whole group of children as I did when I worked at a daycare center, and I didn’t have twenty-four hour responsibility for them.

I still had parenting duties with my son, even though it wasn’t very joyful anymore, but I had enough positive experiences that dealing with my son’s adolescent angst and unpredictability was more manageable than it might have been.

I would give my son hugs and tell him that I loved him every day, as he stood there, arms by his side, at least allowing me to hug him briefly.  I would say that although he was rapidly changing, I was not, so it was going to take me far longer to adjust.  It was so painful for me to go from living with a boy who wanted to be with me, who called out to me several times a day that he loved me, who enjoyed spending time with me, to the stranger who I now occupied the same physical space with, but could hardly be further from emotionally.  Oh, and did I mention I was living with treatment-resistant depression, and I was a single parent?

I might have screwed up far more than I did with my son if it hadn’t been for my childcare job.  As the boys got older, they were somewhat in awe of my son, especially the older boy I watched.  When my son was there the older boy wanted to follow him around and it was sometimes a challenge to help my son have private space when the boys were with me.  I would usually see if my son could spend time with one of his friends during school vacations or days when I had the boys and my son was around.

I took those boys on many adventures during our days together, but our favorite pastime was finding cows.  I’d drive them to farms and we’d visit with cows and read books about cows, and while other animals were included, cows ruled.

I don’t think I could love those kids anymore if they were my own, and I’m so grateful when I get to watch them now.  The last few times I spent with them, the older boy has been questioning me about why they don’t see me that much.  I explained that I had another job, and they have school now, and days that I could see them their schedule and mine didn’t work that often.  He looked at me and said, “Well, we just don’t see you enough.”

So, I can’t get adult relationships right in my life, but I have a six year-old who knows how to work a room!  Yesterday before I left he hugged me and said “I just don’t want to let go.”  I said, “I know, me either!”  The younger boy and I have a happy, loving, and super fun connection too, but the older boy knows how to articulate what he’s feeling, and isn’t shy about telling me.

I have to figure out how to spend more time with them because they’re going to be seven and five in a few months, and the opportunities to spend significant time with them grows slimmer with each year.  While I so enjoy working with children, it can also be heart-wrenching.

I’ll be bringing my son back to college in a week, and he’ll be back home for Thanksgiving and his winter vacation, but he won’t be back next summer.  We know we love one another, and our bond is solid, but he’s a man now – no matter how much I wished to keep him a boy – and I feel the grief about losing him rising up all over again.  I don’t need to be consoled through platitudes or pity – not that anyone is trying to – but I do need a new purpose and I don’t know where to go or what to do yet.

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

Long Ago Summer Night

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, by, Meatloaf, is playing on a humid July night. I’m reading Pardon Me, You’re Stepping On My Eyeball, by Paul Zindel, on the hood of a friend’s Chevy Cavalier, waiting for a few of my other friends to show up and decide what we’re going to do with the rest of the night.

It’s quiet on the Avenue, but I hear the strains of Meatloaf out of the jukebox coming from the bar next door, and I look up from my reading to watch the moths and other night bugs swirl around, looking like aberrant snowflakes in the street light above the car I’m perched on.

My shorts and top cling to me in the sticky humidity, and I hope we decide to go swimming in the Green River, or at the Leyden Glen.  We had been removed from there by police officers the week before, but they couldn’t be there all the time, so we took our chances going back on hot, humid nights.

I had worked at, Zapmia Pizza (baby), earlier that evening, and was glad to be done with my shift on such a hot day. I was anxious to meet up with my friends, and hoped they would show up soon.  Debbie was the first to arrive. I was so absorbed in my book that I didn’t notice her until she hopped up onto the car hood, causing it to buckle a little as she plunked down, but the hood popped back up as she shifted her weight toward the center next to me.

We exchanged greetings and then chatted about the book for a few minutes, and finally other friends started arriving so we made our evening plans.

I remembered this so strongly tonight that I could feel the night air around me as I did back then, and hear how the music sounded muffled until a patron went in or out of the bar and the music would blast out from the entrance for a few moments until the door was shut once again.

While I don’t miss that time of my life, and especially what was happening to me, I dearly miss my friends and the closeness we shared.  A part of my soul is back there with them – maybe it’s even trapped in some odd space/time continuum – or perhaps less trapped than enshrined.  I get to visit the museum exhibit in my mind, but it’s an empty picture of the vibrant life that was actually there.

They were the people who knew and understood me on a level that no one else will ever come close to, but they live on in my heart and soul, and I hope I live on in theirs.

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