The Timing Sucks

Several years ago, when my son was in his late teens, karaoke was getting popular again, and I started going nearly every week. I used to go with my friends weekly back in the late 80’s. We had so much fun then, but life happens and we moved on, and karaoke fell out of favor for a few decades.

Getting back into it was a blast, and it was free! I made friends with several regular singers, and we began spending time at each other’s houses, or going dancing, or on a road trip, and it was a great distraction when my son headed off to college – even though it didn’t cease my depression or PTSD.

We lasted several years as a group, but little by little it fell apart – although karaoke is still going strong – so we come together for that once in a while now.

Karaoke turns out not to be a great basis for lasting friendships, sadly, and worse, my drinking increased, and even worse, my personality change when drinking nearly caused my S.O. & I to break up several times.

I know I have a problem because while quitting is easy, it’s the staying quit that’s hard. As Mark Twain quipped about quitting smoking: ‘… it’s easy! I’ve done it thousands of times.’

Seeing a video of me drunk was uncomfortable, but it gave me the boost I needed to stop.

Sadly, I’ll miss all the drinking games every time the President says something stupid, but then I’d never be sober, and I need to focus…

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

Endings Bring Beginnings

I don’t catch on quickly when I’ve been friend-dumped, unless it’s overt. It’s the ‘nice’ friend dumping that eludes me. It shouldn’t, but it does, especially when it felt like the friendship was real.

But here’s the thing about friendships: they’re not commitments. They’re not contracts, they’re gifts.

An old saying about friendships coming ‘for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’ is useful. I’m a fairly loyal friend, unless our values are so different that we oppress rather than uplift each other.

That time has come, and probably has been there for a while, but I didn’t want to see. I also relate to another saying that ‘everything I ever let go of has claw marks all over it’.

It’s painful – and I understand life is pain, but I do my best to avoid it. It’s all about lessons, though, right? I gained from those friendships, and I hope they gained from mine too.

It’s embarrassing when they’ve moved on and I didn’t notice. I just thought they were busy, or dealing with life stuff.

Of course it’s something we all go through – and get through. I hate that platitudes start churning through my brain – my effort to feel better – to find meaning and understanding, but there’s nothing to understand. I did nothing wrong, but it feels like I did. Sadly, my trauma brain, that old, worn, neural pathway tells me I fucked up, and I need to make it right:

…Then the beatings will stop. Then I’ll get what I need. Then I’ll be worth liking and loving.

The only way out is through. The only. way. out, is through.

I’d like it to not effect my whole life, so I must remember that my trauma picks untrustworthy people to try to make trustworthy so I can heal my hurt.

But it doesn’t work like that.

I have to build new, unsullied, neural pathways – and then make them stick. You know, easy-peasy…

Not everyone is honest. Some people just want superficial friends, and there is nothing wrong with that; I just wish they’d wear a sign so dense people like me would know.

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

Picking A Fight

I’m angry at the Universe, at being here, at the way. life. is., at being human, and because I either have to kill myself, or heavily drug myself not to care, I start to take my anger out on those around me. I’m sneaky though because I’m passive aggressive, and I don’t even really know I’m in attack mode except everything starts to bother me, and acrimony is just below the surface.

I’m starting to recognize this as I start disliking my significant other, and wanting to leave, and be left alone by everyone. Only perfection would be good enough for me because my true fight is against the bully in the sky telling me how unworthy I am at every turn, and if I’d only let It micro-manage my life, then – maybe – I’ll be accepted by It and allowed into some perverse kingdom that only judgmental assholes will be going to. If I accept the son of this bully, then I get out of jail free – no matter what I’ve done or do, as long as I’m truly repentant – and, oh, btw, I have to forgive everyone no matter what they’ve done & no matter what harm their actions caused, or continue to cause.

So, yeah, I’m a little touchy today.

I just wanted to be a light in a dark world. I didn’t want to have to jump through hoops, and I never asked to be allowed in It’s shitty kingdom. Will I rend my invisible garments and gnash my non-existent teeth? Yeah, it’s a metaphor, I know, but if god doesn’t see what a shitty idea free will was, then It’s not really a god, because It would fix Its mistake, wouldn’t It? We clearly cannot rise to our noble nature, and after seeing the eons of horror – humanity’s inhumanity – and continuing to let us exist doesn’t speak of a good god, or a just god: it speaks of an impotent god. Because innocents are harmed every. day. But the convenient excuse is that It’s a mystery – as though that’s a valid answer – and that we’re born into sin, so there are no innocents. If you’re here, you’re guilty as fuck, and so whatever happens to you or your brethren is warranted and self-caused.

If I signed up for this, can I renege? Can I desert my post? Can I be destroyed – just utterly destroyed? I don’t want to exist beyond here knowing that none of it mattered, and yet it was impossible for me to detach, and it sure feels like it matters while living it.

God is no comfort to me, nor am I a comfort to god, I’m sure.

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

 

 

 

Which Way To Here?

‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

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

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

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

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

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

Except, wherever I go, there I am.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Breaking Through

It’s there in the morning, when I’m most vulnerable, stirring back to consciousness – especially if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep.  It follows me to the bathroom where I splash cold water on my face & say ‘good morning beautiful’ to the sad face in the mirror.  Why does it surprise me that a compliment – a talisman, really – slightly boosts my spirits?

My actions happen under duress as I lay out my yoga mat and lay down to stretch.  The thing is fierce now – practically yelling at me, telling me to give up, just go back to bed; sit down and do nothing.  Why bother?

Hate’s litany joins in, and I battle this every. day.  I manage to get some exercises in, but don’t complete my whole routine.  My new task is rewarding myself for progress, not focusing on how much I think I suck.

Today’s epiphany isn’t new, but newly remembered: I worked myself out of a job when my son grew up and left.  It’s wonderful that I managed to foster a productive, beautiful, kind human.  He’s bright and independent – and I am empty.

I wouldn’t change how things are except to be alright.  I failed to take care of me by solely taking care of him.  I was it.  A single parent – who had lots of help – but my child was my everything.  I showed up for him when my constant demons told me it was too much, and I soldiered on.  I cried through making meals sometimes, or house-cleaning, or the myriad unending tasks – but I did them, and I can’t seem to muster the same resolve for myself.  I don’t matter as much as my child did, but my work is changing that.

Perhaps getting out of bed, splashing water on my face, doing my PT exercises, getting dressed, and brushing my teeth are as much as I did for my child, even if minute in comparison?

Whether or not I’m doing the best I can, I’m still failing to fully show up for my life – for what’s left of it.

Raising my child is still the best thing I’ve ever done, and while admirable, it’s not my whole life.  He grew up, and so did the other children I watched for several years, but childcare is not my passion, even if I’m good at it.

Childcare is thankless and lonely.  If you do a good job, who cares – it’s what you were supposed to do.  There is no recognition ceremony, no severance package, no pension. Transferable skills are laughed at – even though there are many.

Grief moves to the side when something rewarding and motivating takes up more space, and though I engage in singing, writing, and acting, I’m not making a living through those passions.  Friends have gotten book deals, national singing gigs, or paid and recognized acting jobs, and I’ve got to make a new choice because those passions are a dry well for me.

There is an answer, but whatever it is has to happen soon, and must move my grief so I’m not pushing through it every day – so that every day doesn’t look the same.

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

Dark Times

Two friends have died in the last month.  Two people who were making the most of their lives, really enjoying all the moments they could, living with gusto and positivity.

They both left behind teen-aged children, significant others, and a wealth of friends.

I sat at one friend’s memorial while dozens recounted how kind, generous, fun, and mischievous he was, and what a loss it was to not have his presence here anymore.

It’s not about what comes after this.  There is nothing we can do about what’s beyond here, if anything, except to live to the best of our capacity, and believe that if there is a creator, we are accepted.

I will soon attend the services for my other friend, more like family, really, and that is a shock not yet sunk in for he passed away last night.

Being in top health doesn’t guarantee a longer life – but it sure makes being here easier. Health adds to our ability to tend to each other and to tend to the world.  Being our best helps, but being a light regardless of anything else going on matters the most.

The stories of how much people’s lives were touched by just one being is astounding to witness.

Who will eulogize me, and what will they say?  Who will be around to witness my passing, to send me off – if anything exists beyond here – with a brighter soul than I had before I left?

I hope stories shared will create laughter and joy.  I hope I have been kind enough to warrant a group of disparate individuals coming together to celebrate that I was here, and that I mattered.

Steve – you were fun, hilarious, kind, increased my joy immensely, and I’m sad to no longer have an ’80’s karaoke pal, and you are greatly missed by your family, and the wealth of friends and acquaintances left behind who honor your memory.

Dave – you also were fun, funny, kind, a wonderful athlete with a zest for life, and your presence will be dearly missed, especially by your wife and children, your extended family, and the hundreds of friends who’ve already been attesting to your influence, and meaning to them, and to all of us.

If we continue in any sentient form, I hope you are both at peace, surrounded by love, and by those gone before you, but you will long be remembered and celebrated here, and I’m glad I knew you.

Death is tough whenever it comes, for those remaining, but it’s especially tough around the holidays, when it seems that anything but good cheer is out-of-place.  It’s also hard to lose friends and family in winter when the bleak land and low light deepens our darkness.

We will love and comfort each other, and remember their best with as joyful a heart as we can muster.

Peace be with you.

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

 

The Winter Of Our Discontent (But Not Made Glorious…)

It’s snow-sleeting as I write this.  Winter has come to Western MA at last, but I take comfort in how long it took for the low temperatures and bad weather to get here.

My family had our Christmas gathering this past Sunday and it was an ‘off’ year.  I have laryngitis so that curtailed the Christmas carols I had hoped to sing, but more than that, there wasn’t a sense of togetherness or connection.  It basically sucked.

I’ve tried so long to recapture the friendship I had with my next oldest sister, but she’s as determined to keep her distance.

I’m exuberant by nature, and by design – it’s my personal lit candle in my darkness – and it has served me well socially.  It’s not fake, I actually feel excited to be with family and friends in conviviality and joy.

I understand that sometimes life sucks, and sucks hard.  I get that.  I live that more often than I’d like – which is why I cherish the time spent with others in good cheer – especially those who know me best, who understand where I came from, and can benefit from kindness and love.

Maybe I can let others take me out of myself, and my sister isn’t good at that, or she feels like it’s pretending, but I’ve grown tired of trying to be friends.

As a friend’s bumper sticker reads: “Life’s too short to drink bad wine.”

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

The End

This life was always a hard sell.  I wasn’t sure what I was doing, pretty much ever.  I got in over my head from day one, and I’ve tried to sort it out ever since.

Does it matter if I’m angry, or sad, or disillusioned? I don’t know why I came with expectations.  How did that happen?  Was it television?  Did I believe the fantasy family shows I saw were real?

I existed in my family – I endured.  I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.  Life was what it was. I didn’t know I had any other choice, and none was offered to me.

When my mother moved us to a commune/cult when I was ten, I thought that was the other choice.  I thought my mother finally made the best decision for us – and maybe she did.

Or maybe she was another messed up person in this world who couldn’t do the right thing, and her children suffered for it, and blah, fucking, blah, right?  There’s no redemption.  There’s no ‘making up for it’.  There’s nothing.  We’re where we are.

The world says, ‘what are you going to do now?’.  The world is only curious if it’s interesting or somehow commendable.

I love prevailing stories.  I want people to win, to better their circumstances, to get revenge, and if they can’t get direct revenge, to come out better in the end.  I want the assholes to suffer.  I want them to hurt.  I am so not compassionate toward those undeserving.

I saw the guy who molested his eight year old foster daughter – the girl who moved to his & his wife’s house to flee another predator.  I wanted to hurt him.  Several years have gone by & there is no difference in how I feel. No softening, no compassion. I want him to die. He is useless, and I have difficulty knowing he yet lives. He manages to fill his days instead of hanging himself, as he should.  Maybe he doesn’t have to hang.  He could shoot himself, or poison himself, or a myriad of ways to leave this world, and yet, he’s still here.  I’m still here too.  My molesters were never charged or payed for what they did either.

I’ve concluded that whatever ‘god’ exists does not concern itself with us.  There might be some over-arching energy or force, but it cannot care about what happens here and affect it.  Or, if it does, and chooses not to, I have no allegiance or fealty to such a being, force, presence.

My life is my own.  I don’t commit my life to any person, place, or thing.  No nouns own me.

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

Weight Of The Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Of Those Days

I woke up sad.  Like someone close just died sad.  I can’t seem to connect today, have no interest in talking, but I thought maybe writing would help, and I’m sure there are many folks out there who can relate.

There’s nothing wrong, and life is going on as it always does.  Nothing happened, nothing’s coming up, and as far as I know, no one I’m close to has died.

My gratitude list includes my health, my senses, my friends, my lover, and the beautiful area I live.  I’m safe, I have food, and clothing, and shelter.

The sky is blue, the grass and trees are green, the lilacs are blooming and a clipping sits in a vase on the counter where I can inhale its lovely scent.

There is work at home I’ve been intermittently doing, and I’ve been exercising, but I’ve also been tearing up all day, the sense of loss hitting me intensely, then subsiding.

I’m staying away from social media where I will only feel worse, and I’m doing what typically helps on days like today, but I’m still battling surging emotions that make me wish I could go home – the longing for some existential comfort I’m failing to find in myself today.

Perspective is knowing this will pass, and believing I’ll get through it.

I’m trying to find a reason I feel as I do, but maybe the answer is that I’m human, and some days suck – no matter how hard I try to make it better. I don’t need to wallow in my feelings either, but maybe I can just accept that this is how it is today, and with luck, I will feel glad again sooner rather than later.

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

Writing 101, Day 9, Life Goes On

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.

Wind-less

One day my older sister and I were at a playground and she was swinging and I was watching her swing higher and higher, and then suddenly she was falling from the apex of the swing, landing right on her back.
She couldn’t move and couldn’t breathe, and I thought she was going to die. Luckily, my older brother was there, telling me it was going to be alright, that she was hurt, but mostly just had the wind ‘knocked out of her’. Right after that she took in a gulp of air and coughed for a while.

I feel like you knocked the wind out of me, but I’m breathing perfectly fine.
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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.

A Passing Apparition

An apparition passed by the window next door as I stood washing my dishes, feeling thoroughly world-weary.  Was its presence a warning, or maybe it was attracted to my gloom?

The specter wanted me to notice it because the people chatting and laughing deeper in the room had their backs turned away from the window.

It was a simple act, the ghostly glide before my eyes.  No turning, no staring, no creepy tricks about it.

You are here, it implied to me.  You are here and you are wasting your life.  Look at me, I’m now a shadow and have no chance to act differently, to create a new path.

And perhaps what I thought I saw wasn’t there at all.

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

Despite

Despite the tears,

despite my fear,

despite the odds against me;

I will not stop, though I falter

I will not retreat, even if daunted.

A horizon lies before me – a goal to reach, if not to breach.

I don’t feel strong, and sometimes long

for the journey to be over.

And in the pit of grief,

the pitch-black surroundings,

I feel the light within me.

I am the only one of me that there will ever be,

I will not let you define me.

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

Thoughts On The Go

Publicity photo of Andy Griffith, Don Knotts a...
Publicity photo of Andy Griffith, Don Knotts and Jim Nabors from The Andy Griffith Show. Andy tries to help out the town band, but Barney and Gomer aren’t so sure he’s helping them. The episode is “The Sermon for Today”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been traveling the last few days and haven’t had computer access for more than a couple of minutes.  I got to spend some time with old friends in Maine, and another friend outside of Boston, and now I’m going to visit family in Rhode Island.

I was quite sad to hear that Andy Griffith died – as well as Ernest Borgnine.  Andy Griffith helped me through my childhood by representing the father I wish I had, and by remaining on television through specials and through his Matlock series.  I never watched Matlock more than once or twice, but just knowing he was still around was comforting to me.

Ernest Borgnine didn’t elicit the same kind of emotional response in me that Andy Griffith did, but I found him entertaining and funny (unless he was performing in a serious role, of course).

Time is moving on.  With every person from my parents’ generation that passes away, I feel pulled that much closer to the end of my life’s track as well.  I know I’m still pretty much in the middle of my life – and if I weren’t so tired, I’d celebrate that…

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

Spring Day

I opened the windows today – the fresh air rushing in like a cat that’s been waiting all day to get inside.  The scent reminded me of what’s good about Springtime, and I forgot my woes for a while.

I vacuumed the floors and washed a few windows before I had to head off to work.  I even spent some time helping to weed a friend’s garden, even though my stuff still needs tending.  I don’t know what my priorities are lately.  I’ve been flitting around in the vast wilds of my mind, trying to keep abreast of my grief, but I remain unsuccessful.

My son writes an email, asking for a nice picture of the both of us he can frame for Mother’s Day, and I tear up reading the note.  ‘No, honey, we have no recent pictures.  I’ll have to come visit you and we can have one taken then.’  The reply seems to echo through a thousand years.  That’s how long it feels like we’ve been apart.  It’s not about time, it’s about distance.  You won’t make it home this weekend, and don’t know when you’ll be able to visit.

You’re further away from me than the moon, I think – the moon which occupies nearly the same space in the sky, and moves in predictable cycles.  Remember how I used to say “I love you to the moon and back”, and you’d repeat it in your sweet, tender child’s voice?  You’ve long lost that high-pitched timbre.  You’re a man now.  You’re a man who’s on your way in this world, and my job is done.  The rest is ‘icing on the cake’, I’ve heard said, but I still love you more than pumpkin pie, and I hope you still love me more than chocolate.

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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.

Sad Day

My uncle, Louis Prunier, passed away on November 4th.  He was born in 1920, and was married to one of my mother’s sisters, my Aunt Olive, for 68 years, passing away on their anniversary.  He really lived his life, as well as being an extraordinary man.  I remember him as kind and interesting.  Although I didn’t get to spend much time with their family through the years, I’ve always really liked them and looked forward to time spent with them.

Today is my uncle Lou’s funeral, and his wake was last night, but I couldn’t attend.  It’s appropriate that it’s a gloomy day today.  Heavy rain is forecast, so I hope traveling won’t be too bad.

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

Cruisin’ Back To School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Doggone Memory

When I was eleven, two girls moved into the commune with their mother, and brought their dog, Suzi, with them.  Suzi was a cute, short-haired mutt with a sweet personality, and she made life so much more bearable.

Today is Suzi’s birthday, and my memory of her is bittersweet.  Even though she was the other girls’ dog, she liked me and I was always playing with her – her owners being more occupied with their peers than I was (or than I was privileged to be, but that’s another story).

Us younger commune kids weren’t involved in the larger world around us that often, so it was exciting when we got to go anywhere, especially an event like the Memorial Day parade.  One of the adults decided to take a group of us kids to the parade in a town we had not been to before.  Our chaperone let me take Suzi, and she usually minded well, so I didn’t worry that she would wander off.

She had no leash, but did have a collar with her name on the tag, but no number to call if she was lost.  Even if there were a number, it would have been from New York where Suzi had been registered.

It was an overcast day, with a steady drizzle by the time we got to the town and were walking from the lot we parked in to a spot where we could watch the parade.  As we walked, I had to keep waiting for Suzi, who wanted to sniff everything, and I was soon falling behind the group I was with and feared losing them.

There were so many people and I was so scared when I looked up the street after waiting for Suzi and could no longer see anyone from my group.  I called Suzi one last time and then ran to catch up, thinking that Suzi would find us by following my scent.  She didn’t.

We spent about an hour after the parade searching and calling for Suzi, but couldn’t find her.  We called the police and described Suzi, and because we lived in the commune where someone always needed the vehicles, we didn’t take any trips back to continue the search for her.  No one even helped me put up posters, or made any real attempts to get her back.

The girls were understandably furious with me, and I was devastated.  I considered her my dog as well because I spent so much time with her and I loved her.

Writing this from my adult perspective, I felt the grief of losing her all over again, and I’m still angry that no one earnestly tried to help me find Suzi.  I was this powerless girl in a sea of adults who couldn’t be bothered.  It might not be worthy of a Charles Dickens novel, but it was pretty close.

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