hot plate kate

rants and ramblings freshly served

Miniature — August 24, 2016

Miniature

In response to the prompt Miniature, I have written this post.  Miniature, the word rolls pleasantly off the tongue.  What might one think of first…a dollhouse full of miniatures?  A miniature breed of dog?

Does the word convey smallness or tininess in a way that one should admire?

Miniature I am not.  I’m tall.  In childhood I was always ahead of my peers as far of height goes.  As an adult the burden/gift or whatever you might call isn’t something I think of quite so much, at least not in a physical way.

Miniature….what size would that be..I’ll never be a size 2 or 4 or 6.  My height plus my broad shoulders simply won’t allow it.  It is funny though how women are admired for being a certain size. A size zero….what age would I have been when I passed out of the size zero range…9 or 10?

Miniature..the words of family members praising the petite women of our families.

Miniature…growing up I often felt small.  I wanted my physical size to conform to the way I felt, so others wouldn’t notice me, and my flaws.  Being the tallest thirteen year old in the class, I’d sometimes slouch as if this would stop others from noticing my adolescent awkwardness.

Forgive and Forget, or Hold a Grudge Instead? — November 25, 2015

Forgive and Forget, or Hold a Grudge Instead?

Today’s writing prompt asks us if we hold grudges, or do we try to forgive and forget?  It was my family’s style to hold grudges for a very long time.  I try not to spend much mental energy holding grudges…my family used to spend hours rehashing all the details about how someone had wronged them.  I was expected to participate in the grudge holding as well.  If they hated someone..well I should as well.

I try to forgive, but then move on.  I don’t think forgiveness always means that you put yourself in a situation to be hurt again. It doesn’t mean you put your full trust in assuming that person will act in good faith in the future. It might mean that you change the way you negotiate the relationship with the person who hurt you…of course this doesn’t apply to minor transgressions.

 

 

Empty Spaces — November 22, 2015

Empty Spaces

For the last 17+ years, my life has been structured around parenting, marriage and my job.  In my work there is plenty of structure to keep me going.  I’m not sure I could ever be the self-employed sort, I am a terrible procrastinator.  Outside of work, family life keeps me pretty busy with laundry, making meals, chauffeur duties and all of those other tidbits of family life.

There is a part of me that craves the downtime though, perhaps to take a nap or have a bit of time alone.  It is those empty spaces of time, though that sometimes give me the most trouble.  Should I be reading a book?  Going to the gym?  Surfing the net?  Napping? There is often the conflicted feelings of feeling I should do something, but wanting to do absolutely nothing at all.

If I manage to write a post every day in November(as has been my goal) it will be a bit of small victory for me.  I’m not always good at making a goal and following through with it.  Maybe I should be inspired to set some smaller goals and trying to follow through with them for the month of December, just to show myself I can actually do it.  I know my lack of direction in this part of my life probably contributes to my depression in a way.

Making a goal to get to the gym in December on a regular basis would be a good start.  Heaven knows the time for outside exercise is now past…at least for me.  Seeing results from making a small change such as going to the gym would be a good thing, it would boost my mood in preparation of the after Christmas slump I usually feel.

Here’s to turning the empty spaces in my life into something with more meaning.

Frightful Weather — November 20, 2015

Frightful Weather

snLocation: Midwestern United States

Today is day 20 of my 30 day blogathon.  Hmm, what to write.  I’ll just write about ordinary life in my corner of the world.  We are supposed to be getting our first snowstorm today, and it is predicted to be a big one.  It is 38 degrees Farenheit outside.  Hopefully the temperature won’t dip down to freezing, and the weatherman will be wrong. The sky does have that ominous look, weather. I know I have a couple readers in warmer parts of the world who don’t have to deal with snow…lucky you.

I was at the grocery store getting a few things for the weekend, and for Thanksgiving which is next Thursday.  News of  bad weather will always bring more shoppers to the store in a panic, as if they have never faced winter weather before.  Cold weather makes me want to make all sorts of comfort food.

Everyone will be a bit nervous driving when the snow arrives….we’ll all be used to it when February rolls around and we are so over the snow.  I saw a pretty pearly white SUV…..that will soon be covered with the residue of slush and salt.

Ahh…who doesn’t love winter.

 

 

 

The Power of Touch — November 19, 2015

The Power of Touch

Today’s writing prompt is a bit hard for me to interpret as it is written.  I’ll concentrate more on this part..”the sense of touch brings back memories for us”.

My mother wasn’t big on physical affection, almost to the point that it was something she was proud of.  I think my dad was a bit more physically affectionate with us as kids, but looking back, I think since we received so little physical affection from her, getting it from my dad seemed odd.  My dad dropped some sort of innuendo once during an argument with her about how cold she’d been in that regard, even with us as babies,   I was never quite sure how to process it.

For me, holding a baby and kissing their heads is one of the greatest joys of life.  I still try to give my kids a hug everyday…even though they think they are to big for it.  I love to run my hands down my husband’s arms and feel how his arms and hands are different than mine, somehow the familiarity of this is comforting.

I have mixed feelings about touch outside of my inner circle.  How I respond to touch seems something that comes from somewhere deep within myself.  Many years ago, I ran into a friend.  I was busy that day.  She wanted to talk, and she touched my arm in the process.  I think I sort of recoiled.  What she wanted to talk about was her sister with cancer.  What a jerk I was to have acted like that.  I’ve gotten better since that day.  Sometimes with hugs I get confused…does a hug transform our relationship into something it wasn’t before?  Do you have to accept a hug if its offered.  If someone at work comes up behind you and starts rubbing your back to you have to act thankful, disguising the awkwardness you might feel?

I’m a nurse.  Sometimes a comforting touch can be a part of our toolbox in helping someone settle who is confused or scared.  I’ve felt a lot of connection holding the hand of someone who is confused, just sitting there with them until their anxiety level decreased.

Well, yet another post in which I expose my odd self.

 

 

 

Say My Name — November 16, 2015

Say My Name

oldIt is has been several year since I left this world.  My spirit feels restless, I don’t feel settled in my home up above.

We shared fifty years of married life.  You were the only one to ever call me Annie, everyone else called me Anna.

We met one day as teens the day I took my brother fishing at the lake.  You lived the next town over.  I think I loved you the moment I met you.  After high school was over we married, and just about a year later we had our first baby.

I’d never really thought about doing anything else with my life, being a wife and mother was everything to me.  I’d had five babies and I still relished my role.

Some people thought I was a bit simple, relishing a kid’s first day of school or lost tooth or trying to perfect your favorite pie.  Those were happy days for me.

One day a cold shadow seemed to enter life in our small town.  A pale woman with lizard eyes seems to always be on the periphery.  I see you talking to her after church  and at the town festival.  I know as a banker you see it as your role to be friendly to all but this seems different.

I hear whispers.  I wonder what is happening when you say you are working late.  I don’t ever confront you.  I will never say the lizard eyed woman’s name.  I don’t speak to the lizard eyed woman.  I pretend she is invisible.

But just as I feel the situation is getting intolerable, the lizard eyed woman’s husband decides they are moving to another town.  I hear the lizard eyed woman’s husband is mean, but to me he is a kindred spirit.

After they move, I do my best to forget the cold shadow the lizard eyed woman left behind.  Our children marry.  I get lost in the weddings and grandchildren that seem to happen every few years.

Our family gathers together.  I hear my name…Annie, Mom, Grandma.  It brings me joy to hear my name.  I don’t feel quite right that day, but I take comfort in the hugs of little kids.  The very smallest child there can’t yet say my newest name…great grandma.  I get to hold her for the longest time.

After that day I still don’t feel right.  We see the doctor, he says my time is getting shorter.  As everyone comes to my home to visit, it all seems bittersweet.  As the time gets closer I hear your sister say that you and I will meet again someday in heaven.  I can’t respond to her but the words bring me comfort.

I’ve left this world.  As people mark the end of my life I hear my name…Anna, Annie, mom.  I see my physical body in the ground and I am told my spirit must leave this world.

My spirit is unsettled.  I know everyone, including you must move on with their lives.  I don’t object to you finding comfort in the arms of another, until I see it is the lizard eyed woman.

Our children sense you have changed somehow.  You delay telling them about the lizard eyed woman.  But then she insists that everything be out in the open.  She is now your wife and takes your last name.  I guess she has forgotten the last name she shared with her own kids and their father.  From that point on the children will never see you without her.  The children all whisper amongst each other…the oldest try to piece together old memories of this woman.

I see the traces of me in our house start to disappear.  The afghans I had crocheted, little knickknacks I had collected along the way.  Even our most recent family picture is gone.

It is time for Thanksgiving, this time at our granddaughter’s house.  You say you won’t come with out her.  Conversation at the table turns to holidays of old.  Laughter.  I hear my children talk about me, “mom”.  My spirit warms.  But then there seems to be an attempt by you to change the subject, as if everyone should forget the family history. She with the lizard eyes purses her lips in disapproval every time an old memory comes up. I feel cold again.

I’m not sure my spirit will ever be at rest until you will freely say my name, you allow your children to speak freely of me and I know that I am not forgotten.

Stylin’ —

Stylin’

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “New Sensation.”

I have writer’s block today so I am finding inspiration from a prompt by talking about a trend I once found quite cool.

My hair is straight.  Growing up I received many messages that I would look more “done” , more feminine if my hair was curled. Anyone remember those pink sponge rollers, or those curlers that bore a slight resemblance to a wire brush.  On school picture day my mom would try to mold it into some style that was not  quite current for girls of my age…..God forbid I should be seen with my hair not done.

Soon I started hating my straight hair as well.  I tried to style it with a curling iron, or even those silly sponge rollers.

Next came years of frequent perms. Instead of having my shiny straight hair , I now had tangles of dry but curly hair. A few years down the road came the days of out of control perms, bangs that were teased to give them lots of height. This was all finished with a liberal spraying of Aqua Net.  In those days I thought my hair looked quite cute.

Who would have ever thought years later, straight hair would become desired and my daughter would be asking to help her use the flatiron to straighten her hair. I of course think her hair looks quite pretty in its natural state.

What to write, what to say — November 10, 2015

What to write, what to say

Day 10 of NaBloPoMo. Will I make it through all thirty days?  I hope so.  I can’t decide what to write today.  The daily prompt doesn’t really speak to me.  I don’t want to write a very long post.

I can’t believe this year is going so fast.  The holidays can sometimes be a bittersweet time for me, but I’m looking forward to them.  I’m not looking forward to colder temperatures and snow though.

Recently we were at a family gathering involving my husband’s side of the family, plus the family of one of the spouses of his siblings.  Does that make sense?  Many of the people know most everyone gathered there, but there are still introductions to be made.  My husband’s mom passed away a few years ago, and his dad is now remarried.  At the time of his remarriage, most of the grandkids were over eighteen.  Some were married and had kids of their own.  All of the grandkids had a very close relationship with their grandmother who had passed away.

The woman he remarried, I’ll call her Jane.  I would say that most are cordial with Jane, but not looking for a motherly or grandmotherly relationship with her.  My husband and his siblings all knew Jane to some degree growing up as someone who lived in their town.  Some had mixed impressions of her before she ever married into my husband’s family.

I get the impression that Jane wants to be seen as some sort of family matriarch.  I don’t exactly understand this because she has her own children and grandchildren where she could be directing that energy.  Jane has made snarky comments about other’s housekeeping or cooking while she has been at my husband’s family member’s houses.  She’s tried to tell me what I should tell my husband in an effort to manage the relationship between him and his dad.  No thanks.

While I can say I had my own differences with my husband’s mother, she was really viewed as the heart of the family by her kids and grandkids.  This seemed to be more evident after she passed and my father in law’s energy seemed to change.  Whenever he was around the grandkids he seemed to always be worrying about Jane.  He didn’t seem to wish to interact with the grandkids if it meant excluding Jane, he seemed be me more of a watcher, rather than an active participant.

Still following?  Here comes the awkward part, the part I don’t quite understand.  As we are making introductions, the grandmother from the other part of the family that is there says “I’m so and so’s grandmother” .  Then Jane says “I’m his other grandmother”  I thought to myself….no you are not.  His grandmother is in heaven.  No one here sees you in a grandmotherly way.  Do you know not have any sensitivity to  your husband’s deceased wife’s children or grandchildren?  Of course father in law says nothing.  Of course many people in attendance know that she is not related by blood to her husband’s children or grandchildren, but not the particular person she is talking to at that moment.

This is not my battle to fight, I’m just an observer.  I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t hear the part about “the other grandmother”.  I’m not sure what the rules are supposed to be in a situation like this.  Do Jane’s feelings reign supreme?   Do the feelings of my father in law’s children and grandchildren matter?

Well that was quite a rant.  I hope it wasn’t too confusing.

In Vino Veritas — November 9, 2015

In Vino Veritas

A couple of days ago, when I was reading some of the responses to the wordpress prompt truth serum, one writer talked about alcohol being in a truth serum of sorts.  I’m not sure I completely agree, but I thought it would be a good launching pad for a post about alcohol.

Growing up, I always remember beer in the house.  Sometimes there were other things, wine and hard liquor.  I’d had tastes of wine and beer growing up probably at least a dozen times, with the full blessing of my parents.  I think I was a small child when I had my taste of beer.  I think in those times such behaviors weren’t so frowned upon.  Some would say allowing your children to have small tastes of wine here or there demystifies alcohol, and makes them less likely to have problems with alcohol later on.  I’m not sure I buy that.

Somewhere along the line I realized my dad drank too much, and it was the cause of some of our family dysfunction.  Back in those days I remember alcoholism being more of a term that applied to a bum drinking on a street corner, hiding his bottle in a paper sack.  It was before laws started changing to address the problem of drunk driving more harshly.  My dad held a job and was a good provider, in my mom’s eyes, how could he possibly be an alcoholic.

I’d a few more sips of alcohol before reaching high school, at friends’ houses.  Their parents didn’t know.  I tried some of my parents’ whisky just for the heck of it.  Straight whisky is nasty stuff.  Entering high school I knew that some kids were drinking regularly.  At that point I managed to stay away from kids like that.  Toward the end of high school though, I found myself in situations where I could manage to gulp down a few beers.  It made social situations easier to deal with.  People would seem to be more drawn to me when I was drinking, while the sober me would have been invisible.  My parents still never knew I’d had some drinks…my mom would have made a comment about how it would not be ladylike to drink to excess.  I even came home covered in vomit once.  I didn’t even realize I’d been sick until the next morning when I looked at my clothes.

Fast forward to college.  More of the same.  Meeting guys often happened in the context of some alcohol fueled activity.  Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker, as the old saying goes.  For me it was the ultimate social lubricant.  I thought I was fabulous when I drank.  Except when I was being clumsy, obnoxious, or getting sick.  Being a social butterfly was wonderful, but my inner self shuddered at the tales people had told me about how obnoxious I was.  Was I revealing my true self when I drank…who knows?

I pretty much drank only in social situations, but looking back even that was problematic.  Drinking alone has never much appealed to me.  The addictive companion of choice when alone, for better or worse has always been food.  After my early twenties, the urge to be in social situations where there was drinking sort of dissipated.  Over time my stomach has become more and more rebellious sometimes even if I only have a couple of drinks…so that stops the urge dead in its tracks.  The first time it happened my stomach hurt so much I thought about going to the hospital.

But even if I wanted to become the sort of drinker my dad(and eventually sister) would become, it would have seemed I would have spent all my time either by the toilet or hungover in bed.  I’d always had the worst sort of hangovers so that was always a deterrent.

There were little clues that my dad’s drinking was affecting his health.  I don’t think until the very end he was honest with his doctor about the sheer volume of alcohol he consumed.

If the story just involved my dad, I don’t know if I would be writing this post.  My sister is also an alcoholic, a fact that I think she managed to hide for many years.  I’d like to think this wasn’t true, but I think the effects have had an irreversible effect on her.  Her thought process is that of a different woman.  Many of her memories have been erased.  It is hard to have a conversation about a past event with someone when they have absolutely no recollection of the event.  Plus if the event never happened in their mind, then they don’t have to take responsibility.  Some of my sister’s worst struggles involve episodes of psychosis and anger that are fueled by alcohol.  Episodes that involve the police.  And of course if you are drinking as much as she does, you can’t earn of a living.  Are the episodes of psychosis and anger some inner reflection of my sister’s true self…I don’t think so.

My sister and I have been affected by our dad’s legacy of drinking in different ways.  Something I didn’t realize until later was that my mother’s insistence that our dad’s alcoholism stay behind closed doors took its own toll.  I’ve often wondered why it was my sister that is having the long term problems with alcoholism, why wasn’t it me.  I consider myself lucky, but at the same time my heart hurts to see my sister’s painful existence.

Finally, some time ago, I came across this post, The Narrative of Privilege, at the blog This Liminal Space.  I’d thought about doing my own post in reaction to it, but I probably won’t.  It talks about privilege, and choice in relation to addiction.  At times I think the writer assumes privilege can be a deterrent to slipping into addiction.  Having grown up at least in comfort, and surrounded by classmates who did indeed come from privileged backgrounds, I don’t see privilege being a huge deterrent.

Ghost Train — November 5, 2015

Ghost Train

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.”

There are always ghosts at this time of year.  Memories of experiences tucked away in a dusty box, seemingly secure until something invisible opens the box.  Memories not yet made, feelings of anxiety and hope about what might fill the box.

I had the idea for the ghost part of the post before today.  I couldn’t think about what I might post in response to this prompt.  But then somehow it hit me.  I would do my own version of the Christmas Carol, or at least a very rough draft. It would take place on a train, so there’s my tenuous connection to the prompt.

Marley is a woman in this tale..  Marley violently shakes the woman awake.  She must get up and get on the train.  Her life depends on it.

She gets on the train.  It is dark.  Waiting.  The train starts to move.  She feels sleepy and groggy..  There is a figure sitting next to me. She is Ghost of the Past. She is hard to see at times.  The ghost  seems to be made of air, weightless.  The woman with the ghost feels as though she is wearing a gown of lead.  Dread fills her heart.  She wants to run but she can’t.

As she starts to awaken,she  travel through a valley of fuzzy memories.  Has she  seen these things in pictures?  She sees a girl with a smile on her face riding a bike down a tree-lined street, things seem to feel more real and she feel warms inside.  Yet she know this journey will not stay that way.  The girl seems happy for a while.  She has vague memories of her first few years of school and the brick house she lived in.  In her mind her backyard seems endless, but seeing it from the train window it seems much much smaller.  Does the Ghost have the right house?  A parade of beer cans in and out of the house.  The beer cans mean something to the little girl, she isn’t sure what though.  she sees the beer cans, cheap brands of beer.  Of course she know the little girl will learn the painful lessons of what they mean.  Always a current of anger.  Arguments that come out of nowhere.  Her dad likes beer, but is seems to suck the joy out of him.

She sees her sister on the train ride. She and her sister are playing, running.  Barbie dolls. Things seem so much simpler and more joyful as she watches the little girls playing.  Where did that joy go?   Eventually beer or one of his cousins will start sucking the joy out of her sister as well.  But right now the girls are innocent of what the stinky parade of beer cans means.

We speed up.  A new place and a new school.  Things seem more complicated.  She don’t know the answers to all the questions.  Hours of church.  My Catholic school uniform. Walking home with a boy that seems different, but she isn’t sure what makes him different. A playground, where she sometimes feel like an outsider.  High school.  Another uniform.  Walking home from school.  Rude comments from car windows.  Male attention, but not the sort she wants.  Talking with friends in the cafeteria. The biology teacher that she liked.  A boy passes away.  Why?  Does his family know the answer?  Lots of drinking amongst her classmates, but for the most part the girl manages to steer clear.

The girl has her first kiss(and her second and third…) with boy in a basement after she has had a few beers.  The girl has never met the boy before that night.  He goes to a different school.  The girl thinks the boy must not know how undesirable the boys at her high school think she is, otherwise they would never kiss her.  She remember the half drunk eyes almost closed sort of dreamy look the boy has as he leans in to kiss her.  She remembers his beautiful brown eyes and the scar by his lip.  And of course she remembers the taste of beer soaked kisses.

High school graduation.  Going to college.  Drinking.  Meeting new people.  Heartbreak.  Remembering crossing a bridge over a river frequently on my walks home from the library.  The cold dark river.  Disturbing thoughts coming out of nowhere.  The train seems to slow down as we cross the river.  Why?  Why can’t it speed up again.

Going back to school.  Working.  Meeting her  husband.  Lazy days together in bed in a white room with a big window.  A white satin dress and a tuxedo.  Flowers.  People. Cake.  Marriage.  More lazy days together.  The couple enjoys the lazy days, but wishes for something else.  A baby.  The baby finally comes.  It is a girl.   She holds her daughter  for the first time.

Good times and bad times.  The girl and her husband have a few fights.  She never knows how to say what she means in a way that doesn’t get tangled up with emotion and old hurts from the past.  She tries to get better at it though.

The girl doesn’t feel right.  She has vague stirrings in her mind that don’t add up.  But then these vague stirrings  in her mind and her belly do add up after all.  She is pregnant.  She can’t believe it.  A boy.

The girl and her husband navigate through life with their very own girl and boy.  School.  Her daughter starts kindergarten.  The train speeds up and all of a sudden .

The train stops at cemeteries.  The gravestones don’t seem real.  Pain. Cold.  A hardened heart.

She dozes off.  Her daughter is now seventeen.  She says no to the ghost.  She  wants to see more of her kids.  The train screeches to a halt.

She meets another Ghost.  She takes another train ride.  She doesn’t quite understand this time, as the ghost navigates the present.  She is supposed to find an answer.  She is supposed to do something.  She must do something and she must not wait.  She isn’t sure what though.  Figure out how to take better care of herself?   Try to repair broken relationships?  One thing stands out though is her daughter.  The daughter that is seventeen.  The ghosts from the past and the ghost of the present tell her not to make the same mistakes her parents made with her, as she watches her daughter in her last year of high school.  Things become fuzzy again.  The train takes off.

She meets the ghost from the future.  She gets on the train and things are fuzzy. She knows a year from now her daughter will be away at college. She feels bittersweet.  She seems to see different things as she looks out the left window of the train…as opposed to the right window.  Outside the left window life seems cold and lonely, her bones ache,  Outside the right window, things are warmer, more cozy and comfortable, filled with love. Her husband is by her side.  She leans against him.  What is the ghost from the future trying to tell her?

She is asleep again, in a daze from the rhythm of the train.  She wakes up again.  She blinks and it is morning.  Her mind sluggishly embraces the challenge of a new day. The dog gets in bed with her and gives her a kiss.  She puts her shoes on so she can take the dog out.  The sun is out.  She smiles.  She has no pain.  The world is her oyster.  She goes back inside and makes breakfast for her family, ready to share the warmth of her love.