Puzzle Pieces

IMG_0936It is mid February.  It is still cold but the sunlight stays just a little bit longer each day.  I can feel the darkness of winter losing its grip on Mother Nature.  I bundle up and head outside into the sunshine.  Of course the sunshine always deceives you when you are indoors that it warmer until you open the door.  Once I am outside I feel the sun penetrating right through me to bust through the ancient cobwebs in my brain.

That inner urge to hibernate through the cold months is starting to leave.  There is a hopefulness, a joie de vivre, that I have not felt for a while.

There is a question, a missing puzzle piece calling my name.  I’m not sure what it is but I must find it.

The quest for the missing puzzle piece comes to me in a dream.  I am walking up a path in the forest.  Something beckons me to keep climbing.  Something elusive like a delicate butterfly or a mighty hawk.  I’m not sure what the answer will be but I know I must continue climbing up the path to find it.  I hope it is joyful, like a waterfall or a patch of delicate wildflowers.

I try to translate the dream into something more tangible.  I’m not quite there, but I know I must keep searching.bamboo-damyang-sunshine-54601.jpeg

Day 27

Well today I have some writer’s block, probably from all the eating I have been doing for the last couple of days.  I think all the blood has been diverted from my brain to my stomach.  Today was a sort of lazy day with family.  I sort of half watched a football game and napped at the same time.

I think committing to the 30 days of blogging has loosened up some ideas in my head for future posts..none that I will tackle today.  It seems the more I write, the easier it seems.  I have reviewed some posts that I have written and see that some aren’t as clear as I would like.  I should let them sit for a bit before pushing the publish button.

I don’t think I have figured out all the ins and outs of wordpress.  I barely got used to the currents system…now they have went and changed it again.  I had a bunch of comments go to spam..will have to remember to check the spam folder from now on.

After November ends I am going to attempt to blog regularly, but probably not daily.  Right now I going to try to find a blog I was reading yesterday that I really enjoyed but I can’t remember the name.  Oh and get some laundry done while I poke around the internet.

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.

Feet….yes this counts as an actual post

I’m trying to keep up with writing every day in November for NaBloPoMo..  Today I am a bit short on time and have some writer’s block.  Today’s daily prompt seems too hard.  Would be posts floating around in my head seem like they would take too long to complete.

I have trouble sleeping sometimes, so I have the bad habit of surfing the net while I try to get some zzz’s.  It made me wonder if the solution to all of my problems is terribly obvious to everyone else, but not to me.

Like last night I came across the blog of a young woman who was lamenting her problems with finding and keeping her Prince Charming.  On the blog she had a pic of her feet.  Her toenails were like talons. If I were less kind I would share a link. Even though I am a nurse feet can be pretty icky, especially when people cannot or will not take care of their feet.

The young woman said she knew her toenails were a bit long, but she’d had trouble getting in for a pedicure.  I thought to myself, you are a young woman, is there a reason you can’t cut your own toenails?

I’m not a guy, but if I came across those toenails on a woman, I might think twice.  I wonder if anyone would be brutal enough to tell her she needed to step it up in the grooming department just a bit.

What brutal things would people tell me to do to improve my life?  Hmm, I’m not sure I want to ponder that for too long.

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. 

Window and Walls

I’m revisiting my days as a younger woman again here.  I’m thinking back to how I often formed walls, perhaps not consciously, to keep people out.

In a post I wrote recently I spoke about a time when my life seemed to be falling apart.  I’d dropped out of school, but had stayed living in the college town, amongst all my friends.  One day these friends were like family to me, but over time things seemed to change.  I felt people treating me differently.  I felt as if I’d have to walk a narrow line to keep their friendships.  If I paid my rent late, well it be the talk of the town.  Better not wear a tight skirt..your long time friend will tell someone else it makes her “uncomfortable” when you wear clothes like that.  Go to a party with your friends that are still attending college…meet new people, and feel as though you are being silently judged for dropping out.

At this time, my relationship with my family took a major hit as well.  Sometimes I wonder if that should have been the end, the first time they’d rejected me for not following the script they’d set out for my life.  My parents had a very old fashioned view of life.  They basically believed, even though I was of legal age, that I was not to be treated as a fully functioning adult because I’d been born a girl.  Does that sound crazy to you..it does to me.  Surprisingly though there a lot of people out there who still believe such nonsense….and they even blog about it!  And they believe their brand of Christianity says this is the way to be.

So after that point, for many years in the future, to get along with my family I could only show them slivers of my life….my true self was locked up behind a wall.

It wasn’t just with my family that I started to close off though.  During this ordeal one of my friends told some half-truths to my parents.  That was just devastating to me.  I started closing off more.  The friend who’d blabbed to my parents…during this time I’d stayed quiet about how she’d cheated on her boyfriend(someone well-known to me)while he was out of the country and become pregnant with another man’s baby.  I wonder why I’d kept her secret all this time when she couldn’t be a loyal friend to me.

When I look back and think about the sorts of men I was always attracted to, they were always people who tended to be more quiet than loud.  Men(or boys) with a bit of mystery about them.  Never the class clown types.  I’m not sure why I always attracted to these types.  At this point in my life I do know that I would be just exhausted if I had married someone who couldn’t shut up.

These quiet, mysterious types of course always came with a drawback.  I’d always wanted someone who could open a window to my soul, to understand me…well of course because I was quiet and shy as well, I wanted someone else to do the heavy lifting.  Taking a risk to expose my true self to someone was scary.  Letting someone else see my dark sides…even scarier.  But I desperately wanted someone to open that window, and love me, dark sides and all.

Well even though it was perhaps a process, and the journey was far from complete on our wedding day, I think my husband and I do this for each other.  Love isn’t just about seeing the sweet sides, it is about acknowledging the bitter and sour elements in our partners as well.  Accepting that we’ve each made mistakes. Accepting our quirks, accepting our struggles as well as our victories. 

Why do I blog….day 3 of NaBloPoMo

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Million-Dollar Question.”

I’ve done the blogging rodeo before.  In the past my efforts were aimed at a single subject.  Once I blogged about education, another time about family/school nutrition and the last time was a mix of how religion and gender roles intersect.   The last blog I threw in a few more personal posts, but they seemed out of place.

My first attempt at blogging was very short lived.  WIth my second and third attempts though, I’d partly started my blog to have my own place to share opinions about things that I’d read, things other bloggers had said.  I’d found sometimes with the more strident bloggers, they weren’t really interested in hearing your dissenting opinion.  Some even got a little mad if you talked about their blog on your own.

Before I started this blog, I came across one that shared a lot of personal memories, and it really spoke to me.  Reflecting on snippets of my life, in writing, I think will help me gain new insight in to the person I have now become.  This blog isn’t strictly about personal memories though, just whatever pops into my mind on a given day.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

People I’ve Known Along the Way..Dirty Little Secret Edition

Thinking about people from my past reminds of some of the better times in my life and some that weren’t so great.  The people are milestones of sorts.

One day I was reading the website of a newspaper in our state, when an advertisement caught my eye.  P was mentioned by name in the advertisement.

In the months before I met P, my life had fallen apart.  I was broke, my long time boyfriend had broken up with me, I’d had to drop out of school and I wasn’t getting along with my parents at all.  Despite the fact that I’d had to drop out of school I still decided to keep living in the college town where I’d went to school.  I am not proud  about this time of my life and wish I could have found a way to navigate things along the way

It was a learning experience.  I’d spent much of my life around very achievement oriented people, and in a college town there tends to be more of them. My long time friends started treating me differently.  I could tell when I met new people there was a sort of silent judgment related to the fact that I currently wasn’t in school.  I’d read somewhere in a corner  of the internet that guys don’t care if the women they date have a college education.  If the guys are college educated…yes they care.

When I saw P on the website, I did a little detective work.  The internet persona and the P I knew from years ago didn’t seem to mesh entirely.  But something I have learned over the years, many people have two sides to their personality…the hidden side is sometimes darker than the side they choose to reveal to the public.

I met P at a party when I was trying to rebuild my life.  My sensible side should have told me to stay away from men for the time being.  Despite being shy though, back in those days, if I saw a guy with a certain vibe, I(with the aid of a couple of beers) could do my best to put my laser like focus on getting his attention.

P reminded me a bit of Val Kilmer.  Val Kilmer from Top Gun, not the aging Val Kilmer.  I generally prefer guys with a quieter vibe, P had a bit more swagger though. He didn’t have the best skin I remember that. P had been in the military before starting college…that made him older than me but I can’t remember by how much.  He was studying finance or something related to that.

P and I went out for a while. From the beginning I knew he had the impression that I was less than because I’d made the choice to drop out of school.  I suppose I was so grateful to have someone interested in me that I didn’t see where things were headed.  Looking back I think P leveraged the fact that I was not in the best place in my life to think I deserved little.  He wanted me to be his dirty little secret, or a booty call, but not much else.  It was definitely one of those situations where I would handle things differently if I had the wisdom I have now.

Back to seeing P on the internet.  I found out P had served overseas in the military.  He was active in his community, handing out oversized checks to people. He was married.  He seemed to be an all around pillar of the community.  His swagger seemed to have faded away a bit.  Was this the P I had really known years ago,  it didn’t seem possible.

People I’ve Met Along the Way

Okay I think I am going to try the thirty days in a row of blogging, or NaBloPoMo as it is called.  I think some of my posts will be memoirs of sorts about people I’ve met in my life.

I was in my freshman year of college.  I went to a party with some high school friends who also attended the same college.  Of course I had a lot to drink.  At that time in my life I was pretty shy, but get a few beers in me and I could be quite friendly.

I see my friend T standing talking to a guy.  T has some sort of connection to everyone it seems.  He remembers people he went to preschool with, people he went to summer camp with, etc.  This guy is someone he went to elementary school with.  His name is J.  I join in the conversation.  I’m instantly attracted to J.  Soon it is just J and I talking.  Everything else around me starts to fade away, the people and the noise.  I think I feel instantly bonded to J.  In our conversations I find out we come from similar families..overly strict ones, that is.  Our dads have similar jobs.  We are even in the same chemistry lecture but at that point we don’t know it yet.

J becomes the first guy to be a real boyfriend to me, I think that is part of the reason he sticks in my mind.  I had terrible luck in high school.  I’m not sure if it is my shyness or the cliques in my high school that were the problem.  But when things turn around upon getting to college, I am oh so happy.

Take the liquor away and we are both much more shy, which I think becomes a bit problematic as time goes on.

I remember him asking me out for a date.  The campus theatre was showing “The Man Who Knew Too Much” with the ever charming Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day.  This was an older movie(with a catchy song) that I had never seen before.  We went with another couple.  We walked in the cool air, along the river to the theater.  I think I was wearing a pink sweater and some dreadful stonewashed jeans.

J had this shy smile that I always remembered.  I remember him losing one of his contacts and looking at me with this cute squinty eyed grin. I think he wore some sort of musky cologne.

 I also remember him having this friend C that hated me before he had ever even met me.  That right there could be a whole post.

I broke up with J at some point.  I’m not really sure why, but I think it partly involved him not calling me enough and me feeling like I was in limbo.  We weren’t done though. We would get back together for short amounts of time for several years.  I’m pretty sure the last time we were together, he was engaged to someone else, but I didn’t know that at the time. For a long time I carried a connection for him.  But the connection we had never  seemed to end up in anything lasting.  Looking back I wonder why we would still get back together..oh the follies of youth.

Depression, part two

I’m going to ask my doctor for an increase in my dosage of antidepressant at my next visit.  Oddly though, when I do this I always procrastinate.  I don’t procrastinate because of what the doctor’s reaction might be.  The more depressed I am the more it is hard to recognize I am not taking care of myself in the best way that I could.  In my mind making the request becomes something agonizingly hard.  When I am more depressed I tend to avoid things that make me uncomfortable.

A Facebook friend recently posted some thoughts on her experience with depression.  I found that very brave and courageous.  I can’t let people know though.  They must think I have everything under control.  I think this need for people to think I am in complete control stems from growing up in the dynamics of having an alcoholic parent.  I won’t post my friend’s exact words here, but I found myself nodding in agreement. She posted something about how doing something simple sometimes feels like a herculean task.  Sometimes I feel like I am made of lead, just the very effort of swinging my legs out of bed seems monumental.  Long before I ever thought I was depressed I remember the feelings of being made of lead.  I supposed then I chalked it up to laziness.

I had some flickers of sunshine in my day yesterday.  Seeing my son and his friends acting silly.  Sitting around the dinner table, sharing a meal. Of course the dog always makes me smile.  She looked at me in a pleading way and got me to take her for a walk on a beautiful fall day. I know I can do better though.

There is a new job posting at work.  The hours would be less than ideal, and I probably won’t pursue it for that reason.  Half of my brain says this is something I should try.  The other half though, the one ruled by depression says learning the ropes of a new position will be uncomfortable, that it might be hard.