Thursday, September 11, 2014

Just Plain Happy

First, look at this:

 Wow.  Totoro

It's just all kinds of happy to see that sort of talent.  There's more. 

Called The Ugly Duckling. 

Have you ever seen such a good writing prompt as that last picture?  Not me.  Honestly, just adorable. 

All this happy stuff is a sign.  It's a sign that something changed. 

First of all, I'm posting.  It's because I think I should.  Because the days are happy. It's time to bury all the old things and move forward.  And it's time to stop rationalizing why I'm not posting.  Blogs are meant to be written, not waste away.  And besides.  The Man is handing my ass to me in numbers.  Just ain't write.

And look at my life:  

I have a kitten that is OBSESSED with bread.  Here is the little idiot stealing my bagel.  He was ripping it about with his head, flopping it like a dead mouse.  Three days before this, I picked up a box of Kentucky Fried bones I had on the couch to take to the huskies, only to discover the biscuit was missing.  Odd.  But then into the living room where the biscuit was EVERYWHERE.  That's right--bread fiend passed over the chicken. You bet your ass I'm going to get video.

Here's a rainbow two weeks ago when I was walking around the neighborhood.

 Here is a happy kid who thinks his new stepfather (pending) is the greatest dude alive.  He comes home with the best grades, citations for being good, and is brimming with The Happy at his school.  He was in agony back where we had to land after the divorce.  The teacher there would tell him he was going to fail in front of his whole class all the while telling me she couldn't do anything for him.  She was the first teacher in all the years my kids have been in school that I took exception to--after all, I was a K-8 major and a substitute teacher on and off--I have a good deal of understanding how hard it is.  But I would never treat a student like that.  And she shouldn't have either.  Everyone told me that Aslan was in a "good school."  I think they meant "lily white."  My son is in a classroom where he is a decided minority (one of two white kids) and is the happiest I have ever seen him.  Take that, racism. Take that, having spent a lifetime in Mississippi and being told Those People This and Those People That.

Here I am completing a sock for a Very Tall Man on 0's.  No pattern, seamless, toe up.  And I am working on the second one because I'm going to enter the pair into the fair and I am bloody going to win.  Cause there ain't much competition in this little neck of the woods, and I better get to knitting.

This is a view of my backyard.  My desk is just to the left of the frame.  I sit at my desk and watch this:

And despite the adjustments, despite the setbacks, despite not having a dream job, despite having been dealt certain blows, it's all good.  

And it's better when you decide just to let go and feel the good. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dear Robin,

The Mrs. Doubtfire stoop, August 12, 2014

How dare you, how dare you how dare you leave us.

When I was diagnosed ADD, your presence on the list of "famous people who also have crazy attention issues" always meant something to me.  The success--even though I knew of your demons--I've got mine, too--always imbued me with hope and a sense of pride.  Because you were allowed a venue for creativity, and you took it.  You seized it.  You let it go.  Even the greats--Jack Benny, Pryor, and the rest--were studies in structure.  You had no structure and it made it okay for me not to have one, either.  Because you knew what the rest of us knew--sometimes you just can't.  It is difficult to be in a world that wants you to fit in the structure, when you couldn't draw out a structure if you're life depended on it.  Like Einstein's Fish, had you been required to teach college or labeled in such a way or talked into Making a Decent Living, oh what, what would have done for the knowledge of my disorder?

For ADD is not something I would wish on my worst enemy.  It is difficult for those who do not have it to understand how emotionally eroding it can be to constantly struggle to remain on task.  The sink that overflows, the college loan notifications that were ignored unintentionally, the keys locked in the car, the strain on your loved one's patience when yet again, they have to tell you again and again.  The moments your mind goes completely blank.  The jobs lost.  The desire to numb the input of the world and just not deal.  Many's the time I should have finished a piece of writing where dammit, I just played Sim City.  It was easier.  I theorize ADD is why I'm a writer:  at least I can always see where I left off.  There is no cubicle in the world that would have me long. Not because I'm lazy, but in reality, how would we keep the job it came with?  Can anyone imagine you in a cubicle?

All those people, all our lives who told us, "What's wrong with you?" and we began to believe it.  How much did that play into your life?  I do not know.  I hope in the ensuing years we hear your take on it all.

For this reason, to me you were always this star in the firmament that glowed like Venus.  Venus is not a place you want to visit.  Like most ADD folks, I'm sure you were exhausting to live with at times.  I know I have been.  I am in my third marriage and I know that in at least the last marriage my ADD was a burden to us both.  I safeguard and change in subtle ways to make sure that my disorder doesn't disorder this life.  You knew how it was. Funny myself (not YOU funny, NOBODY was YOU funny) I knew people didn't understand how I could ever get down.  Very down.

On the morning you died, I woke having slept poorly and was usurped by anxiety.  There it was, sitting on my chest, saying that as an artist and a person, I would not succeed. But I pulled it together that afternoon.  It may be because I forced myself out of my funk into doing something creative and was working on a project for my new job (baking scones) when my man came into the kitchen with a really troubled look on his face.  I have known him twenty-five years, I know when something is Wrong.

And he told me.  And he told me.  And there you were, my secret harbored success, extinguished.  Having understood at least in part what the life of an ADD human existence is life, all I could say was, "It finally got him."  I wept because you were a professional comfort to me.  You were also adorable.

I suppose it stands to me and others like us to be grateful that you succeeded at all.  You know as well as I do that the only thing the world will give you for having ADHD is a pink slip.  There is so little understanding and acceptance, even within ourselves.  Our patience becomes raw, and it is easy--it is dreadfully easy--to despair.

That cup of coffee you microwaved eight times.  The swell of fury at someone who won't fucking stop unwrapping a peppermint in a movie theater.  The friends who just lose it on you because you weren't on time or forgot again.  The imagination that gets away and suddenly, you've spent time you couldn't afford on something that allowed you to escape the onslaught of data that sometimes is just too much.

I can say without a doubt you gave me a sharp poke in the eye with a stick.  Devastated is what everyone would be if I decided to let the despair overcome me at any given time.  The depression that plagues us ADHDers should not be neglected.  I myself will die a natural death.  I know other layers and events may have influenced whatever depression you battled and lost.  But I know the crippling emotions that the inattentive mind is prone to and the childhood infused with disapproval for your unusually creative and spastic mind.

I know the place you went.  I've been there--in 93 and 07, once with children, once without.  I know your friends will blame themselves for not seeing it, but no one can see inside it.  It is a deep underwater cave you feel you can navigate on your own, and cannot.  Man's first instinct, Robin, is self-preservation.  If a man's desire to die overcomes this instinct, then it is a place in which madness has had its full due.

My fiance's aunt had a neighbor who called her hysterical, yesterday afternoon.  His brother had just moved in after a diagnosis of ALS.  He committed suicide.  She herself has survived the suicide of her mother, her son (only twenty) and her brother, my husband's father.  And then you.  She posted about your death yesterday.  My future husband sat in the kitchen in our rocker and I placed my hand on his shoulder.  Suicide is always hard for him to hear.  Like his aunt, we live without understanding it.  We see the grandchildren he missed, the marriage we form that would have delighted him.  I know how your family would miss you. Only in madness would you have subjected them to such a loss.

I hope you are comfortable now where you are, and that everything is clear and bright.  For me you will never be one of those geniuses who struggled but was beset by the demons who finally won.  You will always be the ADHD person who succeeded, in spite of it all.  I still have faith in you.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


There are only two perks of living where I live:  the first are the birds.  Shorebirds, migratory path heaven, strays blown in from across the Gulf, the usual suspects who inhabit the South.  Then there is the selection at the grocery store.  It means at my local market--the one in the middle of nowhere, fifteen miles from the nearest Wal-Mart--Neeco's, carries all the Cajun brands of food.  There is lots of sausage, Chesi's ham in the deli, anything you can imagine with a fleur-de-li stamped on it--beer cozies, bird baths, shirts, tattoos on the workers--and any spice you need to make a Cajun anything.  There is a little packet rack that has a Cajun meatloaf that is to die for.  

So meeting me when I came in the door was a display of Zatarain's,
the dry kind, not the little bottle of liquid crab boil, which I highly recommend.  (You can buy an onion-shaped onion cooker for the microwave.  Cut the bottom and the top off an onion, peel, put on one tablespoon of butter and one capful of Zatarain's.  Microwave until done. Heaven).  I took a box.  I am leaving here soon, which means I will not be to my father's grave for a very long time.  I've only visited it once since I was here, since he is nothing but ash now and I feel that he is gone.  If he can hear me, then he can hear me from anywhere.  I am glad he has not been here the past two years, it would have been impossible to care for him and cope.

He died in the most terrible shape.  He was a diabetic who would not yield to his condition, and lived in absolute squalor after my  mother and he broke up.  But that is not important.

What is important is that while he lived--although he was a very easily stressed and angry man--he loved people and had a gift.  That gift was anything that was taken from the sea or garden, and transforming it into something people rhapsodized about.

Understand Cajun culture:  Those of Southern Louisiana are their own set of personnes, they are extremely open and will call you "Boo" a lot.  "Boo, how you doin!"  "Boo, I love yew!", it goes on and on and although Gulfport is on the periphery, we still call each other Boo.  They show up.  They show up.  At your door.  Uninvited.  In my father's case, with coolers and coolers of shrimp or crawdads they have just bought off the boat.  They were there to eat.  They were there because my dad was a miracle of sorts to them.  "No Mississippi boy's gonna know how to cook shrimp," the largest man carrying the cooler had said a few years before.

They would go to the carport, opening the gates that swung shut over it wide.  Daddy had a propane burner and a 50 gallon pot.  And into it would go bottles--bottles, mind you--of Tabasco, two or three eight ounce containers of cayenne, masses of uhn-yauns, (pick seafood, crab, crawdad, shrimp), red potatoes, corn, and my personal favorite, weenies.  (They are hot dogs everywhere else).  Out would come the ping-pong table (it was the seventies, after all) and the Times-Picayune, which they would use to cover the table and then eat.  And eat.  And eat.

He was always amused by that line about a Mississippi boy not being able to Cajun properly.  He was the best around, cooking for as many as five hundred at a time.  His education came by being a barge captain in Baton Rouge, in the remote bayous, where the elderly Cajuns would tell him--from their porches where he would ease up the barge and talk to them from the deck--and take their secrets back with him to the carport in New Orleans.

Thus was born my first lesson ever about food--or the one that I remembered--"Sue-Sue," my mother would say, "Do not touch your eyes when you eat."  I took this as the gospel, and there are pictures of me sitting on top of a ten gallon pot peeling and eating my own shrimp, much like the one above, Polaroid with a little date to one side, with my red-headed brother beside me at an antiqued yellowed table.

I had some frozen shrimp in the freezer tonight and I threw it into a pot with the Zatarain's, the remains of an very large onion, and a bit of corn on the cob I had in the fridge.  And there was supper.  I had turned on the stove hood, but then I realized, I wanted the whole house to fill with the smell.  And then I leaned over the pot and breathed the incense of my childhood, that smell, wafting up in the dark of the carport, the darkest sky, the friendliest voices, the best food, and a gift exercised and appreciated.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Years ago, a friend of mine named Greg--whom I respect a great deal theologically, he is a very dedicated Catholic--had to sit down and write a letter explaining why he thought his first marriage (with no children) failed.  He said it took him months, and it was for his annulment within the church.

I am nearly at the two year mark of leaving my ex-husband.  I am divorced, and since I am not Catholic, I do not have to seek an annulment.  I just have to be.

But being can be hard when the losses are profound.  I read a quote today that really stopped me in my tracks, and was exactly what I needed to hear.

                                            Forgive yourself for the blindness that put you in the path of those who                                                         betrayed you.  Sometimes a good heart doesn't see the bad.

Pinterest, if you're wondering.  No credit;  I wish there were.

And that's the thing.  My man and I were talking today, about how we were never right where some of our loved ones were concerned.  One of each of our parents made us feel like utter failures all the time.  And so did our spouses.  His directly in a critical way--his career, his hobbies and his habits--none of which bother me.  Mine, indirectly.

In the very beginning of the marriage--which by all accounts was extremely happy--I remember thinking to myself--he feels more like a parent than a partner.  As the years wore on, he talked to me more and more like a parent.  What did I contribute to this process?  It is hard to live with a spouse who has both ADHD and microsleep.  (The microsleeping is no longer a problem, and thus so the ADHD abets as well).  I was over-emotional.  I could never keep a job.  I was a self-perpetuating hurricane on a lot of the situations I was involved in, particularly work.  I just couldn't keep it together, and I had no idea the humility and insight I lacked into how the world worked.

So I'm sure that got old.  I also have a highly dysfunctional family, although it is down to just my mother.  This is a devout Christian who constantly tells me how I am doing things wrong.  I need a lesson on how to flush the toilet, I need to be told how to park the car in the yard, I am constantly at the mercy of schedule changes--additional errands--when we are out, and no matter how much I beg for her to please not do that to me, it never changes.  When I have spoke up about it in the past, I've been screamed at--literally--about how selfish I am.

I called to tell her I was going to pick up a lawnmower that she had offered to buy me.  She insisted on coming.  Then she wanted me to go with her to sign the papers to her new house.  Then lunch.  Then another errand.  And when the third one came around and I said, "I really need to get home," she refused to give me the lawnmower and screamed--screamed, literally--at me because I was being selfish.  Because I didn't want to go to the utility company.  Yesterday, I got told how evil I am that I always want to be "rescued" and put down those who love me poisoning other's minds against her and others.

This from the woman who interred my father and sent me pictures afterwards.

I thought it was life, you know, to have to pick up repeatedly and start over.  I had no understanding--until I was well, just about a year ago--what a solid career meant.  I graduated with a writing degree about four years ago in an age where you could write for online content mills and make--at least for me--enough money to keep going on.  I had a nice freelance job there for a while working for a pair of strange Scientology sisters.  (One was super-Vulcan but nice, and one was super-crazy and uptight).  When that ended, we made a move to Virginia, where I found out a few things:  I didn't love him anymore, I didn't have access to any money, and I hadn't enough to stay in Virginia on my own.

There was a time when I dumpster dived food early in our marriage, and was happy to do so.  I dumpster dived a lot of stuff, I really got into it.  The question is, should I have had to?  I didn't understand what it meant to have my own career, and I grew up with an underemployed father.  Daddy never would have accepted the things I had to do to make it in my marriage.  On my 41st birthday, I realized to my horror that I had to go buy groceries and hope the money was in our account. It was typical.

I don't need to expound on what else occurred.  I just know that hopefully, my son and I are moving on soon to a new life with a wonderful person who will never let us fall grovel for what we need nor will he ever extend my hand to my mother and take whatever I can get.

My son and I live in a rural setting, and we loathe it.  We live in a very nice double wide (truly, it is) that was let to us by a friend of my mother's, but we've had nothing but crazy neighbors to our left and rear, children that my son eventually could not play with because of their high dysfunction.  It is hard to endure;  he stays in his room and plays Minecraft a lot, with the only true advantage is he does know some really nice kids on there and his dad plays, too.  Since his dad is 984 miles away, this is a good thing.

Talk was essential in my last marriage, and there was a lot of it, especially on my part.  There was a lot of dreaming of travel, which involved either history or science or both, particularly "Wouldn't It Be Nice If We Could Go To The Smithsonian."  Air and Space, etc.

The other day my son and I were visiting our forthcoming town--my old hometown--where we are going to be living quite soon, at least 15 miles closer to a decent grocery store than we are now.  No more running to the Dollar General for every little thing and having to plot and scheme just to get into town.  Karate comes back--I get karate back, even if it's just once a week.  I do squats in preparation, and have started to stretch and do push-ups again.  I ask God for guidance and say, "Just get me in my gi, Lord."  We were sitting in a parking lot as I was disoriented as to how to get to the magnet school which we were applying to.  He was on the phone with his dad, asking for some cash later that afternoon in order to take a trip through Toys R Us on the way back home.  He said that they were going on vacation on July 12th and that my mother was probably coming with them.

We got into the magnet school. My son said it was one of the best days of his life--no more little Redneck school where he was ostracized.

Am I alone in feeling dismayed that there they go--my ex-husband and my entire family--my two children and my mother on the trip that was supposed to belong to us and not just them?  I'm whining and complaining in this post, and I probably shouldn't publish it.  It's too dark around the edges, it's still more of the same, really.

If my mother goes, my daughter will have an escape hatch for her anxiety.  Her dad made her feel--like me--completely helpless in his mistakes, and being with my mom will mean she has options.  Being around him makes her crazy, but most things stress her out greatly because of the stress she had to endure in our leaving and in--quite honestly--a mother who fell apart afterwards.  She's also got a seven year gap between her and her brother and they won't be interested in doing the same things.  She lives with my mother because she no longer could be civil to her brother, for whatever reasons--probably because she had to step in as a parent in so many circumstances while I was waiting tables or doing whatever I could to make ends meet.

But part of me feels like my heart's been pulled underwater.  I will be with my future husband by this time, we will be forming a step family, and it will be immensely better for us financially and emotionally.  But come July, I hope that whatever grace God provides to the broken hearted coats me protectively.

Who knew, really, what would become of the baby in the basket when it was let downstream?  The Nile lead past many a temple, many a person, many a priest.  Would that baby land among the kind?  There was no way to know, was there?

And we are in a basket of linen and rush, pitched, and in the hands of God.  And sometimes we just have to go with it, to lay there and float.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dear Future Husband,

You know how I'd much rather be pinning than writing Ye Olde Screenplays, or editing, or furthering my career by Tweeting or blogging, but I had to make an exception when I saw this pin.

I want you to know that after twenty-five years of knowing you and having been through not one but unfortunately two marriages before I Figured Out It Was You The Whole Damn Time, that I do not expect you to stop your job, spend the money, or plan to take a picture of The Moment.

Because between those last two, we had 33 years of marriage between us.  And we didn't get it right.  Yeah, there was bad stuff that happened to both of us and we wound up not being with the right people.  But parts of us are wise enough to know there was enough happiness not to regret it, despite the heartbreak of separation and divorce.  Because it all costs, and happiness--especially for our parents--wasn't a reality and we know how special and rare even the good moments with the wrong person were.  We got great children out of it, if nothing else--and how can one discount all the years spent forming them?  And our ex's, although not good to us, are good parents, and that in itself is a blessing.

Mine, for example, is never late on child support.  And having walked away from his money and wound up a waitress, I became incredibly grateful for his financial consistency, particularly listening to other waitresses.  And that I had the strength to walk away from his income to protect my dignity and my kid's respect of me and therefore, themselves.

They are better off without fighting parents.

This gal that made this pin, she doesn't realize this yet.  She just wants a picture.  What she doesn't realize is that the real moments are when you can stand beside each other and wash the dishes. When the baby has colic and you can't even stand to be in the house.  When you have mean, unkind narcissistic parents who say and do terrible things and you just deal with it and your spouse just smiles.  Just smiles.  Just helps ease your pain.

She doesn't realize that this is an incredibly private moment and if she really needs someone there to photograph it to remember it, she's missing the point.

Our spoiled Instagram Tweeting world.  It isn't about the ring.  It isn't about the moment.  It's about the hardship and the refusal to be bitter.  Everyone gets a cross.  No exceptions.  Marital couples who bind themselves together in spite of it don't need a photographer, they just pick it up and move on up the hill.

I know one of us will pass in front of the other, naked as they came.  I know cancer, car accidents, unhappy teenagers, bad choices, lack of retirement, lack of vacation, lack of financial validation will come.  And it will go.  And I will be bonded to you as much as I ever was, if not more.

Don't bother with a photographer, just your hand will do.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Great Carlisle Bird War

So let's just say that despite--deee-spite--the fact that I went to actual school to become an actual writer doing writer things--like, say, writing--I am the laziest writer I know.  Here is is the beginning of April, and I am just now adding the biggest running event in my life to my blog. It's known as The Great Carlisle Bird War.  Here I am back in--um--February--birding down in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.  (I don't have any idea how many birds I saw that day.) 

First, The Back Story.

I got married when I was 25 years and six days old.  Eighteen years and three weeks later, I found myself stranded in a strange town and thought, you know, if he's not willing to give me grocery money, then maybe I should vamoose.  Easier said than done, for sure.  Devastated and suffering from what would be months upon months of chronic anxiety, I vacated to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where my mother was living. 

I didn't want to live in Southern Mississippi, per se, and I certainly didn't want to do it in the way I did.  But here I was, and in the beginning (and the middle, even) there were days that I just couldn't pull myself together:  the shock had been too great, the reset almost too much to process.  

The back back story is that a wonderful man re-emerged in my life, someone I had gone out with almost twenty-five years previously.  Things progressed, and one weekend when I was up at his house I suggested that he watch The Big Year with Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson. It's about a bird watching contest that is held every year by the American Birding Association, and boy, is it cutthroat competitive.  It's based on a seriously competitive year, 1997, where three guys (hence the three leads) vied for the top spot of America's best birder.  It works like this:

Spot as many species in North America as you possibly can.  
Have a metric ton of money to do so.
Give up all hope of having an actual life while you do so, cause it's hard to romance life with a $2,000 spotting scope constantly stuck up to your eye. 

It sounds dumb, but it's actually a Really Big Deal to spot the most species in North America.  You have everything from the Mexican border up, but no on Hawaii. You've got the Aleutians, and you should be satisfied with that.  From my understanding (and yes, feel free to correct me) there are 914 birds found in North America.  The record--according to the book the film is based on by Mark Obmascik--was 732 by a charismatic guy named Sandy Komito, a contractor out of New Jersey (See aforementioned Owen Wilson).  
After seeing the film, I get a phone call from The Man saying, "I got an idea."  He wants me, my mother, his brother (who looks spookily like Matt Damon) and himself to Big Year.  

Now I'm like, "So you have thirty years of birding, and Brian's got God Knows How Many, and mom's got at least twenty, but me, twenty minutes.  Sure." 

"What are you worried about?"  He says.  "You're on the coast."

Suddenly, it was like a whole layer of the world opened up for me. Birds were, I discovered, everywhere, and they presented not only a physical but intellectual challenge.  It gave me a great deal of comfort to distract myself with birding, and it still does.  

Still, I wasn't so sure about getting involved in a big year, even among the family because darn it, those two brothers and my mother collectively had about sixty years of birding on me. It could have been intimidating, but you know what?  Whatever. 

And, I am on the coast.  The Brothers Carlisle are inland 70 and 100 miles, respectively.  So I've got the drop, well, we've got the drop, meaning me and my mother, but that's a bit longer of a story. There are about 250 species that migrate through my neck of the woods, plus all those dadgum shorebirds.  (Guy at the gym this morning:  "Birding, huh?  Gulls are mean."  Me:  "Finding Nemo, man.")

So I proceed (with a pair of binocs he gave me) to bird.  I cruise around Barnes and Nobel looking for guides.  I smart up and get the Audobon app on my phone.  (Um, sorry, Green Mountain Digital, but I like Merlin better, but you know, only iPhone, and dudes, it's Cornell).  I start racking up the birds, despite seeing, "Unforutnately, Birds has stopped working" at least a half-dozen times on my phone every week. Still, worth every penny of $4.  It allows me to keep track of each species and has a very nifty sorting feature where you can choose from "Duck-like birds", "perching birds", etc., etc. 

ANYWAY--here's what you can see if you go birding here... herons perched in sunsets like this: 

SO MY MOTHER IS NUTS.  She won't appreciate me blogging this fact, but that be's the truth.  She is a family nurse practitioner and last year, sadly, she was widowed.  He was an awesome guy, and we miss him.  She's currently kept company by my teenage daughter who lives with her about a mile from the beach.  She's got a fine backyard and, um, the beach.  How many birds has she counted this year?

Zero.  Zeeeero.  She won't do it.  It's a lot of talk, including some real smack talk with the brother insomuch that she sent him this picture: 

She tortise, brother hare.

She said, "I've got 42 birds" or some such, and he said, "Her name is liar, for she is a liar."  To which she replied:  

Looking all innocent-like. It makes it hard being in a three-man race, so if you want to chastise her for her inability to write down bird names on a piece of paper, please do.  There were other people willing to take her place but nope.  "I'll do it!"

So anyway, there you have it.  I can blog a bit about what's occurred in between now and January, and it's all good... but as it stands (until this morning) I was in the lead at 84.  I'm tied with the brother and my man is catching up to me as well. I haven't seen him in about three weeks and we have a day trip planned on Friday to the National Mississippi Sand Hill Crane Wildlife Refuge where my guy--who has the quickest damn eyes in the freaking world (I drove with him over four days to Virginia. I would not be surprised if one day he pulls over, gets out, bends down, and comes back to the truck and says, "Roosevelt dime, 1954.") is going to hand my list to me on a plate with that cocky look he gets when he bests me--which he does quite a bit (or I wouldn't bother with him).

Meanwhile, I see that Green Mountain has updated their app.  Here is their selection on their website--they've expanded exponentially.  Before, they only had three apps available, now they even have selections such as "Central Park Birds" and "Rocky Mountain Nature" available.  

  I've downloaded the new app and will be checking it out when I go to bed tonight.  It has had its malfunctions, but it should be interesting to see the changes they've made.  If you use eBird, then you should give it a whir. 

So after a text this morning from the brother at 7 freaking 30 in the morning, it stands that we're all at about 84.  Stay tuned. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tiny Things

It has been almost two weeks without anxiety, something new to me.  I thought that the grief and the trauma of last year would never subside.  I thought it would rule me forever, such was its power.  We talked about grief today in the truck:  he is being invited by family to attend fall-related festivals and the like, and he wants nothing of it.  He's not trying to be rude, it's just that so much goes on in the aftermath of a divorce or separation, that it is inordinately lonely in its execution. Your child has left, and even the absence of your spouse, can leave you with such uncertain feelings that it is hard to share your time, especially that time that is supposed to be entertaining with others and feel even remotely part of the whole. It is those times I believe, that you have to make the decision to be on your own for your own sake.  You're not being selfish, you're within your own. 
I have always said that no one can ever see inside someone else's marriage. And there comes a time when only you know what happened within the marriage. If your soon to be ex had a clue, you wouldn't be getting divorced in the first place. Divorce can be about infidelity, addictions, abuse, but in my case is in many others, it was about a lack of understanding. I know that I would have stayed if I had felt I was understood on any level, most importantly, the essentialness of the domestic to the life of our family and the fundamental principle that building a home, with furniture, sheets , clean windows, decorated walls, nesting bowls that measure out milk for oatmeal, salt for bread , handled cups just right for bowls of chili and soup and even the arrangement of plastic containers in a cabinet (although most of the time severely cattywampus)  was one's life work and not to be discounted but to be understood as an accomplishment and the height of craft. It was truly hard work to assemble a household with sparse funds through hand me downs, curbside luck, clever bargaining, trades, goodwill finds, saving and scrambling to make sure that me and my children didn't take a single piece of clothing out of a plastic drawer.  To have discounted this effort, to have sent us packing off to Richmond with less than we started with was sheer madness. It cost my ex's children, his wife and loathing that he has trouble comprehending.  I too, like John, was in no mood to face congenial events in the light of my losses.
And no one understood.
If no one understands where you are and what you have lost, and you feel the need  to just not join in, well then... I'd say come sit by me but the truth is you really need to sit by yourself.
And when you do, take whatever comforts you no matter how silly it seems. This does not include alcohol of course or recreational drugs, but tiny momentos you can carry around in your pocket that bring you comfort. Mine is a clothespin.  when I first came to Gulfport, I had a uncomfortable job as a secretary at a construction company where the boss refuse to send out any invoices that were completed. It made me nervous, and I was was in such a state battling the feelings that I had for my man and trying to deal with the persistent belief that I had lost every single bit of value in this life that truly wasn't fit to be employed.  Hell-- I didn't even have enough clothes to show up decently dressed. It was a Friday and at the end of a particularly rough week when I pulled up in front of the double wide to find a beautiful set of chrysanthemums with a postcard attached to them with a clothespin. The Man had driven 200 miles on his day off to leave me flowers on my front porch. I carried that clothespin with me everywhere until I lost it after too many beers at a friends house.  The Man replaced it carving into the tip the ellipses that had come to symbolize our relationship...   it represented the silence that could pass between us and yet we both knew what the other was thinking.  I have it still. Its been chewed by dogs, and slicked smooth by the oil of my hands. It is proven time and again to be the thing that I needed to allay my anxieties and my fears whenever necessary and believe you me-- that was a lot.
If its a folder that picture of a child's drawing, the petals from a flower you received in love , a tiny Buddha or ceramic frog that fits in your pocket, take it with you. Hold on tight to the physical evidence of love. And come sit by me but only if you feel like it.

Enormously Sad

Queen Latifa had a well-timed guest on this morning:  Liza Manelli.  If anyone in this world knows what it's like to lose someone famous and well-loved to drug addiction, it's Liza.  If anyone knows what it's like to struggle with fame and addiction, it's Liza.  She sat on that big white couch and moved quite a bit.  Was she anxious, was she just getting older?  What could she make of this tragedy of Hoffman?  It must be bitter for her every time this happens.  Leger and Hoffman.  Gone.  And not good talents, great ones.  Great ones, like Bulushi and Winehouse.  Towering, staggering talents.  Captivating and extraordinary.  I will always think of Leger blazing across the bleachers like a madman in Ten Things I Hate About You, that lovely take on The Taming of the Shrew. How I enjoyed Heath, each and every time.

Hoffman.  Hoffman even more.

The six actors who stopped me in my tracks the first time I saw them:  Daniel Day-Lewis (back in 1984 in A Room With A View), Wes Studi (as Magwa in The Last of the Mohicans), James McAvoy (in White Teeth and again in Dune), Romany Malco (in Baby Mama), Sam Rockwell (The Green Mile) and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a very small part in Twister, of all things.  (I am only including modern actors.  Toshiro Mifune in Roshomon is beyond compare.  He was the best of actors, like Scofield--my very favorite--and Day-Lewis).  I just stood there and gaped, captivated, even though he was just being loud and obnoxious in a group scene at the close of the third act of a silly movie that only needed to tidy up to an ending.  I wasn't surprised when he started getting role after role.  The way he affected my heart--I knew he'd be a big deal. I have had the privilege of talking with two of these actors (one is a personal friend), and I know how difficult fame can be (trust me, hanging out with a famous person will blow your mind--people gape, literally, mouths ajar.  Photographers wait for you at the airport, paying off chauffeurs. People you don't know hand you drugs because you played a dealer on t.v.).  Going through New Orleans today I turned on NPR.  Fresh Air was playing all past interviews with Philip Seymour Hoffman.  It was almost too sad to listen to him.  By God, he did some great work.  Just his voice for Capote (which wasn't even my favorite take on Capote--I thought Toby Jones and Infamous were far better--the script was much more accurate) just his voice was an astonishing study.

Why did we love him so?  There are and were better actors.  There's DeNiro, there's Day-Lewis, there is Hugh Jackman in Prisoners, which was a brilliant performance.

Because he seemed related to us.  Because he was, like us, utterly accessible.  You could so see yourself taking a road trip with him and him not making a big deal of you farting.  Or maybe--the first time he meets you--taking a fry from your tray without asking and even if he wasn't famous or you didn't know who he was, pushing it towards him so he could take another.

My prayers for his poor family, his three children, his co-workers who admired him and have said very kind things about him, and his more devoted fans who must be devastated. I hope his children are shielded, somehow, from the truth and for God's sake, given their privacy.  Please, please... don't buy People.  They are going to feature photos they shouldn't.  They always do.

It all holds for me my ultimate conviction that besides child sexual abuse, the greatest evil on this earth may be heroin, it is what runs in Satan's veins and he gives it freely to those who are hurting.  I cannot watch Trainspotting twice.  I can't bring myself to read the book.  I can only remember those addicts in Victoria station begging--inches from businessmen's faces--for shillings.  They were totally gone to another realm. Art, love, gestation of affection had long since vanished for them.

We are all reeling because we loved his work.  Many families, though, lost someone to heroin yesterday. I doubt the beggars I saw in 2002 are still with us.  Hopefully this public loss will do some private good in the form of a dialogue about this most insidious form of addiction. Hopefully we will take the time to care for someone who has chosen this path, even though it seems to be a waste.  Hopefully we will buy them a meal. Hopefully we will see them and ardently pray for better, less they lay on the bathroom floor, shorts and t-shirt, needle in arm, laid bare for all the masses to gape and admittedly, to grieve.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sockes, ye bane of my existant

I don't know what it is. I really really don't know what it is about socks. I have the absolute worst time coping with socks. In The Land of the Last Marraige  where all occupants were mildly unhappy, my then congenial (at least as far as housework) ex husband did all of the laundry. I think that's why the marriage lasted so damn long despite all the things he did such as gamble mortgage payments, fraud on ebay,  16 jobs in 18 years, in several other infractions it here because yes we do not want this to be a bitter blog.  Who was perfect in that union, anyway?  Not me. 

Anyway he was terribly funny is he did all the laundry (all the laundry) and he did not understand why I had such a damn problem with socks.  I couldn't bring my ADHD self to go to the tedium of actually matching the damn things one to the other. In this vein, I also do not believe in folding pajamas.  Why would you fold pajamas? Who's going to see them?  No one's going to see them... you are going to get them out when you go to bed.

All the same, ex husband or no husband doing laundry, I find myself afronted with the problem of sockage.  If you haven't heard by now, about a year and a half ago let's say April of 2012, my ex-husband said he had the dream jobjob to end all jobs. We were moving to Richmond. 

Needless to say, job didn't work out, financing of said trip unacceptable, stuff put in storage as I left for my mother's with my children.  I had five laundry hampers, a stereo (daughter's), two pets and two kids. When I finally got my things from Richmond (a full year and a half later) I brought home all my clothes and then proceeded--with not a few tears--to put them away.  I was so damn grateful for my sock monkey pajamas and all sorts of things I'd been missing, including decent winter clothes which I had not been able to replace. 

The problem started when I got down to the socks.  See picture above.  I ignored them best I could for over two months, letting them nest and mock me from a corner of my bedroom in a large Sam's Club sack--the big 'uns you get two for $3.50 at the register in either tasteful black and white Damask or Zebra stripe.  Well, here's the existing sock drawer: 

Here's the secondary sock drawer, made for influx of Richmond Socks.  It is strictly Fuzzy Sock drawer, a necessity of living in Memphis with hardwood floors.  It is also evidence of way too many impulse sock buys at the ever-present Memphis Cadre of Walgreens.  Those two for seven buck socks add up. 

Now here's the sad bit.  There were so many socks that there is a third full drawer of them, mixed bag, mostly white.  I always bought white socks because I didn't want to match them.  The ex rightfully called them The Great White Horde, although he should have said The Great White Hoard, which would have also been accurate but indiscernible in pronunciation.  There are a pair of socks in there--the pink ones--that I wore in labor with Tucie which someone gave me when I was 21.  They have Holsteins on them. 

I mean, when we were coming back from Richmond, everything got rained on one night while we were staying at a Motel 6 somewhere in Georgia.  So my other mother Vickie had to wash all my stuff and dry it so it wouldn't mold when I got back home.  She said, "Susanne--there's bags of socks and panties!  Two!"  And I thought she was exaggerating. 

This qualifies as most embarrassing set of socks.  

And STILL I had to stop myself in Walgreens Saturday night from buying yet another pair of fuzzies.  

There is an inevitable weeding out on the way, I'm sure of it.  But when, I don't know.  I just can't cope with them right now.