Hello everyone! (Waves at screen, then realizes I just waved at the laptop and slowly puts my hand down. I really need to stop doing that.)
It has been an extremely long time since I wrote on my blog. I was in a rather unhappy spot, you see. My beloved Lulu had just passed and with the loss of my precious Boji earlier in the year, I was feeling quite lonely.
And a lot of other words that I really am not up to writing at this moment. Suffice it to say-I was a hot mess. Still fabulous! But a fabulous hot mess, none the less.
I have spent the last few months in my own head and heart and house. All tucked away and quiet trying to come to terms with life. I had been hiding because in life, “hiding from” is so much easier than “dealing with”.
I suppose since this was Easter Weekend-the time of resurrection and new life-I felt I needed to resurrect my own life. Resurrect my purpose. Resurrect my love of writing.
I lost a spark within me when Lulu left and went on “vacation.” And I have not found that specific spark again. That fire within me that had been there since my childhood. That driving force that often had me awake in the middle of the night needing to put pen to paper, thought to fruition, story to life. That fire was blown out.
So…I decided to find a different spark. Got my own damn matches out and set shit on fire!
I am back at it again! Words are flowing-slowly yes-but flow is flow.
For all of you who have stayed with me and encouraged me and whispered words of wisdom and strength to me, I must thank you! You believed in me when I was unable to believe in myself. I have been reminded that I had a plan and a dream and a talent.
It has not been easy though. I have to admit to a slow start and sketchy showing. Rather like an old robot that needs oil. A stuttered bit of typing. An ink smudged piece of paper. Words and thoughts and random bits of an echoing idea. Each coming together to remind me of why I started this. Of what I wanted to share. Of who I was.
I realized during many dark tear filled nights and cold wind swept days that I was trying to out run something that was un-runnable. (Yes! I know that is not a word! I’m using it anyway!)
It has been like I was racing from a storm. But the storm kept changing directions. It took me a while to realize that the storm was changing towards which ever direction I was heading. I turn left and so did the storm. I go backwards and the storm followed. All the bluster and rain and debris followed each turn I took. Over and over I would start this dance with this storm. Sometimes leading, often being lead. Like some ominous dance with death just before dawn.
That is when I realized that this storm did not randomly blow in from nowhere. This storm was me. Something inside of me. And I needed stop. Stop the “tooing” and “froing” and backing and forthing. I needed to stop and step inside the storm. Close my eyes and take a step into the eye of the storm that was chasing me from within. Embrace the flow of the wind and rain and keep stepping through to the other side.
Just a side note: I am not all the way through this storm.
But I will keep going. I may need to pick up an umbrella though.
Has anyone else been looking over their shoulder at what was 2018 thinking, “From the bottom of my heart, what the fuck was THAT?”
I have been! I have had some major ups and downs! 2018 was like an incredibly bad amusement park ride.
But, in a few short minutes, this year will be over. (Thank fuck!)
Personally, I am not one to make resolutions. Never saw the need actually. Saying something does not make it happen. (Wouldn’t THAT be awesome if it did?!) Only hard work will bring results. Hard work, a positive attitude, and a willingness to believe in your dreams!
As I said, I do not do the “resolution” thing. Instead, I wish for some things for each of you, my lovelies!
I wish for peace of heart and mind. Abundance and amazing opportunities. May you share many beautiful moments. Stay positive even when faced with negativity and contempt. Be brave! Love everyone around you and please tell them repeatedly, and with joy, all the reasons WHY you love them! Seek and keep hold of genuine people and relationships. Let there be more laughter than tears. When you need too, take time to recharge and relax. Do not give your time and energy and power to people who use you and return nothing. And please-take the time you need to heal when your heart has been hurt.
Mostly, I wish you love! Love yourself! Love others! LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!
Remember, my darlings! The same God who created the galaxies and oceans, monkeys and the mountains, looked at you and thought, YES!, the universe needed one of you too! Because each of you are amazing!
Sending you the very best wishes for a very fabulous New Year!
I have been wanting to write these last few days. Share about my weekend with the family as we celebrated my niece Brinn’s college graduation. Yay Brinn!
Share how my redecorating has been going with new curtains, bedding, and a new bed because my old one finally broke. I bought the old bed used when I got divorced…18 years ago. No more springs poking me in the rump! (And I have been divorced longer than I was married!)
Share that I got my new toaster-which is PINK and after nearly 3 weeks I have NOT burnt anything down. Nor have I tried to heat up a muffin because apparently I was the only one who did not think about removing the wrapper from the afore mentioned muffin of yummy goodness.
Share that my sister-in-law Cyndee (Hi Cyndee! Waves!) was worried about my being a pyromaniac menace to myself and the neighborhood and very kindly bought me a microwave because, and I quote, “It will change your life!” Once it arrives-warmed up muffins for EVERYONE! Wrapper and all!
Or share that when asked how I am doing, I have been replying with a smile and the words, “I am fine!”
Like the liar I am.
Despite the new bed of awesomeness or the new toaster, I find myself hunkered down in my office. Here I am surrounded by an eclectic array of things that inspire me.
Make me happy. Or, if not completely happy, at least at peace about NOT being totally happy.
Pictures of my beloved Leonard Nimoy and his character Spock. The books of his poetry that struck a chord within this once very young child. My picture of Dave Grohl and me from when I met him in 2011. We chatted for about 20 minutes! Nice nice nice man! My stuffed Spock bear that fascinated Lulu because if you press his hand it plays the Star Trek theme song. She loved that thing! Would steal it off the shelf and carry it to her bed. Random books that I enjoy and find myself re-reading. Random books I thought I would enjoy that I have not yet turned a page of. Sayings and quotes that make me think. And due to my resurgence of enjoyment in the band Queen, I have a few items on display of Freddie Mercury as well. I even have a tambourine! Which tinkles once in a while if the fan catches it just right. Why a tambourine you ask? Because I am a rock star at heart and, while I can sing, I cannot play any other instrument!
I am simply trying to find my peace again. Trying to find my center after the turmoil of the last few weeks. I did not realize my dependence upon my Baby Girl for strength and stability. She was my point of focus. A soothing countenance to my chaos.
So, now, I have to make my own “self” the point of focus.
I am damn fabulous so I am not certain why I am struggling with this!?
I find my mind wandering…more than usual. That damn thing is always on some weird scavenger hunt it seems, and corralling it into a focused state for more than 3 minutes is slightly, aggravatingly difficult. So easily distracted by pretty things, music and food. (Oh! I have M&M’s!)
Please stick with me my dear lovelies!
I am very much a work in progress. I just have hit a rough patch these last few weeks. Trying to make sense out of senselessness. Trying to pull my heart and soul out of a cavern of pain and yes, I will admit this, self pity.
I do wonder at times why me? Why my girls? But this is a useless and extremely counter-productive measure to find healing.
And for those of you who think I should be okay by now. Healed and ready to move on? You have no clue what I am going through! You can kiss my lily white tattooed….sigh.
You know what?
Healing is a very personal and individual process.
I have dealt with people recently who talk about “my personal healing” as if it is some mystical process that a few scented candles and rubbing some crystals will solve. These hippy tree huggers can honest to god kiss my lily white tattooed….sigh.
But let’s face it people. Healing of any sort-physical, emotional, mental, spiritual-it is a damn dirty business. It is facing the truths of ourselves and finding a way to create a better version, a stronger version, of our inner most being. It is facing the good and bad of our souls.
It ain’t pretty!
And that is why I am, in a sense, hiding in my office.
I have some of my favorite music playing. I have a book of poetry open on my lap. A notebook open with odd bits and notes that I am working on. I have my 7th …no… 8th cup of tea at my elbow. I am finding a way to work on me. Finding the things that bring me peace. Finding ways to redirect my wayward thoughts when I am reminded of the silence in my house. The lack of dog hair in my tea cup. The absence of squeaky toys underfoot.
It is a process. I went through it when I have lost others in my life. The sudden knowledge that someone who was always supposed to be there…just was not.
I am trying to work on accepting things as they come to me. The “what is, is” mindset. I need to find a way to keep myself together in the chaos, no matter what life throws my way.
Because life…well…life can get hard sometimes. And you still have to get up! Get the fuck up and keep going! You can choose to be one of two things. A puddle. Or an ocean.
Who would want to be a puddle? People walk through puddles and laugh.
We need to learn to be an ocean when life drops us to our knees. Oceans are powerful.
And “awe” inspiring.
I am still desperately upset about losing my Lulu. I will not simply be “done” missing her or dealing with her absence. But I am also upset that I am losing myself.
So I will try to roar…not from the sorrow. But from the crashing of the waves that is my ocean.
Wish me luck, my darlings!
I say goodbye to you
a million times each day
I still hear your voice
echo the words you could not say
you are missed beyond all reason
sorrow carries my heart
I love you for all you gave to me
wish you didn’t have to part
I said goodbye to you
with streaming tears and songs I sang
I held you close
over you I prayed
I know you didn’t understand
you trusted my gentle hand
as I sent you on
to be free
of all your pain
-P. A. Proffitt
I never realized how quiet this damn house is till this past week.
I never realized how much I was soothed by the sound of paws walking through the house. Soft snoring from the sofa. Basset hound ears flapping as she shook her head. The chatting she would do when she was sitting with me.
I never realized how much I actually talked to her throughout the day. Nor did I realize she was often the only being I talked to most days.
I have meandered through the house picking up her things, putting away her pictures, chuckling at the memories of her antics. And I realize how huge my once crowded house is, now that she and her big personality have gone.
I know to some it seems odd that I am mourning so much over an animal. But she was my everything. Both of my girls were! They were the children I never had, and, actually got treated better than any child I might have had, come to think of it.
I had plans for my Baby Girl!
She was going to go on book tours with me once someone finally accepted a submission and gave me a book deal. She would always get top billing when I dedicated a book. (The rest of you would be sited farther down the list.) She would have her own entourage because, Hello! She was Lulu-Diva Extraordinaire! Oprah and Ellen would be vying for her and me to be on their shows! (Mostly wanting her. I would just tag along to hold her ears out of the water bowl when she drank.)
She helped me to write, too. I would read my poems and stories to her. I would act out scenes for her. Would share dialogue and discuss if things would work as I had them planned out. I did this All. The. Time. (She gave excellent critiques by the way! Thought I was amazing and talented! And I know the treats I gave her had nothing to do with her obviously unbiased opinion.)
She would sit on the back of my chair and wrap herself around my shoulders, nose buried into my neck. She would be a gentle weight to remind me I was not alone. She was the reminder that I was loved.
I am struggling. Struggling sometimes to catch a breath. Struggling to find a way out of my anxiety and depression. She was my anchor. She kept me grounded in the moment.
I am struggling but I am working on the sorrow and the empty spaces within my house and my heart. She filled that space within me. That place where I could give all my love and attention too. It was my honor and joy to dote on her. Even when she was being an annoying little brat who would flip her food bowl because I had not topped her dinner with a sprinkle of shredded cheese.
Oh Baby Girl! The books you chewed up. The rugs you piddled on. The toilet paper rolls you left a trail of all over the house. The chipmunk you chased into the house that I found hiding in the bathtub. The underwear I would find in the backyard. The TV remote you hid in your toy basket. The shoes you mutilated. The table leg that you gnawed on. The kitchen cabinet you would crawl into for reasons I never did figure out.
Oh Lulu-you were my special Baby Girl!
I miss you so much I ache from it.
I am tired.
This was not a good day. None of them have been of late.
I have been drinking very hot sweet cinnamon tea by the pot full.
Not helping. Just giving me the jitters!
I have new neighbors. I have yet to meet the parents, but I have met the two sons. Also met the grandfather. He seemed stunned that I was single. Said I was a very nice beautiful lady. I should have a husband or at least a boyfriend. I keep looking for some strange man to show up at my door saying he was sent over to get to know the single gal.
The boys though. Sweet and very gentlemanly. Bowed their heads when they introduced themselves. And they were very inquisitive about Lulu. That is how we met actually. She was at the fence watching them move in and they asked to pet her, which she loved. She is an attention seeking Diva!
Today, they were outside and asked if they could pet Lulu.
They were very sweet and said they were so sorry and….
I walked into my house, slid to the kitchen floor and cried.
A Dish Towel Cry
You know what I am talking about, right? That’s when tissues will not handle the tears and snot and screams.
I sat on the floor scrubbing at my face and stuffing the towel into my mouth to stifle the roar that was coming from my chest. I was numb both body and soul when I finally calmed down.
All because two sweet little boys asked after my Baby Girl.
I wish I could say this was a “one-off” situation.
That would be a lie.
Friday: I went to Target. I love Target. It’s like my church! Alters of merchandise to worship and touch and pray too.
I walked the aisles to clear my head. I needed to get out of the house because…
Well…because my once too small of a house is now huge and empty.
So I walked the aisles looking and touching and yes…praying.
I saw they had chips on sale and I grabbed a bag of Cheetos! Lulu LOVES Cheetos.
But Lulu is not here to eat them with me.
I left “church” in tears and no Cheetos.
Went home, stumbled into the house and barreled into the kitchen for a glass of water, which my trembling hands dropped. I meant to pick up the glass but instead…
I had slid to the kitchen floor and cried.
A Dish Towel Cry
Saturday: Spent time with Lisa! Was slightly manic. I do apologize for that, my friend. I did not know how else to deal with things. I was overly jovial! I was being my usual funny sarcastic self but a bit more harsh. I was forcing the smiles. Forcing the humor.
I was very well made up because I know me-if I have my contacts in and full regalia of make-up- I will do damn near anything not to cry.
Hello! Expensive mascara!
But since it was a Saturday, 2 weeks before Christmas, we left the store and went to have a drink instead. The lines were wrapped around the checkouts-hell no!! We had about a half hour to waste before Lisa had to pick up her son and because of my state of mind, I guzzled 2 glasses of very delicious raspberry Moscato. (Sorry about that! Next time…I will slow it down!)
Then I went to the grocery store. Was fine right up until I got home and was unpacking my bags.
Out of a habit I REALLY need to break, I had picked up a bag of Lulu’s treats. I did it every time I went to the store. Never wanted her to run out.
Next thing I know I had slid to the kitchen floor and cried.
A Dish Towel Cry
Sunday: I love Sundays. They are my “chill in my jammies” day. I was getting some ice, dropped a cube on the floor and called out, “Baby Girl! Ice cube!” She loves them!
The echo of my own voice was deafening. There was no scuffle of little feet. No dancing to pick it up.
There was no Lulu.
And I slid to the kitchen floor, into a melting pool of ice cube water, and cried.
A Dish Towel Cry
Monday: I have been cleaning the house. It needs it and it keeps me busy. Keeps my mind off of things. Until I opened a cabinet and saw several cans of her food. I forgot they were there. I slammed the cabinet door and hyperventilated.
Then… slid to the kitchen floor and cried.
A Dish Towel Cry
Even cleaning the house has been difficult for me.
I am cleaning all the dog hair and toys and dog beds and removing them from the house. From my line of sight. I took all her and her big sister Boji’s pictures down and placed them in a drawer. I yanked the 2 pictures I painted of them off the wall and nearly flung them across the room. I just feel a weird urge to throw something. To break something into a million tiny pieces like I feel I have broken into.
But I stopped myself. I love those paintings but I cannot handle seeing them. Or seeing their pictures.
How horrible am I? I miss her so desperately but yet, I cannot find the courage to look at her pictures.
It was bad enough spending the last 3 days having her basket of toys staring at me, accusingly. Like this was all somehow my fault. Damn stuffed monkey.
I feel as if I am cleaning Lulu away from my life. Like I am doing her a disservice. I know…in my head I KNOW I am not. I am mourning. I am trying to heal. But a part of me wonders if I am going to fast with this cleaning. And once I thought that…
I slid to the kitchen floor and cried.
A Dish Towel Cry
Anyone else notice a pattern?
I have a load of dish towels in the laundry right now.
I am still trying to get my head and heart around all of this.
If I think cleaning the house and removing her things is fast…losing her was faster!
Hours. Mere hours and she was gone.
I handed them my beautiful Baby Girl.
They handed me a receipt for her “vacation”.
I was holding her one minute and the next…I felt her leave.
I need some more tea.
And a dish towel.
Where is my star in heavens bough
Where is my strength, I need it now
Who can save me, lead me to my destiny
Guide me back safely to my home
Where I belong, once more-Guide Me Home
My Baby Girl.
I had to let her go on vacation today.
Remember that massive freak out I wrote about a few days ago?
That was a sip from a teacup compared to today.
Today was her day at the vet.
They found a tumor.
They said it was cancer.
They could not operate on it.
They could not fix her.
They gave her only days at best.
They asked what I wanted to do.
They had me sign away her life.
Rather mellowdramatically put I know, but in essence, that was what I did.
I could not see prolonging her suffering. It was the hardest damn choice I have made in my existance. I would not wish this on any person with even a hint of a soul. Because saying good bye to the love of my life, the furry child I spoiled, was intensely painful.
She fell asleep with me holding her. Trying to sing to her. But loving her the whole time.
Lisa, oh my dear friend! I thank you for being there at my side crying with me. Holding me, as I held her.
To every one of you who lovingly reached out to me during all of this insanity-thank you for reminding me that SHE LOVED ME and that she KNEW KNEW KNEW I loved her! I often worried I was not doing enough for her. That I was not being a good enough Mama to my Baby Girl.
Lulu was my funny goofball who always made me smile even when I was heartbroken. She brought joy to anyone and everyone she met! She was my Fabulous Diva and she gave you no choice but to love her, worship her, and give her treats! It was those eyes of hers, I believe! No one could deny those velvet brown eyes that looked so innocent and expressive, even as she piddled on the floor or flipped her food bowl.
You could always reach me when I was losing myself, my darling Baby Girl! You would always find me when I was lost in a bad moment, bad memories, bad thoughts. You knew and you would seek me out. You would find me in the midst of my chaos and bring me back with touches and kisses, sniffs and yips. You, my beautiful Lulu Belle, would guide me back to a safe place emotionally and mentally and spiritually.
I am rather lost without you at the moment, my lovely girl.
Where is my star? Where is my strength? Where is my home?
I am worried about my Lulu.
My Baby Girl is sick.
And I am slightly freaked out because I have gone from “oh poor Baby Girl” to “oh my god what if she (gulp!) ‘goes on vacation’?”
Yeah! Not one moment of in-between for me.
She is going to the vet on Thursday and has to be put under so they can check out a great deal of issues. They all came at once. And I feel a level of guilt because they seemed to happen just after I came back from being out of town.
Yes! I KNOW one thing has absolutely nothing to with the other. But you all have met me!
While I am FABULOUS, I tend to freak out when it comes to my baby. (And various other things I have no control over but we are not talking about my penchant for extravagant irrationalization!)
But-the vet feels everything will be fine once they remove a tooth (or more!), drain the cyst on her foot that had been dormant till this week, put a scope up her nostrils to see if there is a blockage, check her throat and esophagus for a possible lesion that is causing her to hack, see if there is a sinus infection, find a cause for some of the coughing issues she is having and if the “erping” she has been doing (that is tinged slightly pink) is serious or just from all the other stuff.
See why I am slightly freaked?
God above I need to learn to chill the fuck out! Because all of THIS sent me into a massive mental fuck-a-duck tail spin of anxiety that started Thursday night and lasted till about 4 hours ago.
And I am sure the 7 cups of hot sugary cinnamon tea, that apparently has a high caffeine level that I just read about on the box as I sipped on my last cup, has not helped! Would have been 8 cups but I forgot to put a tea bag in one of the cups earlier today. It was just hot sugary water and believe it or not-was not my “cup of tea!” HA! Get it?? I crack me up!
But I need to remember…I cannot control this situation. What is, is. The vet will take amazing care of her because anyone who has met my Baby Girl falls instantly in love with her! Look at her! She is freaking adorable!
She is her Mama’s Baby Girl!
But while I am worried about the financial issues and the “going on vacation” issue, I cannot control anything that happens. I can’t.
I just cannot.
And that kind of pisses me off!
But I can control how I deal with all of this.
My diving head long into a major anxiety attack was NOT the best way to control how I dealt with this.
Normal for me? Hell yes!
The best way to deal? Hell no!
I am trying though. Trying to get better about how I react to things in life. Instead of going right to the self-pity, woe-is-me, why-is-the-world-against-me mode, I need to be more chill.
But that’s the thing isn’t it?
It is easier to just let it all go tits up and bemoan the ending as proof that the whole world is out to screw you up/over/sideways-however you like to be screwed!
But I am honestly tired of that fatalistic attitude. I was raised with it. Lived with it for so many years and let’s be honest…it’s exhausting! I am mentally and emotionally whiped out!
I am trying to just let this come to its own conclusion, as it will. She is going to be fixed up and alright after Thursday. And my Baby Girl will be her happy, bouncy, piddle-on-the-carpet-after-being-outside-for-an-hour, self again.
And I am learning to not go from “oh my” to total chaos in the blink of an amazingly fabulous mascara’d eye! I need to be grateful that all of these issues were caught relatively quick, and, that she will be fixed up right as rain! (Weird phrase, isn’t that? Not everyone thinks rain is right. Personally I love the rain! But then again I have been informed I am weird. Oh look, we’ve come full circle to my original thought about this being a weird phrase! Ha!)
I still have a long way to go to learn to stop freaking out about the things I cannot control. It has always been ingrained in me to look at the negative. Everything was always under the umbrella of “shit inevitably goes to hell in a hand basket so better to expect the bad then hope for anything good”.
Hope. The twinge of thought that something good might come to fruition. (That always was my downfall as a child. Hope!)
But I learned my lesson well. So hope and positivity and looking for the good have all been hard earned gifts. I have had to shed a lot of my old self…and still obviously have a lot more to go.
And maybe that is what this journey we are on is truly about?
Not becoming anything.
Un-becoming everything that you once were. Un-becoming everything that truly is not you. Not the real you! Not the YOU who you were meant to in the first place.
Maybe, just maybe, this little scare with Lulu Belle is a lesson for me to learn to live life as it comes to me. Not waste the time I have nose-diving into fear and worry. Cyndee asked me if I would rather be filled with anxiety over the next few days or spend my time loving and doting on Lulu? Which memory would you rather have, she asked.
You have met Lulu! She is a lover…not a worrier.
Live, my lovelies. Do not let worry and fear steal from you the joy that is this life!
I got my nails done today and they look fabulous! Really! I love looking like a girly girl!
I was looking totally fantastic with my makeup on point and my silver shoes glinting in the overhead lights. I was pleasantly surprised the nail salon was rather quiet. Only one other client was there as I walked in, which is not the norm but then again…it was 11am on a Wednesday.
Shared the usual “hello’s” and “how are you’s”. You know the general chit-chat you have with people you do not know but trust them to manhandle your appendages and make them look good.
I was waiting for my turn with Penny, the owner. She always takes extra care of me. Or at least I think she does. Penny is sweet and sassy and funny. She always makes a trip to her salon a worthwhile experience.
Today was no different. But today was more enlightening than normal.
The conversation with her went from funny to serious in a moment. AND NOT BY ME!
She asked if I spent time with my family for Thanksgiving and I explained that other than my sister-in-law and niece and nephew and their families…I really don’t have family I choose to spend time with.
She looked at me so sadly and just held my hand. It was such a sweet and generous moment of compassion that was so unexpected, I honestly teared up. I smiled and said it was okay, I just spent the weekend with my dog and we hung out in our jammies. (Insert polite laughter here!)
Then…she started to ask why I didn’t spend time with my family.
“Was it because they are alcoholics?”
Hand to god, people! She asked this with a very quiet and curious tone.
It stunned me! She usually does not go that deep in our interactions. But she must have had something to share and, well, she caught me off guard.
I shyly responded, with a knot in my throat, “Actually, I was raised in an alcoholic home and still deal with the issues from it all.” Blinking tears away, not for the last time this visit, by the way.
She patted my hand and began to explain how she is dealing with her youngest brother who refused to come to their brother’s house for Thanksgiving, because he was told there would be no alcohol. Her youngest brother is very deeply entrenched in being a drunk it seems. I admit a tear slipped down because, fuck, if that didn’t hit closer to home than I thought it could.
“I am so sorry. I know how difficult that is,” I whispered because, honest to fuck, how do you respond to someone admitting to the very thing you have gone through in life; seeing someone you love slowly lose themselves to booze or drugs. Knowing that struggle. Knowing the loss and pain and defeat when you try to help them.
Miss Penny is such a sweet woman, I had to hug her! Broke my heart to think she was hurting because of this.
But…I was not done finding out a little bit more about my favorite nail lady.
She said she did not have a drink till she came to America. It was not something that was part of her life back then. And since I love hearing people tell their stories I asked when she came to the U.S.
1979-she was just barely 21. She and her family left Laos during the mid 70’s under threat of death and hindered by the Communist party as they tried to escape. That portion of Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) was under siege due to the Vietnam War. In fact, she and her father were working for the Americans at that time-for the freaking CIA no less. Their neighbors did not trust them because of this but the US companies paid better. But everyone around their little community assumed they were spies because, well, it was that kind of dystopian country at the time. Everyone was a “narc” and everyone was the enemy.
Then things got worse, as if a war torn country in the middle a fight to be controlled wasn’t bad enough. Their little village was about to be over taken by the Communist army.
She waved her hand in the air at that point of her story. It was as if she needed to clear the memories from her internal vision.
She got quiet, and me being me, I had to ask.
“How did you leave?”
She looked up with those sharp, sassy, brown eyes, smiling.
“We walked out.”
Her father decided that they had to go. They had to leave their home and find refuge.
But here is the thing…
It wasn’t a matter of packing a suitcase, kissing the goat goodbye and waving as you strolled down the road claiming you will send a post card when you get where ever you land.
It was with only the clothes on your back, money sewn into your shirt, and for her, her 9 month old son at her breast. You only moved at night so the patrols, both the Communist, Russian, American and Cambodian patrols, had a harder time seeing you. You often had to pay for protection and guides to get you from one point to another. You had to be so silent that if you or even your child made any noise that would be loud enough to bring a patrol running at you…you would be killed on the spot.
She saw children killed in front of their parents as warning. She saw families left to fend for themselves when the guides said to run and those poor souls where not fast enough. She said she prayed so hard that her son would just stay quiet and had bound him to her breast to suckle so he would not make a sound.
And then…after getting through the jungle, they had to cross the water. She chuckled and said that the name of the river she crossed had changed hands and names so often it was jokingly referred to as “Just the River”.
“Just the River” she said, was as wide as the Mississippi and if you could not afford a canoe you had to swim it. Some people would let you hold a rope along their canoe but the moment you slowed them down or caused the canoe to tip-you were cut loose to fend for yourself. She said she and her family was lucky-they had a canoe. Well, if what she described could actually be blessed with a name like “canoe”. Reeds and ropes and a board in the middle.
But they got to the other side. Missing some people from the original group. Missing some of her own family members. They spent nearly 2 years in a refugee camp being drilled and grilled about what to do, who to talk to, interviewed and interrogated. Other countries would come to offer help and sanctuary, she said. She could have left earlier if she had wanted to go to France or even Canada. Some of her family chose Canada, in fact. But her heart was set on America.
We were the shining beacon of hope to her. A new place for her to raise her son. A place where he would have opportunities. A place where she could find peace after a lifetime of chaos.
She got to meet President Jimmy Carter once. Had no clue who he was but smiled and shook his hand like she had been told to do.
And then they finally got here. And what did she face?
Hate. Racism. Anger. People blamed her and the others for the Vietnam War and for all of those American lives lost.
What the hell? She was from a country that was not involved in the war. She was from a country that got caught in the cross fire.
“You all looked alike to those people, I suppose”, I said. She laughed. “Yeah, and you all looked alike to us!”
Yet here Miss Penny is, 39 years later. Several more children. Grandchildren. An annoying ex-husband. Oh-the husband who gave her her eldest? Well, he never made it home one day back in Laos. He had been caught by a patrol. They had barely been married a year.
She owns her own business, has helped others also open their own salons. She mentors young people to give them a chance at a better life. She loves her kids. Loves her work. Loves to gamble a little. And despite the rocky start she had in this country, she loves America.
Oh! Her first drink? It was champagne to celebrate landing in the U.S. She loved it and for the first few months she admits she went a little wild. She was free and in America and was taking advantage of all we had to offer a young woman in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I have a mental picture of this tiny woman with big hair and bigger shoulder pads.
Then after her story and as we both realized she had finished my nails, she laughed! She has the funniest cackle! Infectious really! That was the past.
This is her present!
She has made a wonderful life for herself. She is surrounded by what remains of her family. And even though her one brother is an alcoholic, she was not giving up hope that he would come back to the family again.
Miss Penny-ever the optimist!
I share this story as a reminder of two things:
FIrst-never be cruel or judgemental to someone. You have no idea what they have been going through. What they have survived. (And yes-I know! Seems weird that I am saying not to be judgey when I am doing that ALL. THE. TIME! But I judge people on the important things-like their choice of outfits and hair.)
Second-when you see a strong person or witness their strength in action, find out how they stayed strong. How they persevered. How they survived.
Personally-I always want to know what darkness did they conquer? What obstacles did they over come? Or, as in Miss Penny’s case, what rivers did they have to cross?
Mountains do not rise without the earth quaking and forcing them up from their foundations.
Strength is not something you are born with. It is something you have earned.
Be strong my lovelies.
…the good news-the fire was easily put out! The bad news-the toaster is, well, toast.
I had this awesome idea! And for those who know and love me, you know this is a daily occurrence. I have some fantasticlly awesome ideas!
Except they are usually only awesome in my head!
Side note, and this is germaine to the whole morning I just had, I do not own a microwave oven. Have not had one for nearly 4 years now, at last glance of the calendar. And honestly, I only have a few moments when I think I should invest in one. Like when I want popcorn, or like today when I wanted to heat up a blueberry muffin.
Holy sweet baby Jesus in a tu-tu! I love a warm blueberry muffin that lets out the steam as you slice it open, the butter melting, easing into each pore of the moist creamy texture, the scent of the blueberries as they open from the heat, crumbling tidbits that fall as you take a bite into the warm goodness that is a warm blueberry muffin.
Wait. Where was I?
Oh yes! No microwave to warm a muffin.
And my awesome idea!
Theoretically it was a brilliant freaking idea, alright?!
I decided that if I put the muffin on the top of the toaster and set the toaster to high, I can still get a warm muffin!
It was warm alright! Black and burnt because the paper wrapper caught fire. I had turned away for maybe a minute! (or five-I may have gotten distracted!) Then I heard this little “POP” and turned around to see a small ball of flame on the toaster. I can still smell the burnt blueberry throughout the house. Not as pleasant as you would hope it to be.
But truth be told…it was freaking cool!
Besides, I needed a new toaster anyway. This one was only toasting one side of the bread so not a huge loss. Just a freaking great way to get rid of this old thing. Never thought I was a pyromaniac but I have often set things on fire.
TOTALLY BY ACCIDENT!
I have burnt several pots and pans over the years because I have a horrible habit of putting things on the stove to cook and then walking away. One time, I forgot to put water in my pretty pink tea kettle when I set it on the stove to boil. That was last winter actually-threw that sucker outside in the snow. Melted its way to the ground-nothing but steam rising. Heheheh! That was cool!
The afore mentioned microwave accidentally caught on fire. I had put some chicken in it to defrost and POOF! The chicken blew up, the glass turntable cracked and there were flames coming from the back of the thing. SO crazy!
Funny as fuck but crazy!
Maybe my next awesome idea should be to hire a babysitter to take care of me.
Oh! And buy fire extinguisher.
I’m just the pieces of the man I used to be
Too many bitter tears are raining down on me
I’m far away from home
And I’ve been facing this alone
For much too long
Oh, I feel like no-one ever told the truth to me
About growing up and what a struggle it would be
In my tangled state of mind
I’ve been looking back to find
Where I went wrong-Too Much Love Can Kill You
I grew up in a house of very self absorbed and self destructive people. They did not have the time or the patience for someone like me. The shy and quiet chubby girl who was more comfortable with the dog and her dolls then with the loud boisterous clan I was surrounded by. I would play “make believe” to escape my reality. All children did I am sure.
I would sing made up songs and write little stories and draw pretty pictures just to find someplace better to be. I would imagine myself a princess in fields of flowers. I would draw pictures of beautiful sun-drenched days and laughing people having picnics. Blue skies filled with birds. Stories of adventures with my best friend Lady, my collie. And I would be the heroine and would save myself from the evil wizard or the mean dragon; both of whom were really just grumpy because they were lonely. I would always befriend them because I knew what lonely was.
And I always saved myself because I found early on in my life that no one else was going to save me.
But as those pages of my childhood grew old and faded, so did I. You see, we children are supposed to grow out of that habit of “pretend” once we become the staunch and solid adults we are destined to be. We are supposed to face our reality as it is presented to each of us and basically…suck it up and deal.
I still play make believe. It is the writer in me I suppose. I still have conversations in my head with people I have created to fill the empty spaces in my life. Voices that echo of the things I wish had been said to me all those years ago. The words that would have, somehow, made being raised in that house on 6th avenue more tolerable. The words I held my metaphorical breath to hear. From my parents, words of encouragement and pride. Respect and acceptance from my siblings. A positive turn of phrase to let me know that this life I was born into would turn out okay.
That was not the case for me.
I created my own sense of well being. My own strength. My own support. My own respect.
I had to become my own cheerleader.
Sometimes over the years the pom-poms wilted, and the self respect would take a nose dive.
But I will say I am proud of the fact that, despite those moments of fear and self doubt, I have grown up to be a rather decent person. I try to be kind, not just to other people, but to myself as well.
Remember to do that. Be kind to yourself.
I am finding though that I have been rather retrospective of late. It is due to a writing project I am working on.
A project about that house on 6th avenue. About those people, those days gone by that still haunt me. The words and actions that shaped me. The reactions I have had to being shaped. (I am not Play Dough for fuck sake!)
I have had to face obstacles from my past in order to create a future for myself. To become the person I want to be. I strive each day to be a better person than I was before. It’s a lifelong process I feel. Basically I try to be better than I was yesterday.
I have shed many tears over the memories of my past. Bitter tears that have cleansed. Salty tears that have healed. I will never be able to have the relationship I had wished for with either of my parents. I doubt they would ever be able to see me as anything other than what I was in their minds eye: shy little Pamela Plump. And the few remaining siblings I have are not high on my list of people I care to interact with. I do my duty to call one sister periodically. I do it because it is the right thing to do. (And because I’m in her will!)
I have worked hard to surround myself with strong, positive people who support and encourage me. I hope that I am doing the same for them.
Why am I sharing any of this?
Because we all have struggles. We all have memories that haunt. Pasts that we wish we could erase. Situations that we are struggling to get through.
I suppose I want each of you, my lovelies, to know that regardless of the taint from the bad in your life, you are all still brilliant stars. No matter what each of you are going through, you have control of how you react and deal with it.
This is something I have to often be reminded of!
I cannot always control the situations around me, but I can control how I react to them. I can control how deeply I let them affect me. It is not easy, but it is necessary for my own mental health. My own emotional well-being.
Too many times I have let the voices of the past echo into my future.
I work daily on trying to mute their volume.
Please take care my lovelies! Be kind to others. But mostly…
Be kind to YOURSELF!
In my defense...I was left unsupervised.
Just for a laugh
In my defense...I was left unsupervised.
In my defense...I was left unsupervised.
Like Mother Teresa, only better.
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