disclaimer or something

A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Friday, July 18, 2014

the eyes have it

All 45 pounds of me, skin and bones, awkwardly stood with a bat in my hands and tears fogging up my coke bottle glasses and staining my hand-me-down 1970s pioneer-style blouse, as time stood still. I'd had it. I was the scrawniest in all of second grade, had the ugliest clothes, thickest glasses, and worst sports skills on earth. I was a social outcast, having a breakdown in p.e. class. Again. I couldn't fix nature, but I had to fix my situation somehow, if I were to survive second grade.
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I strutted into the opthamologist's with a glimmer in my eye, a regular customer, the receptionist grabbed a sticker to pass to me at the blurry end of the appointment. I hopped into the sleek black chair and wiggled my chin onto the chin plate. I was ready for this. The lights dimmed and up ahead flashed an image. "You know the drill" said the doctor, and I took in a deep breath. I blinked, wiggled my toes, and knew it was now or never. "E" I exclaimed, as the doctor motioned to go on. "F. P." I said matter of factly. My mom's lips tightened and the doctor asked me to try, just try, the next line. In my head, I heard claps, cheers, tears of joy from my mother and an entire imaginary audience. I exhaled. "T. O. Z." The doctor's face rose up, in a smile I think. "The exercises are working! Fantastic! Do you see the next line." I nodded slowly and readjusted the chin piece. "L. P. E. D. And the next line, umm...." I blinked, squinted my right eye and flinched -wrong eye- and proceeded to squint the left, twice for good measure. "P. E. Ummm.... (dramatic pause) C? And F. And....oooh....no, not an O. Its....umm....looks like...a D maybe". And I sat back against the ciair, away from the black eye piece. "Yeah it was a D" I confirmed with my now uncovered good eye.

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I did it! I had fooled them! I had perfect vision! No more coke bottle glasses! I might even gain some grace and ability on the hall field, what with my new-found vision and all. I'd become the cool kid and finally stop all the taunting. I'd- "well it looks like perhaps some miracle happened as her vision is really improved in the bad eye. Maybe somthing went wrong. Why is her vision so good? Hmmm?" The doctor asked, eyeing me. "Well regardless, we need to still fit her for glasses. 20/60 is hardly perfect. So, dear, you do need new glasses and I'd like to test you eyes once more before ordering the lenses. We have a new computerized test. Its the newest thing. Very accurate. So, miss," he said, nodding towards my mother, "make an appointment asap for her. See you soon" he called to me, with a wink.
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I was devastated, my evil plan foiled. Sure, I had memorized half the vision chart to feign better vision, but even if my "miracle vision" were real, id still be a four-eyed freak. And now, they had a computer test, something guaranteed to never be outsmarted by an eight year old. Drats.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Red Sky at Morning, Sailors Take Warning

He was a charmer, a fast-talker with a magnetic personality and genuine twinkle in his eyes, with a mysterious, dark and brooding quality that felt like a secret whispered in the playground, a wrapped gift beneath the tree asking, what might lie inside.  Sure, he wasn't much of a looker (not displeasing, either), but everyone wanted to know him.

She was a sweet girl, a bit naive, swept off her feet in an instant, a simple but pretty girl whose gentle eyes, soft curves, suggestive posture brought him to his knees and invaded his every thought.

They knew little of one another but for their carnal yearnings, things they kept secret as they were the religious sort and Jesus was always watching. They married just weeks after meeting and she soon swelled with child.

*****

He became quicksilver, hot-tempered, then soft and sweet, like a wounded animal. The couple rarely spoke nowadays, she busy with a toddling infant and another on the way, he busy with work. It was ok, she told herself, he pays the bills, gives me my precious babies, and never hits. She curled her hair, splurged on short dresses and provocative heels in hopes to coax him back to the nest, just to sit at the lonely dining table and tell herself, it's good. A cherub faced baby, a man who brings home the bacon and goes to church on Sundays. She was happy, she told herself. She might not have what she wanted, but she had what she needed.

They kept their worlds separate, and he worked odd jobs here and there, nothing permanent but always a job to be had. A good pair of hands were always in need. Often he'd travel a day away, to his gloomy home city, a port city full of tenements and docks and always work to be done. His family engaged in schemes to eek out a meager living in the endless pursuit for more, as the darker parts of town took on any worker, no questions asked and none answered - those that kept in the shadows and worked mindlessly to the bone got paid.

He liked best the people of the shadows, real authentic people that patiently awaited his stories and promises, his charming tongue and wit were used as a precaution, protection, as needed.

The shadow people were always too sallow or swarthy, with awkward gaits, wild eyes, sickly yet determined countenance, yet forgettable enough to be forgotten, replaced. A sad lot from some other sadder shore, they'd be salves and servants if only someone took enough notice of them to even treat them as such. holed up in dirty tenements, they formed a strange camaraderie, loyal to the bone but suspicious and guarded, their bond as tight as steel but forgotten quickly as one left and another faceless industrial servant took his place.

His family had managed a monopoly of sorts, always laboring and managing extra cash with favors and odd jobs. They were clever enough to stay put in such a restless gypsy town, but dull and foreign enough to never make it out of the shadows. Their conniving ways made them a sort of royal family of paupers, a place of power among the powerless subcultures.

This very such life was ever present, and popped up in whispers often. One morning at sunrise, clouds pink elsewhere but grey and sooty among the docks, he and his brothers gathered beneath the damp, skeletal hulls of behemoth ships and cooked up a scheme with "someone so-and-so-knows", somewhere on a new shore, the land of opportunity. The chance and gamble of a lifetime, ripe with danger and riches, a sham job cloaking an underground network of opportunity. Besides, someone over there owed him a big favor, and he'd get it, and work using his strong hands and crafty mind in a boom town. They could become kings of a new city, with their own row house and car, the American Dream, as long as they managed the shadow world.


This prospect was life-changing, renewing, and filled him with excitement, His mind going at lightning speed, he drew up a plan to tell the wife. As the train wound through the country and approached the city, small farmhouses rising to large city building, so built his story until it was grand.

His chase of wealth, developed in the subterfuge of the shipyards, was genius. Dangerous, but genius. The brothers, kings of a new land. Sure, the mob was nothing to take lightly but he was an unsuspecting filthy Irishman, brought in to work the factories, someone the people choose to ignore and forget, so he was the perfect man for the job. He could persuade people to give the clothes off their back, and so adept as to escape the law, the perfect man to do their dirty work from thousands of miles away. But...it was factory work, a guaranteed job and home in a boom town, he'd tell his wife. With a fabricated uncle to sponsor them, he had it made.

She had to buy it. He'd won her over before.

Naivete is grand, and so he and his brothers sailed to the new land, with her permission, to get things settled. She waited by the window for a letter every day, and finally it came. The ticket aboard the Cunard Ship, this "uncle" sponsor in New York, and even some cash to buy a new outfit for her and the kids to wear for their journey.

They sailed over the cold Atlantic, landing in New York, with an address scribbled on butcher paper. A well-dressed wife and children, they disembarked with panic and wonder in their eyes. Never had they seen such a large city, never had they heard words like these, a hustle and bustle going on around them as they felt lost in a jungle. She kindly asked a police man for directions, and off they went.

The "Uncle" was a "long lost relative" a man in some nebulous entertainment business, something about professional boxing or comedy, she wasn't quite sure. His thick accent and fast talking made it all jumbled, thrashing around her head like the waves below the ship. He welcomed them into his home, a dark labyrinth of a place, a small apartment in a huge nest of apartment buildings starved for light. They felt hidden and secret here, and he left them alone for three days with only crackers and soup to eat. She wasn't sure how to get ahold of her husband, or this "Uncle", the family legal but like refugees, to be stowed away and forgotten. She cried as she held her children close for warmth, the loud strange noises of the city, the stench of trash and soot, and the feeling of despair were ever present.
(co.fastrackteaching.com)


Finally, the Uncle came back, with a telegram and envelope of money. They were to leave right then, aboard a train for a large city two days away. There, on Clover Street, would be her smiling husband, a nice white row house, and brand new Ford fresh off the line that her husband had supposedly hand-crafted. The sun shone over the city, bringing new light and hope, as they left for the final leg of their journey to the promised land.


But what is darkest always comes to the light.



The story continues..... http://disorderlywanderlustblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/everyone-knew.html

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

An awakening

I recently have gone through some sort of awakening, except its not some pretty sunrise type but more a "red sky in morning, sailors take warning" kind of awakening.

I have started to reflect back on my childhood, now that I'm a mother. Okay, I'm a little late to the party as I've been a mother for three years, but I'm just catching on.

There's always been something I couldn't put my finger on, that I barely detected as a child and that felt like bottled up rage as I entered motherhood three years ago. I couldn't label, categorize, or identify this uneasy pit in my stomach feeling, but come three years later- today- I can no longer ignore it.

I grew up with  "non-traditional" parents, who themselves are beginning an awakening to the fact they were exactly that- non-traditional.

I grew up in every semblance a normal girl in a normal family. I mean, my mom had her MA degree. We owned our home and cars, and we went to art museums and on yearly vacations. We'd been on two Caribbean cruises, I knew a smattering of French, and my family watched only PBS and CNN. Our spare time was filled with books, art, rock-hounding, and re-creations (as in Renaissance Fairs, Pioneer re-enactments, etc). I went to college. I had food on the table, a roof over my head, and clothing on my back.

Normal, right?

But under the seams, nearly undetectable even to me, were some worn, jagged, off-kilter threads.

My parents both came from families you don't hear about in Leave it to Beaver. Alcoholism, gangs, divorces, domestic violence, extreme poverty, homelessness, mental illness. So I must credit them for really, truly, doing their best in raising me. They went above and beyond.

But is that ever enough?

I, too, ended up experiencing the generational cycle of dysfunctional families. My dad didn't work, and never attended a school awards assembly, father-daughter dance, or other "normal" thing. Friends had to call to announce they were coming over, and couldn't knock on the door, so I had to go greet them a home away and bring them to the door. Someone once OD'ed in our yard during a party, I thought it was cool to help my dad explode gunpowder in the yard, in an attempt to show my friends how cool he and I were, which needless to say, drove me into the friendless zone... a zone my dad enjoyed, being an "Aspie".

The patterns of their childhood came to haunt them, and my parents separated for a while. My mom said she was in "survival mode" and didn't really take care of me. Before that, my dad admits he was too 'loaded" to really "be there" .My mom said it hit me pretty hard. I even ended up peeing myself. Apparently, I was a mess.

I wonder how these things, in my formative yet forgotten years, affect me now. I'm slowly trying to unravel this mystery.

I look at my own kids, wondering where I'm going wrong. But I feel so guilty, because I'm just beginning to realize how my own childhood had some damaging "wrongs", so I can't yet identify good from bad, right from wrong. I refuse to continue generational things handed to me, but I'm not even sure what baggage I might be carrying.

I don't want to damage my children.

I want to heal, forgive, and love, and pass on those skills to my children - without the baggage I am being crushed by.

I can do it. Somehow. Right?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

just be happy

Mental illness is an illness, but often it gets blown off or even ridiculed. Imagine if people with diabetes or heart disease were told to just get over it. And yet, people with mental illness are told this far too often.

I'm here to admit with some shame (although I should not feel ashamed) that I suffer from dysthymia, a version of depression. And I cannot tell you how many times people -good friends and family even- tell me to just get over it already. I've been told to just stop being so miserable, as if it is my choice. I even had someone close to me recently ask, "well, whatcha sad about? Nothing much? Then why are you depressed?" As if depression can only be triggered by a stressful or, well, depressing event. I was told to just "think of what you're grateful for and you will be cured". As if it were that easy.

Nowi certainly am aware of thepower of suggestion and thought. So sure, I did think of what I'm grateful for. And sure it put me in a better frame of mind, but I was still depressed. Sure, events can trigger depression and I can account for that, but again, you can have depression or other mental illness for no tangle reason. I know "thinking happy thoughts" can help distract my mind temporarily, but the mind does a dark snowball of macabre thoughts effect where the badness judt blossoms and becomes a thousand ton runaway train full of venemous fire breathing dragons.

If you know someone who is depressed, please don't treat it like a passing mood. It is a real disease. Talk to your friend and let them know you are there for them. You will listen to them cry at two in the morning if need be. You will offer hugs. A quiet restful and serene place to relax. Their favorite cookie and a nice book to read. A walk in the park to try and enjoy the beauty of nature and distract themselves for just a moment. Realize that while that person has some control over their moods, they cannot just cheer up and move on. Again, it is called mental illness because it is an actual illness many suffer with, in silence, for fear of ridicule or rejection. Be that gentle little firefly of light in their dark world.

Friday, May 30, 2014

the historian

meh...probably my great uncle, big deal.....


I'm the family historian, and I cherish some items in my collection; photos of Sacramento in 1910, French postcards and letters from WWI, my grandpa's kindergarten drawings. When my mom handed me a manila envelope yesterday "with some pictures or something from Grandma", I was eager to see them, but also thought, meh, probably copies of photos I already had. I sat in the car, casually opening the envelope, and glanced at a photo and thought, hmm, must be my adopted grand uncle's photos. Big whoop.

And then, I turned the thumbnail sized print over.

 Buchenwald, June 1945, it said.

Buchenwald.

My hands trembled and my breath stopped. Buchenwald. An original,in my hands.I was stunned, speechless, in awe. There aren't words in our language to describe the feelings I had.

 I'd read a lot about the Holocaust as a teen, trying to wrap my head around genocide, etching horrors in my mind so that I could never let history repeat itself. When a Holocaust survivor visited my school, it still seemed incomprehensible. When I visited Mauthausen in college, it still seemed unreal. Fresh white snow covered the ruins and memorial, the memorial statues somehow belonged in a garden. The ruins didn't register well in my mind that those walls witnessed mass atrocities, that the old farmhouses nearby knew. It was to surreal. So when suddenly I held a piece of history in my hands, the world shrank. history became the present, and my heart swelled in pain and joy, for the lives lost, and for the joy of liberation.

These picture are worth more than a thousand words and i sure wish i knew all they had to say.

"wall where executions occured" June 45'.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

silent sundays

"Whoever checks their cell phone first, pays the bill" pshaw...that's child's play. In an effort to truly relax and disconnect, my family does just that - disconnects. Every Sunday, we shut off our cells, tablets, laptops, and sometimes even the television or land line phone. For a full 24 hours.

I can tell you, it isn't easy. I keep nervously wanting to check my cell for texts, or see who liked what on Facebook. I want to google what to do with leftover chicken, check the weather, and email a friend. It is seriously an addiction. For 24 hours, I resist temptation and unplug.

 My first Silent Sunday was the best day ever. We drove to Santa Monica, without even planning a thing.  Sadly, this meant we stayed maybe all of twenty minutes after far too long of a drive because I didn't bring sunscreen, hats, or umbrellas and I really can burn (and stay red, never tan) in well under am hour. I watched my oldest son splash in the waves with my his and while the youngest and I played in sand - his first experience with sand or the beach.

We didn't turn on the land line until we got home around two, my mother in law was irate that we had ignored her for Mother's Day. We drove to see her and she forgave us, and we enjoyed a simple dinner together and watched my kiddos play.

The strange thing is, once I "plug back in", I find it all so....pointless and boring. I scroll through hundreds of Facebook posts that seem as dull as a math textbook, my email is lackluster, few if anyone texted me, and I realize how little I missed.

Friday, May 23, 2014

sail away


Has someone ever told you something so jaw droppingly honest and brutal that it stuns you? I did, Let me get back to you on that.

I feel like I am about to set sail into uncharted, dangerous waters and my life is on the line. My tin foil hat of craziness on, I'm telling myself sure...I can do this.

I have been a stay at home mom for most of the past three and a half years and I fully admit I'm awful at it. My husband has said that while he knows I tried to be a homemaker, I am a horrendous homemaker and I hate cleaning and cooking and wiping butts and singing Barney songs. I look at pinterest and even at other mothers as if they are an alien species I may never understand.

I wanna be like this  F*** some
parts of feminism (a bit of my college
self just died)  as I do wanna be
an awesome, sexy, got my s*** together
housewife.
I recently applied to a bunch of jobs and after so many months of unemployment and lost hopes, I got a job offer! I found the perfect babysitter and everything. And yet, I was hesitant to tell anyone. When it came to signing paperwork, I found myself subconsciously finding everything wrong, every loophole, every negative scenario. So when it came to starting work today, I got up and did the dishes and planned out my hardware store shopping list.

This. This is what I will change. For the sake of
the blurry child shown.
That's right, I jumped ship and decided I will become one kick-ass stay at home mom. My home will no longer look like an episode of Hoarders meets schizophrenia. I will have a daily plan and schedule and will cut down our grocery bill by 25-50%. I will cook all meals, scrub the floor clean, bounce a cranky baby on my knee, fold laundry, shine up the baseboard, all with pride. I will do it right and.enjoy it. Lord help me cause that's the only way this will happen and if I fail, this household will literally fall apart. The world is on my shoulders and I don't know what the fuck to do. This deer in the headlights is going to do the impossible. And fast.

"So you wanna be a better housewife? It is your job. Would you hire you for the job? Think about it."
And I was left speechless but destined to change. If I were any bit crafty, I'd needlepoint that and hang it on my (needs to be clean) wall.