• 02Jan
    Written by: Categories: Family, Thought Comments: 0

    menuMom and Dad moved ‘back’ to the assisted living facility they had lived in. The dining room was a long walk from their apartment. Mom made it pretty far, but then started to lose her balance. Dad kept on going. She made a suggestion about her care. I said then we’d have to have _____ come 24/7…a caregiver who was coming once in a while. I was worried about money after having someone 24/7 for Dad. Of course, that’s what we did in real life. It didn’t make sense in the dream.

    Then Mom announced that she’d decided she was ‘leaving’ Dad and moving to a nursing home. It was odd to me that she said she was leaving him, since what she really meant was moving somewhere else. And I couldn’t understand why she would choose to live in a nursing home. That’s all I remember.

    Perhaps I was warning myself about the dangers of passivity. Mom’s dream attitude was pretty much the same in real life. And there was Dad, in the background, moving forward without anyone really noticing. Two parts of myself. And I seem to be resisting the one that has been strongest most of my life. The nursing home is comparable to this apartment. I need to continue on to the dining room. And fill up on what nourishes me.

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  • 08Aug
    Written by: Categories: Uncategorized Comments: 0

    A woman in an SUV parked diagonally across two parking spaces at the dumpster, so I couldn’t park near it.

    There was a small group of people who were sitting in a circle of folded chairs chatting and laughing. They’re now having a summer supper outside on a long table under a tent.

    I saw two neighbors outside chatting while their dogs did the alpha dog dance.

    I wonder if bunnies get lonely.

    I wanted to find a heating pad like mine with aut-shutoff, but couldn’t, so I got one with a timer instead.

    Five Guys was packed tonight as I drove past.

    I wonder what’s going to be in the space where SuperFresh closed.

    There’s a great article in the Wall Street Journal today about art under dictators.

    These are the things I didn’t have anyone to tell today.

  • 02Aug
    Written by: Categories: Thought Comments: 0

    I was visiting my old elementary school. Claire and Sue both were teaching there. And other people I knew, or used to know, came in to do some substitute teaching. I remember thinking, wow, all these people I sort of know, working together as teachers. One was Mark…. I can’t remember his last name, from elementary school. I basically just sat in on the classes. But at one point we were outside sitting in the grass while recess? was going on. We were smoking, or some of us were. I talked to a teacher, that I used to have. She smoked, too. At one point I was walkiing down the hall behind Sue. The kids hanging out in the hall were high school age. Sue passed them, then a girl moved over to block my way. She said we’re always tellling them to speak up, that at some point, Sue was doing something with her pants, as if she was fixing her underwear, but then put a video in her pants. I didn’t really understand, and told the girl that. She said “she stole it!” I told her I’d talk to Sue.

  • 22Jul

    It’s amazing how much time can be spent trying to figure out the root of personal evils when it’s often tagging along right behind you all the time. I recently spent a week with family, paying close attention to things I’ve uncovered that I want to change. Why I just stop talking when interrupted or challenged. Why I’ve always resisted standing up for my beliefs and opinions. I have a fairly new understanding of my strength, yet I’ve often used it only when the path was clear. An underlying feeling that no one will believe me or take my thoughts seriously. Why I’ve always stuck around, putting up with insensitive behavior.

    With ponderings over the past few years, I seemed to have figured it out. But in the last week, I saw it unfold right in front of me. At least the part that still preys on me day to day. I learned that from the time I was small, I gave in to arguments because the only other option was to argue nonstop, as the other party insists they are always right. No matter the evidence to the contrary. And when the evidence presents itself, it’s hidden. I never had the opportunity to even learn that I was right.

    As the youngest, my thoughts were giggled at, teased. How could her ideas be valid, she’s just the baby. Now I know they are. Even more than valid…insightful. I know when I’m right. And I recognize the evidence. Yet the struggle continues.

    I also seem to be in direct line with my mother and grandmother. As the generations have passed, confidence has grown a bit stronger. I know that Gram wanted more. She worked at Princeton University Library as a single woman before she became a farmer’s wife and her life turned into plucking chickens and boiling water on the stove for the children’s baths. I don’t know the details of her longings, but she had the air of a stately and graceful woman. Not the type to haul and plant and gather eggs.

    I believe Mom loved her life as a mother. She took pride in her home and had the support of Dad who would do all of the wallpapering and home decorating that she desired. We lived in nature where she watched her wildflowers grow and peeked at the groundhogs, deer, and periodic egret through the binoculars. But she also had a strong creative urge that was never satisfied. With the perfectionist strain that ran in the family, or perhaps was passed from parent to child through the generations, the creative endeavors she attempted were never good enough and she let them go. Although she always encouraged them in her children… every week-long beach vacation included paint-by-numbers, stained glass, or a homemade craft project like decorating Dad’s old tobacco tins with burlap contact paper and creatures made of small shells.

    I’ve thought many times, maybe I can be the one to break some of these patterns. I know that chances are slim I’ll be able to change the innate characteristics of certain people, but maybe in changing myself I can show what’s possible. Especially to myself. Can I break out of the mindset that I need to follow rather than lead? Do things that fulfill me, rather than what I’m supposed to? Can I find a way to relate to people who will always be in my life so that I can still speak my mind without having to fight for the right?

    Much of what holds me feels like a shell that needs to be busted…break it large, not a little at a time. I peck away at the smaller things, hoping eventually they will create a weakness in my shell that I can burst through.

  • 04Jul
    Written by: Categories: Holiday Comments: 1

    It was so incredible out this morning, I went to the lake. I sat by the edge for a while, listening to the water lap, enjoying the mucky smell only lakes have.

    The 4th of July was the holiday our extended family would all venture to North Jersey to spend the weekend at my aunt and uncle’s lake house. We ate lunches and dinners at big picnic tables outside – fruit, potato salad, cold cuts…the usual summer fare.

    Mornings were cool and quiet. We would wander down to the house for breakfast from the detached garage-turned-guest room where out family stayed. Mom and I emerged from the garage one morning and I said, “Listen, an owl!” That’s when I learned the sound of a mourning dove.

    Breakfast was on the screened porch, little individual cereals, grapes, peaches, eggs for those who wanted. Everyone was relaxed and ready to spend the day recreating. Time didn’t matter. The day was guided by the light and our rumbling stomachs.

    Dad took me out in the rowboat once – just the two of us. And who should we come across but my uncle who had taken his sailboat out and capsized it in the brisk wind. It was impossible to get back up when that happened, so we gave him a ‘ride’ back to shore.

    The atmosphere out on the water was so much different than it looked. So quiet and calm – only the sound of water lapping against the boat, the oars turning in the oarlocks, maybe a faint voice from the other side of the lake.

    When my three male cousins were younger, they were quite the pranksters. One year they attached firecrackers to things – the bathroom doorknob, my sister’s suitcase – you never knew when one would go off. Remnants hung from the doorknob for a long time after. Another year they put a smoke bomb in the outdoor storage area under the porch while everyone was breakfasting and yelled “fire!” I was impressed that my aunt was perfectly calm. She’d raised two of the boys, and knew what it was all about. She had quite a sense of humor.

    The night of the 4th was for the ‘hootenanny‘ and fireworks. The hootenanny consisted of grilled burgers, hot dogs cooked on sticks over a bonfire, and, of course, sticky s’mores. When it started getting dark, on came the festive colored lights that hung in the trees, and on came the sweatshirts to warm us in the cool night air. The male cousins would row out to an island to shoot fireworks toward the main land so we had a perfect view. My jolly, rotund aunt led us in exaggerated “oohs and “aahs.”

    The rest of the evening would be spent just hanging out outside by the bonfire, kids in the grass, adults in folding chairs, all fending off mosquitoes and passing around the Off! It was always a little odd for me, being 4 years younger than the next youngest family member. Just enough of a gap to be ‘little’.

    When we went to bed, our family would lie awake for a while, each quietly reading our respective books. One year my book was “The Short Reign of Pippin IV,” the book that Dad was always trying to get someone to read. I think those nights were the best family time I remember.

    After ruminating on past Independence Days, I took a brisk walk to the car – past the picnickers, boaters, and families biking…the smells of grilled food, dog walkers, and fathers and sons fishing. By the time I left there were large groups gathered to celebrate the day. I headed back to my cluttered, characterless apartment to prepare my own individual ‘picnic’, watch a DVD and pretend I’m not spending yet another holiday alone.

  • 02Jul
    Written by: Categories: Thought Comments: 1

    In class, we had some kind of haircutting exam. No one was prepared and we were all trying to help or cover for each other.  My subject had long, silky blond hair. I was afraid that I had to cut layers into her hair and had no idea how to do it, but picked up a few tips watching someone else. I think I wanted to create a Farrah Fawcett hairstyle. Sue was very disturbed. I ended up with some kind of bizarre hairstyle that was flat on top and poofed out into curls. Fortunately, no one looked at me strangely as I walked through the halls.

    It was a difficult day at school and apparently our class had gone all day, from class to class, without a meal break. No breakfast, no lunch. We were annoyed and complaining when we got on the bus to go home. I sat next to Ann on the left side of the bus. She had short hair like she does now.

    Ann and I got to talking and she confided in me that her husband had raped her, that that was why her latest child was born. She was convinced that it would never stop and he wanted up to 10 children. As a religious man, he believed that it was their duty to produce children. I was aghast and furious. We’d try to figure out how to get her out of the marriage. I even asked her if she’d told our old choir director. I knew she’d be beside herself and do whatever it took to help Ann. Apparently a friend who was sitting across the aisle from us was in the same sort of situation!

    I’m not sure of the order of the next few things, but my ‘boyfriend’ and I ended up going after Ann’s husband. He was naked in bed with another woman. We battered him with baseball bats. I remember his skin breaking open where we hit. He didn’t want his woman to think it hurt, so he laughed a little and pretended it didn’t hurt. He rolled over on his stomach. I hit the bottom of his foot. The skin broke open and blood seeped a little. I remember thinking that he was a jock and wouldn’t be able to play his sport.

    We escaped and ran through the yard, tossing our old baseball bats as we went. I yelled to my partner in crime…what about fingerprints?? He said it was ok, he’d done something so his didn’t show. What about mine…

    We ended up in a strange place…under a tent? It was some sort of drug festival. Everyone was wasted. We’d done some sort of drugs, although I don’t remember doing it. Perception was odd. We ran into my friend’s uncle. He was all for doing this drug. And promoting it with his nephew. I was a bit concerned. I certainly didn’t want it to become my friend’s lifestyle. I was concerned about getting rid of the drug smell on my body before returning home. My friend said the way to eliminate it was with the smell of sex. As my body moved to the motion of his hand, I turned to my left. About 50 feet away was his younger sister, mirroring my movements with her partner.

    I drove home alone. Traffic slowed on the main road, up ahead I saw flashing lights. Following the car in front of me, I turned onto a road to avoid police. Unfortunately, I found I’d just turned in to a road on a military base. I started to turn around, but realized there was no other route to take so I continued on, through the barriers that were up to allow people through for a detour. I reached the far side of the base, and the barriers were down. I approached slowly to find someone posted at the guard house. His window was open and, smiling, he asked my name and where I lived. I gave him my real name. And before I had the whole town name out, he said “go ahead,” and opened the gates.

    Eventually, I ended up at my friend’s parents’ house. He was with me at that point. His parents were up. Waiting for us, I suppose. We cautiously went inside and I said to him under my breath, “I need to rinse and spit.” He made small talk with his father, distracting him so I could go to the bathroom to clean my breath. I think there were sliding glass doors, because once I was in the bathroom, I closed curtains for privacy. His mother reached in and opened them, suspicious about what I was doing. Of course, I was only at the sink rinsing my mouth, so I merely glanced up and went about my business.

    That’s all I remember.

    Note: The above was a dream. I don’t take illegal drugs. And I rarely drink. This was during an afternoon nap. I hadn’t eaten anything strange, or made any changes to medications. I had been a bit hard on my system this week, staying up too late, not eating right, as usual. But I’m really at a loss as to what would cause this dream.

  • 29Jun
    Written by: Categories: Uncategorized Comments: 1

    I had the thought last night that nothing in my life changes from season to season, except my clothes. No regular summer beach trip. I don’t ski in winter. No pumpkin patch or hayride. The most I do is plant in spring, but even those are in pots. No Christmas tree because I go away for the holiday. I’ve never really been a New Year’s Eve partier. I don’t watch or play sports, and I can never get anyone to go to a haunted house with me.

    In past lives, my year was dictated by a school schedule. Once upon a time, our family changed out the screens for storm windows. We pulled the fan out of the attic to cool the bedrooms in summer. Shoveled the driveway after a snow. Of course, as a kid we went trick-or-treating. Family vacations at the beach.

    And before my time, people ate seasonal food that was grown.

    Although seasonal events would happen more naturally if I had a family, or was even part of a couple. But being alone is not an excuse. I need to make things the way I want them to be. If seasonal changes are important to me, I need to celebrate them. Create my own school year. Schedule seasonal or annual trips. It’s nice to have a flexible schedule and do what I want when I want. But it turns out to be entirely too open. Everything requires a decision.

    So what do I want? To set up regular activities so I don’t have to constantly make decisions. Create things that become ‘what I do’. A trip in Summer, when work slows down. If I end up going back to school, I will have a school year schedule. Enjoy the Fall weather by going pumpkin shopping. Maybe a hike. Or a trip to New England to see the Fall colors. Make pumpkin pie, bread, and apple treats! When it snows in Winter, I could build a snowman. Poinsettas in the house. Make soup. And, of course, I travel to spend the holiday with my sisters. In Spring I can stroll the flea markets and yard sales. Even if I don’t buy. Spring cleaning, of course. Air things out, do a big clean. And in the early summer, I can go blueberry and strawberry picking. Make blueberry buckle and strawberry shortcake. Get fresh food from the farmer’s market.

    Yep, need to make my own seasonal fun.

  • 27Jun
    Written by: Categories: News/opinion Comments: 1

    There’s been a lot of controversy this week over the amount of talk about Michael Jackson’s death, never mind the controversy that already surrounded him. And poor Farrah, who has also been made fun of at times, was barely mentioned. For me, it’s been a very sad few days. And frankly, it hasn’t been easy to find someone to commiserate with. The people I know either don’t care, or are irritated by the subject.

    As a young girl when Charlie’s Angels was on tv, Farrah Fawcett of course didn’t do as much for me as she did for boys. It was sort of a silly show, but it was a popular one that we watched because it was a hit. It was cute. And entertaining. All the girls wanted Farrah hair. And all the boys had the famous bathing suit poster on their wall. She was a celebrity who was known my her first name. Eventually she married Lee Majors, The Six-Million Dollar Man, and became Farrah Fawcett-Majors. Two major 70s icons became a couple. I lost track of her as her career waned, until she starred in the movie The Burning Bed, for which she received an Emmy nomination. An emotional drama, Farrah played a woman who was abused by her husband. And she was wonderful.

    After her split with Majors, Farrah became involved with Ryan O’Neil, which became a romance that would last the rest of her life. It was a tumultuous relationship, but when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, she made one call to O’Neil and he was by her side through her illness. They loved each other very much, which the audience could see clearly in Chasing Farrah, the reality show they did together in 2005. Less than a week before her death, they decided to finally marry after all of those years. After she died, O’Neil replied to a few questions as he drove away from the hospital with “She’s gone” and “I’m not ok”.

    I don’t think Farrah was ever taken very seriously, because she began her career as just a beauty. And it seemed to be the one thing that she really wanted. Just to be taken seriously and appreciated. Perhaps this finally happened with Farrah’s Story, a documentary about her battle with cancer. Shot with her own video camera, it showed what Farrah went through in her struggles with cancer, and showed the love between her and O’Neil ever stronger.

    She was a beauty. Even at 62. Even with cancer. But mostly on the inside.

    The world was shocked when it heard that not only had Farrah passed, but Michael Jackson had been rushed to the hospital after cardiac arrest. Twitter choked as people desperately tried to find out what really happened, what was true, was he dead, and then waded through rumors about Jeff Goldblum and Harrison Ford. Eventually, it was confirmed that MJ had died at a hospital in Los Angeles. By then, there were mixed feelings all over the internet. Shock, sadness, disgust, apathy, and many people were already tired of hearing about it. Some felt a piece of their childhood had just been stolen. Some were glad that he wouldn’t be able to hurt any more children. And some just plain didn’t care about the death of a celebrity when so many other important things are happening in the world. My sister was just glad attention was taken away from the story about Mark Sanford’s affair. By the time Dateline aired a special 2-hour program about Michael Jackson that evening, many just didn’t want to hear one more thing.

    But there were millions who were deeply saddened by the death of this troubled and talented soul. The top 9 downloaded albums on itunes were by Michael Jackson. Youtube videos were viewed. Blogs were being written. Pictures were being posted. Stories were told of how he was important in lives. And people all over the world were mourning his death.

    Michael’s fame began as an incredibly talented boy who headed the Jackson 5 with his 4 brothers. His voice and dancing were like nothing people had seen before. The Jackson 5 battled with The Osmond Brothers for #1, but their styles were so different it wasn’t really a contest. It wasn’t until many years later that we learned about the pressure put on the boys by their father, Joe Jackson. They rehearsed non-stop and Michael was punished if he didn’t perform perfectly.

    The band kept playing and recording into the 80s. They were not as popular as in the 70s, but had a hit with Shake Your Body Down to the Ground. It was in 1979 that Michael made a huge comeback with his album, Off the Wall. It was the beginning of his modern career. He was rediscovered by those who ‘knew him when’, and discovered anew by younger fans. And, of course, there was Thriller, the best selling album of all time, which will never be topped now that the record industry has changed so much. The title song was not only a hit for the music, but for the fantastic video, which was actually more of a short horror film. With incredible choreography, everyone began to dance the Thriller dance.

    No one disputed the fact that Michael Jackson was a hugely talented performer. But his personal life became extremely controversial and strange with every year that went past. Jackson was injured by fireworks during a half time performance at Super Bowl XXVII. Some speculate that this sparked a long-time addiction to prescription drugs. Many people believed that Jackson’s 2-year marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley’s daughter, was a publicity stunt to assist his image after allegations of molesting a 13-year-old boy. He was then married to Debbie Rowe for three years, during which time they had two children, Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson. But apparently never shared a home. Did he marry her just for the children? A third child was born to a surrogate mother, Prince Michael Jackson II aka Blanket.

    He had an amusement park estate called Neverland Ranch, where he invited many children, he purchased the elephant man’s skeleton, he had a monkey named Bubbles, and dangled Prince Michael II from a balcony in front of a crowd of people, just a few examples of his bizarre behavior. He was arrested, tried, and acquitted of child molestation and related charges. Jackson first had plastic surgery on his nose in 1979. Over the years, his looks changed little by little including at least two more surgeries on his nose, plus his eyebrows, cheekbones, chin, and eventually his skin color. His face became more and more angular, strange, and almost ghoulish. Michael clearly had problems. He often wore a cloth over his nose and mouth, and sometimes put one on his children, as well. His weight fluctuated and he wore makeup.

    Jackson alienated a lot of people with his odd, some say criminal, behavior. But he also had a huge following of devoted fans. I can’t comment on charges against him. I don’t know enough about it. But I do believe Michael had some serious difficulties, whether they were emotional, mental, or caused by drug use, that greatly affected his actions. He had a troubled soul, whatever the reason. Because of that, I never had strong feelings about his personal life either way. It was clear that he was happiest and most at home while performing. And he certainly was good at that.

    Farrah and Michael, may you find peace.

  • Dad


    lauraswimmingLOAnother Father’s Day down. It’s been a year and a half since Dad died. You have no way of knowing what it will really be like when he’s gone. We never really made a huge deal about Father’s Day. It wasn’t a day we spent grilling with the family. We’d do a card, maybe a little gift, say Happy Father’s Day, and that would be it. And when I lived far away, it was just a phone call. But it seems those little things were big enough to say “I love you, Dad. And today I thought of you, individually, apart from Mom or anyone else.”

    It was a Saturday trip to Herb’s Hobby Shop with Dad when I discovered the Jaguar XKE. It was one of those days that he was going on errands and asked me if I wanted to go. We ended up at the hobby shop looking at model cars. It’s been my top car ever since.

    Dad taught me which way to turn a screwdriver to tighten and loosen a screw. He was fixing the doorknob on the linen closet door. I don’t remember if it was one of the times he asked for an extra pair of hands, or if I was just watching. But I always remembered which way to turn.

    I was blessed to have the last years with Dad. It was like we had our own Father’s Day, just the two of us, every day. I miss you, Dad. TTFN

  • 10Jun

    conversationPresident Obama recently quoted the Koran and mentioned Allah in reaching out to the Muslim community. One person in the audience commented that when he hears the word “Allah,” his heart opens.

    Lera Boroditsky and colleagues at Stanford University studied grammatical gender systems by asking German-English and Spanish-English bilinguals to describe “bridge,” which is feminine in German and masculine in Spanish. The German-English bilinguals used words such as “elegant,” “slender,” “pretty,” all feminine-leaning adjectives. The Spanish-English bilinguals used words like “strong,” “towering,” “heavy,” “dangerous,” considered masculine in the English language. The gender of “bridge” in the native language seemed to have an impact on each bilingual’s view of the object.

    In a recent Brain Science podcast episode, Alice Gaby said, “…when we write, the word that’s written to the left corresponds to what would have been spoken earlier than the word that’s written to its right. Now this is the way we do it in English but of course Hebrew or Arabic go from right to left, [in] Chinese, the writing system goes from top to bottom. Lera Boroditsky’s work actually looked at people’s non-linguistic cognition about time and particularly their gestures – how people move their hands when thinking and talking about time– and found a strong correlation between temporal sequence moving left to right for English speakers and right to left for, say, Hebrew speakers and top to bottom for Chinese Mandarin speakers.”

    Each of these examples show the importance of communicating with people in their own language, if you wish to reach them. Many people repeatedly bang their heads against the wall trying to get a message across to people who are not like them. If some of that time was used to learn about and try to understand the people you are trying to reach, not only would your head feel better, but you might actually open a line of communication.

    I have seen ‘professionals’ talk to seniors like they are children. Making assumptions that they don’t understand normal language. It’s belittling. And I know for a fact a senior will walk away rolling their eyes and give up trying to communicate. In senior facilities, this makes for a miserable life. Not all seniors are alike. Yes, some may have comprehension difficulties. Some may clearly understand what’s being said to them, but have trouble responding. It’s so important to get to know the senior you are speaking to and reach them at their own level, instead of expecting them to respond at the level you’re assuming. I guarantee, anyone who is continually talked down to will slowly regress.

    Some parents yell at or order their children. Sometimes out of frustration, or lack of time. Maybe they’re just plain irritated. A child will only learn to ‘obey’ or act out even more. Scientists believe that language is acquired most easily during the first ten years of life. And how do they really learn their language? By how they are spoken to and the language they hear around them. Children want to learn. We can even think back and remember what it’s like to be a child who is confused because something was just stated without any explanation. Once a situation is explained to them, they are much less likely to rail against it. And hey…they’ll even learn! I know there are things I never truly learned in school because they were presented to me in the form of information to memorize. I was not given a context in which to place it, which would have worked it into my life and understanding.

    There are as many ways of communicating as there are types of people. Open your mind and listen to whom you’re speaking. They don’t think like you do. Because everyone has a slightly different mind. It’s what makes the world so interesting.