DP: Not Imaginary Friend

When I was very young, the time when most people have their imaginary friends, I had my brother Leo.  We were born 360 days apart.  Being born 5 days before his 1st birthday, we were the same age for five whole days each year.  It was a special time, and made me feel very close to him, as if we were twins of a sort.  While we didn’t share a special language like most twins, we did understand each other like nobody else could.  We played together constantly and were each other’s best friend… until he started going to school.  Then everything changed.

I suppose people started teasing him for spending so much time with his “Sissy” but he started pulling away.  Story of my life, I suppose.  Nobody stays.  A few times he even made me cry, he was so mean in telling me he was too old to play with me anymore.  He couldn’t stand to see me cry, though, so that would usually soften his resolve and we would spend some time together.  Then things would go back to the new way of him hanging and playing with our oldest brother instead of me, and them telling me I was just a dumb ole girl who was too little to play with them.

In spite of the fact that Leo never let me continue crying, it never once occurred to me to pretend to cry to make him play with me.  I knew it hurt him to see me cry, and even though he was hurting me by being “too big” to play with me, I never wanted to see him in any pain.  The thought of purposely causing him pain for any reason was simply out of the question.

I had hoped that my becoming old enough to go to school would change things, but alas it was not to be.  We never did regain the closeness we had.  He allowed the outside world to dictate his course.  He was a brilliant musician, played like an angel.  His skill and talent on the French Horn earned him a scholarship to Juilliard.  I remember how he struggled with that.  How sad that he turned it down to fulfill another destiny.

Leo was born in a police car.  According to the stories we were told, Mom went into labor and it advanced very quickly.  Dad was working and couldn’t get away so Mom called the police, who sent a car to get her to the hospital.  Leo wouldn’t wait and was born enroute.  He was the first child born in a police car in the small town of Latrobe, PA, so they made him an honorary policeman.  He grew up believing he was supposed wear the blue uniform, and because of that, he gave up the proffered scholarship and at the tender age of 17 joined the Atlantic City Police Force.  I heard strings were pulled but I know no details.

He was a good cop.  He used humor and reason to deal with most people.  As long as you were reasonably polite to him and weren’t committing some horrendous crime he would give you a good talking to and let you go without a ticket.  I remember one time we were up on the Boardwalk, talking, when he looked over at a couple sitting on one of the benches and said, “Wait here.”  He strode over to them.  Of course I followed, not understanding that they could pull a gun and start shooting.  They were smoking a joint, which the man immediately ate as soon as he saw Leo approaching.  He didn’t arrest them, though, even though back then the laws concerning marijuana were *much* stricter.  He simply said, “Hi, how ya doin?  Man you know it’s really disrespectful for you to be sitting here smoking a jay in front of me.  It’s like you’re begging me to bust you.  Now *why* would you want to do that?”

They apologized and he said, “Please be more aware of your surroundings when you are doing something like that.  Next time I might be talking to another cop and then I’d have to bust you.  Maybe you should do that stuff in your own home so nobody sees.  Have a nice day.”  With that, he walked away.  I asked him why he didn’t uphold the law as he had sworn to do, and his answer stuck with me for the rest of my life.  He said, “If I busted everyone who did something stupid, I would spend my entire life processing idiots.  I would rather be out here protecting people from real danger.  The only ones they are hurting are themselves.  And believe me, putting the ‘fear of God’ into them works much better at getting them to watch what they’re doing.”

Leo is gone now, several years since he passed.  The job ate his soul, and he killed himself the hard way, with alcohol.  They called me home to say goodbye when he had gotten so bad with his various illnesses that he was in the hospital in a coma.  My sister-in-law, his wife, asked us all to leave so she could have a few minutes alone to say goodbye before she pulled the plug on him, so we all shuffled out into the waiting area.  After a minute of us all sitting there silently waiting, I got a mental picture of my dear brother, young and healthy, doing a dancing shuffle like we used to do as kids.  He was grinning ear to ear, and he tipped an imaginary hat at me.  Then he was gone.  A minute after that, Frannie came out and said it was done.  I knew Leo had stopped by on his way to heaven to say goodbye to me and let me know he was alright.

Now I have an imaginary friend.  I talk to my brother sometimes, imagining he is here with me.  I don’t miss him so much that way.


Writing 101: Size Matters

I am so far behind I’ll never catch up, but then this is normal for me.  Farmer’s Almanac says it’s a good day to mow to retard growth, quit smoking, start a diet to lose weight and kill plant pests, according to the phase and sign of the moon.  This means that it’s a good day to get rid of things you don’t want.  I don’t want procrastination in my life anymore.  I don’t want to live in an overcrowded room full of things I no longer need.  I don’t want to be afraid of using my voice.  I don’t want to be stuck.

I do much better when I phrase things in a positive manner, so allow me to redo my list:  I want to work on my posts (among other things) in a timely manner.  I want to be surrounded by things that mean something to me in the present.  I want to be able to say what’s on my mind in a clear and concise, yet interesting, manner.  I want to be free.  Yes, that’s much better!

The writing challenge for me today is to tell about my home when I was 12 years old, paying attention to the sentence length and making sure I use short medium and long sentences to keep the pace varied.

We moved around a lot.  Every year, it seemed.  Every now and then we would find a place we could stay for a few years, but that was rare.  It’s hard to remember them all, let alone figure out which “home” was the one we occupied 46 years ago.  I was in Junior High School,  Chelsea Junior High.  I was a minority in the school, most of the students and teachers were black.  Bad times, just before the race riots in Atlantic City.  1968.

There are two places I remember during the two years of Hell I went through in junior high.  Both were 2nd floor apartments with the outside stairs leading up to our front door from the alleyway.   Both were way too small for eight people.  One only had 3 bedrooms, one for my parents, one for the three boys and one for the three girls.  We had most of our stuff still in boxes in both places.  It was over-crowded.  It was messy.  It was also dirty.  Mom didn’t do much cleaning.  She did laundry.  I remember her doing laundry.  One place had a washer, in the other we had an apartment size washer, big enough to wash 3 pairs of pants but not much more.  There was a clothesline attached to pulleys on which we hung out our wet clothes to dry in one place.  It was attached to the post holding up the porch roof on the proximal side and to the neighbor’s building on the far end.  That was my job, or one of my jobs, to hang out the laundry and bring it in when Mom was too tired to do it.  In the other apartment, there was a line down in the back yard, propped up with a long stick to keep the clothes from touching the ground.  Sometimes mom would make one of the boys carry the laundry downstairs for her, but usually I did it.

It seems I remember little about the actual buildings and much more about all the work that went into being the oldest girl.  Or, maybe I just don’t want to remember the despair, the dirt, the cockroaches, the peeling wallpaper.  Nope, this one is no fun.

Fourth Wall… a Day as the star of my favorite movie.

I don’t really have a favorite movie.  I love *so* many movies that it would be impossible to pick a favorite.  However, if the criteria were to be in which movie I would like to star, well, that’s a different story.  There are perhaps half a dozen on that list.  It would have to have lots of romantic music in it, and a handsome costar to serenade me because unlike real life, in the movies… the men chase the girls.

I would take Debbie Reynold’s part in “Singing in the Rain” in a heartbeat.  To sing a duet and dance with Gene Kelley would be a dream come true.  Pardon me while I get lost in the fantasy for a moment.  Ok, I’m back.  Reality intrudes.  I would never make it to the part where the curtain goes up revealing me as “The true voice you heard in Love Tonight” (or whatever it was Gene said to the audience.  To be accepted as I am would be more than I could hope for.  I’ll settle for staying behind the curtain, being Lina’s voice and Don’s love.  *sigh*

Reader’s Block

Reader’s Block

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

The only time I can ever remember not reading was after I had an MVA in the 90s. I didn’t appear to have physical injuries from it so I just went back to work. Several years later, I realized that I must have suffered a brain injury in the accident. I was starting to regain memories suddenly, and I realized that all the people over the past several years who had been giving me such a hard time were actually right and I was the one with the problem.

I didn’t read during that time. Not a lot of stuff made sense. Also, with the getting older, my eyesight was starting to fade and I was having trouble focusing. I stopped reading altogether. I turned instead to movies to fill my need for stories.

I started reading again mainly on the computer on various social sites. Learning what was happening in the lives of friends who were distant from me gave me the incentive to study the words and glean their meaning. I guess I formed new neural pathways to replace the ones which were damaged because slowly I began to remember how much I enjoyed words.

Then, I won a book in a raffle, “Romancing the Ordinary: A Year of Simple Splendor,” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It’s a book of monthly wisdom, a plan for enjoying each month, rather than spending most of the year wishing it was your favorite season. I, of course, opened to the then current month and started reading. It was wonderful and soul-filling and, rather than put into practice her suggestions, I reveled in her tales, reading each month in succession until I had reached the end of December, then started from January until I was back to the current month.

At this point, my need to read temporarily sated, I started to implement some of her suggestions into my life. This book is filled with ways for women to recapture our sensuality, our love of the taste, sight, sound, smell, feel and wonder of the world around us. I’ve had the book for several years now, and whenever I find myself getting stuck in the depression that pervades my life, I open Romancing the Ordinary and find some inspiration to help me climb out of the darkness.

Since then I’ve read a few books but not many. Now that I’ve accepted my fate and gotten several pairs of reading glasses, I keep thinking that I need to incorporate more books into my life. Still, I hesitate. The computer fills the time I used to use to read. I am faced with a conundrum, do I give up the computer so I can read or try to share the time? It seems as though there isn’t enough time to read a book anymore. The books I do read are usually “How-To”s, instruction manuals of one sort or another, usually craft books. *sigh*


Dazed and confused??

I must admit, I’m at a bit of a loss when it comes to blogging.  I’m okay with the stories.  Been telling stories since I was a little kid.  I just don’t get the blog thing.  Widgets and links and such.  Customizing pages.  Getting organized.  And figuring out why certain words in my posts are in different colors and have links to things… that I didn’t put there.  I wish I knew how to remove them.

Basically, that’s why I’m here.  There is so much to be learned about getting things set up on a website.  I have grand ideas.  Once I figure out what I’m doing, my website will really rock.  Or is this a blog roll?  Or just a blog?

I guess that’s a big part of the problem there, huh… I don’t know the lingo.  When you have to stop and figure out what each word means it’s really hard to pay attention to the content of what you’re reading.

This is the problem I have in getting started in most new things I try.  I need to study the subject, but that makes it seem too much like work.  I want it to be fun.  I want it to be fun NOW!  (said in my best Verruca Salt voice).  I don’t want it to be hard to learn.  I want a tutorial that walks me through each step and changes things, step by step, to show me what can be done and how to do it.

Now, I realize that in order to have a tutorial that walks one though every step possible would be a huge undertaking… probably be so unwieldy that no one, including myself, would be able to use it.  There are too many things you can do with your blog, or website.  Or whatever this is.  But that’s why I need it.  Too many choices.  How can I decide what I want or need when I don’t know what’s available??  How can I, with my limited time and attention span, wade through thousands of widgets and other thingies, trying them out to see what they can do and then deciding whether or not it is right for me?

Isn’t there some sort of help for people like me who want to do this but haven’t a clue as to where to start?  Ok, technically, I did already start.  I have this blog.  I’ve written stuff.  I’m following a few people and even have a few who are following me.  But how to customize baffles me.

I tried signing up for Blogging 101, but life exploded just before it started.  By the time I got things under control and had the free attention to give it, a week had passed.  I tried jumping in on the current prompt, but it wouldn’t let me post anything.  I suppose I could have just gone back to the beginning of the series and done the work independently like a mature adult, but I want someone to take me by the hand and offer me suggestions about how to do things.  This whole “being an adult” thing is way over-rated.

If you’re still reading, thanks for being here and listening to me rant about how unfair life is, hehehe…  I still have trouble making the connections that I took for granted before my MVA in the 90s.  This is really hard for me, and I am grateful for your moral support.  It helps to know that someone is out there who is paying attention, who cares a little… even if it’s just to laugh at my dilemmas.  I don’t mind schadenfreude at all.  Better her than me, you might say.  Or poor Rua, silly little thing has so many problems.  It’s ok.

If you have any suggestions for things that might help me navigate this mess, that’s ok too.  Send me a link?  What widgets do you use that you find helpful?  They may not be right for me, but I have to start somewhere.  Recommendations from folks is probably the easiest way, especially those folks who understand the difficulties in starting a new project, the difficulties of working with a brain injury or diminished mental capacity or how hard it is when the choices are just plain overwhelming.  I’d rather just be whelmed, thankyouverymuch.  😉

One-Way Street; which way to go???

One-Way Street

Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?

Wow, that’s a tough one.  I don’t think I would be tempted to use either one unless it came with some sort of safety switch.

How could you be sure that you would not materialize in solid rock and be instantly crushed to death or, far worse, slowly suffocated because you can’t get out?  I mean, seriously… Even Time Lords don’t have perfect control over their TARDISes (or would that be TARDII?) as evidenced by the show, Dr. Who.  Granted, if I knew I would regenerate into another life form upon my death, that might make the choice easier, but I don’t think I’m ready to risk ending it all just for the sake of a little adventure.  Also, I want an automatic reset button in the option package, so if I don’t like where it takes me I can come back here.  I also want a device to help me understand and speak the local language, whatever it happens to be, so I’ll need some sort of translating device.

Now, assuming that it has a safety control to prevent materialization in a hostile (to human life) environment and the automatic reset button and universal translator I’ve requested, the decision remains, forward or backward?

If I go back in time, I could meet all sorts of interesting people, and I could take with me things that would make life easier, like medicine to ward off plague and such.  However, in the past, witch-hunts were real and sanctioned, being a woman I would undoubtedly be suspected of consorting with the Devil.  Meh, some people think that of me now (no, I don’t… although I *do* like to play Devil’s advocate when I get the chance).  Although I’d like to take stock info back with me to the 50’s or 60s in case I got the urge to use the automatic reset button, probably my first stop would be late Elizabethan times as I’ve always been fascinated with Henry the Eighth and his most famous daughter.  I might stay there long enough to see a play by that new upstart, Wm Shakespeare (or the popular Chris Marlowe).  It would be wonderful to learn the tunes for the songs in his plays.  Then, moving backward in time, I’d meet King Arthur and Merlin, assuming they were real and not just a very compelling story.  I’d meet with Joshua ben Joseph, currently known as Jesus, and listen to his sermons.  I’d travel to the Library at Alexandria and scan all the documents so they wouldn’t be lost, or better yet, have copies made of everything and then bury them someplace far away in a time capsule to be found in my current lifetime (by me of course, thus securing myself a place in the pages of history).

Of course, traveling to the past has some serious concerns for me… one wrong move and I could change the course of history for all time (think about the movie, “Back to the Future” if you’re not getting it).  That could be problematic, not knowing which random act might cause a chain reaction that would end up causing a catastrophe.

If I go forward in time I think it would be safer, especially if I can reset to current time and place.  I could find out which stocks would do well, when to buy and sell, make a ton of money so I could live my life in relative comfort.  I could find the people who invent things of great importance and give them financial and moral support and the encouragement they need to create their inventions.  It would be very exciting to see the future, especially if I could reset.  It would be reassuring to know that the world still exists in 10,000 years, or not.  Not knowing is harder than knowing even if the subject matter is bad.

“Helllllllllp!  Mr. Wizard!!!”

“Dreezen, draazen, driizen, drome.  Time for zis von to come home.”

People-watching in the oddest of places

Airport terminals, train stations and bus/subway stops are always a good place to watch people.  Apparently I am not alone in enjoying this pastime, many of the bloggers whose stories I’ve read feel the same way.

Is it magical?  Sometimes?  Is it filled with people so wrapped up in their own drama they see nothing but obstacles? Usually.  By this I mean that they don’t see the people, only that there’s something between them and where they are trying to go.  All they see is the obstacle.  It could be a person, or it could be a trashcan.  It doesn’t matter, it’s in their way and that is what they notice, just enough (usually) to avoid collision.

That is very telling… how sad to live a live where you don’t take the time to notice what is around you.  How sad that you keep your head down and avoid acknowledging the other people around you.  If you would just look up, see the person you are sidestepping to avoid running into.  Take the chance.  Make eye contact.  What would it hurt?  What might you see?

I used to spend 45 minutes every morning waiting in a line for a bus to take me home after working the night shift.  I saw the hollow eyes of the people there, waiting for whatever it was they were waiting for.  Nobody looked up, nobody acknowledged anyone else.  All seemed trapped in a lonely hell of their own making.  Everyone seemed so sad, so lost, in pain; some looked ready to cry, many looked worried… some looked angry.  Nobody looked happy.

I decided to play a game.  I’ve played with energy since I was a little kid.  My brother and I would scoop up imaginary (I thought) energy out of the air and fashion a ball out of it and play catch with it.  It was our secret game.  I could feel the energy in my hands.  It was real.  Nobody else could, so we stopped talking about it pretty quickly.

I decided that these sad people in the bus terminal needed something to break them out of their doldrums.  I imagined myself with super powers, like I used to do as a child.  I would find someone and practice on them.  I would make people happy, somehow.  First, I had to get them to connect with the world around them.

My first test was to make someone look up.  I chose a man in his mid-forties as my guinea pig.  I had seen him in the terminal before.  He never varied his routine.  Walk in the front entrance and make a beeline to the news stand for a cup of coffee and a paper, then to one particular bench (or one close to it if someone took “his” spot).  He was always there in the mornings, and he *never* looked up until his bus was called.  He had his back to me, sitting in the terminal.  He was intently reading his newspaper, looking up only to take a sip of his coffee.

I closed my eyes and took a few slow deep breaths, then opened my eyes.  I stared at the back of his head.  “Look up,” I urged silently.  “Turn around, look at me, see me!”  After fifteen or twenty seconds, he glanced at the person on the bench to his right, a few seats away.  Encouraged by this, I started sending Love his way.  Not the romantic stuff, the Eros… the God-Love, the Agape.  He looked over his shoulder for a second, then back to his paper.  In the second I could see his face I saw he was uncomfortable, confused.  I stopped.  It wasn’t my intention to make anyone feel bad.  I imagined the entire bus terminal surrounded by God’s Love, held the intention for about a minute and then let it rest.  The experiment stopped, for the time being.

The next day, he was there again, but this time he didn’t follow his usual routine with his head down… he was searching the faces of the people around him, only for a second each.  He was looking to see if he could figure out who it was that had touched him.  I smiled, rather pleased with myself.  I grounded and centered again with the breathing technique, and once again sent this man some Love.  It’s a wonderful feeling, to feel loved.  It’s just as wonderful to feel the sending of Love.  This day, he finished his coffee, threw away his cup and meandered out onto the platform to wait the final five minutes for his bus.  He made eye contact with a few people, nodded to them as he passed, then took his place in the line next to mine.

The first time he looked at me, I smiled and my eye winked at him… I didn’t do it intentionally, it just happened.  He looked away and started to blush.  I was probably blushing a little, too, although I’m not usually one for blushing.  Eventually over the course of a few days, we began to speak, just a hello, long night, crazy weather type of conversation.  I never learned his name or any of his details, but it was so nice to make a connection of any kind.

There was a trickle-down effect to this, too.  Over the course of the few weeks of my experiment, other people started opening up to notice other people too.  Before long, everyone in the lines were talking to one another, sharing bits of homemade cookies or cakes that they had, sharing newspapers etc.

It made me realize that there was more to being here on this planet than just being in your own skin and watching others.  We all have a great power inside us, and it is meant to be shared.  Without sharing the Great Love we all hold in our hearts, we are doomed to remain isolated, alone and despairing.  By reaching out with no expectation of reward, just to share this energy, we form connections that make life worth living.  We all can do this.  Jesus told us that we all hold the power to perform miracles as he did and even more, if we would only believe.  There is *so* much good we can do in the world.  Next time you see a homeless person begging for money, rather than walking past and avoiding eye contact, do something different.  Make eye contact.  See him or her as a person who is down on their luck.  Feel some compassion for them.  Send them some Love.  If you don’t have money to spare or think it’s wrong to give money, that’s ok… just recognize that they, too, are a child of God and hold some compassion and respect for them.  Send out this Great Love whenever and wherever you can, any time you have the opportunity.  Interact or not on a physical level, but always send Good Energy.