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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Back in the Saddle....

Eight days ago I had spinal surgery. I cannot lift, bend or turn (twist).  I am in a brace all day, but free of it at night.  Pain medications make my stomach sick with nausea, so I am toughing it out as I always do with over the counter medications.

My left leg had a giant spasm fest the night before I left the hospital. I was told that that was the nerves that were compressed for ages saying "Hi!" Since then - more than a week ago - the leg has been weak and painful.  Well, that ended today.  It stopped hurting!  AND, I got to take a real shower - a real, real shower, hair washed and everything, today.  Feeling somewhat human again.

Best of all, I got back to work.  I love it.  I love jumping into Harry's persona, trying to see the world from his point of view.  I get so carried away, I forget to get up, which I am supposed to do at least every hour.  I have my little Harry mascot with me to inspire.  Now I am fired I will be in a groove.  I love this part.  The irritating, hard parts are inserting the illustrations and having to realign everything over and over and trying to make everything perfect.  Blah.  Hate that.  But that comes later.  And, we have terrible weather, so it is perfect for holing myself up and writing.  Not missing a thing out there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

All my lovin'

Love From Hallmark

They come wrapped in envelopes of bright tones and pastel hues
Reds, greens, pinks and orange and many shades of blue.
They come with ribbons, others with lace and some with plastic gems
Paper pictures, paper worlds, fantastical flowers with exotic stems.

I get my love four times a year as prescribed by calendar dates
Holiday cards, birthday wishes, the obligatory Valentine awaits.
Last, but not least, or maybe it is, comes the anniversary duty
Obsequious sentiment tied up so neatly in rhyme and meter, you see.

Once upon a time the words were said out loud. 
Once upon a time to hear them and say them made me proud
And happy and gave me a sense of calm and peace
I did not note the day or time when they ceased.

They left the room, deserted the scene, they scurried all away
Along with hugs, kisses, kind words and compliments…not one of them would stay.
Just this sad vestige of what we once felt, these costly bits of stationery
Destined for the garbage bin be it June, July or February.

A stranger sends me sentiments from a stranger’s mind and pen
Saccharin phrases meant to please, but of a trite and repetitious bent
A stranger who each day to work embarks
To send me all the love I get.  All my love, from Hallmark.

June Volz - 2016

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Somewhere that's green.....

Oh, hey, I got this great tip from Facebook.  It was so easy, I had to try it.  Really simple.  Just save the water you boil your vegetables in and then water your plants with it.  Doesn’t cost a dime, so why not?


I love broccoli and green beans and peas and lima beans.  So, I found this old Tupperware pitcher type thing – actually, I think it was supposed to hold cereal, but I never eat cereal, which is why the thing sits in the cupboard empty year after year.  Well, now I have a use for it.  So, every night I take the Tupperware container out of the refrigerator and drain my veggie water into it.  Then I pop it right back in the fridge.  Easy peasy.

It takes about a month to fill it up.  When it is all full, that’s when I water the plants with it.  Let me warn you, it is somewhat stinky.  I mean, think broccoli combined with sewage.  Yuck.  But it dissipates in about a day or so, no big deal.  When everybody is watered, the container goes back in the fridge for the next round of veggies.

I’ve found that the plants really love this veggie water.  I used to use plant food – you, know, buy the stuff and mix it with water.  This is so much easier and so natural and conserves water, too.   After a couple of months I could see the difference.  The leaves on some of the plants were getting outrageously large.  Super large.  Larger than I ever saw them before.  And other plants were changing color, actually becoming a deeper green, quite noticeable.

Gosh, the plants are loving this veggie water so much they are taking over the windows.  I took the mini-blinds down.  Who needs them?  I have natural green shades.  It’s amazing.  I can barely see outside anymore.  These plants are really thriving.

Gee, some of them began climbing the walls.  Seriously.  They’ve grown to the ceiling and are attaching to the walls and the ceiling.  They are so totally out of control.  Giant leaves, deep color and now they are just going wherever they want to go.  One threw a piece of its’ pot at me the other night.  I’m not kidding – this rather large piece of ceramic went flying across the room, whizzing by my head.  Like it was aiming at me or something.  Haha.  It actually busted right out of its’ own pot!  I had to go right out the next day and get a really, really big pot and more dirt.  It was a big job.  Not easy.  Wow.  I see some others are getting pot bound.  I have to remember to pick up more large pots when I can.

There is one plant I call the “Monster.”  It’s really big.  Well, it was always big, but it’s really, super big now.  It keeps sending up new leaves that are larger than my head.  And it pops out roots out its’ side, and sends them down into the pot, almost like legs.  Hahaha.  You can almost picture it getting up and taking a stroll.  Snarf.  Silly.  How silly.  I know that isn’t rational. Hahaha.
I don’t know.  I’m thinking about investing in some doors.  Maybe I should put a door up between the sun room where the plants are and the rest of the house.  Just a thought.  They’ve taken over the whole room and I think they might want to expand into the kitchen.  I know it sounds kind of crazy, but sometimes I think I can hear them at night.  Like I can hear them growing.  Almost like they are moving around.  Of course, they can’t do that, I know that.  Silly thought.  Still, I get a little scared when I think I hear them.  I think they talk to each other, too.  Not in words, of course, that would be weird, but they seem to communicate with one another.  I know it is stupid to feel so uneasy, but I really think I need a door.  Soon.
                                                                                                                       - June Volz
                                                                                                                          March 2015
                                                                                                                         (Copyright material)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tell me that you've heard every sound there is....

And your bird can swing,
But you can't hear me.
You can't hear me.

("And Your Bird Can Sing"  Lennon/McCartney, 1966)

After years and years of blithely telling doctors there was no history of breast cancer in my family, I have found that two of my three sisters suffered from it. My doctor immediately sent me for the genetic marker test, the results will take some time.  So I wait.......

I have discovered a world of great nieces and nephews and my "friend" list on social media has expanded  hugely.  I had fun getting a birthday card for one nephew and a load of Valentines for the upcoming date.  The rabid progressives in my new found family keep me up to date and full of venom with their relentless political posts.  Who needs MSNBC with relative like this?? 

Since the gene pool also seems to be riddled with autism and ADHD, my daughter has also been welcomed into the loop and I think it will be a great help and comfort to her.  Not only to have someone else to bounce things off of but merely not to feel so alone.

It has been six weeks since we moved to our new abode.  The dining room is painted and an electrician is coming tomorrow to remove the gigantic monster of a chandelier and replace it with an art deco reproduction that is about one third the size of the existing fixture.  The hallway is also painted (warm white) and pictures and mirrors have been hung.  There is now a pub table in the breakfast nook - actually where I am sitting right now.  Little by little, step by step, it's beginning to feel less foreign and more like home.

My family entered the picture just in time as I was just making friends in our former town through the gym.  I miss the gym and I  miss the people.  I haven't hit it off with anyone yet other than to nod and smile.  But then, I tend to be shy.  Really.  I am.  And because of the snow the other day, I braved it and drove over to the "fitness room" but I was all alone, not a soul ventured out so I had the place to myself for two hours.  But it was a bit lonely.

My niece informed me that my only living sister wanted to reconnect.  She gave me the email address of my brother-in-law.  I reached out.  He replied.  There were a couple of emails back and forth, polite and pleasant.  Then something strange happened.  I mean, I didn't figure my sister the type to embrace new technology, so I wasn't surprised that I had to have my brother-in-law as the go-between.  But the last email had a totally different tone and sounded like it was coming, literally, from someone else.  In it I was told that in order to continue communications I would have to understand that certain subjects (my father, my sister) were taboo.  Taboo.  He who shall not be named!  The title of the email was 'Taboo."

My first reaction was "What the hell???"  Then I got really, really pissed off.  I reviewed my emails.  No TABOOS were mentioned.  OOOOOOOGABOOOOGA!!!!   But seriously, folks, talking about the past is taboo?  Why?  Because my sister is too fragile an individual to discuss her own family?  Because it is unpleasant?  So what?  If she still has huge issues this many decades later, she needs a psychologist and some serious counseling.

The email went on to tell me that my poor, delicate flower of a sister was seriously damaged because my other sister was mentally ill and she had to go with my mother to visit her in the mental institutions.  This made me feel like throwing something.  I was the youngest child, seven and ten years younger than my sisters.  I was the child who was dragged to the mental institutions, terrified and confused.  Me. Not her.  In fact, I was sent away to spend a summer with this sister and brother-in-law when I was fourteen because of the difficulties with my mentally ill sister.  They seem to have forgotten.  The fact that my sister was rewriting history enraged me.  And, quite frankly, at my age, even though I had not broken their very special  cardinal rules, I am hardly going to be silenced by anyone.  Bite me.

So I stewed and fumed and spit nails for awhile.  I wrote an epithet laden reply just to get it out of my system but I decided, finally, to take the high road and not reply at all.  Let her fester in her fantasy land if that's what she wants.   What a shame.  It's her loss.

Friday, January 10, 2014

With every mistake, we must surely be learning

Still my guitar gently weeps....

I look at you all, see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps....

("While My Guitar Gently Weeps", G. Harrison, 1967)

You know how you get into routines.  Particularly with my recent  move, I have been cherishing certain routines to keep the rhythm of my life on course.  My morning two cups of tea.  Going to the gym.  Sitting down and popping on the computer to see the mundane or amusing posts from my friends on Facebook, read a couple of emails, blah, blah, blah........

The other day was quite different.  I had a message from my brother-in-law.  First of all, I never knew him well or his wife, who was my sister.  And, I have had no contact with him for, well, gee....almost forty years.  Thirty-five, maybe.  A long, long time.  He was contacting me to tell me my sister had passed away.  She was ten years older than I.  She had been a smoker.  She had multiple health issues including cancer.  I felt badly not only for her death, but I was sadder still for the poor excuse of a family we had.  Sporadic and awkward contact over the years and the whole sad story.  I always felt left out, forgotten and worthless as far as family matters were concerned and that is why I had to, in a sense, divorce myself from it many years ago.

You think that you move on and put things behind you.  Until you find out that all those emotions are still there, still waiting to rear their sad little heads, still causing tears to fall.

The other surprise was that my brother-in-law asked that I contact my niece - his daughter.  Perhaps the last time I saw her she was nine years old or so.  I thought about for a bit, weighing the pros and cons and finally said to myself, "oh, what the hell."  What is everyone so afraid of?

So I  did contact her and since then, the whole world has changed.  I have been inundated and overwhelmed (in a good way) by emails, Facebook messages, conversations and old photos that have jogged the memory and squeezed my heart to an extent I didn't think possible.

There was a mystery in our family that I and the next generation are calling the Great Wall of Silence.  I believe it is solved.  When I found my father after not having seen him in 29 years, he was married to another woman, who had been the wife of his right hand man in his business, which was running three "bar and grills" in Brooklyn.  Essentially, then, my  father had been cheating on my mother and betraying his good friend for many, many years. There was a picture of my father with his "new" wife that clearly had been taken in either the late '40s or early '50s.  I could tell by how young my father looked and the style of the suits and hair.  What this told me was that he had a thing with this woman possibly or probably even before I was born. 

When my parents finally separated, the Great Wall went up.  After that, no one really knew anything because any talk was taboo.  Questions were never answered.  Facts had to be gleaned from experiences and as a result, information got garbled.  Even my older sister was perpetuating nonsense such that my parents had never actually divorced.  I went to the lawyers office with my mother.  They were divorced.  I found it odd that I actually knew some facts that my older sisters did not since I always felt so entirely out of the loop.  Shame.  Secrecy.  Silence.  As if he was the first  man in history to ever cheat on his wife.  I understand my mother's devastation.  But rather than reaching out to her children, she retreated.  She shut herself up in her own cocoon.  And a family was shattered.

Tucked into all this was my other oldest sister (twins) who had some sort of mental illness and was likely misdiagnosed at the time.  This was yet another thing we were all supposed to keep quiet about and pretend didn't really happen.  It was shameful.  People will talk.  People will blame.  Shhhh.

I have a trio of beautiful nieces, all of them smart and lovely.  We are in the process of getting to know one another, trading old memories and sharing similar reactions. We all love dogs. We all appear to be rabid liberals.  We all suffered from the Wall.  I can't change the past, but the future will surely be different from this point on. 

I have one living sister.  I am told she would like to hear from me.......

Thursday, September 5, 2013

You've got a friend....

It is amazing what a profound effect it has upon me to see my old friend from high school. Having an afternoon with her sets my mind wandering for days and nights to come.  This time, as always, it was a horribly quick fly-by, and this time she was with other people.  My dear friend did not warn me that they were all Republicans as I confidently and comfortably (for how often can we left wing progressive liberals be confident and comfortable?) shot my mouth off.  Apparently it had no long lasting or ill effects....... of those other friends of hers did mention the "shared history."  That is the thing that, besides the fact that we still cling to the same - dare I say - liberal and democratic values we had as teens- binds us.  I have no one else.  I don't have family.  I don't have my first husband et al. My daughter only goes back about twenty years.  My friend and I - WE have HISTORY!

And then I lay awake thinking about all the amazing friends I have had the honor to have known.  Thanks to the internet I still "know" them in a way.  Not only was I reunited with two other friends from high school, but I was able to keep in touch with the astounding people I befriended in Michigan.

Yes, yes, I couldn't wait to leave Michigan. I couldn't wait to get back to the East Coast, to New York.  But I hated leaving the wonderful people who were my friends in Michigan.  They saved my life.  They supported me with actual money, with used clothes badly needed, with emotional and mental support and simple company.  They were there when I had to have a skin cancer removed from my face and put up with my nerves before and my giggles afterward (due to Valium).  They were there to help me move out of a house where I thought I would live my life, and into an apartment where I felt safe.  They were there when my autistic daughter disappeared one night and still there when she reappeared hours later with a big policeman. They were there for a birthday I didn't really want to acknowledge yet they made it not only bearable but fun. They were there at holidays to make it possible to feel that I was not alone and abandoned. And they were still there to help me make the major move back to New York.  I cannot find words to adequately thank them or have them know how much I carry them around in my heart and mind each day.  I've said for decades that I think god has a lousy sense of humor.  The irony that it took me fourteen years to finally make dear and wonderful friends in the alien world of Michigan (alien to me) and then have the one and only chance to leave them bears that out.

So now I am entering a new world.  I am making friends again, just as I did so many times before in my life.  It is uncertain, it is awkward, it is a slow and cautious process.  But, it is happening.  How strange.  How weird to feel like a kid again in some social situations as I feel my way around, as I try to reciprocate, as I try to be available, as I try to put my best self forward and yet not be untrue to the self I have fought all these years to find.
Nevertheless, I am eternally grateful to the wonderful friends - those beautiful girl friends I had in my teens who were there when my family fell apart and still did not reject me- and those open hearted amazing people in Michigan - who quite literally made my life possible, even if they don't know it. 


Monday, August 5, 2013

We're all carried along by the river of dreams....

I keep having bad, bad work dreams.  And I haven't been to work now for over three months.  Crazy.  I've never had this much time where I didn't have to report to a job.  And instead of feeling wonderful, I feel.....guilty.  I have horrible dreams.

A friend of mine just left the same workplace and we saw each other over the weekend.  As we vented, both of our spouses said, "It's over."  Yes, we know. But part of the healing will come from venting and sharing our similar unfair and miserable experiences. And, quite frankly, seeing her socially, away from the confines of the workplace or a restricted lunch hour, I realized that it was the first time in years that I had heard anything positive out of her mouth. I warned her about dreams and how very long they can go on.

I will need a new computer of my very own.  My husband monopolizes the main one and my daughter's is not salvageable.  She dropped it and we tried to have it put back in working order, but it isn't worth spending more money on.  So, I have decided that I will get a new laptop in September.

I have also made the momentous decision that I an going to pull down "Astoria Story" and rewrite it. I have been told I am "too concise" and don't "elaborate" enough.  And, I think that is fair and constructive criticism.  In my defense, I felt that I was in a rush to complete it or it just would never get done.  I had time constraints because of my job and classes, so I hurried.  Looking back, I feel I wrote it in a way that sounded more like how I would have spoken to a therapist rather than writing to an audience.  It is actually a little exciting to go back and have a re-do.  I will just hate taking the old one down, though.  However, I have another project in the works and hope to release two books - the new one and the new "Story" - at the same time!

This really feels like a step forward in my reinvention.

(Joel, B.  "River of Dreams" 1993)