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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tossin' and Turnin'

Turnin' and tossin'
Tossin' and turnin' all night.

("Tossin' and Turnin'," Adams/Rene 1961)

You know how you fall into bed convinced that  you are going to slide off to dreamland very soon because you are tired and the bed feels so good?  And then you don't.  You are lying on your left side and your left hip begins a rhythmic *yipes*.  But you are too tired to move in spite of the pain and still hold out hope that sleep will come.  *yipes*  Then you realize that your left arm has gone to sleep instead of your brain.  And your left leg is going numb, too.  *yipes*  Ah, screw it.

So you roll over onto your right side.  There.  No more pain, feeling restored to left arm.  *yipes* Now your right hip starts to complain.  Alright, roll onto your back, then.  Ouch!  When the vertebrae slide bone on bone in your lower back you almost decide to get up.  But now you have settled down and the acute pain is gone.  But your left elbow hurts.  And your neck is uncomfortable.  And you don't know what to do with your feet.  They can't go straight up, the bed covers are too heavy.  They have to lie sideways, but then one or the other goes numb.  And besides, now your lower back hurts again in a long, slow ache. You should get up.  But you don't want to wake your husband.  You should get up.  Try the stomach.  That works for a while, until your knees hurt. *yipes*

So you roll onto your left side, which is exactly where you began. *yipes*  Now how in the world did three hours go by?  Now it's past midnight and even if you did get up to take something, you will feel drugged in the morning and that's no good. You know better.  You've been through this before.  You know your limit is midnight.  You should have taken something, idiot.

Then you try a sort of semi on your side, not really flat on your back contortion.  That lasts all of five minutes. 

It's hopeless.  You stare at the shadows the tree outside casts on the window blinds.  You hear the dog softly woofing in his sleep, having sweet puppy dreams.  Your husband turns over and all the cold air gets sucked up under the covers  making your back freeze. 

Now there is faint light in the sky.  Morning is coming.  You are grateful you don't have to drag yourself into the city into that job you hated anymore, grateful you don't have to be  near tears, feeling like a zombie that has been beaten up all night.  Sleep.  At last.

Two hours later it's time to walk the dog.  Your body feels like lead has been pumped into its' veins.  Everything hurts.  You know when you put your feet on the floor your back will scream.  Agh.  Ow.  Out you go, doggie does his duty.  Then he has his breakfast and you both head back to bed.

This time sleep comes.  The next time you wake up it is  nearly noon.  Another wasted day.  Living with arthritis is no picnic.  Remember, remember, remember, your limit is midnight.  The time for better living through chemistry. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Somethings coming up......

Coming later this year.......very excited......totally different.........


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Here comes the sun....

Little darling, it's been a long, cold, lonely winter
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here...
Here comes the sun.
Here comes the sun.
And I say, it's alright.

("Here Comes the Sun"  G. Harrison, 1969)

Three months into the move.  I'm beginning to see the light now.  Although royally sick of winter, we have had a rogue day here and there where it warmed up and held that promise of spring.  Plus, the light is changing and staying out later, which always lifts a bad mood. 

Our stressed plants that spent a night in a dark  moving van when the outside temperature was merely 17 degrees are recuperated now.  Two geraniums are blooming!   Everyone else has new growth, new leaves, new sprouts. 

Most of the painting is done -  once the last wall in the living room is finished, we move on to the "sinus infection" green bedroom.  Actually, the real name of the color is "Pickle."  Well, a pickle by any other name is still a dreadful wall color.  The last frontier will be the sun room. 

The long lost pictures of my long lost family have been printed and placed in frames.  It's so odd.  It's odd to have no memory of a day that clearly was because there I am in a photo.  How can I not remember something that was supposed to be remembered? (We were all, by the looks of it, in an old American western town reproduction of some sort.) I feel as though I am looking at a stranger yet at the same time it comforts me to see these pictures of my past. Back when I felt safe.

I force myself to go to the fitness room.  I have to force myself to face the miserable weather, and, quite frankly, there have been times it has been too dangerous to venture out because of icy conditions.  But I have to force myself, also, because it is not the same as my former gym and I miss it so much.  This is a very different environment.  There is no music unless I bring my own.  There are two televisions which I find annoying, especially if they are on a faux news channel.  And there is the fact that I barely know anyone.  That is changing, as it inevitably will, with time and repetition.  I've had conversations with several ladies, mostly about decorating and health.  I keep repeating my mantra in my head - "I am here to save my life."

But what I am having difficulty with is my own mortality.  Here, I am one of the young ones.  We've seen an ambulance or two arrive at nearby homes.  I blast my ears with rock and roll and notice that very few people have iPods, pads or even ebook readers.  Yet here I am, one of them.  One of the old people.  How much time do I have left?  What purpose do I have?  What purpose does anyone have? I try not to let my mind take me the way of depression.  I fear my husband is somewhat depressed, in denial and angry.  We both sleep a lot.  On the other hand, maybe we need to.  Years and years of getting up in the middle of the night (4:30 am) only to drag ourselves home by seven in the evening took a toll.  It's hard to reinvent oneself.  It takes conviction and stamina.  It helps to not be sleep deprived.

I am learning my way around the area and I have established myself with two new doctors.   My genetic marker was negative, luckily.  What I keep trying to do is get into a new routine, but that has been sidetracked by all the painting and the 'just getting used to being here."

My new project is coming along.  We now have to worry and hope that my daughter finds gainful employment and a place to live.  Meanwhile, I am thrilled with her illustrations and I know I have to put my own nose to the grindstone and do more actual work. 

We were able to explore the enormous public park that is nearby and bring the dog to the "dog park" so he could run off leash.  He had a wonderful time and the other dogs were all well behaved.  Today it is miserably cold again, but at least the sun is out.  And I MUST go out and get to the fitness room.

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.......

Friday, January 3, 2014

What are you doing New Year's?

Well, it's been an unusual holiday season - more or less non-existent.  We up and moved from a house to a condo.  The first surprise was that the house sold the very first day it went on the market.  Gulp!  We didn't even have another place to live yet.  Then the new owner wanted us out ASAP.  Double gulp.  Then the first place we chose became impossible because the sellers were not reachable, so that fell through.  OMIGOD!!  Meanwhile, there was a garage full of crap, a basement full of crap and closets full of crap and an attic I have never even seen, full of crap.  It was like a five week marathon of emptying and packing and packing and emptying and fighting and packing.

Somewhere in the middle of all that it was Thanksgiving, which I barely remember except for the autistic moments we had.  My daughter loves my stuffing and now that she is older she likes to make it herself, which is fine by me.  It's a mixture of white and corn bread with onions and celery, thyme, pepper and sage.  When it was time for dinner, she kept lamenting that the stuffing was ALL WRONG.  The texture was WRONG.  It was HORRIBLE.  Actually, it tasted fine and my husband loved it.  Truth be told, it was a little on the loose side, but there was nothing really wrong with it.

She went on and on and on about it for the whole weekend.  Maybe she should have put another egg in it.  Maybe she should have used a different bread.  On and on and on.

After she returned to school I happened to open the refrigerator, I moved something and there was a large mixing bowl filled with white and corn bread.  Mystery solved. She left half of the bread out. SO my husband said "Tell her."  Noooooooo.   I have learned over the years to choose my battles wisely.  First of all, she probably wouldn't believe me and then the obsessing over it will start all over again and she will insist that it was ALL WRONG and somehow, some way, she would make it my fault.  Happy Autistic Thanksgiving.

Exhausted, miserable and uncomfortable, we moved in mid-December.  I don't know where anything is.  I can't find the holiday movies.  We found the stereo but not the speakers, so we can't listen to music.  I'm royally sick of boxes and this place, although it has many pluses (no stairs, no mowing, no shoveling, a pool, a hot tub, a fitness room) it appears to have been decorated about thirty years ago and I feel like I am trapped in "That 70s Show."  The bedroom is puke green.  The living room is an orange-ish peachy color.  Best of all, the smallest room,  which is the dining room, is dark cocoa brown and dominated by a large, cheesy chandelier that is too big for the table or room.  The "sunroom" has brown paisley lined curtains in it, to block the sun.  Other windows have large, heavy upholstered valances above them.  I haven't seen this stuff since high school.

So the holidays have come and gone and I barely noticed.  My body is recuperating and I have begun to take my life back.  I've been to the fitness room, the valances are down, paint has been chosen, I'm beginning to find things and get the rhythm back.

Now I need to get back to work - my daughter is illustrating and doing a fantastic job.  I am thrilled with her art work.  And we are snowed in by this massive storm.  So I now have a cover!  I need to keep doing chapters and compile a table of contents.  And I need to order a chandelier, very quickly.

Friday, October 25, 2013

It's a new day, it's a new life...

I am happy to report I am working on another book.  This one is for kids.  Well, hopefully it is for everyone, but it will be aimed at preteens and early teens.  I won't say too much more about it other than my illustrator is going to be my daughter!  I'm very excited about that, she is a talented artist who can draw in different styles.  This book will call on her comic style.  She actually started college as an art major but switched to, of all things, science.  Good for her because she now has a Bachelor of Science and is working on her masters, but she is still an artist and she is looking forward to our collaboration.

This will take some time as I refuse to rush as I did with "Astoria Story." The book may not be released until next year but it is wonderful to have a project and I can't wait to see what sorts of ideas my daughter has for the illustrations.

I hope I remember how to navigate through the whole process since as I recall it was somewhat complicated.  Maybe it is less so now.  Fingers crossed.