Honey, I’m Home!


Recently I was watching a video (a funny one) that was on one of the late night shows about how there are these Robots with AI that are being used for certain ‘relationships’ I won’t really get into here. I’m not sure if it was real or humor in response to all the out pouring of sexual harassment allegations that have hit the news lately. In any case, it was a moment’s pause where laughing was medicine in an otherwise very un-funny situation.

But the whole idea made me think. Having been a single woman for a very long time, I wondered about the concept of Robot companions–not at all in the way that this particular video mentioned, but maybe more like an R2D2 sort of way. Could this be a possibility for the future? Our own home companions or partners?

I mean, let’s face it: I’ve “been there, done that” and bought every possible T-shirt for trying to date and find the right person for me. Over the course of years I’ve been single (and I’ve actually lost count now of the years), and the stories I could tell about the weirdos I’ve come across on the websites would make hanging out with a machine seem like heaven. Humans are scary and/or boring.

Picture it: instead of pouring through 100’s of  old photos and fake profiles of humans, you could simply pick out which Robot best suits your needs; short, tall; human looking (creepy) or not; male voice, female voice; appendages or just lights. Then, you could have the AI programmed to whatever things you enjoy or are interested in–think of all the data that could go in there. No more dates with someone who is clueless! Ah the dinner discussions!

Honestly, I’m not so interested in much of an emotional attachment anymore, although some of these Robots you see in movies are pretty darn cute, way cuter than some of the people I’ve tried to date! It’s all about communication anyway at my age, or maybe even helping out around the place. So if you read a good book together, you could discuss it. Or maybe go to a movie together. There could be special all terrain Robots built for hiking too.

The possibilities are really endless here. Robots are filling in so many areas of our lives anyway, why not becoming part of our family? Yes, I understand there is a bit of a spooky part of it; the whole bit of them taking over the world, infiltrating our homes and getting smarter than we are (which isn’t a stretch really). Sure, this could certainly happen…

But before they do decide to take over, having a companion that’s smart, reliable, predictable, neat, sympatico and maybe even agreeable would be such a nice change. And maybe having one on your side might just be an advantage when push comes to shove and Robots gain power over us.

Because, if there are bad ones, then there will be good ones, and they will be the ones we shared our homes with and loved.

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Reality Shootings


It’s not surprising (to me anyway), that our society is crumbling under an opioid crisis, people suffering from mental illness or comfort eating and heart disease, plus all the many other myriad diseases and problems afflicting us nationally.

One answer seems obvious to me, part of it anyway. Many of us are suffering from PTSD and survivor guilt.

With all the horrible events that have been going on now for years, and I repeat, years—our brains are inundated from the media and our devices by the trauma of seeing the scenes of these events. Many years ago, we rarely would experience the raw horror that we do now–first hand (sometimes from a phone of someone right there): the noise, the blood, the screams, the carnage. And not just once, but over and over. How much can the brain  handle, day after day, year after year, without going over the edge? Mine is certainly on overload.

What is PTSD? It is caused by the triggering of traumatic events: disasters, abuse or any kind of trauma. It can happen when someone you love has been harmed also. Normally we don’t experience it ourselves unless we have been through the event, but what about now? Do you think it’s possible seeing footage from the phone of someone who was actually there during a shooting, would this do the same thing to us? How do these ‘pictures’ stay in our minds: people falling from buildings, human blood everywhere, kids running from a school or actually watching someone being shot…

Let’s face it people, if you are at all caring about your fellow human being, this can’t be good. We are pretty much experiencing these things as though we are there. It’s like reality shootings. Maybe they’ll make a new TV series. They might as well for as much as they play the stuff–and we watch.

What does all this watching do to us anyway?  How does it make you feel when you go out somewhere (or maybe you don’t even want to)? Do you check where the exits are now? Does your heart rate go up if you hear something weird? Are you simply numb to this stuff now? Are you mistrustful of others? Do you feel sad a lot?  Can you sleep at night or have your dreams changed? I know I have been greatly effected by the heinous crimes crushing our country.

Even if we weren’t at these places, we can’t help but feel: why these people? As we pour through their stories, it makes our story feel somewhat meaningless. When it’s a kid… there’s a collective: why so young and what if was my child? It’s so chilling.

And the roulette guilt of: I’m here, they’re not. I’m enjoying my life, those poor people aren’t anymore. My feelings of gratitude just get ruined by the extreme senselessness of it all. It’s just hard to hold those two feelings in the same space.

It’s all this nation wide secondary guilt because nothing is being done about it. We all just sit around waiting for the next one to happen, because we know it will, while law-makers tell us now isn’t the time to talk about any changes in the laws. It’s all so frustrating! So we just wait…holding our breath and wonder where will be next. What venue? How many? What city? Is there a person out there now contemplating it…?

How’s that for your health, while we think: will it be me next time or my kid? That makes my heart thump. This is why I don’t sleep. What about you?

So I ask: do we really need to see this stuff so much? Is it only me that thinks the perpetrators may sometimes do these things because they understand they will be glorified by the media? And all of us watching and watching and watching… Their sick moment of fame.

I’ve made a promise to myself: I will watch no more (or listen or read). What if none of us did? What if we heard about these awful things and said prayers for those dead (and their families), but didn’t pick up our phones, or look on our computers, or shut off our TV and radios? What if we refused? Could we demand from our media sources to stop flooding our minds with such gruesome images and sounds? Instead just report the facts and move on.

Sadly, I can’t seem to create change to laws by my vote, but I can do this one thing instead. It’s something that I do have control over: to reduce the bombardment of the grisly media show to my brain. And by doing this, allowing more space in there for good energy.

It’s ultimately up to us. I’m not saying we can stop people from killing, but maybe we can stop ourselves from becoming a more ill society than we already are, and if we do, maybe this in turn will help in the long run.

Poem: Shot & Other Sadness Thoughts


They are gone

yet we tread on

dead-eyed zombies

feasting upon what they left behind

Their flickering ghosts

flash upon screens

and disappearing voices

echo to screams

yet we watch

holding

their dying dreams

***

I was handed my sadness like a suitcase when they pushed me out the door so long ago. It has been with me since then; something I hold near me as a reminder of the pain. But it is also a gift. A beacon to see pain in all other things. I carry that with me too. So this is why I will never truly feel at peace–not fully. Only tiny bits, at moments here and there. Because what I am meant to carry is a story of sorrow. And this sorrow gathers sadness and pain within it and to hide in the crevices, unreachable, forever.

 

Poem: Strictly Platonic


Slices

through a multi-layered

marbled veined cake

Ribbons of color and texture

lathered with sickly sweet

frosting and fake flowers

dripping down the sides

They all come

to sweeten the palate

and give sugar rushes

in brain bursting fury

Different sized portions

doled out in snippets

or heart attack plate fulls

all sure to crash

sooner or later

 

 

Small Town


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Sometimes I wonder how pathetic I am.

Today there was a post on my Instagram account (if anyone wants it, please just let me know) from one of my friends who is hiking the Appalachian Trail. Very cool. The AT goes very near where I grew up in Connecticut. A lovely little town in the NW region…a very little town.

It got me reminiscing. I honestly have way too much time on my hands these days, because when I get in one of these moods, I can really get on the track of things. First I went on Google. That came up with some pretty typical stuff: the town page and all. I wasn’t too surprised to find that one of my Ex’s was listed as a prominent figure on the list of ‘important’ figures in the town. The town sexton actually. I had to look that one up: a sexton. In this case, they may be referring to taking care of the town?

I had contacted him a number of years ago as part of a healing process. We were married very many years ago (and divorced). He was very glad to hear from me (thank goodness), which isn’t totally surprising as he was really a very nice man. He still lives in this beautiful town in the family home. Cool.

After the Google search, I decided to dive further and went to YouTube. This was where I hit gold. There was a video of the town, apparently one of many (all the others to be found in the town library), that actually was a bit of a historical and present day visit to it. The best part was that it had actual footage of my Ex!! There he was making maple syrup, just like his Dad did many, many years ago.

It kind of hit me (this is where it gets pathetic I suppose), how life goes. I remember going out on freezing nights and checking the temperature of the sap to make sure it didn’t burn. And I think to now: what an amazing gift to still be participating. It’s just the kind of life I envision–we had envisioned long ago. What happened?

I look back on so much of my life and wonder about it. How a part of me must have known that some of the people I picked were right, but then I couldn’t see far enough to stick with it. What was it in me that didn’t have the ability to stay?

And now I’m simply so jumbled about it all to even want to step into it all again. It all felt so much simpler when I was young. Looking at someone and thinking you could be with them. But when I was actually there–I always seemed to see something else.

Now I don’t know what I see these days.

It’s so easy to get lost in these fields of that little town; in the hope and the green and sounds of the stream. Is it all just something from long ago? Or will I someday walk again in a place and feel something is right?

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Meaning


It has been a week of contemplation and ultimately deciding to let go–surrender.

For months now I’ve been preparing (with the online course) and then trying to get a job here. For any of you out there  who have tried in recent years, you may know it’s no fun task. Online job searching and applying has become, it seems, like all our communication now: a distant and computerized grind. It takes anything remotely human out of the chore. There is no more going into a place (like a store for instance) and asking for an application, where maybe you might have a real person see you. Everything is handled by some invisible robot now.

So I have been reduced to my statistics, and sadly they aren’t good. And don’t believe the lies they tell you. This America we live in now (or maybe even before), isn’t the equitable place everyone may believe. No, it’s really about the bottom line. It’s not about knowledge or experience: age does not bring wisdom folks, it brings the fact that you may just cost too darn much. Or in their minds you might anyway.

It doesn’t seem to matter that younger folks may not have the savvy for a particular job, or the personal presence shall we say (at least in some instances). I’ve noticed that many of the ‘kids’ seem too busy checking their phones to really know how to talk to a real person. But bosses and companies don’t seem to mind this flaw as long as they can keep hiring these kids cheaply.

And I’m not even asking for a lot of money! I just wanted a job. So does my neighbor. But try as we might, we just keep getting rejections, no matter how stellar our resumes may look. So it was time for me to just take a breath, because honestly, my breathing was getting too rapid about the whole situation. I was getting Indeed.com anxiety. It was nuts!

Enough already.

During a meditation it came to me that it was time to give in. My arms were heavy from swimming against this current. Fair enough. So time to take another tactic.

I applied to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Within 10 minutes they called me. I start tomorrow at 7 am. No, I’m not a good person. This totally isn’t about being generous. It’s about me. I won’t lie: this is doing something for me. I need to feel like I have meaning.

And it didn’t hurt to apply somewhere and have someone say yes.

You Can Teach Old Dogs…


So a while ago, when I was sitting at home, in the thick of my contemplating about my life and future–I had a harebrained idea: I would take a course. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, but what I did know, even though it was kind of intimidating, was that I would attempt to do it online.

This may not seem like a very big deal to many of you out there in computer-land, but to me, the gal who is a ‘hands on’ learner, it felt very strange. But on the other hand, I also knew that I was in no position to go schlepping off to some place for a class, nor did I want to pay a huge amount of money for some program that maybe I wouldn’t like after a few weeks. And I knew that nowadays there are so many courses offered online. How hard could it be?

So I started to search, and sure enough, our local community college had some very short and very inexpensive courses that seemed quite reasonable to explore. Hey, I had nothing to lose since my time was wide open, so I decided to sign up for the Veterinary Assistant class–actually a set of three of them (maybe I was a bit ambitious) which started today. In the long run I guess I hoped it might land me a job.

My job is to look beautiful

I literally had no idea what to expect when I logged into ‘my classroom’ today. But there were my lessons, a syllabus, some quizzes, some assignments (optional), a forum area to talk with the Professor (a Vet from Canada) and other students, plus other relevant stuff.

It was all fairly straight forward. Of course I couldn’t get my printer to work when I tried to print the lessons (I finally did after 2 hours), something suggested by the teacher and a good idea for studying for the Final to have for later on. Once the class closes, one doesn’t have access to the information again, so I will create a notebook for reference.

This kind of learning is actually perfect for someone older (like me) or busy…go at your own pace. And it’s basically open book for exams–who wouldn’t love that? I’ve always felt that in real life one gets to look up what we don’t know, so why memorize everything? It’s great.

I have a memory like a steel trap

Will I get a job out of it? Well, the funny part is that after I had already signed up for it, I got a call for a job interview for a job that I applied for about a month ago. I’d given up thinking about it actually, but it so happens it’s at the very college where I’m taking this online course! Imagine that. The interview went as well as expected, but I am still waiting to hear. Who knows?

But I will take this course anyway as it is designed with pet owners in mind also. Plus it’s fun and always good to stretch one’s mind. Maybe I will even use the information to volunteer…

And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks….??

No tricks for me Mommy

Walking


During my walk through my ‘village’, I am constantly struck by what an alien landscape it is to me. Even the name of the place reminds me of some sort of Sci Fi novel where you can’t be quite sure who is human and who might appear so, but is really a look-alike with highly functioning artificial intelligence.

The homes are all blazingly white, with only specifically allowed colored shutters and all laid out with the same floor plan–this giving the effect of some weird colony created by Big Brother (it was actually in the ’70’s, and BB was the usual group of condo types trying to create the ultimate paradise), but getting cookie cutter instead. It was a good thought and the prices were good, so the humans came…

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But as I stroll around a corner and am by myself, the southern sun shimmering off the dazzling white homes, I feel transported to decades into the future. Maybe I am the last ‘real’ human left here, wandering the streets, pretending to be one of ‘them’. They sit behind their curtains, with no honest food in their refrigerators (because they don’t eat) and their hollow laughs echoing in my mind. Who are they really?

I walk and wonder. Do they know who I am? Do they watch me from behind those standard colored shutters? Am I safe? My heart picks up a pace. The heat beats down.

Then I turn a corner. Music drifts from one of the identical homes. I listen: some 60’s tune I recall… And in the driveway next to this home, a car has a bumper sticker: COEXIST. You know the one: with each letter representing some spiritual symbol.

And I snap back: maybe they are really human after all? I remember now, it’s 2017 and it might be OK.

As I’m walking, I briefly look up at the empty blue sky above me. And just for a moment, I imagine a huge billowing mushroom cloud. I lower my head and keep walking…

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Ooo Fire!


My new toy.  Because I was spending too much time watching Prime videos and not enough time reading, it was time to rectify the situation. In fact, I love to read! But returning books to the library or buying them all the time wasn’t feasible. This was the perfect solution. 

Soon I will be fully unemployed again  (sigh) with too much time on my hands. So in between looking for jobs and my usual routine, I can squeeze in some reading. I’ve already knocked off three books.

And I will go get a library card and check out their electronic loaning system. Apparently I can download them to my Fire?! Perfect. 

So, if I am digital, at least I’m not simply wasting my time for hours just watching movies. I’m also trying to volunteer at a nature preserve….

Hopefully my brain won’t just frizzle up into a ball of mush while I’m home.

Doctor Doctor


With all the medical stuff going on in my life and in my Mom’s, I decided to make a quantum leap and step out of the norm and change Doctors. This is always an interesting decision to make, and sometimes hard, but in this case it was a piece of cake.

Since I have moved to this part of the country I have been even less impressed than usual with the health system. I’ve never been that impressed to begin with, but here and there one can find a decent provider. My doctor from where I moved had a relationship with me for 18 years or so, and while it wasn’t perfect, I did like her. She still was very traditional, but she did seem to care and listened…for the most part. But she had her great limitations based on the Western tradition of medicine.

Leaning toward a different way of life than most, and being an outside the box person, sometimes I test the patience of Doctors (and many people I meet). This is something I am not ashamed of, actually I’m quite proud of it, although I’ve come by this with some tough moments in life.

Being the odd woman out is not always easy and often leaves one feeling alone or odd, but I’ve come to embrace my differences and see them as good. And those that embrace me for them, I consider special and wonderful friends. And those special Doctors who understand that I don’t fit the mold of a ‘normal’ patient (and I don’t mean in this case that I have mental illness–although some may think I do)–I simply mean that I don’t embrace the typical style of medicine we see now…especially these days.

The more I am around Doctors, hospitals, providers and caregivers–the more I see folks that don’t much care about an individual, I see youth and immaturity, often rude and harsh behaviors, cut corners and people without true listening skills or compassion. Not always, but generally. It’s very, very disheartening. And when this happens with patients that can’t advocate for themselves, or don’t really know what to expect–it spells disaster.

Patients forget they are the customer and deserve the attention and care their money is buying. They feel that anything a Doctor says must be true because they went to school for so long and paid so much for their educations. But sadly, this isn’t always the case. We all have the right to question something if we feel, in our guts, that it isn’t right for us–even if a Doctor says it is–or even just to ask a question. It should be team-work, not a dictatorship. And there should always be a sense the Doctor truly cares.

So in this vein, I decided to find a new, more holistic approach to my health care. No more typical Western approach: sterile waiting areas, answering systems where no humans answer the phone, lost faxes and Doctors looking at computers instead of you. I’ve had it with this type of care! I remember the days when a Doc came to my home to see me. This is a far cry from those days…

A quick search found me a holistic Doctor right near my home. I called the office, left an easy message (there were no thousands of mailboxes I had to press 1 or 2). My message was answered the next day promptly, and I had a lovely conversation with the office person Carol the next day–we spoke for maybe 15 or so minutes about our respective lives! It was refreshing. And appointment was made.

When I came for the appointment, the office smelled wonderful: of incense and herbs. The office was lovely with beautiful music (not Muzak). My visit was one hour-long (a couple of times the Doc went out to see others) and we spoke about what the plan was for me and what I hoped to get from our relationship together.

I’m going to do acupuncture, herbal remedies and maybe some other modalities to help fix some chronic issues. Honestly, I’m really very healthy most the time, so I may not even see her that much. She respects that I may need to see some Western Docs for certain things, she’s cool with that for sure. And if I have a bone sticking out of me someday (hopefully not) that I have to go to any emergency room anyway. Of course! But she said she helps her patients getting ready for surgeries with special things so they heal faster and without scars.

I came away feeling very positive. Hey, 1000 years of Chinese medicine can’t be all wrong. And certainly I have not felt right about what’s been going on with my treatment thus far, so why not? Anything is worth a try. She seemed caring and positive and very attentive. I felt comfortable and peaceful.

And best of all: she spoke to me directly and not into a computer!

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