Poem: Defogg


From the fog steps a stranger

droplets cling

making tears run

from weary eyes

In the clear

of the day

the face takes shape

But the true

features

will forever be left

hidden

by the misty ghosts

with hazy

relinquished hands

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Return To Silence


What’s the old saying: “Pleasure is 9/10 anticipation”.  Ain’t that the truth! Well, in some cases it certainly seems so anyway.

There are times where we can drum ourselves up into thinking that something will be way better than the reality of what actually happens. Then it can be a let down or a disappointment in some way. Or, at the very least, it can give us a new outlook on our lives, the way we do things or what we may have been thinking about our future.

That’s certainly what happened with the recent visit with my friend. Not that I had built it up into some great expectation. I have known this person for many years, and our relationship has gone through many convolutions over the past. So I knew the potential for the visit to be a certain way (boring, not what I might hope etc.) was very real.
But even when one knows ahead of time that things might not be wonderful, it’s still a bit of a downer when those expectations are filled! I guess as a hopeful individual, one can still think that another person might have changed a bit, or grown, or wants different things at this stage of the game.

In the end though, I’ve learned by now, that in order for people to really change in any way (great or small)–it takes very hard work and concentration, which most folks can’t give or don’t have. And most people either don’t realize or believe they need changing. Maybe they don’t either–it’s only according to someone else’s perception.

So where does that leave things? Well, a visit within tight quarters for almost a week can become uncomfortable and tiresome. For me, as someone used to living alone for many years now, I began to ache for my solitude. My patience and sense of being a good hostess begins to wan. All I really wanted was my space back…  It’s not that I disliked the other person, but I began to see all the little things about them that make me realize why I live alone now.

For years I have gone back and forth in my head about living alone. Will I be OK this way for the long haul? Is there something inadequate with me that makes it hard for me to be around others? Am I safe by myself? Am I truly happy this way? But I see others more and more living as I do and I find I am not so unusual. Many of us have come to this place after years of living with other people. And now we live alone by choice.

As we grow older, it is easy to become isolated, but the need for space and solitude also becomes a treasure. The years given in service to others–kids, spouses, pets, jobs, parents, families–can bring you to a point where the peace of one’s home is a blessing.

Having guests over is not a bad thing by any means, especially when they contribute to the well-being of one’s life and soul. But the return to the quiet when they leave is a sound I am also grateful to hear.

Is Santa Real?


santaSitting here on Christmas morning, on this bleak 50 degree day in New England, knowing full well many kids have by now ripped into their many brightly colored boxes, I wondered about the reality of Santa. How many of those kids believe, or what do they believe he is and how do the parents keep him real.

As a parent myself, with a myriad of religious/spiritual backgrounds, our household was filled with Christmas, Hanukkah and Solstice celebrations. I’m not quite sure when my childhood belief in Santa, or my own kids, disappeared. In neither case was in some tragic fall to the ground state of despair. It just seemed to be a quiet realization that maybe this guy in the red suit you see everywhere in the malls doesn’t really bring the presents to put under the tree.

I personally wasn’t angry or upset at my parents about this new theory. If not Santa, then who? I’m not sure I pestered my parents to explain it (we didn’t even have a chimney as we lived in an apartment building in NYC) as much of the myth didn’t really work for me anyway. There are so many Santas everywhere you walk in the city: every street corner ringing bells, in every department store and sometimes just walking down the street. So how could any kid possibly believe?

As my kids started to become skeptical and since we lived in a more mystical home, it was very easy to explain that Santa really isn’t a person. Santa is more the representation of the joy of the Christmas spirit and season. I tried to explain that as this symbol he brings gifts because the season is supposed to about giving and he’s jolly because we are supposed to be joyful (because of the birth of Christ I assume). So really he is like a spirit and in that sense real.

And all the Santas we see as kids (and adults) everywhere, they are simply the images of the true feeling and sense of what the day and season is supposed to be. Like any icon should remind us. Whether we are Christian or not, the message is a good one: joy, giving, kindness, love–these are never bad things to celebrate.

It doesn’t matter if Santa is tangible or not. I’m not sure if I had it to do over if I would tell my children he was ‘real’, but I certainly would continue to perpetuate his myth, mystery and magic of this sweet and lovely holiday.

Merry Christmas!

Yet Again: Schools Under Attack


Today I pondered what my post might be when I looked at my computer and saw the news. Yet again an attack at a school, and by a student. As I clicked through the photos, I was struck by how familiar they are becoming these days! It’s like they could be taken and used for the same event. The ones of parent and child huddled close after the event leaving the tragic scene. A lone onlooker/student standing holding a phone ready to call someone or just rung off a call. Ambulances lined up in front of a school that holds in its belly the bloody bodies. School buses lined up too early for the kids to take them to an appointed safe area. Firefighters, police and EMT’s swarming a place they just don’t belong. And aerial shots of a local high school or elementary school in some small town USA.

I grew up in New York City. I took the subway to my public school. I was a white kid in a primarily non-white school. We had stuff in our school: cherry bombs, fist fights, kids making out in the hallways, smoking. Girls used to stick pins in my butt walking up the stairwell on the way to class. I even got into a fist fight with a kid in a class once. But I don’t ever recall this kind of violence. Not so pervasive, so recurrent, so callous and so vicious. It’s hard for me to understand.

There are many theories: the computer and access to the internet; the lack of family control; the growing mental instability; the lessening of social ties. I’m no psychologist, so I don’t venture to guess why this is happening. I only know it pains me to see. To know that parents cannot find a safe haven sending their children to school is almost incomprehensible to me.

Recently I read home schooling was on the rise. I used to feel completely against this form of teaching, that it gave the kids an unfair social disadvantage. But now…I’m not so sure. Just from a safety point of view, I think I might understand! If we can’t figure out how to keep our children safe in schools, why would anyone want to send them there? But we don’t want them prisons either.

And this is where it becomes just so sad. Part of learning now has to be how to protect yourself from a potential attacker, knowing it could be a fellow student. Does this breed mistrust, or does it build self-confidence and awareness? This is the world in which we now live, and this is a pathetic reality. We can’t just pretend it isn’t. But we don’t have to like it.

Bring me back to the days when kids played in the streets or woods and not on their computers all day. Where a healthy dose of sunshine beat out iPads and texting. If you were outside all day, then maybe the TV you saw was minimal and didn’t involve seeing endless violence over and over. The time when children had decent role models. Not ones that shoot each other and seem to be made into icons by their media, slowly tempting their underdeveloped brains into mimicking that destructive behavior. The days where families spent real time together, when everyone wasn’t running in 20 different directions busy with their own thing.   Ah those days are mostly gone!

But one thing we can do is: give money to our schools so they aren’t crowded and teachers aren’t pressured. Then teachers can help us teach our children properly. Because remember this: Our children will be inheriting this earth when we are gone!

 

Stuck


Why is it when the two things that should be bringing me the most pleasure and joy in my life, continue to only bring me stress and sadness or allude me altogether? It happens in an indirect way actually, but it continues to be one of the biggest puzzles of the second half of my life.

Recently I made the bold move to invite my middle daughter and her boyfriend to live with me. It was as much for me as for them. They were in a difficult living situation (or so I believed) with his parents, and I needed help with my dogs. My dogs happen to be one of the greatest joys in my life. One would think it would be my three daughters, but actually it’s not. I suppose it should be, and maybe one day we all will get there, but thus far we have not reached that realm.

My dogs–I have three of them–are my constant companions. When I am home, they are with me most the time. I love walking them, talking with them, playing with them and just generally being around them. After my accident, they are who I came home to, even though I had two daughters living in the area. Today, a holiday (not one I particularly celebrate)–the two kids I opened my home to aren’t even here with me. Instead, they are back in the place the complained so bitterly about living in.

It’s a puzzle? I like living alone. I mostly did this to help with my dogs because I hate leaving them all day long. My daughter already took care of them of sorts, but had to use my uninsured car. She and her boyfriend are developmentally delayed and it wasn’t an ideal situation. I felt living here would be better. But now, they are hardly here. So, I’m right back where I started AND I am more stressed because I have two people living here! Ugh.

All people in town cost too much money to walk dogs or to put them in doggy daycare. It’s nuts. And when I think about giving them away, I just meltdown and cry. They are all I have. I just feel at a total loss. I tried to sell my house and move closer to work, but the market wouldn’t allow it. I feel out of control of my life even though I know what would make it better.

And then there’s love. Here’s another thing that I know would supposedly enhance my life. They say having love in your life makes you live longer. I picture in my head just how a loving relationship would go. I can visualize it so clearly. It doesn’t feel like such a quantum leap to have it? And yet, and yet…. It never seems to get there. I’ve tried and tried. No relationship ends well. So I’ve given up. I’ve talked before about how I simply can’t stand all the clichés: “when you least expect it” or “stop trying so hard” or “when it’s meant to be”. Blah. I’m not trying at all and haven’t for some time, and it still doesn’t happen for goodness sake. When I tried hard it didn’t happen either!

That’s not the point. The point is that here are two things: my pups and love–I know they both give value, joy and meaning to my life. And yet the constant dilemma surrounding my dogs causes such a high level of stress in life instead. And the odd fact that I can’t seem to find the path to love just niggles at me a lot. I simply feel like I do a lot of crying and I’m tired of it. Especially since I know what would solve things but I can’t make them happen.

So what does one do about it? I feel like this is an unending loop. And that I tax my friends with this all the time. It’s getting so old. Do I just give my dogs away? What’s the point then? They are my best buds. And I can’t force someone to be in a relationship with me. Sheesh. So on and on it goes. It feels like every solution I come up with doesn’t quite work.

I continually hope for some miracle. Meanwhile, the dogs look at me with those ‘kind eyes’ as my vet calls them. They have no idea how stressed I am. Maybe, just maybe my luck will change.