Friday, August 31, 2007

The Trip - Part Two

My mother only beleived in camping at KOA Kampgrounds.


New Mexico was the first stop. The tent we had was white and blue, a three person pop-up tent with those ‘collapsable poles’ – the type with that elasticy bungee chord type string in the middle. They bend and twist and collapse at inopportune times. I think there were only three poles that crossed over each other on the top of the tent. Then there were the little stakes we used to pound it into the ground so that some errant breeze wouldn’t blow our new home away. Imagine, just an overgrown raincoat separated us from the elements.

All I remember about New Mexico was that it was flat, it was our first state, and I want to live there someday. Alamogordo. Albuquerque. Names Bugs Bunny loved saying. That’s New Mexico.

Tennessee was scary. My brother and I were used to the flatlands, the desert, the land of tumbleweeds and cacti and suddenly we were around towering trees. Amidst the trees on the campground my brother and I found a playground. It was damp and there was moss all around. We were convinced it was a secret playground and we were the first to find it in centuries. I think we were in such awe that we didn’t even take a trip down the slide, just ran our hands over it and ‘felt the children from the past.’

It was in Tennessee that we learned of ticks, as a neighboring camper warned us that they jump out of the trees on to animals and people. As if we weren’t scared enough watching the trees bend in the winds. Shortly after, my mother did get a tick in her head and had my brother rub butter into it, but to no avail. Finally we went back to our informative neighbors and they extracted the blood sucker. My brother and I went straight into the tent and put clothes on top of our heads. We covered every inch of our body.

Lesson: Trees can be intimidating, and dangerous.

I think it was Oklahoma that had red sand, one of the states did. I had me favorite florescent yellow socks and wore them all the time, but in Oklahoma the sand got to them. There were also mosquitos. Lots and lots of mosquitos. They were everywhere, the state ‘bird.’

There was one state where we were greeted by a group of ducks. One of them had a shriveled leg. I imagined it got caught in a fire. We called them the welcoming committee, and gave them some bread (which I’m sure was their real purpose for visiting). There was a place to fish there and my brother caught a number of them. He used some of our spoiled meat for bait, the stench drew in the fish. Then, later, when we took a boat out on the lake my brother said it was okay to swim in it. So he and I jumped in the water and grabbed on to the side of the boat. We were enjoying ourselves, until someone from administration saw us and was screaming frantically. My brother and I climbed into the boat and came ashore. The lady was furious, she had specifically told my brother we couldn’t swim in the water as it was filled with water moccasins. He just grinned.

Arkansas had clay-like dirt, I think it was Arkansas. I had ziploc bags and was collecting some dirt from each state as we drove. At first my mother tried to tell me it was illegal (first it was theft, then it was something to do with ruining ecology) but in the end relented. Really, what’s a little dirt in a baggie? It was there that my brother was attacked by some birds. Apparently they nest in the ground and he got too close. He came running to our tent screaming, “mom! I got stung! I got stung!” as he thought they were huge bees. There was a puncture wound in-between his eyes (he got lucky with that one) and in his buttocks from them attacking as he ran away. It was the manager who told us that they were small birds, not large bees that attacked. He warned us that they nest around waters edge, so stay in the designated areas.

One campground had a sign around the pool forbidding you to walk on water.

In one state the wind was so strong even with the tent tethered down it was blowing away (with the cat inside!) so we stayed in a musty cabin instead.

In another state we met a kid who was a vegetarian. We didn’t understand what it meant, my brother and I never saw vegetables, it was all hotdogs and macaroni and cheese. So he ate a hotdog with us and liked it. How could he not? It’s all nitrates and salt. His family was furious.

Texas. Amarillo, the ‘armpit of the South’ as others have since told me. There were big bugs, crickets we could tie to our shoes and uses as moon boots, roaches the size of kittens.

Let’s see, in one of the states there was Mello Yellow, the first and last time I saw that brand of soda. It was some lemony-limey type thing. Another had Giggles Potato Chips. I had never realized there was such a thing as ‘regional food’ before then. The world was what it was.

We left behind Carls Jr. For the first few states that was a huge staple of our diet, when we got sick of the hotdogs we could get a hamburger for 39 cents and I think the fries were a quarter. In my memory, their fries beat out those of any other chain restaurant. McDonald’s was too expensive at the time, although one of my mother’s first jobs in our
‘promised land’ was to make the biscuits at McDonald’s (before they were sent frozen) so we ate there every day. She prided herself on how fluffy her biscuits were compared to others.

We didn’t go straight to New York, we stopped in Pennsylvania to meet the people my mom had us call Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin. At least, for a while we did. They were camping there and we would meet them on the campground, and then follow them to our temporary home.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Excuse Me, But Your Issues Are Showing

Portrait of a Woman Suffering from Obsessive Envy by Géricault, Jean Louis Théodore


I know some of my issues, how they carry over in life. One, I’m trying so hard to work on, and that is only liking others that are pained. It’s more a case of, “how can you understand me if you don’t also hurt?”

But, as I come out of that hurt viewpoint of myself, where I see myself as broken and thus think only others that are in pieces can connect with me, I realize what a disservice I’m doing to myself and others.

I became ‘best friends’ with my friend, Xiomara, when we cried over parental issues. In college, I hated those shiny happy people so much. I felt they were vapid, stupid, unaware of the world around them. When someone told me their only concern in life was to be happy I shot them down, “how can you care about just being ‘happy’?” I challenged. “Are you really that shallow that all that matters is fun and happiness?”

It’s a hard one; it really is, wishing to see the cracks in people, to focus on other’s pain kind of as a way to validate your own. “Because everybody hurts, sometimes.” And, because if there is a perfect family out there maybe everything was really my fault.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say. For so long I felt like I couldn’t identify with anyone who wasn’t also troubled, but then we just fed into each other’s insecurities and depression. It’s so easy to think the whole world is just a disaster when you surround yourself with the detritus of the American family, those cast aside, thrown out in the gutter with no loving arms to wrap themselves in. It’s also really easy to think that those who have what you want – those with a chance at love – are beneath you and ‘can’t comprehend the real world’ and live in a delusion. But then, we were living in our own delusion, one that was just a bottomless pit of despair.

I was being discriminatory, not giving anyone a chance, not letting anyone who seemed put together know me because they ‘couldn’t possibly understand’ when I think, honestly, I just didn’t want to be hurt by anyone again. Rejection is easier if you’re the one doing it.

That’s my new directive, to allow people in past these walls that have built up. To give them a chance to love, despite all the scars and scabs I pick at until they bleed all over again. Give someone else a chance to care for me as I am, and in doing so acknowledge that I am a person worthy of affection from ‘the normals’ out there.

And never discount someone’s life just because it is different then your own.

Actually, I think I've succeeded in a lot of this a while ago, as I get along fine with people from all walks of life - nuclear family or no. I can 'connect' with people no matter the 'pain,' and that's what I'm looking for, to recognize that I can (and have) been able to accept people who haven't had a background similiar to mine, and to move forward in the future realizing my worth to society at large, not just the fringes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Trip - Part One

Taken by Wing-Chi Poon on 19th December 2004


I think I mentioned that as my brother and I were spending our days selling everything we owned at the Park and Swap we really didn’t realize the truth behind what was happening. We were young, and we were spending time with our mother, and we were ingesting a hell of a lot of sugar.

The sad part was our animals. I had a rabbit still (my brother’s had died earlier) and she went to a neighbor I think. I liked her, she was big and fluffy. When we first got her we were warned she was a cat killer, but we kept her (mostly) in her hutch. I think my father made the hutch. I remember this one thunderstorm where we had to take the rabbits into our rooms. My brother’s rabbit left so many ‘presents’ all around the room, and mine (Snuffy, named after my favorite Sesame Street character) left only one. She was a good rabbit.

The turtles went to someone, I don’t remember. We also had fish. The birds had died long ago, as had the dog (another case of my mom taking an animal to the pound for some reason of the other). The only animal we were going to take was Georgie. One bi-polar mother, two kids, and a cat in a car for two weeks as they traveled across the United States. Such a recipe for excitement.

My brother had this giant stuffed pink snake, I still remember it. I used to sit in the center of its coils. My brother offered to trade it to me for batteries, and I agreed imagining myself sitting safe in its coils in the back seat of the car. Of course that night my mother tossed it out, and my brother stood by laughing. It was too big to bring in the car, and he had been warned earlier. Cheeky bugger just got free batteries.

A lot of stuff was tossed. The day we left, I clung to my closet door looking around my empty yellow room and cried so hard. My mother told me it was too late, I had agreed. She told me not to cry, I had even helped sell off everything. I don’t think she had the capacity to understand that I didn’t really know what forever meant, what leaving meant. I would never see my friends again, they were moving soon and we didn’t have a house or address at all, just the car cruising on the highways.

The car was once a burgundy red, but the Arizona sun had faded it. It had a pretty big trunk. The cat was in the back seat, I think I spent most of the time sleeping in the back seat too. I remember there were somethings we forgot:

My mothers new swimsuit, and it was the first one she bought that fit her in years.

The porta potty that consisted of some metal contraption and blue bags.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Do You Beleive In Ghosts?


David McMahon of Authorblog asks this question of his readers this week. It’s an interesting one indeed, because what is a ghost? Is it the spirit of a dead person come to haunt us? A lost soul stuck between realms? Maybe the question is broader in scope though, just asking if I think there are other things out there, things that perhaps we can’t see and that aren’t a divinity.

To that, I say yes.

When I was younger the Major of our Salvation Army corps helped my mother out by baby-sitting my brother and I on occasion. He had a trampoline that I loved and would jump on it the entire time I was there. My mother commented on how I could just jump on that thing for hours.

In what is probably not the norm for Salvation Army officers, this man claimed to have the gift of exorcism. He could also speak in tongues and translate when others did so. In fact, he regaled his congregation with stories of going to revivals where people were supposedly speaking in tongues. Then, he would speak in a foreign language and laugh as others mistranslated what he was saying.

We learned that if Satan or his demons come after you to say, “In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I order you to leave.” I woke up from more than one dream saying these words.

“Exorcism,” he explained to his congregation, “is not like you see in movies. It is not something ‘spectacular’ that takes place in hours. It is a long process. The person must want the demon gone, they must learn of God’s love, of his power.” It was more like therapy sessions that he did with these people.

We also learned that when a hypnotist puts a person under, they are making them susceptible to possession by another entity. In terms of past lives, it is the demon that has entered the body and speaking of their life they’ve led, not the person who is hypnotized. There is but one life for us on Earth, and then the other either in heaven or hell.

Now, our church had a big gymnasium and play room. I remember one potluck dinner when my brother and I were running around with all the other kids, then called in to hear the prayer before eating. As the Major prayed, one of the lights, the long bolted into the ceiling florescent gymnasium lights, pulled from the ceiling and swung toward him, then dropped to the floor a few inches in front of him. We all stood our mouths agape. It had literally swung across the room.

There were other things too, similar to what Shrink posted about in her response. Times when items just started flinging off shelves and my brother and I stood in the corner repeating, “In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I command you to leave” in our frightened young voices.

Maybe it’s not belief, maybe it’s knowledge that there is more out there. Angels, demons, poltergeists, ghosts, whatever you want to call it. They are there.

Monday, August 27, 2007

So Much To Say, So Little Focus

Photo by Anthony M. from Rome, Italy


I haven’t answered my doorbell (actually, more like a buzzer. Or, more appropriately, like that part in Dumb and Dumber when Jim Carey makes the most annoying sound in the world, that’s my doorbell) in maybe a month. It could be longer, or a little less.

At first I was just tired. I was in school two nights a week, working 6 days a week, and dealing with an elderly neighbor who didn’t understand what ‘no’ meant. She kept calling and ringing my bell because of computer issues. Like, she didn’t know how to turn it on, turn it off, plug it in. I hooked her up, helped her fill out rebate forms, taught her how to open Word, etc., then told her I was really busy. But alas, in the end I just stopped answering my door.

For about two weeks every day there’d be the buzz. I really do hate that sound. Still, I left it unanswered. Then, another elderly neighbor ran into me in the hallway – she was the one who had been buzzing my doorbell. She had a gift she wanted to give me for helping her out while she was in the hospital. I felt bad that I’d been ignoring her rings for the past couple weeks.

But still, I’m not answering it. I haven’t talked to my therapist about this, but I talked to Xiomara. She summed it up easily.

“I don’t answer it either,” she said. “Because it’s quiet, and then, it’s just not.”

It’s the ‘just not’ that I don’t like.

When the buzzer sounds, lately, I’ve been jumpy. So whatever I’m doing in my nice quiet apartment is disturbed, and I leap, and my heart races. Then, I get mad at the person on the other side of the buzzer and just refuse to answer because of that. Plus, I’m not expecting anyone, so figure there’s no reason for anyone to ring my bell. If I had ordered a pizza or something, I’d answer. But I’m not. Instead, my silence is being disturbed.

Anyway, so after my grandmother post I started thinking about her so sent her a little note. A really little note, tiny in fact. Co-workers weren’t sure the post office would mail something that small. It was just a little ‘thinking of you’ note to let them know I care.

I received back a three page letter, very sweet, very affirming. Very interesting, in that she mentioned my mother went to their house a couple times asking about me. She lives about three hours away from them last I knew. She was thrown out of their property, and they didn’t say anything. But it’s interesting that she even went there in the first place. . .

At least it didn’t lead to as many nightmares as I thought it might. I did have a dream that she came to my door and was banging on it, I screamed at her to leave me alone and then called 911. There was another dream, unsettling, but mainly just another ‘trapped with her’ dream. But, I was still able to sleep (without the aid of Ambien) so – improvement!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Special: Icanhascheezburger

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I don't know when I first discovered the lol cats. Simply put, they are silly pictures of animals with captions in haxor language (basically, bad spelling). The captions are often hilarious. And the biggest repository of lol cat images is I Can Has Cheezburger. There you can surf page after page of photos and chuckle with delight, though some do have me laughing out loud.

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Mine

i iz blogginz / leef IÂ alonze

I can spend more than a day just going through all the images. And hope it helps to make your Sunday Special.

If you have a site you think would make Sunday Special, please leave me a link. This is something I'd like to continue each Sunday. Be it filled with cuteness, happiness, awesome artwork, or just plain positive energy feel free to let me know! Anything that would be of interest on a lazy hazy Sunday morning is up for review.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What's Your Favorite Color?


When I was younger, my favorite color was yellow. Everything had to be yellow. My mother called me her ‘sunshine girl’ and painted my room a brilliant shade, and I loved it. My mother’s favorite color was always blue when I was younger.

I was never really a pink girl. I wore no bows, had no sweet pink lace plaited in my hair. In fact, I loudly voiced my distaste of those prissy pink people all dressed up in, well, dresses and ribbons and other such ‘nonsense.’

Of course, a lot of that had to do with envy I’m sure. I couldn’t be a pink girl, as I wore my brother’s hand me downs so often. In fact, I didn’t like pink for the longest time, until college. Then I bought a pair of pink sneakers. I wore them across the stage at graduation. I guess someone commented that it didn’t seem dignified, me wearing pink sneakers at the commencement ceremony. But it signified that I finally accepted my femininity (point 1) and the day before, Xiamora and I had gone to the zoo. While there, I tripped and fell and got a nice ride in a golf cart by the security personnel to the nurse’s station. There, I spoke with the nurse as she talked about being profiled in some trade magazine and how they have a venom repository and anti-venom is air-lifted from them to all over the world when people are bit by snakes. She bandaged up my ankle (which had been badly twisted) and told me to stay off of it and to stay in sneakers for a while with it bandaged. She then wrapped it in an Ace bandage with some ice and sent me of on my way (point 2). So there was no way I was going to wear heals, and it was lucky I had the pink sneakers.

I do like pink now, but it’s not my favorite color. I went through the black phase. Everything had to be black, and I wanted my room painted black. Not that that happened. Black, the color of darkness, the color of despair, the color that isn’t even a color, just like I wasn’t a person, wasn’t a girl. Black absorbs all other colors but has none of their own, just like I absorbed all that was going around but did nothing myself, was nothing myself. I was just there to be the sponge to the hatred around me.

Blackness. I still appreciate it, but for different reasons. I like the dark, I was never afraid of it, I actually felt safer there where I couldn’t be found, where other’s would stumble I could move with sure movements. Blackness was very inviting, even the inhabitants of the darkness – those hiding from a world they either want to destroy or that wants to destroy them. I acknowledged it, embraced it, and when given the chance moved on.

Red is my favorite color now. At first, my mother said it was anger. She hated red, said it was all my ire, my hatred for the world. But she was wrong. It is a vibrant color, and that of fire, of the phoenix. From the ashes of fire rises the phoenix, new and reborn, in brilliance and splendor. Fire is a cleanser, and has been throughout history.

I find it interesting that as my favorite color changed to red (as it still is) my mother’s changed from blue to purple. Sure, she tried to say why my color was wrong, and yet she adopted it, blending it with her own once favorite, to become purple.

Fire is life, it is brilliant, and has no anger, it just is. And that’s what I’m going for – life, as is, no questions asked. To just be.


I do so love red. What’s your favorite color?

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Park N Swap


So many things happened in my childhood, it’s hard to say what stuck and what didn’t. Life was just topsy-turvy. One day was normal and the next felt like you were doing handstands underwater.

Part of the divorce called for visitation rights for my father. I think they were supervised. At first we were aloud at the home he was staying at, as he was living with family friends. But then after he hit me it was at our house where he would come over, turn on the television, and promptly fall asleep. Yay, daddy’s here. *snore*

Legally, I think my father had custody rights. He had to pay child support, after all. I’m not sure. But then my mother got it in her head that life was better in New York, far away from the desert wasteland of Arizona. Granted, the place was starting to explode with industrialization which in theory would bring jobs, but New York was the promised land.

My mother sent out letters to her ‘family,’ that is, the ones she believed to be her family. At the same time we started selling everything we owned at the Park and Swap, which is basically a huge parking lot that rents out spaces each weekend so people can come and sell things. My brother and I loved the Park and Swap. We would run around and look at everything and sometimes bug our mother for money to buy something new, which of course we couldn’t considering the point was to sell off everything we owned. Once my brother did buy something new, I think a water gun, so my mother made him try to return it. When he couldn’t, he had to sell it at our table, and he made a profit.

Goodness, the Park and Swap. We would sit there all day in the sun trying to sell off what little we had. I remember there was this mirrored placemat my mother had, and on top she had placed a piece of crystal (one of her former occupations involved home parties and she had some product left over). Someone told her it was basically blinding everyone so it would be best to move it. There was the time she sold some shoehorn and then heard the guy snicker that it was worth double what he paid.

One time, I really wanted to play cards. I was bored. My mother was selling the deck of cards for 50 cents. I pleaded with her until finally she gave in. Inside was a twenty-dollar bill. She forgot she had hidden it in there. She always secreted money away, something I do now too. Every time I clean I find money hidden in places I have forgotten about.

In Arizona we have what are called dust devils, the wind starts to zip around and basically form low-level funnel clouds on the ground. It’s kind of like mini-tornado’s that zip through the vastness of the desert but then die down quickly. Next to our booth was a woman selling these little rings, they were maybe a dollar each. I used to love trying them on and smiling at the sparkling ‘jewels’ which were probably nothing more than cheap glass. One of those dust devils tore through the Park and Swap and sent everyone’s wares flying. We all scrambled to get our goods, and then helped the others around us. I ran to the lady selling jewelry and helped her get everything back together. Such excitement! Then she wanted to offer me a ring as a thank you, since I’d been admiring them for so long. I was so happy! They were a bit big for me, but there was one with a pink heart. . . .

I wasn’t allowed by my mother and had to return the ring. She refused to allow this person to give me anything. I understood part of it, she wanted me to not expect a reward, but I still remember that ring.

The best part about the Park and Swap was that after we loaded up what was left and went home, we would stop at the 7/11 and get a Big Gulp. And, even better, the fountain was in the open so we could control how much ice or soda to put in. I always mixed mine, as much as it grossed out my brother. The best recipe was half orange, a quarter sprite, and a quarter cherry soda. Sometimes I’d ad a touch of root beer on top for some bite. In fact, my favorite soda is still a mixture of orange soda, sprite, and root beer. Not that I’ve had it in years. But my brother would say I was disgusting and my mother wonder, until finally she caved and tried some and admitted it was indeed tasty. As for the others, my brother would get I think Sprite or Cola and my mother her Diet Coke.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Cats of My Life: Cleo


Cleo was a white cat with gray spots. The white on her forehead happened to form the first initial of my mother’s name, so she loved that. We had been mourning the loss of Yentl for a while and, except for One-Day Kitty hadn’t had much feline companionship. A friend of my mother told her how her neighbor was going to throw out a cat she got for a valentines gift. So, instead, we took her in.

Cleo was skittish at first. We were informed that the person who had her hadn’t fed her so all Cleo had eaten was what she could steal around the house. She was very smart and able to get into all sorts of food which she’d hide in corners and under rugs throughout the house. We named her Cleopatra because when we first got her she was sleek and long with big ears and that perfect cat face with sharp cheekbones and she looked every bit like a Pharaoh’s dream cat.

Even after Cleo became fat with our open feline food policy she still hid things around the apartment. We’d be walking and hear a ‘crunch’ and see nothing under our feet, but a closer examination would reveal a bump in the rug and a cracker underneath it. Once it was to the point where she would even raid the popcorn bowl taking up kernels in her cheeks as if she was a chipmunk.

We had Cleo spade through a clinic and she never looked the same afterwards, as her stomach just kind of hung.

Cleo had this huge green eyes that were just so full of life and energy and inquisitiveness. She loved to nurture things (like my stuffed bear) and would sit there grooming it until it was sopping wet. She licked the hair off of every fake mouse we gave her. She would also come up and pet you and she loved stroking her paws through my long hair. However, her true love was my brother. Never have I seen such devotion to him.

My mother and I joked how sickening it was. Cleo would follow him around like a lovesick teen and would start to cry if a door closed between them. Whenever he had a girlfriend over Cleo would stay in between the two of them and just glare with the evilest of cat eyes at the poor thing until she left. Then, to show my brother her displeasure she would turn her back on him the rest of the evening. Although, she always forgave him by bedtime and still curled up next to him.

One of Cleo’s favorite foods was cinnamon donuts. Whenever we left donuts on the counter we’d see nibbles taken out of the cinnamon sugared donuts, or sometimes a trail of cinnamon dust that led to her latest spot to hide food. These were also my brother’s favorite donut.

My brother used to love seeing how much he could do to Cleo. For example, he’d pick her up and wrap her around his neck like a mink stole. Then he’d drape her down his legs by her hind legs and all the while she’d just purr so loud the neighbors could probably hear.
She smiled too, this huge grin came on her face when she saw my brother.

Cleo was a cat ruled by her passions. She loved my brother, and she loved Whiskas cat treats. She would attack you if she even saw the can and would stretch up your leg to reach for them. She was very long and would pass my hip when she fully extended. However, if you didn’t give her the treat in time she would scale you with her mighty claws to get it. The joke was to hide them in a family members pocket or drop the treats down each others shirts as Cleo would be on you like a piranha.

The funny thing about Cleo was, as much as she adored my brother, she really just loved all men. I recall a time when the plumber came over and we heard him yelling for help from under the sink. Cleo had gone and lay down across his hands and he was afraid to move her. She ‘presented’ herself to many a man that came through the house. Women, she tolerated only if they didn’t take time away from HER men.

After about two years with Cleo my mother took in Penny. Penny was a lot scrappier a cat but Cleo still got to lick and groom her and we’d often find them curled up together, despite earlier fights. Penny did love to bug her ‘big sister’ though, and a primary way was to take away her fake mice and rip off the fur. I’ll never forget the time that Penny was zooming through the house while Cleo was licking her new mouse. Cleo saw her coming and quickly shoved the mouse under her body and sat on it. Penny sniffed around her a bit but, not seeing the mouse, left her alone.

As mentioned, Penny liked a good fight or two. But Cleo learned quickly how to dominate her. Whenever Penny charged Cleo would get up on her hind legs and grab Penny with her front paws, quickly flipping her over. With each charge Cleo would just turn her like a pro wrestler until Penny got the hint and figured out another way to torment her. One of these involved jumping off the fridge on Cleo’s head. But, as Penny had an incredibly long tail to Cleo’s short stubby one, Cleo took to standing on chairs and biting the tip of Penny’s tail as she sauntered by. However, once the fights were over they’d be cleaning each other’s ears and nestled together like a feline yin-yang symbol.

Cleo waved to you from the window. I loved that. Whenever we left in the morning she’d sit in the window and if you waved to her, her little dainty paw would go up patting the window in her feline wave.

Because my mother loved Cleo so much she got her regular shots. Penny (as she became my cat) did not. Unfortunately, this show of love was the downfall for our wonderful sprite. Feline Injection Site Sarcoma. They didn’t call it that back then, but that’s what it was. Shots were administered at the clinic by pulling up the scruff of the neck and jabbing in the needle, and that’s where the tumor started. I remember how sad my brother was the first time he felt it, but we couldn’t really afford any extra vet care and my mother figured it would go away. But it didn’t take long before the thing was the size of a fist and Cleo couldn’t even hold her head upright. My brother cried and screamed at my mother for not protecting her. Cleo was his true love, the unconditional love that he needed and he wasn’t ready to let her go. Soon the inevitable came and Cleo was put to sleep. I think my brother buried her at his current girlfriend’s house, though I’m not sure. I wasn’t party to her last rites.

I felt sad for my sweet Penny too. For about a week after Cleo passed she went meowing through the house searching every nook and cranny for the only other cat she’d known, and coming up empty. I didn’t have an answer to her inquiries as I, too, didn’t know what happened with the body.

picture taken from encylcopedia brittanica online.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dreams of Angels and Demons

Carlos Schwabe's "Death and the Gravedigger"


I think I have mentioned a couple dreams here. It’s funny how they’ve always been my indicator that something is wrong.

There was one recurring dream I had when I was younger, while I may not have many concrete images of the life lived, I do remember the one dreamed.

I think I was five the first time I had the dream, in the dream I am around age five. Then it came back a couple more times by age seven, and then again when I was a pre-teen, enough times for me to remember.

I was asleep in bed when I get woken by a storm outside. I go to my parent’s room because I’m afraid and my mother is sound asleep. I peer through the door and see my father. He is sitting on the side of the bed and there is a glass of water and a bottle of red pills. He swallows one and suddenly horns sprout out of his head, a tail grows. He turns to me as his skin is becoming ruddy and his eyes glow. He sees me and begins to chase me. I scream and run from the doorway.

My mother, hearing my cries, wakes up. She opens up the drawer and takes out a jar of white pills. She swallows one and her hair turns white and grows out long, a white gown forms around her, she runs out to help.

I am outside running in the rain and it’s very damp. I’m slipping on the grass as my father chases me throwing out curses, flames shooting from his mouth. My mother begins to chase him, yelling for him to leave us alone. I run toward a pine tree and am running around it slipping and sliding with my father/demon behind me and my mother/angel behind him. Then I slip and fall and he towers over me – and I wake up sweating.

Like I said – the first time was at age five. The dynamics were already there. Although I don’t remember much about my father – I know from this dream he wasn’t someone I felt safe around. There were times when I loved nothing more than using his arm as a pillow (in fact, one of my scarier “I can’t believe I dreamed it” dreams involved me cutting of his arm to use as my pillow, the rest of him living at another house. It was bloody, but comfortable).

I was five. Five years old and my father is a demon my mother an angel. I have a scar under my lip. My mother always said it was from when I was age five and she and my father were in their bedroom. My brother and I were peering through the door, when my brother pushed me. My father came barreling out of the room and hit me – sending my tooth through my lip. This is my mother’s story of the scar; I have no memory of the real event. But parts of it make sense for the timing of the dream which I do remember.

Dreams have always been more real to me than my past, maybe that’s why I remember some of dreams so much more clearly than I do other events in my life. They are the way my mind worked through so many happenings, told me in ways I could understand what was going on in my life.

I wanted my mother to be my angel, but even in the dream, no matter how many times I dreamt it she never saved me. It’s also kind of interesting to me, looking back, that she had to take a pill to help me. This kind of goes with the running bi-polar theory. When she was medicated, she was normal. When she was on her pills, whatever they were (she never really told us) she was ‘our mother.’



When talking with my therapist about this we discussed the main points - how I saw my mother and father- which is quite obvious by the whole demon/angel imagery. However, the most interesting to her was that my mother never saved me. In all of my dreams, in all of my stories, no one saves me. I want her to, but in the end I save myself, be it by waking myself up or through getting on with my life and just standing up against all odds. There was no white knight for me, not even an angel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Father

Salvador Dali's "Persistence of Memory"


I haven’t spoken of him much, because I don’t know much about him really. Maybe I should go about this the same way I did with my mother’s stories.

He had red hair. There was one time when he put his cup of coffee down on a shelf. Georgie knocked a sock into it. My mother took out the sock and no one told him and we giggled as he drank.

He had bad gas. There was one time he fell asleep in front of the television and the gas was so bad it sent the rest of us to our rooms. I placed a towel by the bottom of the door so the smell couldn’t get in.

One of my favorite foods has always been Gouda cheese. He bought some special for me one Easter. I ate the cheese with delight and pressed the red wax around my nose to make a mold. Until that point we only got Gouda at Christmas.

He loved science fiction and Star Trek.

Once my mom made me go to this slumber party. It was the daughter of the woman who ran the special school my mother had wanted us to be in. I felt so left out – I had no gift or money. My father came by with a carton of strawberries and saved the night.

My father was a good cook, he made an amazing pineapple upside down cake. I don’t think I’ve eaten it since then. My mother always complained about the mess after he cooked, but it was worth it.

He got really sick, much like my brother always did, and vomited when ill.

One of his eyes was hazel, the other blue.

He dressed as Darth Vader at some school carnival one year.

I don’t remember the sound of his voice.

When I was nine-years old he came to visit us. My mother had moved us to New York by then. We were in a park. My brother dared me to spit on our father’s head, and I did.

There were other times after that he came to New York, but we never found out until after he left.

My brother tried so hard to reconnect with him, to no avail.

Finally, when my brother was older, maybe after high school, our father came up with his new wife. He had three new kids. He agreed to see my brother. My brother returned with his heart now filled with hate. I think he said our father said he has a new family now and doesn’t want to deal with us anymore.

When my father found out I lived in Manhattan, I think he thought I had money. He sent a letter to my grandma who forwarded it to me. I had my friend read it. After reading it she told me I probably shouldn’t. He denied any part in anything bad in my childhood and wanted money. He also said he was dying from leukemia and the doctors said his children should be tested. That’s a lie. No doctor would want a donation from the person’s child, they are haploidentical and lead to way more complications then the Leukemia would. I don’t have that letter anymore.

When my brother heard about the possible leukemia, he still got tested to see if his blood matched.

His birthday and that of my mother and brother always fell on the same day of the week each and every year; mine was the only one that was different.

I don’t even remember what year he was born in anymore.

I wrote a poem when I was little, “When Pigs Fly.” One of the lines was, “I’ll like boys when pigs fly.” He referenced it in the letter.

We went to a double feature once; it was the Karate Kid and Gremlins. He jumped out of his seat when a Gremlin popped out of the cabinet in the film. We left early. I couldn’t get to sleep I was so scared so he slept on the floor in my bedroom (my mother never believed in letting children sleep with them in the adult bed).

I remember going to see Supergirl and one of the George Burns Oh God movies with him.

He drove a big white van as a courier for some job. I liked riding with him, but we weren’t allowed to be seen by his employer and had to duck a lot.

He was a traveling salesman at some point.

He hit me in the back with a pair of shoes.

He hid pornography in various places; I remember showing one to my mother.

When my brother was thinking about college, he found out my father was working at one he was interested in. Our father said if he applied he would deny the relation so he couldn’t get the discount. My brother ended up alternating between the military and community college. I still don’t know if he ever graduated.

I think at points he tried, his demons were just too strong.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Wedding

Edmund Blair Leighton's "Till Death Do Us Part," 1878

I was working in the buying offices of a major NY retail fixture when I found out my brother was getting married. My mother informed me of the bridal shower and such, I don’t remember if I was invited or not. I do remember I sent her a gift. Being in the buying offices meant free goodies sometimes, so I walked over to the wedding buyer and got some big white chocolates in the shape of gorgeous wedding cakes and shoes and a book about the history behind all the wedding myths. It was really interesting, it talked about why the best man and maid-of-honor was started (so demons would mistake them for the bride and groom and possess them instead, leaving the happy couple to remain so. Remember that if you are ever asked to be in a bridal party – you are sacrificing your soul for your friend’s.)

I put them all together with a card and my mother convinced me to send it to her to give out at the bridal shower.

Later my brother called and I found out my mother had tossed the card I had included and added one wherein she wrote “To my favorite brother, despite everything I love you and you will always be my big brother, I miss you” or something really corny (and personal and not for her to write) along those lines. I did explain that that was NOT the card I sent, which was more of a wedding one. I think she also changed the wrapping paper as she didn’t think mine was ‘festive’ enough. However, his future wife had loved the chocolates and they were both perusing the book with great interest.

I got an invitation for the wedding and was planning on going. Then my mother called me.

“Honey, don’t be upset,” she said, “but I talked to your brother and he said he only sent the invitation out of politeness. He’d rather you don’t go. Actually, he is afraid you’ll ruin the whole thing so doesn’t want you there. He just didn’t want to talk to you, so asked I tell you.”

Well, if that wasn’t the be all. After all we’d been through, he didn’t want me at the wedding?

I had the chance shortly after that to really affect his wedding, be it in a good or bad way. I live in the land of MTV and received a call from them. I was in a high profile retail chain after all. They were casting for a makeover show. If there was an event I was to go to, and wanted a complete makeover, they would pay for it and then film the event. “This is my chance!” I thought. “I can show them I am somebody, I can show them that others want me even if my family doesn’t!” MTV casting liked the idea of me going to a wedding of estranged family members with camera crew and new designer clothes in my back pocket. Drama! Intrigue!

For a moment I seriously fantasized about accepting, how often do you get to be on camera? To have people cater to you? But then I thought rationally and outside the realm of revenge. This was my brother’s day, his future wife’s day. I would be trumping a bride on her wedding day, and didn’t think that was right. If they wanted a quiet peaceful day and thought that meant no me whatsoever, then let them have it.

The day of his wedding my best friend invited me to see Tony and Tina’s Wedding, an interactive off-Broadway play. She had some free tickets. I ended up leaving the ‘reception’ in tears, sad that my own brother didn’t want me at his and here the actors were making everyone feel so welcome. My friend was mad that I left her (the reception had free food, no one straight out of college would have left that!) but I think in the end understood.

A while later either I called my brother or he called me, the end of it is we talked. It turns out that my mother told him I refused to come to the wedding if I couldn’t sing at it, and that’s why I wasn’t there. In the end, we were both listening to my mother and believing her, and she lied to both. My brother said he had wanted his little sister there and never told our mother he didn’t want me there. She had once again lied to us both to keep my brother and I apart and her in power, even if it meant hurting us on what was to be a happy occasion.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Special: Meowza


Today I’d like to present to you an amazing artist, known worldwide as one name only, Meowza.


This cool cat has been jamming on worth100.com, a mainly photoshop arts site, since 2003 laying down awesome photo chops and even more amazing drawings coming straight from his own mind (or headbone, as the kitty might say). I’m really partial to his early ones, such as Anniversary and victory where it seems as though the kitty is playing with styles. However his style quickly solidified and has become a standout ever since. Just look at the following:




But what first brought my attention to this artist were a series of cartoons based on a little stuffed kitty with hollow eyes by the name of – yup – Meowza. Many of them are on his old blog iamjapanese.blogspot.com, and you can see the progression away from the story of a girl and her stuffed kitty and on to more painful subject matters, as raw and passionate as the kitty himself.

There is a whole treasure trove of images at his portfolio and many cartoons at his old blog, so go have some Sunday Special time and check him out.

If you have a site you think would make Sunday Special, please leave me a link. This is something I'd like to continue each Sunday. Be it filled with cuteness, happiness, awesome artwork, or just plain positive energy feel free to let me know! Anything that would be of interest on a lazy hazy Sunday morning is up for review.


Happy Sunday!

Note: All images copyright Meowza and/or Meowza/Worth1000

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Happy Memories - The Garden


There was a time, I think it was while I was in high school, that at least economically there was stability. My mother had bought a house and it had a small backyard and grapevines. Most houses in that area had grapevines, as the original founders were old-world Italian. In the basement was a huge circular cement slab – the remnants of a press. There were two types of grapes – green and purple. My friends and I harvested them like thus:

One of us would hold the long-handled garden clippers and look for bunches. When she had placed the clippers around the stem, we’d call to the other who would stand under the bunch, look up, and hold out a bag. Then the person would snip, the grapes would fall, half would land in the bag and the rest bounce off the person holding the bag. We’d laugh, toss grapes at each other, and pick up those we could salvage. This would continue until we tired or the bag was full.

The trick to getting a good harvest is to prune, prune, prune those branches. Every November I went out with the giant clippers and cut back all the long winding branches. Then, I’d weave them into wreaths. At first it was just a couple for the house, then I started making them for all the older women at church. My mother would drive me to the craft store and I’d buy ribbons and little ornaments to decorate the wreaths. When my mother saw how much the ladies loved them, she started helping me buy the ribbons.

My mother had planted rhubarb in the backyard, claiming they are the heartiest and grow in any soil. I loved being able to just go outside, grab some rhubarb, clean it off, and then either dip it in sugar to sweeten it or suck on the sour stalk. I learned how to make strawberry-rhubarb pie, as that was my mother’s favorite. I’d use a pre-made crust and tapioca mix to thicken it. That was all it was – strawberries, fresh rhubarb, tapioca mix, and the piecrust.

One summer I really wanted sunflowers and so my mother bought me the seeds. They grew over six feet tall and there was so much pollen golden powder collected on the leaves. All the bees came to our yard and left so loaded we could see their pouches. The stalks were thick, like trunks, and after the harvest we were never able to get them all out after the season. When the time was right, I cut off all the sunflower heads and brought them to the attic to dry out. Once dry, I got all the sunflower seeds out and boiled them in salt, then baked them. Everyone in our church and neighborhood had fresh sunflower seeds that season. There were bags and bags of them. That was the only time I had sunflowers, as my mother and brother both have seasonal allergies and it was too much pollen for them.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Vague Recollections


There was a time when my brother and I were close friends. We would go down to a field near our house in Arizona and chase the jackrabbits around the brush. He was a cactus magnet. There is one species – Choia- the jumping cactus that would always attack his little legs as he ran by. The only time I got a cactus prickles in me is when I pet a Prickly Pear because the needles looked so fine. I remember school teaching us that even though Teddy Bear cacti have such an inviting name, we aren’t to touch them.

My father told us tales of the jackelope, a jack rabbit with antlers. We wanted to meet him and go to his home and talk to him. I think we believed him able to grant our wishes or something. I don’t know what we would wish for – I think to have some money, to have food. My brother loved bacon; he dreamed of bacon and begged for bacon. He knew many folk tales involving bacon. One of them involved the reason why the sea is salty, although I forget the rest.

There was a Mexican place that my mother loved to take us to when she had the money. I only remember getting the American platter or cheese crisp (cheese melted on top of a crispy tortilla). On your birthday they gave the kids a free piñata. For some reason, I enjoyed tearing off all the brightly colored paper to make it bare. My brother said I was the fastest at taking off the crepe paper. I have such a vague recollection of me choosing an elephant one. They would put a sombrero on you and take a picture to hang on the wall of the happy children. I have this image of a young me smiling with my elephant (to be de-frocked later) surrounded by that thick white border of Polaroid film embedded in some recess of my memory.

I remember my mother saying I always had the cleanest bedroom. It was yellow, I liked yellow. She said it was bright and a nice retreat for her, to come and sit on my bed while I was at school and enjoy the only clean spot in the house, the one that was so bright and cheery.

I also remember her commenting on it being so messy, years later, and lamenting what happened. She wondered where things changed that I went from the neat freak to total slob. I think she was trying to put two and two together, but by leaving herself out of the equation there was never an answer.

There was Owen who threw peaches at the chickens in his backyard.

There was me walking to the backyard of family friends where they were draining a chicken. The bucket held so much blood. I learned it’s easier to defeather a chicken when it’s still warm.

Juanita sometimes ate play dough, she said it was salty. It was; it was the homemade play dough of flour and salt and coloring.

My mother made a rule, “if you accuse your brother of stealing something, then find it later in your room, he gets to keep it.”

My mother said I was a brat a lot. Later, she said I was a bitch a lot. I remember my father calling me a dirty little ragamuffin. I’ve forgotten the context for most of this. The words do remain.

Of the few letters my father sent after the divorce, I just remember one where he wrote that it was so hot he bought a kiddie pool to sit in. He was wearing his shorts and the zipper rusted. I remember this because my mother said the letter was inappropriate. I don’t know if there is more to the letter that I don’t remember or not.

When old enough (and in a safe enough neighborhood) to trick or treat I had to hide my candy inside stuffed animals in my room if I didn’t want my brother to steal it. My mother usually got a good portion of our chocolate. One year, back in Arizona, she said she would make me my costume for school. I think I was in second grade. I wanted to go as a quarter. The coin, not a quarter-horse, but an actual quarter. She made me one out of cardboard, duct tape, and a lot of the silver crayon.

One year my brother was a chicken in the school play, or a turkey, something that had to hatch out of an egg. He couldn’t get out of the egg, it got stuck together.

I don’t know why all this just flitted through my head. I wonder if it means something? Does it have to or can it just be what it is, vague recollections of a life once lived, one so far removed now?


Note: I did bring these up in therapy and my doctor was happy to note that it is a picture of happy, sad, and just kind of there memories. There is no need to analyze them – they are what they are. But she did laugh, a lot, about me wanting to be a quarter. I think it served as a warning to her to not promise her kids she will get them whatever costumes they want because, who knows what a kid will say?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Mother's Stories

Painting by Segantini, Giovanni, 1894


I know my mother’s story. Many of her stories, actually. Sometimes they changed, some remained constant.

When people try and explain away behavior they go to the back story – the past affects the future. But beware of using history as an excuse for present actions; we’re supposed to learn from it not repeat it.

She was abandoned. She was given away to a friend down the hall. She never knew her mother lived two doors down.

She was beaten, suffocated, and molested by a drunken grandfather who pinned her to the wall and stuck his tongue down her throat. She had to sleep in the same bed as her “sister” who always peed the bed. Her younger “brother” ripped up her comics and used her coin collection to buy candy.

She was in love with a boy in high school and they decided to skip the prom and get married instead. But then her younger sister got pregnant (at 14) and ‘stole her thunder.’

That first husband beat her and forced her to move furniture while she was pregnant and then after a particularly brutal ‘session’ my possible older brother (She knew it was a boy since conception) was flushed away. His name was Christopher (the child).

They divorced and she threw rocks at his car but had already gotten him a good job with the city that he still has today. She went on to have a fling or two and met my father on the ski slopes.

My father lied to her and stole her violin and told her he was with the CIA. He kept her apart from all her friends and family. He never beat her, but after my brother was born he never touched her either. She knew something was wrong but wasn’t sure what and wanted to stay together for us kids until she realized he was bad for us.

She died on the table giving birth to me. Her soul flew up to the humming fluorescent light and she looked down as the doctor pulled me from her.

She found her real family late in life and she had a real brother and real sister and real nephews (who I found later through the SSDI – dead while his father was in jail). After the divorce from my father she found what she believed to be her real name and took it as her own. She looked through obituaries for family members and went to the funerals when one was mentioned.

She cried when the obituary didn’t include her among the ‘survived by.’

I can’t imagine what the funeral was like – her going in and saying she’s the daughter given away, be my family. But her maybe sister was there and they became friends off and on and my mother introduced her to us as our Aunt but by then I didn’t want any more of her family that she’d present to us then take away as not real family.

When the maybe brother got out of jail he visited and gave her a painting he made.

She was bad at math in school. She once brought home a friend of hers named ‘Pearl’ and her given-to-mama wouldn’t let them in because she was black.

She owned the original Spider-man comic.

She married to get away from the abuse.

She had to put down her favorite dog because it became too protective of her.

She once painted a house with barn paint and it soaked into the wood and became splotchy.

She once owned a craft store and would get paid up to 1000$ for her handicrafts.

I recognize some similarities between her and I. We both yearn for family, but I know I can’t find one in the past only the future, one I actively create. She didn’t learn this. I also know not to repeat the cycle of my childhood.

We’re both creative.

I’m not giving her the time or energy to ‘pretty up’ her stories with fancy rhetoric. They are what they are. Many sounded more like excuses as she told us of the abuse she suffered as a child. Many would come before she went on a rampage – the line “this is nothing like what I got; you want to know about abuse?” was frequent.

I’ll never know the truth, but I know the pain. I know she was pained. She wasn’t in a state to have children, but couldn’t relinquish the power she had over us – maybe the only power she had every known.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ruminations

Anchise Picchi's "The Mother"

Was there a conscious point, a revelation, a moment when I realized that my mother’s kisses couldn’t heal me anymore? And worse, when did I realize she was the main aggressor?

I wonder these things.

For so long it was believed that the mother’s kiss would make things better. “Come here baby, peroxide and iodine will burn but not mommy.”

But it was mommy.

When did I stop loving her, if I ever did? I did, I tried.

Once she told me she loved me, but didn’t like me, that there was a difference. She begged, pleaded that I tell her that I love her and got mad when I told her I couldn’t recite it on command, I didn’t want it to become meaningless. It was her argument that if I truly loved her I could say it whenever she asks. Somehow, I knew it to be wrong to make that routine.

I remember my brother asked me many times if I loved our mother. Is that an odd thing for one child to ask their sibling? Not the “I love her more” thing but, “do you even love her? Can you love her?”

I think he fought really hard to love her, much harder than I ever did, much harder than I wanted to. Sometimes I question my commitment. But the final time he asked, before he even finished the question I had said ‘No.’ He looked at me like I was a foreign creature.

“You answered so quickly,” he said.

But I already knew the question was coming.

My brother treated my mother with such disdain. He screamed and yelled at her, forgot every birthday, made every excuse to leave her company, came home only to ask for money or scream at someone some more. My mother bought him everything he asked for – numerous cars, college tuition, clothes. The money we had went to him, the money we didn’t have. But when my mother asked –

“Of course I do!” he’d say as he hugged her.

The money I had went to make her happy. There was one time a friend and I went out to see a movie, my mother had been sad (again). I bought her some chocolates and a Bat Mitzvah card (as I figured it was one she had never received). I came home to pitch black. I didn’t know what had happened. I didn’t recall it ever being that dark. I called for her; she was in the back room. I felt my way back there.

“What happened,” I asked.

“There was a power outage.”

“Why didn’t you get a flashlight, light some candles?”

“I didn’t feel like moving.”

“Did you check the circuit breaker?”

“I’m tired honey.”

“How long have you been sitting here?”

“I don’t know, a couple hours maybe.”

For two hours, while I was in the movie theater, she sat in the dark staring at an empty television screen all alone. It scared me. I think I either lit candles or got the flashlight or flipped that circuit breaker switch. I read her the card, showed her it. I don’t remember if she ate the candies then or not. She thanked me, the card made her laugh. She thought it was pretty; there were gold swirls on it.

I couldn’t say I loved her, but I can say I tried. Words end up meaningless, strewn all over the floor and walked on. They just fall from the lips and an errant breeze can blow them into the gutter. But actions – the cleaning, the cooking, the birthdays and cakes and teddy bears and everything my little child’s mind could come up with- they said something that she couldn’t hear. Yet, it echos in my mind, reminds me of how much I prayed one day to have a mother who could understand me when I spoke in my own way.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Identity Revisited

Image taken from www.militaryhq.com

This dialogue of race has come up again in one of my newsgroups. I do wonder how many people realize that the notion of race does not exist. Cultures, yes, but a biological race? Nope. That has been disproved many times. I think of it like squirrels – there are black and gray squirrels in my parks, and even white ones out there. Flying squirrels live in certain regions too. They just adapted for their regions, but all are squirrels. Just like we’re all people. So what’s the deal with focusing on skin color?

I think as much as America may try and deny it, it is still very much a black and white world. Yes, I hear people lament about good black men marrying white demon women and other such nonsense. As much as my mother lamented about relatives that were slaves she also told me never to marry a black man because he could never support a family. Thanks ma.

I have been broken down to body parts before by people seeking to identify me but on a visual level of perceived race. Since my ears are small but my lips big this one man determined I was black enough to date him. Uhmm, not after that, no. Then there are my Turkish (or Irish apparently, it’s a double row of eyelashes thing) eyes, my Dutch hair, My Native cheekbones. It’s like I’ve become an ethnic jigsaw puzzle to people.

Well, stop it. Stop being so darn preoccupied with it all. Plus, as most discussions in the news and print still seem to be about the whole black/white issue stop that too – it makes it seem like others aren’t as important and worse, what happens to those of us who are just big old mutts?

The ‘other’ category, that’s what. We get the choice of white, black, Hispanic, other non-Hispanic, native American/Alaskan/pacific islander and I think just plain other.

So what does that make me? Hasn’t it always been human nature to fear the unknown ‘other’?

As much as I have always believed I have no ethnicity and that’s fine, it means I can take from all of them, it does bug me at times as it makes me feel like I have no voice or worth in a society that prides itself on diversity – as long as the diversity is easy to categorize and place into little boxes. This leaves me out on the rug, so to speak, to be trampled on by others.

Which is why I’m sorely tempted to participate in the National Geographic Genomic Project to see at least my maternal line. To at least get an idea of the migration patterns of my ancestors and thus, have more to contribute to society on that side. It’s pricey for sure, but will it be worth it to have one less question to ask?

I did talk to my therapist about this and she asked why I do associate myself more with the ‘non-white’ other. In highschool I was in the Black and Latino Student Union. I even helped get the banner made and held up one end during the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parades. A friend and I were both supposed to join, but when she walked into the room she walked right back out and said she felt too uncomfortable. Admittedly, just walking in was a big step for her as she still referred to people as ‘coloreds.’ In college when I asked about the Black Women’s group I was told I couldn’t join because I wasn’t black enough. This really hurt me as it was a big part of my highschool social life, and how did my blackness change from one year to the next? But my skin tone tends toward a more ivory of shades, and that was apparently the deciding factor.

So in college I ended up in the Native American Coalition. It was great- there were a lot of elders and storytellers that came to talk to us over dinners. This introduced me to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian where I volunteered for many years afterwards.

When my therapist asked the question though, I had to think back farther, and I think the answer lies in the poverty of my youth. It’s true that ethnically, those in poverty are generally regarded as ‘minority’ status in America. I lived in Arizona, so we teamed up with Mexican immigrants as we went on searches for food. That is where I belonged. That is what the schools were comprised of. I remember once a richer neighborhood decided to bus some of us poorer students in, to provide diversity. I didn’t like the new school where I was an outcast or an oddity – a bused student on the free lunch program. When you have no money or a lot it seems race doesn’t matter, it’s only in the middle class where it does.

So I went from this land of poverty where others DID share and work together, even if my family was falling apart, to an upper echelon in college where that togetherness wasn’t really there as everyone was fighting for an identity, and physical ethnicity just seems to be the easiest one to grab on to.

Of course, I don’t have that ability to take the easy way out.

The ending of that therapy session was to get out and join some clubs and just start meeting people. Maybe join a walking group, or volleyball, or fern lovers, or whatever is out there just to start meeting people and seeing what I like. I can’t identify with any one ethnic group, and I’m not horribly poor so don’t have that, I’ve got my name. And I’m beginning to think that might be enough.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's Final Day!

Picture taken from amazon.com

Ugh, being a student in Accounting is no fun, no siree. But it was part of the conditions of my promotion at work, and as long as I get a C or better, they pay for the course. They even paid for the text book (which was a horrendous $150. Why do companies insist on ripping off those with the least money?)

There's actually a little backstory here. I would have been finished with this class already if not for one little thing - the original teacher was an idiot. That's being mean, I know. But a bunch off us started off in this course with another teacher. That teacher, well, he would never commit to an answer because he was too afraid to say someone was 'wrong' thus he kept on about how in accounting there can be multiple answers. Made some of us wonder if he taught the Enron folks. But our biggest complaint besides his inability to commit to any one answer was that he spent three -four weeks on one chapter that we had all completed in a prior semester, and we told him that. Then we told the dean that (there are no refunds after a couple classes have passed). The next week we moved on but the week after that he went right back to that chapter he seemed to have a love affair with.

This got me quite mad as I figured in the next class (which builds on this one) I'd need to know stuff we just weren't covering. I called the school back and they said that they could transfer me into the next section, which would be an accelerated course. I liked the time line of the one I was in because it met once a week after work and didn't coincide with anything. The next course met two nights a week for 3 hours(each night) for a total of 6 weeks. It also happened to be the same 6 weeks I had to teach my weekend course.

I took this option, knowing it would hurt for these six weeks, but also knowing I needed to get the class done and in a timely manner. The school told me to make sure the class I was in knew of their offer - a third joined me in the new class and I think others took the option to wait until the next semester.

That is why my final is today, and I have to get back to studying, and I will return to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. It's hard to learn so much in so short a time, especially when I'm not overly interested in it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Special

Viral Cuteness! How can you not love it? These images have been seen on so many sites, it's darn near impossible to find the original source. But darn if they aren't sweet and bring a smile to my face. Sunday smiles are great, so here's a couple more:



Now, for something else I'd like to add - a Sunday Special Site. One that, if you want something uplifting or cute or happy to read and look at, will give it to you in spades.

Today I present - Amel's Realm. I cannot help but smile each and every time I visit her site or read one of her comments on mine. Amel is the personification of positive energy. I love her Three Beautiful Things (and that they often go ABOVE the #3). But it's not just fluff, no siree, as she also tackles questions that come up in her daily life such as questioning cross-gender relationships. All is done with raw energetic honesty and a smile.

So if you want a special place to go online on Sunday's - let me suggest you visit Amel's Realm.

Now, if you have a site you think would make Sunday Special, please leave me a link. This is something I'd like to continue each Sunday. Be it filled with cuteness, happiness, awesome artwork, or just plain positive energy feel free to let me know! Anything that would be of interest on a lazy hazy Sunday morning is up for review.

Happy Sunday!

(Now, back to studying for me.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Keeping up with the Memes

Many thanks to Michelle of Crow's Feet for nominating me as a Rocking Girl Rocker! See the pretty badge? Thank you so much! And I do so love pink. There are just too many to nominate any one. Hopefully I'll update my blogroll one day (which might take as long as this took, yikes!) but each and everyone one of you guys totally rocks!

Now, I know I also got a couple Blogging Tips tags. But, honestly, I feel so new to this the only tip I really have it to 'blog honestly' so don't feel I have much to offer in forms of tips at this point.

Amel also tagged me with the Courageous Blogger Award, the rules as follows:

1) If you have received an award simply choose either the dark or light background image and save it to your files, then post it proudly on your blog!

2) Pass the award on to five other people, you can choose any of the awards from the series, you do not have to pass out the exact award you received. Choose whichever of the awards that you'd like to give out. You can give out one of each or five of the same one, whatever you prefer.

3) You can change the size and color of awards to suit your blog, that's up to you, it's your blog, just leave the titles the same.

4) Please link back to this post so that people can read these rules and so that the meanings of the awards will not be lost.

5) If you feel that you or a friend are deserving of an award and no one has given one to you yet then email me at sayhitochristy(at)hotmail.com and tell me about your website.

For my five:

David of authorblog is probably the reason why the Thoughtful Blogger Award was created. I can think of noone more helpful and encouraging to new bloggers out there. I'm happy to be under his wing - and with all the other bloggers under there, he must have some wingspan!
Cherished is an amazingly courageous blogger, looking stigma right in the eye and refusing to blink. As is Jason as he deals with his mental illness. It may be a relatively new blog (started last month I beleive) but no less worth a read. Let's hope he stays with it!


Which brings me to Jessica whose stories of her family are just so friggin funny and definately 'uplifting' as the inspirational blogger award calls for.

And, who can be more inspirational than a Spy Bear such as Bob? He tackles many adventures nose on and I'd love to be like him when I grow up. Or perhaps I can convince him I'm Lisa Simpson and get a bear hug one day. You know Bob, I am only a few degrees from Lisa? A former boss who gave me my bike, well, her father is in the Simpson's orchestra. . . .

These things aren't easy, are they?


Friday, August 10, 2007

A Continuation From Yesterday- Anxiety and Public RestRooms


Okay, I thought I’d give another example of simple pervasive anxiety and how I have to walk myself through it.

Public Bathrooms.

That’s right- public bathrooms. Every time I go in I check the door, make sure it says ‘women,’ and then for some weird reason once I’m actually in the bathroom think I went in the wrong one.

Of course this is ridiculous, especially at work when the men’s bathroom is down the hallway about half a block. But the minute the door opens I think I entered the wrong one and will get in trouble.

So I have to think: Okay, you checked the door twice, yes? You hear the copier; the copier is outside the women’s room. This is the ladies room. There were no urinals when you entered- this means it’s not the men’s room. And if it was? So what? You are in a stall, they can’t see you; you can’t see them. Everyone goes to the bathroom.

These thoughts get worse at school, as the men’s and women’s room are right next to each other, but again, there are no urinals when I enter so why the thought that I entered the wrong room? And more importantly, what does it really matter?

It’s funny to me because in life I have purposely gone into the men’s room many times, such as at plays and in restaurants when the woman’s line is too long. Nothing happens. Once, one guy was a bit off –put but then laughed it off. (I do make sure the room is empty by asking a man who comes out, and a friend usually watches the door, or a manager). So what harm is there? Heck, I’ve even had to cover a friend once when both lines were so long she went around back to the bushes. Nothing bad happened (though I suppose that time what she was doing WAS illegal) so why the anxiety?

The simple answer in my mind is that when that stress or whatever hits it tries to find a way to completely undermine myself and take away my self-control. Depending upon how self-confident I am, I might worry until I see some feminine shoes walk by, though I’m stopping myself faster now as the CBT comes in – the main thing being, I already checked the sign twice, I know the area, and in the end if I’m in the wrong bathroom who really cares?

It just annoys me at times that these thoughts creep in and can be so pervasive about such stupid little things.

Picture taken by Stefan Kühn from http://commons.wikimedia.org

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dealing With PTSD Symptoms


This was asked of me recently, how to handle it now that I’ve got it. To keep the monster at bay, as it were. During the worst of it I have ended up on the phone with my therapists crying uncontrollably as she walks me through breathing exercises. Okay, that happened once. Maybe twice that same weekend, the weekend before I decided to start the blog.

This blog actually does help because it has me going through the thought processes I need to practice and is part of the CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Not that I told my therapist I’m doing this online, although she knows I write every day.

What CBT entails, as is my understanding, is kind of rethinking the way I think. For example, When something unexpected happens my mind can immediately become fatalist and think a. I did something wrong (as I always do) b. This cannot end well but only in disaster. So when that thought pops in my head that I did do ‘something wrong’ I rethink the situation. Maybe a real world example is in order.

The other day I had to deliver some letters to a bigwig in the company and was given detailed instructions for his secretary. I had forgotten to write down his office number, so went by memory. When I get to the office I think is his it’s a little dark, and there’s no sign on the door. I peak my head in and see no secretary, so I look around but per my memory, it has to me his office. So I walk in again and see another open door and an older gentleman sitting there. He asks me what I want, I ask if this is so and so’s office, he says yes. Then I ask if I am speaking with so and so, he says yes. So I give him the documents to sign, he tells me he has a meeting but he’ll call me when he’s signed them.

My first thoughts were that I did something wrong, that he’s going to call my boss and tell her he was offended in some way because I didn’t know who he was. I immediately go to this whole scenario where she’s mad at me because I made the department look bad. So using CBT I have to really walk myself through the situation again: I have never met him, so how am I supposed to know what he looks like? I was respectful the entire time and completed my task. There was nothing that I did wrong. But, because the secretary wasn’t there and the plan had the slight deviation, my first thought is of doom.

This is what I’m practicing until it becomes second nature. As the first thought is doom and failure I have to walk my way through the thought process and realize that nothing bad happened and see the other options that are there for me. But first this means paying close attention to those initial thoughts as they creep into my mind.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Happy Memories


Here are two I remembered the other day:

One:

I forgot why, but my brother, mother, and I were running toward the doorway. We lived on the second floor of an apartment building. We were in a happy mood, laughing. We all wanted to be the first out. I was young then, not yet a teen. Well, we all hit the doorway at the same time and got stuck. I remember the force of them on either side hitting the doorway lifted me off the ground and I was kind of dangling there between them. We laughed about it, and somehow got ourselves unstuck. But it is just funny to think that we actually got stuck in a doorway.

Two:

Standing before my mother before even hitting age eleven, I was sick of her already. Every day was a trial and here was the final insult. Despite hearing from doctors the terrors that milk can cause my delicate system, she has taken my hand and filled it with whipped cream insisting I eat and enjoy it like she and my brother. I stare at the hand covered in rapidly deflating aerosoled milk product and then turn to my mother. Finally, I do it. I raise my hand and push the whipped cream into my mother’s face. I feel my greasy palm as it slides from her eye and brushes against her smooth ski slope of a nose.

“Ah! My eye was open!” she screams. But then she begins to laugh. I begin to laugh. My brother takes what’s left in his hand, warm whipped cream and saliva, and pushes it into my hair. I yelp and grab the can, spraying it at him, covering his worn G.I Joe khaki green shirt. My mom has washed out her eye, the rim red, as she grabs me. For a moment there’s tension. When not turning the television channel fast enough gives rise to a hanger across the back, I know that whipped cream in the eye must mean an even harsher punishment.

Silently, my mother takes the canister from my hand and sprays a huge mound into hers. I watch it cover her life line, her health line. The mound of soft cream towers above her slightly curled and calloused fingers. My brother watches with a wary smile and whipped cream dripping down his chest. Then she rubs the whipped cream on my shirt. I feel her palm press into my chest and stop for a moment above my heart. I feel her pulse and the cool of the cream penetrate my thin clothes. When she lets go, my brother and I chase each other around the house, my mother trailing behind, until the canister is empty.

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Sexualizing of Children


Here’s something that bugs me, and makes me pause. What are people doing to their children? Because, it seems to me, they are becoming sexualized at a young age. And I don’t just mean the whole JonBenet beauty pageant thing. That has been going on for a long, long time. I mean the clothes and other accouterments of childhood and how they have changed.

In my neighborhood, everyone wore hand-me downs so it was mainly a lifestyle of tee-shirts and ripped pants. But, even as I aged and could afford my own clothes it was mostly the same thing – with perhaps a skirt or two thrown in. Modesty was the key. Now I see these kids on the subways, even in the stroller wearing tube tops and mini-skirts. Why does a two year old need a tube top that bares her belly button (and, professes in silver studs that she is a ‘naughty girl’) and a mini-skirt that her diaper sticks out from?

I really don’t understand this. Sites like watchdog.us and others track sex offenders in America. We have the Amber alert because if we don’t find a child within twenty-four hours they probably aren’t alive. The children are our future and our worry, so why the hell do we dress them up as a pedophile’s dream?

But more troubling I suppose is what they know at a young age and the earlier onset of puberty. Working in the schools, I have heard of children as young as seven I think getting their periods. Can you imagine? The blame now is being laid on processed food, and I’m sure there is a link, but has to be more to it.

Plus, there is sexuality in a lot of children’s programming. Even some cartoons I’ve breezed through show the girls wearing little more than bikini’s (I’m thinking of The Winx Club with this one). I hear kids joking around about sex on the subways, sidewalks, and these are pre-teens and younger. It really is discouraging.

So my question is this – as more and more issues become prevalent in the news with regard to the sexual abuse of children- what is the root cause?

The media loves to blame figures such as Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears for this ‘slut chic’ clothing line and life style that’s out there. But the media only airs what makes them money, so if mothers weren’t buying their three year olds thongs then they wouldn’t be made and advertised on television.

Maybe I this is a chicken and egg question. If television didn’t advertise the glamour of sexualized children and stores didn’t sell baby g-strings that were made by a company, would they still be in style or do the stores make them because people want and do buy them enough that the news can see a moneymaking opportunity and runs with it? Is the media pushing the trend of the people? Which is the mirror at this point?