Thursday, October 23, 2014

IS IGNORANCE REALLY BLISS?

I was just thinking about how quickly so many people seem to jump on the paranoia bandwagon when it comes to things like the threat of a possible Ebola outbreak in the United States or the dreaded, yet over-hyped Avian influenza (bird flu) from a few years ago. They'll run out and buy hand sanitizer and face masks, yet when the AIDS epidemic hit about 30 years ago it was and still is in many cases next to impossible to get people to practice safe sex. Wear a condom? I don't think so!

So what is it about sex that seems to make a person's judgment fly out the window? Does playing Russian Roulette heighten the sexual experience? Do people's keen sense of denial keep them from believing that something like AIDS happens to other people and not to them? I guess it's the same thing with someone who smokes and then is actually surprised when they're diagnosed with lung cancer or people who eat nothing but junk food and sit on their butts and then wonder why they've developed Type II diabetes or heart disease. So what does it take to make people actually connect the dots and realize that health warnings whatever they are pertain to everyone and not just an unlucky few? Is ignorance really bliss or is ignorance a silent ninja assassin?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A RESILIENT HEART

I'm sure a therapist would have a ball analyzing my poetry.  Some say the eyes are the mirrors to a person's soul, but since you can't see my eyes, I offer up my written words as testament to who I am and what I have lurking in the darkest recesses of my being.  I seem to always be very closely connected to what the heart feels and how truly resilient it is.  A person's healing capacity always amazes me...especially my own.

This week's Words for Wednesday again brought me mental images of love and struggle, but also of somehow being a better more open person because of that pain and struggle.  The words this week in which I wove a poem were: 

Utopian
plagiarism
necktie
automatic
spinster
devout

OR

navigation
tribulation
propagation
explanation
sensation
adulation


A Resilient Heart
 


She had many days of Utopian love
Where her heart’s plagiarism was written proudly
With many empty, unanswered "I love you’s"
A stabbing sensation to be broadcasted loudly.


Love at first sight was the automatic explanation
For adulation on love’s battle field so gory
She was a decorated warrior, a lonely spinster
Upon whose chest she wore tribulation with such glory.

Although navigation along the sensual garden path
Without propagation she was barren and deemed quite empty
But rich without love’s flowery neckties and glittery things
This devout spinster’s heart was resilient, pure and free.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE UNSHUTTABLE PIE HOLE

I took my mother to see Gone Girl yesterday. The movie definitely had a different twist to it and Ben Affleck is easy on the eyes so it was enjoyable/entertaining on a several levels.  But what I admire most about Mr. Affleck isn't the ease at which he does with any onscreen nudity or his obvious eye candy appearance, it was that he wouldn't/couldn't be filmed wearing a NY Yankees baseball cap (some things just aren't done under any circumstances especially if you're a Boston Red Sox fan).  I also admire his extensive political knowledge and wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't throw his hat into the political arena someday.  Let's face it, stranger things have happened. 

While my mother and I were at the theatre for our girls' afternoon out, we encountered what probably is a quite common problem for people attending any movie regardless of the time of day. Let me ask everyone a rhetorical question...why do people to go to the movies only to sit there and talk all the way through the movie? Furthermore, if you are going to talk all the way through the movie, why not sit up back in an almost empty theatre so you won't bother those people sitting close by with your constant talking?  Perhaps that makes too much sense for someone who obviously has a problem with playing well with others and coloring within the lines!

We had a couple behind us that drove us crazy because they wouldn't stop talking. I shushed them a few times to no avail. I guess I've gotten soft in my old age, but since you never know when you're pushing anyone too far and you can't second guess anyone's reaction to confrontation, I probably should have gone out and gotten the manager to do my bidding for me, but honestly, I didn't want to miss any of the movie. 

I really think along with the before movie announcement to turn off your cell phone, it should include an announcement about keeping your pie hole shut throughout the movie.  I know, I really need to stop being so idealistic, but hoping and dreaming seems to be part of my basic genetic make up. My idea probably wouldn't be much help because some people are just plain rude and think rules, laws and common courtesies apply to everyone else and not to them.  So where are the Duck Tape Police (DTP) when you really need them and what would Emily Post do in this situation?  Does the Emily Post Movie Etiqutte Manual have a section covering the unshuttable pie holes of the world?  If not, Ms. Post, it's time to update your material.

Friday, October 17, 2014

THE CIRCLE OF LOVE


I've been "away" for awhile and it feels like I really have come home in more ways than one. Jumping back into Words For Wednesday, the words for this week are:

insubordination


inducted
despair
plethora
museum
retribution

0r the phrase, 

coldly clinical...cunningly calculating

In lieu of my recent family drama, I felt it was appropriate to use the words to express the emotions and  journey my heart has travelled recently. 

 
 
















Was it just life’s insubordination
A lack of emotional coordination
An imbalanced heart
Caused by an unbalanced start
Love can be so tilted and twisted
We’re inducted then resisted
A plethora of our heart’s delights
At times range from despair and fright
Walls are built and become a museum
A place to observe, but never just be them
Our heart begs to think, but don’t feel
Because nothing is real
Nothing is real
Nothing is real
And then retribution
Our brain’s contribution
For love gone bad
When we’re sadly mad or madly sad
Whichever we are
Our heart’s gone too far
When that line is crossed
And our feeling are tossed
To the wind
To the wind
To the wind
Then we reset and begin
Again and
Again and
Again.
Endlessly we love
Infinitely above
My heart has endured
And my pain has been cured
Again and
Again and
Again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

I don't really know where to start this post.  My thoughts are pretty jumbled right now.  I think it's a combination of not feeling well and being emotionally drained, so please bear with me while I stumble through writing about my latest ordeal which of course involves some rather drama-filled family issues, but aren't all family issues drama-filled? It seems to be the nature of the beast!

About 8 years ago my mother had some sort of break with reality.  It was as if aliens had swooped down and abducted the woman I had always known to be my mother and replaced her with a body double void of a mind.  She was merely an empty pod for the better part of several years.  Naturally, the specialist she had been sent to see quickly diagnosed her with Alzheimer’s and put her on meds to stabilize her condition and to slow down what he claimed would be a steady downward spiral.  I never agreed with that diagnosis for many reasons and eventually I weaned her off the meds she had been prescribed for it.  Several years later the same doctor admitted that he had been wrong and was amazed by her "recovery".  With a lot of hard work and persistence I pulled my mother back from wherever abyss she had fallen into during her breakdown. I have to admit there were times I thought I was ready for a rubber room, but I hung in there and did what I thought was right regardless of what the doctors told me.  Today, I'm glad to say my mother is thriving at the young age of 86.  The moral to this part of my story is that sometimes you have to follow what your heart and instincts say and cast aside what science and logic dictates.

I try very hard to be a good daughter.  Yes, I fall short of perfection on many levels, but there's one thing I can say with absolute certainty...my heart is always in the right place.  Because we have friends and family who live in Maine, I try to take my mother there each year so she can spend time with them.  As a person ages it becomes more important to be with all the people they love and for that reason I try to be accommodating to my mother's needs.  This year our finances didn't allow for our annual trek "home".  I felt bad about it, but if you don't have the money, you don't have the money!  It's as simple as that!

In July while visiting my Aunt Nancy she asked me why my mother and I weren't going to Maine this year.  After explaining to her why I felt we couldn't afford the trip this year, she made an incredibly generous offer by insisting that the three of us make the trip to Maine together and she'd pay all the expenses.  Because I knew how important it is to my mother to go to Maine, I agreed to let my aunt do this for us.  My aunt is like a second mother to me and after her husband died over 6 years ago, I stepped in and started doing things for her that her daughter and only living child was either unable or unwilling to do.  As a result of our increased contact we formed a very close, loving bond and she became even dearer to me than she already was.  She recently made the decision to move to Florida so she'd be closer to family so she wouldn't have to be alone any longer.  Her decision to move was something my entire family and I was looking forward to and it was a decision she knew would make it easier for all concerned when her health problems started to worsen and she'd need help.  Because I love her, I was willing to be that go-to person for her.

Let me now fast forward to our vacation from HELL! The first of two indications that the month we were supposed to spend in Maine would be anything, but paradise was upon arrival I got sick and had to eventually seek medical attention because my own efforts to nurse myself back to health didn't result in me getting better...in fact, I got worse.  And the second key indicator of what would lie ahead was when my aunt informed me that my mother and I would have to start paying our own way the first day after we arrived in Maine.  Yes, you read that last line correctly!  Paying our own way is rather difficult to do when we have very limited resources and was the reason why I had decided against a Maine trip this year.  Paying our own way wasn't what she had initially discussed when she insisted that the three of us take this trip together nor was it ever mentioned until we reached our destination.  She had offered to pay for everything and it was only because of her generous offer that we had agreed to make the trip to Maine.  After being completely blind-sided I took what little cash I had and bought groceries so we could eat while we were there.  I never expected nor wanted to eat out every night so cooking our meals and dining in was no big deal to my mother and I because it's what we do every day anyway.  My aunt on the other hand likes dining out and although she did eat the meals I prepared, she turned her nose up at the thought of having to eat leftovers and wanted me to cook a different meal each night.  Because I was sick the thought of leftovers appealed to me because I simply was worn out and didn't feel like cooking every night. 

What became glaringly apparent quickly was that my aunt is an extremely difficult person to please at times and she expects everything to be her way right down to what's watched on television and how loud the volume is.  Nothing at all seemed to please her and she had no problem with hatefully telling us that she was not satisfied with anything about the trip and wished she hadn't come. Her obvious unhappiness about the trip made both my mother and I feel bad for agreeing to let her do this for us, but we didn't know what to do to help remedy the situation and felt like we were treading on thin ice all the time. 

Our first night in Maine my aunt had a major meltdown (crying, yelling, cussing, etc.) and I expected her to ask to be taken to an airport the next day so she could fly home, but the next morning she perked up and surprised me by continuing on with our journey. Each time she expressed negative feelings it was as if all the things that troubled her from years past had just happened 5 minutes ago.  As one day slipped into the next, negative feelings seemed to be all she had and the dark cloud hanging over her seemed to darken even more.  Each time we listened to her tales of woe from her troubled childhood, I reminded her that I too had grown up in the same environment so I understood how she felt.  I encouraged her to let go of those feelings she had been harboring so she could be at peace.  And each time she raved about what a miserable marriage she had for 50 years, she never once felt any relief that she now was free of that misery.  It was as if her husband, my uncle was just in the other room and not dead for over 6 years.  It was like he still had a strong grip on every aspect of her life.  Each time she ranted I told her we'd support any decision she made and that we only wanted her to be happy. Ultimately, she needed to do whatever she thought was the right thing for her.  I guess the right thing for her was to spread as much misery as she possibly could and use my mother and I as a whipping board for all the things that had been troubling her.

All the while as we visited with people we had wanted to see while we were in Maine, she refused to allow us to include her in any of our plans.  Once when we had close family friends come to where we were staying, she went to her room and refused to come out briefly just to say hello and meet the people.  Her actions caused an awkward situation for my mother and me because we were continually put in the position of having to explain why she didn't want to meet and spend time with anyone.  Although she adamantly told me that "those people weren't her relatives and she didn't know them", at least half of them were relatives...she just obviously didn't feel the need to get to know them.  She also didn't see why I had to explain anything to anyone regarding her or her actions.  She even went as far as not being able to see that if my mother and I had done the same thing while visiting her at her house, she'd be embarrassed and probably angry at our actions.  I guess she decided right thing to do was to dowse herself in Opium perfume even after being asked nicely to spray it sparingly because it has such an overpowering scent.  I guess the right thing to do was to constantly pour chemicals like straight bleach down the drains even after just about running us outside due to the caustic fumes and being explained to about the delicate nature of a septic system.  No matter what was said about anything, she seemed to have no regard for my mother and me whereas most people automatically know strong perfume or bleach fumes in small confining spaces and people don't mix well.  She honestly seemed hell-bent on making our time in Maine as miserable as she possibly could on every level possible.

Needless to say I was confused at first by her actions and that confusion developed into disappointment and hurt.  My hurt and disappointment only developed into anger at the very end after she apparently felt no need to cut me any slack because I was sick.  All the while she refused to do anything with us; she continually talked about her other two nieces, Debbie and Peggy, my cousins and constantly critiqued my brothers as being assholes for not spending any quality time with their mother or helping me with her care.  She ranted and raved and called them everything but human, yet when she talked to my cousins on the phone honey would drip from her mouth as she told them she loved them and invited them to come see her.  Instead of telling them how she really felt she opted to go the route of being two-faced and then take her anger and resentment of them out on my mother and I.  The first week we were there my cousins didn't call her and I thought I was going to go crazy from listening to her constantly bitch about them.  I finally went to see Debbie and asked her to please call our aunt because she was sitting there feeling as if no one cared about her and quite frankly she was making us miserable because of it.  My cousin promised to call and for a moment I thought all had been righted in the universe and the planets were back in alignment when Debbie called my aunt and they made lunch plans. She actually smiled and I saw a glimmer of sunshine amongst all her darkness and gloom.   

But then something happened...all hell broke loose and it was a like a boomerang gone wild.  It came swinging back with a vengeance to blindside me with what came next.   She felt that my cousins should come visit her and not the other way around even though Peggy has lung cancer and I'm sure she isn't up to making house calls and lengthy visits.  All I listened to constantly was how neither Debbie nor Peggy ever comes to see her and how they never call her and that the phone and road runs both ways.  She carried on about how none of them even expressed their condolences when her husband died and why should she care anything about them.  Listening to her talk about them got me thinking and reality finally smacked me in the face.  Not once in the last 6 years in all the times I've ran back in forth between Florida and North Carolina to check on her, to visit her and to spend time with her so she wouldn't be so lonely and so she'd know she had people who love and care about her has she ever made a trip to see me in Florida.  The road runs both ways, does it?  It looks to me like the road only runs the way she wants it to run!  As for the telephone working both ways, she rarely called me even though I called her at  least 2 or 3 times a week unless one of my many health problems was acting up and then I'd suffer in silence because it's difficult putting on a happy face when you don't feel good.  I guess the road and phone doesn't run two ways after all and has taken me a long time to realize that.  I also have rethought my feelings about how inattentive, selfish, self-absorbed and unfeeling her daughter has been in her life.  It really makes me wonder if all the harsh, hateful things she's said about her daughter, Sharon are really accurate.  It makes me wonder where the truth really lies, but that's something I'll never know at this point.  After the meltdown about my cousins she sat in her room for the next 2 days with the door closed and she refused to speak to my mother or me.  After two days of sulking, I guess she got tired of being confined and then the sun came out once again and she brightened her disposition once again.  At that point she expected my mother and I to change gears along with her and go do what she wanted to do like look at fall foliage, visit lighthouses and basically anything that didn't involve our relatives or friends. Her final shift in gears came only after her calling the airline to find out how much it would cost to fly home.  By then my mother and I had already decided that we wanted to go home and would do so as soon as she got on an airplane.


Most people can expect to be reprimanded for being rude, but what do you do when just the opposite happens? Okay, I never claimed to be perfect and my manners probably could use some polishing, but I have to admit I was utterly astonished for being harshly reprimanded for saying "thank-you" to her at appropriate times and she declared “thank you” as a forbidden response to use ever again.  All I know is that I'm just not cut out to be anyone's whipping board especially when I'm sick.  I know I should have just left it alone when she kept at me.  I know I was rude and disrespectful by finally blowing up and telling her "I AM DONE!" I was wrong to tell her that she ruined our vacation and it was probably unnecessary to tell her that she's a miserable bitch who isn't satisfied with anything.  I can admit when I'm wrong when I am wrong, but I feel justified in standing up for my mother and me after being subjected to two weeks of non-stop agony.  I believe my aunt owes us a HUGE apology, but I can safely say that apology isn't something we'll ever get and that's okay.  I know how stubborn she is and I truly am okay with how things ended.  I gave it my all, but my all wasn't good enough.  I can accept that.  Just like I can accept that in the long run it's her loss and not ours.  Sometimes you have to cut your losses and walk away from people you love. Sure, it hurts, but time will heal the wound. 

Unfortunately, she decided against taking a plane home and we had a very unpleasant road trip back to North Carolina to drop her off.  As I drove away from her house headed towards Florida it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders and it didn't matter that I still had 500 more miles to drive until I was home again and in my own bed so I could be sick in peace.