Wednesday, December 08, 2010

BON VOYAGE


I'm off to the Virgin Islands. Be back December 18th.






Gratitude statement: Is one really necessary?

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

ENDING THE SILENCE

I've had several thoughts regarding my last couple of posts and the comments left on them. First, I believe adversity doesn't build character. It reveals character. I always told my children delayed gratification builds character and they responded by telling me that they must have a lot of character. I know anyone reading this will immediately feel bad for them because they didn't get every toy or piece of candy the moment the thought/desire popped into their heads.

I often say I wouldn't be who I am without all I have experienced, but I really cannot not say who or what I would have been today with the love and guidance that was absent in my life during my younger years. Although I suspect somehow I would have arrived at being the same person I am today with maybe a little different surroundings. Perhaps, what I have wanted most in life wouldn't have been so allusive if I had better examples of what a healthy relationship is or if I had been taught about success and failure.

Second, any speculation I may have regarding my father's choices in life would be just that...speculation. Quite frankly, my father is a question mark to me and the person I remember is being remembered through the eyes of a child. My father seemed to be emotionally bankrupt and closed off to having healthy interpersonal relationships. I can connect the dots and draw a picture that shows he became the same father he had growing up. I can safely assume that the alcoholism that he battled all his adult life had a large part in retarding his parenting skills, but as down as I have been at times in my life, I have always loved my children and made sure they knew it. I never tried to hide behind the "parents are perfect" facade or to rule my household with a "do as I say and not as I do" mentality. I taught my children that everyone makes mistakes and it's okay to make mistakes as long as you learn something from them. The difference in our parenting styles may be why my children know I am approachable and on their side every step of the way and why I never felt that way about my father.

Last and I think most important is that I can say with 100% certainty that suffering in silence is wrong on many levels. Nothing positive comes from it. I erected a rubber wall so everything bounced off it. It took me a long time to recognize that lack of emotion is not a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness. Strong people are able to cry and reach out. Strong people believe forgiveness is the true key to the kind of strength that pulls a person through adversity. Strong people are able to feel pain and then reach the other side with the determination to find the true peace forgiveness gives.

Gratitude statement: Although my father remains a mystery to me, I have forgiven him for not being the father I needed him to be. I'm truly grateful for being strong enough to forgive the people who have hurt me most in life.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

WHAT'S THAT SPELL?


For me, it spells nostalgia. For millions of others, it spells a "cheer" heard by a whole generation. I recently found a photograph of when I was very young. It's the only one I've ever seen of myself that I actually looked happy. I even double checked with my mother that the smiling girl was me and not a body double or an alien parading around pretending to be me. She assured me that the happy young lass on the right hand side of the photo wearing the dress is me.

Here I sit trying to remember the "happy" times of my childhood. One thing for sure is that my father was not part of my happy memories. You know, it's such a shame he merely was the adult male who lived under the same roof as me. He truly epitomized what a non-participating parent is. I started thinking about what living with someone like that does to the whole family dynamics and how over time being "invisible" to someone who should love you and protect you makes being happy a difficult thing to achieve.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized my father never attended any of my three brothers' sporting events. What father wouldn't be proud to have jocks for sons and especially jocks who excelled at any sport they participated in? Who wouldn't be proud to have a son who was captain of the football team or a son who boxed in the Navy and was the Golden Gloves heavyweight champ of the state of Maine? Who wouldn't be proud to see their sons play college football or basketball? My father never attended any event and now I wonder how that effected my brothers... What kind of message did that send to them?

Gratitude statement: Although some things are very painful to remember, without the pain and suffering in silence I wouldn't be who I am today.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

GIVE ME A "K"

I realize the aging process isn't easy for anyone. Who isn't what they were 20 or 30 years ago? I think what I fear most about aging is the possibility of becoming like my mother. Although her general health is good, she refuses to do anything. She expects everyone to do everything for her and when asked to do simple things, she just doesn't do them unless she's nagged into it. She takes no responsibility for anything nor does she participate in anything unless I make her participate.

Everyone shrugs their shoulders and looks quizzically to me for answers. Why is Rosalie the way she is? To date that seems to be one of life's unsolved mysteries! Answers? I've got a few for anyone who really wants an answer. The aging process is as hard or maybe even harder on the people who care for the elderly. Yes, I love my mother. It's why I'm here, but most days I feel like I'm being punished. Some days, I feel almost tortured! So is this my atonement with the universe?

Isn't being a good daughter enough or does this rite of passage and role reversal come with a price tag filled only with sadness and frustration? I believe my mother wants to have some major health problem and won't be satisfied until she does. I believe my mother thinks everything should be on her terms and takes things for granted. Regardless of what I say or do and believe me I have said and done everything humanly possible, it makes no difference.

I know there will come a day when I no longer have a mother. When I look towards that time, my heart is filled with regret because what should be a time for her and I to have a strong, loving relationship instead is more like a Custer's last stand. Each step forward always comes with two steps backwards. Maybe if I were 2 or 3 people I could stay completely on top of everything, but I turned in my Wonder Woman boots several years ago.

A simple trip to have a pedicure and manicure yesterday turned into another grim reminder of just how resistant she is towards anything I suggest or ask her to do. I helped her take her shoes off and rolled up her pants legs before she got into the chair to have her pedicure. While rolling her pants legs up I got a well placed slap in the face. Oh, it's wasn't one that might rattle my teeth, but it stung enough to make me brutally aware of her intentions to do nothing.

To make it easy for her I placed a bottle of body lotion on the end table next to where she sits many months ago. The bottle is sitting right next to the telephone and practically stares her in the face screaming, "PLEASE USE ME". I've tried to talk to her and tell her that her skin is dry and needs lotion on it daily. I've emphasized without it, her skin will eventually start to break down and get sores where the dry, flaky skin is. I've learned to assume nothing with her because unless I nag her to do even a small task like that, she won't do it. Needless to say, when I rolled up her pant legs staring at me was the skin of a reptilian creature.

Making a list of daily activities for her is out of the question because she has informed me that is an insult to her. So here I sit bitching about it on my blog...ain't life grand?

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for the week I'll be away on a cruise to the Virgin Islands in December.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Monday, November 22, 2010

GIVE ME A "C"


In the past, my impulsivity has gotten me into trouble. I'd like to think I've changed somewhat or at least, mellowed with age, but last Sunday while on my way to go grocery shopping, my poor impulse control reared its ugly head. There in front of the Walmart parking lot were two ladies in a pickup truck selling shih tzu puppies.

I'm by nature a cat person. Five furry felines call my house home. Yes, I have the potential to become that crazy old cat woman, but last Sunday on a whim, I bought a 3 month old puppy. I immediately named her Fenway. What else does a Red Sox fan name her dog? Believe it or not, she's starting to act like a cat. Resistance is futile the cats keep telling her and because she's outnumbered, I expect anyday now she'll learn how to purr!

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for the strong sense of love and compassion I developed towards all animals as a child.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, November 19, 2010

GIVE ME A "U"

In the process of doing some much needed remodeling and repair work in my house, I discovered that Murphy's Laws are alive and well and have taken up residence in each of my projects.
1. Nothing is as easy as it looks.
2. Everything takes longer than you think.
3. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

It all started in the downstairs bathroom which originally was only going to be a simple job of replacing a couple of tiles that had cracked when my father had fallen on them. The box of extra tiles that had been stored in the garage were old, discolored and warped, but to save money I said, "do the best you can with what we have on hand." Silly woman! The job turned into a brand new tile floor, a paint job to match the tile and some plumbing which required removing the cabinets to get to the wall behind the shower. My downstairs shower had no more than a trickle of water pressure. After the toilet seat is replaced and a few other small details, the bathroom will be a thing of beauty!


Next, I came up with the brilliant idea of turning the den into the dining room. The den was virtually wasted space that no one used and I envisioned holidays meals with the entire family sitting around the dining room table in that room. What this visionary didn't count on was what seemed like a fairly simple job to level the floor where I thought the foundation had settled turning into the job from hell. The whole concrete slab is having to be busted up and the fill dirt underneath that has washed away (thanks to the lovely Florida torrential downpours) over 70 years since the house was first built has to be replaced (Of course, houses aren't built like that nowadays...thanks goodness!). Then a new concrete floor needs to be poured. Finally a self leveling mixture is used on top of everything with the finishing touch being either a hardwood floor or ceramic floor tiles to complete the job before moving onto the next room. What I've learned is that anything is possible with enough time and money! And what's a little rebar and concrete rubble in the grand scheme of things?

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for the patience I seem to always have and that my house isn't located over one of Florida's many sinkholes.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

GIVE ME AN "F"

Over the past month or so I've tried very hard to focus my mind on other things other than my pain in my right arm. I've played poker, posted new entries on my blog, removed wallpaper and painted the bathroom and participated in life as normally as I possibly can. I've been to the doctor twice. The first time I was told I had tendonitis obviously, from all the tennis I play and was given Motrin to take for 10 days. Okay, when that didn't do the trick, I reluctantly went back. This time I was given an order for a x-ray of my left thumb (I have a small lump at the base of my thumb)and an order for physical therapy. The pain had increased and radiates through my entire arm and goes into my shoulder blade causing muscle spasms. I really need to give up playing tennis! I was also given a prescription for steroids to take.

Anyone with diabetes knows that steroids and diabetes does not mix well. After getting the Rx filled, I've decided not to take the steroids. In the past, the benefits gained from taking steroids haven't been enough to merit struggling with the elevated blood sugar it causes. I did, however have the x-ray done and attempted to have physical therapy set up only to find out that my insurance doesn't cover physical therapy. Why doesn't this surprise me?

I'm not too upset over the physical therapy issue because each time I exert my arm, it only ends up hurting worse. I have found that if I move my head slightly to left and rest my arm on top of my head, the pain goes away. Perhaps I can duck tape my head and arm in that position and then all I'll have is just the normal pain I suffer from daily. Experimenting with repositioning my head and arm leads me to believe that the true problem comes from my neck and/or back. And since I refuse to have anymore surgery to that area of my body, the name of the game is grin and bear it! That game I'm much better at than playing tennis!

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for being able to grin and bear it rather than letting out the primal scream I feel slowly brewing.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

ANCHORS AWAY


When I first moved to Pensacola many years ago, I didn’t know anyone. Being friendless and starting over is a hard path to walk especially for a young social butterfly. Quickly, I learned the path apparently meant for me was one leading to the beach because living in Maine all those years made beach going and suntans a novelty item and one I never got the hang of doing. When I discovered my lily white skin could turn brown, I immediately had a new mission.

The beach closest to where I lived was on Pensacola NAS (Naval Air Station), so that’s where I headed most days. One would think that with me going to the beach on base and all those stories about sailors and single, young girls, I would have been approached a lot. No, I wasn’t ugly! I was tall, thin, tanned, had long dark hair and wore next to nothing for a swimsuit. The lifeguard would rate the different ones I wore with his favorite being the black one, but not even the lifeguard with what little bit he flirted with me, ever actually engaged me in a conversation. I often wondered what was wrong with me. Why did I seem so unapproachable?

Each day my ritual was pretty much the same. I had a "spot" I called my own and each day I would lazily soak up the rays with my body covered with baby oil. Because I wanted no tan lines on my back, I would unfasten my top when I would lie on my stomach. I couldn’t go topless for fear of the MP’s or else I most likely would have shed my top altogether. What I didn’t know, was that my activities were being very closely scrutinized by a group of sailors who were also regulars on the beach. As I lie basking in the sun, they watched and plotted on how to get me to stand up without my top. Boys will be boys!

One rather hot day while drifting in and out of sleep while I lie there pondering the complexities of life, all of a sudden I was drenched with ice water. This group of "rocket scientists" came up with the plan to throw an ice chest filled with ice water on me in hopes that it would make me jump up. Guess what? Their plan didn’t work! Curses foiled again! For some reason the second I was hit with that water, I froze. I know they must have thought I was dead. I lay there smiling to myself feeling flattered that anyone would go through so much trouble to see my bare breasts.

About a minute later after lying there motionless, I turned my head towards them. They were standing there dumbfounded and didn’t know what to say or do. I smiled and said to them, "If you wanted me to stand up, all you needed to do was ask me to stand up!" That thought apparently never even entered into the grand scheme of things. At that point, I stood up slowly and faced them. The lifeguard nearly fell off his chair laughing at the incident and the group of sailors stood there with their mouths hanging open. I know I could have been arrested, but trust me, the look on their faces was worth the consequences I would have had to pay. The sad part is I think I intimidated them because none of them ever dared to speak to me. What a bitch they must have thought I was for beating them at their own game!

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for the HUGE brass balls I developed at a young age.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Monday, November 08, 2010

THE GARDEN PATH


Without ever stopping to actually smell the roses, the attitude I formed at an early age blossomed when I was old enough to start being interested in the opposite sex. We all know a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet and every rose has its thorns! BUT instead of picking roses carefully, I always seemed to like the ones with the most thorns. It wasn't until I was somewhere around 40 something that I even questioned the sanity in my picking the same rose, however from different gardens over and over again with the same result. As I look back over all my "shouldn'ts", "couldn'ts" and "wouldn'ts", one American Beauty remains at the top of the list. He, I so affectionately call "The Anti-Christ" while others called him "Salmonella".

I could probably dismiss my error in judgment where he is concerned as being the result of abruptly stopping my use of illegal drugs after 16 years of being high every day and being in a weakened state of mind, BUT I know that wouldn't be a true assessment as to why I became involved with someone who took pleasure in hurting people and in teaching people lessons. I think it could be more easily summed up in having to do with my wanting to punish myself and me never feeling as though I deserved to have a real shot at happiness. What better way to insure those things than to hook up with someone who is cruel and abusive? Someone who would teach me all those lessons I needed to learn and more...

One might be quick to pat anyone on the back for quitting drugs, but modifying a behavior doesn't modify the reason the addiction was present in the first place. Most people in this situation simply trade addictions over time to fill the void. In my case, I traded drugs for work and the creme da la creme of abusive relationships. Salvatore (said with an Italian accent) and The Driftwood Inn became my new drugs of choice for a fun-filled five years.

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for the fear (rosaphobia) I developed of abusive people and situations because it's a fear I can rely on to act as a compass to show me where not to go.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

SUFFERING IN SILENCE

Mildred sat alone in the bathroom crying. Mildred sat alone in the bathroom wondering why she was so confused and why what had seemed so logical hadn't worked. Some where in her twisted adolescent thoughts she knew her prepubescent body needed to be protected. Why didn't the can of silicone her mother had bought to make things water repellent work as a repellent on her?

Mildred sat in the bathroom crying because the silicone had irritated her genital area instead of protecting it. She sat with her head cradled in her arms on the cold rim of the cast iron claw-footed tub. She sat where no one heard her sobbing.

I want to go back and hold that child and tell her it's okay to come out of that cold, drafty bathroom. It's okay to cry out loud. It's okay to find someone who will listen...someone who will believe her. I want to free her from a lifetime of being self destructive. I want to cradle her until the pain is gone and all that remains is the bright future she should have had.

Mildred sat alone in the bathroom crying...

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful that now as an adult I can connect with the child within and give her the comfort she still needs.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

MILDRED IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS

I don’t know when "it" happened or how "it" happened. All I know is that "it" did happen sometime long ago in the life of Mildred Ratched. As far back as I can remember, I felt different. Not the kind of different that gets a person labeled as someone too freaky or too psycho and must be avoided, but different in the sense that I knew and understood myself from a very early age and what path in life was mine. Some things I knew about myself were hard to accept and others seemed almost like a bad dream or some chaotic prophecy waiting to be fulfilled. Some might say I walked right into "it" without reservation. While others might speculate that mine was a path chosen for me by some higher power. Whatever the real reason for all the how’s, the why’s and the when’s paled in comparison to the experience, insights and education I gained along the way. Afterall isn’t it said that it’s not really the destination that’s important but how one gets there?

Of course, "it" all must have started on some dark and stormy night, but weren’t they all dark and stormy nights during that period? That inner instinct that made me eventually flee was like a compass. Although my actions may have seemed erratic and my course without any direction, that facade slowly crumbled away to reveal that all steps forward were aimed at a definite and precise slow self-destruction. I never blamed others for my plight even when "it" was obvious that the avalanche started when I was young. Perhaps the “it” was a product of being a member of a dysfunctional family. Perhaps starting life with the attitude "if the people who are supposed love me cause me this much pain, what's the rest of the world going to do to me?" was the culprit or perhaps there are just some people who are meant to suffer in silence. Whatever the "it" was, one thing for certain...I did "it" well.

They tell me I was a shy child and wouldn’t talk to anyone, but my family before age 5. I don’t remember that, but wish I could. I was told that I blossomed once I started school. When I discovered I had a voice, I got dubbed as being "chatty" or "gabby" and then turned sarcastic with a witty twist...just enough to get a well timed laugh at the most inappropriate moments. Every class needs a clown, doesn’t it? Most of my early behaviors were aimed to see what reaction I could get. I remember times when I sailed smoothly through everything and then later wondered if I was clever or if others were just blind or stupid or perhaps apathetic. I always took everything one step past its limit...just because I could. In my youth, before "it" got too out of control, I would defy rules. For example, if a person skipped school for one day, I would skip school for 3 weeks. Why? I suppose it was a combination of things, but the why isn’t important now. The why stopped being important as soon as things got complicated and reality set in.

When you play, you pay! One payday came abruptly when I merrily gallivanted home during one of my periods of not feeling like I wanted or needed to attend school. Waiting to greet me were my mother and the truancy office, Mrs. Thibodeau sitting at the kitchen table. They obviously had been chatting about "what to do with Mildred". In those days, it seemed like that was such a hot topic and one in which many people had brainstormed for a viable solution. Often times, I felt as if I was a disease with no cure. I was examined, prodded, probed, quizzed and carefully scrutinized. Times of remission did occur, but those periods got shorter and less frequent.

As soon as I entered the house through the kitchen door, I was asked to take a seat and was properly interrogated for answers to those same questions I was asked so frequently.

How?

Why?

When?

And let’s not forget “where?”

"Not today, ladies!", I thought as I drifted into deep thought contemplating the swirls in the Formica tabletop. The acid I had dropped a few hours earlier gave a surreal feeling to the reality of being interrogated. As the acid peaked, all I really wanted was a serene place to listen to some music. Tune in! Turn on! Drop out! My wish was granted when I was sent to my room to await my penance. Interrogation dismissed! Onward to the "safe place" I had found and I was never asked what was so terribly wrong in my life and why I was hell-bent on destroying myself. I don't think anyone wanted to know the answer to that question. "It" remained unseen, unheard and unspoken.

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful that I eventually realized being different was not a bad thing to be.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, October 29, 2010

NURSE RATCHED SPEAKS

With middle age comes a mid-life crisis for some. For others it means stepping into the wide world of decline when health problems start to raise their ugly little heads. Some people may be blessed with a great genetic make-up, but for those of us who spent our younger years flying by the seat of our pants and teetering on that glorious edge, we find ourselves the products of those years of bad choices, risky lifestyles and life’s excesses. So what do we do? Do we freak-out and quietly fall apart? Or do we do the unthinkable and explore a new world of using pharmaceuticals for actual medicinal reasons? Do we start taking our doctor’s advice as our medical charts start to grow thicker with lab results, surgical reports and progress notes? Those carefree days of recreational use and abuse have now ceased and we stand humbled as our doctor writes each Rx. We stand wondering what side effects might follow hoping that the cost of our healthcare will result in lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, a peaceful sense of well-being and ultimately a longer life.

In the past several years, I’ve learned a lot about the healthcare system as a whole. Most of the following things may be commonsense things that will prompt a quick response of “I knew that”, but often times, we get in a doctor’s office and go blank. Consider this a refresher course or just a gentle nudge in the right direction.

Life is full of choices. Remember that when selecting a doctor! Word of mouth referrals are probably the most helpful in weeding through all the doctors from Dr, Jekyll to Dr. House to Dr. Welby to Dr. Doolittle. Ask your friends, relatives and co-workers who they use. Doctors develop reputations that follow them wherever they go. Your doctor isn’t supposed to be the enemy, so if he or she acts like the enemy, it’s time to find someone new. Nothing says you have to feel entirely uncomfortable for those few minutes while you’re prodded and probed, so why pay for someone who makes you feel like a pin cushion and like just another chart number to be filed away and forgotten about as soon as you leave the building? If you don’t feel good about the person with whom you’ve entrusted your life, then it’s time for a change. And keep changing it until you find someone you like, respect and trust. This person might have to assist you in making some life and death decisions along the way, so it might benefit you to get a doctor who not only knows your name, but knows your history.

After you find the right doctor, my first suggestion is to start making a list of things you want to discuss during each appointment. You spend your hard-earned money to pay for your office visits, so get your money’s worth while you’re there. I’ve found that doing a little homework about my health problems makes it easier to talk to my doctor. The internet is great resource for medical information and misinformation (be careful). Arm yourself with facts and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions about new procedures and new medicines. A good doctor will take note of the interest you show as being a signal that you might be more apt to be compliant in any prescribed course of action. Often times, I forget that my doctor isn’t a mind reader and can’t properly diagnose and treat me unless I’m completely candid about my symptoms. Even small details might be crucial in an accurate diagnosis because many illnesses mimic each other in their early stages, so don’t dismiss anything as being insignificant if it consistently bothers you. Let the doctor be the judge of a symptom’s significance.

Next, definitely learn about the drugs that you may have to take for the rest of your life. Find out what the long term effects may be and if periodic lab work will be required to make sure you remain within normal ranges. For instance, those people taking lithium to treat bipolar disorder need to be closely monitored because the difference between an accepted therapeutic level and a toxic level is a very small range. Many cholesterol medicines can cause elevated liver enzymes. Also, ask your doctor about new drugs that may come available in the near future. Trust me, your doctors are constantly courted by many drug reps wanting them to write prescriptions for their drugs. A good doctor knows which drugs work best and will recommend them without hesitation.

For now, this is Nurse Ratched signing off to check her blood sugar, take her meds and eat breakfast.

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for the exposure to the medical field I've had.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

BORN TO BE MILD

As I get older, that edge I once teetered on no longer is an edge. It’s more a quiet stroll amongst the herd with no edge in sight. I can’t begin to tell you my dislike for mellowing with age and although it seems to happen to the best of us, every now and then when that wild hair still tickles, I still listen. Okay, it’s not exactly a wild hair anymore. It’s more like an annoying itch that needs to be scratched.

I have a friend (name excluded to protect the guilty) who definitely understands my need to be "bad" every now and then and indulges me by letting me scratch my itch. Whenever we go see a movie we most always "double-dip". This custom started when we went to see Star Trek. I suppose after watching something that made me think about my misspent youth, I was inspired to scratch the itch by doing a double-dip (the second movie I didn’t pay to see). I walked out of one movie and into another. There definitely are advantages of being an average middle-aged woman. We blend in with the scenery! So as I sat and watched the second movie, The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past I did so with a smile on my face. When I realized I was smiling at my own actions and not at anything I was watching, I actually laughed out loud. Age really has mellowed me and that wild hair is so easily sated these days.

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful to have gone from being born to be wild to being born to be mild all in one lifetime!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

OHIO OR BUST


Tomorrow (very early), I'm off to see my childhood bestfriend.

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for people who knew me long ago and who still can put up with me today!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

THE WORLD AT 55


At 55, we are branded "mature" (at least most of us are). At 55, the world no longer is viewed in terms of black and white. Shades of gray drown out the black and white as we find very few absolutes in life. At this crucial point in our lives, many of us decide to rediscover or reinvent ourselves. For many, this is the first major decision as we travel into the autumn of our years. Why can't this segment of our lives be as colorful as the trees in New England as the become ablaze of colors decorating the landscape? Why can't these years be filled with less regret and more urgency to do all the things we wanted, but never did because life kept getting in the way? Why isn't the light at the end of the tunnel a stronger, brighter beacon guiding us along the way?

At 55, we are no longer invincible and immortal. Many of us are drowning in all the mundane things in which life is filled. We rarely take time to have fun, be happy or treat ourselves to an occasional goodie. At 55, our nest is filled with items of comfort that keep us from venturing outside to explore. Yes, we know we should treat ourselves better, but most of us have spent a lifetime of putting others before our own needs so we are clueless when it comes time to think about ourselves.

I often wonder what would happen if I suddenly let that wild hair that was so much a part of my make up in my younger years loose again. Instead of cave dwelling, what would happen if I squander my time and money and aimlessly wander? Isn't going out in a blaze of glory better than slowly fizzling out? Would living on the edge and flying by the seat of my pants feel any different now than it used to feel? As I watch those around me grow old and die, these at the things I wonder at 55.


Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for each age I've been for with each age comes new realizations and truths.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

THE WORLD AT 18


At 18, we are branded "adults". At 18, the world is still primarily viewed in terms of black and white. Shades of gray come with age and experience. At this crucial point in our lives, many of us decide to forsake higher education by jumping into the real world by becoming gainfully employed (for some this should read painfully employed) or we take the plunge and go for the gusto by pursuing a degree in a field of our own choosing. For many, this is the first major decision we make as an adult. Then we spend the next several years changing our minds and tweaking our goals until we finally get to know ourselves and stop trying to please everyone around us. Others, the "untouchables" who come from various socioeconomic backgrounds actively pursue a career in being parasites and actually find they are rather good at their parasitic endeavors. For them, once a tick, always a tick! The nonparasites among us struggle to stay afloat, to maintain our humble lifestyles and to find periods of actual personal growth without being prompted to do so. The light at the end of the tunnel illuminates a journey towards realizing that we can and will survive in this world without compromising our own values or anyone else’s.

At 18, we still are invincible and immortal. We don’t think of mundane things like life insurance and health insurance. Those things are for people who are firmly rooted in middle age with families and responsibilities. At 18, as we leave the nest, those realities aren’t things our parents enlighten us with. Yes, we are told to go to college so we can get a good job because a good job is required to support a family and a humble lifestyle, but we probably haven’t been told to practice safe sex because a few minutes of pleasure can effect the rest of our lives or to trust in love because the real thing will still be there when we let go. Unfortunately, these are things many of us learn the hard way at the University of Life.

I often wondered what would have happened if I had developed a healthy curiosity in the art of being responsible. Instead of investigating life somewhere over the rainbow, what would have happened if I had taken some of my squandered time and money and invested it in something of value? What would have happened if I had researched affordable health insurance as soon as I was no longer covered as a dependent on my parent’s policy? Would my world have been a different one than the one I chose? Would I have realized that 18 year olds get sick and even die? Would I have looked at my own health with a different attitude? Would I have realized the activities I participated in then might not affect me immediately, but they might catch up with me 20 or 30 years later? Would I have realized that my immorality is a myth and that living on the edge and flying by the seat of my pants would one day be viewed with less enthusiasm or even with a minuscule amount of regret?

Hmmm, I wonder why hindsight is always 20/20…

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for the light at the end of the tunnel for without it I would never know I was on the right path.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

SILENT LUCIDITY


I awoke with an acute feeling of aloneness…

I laid in the dark trying to shake the feeling, yet every thought; every memory seemed to bring me back to the reality that I am alone. Did I feel frightened? No! Did I feel a quiet desperation tugging at me trying to tell me that NOW is the time to go forward into the unknown? Yes! The recognition and acceptance blanketed me with the belief that there are others quite like me out there feeling as I do. Then a calm came over me lulling me into feeling that by opening myself up again may lead me to a place that feels safe, new and unexplored all in the same breathtaking moment. I fear not! I embrace the journey and go forward into the night…

alone…

searching…

Gratitude statement: Too many nights I've laid awake drowning in vacant thoughts and feelings, but last night I was able to close my eyes and drift back into slumber. For that I am thankful.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, October 08, 2010

FORGIVENESS

When I started looking inside myself, I discovered it takes a stronger person to forgive than it does to remain steadfast on my principles and beliefs. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of inner strength. It takes a stronger person to step outside the misery and angst than it does to drown in the sorrow and pain of the past. When I looked inside, I saw how to be free and how to look past those negative feelings that ate away at my core. When I looked inside, I saw love isn't about being right. It's about being me and allowing others to love me how I really need to be loved. When I looked inside, I saw freedom in the courage to reach out and connect with others. I saw the strength it takes to let my guard down and believe that life really is worth living. I saw that acceptance and forgiveness will move me forward past the pain and towards happiness.

They say "to err is human and to forgive is divine". I guess that makes me extremely human and working towards divinity. Forgiving others is a cinch, but I find forgiving myself, at times, is extremely difficult. I keep telling myself it's okay to make mistakes as long as a I learn from my mistakes. Without mistakes a person can never grow and learn or test the boundaries of having a life worth living. The words of Socrates come to mind. "An unexamined life is not worth living." Furthermore, an unexamined life leads to being imprisoned by the very things which hurt us the most...our own negative dialogue and buying into the fallacy that we are powerless victims of fate who cannot change anything.

I think as I examine my life and the world around me, the answers I seek are evident as long as I keep both my eyes and heart open. The standard I hold for myself has been much different than the standard I hold for others. What I need to do is allow myself to be examined in the same nonjudgmental way I examine others. One thing is
certain! As I move forward, my journey may get a little bumpy along the way, so please fasten your seat belts and put your crash helmet on as a safety precaution. The air bags are fully functional and please remember the driver hasn't lost anyone yet!

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for the desire to change and for the strength to finally do the right thing.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

After careful deliberation, I have concluded what I really need is a mind blowing first date. Here, I was thinking I needed a creative midlife crisis when all I need is something far less cumbersome. In order to classify this first date as "mind blowing", the experience should follow the parameters below:

1) The first date scenario cannot be anything I would be arrested for unless the person with whom I have the first date will post my bail and pay for a lawyer.

2) The first date cannot be anything life-threatening or permanently disabling, but "screwboos" (injuries from having sex for example, carpet burns, scratch marks, bumps on the head, etc.) are allowed!

3) The first date can be slightly amoral and include up to 3 of the Seven Deadly Sins (name them and the Seven Dwarfs and you might be the man of my dreams) as long as I can take pictures and brag about it afterwards (and of course, write a blog entry).

4) If the first date does involve sex, "eye candy" (tall, handsome and young enough to make me blush) is an acceptable description of the recipient of my affections and fantasy. Blow up dolls and cute midgets are not acceptable substitutes.

Any suggestion for first date scenarios are appreciated and volunteers to blow my mind can sign up here. Candidates must meet certain criteria and be willing to be interrogated by an interviewing committee.(I've learned not to trust my own judgment where men are concerned)

The interviewing committee must consist of at least 5 people I trust (any volunteers???). Candidates will be judged on wit, intelligence and physical appearance. Candidates must submit a certificate of a clean bill of health, a financial statement and a police background check. Candidates with any psychiatric diagnosis will be automatically disqualified. The candidate with the highest score will then be cast in the first date scenario with me. The question is… am I crazy enough to do this? Have I been in time out long enough? I think it's time Mildred came out to play!

Gratitude statement: I'm truly grateful for the twisted sense of humor I have!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

OFF TO BOSTON


(for the weekend)

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for all the great memories I have involving Boston and I'm looking forward to adding a few more to that list.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Monday, September 27, 2010

FOR DENNIS

Earlier today, a friend lost his heroic battle with cancer. Instead of writing something focused on sadness, I wanted to post something that would stand as a tribute to a wonderful man and great friend to all who knew him. So Dennis, I will write about the baseball team you loved and followed right up until the end.

Within each sport, there rises a team to the status of having a dynasty. This dynasty usually lasts a few years and then someone else gets their time in the spotlight. Superstars naturally are part of each dynasty and the team's fans get to enjoy seeing their team win championships and become virtual gods for a period of time. During the dynasty era they become "the team to beat" and the measuring stick for greatness. I can think of no sport nor any other team that has had the success nor the immortality of baseball and the New York Yankees.

Superstars seem to come and go, yet the team itself and just the sheer name conjures thoughts of greatness regardless of what era one thinks of the Yankees as being part of. They certainly have dominated each era and continue to be "the team to beat" year after year. It's almost as if the sheer magic of wearing a Yankees uniform transforms mere mortals into baseball gods. These gods have used curses, talent, huge salaries and team spirit to keep others at bay and it seems as if each year as the baseball season winds down and it comes time for the post season to begin what people always think is "I wonder who the Yankees will play in the World Series this year!"

Love them? Hate them? Regardless of what team holds a person's allegiance, one must at least pay the Yankees the respect they are due for being the greatest baseball team that ever was and probably ever will be. The rest of us, the non-Yankee fans can only hope occasionally they'll have an off season and our teams can play and win the World Series!

Rest in peace, Dennis! You'll be missed by all the people whose lives you touched and although I'm a diehard Red Sox fan, it's okay if the Yankees win this year just for you.

Gratitude statement: I feel fortunate to have been included amongst the people Dennis called a friend and the bond I share with all my Kinsman Hall friends is one that has transcends time and distance.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

COUGH! COUGH! CHOKE! CHOKE!

Can a human being cough up a furball? My attitude has been so positive lately I hardly recognize myself and it feels like this HUGE mass is forming in the back of my throat! Have aliens abducted me and filled my empty pod with the soul of the Dalai Lama? Is the person looking back at me in the mirror really me or is she someone on the verge of singing "Kum bay ya"? Oh no! That can't be! Not me! NOT EVER!!!

Gratitude statement: Just in case, I'm grateful for knowing the words to Kum Bay Ya so when the singing starts I won't look or sound like a fool!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LIFE ACCORDING TO MILDRED

As we go through life we learn how to deal with a wide variety of scenarios. Some of us become masters or mistresses at the knack of being a "people" person, while others barely develop enough skills to be deemed socially acceptable. Life along with a few other variables mold us into the people we are. We are born and then like a piece of clay, we are molded. We go through many changes throughout the molding process remaining pliable until the process is complete and the finished product is the person who looks back at us in the mirror. At some point the clay starts to lose its elasticity and starts to harden. I believe the hardening process starts somewhere between adolescence and adulthood as life repetitiously reinforces all the things we have learned. I'm not saying our capacity to learn ceases, but the likelihood for major change decreases over time.

From the time we are born, we have many teachers. Each person we encounter leaves us with some wisdom, some tidbit of knowledge that helps us along our journey. All these encounters are valuable tools that equip us to face life in ways that are unique to us.

What I have learned about life is that the people who are the happiest and find inner peace are those people who have accepted themselves for the person they are. While my standards, preferences and outlook may be viewed with skepticism or some form of negative opposition, I have to say that I like myself and have no desire to be anyone else, but who I am.

As I look around me, I see how society pressures people into feeling inadequate. I see so many people who are unsatisfied or depressed over the people they have become. We're taught many things in life, but the most valuable lesson of all eludes most people. Mysteriously life does not teach us how to love ourselves, accept ourselves and our own limitations and to forgive ourselves for being less than perfect and for making mistakes.

I say mistakes are okay to make as long as we learn from them. I say we either make choices in life or life will make them for us. I say wear who you are as a badge being proud and holding your head high so others can admire your good qualities. Whatever your assets are eagerly display them and use them to get ahead in life and share them with others in ways so that happiness and pleasure can be derived from them. Minimize your deficits and weaknesses by understanding them and protecting yourself against harm. Do not give others the power to bring you down or to control your self-image or destiny. Whatever your actions are do them without regret and take chances along the way, for we only walk this way once.

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful I have few regrets in life and although I still haven't found what my true purpose is yet, I feel as though it may be just around the next bend on the path I'm following.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

MEDICATION TIME

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax", said the night man
We are programmed to receive
You can checkout any time you like
But you can never leave...
(from Hotel California)

Gratitude statement: Although we may be prisoners here of our own device, we are and always shall be captains of our own destiny. We sometimes feel like confused lab rats trying to find our way through this labyrinth we call life. I'm thankful I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, September 03, 2010

WHY AM I HERE?

It wasn't until I became an adult that I realized not everyone does well in school. You see, even though I was a rebellious hellion, school always came easy for me and I never had to open a book to learn enough to get good grades. I always assumed school was easy for everyone. The oblivion I seemed to be surrounded by held me in its grasp until I became an adult. Slowly, I started to realize everyone, even me had things in which they excel. My problem seemed to be that most people started to develop their talents and academic skills at an early age. Someone usually recognized that a child had an aptitude, skill or talent in a certain area that exceeded the norm. That child was then steered in a particular direction so those areas could be showcased and developed. I never got that tap on the shoulder from anyone telling me "hey you're pretty good at that". I guess I slid through the cracks and my creativity remained a well-guarded secret.

Drawing and writing just seemed to be part of who I was and no big deal was ever made of the fact that I could do both. Maybe my three older brothers stole the spotlight by being jocks or perhaps I was just meant to aimlessly wander with no direction. You see, I lived in a void that kept me from developing any real potential I may have had at an early age. The pats on the back that most people get wasn't something I had experienced. I didn't know what encouragement felt like. Thus, it wasn't until I became an adult and started to see that not everyone functions on the same level that I started to question the basic differences in people.

I've always enjoyed writing since I was a young child, but only felt my skills were adequate at best. While in college, I wrote with ease and enjoyed the classes in which I had to do research and/or put my thoughts in written words. Still I never recognized graduating with high academic honors was any major accomplishment. To be honest, I never felt especially challenged by any of it. It was just something I did!

During the past several years, I've gone through a very difficult period. Often times, I've felt empty, rejected and unappreciated. What I wanted most just wasn't in my reach and I felt a silent despair that drove me further into what I lovingly call being a hermit. Each day I sank a little more and became so isolated that I turned away from most everyone I loved. I know my family just thought my change was caused by the chronic physical pain I feel, but my withdrawal from life wasn't due to physical pain. What held me prisoner was the mental anguish I felt.

One evening several years ago while I was online, I was contacted by a man who had been to my personal website before sending me an instant message. He had gone to my yahoo profile first and then followed the link from it to my website. My website was a work in progress that I had created during a long string of late night insomnia sessions. I purposely kept it from ever being complete because it gave me something to play with when I couldn't sleep. I really felt anyone going there would get a "feel" for who I am because I had put so much thought into every aspect of what was there. After enduring the realm of Karen, this brave soul sent me a message asking me if I am a writer. I found that amusing to say the least. I began chatting with him and before long he introduced me to the world of blogging. He encouraged me to write and talked to me everyday. We developed a fast friendship and went from chatting online to talking on the telephone. In spite of his busy schedule, he read my blog faithfully and always gave me feedback on everything I wrote.

It felt great to get encouragement and have someone show an interest in me. I don't know if I ever thanked him enough for that, but I definitely credit him for me being here in the blogosphere today! After about 2 months of daily contact, it came to a screeching halt. Don't ask me why...it's just one of life's unsolved mysteries. I'm not a pushy person and have never been one to go where I feel I'm not wanted, so I just let it go. I just chalked it up to another one of those strange internet relationships that sometimes happens. The cyber gods ate him and then, I was on my own. So here I am folks! Mildred Ratched in all her glory. Right, wrong or indifferent, I'm here and will always write it like I see it or feel it.

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful that the written word has always been my friend and my loving companion.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

MILDRED EXPOSED!


Picture a person who stands apart from the crowd who sees things not in black or white, but in varying shades of gray. Picture a person who closes their eyes and hears the beat of a different drummer, then marches proudly and eagerly away to do their own thing regardless of the consequences or popular opinion. Picture a person who is not a polished gem, but a diamond in the rough...someone who believes true beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and that the best things in life are free. When you picture this person, who do you see?

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful that when I picture this person, I see myself.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

30 YEARS AGO TODAY



Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play...no, no, no! That was 20 years ago today and pushing a lawnmower had nothing to do with Sgt Pepper or his lonely hearts club band. Thirty years ago yesterday, I stood in blazing heat pushing a lawnmower trying to ready the house I had rented for the move I was about to make after giving birth. As I pushed the lawnmower in record heat, I got more pissed off with every swatch I mowed. My dear husband was in California doing who knows what while I, 9 months pregnant was pushing a lawnmower.

People kept giving me odd looks as they rode by, but not one person stopped to offer any help. I guess doing that would have been the neighborly thing to do and apparently, doing the neighborly thing didn't seem what most people had on their minds. So I mowed and mowed until I was exhausted and the job was finally done. At least my other two children would have a yard to play in while I attended my new bundle of joy.

Early the next morning I awoke to a low backache and a cramping sensation. I laid there several minutes before realizing I was in labor. How appropriate it was to be in labor on Labor Day. I called ahead to the Navy hospital to find out where exactly I needed to go since it was a federal holiday and the normal procedure no longer held true. When I told the person on the other end of the phone my contractions were 4 minutes apart and this was my 3 child, I sensed urgency in their voice as they told me to come to the hospital right away.

So off I went to have my 3rd and final child. After being examined, I was told I wasn't quite ready to admit, BUT they didn't want me to go very far so I was told to go hang out in the waiting room with all the expectant fathers. Ha! Nothing clears a room out faster than putting a woman in labor in the same room as the fathers who opted not to participate in the birthing process.

Thirty years ago today, I gave birth to my youngest son. Those 30 years have sped by faster than I care to admit. Happy birthday, Matthew! You are one of the 3 beacons in my life and I love you dearly. I have a suggestion for the next 30 years....let's slow down how fast they go by!

Gratitude statement: I am truly grateful for the kind of people my 3 children grew into being.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A WALK WITH DESTINY

Deep in the REM that my brain sometimes allows, it came to me. At first it remained in the shadows only whispering. Its voice seemed like the wind. Then one night it happened. It stepped out from the shadows revealing itself to me. His piercing eyes paralyzed me. His voice was deep and barely above a whisper. His long free flowing hair grazed my face. All my senses became filled by his presence. I could even taste a faint dusting of his reluctant spirit being blown from his body as he moved past me. The gentle breeze came as if his presence had aroused a sleepy Mother Nature from her eternal slumber. Softly, he beckoned me to follow him...

He had come to be my mentor, my guide into a new realm. He fearlessly explained what I needed to do and then sent me on my way reassuring me that he was always with me. He was right! Every time I closed my eyes, I could feel him with me. At first I thought I had gone completely mad or had some elaborate flashback, but he whittled at me until he had transformed an ordinary piece of sturdy oak into a magnificent soaring eagle ready to be guided into this new realm and beyond. The moment he released me he said, "Close your eyes and follow your heart!"

Last night he came to me. He stood gazing at me with a disapproving stare. Our "space" thickened with silence until I couldn't stand it any longer. Just as I was about to plead with him, he burst into a melodious laughter. "Karen, you are such a lunatic!", he announced. Defensively, I said, "How can I apologize for something that is as much a part of me as the air I breathe? You know I'm not crazy! You told me to do this! You made me do this! You promised me that I would find peace!" I stopped and said no more! As I quickly erected the walls of self protection, he gently placed his hand on mine and said, "Karen, stop struggling! You have found peace!"

Gratitude statement: In the absence of turmoil, I am grateful for the peace I have found in just being me.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

FINDING HOME

My true compass points towards the Northeast, to a place where I still call "home". Sure, they built a casino along Main Street, changed the name of my junior high school and sandblasted the bricks on my old house, but some things will forever remain the same. The smell and feel of the salt air on a warm summer day. The colorful foliage in autumn along the long and winding roads...the fragrance of the lilacs in spring. The old, familiar feeling that cradles me each time I travel there and being surrounded by people who "get" me.

I have often wondered how I can call one place home, yet live in a completely different environment. In a locale where religion is sometimes times preached from the street corners, where often times the Civil War is still being fought and where being branded a "Yankee" will follow a person forever as if they carry a scarlet letter. This place is a place I've lived for 37 years and although my "you guys" sounds faintly Southern now, I still feel as though I'm on the outside looking in.

Did my choice in staying here all these years stem from my stubbornness or was it in part, a way to punish myself for fleeing so many years ago? Can I ever truly make amends with my turbulent past? Will I ever find my way back home?

Gratitude statement: Maybe years ago I abandoned Maine, but I'm grateful she never abandoned me.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

THINGS I'VE LEARNED

1. Jobs can be very similar to abusive relationships.
2. Life is much too short to waste it working for Atilla the Hun.
3. Radical change can be great, but an unexpected radical change is even better.
4. Blondes may not have more fun, but they certainly do get noticed.
5. Watch out for moose when driving at dusk. It's better to hit them going 35 mph than 70 mph.
6. Insanity is not genetic. It's cultivated over time.
7. Have goals and work towards them.
8. It's okay to go slow.
9. Any task is easier done as an act of love rather than as an obligation.
10. Be kind to yourself and others might just follow the leader.
11. Slipping out the backdoor has its advantages.
12. While adhering to the specialized diet called "life", remember to feed your head!

Gratitude statement: Although I've stumbled and fallen many times along this path I'm on, I'm thankful that each time I falter, I learn a new lesson.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

THE SUMMER OF '69

With my "old" neighborhood reunion still fresh in my thoughts, I think it's appropriate to revisit those days and those people once again here on my blog. The several entries I wrote about Lynne (my mentor) started to open my flood gates and prepare me for my walk down memory lane with 58 other other people a few weeks ago.

This blog entry will be dedicated to someone who could not attend the reunion due to a prior commitment regarding a golf tournament. No, I'm not going to write about Tiger Wood, but I would like to give my first love a proper introduction via my blog.

Wayne wasn't the boy next door. He lived diagonally across the street from me. When I first learned his family was moving into my neighborhood, I threatened to move out of my neighborhood and if by some remote chance I did stay, I threatened to never accept him into MY circle of friends, the sacred Walter Street gang. I took all the neighborhood loyalty hype seriously and knew that it just couldn't work out having someone from another neighborhood infiltrate the cozy little nest in which I grew up.

I still remember the day Lisa told me that her family had sold their house atop "little Walter" (the smaller of the two hills on Walter Street). The look she had on her face as she said, ”you'll never believe who's moving into our old house" said it all. I stood looking at her for a moment trying to determine if she was just trying to elicit a response from me or if she actually thought this new someone would bother me. When she told me who the new kid on the block was going to be, I walked away muttering about moving far away. How could something like this happen?

I avoided Wayne for several weeks after he moved in until he discovered the neighborhood hangout. The local pizza joint was where everyone seemed to initially cluster before embarking on their daily treks. To my shock there he was one day when I entered the Pizza Roma. What made it worse was he had already ingratiated himself into MY group. There he was sitting and talking with MY friends! I walked past the group saying hi to everyone, but him thinking a little pinball would work off my frustration. That day started a ritual for us that took a path that neither of us expected.

Each time after that when he saw me playing pinball, he'd come stand next to me and silently watch me. He would watch my hands as they finessed the flippers. He watched the expressions on my face and the movements of my body as I shook the machine just enough to gain a few more points. Any self-proclaimed pinball "wizzard" knew the intricate dance between too little and too much to keep the machine from tilting and losing the game completely. I was always aware of his presence, of his eyes on me, but I never acknowledged him. I never allowed myself to gaze into his eyes to see what was standing next to me.

One day a few months after he had become part of MY gang, I made a quick appearance at the Pizza Roma on my way to babysitting one evening. The cool lady who lived down the street didn’t mind my friends keeping me company while I babysat for her children. I quickly slid into the booth and began talking since I only had a few minutes to spare before I had to leave. Within seconds “he” slid in next to me. I had no way of escape. He was forcing me to interact with him.

What I did next, was done out of instinct, but not from any prior knowledge or experience. I was just barely 14 and had never had a boyfriend. Without looking at him, I placed my hand on his inner thigh. He had a hole in his jeans about 3/4 of the way up his thigh. I began to outline the hole with my index finger. No one else sitting at the booth could see what was happening nor did my expression give any indication that I was engaging in some risky foreplay with a shaggy-haired fifteen year old. I did this for several minutes before announcing I had to leave and invited all present to join me if they had nothing else to do. Of course, he used this as a way to finally get me to speak to him. I had to ask him to move so I could leave.

When our eyes met, something frightened me. Something in me stirred. Something I wasn't familiar with feeling. He smiled as he slid out of the booth and gestured as a knight would bow to a princess. I coyly smiled and then winked at him as I slid out of the booth. Within minutes the whole gang had followed me. He lagged behind and I felt almost a disappointment when I thought he didn't accompany the rest of my friends. When I saw him, my heart raced with excitement. I was sure everyone there could see my pulse race and would notice the way he and I looked at each other.

There was a hunger... a spark...a curiosity. Raging hormones, no doubt! I think they must have finally noticed because one by one each person left early that evening. Before long we were alone with the music playing in the background. That night he became my boyfriend and I went home with lips so sore it hurt to move them. He walked me to my door and kissed me one last time before bidding me adieu. I raced to my bedroom to look out the window, so I could see him cross the street and go inside his house. I touched my lips and hungered for more. Yes, he was the boy who lived across the street and he was my first love!

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

LIONS & TIGERS & BEARS - OH MY!

This was a picture I took at my oldest brother's house...I half expected the flying monkeys to come whisk me away!



Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for having a place I can call "home".

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Monday, August 02, 2010

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

As of Wednesday, August 4th I'll be on my way to Maine arriving there late in the afternoon.
I can almost smell the North Atlantic sea breeze now!

Gratitude statement: Click your heels together 3 times and repeat after me: There's no place like home! There's no place like home! There's no place like home!


All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MESSAGES FROM THE CAVE

So I confessed to being an emotional cutter/love bulimic...yep, that's me! But what do I do with this juicy tidbit? I think by embracing the reality of who and what I am, I can and will go on like I always do. Does this mean I'm doomed to wander throughout life being alone? Possibly! But I can look back and I can truthfully say I had a ball making the mistakes I made. There's not much I would change...

Where do I go from here? I think what I need to do is turn the VACANCY sign back on and just be Karen. I think I need to go for the gusto any chance I get and live life like there's no tomorrow. If I burn out, so be it! At least I burn out being happy and not stuck away in my cave, being afraid of getting hurt. To hell with pain! Pain is mother nature's way of letting us know we are still alive...

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for being alive!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

MEDICATION TIME

I'm a cross between an emotional cutter and a love bulimic. I perk along just fine for awhile. My life is serene (I've been in "time-out for 5 years) and then something happens...it always does! My poor impulse control kicks in and before I know it I've ripped opened one of my many battle scars to fester and ooze again and to go through a very painful slow healing process. I've often wondered why I participate in such self destructive behaviors, but like a cutter, I emotionally cut for the same reason. I cut to make myself feel better. I cut to test myself. I cut to feel alive! I often wonder how many times the same wound can be reopened before it just doesn't ever heal...and then what? Amputation?

The other day, I did something very bad. It all snowballed so quickly that it surprised even me. A friend of mine mentioned reading something from her News Feed on Facebook written by the wife of an ex lover of mine ("the Anti-Christ" as I so affectionately call him). She wondered how she got that message when she isn't "friends" with the his wife. Well folks, it's a small world indeed and if you're a friend of a friend of a friend, everyone gets to view what you write on your Facebook page. Yes, there are security settings that prevent this sort of thing from happening, BUT if you put a technologically challenged person on a site like Facebook, nine times out of ten, they'll end up embarassing themselves and others by writing things that they think are private.

The chain reaction went something like this in a matter of about 30 minutes: The wife's name is mentioned to me--> the scar is located instantly even though it's barely visible after 20 years--> I search through her friends list on Facebook (he's not there) --> which brings me to her childrens' friends list --> Bingo! Which brings me to HIM--> OH NO, YOU DIDN'T!--> OH YES, I DID!--> I send him a private message--> Does he respond? --> You know he did!

A love bulimic is a person who binges with someone who is totally wrong for them and when they bounce to the opposite extreme, they purge into troglodytic hermitism. Love bulimics retreat into their safe caves for an indefinite period until they are ready to resurface. Is there a cure for love bulimia? Sure, finding the right diet of being loved and cared for brings a love bulimic out of the perils of relationship hell into the glory of finally knowing what love really feels like. Do I know what love is? Nope! I'm clueless! I'm too busy cutting and binging and purging to notice anything healthy and wholesome.

Gratitude statement: Are you kidding me? Check back tomorrow!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

NO MORE FALSE ALARMS - FALSE ALARM #4

Many years after all those false alarms, I was challenged to apply to the local fire department to become a firefighter. Because the South (I lived in a small, rural Gulf Coast county) is known for its "good ole boy" mentality, I was told that I would never be accepted if I applied. Telling me that was a definite dare and something I just couldn't walk away from! Whether it was something I really wanted to do or not, the challenge sealed the deal and made me go for it with a vengeance.

I put great thought in filling out the application. Everything was worded just so. The person who put me up to applying was surprised when I was contacted to go before the interviewing committee. Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck because at this point I had to decide whether or not I really wanted to go for it and if I did go for it and get accepted, that meant I would be a firefighter.

When the day of my interview came, I decided just to be myself and answer the questions as truthfully as I could. I knew I'd be looked over thoroughly and questioned heavily by each of the five people on the committee, but I felt prepared for whatever I was facing. Much to everyone's surprise, I was accepted as the first woman firefighter in that county. Part of me was proud and part of me was scared. That meant I’d have to step up to the plate and do a job better than my male counterparts because all eyes would be on me.

As soon as I had been accepted, I went from being "Karen" to being "that woman" overnight. The wives and girlfriends of the male firefighters would always ask, "did "that woman" go out on the fire last night?" Although this disturbed me because I wondered what they though I was doing while I was out on a fire, I knew that in time it would pass when they saw I wasn't chasing after their husbands and boyfriends. I even got amused as I tried to envision doing some dirty little sexual act while engaged in the act of putting out a fire! I guess that was one way to kill two birds with one stone! I often invited the other ladies to join, but no one took me up on my offer. It took about a year for me to regain my name, but when I did, it came with a certain respect that I had never had before.

I was treated as an equal by the other members and always treated with respect (except for that one time and that's another story for another time). On my first fire, the path was paved for the direction in which I would be treated. After putting out the fire, like all the other firefighters, I started peeling off my gear. Carrying 50 lbs. of gear gets extremely hot quickly. I flipped my helmet off my head and my long hair came tumbling down over my shoulders. When I did that, the deputy who was also on the site of the fire, eased his way over to the assistant fire chief. He looked puzzled and said, "Did you know you have a woman out here?" The asst. chief smiled and said, "no we have a lady out here!" Everyone seemed amused by the thought that perhaps they had smuggled a woman out here to fight fires...or to do whatever!

As I drove home later that night, I thought of my father. If people have guardian angels, I believe he was with me each time I was called out to a fire. Somehow, I knew if he could see me now, he would have been proud of the transformation his daughter had undergone since her tumultuous childhood. Who would have thought that scrawny, long-legged girl who ran from that false alarm years before would grow up to be a firefighter! It just goes to prove how strange life can be at times.

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful somewhere along the way, I learned to roll with the punches.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

FOR THE CAUSE - FALSE ALARM #3

There was a time when living on the streets was fashionable. People panhandled and helped each other out. Hippies became "freaks" and the freaks lived on the streets. For many, the streets had become a giant commune and the street people belonged to a large close knit family. Being 15 had its advantages...people had a natural urge to protect me and others wanted to be near me to take advantage of me, but whatever their motive, I always seemed to be "taken care of" and I was smart enough to play the game the right way. Yes, being 15 had its advantages!

My time on the streets educated me and also led me on many adventures. One road trip I took was to Washington D.C. to attend MayDay 1971. The purpose of MayDay was to protest the war and to also act as a three day festival in West Potomac Park. We camped out until the camping permit was revoked. Things quickly turned ugly. The National Guard was called out, tear gas was used and riots erupted. 8,000 thousand people were arrested and placed in RFK Stadium as a makeshift jail.

I was one of the lucky ones when the chaos began. Although I had been separated from the other people I had traveled from Boston to D.C. with, I had not gotten arrested, I had only mildly felt the effects of tear gas and I hadn't been caught in any major violence. I roamed the streets looking for my friends. I was amazed at how something so peaceful can turn violent so suddenly. I saw how divided our country was on so many things. I wondered as a walked the streets if life would ever regain any sense of normalcy. But what was normal?

As I contemplated life, the thought of the power the people held in their grasp rang loud in my head. As I walked from block to block I started pulling as many false alarms as I could to add to the overall chaos. I reflected back to that day being brought to the fire station while my father was at work. I knew today wouldn't be that way. Today, those alarms rang for the soldiers who gave their lives and the alarms cried ironically for an end to the violence. Today, I wouldn't see my father's disapproving face or be a victim of circumstance.

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for the passion I possess.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, July 23, 2010

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S FIRE - FALSE ALARM #2

Sometime during Jr. High School or Middle School depending on what part of the country you live in, I knew school and I weren't meant for each other. I frequently skipped school, cut classes and stayed high most of the time. When I reached high school (appropriately named in my case) I rarely attended classes. I might go to school, but my days consisted of sitting in the smoking lounges in the restrooms and "smoking" or doing whatever I felt like doing. Going to class was rarely on my itinerary!

One day after Christmas vacation, I had a terminal case of the munchies. Cafeteria food was pretty disgusting even to someone with the munchies, so I decided to hike down the street to the golden arches. After going to my locker to get my coat, I figured going out the front entrance of the school would give me the best chance of not being stopped upon leaving. Just as I was about to leave, the fire alarms went off in the school. Immediately, 2000 bitching kids emptied outside in the bitter cold.

The bitch fest about being outside in the cold grew pretty loud until little by little it finally quieted to complete silence. When I realized why everyone had gotten silent, I felt a hand on my arm. The principal said, "Come with me!" Out of 2000 people, I was the only one wearing a coat.

I tried explaining I was just cutting school to go get something to eat and didn't have anything to do with the false alarm, but the principal didn't seem interested in hearing my story. He poked me in the records room and told me he'd be back in a few minutes to deal with me. I was pretty pissed off and decided this would be a perfect opportunity to get even. I opened the file cabinets holding school records, grabbed some files and then went to the window. After opening the window, I liberated the records by tossing them outside into the snow. I repeated this until the file cabinets were empty. I shut the window and sat patiently in the chair waiting for the principal to return.

Once in his office, I didn't get much of an opportunity to speak. He expelled me from school, yet told me I had to finish out the day and return the next morning with my parents. WTF, no time off??? I marched out of his office and straight to the smoking room where I remained for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, when I was leaving school I walked by his office and noticed no one was in there. I slipped in and out quickly leaving him a present. As I walked out of the building, I had a smile on my face. I knew how rattled he'd be when he returned to his office and sat down at his desk to see a joint staring at him.

Of course the next day, I was questioned about the school records and the present. What school records? No witnesses, no proof...so what if they had put me in that room! I bet they wouldn't make that mistake again. And as for alleged present, I certainly wouldn't waste a joint on a straight person...that is, if I did drugs! I often wondered if they recovered all the records or how many the wind scattered into no man's land. Unfortunately mine stayed intact and contains my colorful history of being oppositionally defiant. I know that principal was glad the next month when I overdosed, was brought to the ER and never returned to school. False alarm? I don't think so! I just don't think anyone was really paying attention or knew where the real fire was!

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for the nine lives I apparently have!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A COKE AND A SMILE - FALSE ALARM #1

Memories of my father are vague. In hindsight, he was merely the man who lived at my house... a non-participating parent. He was a stereotypical drunken Irishman. This tradition was unfortunately passed down throughout the generations and even reared its ugly head in the generation of his offspring. Three of his four children grew up to have substance abuse problems.

My mother was the "head" of the family and dished out the discipline in the family as we needed it usually in a very democratic way. If one of us did something, we all got in trouble! She never had the patience to investigate a wrongdoing and found punishing all of us was the easiest way of punishing the guilty party. My only memory of my father disciplining me was over an incident that happened while I was in 6th grade. This one time my three older brothers had nothing to worry about because I was the held accountable for my own actions. Any day now, I should be getting off restriction!

The neighborhood I grew up in was like many of that era. Generations lived in those neighborhoods without ever leaving. Each neighborhood had several features in common: a family-owned store (forerunner to a convenience store), a neighborhood bar, a local hang-out for the kids and teenagers (usually a pizza parlor with pinball machines) and a park. The young people of each neighborhood were very loyal to their "gang" of friends and mostly mingled only within the group they were born into until a little later in life when it was acceptable to have "outsiders" as friends. A definite code of silence was learned at a very young age and the rite of passage was simply acquired by showing loyalty when a situation arose requiring it.

One afternoon, 4 of us were out taking a walk. Before we knew it we were in the next neighborhood over from the one in which 3 of us lived. My 3 friends were thirsty and wanted to stop at the corner store for a Coke. While they were inside, I remained outside watching the world go by. My back was to the store, so as they exited from the store, I wasn't aware that they had come back outside. All of a sudden I heard a fire alarm go off and my natural "fight or flight" instinct put wings on my feet and I flew away from that location ASAP. Behind me were my 3 friends, laughing, running, and talking about pulling a false alarm.

When the fire trucks arrived and found no fire, they returned to the fire station, but the police scoured the neighborhood for the 4 girls who had fled. When they found us, we were brought to the police station and then subjected to a lecture about being responsible citizens. One by one, each of us were asked our names and addresses. One by one, each one of us were taken home in disgrace to face our families. I was the last one of the group to be questioned. When I revealed my name, the captain of the police department smiled and told me I wasn't going to go home. Instead, I was brought to the fire department where my father was working and had just gone out on a false alarm.

Gratitude statement: Forty-three years later, I am truly thankful to still be friends with the three bad influences mentioned in this post.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I MAY BE A COW, BUT I'M NOT PART OF THE HERD

For me, religion and spirituality are separated by an abyss. While religion is man made and may very well be fabricated with the purpose of being an "opium" to many, spirituality is something I believe we are born with and which leads people into an open-minded exploration. As children, we experience the greatness of the world around us and are in awe of its many mysteries. As we explore and learn, many find a need to explain those mysteries while others simply say they are acts of their higher power.

Yes, God has many faces and has many names throughout the world. Regardless of where we live or whether we worship God or not, we all recognize some force greater than ourselves. Many people believe we are part of some master plan. Those people embrace life by accepting things are what they are and happen as acts of destiny or fate. Others believe in a chaotic universe where everything that happens are random acts that are not guided by some supreme being but by the actions and reactions of physical world around us. Ultimately, we all believe what makes us most comfortable.

I believe the more open-minded a person is the more apt they are to question the world around them and be less satisfied with a catch all answer to everything. The more open-minded a person is the more likely they are to explore the outer boundaries of everything before forming a conclusion. I'm not saying closed-minded people are not capable of deep thought. What I am saying is people with closed minds are more likely to be satisfied with being pigeon holed into a herd mentality and thus, toe the line regarding their beliefs while open-minded people test the limits. Guilt is a powerful enforcer and many fear taking a chance of eternal damnation by questioning God. Socrates once said, "an unexamined life is not worth living". I say each of us has a duty to question whether the beliefs we carry with us are really ours as a result of a close, thorough examination or as a result of a simple herd mentality.

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful that before I ever drink any kool-aid, I always know all the ingredients first.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

AS THE WORLD TURNS

In a few weeks, I'll be in Maine amongst old friends and family being a bonafide Maineiac while eating "lobstah", whoopie pies and groovin' on the vibes that always seem the most familiar to me. On the Maine itinerary this year are two reunions... one for the people who grew up in or around my old neighborhood. To date there will about 50-60 people there...just a small and hopefully, sinfully decadent shindig and the second reunion is one that moves to different locales each year. The reunions for this exclusive bunch of people are generally small, but people always have a great time being together again and catching up. To date reunions have taken place in Woodstock, NY, Williams Lake, NY (upstate near Woodstock), St Pete Beach, FL and Jackman, Maine) This reunion is for former residents and staff members of a drug rehab I was in for 2 years. I always shake my head when I have to write or say "two years" because drug rehabs of that era were so much different than the ones of today. My two years were spent "drinking the kool-aid" so I would be deemed ready to join the real world again.

These remaining weeks before I go "home" normally would be spent putting the finishing touches on the two events I'm hosting and planning other activities, but my heart is heavy because I have one friend who was put on hospice care yesterday and was given 2-8 weeks. I hope I'll be able to see him while I'm in Maine and not have to attend a funeral while I'm home. My heart also aches for the son of a close friend of mine who was stabbed and left to bleed to death in the middle of the street. Fortunately, a kind stranger decided to do the right thing by calling 911, so Jason was rushed to the hospital, patched up and put in ICU. While the meth head who stabbed him is already out on bail, Jason is sentenced to the excruciating pain of recovering from his injuries.

Gratitude statement: Life is really fragile and short! The trick is not to take anything or anyone for granted for they may not be here tomorrow.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, July 09, 2010

FEATURED YOYO

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

~Robert Frost~

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful I have no gratitude statement today. Today, I think therefore I am!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I'm one of those people who give my 150% in anything I do, but have felt at times my giving nature has set me up to be used. Since I don't know how to be any other way and have no desire to alter who I am, I'm left with the question of when is enough really enough? If survival of the fittest decides who actually will inherit the earth, is it the emotional vampires (people who drain us completely dry) who will reign supreme or will it be the do-gooders and hermits who rise above the rest?

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for having the strength remain true to myself and to remain compassionate to others even when I'm in jeopardy of being hurt.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

CONFESSIONS OF A SAUCY TART

I often wonder if my sexual inhibitions developed as a result of my experiences as a child. I also wonder if that's true, what exactly makes one woman a saucy tart and another woman an ice queen if they both share similar experiences. One thing I did learn early on was the art of communication and how crucial it is in bed. I really believe great sex has as much to do with how a person communicates what they want in bed or the shower or in a tent out in the middle of nowhere as it does with sexual technique. Expressing what you want sexually at the right time can be very erotic. What you say or don't say also can be very damaging to your partner's ego.

We also have to keep in mind that since the two sexes come equipped with different tools, it's hard to gauge what feels best when we have no idea how what we're doing actually feels like to our partner. The exception to that is homosexual sex, but the fact of the matter is EVERYONE deserves a little positive feedback when the time is right! "God, that feels great...don't stop what you're doing!" or "Do that harder and faster...or "slower and tease me with your tongue a little" may be like giving your partner a gold star for job well done. Whatever it is you like, speak up and let your partner know. True intimacy starts with the ability to open up and trust your partner and grows with a willingness to try new things to please each other. However, if recreational sex or a one night stand is on the menu then remember more often than not you'll get the equivalent to a fast food meal rather than a 5 course meal. It might be satisfying at the moment, but it's rarely very memorable.

Gratitude statement: Although I've spent the last 5 years celibate, I'm thankful for some very fond memories!

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.