Innocence, Lost

Lately, I feel that the world is a very scary place. I KNOW you can’t live your life with utter fear, every second, but it feels overwhelming at times. Actually, you probably could live your life that way but I’m sure it

would be a miserable life with no joy at all. Sometimes, it feels like you just want to stay home in bed, huddled under your blankets, safe and warm. However, you can’t appreciate joy and happiness if you don’t know what fear or sadness feels like.

I have to talk myself out of thinking about worrying and taking chances every once in a while, sometimes I have to force myself to brave the world but I do it.  I go out into the world, at first tentatively, treading carefully, trying to be cautious of mine fields.

Now, it feels like there are mine fields everywhere. I’m sure there are millions of people who are more scared than I am that don’t even have the ability to leave their homes or rooms or beds to put one foot on the ground after another. I feel bad for them but I also can relate.

I am not joking, believe me. I think it takes a lot of courage and strength to live in today’s society.. I can only judge what I know. I know that in the beginning “baby boomer” years I felt peaceful, it was all about “love and peace and songs filled with that message.”

Now? I can’t /won’t watch the news or read the newspaper, it’s all too overwhelming especially when my daughter was traveling abroad. I felt happier when she landed and I could see her face than the entire two weeks before.

There seemed to be a bit more control way back then when I was growing up but maybe it was because I was a child instead of an adult? Maybe my parents protected me, but of course there was violence. The killings of JFK and MLK were terrible acts of violence but they weren’t so often and unpredictable like the school shootings that have happened here multiple times, or the killings of police officers etc. Why?


I miss those days in the seventies, the days of simplicity. I am grateful to have grown up in those days where peace was the motivation and simple music was mainstream, in concerts with regular guitars not high-tech with sound effects. Where people actually talked to each other instead of texting, where the phone was attached to the wall and not in our children’s hands.
The one thing I insisted on when my kids were growing up was that we all ate dinner together, no phones, no television, every single night. It gave us a chance to talk about our days.We played the “What was the high, low, funny of your day?” and everyone had to take part. I learned from my asking “How was school, what did you do” to which they both answered: “Good, Nothin.”
I knew parents who were never home to see their children, parents whose children were more attached to their nannies and had so much more money than we did. We had very little money but our family ate dinner together every single night and we talked about our days.
I knew a mom who sat her children in front of the television with”tv” trays and that was dinner, every single night, the children’s father worked very late hours and didn’t see his children much at all. Our kids once complained that they were not allowed to watch television during dinner and I drew the line right then and there.
It was less complicated back then where the gourmet ice cream was just Hagen Daas not thirty other brands where choices were unlimited and not wildly scattered like
English: Dandelions in the Tuira district of t...dandelions in the wind.
Sometimes having too many choices is harder than having limited choices, it’s more anxiety provoking for some people, more frustrating.
When I go shopping, I stand in front of the toothpaste or the shampoo aisle and just stare. How many choices can there be? Apparently too many as I stare with glazed over eyes not even focusing on which one I want. Does it really make a difference? Aren’t they all pretty much alike? Of course they are but today there seems to be a need for more and more and big, bigger, biggest and 50 varieties on one product.
I would love to go back to easier times, nicer times when the theme was Random Acts Of Kindness, how about we get that started again? Some have never stopped but many have stopped because of no income or just focusing on their busy lives. Let’s try to get on track, again. If nothing else, it will take away the fear and replace it with appreciation, it also doesn’t need to cost one cent.
 The sandwich generation, we are taking care of both our parents and our children, say “Peace Out” and “Keep On Trucking.” After all we need to keep our boomer sense of humor. It’s pretty much all we have left.
Picture of John Lennon's Strawberry Fields For...

Picture of John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields Forever Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Haiku Heights: Bats

Bats

Bats (Photo credit: fatedsnowfox)

Bat

Bat (Photo credit: Lee Carson)

English: Echolocating bats adjust their vocali...

English: Echolocating bats adjust their vocalizations to catch insects against a changing environmental background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wretched, beady-eyed

evil destruction, black wings

touch my hair, spit, scream.

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*Birds, I squealed, look, dad

clinging, high pitch, flying, close

Go to mom, lock door!

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*When I was four or five, there were bats in our apartment which was on the top floor. My father shooed my mom and me into the bedroom while he would take care of them. Armed with a towel or two he played hero while my mother and I hid. He told us to come out when it was safe. I remember sitting on his shoulders as he took me around to reassure me. Around the corner I remember squealing quite happily:” Look, Daddy, Birdie.” Sure enough there was one bat left. Again, we locked ourselves in the room until this bat too was swatted out of our sixth floor window. To this day, I am absolutely terrified of bats. I can barely look at them (even the photos in this post) and if one flew near my head I would most likely scream, fall to the floor and faint. Happily.I have a terribly phobia of bats now.

When my daughter was little and we went to the zoo, she took my hands and led me away to protect me from seeing the bats. I have never forgotten that and I never will. Thank you, sweetheart.

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If You Ran Away To Join The Circus What Would Your Job Be? (Plinky Prompt)

Cotton Candy

Cotton Candy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • If you ran away and joined the circus, what would your role be?Would you run a concession? Would you train elephants? Be a clown?Ringmaster? Why?
  • NO job at the circus??

    circus

    circus (Photo credit: fsse8info)

  • I’d probably be the one holding the sign saying that the Circus Is Cruel To Animals, although I never used to think that way. One of my favorite things to do as a child was to go to the circus with my parents. It was a dream. The mixed smell of peanuts blending in with pink cotton candy wafting in the air. The taste of the cotton candy melting on my tongue, where did it go? The flashlights we used to twirl around and around in the dark. The twinkling lights, the aura of suspense, where to look, the anticipation, ah, the ringmaster! The whole event was magical, I truly loved it.
    When I had children I couldn’t wait to take them to the circus, I was almost as excited as they were, maybe more. There is something about the circus that automatically transforms you into a child…until you grow up. Until you have watched a documentary or two and realized that tigers really don’t ride tricycles naturally and the elephants look old, and tired and do the monkeys really need to ride a motorcycle? Why are there so many whips around? My daughter, a vegetarian, realized it when she was older too and we never went to see a circus again. Why would we?
    It’s the same reason that I won’t wear a fur coat. I wouldn’t throw red paint on someone who was wearing one, I think that is extreme, but I choose not to wear one. No act of violence, to me, is acceptable. Now, it is my choice not to attend the circus, but if someday I have grandchildren and they look at me with those innocent eyes, jumping up and down and begging as only children can do, I can’t promise I wouldn’t take them if their parents wanted me to. In fact, most likely, I would, just to see their eyes shine, to hear the jingle of laughter long forgotten, to buy them cotton candy and a flashlight to twirl in the magical magnificence and innocence of childhood.

     

Haiku Heights: Alien

Bill is alien

Bill is alien (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Outer space farm-land

Purple lambs eat white star cake

Wearing red lipstick

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Huddled in masses

a grip, shoulder pain gasps blood

wrenched from your lover

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Unknown desires

slipping through smoky windows

the concept of sin

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Stand alone, sweet soul

Evil corruption buys cash,

Poor with dignity

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I Panicked, Then I Got Over Myself (Because We Have No Choice)

The Donna Reed Show

The Donna Reed Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At dinner, my nineteen year old son told me that he and his friends were going to see a movie later that night. I felt a chill course through my body. “Batman?” I asked in a somber tone. “Yeah” he said, just looking at my face, “Mom. don’t worry.” But, of course, I worried a bit and it is making me furious that once again there is another thing to feel fearful about when so much has already been taken away. We have lost the freedom to feel care-free, happy, because other people are killing each other senselessly.  Wait, that is incorrect, we have not “lost the freedom” it has been stripped from us, leaving open, bloody wounds and physical and emotional pain that will never go away.

I’m not saying that I won’t go to the movies again, certainly not, movies have always been my safe haven but now there’s another feeling about going into a movie theater other than just pure joy and excitement and playing the preview game, (thumbs up or thumbs down?)….there’s trepidation, at least for now.

Right after 9/11 people were scared to fly, many, many people. Others were even scared to take the trains or buses, I don’t like the world now. I liked it better when “Father Knows Best” was on television and “Mayberry RFD” and “The Donna Reed Show.” Any situation was always wrapped up neatly by the end of half an hour, and there was always a sweet, comforting ending. Sure, some mischief may have been made but the child learned a lesson, hugs were warmly given and they all sit down together for a really good dinner. ( Yes, it was always made by mom.)

Life seemed easier back then, sure we had fire drills at school and we had to scoot under our desks (maybe there were threats we knew nothing about) but there were no actual terrorist attacks or abductions or practice lock- downs that my children speak of as part of their day, as common as milk and cookies were to us in the fifties and sixties. Knowing it can never be the same stirs a gloomy sadness inside me.

What can I do to help?  Anything? I know, probably not. The world as I knew it has changed. I just wish there was some way that collectively we could think of a way to make things better. Instead, we stand on the sidelines and want to lift a hand. It may be a totally unrealistic and innocent idea but I just feel so helpless doing nothing. Sure, I can spare a few dollars to donate to the victims of Aurora, Colorado but that’s not what I am talking about. It’s not ENOUGH.

I have a longing for the past, an ache for a simpler life, the life of my childhood. I want to help make things better and don’t know how.

Can anyone else relate?

Carry On Tuesday – Only In Our Dreams

Eating Shiva

Eating Shiva (Photo credit: Mirror | imaging reality)

I felt virtuous when I sat, eating an open-faced veggie burger, with stone ground mustard and drinking ice water. I don’t feel the same way now. It’s three hours later and my son is having a barbecue for his friends. He came running up the stairs with a freshly charred hamburger on a bun dripping with ketchup and a slice of cheese slithering on top, shining with grease. I did not hesitate, I ate it  in one minute and I’m paying the price, in fullness and actual physical pain. I can’t lie; I have enjoyed it immensely along with the toasted marshmallow he brought up too. I know this game very well.

It started at birth with me, a six-week premature baby having to stay in the hospital until I gained enough weight to be able to come home. After that, my mother overcompensated and then I went full speed to fat or what they used to call “chubby.” I can pretend to eat healthy food now (most of the time) but I know that I will always be the fat, round, girl, that I have always been.

My mother could never figure out why I never wanted to go shopping when I was a child and a teenager, how could she not know? I was a very slim child only from age five to six until she decided to fatten me up, relentlessly, wherever we went. The Nestle’s Quik was at my side, spooned generously into my milk at every meal, like a religion.

Last year, I gained forty pounds when our house was demolished by termites and carpenter ants and we had to stay in a hotel, in one room, three of us and our dog, our disappointment and our dreams, dashed. My husband was also on medical leave for a snapped Achilles tendon, our sixteen year-old daughter cooped in one room with us while our house was built again from bare walls. That’s when you know who your real friends are, because it is at their house you are sharing a meal, they are asking you in and treating you like family, it saved our souls and sanity.

The only comfort in our lives was that our son was away in college was missing the trauma we were living through, and FOOD. We ate out at restaurants, two or three times a day. It was clear we were not eating healthfully, we were eating to comfort ourselves, dessert for lunch and for dinner every single day and night. French fries with your sandwich? Yes please. The only decision to make was what flavor milk shake we wanted, vanilla, strawberry or chocolate. Candy bars, cookies and crackers were stored in our hotel room like paper cups.

Piles of cakes and pies, white tendrils of coconut smiled down at us from its vanilla perch. Chocolate mousse cake winked at us from its place on the revolving cake display, cheesecake with strawberries, we denied ourselves nothing. Deep, deep down I knew what was happening though I chose to deny it; only in our dreams did I believe that we were not feeding our depression. When times were easier, better, we would deal with it. Then, we couldn’t cope with one more detail, one more restriction.

In three and a half months we moved back into our completely disorderly yellow house. For months we didn’t know where anything was. There are still boxes missing, items that some day we hope to find. I started taking responsibility for my unhealthy body. I worried about my heart, I started slowly and decided to eat more vegetables and less red meat. In the end, I lost forty pounds with another five to ten to go. I drink ice water with lemon instead of soda. I try not to have dessert but lately I have been craving something sweet. It’s a slippery slope; I have to be very careful.

I know I am the same chubby girl I was when I was little. I will always be that child in my mind and body; I will always be the last girl picked for any team sport, the fat kid, the ugly, stupid child. I don’t measure up, why should I be able to do something when my parents always said I wouldn’t be able to do it?

As we get older we make our own choices, we slip away from the past and make up our own rules, our own belief system, we cherish different qualities than those that we were taught. I taught my own children that they can do anything they want and they can do it well. Whatever they want to do they should do it with pride. There is nothing that they can’t do, nothing they can’t succeed at; in my heart, I love and like these two people. When they were young, if I was fearful for them, I hid it, because they had the right to experience life through their own feelings and not become unnerved because of mine. That, is what parenthood should be about. This was my gift to them; the gift of freedom, freedom to choose, but most of all, freedom to believe in themselves, knowing, always knowing, that I believed in them too.

Plinky Prompt: Favorite Rock Album

  • Favorite Rock Album
  • “On The Cover Of The Rolling Stones” The Rolling Stones I can choose one because it was so momentous growing up in the age of The Rolling Stones. It was the album, yes album, with the up close and personal photo of the…(hush) pants/ zipper on it. Quite titillating for a teenage girl and her friends. The Beatles were sweet and romantic, The Monkees were cute and funny but The Rolling Stones? They introduced sexuality, …p.s. I just realized at the age of 55 while writing this blog, I am surely the most gullible, naive, innocent and stupid person alive. “Sticky Fingers,”really? My kids are right, I’m a lost cause. Just shoot me.

Carry On Tuesday: “I Had A Dream”

Publicity photo of Ralph Waite (John Walton, S...

Publicity photo of Ralph Waite (John Walton, Sr.), Richard Thomas (John Boy), and Michael Learned (Olivia Walton) from the television program The Waltons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a dream, when I was younger, that all families were like the ones I  watched on television: Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best and most importantly, The Waltons. Everyone always got along, the siblings were close, sure they bantered back and forth but I could just feel the love between them and the mutual admiration they had for one another. I grew up thinking that life was fair; good people got good things and bad people got what they deserved: punishment. Life was about giving and taking, things always worked out in the end, or so I thought.

I certainly don’t believe in that as much as I used to, hell, I’m not sure I believe in it at all.  There are too many bad people getting away with too much horrible crap and too many good people are given way too much stuff to handle that they don’t deserve. Think about it for a minute, I bet you can think of a few, truly good and kind people who don’t deserve what they have and a few unkind, bad and selfish people you wish had more of the same, negative karma that they give out,  if only to teach them a lesson or two. Does it happen often? No, it rarely happens if at all.

I know I started  my youthful fantasies, back when there was a Santa Claus, and an Easter Bunny and if you had a bad day, the next day was a promise with a kiss to be better. It was a world when moms and dads could tell you things and you believed them in your child-like innocence. Parents weren’t flawed people, they were just, well…parents. Apparently, life is not based out of old episodes of a television series. Reality hit me when I was an adolescent and those innocent years of childhood ended abruptly.

Families, like The Waltons all lived together in one big house; sure they were poor but they all got along and loved and trusted one another, three generations living under one roof. We can’t even have a dinner with the “adults” in my family before someone’s childish drama and selfishness rears its dysfunctional head, loudly and inappropriately, within a matter of minutes. At my mother’s  birthday celebration, one member of my family made it all about her. I wasn’t shocked or surprised it happens that way all the time. I just shook my head, looked at my poor husband who had just been delivered a stern lecture and saw his flushed cheeks and his bewildered, hurt brown eyes; he was very upset. After that, just looking at his body language he had checked out. There’s always one victim, usually it’s me, now it was both of us, but I don’t feel defeated anymore, I just felt disgusted.

Here is what I have learned:  people do not change. The most “enlightened” sounding people can be the most disturbed and do not know themselves at all; they need professional help. As much as we are all in this together with our friends, family, neighbors,  ultimately, we are alone. We are born alone and we will die alone. The most important thing to have is strength in yourself. We all need that wisdom and courage it takes to go to bed and wake up the next day knowing that even though it is hard to put one foot in front of the other, we have no choice but to continue. That even in uncharted territory we must force ourselves to go on and that family is not necessarily defined by blood lines but by goodwill, caring, kind, well-intentioned, love. Pure and simple. Love should not be that complicated, and if it always is, there is something very, very wrong.

It’s Time To Skip, Again

My 2 children spontaneously hold hands and joy...

Fear: I know your name and how you make me feel. My fingers are deep in the inner pocket of my blue fleece jacket rubbing my thumb and forefinger over the soft texture again and again. It is part of my life and everyone’s life at some point. It takes a long time to get over it but eventually you have to and you do. It is like a lazy turtle hiding in its thick green shell and only slowly, with caution, it sticks it’s leery head out and barely looks left and right. It retreats, yes, we all do but we do come out again. Maybe it’s a little easier the next time.

Life is like that, everyone can be terrified at some point and it took me years to accept that it wasn’t just me. I am still cautious, I still get those annoying, tight anxiety strings that pull and tug until they think they can wear me down. I try to push back but sometimes I fail and that is alright. There are solutions because we cannot handle everything ourselves. We need other people or we need medicine or we need to write down our fears or do a collage to rid ourselves of the scary lion, in our minds, attacking its innocent prey. Sometimes, we need to force ourselves to jump or to take a baby step or to skip like when we were innocent children. Remember the feeling of skipping down the street with your best friend? Pure joy and innocence and no fear whatsoever. Maybe we can still be that person once in a while.

It is alright to make mistakes and to make them all over again. Some lessons are hard to learn but not impossible. I know that I feel that too. Some people hide it better than others, some quake, some sweat, some can’t speak for a moment but eventually you find your OWN path. Don’t think it’s just you because it isn’t. I promise. Think of someone who you think has absolutely no fear and then think again. Everyone feels frightened some time in their life. There are some of us that wear our hearts on our sleeves, like me. You can notice my feelings on my face ten feet away, at least some people can; others, don’t notice a thing.

Sometimes I have to play a game. You can play it too. Plaster a great big fake smile on your face and pretend you are absolutely confident. Once my college teacher called it “the confidence game” and I needed it as much as anyone else. It takes time to master it but give it a chance. You might be happily surprised.

“What if I fail?” asks the nervous me. “What if I made a really big mistake?”  I wept to one of my son’s teachers when he was in first grade, “Stand in line, she said “do you think you’re the first one to make a mistake?”  To me it seemed colossal and I did fret with worry but it made me think. My son is now eighteen and I still think of her words, I can picture the teacher’s red hair and the tears on my face streaming down like a small but steady waterfall. When I finally stopped weeping and gave her a hug, I left feeling a tiny bit better. As years went by I always remembered that and now I give other people the same advice I was given. It is okay to make mistakes, everyone does.

If I had any failures in my life most of them were because I was “scared to try.”  I look back at my life and think it might have been really healthy to have been fired once or twice, or scolded and reprimanded instead of TRYING to be the perfect me. My one badge of pride is that I did not pass on my own fears to my children. For this, and this alone, I have succeeded in a spectacular way. I have also forgiven myself for the mistakes I have made, because the decisions I made at the time seemed right. Now, knowing more and being older if I try really hard, I can make different choices. Not always, but sometimes and that’s perfectly good enough.

What I Miss About Childhood

Up, Up And Away

Trans World Airlines (TWA) Boeing 747-100

I miss the innocence of being a child. When you are little you think that your parents can handle all of life’s problems. When I was a child we boarded airplanes continuously since our father worked for TWA. My sister and I had to dress up in matching blue skirts and sweaters, I remember the buttons felt and looked like small rocks. The only feeling we had, since we were flying non-rev, (subject to space) was perhaps annoyance that we may not get on the flight we wanted. We would have to wait for another flight at the airport which could take hours. At that time it seemed like a tragedy. Now, we fear terrorist attacks, bombs exploding, emergency landings and even birds in the sky. We take off our shoes, we go through security; everyone looks suspicious. Back then we dressed like we were going to the opera, now people wear jeans and sweat pants on the airplane, myself included. I would give anything to have that innocence back; I wouldn’t even complain about wearing a sweater set that identically matched my older sister’s.There is no way of making up for that loss of innocence; after 9/11 the world as we had known it, changed forever.

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