My Name Is Nobody

When my sister and I still lived at home, many years ago, we would look at each other sadly and randomly say: “Nobody cares.” It is in fact, true on some level. People don’t seem to care the same way anymore or maybe they are just too busy. Too busy to show that they care? Yes. Sorry.

Life

Life (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

I used to be Somebody but not anymore, I don’t feel like Anything or Anyone anymore. I just Exist.

A very long time ago I was a little girl who played dolls, went to school year after year and I was a Student. I was known for always Smiling by my teachers but I seemed invisible to my classmates.

When I was in college I became a Young Woman, an excellent student, also able to cut a class for an outdoor concert with good friends, under the sun. My camera draped around my neck like jewelry, it did not get better than that. Of course I didn’t appreciate it then, does anyone? No, there is no frame of reference until you look back. Those WERE the BEST years of my life.

I always worked, every summer during high school,  I started working right after college but my world was still centered around Me. That wondrous place in time, the narrow window of fun, between college and the real world, now in today’s world fraught with unemployment. I had my apartment, I learned from good experiences and bad; mice running over my arm and leg at night or crawling in the walls and utter fear to getting frozen at knife point by a gang and the guardian angel who saved me. I learned that sometimes it is easier to say no, than it is to say yes. Eventually, I moved.

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a wi...

English: Portrait of old woman sitting by a window. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to travel for barely nothing, to visit a friend, to fly across the ocean, to visit different countries. I was lucky, Dad worked for the airlines. Then, I was a Traveler, a Tourist. I learned to eat new food in Greece, jumbo shrimp staring at me with watchful eyes, lemon-egg soup, and everything tepid, I loved that. Food was not served burning hot. I walked up winding white and blue steps in Greece on a tiny island, where there were no cars, just donkeys. My family traveled to Portugal and I refused to eat sardines that the fishermen just caught. But, our family drank wine together outside in a beautiful garden, near a forest.

I learned to trust MY instincts, not my sister’s, the daredevil, with no common sense. We ended up on a canoe, going to on an island with two fishermen.  I had never been so scared in my life. No big deal, she shrugs it off, grinning. Yeah. Right.

Then, I was a Working Wife and Mother, I had a title again, a meaning for my Life,  the most special one. Being a Mother did not feel like a job but it fulfilled every one of my dreams, it was all I wanted to do my whole life. I wanted to have two babies, a boy and a girl and bring them up to be good, conscious, wonderful people. In that, I know I succeeded; I did my job well, I am proud.

My life has no meaning anymore. You can’t argue with something that is true. My kids are adults, they don’t need me anymore, my husband and I are very best friends, he could manage. My friends, the real ones who care, are sincere but have their own lives.

I need a new Life. I am so sick of the old one. I want to peel off my skin like I peel bananas for the banana bread I bake. I need to do something new with the second half or even quarter of my life. The end of my life, where did the first half go?

It left like whispers in the air, silent passages of time, I blinked.

 

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Maybe “Safe” Is A Better Word Than “Stuck”

English: The Mother Orange Tree, the oldest li...

English: The Mother Orange Tree, the oldest living orange tree in Northern California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often refer to my husband and myself as Empty Nesters, stuck between two worlds. We still live in the home where we raised our children,  paying outrageous school taxes even though both kids are in college. My mother and sister both live nearby and my husband’s parents live close by as well. But, I know, deep inside, this is not where I want to end up for the rest of our lives.  I’m sure you have heard the term  “The Sandwich Generation” before, it defines us as it does most of the aging “Baby Boomers.” I shudder when I even think of the term “Aging Boomers.” Us? Really?

I have wanted to move to the West Cost for a long time since I was a kid and my dad mentioned he had a possible job interview in California. For someone who is not good with change, I was so excited about the prospect.  I imagined a little white house and garden with bright red flowers on the boarders, an orange tree in the back yard and a red dog named Rusty.

Here, in the Northeast the weather is too cold and I’ve always hated cold weather. For those of you who enjoy the cold and love its sparkling freshness, enjoy it. For all you skiers out there, have a great time racing down those sleek, icy hills, I would be in the chalet drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream anyway. The cold weather makes me hurt all over in general and  living with the chronic pain illness, Fibromyalgia, the cold, bone-chilling weather makes my bones and muscles hurt even more. There is nothing I can do about that except accept it.

I admit, I used to feel closed in not knowing when and where we would move in the future but now it feels alright, in fact it feels safe. Chaos will surely occur if there is any major change and for someone like me, change is always hard. For me, ” A Good Change” is an oxymoron. For little things, I need 24-48 hours to get used to change that is even mildly disturbing, imagine a huge change? The mere thought of moving away from my sister and mother brings tears to my eyes. My children will come visit when they can, it is their turn to live now. So maybe being “stuck” is not so bad, maybe being stuck is just being “safe.” If I look at it that way,  I’m doing alright. Actually, pretty good. I’m enjoying nature in the suburbs, the sweet red cardinals chirping in the trees, the changing of the leaves, the different seasons. Change will happen by itself, there are things we can’t control, health, employment, our children moving away, us moving away, sickness, death. Life brings us one change after another, so right now where we are “stuck” is really a time to rest and appreciate. Whatever comes next, will be very, very different; we will get used to it in time but it won’t be easy to call that place home with all the pieces in the puzzle fitting right into place for a long time. I’m just going to appreciate what I have now, not look backwards and not look forwards, be in the present. Sounds good, right? I’m trying the best that I can.

a drawing of a 4 piece jigsaw puzzle

a drawing of a 4 piece jigsaw puzzle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Carry On Tuesday: Dear Students

CIMG2148.JPG

CIMG2148.JPG (Photo credit: afcool83)

Announcement To All Incoming Freshmen.

Welcome to your first year of college. I’m sorry I can’t meet with you in person but this speech has been taped because I am no longer able to leave the President’s house due to my physical limitations.

The President and I want you to have a lot of fun and to work hard and learn many different things. Learn about the things you want to study, and about different people who you will meet from all over the country. We want you to learn about life. Life can be scary and painful sometimes. I hope this never happens to you but unfortunately it may hit you way down the road at some unexpected point.  When you are young you don’t notice those things, because you feel invincible. You should. Enjoy that special time while it lasts because before you know it, you will become a grown-up and it is really not much fun at all. You get older, you have illnesses, physical disabilities that you never thought of when you were in college. That’s good. Enjoy your time here because life, later on, gets more complicated.

I know you won’t listen to me, you are laughing at such a silly old woman, trying to tell a bunch of freshmen to enjoy their youth. I know. I don’t expect you to believe me because I wouldn’t have believed me either and that’s a good thing. Have fun, be safe but enjoy these next four years of absolute joy. Sure, you may squabble with your roommate or be upset over your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend but this will pass, with time. Also, believe it or not, you will learn from all your experiences, good and bad. These years will shape your future life. Don’t waste them.

When you get old, like I am now, the world feels like a dangerous place. You question every symptom you have, every threat of terror, every nuance. The good thing is, you just don’t care that much anymore about what other people think. Surround yourself with good friends and try to appreciate your family, those that love you best and will always love you.

There will be some hard times ahead, I know you can’t picture that but it may happen in the future. Know this, when you have somebody who loves you, someone you can count on, it makes life, a whole lot easier.

Enjoy your time here, welcome to your first year of college. Be safe, be happy, have fun.

Thank you.

The Moment ( HS Graduation 2011)

Cap Toss

Image by Herkie via Flickr

I never knew how high and wide the big white High School graduation tent was until I stood under it. I didn’t realize how massive it was until I wandered through it.  I walked through the aisles under the tent saying “Hi” and “Congratulations” to people I hadn’t seen in years.

I didn’t know how I would react when my son’s name was read over the microphone yet instinctively we stood and clapped and cheered and roared. I saw a young man walk back to his seat in slow motion; I didn’t realize it was my son; his face  looked so grown up. Teenagers age, I think,  once they put on their High School graduation caps and gowns; he looked six inches taller and six years older too.

It’s all a blur, the speeches and the people you smile at, familiar faces that you have seen in elementary school recitals or a middle-school play. The friends that you hug warmly are the best, closest friends that you have, that you have talked to all year, day in and day out, wondering anxiously if you and your child would ever make it to this grand day. We hold on to each other for an extra minute, sharing this surreal moment, not believing we are actually, finally, here.

They officials on the podium made an announcement to please refrain from clapping until all the students names have been read. Yeah, right. I felt sorry for the first few kids whose last name started with “A.” Those parents were very well-behaved; it just took one family to start…  There were further instructions from the podium to NOT clap for each student so I felt perfectly justified playing my silly game of selection. I did NOT clap for the kids that had ever been especially mean to my son (starting with kindergarten through 12th) and for the mean-spirited moms, dads and kids that everyone knew, were the culprits of spreading ill-will. It was like a silent victory lap for moms and dads; besides we all did the same thing.

I was proud of my self-control, all my sadness, tears, and sobbing began months before the actual event. On the day of graduation I smiled and laughed and was so proud of my son and the amazing young man he has turned out to be.  I was also filled with pride when his three best friends names were called, we shouted and clapped for each one. I will, undoubtedly, miss my son when he leaves for college but also, I will miss his friends, “the posse” as I called them or “The Entourage.” I have no doubt that they will see each other when they come home from college, but this long, lovely chapter of best friends and video games, parties, dinners, dates and diners has ended. I will miss that and my special group of “The Moms.”

Just when I thought the ceremony was over, the President of the High School, told the students that they had officially  graduated. The blue caps were flung in the air with unbridled joy and excitement. There was a deafening roar from the students and all my self-control evaporated in that moment; I burst out crying. It was so emotionally intense; it was captured in my mind and heart forever.

The graduates beamed so much that it looked like they were lit up from inside with joy and pride.  They were shining, like new copper pots or brand new pennies, excitement dancing in their eyes. Congratulations to my son and to all his friends and classmates; Congratulations to the Class of 2011!

If I Were a Teacher

Each One Teach One (Oneida album)

Image via Wikipedia

Life 101

 

I have always and I mean always, wanted to teach a course called Life 101. Originally I thought it would be good for college age students but now that I am older, I know it could be taught in any and every grade. Imagine a class where you would not be judged and you felt free enough to ask questions that you think about. Imagine having conversations, free of fear and tension. Questions you didn’t know whom to ask….you don’t need a Ph.d to teach this class, just be a loving soul with good intentions, be sensitive to others and intuitive. Keep an open mind and help students help the world and each other. Life experience required. I am submitting my resume…NOW!

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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.

Ah, Roommates

Utterly Alone

Image by Michelle Brea via Flickr

You mean UGH, ROOMMATES? Don’t you?

The one word you or your college student should fear when they get the information from their chosen school is “TRIPLE.” It’s what happened to me when I applied to college, many, many years before Naviance even existed. We applied by mail, we knew the admissions department’s response by the thickness or the thinness of the envelope. Things were different way back then…..as my daughter likes to say “when the dinosaur’s roamed.”

When I was admitted to college I was unfortunate to be assigned to a triple, 3 girls, one small room. Another phrase for that would be “hell on earth.” I was the big city girl, the two others were from teeny, tiny towns, population probably at the 400 mark. I was doomed right from the start.

I was waiting to be let into the dorm, I was the first one in line. It didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t have my choice of beds, why wouldn’t I? I waited, for the official starting time. Rejoice! I could pick the bed I wanted. I went to my assigned room and once there saw someone’s coat and belongings lounging on the single bed. Apparently not every one was as rule conscious as I was. Apparently, since I was the first in line, one of the girls, apparently, had sneaked into the dorm the night before and laid claim to the single bed. I was absolutely stunned, confused and thought that was unfair;  I was also very naive.

The two roommates bonded in an instant, two small town girls with nothing on their minds but boys, boys and well, boys. I found myself sitting outside in the hallway a lot when the two girls were….ummm…entertaining, their individual boyfriends of the week, on their separate beds, together. The hallway floor and my soft blue and white one piece, zip-up robe became friends. The RA (Resident Assistant) couldn’t really do too much about it although she did offer me a seat on her bed once in a rare while.

As soon as I could, I asked for a transfer but it took months. Finally, I had a new roommate that was great but then, after a while, she left. The rest of the short semester I had a single. I loved it, every single, second of it. Call me antisocial, it felt like heaven.

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EARLY COLLEGE: A PARODY

Even though the SAT or ACT is preferred in dif...

Image via Wikipedia

Dear College Board,

We are parents of a Junior and a Senior in High School. We know all about ” early decision” where students can find out their application status earlier than other students. We also know it is a binding contract and should be taken very seriously. There is also “early action” which is non-binding but still affords the potential student with information about their status from certain colleges with a rolling admissions process. We know it can be a very stressful and tense time waiting for the dreaded AND most eagerly anticipated, April 1st 2011 deadline.  Herewith, I am planning a proposal for yet another placement strategy that is called ” Early College.”

“Early College” are for those seniors in High School that are READY to be in college even though it is still the first quarter of their senior year. “Early College” is meant to help parents deal with their children’s “senioritis”: obnoxious behavior, arguments and their child’s apparent “superior- knowledge -in -everything.” Since these children seem to be SO advanced,  with their astounding wisdom and arrogance it seems fitting that they should have a temporary place to live at a college, any college, before they get officially accepted. Students  would be required to take the following courses: No Beer 101, No Weed, 101, No Lying 101 thru 501 (advanced placement offered after a failed a polygraph test), I Like My Friends Better 101, 301, and 501 and Trying The Patience Of Parents (can be repeated if necessary.)

Parents of the world have been suffering through this transitory stage since the inception of college as we know it today.  It is generally a process that starts in the Junior year of High School which includes, but is not limited to, the following:  1) driving permit, 2) PSAT, 3) tutoring for the SAT, 4) paying for the PSAT and SAT ) 5) paying for driver’s education course 6) paying for additional drivers on our insurance etc. We listen with an open heart to gripes about the PSAT, ACT, SAT, SAT 2’s, and those teachers that “hate” our children. We pay for additional tutoring with a smile and a hefty check and we shuttle those with a learner’s permit to and from: malls, movies, friend’s houses, malls, and malls. I am proposing a Junior program as well for those Juniors in HS that are not quite ready to take the big step away from home. It’s called the “Parent Appreciation Program & Smiling” program or PAPS as we call it. This program is for an entire week where students will have to sit through (or be sat on) courses such as the following: Eye Rolling, Superior Attitude, Cursing, and Selfish Behavior.  In these classes, teachers will parrot student behaviors and show students what it is like for parents every single day and night. They should learn how it feels and recite the following every ten minutes: “treat others as you would like to be treated.” That is, in our program, our mantra.

Thank you for your attention and consideration. We know that the aforementioned programs will bring a brief respite for parents and some important information for the Juniors and Seniors in all High Schools. Please let us know what we can do to expedite this program. I mean that seriously, please.

Yours truly,

Parents of High School Students Incorporated