Day 397: The Monster Again

My sister is in town from NYC. Whenever she’s in town I always get super introspective about my life. She is rocking her personal version of success and I am thrilled for her. Then I  look at my life and am deflated.  I didn’t plan on living in my parents’ house at the age of thirty-two. I’m not sure what I did plan but I’m sure that wasn’t it. For many adults, at least the ones I know their childhood home is a place to visit for a few weeks at a time to recharge their batteries and reconnect with loved ones. When we were forced into the position of having to come to Tennessee after leaving Denver I was crushed. The town that I spent my adolescence in holds very few good memories for me. The awful memories don’t come from my family, not my immediate family anyway. During this time my sister and I were homeschooled and we were often teased and picked on by our cousins and other neighborhood kids for not going to “real” school. Mom said they were just jealous, which was true, but it didn’t help much at the time. Even after we decided to return to public school, a decision I still sometimes regret, I was still shut out. I didn’t go to the school I was zoned for, they claimed they were not equipped to handle my needs and so I rode a school bus for an hour every morning to a different school. I didn’t get to see the few kids in our neighborhood that I was on speaking terms with so that put even more distance between us. They were still my sister’s friends so I still saw them reasonably often but most of them kept me at arm’s length, the same as the kids I actually went to school with. The children in my neighborhood were at least a little better than those I went to school with. Kids at my school didn’t tease me or make fun of me to my face, they just froze me out, because in the American South we grew up with someone in our family who said, “if you can’t say something nice don’t say it at all.” In the South, you also have someone in your family who reminded you that it was impolite to stare at disabled (depending on the age of the relative admonishing you they might say crippled instead of disabled) and a lot of houses both of these things were imparted to you by the same person. The end result was that when I would say hi a lot of my peers would not even look me in the face. They would often cross to the other side of the hallway to avoid me. I’m not sure whether they were just trying to be considerate and not block my path or if they actually thought they would catch something from me.

 

So when I finally left I wanted to stay as far away as I could from the area. Life hasn’t worked out that way though. Every time I think I have finally settled somewhere else I get yanked back like a yo-yo or a rubber band, or maybe the town has its own gravitational pull and I’m the only one affected. I honestly don’t know what my dreams would have looked like if I had been born without brain damage. I do know that having a disability informed the scope of my dreams. I graduated high school with a 3.0 GPA but I didn’t work my ass off to become valedictorian because if I were going to use Vocational Rehabilitation to fund my college I would have to go to a state school, Harvard and Yale and Princeton and Georgetown were not even a distant hope for me, they might as well not exist. I didn’t really care much about “resume padding” for college either because nothing I would have even considered as a safety school was on the list I could attend. I did take choir but not because it would make me look any better to an admissions board.

 

The worst part about it is that not a single person ever asked me where I would have liked to go if I had no barriers at all. Not a single person. Many people don’t get to go to their dream school for whatever reason but at least someone asks them what it is. No one asked, not even my parents and it still stings. I’m sure they didn’t realize it or if they did I’m sure they were just trying to be kind. It felt like they assumed I had small dreams, small ambitions.

 

So when Morgan comes to town and I see that she has flown as far as she ever wanted to I feel happy and proud of her but I also feel just a little bit hamstrung and cheated. Morgan has never made me feel less her she is probably my biggest cheerleader, especially when I don’t think there is much to cheer about. I wouldn’t change her for the amount of money in the world. The green-eyed monster does make its appearance though and what am I to do but struggle with it mightily lest it overtakes me?

my-sig-24

 

Advertisements

Day 369 :Thoughts on Facebook and Other Social Media From a Person Who Grew Up Without It.

I joined Facebook when it was just for college students and educators. My RA spent weeks talking me into creating an account, and to this day I’m still not sure why it was so important to him.Fast forward to the present and it seems like everybody and their mother has a Facebook.It’s not just for the college crowd anymore. A lot of business people communicate with clients and customers through Facebook.

My generation is the last one to grow up before the advent of the internet and social media. I remember when dial-up was the only type of internet connection. My parents taught my sister an I what I’ve considered the golden rule of the net long before social media was a thing. The golden rule is, once it’s out there you can never take it back. It can be photos, videos, conversations, anything.If you not sure you can deal with the possible repercussions of a strange knowing something personal, leave it off the net.

It’s a rule that has served me well. I like the internet and social media as much as the next person but there are things I won’t do. I  don’t have arguments in Facebook comments. Facebook was not meant to be the Internets version of a daytime talk show. If you insist on hashing things out over Facebook, message me privately.My blog is linked to my Facebook, in part so that family I don’t see often can keep up with me. .That being said, I am always mindful that both Facebook and WordPress are public sites. Yes, I am aware of the fact that both sites have privacy settings, but computer code isn’t unbreakable so I’m very select in what I say. Anybody mentioned in my blog is mentioned only after I have cleared it with them. Sometimes they say no and that means I have to rework or totally scrap post ideas, and that’s ok because as wonderfully connecting as the internet is, the very ease of that connection can make it dangerous. The other things my parents taught was to trust my instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is.I’m not a conspiracy theorist,  I don’t spook at my own shadow, but I’ve seen how willing some people are to be transparent with near strangers. It can be a cruel chaotic world. Be as safe as you can be. Be kind every chance you get.

Day 368:Another Card Turns Over

I grew up watching my mother periodically read tarot cards, mostly for other people. Every single time the wheel of fortune turns over I cringed. For those unfamiliar with tarot, the wheel of fortune signals change and I’m not a real big fan of change. Even change which  I have every reason to think will bring positive things scares me. Whoever first said, this too shall pass, forgot to mention that is true of all things,  not just the negative ones. Everything is in a cycle and some cycles are shorter than others. The only constant besides change itself is learning, I’m not the same person I was last year. I’m not the person I was last week. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me in whatever way you did, it means so much.A part of me still wants to shut down, to stay still, to scream and cry and wallow in sadness. That’s not how this is going to work.  I miss her terribly and there will always be a space in my heart that is uniquely hers,  but my goal has not wavered. My steadfast Gideon isn’t getting any younger he may very well retire early( he is six and has arthritis from a wrenched kneecap) the knee is back where it should be but he moves a little slower in cold weather and is more cautious navigating steps and inclines in the cold. So after drying my eyes, I went searching once more. Dad requested I  get a German Shepherd this time because they are known for their smarts as well as their protectiveness. I can’t argue with the smarts, they were the first dogs trained to guide blind people. Dorothy Harrison Eustis had written an article about Shepherds being trained to help blinded  German veterans, a young man wrote her in 1927 and a year later the first guide dog team in America was created. As far as being protective I  think dad is being a little overly so himself but I  concede the point that a lot of people will think twice before bothering me with a Shepherd on the other end of the leash.

So “German Shepherd breeder” went into Google and the third link is Presley German Shepherds and on the very front page of their website is a video of how one of their pups is being trained to help a veteran with PTSD. So after a phone call and several emails and Facebook messages, I’m getting a puppy.  I don’t know whether the puppy will be male or female because I am more concerned with the pups willingness to learn than its sex. It’s still several months but rest assured there will be pictures soon.

Author’s Note: I  got this photo from Pixabay under a creative commons license, this is not one of Carol’s dogs to my knowledge.

Day 367: This Was NOT the Week to Mess with Me

Image result for puerto rico flagThis week has been crap. My Australian Shepherd service dog in training was hit by some asshole speeding down our country road and now she’s dead. She wasn’t even two years old yet.  On top of my personal shit, Las Vegas happened and our legislature says absolutely nothing of substance, what the hell is wrong with you people? You are supposed to be our leaders. This is not leading. Puerto Rico got hit by a hurricane and Trump calls the people lazy for not being able to take care of themselves. Those are American citizens you spray on tan-faced illiterate sub-primate.If their bodies are good enough to serve in our military and bleed and die for our flag(which they’ve been doing since 1917) they deserve as much help as any of the fifty states.As if a hurricane wasn’t hard enough, their economy needs some serious help on a good day but unlike a recognized state they can’t request aid from the government because they are “just” a territory. All of the crazy this week has made my heart hurt.

Day 366:Let’s Talk Gun Control

Image result for elephantSo I just saw Trevor Noah’s monologue about the shooting in Las Vegas. He’s right. We need to talk gun control. In the last two years, there have been twenty mass shootings, twenty. That is bizarre. This is something that needs to be addressed. I’m not blaming the guns themselves, they are inanimate objects. We need to control the access to the guns.   An average person does not forty guns or more, in spite of what The Walking Dead and Z Nation diehards might think, the zombie apocolypse is not an imminent danger. You say you’re a firearms historian fine. I think there should be different levels of licensing similar to driving a car and the difference between a standard one that most people have or a CDL (commercial drivers license.) I think there should be a “collecter” classification which allows for a larger number of guns as long a percentage of them are antiques of historical significance, have the firing pins removed or are only shot a certain number of times a year, I am thinking of the guns owned by American Civil War reenactors and other “living history” hobbyist and educators  To be fair stipulations like this might already exist, since the chances of me being to use any firearm, antique or modern, safely are slim, I’ve never really checked.

Background checks need to be deeper . and that the laws against people with mental illness having guns should never have been repealed I believe the average American should not have access to an AK-47 or any gun of similar make. For that matter, I’m not convinced that most people need semi-automatic weapons. I am not anti-gun, both my parents are former military. We have guns in the house growing up, we have guns now. My sister and I were shown what a bullet could to our brans at a young age. Take two coffee cans, fill one with water leave one empty,.  The can with water is a stand-in for your brain.  Shoot both. The empty coffee can, small entry, little bit bigger exit. Coffee can with water in it, small entry, big gaping exit wound. I  believe we were shown that at the ages of four and six years old. We had no desire to sneak around and play with them At roughly the same time we were given the twin commandments of guns. Always treat a gun as if it’s loaded even when you know it isn’t., and never point a gun at something you don’t intend to kill. Some people say injure instead of kill, but I remember mom being very adamant, other weapons can be used to injure, guns were made to kill plain and simple and treating it as anything less was dangerous and foolhardy. I am tired of people dying while politicians and gun owners hide behind the Second Amendment. If the people who wrote the Bill of Rights could see how far guns have evolved they would probably have a stroke.The framers didn’t make provisions for semi-automatic ownership because to them the existence of such a  weapon was technologically impossible, just because they could not foresee it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be regulated. Get over yourself, too many loved ones have died because people won’t see the elephant in the room.

Day 365: A Small Town Becomes a Little Less Small Minded

Books, Door, Entrance, Italy, Colors, City, ScenographyI live in a small town. I remember when we incorporated and we are still not big enough to merit our own post office. Mom’s family has been a part of this community since before I was born, my grandfather owned a small grocery store here for years. It’s a rural Southern town with its share of rednecks.It’s also been predominantly white, a place where nonwhite people just don’t settle.I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the library over the weekend and saw that one of the librarians was a black woman about my age. I didn’t ask her but since libraries usually respect the people who work there to live within the area they serve I can infer that she lives here.

 

One of Oz’s friends who grew up  in Alabama described his town by saying, “they  give out KKK membership cards at the same time as they issue you a Social Security card.” My town is not quite that bad but it is not much better. I have a friend whose mother came from Pakistan as a teenager she and her sister both take after their mother. In spite of the fact that she had been going to the same church long before the attacks on the World Trade Center, I remember defending her repeatedly when someone from here hurled abuse at her just because of her skin color. I’m glad to see my town become even a little less hidebound in its acceptance of people. I don’t usually go to the library on the weekends because of the shorter hours but I think it is worth going every once in a while in hopes of getting to know her.

Day 364: Sometimes the Bird Falters

Emily Dickenson wrote:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
Before mining was mechanized the miners used to bring canaries into the mines with them. As long as the bird was singing the miners knew it was safe if the bird stopped singing they got out as fast they could.If hope is a singing bird, mine struggles constantly, choking on the ever present coal dust and methane that are my feelings of depression and worthlessness. Feelings I fight every day, feelings that, in spite of medication and people who tell me they love me every day, have been overwhelming me of late.
I have no intention of hurting myself, but I won’t lie and tell you that I haven’t considered it many times this summer.I’m not telling you this so that you feel sorry for me. I’m not saying this to make anyone feel guilty. I am not trying to scare anyone. I am sharing this to shine a light on mental illness. Social stigma happens when there is fear of something and a lack of communication. The greatest  weapon against fear is truth,  no matter how awkward and unpleasant that truth may be

Bullfinch, Bird, Sitting, Tree, Garden

Day 363: Once Upon a Time, Before Disney

Nowadays we often tell our kids the sanitized, easy, version of fairy tales. We don’t tell them that Sleeping Beauty was raped while she slept and woke up to find herself the mother of twins or that Cinderella’s step-sisters cut off their heel and toe (one each) to try and fit into the glass slipper.  We certainly don’t tell them that birds came down to peck their eyes out at the wedding reception. We don’t want the stories we tell at bed time to cause nightmares, I get it. I wonder though if we aren’t doing kids a disservice by not introducing them to the grittier stories at a later point. I love Disney but I grew up knowing that Snow White and  Sleeping Beauty and all the rest of the Disney Princesses were not technically created by Disney.  Whenever she could she read or told my sister and I  the earlier stories as well. In several of them, consequences for the villain are far more severe than being left to seethe with jealousy while the good person they hurt finally gets everything they deserve. Sometimes happily ever after doesn’t happen. Ever heard of The Little Match Girl? It’s one of the lesser known Grimm fairy tales, she freezes to death. As I mentioned earlier, Sleeping Beauty does awake and is forced to marry the prince who raped her, hearing the older stories cured what tiny desire I might have had to grow up to be one, princesses had it rough! Fairy tales were meant to be cautionary because as every pagan worth their salt, casting circle, or crystals will tell you, there is a light and dark to everything, even fairies.

Day 362: A Cold Day in July

The wind scatters the autumn leaves around her feet. Red, gold, and brown covering her rainbow laces. The stitches across her chest are sloppy but they will hold. Blood seeps around the edges with each breath. As she scuffs through the leaves blood drips amid the ground cover.  The sky above is pewter, and snow begins to fall silently. Shrugging into her jacket even though doing so tugs painfully at the stitching, she turns and walks out, tears forming tiny icecles. Soon the only signs that she was ever in the woods are a set of half filled footprints and a bloody heart, the kind someone might carve in a tree..

Day 361: When You Dislocate Your Hip

Apparently,  I dislocated my hip sometime this week. My joints pop fairly frequently so I didn’t even really notice that the first couple of days and this morning it’s back in place, of course, the day I was going to see the doctor. When I was a kid I used to tell people assumed I was fragile because of my disability, “I’m not a dozen eggs,” I just wanted to be treated like a normal kid so I’m sure I was a broken record. As much as I hate to admit it, normal 32-year-olds do not dislocate their hips simply by going to bed or getting up in the morning.I’m not a dozen eggs. My mind is sharp. I don’t have an eidetic memory but it’s pretty close. There is only one person I know who can clean the floor with me at Scrabble, everyone else is always playing catch-up. I remember people’s faces for years. I am tough and I am driven once I have decided to sink my teeth into something. I’ve been chasing normal my whole life, and belonging somewhere for almost the same amount of time. Here’s what I know. Normal is a fallacy I will never enjoy. Belonging is a construct that is tissue paper thin that can be torn apart in a blink.  The only person I can trust is me.