Tuesday, April 29, 2014
For the last two days I have been a nervous mess.
Today I had a little surgical procedure on my neck. You see, in addition to the MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and anxiety, I am blessed with horrible neck and back pain. So today the doctor injected numbing agents into both sides of my neck. The good news is that it did provide some relief. I have a much better range of motion without pain. From here we will go on to inject different material into my neck to provide longer periods of relief.
I was petrified to have it done but I am thrilled with the result. It really just kinda pinched hard as she was doing it because they had given me a topical numbing agent at the site. I was exhausted from the worry and the calmative (benadryl) that they gave me before the procedure so I took a nap when I got home. When I awoke there was no pain in my neck. And I have been sitting at the computer for a few hours now and still no stabbing pains. So far so good. And if it works for my neck, perhaps we can find a similar solution for my lower back.
Bad news is - I have no cigarettes. I know it is an awful habit and that I should quit. This lack of cigs is due to lack of money because I had stupid medical expenses this month that hadn't been planned on. But I will have some by the weekend, so that is some consolation. I just have to tough it out. Oh, and no caffeine, either. Oh, well.
I have spent a lot of time reading all kinds of articles about how to have a better blog. I have shared some of them with you. There is all kinds of information out there for the taking. Hopefully my blog will be getting better and you will continue to like what I write.
Thank you for your time.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
It's storming here. I love it. My cat, however, does not.
She will tremble and mew until the storm ends and there is nothing I can do but keep my hand on her. That seems to be what she needs from me when the thunder rolls. Then she will get up and stretch and claw my couch and I know she is over it. And now she has jumped up to lay between me and the laptop. She is a scaredy cat anyway, so just about anything scares her. When people come to the door of the apartment she runs and hides. She has done this since I found her. Well, my dog found her. I wrote a short story about how she came to join our family and it will be in a contest in May. I will let you know when it comes up.
I have always loved storms. Something about the forces of nature unleashed to show her glory just stirs the primal being in me.
When I was a toddler we lived in two different trailer parks. Both were hit by tornadoes. During one my mother picked me up off the couch just as the air conditioner fell out of the window. If she had not done so I would have been squashed. In the other tornado the trailer was tipped onto its side. It was during that one that I remember the Pet milk man giving out milk to the children and moms in our park. He was just passing stuff out of the back of his truck.
I've also been in hurricanes on land and at sea. In Myrtle Beach I would help make sure the lines of the boats at the marina were secured. The first boat I was on was in 1993 and we were in Florida when it was snowing during the "Storm of the Century". One day it was bathing suits, the next it was sweaters. We were in a safe marina when the worst was going on. The wind would make the lines on the mast thrum loudly. To sleep I had to put my headphones on and turn Pearl Jam all the way up on my walkman. We were able to go explore (somewhat) the town in a car borrowed from the marina because it was three days that we were stuck there.
Hurricanes at sea are another matter. It's exhausting. Although you try and plan a route and trip around the weather sometimes the weather changes its mind. Everything is wet. Your nice hot drink is watered down with either rainwater or saltwater from the constant sea spray. There have been times when the weather got so bad that the captain tied the cord from the lifeboat onto a stanchion, small poles that go around the deck of the boat. That way, if the boat was going down, all you had to do was heave the lifeboat into the sea and the cord would pull, inflating the thing. If you stopped to think about it, it was scary. But there you were, two hundred miles offshore. It wasn't like you could step off the boat. You just had to deal with it.
The storm has subsided here, for the moment. We are supposed to have them for the next few days. There could be tornadoes in the states to the northwest. Tornadoes are rare in East Tennessee. Add that to the fact that I live in what seems to be a concrete bunker and I am not afraid. But I do look forward to opening the windows and letting the sweet smell of ozone be blown into my small apartment. And maybe I'll dream of the sea.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Have you ever lived in a situation where your neighbors made your life a living hell?
Bless her heart, I was chatting with a friend on Facebook and she is on a ground floor apartment with a madman living above her. She says he will sleep all day and then be up all night playing music loudly and walking around. She calls him "elephant man" because evidently he stomps instead of walking normally.
She has complained to the apartment manager's office but to no avail. Myself and others on Facebook have said to call the police if he is being loud after midnight, but the problem is that the guy is mentally unstable. She can hear his rantings through the thin ceiling. And he lives alone so she knows he is conversing with himself. Being afraid of repercussions, her hands are pretty much tied. She is afraid, though, and that is something you should not feel wherever you live.
I have lived in two apartments where I had an inconsiderate neighbor living upstairs. It is not fun. But in those cases I was able to talk to them and they would stop the offending behavior. Usually it was loud music or an incredibly loud TV. One couple had surround sound on their television and seemed to think they lived in a house by themselves. And once when I lived in a trailer park my neighbors would blast their music, believing those thin aluminum walls could contain the decibels. Again, though, when I went to them and told them that their music was rattling my windows, they would turn it down. Until the next time. Did they think that I had moved away? And I am deaf in one ear, so if your music is loud to me then it is really loud.
But I was never afraid in those situations. I was able to stand up for my rights. With this man being unstable, my friend is not willing to do something that will "set him off". I feel so bad for her.
I try my best to be a considerate neighbor. I do not let my dog bark at nothing. I keep my TV and my music at a level where I know they cannot be heard by the ones living above, below, and beside me. I know because I ask them. And I let them know that if it ever is a bother, please come tell me. Like I said, I am deaf in one ear, so sometimes I have to have the volume a little higher than other folks.
I am grateful that where I live now, while it may not be in the best neighborhood, is very quiet. There are the occasional car stereos that I hear, but nothing from my neighbors. And the office makes it known that shenanigans will not be tolerated.
If you have any solutions for my friend, please let me know. I hate that she can't sleep or enjoy her home like she should be able to do.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Many years ago I helped deliver sailboats from Myrtle Beach, SC to the British Virgin Islands. Sometimes the weather was kind to us, sometimes it hated us. On one trip, it despised us.
It usually took about a week to sail to the island of Tortola in the BVI. This time, it took thirteen days. And on every one of those days it rained. On most days, it not only rained but it stormed. I was lucky to be sailing with an experienced captain, who was my boyfriend at the time, and a crew member who was also a good friend and an excellent sailor.
We were going in tandem with another boat. We soon lost sight of them, but we were still in contact with the VHS radio. The stoves on the boats were on gimbals, meaning that the stove could tilt to accommodate the tilting of the boat and would always remain upright. Well, their stove was not installed correctly and would not tilt, meaning that they could not cook. When you are cold and wet, at least a cup of coffee is a small consolation and a hot meal is a blessing.
I know it was in February because on the morning of Valentine's Day I was on watch in the morning when I got a special delivery. A group of balloons, most likely from a cruise ship, floated by us. When I told the captain of the other boat about it he joked that they were from him and that there was a chocolate bar attached to the bouquet.
Once we arrived at Tortola the weather was fine. It was sunny and warm. The islands really are beautiful. But we had used all the clothing we had brought with us. Nearly every stitch was wet and salty from the rain and the waves that had come crashing over the bow of the boat. Since we were only there for two days before we had to catch the plane home, my boyfriend and I decided not to spend a day doing laundry. All the wet clothes were put into one big green army surplus duffel bag.
Our luggage consisted of his bag, my bag, the duffel with the dirty laundry, and a large metallic trunk full of tools and replacement bits that he brought on every voyage. Even though this was before the tragedy that occurred on 9-11 we were used to getting pulled aside to be searched in the airport about every fourth voyage.
Of course, this was one of those times. We opened our bags and the trunk for the couple of men from customs and security. That was when the younger man reached for the green dirty laundry bag. As he started to undo the strap on top I told him, "You can open that if you want, of course, but it has two weeks of wet, salty, moldy clothes in it so don't have your face close to it when you open it.". I will never forget the look on his face. He was thinking,"Are you serious?". He looked back and forth from me to his fellow officer and back to me. Then he, very carefully, handed the bag back to me and said, "Um, that's okay. I believe you.".
I often think of that young man's face when I hear of people having trouble with the TSA now. I know that it would never have happened that way in today's world and I am glad that it happened before things changed. I can just imagine going through all the nasty clothes, and I shudder.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
As you may have guessed by now, I watch a lot of TV. A lot. The following story was brought to mind by an episode of the Big Bang theory.
My oldest son, I will call him B, will turn thirty-three later this year. His younger brother, J, is twenty-nine. When B was about five years old he gave me and his father quite a scare.
We had been shopping for a birthday present for a girl in B's class. You could consider her his little girlfriend. He was sweet on her. We had picked up the present and were driving to the other side of the mall to go to Baskin Robbins to get some ice cream as a treat.
Well, B suddenly started crying. He was grasping his belly and screaming that it hurt. We quickly determined that the situation was serious. Instead of getting ice cream we got on the interstate to speed to Children's Hospital. I was desperate. B was inconsolable. The only thing I could think of was that his appendix had surely burst and my baby could die.
At the hospital we were taken back almost immediately. A nurse gave B some children's Tylenol to drink through his tears. We laid him down on the examination table. I was about to lose it and start crying myself. Their dad was keeping J occupied.
The doctor came in. He started feeling B's abdomen. He was pressing on B's right side when there was a loud noise. I saw the pain immediately leave my baby's face and he broke out in a big grin. And that will forever be known as the time we paid 75.00 for B to fart in the emergency room.
Ah, but it doesn't end there. It is a good thing that there is doctor-patient confidentiality. You see, the doctor, he was the father of B's little girlfriend. He was nice enough not to bring the incident up at the birthday party a few days later.
I wasn't going to post today. (Well, now that would be yesterday.) I have been in high anxiety mode for most of the day.
Those of us with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) are also plagued by anxiety. When the anxiety partners with the repetitious thoughts that the MDD brings to the table, it can be a perfect storm. All day today was racing thoughts and panic attacks.
The repeating thoughts started easily enough. This morning, bright and early, I Facebook chatted with my youngest son. Just as we ended the short chat, in which we both said I love you, this thought popped into my head: "What if this is the last time I talk to him or he talks to me?". For the rest of the day today my brain has been trying to convince me that something horrible was going to happen to him or to me. I had to leave the house for an appointment that I had to keep. Surely I was going to get t-boned by a truck or he was going to wreck on his way home from work. Over and over today I sought distractions. Some worked, but only briefly.
As you can see, I am still here. And I haven't gotten a phone call every parent dreads. So all day was spent frozen in fear for no reason other than my brain was having its way with me. The feelings of impending doom proved false, for today.
That's stupid, you may say, why not just tell yourself that the thoughts are silly and get on with your day? Oh, if I only could. If only.
Eventually the distraction of the interweb won out and I can breath a bit easier now, which is good because it's bedtime. A nice long Facebook chat with a Facebook friend helped quite a bit. It was a little Facebook therapy. Sometimes it helps to talk about it. But sometimes it doesn't. I never know until I am faced with talking to another person.
As for today, the Facebook therapy worked. Eventually. I am grateful for the friend and for the many posts in my newsfeed that tried to keep my brain occupied. And I am grateful to you, for reading this post about what it is like to be me sometimes.
Hopefully my brain exhausted itself today and tomorrow will be uneventful. I can only hope.
Monday, April 21, 2014
When I awoke this morning the sun was streaming through the blinds. It looks like it is going to be a glorious day. I was reminded of this story that I wrote last year. It was in a small contest. I didn't win, but it was an honor just to have been chosen. I hope you enjoy it.
Finally! It was grocery day. With list and coupons in hand I headed out in my 1987 Honda Acura.
Two years before I had lost my job. I had been relying on the kindness of my father and now I had other means.
Shopping took over an hour. I needed every staple, every…well, everything.
At last it was all loaded into the car. My back was so painful I looked like a question mark but my heart was light for the first time in an eternity.
I snapped my seatbelt, turned the key in the ignition and…nothing. Tried again. Not even a click.
I popped the hood, hoping for loose battery cables. Nope. All was tight and tidy.
A wonderful woman offered me a jump. An older man helped us get that going. When I turned the key again my car responded with a dreadful silence.
By this time an elderly couple had parked near me, shopped and come out and now they approached me with an offer of help. I was distraught and I suppose it showed.
“Well, what will you do?” they asked.
Revealing some of my troubles I shared the fact that I would have to phone my father to ask for more money The elderly couple insisted in taking me and my groceries home. The thought of leaving the car there distressed me even more because the driver’s side window didn’t work and had to be left open a crack.
After I got home and unloaded the groceries I made the horrible, embarrassing phone calls asking for help.
The next day my son took me to get a battery. We arrived at the store and I opened the car door and leaned in to pop the lever that would open the hood.
There on the driver’s seat was a small white envelope. A sun wearing sunglasses was drawn on it. I picked it up and turned it over. On the back was a doodle of a daisy and three little words that were huge to me – for a battery. Inside were five twenty dollar bills.
I don’t know who left it but I will never forget it. Many times I have tried to pay it forward.
When things are really not going well and I am frustrated with the world I only have to picture that symbol of the best that should dwell in all of us: that little smiling sun wearing shades.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
I live in a city that is considered to be in the foothills of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. You can enjoy it year round. In the winter you can ski, in spring there are the flowers and trees in bloom, in summer you can picnic by a cool mountain spring and in the fall the changing leaves set the mountainsides ablaze with color. But my favorite times are spring and fall. They hold special childhood memories.
From the time I was five until I was twelve we would have a special guest each spring and fall. My great grandfather, my father's grandfather, would come and stay with us for two weeks. Everyone called him Papa. He was in his eighties at the time. He loved the mountains.
His favorite place to be was out back, in a lawn chair under the carport. He would sit out there and smoke and tell us stories. Sometimes he would reach in his pocket and pull out dimes to give to my brother and sister and me. I would keep mine in a special little bag. I don't think I ever spent one of them on candy, which was his intention. Seems like every one I remember him giving me was a mercury dime. Very special.
A couple of times during his stay my father would drive my brother and Papa and me to the Smokies. In the spring we would find a spot by a creek and Papa could always tell us what every plant was. My collection of smooth, slick river rocks grew. In the fall we would make the drive up the mountain called Clingman's Dome in order to enjoy the autumn foliage. Breathtaking.
Instead of a green thumb, my Papa must have had a green arm. He could look at a plant crooked and it would grow. Each year in the fall he would trim the forsythia bushes back to the point where us kids were always sure he had killed them. And each year in the spring the bushes would be back even bigger than the year before. He would plant bulbs in the fall. Then, each spring we would be surprised at the spots he had picked for the new tulips. We would search for the tiny green shoots and exclaim, "Oh! Papa must've put some here!" And here, and here.
One spring all the kids were riding their bikes when my friend Marti hit a rock and went flying over her handlebars. She landed right on her face and knocked out her two front teeth on top. In the hubbub that ensued I recall seeing my Papa calmly get her bike out of the road. The front tire had been wrenched sideways. He walked it up the drive to my house. After Marti had been picked up by her mom (she lived just up the street) I went to get her bike to walk it to her house. Papa had fixed it. I remember him telling me that he had reckoned that she would want it when she got to feeling better. Her mom later called to thank him for that. He was a very kind, considerate man.
Papa had not been sick a day in his life when he died in 1976 of kidney failure. He had a heart attack and went into the hospital and even though his heart got better his ninety year old body did not.
But he was still with us for many years to come. Each year, in the spring, we would look for the green shoots that meant that Papa was there. And I swear that those tulips would grow where they had not the year before.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Are there any childhood memories that compare to watching what we were allowed to watch on television? When, if you wanted to see something, you had better be seated in front of the set when it was scheduled to come on. There were no VCR's, DVD players, or Netflix. In the summer there were reruns of the prime time shows but you were usually outside playing until after dark. At least, I was fortunate enough to have had that privilege.
Unlike a school day, you didn't need mom to wake you up on Saturday morning. Can you remember the feeling of sitting in the floor in your pajamas, feasting on a bowl of sugary cereal goodness? You had your favorites and you knew what came on which channel and when. Looney Tunes, Land of the Lost, Space Nuts, H.R. Pufnstuf, to name but a few. To change the channel you had to actually get up, walk over to the TV, and turn the dial. (Slowly, or your father would hear it and holler, "Are you trying to break it?") And that Saturday in the fall when the new programming would start? Exciting! You would be riveted to the set all morning, from 6:00 until at least 11:00.
Did you have an after school TV ritual? With me it was Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch. I'm sure others came and went but those were the mainstays of the 3:30 to 5:00 time span. And every so often they would have the after School Special, in which someone had a horrible problem that was solved with smiles, all within the hour. Back then that was the first I would hear of things like drug abuse, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, divorce, and the like. We just didn't have the news coverage that we do now that brings all those things into our homes 24/7. Of course, there were a lot fewer people to do those things, too.
Prime time was family viewing time. I will always remember my father's laughter during The Carol Burnett Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and All In The Family. On Sundays we watched Disney. It would be a movie or cartoons or a wildlife special or an episode of a serial. As a tenderhearted child, I would cry during Disney when the baby animal's mom and dad would die during a wildlife show. And it seems like they always died. Seems kinda shifty now, thinking back on it. Often the serials were based in the wild west. Then the Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kingdom would come on! Always exciting. Confronting wild beasts! Oh, you were always on the edge of your seat!
TV's I Have Known And Loved
My father was an electrical engineer. One of his many pastimes was building TV sets. They were kits and the parts were sent through the mail, a little at a time. So we had two or more TV's before it was fashionable to have more than one. Color TV's, no less! And big, console jobbies!
When I was twelve I was given my first TV set of my very own. It was black and white in a rounded plastic cover that was bright red. It was love at first sight. At last I could watch something all by myself in my own room without any input from mom, dad, brother, or sister. I could watch as late as I wanted (as long as I kept the volume down).
When my first son was born, thirty-three years ago, we were able to get the new thing they call cable. It had maybe thirty channels, but that was a giant leap up from the four we had grown up with. As I fed the baby at one in the morning I could watch Bachelor Father and My Little Margie on the "oldies" channel. It was heaven.
Television has grown right along with America. Some in good ways, some in bad. We could share in the glory of the space launches and sit glued in amazed horror while they showed coverage of terrorist attacks. Now the cable brings us twenty-four hours a day of just about anything we can imagine. And say you want to be reminded just how that skit from a comedy show in the seventies went, you can just go to YouTube and more than likely, someone, somewhere has uploaded just that skit. Video games mean that you can interact with your TV instead of just watching. There are so many choices for watching, from DVR's to DVD's and Netflix, that you no longer have to worry that you missed out on your favorite show.
Now I am fortunate in that the TV's that I have are big and flat and not just color but also high definition. However, I will always recall fondly that little red black and white. I know that some call it the idiot box or the boob tube. But for me, I have a love affair with TV that consists of nothing but good memories.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I read an article that said that you should have a catchy title that was relevant to your blog post's content. And another mentioned the use of an image that would please readers. So this is my attempt to learn these things. Here goes.
Insert Pretty Picture Here
Well, I think that worked out okay. Now I just have to see if it shows when I post it to the blog and to the Facebook page. Wish me luck. And thank you for being there for me.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
It was about a year ago that a friend suggested I join Facebook. I want to thank him, again, for that. Soon I was in touch with friends and family that I hadn't seen in too many years. And one of the family members that got in touch with me was Cousin A. I won't use her entire name, as I don't want to say anything that would be embarrassing for her.
She is a year younger than I am and, as children, was my best friend. With her the late night gigglefests helped develop the sense of humor I have now. Her family lived with us for a bit while they were relocating after a brief stint on the coast and she taught me sign language so we could talk in the dark without anyone knowing. Well, that was blown by the laughter that would follow each sentence we signed. Our poor parents. But - they never separated us so it couldn't have been that bad.
And her mother is fantastic. That woman once drove us to a theater two hours away so we could see The Last Waltz as a midnight movie. At the time Cousin A and I were expanding our music appreciation. With each man who came onstage we were, "Is that Bob Dylan?". We soon learned more about Dylan and the Band's music. And for a good six months or so we wore scarves like Rick Danko wore onstage in the movie. Ah, good times.
Now she is a Dean at a University far away. She is a brave, powerful, intelligent woman and I am so proud of her that I smile each time I think of her.
Her mother took us and her sister, Cousin S, to lunch and to the Wal-mart in January while Cousin A was home for the holidays. I had a glorious time. It was nice to have conversations with such wonderful women. I had missed them so much.
And now Cousin A and I are in touch through e-mail. I am thoroughly enjoying our conversations in that medium. It is so nice to be back in touch.
After having had such a bad day yesterday, thinking of Cousin A really lifted my spirits and I thought I would share. Hopefully you have that special cousin or childhood friend that made your young life happy. That gave you years worth of memories, so much so that you could just pick up and start talking to them again after not having spoken in many years. Someone that makes you smile just thinking of them. That is my Cousin A. Thanks A.
Yesterday was a dark day. I barely made it out of bed by the late afternoon. I just stayed there and watched Breaking Bad DVDs on the TV. That has become my distraction of choice when I feel blah. What made me feel even worse is that I had just been thinking that the new med change had been working - my anxiety level was down, I had found something I was really enjoying (blogging and having the new Facebook page to go with it). But that's the way it goes. One day you're up, one day you're down.
I had written this not too long ago to share in a contest. I think I will share it here, with you. To let you know how I live and to let those of you who feel the same know that you are not alone. Enjoy:
Sometimes I live in sunshine.
I greet every day with a happy heart. Each morning brings with it a promise of new opportunities. I sip my hot coffee laced with hazelnut creamer as I scan the headlines. Motes sparkle like pixie dust dancing in the sun streaming through the open blinds.
There is a smile on my face as my black cocker spaniel and I exit the building. I take joy in watching him explore the world of smells made anew with each daybreak.
I sit down in my living room to write and the words come easy. My fingers fly as the sentences form on the page. I am delighted when I find that, when I reread it, some of it is actually okay.
I cook delicious meals and cakes and brownies and share them with my neighbors. The apartment smells like a home where love resides as the scent of chocolate permeates the air.
I take great pride as I clean my small home. Everything is in its place. The kitchen gleams. The bathroom shines. I dust the items in my beloved bookshelves.
I chat on the phone or on the computer with my friends. If I have somewhere to go I am happy to be out and grateful that my car is running. Sometimes I take my neighbors places where they would like to go.
When I retire to my bedroom at the end of the day I am glad for the things I accomplished and happy to be in my little spot on the globe. I look forward to the next glorious day.
Sometimes I live in darkness.
The morning doesn’t matter because I’ve been up half the night. The blinds remain closed – I have no desire to see the outside world.
The dog MUST go out so I MUST take him. I see that his face is a little grayer, his eyes a little cloudier with age, than they were yesterday.
The bedroom is my pit for the day. If I write I bring the laptop to the bed or I write longhand. The words must be pulled from my mind like saltwater taffy. And once out they seem to sneer back at me.
Eat or not eat, doesn’t matter. If I do it’s quick and easy and processed. The kitchen may as well be a distant land. Wrappers and boxes and soda bottles find themselves dropped by the bedside. Plates and bowls stack up wherever I can put them without getting up.
I don’t have new dirty laundry because I don’t change my clothes.
I can speak to my friends on the phone but I feel fake. It’s much better on the computer where inflection is harder to determine.
If I have somewhere to go I cancel or reschedule. The thought of driving or riding the bus fills me with such dread that I am frozen in time.
Sometimes I tremble, vibrate, unable to catch my breath. Disjointed thoughts race through my head at breakneck speed and I am paralyzed by unfounded fears. Sometimes I am just there, a slug, taking up a blob of space.
Bedtime doesn’t matter – I’m already there. Hopefully I can sleep. I am filled with apprehension at the thought of another day like this one.
If I could only choose, I would only live in sunshine. But I have no more a choice in that than I do in my eye color. And, after all, it is the combination of the days that makes me ME. So I do my best to embrace the wondrous days and try not to spend them regretting the times when I cannot see the sun.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Well, Darnit! I came to compose a new post and notice that my Facebook like button has disappeared. I reinstalled it following the same directions but it still doesn't show up. Until I get it fixed could you leave a small comment if you like one of my posts. Hopefully I can get it put back soon. Thanks.
Found It!!!! You have to click on the individual posts to see the like button under the title! Whew! I liked it better the other way, and I don't know what I did to change it, but now you can still Facebook Like a post, you just have to click on the individual title and bring up that post. I'll try and get it put back the way it was but at least I haven't lost it altogether. I really enjoy seeing that someone has cared about something I have written. I appreciate you.
From 1993 to 1996 I worked as crew on sailboats. We would sail the new boats from the coast of South Carolina to the British Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, and up and down the eastern seaboard. I also worked on private boats, including traveling the Erie Canal. As is the case with most things I love to do, there was little money to be made but the experiences were, for the most part, wonderful. I sailed with a captain who was also my boyfriend and that made for some marvelous traveling memories.
One trip was delivering a new 30 foot boat from Myrtle Beach, SC to Roadtown on the island of Tortola, BVI. We were about 200 miles offshore and the weather was sunny and glorious. When I came on watch in the morning I discovered that we had a visitor. A tiny brown bird had landed on the boat. Now while sighting birds when offshore is considered good luck, a bird landing onboard is often seen as just the opposite.
I have never been able to find out what kind of bird it was but it looked like a house wren. Something that should not have been so far away from land.
He quickly made himself at home. We provided water for him and crushed some crackers and bread for him. He ate and drank. Instead of staying above deck he came below, inside the boat. The little guy (it could have been a girl, but I'll use he) followed me around like a pet. He was never more than arms length from me, even when I was out on deck at night on watch in the pitch dark. When I would lay down to sleep he would nestle beside me or on my head. (No, he never pooped on me.)
We had our little visitor for three days. On the afternoon of the third I awoke for my watch to find him on the floor of my berth, at the head of my bunk, dead. The captain, the first mate, and I were all deeply saddened.
But his death caused the captain to take action. He suspected that the little bird may have died due to a gas leak from our propane stove. Sure enough, a fitting was loose and the gas was escaping. It was in amounts too little for us to have smelled it. That was repaired but the scary part came later that night. As the captain was doing an engine check he found that a battery cable had worked itself loose and was arcing. He showed me the sparks.
It was then that I realized that the little bird had saved our lives. If the gas had continued to leak the sparks from the engine could have ignited the fumes and blown up the boat.
We gave our tiny savior a regal burial at sea but he'll live forever in my memory. Sometimes it's the little things that can make a big difference in your life.
Friday, April 11, 2014
This morning I awoke in my usual position - one arm flung over my best buddy. He's a black cocker spaniel named Max. I thought that today would be a good day to write about dogs. Then later I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that it is National Pet Day. How apropos.
I have loved and had dogs all my life. In my childhood I ran the woods and fields with a black labrador retriever named B.C.. He showed up one summer day, and stayed. If I was outside, he was right with me. This was a long time ago and the neighborhood dogs ran loose. There were very few fences and even fewer people that kept their dogs chained. B.C. was the best dog a kid could have asked for. He could play fetch, chase after my bike, or just sit and listen as I poured out my secrets. When I was in high school a friend of mine said he was "a dog's dog" and the term fits.
One day there was a knock at the door. It was a neighbor asking if we still had "that black dog". For a moment my heart jumped into my throat. Was he going to tell us B.C. had been hurt or killed? But, no, he told us that he thought we might like to see something. Once at his house we saw that his golden retriever had just had puppies. Every one of them was black! Because my father held B.C. in high regard he agreed to us keeping one of the pups. I named him Ra. (I had just entered high school and had discovered Todd Rundgren.) Ra grew to be a 145 pound baby. He had a habit of lying in the dirt to the side of the front steps and surprising people with his deep, throaty bark when they came to the door in the dark. Of course they couldn't see him so it scared the crap out of them. But he wouldn't have hurt a fly.
There were other dogs in between then and now. Dogs we bought for the boys when they were small because every kid needs a dog.
But my Max is special. He was given to me 14 years ago, a tiny black ball of fluff. We have been through a lot, he and I. He's lived with kids and cats. My first grandson was a toddler when he was a puppy and the two would play and cuddle. When my ex-husband was drunk and took off with him in the car in order to hurt me, it was that that gave me the impetus to leave that relationship. The vet called me later that day to let me know that Max was there. My ex had let him get out of his van and get hit by a car. Max was very bruised but thank goodness it wasn't worse. But since then he has not cared for the vet one bit.
I developed Meniere's Disease. You get dizzy, fall down, and throw up. Leaning over could bring on an attack so Max learned to get up on the back of the couch for me to attach his leash for walkies. When I had to have one of my inner ears removed in order to quell that Meniere's he did not leave my side during my six week recovery. I had to move his food and water into the bedroom because I realized he would not leave my side to eat and drink.
I never let him develop the common cocker trait of barking his fool head off at every little thing. He has disliked only a handful of people, and it always turned out that he was right in his judgement. Everyone loves him. In my apartment complex there are people who initially said they hate dogs that now pet him and coo over him when we meet.
Time passes. I used to joke that my dog was my doorbell but now he often does not respond to knocks at the door. His once bright, glistening eyes are now getting cloudy. The vet says it is just age. Just age. He now uses stairs to get on and off the bed. And I recently bought him a dog bed with orthopedic foam and he enjoys it when we are in the living room. He used to be snuggled against me on the couch but he can't jump up there anymore and I am afraid of letting him jump down. But he is still like a young dog on our walks. He does enjoy going walkies.
So, to Max, happy National Pet Day. Thank you for being my dog, my love, my reason to get up in the morning. Thank you for being a good dog. Good boy.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
From talking with people I have come to the conclusion that you either hate the TV show Breaking Bad or you love it. I happen to love it. Really love it.
I didn't watch it while it was on TV until the last half of the last season. My friend, M, had told me that I would probably like it but I just kept forgetting to watch. And now I'm obsessed.
Shortly after Christmas this year my sister's fiance made some Facebook posts about them watching the DVDs of the show. All but the last half of the last season was on Netflix but I didn't have Netflix at the time. I had to refer back to a marathon that AMC had shown. Well, when they were finished watching the DVDs they loaned them to me!
I had a marathon of my own. For days I watched nothing but the show. When I would come to the last one I would start over, each time noticing stuff that I had missed. The last half of the last season hadn't been released yet so I believe it felt like I couldn't get closure. Since then Netflix has acquired the series finale of the show so guess who got Netflix! Me.
This is one of those cases where I don't know why I do what I do. Yes, the acting is great. The writing is superb. And Bryan Cranston is, well, he's Bryan Cranston. I've loved him since he was on the show Malcolm in the Middle.
It has gotten to the point where the show is soothing to me. I've come to rely on it when nothing else is on TV and also when I am feeling bad or anxious. No commercials. Three or four hours of uninterrupted fantastic TV. I don't really know what about the show has caused me to obsess about it but obsess I do. I know it isn't normal or productive but my anxiety often makes me do things like that. Maybe the show gives me something to think about besides my anxiety.
I am grateful that I could get Netflix. When my sister and her fiance take back their DVDs I probably won't watch as much because it involves hooking the computer up to the TV. But that is okay.
Those of us with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) don't get to pick what we are obsessed with. Thank goodness I sometimes pick TV shows, which is relatively harmless.
Immediately upon awakening today I could tell it is going to be a day riddled with vague anxiety. So today is a day of watching Walt and Jesse. And I have to accept that that is okay.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
I am thoroughly enjoying my travels through the blogosphere. Many years ago, in a movie or a book, a character said that the best thing for being sad is to learn something. I believe this. I am not sad for any reason in particular, it is just a wonderful by-product of my depression.
You will notice that now you can share my posts with Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. You can even e-mail it. Yeah, I did that. I added the share buttons and even a Facebook Like button for you. It's not like I thought up how to add them, I did follow the instructions I found on the internet, but it feels good to have a small accomplishment. It did take me thirty minutes to add the share buttons but that is because I am old and blind. I kept omitting a punctuation mark from the line of code.
It is a wonderful feeling, to be learning something for the reason of actually doing something with that knowledge. It's not like just perusing the headlines. If my circumstances were different I would like to be in college. Learning for the sake of doing some good with that knowledge is fabulous.
And learning something when you are sad does help. My mother passed away when I was seventeen and in college. A few days later a childhood friend knocked on my dorm room door. She had with her all the things you need to give yourself a manicure. She had always been a girly girl with perfect, beautiful nails and this was long before there was a nail salon on every corner. I thought, "What in the world?". But she took my hand and as she slowly and carefully showed me what to do I forgot for a moment that my world had just crumbled. Paying attention to the steps as she explained what each item was for and how to use it, my mind was occupied by something other than the funeral I had just been to. To this day, people compliment me on my nails all the time and each time I recall my friend tenderly holding my hand.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
There is a game called Simpsons Tapped Out. You play it on tablets and smart phones. What you do is build your own Springfield, the town in The Simpson's TV show. You have neighbors in the game and you visit those neighbors to gain points, money, and prizes. It is preferable to have a lot of neighbors. You also get money and points when they visit you.
My son had found it and started playing and his girlfriend decided to have her own town and they could visit each other. She made a Facebook post asking people to start playing so she could have more neighbors. I thought, "Why not?", if I don't enjoy it I can quit. I ended up loving it.
Last week I realized that it had been quite a while since she had visited my town and there was nothing to do to gain points when I visited her town. I asked my son if she was okay. Did she not have her phone? Did she get bored with the game? That's when he told me they had broken up.
She is a very sweet girl. I thought she was a little young for him but I kept that to myself. And now there is her Springfield, abandoned. She had done a really nice job, too. It was very well laid out and decorated.
There is now a Facebook page for the game. They have posts in which you give your game name in order for people to add you as their neighbor. In one of these posts there was a couple whose id's were StanSmith and Stan'sGirl. That is not the exact name. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. In any case, the idea is that they are a couple. I added them as my neighbors.
Well, it has been over a week and Stan'sGirl has not played the game. It has me wondering. Did they break up, too?
Young girls' hearts are so tender. I say girls, I'm referring to people in their early twenties. I know that my son's girlfriend had quite a bit of wedding ideas on Pinterest. It may seem funny but the Springfields make me sad and contemplative.
You are young and in love. You build your city. You design the layout. You decorate it. You make your plans for the future of your city. Then something happens and you must abandon that which you had lovingly grown. And in most cases it is the woman that is no longer in the game. The guys just go on playing. I can imagine my son's ex-girlfriend and Stan'sGirl not wanting to play the game because it hurts too much to do so and my heart goes out to them. It does hurt to do something solo when it was once shared with the one you love.
Or maybe they just got bored with it. I will never know.
Monday, April 7, 2014
I have something to add to the list of things never to do again. Yay.
A few days ago I decided it was a good time to have a clear out and get rid of some paper clutter. I was shredding mail that had personal information on it. 'Cause that's what you are supposed to do. (Like anyone would want my life.) Also, it is way fun to use the shredder. I have a small one that fits over its own little trash can.
I was sorting and shredding in the living room floor, where there is the most room. Eventually my back started hurting and I called it quits. But I left the shredder set-up in the living room I didn't empty the receptacle so it was almost full of tiny skinny rectangles of paper.
Today I had to leave the house for a short while. I came home to a paper snowstorm.
I have a 14 year old black cocker spaniel, Max, and a 7 year old cat, Pinky. While I was gone one of them had knocked over the shredder. That may very well have been an unfortunate accident. This place is not very big at all. The shredder is top heavy and one of them could have bumped it just walking around. But it looked as someone had played in it. Little bits of paper were everywhere. It looked like someone had had a ticker tape parade in my living room!
Well, I'm sure they didn't mean to and like others messes my pets make, it will clean up. And I learned a lesson about leaving the shredder full. Sometimes if I didn't laugh I would cry.
I have spent some time compiling a list of topics to share with you. Then, this evening when I sat down to write I had trouble deciding which one to pick. I am sure this will only get easier as I post more often but tonight I had to laugh at myself. I decided to do something to get my mind off the decision at hand. So I started playing the game Words With Friends.
I have always been a big Scrabble fan. I had heard of Words and started playing it after I joined Facebook. My friend, M, told me how to get hooked up with him so we could play but for the most part I let the game pick random opponents for me. Win or lose, I would always hit rematch. Most accepted the invitation. Eventually I got brave enough to *gasp* use the chat feature to make remarks like "Good one" or "Lol, I have only vowels". I am glad that today I have about a dozen people that I play with regularly. And it is so cool that they are from all over the globe! They are in Australia, Wales, England, and also in multiple states here in the U.S..
As an added bonus Words can help me when I have a panic attack. For those who don't know, a panic attack is when your anxiety builds to a point where you have trouble breathing, you shake, your arms and legs can go numb or tingle. And you experience a crushing fear. You are sure you are about to die. But perhaps the most fun thing is that you never know when a panic attack will hit. Sometimes you can feel it coming on, with labored breathing and trembling limbs, and sometimes one second you are fine and the next your body is out of control. They are no fun. There have been many times when I have called M and asked him to play me a game of Words in order to have the distraction until I could calm myself.
So, Words has been a great way to interact with people even though I am usually stuck here at home. And last year for my birthday M got me an iPad mini! It has the touchscreen so now all I have to do is move the little letters around with my finger! It's marvelous!
Sometimes the very thing you look to for distraction from a hard choice becomes the answer to the choice itself.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
It is a beautiful Sunday morning.
While I was reading over my previous post, I had a twinge of angst when I got to the part where I shared my diagnosis of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). I thought, oh no, I have said too much too soon. I have given you too much information and now you may not like me. Then I quickly decided - no. My mental health is a part of who I am and it has a great deal to do with why I am where I am and how I got here. I have to accept that diagnosis, I have to deal with it every day. Yes there are times when I ask, "Why me?". And I try not to dwell on that pitiful question for too long but, ah!, there's the rub. The nature of the beast makes me dwell on thoughts that are not good for me, or productive. I find that I am most comfortable being frank and open about my mental health concerns.
I am just finding all sorts of stuff about blogs and blogging on the internet! A Facebook page that I follow had a post this morning that was a list of tips on what to do and what not to do with your blog. Nothing like a touch of serendipity to start your day!
It isn't that I am surprised about what is out there about blogs, it is just that I am thinking to myself, "Self, why didn't you do this sooner?" But I guess there is a time for everything. I recently had some work accepted for a contest and that seems to have given me a little boost of confidence. That, and I believe I am going through something of a manic phase brought on by a sudden influx of caffeine after not having had any for a while. Either way, it's good.
I think that my friend, M, will be happy about me blogging. Bless his heart, he is the one who patiently listens to the largest majority of my ramblings. As I said before, I just don't have that many live and in person friends.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
About a year ago a dear friend of mine, I'll call him M, suggested I make a Facebook page. He felt that it would be a good form of social interaction for me. After much fretting and his many reassurances that if I didn't like it I could abandon the page and wouldn't face a firing squad, I did it. As is the case with most of his suggestions, it has been wonderful for me.
You see, I don't get out much. I have been rendered disabled for a few years now. My formal diagnosis is Major Depressive Disorder. Then I have some aural hallucinations thrown in for fun, degenerative disc disease in my back and neck, and anxiety that often leaves me speechless and frozen in place. The sum total of all these things most often assures that you will find me rooted to my couch or bed.
I had to move to a different part of town so I am not near my family or the friend that I do have here in town. M lives a couple of hours away. Where I am is okay but "people come and go so quickly here", to paraphrase Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I have made a few friends but am not overly close, not girlfriend close, to anyone here. At times I would feel quite isolated.
But then came Facebook! Ah! Facebook! I connected again with family and friends far away. I gradually got brave enough to accept friend requests from people I didn't know in real life. And, oh, the kitty cats! And the games! Then I began to find writing pages and groups.
I have had some work accepted for submission and that, friends and neighbors, has led me here. It has given me some much needed confidence. Perhaps I can share what I love to do and you will find it enjoyable. Please bear with me as I stumble around in blogland.
As first posts go, this one will probably stink.
I am new to blogging. This is my first blog post on my first blog page.
I have always written. Poetry. Short Stories. The blank page has always thrilled me. Creation. Expression. Satisfaction. These are the things I crave when I put pen to paper. The conveyance of ideas and opinions.
So I am taking a big and brave (for me) step and putting it all out there. Hopefully I will strike a chord with some people.
Now that I have the time, I would like to take advantage of it. And I of course have to familiarize myself with the workings of "a blog". The terminology, the design of the page, the links. All this is new to me. Well, like anything else having to do with computers, if I have a question my first recourse will be to ask my youngest son. He just turned 29.
So please bear with me. I promise I will have good things to say. Someone, somewhere has to relate to my ramblings. I am certain that I can't be the only one.