Blog started in Jan 2005: 1st entries for Write in Every Genre. Then the REAL ME begins
It Hurts When I Stop Talking
Sometime in Fall of 1998, when a visit from Dad was infrequent, and primarily at the mercy of his 88 Toyota making the 50 mile journey, I was being treated to lunch. The restaurant was my choice, I think. Sisley Italian Kitchen at the Town Center mall was somewhere my dad had not yet tried, so that was my pick. Either I was being treated to the luxury of lunch and adult conversation without my husband and 5 year old son in tow, or that's just how the moment has lodged in my memory. The more I think about it, they probably were there, but enjoying the Italian food too much to bother interrupting.
Daddy and his lady friend at the time, Anne, came up together and made a day of it with me and the family. We were eating together and talking about some of my scripts, stories, coverages, poems and other creative attempts that really were not seeing the light of day. I think I'd just finished a group reading of The Artist's Way and was in a terribly frenetic mood over my writing. I think I'd just given them an entire rundown on a speculative Star Trek script.
My Dad asked me point blank, “Why don’t you write it?? Anne agreed. It sure sounded like I wanted to write it. Why wasn't I writing seriously? It's what I'd set out to do when earning my college degree in Broadcasting many years earlier.
Heck, I should, I agreed non-verbally.
But, I didn’t.
Blogs can be wild, unpredictable storehouses of moments, tangents, creative dervishes, if you will. I'm getting a firmer handle on my creative cycle. My mental compost heap (which is a catch phrase from Natalie Goldman or Julia Cameron - I can't think which, right now) finally seems to be allowing a fairly regular seepage of by-products. That may be a gross analogy, but I give myself credit to categorize my work in raw terms. It proves that I'm not so much the procrastinating perfectionist that I once was.
Still, I always seem to need prompts and motivation. Being a self-starter is the next step. My attempt to keep up in the Write in Every Genre Contest at the beginning of the year seemed like a perfect point to launch the blog.
|Ergh. Too long since writing inspired me to get out of bed before work. If only lax muscles would inspire me in the same way to suddenly want to exercise regularly?
So, the real topic: Writing when scheduled to.
When I started my new job 3 months ago, I was asked to set annual goals, (with what I deemed little guidance), and within that document I set a monthly list of social media/blog post topics that I would write on. Then I never referred back to the list. It is 2020 after all...It seems unsurprising that the support I set up from myself, even though it seemed forced, and I was resisting the necessity to plan , or at least to set the plan down in paper to be used against me later (yes, I can admit to myself, this is a perception, and only temporary).
I do remember October was intended to be about Emergency Preparedness. Because, well, October is the month for that; I have had a lifetime of that being drilled into me. It makes me wonder at just how hit-n-miss marketing and PSAs really can be...I cannot explain why I can remember a PSA from the mid-Seventies asking you to write to Pueblo, Colorado for a consumer protection guide, yet I'm sure not everyone, even everyone in Californiia, is not as knee-jerk reactive to the knowledge that October is earthquake (and other disasters Preparedness month.
Most of my posts, instead have been inspired by tips from "The Depression Project," BECAUSE, I guess, I want people to be prepared for how to cope with depression -- I see it -- we all need support. I know most of the topics I picked were space-fillers, and it's better...I mean, the writing is usually better, if you are actually inspired.
So, this morning I was thinking about my parents. My dad, who passed in mid-August 2019, and even my mom, still with us... I was thinking of them together, in the context of how they influenced and inspired me -- how I have been and continue to be supported by their actions. And in the context of caretaking, how I have both been asked and not asked to have that role in my families lives. [There's the family I started, and the family I was a product of. What was in the Divine's "mind" when setting up this progression of life "connection capsules"? Do the mountain-top gurus have an answer on that area as yet?
I specifically remember being asked to be my grandmother's caregiver, or at least steward in her house so she could age in place with dignity after Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (cancer) surgery and treatment leading to clinical trial, and somewhere in there, rest from the labors of the world (at least a little bit...as much as she could tolerate). That is kinda the focus of the last year or so of one's life -- tolerating (sometimes a lot).
An aside... have both "a lot" and "even though" always been separated? I really always want to mash their parts together. I just don't know if I'm jealous that other words or phrases get to transform and become normal usage in ones lifetime, while others persistently stay stubbornly troublesome. OK, well really, I do not know if they have been, what I will call, "solid words" before, and I am being forced to put the space in, of if they are only my desire to have as solids? (Aside done).
Where was I? Ah, adoration of the caregiving role in its unknown solid and space induced forms... The outside assignment, "Please take care of Grandma," or "Please house Grandpa for awhile," and the duty (in my estimation self-imposed or intrinsic), but still leading to a more full-bodied response, where I easily relate (I say to myself, "Self: My dad set up his living arrangement for himself nicely, (as in, thought-out) but its isolated and I'm the one closest to him; he really needs more happening in his life, and in his care, because truthfully it is so apparent that he is self-neglecting his health...but there is independence to consider, and I highly value that for him." And even though you do some of the talking and caring that should take place between a father and an oldest daughter, the grand plans never solve the equation. Choices, in this case, his personal choices, or at leas, his body's ability to cope with the choices still end in death.
And what does my playing this over here in my head (and via my personal blog) have to do with what I write in a blog or post on social media to keep isolated seniors or those who care for them sane in 2020? Maybe just the recognition that there are always going to be choices. And regardless of how well or how badly the attempts to provide caring solutions go off, death can, and at some point, will be the result. Is that too nihilistic? It might be just nihilistic enough, right. I mean it is the truth. And we do not talk about it enough.
But, for the general public, I agree, I do not want to fill 2020 with truth as much as I want it to be heavily lined with coping. Coping is important, because minutes and hours are important. Coping allows those moments to still be possible. Not coping, or resisting the basic care that folks can manage to push out during the overload of a pandemic results in wasted moments.
I am now living a life of moments and hours and days, and this year, 2020, stands out in contrast to the usual experience of what a year is templated to be. Pop culture flashes strung together by a movie studio or two's line up of New Releases, it has not been. Normally, I would've enjoyed that type of year, since it had become what I was most used to. Just like how I might have spent this year, and more years, piecing together ways to keep dad fed and happy and maybe healthy -- but I sure do not know how I might have coped if I'd had to force that template onto 2020.
I have heard many people say it, and I have concurred -- my loved one wouldn't have tolerated this pandemic, this year. And if I'm honest with myself, I wouldn't have tolerated very well a year spent sharing this experience. Like agreeing to cover certain topics on a calendar schedule, without the freedom to be inspired, and moved to write about something, a fixed schedule for writing guidance is pretty intolerable.
|Sometimes it's the long drives, already "autopiloted" into my eyes/brain, extremities including maybe, the ears(?), that help me turn around the perception of a situation. Also helps my creativity. I can get awfully wound-up, and the long, beautiful drive between north Santa Barbara County and L.A. usually has a good chance of allowing my brass clockwork in the head to have a bit more bounce to their coil.
I had to remark recently after completing the most recent trip, that a person whom I'm still really getting to know, and whom I'm sure never intentionally means to wind me up, has many of the attributes of the "Director" which improvisational skit performer, Colin Mockery often poses as in a portion of the Show, "Whose Line Is it Anyway?" Just momentarily framing that person in that satirical flurry of change makes my worries melt for the moment.
|Should I be concerned when a new job (even with less hours than I used to work and commute) totally disrupts the creative output? I don't thinkso, because there's no complete stoppage of creative output, I have simply forgotten to post it in this specific venue.
September is suicide prevention month. Practice self-care too. https://partnersincaring.org/think-about-the-next-day-it-doesnt-need-to-be-perfe...
|A life slice -- Thought this morning I should write a short story (recollection or fiction not sure yet) about what I remember about turning nine. I have a niece turning nine this month. In mulling my own childhood over, I knew tht I wanted to recall the birthday party attended by my entire 4th grade class (I was out several months of school due to a surgery). The large Magnolia trees in the park across from our house...I'm pretty sure my mom must've supplied a pinata. The other thing I recall was all the at-home study I had to do on the explorers (de Gama, Columbus and such).
Details of that year not as clear as even earlier...when we lived in San Pedro: I have so much memory of the exact structure of the stairwell for the Apt we lived in. since it was two or three sets of stairs, which my mom had to help me up (leg braces and/or full leg casts on a three year old -- imagine that!
|NextStage, Story Number..., and What it is -- Why it is important labels are three interrelated ideas Iam puttting down this morning. Suddenly it is like 10 weeks of lockdown layered by a week of local curfews have appeared in the form of these ideas. Not so much working for someone or "getting a job" "side hustle" but creating my lifeswork based on all the things I have ever remembered / valued. I am certain that it has crystallized now after a mind space of three and a half hours with little need for conversation, while being focused on trying to make it home by curfew on June 2nd.
Everything from my enjoyment of the space program (viewing the live televised record of U.S. spaceflight; stages of rockets) being referenced in the name, NextStage. To the distinction that I am the family member responsible for numbering Mom's recollections in the form of, "Story Number ... (unearned, I think) at Mom's recent (February 2020) retirement.
; although, I am now seeing a way to utilize that as a website / business in making custom archival labels for family items that need to get passed on into the greater world, but not have their stories forgotten.
|Compared to some people seriously impacted by the economic consequences of the global pandemic, I am fine. I accept that this is partly by chance. I did make a conscious choice contractually, before layoffs and unemployment of so many occurred, which sustained my income until the end of 2020. Supported by a faith that things happen, not as a punishment, instead in response -- and that the law of good is acting for all, so I feel at ease on most days. I have been additionally helped by already living an existence unlike many others. Satisfied with less space, willing to live off one income, have one car and/or use public transit, have my grown children move in. I have been able to support local business with much in DoorDash orders. How will I look back on this and what does it say about me?
The one or two rough patches I have experienced did not even qualify for mental health counseling according to a contractor with Kaiser. Guess I should be grateful. I even found myself looking up the stages of grief. I think we are all going through that; some more than others.
|When I read or listen to other people talk about the experience of sisterhood, I know that my sister and I are not alien; there are ways that our experience fits all the norms. But after an unexpectedly brusque response to a disagreement -- See. I cannot even call it a fight -- I do not believe we ever have had a fight. I do not believe my spouse of 32 years and I have ever had a fight... Might not be factually true, as I can remember some solitary periods of isolated anger in the aftermath of non-fights. That's the way my brain rewrites the interaction into memory. So, I guess it is possible my memories are not an accurate reality, maybe...I. So, I wouldn't make a good witness in a criminal case, sure. But that doesn't make my brain's function a bad thing -- I think my relationships are good. Realizing that from the other person's perspective, maybe the relationship is "less than." don't know.
"Most of all, I worry that she is happy" is a late comment contained in a sister relationship piece I read today in this other blog archive
It does not specifically mirror our experience, but its wisdom still resonates for me. I encourage you to read it.
I struggle today, wanting to post it to her Facebook timeline as a message that we have sisterhood. I always thought that was enough. I asked her to realize I am sorry for however the pushback of my words set her apart from me. That would not be a final forceful declaration against her person, ever. The course of action she made as a suggestion was all that I was rejecting, not her. And in hindsight, I do not even know what was triggering about the suggestion (It had something to do with two words, which I no longer can recall...my mind's safety protocol...great).
Instead, I know I have to process in this slower, less direct and like so many people are learning to navigate right now...isolated manner, that is against my wishes.
In hindsight her request was not even unreasonable, we just got in a roundabout. Even with a few texts and a long-hand letter response from her, this is far from resolved. It's deeper, but for now she tells me she cannot plumb the depths with me. Everything (maybe not everything) has been dredged up onto the shore, and I am asked to sit here on the beach while it rots in the sun. She's walked away, offering to possibly come close enough again to the pile (and me) once its content has dehydrated and shriveled. Then we have to catalog wondering, what was this?
I rewrite the reference quote from the other piece to admit:
"Most of all I assume that she is happy"
My sister's unexpected response, like a baseball slider pitch served knowing that it's this batter's weakness, forces me to reassess my readiness. My beliefs about life and love have been colored by recent changes to environment and action, by physical truths, by any of the changeable perceptions that affect a human. Also true for my sister, but of course, hers is a different kaleidoscope. Life and love are constants. Society and different cultures do not all teach this directly, and also, we each individually easily forget. But just as I can accept that the grief of death is also love, the relationship strain for survivors is also life.
Existing together is hard. Existing apart is hard. And, in life and love, we have to learn to do both -- but few think to tell this as some great lesson for fear of scaring children of all ages (?) -- my guess. Clearly, not prepared, that's all I am pointing out. I can factually recall that many I know have already lost someone, but that doesn't mean one confronts one's own mortality, until one does. Is this part of what has been inserted on the path for my sister and I? Not sure. She is 9 1/2 years younger than me, and my only sibling. The age gap itself has already always been a factor. Another circumstance not in our control (our parents divorce) made our interactions few, but from my account, not strained. However, this is an area where I can see my ideal recall of no previous fights makes so much more sense.
Similar experiences cannot span the gap, it seem to maintain it, how could it not, with the brain I have that remembers simply, unnuanced? We both have our own families with spouses, and we live in different locations. Am I meant to pull off the winning double-header with no one else on base?
As I wait this out, because I know it is no game, I look back on when and how we've teamed or not. When have I done little just out of inexperience and lack of practice? How, without having to struggle, have she and I functioned together just as family should, and it goes without saying?
Preparing myself for a new season, one that may include uncharted territory, but hopeful that the errors and fouls of words become just a set of stats that can near change what the spirit of our sisterhood can always be.
|Confident in the next steps I take...yet I am going to give myself some development time. More Spanish under my belt, re-written resume if helpful. Working with and paying down my creditors. Staying healthy. Reading and writing on a schedule. Those five goals are probably my best Foundation.
|Sleeping dogs. (My oldest dog, Max, a Chihuahua mix sometimes referred to as a MinPin, is eighteen years old, and is currently snoring next to me.) For about ten days (and nights) I have noticed just how much my two dogs (and cat) sleep. I believe I never really took notice of it previously, because the work week puts the mind in a trance. By the time I am home, my concern is for my own relaxation, and so I am paying little attention to other beings around me -- which I see is sad. Now, joined in this global order to stay in place, I am an observer full-time. I also do think the animals are as bewildered as their people are to be spending time together / apart(?). I will tell you, these babies definitely still want their routine followed. The mealtime is demanded.