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Archive for February, 2010

I’m joining fellow bloggers Jeri and Mommy in a meme about a song that instantly transports you to a very specific time or place. Here’s my contribution:

I was seven and just a tiny, little thing. Honestly, if I say I weighted 50 lbs that may be stretching it. It’s summer, August, I think. A typical hot, humid, sunny New England summer day. I was barefoot and wearing my green bikini, the one with the tiny pink flowers. My hair was in pigtails I was learning to do myself.

I was in the backyard playing with my stepbrother, Michael. We were ‘bowling’. Actually, more like rolling a wiffle ball at a pyramid of empty soda cans. The other kids were around, but we were the only ones playing this game. When the ball rolled passed the cans and under a bush at the edge of the woods, Michael, being the elder, sent me. He was really tall, anyway.

I knelt to retrieve the ball that was just beyond my reach and partly hidden by the previous winter’s dried and crunchy oak leaves. I stretched a little farther and grabbed hold of it. Michael was across from me, the bush between us. Suddenly there was commotion, loud buzzing and Michael – screaming and running away from me and deeper into the woods.

I yelled, “Wait! Michael?!” Then I saw the first one. A very angry yellow jacket buzzing at my left shoulder. I froze. That’s what we’re all taught to do, right? “Leave them alone and they will leave you alone.” Sound familiar? Anyway – back to the bee buzzing at my left shoulder and Michael shrieking and running around. I froze and the bee stung me anyway. When I looked up and in front of me I was aware, for the first time, of the swarm – furiously seeking the cause of their displacement. (that be me … oh boy!)

Out of fear of being left alone, I ran. I passed through the angry, buzzing hive once – trying to reach Michael who was still (I’m not kidding) running, flailing, screaming. I passed back through the hive – this time, afraid of being lost in the woods. I felt strongly about returning to the yard.

At this point my dad heard the ruckus and wanted to know, “What is going on over there?” I can still see him standing there in his white tee-shirt, cut-off jeans and the red bandana (forever) tied around his forehead to slow the sweat before it inevitably leaked into his eyes.

I was, by this time, standing on a pile of yard rubble at the edge of the woods. I remember seeing a shard of green glass dangerously near my shoeless right foot. To my dad I reply, “I dunno …” complete with double shoulder shrug, just as Michael ran screaming toward him, “Bees! Bees! They’re all over me!” Quite literally, they had stuck to him. Wherever they stung, they stuck. He had quite a few, too. (Overall I was stung 9 times, not sure what Mike’s total was)

Flash forward.

I’m on the ladder of the pool, in the shallow end. Dad and Marilyn (his wife & Michael’s mom) think I should wash the stingers off in the pool. Thankfully, the bees did not attach themselves to me and just left their little stingers behind. Typically, I was a fish in the water, but this time was different. I couldn’t let go of the ladder. The water was freezing, Arctic cold. They didn’t make me let go.

Flash forward.

We’re all in the kitchen now. I’m standing, holding the door handle to the fridge. Dad was standing near me and Marilyn was sitting at the table. “How do you feel?”, they ask. “Fine,” I reply, just as the fridge melted and swirled and swallowed me up.

Flash forward.

Daddy’s driving the car, Marilyn is cradling me in her lap. And Michael? (What do you think?) Screaming in the backseat! I was semi-conscious and THAT is when I heard the song: “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”  by War. At that moment I remember thinking it was an ironic message that me and the bees should get along. I have rarely heard that song since, but when I have, it instantly recreates that day for me.

To wrap up my tale, I ended up convulsing there in the car, which apparently freaked everyone out, so they immediately turned around and brought me home to call an ambulance. (911 in 1975? I don’t think so …) I woke up on a seemingly huge, red beach towel in the driveway. I made it to the hospital and was released after 3 days. I carry an epipen to this day.

This is my song story and the first time I’ve ever written it!

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Here’s another writing exercise 

Pretend/imagine I am a goat that has been separated from the rest of my goat community. I’m lost in the wilderness, stumbling around. In my panic I am pricked on the thorn of a honey locust, which contrary to its sweet name, is very nasty. The wound is deep and in my little goat mind, I realize I will probably bleed to death, alone in this wilderness. This realization brings the undeniable need to express myself in the hour of my death.          What are my final words?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

(my initial reaction to the assignment) Really? I’m a goat? But goats smell so badly and I am absurdly aware of all odors pleasant and particularly those not so. I wonder if I can be something else … something other than a (smelly) goat? (alas – this is not the point of this exercise) Let’s give this a try:

Here as I make myself as comfortable as I can in this harsh, unforgiving wilderness that I am soon to mark as my final resting place, the following (random) thoughts come to mind and heart. Hopefully there will be a few words that make you think, feel and maybe even desire to keep with you.

On my dying day I can say that I tried at life. I am quite proud, actually, of my efforts.

To my kids I say, as I often have, “I looove you, looove you, looove you … ”  You two are the main reasons I tried so hard. Honestly, you gave my life such meaning and purpose. I needed you to see a life well-lived. It certainly was not one filled with world-altering accomplishment. It was not one that received praise, accolades and awards. But it was a life full of love and learning, growing, stretching and reaching. I taught not to be afraid to fail. Those are the most impactful lessons of all. It is humbling to try and to fail. It is even more humbling to try and to succeed. Learn from every moment.

I have lived honestly with myself. In my experience, when I have been alone with my truth was when I most clearly had to accept the reality of my choices and what I had created. To lie to myself was unforgivable. Alone with my truth was my opportunity to learn and grow. My message to you? Own your truth and accept it so you can learn from it.

Okay. So, I’m dying. I’m dying and writing. What do I want you to know? About me? Not so much. But I have lived and observed some and these are the things I want to share during the final moments of my short goat life. (I have always fancied myself an intuitive, insightful goat.)

I’ve learned it truly is better to give than to receive. (Okay – get over the lame expression and listen. I’m dying here and don’t have much time!) Giving is receiving in disguise. To give from a place that is not seeking return is its own reward. No matter how big or small the gesture, the end result for the giver is to always be better for the act.

Our culture is not lacking in kindness and giving. I see it everywhere, because I look for it. The raucous and overbearing engine that is ‘the media’ has chosen to amplify, has overexposed much, if not all of what is wrong in our world. Don’t believe the bad outweighs the good. That is what they want you believe. Goodness, kindness and generosity are all around us and you will find it if you look.

I have lived not long enough if I am going now, though I do not leave with regret. They, those that are my goat community, they know my love for them because I took the time to share myself, my thoughts and my feelings with them when we had the luxury of seemingly endless time. They know the joy they have brought to my heart and how they have enriched my personal experience. Keep it. My love is yours to hold now.

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I bought this book, “Now Write!” Nonfiction Memoir, Journalism, and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. Edited by Sherry Ellis.

The first exercise is to write about three things that stopped me in my tracks. Then, I am to find out what they have in common and write about that. I like this first entry so I’m posting it. As is. (When I get to the second part of this exercise, maybe I’ll post that, too)

@ Z’s hockey game … J&B are with me – but they are off with their friends. I am alone.
I have a good spot and my new camera.

There’s a man near me – to my right. His presence is heavy.
I catch glimpses of him – sooo not my type. He has about 8 – 10 years on me. (I’m shooting for my age this time around) He’s wearing an ill-fitted white ball cap and a (very dated/80’s) brown leather jacket with too short sleeves. I don’t dare look down to the pants & shoes … I’ll just say he’s no fashionista.

Fantastic eyes
blue – green
sparkly, mischievous … inviting

He smelled like alcohol
He’s married

It could have been serendipity – it wasn’t.
He’s married – he’s funny – he’s charming – he’s inquisitive.
He smelled like alcohol.
He hinted – very subtly alluded, gestured with a look.

I was witty, funny, charming, guarded.

I could have – we could have
if only I would have
he stood by the door – held it open, just slightly, subtly nodding in “that” direction.

I saw it in his eyes first.
The energy. It was a quiet, low-frequency buzzzzz.
When I felt that buzz I looked to see if it was truly there. It was.
It was there in his eyes, that look that said: “let’s”
It was present in his crooked, mischief smirk – an unspoken invitation.

I was tempted.
It felt familiar.
It would have been redundant.

I declined, respectfully.
“Thanks, but no. I’ve been here with ‘you’, before.” Alcohol, married, thrilling, fun – inevitable hurt – guaranteed pain in my heart.

That’s what stopped me in my tracks.

[To sum up this entry, I feel the need to explain further. During the hour or so that we chatted and laughed I learned that we could have gone for drinks, learned things about each other and so forth. I did not mean to imply that we were about to have a go at it in the parking lot. Just to clarify.]

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Can you hear me?

I haven’t found my voice. My writing voice that is.

What do I want to say? [According to the ‘About’ section in my blog, I wasn’t planning on struggling to find topics to discuss …silly, naïve me]

It’s so odd that I struggle to find words. My mouth is always at the ready. My brain runs at a non-stop, at times, frenetic pace. And yet, I sit here and wonder, “What do I want to say?”

At some point, I hope my writings are found to be interesting and entertaining. Possibly even thought-provoking. In particular, ones that inspire others, like you, to comment and leave your thoughts about my thoughts, in writing.

If I keep writing I know I’ll eventually find my way. And so I shall do just that.

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