Mornings

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Photograph by Ramona Siddoway

Mornings are not always my friend. At least, not when I first wake up. I can’t say with any accuracy that I’ve been much different for most of my life. That first time I open my eyes, the brief moment of disorientation – not entirely unpleasant, but a moment between the “then” of the night with its dreams and own experiences and the “now” that is about to happen. My dreams are rarely unpleasant or frightening, but I always wake up feeling like I’ve really had a workout. Maybe its my psyche working out all the details of the day before, maybe its my imagination and creativity finally getting a free reign without the internal and external editors that they are constantly butting up against in my waking life, or maybe its my subconscious gently but firmly reminding me of who I’m really supposed to be.

I remember talking to a friend about an upcoming camping trip we were all planning on. I had never personally camped in this particular area we were going to and was asking my friend for some details. He said that mornings are a bit chilly but once you get moving you get warmed up and things are good again. He talked about how he’s a little stiff when he first gets up in the tent, but he just moves forward, starts making the fire, and soon the cold and stiffness are gone.

I still remember the visual in my head of this Wyoming cowboy, crouching over the first struggling fire of the day, waiting for the stiffness in his fingers and the cold in his bones to dissipate. I like that image.

When I first wake up there’s often this mental, emotional, and psychological stiffness – a stiffness of the soul if you will. But once I’ve gotten up, gotten moving and on with my day that stiffness dissipates pretty quickly and I’m good for another twenty-four.

With this new, upcoming season in my life the mornings center around that echo in my heart; the one that reminds me that soon there will no longer be extra bodies in the beds above me (unless, of course, I put them there. Mwahahahaha!!! Ahem. Excuse me. I digress. Back to our regularly scheduled achefest . . . )

Soon there will no longer be breakfast mess waiting for me to clean. (It will now only be dinner mess that I refused to clean the night before.) Nor will I be flying to my cell phone to text the offending miscreant who didn’t do something they should have. Instead the only thing waiting for me in the kitchen will be the mouth-breathing, snarky, Angolan cat who will give me my 30 seconds of allotted affection for the day. Or Jack, our Frankenpuppy (an aging dog who, because of strange parentage, has an abnormally small head for his large body) who will eventually slink down the stairs after sleeping on a forbidden bed.

It’s in that quiet that often frightens me. I can’t exactly say why. It’s the quiet that seems to shout echoes of the past and threats of uncertain futures.

I realize I have to move forward each day with the faith that the stiffness won’t really stay but a minute. I have to remind myself that the emotional and psychological and spiritual manna will always be waiting for me as long as I have the courage to just get up and harvest it.

So once I’m up I usually make my way to our patio. I read some scriptures and meditate as the birds are waking up and just as the Texas sun makes its way over the fence.  I need to remember to take a deep breath and not let fear from allowing me to BE in the quiet, in those moments just after the “me” of the night gives way and melds with the “me” of the day.

In the end it’s all good – the night, the morning, and the quiet in between.

The fly

My new friend . . . or IS he??

I’m trying to get some real, soul searching, satisfying writing done but somewhere, someone unleashed a huge fly jacked up on caffeine. It is circling my head like it was in the Indie 500. Literally. Circling MY head over and over and over and over . . . ahhhhhhhh! I feel like I’m in a cartoon where the main character is either dead or has not bathed in a really long time. Well, I’m not dead.

Hmmmmmm.

Okay. Now it is resting on the corner of my laptop, its shiny green butt pointing right at me. I’d try to kill it but then knowing that I’m not the karate kid with lightening fast reflexes I’d merely get it flying around me in another frenzy.

Oops. It was merely resting for the next twenty-five laps.

The engines have stopped.

Where IS it?? I don’t know which sound is more frightening, the propellers of a huge Kafka-esk fly that could carry away my cat or the icy, Hitchcock-like stillness and quiet, waiting, wondering where it is, what it is thinking, the plots that are hatching behind those 5 billion eyes.

I’m. Going. To. Hold. Really. Really. Still.

No one. Move. Or. Breathe.

Call 911 if you don’t hear from me . . .

Wednesday Whining: One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest

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I’m starting to feel it, the telltale signs of my last little bird flapping his wings, ready to fly and leave the nest. Is it too cliché to admit I’d never really thought this would happen to me? This is going to sound crazy . . .

You mean unlike your other posts, thoughts, and ramblings?? Good luck.

But in the very back, dark, cobwebbed (and slightly frightening) corners of my mind I thought that, just maybe, if I didn’t take my children for granted, or if I continually felt and expressed gratitude for being a mother, that they wouldn’t really grow up and leave me. Somewhere I had convinced myself that if I recognized that raising children was a privilege, that it WAS a great time in my life, if I didn’t wish away the time wanting them to quickly grow up that . . . somehow . . . magically . . . they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t grow up, that they wouldn’t leave. I could escape that!

Okay crazy lady. Where did you get an idea like that?

I would have older women – empty nesters – tell me that raising children would be the happiest time in my life. My mother said it to me. My grandmother said it to her. They would lament the sound of the ticking clock in an empty house, that echo they would hear in their hearts when all was quiet and there wasn’t blaring guitar music melting their teeth or any more dirty towels to scrape off of the floor or finding random sticky bowls and spoons or ill begotten candy wrappers hidden in the linen closet . . .

Hmmmm . . .

As I think about it, I am enjoying the days to myself, the quiet time I can sit and write and shoo the cat off of my computer after returning from a snack break. I enjoy being able to meet up with a friend at Starbucks or catching a spur-of-the-moment early afternoon movie with my husband and not rushing to get home in time for little ones stepping off of the bus or worrying about timing the car pool line just right, a daily basis of trying to monitor that delicate balance between getting there too early forcing me to idle amongst the noxious gas fumes or waiting just a bit too long to drive over to the school only to have to listen to your tires squeal in at the last second but because you are late you can’t find your kid because he has wandered off or decided to take matters into his own hands and walk home anyway and you just missed him because he took a different route home so you drive around the frickin’ neighborhood with your heart pounding just knowing that some pervert has offered him candy and like that dumb kid in Narnia that thought it would be okay to stuff his face with Turkish Delight from the White Witch your kid is stuffing his face with some corn-syruped, teeth-rotting, ADHD nightmare confection because despite the bajillion times you’ve warned him not to take candy from strangers he is probably thinking in his mind that this dude is not strange looking at all and besides the candy will remind him of the squirrel droppings he saw earlier and tried stuffing into his back pocket and when you finally catch up with him he’s at home on the front yard with his boy-part already whipped out urinating on an ant pile . . .

[Silence]

Never mind . . . I don’t feel so sad anymore . . .

To be Invisible: Part II

In my last post I shared Jennifer Seale’s blog about invisibility and the dehumanization of the human soul. She speaks of running to the mirror to check on her hands and face, certain she was “not real.” I too would spend what seemed like hours in front of the mirror, looking into the face and eyes of a child it seemed no one else bothered to see or hear.

I vividly remember sitting and listening at the kitchen table where many adult discussions were held. Some situations and conversations were set down and picked up day after day and I would return each time, “tagging” along, quiet and unobtrusive. It wasn’t uncommon for the talk to cease and someone to suddenly ask, “How long has she been there?”

Ummmm . . . about a week . . .

I have another memory of sitting on the gymnasium floor with a group of girls filling out a paper for an assignment. I turned to the girl sitting next to me—we’ll call her Lebbie Dusk—and I calmly asked her a question about the assignment.

No response.

So . . . I tried again.

Nothing.

Odd. Maybe she didn’t hear me. So I gently leaned over, put my lips to her ear and . . . yelled her frickin’ name at the top of my lungs.

But there was a problem. (Despite the obvious one that you as a reader and me as a [cough] mature adult recognize at this point: I may have been a bit of a pain in the butt-ox). The problem–at the time–was that it does no good for an invisible person to yell. I didn’t exist.

My sister and mother would often have conversations in front of me and, if I asked for clarification or additional detail about the subject they were discussing, it would be a surreal experience as I watched their eyes look down, to the side, up at the ceiling, at their fingernails, at the cat; every where but at me. They knew that there had been a psychic shift, a strange presence that had stopped their conversation but neither wanted (or dared?) to acknowledge it. So they simply didn’t.

Where was my Haley Joel Osment [I see dead people] when I needed one?

Speaking of dead people, I knew I was really out of the loop when I walked into the mortuary to dress my mother for burial. Laying on the table was this woman with blonde hair. For all of my life my mother had jet-black hair (granted, most of those years were from a bottle.)

“When did mom become a blonde?” I asked my sister.

“Oh, awhile ago. She heard blonde’s have more fun.”

This woman was 68.

I will concede that part of this issue may have been my doing. Maybe I was normally too quiet. Maybe I needed to express my views or opinions more. Maybe I just simply needed to speak up.

So I did. I realized I had a voice and in a moment of epiphany I decided it was time I tried to use it.

It wasn’t as successful an endeavor as I’d envisioned it to be . . .

It was the late 70’s, I was in Junior High and once again I was engaged in my favorite spectator sport, that of studying and analyzing the conversations of the adults around me. My dad was having a chat with one of his buddies in our living room (to this date I cannot even remember what the topic was). I’d taken seriously the internal challenge to get more involved, to speak up, let my voice be heard. I was up on my current events. I read the coolest magazines. I was an intelligent girl and now was my chance to prove it.

I waited for the perfect opening, screwed up my courage, took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet. I nearly exploded with:

“I read an article that in 1984 space aliens are going to invade the earth!”

The room went silent.

All eyes were now—finally–on me.

Wow. I wasn’t invisible anymore.

Not sure how much I liked it.

I sensed my dad was thinking something along the lines of, “I knew I should have had a vasectomy earlier” or “Is it too late to put her in that ‘special’ class at school?” His friend had the look of, “If I don’t make any sudden moves . . .”

I don’t think either one really knew WHAT to say so, after a reasonable amount of awkward staring, they turned back to each other and picked up their conversation, giving no more heed to me than a mental note to nail shut some drafty window.

But hey, I may have struck out but at least I swung the bat.

This is why I love being a writer. Writing gives me the venue for others—and me—to hear my own true voice (whatever truth is at that moment, aliens or no). Part of being a writer is being able to sit still, listen, and watch the world unfolding—and at times unraveling—before you. And I can do that in spades.

I see now that I have the best of both worlds. I can be in a room listening to a conversation, very much incognito, gathering information for articles, characters, and scenes. I then go home, sit at my computer, and bring into form first the skeleton, then skin, bones, and all sorts of sinews until I’ve a nice plump story. My words become the trench coat, glasses, and fedora of the invisible man.

So I suppose, being invisible had its moments. It’s been great fodder for blogs and blackmail, not to mention great scripts for creepy movies.

So now when I glance in the mirror I worry more about the growing number of laugh wrinkles than about an unseen child.

And that . . . makes me smile.

To be invisible Part 1

Another guest post, poignant and beautiful. Dedicated to anyone who has felt invisible . . .

Jennifer Seale’s Identity Crisis from her blog Lingering on the Journey. Click here.

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