A Word To the Wise

When I was a kid, my mother often said “Do not air your dirty linen in public.” This is wise advice especially now when one mistake can be all over social networks in the blink of an eye. In the age of sharing everything, we have forgotten that some things need to remain private. I hate seeing couples fighting online, trashing one another only to see in the next few days all is forgiven.

You can delete the posts, but remember that someone saw it and may have a screenshot. There are folks out there who care far too much about gossip and love hearing stories of other people’s misfortune. Why give them ammunition? I by no means have all the answers, but I know this; when you put a relationship problem out there for all the world to see, you bring more problems than solutions. This is a dangerous game where we wind up casting someone as the victim and the other one as the villain. This exchange never seems to end well.

I have witnessed friends of mine taking to Facebook to complain about their other half. I personally despise this. I do my best to not post anything like this, not because my relationship is perfect, but because I know that any problems we have will be magnified if made public. There are always three sides to every story: your side, their side, and somewhere in the middle is the truth. When I see a serious issue brought to light on Facebook, I often wonder what good will come of that. Couples split up all the time for various reasons. Do you really want to make your issue into everyone else’s water cooler talk?

How did I learn to be this way? Simple. I used to be one of those people airing my dirty linen in public. The truth is that even though the other person may have in fact done awful things to me, I looked like an immature fool airing it for all to see. Posting all of that only made me look worse. It backfired in the worst way possible. Trust me, it does far more harm than good.

A word to the wise, privately message people if you are having a major problem. Talk in person, see a therapist, do what you must to get through your issues, but don’t put it out there for all the world to see unless you want your life to be gossip fodder.

What do you think? Have you ever aired your dirty linen for all to see?

What Can You List In Ten Minutes?

Yes this is a list post. One of my favorite blogs has a gratitude challenge and I am taking it. You have ten minutes to list what you are grateful for. Here we go!

I am no longer homeless! I was homeless for two years. I now have a beautiful apartment that I love!
Being alive. After a nearly fatal accident, that means more to me than anyone can know.
Having people in my life who love me for me, flaws and all.
My two cats, Gracie and Mitsy who are not only cute, but show me love.
Having doctors who have not quit trying to help me cope with my injuries.
Meeting a man who has shown me what love is.
Having a best friend who is truly my sister.
Reading a good book. I need to read more.
Writing. I love the written word.
My son, who I miss with every beat of my heart.
My lawyer, who is fighting to get me every single thing he can.
Friday nights. I love going out on Friday, being with my boyfriend who is a DJ and all of our friends.
Girl time on Sunday. We all need that one sounding board.
Naps. I love naps with my kitty.
Looking around and seeing that the world is not so broken and cold.
Realizing that love really is all you need
Coffee! I am evil without it.
Random texts from friends who just want to say hi!
The New York Giants even when they suck.
Singing when I am stressed out. I do a mean version of The Bitch is Back!

There you go! My list is far too short, but I suck at typing.

What are you grateful for?

The Old Gray Sweater

Seven years ago today, I said goodbye to my beloved father. The hardest thing about walking through life is missing him in small moments. I miss his laugh, how he butchered the English language, and I also miss his gray sweater. Dad dressed the same pretty much all the time. He wore white pocket t-shirts, his navy blue work pants, and over that he wore his gray cardigan sweater which he hardly ever washed. That sweater was placed on a pedestal in the funeral home and buried with him.

When dad was dying, I was asked to bring his favorite clothes to the rehab facility he was in. The first clothing item I grabbed was his sweater. It reeked of cigarette smoke and was loaded with grease. It was riddled with moth holes, but I knew he would want it. I took great care to wash it gently, and at least eliminate the odor from it. His sweater got packed along with his robe,slippers, and some pajama pants that the nurses could put him in to keep him more comfortable. He was such a happy, good natured man even through all of his illnesses. It broke our hearts to see him in so much pain. He took a horrible fall and fractured his pelvis. Since he was not a surgical candidate, all they could give him was palliative care until his heart gave out from the pain.

That old gray sweater was his trademark. He wore it even in the summer. He was always cold, so that cardigan was always on him. Years ago, one of my aunts did a portrait of dad wearing his other uniform, his white crew neck t-shirt that always had a pocket with a pack of Marlboro Lights peeking out. This is how I want to remember him. I want to remember the white t-shirt, the gray sweater and his Giants jacket. I want to remember him fixing carburetors in his shop and doing it better and faster than anyone else. I want to remember how he always said that one day his daughter would write a novel.

When I think about the day he passed, all I can recall is an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. Time has healed that somewhat, but there will always be a part of me that may never heal and that is okay. It is better to remember and grieve, than to forget those that we loved so much we hated to lose them.

I love and miss you still dad. Seven years feels like seven weeks sometimes.

Write Hard and Clear About What Hurts

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
― Robert Frost

I hate to cry. In fact, as a young girl, crying was the worst option. Crying led to one of a few things; it could lead to a beating, to humiliation, or it could lead to being left alone and feeling abandoned. In the past year and a half, I have been working on being more comfortable with my feelings rather than just hiding them away.

I feared my own feelings for most of my life. I never felt that I could be allowed to be angry, sad, jealous, whatever. Not that I want to feel these things, but I needed to learn what they were so I could put them in perspective. Learning to be easier on myself for human failings means knowing not only what I am feeling, but what circumstances could be contributing to my mood.

Last night I broke down in heaving sobs talking about feeling emotionally abandoned as a young child and how this has led me to have great difficulty trusting people. Perfectionism dogs me at every step I take. Each mistake is welcomed by my inner critic as further proof that I am a loser and not deserving of kindness or love. After being criticized for not being perfect so heavily, I now take even the smallest criticism too much to heart.

That inner critic is of course my mother. I lived my life trying in vain to get her approval.

I hear her voice in the small screw-ups, in those moments of indecision where I try not to act in a foolish manner. The days that I can be myself, and not feed in to the endless stream of criticism are victories. Since the accident, my mental state varies from day to day. I now need reminders of what needs to be done in order to get through the day. My emotions can be stormy, and I have coping mechanisms in place to deal with that.

That does not always quiet the inner critic, who wants me to be perfect at all times and settles for nothing less.

One of these days, I will be able to tell my inner critic to go fuck off. Until then, I have a song that I play when I beat myself up a bit too much.

Walk Your Own Path

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” Ralph Waldo Emerson

How many people simply do what others do in order to fit in? We may claim to be free thinkers, but are we?

Emerson was right. Walking the existing path is easy. The problem with that is too many of us do the same thing and expect to get a huge payoff. The payoff comes when we march to the beat of our own drum. This is not a new idea folks. Schools now crank out high school graduates who are not capable of original thoughts. If they question the teachers, or think outside the box, they are mocked.

Try being different as a kid and tell me where it gets you.

As a young child I was teased every single day. I was the shortest kid with the longest hair, who was cross eyed, and left handed. I could change none of this and as a result got chased home by bullies every day after school. Bullying is still a serious problem in many schools. The biggest challenge is that educators seem to not take the problem seriously at all. What can be done? More importantly, what will be done to the kids who bully others?

Where are the parents of bullies? Do they even know or care what their kids are up to? Just this past week, a ten year old girl cut her hair and donated it to make wigs for cancer patients. Her good deed did not go unpunished. She is now being bullied so much her mother pulled her out of school.

I hope this kindhearted young lady does not start viewing the world as a horrible place because of a few cruel kids. What she did is compassionate beyond her years. This is the sometimes unfortunate result of walking your own way instead of following the crowd. One day, this nation which once was proud, will be full of yellow-bellies who are terrified to speak up.

Walking your own path is scary, but well worth it.

What do you think? Should such a kind act wind up the subject of ridicule? Who do you think should be held accountable?

The System Is Broken

One of the platforms that Barack Obama ran for President on was overhauling the healthcare system. It is true that other countries like Canada and much of Europe have free health care. Now, I am sure this system has its own flaws since nothing is perfect. I do however, feel that we as Americans were far better off even a year ago before the Health Care Reform Act came into existence.

There has always been Medicaid for the poor and Medicare for the elderly. My parents had to have private insurance due to my father’s multiple health problems when he was younger. As he became more and more debilitated by his poor health, Medicare took care of most things for him. He also qualified for programs where he could get prescription medication for two dollars per refill. This all took place BEFORE Obama came along and messed with everything.

They say “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I do think Obama tried to right some wrongs, but made things far worse in the process. Take a look at how many people are disabled. Many of these people could work at least part time if they got the help they needed. With this new program in place, this will not be reality any time in the near future.

On my old insurance which was run by the state, I did not have these issues. All that was needed was my diagnosis and I could go on my way getting the help I needed. Nowadays, I cannot even see a doctor who deals with my type of injury, nor can I get authorization for much needed medication to help with my attention span since attention is closely tied to memory. They have also cut off meeting with a speech pathologist who helped me with various coping strategies to make my life easier.

Did I mention failing yet another memory test only a few months ago? Oh…not only did I fail, I failed on a grand scale, yet the Obama run insurance does not think I need treatment.

The system is broken and it is fucked up beyond repair. I did not vote for this moron. I never wanted healthcare to wind up under government control. It is bad enough that insurance companies are run by bureaucrats, now we have a system run by corrupt bureaucrats instead of only stupid ones.

What can be done to fix the problem? I wish I knew. What I do know is this – the only winners in health care reform here in America are the pharmaceutical companies and all the insurance companies. Those of us who actually need health insurance to get better and have a shot at getting off disability have been left out to dry.

Thanks so much for fixing something that wasn’t broken Mr. President.

The Songs That Define My Life

I have always been the type of person who listens to music to sort out my feelings. This post is about the songs that have a story attached to them that always comes to mind when I hear that particular song.

Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles – This is my favorite song of all time. I sang it to Douglas after I gave birth to him and used it as a lullaby when he got upset. I have total faith that the late George Harrison would love hearing that his song was being used in that way. When Douglas was small he would ask me to sing “his” Beatles song when he couldn’t sleep. Who could say no to that?

My Sharona – The Knack – My older brother was a drummer in rock bands when I was growing up. He has the ability to hear a song and then play it. During the 70’s, this song was a huge hit and he had to learn it. I never saw him have a harder time learning a song. The drum track on this song is highly complex. This song is also extremely suggestive. As a young girl, I never realized how dirty the lyrics actually were.

Alison – Elvis Costello – Many years ago, I was trying to be friends with an ex-boyfriend. He called and asked to come by on Thanksgiving since his whole family got into a drunken argument. We went out to get coffee and then sat singing this song in his car hopelessly off key. This song’s lyrics reminded me that even though I was not over him, he would never love me back. Sad memory for such a brilliant song.

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd – I guess we all have a story about a friend passing away far too young. One of the guys I was friends with in high school died in a car accident coming back from the shore. After his wake, a bunch of us got together and played this for him. It was one of those moments when you realize how fragile life really is.

The Bitch Is Back – Elton John – When I moved to Massachusetts, I had to make new friends. One of the things I began to do was go to karaoke just for the heck of it. One night, the lady who runs it came up to me and suggested we do this song together. It was such fun that I now do it every time I go to karaoke. Singing this is a form of stress relief. In the months after the accident, it was an announcement to the world that I was back and not going anywhere.

Jump In the Line – Harry Belafonte – I cannot hear this song without a major crying fit.  It was July 2005, mom was only gone a few months. I moved back home to help dad when I filed for divorce. One Sunday night, I went out for a bit to meet up with friends. As I was walking home, I could hear loud music coming from my house. When I entered, I saw my dad and Douglas who was 3 at the time, dancing together to this song. The look of pure joy on dad’s face is still vivid in my mind all these years later. It is one of those memories that still chokes me up when i think about it.

This list could be longer, but I will stop here. What songs mean something to you when you hear them?

The Story of Frank and Nora

Today would have been my parents fifty ninth wedding anniversary. They said their marriage vows and meant what they said. They stayed together through sickness and health, better or worse, and richer and poorer. For them, being with each other meant something special. My mother stayed at my father’s bedside through all of his hospital stays. She would read to him, or play gin rummy until he got tired. She did not make excuses about not wanting to go. For her, there was no excuse. Her husband was in the hospital, and that was all the reason she needed to be by his side.

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage, but one thing is certain, they did not flush theirs down the toilet because it got hard. Marriage is hard sometimes. it speaks to the moral compass we live by whether we choose to love someone no matter what or if we just throw in the towel when times get hard.

In this day and age, divorce is easy. In the days of my parents, it was an absolute last option.

Why is it that marriages do not last the way they once did? Is it excessive abuse, cheating, entitlement? I am not sure.

My parents on paper were a total mismatch. My mom wanted to be an English teacher. She married a man who butchered the English language on a daily basis. It drove her insane. Mom could be highly critical, but she was realistic, and she was my father’s sounding board. He made no decisions without her input. Yes, they argued many times, but one thing stands out to me, they knew that they loved each other. Mom ran the house. She did the shopping, the cooking, paid the bills and took care of dad. In his younger days, dad took care of the cars, and all house related problems from plumbing to yard work.

Then he got sick in 1980. He was in the hospital for six weeks and mom was by his side the whole time. Once he got better, mom went to work with dad at their auto parts store. They were totally devoted to each other and learned to accept the things about each other they were not crazy about.

My mom could be critical of dad, but never in public, and if you criticized dad for no reason, I pity you. Mom was dad’s biggest fan. She loved him and she loved her family. They did just about everything together, especially watching the New York Giants. We took family vacations when we could afford them, and they did the best they could with what we had which wasn’t always much. Many years there were no vacations or many extras due to dad’s many hospital stays.

None of that mattered to mom. She was happy in that small house with dad and her kids.

They may not have had extra money a lot of years, but in many ways they were rich. They toughed it out when mom got diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2000, and managed to not fall apart when they filed for bankruptcy om 2004.

The story of Frank and Nora ends on March 31, 2005. They were married forty nine and a half years then. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was go with my older brother to inform dad that his beloved wife was gone.

Til death do us part meant something to them. It was the end of a real life love story through thick and thin.

I love and miss both of you.

A Walking Target

please pay attention

Last week while walking around town to run errands, I was almost hit twice by motorists not paying attention. Distracted drivers are unsafe not just for other drivers, but for pedestrians as well. Why is it that nowadays we live in a world where every single thing has to be done right now?

The reality is it doesn’t. That red light you ran could be the difference between life and death for me.

It was the middle of the afternoon on Thursday. I was walking home and had the walk signal. A van decided to blow the red light and almost hit me in the process. This driver who was clearly at fault, then had the nerve to curse at me. NOT COOL! I decided to give him a piece of my mind. I was so shaken up that as soon as I managed to get home I had a small panic attack, complete with crying fit.

Drivers, I am sick of your bullshit. What makes you think that your time is more valuable than my life? Just because you can’t get it together on the road does not give you the right to yell at me for crossing in a crosswalk. When I hear a driver shout “Fuck you pedestrian!” It makes my blood boil. Why should I have to live in fear that I will once again be hit by a distracted or stupid driver who cannot obey traffic signals?

I am old enough to remember a time when drivers yielded without giving pedestrians the finger or shouting obscenities. Where has the decency gone?

We all have things to do, we are all busy. I get that. What I do not get is why you are so selfish. The age of entitlement has done nothing but bring society backwards. We cannot be away from our smartphones for even one second it seems. How many accidents do people have to get into to realize that most of this stuff can wait? If it is a matter of such importance that you answer your phone, maybe you should pull over to the side and stop looking at your lap while driving.

This is not the first time this has happened and sadly it won’t be the last.

Those of us in the crosswalks have rights the same as you do. In fact, since we are more vulnerable to being hit, I suggest that drivers stop being all about themselves and PAY FUCKING ATTENTION TO THE ROAD!

The life you save could be a friend of yours.

I leave you with this question – how would you feel if a family member of yours were hit and possibly killed by an irresponsible driver? What if that driver was you? Would your text message be that important then?

The Fifth Dentist

“Four out of five dentists recommend fluoride” What about the fifth dentist? Did he not get paid off, or is it that the fifth dentist can think for themselves?

How many times have people let major choices in their life be dictated by popular opinion? When I first started dating my boyfriend, it was a highly unpopular decision with many people. I did have one friend in my corner about what I chose to do. I dubbed her “The fifth dentist” since she was not buying into the bullshit that surrounded my dating choice at first. She saw for herself what the truth was, and reassured me that she would support whatever I wished to do.

Many people fall into the trap of not seeing things objectively. They see and hear only what they want to. This is why people can be easily manipulated into believing a bunch of lies. We all need that one friend who sees the big picture, and is able to think for themselves. The rumors that swirled around about me were completely false. I was being attacked on Facebook with startling hatred on a regular basis.

I did not fight back, I simply blocked the offenders and went on with my life, doing my best to not pour gasoline on the fire. The biggest benefit to doing this is that I showed my critics I was not who they thought I was. Life is all about choices. I can make the decision to go after someone or I can let things unfold and let people observe and draw their own conclusions. This is what freedom is all about. I certainly never want anyone to approve of me to gain friends. What I do want, is for people to see for themselves how things really are.

There is an old adage that says “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.”

That is a wise statement. The reality is that we never really know the circumstances behind what we hear. There are always three sides to every story; your side, my side, and the truth.

The friends to keep are the ones who admit being misinformed and are able to see that. In my own experience, I have gained a few new friends this way. There is nothing wrong with admitting to judging a situation before knowing all sides to it. That is part of being human. Just remember that four out of five dentists like fluoride. The fifth dentist sees through that and knows something we don’t.

Don’t always follow the crowd. Like The Beatles say “Think For Yourself”