32 Autobiographical Snippets Bled From the Gnarly Scar Tissue of a Sappy 30 yr Old.
age 0) In the womb, (or maybe even before I was conceived) something in the universe embedded a glimmer of hope for humanity in my initial cell structure which made my whatever-I-had--or-was-at-the-time shiver in primal appreciation when I first felt (yes felt, not heard, I hadn't developed ears yet after all) Nina Simone sing Feelin' Good:
age 1) The only place I'd be willing to sleep as an infant was on my father's chest. That exceedingly devoted man stayed up late most nights, coddling my chubby little baby form and watching classic Dr. Who. As a result, this theme (and an alarmingly persistent proclivity for sleeping on hairy heart-rythmed pillows) will forever be imbued in my being.
age 2) I was a rambunctious but shy little thing at this stage. Still a difficult sleeper, clearly. My Dad had this ingeniously unique lullaby he'd play for me on cassette tapes at night time. Really it was just one of the only cassette tapes my dad owned aside from Sex Pistols and Judas Priest. I guess he figured this particular cassette was more fitting than the other two for nighty nights (and by goshkins was it ever the perfect choice... though in hndsight I wouldn't have objected to punk or metal either.) without further ado, the incidental lullaby was of course:
Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds:
age 3) I suddenly realized that all this time I had had an extremely loving extremely quiet mother in the background of my life. It was a breathtaking realization, that this timid, sweet, caring nurturer contained in her a glimmer of courage; of humor, even! She laughed with me, such joyous laughs. She is such a little woman, my mum, I think I'd already outgrown her in kilos by this time (just kidding, but only kind of) ... When she gives you a hug, my mum, she just melts right into you. I think she has buckets of tears weighing down her insides all the time because I often see them well up and come out... But oh the courage she has when she works herself up; what courage it takes to smile through tear-welling throatlumps. I know now. I know. it was at this age something horrible happened to me (the same that had happened to her as a child, but mine was not near as bad as hers) which wouldn't come back to bite me till my nightmares got out of hand years later... So I know now, but then I was cluelessly chipper. I remember twirling and dancing around the living room with my dear mum on a few occasions at this stage, to "I Have Confidence" from the Sound of Music:
age 4) A lot happened at 4. but I'll stick with the bare necessities: https://youtu.be/08NlhjpVFsU
age 5) to this day I still cannot express the fathomless feeling of exuberant idolatry this epic tune stirs up in my gut. I remember one day one of my dad's nerdy acquaintances came over and asked me who was my favorite, between Captain Kirk or Mr Spock. I just looked up wide eyed and panic stricken. A question! A grown-up asked me a question! ... but I didn't know the answer. My Dad shook his head sadly and muttered "I've failed as a father...we'll have to remedy that." it was that night that I was introduced to one of the first and greatest loves of my life. I was a trekkie to the core from that moment on. (oh and the answer to the question was Mr. Spock. all the way.)
age 6) I guess we're going to have to whip this list into shape (it's not too late..)... Devo gave me the impetus to get up and move, without which I could've all too easily spent my life as a pathetically-yearning-for-other-things couch potato.
age 7) It had to happen sooner or later. I pretended to be sick one day so I could stay home from school, and got taught something so much better than whatever they were going to teach me that day; I'm speaking of course of the event of a lifetime: being introduced to epic film scorer Ennio Morricone's music via Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns.
age 8) My beloved grandmother introduced me to the timeless joy of Luciano Pavarotti whilst cooking and cleaning one Sunday afternoon after church:
(okay I seriously have to shorten this or we'll be here for several millenia. from here on I'll just jot down a few associated memory engrams followed by the song... unless I can't help myself... yeah. sorry...)
age 9) Saint Seiya ost, "sad brothers" stayed with me through one harrowing night when I lost a baby pademelon I was trying to save the life of:
age 10) I was in the depths of despair one evening after I'd stayed up late reading Anne of Green Gables and the series was tragically over and there wasn't any more!... and I'd got my first period and everything seemed like the end of the world. it must've been just after my birthday because my dad had bought me my very first second-hand disc-man (portable CD player) and took me in to an old record shop which sold mostly vinyl and just had some CD's (pieces of new-age plastic junk to the store owner) in a bin by the door. I rummaged, picked out a couple of CD's, one of which was a Frank Sinatra collection called Nothing But The Best. Years later I couldn't decide which I liked better between the Sid Vicious version or the original, I seriously couldn't decide, but for most of my life this would become my favorite song of all time, in either format, for the way it soothed and stoked my visceral-aches and made me believe that everything would be alright again, that it's alright to do things my way:
age 11) The nightmares started recurring in a too-big way to ignore. Sleeping had always been touch and go for me anyway but now I was petrified of it. late one night I snuck out of the house, little transistor radio in my pocket (discman had broken then I guess), into an old dirt-floored shed in our backyard to sleep next to my pet sheep. I was sobbing into his wool thinking about how horrible life was. Right when I needed to hear it the most this Beatles song came crackling over the radio. when it ended my sheep let out a commiserating "baa" .. we both wanted to hear it again:
age 12) 50-min-long drives back and forth from the wildlife park (my first job, alongside my father) we listened to lots of great music. Eclectic tastes, my dad, like me. But I particularly remember Queen:
age 13) I got left alone with my awesome uncle for an evening, and as he awkwardly scrounged for some morsels of food to offer me (hand-rolled cigarette in his obviously-hadn't-bothered-eating-much-in-days mouth.) I said I wasn't hungry but he kept scrounging anyway... he inadvertently introduced me to Jimi Hendrix (playing in the background) as I stared around the squalidly unkempt and slightly weedy-smelling domain of an artist's heartbreak in abject admiration:
age 14) Got suddenly obsessed with romance in every way. Sitting on the rocky shores of Tasmania's north coast at sunset, casting longing glances out into the tumultuous waves, listening to Romeo and Juliet theme, composed by Nino Rota (this time via a fancy schmancy mp3 player discarded by a wealthy classmate because it had a scratch on it's screen):
age 15) I started chatting online to the young man I would eventually marry. on a clunky desktop keyboard left over from the dark ages and dial-up internet which was already obsolete enough that no-one bothered to try to fix it when it went out. By the grace of the gods it worked sometimes, and by their wrath sometimes it didn't. I remember it stopped working halfway through this glorious music which my then-heart-throb-now-husband had sent me. Requiem in D Minor by Mozart. I went crazy needing to hear the rest of it (literally, I think I might've gone quietly insane and stayed that way ever since):
age 16) my Mum, my darling sweetest-thing-on-earth Mum... she was crying to herself in the kitchen. She'd found out some months prior that my Dad was in love with another woman, that he'd left her. Broken vows. The tears in my eyes reflected hers; that pain in her heaving bossom... she crumpled on me as though she were dying (I had definitely outgrown her in size by then) and I held her, pretending to be the man she needed back. I was so much like him after all. It must've been so painful for her to look in my eyes. I did the only thing I could think of to do. I'd been an extreme Youtube-delver at that stage, so I had the situation well in hand. I rushed to the computer and looked up the song I knew she needed to hear. "I will survive" by Gloria Gaynor. Then we both did the smile-through-tears thing we women of this bloodline are evidently prime exhibitors of, and I twirled and danced with her again like the big old child I'll always be inside.
I can't do 17 without giving you two vivid memories in quick succession:
age 17 part a) oodles of time listening and re-listening to this song by myself while I hungered for the touch of the manchild on the other side of the planet whom I mentioned in age 15. Righteous Brothers's Unchained Melody:
age 17 part b) no rhyme or reason to this one, but perfection nonetheless; it just happened to be the song playing in the car radio while my nervously cold-fingered sweaty hand perused his warm masculine one. finally, finally, at long last I got to touch that overwhelmingly swoon-worthy demigod in person (I lost my virginity that night)...
Billy Joel's Piano Man:
age 18) On my birthday the one-and-only of my life was back on the other side of the planet again. I was lovesick and lonely so I started bonding big time with my wonderfully talented tattoo-artist older sister. I got drunk on Jack and Coke while she tattooed the requested lion's head on my thigh, with "property of then-heart-throb-now-husband's name" type-scripted in the mane (much to my sister's mildly feministic dismay)... We both loved this song, though. And she let me play it on repeat as the ink sunk in to my alcohol-muddled veins. "I'm eighteen" by Alice Cooper:
age 19) I dropped out of college and moved to the other side of the planet to reunite with and marry-the-heck-out-of the man who's name my thigh-lion guarded. Traveling from Hobart, Tasmania to St Louis, MO. Long plane flights. Lots to leave behind. My over-clingy sob-faced perpetually-looking-backwards self had to cling to something new now; something to look forward to. Of course, true to form, I found my future in the past, delving through the free songs available on the plane, I happened to find my destination more than a hundred years in the past as it happens. "Meet me in St Louis, Louis" by Billy Murray:
age 20) When I was first-time pregnant, living in a foreign country, working as a full-time hospital cleaner for 7 bucks and some decent health insurance per hour, the love of my life shattered my blood-pumping mechanism into a thousand cataclysmic shards. I've been trying to collect them and glue them back in ever since. I needed him so bad... I wept so hard trying to salvage the soul-scraps of who I thought he was. Crying, crying my heart out into too many un-hairy un-heart-rythmed pillows "stop! in the name of love" by the Supremes:
age 21) In an unfathomable display of reconciliation and solidarity, the man-shaped entity I was married to decided to be a real man, and a husband, and a father, after all. He sang this song to me and our newborn daughter when the three of us were alone in the hospital, and I bawled my eyes out, cradling this beautifully red-faced screamy life we'd somehow spawned together who now slumbered peacefully in my exhausted happy arms... "If I Didn't Care" by The Ink Spots:
age 22) breastfeeding and a newfound love for home-cooking in the previous year had made me both ravenous and eager to win my man's heart back through diligently abusing his stomach (and mine in the process.) As a result, at this stage of post-incubation I was immensely obese. I had to dig deep to find some interest to distract me from food; some idiot-proof method which could be carried out with a baby-in-tow. (I wasn't ready to go back to writing just yet. it was too much.) so I got myself an MP3 player and went on walks, carrying my daughter strapped to my chest and my dog's leash wrapped around my wrist, we'd walk, we three. Happy go lucky care free through horrid-weather walks. I'd walk and sweat and listen and think. Think of motivational things like Rocky Balboa's passionate punches at life... or ya'know, just Rocky Balboa's passion in general...
age 23) hard times. I'd lost about 60 or 70 lbs, renovated our first hovel, got preggers again and had our first son. Too much going on that year. Husband sick, lots of job changes, had to go back to work myself for the health insurance all through second half of pregnancy and breastfeeding. (it is so doggone hard to leave a newborn with somebody else.. the hardest thing. but you gotta do what you gotta do. Humans have lived through worse.) Listened to a lot of the local rock station K-SHE 95 on the drives to and from work. Lots of great great music I knew very well from my youtube delves years prior. Hard to single one out, but if I had to in the very moment I'm writing this, I'll pluck out Pink Floyd's "Time" as it brought back some nice memories of art college and for whatever reason I was caught off guard and pleasurably flabbergasted one early frosty morning when I heard those familiar chimes of it on this local American station.
age 24) I adored living vicariously with my younglings at this age. (still do. Who am I kidding?) The height of it was rediscovering and sharing with them this show I used to watch when I was little which is the best children's content ever devised by mortal imagination. I have to add the intro to Jim Henson's The Storyteller to this list. I simply have to:
age 25) Miscarriage...no words to describe the stark juxtaposition between that forever-agony-swelling loss and holding my cluelessly happily grinning life-living younglings on my knees at the same time. I made the gorgeously painful mistake of watching Dumbo with my two litluns the evening after I came home from the doctor's office, while I was still bleeding out the remains of the sibling they never knew. I don't think I've ever tried so hard to suppress an expression of emotional turmoil in my whole life. Such anguish... and yet simultaneously, such gratitude. The tears leaked out despite my best efforts. No matter what mood I'm in, (and I get in some pretty emotionless moods) I will never be able to witness this scene or hear this song with dry eyes ever again.
age 26) I got a wee bit mindsick(er) and realized I was an all-over-the-place manic-depressive lunatic, or at the very least an extreme oddball. My sister came back to visit me and since my husband detests my sister, and since she reciprocates with a fiery vengeance, it was decided that the best thing would be if I just went off with my sister for a few days to sight see and spend time with her. I was pregnant again, delightfully, and intent on being super cautious and super healthy, so I hesitated a little bit taking her up on the trip, yet my in laws offered to watch the first two younguns while I was gone and reminded me that it wasn't healthy to never get out or do anything ever, so after some more hesitating and extensive safety research about travelling while pregnant I eagerly accepted the opportunity to spend time with my dearly loved sister. It was on this trip I got torn asunder by own expectations of reasonableness on my husband's end all over again. He punished me for this inexcusable dereliction of motherly duty (while my kids were being happily spoiled and pampered and coddled by their caring, sensible and most-trustworthy-people-on-earth grandparents) by not returning a single call in the entire three days of nigh-on-a-hundred texts and calls I'd send into the echo-less void of him. Serendipitously, during one of these ill-fated call attempts, Blondie started playing over the stereo of the cool retro antique shop we were hanging around in. Oh how I swam, sank, paddled and drowned in this song. I'd heard it before but I hadn't felt it before. After it ended it kept on playing and playing in my head just as though it were still corporeally audible:
age 27) after enough time caving and simpering and "all-my-fault"ing with my ears tucked down and my tail between my legs in the pseudo-love cage (that place in which I am both housemaid and whore to the man-shaped thing whose name was still guarded by my thigh-lion... or is that too harsh? he's still a person after all... still my one and only... maybe I'm the one who's crazy for thinking he's changed?...) I'd mercifully managed to delude myself once more into blissful ignorance. One magical close-to-christmastime day my husband was snowed in, had to call off work, and we spent the day baking cookies and decorating with the kiddos; my husband played his favorite christmas tune from when he was a lad... and forever now it's our favorite too, me and the kids. The way he sang that song in his deep voice like Santa, the way he was making best-dad-ever memories in the minds of our litluns.. Whatever happens, it's our favorite christmas song from then on till we die:
age 28) ... I can't really type out all that happened in that year. so much. far too much. most importantly another miscarriage followed by an immediate new pregnancy during which I was stressed out over a host of other things (long drives, getting swindled, knowing but refusing to know that I would never be loved, illness, mortal every-day dread of a late-term stillbirth and a multitude of other various exacerbations) then my son lived. My son lived. I had four children. Life was full. Oh so full of so much meaning. There were no words when I was bottle-feeding my darling son my previously-pumped breastmilk. No words. Just music.
age 29) the next one speaks entirely for itself. Ruth Etting's rendition of "so is your old lady" I inwardly smiled to myself while doing the dishes to this one. Another serendipitous coincidence in my automatic youtube song recommendations:
age 30) right now? As I'm typing this? My lifelong semi-insomniac ass stayed up all night and day writing this. What do I feel... right now? All possible human emotions. Everything all at once.
All of the above and so so so so many more...
In then end, I'm just another one of the Animals... Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood:
Without music, life would be a mistake (Nietzche)
Music is as necessary to me as air. Not a day goes by that is not made better by soothing tones, moving rhythms or lyrics that touch my heart. My tastes are quite eclectic and include classical, pop, all shades of rock including heavy metal, jazz, R&B, musical theater and rap/hip hop. There are myriad songs or pieces that have touched me in some way, that remind me of a particular time or place, a person, a relationship, a feeling. But it is actually an entire genre rather than a song that has stayed with me throughout my life, from my earliest musical recollections till today: country music.
When I was five, my parents divorced. My mom and I moved to a small apartment. Every morning, as we prepared for school and work, she used to turn on the radio in the kitchen and the station was always country music. I fell in love without being aware, especially with the storytelling. Sometimes the songs made me laugh, more often, they made me cry. Music --all music but particularly a good country song -- has had the ability to move me to tears (both happy and sad) since those early days of my childhood.
The first country song I remember crying to every time I heard it on the radio was Spring by Tanya Tucker. The lines that always made me burst into tears were: Momma don't go away/And leave me all alone/Momma said to the welfare lady/Find my child a good home. (There is a happy ending. Although Momma dies and Spring grows up in an orphanage, she finds love and gets married to her best friend from the orphanage in the end. :-)
One song that made my mother laugh hysterically when she heard me sing it was Lucille by Kenny Rogers. The chorus is You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille/With four hungry children and a crop in the field..." I, however, thought he was saying "400 children and a crop in the field." My mother cried she laughed so hard before saying, "400 children? I guess she did leave. I'm surprised she's not dead."
I could be heard singing other country songs throughout the 70s and 80s, along with all the other types of music that touched my soul in those years. In the 90s, life got crazy as I married, lost my daddy, had a child, bought a house, a car and started my career in education. It wasn't until 2001, when I was driving on 95 North heading home from a conference in DC that I found a country station for the first time in years. A new Alan Jackson song came on. I had to pull over because I couldn't stop weeping.The first lines were:
Where were you when the world stopped turnin'/that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children/or workin' on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke/risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor/or did you just sit down and cry?
I was in a classroom, teaching that day - where I remained, consoling my students as fear and grief overwhelmed them, until the bell rang at 3:00 pm and I could finally speed to my son’s school and hug him close and take him home. My heart broke when he said so many parents had come to get their children early and he had wondered why I hadn't come sooner.
I cry every single time I hear that song.
After finding that station, I renewed my love of country. Until they took it off the air last fall, 94.7 NY Country was my go to radio station. Now, I'm all classical or "music from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s" when I have the radio on. But, more often than not, I put on one of my Playlists loaded with country music.
Over the last two decades, I have amassed a treasure trove of country songs that have made me feel not only joy or sadness, but also, simply, connected. We, humanity, share a lot of the same basic life experiences - love; lust; longing; anger; sadness; loss; loneliness; betrayal; family - the good, the bad and the ugly; work woes; illness; death. Country music has it all.
I guess I love country because so often it says exactly what I feel or felt or need to hear...or simply tells a great story that feels familiar or fun. I have it on in the bathroom as I shower, the kitchen as I cook, the living room as I clean, the car as I drive. I take it with me everywhere - it is a part of who I am.
It was a scene, at least I like to think, straight out of a movie. A horsegirl movie, the kind that makes you cry like every good movie about animals does. But there were no happy tears that day, because I was saying goodbye to a friend. To a horse that a year before stood in the field, ignored and unwated because people broke it and no one wanted to take on the responsibility of fixing it. I did.
I found the owner and told her that all I want is a horse I could treat like my own without having to pay for it and she accepted. That was my moment, my thing that finally made me the responsible adult I was supposed to be.
And damn it, I did it. I took that horse and I fixed it. I loved that crazy red mare and she loved me back. We spent the whole summer together and then the autumn and then the winter. Most of the winter anyway. We never got a spring.
The owner decided to sell her and I found out the day the buyers came to look at her. A nice family with two little girls who told me that I could come visit any time I wanted. Then the mom told the little girls, "She'll be perfect for you. You can teach her anything, she'll be yours."
I wanted to tell them, "But she's mine." But she wasn't. In the face of someone offering money for her, I had no claim to the horse that I taught how to ride and run and love people again. That mare was who she was because of me and in the blink of an eye, I was losing her.
I couldn't do it. I called my mom to come pick me up, grabbed my jacket and walked away. I was strong. I held in it. Then my mom asked, "What's wrong?" and I broke down. I climbed into the shotgun seat crying my eyes out and as my mom started the car to take me home, to take me away from the horse I loved but would never see again, the radio started playing, "Pain! You break me down and build me up, believer!"
Six months later, I was back in it and this time, I wasn't taking any chances. I bought my own horse, so no one could rip it ouf of my hands this time, a young one, a strong one, happy and full of life. I loaded her up and got into the car to drive her home. The radio turned on and as we turned onto the main street, I noticed the same old song playing. "Pain! Oh, let the bullets fly, oh, let them rain!"
It was a sign, right? That damned song that I haven't heard since I broke down in my mom's car was playing again, surely that meant something. This was my poetic happy ending and nothing could hurt me now.
But my new mare was sick a lot. I thought, oh, that's nothing. This is typical for her breed, we just need to be more careful with her food and buy more supplements.
She was crazy and wild. She loved to do her own thing, but everything I tried to teach her, she picked up so quickly. She had the steadiest gallop I've ever seen. She'd trip on air when she walked, but let her run and I knew she would never fall.
She made it ten months. I could buy all the supplements in the world and it wouldn't have helped. The vet was there the whole afternoon. I begged her. I told her, "You're so young, you have more than this in you, I know you do." She didn't. She wanted to, she wanted to so badly, but she didn't. I was going to take her to the forest on the weekend.
When my mom took me home that evening, I didn't turn on the radio. My happy ending shattered in my hands in the span of one afternoon, I didn't want to know. But to this day I wonder, if I turned on the radio, would I have heard the same tune?
Today marks exactly one year since I bought her. A little over two months since I lost her. I haven't listened to the song since but sometimes, when I'm crying and breaking down, all I can think of are the lyrics. My life, my love, my drive, it came from pain.
I heard it first in my teens and it was the amazing soaring voice on a transistor radio under my pillow which lulled me to sleep.
Then I met the love of my life, and his love of music brought more songs, hymns, instrumentals in every genre of music into my life. But Unchained Melody was his love song to me. Over the many decades we had together the song became our anthem.
On our anniversaries and my birthdays, he would make the time to sing it to me, sometimes when it came on the radio and his perfectly pitched voice sang harmony, other times he'd catch me by surprise and sing it solo. A private performance for my ears only, as we swayed together. In a parking lot, in the kitchen or cuddled on a couch after turning the news off before bed, it never failed to have me falling in love with him over and over again.
Even in the last years when he was so ill with heart problems and burgeoning depression, the song brought moments of clarity and sweetness to us. His voice, not nearly as robust as it used to be would soar as it always could. In the hospital as I fought with a genetic disorder, and at home when we fought like cats and dogs, it would bring our hearts together and keep me strong. I knew the man who loved me was still there buried under the monster disease created.
The first time I heard it after he passed away, brought a deluge of tears. The first I shed after the unthinkable loss of kind man, ruled by integrity and ethics whose last words to me were, I love you. The torture of his last years was over and the love is what I remember now as I healed and processed the disaster of living with a depressed mate hindered by a heart that didn't wouldn't let him be a man. Now Unchained Melody brings a smile and sometimes a tear. I can feel his arms around me the way they used to be and will always be.
God speeds his love to me.
“Headed down south to the land of the pines,
I’m thumbin’ my way into North Caroline.
Starin’ up the road and pray to God I see headlights.”
My voice was hushed, almost a whisper, as I sang this song in the darkness. It was the only song I could think of to sing as my newborn baby boy laid in my arms. My son looked up at me with wide eyes, that I could make out by the light of the moon filtering through the window, soft and gentle as a caress.
This was the third insomniac night in a row, just home from the hospital. I felt afraid to go to bed. Sleep deprivation scrambled my thoughts and plagued me with a strange anxiety. For whatever the reason may have been, the lyrics calmed my nerves, grounding me to this precious, quiet moment.
“I made it down the coast in seventeen hours,
Pickin’ me a bouquet of dogwood flowers
And I’m a-hopin’ for Raleigh, I can see my baby tonight.”
This was the only thing I could focus on. Only this moment. I battled the questions in my hyperactive brain. What am I supposed to do now? How can I care for him for the rest of my life? What if I mess up? What if he never sleeps? As the thoughts jabbed through my head, I took a calming breath and continued with my song.
“So, rock me, mama, like a wagon wheel,
Rock me, mama, any way you feel.
Hey… mama, rock me.
Rock me, mama, like the wind in the rain,
Rock me, mama, like a southbound train.
Hey… mama, rock me.”
Ever so slowly, heavy eyelids drooped over sleepy eyes of my son, and I felt mine following suit. Gently, I laid my baby beside me as I sleepily sang the rest of the song, forgetting half the words. Sleep encompassed the both of us, as I wrapped my arms around the now sleeping boy. The release of slumber was so sweet, tears slid down my cheeks as my brain phased into dreams. Everything was going to be alright. There would be endless days ahead of music to share with my sweet child.
Journal entry 2037-Sep-1
Another Tesla self-driving 18-wheeler on the lot today. This one killed a family of 12. When I opened it up it was obvious the hyperparameter optimizer just needed an update. I mentioned it to Bossman and the little turd got so mad at me he nearly bust out in tears. I should have known better. The last time I tried something like that his mother called Central and complained about me. Fuck it. They want to spend big bucks on a new board I'll do it.
Went to the Honky Tonk Resort after work. They had Kraftwerk or something playing in the main hall. WTF. And Free State of Texas News in immersive mode. Bunch of Newbs in there pretending to be rioting, President Musk cheering them on from the interplanetary link. I don't know where he gets the energy but he keeps gamifying everything. This time it's the riots over moving the wall north. I still can't believe Mexico's merging under the FST.
Anyway, made my way through the Newbs and their smelly Pepsi Kombuchas to the back part. Tiny little room packed with Old Guard IT. Beer and cigarettes. And holy shit the box was playing Letters on the Marquee. I bet it's been 15 years since I last heard it, around the time they ditched the internet for FreeNet and all the artists fled north. I should have downloaded some things when that shit went down but who'd know it'd come to this. I asked Barkeep J27 where she got the song and it was clear someone reprogrammed her. She just gave me a wink and shimmied her tits. Honky tonk heaven.
Just wear boots
I live on a farm. I live on a farm because I love my husband, Charlie. He loves growing things. I'm allergic to everything so I'm not much help with the animals, the orchard or the garden. I work in the city. It's a three hour commute round trip, but I really don't mind the drive. I love my job.
Arnie, not so much.
Arnie, our resident rooster, thinks I am one of his chicks. Every single morning without fail he is waiting for me by the car, ready for battle. Doesn't matter if the sun is below the horizon or well into the sky, if I am heading to work, he is waiting to crow at me and peck my toes. I can't even bribe him to leave me alone.
If Charlie is with me, Arnie is off chasing his hens. But if I'm alone, better be sure my feet are covered. I actually have scars from the early days before I realized who was boss.
You might say, why don't you just get a new rooster. Well, first and foremost, Arnie, loony tune that he is, is family. You don't just replace family when they get on your last nerve. Much as the idea might appeal. No, family is for keeps. More importantly, though Arnie saved my life not long ago.
It was June, and a traveling circus had come to town. They did one show, Saturday night and then were supposed to go on to the next town Sunday morning. Except their star attraction, Ollie the Orangutan in Shining Armour, escaped. The whole town was put on alert, searching for Ollie.
Clearly, I must attract nature's nuttiest creatures because Monday morning, as I was heading to my car, what did I see but Ollie the Orangutan wielding his not so innocent looking sword as he toppled toward me in his medieval armor, helmet askew.
In the same moment I noticed Ollie, Arnie came into view, full speed. He started squawking and pecking at Ollie's non-armor covered feet. Ollie slowed down, waving his sword inelegantly at poor Arnie, spinning and tipping this way and that. I jumped in the car and called the local sheriff, Andy, to tell him we had found Ollie.
By the time the deputies showed up with the circus trainer, Ollie was on his his back, defeated, Arnie on his chest alternately crowing and pecking.
All that to say, Arnie is both family and our hero. He's a keeper.
I just don't wear sandals to work.
your dad must have been so sick of that song. of every time we got in the car and made him play it. peach juice dripping from our chins and arms waving around in the back seat.
we knew every word and every movement. we sang it when we couldn't hear it and it made us so happy.
i hope your dad's resting well. i hope one day you can eat another peach. i wonder if i'll always have to ward off tears when i hear our song.
The Flip Side
It's easy to have a bleak outlook on the future of humans. Based on the statistics, it would be unrealistic to not have a sense of pessimism. Hell, based on personal experience, it's hard not to place any sense of optimism on the shelf.
That said, there are movements that push against the decline of society, whatever that may mean to you. There is a strong movement to return to the nuclear family, or at least an updated version of it. I don't foresee people having as many kids as they did in the past for a multitude of reasons but parents are making more of an effort to have stronger and healthier relationships with the children that they do have. To raise their children in a way that is different than how they were raised so that they can go into the world with more self-awareness and understanding. Parents may only have a few children due to whatever circumstances befall them, but that doesn't mean that their children will follow the same path, especially if they are given a different outlook and a better future.
Medicine is always improving, as is our knowledge on health, nutrition, and fitness. There are those who protest against these advancements, but they are a vocal minority. We have more interest and access to what's in our food and how it affects us and can make better decisions based on this. A sharper lens has been placed on reproductive health and how we can create longer, healthier, and happier lives. As those in my generation get older, we see the struggles of the previous generations and seek to break those cycles for ourselves. I hate to sound so harsh, but those who are complacent against such things are likely going to die off sooner, and will leave behind those who take their lifestyle more seriously. Those who take it seriously are likely to spread those values to others in their life.
With social media, it's easier than ever to find information to better yourself, to better the world around you, to even be made aware that there are elements of the self and society that are in desperate need of changing. Admittedly, this is a double edged sword as many of the people who promise to have answers are hurt people preaching to hurt people and this only contributes to the mess. But empty, easily debunked messages have short shelf lives and in the age of information, are prone to lose support through a sharp and swift downfall. Some realize what's happening, jump ship, and move on while others go down with it. To make another harsh statement, those who go down with the ship are also likely to die off before the rest- though in this sense, I mean that mostly metaphorically. They too, serve as a warning to others who may have walked their path but still have the time to re-evaluate.
We are all tired of misinformation, lies, and deceit and have turned a sharper eye onto it, demanding more from the people we choose to invest our time and energy in. We are pickier when it comes to partners and friendships. Some people are absolutely unrealistic in this regard, but I think learning to set stronger boundaries and standards begets better long term relationships, romantic or otherwise. Younger generations are doing this en masse. They may struggle to understand themselves and others, but they are not unwilling to learn as the alternative causes an undeniable strife. It's not that we don't want meaningful relationships, it's that we don't have much clear guidance on how. Emotional growth is a slow process, but it is still a work in progress all the same.
Humans put themselves in a very sticky situation, but we are not ignorant to this. Everyone wants to see better (though some people really do just want to watch the world burn) but have different ideas on how to get there which is where I think much of our struggle lies. Despite the doom and gloom pushed to us in the media, and the hysterical voices of the loudest ones in the room, I see the landscape shifting. Will it be the same? No. Are we doomed? I don't believe so. Different is not a death sentence, though we very well may need a moment of intense healing before we can see desired trends moving in an upward direction. These trends didn't decline for no good reason. Society doesn't go off the deep end spontaneously- it is a direct response to the trends of the past and our ability/inability to view them with honesty and perspective.
This is all anecdotal, of course. Based purely on personal observation. My beliefs push against the hard numbers and I recognize that. But I see social, political, and cultural trends that I believe will cause those hard numbers to change in the coming decades. Humans are not endangered. The downfall of humanity has been preached for a very long time, and yet we've managed to ebb and flow for centuries. We're figuring out what doesn't work and how to change it. Growing pains are inevitable.
Some Days I Thought - Am I Strong Enough Yet?
I have thought a lot about that saying throughout the years. The family and friends who told me repeatedly - "what does not kill us makes us stronger" along with, "God never gives us more than we can handle." I told myself those things over and over.
My husband who was 53 at the time came home from work and told me, "you won't believe this...I got lost in the neighborhood." Next day he was at the doctor's office being sent for a CT...when compared to a previous one he had done for tension headaches the scan showed atrophy. Early onset Alzheimers at 53. Having to go on disability after being so active in his professional career was devastating to him.
He struggled so hard. Thinking he was so young it would be a long time before his life would hit that cruel decline which comes with the diagnosis...I was so wrong. The vicious attacks came swiftly. Sundowning....oh my. I had to position myself in a centrally located family room where I could easily access the three outside doors to prevent him from walking outside when the alarm would ding. He would pace in circles throughout the house....room by room he went. I usually averaged about three hours of scattered sleep a night. Being in my forties I thought although I missed sleep it didn't seem like it was causing a problem...yeah...
I remember visiting our doctor's office for one of his appointments and the doctor asked me, "how long has your voice been hoarse?" I told my sweet friend "oh, this is my sexy Rod Stewart voice" to which she looked at me and said "no, it isn't." I was diagnosed with something I never heard of - Hashimotos. Before I knew it I was off for a thyroid biopsy which came back inconclusive. An appointment was made for a specialist but not before this thyroid beast started showing up and out for me by dumping thyroid hormones that made my normally low BP and pulse sky rocket which of course led to a heart catheter to make sure everything was alright. Thankfully it was but they got me in faster and after a thyroidectomy which my surgeon said my poor little butterfly organ was eaten up with thyroiditis. It was a quick recovery and I felt so much better.
We continued to deal with his disease progression and as I watched and lived this with him, I was tired but thought I was handling it pretty well. I went in for my thyroid routine labs and they did the routine UTI. Hmmm didn't have a clue - no pain - no issues. Long story short....I was on three rounds of antibiotics....going in weekly for a recheck...no change. She ordered a CT....and I remember the doctor at the hospital telling me - no issues found except an incidental finding of a pancreatic cyst. Strangely, there were no tears or fears hearing "pancreatic cyst". I was just kind of numb. Like ok what do we do? I listened as he told me what the next steps were and I had enough sense to call my doctor and she told me. "NO. I'm calling MD Anderson right now to get you in." - Which she did....there was an MRI and I remember laying there listening to that God awful clanging sound when I inhaled my thought was "God is so good" and with the exhales came "He is with me through all things." Throughout the test that was my mantra. From there an endoscopic procedure was done which showed that it was a benign cyst which he drained. Hearing that news in recovery - I lost it. It was a release of gratefulness and relief. Amazing thing my UTI results were fine afterwards...amazing how things can be used to alert you to something else....I would have never known I had a pancreatic cyst otherwise.
My husband continued to have health issues - now he never didn't know who I was but his behavior and issues became so great that his physicians told me it was time for him to have facility care. It was something I had fought against because of his age. It was a struggle for me. In the years that followed he continued to decline and along the way he had a massive heart attack which led to quadruple bypass. He was such a fighter - after being on a ventilator in ICU for a month he recovered. He went to rehab to learn to swallow solids and walk again. Then he had an issue that once again found us at MD Anderson and the day before Hurricane Harvey hit I received a call from his physician that he had cancer. Once again he was fighting hard to survive his latest attack on his being. In the fall of 2019 he was in Hospice care and then this thing called Covid showed up and facilities were closed..,we did duo chats but he was silent and wanted to pace. The last call we had I was stunned - he was smiling and said, "there is my beautiful wife." I almost fell off my chair. I thought my God the fight within him...amazing. He had a final rally. It had been nine weeks without seeing him when he passed.
Through each challenge I thought what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and he will never give me more than I can handle. It is true, we all go through so much in our lives - look at what you and the people around you are going through and have gone through in the past.
I think these situations blessed me with not only a greater appreciation for life, but being a better person to others....We all face trials in life - none of us are immune.
Often we are quick to think something about someone but don't know the why/because. So yes...what didn't kill me made me stronger in a better way. It also strengthened my faith as I am dependent upon him. I believe His strength covered my weakness and his grace covered me through all things.