Freeing the voices in my head

Archive for February, 2012

Machine Wars

My husband is so sweet.  He bought a bunch of golf gear, so he felt it was only fair to get me a new laptop.  Top of the line, powerful, has all the bells and whistles…and it hates me.

It boots up fast, it loads with impressive speed, it browses and plays games nicely…for about ten minutes.  Then, it decides to go offline.  I reboot, it refuses to connect.  I shut it down, unplug it, let it rest…it still won’t do a damn thing!  I check every other device and machine in the house that needs online connections, I unplug the router and plug it back in.  Comcast is notorious for just glitching out whenever it wants, but, nope, everything else is working.

How do I tell my sweet hubby the new laptop refuses to do anything?  I tried, but, you see, as with any machine that goes hinky on me, it works beautifully for HIM!

“What’s the problem?  What’d you do to it?  Ah, there you go; it’s working fine.”  We switch positions, I place my fingers on the keyboard and ten minutes later, give up as the laptop dies.

So, I have a new secret life:  Moments after he leaves for work, I play on the desktop.  Today, I decided to try my older laptop.  All my writing is on the old laptop; that’s right, the new laptop doesn’t have a Word Processor.  Or, I can’t find it and believe me, for the ten minutes I had before the damn thing died, I searched everywhere.  It has Microsoft Office but wants me register and pay and god knows what else to access it.  The thin booklet of instructions had nothing regarding Creating Documents or Writing.  Great, that’s not useful at all!

But, in an odd twist, the old laptop is being a happy trooper (knock wood).  It’s humming along, updated what was needed with swift efficiency, and is tempting me to spend the next few hours writing or commenting on blogs or finally enjoying my computer life without frustration and stress.

Now, if we could just figure out why the printer refuses to work, we’d be golden.  Then again, it might be best if I dig through the boxes in the garage and dust off my old electric typewriter…hmmm, given my losing battles with anything electronic (the big TV doesn’t like me much either) maybe I’d better go to an antique store and look for a manual typewriter…  😀

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Grandpa’s Wheelchair Game

“…As those caissons go rolling along.”

I was sitting on Grandpa’s lap and turned my head to ask, “Grandpa, what’s a caisson?”

We had rolled down the hall from the living room and across the tiny kitchen.  Grandpa stopped his wheelchair precisely at the back door.  He was in the middle of his grand flourish, swiveling to face Grandma as the song ended.  Grandma glanced at us, her mouth crunched up like she’d just bitten into a lemon.  Ut-oh.  I leaned back against Grandpa’s chest and stared down at my knees, dangling between the stumps of Grandpa’s legs.  He chuckled and we took off again, but he did sing a different song.

“Roll me over in the clover!  Roll me over and do it again!”

“Harry!”  The shout from the kitchen made him laugh.  I had no idea why.

I don’t remember how old I was, had to be between the ages of  six and nine because we moved to the house in Schenectady, NY when I was five and lived six houses down from my father’s parents.  Our house was in the middle of the block, theirs was at the end of the block – a red brick one-story two bedroom with a tiny bath and kitchen but a huge attic and basement.  At some point before my eleventh birthday, both of them had died and we moved to Clifton Park.

They were both really old by the time we moved to the house on Myron Street in Schenectady.  Mom and Dad married after college, a few years after WWII, and didn’t have my brother until 1951.  I missed out on getting to visit my grandpa’s high class Italian restaurant in the city, when they lived in a huge Victorian home off of Route 7.  (That house is still there, hidden behind massive trees.  Last I heard, it was an Assisted Living Home for the elderly.)  I do have a very nebulous memory of sitting at the counter of Grandpa’s diner.  That was located on Erie Boulevard, near the train station.  There’s a faded photograph of me with a soda fountain coca-cola glass that’s so tall it’s as high as the top of my head, but, sorry, the printer’s dead so I can’t scan in pictures.

Grandma and Grandpa were excellent cooks.  They were from the Old Country.  No one’s alive now who remembers exactly when they came over from Italy (someday, I’ll look it up, but the urge to write their stories down has hit, so I’ll do it later), but they embraced the American Dream at full throttle.  They learned English, struggling to remove as much “wop” accent as they could.  They worked hard and fulfilled the dream of owning their own businesses.  Yes, plural.  They had the fancy restaurant, the diner, and, later, when I was little, Grandma’s secondhand store, Treasures & Trash.  That was on Erie Boulevard, too, not far from the big General Electric plant where my daddy worked as an ad writer.

Grandma’s store was crammed full of tables covered in glassware.  Display cases full of jewelry formed an aisle to the back wall where huge pieces of furniture gathered dust.  The best jewelry, the antiques, the real stuff, sat in a display case in my grandparents’ house.  You’d walk in the front door and the first thing you’d see (and make sure you didn’t bump into) was that glass case full of sparkling diamond rings and thick fancy bracelets and necklaces.  We weren’t allowed to open that case or touch anything, but we could look, and we did.  My sisters and I would drool over those pretty baubles, picking out our favorites.  Shortly after Grandpa died, Grandma did open the display case and told us to pick out our favorite piece of jewelry.

My sisters chose big, bold pieces.  I had my eyes on a ring no one else wanted.  “That’s so plain and small, and it’s not real gold,” my older sister sneered.

Grandma smiled and explained, “Yes, it is.  It’s white gold and those two rectangular gems are black sapphires.  The diamond is a half carat, pure and clean.  You have a good eye, Eileen.”  She handed my choice to me and I slipped it onto my ring finger.  It was too loose for my ten year old finger, but it was beautiful.  The diamond sat clutched in six prongs above a delicate filigree cage of tiny vines.  On either side of it, sat the two black sapphires, so dark a blue they did look black until the light hit them and a blue glow woke within.  Grandma wrote down our choices on a piece of paper, put the jewelry back and tucked the paper in a corner of the case.  “When I die, make sure your father gives you these.  This is your inheritance.  Don’t let her steal them from you.”

Yeah, Grandma A and my mom hated each other.  Dad was Gram’s late-in-life baby and her only son.  He was a mama’s boy, a rotund little kid, spoiled by his mother and two older sisters.  He did rebel, finally, and at eighteen, joined the Marines and was sent into the Pacific Arena to fight during World War II.  When he returned, he was a lean and handsome man who immediately dashed off to college to avoid being dumped into the family business.  He had absolutely no interest in working in or owning a restaurant.  He wanted to be a writer and an actor.  Then, he got married.

Married to a woman his mother didn’t approve of, a flighty, vain, wanna-be actress, a woman three years older than him who was also the daughter of the black sheep in her family.  The only thing Grandma could like about Mom was that she was full-blooded Italian and could cook.  Of course, Mom wasn’t as good a cook as a Grandma – no way was she going to leave a pot of spaghetti sauce on the back burner at a low simmer for days, tossing in the dinner leftovers from the week.  Nope, my mom was a modern woman, with a job, and she enjoyed the convenience of canned tomatoes and sauce.  I never had the heart to tell my mother that Grandma’s Sunday sauce was heavenly compared to hers, thick, rich, full of bits of mystery meats and veggies.

Grandpa was retired by then, probably because of the ice skating accident that took his second leg.  It got infected, developed gangrene, and was amputated at the knee.  No one ever revealed how he lost his first leg.  From Grandma’s reaction to any talk, or songs, from the war, we kids suspected he lost it back then.  Damn, how I wish someone had told us more about them – I don’t even know if Grandpa was in WWI!  The contradiction here was their extreme reaction to their son joining the Marines.  They were completely against it.  If Grandpa was in the first world war, wouldn’t he be proud of his son enlisting in the second one?  Ah, there’s a small mystery we’ll never solve.

The tidbits of stories have been in my family for years.  Helen B. was a young Polish girl who wanted to escape to America (ironic how Grandma was Polish, but wanted her children to marry full-blooded Italians.  Maybe that was to please Grandpa.).  She was in love with Captain Francisco and after one more trip, he would have enough money to take her with him across the ocean.  Her beau never returned from the sea.  As she approached the age of spinsterhood, another man limped into her life.

Harry A. was from a successful Italian family.  Their restaurant was the star of the town.  But Harry wanted more – he dreamed of owning his own business in America.  Was it a marriage of convenience?  Did he marry Helen to help her or to appease his family by being wed before he left them?  I don’t know.  They were cordial to each other, and Grandma took excellent care of him, but they didn’t act like they loved each other.

I remember seeing pictures of Grandpa standing on one leg in the dining room of his restaurant, balanced on two canes, but my memories begin with him in the wheelchair.  Did my older brother and sister ever play the wheelchair game with him?  I know my little sister did.  We’d fight over who would get to ride first.  I was eighteen months older, so I always won.  Christine was lighter and it was better for her to be second – Grandpa would be getting tired by then.

It was wonderful to sit straight down in the middle of Grandpa’s lap and hang on for dear life to the armrests.  I’d wrap my legs around the leg supports he didn’t need, not the least bit squeamish about being tucked between his stumps.  It never occurred to us to think of him as handicapped; he was just Grandpa.  He had strong thighs and they would help keep me from sliding off his lap.

That was important.  He’d dip his head down to whisper, “Ready, ma bella?”  All I could do was nod, for we’d be off!  He’d push away from the front door, his strong arms and hands propelling us down the hallway at top speed.  His chest would thrum as he bellowed out a song.  To the back door, pivot, and race away again.  Three turns each, and then he would have to rest quietly in the living room with Grandma fussing over him.  She would shoo Christine and me up to the attic, where we could play dress up in all her vintage gowns and jump around on a huge old bed…but that’s a story for another day.

Oh, and he never answered my question.  I had to ask it again one day when I heard my father singing the same song.  “Daddy, what’s a caisson?”

It was an ammunition wagon used in World War I.  Maybe Grandpa really was in that war…

Fumbling Along

I’m back, maybe, sorta, kinda.  First, thank you to Jumping In Mud Puddles for awarding me the Versatile Blog Award!

http://dyingbraincells.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/versatile-blog-award/

 

Also, thank you to dragonfae for the honor of the Kreative Award.  (The pic is somewhere.  Drat, I’m gonna have to come back and edit later, or I’ll never get this blog done!)  You can find this lovely lady here:

http://dragonfae.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/kreativity/

 

I posted the one award in an earlier blog, and I do appreciate every one I get, every reader who pops in and says hi!  I roll my eyes a bit at the bloggers who turn up their noses, pooh-pooh awards or mock them.  People, these are your READERS!  The whole point of a blog is to have Readers see your Writing and enjoy it.  To receive such lovely feedback in the form of a nice little Award is wonderful and a nice way for us/them to show their appreciation of your work.

Oh, they aren’t the general public?  They aren’t the people buying your “serious” book, or , gee, it’s just a blog (or worse, gee, it’s just from another blogger).  Excuse me?  Why are you writing a blog if you don’t appreciate each and every person who checks it out?

The best affirmation for a writer is feedback in any form, positive and negative.  It keeps us going when we’re staring at blank screen or struggling to put our thoughts into coherent sentences.  Every blog I read and write helps me be a better Writer.  Each one teaches me something.

So, yes, I’m Thrilled to receive awards!  To me, they mean someone enjoyed my writing, that I can put words into a coherent form and capture someone’s interest.  So, yes, Thank You!

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My good friend (and an awesome author!) Melissa Crandall posted an important blog Sunday.  A Quarter Beneath My Tongue (name of her blog).  Once I’ve gotten today organized, I’ll edit the links, but you all are smart, I think you can figure out how to get to these bloggers.

Anyway, our desktop crashed.  We have no idea why.  Hubby spent five hours coaxing the hard drive to find my manuscripts and all his more important work files.  I tried not to freak.  I do have a printed copy of the main manuscript and the final draft on the laptop.  What I did not have were the most recent revisions on the flash drive or the laptop.  Back up all files before walking away from your computer!  Yep, I’m terrible at remembering to do that.  Now, the flash drive is sitting right here and will be used religiously.

I explained to Melissa why I hadn’t read her blog yet – the desktop needed Windows re-installed, it’s all needing to be re-entered, and to enter WordPress on the desktop, I’ll have to enable cookies.  I’m afraid to.  We still don’t know what crashed that computer.  Since we both use it and browse lots of links, it could have been anything, even WordPress!  So, to protect hubby’s work, I won’t enable anything on it until he gets home.

Boot up the laptop… I read Melissa’s blog and perspective sat me firmly down.  Two people she cares deeply about have major crisis in their lives, and I was whining about a computer.  I’m sorry, Melissa, thank you for reminding me of what is truly important.

Valentine’s Day.  Hmm, well, shove the commercial crap aside and use this day to Hug everyone, be aware of what they need, be helpful to those you love.  Keep it in Perspective; Life is hard, so try to make it a little better for those around you.

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Lastly, a small rant before I go and try to get more rewriting done:  I loved Whitney Houston’s Voice.  Pure, Awesome, Gorgeous.  A huge talent.  I did not love who she was or her personal choices for her life.  I have ZERO tolerance for drug addicts and despise seeing celebrities and sports stars treated to front page news, and receiving millions of dollars just for existing.

My celebrities are every soldier, law enforcement officer and firefighter out there just doing his/her  job for mere pennies.  They should be our front page news, not some drugged out singer who destroyed her talent.  There, rant over.

Enjoy the day, and Thank You, again, for reading my blog!  🙂

 

 

The Muck Inside

First, my apologies.  This will not be a funny or happy blog, and if you are a depressive with suicidal tendencies, be aware that this may be a trigger post for you.

I get so angry at people who judge suicides.  “Oh, how cowardly!”  “Damn, how selfish!”  “How could he do that?  What the hell was he thinking?”

Whoa, wait.  I’m a depressive with suicidal tendencies.  Fortunately, I’m also a dysfunctional depressive – when in an episode, I have no energy to get out of bed, so I have no energy to carry out my suicide plan.  So, I’m here and safe.  And yes, I have a suicide plan.  It’s been worked on and honed to perfection from the age of fourteen.  That’s clue one:  If a depressed person actually has thought out a suicide plan, get them help immediately.

“Oh, but she’s just looking for attention.”  Nope, clue number two:  If a depressive is talking the “I hate my life, I want to die” talk, don’t ignore it, brush them off, or storm about being angry with them.  Get them help immediately.

You ignore us or get angry with us because you are afraid.  You don’t know how to stop us or help, and, the biggie, you are afraid of any talk of Death, so, you react.  Don’t.  Just do your best to get us some help.

Because, you see, we aren’t being selfish or cowardly.  Inside the mind of a depressive, we really do believe you would be better off without us, that we are worthless and therefore, shouldn’t be alive.  Getting angry at us just proves to us that you want us gone.  Since Life is already too horrible, we seek Death.  In our minds, it’s the only way to escape the horror and remove our disgusting presence from your life.  We really are thinking of how our death will benefit you.

That how twisted and crazed we are inside.

In here, the voices of horror are quite often loud and they never shut up.  They tell us how terrible we are all the time and we can’t hear you over those voices.  Every outer influence from bullying to denting your car to breaking a glass is more proof of our uselessness and the voices scream louder.

The expectations of you and the rest of society are too much for us.  We try , try, and fail, again and again.  We’ll never be good enough and you’ll be better off without us.  So, down go the pills, or the knife, or, POP, off goes the gun.

It isn’t easy to put a knife to your arm and start slicing it open.  It fucking hurts.  A lot.  A depressive has to be really done with the mental pain to withstand that physical pain.  Doesn’t sound like a coward to me.

Selfish?  No, to us, you already hate us every time you criticize us or get angry with us.  There are no lines of “I’m just telling you for your own good; I still love you.”  We aren’t hearing that.  We can’t.  The voices are screaming too loud.  So, since we hurt you so much, we’ll just go away.

I’ll always regret not being more aware for my loved one.  He didn’t reach out, didn’t speak of it, he just spiraled down, and I didn’t even catch the signs.  He drank too much, fought too much, argued all the time, decided we hated him…  If only I had visited his home more often, sat down and really talked to him, told him I knew where his mind was…  If only.

So, don’t blame yourself.  There’s really not much you can do, except try to see the signs.  I saw them and didn’t act on them because I was too deep in my own murk.  If another depressive missed all that, then you can’t be expected to see it.  If you’re lucky, your loved one will toss out a hint or two.  Don’t ignore those clues.  Go get help.

It will be five years tomorrow; I love you, C, and still miss you.

Thank you for reading.  Now, go, hug each other, but most of all:  Listen, listen to each other without reacting.  You might be surprised by what you actually hear when you really listen.

The Toilet Paper Toss

At some point today, I bounced out of my funk, determined to be more cheerful.  I was sitting in the bathroom and realized someone-who-shall-not-be-named had used up the last of the toilet paper and left the empty roll sitting in the holder.  Unfortunately, I didn’t go shopping today, even though I knew that was the last roll of toilet paper.  I’d been hoping it would last until tomorrow.  Oops…

Swiveling into a contortion to reach the tissue box on the back of the toilet, I knocked some things onto the floor.  The tissues landed in the bathtub, just…out…of…reach.  Well, damn…

Our one cat, Trixie, is fascinated by the bathroom and will play in there.  She grabs hair scrunchies and jumps in the tub, batting them around.  Toss something in the toilet and she jumps on the rim to watch it magically swirl away when flushed.  I decided to use her to help me.  I grabbed the empty toilet paper roll and got her to play with it in the tub, trying to swat it out of my hand.  Closer, a bit closer, and, ah-ha!  She found the tissue box!  Startled, she jumped away from it, knocking it just close enough for me to grab.  Ah, I love it when a plan comes together!  Okay, no, I didn’t completely plan it, just kinda, sorta hoped…

The playtime in the bathroom awoke a pleasant memory…

My little sister and I used to play a game when we were stuck in a restaurant with the parents.  We’d eat as fast as we could, desperately trying to time our escape.  When the third or fourth drink was swallowed, the glasses slammed down, the hissing insults curdling the waitress’ ears, we’d say, “Excuse me,” and dash off to the ladies room.

We didn’t need to “go.”  We just wanted to be away from the embarrassing drunken scene in the restaurant.  Being kids who needed to stay in that rest room for awhile, we looked for a way to pass the time.  Back then, some restaurants kept their extra toilet paper rolls in plain sight – on the counter, the backs of the toilets, or in a cabinet under the sink.  This was back when rest rooms used normal household toilet paper rolls.

I don’t know which of us came up with the idea…  We’d each go in a stall, next to each other, with the extra toilet paper rolls evenly divvied up between us.  Then, we’d toss the rolls over the stall wall, attempting to land one in the other sister’s toilet bowl.

There were a couple of Rules to the game of Toilet Paper Toss:  You had to stand on the other side of the toilet bowl (we were only 9 and 10, short – thanks a lot, Mom and Dad – so we needed the room to throw the roll high over the wall, anyway.).  You could not block the toilet bowl and you could not stand on it to block it (Eewwacchhh!).  There were two ways to Score:  One point if you heard a “Woof!” or “Ow!”  That meant the other sister had been hit by your toilet paper roll.  Five points for actually getting a roll to land in the toilet bowl.  And the one with the most rolls in there was the winner.  You lost a point if your roll came apart and opened and unrolled during your toss, making more of a mess we’d have to clean up.

Yep, we did try to clean up.  We’d use paper towels to fish the rolls out, tuck them back in the cabinet, way back in the cabinet, wash our hands with lots of soap, and saunter on out of there, usually before Female Drunken Parent came hunting for us.  Male Drunken Parent would already be in the car, threatening to drive off without us.  We could ignore them by then, giggling softly to each other, buoyed by another fab round of Toilet Paper Toss.

Hey, you mix the good times with the bad.  Our game came to an end about a year later.  Clifton Knolls Country Club.  So many disastrous, drunken dinner fights there, don’t know why the staff didn’t throw our family out.  We only lived about a half mile away; we kids used to ride our bikes around the golf course at night and swim in the water hazards, then peddle madly home before someone saw us.  Little sis and I were playing TPT in the ladies room when, horror, an actual lady walked in!

It had been a messy round.  We’d both had rolls unravel over the stall walls, laughing too hard to hear the main door unlock and open (Club members had rest room keys.  We thought we were safely locked in, forgetting there were other people in the clubhouse.).  The lady shrieked and ordered us to clean up, where were our parents, what the hell…blah, blah, blah….

From that moment on, our older sister had the chore of escorting us – separately – to the rest room whenever we went anywhere.

A few years ago, my little sister and I visited Tucson, AZ,  meeting up together and sharing a hotel room, going to the casino, having a ball…Imagine my delighted laughter when one night, in the ladies room together, in separate stalls next to each other, a toilet paper roll came flying over the wall…Oh, yeah, baby, it is sooo ON!  😀