Out of Touch

As I watch the world news tonight unfold, something finally strikes me.  The beautiful Botoxed woman in front of the camera, the one with the impeccable plastic surgery, wonderful make up artists, and wardrobe people, exclaims that she’s bewildered by the Haitian and Cubans who are staying put while a very strong Category 4 (fluctuating between a 4 and 5 for the past 48 hours) barrels towards them, promising impending doom.

She’s so out of touch.  She’s spent too much time dining in fine establishments, having her every whim catered, that she doesn’t comprehend what it’s like to be someone with nothing to lose, but one’s life.  This woman considers a car ‘issue’ a HUGE issue. The fact that she HAS a car is something that many of those would be grateful to have.  Dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers… shall I go on? They don’t have these luxuries, they can only wish for a piece of that, one of those things, because, when you are poor, there’s a price to be paid, precious time, exorbitant money in ‘rental solutions’, and just a lack of.

When a ‘normal day’ encompasses finding potable water, being able to put at least one meal in front of your children a day, when your home has a dirt floor and you don’t have air conditioning.  When you live in a neighborhood that is predispositioned to violence.  You live in an area because that’s where you can afford to live.  Rent… not owning, because enough strikes against you in the game of life.

The inhabitants, to numb their weary hearts and bodies, turn to things that numb the mind and body, just so they can face another day without losing their mind while they see others so well off.  Others pray, a lot. They turn to a God that somehow hears their meager prayers, and allows them to face another day of the existence that they are eaking out.

Those who ‘have’ are so quick to judge the decisions of those who ‘have not’.  The ‘have nots’ are those that are willing to stand their ground, keep watch over themselves and their families and neighbors, and are the first to respond to others when they need physical assistance, because that’s all they can afford to give.

When did it happen? When did our society become so divergent, between the ‘haves and have nots’?  What ever happened to the middle class, because I’m seeing more ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ but no middle in sight. You can’t tell me that it’s only the under/uneducated… because I see people with college degrees waiting on tables, because they don’t have the ‘connections’ or they are too old for the job force. 

(Sidebar: I had a wonderful man wait on myself and my daughter in a little neighborhood restaurant last week. He’s got a Masters degree, but apparently, doesn’t have enough connections in order to get a job.) 

I listen to this announcer discuss with a ‘street reporter’ about ‘security’ for a poor b-list celeb that got robbed in Paris. My stomach turns… there are so many others that are far more worthy of the time they’re wasting on this ‘celeb’, there are people who are doing life changing things for others, at their own sacrifice, and yet… we’re more concerned with this woman than we are with the truly beautiful people. The people with souls who stand in the face of dire straights, insurmountable odds, and horrific storms.

My Sweetest Twisted

It’s 3 am…. My 18 year old wakes up, sobbing and screaming “Mommy!”.
I rush into her room, knowing that she didn’t take her anti-psychotic medicine.
“I’m bleeding, my hair, I hit my head when I fell and now it’s bleeding. My brain, inside my head… I’m going to die. I am dyeing Mamma. Oh my God…. Buddy [the family dog] he’s DEAD! Oh my God, I love him, why did he have to die?”

I assure her that Buddy is not only alive, but overweight and in need of a walk with her tomorrow.  I rush to my bedroom, retrieve the rat terrier, and carry him quickly to my girl’s room, placing him directly onto her.  I know that if she has a tactile, a ‘grounding’ moment… it will help her ‘argue off’ the voices that lie to her in her mind. She is still insisting that she’s bleeding in her brain, that there’s now blood over all of the pillows, that the neighbors now hate her because she woke up in the middle of the night.  I assure her that she and I (as well as Buddy) are the only ones who know that she’s awake. We’re the only one’s aware of her hallucination.  She now tells me that we need to move, and move soon. 

Just the other day, we were traveling from Attleboro to Mansfield. Carrying a new found treasure. A chair that Christa bought from Savers that cost a whole $7.   She told me, in strict confidence, that she could hear the people talking in the vehicle behind us. That they were saying horrible things about us.  They were not only complaining about us doing the 35 mile per hour speed limit, but they were taking our license plate number down, calling the local authorities to report that our trunk was open and we were travelling. After 5 minutes or so, I informed her that the car behind us turned off onto another road, and that we no longer had to deal with those people, that they weren’t talking about us, and we would be fine.

I can’t say when I stopped sleeping through the night. I don’t like going to bed until I know that my children are safe, content, and fast asleep.  My baby girl, at 18, has now flipped the charts of parenting on me.  Because of the chemical imbalance in her mind and body, it’s not unusual for her to be awake in the wee hours of the morning.  Many days my husband will wake for work, 4:30, 5am to go to work… only to find that our girl is still wide awake. She’s awake because she’s fighting the demons in her mind.  The one’s that show up and tell her a myriad of lies. The one’s that taunt her, make fun of her, tell her falsehoods.

My girl never got the opportunity to complete high school. I will save THAT sordid story of administration failing epic ally (and politics that were played) for another time. She never went to a prom, any high school event, ever.  Didn’t really have a ‘high school experience’. After going through the hellaciousness of middle school nastiness… one would hope for a dance, a semi, a some sort of extracurricular activity… my child’s chemical imbalance robbed us all of that.

There are days, nights mostly, that I spend with my girl, working through her thoughts, talking out the issues that are resting on the surface of her mind.  She’s an old soul trapped in an 18 year old body. She “gets it” when she’s not struggling with the ‘Bad Man’ or the ‘old ladies who argue and judge’.  She’s a grateful soul. I didn’t have a nth of what she has when I was her age.  She discusses holistic societal issues. How people should treat one another, what the ‘hang ups’ are with each generation.  I can tell you that if Wall Street stock pickers, sociologists, politicians listened to her, they would gain a wealth of insight into how the world is, what the stripped down, no PC added, issues are with our society,  wants to figure out a way to combat her disease without taking SSI to survive. (That’s kind of an issue, considering that she struggles in social situations due to social anxiety disorder, beyond the schizoaffective disorder).  She wants to volunteer time to local organizations so that she can actually ‘pay it back’. 

What breaks my heart? When she’s sobbing, apologizing for doing her perceived wrongs… when she’s done absolutely NOTHING wrong. And then she says... “Momma… no one will ever be able to love me. I will never be able to find love. I won’t have anything. No family, no career, no nothing. I might as well die right now.”

What the hell. She is very lovable… it’s the disease that’s nasty, but, it’s controllable. I wonder…. If there’s any hope for my sweetest Twisted (a nickname I gave her when she was very young due to her macabre and sarcastic sense of humor).

I don’t know how this ends, but I know that it never will. Not for my Twisted, not for myself, until I take my last breath. I will be here, helping her fight the demons and making damned well certain  that  there’s time, a goal, and something, anything, to look forward to.

If a Dog Barks in South Station.....

Trip into Boston. Took the Blue line into Aquarium and stopped by a couple of businesses.  Nothing remarkable about my venture through town. I can tell you that when you visit 75 State Street now, there are gates just before the elevator banks. They weren't there before. You have to check in with a valid drivers license/ID before handed a ticket that is printed out, noting where you are going in the building. You insert it into a little slot at one of these gates, the gates open, then you are allowed access to the elevator banks.

I had finished my visit, not quite ready to head back home, when I decided to visit South Station for a toasted piece of heaven (there's this grilled cheese place that would make even your grandmother blush). Nothing unusual here folks.... the hub bub of people getting off commuter trains, the traveler and business person, grabbing a quick bite to eat, a cup of liquid heat, or some other little culinary goodie.

After retrieving my order of melted, grilled comfort, I settled in on one of the wooden bench areas in the station, ready for my feast. Seated between a businessman checking his messages, and a college student, who looked like she was packed to go home, I began chomping away at my late lunch.

Just then, a dog barked. It was not a regular bark, no.... this was a big, loud, echoing bark, repeated. The dog continued his warning. I looked up from my own little world to see where this canine was, and to try and decipher what he was 'hollaring' about.  In a corner of the station, there he stood. A massive German Shepard, clothed in a K-9 jacket, being restrained by his handler, a man that looked like he was dressed for the part of a SWAT team. I glanced around, noticing that the other occupants of the station were also doing the same as I was. We were all then, looking, wondering, where the culprit was. Glaring at one another, trying not to make eye contact with everyone around, trying not to look alarmed.

There is no recollection, in my mind's eye, of ever feeling that way before. I don't recall ever feeling that kind of unease, that insecurity, hanging out in a train station in Boston. But, today, now, it was real, palpable, and I wasn't the only one sensing that. As I looked around, trying to calm myself down inside, I saw that the rest of the crowd was also doing a self check. Five minutes later, and we were unsettled down, back, somewhat, to what we were all doing before the dog barked.

"just IS"

Funny, my teenage son was putting clean dishes away. Funny that he was putting them away? Yes. What's even more funny is the fact that he broke a coffee cup.  He was extremely apologetic. Me? I really could care less.  It was a very nice cup. Cost me more than 3 other of my favorite cups combined.  Why wasn't I upset?  Because, even though there was a monetary value, there was no sentimental value.  I liked it, it served it's purpose, but, well.... the handle, after using it a few times, was more aggrevating than I expected.  It was adorable... had a special shape to it, but after a few times of coffee dribbling out of the side, I only used it as my 'back up'.

Baffled, my son wanted to know why the cheap dish, the one that he had smashed a month ago, incurred far greater wrath than the breaking of this pretty thing.  It wasn't easy to explain, but when I equated it to an old longboard of his, the cheaper one that he first used, he almost was able to identify, to relate.

There are things that we have, use, possess in our lives that mean so much to us, for one reason or another. Many times it is because we have invested substantial sums of money. For those items, I find myself taking care of them, using them until their usefulness wears out.  I don't necessarily place an emotional value on them. When they are no longer needed, I pass those things on to others, not a tear shed, not really missed at all.

The items that I have attached an emotional value however, I tend to use them, constantly, without thought. It's like that worn, old, pair of _________ (fill in the blank with whatever you wish) that you've had for at least 15 years. There's a comfort that goes into something that has been used, broken in, and is consistently reliant.  The item doesn't have to be the prettiest (usually isn't),  the finest quality (most of the time, it definitely isn't), or the most expensive (again, usually isn't). It just IS. Just like that, it IS ~ always there, easy to use, convenient, comfortable, yours. You don't always value it when you have it, but if you misplace it? God forbid.

A friend of mine passed away the other day, unexpectedly. She was a 'just IS' kind of person in my life. I could call, dm, or text whenever I wanted to. We spent years not talking, just because we got caught up in chasing a dream, living a life apart from each other physically, raising our families, and still, I could call her and she was there, as though not a moment had passed between our last conversation. Now, she's gone. I didn't even get to talk to her about the possibility of lunch the following week, just to catch up and see her face one more time.

As we draw closer to the holidays, you'll be begged to reconnect with family and friends.... 
I challenge you, before the rest of the hordes do, to actually find that person (you know who they are), and set time aside for the one that 'just IS'. Set some time aside now, book it in pen, not pencil, before the holiday madness and end of year running begins. 

I would be interested to hear who your 'just IS' person is. Why? Because the person that 'just IS' in your world, they're the one's that tend to get short changed of time with you during the mad rush called our lives. It could be a co-worker, an old neighbor, friend, a relative that's always been there when you pick up the phone. Let me know when you've penned them in, that you've met up, spent that time you promised them. Actually, to be frank, it's really time you promised for yourself, time that you wouldn't trade for all the holiday parties in the world.

Social Me, Please

I have been a student of social media since the time of dial up, chat rooms, and "You've got mail".  More recently, since this kid, some of us in college at the time referred to him as "Zuck", created this cool little site just for us, the college student.  Zuck was my first FB friend.... and he was my first 'unfriend' when he changed up stuff on his site.  Interacting with one another, posting, responding, following.  It was 2005 for me, I was hooked. 

Then in 2008, loaded with a college degree in Communications, I discovered a another neato website ~ ya tweeted there. It was a bit odd, because you were limited. For someone like myself, who loves talking and communicating, it was a bit perplexing at first. My first tweet?

cooking turkey and cleaning up after the house flooded out.