For a solid week in April, I painted the same flamingo every single morning until I used up a 30 sheet watercolor paper tablet. What did I gain from this? Two things. 1) Painting relaxes me and just in case we haven’t met yet, I, of all people, at any given time, definitely need to relax. 2) My baby niece (who by the way had JUST visited the zoo for the first time ever, a month before and saw real live flamingos up close and in person) said that one of them looked almost like the real thing. Score and score…but I still can’t paint a proper big pink bird. 😉 I’ll keep practicing.
The picture above was taken in South Alabama last summer, on the side of the road. This is one of my favorite pictures, not because it is very impressive in the way of amateur photography, but because the morning I took it, I got to spend the day doing one of my very favorite things, riding around with my husband way down south, listening to the radio, and taking pictures to bring back home with me to remind me of a perfect day. I get all these thoughts in my head about harvesting happy whenever I think about this, but I should probably try and focus on my original reason for posting.
I started writing this post over a month ago before I abandoned and left it for dead. When I woke up this morning, face down, body in a giant x-shape on the mattress, I had exactly 2 thoughts. 1) Oww–my face. 2) I think I wrote myself into a corner again.
In case you’ve never heard the idiom I’ve painted myself into a corner, it pretty much means to do something that takes away all your other choices or to put yourself in a sticky situation, limiting the way you can act from that point forward. As far as painting myself into a creative corner, well, I’ve done it before and I’ve done it again (cue the ellipsis overuse and abuse)…
To the best of my understanding, this happens more than not whenever I’m thinking too much about the way other people will react to my creation and I let that, or the FEAR of possible ridicule prevent me from telling the story I truly want to tell. I set out troubleshooting, trying to follow all the steps they tell us to follow, clear out clichés blah blah blah blah, and so on. Honestly, I can’t even bring myself to form a proper list at this point, because I’m too mentally exhausted to bother. That should say a lot.
Because this trouble always seems to find me (or do I find it) and yes it is TROUBLE in none-other-than shouty caps, for sure, this post shall serve as a reminder to myself. You are not telling his or her story. If ‘they’ read it and don’t like it, so what? Let them tell their own story, if ‘they’ feel so compelled. You are telling YOUR story. For Pete’s sake, tell it.
Disappointment. When you reach out and try to connect with someone on a serious level and their reaction is to laugh when you’re not laughing, to shift the subject, to make assumptions (the WRONG assumptions) and happily move on in blissful ignorance because let’s face it, he or she didn’t really care what you had to say in the first place. And there it is. (It felt like) He or she didn’t really care what you had to say in the first place. Connection failed. Disappointment.
Definition of disappoint (Merriam-Webster)
: to fail to meet the expectation or hope of :frustrate
I read that Alice Walker said, I try to teach my heart to not want things it can’t have.
Maybe I taught myself at an early age to not have much in the way of positive expectations from people. Life taught me that that was a good idea. And on the surface, I’m not sure much has changed, but the dirty truth is (drumroll please, and cue the ellipsis abuse)…
I don’t expect people to be good and kind or open or loving. I don’t expect anyone to listen when I speak. I do expect my words to be ignored, twisted, disregarded at (unfortunately) best. Somehow that’s perfectly okay with me. Okay, that’s a lie. I’m not made of stone, here. It’s not okay with me, but I can accept it. But there’s still this big ball of radiant light burning bright in the center of my core, and it never has and hopefully never will allow me to stop hoping for big, bright, beautiful things to come out of each and every relationship I ever form. Maybe it’s a fool’s errand, squinting, straining, breaking a sweat always trying so hard to extract a mess of loveable and good qualities in each and every human, but it’s just something I’m going to do. Not sure I could stop if I wanted to.
What’s the lesson to be learned in the what-a-bummer feeling you suffer after what feels like a miserable (EPIC FAIL) missed connection? Well, there’s something to be said for trying and you tried. Okay, I tried. Genuinely, with nothing but honest, true intentions, I tried to bridge what I felt was a gap. Didn’t work. That’s okay! 🙂 Take note, keep hope, and try again should the opportunity ever again arise. Might as well. What else am I doing with my time and energy? I’m terrible at crochet.
Tonight, my lullaby is Patsy Cline. She died at age 30, over 20 years before I was born, and I don’t remember a time in my life I wasn’t listening to her and feeling like she just had to be a kindred spirit.
I’ve been to the historic Ryman Auditorium (Grand Ole Opry House 1943-1974, Union Gospel Tabernacle) a few times. The feeling you get sitting in that dusty old room is just eerie and magical. To think of all the incredible talent that flooded in and out of that place in such a short amount of time. Just haunted with history and incredible experiences. Really cool! 🙂
I’ve decided to post my thoughts on a certain subject because after overhearing an argument this morning, I’ve realized once again, I have a LOT to say on the matter, and it never seems to be the right occasion to voice my thoughts. Why not now?! 😉
I had this math teacher. He rarely actually taught math. He talked–a lot. He talked about his kids. He talked about his upbringing. He bragged about being shot at on his way to school. He talked about what spoiled, rich children we allegedly were (even though more than half of us were living on poverty level). He rambled on and on about how bad our grades were, how we should be playing sports instead of sitting at home doing nothing all the time. He called us by our last names, even the girls, as if we were on his dumb softball team and calling us by our last names even though none of us ever asked to be called by our last names (I hated my last name.).
Tuesday morning, exhausted from working later than 10pm (latest someone under 18 could work on a school night) which was not right and proper, but I didn’t know that your manager telling you to clock out and keep working was sketchy, but I digress…I had a project due in English and a test in Government. At career tech it was my day to teach and I had forgotten to run off copies of one of the worksheets for my lesson plan. I adored, respected, and admired my career tech teacher, but she had a way of looking disappointed in me, ever so often—made me want to crawl out of my skin and abandon it for a little while. I was getting rides to school from my aunt and my little cousin was in hysterics the whole way because she was going through this thing where she begged and pleaded, even ran away screaming because she so desperately didn’t want to go. I sat in class feeling terrible for her, hoping she wasn’t somewhere alone and sad.
“I bet none of you know what it’s like to go without air conditioning,” my math teacher with the persistent preference for last names said. “How many of you have ever gone an entire summer without air conditioning?”
My hand went up because duh. We never had air conditioning. I just assumed most people didn’t. We had fans. At some point, someone gave my mom one of those window unit air conditioners. When I looked around, no one else had their hand up, so I put mine down. Maybe it was a rhetorical question.
Point is, I never understood why he seemed to want to make us feel small. And I would think that’s what you’re doing when you constantly try and level everyone else out. Look what you have that I didn’t. Look how you waste it like I don’t. It’s like he wasn’t even there to teach at all, he just showed up to talk to a captive audience because for some reason, he needed one and at least that way, he got paid for it and no one could talk back or escape.
I remember one year, some guy I didn’t know threatened to kill me because his sister told him I said or did something she didn’t like. I went home sobbing. My mother turned the volume up on the TV and told me to go get a shower.
Thinking back, I don’t think anyone ever appreciated just how hard I tried. I tried–hard. I was scattered and messy, not great at taking tests. I did what I was supposed to do and didn’t even ask to go to the bathroom (because of course you couldn’t use the bathroom without walking across the room of 20 or so people and making a plea to the teacher as to why you need to go so badly–and that was embarrassing). I was teaching little children about Jesus on Sunday mornings, because I was the oldest of the kids and the youngest of the older people and somehow I ended up with the job even though I kept telling people I wasn’t at all fit to teach anyone anything. I kept my room clean. I minded my mother. I helped my grandparents. Didn’t cuss. Didn’t drink or do drugs or anything even remotely inappropriate for someone my age, now that I think of it. But when you’re behaving well, I guess you sometimes become partially invisible.
At an early age, I became very good at being good. I never got in trouble–ever. Except once. The principal called me into his office, said I had showed up late too many times, and I had to bend over and take a spanking with a big wooden paddle OR spend the next day in isolation all day long. I don’t remember him asking me why I was late. I was late because I was staying up too late and my mother was already gone for work before time for me to get up. And like any other 16 or 17 year old, when you’re going on 4 hours sleep after work, housework, homework, and sitting in bed for an hour struggling to cut your brain off, if there was no one there to shake me out of my coma, I just didn’t hear an alarm. I told the principal in no uncertain terms, I was too old to get a spanking. What I meant was, I’ve been helping raise my aunt’s babies since I WAS a baby, I don’t like it when I get hit at home, I certainly don’t want YOU hitting me and besides that, the idea of bending over and sticking my butt up in the air for some strange man to spank me was more than humiliating. It was mortifying. I figured if I spent the day in isolation, at least I’d stand a chance of getting all my work done.
People ask me why I would send my children to private school or home school them rather than send them to public school? Because frankly, when I was a child, I got enough BS abuse at home, I didn’t need it at school too. Sure there are a few teachers who are wonderful and inspiring, caring, giving…but the majority of the ones I had were just not. They were just as judgmental, hateful, and ignorant as the worst of the worst.
Do I think I would have learned more if I had been turned loose with a stack of text books and left to my own devices? I have no way I knowing, but I know I wouldn’t have spent so much time in tears, rolling around in bed, too hurt to rest. You can bet the farm on that and take it all the way to the bank while you’re at it. 😉
I feel like this argument about home schooling keeps coming up in my everyday life. My mother was complaining that a mutual acquaintance was taking her son out of school because he was being relentlessly harassed about being over weight. My mother said the same thing lots of people say, how will he ever learn how to deal with life if he’s taken out of school, away from other kids just because they’re mean to him?
Something I learned as soon as I graduated high school? THAT isn’t life. It’s a torture chamber. And a child needs to learn how to deal with people who are cruel to him, but maybe the best way to do that isn’t to lock him in a cage with starving lions and doctor up what’s left of him when they’re done. He needs to be loved. He needs to be built up tall to learn how to love and respect himself so other people can’t tear him down. I can’t tell someone else what to do with their children, but I can say being picked-on on a daily basis, psychologically or otherwise, it’s no life. That’s not what life is supposed to be…and if I had a child of my own, I couldn’t imagine forcing them to spend 8 hours a day with people who have made it their mission to make him understand that he is worthless and unwanted.
If the argument is, what if they’re being abused at home and school is their only safe place?
Then my question for you is, what if even school isn’t a safe place?
Let’s face it, in the world we’re living in, there isn’t much of a safe place left. You can’t count on hate to leave anyone alone. And as far as I’m concerned, life is too short and too precious to waste any small amount of it in shallows and in miseries, if you can help it.
Okay, so here endeth the sermon. This is all I feel compelled to say on the subject for now and I thank you for allowing me to do so. I realize in a dead-in-the-water sort of way, my opinion isn’t popular. There’s a million and one arguments. There’s holes and flaws…and muddled facts. But there’s this voice in the back of my head, well, an hourglass really, telling me I won’t get to be here forever, reminding me that I’m not always articulate in live and actual conversations (my brain moves slower than my lips), and one day, I’m going to wish I spoke my heart while I still could. Journaling is nice, but this way there’s a bigger (though very slim) chance someone who needs my words might actually stumble upon them.
I feel like everywhere I look there’s loads of people who know everything about everything. That doesn’t bother me. Two reasons: 1) I do actually understand it is pretty much impossible for anyone to know everything about anything. 2) I like listening to people talk about what they know–or at least what they think they know. Also, I’ll add a third reason, for the sake of just being honest. 3) Why do I care if everyone seems to know everything about everything? Good for them. More power to them. Doesn’t damage me in the slightest. So there’s that.
Seriously. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but my thirst for certain types of knowledge is darn-near unquenchable. I tune in to chat rooms at least once a day and listen to people from all over the world prattle on and on about different things. At flea markets or even just the grocery store, I prefer to go alone because that’s the best way to flatten myself out and not be noticed, which makes it easier to blend in and watch what’s going on around me. Busy sidewalks on vacation? Score. Doctor’s office lobby during cold and flu season? There’s an upside. State fair restroom line wrapped around the back of the building twice? Okay, maybe I’m reaching. Point is, I enjoy studying other humans in their splendidly social habitats, maybe too much. I like listening, soaking it up, whatever it is I’m exposed to, which can be kind of risky because let’s face it, even an open mind does need a filter or else Lord only knows what kind of questionable debris can move in and set up shop on you?!
I’m at last able to watch season two of Underground. Gonna see if Rosalee and Jonah finally get their family back together. This is the best series! Then it’s off to bed.
And I smiled to myself, warm and fuzzy, darn near blissful.
“Why?” she coughed, completely aghast, which frankly, confused me.
“Eloise?” I repeated. “Eloise? Like Eloise at Christmastime?” Crickets. “It’s precious! Eloise. You don’t like that name? What’s wrong with that name? It’s so cute. Sweet. It’s like it could belong to an elderly lady or a little baby. Short and solid. It sounds like dirty lace drapes hanging over an upstairs window overlooking a quiet street with no cars parked at the curb.”
This rain is no joke. Every single day, for months, thunder and lightning, the bottom falls out. Exactly 2pm. Exactly 4:20 pm.
I had a talk with a friend for over an hour. She insisted. I argued. Back and forth. Stubborn. Unmoving. Back and forth. She was sweet and accepting, appreciative. I was…something else.
Thinking back, I have decided my friend enjoyed speaking her heart and maybe that’s why she was so warm and positive, almost joyful about her argument. Me? I was uncomfortable and frustrated. It actually pained me to feel and hear the roaring thunder behind my very own words, bouncing off the walls of a stormy, cluttered mind.
Why is it I always feel the need to apologize for standing by my beliefs? Why is it I always feel like I’m doing something wrong whenever I don’t just agree with what other people say? It’s so odd to me. Reminds me of that poem by Lily Myers, Shrinking Women. She said, I asked five questions in Genetics class and all of them started with the word ‘sorry’.
Stop apologizing for nothing, I tell myself. There’s lots of reasons to be sorry. Sometimes I am rude. Sometimes I am pushy. Sometimes I am crabby. Sometimes get skittish and accidentally hurt people who deserve the least to be hurt. Sometimes my temper gets me. Sometimes I bump into things and people. I deliberately do or say something hurtful or offensive, when I’m in the middle of a mental meltdown. All good reasons to apologize, in my book. Telling the truth because there’s conviction in my heart compelling me to do so? Kind of a silly reason to apologize, now that I think of it.
Oh well. I’ll say it now, for the record. I am 30 years old and still learning every single day.
Tell me when to speak. Please. Otherwise I’ll never know. Said myself never.
I used to play dice games in a virtual world with an older man and some other people. The older man was in what seemed to be a perpetual bad mood. He complained a lot if anyone ever did anything that didn’t follow his script. Everyone had to use voice because he didn’t like to read or type. No one could use gestures because they annoyed him. We played what he wanted when he wanted for as long as he wanted.
I did this for ages. At first, I thought, he’s not so bad, he’s just kinda crabby. People would IM me to complain about him. I made uncomfortable jokes and tried to change the subject because it has been my experience that people who IM to complain about mutual friends tend to IM to complain about all mutual friends with all mutual friends, including myself. Do unto others…and all of that.
At any rate, I found myself walking on eggshells more often than not. I eventually became a nervous wreck dancing around, doing whatever it took to not step on any temperamental landmines and set him off. When I did well, I congratulated myself. Soon enough, I always did well, I played by his rules and only his rules so well that I outlasted everyone else. They gave up or became disgusted and bailed, but I was still standing, hopping around on one foot, one eye closed, one arm behind my back, fingers crossed, breath baited, sweating like a stuffed sow.
I don’t know what put an end to my suffering. Actually, yes I do. It went something like this.
Sir Crotchety: Come and play.
Myself: Okay. 🙂
Sir Crotchety: Are you speaking? Can you speak? I can’t read text. I hate reading text.
Myself: (tiny voice) Yes. I’m here.
–We played. I kept up awkward small talk while he commented minimally until I just plain didn’t want to talk anymore.—
Sir Crotchety: Why aren’t you talking? Come on. It’s nice to hear another voice. I hate reading your text. Stop texting and talk.
Myself: *opens her mouth and scrapes the bottom of her brain’s barrel for something, anything*
Sir Crotchety: Hello? Talk! Speak! (testier, sharper tone now)
Sir Crotchety: HELLO?
Myself: *sweating, anxious, frustrated* (now typing) I know you don’t like to read or type, but I dearly hate talking. If you don’t stop griping at me, I’m going to leave.
Sir Crotchety: Alrighty then…
And that was it. He kept playing. We went through two more games in silence. He announced we’d play another one and then he’d take his leave. I excused myself, thanked him and wished him a warm day….and left on my own terms. Honestly, silly as this is, IT FELT AMAZING.
I don’t know what leads people like Sir Crotchety to believe that other humans are only here for their entertainment, but it did occur to me, maybe I was a big part of the problem. I was catering to him and gladly. The meaner and bossier he became, the more I found myself eager to please the little tyrant. The more I seemed to please him, the better I felt about things. Before I knew it, I was miserable and all in the name of keeping some pixel stranger happy for a couple of hours out of the day, except he wasn’t really happy, was he?! Poor guy, maybe he’s never been. I can’t fix that, though. And for the record, I am happy–even when I’m sad. 😉
The good news is, this situation brought me to the surface in a couple of rather big ways. First of all, I found my voice when I really, really needed to use it. Secondly, (and perhaps more importantly) it made me look at myself and the way I speak to people in my own life, especially someone like my husband who is very gentle and patient with me.
I swear, I could hear myself barking at him about what I considered his shortcomings. You’re messy. You’re chaotic. Why are you never on time? I heard myself barking at him the way the cartoon man barked at me, rattling my walls and actually triggering my anxiety from time to time…and I didn’t like it. In fact I hated it. So I suppose, you might say, I suffered so that now, hopefully, my husband will suffer less.
If that’s a lesson, I’ve learned it—mostly. And I’m thankful.
My grandmother, God rest her soul, said to me, “Poetry is ugly. I just don’t like it.”.
My mother said to me, “Kids don’t need art in school. They need to learn life skills.”
Well, I hadn’t the will to tell my grandmother, but…sometimes the subject matter of a poem is ugly, but more important, it’s HONEST–and because of that, poetry can never be ugly, poetry is beautiful because honesty is beautiful. But she did so believe in keeping secrets, sweeping difficult things up under the rug, and lying to herself and everyone else about the less than socially acceptable realities of her narrow little life. I say the word ‘narrow’ because she tended to swim in a very small circle, by choice.
As for the idiotic thing my non-idiotic mother said, well, she was half right. Kids do need to learn life skills, how to balance a checkbook, budget money, so on. But children also need ART–to learn to express themselves in healthy ways. And Momma, if your child hadn’t used her art to express herself, she wouldn’t have ever been able to express herself at all, because of all the lessons she learned from her family, the one best driven home, unfortunately, was–you are to be seen and heard only when asked to do so.
As freeing as putting these thoughts of mine down on digital paper feels, as I’m writing them, I’ve got one pinky over the backspace button because I know that people don’t like for you to point it out when they’ve behaved badly, and sadly, sometimes people don’t realize how badly they’ve behaved until other folks point it out for them. Well, I’m personally not one for pointing fingers, unless I’m looking into the mirror.
It’s one thing to hit your child because she spoke out of turn. It’s another thing to emotionally punish your adult child because she took the mirror in front of her off the wall and turned it toward you…and you didn’t like what you saw. Hypothetically, of course.
And since we’re talking hypotheticals, I think I’d say…