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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Falling Leaves

Falling leaves

She stares out the window, the glass protecting her from the ebb and flow of the wind as it knocks the leaves from the trees. It swirls them around, like her life, moved by an invisible force that isn't good or bad, it just is. 

Her mind isn't particularly on the leaves falling and floating; she is considering her life and the circumstances which have brought her to this point, and the tears that fall like the leaves are silent. 

She wishes things could be simple, like the leaves. They come, green and lovely in the spring, a promise of new life with a hint of summer in their scent. Then, at the appropriate time, they begin their change to the colors of autumn, yellows, reds and browns. Eventually the wind comes and they fall down, down, only to be taken in by the ground to nourish the very tree they came from so new leaves can grow again next spring.

It's all so uncomplicated, so orderly, so beautiful. She cannot say the same of her own life. Her childhood was filled with the knowledge of not being wanted or loved, that no matter what she did it would not be good enough. Her adult life consisted of trying to live the way she had been taught in Sunday School, only to fail time and again, never knowing why she wasn't allowed to be normal. Now as she grows older and finds out her brain has physically failed her, she realizes nothing will ever be normal.

She cannot see beyond this. This is her existence, the chaos. The past haunts her, the mistakes of a life attempted and failed, of a marriage full of conflict and children who succeed in spite of their upbringing, better than she did. It haunts her, the ghosts of people she has broken, worn them out by using them to try to be like them, only a few of them hanging on because of a love she will never fully understand or even feel.

She sits in church, knowing she needs to be there, knowing all the right words and all the right things. Yet when the pastor asks if there is anyone there who doesn't fully believe God loves them, she gasps silently, hangs her head and lets the tears fall. God is real, God is good, God is love but her marred mind will never allow her to accept that completely. 

The leaves fall and die; she cannot because that would be a pointless end to a seemingly pointless life and she is afraid of the eternal consequences if she takes matters into her own hands. Somewhere, somehow she knows God is watching. Is he a policeman, waiting to catch her out? Is he a judge, waiting to pass sentence? Is he a loving Father, something she has searched for her entire life and has yet to find? She does not know the true answers, only the words she has learned and repeated over and over. 

Is it enough for her to know these things? No, because it's never enough. It's never good enough. It just is and the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute struggle that not even the medications can help wear her down until all she can do is sit and stare out the window at the leaves falling. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New Diagnosis, Same Old Life

The past two weeks have been nothing short of horrendous, and I have hesitated to describe here the things I've been going through simply because I'm still in shock. 

It's not that I'm incapable, it's that suddenly it's all gotten very scary for me.

I've been very up front about my mental illness, trying to sort through my life by writing about it here; somehow the new diagnosis has made all that too trite. Perhaps it's been that all along and I just didn't realize it.

I'm not going to name the new diagnosis, not yet. You can ask me and I'll tell you, but not here. 

So for those of you looking for another childhood memory, I'm sorry but for now I can't. I was trying to come up with something but I'm more overwhelmed than usual with this, and of course circumstances around me have conspired to keep me from thinking of anything else.

There are a couple of good things, and I try desperately to focus on them. I get to take my grandbabies to the pumpkin patch on Saturday afternoon and they're spending the night, too. There's still two games left for the Houston Astros to beat the Yankees and go to the World Series, because if it's a Yankee/Dodger series I won't have anyone to cheer for. I finally get to go see Blade Runner 2049 on Friday night.

I'm taking new medication for my new diagnosis, and I think it's starting to kick in, although that could just be (no pun intended) psychological. 

I'd just like to point out that no matter what the diagnosis is, I'm still me. The good, the bad, the ugly, the un-filtered. The child of God, the cherished woman, the explosion in the paint box. I think, though, I'm mostly pointing that out to myself.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Cellophane Flowers of Yellow and Green

It's been a couple of weeks, but I've been sick. Meanwhile, here's another short and probably meaningless story of my childhood. 

It starts out with me watching a clip of The Graham Norton Show on You Tube the other day. Now, if you don't know who Graham Norton is, it's okay. He's a talk show host in Britain who is absolutely hilarious and has an appalling laugh. In any case, this clip features Ryan Gosling telling a story about his own childhood.

Okay, Ryan Gosling can tell stories absolutely deadpan, which makes them even funnier. This story was about how his parents somehow came to acquire a truckload of cellophane (plastic wrap, in case you didn't know it), and wanted him to sell it to their neighbors and take it to school and sell it - pretty much every kid's dream, help their parents make a million dollars the easy way.

He tells it better, but it made me think back to when I was eight years old and my mother had just left my dad and taken us with her to a small two-bedroom house to live. Okay, she didn't come across a truckload of cellophane, but what she did do was spend money (I don't know where the money came from) and printed her own greeting cards. They weren't ordinary greeting cards, no, they were full of lesser-known sentiments, like "Go Get 'Em, Tiger."

They weren't even printed on card stock, just black ink on colored paper. As an aside, I think with the right packaging and marketing, these would make a million dollars today, for sure. However, in 1971 no one cared. The reason this story comes to mind is that she bundled them together and packaged them in, you guessed it, cellophane. And then expected us to go door-to-door selling them for her.

Here's the thing. I don't do door-to-door. I don't do street evangelism either. I barely do meet-and-greet at church. I'm pretty much the hermit you read about, only without the explosives. Give me a piece of land, a room dedicated to arts and crafts and a great internet connection and what do I need with people? I don't even need cable TV, the internet is that good these days.

Later on she would create a line of 3-D greeting cards on card stock; they were art projects on their own because you had to color them in and cut them out and paste them together yourself. A great idea, if  the drawings weren't too fiddly to use actual scissors on. I think the kids and I used the last of them as art paper; the backs were blank.

So yeah. That's the story. I don't know what happened to those first cards. I think if I asked my oldest brother about it, he might know where the metaphorical bodies are hidden. In any case, that was the year I got glasses, discovered the joys of OCD and got to know the neighbor kid who was also a pyromaniac. No, really, he loved to burn things. The next summer we moved to the SF Bay Area from Sacramento. 

I have a few million-dollar ideas myself; we all do. Fred Flintstone and 412-Up soft drink, but then Barney Rubble is invisible. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to illustrate a children's book, publish a book of hand-drawn mazes and sell craft items online. Just one or two little ideas. Or maybe I'll just put that PayPal button on the bottom of this blog. Free book of mazes to the first person who helps me make my first million, no cellophane needed.