Bird

The summer in between elementary and middle school was pretty traumatic. One of my classmates was hit and killed by a car while riding his bike just down the street from where I lived. I hadn’t experienced anyone dying before, except for my super old and creepy great-grandfather. Admittedly, I used to be terrified of the elderly but am coming to terms with it, especially now that I’m middle-aged myself. I will blame my irrational fear of old people on the Pine Kirk nursing home because THAT place was horrifying. Those of you from Kirkersville know all about that place and I’m sure you agree with me (am I the queen of tangents or what?) Anyway, I was forced to consider that even children die while doing something as simple as riding a bike. I didn’t ride my bike for the rest of the summer.

Just days after my classmate’s death, I was in my sister’s room checking out her pet bird. Now, this bird was a pretty blue bird but nothing exotic. It didn’t sing or talk or do anything special, it just sat in his cage. His only true moments of activity were when someone walked into the room, which would cause the bird to jump off his perch and scuffle across the bottom of the cage. Newspaper was shredded and bird seed scattered everywhere from his erratic movements. It wasn’t really what I would classify as a pet. Regardless, my sister loved it.

I cannot fully recall the exact chain of events on this particular day but the bird was out of his cage when the family cat came sauntering into my sister’s room. Before anything could fully register, the cat had the bird. It was almost like the bird flew directly down to the cat. Of course, the cat took off, running with its body low to the ground in that stalking motion that cats have perfected, the bird’s feathered, blue butt protruding from the cat’s gripping jaws of death.

I stood in shock. I’m sure my 11-year-old scream pierced through the town of Kirkersville – not so much because the bird was dead (like I said, it wasn’t much of a pet) – but because I had allowed it to be killed by having it out of his cage. Now that I look back on it (I still feel tremendous guilt) I kinda think that bird wanted to die. I mean, it could have flown away but instead it flew directly to the cat. He killed himself, right? There’s no way to ever know, I guess, but at least it eases my conscience to think the bird was suicidal. I’m pretty confident that my sister is still pissed about it. 🙂 It wasn’t the only thing of hers I ever ruined, but I’m hoping it’s the only thing of hers that I’ve ever indirectly killed.

I sincerely cannot keep up with the inner workings of my brain, so I often take a backseat and just go along for the ride. My strange and wonderful brain takes me on wild journeys. I have absolutely no desire – or need – to try mind altering drugs because my mind naturally “trips” on its own. Often “we” contemplate what sort of animal we’d like to be. I used to think I wanted to be a cat but then I remembered that the majority of domesticated cats are living out the rest of their lives in shelters behind bars. Now, I’ve been in jail before and I have NO desire to ever revisit being caged again, even if there was the silver lining that I might eventually be adopted. Although, I have to admit that I know what it’s like to be “rescued” from such a plight, so I’ll take this opportunity to promote adopting a pet. 🙂  Besides, if I had to eat an entire bird – bones and all – I’d rather be euthanized. I would NOT make a very good cat.

So, as I run through the catalog of potential animal personas I could take on, I think I’d choose to be a bird. It must be so incredible to defy gravity and soar over the earth, occasionally pooping on a statue, some random person, or a freshly washed vehicle. I don’t know what sort I’d be, perhaps a hummingbird because they’re tiny and like copious amounts of sugar (like me). Or an eagle. One that kicks ass and has its own majestic soundtrack. I’ve always wanted my own theme music. Ack. I just remembered that they eat animals, too. Never mind. I will NOT, however, choose to be any sort of bird who is flight-challenged, like a domesticated chicken or emu.

Or, apparently, one who’s suicidal.

 

Thank you, Laura Martin, for today’s word. You are one cool cat (albeit a vegetarian one). Laura is the sort of person who is peaceful and loving and groovy – all which are synonymous with being a vegetarian. You are very dear to me and I aspire to be more like you: peaceful, loving, and especially groovy. I’m glad you are a part of my life. Happy New Year! xoxo

 

 

 

 

Cheer

Where on earth did the year go? It seems like five minutes ago 2012 was brand new… I was bidding adieu to one of the worst years of my life and hoping for so many positive things to happen moving forward. Adios, 2011. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out. What a freaking waste of 12 months that year was. A truly ghastly vintage.

I can’t say that 2012 was really much better. Overall, there was a lot less drama but I didn’t get my sh*t together like I thought I would. I’ve slowly worked toward some goals but I didn’t push myself to get published, which was something I really wanted to do this year. I wrote a lot, but mostly just personal. And that won’t mean anything to anybody until they find my mummified body under a mountain of dirty laundry. Posthumous is, unfortunately, how my work is going to get out there because I’m just not brave enough. I did take a writing workshop, and my work was well received by my instructor, but I’m still too insecure to share it with anyone but him. Honestly, my finger would hover over the “submit” button for long stretches of time because I was terrified to let him read it, too. And while my instructor would often start his critique with a “Wow” I never got up the nerve to share it with the whole class. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I guess I’m just not ready.

This hasn’t exactly been a year of cheer. Then again, it hasn’t been all bad, either. I started a new trend with the kids. We broke the year up into quarters, Ben and Madeline named them: Summer of Fun, Fabulous Fall, Wonderful Winter, and Super Spring. We make a list of things we’d like to do and make sure we do them. Some highlights of 2012 included indoor skydiving, trips to Estes Park, and Glenwood Springs. This week we’ll be skiing and starting a scavenger hunt of Denver points of interest. We WON’T, however, make any more plans to attend movies in our pajamas – especially a midnight showing of Batman. That was way too close for comfort. For those of you who don’t know, we went to the midnight showing of Batman on July 20 (in our PJ’s) at a theater just a few miles away from where the massacre happened. When we exited the theater there were swarms of cops everywhere. I just grabbed Ben and Madeline’s hands and walked quickly to the car. My phone was blowing up from all the calls and texts asking if we were okay, which, fortunately, we were. I would have been pissed had we been killed doing something on our Summer of Fun list. Kinda defeats the purpose.

Anyway, I’m working on getting my groove back. Admittedly, 2012 has been a year of transition, and while it’s been uncomfortable, I am genuinely trying to make the best of it. Being the type of person who is absolutely obsessed with movies, I often think of how my life would play out on the silver screen. Right now is when the sad music plays. The pivotal point where everything looks pretty bleak for the protagonist but there’s something wonderful waiting around the corner. I’ve decided that I don’t want normal. For a long time I’ve wanted NORMAL and now I’ve decided that I’m just too unique to be NORMAL. While I haven’t quite figured out how to fully embrace my personality, I know that I’d be wasting ME to settle for a life that is anything short of extraordinary.

Besides, the end of my movie is going to be filled with hilarious bloopers that will make you fall off your seat with laughter. Even the most tragic stories deserve an ending like that, right?. I mean, wouldn’t our lives be more cheerful if the credits of, oh, say “Das Boot” had a blooper reel? How about “Million Dollar Baby?” Or, perhaps, “Dead Man Walking?” We’d certainly all walk out of the theater in a different frame of mind.

So, my friends, get ready for 2013. I can’t say that I’m going to skyrocket into the greatness that I believe is right around the corner (or at least getting closer to my neighborhood), but I’m sure that I’ll collect more moments of hilarity for all to enjoy. That will be my gift to all of you. Cheer(s).

 

Scott Foor supplied today’s word. He is one of my inner circle friends and sincerely brings a lot of cheer to my world. We almost lost him a couple of years ago when he decided to slip on some ice and scare the bejeezus out of us. Scott, you didn’t need to suffer a TBI for us to love you more, it’s simply not possible. I love you bunches, my friend, and I appreciate all the cheer you supply in my life.

 

 

History

We all have one. Whatever our past is made up of – good and/or bad – it shapes us. It doesn’t have to define us, but it certainly affects who we are as an individual. We can succumb to the direness of our bad situations, we can forget how wonderful our lives truly are, we can suppress the aches of unfairness or rise above it all and be better for it.

There’s always a trigger, though. Recently, someone said something to me – in jest – but the tone of how it was said shot me back to  a horrible memory. I know it was nothing more than a joke on their part and they had no idea what had happened when I clammed up – unable to say anything else for the memory that was playing in my mind. My peripheral vision blurred. A metallic taste overcame my mouth. A shot of adrenaline coursed through me at warp speed, reminding me of a moment that I had put in my mental filing cabinet that I had no intention of ever revisiting – even to purge. I felt bad because my reaction threw this person off.  If only they had requested a CARFAX report on this particular model of Sarah, they would have known my entire history, thus avoiding the awkward moment altogether.

But it’s not that easy to catalog the wrecks of our human psyche. We are all a different make and model. Some of us can weather any storm. Some of us just need a better pair of tires to get us through. Some of us require premium gas where others can survive on the lowest grade available. It’s important to remember who we are and what makes us run, but we cannot discount those who care for us. If we’re letting someone drive, they have to take the time to clear the windows and inflate the tires or they’re not going to get our maximum performance.

And why are there some of us who will let just anyone drive? My transmission has been stripped so many times. I’ve rebuilt my engine over and over again. And there have been times that I’ve allowed myself to rust. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming anyone for my situation or how I feel. I am ultimately in charge of that. But when you allow people to treat you poorly, well, it’s a hard habit to break. As Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina, “There are no conditions to which a person cannot grow accustomed.” This statement rings so true. I had to figure out how to live with my son’s diagnosis. I’m having to learn how to live my life as a single person. And I figured out – as a child – how to live with people abusing me. I can’t say that I did it right, but I’m proud that I have used my past experiences to become the person I am today.

My ex-husband used to say that I kept a “book of personal harms” in my mind – just like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rainman. He’s right to some degree – I do have that mental filing cabinet I mentioned above. I’ve stored a lot of heartaches and poopy memories in there. And I usually keep it to myself. Because when I open up to people, when I let them in and tell them who I am and what I’ve experienced, they often find a way to use it against me. They start to see me as a lemon. Okay… even I’m getting tired of the car analogies. 🙂

I AM BROKEN. But there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts. My kind of love isn’t for everyone. I am sarcastic and quirky and guarded and funny and wounded and smart. I tend to hide when I don’t know what else to do. If you cut me down, I’m quick to believe you. But I’ll eventually figure out that you’re wrong and find someone else to drive (sorry, it just seemed to flow. Last one, I promise.)

I may have let a lot of people/events own me during my lifetime, but it’s made me who I am. Don’t judge. Don’t ridicule. Don’t hate. You have a history, too, and my plan is to love you for it.

Even if I have a difficult time doing so.

 

Senses

I’m so grateful that I have all my senses. Before you pipe up and debate me that I have no sense at all I’m not talking about common sense. I’m talking about the five senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell.

I just spent an hour picking up a package at the post office. People were waiting in line, patiently moving forward at a snail’s pace in order to send their packages off to who knows where. I spent a lot of time looking at random packages, wondering where they’d be going. One package was heading to Florida. I wondered who the recipient was. An elderly woman? A sister? Someone the sender felt obligated to send a gift to? Were the contents something that would elicit a squeal of joy? Would it be re-gifted? Would it end up at Goodwill? Was it frivolous or was it something they truly needed? Who knows. I waited patiently for my turn. What was waiting for me behind the massive counter at the USPS? Did I want it? Or would the box be more useful than the contents?

Turns out it was from my sister. She told me she’d be sending something that wasn’t necessarily a Christmas present so I could open it right away if I wanted to. Of course, I opened it as soon as I got home. I love presents and I stink at being patient when it comes to gifts. As I slid my paring knife along the strong packaging tape, I smelled something I hadn’t in nearly two years: the scent of my mother. My sister had sent me a box of mom’s belongings – some jewelry and a couple of her gardening hats. As I took each hat out of the box I felt it between my fingers. Smelled what was undoubtedly her scent. Remembered seeing her wearing them as she tended her garden. Hearing her voice as she explained to me what each plant was. The only sense I didn’t use was taste. I didn’t lick it.

Her scent brought back a flood of emotions. This time of year is hard for those who have lost someone and I’ve really been missing her lately. It seems I have some questions that only she could answer… she was always very astute at answering tough “life stuff.” I didn’t fully appreciate how often I asked for her help on something until I lost that privilege. Even though we often butted heads like rams I knew that I could always go to her no matter what.

So I’ll sit here, holding her hat, finding a stray hair or two, and wondering how it’s going away from us. In my search for answers I haven’t quite figured out this heaven place that people speak of. I want to believe that it’s real and that mom is there tending a garden or curled up with a bed full of cats. Or maybe she’s decorating a Christmas tree or something? I envision Heaven a lot like high school. They must have an arts and crafts period, right? I mean, after home room and the class that debunks the use of the Gregorian calendar. I cannot fathom that mom is nothing more than ashes in a box near my bed instead of hanging out with her friends who have passed on and kicking some angel ass during a hearty game of dodge ball.

Meanwhile, I’ll use my senses to remember her. Perhaps cry a little bit for how much I miss her.

But I’m still not going to lick it.