Trick of the Lens

The piece I wrote last year about kids terrorizing me hasn’t changed, nothing new to report on that front.  So let’s talk about the walk I took yesterday.  Actually I can show you the area I was walking in since I take my phone with me on these travels, just in case I need a lift back.

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Usually I just throw on a pair headphones if I’m by myself.  It doesn’t mean I’m listening to anything, sometimes I just want to be trapped in my head but outside rather than on the couch.  But most of the time I’m listening to some podcast from NPR or WEEI (it’s sports radio!)  The glasses are on and my hat is pulled down to shield my face from view.  One of those instances where ghostly white, pale reflections of my skin just don’t need to be recognized.

I’m coming down this small hill and look up at the sunset.  The leaves turn from red to brown, and fall to the ground. To be trodden down.  Lyrics from a song called “Beautiful” that talks about the absolute beauty in being different.  If they had been talking about snowflakes I guess they would have used the word “unique”?  The best line in that song, at least for me is, Are you wild enough to be Beautiful?  Captures everything you want to say to someone you love, friends count in this!

Living all but 3 years of my life in the Northeastern part of the United States, I’ve taken little notice on an emotional level how scenes like this can effect you.  I have always wondered why the leaves can’t be that color all year long?  Why at the end of their time they go out with such an amazing show?  Those years of teaching in Boca Raton, Florida I don’t remember a leaf falling.  But they had people in the neighborhood who would have written up the trees for littering.  The joys of retired executives with nothing better to do.

Not getting the road in the picture cost me the sun that was just settling in the upper right portion of the shot.  Trade-off I had to make.

This other shot just is for fun.  I promise I did nothing with any software to adjust it.  When my phone wirelessly synced with “The Cloud” it just showed up in the folder that way.  There was no breeze blowing, no car going by to disturb the quiet.swirling leaves

When I stare at it for any length of time I see several images.  An Eagle, oddly enough I see Dr, Teeth from The Muppets, but best of all I hear a little kid just running around in circles creating their own little vortex of joy.

I originally was going to title this blog entry “Beauty of the Lens”, but that doesn’t work for Halloween clickbait.  Plenty of times I’m writing about the negative side of my emotions.  Anger and loss being two constant companions.  But while I was on that walk, for some reason I felt compelled to take those pictures.  That the little voice I hear, that little girl whispering about the deer in the yard eating from a tree or how pretty the colors of a rainbow are and can we go chase it; yesterday I felt the joy of it, not any other emotion.

Yesterday I felt not alone on my walk, but some hand was helping me see differently.  I’m glad I went for that walk…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Trick or Trick.”

Beast Mode

Just keep pushing that button Lady!  If you hit it for the tenth time, it might respond.  Oh, not really part of your plan, just keep pushing until you get a response?  Some ding that goes off letting you know you’re efforts weren’t in vain?  Well that describes how my Wednesday afternoon went.  Only we weren’t in an elevator or even a place where there was a real button to push.  This was about getting me to reply to a series of prompts, only I didn’t want to play the game.

The harder she pushed, the further into myself I went.  That is until she just hit upon the right button to select and I started to talk.  And the more I talked, the louder I got until the people next to me started pushing their chairs a little further away from me.  Eventually there must have been enough room for me to swing a baseball bat because the women who had been next to me saw now sitting almost directly across from me.  I didn’t see them move, I was so wrapped up in the growing anger that I didn’t see anything but the blinding emotions coming out.

I wasn’t in the mood to talk, I was there to listen and maybe pick up some advice along the way.  But that button got pushed and I couldn’t ignore the finger poking me in the arm any longer.  I turned into that rage monster I don’t like to let in the room and most times don’t want other people to even know exists.  It’s easy being a difficult person, but once you cross over into Raging Beast Mode, people will always step back.

It was a simple question, why don’t I get upset with people anymore?  The individuals in this group have seen me go from upset at the course of things to being almost passive anymore about my personal life.  Anger has been reserved for work things that haven’t gone quite right.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m anger with people.  I’m at times blinding angry and know not to pick up a phone or look at an email because no matter what the topic is, I’m going to become nasty.  Quickly at times!

I don’t need to worry about an imaginary friend, I write about how life might possibly be different at times and that’s enough pain to make most people shut their mouths and wonder if I’m truly okay.  I’m not!  Far from it.  Not a single rational person would say that I handle the topic of my daughter with anything other than unremitting guilt and anguish.  So having it brought up when I just knew I couldn’t handle it at that moment, it hit just the right button.

There are lots of unpleasant side-effects that come into play with the drugs they give me to deal with the cancer.  Sometimes they are the ones you see or read about, other times I have such lucid dreams that I sometimes need to take a step back later and figure out fantasy from reality.  But the one constant, the imaginary friend who encourages me to do the right thing would be that ghost I fear during my best days.  Once in a while I give into the need for a painkiller and then the marching of costumed children walking by enter the brain.  Is she behind mask #1 or #5?  [guess I shouldn’t make fun of my aunt for having seen Micheal Jackson and his llama when she was in the hospital!]

The interesting part for most people is that I’m not even mad with the person who intentionally set me off.  The world recognizes a fellow traveler on some broken highway, sometimes we flock together out of necessity.  Once in a while we hold hands and give support to someone other than ourselves.  Some times we need to hold onto that hand so we don’t fall down.  Other times we just sway with the breeze and hope we can take that next step forward.

After I was done screaming, I apologized and walked out of the room.  The last thing you want is someone being afraid.  Fun part was I was the one afraid.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imaginary Friend.”

Can I really go home?

Opening the door and walking through it, having to look around the house I occupied for almost 17 years before packing up two suitcases and running away.  That’s the hardest thing I’m going to need to do.  And if my niece has her birthday wish, that’s exactly what I’m going to have to do.  Seeing a place that has only been pictures for the last 6 months as people have gone in to paint or replace something before I get the strength to admit it’s time to sell it.

The birthday might be a week away, but Susie says it’s time to deal with the ghosts.  Big words and thoughts from a soon to be 15 year old!  Those ghosts she refers to are more like demons like occupy that space like a deranged squatter and have made it their job to ensure I don’t step over the threshold ever again.

The therapist has said I left so that I continued my hero complex about wanting to protect the people who live there.  To not know how badly things have gone and to not have to face some of their own ghosts about how things have played out.  It was bad enough when someone thoughtlessly posted something on Facebook earlier this week.  I don’t even use the site anymore.  Haven’t for almost a year!  But now my health and eventual death was out there for people to read.  {still can’t really blame an old man for doing something stupid.  Social media isn’t the world of 80 year olds!}

I don’t want my ex to know anything about this.  I’m sure she has been working hard to get past her own demons, or at least I’m hoping she has been able to.  Having someone see me will only start that rumor mill.  I left everyone we knew because I wanted her to have the best possible support from anyone she was willing to turn to.  I didn’t even care if in the end people bad mouthed me.  That doesn’t make me a good person, just one who made a stupid decision that left me raw and hurt.  I gave up on them, or maybe myself, can someone ever be completely out-of-sight, out-of-mind?  I’ve tried to test that theory.  If no one knows where I am, how I’m doing; I guess in some ways you are dead already?

My neighbors know some of the details.  I’ve needed them to look in on things from time to time.  The kid down the street mows the lawn and his father said he’s take care of any snow.  (of course he has for several years now with his giant mid-life crisis of a tractor!)  I want to see the little girl who lives next door, she’s wonderful.  I’d like to see my dog as more than pictures my parents send.

You can’t go home is more than just a phrase in my life.  I’m as frightened of my house as anything a doctor can say to me.  It’s no longer my home, it’s just a structure with some bills attached to it.  Every corner is a memory that I run from, I can see them as clearly as a news program in my mind, or maybe it’s my heart?  This gift of excellent recall is a nightmare of its own at times.  Walking from room to room, recalling when we picked out furniture or colors, this is the one point I envy my ex for having just left.  I got to pick up the pieces though.

Susie thinks she can handle it, but I don’t know if I can.  I’ve spent a lifetime building a reputation as being a significant hard-ass about things.  I’ll breakdown later when no one is watching.  But I don”t think anyone will believe me when we walk past a box of my daughter’s things just sitting in a room.  No one is that strong.

I was there three days after Susie was born.  Back then I was still a grad student in Washington D.C. and couldn’t just leave for Boston.  Her wrinkled up little face was spectacular.  An antidote for her family, a kid not even really related to me by blood who bears my name as her middle name (Laura since I’m Lawrence).  I missed a few years in between but she doesn’t care.  We’re going to make this trip, even if it kills me!  [seriously, that’s a horrible line to use given my medical stuff.]

Well lots to plan for.  Getting me across state lines requires some thought and a little planning.

Oh and don’t ever touch my neck!  I completely freak-out when someone touches my neck.  Primitive reaction kind of stuff where I flail and get really jumpy.  Possibly even knock you over from the gentlest touch.  Weird, isn’t it?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fright Night.”

Dying Wish

When I was 15 I lost my hair, a bunch of weight and for a while my faith in just about everything.  The medieval approach to dealing with Cancer was what you got in the later 80’s.  It took a good group of friends to bring back my faith.  I was lucky that group expanded for a while, because later that year my faith was tested again.  Death touched my doorstep in a very personal way and it caused me to forget everything we had fought for over the last 9 months.

Fast forward until we reach right now, and I’m back to the no hair routine, lost some weight and my faith has been tested again.  Only this time I don’t have the energy of a bunch of teenagers rallying around me.  Sure I spend some time with kids thanks to my niece and periodic calls to my nephew, but this time I’m getting ready for a different outcome.  It’s not just about leaving a job or relationship.  I didn’t get rid of a car I’ve had forever and feel some nostalgia for the memories hidden under the seats.  This time I’m getting ready for leaving everything behind, not to return.

I’m dying.  And that phrases rings in my head more so because I saw the musical Godspell when I was a high school senior and it was a reoccurring theme throughout.  So there are times when I leave a building or group of people and it is the last time I will be around them.  It’s not the same as before because this time I’m not as naive.  That faith I need to hold onto just has been tested too much these past 18 months.

The looks on people’s faces when you say that you are wondering about what happens next.  Is it really possible for me to be with my daughter again?  Will I get a chance to stand before someone and plead my case for saving what is left of my sole?  And just as importantly, can I get a nice Chai Tea while I’m waiting your decision?  (I miss those at times, they rip up my stomach now!)

There’s no timetable I’m working on, no date circled on the calendar to let me know I should be ready.  I’m enjoying the time I get right now, even if it is what a sports guy would call garbage time.  The fun stuff isn’t possible, so we’re letting the secondary ideas take over.  Explore something new for a bit?  That is if my body is up to it on any given day.

Plenty of people in my position talk about being ready.  I’m not, I’m actually sort of angry.  I’m angry that all these months have been joyless and painful.  I miss the feeling of running.  I miss the feeling of my ex’s head on my shoulder [I sometimes just need to know that she is okay].  And mostly I just miss feeling anything positive.  Little things I try to strangle with my grasp slip through because I want to stay in some moment of happiness that is lingering.

The difference between those friends of my youth and the people around me now?  Those kids saw, or maybe prayed for, a future.  One that didn’t require death touching them.  Even when it did later, they held onto me and made sure I didn’t fall further.  Now most people are so worried about getting pulled into some nasty situation, they avoid it.  Run from it.  Run from me.

My wish is something simple.  I just want to spend one day without thinking about the past.  Not having it touch me in some manner throughout 24 hours of life.  I’m scared for what comes next and I’m scared that all that remains is unpleasant.  For me it is the hardest thing to admit, being scared.  Not some false bravado, not smiles through what others know is painful.

It’s times like this that I rely on my daughter’s memory to help me.  Those were some of the best days of my life.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “If You Leave.”

Nothing Funny About This

There’s not much value in going back into something that I follow or have read on the internet for the purpose of finding the humor in their work.  Some of these people are writing things that are deeply personal or of such a serious nature that I would feel stupid even thinking about changing their words.  In some cases, I know that one blog I follow is by young lady who writes such raw emotional responses to her dying that the only thing I can think to do is continue reading, learning as much from her about her life as possible before she can’t write anymore.

I guess there is always someone who will be able to find the humor, but that’s just not me.  I absorb their pain, unfortunately at times making it part of my own.  Any time I see an article about a young girl being hurt in any manner, it just rips me apart.  For better or worse they become a part of my life through people’s words.  My ability, or need, to feel empathy overrides what might be a better method of dealing with society’s woes.  Or maybe it’s just those paternal feelings that need an outlet?

My mother got up in arms because an 80 year old man with Facebook access posted something about me over the weekend.  He made a comment about hoping my medical / legal situation was being handled.  This wasn’t public knowledge to many of the people who might also have access to that page.  It was deleted 16 hours later and I had someone change the security settings to not allow anyone to post anything.  But it felt like such an invasion of my privacy.  I know an older person sometimes doesn’t think about the reach these things have, but the damage was done.  My mother was forced to deal with people asking questions she isn’t ready to handle.

It wasn’t about me any longer, but her not wanting the world to know there had been an issue to begin with.  My mom had made it known long ago that she did not approve of my having asked the ex’s parents for help.  That family stuff was to remain hidden from view.  The problem for me was that they were my family as well, so there’s a cross purpose.  But longtime readers of this blog know how that blew up in my face.

I’m proud that I fixed the legal and financial issues I was facing due to having not been strong enough to ask for help when I truly could have used it.  There’s a great deal of guilt and embarrassment that went along with my needing to fix things, knowing they contributed to other aspects of my life becoming unhinged.  Having borrowed money from the former in-laws only created a situation where they questioned my ability to provide for their daughter, or grandchild.  Bringing in someone to look over my shoulder for a period of time was necessary to save other people’s jobs.  It really is that simple.  I made a choice and it cost me dearly.  In ways I counted predict.

My entire journey the last year has been about laying out my mistakes and trying to fix what I can.  There are so many different clocks counting down that juggling them is impossible.  And now my worst fear is coming about, people circling trying to take advantage of knowledge they didn’t have previously.

I had wanted to write about how nice it was walking down the street yesterday and having just about every person who drove by or was in their yard wave.  Me and my cane were very happy just to walk, but the smiles made the pain in my body irrelevant for a few minutes.  2000 steps, a huge distance for me.

Today I’m just worried about the next person who wants to take advantage of my situation.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Snark Bombs, Away!.”

No tricks for me

By the time I get out of bed most Saturday’s the house has all those sounds of life people would expect.  Some pans being tossed around the kitchen, feet crossing older wooden floors that creak in just the same spots, and most importantly laughter.  It’s not so loud that it takes over everything else, but for me it’s the magnet that draws me out like some coffee commercial.  This morning is a little different.  Silence.

Last night was just another in a long line of evenings where my temperature rose enough to make me uncomfortable and that worried people.  By the time I crawled into bed myself, promises of quiet for today were made and plans for a different routine were discussed.  No one was assembling at Grandma’s, they’d go elsewhere to allow me some rest.  My body might agree with that desire, but my mind doesn’t want to play along.  So dry toast and I are sitting at the counter hoping that the noise returns.

I don’t mind the alone time when it’s absolutely necessary, but routine is as important as any other thing in my life.  Your mind plotted out how you were going to be, but that right turn came up quicker than you thought.  That stupid Depression that even the pills are having a difficult time keeping in check wants to come out and play today.  I told a doctor once that I sometimes hear it in my head with the voice from the computer used in “Wars Games”.  That synthesized “Do you want to play a game?”  coming over and over again.  Sometimes I can laugh it off, other times we say I selected that sound bite from my life because it is a lesson on co-operation and competitive balance.  Tic-Tac-Toe being a basic game used in my economic studies over the years.  Just play for the tie, Lary!

The memories of my recent history are colliding with the ghosts of the past.  There are times when my mind can see Patre sitting at the end of the counter doing her homework.  Asking if I wanted something to drink before we tried to find some couch space to sneak in a movie before my parents came to pick me up.  The life of a 15 year old still on their calendar.  But at the same time I see those same memories replaced by the idea of my daughter doing the same routine.  Rushing home from school and then curling up on the couch to watch tv.

One of the horrible things about having people poking around your head, both with scalpels and with words; is that you sometimes have to relive the past in order to figure out where you are right now.  The confusion when waking up from surgery made so much worse when my stupid brain implies that people not present are sitting in the chair waiting for me to open my eyes.  Details that get screwed up because my seemingly efficient recording device has decided to hit pause or rewind at random times.  Think about a CD skipping back and forth before you give it a bump or just go to the next track, that’s a reasonable description.

So while the people in my life are doing their absolute best to make sure I get rest and help, my scum bag brain wants to remind me of what a Saturday morning used to mean in a different time and different place.  No longer sneaking out of bed with a kiss to someone’s forehead before I go for a run.  The best I do here is get out of bed without falling back in.  Those meals I used to plan are now just requiring some of my input, not my effort.  Sure there are times when I do the cooking, no one is trying to take that away; it’s just different looking at life-long friends rather than my ex or daughter.

I probably should just call someone and let them know I’d love to join them, but my fingers aren’t going to dial the phone.  Today feels like it’s going to be another one of the forced walks down the recesses of my mind and that isn’t something I want them to endure.  Kathy and my mother have joked for years about how they know just by looking in my eyes, that damn mother’s intuition?  Maybe the best thing is to just embrace the pain today, admit it is happening, and let it happen.  Let the shaking start until I either wear myself down or that hand ends up holding mine while I take this odd path.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Trick Questions.”

Treasure Chest

In the days before the internet made everything a click away from being delivered to the front door, my grandmother was a big customer of the Sears Catalog.  She’s hated to drive, I’m not sure I ever saw her drive even though there is this mysterious picture of her on a motorcycle when she was younger!  So she could call up the store and have my grandfather drive over there when he was coming home from work to pick up her choices.

Pages and pages of toys!  Sure my mother might have picked out a few things of the clothing variety, but my little bother and I could go through pictures of stuff we wanted and just fold a page.  My low-tech version of an Amazon Wish List?

Christmas would come around and I would have completely forgotten about things.  And there would always be something that I hadn’t even thought about under the tree with my name on it.  One year it was a bike, the next a ping-pong table (not the easiest thing to transport!).  My mom’s parents spoiled us rotten.  There was even a notebook that ensured the exact dollar amount was spent on my bother and I, they never wanted us to feel slighted or that they had a favorite.  My mother still does this with us today!

I was very fortunate.  More fortunate than many of my friends growing up.  There was the year we went full Ferris Bueller when my brother got a new car and I got a stereo.  I still have the speakers, they are really nice sounding!  These days I try to do something for others since it is what helps me through the holidays.

Last Christmas was hard, without the two ladies who had made every holiday worth celebrating.  Taking my parents aside to give them something from my daughter without the rest of the family watching was tear-inducing.  It’s one of the few times I have seen my dad uncomfortable.  But that Crystal Sun-catcher hangs in the window of their family room.  And while I wonder what she did with it, I sent the ex something similar.

There is a project I’m slowly working on.  When the kid was still gestating, I bought several books on projects that you could build with you own hands.  I settled on this treasure chest and recently had my hosts pick up the pieces I need to finish it.  Months of very slow progress will result in something for my niece.  Susie knows I’ve been trying to work on this, and she knows that the idea sprang with the intent of it going to another.  But she picked out the old leather straps that hold it together, really two belts we picked up at Goodwill.

I don’t know if there will come a time when a holiday will feel like a holiday to me anymore.  Mostly they’re just days that I try to muscle through.  People have asked if there is anything I want this year, but I always say I have everything.  This year feels like it needs to be about what I can do for them.  The thing I really want just isn’t possible.  But there is a possibility that I can give them want they want?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Out of Your Reach.”