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Found 5 results

  1. Hi friends!! I know it's been a while....I sincerely apologize for not taking the time (and there's been plenty of it) to fill everyone in on the happenings of my life. It seems that any accompanying promise to try to be better at updating my blog is one that's become harder to keep, so I'll simply not promise - I will, however, try to re-embrace writing as a means of release. Those of you who have gotten to know me over some time also know that writing is my biggest means of processing and working through whatever is needed, and I know that to not write means I've gone numb again. Maybe though, the numbness is needed. I'm totally experiencing a writing drought. I don't know what to say. The words aren't coming to me. I'm just sitting here, though, in hopes that once I start to write, that things will sort of dribble out. I also know that this will be my 100th blog entry. I wanted my 100th entry to be something amazing. I remember spending days working on my 50th, but that might've been a time when I had more to share, the thoughts flowed easier. It is safe to say that since I last posted on March 26th, the stress has mounted and my life has become one that simply doesn't feel like my own. In the beginning of April, both J and I developed COVID-19. Because of the differences in our immune systems, my fiancee spent six days in the hospital and I recovered at home. She had an extremely rough time with the virus. As my symptoms were mild in comparison, I could not even begin to imagine how she felt. I spoke a little bit about this experience to only my family, one of my closest school friends and a few of my AS friends, but for the most part, kept to myself. I suppose this is typical of me, for I do not like to draw extra attention to myself or my problems. I know we aren't dealing with anything to do with my trauma, (and truthfully, COVID is certainly a trauma all in itself) but still my ex's words replay in my brain: 'everyone has problems, nobody wants to hear about yours.' Thankfully, at the point in time I'm in right now, these words weren't 'as loud' and I WAS able to allow for myself to share bits and pieces of the whole COVID ordeal with people I trusted. They were good to me, too, and honestly, they've helped more than they know. I AM glad I ignored my ex's voice; at least I'm in a place where this is somewhat easier to do. At the time of writing this, the pandemic is still ongoing. It feels kind of 'old.' The 'new normals' have left me feeling extremely disconnected and frustrated. Most of you know by now that I was born with a hearing loss, one that has left me completely deaf in both ears (and the 'deaf/dead' typo almost just happened here, too, but I suppose it would be accurate - my ears ARE dead!) and I'm reliant on lip-reading others in order for in-person communication to occur. The essential businesses are open, and we do have the freedom to go to the stores if we need something. In the beginning, they only allowed for us to buy basics. Food, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, medicine, etc. Now, we're told we can go into stores and shop for other things, but masks are required. I am unable to complete simple, easy tasks that I was able to before the pandemic began. I cannot order food from either a take-out window or a drive-through - unless I have someone in the car with me to 'interpret' what the store/restaurant employee might be saying behind THEIR masks. If I have a question at the grocery store ("excuse me, where do you keep your.....") I will usually bypass asking a masked employee. I'll hunt the whatever it is down, myself. Or, I just won't buy it. Currently, I LOATHE the idea of having to go to the store - and so I don't. I've not gone anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary. See, pre-pandemic, I was never one to want to exercise social skills. My idea of socializing was bowling league night twice per week, occasionally accompanying my fiancee to one of her friends' gatherings, or going to school. OCCASIONALLY there was a meet up/study session/hallway conversation or classroom discussion with the one school friend that I've become friendly with, but even that's not something that is possible until this country is once again healthy. But now that I've restarted school, I'd gotten used to getting out, to TRYING to develop better social skills, and now this happens and I'm feeling isolated again and even MORE disconnected than I was to begin with! There IS a silver lining, I suppose. I'm going to go out on a limb and talk about school for a minute, though I'm sure that's not what ANYONE really wants to hear. I'll keep it brief, though. I still managed to finish my Spring 2020 semester with a 4.0, (and I didn't tell any of my instructors that I was sick and miserable, either) I realized that if I hope to graduate next Spring, I'll be needing to REALLY load up the courses during my senior year. I would have been looking at a 15/18 credit load in the Fall and Spring. Three of these classes were going to either bore me to tears or chance wrecking my GPA, being Biology (Anatomy), Research Methods and Macroeconomics. These would have required sixteen weeks' worth of (snooze-worthy) lectures, exams, labs, papers, headaches....three or more hours per week, for the duration of the semester. So, naturally, I jumped on these when they became 'available' to take online over the summer. One week after the Spring semester ended officially, I was taking Bio and Research Methods, and by mid-June, they were completed. Now I am taking the Macroeconomics course for the next three weeks. By the time the Fall semester begins, I'll have these nine credits out of the way and I'm now looking at a 12/12 credit Fall/Spring courseload; Spring being primarily internship/fieldwork. I do know I would have failed miserably at the biology, for I've officially been out of that class for a month and I don't remember a damn thing! Regardless, thanks to open-book exams, I managed to pull a B+ in Biology and an A- in the Research class. Allright - no more school talk. I WILL say though, on that front, things seem to be going well. Hopefully, things will continue to go well, for now the upcoming Fall semester has been shifted to remote instruction. Moving along, I cannot even begin to explain into detail the shit storm that I have been weathering for the last month. And the clincher? It hasn't even BEEN a full month! From previous blogs, you all know my mother, whom I affectionately (or not) refer to as Oompa. It is a shortened version of Oompa Loompa, and my mother, a 4'9" italian lady, is a perfect likeness of Wonka's little minions - ESPECIALLY with the haircut. Personality wise, she's also been compared to Marie Barone; many certainly know who she is, especially those TV watchers. Anyway, before the kids' birthdays, I hadn't seen Oompa for four months. I saw her last on March 8th. Of course, as this is before we all experienced the lockdowns and the quarantines - she'd been chomping at the bit to get everyone together. Around Father's Day is when they started to re-open things, and she planned to come out to visit for the kids' birthdays, and also because she was last here in the end of February and it certainly was her turn to come visit us. We have a yearly plan for the kids' birthdays, which are back-to-back. My ex will usually do our daughter's and I'll host the son's. Our houses are within five miles of each other, so it's easiest for the out-of-towners to come for a couple consecutive days of barbecues, cakes and celebrations. Usually the Oompa will stay at my house, and my father (we'll call him Lord Capulet) and his wife will come but usually stay at a hotel as they like to have their own space and to make a 'vacation' out of it. Needless to say, this year, Lord Capulet was not leaving the safety of his home, and opted to send the kids Amazon gift cards. My mother decided that since she'd not seen any of us for four months, that she would come for the kids' birthdays and stay for a few days. 'It'll be nice,' she said. Laughable in hindsight... I couldn't even tell you ALL of what went down between the 3rd and the 7th - I'd be too pissed off to get through this entry this afternoon. I WILL say that my mother has changed a LOT. We always knew the Oompa to be extreme, but she was downright impossible this time around. By the time she left, she'd managed to piss me off, my ex off, the kids off, and no one wanted her around. Even my stepfather, the poor soul she'd been stuck in the house with for the last four months was left shaking his head and mumbling under his breath, 'she's different. Treats me like shit.' And I can't even argue with him, on that. She DOES treat him like shit. She finally went home on the 7th - I couldn't be rid of her soon, enough. She left early in the morning and as soon as she pulled out of the driveway, J and I mimicked the stepdad and shook OUR heads. WHAT the fuck was that? She was complaining about my ex's neighbors (the couple that lived next door showed up to the daughter's barbecue with some food) not wearing masks - but at the same time, she'd been out earlier in the week with my sister - visiting a public BEACH. She tried to downplay it by saying, 'well, I don't know where the neighbors have been!' I responded in kind, and said, 'but you know where all those beachgoers had been? How's this any different? This is a private, backyard gathering of less than 20 people, and you've been out in public....' No matter what I said or what ANYONE said, she was finding something to nit-pick on, to complain about. It was absolutely unreal and I was at the point where I felt embarrassed by her. Before leaving, she was sobbing and saying that she couldn't deal with being in isolation with 'the old man' - and this was an opportunity for her to NOT have to be isolated. She's getting older, so her complaining instincts certainly have kicked in, (she hasn't yet hit 70) but still - COVID seems to have changed her as a person...and NOT for the better. If you thought I couldn't stand her before, I certainly cannot stand her, NOW. And as horrible as she was when she was here, here she also was, planning a small gathering for my youngest sister (which took place this past Friday) that was to resemble a 'sprinkle' since a full-on baby shower couldn't be planned at the time. I'd be seeing her again less than two weeks from the time she'd left, and I honestly wasn't looking forward to seeing her again. Not after the five miserable days she'd spent here, making my life a living hell. She went home. But the shit storm still went on. I went to do some dishes on the night she'd left and realized we had no running water. 'Great,' I say, 'it's the well pump again...JUST what we need.' Not only was it the well pump, but it was also the WELL. At risk of pissing myself off, I'll summarize and there will be some details left out here, too. I'll start by saying that the plumbers who replaced the pump last year were here for five consecutive days, and I STILL do not have indoor plumbing right now. It took nearly five grand (mostly LABOR) for them to come to the conclusion that our well has dried. They had to replace the pump first, then we had water for a little while before it went out again. Guy comes back out to discover that the filter was completely clogged with sediment. Changes the filter, water comes back on for the hour he's there, then as soon as he leaves, water turns off again. We call again on Monday (day after) and different guy shows up, filter's clogged up again. MORE sediment and dirt basically. NOT the way it's supposed to be. Then this was a problem, then that was a problem. They pull the pump out again, the head guy finally shows up and says, 'okay, you're out of water.' We ask what's next, and they say 'we'll try hydrofracking.' This essentially is the dropping of an air bomb down the well in hopes of it opening up 'veins' so that water flow into the well isn't obstructed. If that doesn't work, we're going to have to dig an entirely new well. And even better - the 'rig' is on another job that might take 2 weeks to complete before they'll be able to come and do the hydrofracking procedure. He did promise he'd try to pull the rig sooner, but we've not heard anything since Friday. In the meantime, if I want to shower, I have to go to either my neighbor's house or my ex's, and I have to fill up gallon jugs every day so that we have water to flush whenever someone uses the toilet. J and I have been looking at houses on Zillow, but even to move away from this house seems like an overly emotional decision. One that we likely shouldn't be making right now, especially having been here in this house for only three years. It's been three years we've lived in this house, and we've replaced three well pumps, we've had two leaks in my son's room (his room is below the master bathroom, so we think it's the pipes/master shower that's leaking) and we've also had to replace the boiler following the blizzard of 2018 that knocked our power out for five days. The back deck was looked at by the guy we called about my son's ceiling, and he confirmed the wood on the deck was beginning to rot, and that it was just a matter of time before it was disconnected completely from the house. The tile in the kitchen isn't properly adhered, and we've gotten comments from many people who have come to 'fix' something - 'oh, that wasn't done properly...' Yeah, no shit. The person we bought this house from didn't live here. He bought cheap and flipped it. He only fixed things to make things look pretty, but completely disregarded the more pressing problems that became mine as soon as we closed on the house. As mentioned above, the gathering for my sister was this past Friday. I'd been kind of hinting to Oompa that there was simply too much going on right now. No running water. I'm agitated, moody, and frustrated. I wasn't in the mood for socializing. I'm also still annoyed with her because of how she behaved when she was here - I'd been keeping my distance during the time between when she left here and when I'd see her again, but because Oompa owns my house, we've had no choice but to let her be involved with the whole process of getting the water back on - also she was the one who would be talking money with the head guy. Anyway, as soon as she heard that the rig was two weeks out, she started with, "you should come stay with me for a few weeks...maybe Friday, you can stay for the weekend." Oh, FUCK, NO. Hell, no. Immediately, I added that to the list of abso-fucken-lutely not's. How the hell do you tell your mother that you don't miss her? Like, AT ALL? And after how she was acting when she was here for five days - did she REALLY think I wanted to go stay at her house? I'd rather be in my waterless house! I told her multiple times - no, I'm only coming on Friday for my sister - then I'm going home. She, of course, complained there, too. "Why? Why won't you let me comfort you? Maybe when we are feeling this way, we need to stick with our families and not run away from them?" I had to bite my tongue in order to refrain from saying something truly mean and hurtful, so I said again that I just wasn't in a good place and wasn't comfortable leaving my house the way it was, and truthfully one of my cats wasn't doing well. (More about that later.) I kind of was hoping that she'd turn around and tell me not to come to the 'sprinkle,' because, well, that's what I WOULD have done if the tables were turned. Her gathering was for seven people. Six if I didn't go. And it was just a luncheon sort of thing, to take place at at restaurant that offered outdoor dining. It'd be a two-hour drive each way, just to go to lunch, and I TRULY was not looking forward to going at all. Every time I spoke to her, she'd make SOME kind of a reference to 'Friday.' "Does H (the daughter) want to come with you for the ride? I know she's with you on Fridays!" Or there was, "I'm getting rid of a computer chair - does R (the son) want it? I'll give it to you on Friday!" She wasn't budging, AT ALL. I was going to be seeing her on Friday, whether I fucking wanted to or not. So, on Friday, I got up early. She texted before I even left the house. Asked if I had left yet. I told her I was about to. She asked about the cat. I told her in a last ditch effort for her to free me of the obligation to show up, that the cat was not going to last much longer. She didn't. She instead said, "when I pass away, I'll look over them for you." Yes, she really, REALLY said that. I wanted to scream at her at this point, but instead, I told her I'd see her soon, put my phone into my pocket. Loaded the daughter and her devices into the car and headed out. About halfway there, I got pulled over. The daughter was giggling in the car, because I might have unleashed a string of obscenities (knowing me, I did) as soon as I saw the flashing lights behind me. The (masked) officer told me that I apparently was speeding, even though if you ask me, I was going 'with traffic.' I will be honest and say I don't know how fast I was going, because I was truly, at this point, in autopilot mode. I was thinking about how much I smelled, how much I wanted a shower, how sad I was about the cat seemingly being in her end-of-life transition, would the son actually feed her and take care of her like I'd asked him to? I was thinking about how pissed off I was to be making this drive, going to a luncheon that I truly didn't feel like going to, and because once again, my mother was making EVERYTHING about herself. All of these thoughts were swirling, and I TRULY wasn't paying attention to my speedometer. All I could manage was, 'I'm sorry.' He took my paperwork and walked back to his patrol car, and the daughter immediately starts texting...my guess, every single one of her friends, on every single one of her social media platforms. She's got FB, she's got Instagram, she's got Snapchat, Tik Tok and Twitter. "OMG, MY MOM GOT PULLED OVER...." At least she was amused. I on the other hand, was not. After being let off with a warning to 'slow down,' (the cop was actually nice to me) I showed up to my other sister's (the non-pregnant one) house with a backpack of clothes. Took a shower there. Spent a few minutes with my niece and nephew (and this was truly the highlight of the day) and then we all went to the luncheon. We came back to my sister's, I loaded up my car with the computer chair Oompa had promised to send the son, and then it took me almost THREE and a half hours (including having to turn around because I'd forgotten my backpack at my sister's and Friday night traffic) to get home. And if all of that wasn't enough - the cat who wasn't doing well - passed away yesterday morning. She was fifteen years old and sick. She had hypothyroidism, and her rapid-decline started earlier this week. She followed in her mama's footsteps, pretty much to the letter...stopped eating, stopped drinking, stopped using the litter pan, started isolating herself in strange spots. Eventually she had no energy to stand or walk and whenever she tried, there was an agonized meow. This was hard to watch - especially having seen all of these same things with my Moxie earlier this year, and a part of me is truly glad she did not suffer long. I do think, though, as she had an OBSESSION with running water, that not having any for almost two weeks now has contributed to her mental deterioration as well. I did provide her with cold water in a bowl, but it's as if she'd completely lost any/all of her will to fight, and she wouldn't drink it. She is now resting peacefully next to her mother (Moxie) in the yard. Also in my yard is about 450-500 feet of well pump/wires, laid out and waiting to be dealt with. Because those are there, I cannot really mow the grass in the back. Not a big loss, but I also will not be mowing as long as I cannot run inside and shower immediately after cutting the grass. It was 91 today, it'll be 97 tomorrow - a sweat-buckets kind of day. I'll be starting week two of my class and for the most part, will be staying inside. I still don't know when the 'rig' will be showing up and my faith in that it'll be here before two weeks is dwindling. The hydro-whatever the hell it is, is not a guaranteed solution - it's simply something that they're going to try. If it doesn't work, we'll be needing a new well. And that's likely to be double the cost, and God knows how MUCH longer I will be out of water while they dig! This also happened on the Wednesday after the Oompa left, but the son came upstairs and said, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news," and proceeded to show us his ceiling. His room is directly underneath my master bathroom, and there's a 'bubble' there, directly above his bed. So, apparently, there's a leak somewhere. We had a leak there last year, but it's since been patched up. We called the guy who fixed it last year, only to have him show up last Monday and tell us that he couldn't fix the leak until we had running water, so that he could see where the leak was coming FROM. You REALLY can't make this shit up. I've lived in my house for three years - and in three years, we've had three broken well pumps (now we know WHY the pumps were breaking - there isn't enough WATER for it to pump!), a broken boiler, two leaks in the son's ceiling, a broken refrigerator, a dishwasher that doesn't actually CLEAN the dishes (possibly because the water pressure was NEVER good to begin with), two power outages lasting 5 days long, we've lost three cats - two to old age, one to....a fluke? The daughter is convinced that our house is cursed and that we should move back to New York. That's not happening, though. I WILL say, though, it's VERY, VERY hard to love my house, right now, or even to look at it as 'home.' Rather, this house is a relentless money pit that doesn't like any of us. So...that's what all is up and has been going on. I'll be fine - I'm just exhausted, frustrated, and emotionally drained. But as I'm used to just sucking it up and going on, that's what I'll do, now too. It just feels like - when it rains, it pours. When it pours, the damned roof springs a leak. (Not exactly what's going on, here, but you get the idea.) Anyway, thank you all for listening to me ramble. I do hope all of you are doing well and are having an easier time conforming to the new normals and social distancing rules. We are still in the middle of some very uncertain times and it's my hope that everyone this reaches is doing the best they can do, given the circumstances we're all having to live with. A special, specific shout-out to those dear friends of mine who continue to check up on me and send words of kindness and motivation - it's very needed right now. Love y'all. ❤️, , - Cap (update: 8/8/20 - we've got water! We've had it for a week, already, but the way my luck's been going, I didn't want to make any premature announcements!)
  2. Hello from me in isolation - how's everyone doing? It's the first time I'm blogging whilst in quarantine - you'd think I have all the time in the world, but even I'm having trouble getting used to a routine that I have no choice but to conform to for the time being. We are amid some very hard times, friends. Very uncertain and very unsettling times. I've taken several steps back from Facebook and only check my feed once or twice a day - all of the COVID-19 jokes are starting to become annoying. I know humor is a popular and effective means of coping - I've used it on MANY occasions when I'd rather not cry. But I've seen enough. I don't watch the news....something said today won't be the same, tomorrow. Everything is changing, and NOTHING is consistent. We are on a lockdown, only allowed to leave our homes if the need arises for 'essentials.' Even so, one must not dally about; it's right back home, after you've gotten whatever you need. Local law enforcement has started to impose a $2000 fine for anyone caught out after a certain time of day - and they're not either coming home from or going to work. Now, those of you who know me well know that I am by NO means a social butterfly. I'll go out of my way to avoid large group settings, I'll sit by myself in the cafeteria or student center (when I'm actually able to go to classes) and I'd rather watch movies at home on a Saturday night. I'm not into clubbing, partying, or drinking....my 'scene' is slow-paced, and yes, I've been told it's boring. But, it's still my preference, as I believe that when I was created, I was meant to later become the poster child of an introvert. There's no other explanation for it. Now, my mother is the complete opposite. She's sixty-six years old and puts my ass to shame. Seriously - you cannot have a ten-minute conversation with her without her phone going off at least a half-dozen times - and that's if she answers long enough to say, "I'll call you back!" Granted, half the time, it's one of my sisters enlisting her babysitting services, but the rest of the calls are from her 'groups,' - that is, her various types of gatherings....the group of ladies that she goes into the city with every month to see a new Broadway show, the DIFFERENT group of equally as annoying female senior citizens that live in her retirement community that she has luncheons with every few weeks, or there's another group of women that all grew up on the same Brooklyn street fifty to sixty years ago that she insists upon reconnecting regularly with, and if they 'hit it off further,' planning vacations with. I don't think my mother knows the name of ANY of my current friends, and the fact that I can identify hers by phone number is scary. So, you can imagine how she's coping with having to stay indoors. With my stepfather, too. Now, don't get me wrong. He's not a bad guy. He's kind, he's compassionate, and he's very giving. He's been a part of my life since I was five - and he's someone I'm honored to call my second father. He just does. not. stop. talking. My mother's terrible to him. She'll tell him to shut up, and she'll dismiss him - the guy just likes to talk, he likes to converse, he likes being social. She does too - just not with her husband. Anyway, she's decided to take on the project of dismantling family photo albums this week. She's on lockdown, too...she COULD go to the store for grocery replenishment if she wanted to, but she is also convinced that because she's older and has diabetes and other underlying health issues that she's going to contract the Coronavirus before she makes it out of her own driveway. We've all told her that she needs to not feed into the panic, mostly media-caused, and to just keep a safe distance and keep her hands clean - but she chooses to keep herself shielded completely by staying behind locked doors and has tasked my brother-in-law with bringing her weekly groceries and toilet paper, if any can be located. So, here we have a VERY bored Italian lady going through photos of us girls from when we were small. A couple of times, she'd mistaken me for my youngest sister - and told my sister to ask her husband what he thought of a picture of me with my stepfather, thinking that it was actually my sister with HER father. My sister, who works at a hospital, comes back with, "Um....Ma, that's not me." She sends a photo of herself holding an infant me - with the date '1979' on the bottom of the polaroid. "Who am I holding, here?' she asks. I tell her that if we are to take the date written on the bottom as a clue, then that baby would be me. She sent pictures of us wearing easter dresses and bonnets and Halloween costumes and vacation photos, pics of us with the family dog, until my middle sister got snippy and said, "Ma, it's 11:00pm....let's resume the picture sharing tomorrow." And tomorrow - at this point, yesterday, arrived. I was working on some classwork and she chimes in with a photo of me on an amusement park ride - it was the Swing ride - don't know what it's called - but it's the ride where you sit in a swing (among other swings) and like a carousel, it spins you around. This was a pretty good picture, though, and you could only see my silhouette - the ride was in motion and I was swinging across a sunset. "VERY nice shot," I told her, "too bad that moment will never be relived!" I simply meant that my rump won't fit into that size swing anymore, but she seemingly was inspired to ask an entirely different question. "Maybe not that same experience, but what would you do over if you could?" It took me a few minutes to actually process her question. My mother doesn't talk like that. Granted, by now, she'd been talking a little cray-cray for a few days, already, but this was just WEIRD. "It doesn't do any good to dwell on the what-if's," I told her. Sure, there's plenty of shit I wish I could do-over. Choices I'd love to un-make. We all have them. I just wasn't sharing those details with my mother; I'd made the decision not to many years ago. I wasn't about to start now. "There has to be something." I scrambled for a bit, then said, "I guess I'd change who I married," and then added, "But I don't regret what came out of that marriage." "Of course, not," she says, and then says, "My one regret was not forcing you to go to your first choice college." More weirdness. And to hear that her one regret is that she was unable to FORCE me to do something that I obviously didn't want to do - well, yeah, you can imagine how well this was sitting with me. I knew already how manipulative my mother was and is - I just hadn't realized that she'd been criticizing and judging my choices for all of these years. And that THIS, of all things, was something she was regretting at that very moment. It was just seeming so...unusual. "What are you talking about, Ma?" "They offered you a scholarship and you turned them down because you didn't want to dorm. And I listened to you - I let you go to the community college, instead. Your life could have and would have unfolded differently had you gone to the private university." "I didn't want to go to the other college," I insisted. And I didn't. Yes, it did have to do with the dorming. I'd never been away from home and the idea of being far from family was unsettling - especially since back then, I STILL was not a social butterfly and being surrounded by people I didn't know was NOT a feeling that I was looking forward to. This was pre-rape, so my reasons for self-isolation were more deafness-related than trauma-related. And, ya know - she MAY be right - my life perhaps WOULD have unfolded had I not gone to the community college, but I stand by what I told her in the beginning of this conversation - it does NO GOOD to dwell on what could have been! "I could have made you go," texts back my mother. Wow. Such confidence! "No," I said, "I was just as stubborn back then as I am now. You weren't going to win that battle." (And I was getting pretty fucking pissed off at this point...I was THISCLOSE to texting one of my sisters and asking where the fuck her sanity had gone.) I texted again, "Not going to that college is not one of my regrets." "Okay," she says, quite obviously disappointed that I wasn't feeding into this idea any further. "I'm glad." "Isn't it what the Catholics believe, Ma?" I said, "that we're all born with a pre-destined script and that he has a plan for us all? And that before he sends us to Earth, we've also got an expiration date that only he knows, stamped across our ass? Whatever happens to us in life is all for a reason?" "Yes, it is!" She says. She probably was excited to hear me make a religious reference. I wasn't about to engage into a debate on this because y'all know that while I believe in there being a God, I'm really not one to put much stock into the Catholic teachings. I believe in karma. Treat people well, with respect and kindness - and don't murder anyone regardless of how frustrated with them you may be - you should be fine if you keep these basic, common sense rules on how to be a decent human being in mind. Anyway - I told her I had a good life. And I do. I truly believe that while I've had some horrible shit happen to me that I'm never going to forget, I've experienced joy, I've got what I need, and I am, for the most part, healthy. I think that there's truth to the idea that every single human being experiences some form of trauma within their lifetimes - trauma on multiple levels and scopes, and that some are more difficult to recover from than others - but still - we're all going to face struggles and trials and experience fear and despair - that's a given, no matter what. I'm also inclined to believe that trudging through the bad times is what teaches us to embrace and appreciate the good times more. Didn't mean to get philosophical, but perhaps this is what isolation does to me. Hopefully having extra time to think and process (and write) is a harmless means of coping and that my sanity (or loss of) is not in danger of mirroring my mother's. I don't know how long this lockdown is going to last, but I'm hoping that for the time being, I've seen the last of her deep questions. Anyway, it's late - I'm seemingly back to turning in after at least 2:30 in the morning, given the shift in schedule and not having to wake up early for 8am classes. I know - this isn't ideal at my age - or anyone's age, for that matter. My body just refuses to try out that thing called 'uninterrupted sleep.' I've heard of it, but it doesn't seem to apply to me. Last night, I was in bed at three, didn't fall asleep until after four-thirty, then was up at seven - took me another hour and change just to FALL back asleep - (I wasn't getting outta bed, even though my body was urging me to...I won this battle, too) and finally, I threw the covers off a little bit after 11.... That being said, I'm ready to see how long tonight takes. Be well, friends - keep washing your hands and adhering to social distancing recommendations. I know it's hard and it sucks, but the longer people ignore the warnings and delay the containing of this bullshit virus, the longer it's going to be until we can all resume normalcy...I know that's preferred any day. Hang in there and stay safe. Sending those of you who want 'em virtual huggles. - Capulet
  3. It’s been years since I got my hair did. I was born with a full head of hair. Jet black hair at birth, then it lightened some to a brown that in the summer almost appeared dirty-blonde. My hair has been colored multiple times throughout the course of my adult life. I frosted it once, by adding streaks of blonde to my naturally brunette tresses. Wore my hair down a lot at that time, so it looked pretty good. It was also the trend; all the 90’s high school/college gals were doing it, so I followed suit. I know, I know. Thank goodness no one jumped off any bridges - I was naive enough as a teenager to believe that in order to fit in, you had to follow the leader and do exactly what they were doing. You had to wear whatever they were wearing, smoke whatever they were smoking, drive whatever they drove, and so on…tough trend to break, but I managed. Then, I went all-red. That was a big hit. When done right, I can get away with red hair. Matches skin tone and eye color nicely, if I may say so. I went purple, accidentally. Purple is my favorite color, let me tell you…I have tons of purple clothes, purple sneakers I hardly wear, purple walls in my bedroom, if I could paint my car purple, I would. But hair? I don’t think so…see, it was SUPPOSED to be the color of Lauren Holly’s hair in ‘Picket Fences.’ Unfortunately, the stylist who colored it was either color blind or simply too clueless to effectively lighten my hair before re-coloring it….either way, I rocked the purple for a few weeks before letting it fade back into my natural color. Then, I stopped trying to find the best hairstyle and color for myself and started wearing my hair the same way, every day, for over fifteen years. Those who know me, also know this look. I pull it all back and fasten it with a messy bun in the back. At one point, I had bangs, to better frame my face, but lately, my bangs have been pulled back, too. It got comfortable. J wears her hair the same way. We’re often mistaken for siblings. I’ll add that I’m still mad at some dude at the bowling alley who asked J if I was her mother. What the holy hell, dude? I’m only a year older than her. NOT cool. Next time we bowl against your team, I’m schooling your ass, JUST for that! Hmmph. A haircut consisted basically of me pulling it all back into a low ponytail and handing J the scissors. One snip and voila, it’s a few inches shorter. But it was always long enough to continue to wear the same hairstyle. And for years, that was good for me, because my hair is the only part of me that is THIN. It was thick when I was younger. I lost a great deal of it when I was pregnant with my son. Now that I’ve had my daughter and it’s even thinner, I’m fearful of inheriting my mother’s Oompa-Loompa haircut…HER hair is so thin that it’s the only style that covers the bald spot in the back. I lie through my teeth whenever she came from the salon… “Do I look any different?” (She’ll smile at me while she’s patting her hair…and those eyes tell me that I better have noticed that it was not only cut but it was also dyed…I better have the right answer or else she’ll cut me out of her will.) “Oh, absolutely, Mom. It looks fantastic. You look like you’re twenty years younger. I hope I can rock that look one day, too.” LIES. Lies, I tell you. So I went online the other day and asked for some feedback on Facebook. Everyone I’ve spoken to on this topic has told me that they think I should just go for it. Get a new ‘do. My hair is ALWAYS pulled back, and even so, it’s very obviously thin and it shows. One darling friend posted a photo of the beautiful Halle Berry. Her hair is longer on top and one side, the back and other side are long-buzzed. Kinda shaved but not to the point where the hair is so short, you can see the scalp. It’s longer on top and kind of spills over to the side that is longer. I suppose the best way to describe it is punky, but adorable at the same time. I like the idea of hacking off all my garbage hair and starting over with new, thicker hair. Unfortunately, my hair is too thin, too fine to even donate to Locks of Love, so the trash is where it’ll all end up once cut and swept off the floor…I further like the idea of maybe adding some streaks of red to the longer, top part. I feel that constantly pulling back my hair, day after day, is probably a sign that having short hair is not going to make too much of a difference. If anything, it’d be less maintenance. If I take the leap and ultimately hate it, I have plenty of hats that I can wear throughout the winter. Hopefully in the spring, it’ll be thicker and my hacking it off in the fall won’t have been a total waste. Then I’ll be googling different hairstyles and blogging about it. Anyway, after careful deliberation, I did whatever I normally do before making any hasty decisions and texted the Oompa Loompa earlier today when we were on the way home from our weekly shopping excursion, and shared the picture with her. “I don’t know, it looks a little butch.” She replies in the text back. For added effect, feel free to add Doris Roberts’ classic Marie Barone voice. Then she says, “Why don’t I get you a makeover for Christmas? We can do some research and find another one that doesn’t look so…manly?” Mind you, my mother has seen me shop for my tee-shirts in the mens’ department for as long as I could remember. She knows that getting me to wear a dress is like trying to peel the white off of rice. She knows that I find shopping for shoes, purses, bras, anything ‘feminine’ to be about as much fun as a root canal. She knows that I loathe parties or being invited to parties because it usually means I have to plan for those aforementioned ‘root canals.’ My dress-donning days are over, though. Both of my sisters got married a few years ago and I was bridesmaid to both. One dress has been donated to Goodwill and the other one narrowly escaped the burn pile, only because I’d buried it so far back in my closet and couldn’t find it when it came time to make these abominations a distant memory. I still have the shoes, though, shoes that I never will wear again and only save so my godchild can use them when she plays dress-up. I’m just amazed at how much my mother, even though she’s accepted my lifestyle and has accepted J as my same-sex partner, is still a little too concerned about my image or what I wear, or that I don’t wear make-up. Too often I’ve heard that I had to look “pretty” or dress up because someone was having a 90th birthday party next month and it wouldn’t be appropriate to wear ‘those ugly shoes’ or ‘those pants that make you look like a man’ or the same shirt you wore to Aunt Bertha’s funeral. bit*h, please. If they’re lucky enough to make it to 90, they aren’t going to give too many shits about what I’m wearing! But you kind of see where I’m going with this…it’s always the same with her. If I look or act like an idiot, it reflects badly on her and we can’t have that, now, can we? Back to the picture I showed her of Halle Berry…it is by no means masculine…at least, not to me. It’s sleek, neat, elegant almost. It’s gorgeous. A given - I do not look like her in any way. In fact, I am the complete opposite of Halle Berry. She’s tall, I’m short. She’s thin, I’m not. I can add to this list, but the gist of what I’m getting from my mother’s comment - the hair may look good on Halle Berry but on me, it looks ‘butchy.’ I almost instantly got annoyed as soon as that text came in and had to refrain from throwing my phone through the windshield. J was driving and listening to music and at the same time, me swearing. If only my mother knew how many times she has been the cause of my random swearing outbursts and my poor wife has had to listen to me come up with creative new ways to cuss out my mother. Ay yi yi yi yi… Eventually J asked why I cared so much about what my mother thought and why her opinion mattered so much. I don’t even know the answer to that. See, if you ask me, she cares too much about what HER friends think. I’m pretty sure she will tell everyone the success stories of her other two ‘normal’ daughters, before she talks about the one who was married at 21, divorced at 29, with a new partner at 30, oh, and let’s not forget that her new partner is the same sex, too. Don’t get me wrong, she’s been wonderful around J and fully supports my decision to hop on over to the ‘dark side’ but I can’t help but suspect she doesn’t worry about the images of her other two daughters as much as she does mine. I mean, one sister married an alcoholic three-year-old (says on his birth certificate that he’s thirty-something, but he often throws tantrums and acts as if he’s three) that looks like the title character of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ with this ridiculous ponytail we all envision cutting off one day, just because. They already have one kid (who really is three) that was diagnosed with autism. You’d think my sister would have enough sense to give up her theater days but she feels more comfortable dumping my autistic nephew into my mother’s care while she continues to pursue her dreams of someday becoming a Broadway star. She got started with her crooning and performing when she was about four or five years old and no one has had the heart to tell her that she has about as much natural talent as a drunk banshee. And even better - she’s currently pregnant with her second kid, another child that my mother will likely have to raise because she’s too busy running lines instead of a household. She doesn’t cook. She doesn’t clean. She just sings badly. My brother-in-law will pick up most of the slack at home, but even he’s annoyed and I’ve had to come to the conclusion that she is the main cause of his childish tantrums. That just isn’t a stable situation at ALL. Now, let’s talk about Sister number two. This is the sister that I feel closer to, even though she’s further away in age from me than sister number one. One, unfortunately has no filter on her mouth and often comes across as an overly critical piece of work. This results in a lot of family tension and dirty looks from my children. Two is more soft-spoken and knows when to hold her tongue. So, naturally, Sister number two is an overall better person and a more enjoyable person to be around. She did marry a much nicer, better-looking, sweeter man. They welcomed a daughter last month. Both are medical professionals. They have a nice house that they paid way too much for. About a week after the birth of their daughter, he had to return to work, so Sister number two calls up Mama, who, in turn, drops everything and rushes over there to help her care for the baby. And this, I understand….we ALL need a little extra help when a new baby arrives. But, man, oh, man she milks it. Just like for years before she got married, she milked it. She lived at home until the day she was married, even though she and her husband had an apartment already. She spent most of her time at Mom’s house, eating Mom’s food and letting Mom take care of her laundry, pack her lunches for work, etc. Her reasoning was, ‘Mom’s house was closer to her job,’ but I know that it’s simply because my mother enables her ‘let Mommy take care of it’ behavior. I wanted to go and see the little one last week and Mom texted me the day before to ask what I was bringing. “Say what?” I ask. Mom proceeds in telling me that Sister number two doesn’t cook, either. Apparently, for the last month, my mother, as well as any visitors who have gone to see her has brought some kind of prepared-to-heat meal for her. And it would be most helpful if I could throw together a lasagna or something that she could pop in the oven for dinner one night. “Mom,” I said, “She’s thirty years old. She’s not the first woman on the planet to reproduce.” My mother made as many excuses as possible. She’s tired, she just had a baby, her husband is working all the time, she’s overwhelmed, she’s a first-time mother, baby won’t let her do anything.… Meanwhile I’m not buying that because well, isn’t my mother also there, every single damn day? Can’t she hold the baby while my sister cooks her own dinner??? Then she starts with, “Your other sister brought her a pot pie the other day from Costco…because you know she doesn’t cook.” “Neither does this one, obviously!” “Out of the three, you’re the cook. So maybe you can bring her something yummy.” I probably would have, because I’m nice. But, I ended up not going to see my niece because both J and I came down with a stomach bug. I’ve got plans to see her on Thanksgiving weekend, though. But I got to thinking about how much she enables those two for things that are far more serious than a dress or a haircut. Look…when I had my son at 21, I took care of him. My then-husband went to work every day and I was alone with a colicky child all day. I shopped, did laundry for and prepared dinner for a family of five. (Husband and his two older children in addition to me and an infant = 5) I took the baby as well as his older two children to doctor appointments, took them to school, picked them up. It wasn’t a paying job but it was a job. I didn’t have a singing hobby on the side. I think I called my mother to babysit only a handful of times when hubby and I would have our bowling night but as far as hobbies go, that’s about all I did with that three hours of freedom per week. She used to complain that she didn’t see my children enough. Now her biggest complaint is my having moved 2 hours away from her, from both sisters, and she feels even less needed by me. They, and their children consume so much of her time and she often expresses anger at my moving so far away because I’m not there to help her help them. Of course, she masks it all by saying she misses me. I’m sure she does, but I think she’s just bitten off more than she could chew and spread herself too thin, simply because she is trying to uphold her idea of what the image of a perfect mother and grandmother is like. She delights in hearing what other people have to say about her, it’s her way of making sure she’s successful. “What did your friend think of me?” She’ll ask me after she’s met one of my friends. I usually have to lie because any one of my friends already knows my mother before they meet her in person. “They want a mother just like you.” “I’m the best.” She’ll say. “Absolutely.” The best enabler, maybe. The best whiner. The best pain in my ass. Meanwhile, what kind of an image have I provided for these two sisters of mine? There’s me who is so used to dealing with things my own damn self…and then there’s these two who, because they allowed her to take over and be such a dominant figure in their married lives, have proven themselves useless and far too reliant on my mother. And in turn, my mother meddles just enough within their lives to make herself look good in the process. I’m pretty sure that in her world, there’s a lot of “Oh, would you look at that? Look at Vee’s daughter, such a talented singer…and she’s got children at home, too!” Or, “Look at this one, just had a baby, can you imagine how rough she has it, she juggles a newborn, long hours and prescriptions!” Then of course when it comes to me, she’s afraid of hearing, “Oh…that one…she doesn’t have a job. She’s home all day, she’s a bit of a hermit…and she’s just got a butch haircut. Sssh. I think she’s a lesbian.” Well…guess what? I don’t care. I don’t give a shit. I don’t care what image my having short hair puts forth. If it makes me look like the son she never had, then so be it. I don’t care if I end up hating it because the sight of a pissed off Oompa Loompa will look funnier than me, any day. Plus, hair grows back, so it’s not a life sentence. At the end of the day, I care only what J thinks. And she already has the image of me that she wants. Hair isn’t something that matters to her. Looks don’t matter to her. (If they did, she would have chosen Halle Berry, hands-down.) I already have the image of myself that I need. I’m Vee’s daughter, but I’m also me. I’ve worked hard to be the highly perceptive person I am today. My sisters may be the ones with careers, but life-wise, I can safely say I’m smarter. Aside from being the oldest, I’m sure a lot of life experiences have contributed to my being the way I am, and I’ve accepted that a long time ago. From the time I got married too young, I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum. I think the outcome you see in me today is truly a result of having broken away from Mama’s clutches before she could do any further damage. It didn’t take too much longer than the drive home from Walmart, but I’ve decided that by the end of this week, I’ll have a new ‘do. I’ll be sure to post whether Mama survives the heart attack she’s likely to have when I Face-Time her to show her my new haircut. Maybe she’ll surprise me and say she loves it. (I do have to keep in mind, I’ve lied to her about liking her haircuts for years.) Maybe she can do the same for me. I wouldn’t even care if she lied. I just need her to stop trying to mold me into a person that I’m not. Just like you simply can’t shape clay that’s already hardened into its permanent form. Until next time, - Capulet
  4. Let it be known that we have five adopted pets that I adore with all of my heart. All of them are currently of the feline species, but contrary to the title of this blog entry, none are named ‘Peeves.’ I think though, that in the future, I’ll consider calling a kitten by the name of Peeves, simply because the term ‘pet peeves’ is not only a humorous play on words, it’s my favorite way to describe those itty bitty details that annoy me to no end. Not to say that a kitten would add to my level of annoyance. Not at all. I am a complete sucker for kittens. They’re cute, they’re playful and I’m proud to say I’ve bottle-fed my share of kittens and rescued and still have a couple others. I just think it’ll be kind of cool to refer to an actual pet as ‘Peeves.’ I like to think I’m creative that way. On a serious note, let it also be known that cats are the most blunt little assholes you’ll ever come to know and love. They don’t sugar coat anything. They let you know when they’re pissed off. They knock shit off of the countertops while looking you in the face at the same time. They challenge you. They take chances. They turn any room in the house into their own personal playground, regardless of how many times you’ve tried to offer them alternatives. They take turns playing ‘chase me!’ in the middle of the night when everyone else is trying to sleep. By now we know that any random crashing or shattering of objects during the wee hours is the likely result of having five nocturnal children who have no idea the difference between a dollar-store figurine or that vase passed down by your great grandmother from Italy. Buy them a thirty to fifty dollar scratching post only to find they prefer to scratch the side of the $1200 couch, instead. Order them a fancy-schmancy cat toy, they’ll show you gratitude by demonstrating that they prefer the plain old cardboard box it arrived in, instead. Cats are highly intelligent little shits that KNOW it annoys you when they do these little things, and frankly, they don’t give a damn. You can holler all you want at a cat and in return, you get a view of their behind when they walk away from you. They simply don’t care. I think these little jerks are onto something, though. One male cat we have is highly temperamental about his back paws being touched. We can pet him anywhere and he will purr like there is no tomorrow, but when we get anywhere near the back paws, he’ll give us that look that tells us that if we proceed, we WILL require stitches. Another cat we have is very apprehensive in general about any new people he encounters, but absolutely loathes my ex-husband. Which, of course, we don’t blame him for. He’s not our favorite person, either. My ex has tried to pet him, only to be rewarded with the full-on, ears-back hiss that would make even the lion tamers at the circus think twice. Then we have three female cats that each have their own specific quirks of their own. One of them, a rescue, doesn’t like to be touched at ALL. She will however allow you to pet her for no more than two seconds before she decides that she’s had enough of the likes of you and she’ll saunter off. There’s one who will sit at the table thinking we will give her food (and she’s usually right, we end up tossing her some scraps) and there’s our oldest girl, that doesn’t care if you have had a hard day or are simply too tired to pay her any extra attention…when she wants affection from you, she will demand it by plopping herself on whatever pillow she wants, even if your head is already on it. I think, basically, what I’m trying to say is - a cat will effectively let you know when it’s time to back off, and they have no fear of making you aware when something bothers them. They don’t care if they offend you in the process. It is after all, not about you at all. I think this is something I need to teach myself. I never want to offend anyone, especially when I know that to be bothersome is not the initial intent. I’ve done a lot of apologizing over the years for times I’ve reacted unfavorably to something done by someone else. I’m also of the belief that some of these little peeves are as a result of my history, leading me to the creation of this entry/post. Here’s an example of one of my personal peeves… My lovely wifey, J, and I go bowling twice a week. When we go bowling, it’s mostly just to get out and have fun…but at the same time, it’s a league so there is the competitive element behind it all. However, it’s not that competitive that we can’t show decency, respect and sportsmanship. When someone from the opposing team throws a strike, the nice, sportsman-like thing to do would be to hold your hand out for them to ‘five;’ it’s a league thing and simply a nice thing to do. Every league I’ve been on has this unwritten rule, or a code, for lack of a better word. Anyway, I’m fine with showing sportsmanship even if my team isn’t doing well at that time. So, that being said, let’s rewind to last Friday’s bowling night. We were getting slaughtered. Not only was the other team bowling WAY higher than their averages, we, in turn, had forgotten that the purpose of bowling was to knock down all ten pins. None of us were marking (getting a strike or spare = 'mark') and we were all kind of thinking to ourselves why we sucked so badly. Anyway…I hold my hand out next time one of the guys on the opposing team throws a pocket shot. He comes back and instead of the traditional quick hand tap, his ‘five’ seemed more like a ten or a fifteen. His hand kind of lingered on top of mine. Now, I know that’s not something that would normally bother someone (or is it?) but I didn’t like that at all. Still, I’m certain the guy didn’t mean anything by it. If anything, he was being overly friendly. If I was a cat, though, I probably would have hissed and let them know with a unexpected swat that that didn’t please me. But then that would have raised the question of my sanity above all. Instead, the next time he threw a strike, I decided to change things up a little. I still held my hand out, but decided that I was going to call the shots. A five is a five. Not a ten or a fifteen. Not a caress. Not a palm reading. Not a let’s-hold-hands-now moment. Nope. A five is a five. And that’s IT. So my hand is out. He goes to tap it. As soon as his fingers touched the palm of my hand, I pulled it back and did not afford him the opportunity to make it last any longer than the second of contact. Done. I am all done, sir, and so are you. I am entirely comfortable with sharing little pet peeves with J. In fact, she does this thing with cutting her nails with the little metal clipper we have in our end tables. The noise it makes…I don’t know. I guess while some have issues with nails on a chalkboard, the clipping of nails has the same effect on me. No idea why. Being avid bowlers, we aren’t long-nail type ladies, so we both trim regularly. I’m not bothered when I cut my own; maybe because mine aren’t as thick as hers. I don’t even hear it when I do cut my own fingernails. But when she does hers and I’m nearby enough to hear it, I literally want to break something. She’s gotten around to apologizing when she cuts her nails. I’m sure it’s because she knows I’m trying to suppress the urge to walk away. She knows I love her with every fiber of my being though, and if this is the only thing she does that annoys me, then I can live with that. But this is even more important to take note of - this little peeve is something she thoroughly knows about as opposed to the days where I’d say nothing whenever something bothered me. It should be always okay to share what bothers you. I also feel that now, I am able to share without fear of offending her. I know that because she has made me aware of things that I do that irk her, too. Even if they’re not things that cause her discomfort, she can find the humor in the situation and we can laugh comfortably about it. For example, my obsession with having TOTAL, PITCH BLACK darkness when it’s time to go to sleep. Huh? Okay, let me tell you about that, too. I’ve NO idea where this even came from. My mother knows about this, as it’s been a thing of mine for as long as I can remember. She refers to it as light-sensitivity. I don’t know if that’s even a thing. Is Count Dracula my father? Because when it comes to light, even the littlest dot of light (like the power button to the cable box that even when the cable box is off, remains illuminated) I need to NOT see it when I’m trying to fall asleep. I need to see nothing. NOTHING at all. It’s gotten to the point that sleeping somewhere else where I cannot control where any/all light may be coming from, is a nightmare. I will go to lengths to avoid sleeping anywhere other than my own bed. A visit to my mother’s house or even to the in-laws’ house is always dreaded, even if I have two or three weeks’ advance notice. I’d sooner stay in a hotel, I think partially because I always feel nothing short of complete and total embarrassment having to do this nightly darkening ritual on someone else’s turf. You can ask J about the time we went to Disneyland and I had to stand on a chair to cover the light on the smoke alarm. It didn’t matter then because I wasn’t in someone’s home and I didn’t have to worry about them waking up to discover a well-placed sock on top of their DVD player. Even at home before bedtime, I’m going around the room, draping t-shirts or other items of clothing over the cable box, over the clock, over any little teeny tiny red or green dot that I can find. This is of course, in addition to the drapes being closed, the blinds shut, any and all lights in the hallway turned off. In the event that a hallway light is left on for whatever reason (a guest, kids still being up, etc) I will resort to blocking the light from underneath the door by laying a pair of pants across the floor at the foot of the door. J will sit in bed and wait patiently while I do all of these things. There are times when I’ll THINK I got them all and ten minutes after crawling into bed I’ll realize, NOPE! There’s a little light on my cell phone flashing and I’ll get up and cover that, too. I know she laughs at me, but that’s okay. Is there anyone else who is like this? I mean, I know there are some who prefer a little night light but this? I don’t like bright lights. I kinda feel like that cute, but skittish little Mogwai dude from Gremlins. Bright lights! Bright lights! No bueno. I prefer the soft ambient lights to those damn brights, any day. Sunlight is not my friend, either. I’m known to chain-sneeze whenever I step outside after being inside/unexposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time. That’s not a peeve, though, that’s a fact. It’s called Achoo Syndrome. And believe it or not, it’s actually a thing and it’s supposedly genetic. My son and nephew are also sufferers of such a syndrome. Mmm…I am also reminded that somewhere in Long Island, there is a nail salon that employs an Asian woman who was accidentally kicked in the face because she made the mistake of trying to massage my feet and toes during a pedicure. I think it was one of the first times I’d ever gotten around to getting my feet done and it would also be the last for a very long while. And fortunately for this poor woman, it was the last time I ever showed up at that particular establishment. I did leave her an extra tip for her troubles, though. I guess I don’t like my back paws touched, either. Let’s add that to the list, while we’re at it. I purposely avoid pedicures now, to protect other manicurists from suffering the same fate. As I write this, my cats are asleep at the foot of my bed. They’re such fascinating little creatures. So full of personality. So honest. You know when they’re happy. You know when they’re sad, scared, nervous. You certainly know when they’re hungry or thirsty. And you damn well know when they’re pissed off. I admire how these cats fully grasp the concept of conveying their feelings. I wish it was that simple for the human race. Ever think about how much more simple life would be if we were all masters of that thing called communication? How do you guys reckon a peeve is even born? How does it develop? How do you work through them? (That is, assuming you don’t hiss, bite or scratch. If that’s your way, then my cats have already explained that part to me.) Just a few things to ponder for tonight. Hope everybody’s doing well. Time for me to go cover some lights. - Capulet
  5. *Trigger warning - this very lengthy post discusses some of my broken up/fragmented memories and behaviors as a child. No actual CSA details are shared, simply because I can’t remember any. But some of these memories may be triggersome and I ask you all to please take gentle care while proceeding. Today, I want to talk about something called validation. Or the lack of, when it’s otherwise referred to as its counterpart - invalidation. This is a term known all too well by survivors of sexual abuse and the many ugly forms it takes. Validation is something we seek more than we do most other things. It’s that priceless feeling of being given air when we’ve been deprived underwater for long enough that we feel close to drowning. It’s a form of relief that doesn’t come easily and I don’t know if I’m divulging a huge secret here - but it’s what we, as survivors, want more than anything else as we heal from the emotional turmoil that we now recognize as a permanent stain in the fabric of our lives. Looking back at myself when I was a child saddens me. Not only did I have the worst haircuts and a wicked overbite, I also had secrets that although I knew they were very real for me, they wouldn’t be considered normal if I were to be compared to my peers. It wasn’t as easy as comparing stickers in an album or whose Barbie doll had nicer clothes or who had more charms on those 80’s plastic charm necklaces (remember those?). My questions for them were ones that I knew even as a child that it was inappropriate to ask. And so, I didn’t. I said nothing, I went on thinking that I was different, I was crazy, I was the weird one. You see, as an adult, I now have too many thoughts, too many contributing factors, too many suspicions preventing me from throwing up my arms and walking away from it all. Especially since I cannot remember the possibility of certain events or occurrences that would have caused me to react in certain ways. But even I can’t lie to myself anymore and say that there’s nothing there. If I don’t have memories, then there’s nothing to remember, right? Wrong, wrong, WRONG on so many levels. I do not remember the circumstances nor the order of events, but I know now that something was truly off in the early years. That’s the only explanation I can give for my subsequent behaviors as a young child. There was something wrong with me. Something happened, and I can’t say what the cause was for every effect, but overall, I know this…children don’t behave in an unnatural manner unless this behavior is learned or otherwise adopted as a means of self-preservation or coping. Children do not come equipped with the knowledge or understanding or even the correct words to explain or describe their feelings. No, that comes much later on in adulthood, and usually not before they are able to identify that what happened to them was likely a result of sexual abuse. And now, I’ll talk about the things and behaviors I do recall, now that I’m at least thirty years older and wiser. I’m sure many people wonder why I dredge it up, why now, after so many years have gone by and nothing is going to be done about it? Why not just forget it? I’ll answer that, first. Partially it is because I still feel like I personally, for my own peace of mind, need to make sense of it all. It’s part of the fine-toothed comb method of analyzing myself as an individual, identifying my past and present behaviors and trying to make sense of them so that I can finally move on, only this time with a wealth of information that will enable me to accept things that I can now recognize as facts. Another part of me wants to be heard, to be believed, and to be validated. I guess it all falls within the whole theme of this post. One day, when I was a child, I remember being asked by an adult (unsure of what role she played…Was she a teacher? A counselor or therapist?) why, during playtime, I made the Ken doll inappropriately touch the Skipper doll. When asked who Ken was supposed to be, I said, “my uncle.” I remember my mother being called. And then, I never saw that lady again. I do remember soon after that, two different ladies showing up at my house with questions. One of them pointed between her legs and asked me if I knew the name of that body part. There was an investigation, not sure if it was official or unofficial, as no one ever took the time to explain to me why they were asking me such questions. I do not know what went on behind-the-scenes, I was never made privy to any of that information, not back then and certainly never after it was all over. I do recall my mother feeling the need to speak for me, though, possibly because as an individual, she is constantly trying to keep the peace, even if it means sweeping things under the rug. I don’t know whether she fully understood the seriousness of the situation, or chose to turn a blind eye because it was something she couldn’t handle properly. Either way, she convinced me, and quite possibly herself, that I, at the age of six, had miscommunicated the situation. Had he only “smacked” my rear end because I didn’t behave? To that, I answered yes. Because my genitals/behind were in the same general area, that seemed an acceptable answer to these investigators. Then, I remember nothing further, after I eventually told the ‘investigators’ myself, from my six-year-old mouth, that it had all been a horrible mistake. I do believe that whatever had been going on prior to this, ended here. Nothing more was done. I maintained a relationship with my uncle. I saw him at family gatherings, I saw him at holidays. A lot of time was spent together. He used to take me to movies. I remembered NOTHING from before the investigations, even though I would have been more likely to remember things back then, being only a few years away from the actual time frame where this would have occurred. I’d remember more back then, wouldn’t I? Certainly I couldn’t make more sense of it now that so many years have passed? Time has repeatedly proven that theory incorrect. Even though I had no concrete memories of the possible causes, the ‘abnormal’ behaviors continued in the background. And this is where it used to be embarrassing or shameful to share. I mean, who would? It’s private, personal stuff that would have been the exact reasons my classmates picked on me or made fun of me when I was a child and that would have been my worst nightmare. And so, I said nothing, I held on to my secret behaviors, I hid them from every living soul. I, however, am now at a point in my life where I want to console, and also, validate that younger version of myself and tell her that I now understand why. I understand why she repeatedly soiled herself, mostly during the elementary school years. I understand why her hands wandered, mostly in the bathtub. I understand why she craved the feeling a climax/orgasm provided, craved it enough to bring it on herself when she was as young as eight years old. And I understand why this behavior continued all the way until she was in high school. I understand now why I was brought to my first therapist when I was also around eight. What I DON’T understand is why the therapy ended so abruptly a couple years after that. I can only assume that since a resolution was never presented, that perhaps she was getting too close and it was nipped in the bud before any more ‘damage’ could be done. I suppose that’s laughable considering how much had already been done. The days, months, years that followed made me further question myself and who I was as a child. For the most part, I knew that I was me. But I also knew there was something very wrong with me. Something that I didn’t have the tools to explain, and wouldn’t otherwise recognize until I was much older, much smarter and much more aware of the sick and twisted world we live in. It all came to a head when my son was just under a year old. My Grandmother’s death played a very strange role in my coming to terms with what very possibly happened to me at the hands of my uncle. Let me explain. When she was alive, she lived in a 2-family house, he resided in the apartment upstairs from her. They had every meal together. She took care of him. He never married, he never had a family of his own. He basically had his mother prepare every meal for him, he would come downstairs only to eat, or whenever we came over, but for the most part, he was a hermit living the better part of his days in that shit-sty he called home. He was/is a priest, for crying out loud…a priest. *insert the bright red flags here!* He was never a ‘real’ priest to me. He didn’t get paid to do what he did, he had a small chapel in his apartment upstairs. He said mass daily, in his chapel, to a congregation of statues. I am remembering he had the Blessed Mother, Jesus, Joseph, other saints in statue form, and more often than not, those made up the audience he preached to. He didn’t belong to any church we could have visited him at. If you ask me, he was entirely full of shit, he was a fake, he wasn’t a good person, and I could tell this of him without any of the past examples that still fester in the darkest corners of my mind today. But regardless, he was my uncle and a part of me loved him even if only for that reason. His faults and shortcomings were overlooked, because a child’s affections are unconditional. (And now that I think of it, this is probably where most of my issues with religion and faith come from! But, that’s a topic for another time.) Anyway, Grandma fell ill when I was in my very early twenties. It was ultimately complications from her osteoporosis that she passed away from, and devastated us all. I was married to my (now ex) husband and we had our son, who was just under a year old. The time came for us to go through her belongings, so I went to the house she shared with him to sort through what I might want to keep of hers. As soon as we walked in, it was like, a flip had been switched. From off to ON. The workings of the mind have always been fascinating to me, but this was by far the most intriguing self-realization that I’d ever experienced. All of my Grandmother’s belongings were gone. The room that used to be her bedroom was now empty and he had transferred those stupid statues from his chapel upstairs to downstairs, and there they all were, where my Grandma used to sleep, not even a week prior. There was Jesus, Mary, Joseph, St. John the Apostle, other people from the Bible I didn’t know the names of nor did I ever want to know their names, having always experienced a sort of a mental block whenever it came to learning religion. That wasn’t even what did it, though. I looked at him and listened to him as he shared his plans to expand his chapel and to make the entire downstairs his own personal space. All this when my Grandma hadn’t been dead a week, yet. At this moment, an overwhelming, freezing feeling came over me. It hit me like a speeding train. What was once dark was now bright and was staring me in the face. Everything in me tightened, even the muscles in my brain. It’s so difficult to explain but perhaps that was the part of my brain that held onto what I only knew and still know as only possibilities. Either way, thoughts were coming at me from multiple directions, almost comparable to the image of a stuffed animal, tied to a post and arrows being shot at it from every available angle. None of these arrows caused me (if we’re using the stuffed animal analogy, then that would be me) any pain, but to remove them all would have left behind multiple holes. Holes, that I know can be patched up in time but never will this stuffed animal be the same. No, not when now, this stuffed animal, this wounded creature, now sees these holes. I realized at that moment that I loathed this man. My uncle, the priest. The man I spent so much time with when I was a very young child. The man who used to walk over at night and tuck me in before bedtime. FYI, I attribute this time frame to be from when I was about three to four years old, because I remember my mother to have been single at that time. He was the default babysitter/caretaker while she worked or was otherwise busy, which was easy, considering we lived in a tiny little studio apartment around the corner. He’d have made comments about how he used to come tuck me in at night, and when asked about it now, I don’t remember. I don’t remember him coming over at night AT ALL. So what else was there that I didn’t remember? That, along with other things, flooded my memories and I found myself having to sit down while I processed these new thoughts. I hated him, I hated how he looked, I hated how he SMELLED. He has a birthmark on his hand. I hate that birthmark, too, it makes me feel uncomfortable. It makes me feel uneasy, sick to my stomach. My feelings of hatred were joined by feelings of nausea and I had to keep myself from vomiting all over St. Anthony’s porcelain sandals. I left there that afternoon and in the weeks that followed, I found myself questioning all of the behaviors I’ve talked about so far. Was this the reason? Was this why I was taken to therapy? Why can’t I remember if he did anything to me to cause this overpowering feeling of hatred? It’s not something I enjoy admitting that I feel about another human being but there’s no alternative word that fits. So here’s the dilemma. At this point, I can’t remember details. I don’t know what he did to me. I’m fairly certain something happened but have absolutely no evidence to support it. So I kept a distance. I began to decline his invitations to go for lunch, to come for a visit. It was progressive, but it was made clear to him that now that my Grandmother was no longer living, there was absolutely no reason for me to go to the house anymore. And so, I saw very, very little of him in the few years following her death. Aside from the epiphany I experienced at my late Grandmother’s house, there have been very minimal “telling” moments, one of which came at a time the sonofabitch got sick, himself. He was hospitalized, and my mother called to strong-arm me into going to see him. Out of respect for her, and because he was her last living relative, I agreed to go and see him. I told my husband to leave the car running and went up by myself. I went to his room, where I found him laying in the bed alone. He wore a gown. He looked like the most pathetic excuse for a human being I’d ever seen in my life. I sat in a chair, saying nothing. I think I managed a weak “hello, how do you feel?” It might have come out as one word. “Hellohowyafeelin’?” Either way, I was not there for him or for myself. I was there for my mother, because I knew it would have made HER happy that I was there. He started sobbing. His shoulders heaved. He blubbered something about how sorry he was that we were enemies. He then says in between tears that he didn’t mean it. I didn't know what the hell to do with that. I told him that M had the car running because there was no parking. I had to go. I couldn’t sit there any longer. And so, I got up and left. I didn’t look back. I did the next best thing that I could do for myself. I cut him out of my life, completely this time. I refused to visit him anymore. I did not respond to any of his emails, his phone calls, his letters. There was a point in time where he sought me out on Facebook and tried to initiate a conversation. I deleted it without answering. He may be still living on this Earth, but to me, he’s dead. I wasn’t and still am not ready to share with my mother my reasons for losing my shit whenever I hear that he’s going to be present at a family function such as a wedding or a funeral, these things cannot always be helped, but I’m ALWAYS requesting that he be seated as far across the room from me as possible. She has asked why I’m so angry with him and I admittedly hide behind my Grandmother’s death and tell her that I have a hard time dealing with how he was able to move on so quickly and so disrespectfully, I didn’t like how he treated her when she was alive. Of course, there’s a whole lot more than that, more reasons that I don’t dare share with her. For now, that quells her and she knows now that I want nothing to do with him. Additionally, if I can’t help the situation, (him being at the same family gathering as me) I do not allow him near my children, even though they are past the age where most damage can be done. Still. I don’t want him looking at me, I don’t want him looking at them, telling THEM how much they look like me. I want none of that, as much as I want answers, I want the truth, I want validation! Here’s the tricky thing about validation, though. When you have no concrete memories, how do you know the validation you receive is of the truth? Just because it’s your own truth, doesn’t make it one hundred percent accurate. And that is one of my fears. I don’t know that I want validation for something that I question, something I have doubts about. I need to be sure. I need my truth to BE the truth. I’ve asked myself that if he were to confess, would that be enough for me? Was what he said in the hospital the closest thing I would ever get to a confession? As of today, it is. So I’m going with that. In closing, I can’t help but wonder what a difference it would have made if I’d had the validation I didn’t know I needed when I was a little girl. Validation from my mother, who instead of being the number one protector in my life, became my first invalidator. Validation from the stupid-ass therapist I saw for two years, who obviously didn’t know how to do her job correctly. (And I say this knowing that I don’t have the full story. She may have said or attempted to say something that resulted in the subsequent pull from therapy.) Either way, I have no answers there. And so, I shall remain forever invalidated by my mother. I will maintain the not-too-close, not-too-estranged relationship I have with her, because let’s face it…she’s my mother and I do love her. She does a lot for me and for my children (perhaps out of guilt she’ll never admit to) and continues to do a lot for us today. She did not physically harm me. She did what she felt needed to be done at the time for my own protection, not necessarily the best course of action, but I accept it as the ONLY thing she felt she could do. I imagine it got too overwhelming for her, so she threw up the blinders and hoped for the best. I know that, now. I can safely say that not only because of childhood, but because of other contributing factors, my trust has to be earned, and her actions have made it very difficult for me to trust her. And so, given she did not effectively protect me as a child, I continue to refuse to share with her other things that have happened, things unrelated to my uncle and his suspected abuse. Thinking back, I believe it’s a tit-for-tat kind of thing. She had one job, one chance to do the right thing. She didn’t, for whatever reason, or at least, she didn’t do it properly. So, in turn, I will not share with her parts of my life that I feel are important enough for a mother to have input in. For example, the first time I had sex. I’ve had sex with multiple people and to this day, I tell her that I’ve only been with my ex-husband and my current partner. It just saddens me that she is not someone I want to share with, these little things/first experiences that a daughter would ideally go to her mother for. But I think all this mother stuff may be better reserved for a future post because there’s more that lies under the surface there; more that I need to fully comprehend in order to put it all into words. Anyway. That’s my take on validation/invalidation for now. I know a lot of other stuff seeped through, but it all goes hand-in-hand with the topic of validation. I’m always, always thinking. My eyes are wide open, as is my mind. Please bear with me while I try and make sense of all of this. I thank you all for listening and reading, if you’ve made it this far. I welcome any thoughts and/or comments. Like so many others, I’m trying to figure it all out and I know no one can do this alone. - Capulet
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