Ramblings and Current Happenings #Writerslife

For being nearly the middle of May, 2019 thus far has felt like a very l-o-n-g year.

With at least eight blizzards (between middle of January to early April) which kept us buried in several feet of snow, and then hubby was furloughed by the Federal gov’t for over 30 days, and then the near historic flooding of the Red River (thank goodness it was no where near the magnitude of the 1997 Flood, but bad enough)….

And even though it’s officially Spring, it still doesn’t feel like it up here.  Temp during the nights still bottom out in the upper 20s, and daytime highs rarely reach above 60…

Guess I am hoping for a nice change in the current pattern of things.

I’m ready for warm weather and lots of sunshine.  I’m also ready to get out of the house and interact with people.  These would be so good for my mental health as it has tanked in recent weeks.

Currently, I do have some potential outings coming up.  In early June, I will be spending one full week at the School for the Blind for their Adult Week (will go more in detail at a later posting).  The Fall will bring opportunities to fly out of state; one, to attend a Buffalo Bills’ game (either in Buffalo NY, or wherever we can score three affordable tickets), and second, with my hubby at one of his training sessions (San Antonio is a distinct possibility, or maybe even San Diego–yippee!).

The past several days I’ve been mulling over whether or not to apply to a few writers residencies. The one I am most interested in is at Hedgebrook -located on Whidbey Island (near Seattle).

I love my guys, but I need to spend some time away for a while and be me, the writer and mingle with other creatives who truly get me.  Now it’s a matter of sitting down and figuring out what my next project should be.  At this point, I know I want it to be a collection of essays; just have to decide on a theme.

Next week, I am hoping to check out a local writing group in Grand Forks, Northern Ink.

For me, a busy body makes for a healthier mindset.

Let’s roll.

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Urn #Poetry

There is a box
Mother keeps close
Next to her bed

Half of her heart
Now in ashes
Love of her life

If possible
I’d give her my
Splintered portion

Daddy, you were
Gone way too soon

An angel you
Keep watch o’er us

Amongst all the
Other souls who
Once filled our lives

Life may only
Be teardrops in
The pouring rain

But you’re the sun
Waiting to break
Thru the gray clouds

Tho I can’t see
I can feel your
Love shining down

And that alone
Will be enough
‘Till we meet on–

That golden shore

 

This poem is for my Daddy who passed much too soon

An Insecured Writer’s Rambles: Will My Writing Have Meaning?

 

*Note: Am participating in the #Write28Days (February) hosted by Anita Ojeda. Click here if you would like to participate.

 

Just celebrated a birthday last month. My 48th one. I’m finding it difficult to believe that I am almost the big 5-0 when most of the time my mind thinks I’m still in my 20’s.

Where on earth did the time go?

I can clearly remember my parents saying the same thing to me when they were in their 40’s.  The sad reality is, my father’s no longer with us. He passed away in 2014. He was only 67.

In my eyes, he was the true steward of God using his carpentry skills (he was so gifted with his hands especially in woodworking, crafting beautiful things) and his time for the church.  Those who knew my father always commented on how cheerful he was, all smiles and loved to whistle tunes from the 60’s as he worked.

Now, I’m looking at myself and wondering, what will people remember about me when I am gone from this earth? How have I used my talent/gift and time to reach others?

After a lifetime with disabilities (hearing and vision loss), I still struggle with my self-worth and whether my writing has any value (especially when most of what I write, both poetry and fiction, tend to be dark). It doesn’t help either when my husband and son think of my writing as just a “hobby” or “fantasy writing.”  And it also doesn’t help when my husband have discouraged me from ever publishing books since I am on disability benefits (there are other factors for his paranoia other than this one reason) when I have many, many stories and poetry within that I wish to share with the world.  So, I have resorted to having my short fiction and poetry published in non-paying zines a few times each year with the remaining items posted on this blog.

Is this me experiencing the dreaded “mid-life crisis?”  Is this me being vain as I worried if all that I’ve written will be lost forever once I am no longer here? How will people remember me? Just a woman who is so and so wife and mother?

I have been given this gift (writing) for a reason, and I don’t want to squander it.  So, no matter what, I will continue to write what’s on my heart and mind through whatever means I can find in the hope of reaching those who need reaching.

 

The Winter’s Sun #Write28Days #Writerslife

 

*Note: Am participating in the #Write28Days (February) hosted by Anita Ojeda. Click here if you would like tp participate. 

 

Up here in northeastern North Dakota, I am greeted with this outside the front door:

The actual temp is hovering at about -4 with the wind chill of -20 plus. At this stage, all I’m dreaming about is the beach scene above. I long to feel the warmth of the sun on my face, its heat simmering over the exposed skin.  These are the days when I miss living in North Carolina where we were just a few short hours from the Outer Banks. My mother (who’s still living down there) had the nerve to tell me it was a mild 60 degrees there.

*Sigh*

Yet, on the other hand, up here, away from the harsh and dangerous and not to mention, hectic lifestyle that went with living in an area with high population (Raleigh/Durham/Cary/Chapel Hill), life is simple, and the people friendlier. Up here in North Dakota is the kind of place where my son can play outside without fearing for his safety, where schools have little issues with gangs and drugs…

Nah, I think I rather endure the frigid and snowy winters.

 

#Writerslife: Honor Your Reality

 

*If you’re interested in joining the DIY MFA Book Club to take part in the writing prompts, click here

 

I’m in the “honor your reality” period at the moment with my husband’s on government furlough.   Since I am a stay-at-home mom with a disability, I usually spend my mornings writing/blogging/reading; however, with hubby home since December 22nd 2018, my writing schedule has been erratic at best.  It’s been very difficult to set up any kind of routine or get into the “zone” with him underfoot (it’s like having another child in the house as he craves my constant attention) or he needs to be on the computer several hours each day monitoring the news for federal employees/juggling financial issues/etc. which take precedent over writing at any given time.

Now that we’re approaching 40 days into the government shutdown, stress is starting to mount in the household which adds additional distraction for me as I’m watching our small savings quickly dwindles.

*Sigh*

While I have been unable to continue working on the few manuscripts I began late last year, I’ve been utilizing the notebook and quick bursts of microfiction (posting them to my blog) to keep me from becoming completely frustrated with hubby and the current circumstances we’re in.

So, I’m taking a deep breath as I recognize the reality for what it is and accept it while knowing that this won’t last forever and that I will be back to my regular writing schedule (soon I hope!).

 

#Thanksgiving: 5 Things I Am #ThankfulFor

 

 

I don’t know about you but I can hardly believe it is THAT time of the year! It feels like it was just  yesterday when I was in shorts and puttering in our garden.  Now, I’m prepping for a Thanksgiving Day meal.

Is it me, or has time sped up?

As in the past, I like to make a list of things I am grateful for.  Here are five:

  1. My family.  I am so grateful for my husband (of nineteen years) and fifteen year-old son. Those two have kept me grounded when I think I might have (permanently) left this reality for an imaginary one.
  2. Writing. I am thankful that I discovered the magic of writing so many years ago. It enabled me to work through the many dark times in life as well as opened up doors to the many opportunities and wonderful people I never would have encountered.  All have been such blessings of hope that kept me going!
  3. This country. I am so so thankful to live in this great country!  It is so full of beauty and variety.  As of today, I’ve visited perhaps thirty states.  I hope to visit the rest in the near future (have yet to see the Pacific coast).
  4. Health. I am thankful to be alive and healthy. I’ve known so many who are no longer with me and they will be in my thoughts tomorrow.
  5. My animals.  Okay, I’m going a little mushy now.  I am thankful for the many pets I have in and around my house.  They keep me thoroughly entertained all day long.  And not to mention, great company when both my guys are gone during the days.

 

What about you?  What are you thankful for?

 

 

September (Therapy-In-Progress)

 

Fall is at its peak here in North Dakota.  In fact, I think it may have actually skipped the autumnal season with temps only in the mid 40s with a snowflake here and there.  Harvest’s been in full swing since end of August. Farmers are currently working on potatoes and corn; next will be sugar beet. By the end of October, harvest season will close, and then we’ll settle in for the winter months.

Living in a farming community, there’s always activity going on all around you.  I love the open, rural countryside here as well with the seemingly endless dirt roads to walk and explore.  My house (a small farmstead of 14 acres) is literally surrounded by farming fields. This year, the east, south and west fields grew wheat; while the northeast/northwest fields had potatoes.  Farmers just completed harvesting the potatoes earlier this week which meant we could go hunting!

Not for animals, but for potatoes (left behind).

My son and I each grabbed a bucket and headed out to the northeast field and walked the many rows mining for undamaged potatoes.  We ended up filling those buckets. Potatoes will be our meal staple for the next several months.

September.  One of my favorite months of the year.

A local town have put up a huge corn maze at its recreational park which we plan to check out over the weekend.  While there, I might even pick up a few pumpkins to carve.

Football. I love football whether it’s high school, college or professional. Another reason to love September. My son plays the six-man style football at his school (he’s a sophomore), and has a game tomorrow afternoon.  And it’s Homecoming to boot.

All of these are therapy for the soul. Especially for mine.

The #Writing Life: Struggling To Stay Grounded

Pixabay

 

“Maybe, life is a kind of waking dream.
Maybe, it’s a double-dream with a false awakening.” -― David B. Lentz

 

For most of my life, I feel I’ve lived in a dream-like state; not truly experiencing things with all of my senses.  No, rather I’ve lived in imaginary worlds where I can be who or what I desire, or change circumstances more to my liking.

Or, needs.

These imaginary worlds have been my safe havens from the reality of life which had been fairly harsh and painful.  As a defensive mechanism to protect myself (emotional well-being), I would withdraw into them frequently.

Until one day, I had a scare.

I opened my eyes and couldn’t recognize which reality was truly my own.

For mere moments, I couldn’t recall my name or where I lived or remember that I was a wife and a mother.

When the correct reality finally set in, I had to sit down and calm my shaking legs.

I’ve never really known fear…not like this.

What drew me back to earth, my earth, was my family.

My husband. My son.

Being a writer, a creative, it is so easy to lose oneself in other realms of existence that you literally can forget to return to your own.

For the scientific and medical communities, these could resemble a number of mental and psychological disorders, and I can also see why some have even been committed to asylums.

I really don’t want to be one of them.

So, what keeps me grounded in this reality?

My family.

Thank god for them.

 

 

 

Author’s Note:  Life has taken me down a bumpy road lately and I’ve had to deal with some of it instead of being on this blog so forgive my absence.   The Friday Story Prompt Challenge’s schedule has changed because of this (again my apologies).  Look for one on Friday, October 5th though (this one will be different from the others).

Monday Memoir: The Loser

 

Those of us who have been in long-term relationships and/or marriages know well the ups and downs that occur.  Some are more challenging than others.  My marriage to Jay is no different.

Jay comes from a dysfunctional family.  His Dad, a Vietnam vet (served in the 101st Airborne) who came back a changed man, became an alcoholic and abuser of his Mom (of which he witnessed several times).  They divorced by the time he was six (his younger sister Marcy was a year old); but then became mired in vicious child snatching schemes (before it was ruled illegal) that went on for a few years.  His father remarried, and Jay and Marcy went to live with him in another state, and Jay wouldn’t see his mother again for many years.

Jay’s step-mother was a drug-addict (addicted to pain meds) who was physically abusive to his sister, and vindictive towards him (at times she tried to have him arrested for stealing his own stuff).  His half-brother, Walter, was born during this time.

By the time I first met him in college, his father and step-mother was in the midst of a nasty divorce.  He wanted to help and protect his little brother, Walter, but in the end would lose and never see the kid again for a number of years when the step-mother split with more than half of his father’s earnings.

Right from the start, Jay and I had a connection even though at that time I didn’t quite understand it.  He had a girlfriend, Heather and I was dating his best friend, Shaun.  But, he and I became close friends.  When Heather suddenly broadsided him with vicious lies when he refused to sleep with her, he became depressed and well, lost.  I tried to be there for him, but in the end, he left college at the close of our freshman year to join the Navy.

The year was 1990.

I returned for my Sophomore (and final) year at that college for the fall semester.  It was either late November or early December, Jay came to the campus to visit his friends.  He stopped at my dormitory and we visited for a few minutes.  He had on his Naval uniform under a dark gray long coat.  I can remember thinking how handsome he looked.  At this time, there were rumors circulating of a possible war in the Persian Gulf, and they were anticipating high casualty counts. Knowing this, Jay wanted to see as many people as he could before heading overseas.

I wouldn’t hear from him again for the next eight years.

The training he chose while in the Navy was in the Meteorology and Oceanography field, and he was placed on an aviation crew on board a battleship. Since he also had combat training (was in the Army Reserve prior), once he reached the Gulf, he was assigned to a Marine unit that headed to land (to participate in the land assault called Operation Desert Shield/Sabre) after a period of air assaults. To this day, Jay doesn’t talk in detail about what went on during these days.  All I know was that he was with the Marines on Highway 80 (aka Highway of Death), and was responsible for calling in airstrikes on the trapped Iraqis on that road.  I also know that he went with the Marines after the airstrikes on a reconnaissance mission, and saw first hand of the carnage he had a hand in creating.

He was only 19.  Still just a kid.

 

Not too long after the end of the Persian Gulf War, Jay was sent to a Naval base on the Philippine Islands. As “luck” would have it, he experienced the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991. He and along with others participated in the search and rescue efforts, and then in the recovery.  From there he went on to Guam, and then to Alaska.

In Alaska he found solace in the rugged landscape of the Aleutian Islands where the base was once located.  Now fully entrenched in his military career as a Meteorologist for the aviation crews, he felt he’d found his true calling.

In October 1993, all that changed when his sister, Marcy (at 17 years of age) was involved in a serious single car accident where she sustained major brain injury, and was in a coma near death.  For this reason, he left behind his blossoming military career and went home to help his family and to be there for his sister.

Between 1995 and 1999, he came close several times to re-enlisting in the military (Navy and Army), but certain life events always interceded.

In June of 1999, we reunited, and then in September, we were married.

I encouraged him to return to the military; but he felt that I would not be happy living a military life. So, he decided against it.

Marcy survived, but has permanent brain damage, and must live in a group home setting.

I’ve always regretted not pushing him to go back to the military as he has never truly re-acclimated to the civilian life. He was also a different man than I knew when we were freshmen in college.

More serious. Cautious

It’s no wonder though given what he’s gone through.

Also given his family background, he was always considered by certain family members (as well as old high school and college mates) as the “loser” who would never amount to anything.

Instead of allowing this and all the past dark experiences break him, he fought back.

One of the things he did was to go back to the same college where we first met, and finished what he began in 1989.  He graduated with double degrees in Psychology and Therapeutic Recreation with a GPA over 3.0 in December 1998.

He worked in the Therapeutic Rec field the first years we were married, but being a relatively young field that no one took seriously, he decided to get out of it.  After working odd jobs for a few years, he went in to the Banking industry which he hated (Corporation ideology).  From there, he was a middle school teacher teaching all things Science which he absolutely enjoyed in the beginning.  Then everything became so bureaucratic where the teachers ended up spending more time working paper works than actual teaching, plus the salary went no where, so he opted to get out.

Jay tried working at a credit union for over one year before being laid off due to the recession.

Enough was enough, he said.  He decided to go back to college, and earned another double degree in Bio-pharmaceutical and Environmental Science Technology, and graduated with high honors in 2014.

This guy never ceased to amaze me.

Everything he tried, he’d master it, and then excel.  It doesn’t matter how much he struggled, he just never gave up.  He’d had this “prove them all wrong” mentality that blows me away.  I so admired his spirit, and tenacity, and secretly wished I could be the same way.

I mean, this guy basically came from nothing, and became a someone.

He’s my inspiration to never giving up on myself.  The reason why I decided to keep trying no matter what obstacle stands in my way.

So, here we are, living up in North Dakota, on a small farmstead in a rural community full of great people.  Jay now working in the USDA, but is getting ready to make a major move to an entirely new direction that excites the heck out of me, in a direction that pulls all his past life, work, college and military experiences together in to one package.

Life works in mysterious ways.  Never count yourself out.

 

 

 

Monday Memoir: Marriage and Family Challenges

 

 

After Jay and I married, we moved to a small town near Buffalo.  There I worked in retail (cashier at a local grocery store) which was  just a short walking distance from our apartment.  I didn’t care for the job; however, I liked the fact that I could still get myself to and from work.  A year later, we moved back to the Ithaca area (in a hamlet just outside the town); the apartment we lived in was located on a bus route into Ithaca.  Handy for me 🙂   Jay worked for a short time at Cornell University, and I got a job in the banking industry (I felt I needed to get out of retail into something more “professional”).  I could have went back into the fitness/sports area, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t minimum wage or part-time.  I continued to run/bike when I could; but eventually gave up on them.  Jay kept fretting over me going out on my own and  insisted that he come and watch as I work out.  I became more and more limited to where I could go and such, so I just gave up altogether.

A few months later, Jay was laid off and couldn’t find work so he headed down to the Raleigh NC area to look for work.  I wasn’t too keen on the idea of moving out-of-state, and so far from my family; but if we couldn’t afford to make it then we needed to go to a place where we could.

The move enabled us to buy a home and some land (something we wouldn’t be able to do back in New York with taxes being so ridiculously high).  Those years here have been challenging to say the least.  I stayed in the banking industry; but Jay moved from one job to another (it seemed like he changed jobs once every three to four years).  I’ve wanted to make the move back to the fitness/sports industry, but the opportunity never came for me, or the transportation logistic was impossible for it to be feasible.  Our house was also far enough away from everything which made it not possible for me to come and go as I needed or wanted.  If I need to grocery shop, or anything, I relied on someone to get me there.  Even though I had my home, if anything were to happen to Jay, I’d be home-bound as a shut-in who’d be completely dependent on others.

I’m so fiercely independent, the mere thought of relying on others in order to meet my needs frustrated and scared me.  It seemed to grow worse the older I got.  This was a daily battle for me.  I’ve been left alone once when my first husband died.  A few years after we first moved down south, I nearly lost Jay.

 

 

Two months after we moved to our house, we learned I was expecting.  The pregnancy went without any issues…until the last two months.  I was almost 8-month pregnant when Jay began to have difficulty breathing.  He dropped me off at work one morning, and then went to see his doctor, Dr. Salerno.   It was mid-morning when I received a call from Dr. Salerno who calmly told me that Jay had been admitted to one of the local hospitals.   X-rays shown that there was fluid building up  around his heart-Pericarditis.  They couldn’t determine if it was bacterial or viral (if viral, he may fully recover; bacterial, he may need a heart transplant).  The immediate danger was that there was so much fluid around the heart, it had enlarged to at least twice its normal size.  They were in the process of prepping him for an emergency surgery to drain some of the fluid from the heart.  Before we hung up, she strongly recommended that I do not come to the ER until after the surgery because of the added stress since I was so far along with the pregnancy.  She would call me once Jay was out of surgery.  I said, okay.

I felt quite thankful to be working as it kept my mind from wandering too much to certain negative implications of Jay’s sudden illness.  I wasn’t completely alone in the city, thankfully, as I had my brother and his family nearby.  They picked me up after work (and once I received the “green light” from Dr. Salerno) and took me to the hospital.  Jay was in the recovery room, just coming out of being under anesthesia.  I was told that they managed to drain as much fluid as they could, but twice his heart stopped and they had to resuscitate him.  There was a hole left in his chest just under the sternum where a tube had been placed to continue to drain the fluid from the heart.  The doctors planned to aggressively treat him with various antibiotics in case the pericarditis was bacterial in hope to limit the damage to the heart while they ran multiple tests to determine whether this was truly bacterial or viral.

For the next week, we waited on the final result.  In the end, it was determined that Jay had the viral kind.  Thank goodness.

Jay remained in the hospital for a total of two weeks.  I spent some of the nights at the hospital (just so I could be near him), and other nights with my brother.  I worked every day throughout this ordeal just to keep myself from completely stressing out.  Finally, both he and I were able to go home.  Jay was quite weak so I had to help him dress, eat, and shower.  I was just thankful to have him back with me.

It wasn’t too long after he came home that I noticed my feet and hands were swollen.  The doctor kept tab of my blood pressure which stayed below the dangerous level; until my water broke two days past the due date.

After I was admitted to the hospital’s birthing center, the doctor quickly realized that I was showing signs of pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was all over the place (soaring high then crashing and then soaring high again).  My contractions weren’t consistent as well.  They gave me an IV to control the blood pressure as well as to force the contractions.  I was not a happy camper.  Seventeen hours in, it was time to push.  I pushed for three hours but the baby couldn’t get beyond my pelvic area.  The doctor tried both the suction cup and clamps to no avail.  Then I began to hemorrhage.  By this point, I was so exhausted and barely lucid.  I remember the doctor pushing the baby back into the birthing canal, and then they literally ran me to the ER.  After that, everything went blank.

Karl was born over twenty hours after my water broke.  A beautiful, healthy boy.  Jay was there to hear him howl as they pulled him from my belly.  He told me it was the most precious sound he’d ever heard.  I woke up two hours later and then wheeled into a recovery room where I held my son for the first time.  I’d suffered severe blood loss, but they decided not to give me a blood transfusion.  My vision for the next few days were out of sync because of the blood loss.  When I looked at anything, in one eye it looked normal while in the other eye it was grossly enlarged and distorted.   By the time I was released (four days later), my vision improved.

For the next few months, Karl had two parents recovering from their hospital experiences.  Before my maternity leave ended though I learned that I lost my job with a particular bank.   During this time, I struggled as a mother and as a wife.  I grew more and more emotional (weepy), and uncontrollable anxiety seized me.  I literally felt like I was losing it.  Jay made me go to the doctor, and I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. Jay’s mother came and spent a few months with us to help me with taking care of Karl-bless her heart.  My condition slowly improved; it was even better when I was re-hired back to the same bank that previously laid me off.  I gladly accepted the offer as by this time I was quite ready to get out of the house!

To say that I was happy to see that year come to a close was a gross understatement!