pawspauseprose

Life as it arrives and dreams as they happen


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But, What Did I Do?

barkit

As a person, as a society, and as a living being on this earth, that question has been asked or wondered forever. More often than not, it is because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, when a person or animal needs to blow off steam, get out their aggressions, or sadly, just make another feel as bad as they do. As a mother, I called this the Wagging Tail theory, after needing to find an analogy, that my daughters could understand, and in this very moment of life, it couldn’t be any more valid.

Whenever one of my own was wrongly blamed, singled out, or just felt to be less than they were, I asked them to imagine their sweet dogs, since they had loved those puppies from birth, and treasured them as constant companions and confidants. I explained how each of the three animals were all different in looks, and personality, but they all came into life the same way, needing the same nourishment, warmth, care and love, and when the time came to leave their mama dog, they relied completely on the attention and compassion their owner would give them. However, not all puppies were like ours, finding a perfect home, exactly what they were hoping for, and because of that, damage started.

Some, I would explain, were bought only as gifts, later ignored or tossed away, and others were abused and hurt, never understanding what they had done to deserve the treatment. Then one day, out of nowhere, and for no particular reason, they just couldn’t take it anymore, and when someone reached down to pet their wagging tail, they were bit, barked at, or worse. The rational mind knows this as a watershed moment, but for a child’s logic, it is that time when you are exhausted, and just can’t run anymore. It becomes that well known emotional and physical point when you are just done.

Understanding that they were not the cause, but the reaction from previous pain, my children would try and reconcile the event they had been caught up in, to figure out what had caused a friend to become hurtful, an employer to take another version of a situation, or why a loved one snapped over a simple mistake, or misunderstanding. The realization of a bigger picture usually came slowly, but when it did, they would be sad, taking into account the pain and suffering needing to finally be released. Keeping that in mind, they also looked for the bigger picture, and tried harder to help, not assuming facts not in evidence, as they so often heard on television, truly a wonderful concept.

Regardless, how a beating heart has been wronged, disappointed, embarrassed, let down or physically hurt, the need to be loved and wanted, equal to all others is always the ultimate goal. A child that acts up in class, doesn’t want punishment, only attention and compassion, but has no other way to get it. A dog that has been ignored, or abused is still as loyal and loving as they were in puppy days, however, biting a hand trying to feed it, is their only reaction of self preservation, not wanting more pain. The biggest lesson we can ever learn, is that all any of us want, is understanding, compassion and equality; even if it takes many bites from pain, or fearful screams to overcome our damage.

Looking at the family I raised, I am proud of them all, and the level of humanity they achieved, the values and morals they teach their children, and the understanding and support they give their partners at home, and in the workplace. However, sadly, I also know as long as there are differences in this world, affecting economic situations, physical ability, compassion and financial needs, there will continue to be voices needing to yell, unnecessary revenge waiting to be played out, and love wishing to be felt. I can only assume this is a lesson in humanity all of us are all to learn before we leave life. A very basic credo, that we are all the same, and loving one another is the only answer…a hope and directive, quoted many times, in all religious and spiritual teachings.

So, Talk…don’t Bark the next time that you receive a painful encounter. Then, listen with your heart, regardless of your frustration, and reverse the situation, getting to the source of the emotion. No, you won’t fix everything right then and there, maybe you never will. However, I can almost guarantee that genuine compassion and understanding will be the key to defusing the moment, and changing a life for the better, possibly even your own.

 

 


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You matter, so I protest

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As an everyday white woman, living in the suburbs, I can’t ever claim to know the treatment of those protesting, as they grew up, and now try to survive. I have however, visited the situation up close and personal, and will never forget the experience.

In 2014, my best friend asked if I would consider renting a room to a family friend, who worked in the government, and was going to be in Denver for a temporary position. Having the space, and trusting her as I do, there was no issue, and for the better part of a year, this young man lived with me, shared meals, I did his laundry, he made me laugh, and I helped him when I could with graphics and designs for a website he was involved with. I also learned his New York slang, and some secret government gossip, which I am sure he made up for me, but regardless, he was a delight.

As with all young men, he loved my baking, and put on more weight than planned, and when his son was born, his wife and baby joined him here for a week. It was nice having family here again. He was also very fit, being in the guard, and ran for miles every day in the neighborhood, sporting Nike’s and a bright white tank top. The neighbors peeked out their windows to watch, and when his sleek, new black expedition was delivered by flatbed truck to my driveway, they must have figured something was going on, and a few looked a little longer. This young man will always have a place in my heart, and I was sad when he returned to the DC area.

However, before he left, on one of his nightly runs, he came back home, and was grinning like a little boy. He told me that one of the ladies up the street he had spoken to many times, invited him to a BBQ party. I wasn’t interested in going, but he headed off to the liquor store, bought several 12 packs of beer, and left later that night. I was shocked when he came back within the hour, and without a word, he went upstairs to his room.

I found out later that week, that when he showed up, everyone just stared at him, and he was made to feel very uncomfortable, even though he had been invited. The woman who lived there didn’t speak to him, and in case you haven’t guessed it, he was the only black man in that festive backyard get together. He left the beer and came back, later changing the route of his run.

Remembering as a nerdy kid who never was chosen in Gym class, and often mocked, I realized how insignificant that had been, and my heart hurt. Here was a young man I would have been proud to have in my family. He was financially sound, a husband and father, living out of state to better his family, and employed with the very government those people depended upon, yet he wasn’t good enough. I can tell you it makes me sick today, and I think of it, every time I pass that corner house.

We are in this life together for a reason, and we all die in the end. However, before such time, we need one another, to make it work.

 

 

 


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Shh…it isn’t news, it is just bad….

Life has evolved into a spectator sport, featuring Team Terrorist and Team Celebrity, and we have only our sick need for information and gratification to blame, and don’t get me started on the actions of the announcer that represents our country. In the tragically accurate words of Don Henley, “get the widow on the setis the head dead yet…”

This past Sunday, a major news affiliate reported that people have become desensitized to violence and death…ya think??? Social media and an overused state of political correctness now afford everyone the chance to be an armchair quarterback, judge, CSI investigator, televangelist preacher or half naked superstar, posed, poised and polished for success. The result of this voyeuristic saturation has made brutality and suffering on people and animals commonplace, actually the norm, as we check the Internet before facing the day. Where is Walter Cronkite when we need him?

Growing up in a law enforcement environment, there were moments of silence and covertly exchanged looks, which always remained between the walls of our home. However on occasion, my father, who was the Police Chief, did mention when something profoundly affected him, but only to explain his demeanor, or to possibly make his family aware of a potentially serious matter. Regardless of anything he would speak about, it was a given that it was not for public knowledge, and with a deep sadness in his eyes, he would call it a tragedy. This exact scenario continued into my married years, with my own Police Officer spouse, and like before, any knowledge of the personal pain that someone experienced, or caused, remained in confidence.

I am not saying it was ever easy to keep shocking details, stories and events secret, they were no different from what The Enquirer pays big money for today, however, it wasn’t newsit was tragedy. Those things had happened to real people, with real lives and real emotions, and they were the ones left with the aftermath…not me.  Luckily, the only social media available was over the phone or across the yard, but even with that, we still expressed compassion and concern, along with the understanding that it could have been our family, and we were always respectful.

Unable to do the work, create the dream or face the struggle, people now find it easier to live life through social media, while watching horror unfold for some, and fame and fortune for others. Daily doses of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all that color generic lives, which once had personal goals, family achievements and memories intended to be passed down. Why make a life, or take a chance, when the same results will appear on the news? Imagine the pain, suffer without consequence, and above all resent your failures – all without leaving the house.

When Pandora opened the box, and a fruit stand opened in the Garden of Eden, innocence became lost, and the world has forever paid the price, on knowledge never meant to be shared. Ignorance isn’t always bliss, but there are times when it is still for the best. Likewise, entertainment that was once uplifting, is now uploaded on a grand scale, the majority of which is horrifying, and has nothing to do with laughter…unless you like cat videos, and if so, that is a whole different box of drama.

The earliest days of movies and entertainment featured pratfalls, self-deprecating humor, and a few pies in the face. We laughed, because it exposed our hidden fears of being publicly humiliated, and/or embarrassed. When it progressed to drama, we faced relationship pain on an undesired streetcar, lost dolls in a valley, and saw a simple man, that innocently pulled a Charly Gordon, again facing what we didn’t want in our own life. The difference is, back then we also examined our values, morals and attitude, and made a choice to do better. Now however, we don’t face anything, and what is there, is in full color, hour after hour…someone else’s life, watched vicious and vicariously, in complete abandonment, always demanding they give an emotional reaction… for our satisfaction.

Many years ago, as I recovered from a physical assault, horrific stalking and the loss of my employment as a single parent, I found myself sitting across from a therapist, thinking it would help. The one thing I remember, almost as much as the attack I lived through, was this complete stranger asking me to detail the event, so he could say, how did that make you feel? Seriously…how the fuck do you think it felt? Needless to say, my anger and rejection from that emotional care left me with a hairpin trigger whenever I hear those same, intruding six words.

Verbally rehashing trauma may be beneficial to some,  however I am not one of those people, and even if I was, it needs to be done in private, and not in public, on diamond vision or across a bandwidth.  That being said, those same damned words are now the prying calling card of social media, entertainment and the news.  People facing the darkest moments of their lives,  have to also expect a camera focused squarely on their pain…and face, from a reporter writing a lead if it bleeds breaking news spot.

It is long overdue for humanity to rediscover common decency, and the knowledge that nobody has the right to ask such questions.  The time has come to again offer a hand, and confirm someone is not alone, and they have a friend if they need it…what a novel concept, just like the books used to prop up a laptop, and not feed a brain.

My grandfather used to say that it always seemed our destination took forever to get to, but coming home was ten times shorter. I still cherish his wisdom, especially since  the way our world and commitment to one another has disintegrated, the trip back home is going to take a very long time…if we ever get there at all.

 


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My ISP has nothing to do with Seymour Butts and it isn’t freely either

pawspauseprose

my isp

A million years ago in junior high, we cracked ourselves up with word play by touching the edge of off color and almost “dirty” humor, something kids delighted in back then – just ask Prince Albert, he is after all still in the can. Along with the Prince there was a certain Seymour Butts who had a life under the bleachers and an IP Freely who swam laps in the pool. Yes, life was simple and such jokes and comments were a way to pass time between classes and growing up. My how things have changed and sadly not for the better – there aren’t even words to explain what we have lost.

Today students are texting and sexting more than innocence, and the cost in what they will lose will never be fully recognized – unlike the naked images on a cell phone sent through a cell tower or…

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Hey neighbor, can I borrow a cup of sequins?

pawspauseprose

hey neighborThe average straight person looks forward to Halloween, a time when they dance and prance, crawl or howl, all effectively disguised from the person they know waits in the mirror. There are usually celebrations, a lack of inhibition and a general feeling of good will, since all of the fears and emotions normally keeping us at bay, are finally set ashore, allowing a true acceptance of who we are. It’s a drag it can’t last for more than a day.

Drag on the other hand, is a time honored, and yes, respected, form of exactly the same thing for the gay community. For years, it was the only window allowing a peek into a culture and world most of us would never know, but were curious about. However, Drag is so much more than just a few feathers and a blast of lip syncing music, honoring the true birth of…

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A brief life

brief

1990 was the year that put me on the map. I may not have had a lot of direction, and made more than a few wrong turns, but I was on my way! The Internet was also coming of age, no more than a telex jumble of Nexus bulletin boards and elementary codes, which like me, would in time, end up on the right page. I had a laptop, a 286 pony brick, about 2” thick, that had less memory than a $.99 thumb drive does today, but it was still a status symbol, along with my matching cell phone,  weighing about a pound, with a monthly bill of close to $1,000.  All in all, I was at the top of my game, and it was confirmed the day I laid down several hundred dollar bills to buy a leather Atlas briefcase, one that could carry everything.

Growing up, my father also had a briefcase, but it was old, and only stored papers he needed to work on the Police Department budget.  I remember that time of year vividly, since he would set up an additional TV Tray next to his chair. There was also a huge, antiquated adding machine balanced precariously in the center, and like the briefcase, only used for this purpose…returned to his office as soon as possible.

It was best to avoid the living room during those days, because between broken pencils,  groans and looks over his Walter Cronkite style glasses, the mood was a ring of gray frustration, and needed no verbal explanation as to the power he possessed. Be that as it may, it was still business, because even as a Police Chief, my Dad was powerful and in control, and it fascinated me.  You see, I grew up in a world where woman didn’t work outside the home and corporations had yet to expand into the New World Order.

However, much to my chagrin I wasn’t cop material, I was a girl after all, and only men were cops. But, as I neared graduation, I still had thoughts of traveling to Boston and becoming a lawyer. The law will forever be in my blood, so along with Perry Mason, Ironside and Hawaii 5-O, that was a possible port in my future storm of adulthood. Nevertheless, before such dreams could happen, life gave me my first turn, and instead of becoming a cop, I married one.  The year after graduation I became a professional wife, and mother, with diaper bag in lieu of  briefcase.

Many years later, after a few jobs, several marital separations and a divorce, I was like the Internet, on the verge of a new frontier, unsure where life was pointing me. Looking back, I still see my three young daughters, reflecting the woman I was becoming. They dressed up and walked in my high heels, used plastic cell phones and sticky note pads, and carried pink briefcases with their names in the corner. I may not have given them pretend stoves and kitchen sets like I loved at their age, but I taught them the same values, along with a reality check, which adulthood could deposit at any bank.

My Atlas briefcase was a treasure chest to me. It held my secrets and my work, and holding onto the handle when I walked into the office, it held the future. I was a professional, I was taken seriously, and even if it was only in my little world, I was in control and knew what I was doing. There is no greater feeling, and it beamed from my face, reflected in my daughters and took me to places I never saw coming. If you ask me, a case will forever be made for self-esteem and appreciation, because regardless what you do, they are the only tools needed for true potential.

The world has since settled around me, like confetti from a party I once attended, and instead of a sleek black sports car, it is memories that drive me. Still, along with a desire to do my best, that is what colors the writing I offer into the world, upwards of four hundred pages a book, sprinkled with characters I’ve created, encountered or might have been. Now, the Atlas holds my notes and manuscripts, as they wait to develop into something bigger, and more professional, bound for the future… a far cry from business briefs, budgets or spreadsheets. In many ways though, it still has a lock on my daily life, keeping together who I am, and all that might be.

In the back of comic books I read as a child, there was an ad for Charles Atlas, showing strength and power, similar to the statue balancing the world. I think it was also a subliminal message, causing me to reach for the stars as an adult…a lot like a hotdog you crave at the drive-in, once the cartoon condiments dance across the coming attractions screen. Life may be called a buffet, but it is actually the snack bar that ultimately drives us into who we will be.  Simply put, we’ll all experience small bite employment positions, only later developing an acquired taste for a profession, and if we’re lucky, we’ll be allowed to sit at the big corporate table, breaking and making bread.

As with my own life,  briefcases evolved, and became a Filofax, Date Runner, Palm Pilot or Blackberry. However, their contents never changed, because authority and knowledge are aphrodisiacs of power, and once tasted are forever craved, regardless how brief we experienced the moment, or how many notes we forgot to take.


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The Edge

my-edge

Funny how life eventually comes to an edge…and jumping is usually the least of our concern, at least for me, because after all, I had children.

Edges are a unique, but very literal descriptions of what happens when life throws you a curve. To prove it, next time you find yourself at the end of your rope, due to work or a relationship, take a minute and you catch yourself between glass, pill or puff, as you say no worries, I’m just taking off the edge…and, in such a moment, everything will become crystal clear. For me especially, it is also unwanted crusts, cut from the edges of countless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the mother,  patiently telling her child’s story, prior to any judgment…taking off the edge with dad. She also regularly sits on the edge of her chair, waiting, praying, hoping and loving those same offspring, whenever they are out of earshot or view.

I never thought much about it, until one night in my not so distant and single past, after waking in the night, because either the timer on my playlist had clicked off, or I needed a drink of water. Regardless of the reason, it forced me to notice, that after 36 years, I was still sleeping on the same side of the bed, the same ten inches from the edge, on my right side, and nearest to the door. Ironic, since it has been years since anyone has shared that king-size space. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried going to bed on the opposite side, even tried getting comfortable dead center. However, before dozing off, I’ve inevitably moved to the edge, and to my place, where security, duty and memories live.

When my children were little, it was that edge allowing me immediate reaction time, especially after hearing a thud, cry, or groan of unexpected vomit (dog or child). Reaction time occurred in nanoseconds, while my husband and dog snored, oblivious to everything, and ever so comfortable in their 90% stake of the bed. It was also along that same edge, where I listened for car doors; make out giggles and keys opening a lock. In addition, although invisible to the naked eye, I also emotionally waited for them on the edge of another fearful abyss, until I knew they were inside, safe and secure. Occasionally as they grew, a bad dream, bad decision, or just a needed connection also placed them on the floor by my bed, where I would reach down from the edge to hold a hand or stroke their hair, until we fell asleep…along the edge of the bed, where they grew up and I grew old.

In later years the edge sharpened, as I worried with aging parents in hospice, and my children now out on their own, but I still jumped into action when the phone rang, ready for the worst, and praying for the best. This maternal world has remained now that I am alone, still no more than an edge to the floor, which more often than not disappears under my feet, as I prepare for what needs to be done. Living on the edge isn’t just something wild and carefree people do, it is also a mental obligation…one that changes you forever, and you never see coming.

As I write this draft, it is 3 am; I am snug on that worn ten inches of customary space, along the edge, and I couldn’t be happier. Tonight, there is also a grandchild sleeping horizontally next to me, her feet are pressed into the small of my back, and straddled across a large snoring dog, completing a layout that resembles the letter “H.” Yes, for years, I’ve slept this edge, and often warm bodies moaned in dreams, rearranged covers, and occasionally made contact against my skin in an unknowing act of security.  That being said, like tonight, that edge of my reality has always been clear and satisfying.

Tomorrow, I will go bed alone, somewhere south of 2 am, and without thinking I’ll lean over to put my glasses on the nightstand before returning to the edge. In society, some people find their edge of greatness after years of hard work, in a profession, after struggle and sacrifice, and others just teeter on  the edge of success,  never getting there. However, for me, I’ve lived on an edge of much more, because through care and concern, discipline and punishment I have been the unbroken circle, allowing everyone else to color their hopes and dreams inside my lines, reassured that I was only inches from the edge if they needed anything. Maybe my life never achieved a level of financial or public success, but it never fell short of what mattered in life, which is why I sleep very well these days and might just have an edge when my life is done.


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Give thanks or Thanks in giving…

 

giver-and-takeIt goes without saying, that everyone likes to be given something. Surprises however, I will leave on the fringe, since I hate them, as do most people I know…just don’t react well. That being said, gifts are still a nice way to confirm to someone that they matter, and it doesn’t matter if they are tangible or emotional, gifts are a necessity…like water in a weed patch.

There are however, two camps in this world, those that give and those that take, each having a few variations, no different from eye and hair color. Similar to physical attributes, we always will be who we are inside and no amount of wrapping paper or window dressing will ever change it. So ask yourself, which are you? I know that I am a Giver, and having been raised by Givers, it firmly solidified my direction in life…that of certain disappointment, and an intense happiness, having no earthly definition.

In recognizing Givers and Takers, we are quick to see certain deviations to their definitions. For Givers, there is total satisfaction in just providing joy, because they know a person so well, and can offer the unexpected. Then, there is having to do something out of guilt, because it is expected, and lastly, hoping to be loved and wanted as much as the recipient. These subcategories are gray, and often overlap. However, true intent always remains loud, clear, and in the forefront. Givers also tend to have less, and ask for little in return, having no problem being last in line.

Takers are another story, and although broken down much the same, there is a darker theme. They take because they feel it is due them, owing nothing in return, or because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, accepting whatever is offered without emotion. It can also be just a basic exchange of the moment, give to take, a time shamed ritual, where everyone feels good for a while. Takers also seem to have lower self-esteem, failing to understand any happiness or compassion behind the process. More often than not, they’re well connected and/or wealthy, abundantly able to offer to others, but fail, instead, only worrying how they will survive without all they have, and how lucky they are to always get things.

Ironically, we don’t come into this world as a Taker. After all, children are born filled with love and giving, it is  not until they are challenged, a new perspective develops. Any adult or dog, can readily attest, if a child is asked for a bite of their cookie, they give up the whole thing…with a smile. Offering all they have, except maybe Mr. Blanket, because children are anxious for a positive reaction, and love, no different from the expression in giving itself. In addition, as they mature, children also discover what special buttons to push, further bonding them to those they care about.

I know I am not alone, when I comment on many drawings and objects de knick knack I’ve received from tiny hands, because they knew what would make me smile. In return, I gave tears, laughter, acceptance and satisfaction, and completed the circle, anxious to do the same for them. In life, that is also the only quid pro quo that should ever matter, because it is far more than legally binding.

However, somewhere down the line, life changes us, and only true Givers ever survive. The others left standing become Takers, unable to fully respond in kind, needing attention and gifts as reassurance of their own value, while falsely seeing their intended place in a family, friendship, business or organization. When I see these Takers, I think of the Emperor’s new clothes. Nobody would tell the selfish man who wanted it all that he was actually naked…because they feared being out of his good graces, a different fact of human nature, which no Giver understands.

Every day in the media, we are bombarded with political and religious figures, celebrities and athletes, all showing what they have acquired or become, demanding to be noticed for who they are. These Takers are applauded, and given even more, by those hoping to receive attention in return…all of them missing the mark on giving, just taking what they can, and wanting, and wanting and wanting.

Like many, I have saved things over the years, those items that made me feel loved, and even more intangible ones reside in my heart. Nevertheless,  the pick it up and feel it variety still clutter my life, and collect dust…like me, as time and memories pass. It makes me wonder what will be said after I die, when people look at what was saved. Obviously, nobody will understand the green Tupperware glass with a melt mark on the rim, the tarnished Cracker Jack ring, complete with rhinestone diamond in the center, or the aged dog collar with long expired tags. I also doubt that anyone will feel  love from a vintage butter cookie tin, or tears over faded scraps of material and rick rack in a vintage button box.

Regardless of my odd legacy, those items gave back to me, teaching that the greatest gift of all, is knowing someone’s soul, and unselfishly making their heart smile – as often as possible. Maybe that’s why I have more pictures than albums, or space on a flash drive, so I could look back at photographed reactions, which delightfully I was responsible for, knowing they forever meant more than anything someone might purchase, wrap or mail.

Religion aside, whether you believe a story about dirty and odd gifts from a small angel, that later became a nativity star or not, you can’t dispute a child, offering a wilted dandelion, favorite toy, or drawing that is colored in a shade or design they know you love. You see, Giving is the purest form of love, and it never asks for anything back, only tarnished human nature does that. So look at objects in your life, those connecting to the core of who you are as a person. Hopefully, the first thought won’t be why the hell did I save that! But instead, where it came from, and who gave it to you. The second thought with any luck will be…yes, I still have the stuff, but I wish I had the Giver instead…and that my friend is a reaction everyone should take away.