pawspauseprose

Life as it arrives and dreams as they happen


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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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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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Heart, Brain and Soul are indeed, Lions and Tigers and Bears…oh, my!

ltbomy

We’ve all followed the yellow brick road in some capacity, as either a movie of wonder, life’s destination or just entertaining a fantasy of what if. Some of the more analytical in our world, even ask where the red road goes, prompting laughter or deep thoughts, while waiting for Godot or Yoda…depending on your out of body experience. That being said, when the scarecrow, the tin man and the lion are gifted with humanity, something already there of course, we sense a larger picture…something far and above a balloon, and movie set, and we are right.

Raised in the 60’s and 70’s, I had parents that had seen war and depression, moved for greener pastures, and always put family first. I guess you could say they valued life, and in turn gave us values of a lifetime. There was also never a right or wrong to question. Knowing the Golden Rule, I followed it straight and narrow, years before it became metric, and nobody knew what the hell was going on. That was however, until I became a teenager and wanted to be beautiful, and there was no movie set, fairy godmother or wizard to help my quest.

There was instead, a family drugstore, where Mom and Dad had been going since it opened. The owner and his wife were wonderful, and played a major role in my life, after I required heavy medication, in an era when it was not readily available or understood. This kind man also allowed us to have a running tab, paid off at the end of the month, insuring we could afford my prescriptions. As I matured, primarily due to this generosity, I learned the best acts of kindness are never seen or given to grandiose presentations. Instead, they are silent, felt in the heart and given by the soul, and if you’ve ever done or received them, you know no there is never any lion.

However, even the best laid bricks of mice and men crumble on occasion, and a few of mine did just that, shortly after turning into a teenager. As I mentioned, my parents were old school, meaning when I left the elementary world, our experiences didn’t match up. It was a time when I wanted to wear mini’s and jeans, which were all the rage, but girls couldn’t wear pants, only skirts and dresses just above the knee. Likewise, I wanted to color my world, Chicago and New York style, in makeup palettes and brushes of Avon temptation, something else never seen in our home. You see, if you had a red dye No.4 lipstick, and a Helena Rubinstein compact nothing else was necessary.

Hoping to convince my mother of the value behind such cosmetics, which incidentally, would be barely visible behind the thick lens of my glasses, I accompanied her to the drugstore and showed her the colorful display of powders, shimmers, liners and sparkles. Looking at all that was before her, I’m sure the once young girl in her memories had a say in the matter, because we left with light brown mascara, a pale pink blush, and nude lipstick. Yes, I had the mother lode, and was going to be beautiful! Checking out was an almost religious experience, and one I have yet to forget in my aging brain…the day the scarecrow in the field finally burst the bubble of beauty.

As time went on, my desire for beauty continued, long after the initial cosmetics were gone. I never understood why my mother assumed it was a never ending well of glory, because she never asked if I needed more, and unlike my own daughters, a replenishment didn’t just happen when she went to the store. That was also when I discovered misplaced courage, and crossed the road of honesty, stealing what I needed. Sadly, there is nothing as driven as a teenager on a mission of self service, and speaking from experience; I never thought I would get caught, because after all…we had an account at the drugstore.

Once I had perfected my shoplifting, which couldn’t have amounted to more than a hundred dollars if ever calculated up, I was in the zone. Walking into the store after school, I’d look at several cosmetics and often drop two, replacing one on the counter and one in my purse. I’d also walk around the store with my selections, removing something from a package as I browsed, leaving the empty box on the shelf. It was a thrill, a satisfaction, and in the time before I wasn’t caught, a lesson sent by a higher power.

You see, the clerk at the store was a woman named Betty, and also a family friend, usually working when I arrived. We’d exchange pleasantries, and I would go off to look at what was new, and occasionally buy something, always leaving with more in my bag. Then one day, in a less than Hallmark moment as I was reading greeting cards, attempting to hide an empty mascara package, I looked up, and knew she saw me. My blood went cold. I started to sweat, and as soon as her back was turned, I left the store. I also never went back to steal. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, I expected my mother to say something, or at the very least comment, that there were charges on her account she didn’t understand. But it never happened…only silence.

Now if you are like me, silence is the great equalizer of life. It forces you to listen to your heart and soul, and allow your brain rip you a new one. Some people call it a conscience, but I know it as the oh shit moment, facing music only you can hear, while praying there won’t be a sold out performance with everyone you know. In my case, that silence continued for years, until one day, after I was engaged to be married, and then there were all kinds of police sirens. They weren’t for me though; they were for a 911 call at the drugstore.

Still loyal and conscientious, while working, Betty suffered a fatal stroke. I’ve always found it an odd comfort when people die doing what they love best, as if reaching the end of their yellow brick road, entitled to happiness. I still remember sitting in our kitchen, listening as the story unfolded, experiencing a mixed bag of feelings, as unrelated as stolen cosmetics in a purse, because after all that time Betty died with my secret. I had never acknowledged it, apologized or thanked her, and knew I could never make it right. It was in that moment, that the lions, tigers, and bears all came together, as my heart broke, my soul hurt and my mind knew the truth. I grew up that day.

As the years went on, the drugstore became a pawn shop, the family retired and we occasionally saw each other at church. I now see vintage ads on Facebook, for  cosmetics I  knew would make me beautiful, and I laugh, because it took something ugly to find the real beauty in life…something that comes from a pure heart and compassionate soul. Like my mother, I doubt Betty ever wore makeup in her life, but yet, I think she knew how important it was to a bespectacled young girl with pimples and a flat chest. She also let me tap my heels, free to go home, assured I knew the right road to take, and never to look back. You see, not all courage roars, and not all good witches sparkle, but the best ones watch over us for a lifetime.


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We just don’t a Dress the right things anymore

dress lgogTime and time again, I find myself going back to the past, where peace of mind waits, next to a daily newspaper, a ringing rotary phone no one is answering, and my father sitting in his chair, wearing a shirt and pants, with black socks and shoes. It is also a Saturday. You may wonder why such a memory continually drags me back, but I know, and it is because all of it is gone…never to be again, and I realize the impact.

Growing up, before we left the house, we used to dress. By that, I mean we cared how we looked. If you were flying off in a plane, going to the office, heading to school, or just shopping for an afternoon, overall appearance was important! Check out catalogs and ads before 1990 and you get my drift. Once upon a time, we cared how we presented ourselves to other people, and how we were viewed was important, and it didn’t stop there.

Coming home to be with your family in the evening, odds were you might have removed your shoes for slippers, but in general, you stayed in the outfit of the day, shared time and a meal together, and often watched television or played cards, sometimes with neighbors. I guess you could say, that life appeared to matter at lot more (unless you are a gay man…and well, I’m getting to that…sort of).

Never did you go for a job interview, an appointment…even the dentist, or to school, looking as if you could clean out a garage, or had just rolled out of bed. Likewise, going to bed, there were pajamas for the men, long pants in the winter and short in the summer, and oh, the nightgowns and peignoir sets women could choose from. However, no matter how beautiful they were, with lace and sheer fabric, if she was needed to leave her room, a practical robe was always waiting. You see, some things no matter how beautiful, still remained personal and private (what a concept!)

We also addressed the issues of life, corrected mistakes, took responsibility for our wrongs, and did everything possible to make the world a better place to live. Our attitudes, although occasionally misguided, which happens in a melting pot of society, still had family at the core, with love and compassion wrapped tightly around, all dressed respectively in a protective shell. However, as time passed, just like any other jaw breaker, the nuclear family saw everything sucked away, until all that remained, were shreds of family, and a lot of opinion and attitude. Personally, I don’t think anyone saw what was coming…at least they didn’t dress for it.

Forgetting a time when television and movies had a moral code, musicians couldn’t swivel their hips, and cleavage was found in a different rock formation, we started to let our hair down. After freedom was given to love, the press and our will, sweat pants and jeans gave free reign to loose flesh and tight opinions. We no longer cared what we looked like, as long as it was comfortable, and cared even less what people thought of us. However, we did care to address the faults of others, more vocal than ever before.

When the appearance of society shifted to grunge, our personal outlook also lost shape. Greed and opinions made laws, fought wars, and broke promises, while political and legal leaders also stopped being role models, becoming nothing more than fodder for reality television, something Cronkite once honored as the news. As long as we’re all comfortable, like cheap micro fleece Sponge Bob pants, and gray sweatshirts who cares about tomorrow.

Along with the advance of technology, we also work from home, another reason not to dress for impress or swim with the sharks. We can have a pile of nachos and a soda on the desk, as we tap on a keyboard for $15 and hour, while alternating between eBay and Facebook, offering troll behavior and opinions anonymously as we feel like a somebody. Even a trip to the bank is gone, since direct deposit is a given, just like the calories those nachos will eventually deliver to our ass. However, what does any of it matter…we’re comfortable!

In order to address all that is wrong with the world anymore, we have to first look at ourselves, in a true reflection of what not caring has allowed to happen. Because if we don’t start, and accept some inconvenience, and uncomfortable moments needed to make the effort, the foundation for society will continue to crumble, just like the cake, which we probably stood over the sink eating for breakfast. We can’t expect change if we don’t start with ourselves, and in a world of a few billion people, that’s a lot of ourselves needing to listen.

I also find it pathetic, in a country teetering on political chaos, that we prioritize half-naked women on a daily basis. We’ve made them famous for over sized lips and butts, and of all things, are envious over the way they dress, in thousand dollar outfits with purses, costing as much as a car. There is no logic or wisdom to such behavior, especially when we refuse to tolerate a normal person, taking great pains to look nice, who just wants to be accepted for the gender they associate with, and use a damn bathroom!

Maybe it really is that simple. We give a shit for what we can address personally, feel comfortable in and know will never directly affect us. However, what we should be giving a shit about, is the country, the complete breakdown of society, humanity, and personal rights, all of which we’ve flushed down the toilet, after pulling up baggy sweats, on the way to a television set or laptop computer.

Dress for success isn’t an ancient slogan, and addressing the facts isn’t a onetime threat. They are both a way of life, which if we don’t wake up and remember, will have us struggling to survive in a country that has become too comfortable at doing nothing, forgetting how to break out a sweat and suit up when the time comes.


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Recipe for disaster: ½ cup ego, and ¼ each of boredom and ability

selfiesAlthough we now say, Different Strokes for Different folks, it was a Sly remix of Different Strokes by Different Folks, that brought it into the family. Regardless of the origin, coupled with the freedom of the Internet, it now takes on a whole new meaning, from simple Idiom to deviant idiot…mainly because we have too much time, are paid for doing nothing and have more ability at our fingertips.

Once upon a time, cable television and HBO brought previously unheard profanity and sex into our homes, if you had a scrambler; otherwise, you got static and strange shadows, which frankly might have been a good thing. Suddenly, visions of personal privacy were no long secret, and swearing like a sailor became the norm, in everything from cartoons to the daily news…then we really hooked up! Because clicking a power button, is more than a simple turn on. Live and in the flesh tone, the world presents itselfie, via standard pose, moving gif or video…welcome to the world wide weird!

Photographs once commemorating, or memorializing a moment in time, used to be taken when someone either didn’t want to be in the picture, or was more than happy to oblige, posing and giving their best or worst shot possible. Looking back on such relics of film art, there are tears and moments of laughter, since we know that is how we’ll most likely remember those certain someone’s. So, taking that for what it’s worth, how will our grand children explain Aunt Valerie’s Vulva?

Since human dignity and personal values long since jumped ship, leaving the brain to function on its own, we’ve allowed our growing knowledge of technology, along with boredom, due to lack of employment, education, imagination or desire, to fall victim to personal vanity and ego, with vile results. Children as young as six are sending off pictures in their underwear to friends, or worse…and anyone with a free right hand (awkward pause), can click off a sensual, sexual, scintillating and/or scandalous photo, unsuitable for an instant upload, and eternal mark on the highway of cyber communication. All because they need a like, or comment from the darkness of their room and soul. As a certain Church Lady would have said, “Isn’t that Special!”

When did waking up in the morning, wanting to have a great day, do a good job and love one another become a footnote? Telecommuting and lack of real employment and education in general, has given birth to a society of misguided individuals, that see breaking the Internet, with their private parts in a public post, better than a gold watch, and unpaid ticket to popularity. It is also highly doubtful, that they will ever see the stupidity of their actions, because after all everyone is doing it!

When X rated films hit the screen, the equivalent of what is now seen on cable or Youtube, I was a newly married twenty year-old, and went to see one with my husband and another couple, out of curiosity. The theater was old, because just like in Vaudeville, when an act plays Burlesque it’s finished. No one was looking at each other either, as we picked up popcorn, and purchased overpriced tickets of $8 (a regular film back then was $1.75.) Before the film even started, I learned embarrassment also had a price, and the fact that I actually ate the popcorn, freaks me out still today.

Nevertheless, we peeked into the filmed bedroom, and watched as others did it, with reckless abandonment, in every orifice, and with devices never intended for personal use. There was also strange background music, which later triggered a gag reflex, every time I was in an elevator with musac (Google it.) I can say now, as I did that night, it was not entertainment. I also remember how none of us talked on the ride home, except when the guys laughed hysterically at some of the aerobatic poses, and areola exposures. Maybe it was because I took my values along with my curiosity, and they were mortified. Be that as it may, it took years to forget that evening, and the salad dressing used in Barbara Broadcast.

My ire if you will, is that again this week came a deluge of naked celebrities, with black lines across a top and bottom section, equaling nothing more than exhibitionism, for the sake of an ego, a troubled level of self esteem and pure boredom. Yes, I know porn is porn, and will always be around for those who need to make it, view it and desire it. However, a daily and amateur offering, into streams of communication everyone is submerged into is wrong.

These instant, mini electronic posters for adulthood, which young minds view, and copy, send a very wrong message. I don’t know about you, but Uncle Sam saying, I Want You, had nothing to do with a pair of naked breasts, or an erect penis at attention. War efforts may have a political bend, and not something everyone agrees upon, but right now the war is at home, and like it or not, we can’t afford to butt out or turn the other cheek.

The naked truth, which needs to be face-timed, is that we are creating a generation of children that believe it is acceptable to show and tell, as well as reach out and touch, what should be private and personal. Eventually, without the proper foundation and direction, they will also end up paying the price for their lights, camera and unsupervised, but emulated actions, and we will have no one to blame but our selfies.