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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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ~ Review society and film

The root of all evil may be money, but it took an adorable twig named Groot to spell it out in 3-D, and across the big screen. So, needless to say, after watching an early screening of the film, I was probably disappointed more than my fellow, 1973 Study Hall, Audio Visual Nerds.

For most people, Guardians of the Galaxy came out of nowhere, and made us laugh, while allowing us to feel connected to something more, sending it straight to the bank, and into $equels yet to come. Those of us from Marvel Nerdville, who did have a comic map, followed the inked journey, intrigued and curious at how the darkness in that Galaxy could translate to film. Happily, the results were high five nods to The Outsiders, The Waltons, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, and even a hint of The Addams Family.  These unexpected souls captured our hearts, and let us love them.

The success of the first film goes without saying, because something was done right. We found a family in the odd mix of characters, and Groot, the selfless Yoda of tree growth, became an overnight sensation, marketed in everything from action figures to baby blankets. We couldn’t wait to see the team reunited for a new adventure, wondering how they had picked up the pieces, no Groot joke intended.

However, one time or another, we’ve all seen someone say the wrong thing, do something hysterical, or witness a pet or child do what no one thought possible. YouTube and television have made such moments forever memorable, with millions of views, and in some cases, lifelong fame. Tragically though, when you try and make such a moment, it is forced, obvious and often uncomfortable for the viewer when it falls flat…with that in mind, go see Volume 2 of the Galaxy.

If you look at the media today, you might ask yourself, why can’t a young girl just be herself? Why does she have to add make-up, bad behavior, implants and selfie overload on social media to be considered acceptable? Taking that same formula, turn to entertainment and ask why do we need overdone characters, that detract from what once made them memorable. Maybe it is because we have become a society that demands over the top in everything we experience, which is sad, because Mom’s Apple Pie still feeds the soul and the body, and if anyone took the time to notice…it is nothing more than simple ingredients that work great together.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few moments, which I won’t spoil, that do reaffirm humanity in three of the characters, and you will shed a tear, or feel your heart beating, all because of these last minute developments, which in fact, do save the film. Notice that I said last minute, because yes, it all happens towards the end. The rest of the movie gives fraternity one-liners to the characters, playing only to the audience for cheap laughs, that have nothing to do with the story line, along with a couple WTF visuals, and beating a dead music lyric to death.

Imagine the sweet boy next door, becoming an ego-driven salesman, too full of himself to notice no one is laughing at his bathroom humor, and you get the idea of almost the entire film. Even Groot is overdone, and a visual $ell out, which was the saddest of all. Long gone is any Yoda styled companionship, he is now there only for $how. If you have seen any of the trailers, then you have basically seen him in the movie, and frankly, stop there…because as loving and selfless as he was in Vol. 1, those trailers make you want to hug him even more, not so much after the film.

Stephen King likes to sneak into his movies for a cameo, and until it is pointed out, some people don’t realize who it was. His character actually becomes a part of the film you remember, like in The Stand, when he calls out to the community, after sighting their weary survivors returning. Stan Lee however, does not get such a forever moment in Volume 2. Instead, he is almost an afterthought, in a laughable attempt of where to put the big guy. If anyone in the audience isn’t a knowledgeable fan, they will wonder who and why, there was a man with a fishbowl on his head, pretending to be Mr. Rogers…even if he does get an additional moment in the credits.

Basically, this film does what society, and all forms of entertainment consistently try to accomplish…if less worked, you must now push more and more, to get attention, and be the new flavor of the week. Guardians 2 leaves you with a story, that had potential, and a new cast of characters, although basically unexplained, but just thrown into the mix, ready for Volume 3, and a new $tory.

Sorry Marvel, but this Nerd likes apple pie, basic characters I can imagine and watch develop, as well as being wrapped up in a story, that leaves me wanting more. So, keeping that in mind, I have turned down the volume on the characters I dearly loved, but will still watch Volume 1…for about the 20th time,  remembering what once worked.

I am Sad.


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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.


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Successfully Unplanned

successfulMany times over the years, I’ve wondered, as we all do, about the what if, and what might have been scenarios in life, and how they compare to where I find myself today. It’s so easy to look back at photographs and memories, placing ourselves in the past, comfortable and innocent, not yet tarnished by the stress and drama of adulthood, while remembering from a youthful perspective. For me, I dreamed of being a wife and mother, and loving to write, I also hoped to be a published author, with fans that appreciated, understood and connected to my thoughts. However, as I circle my wagon for this last rodeo, I find myself not quite there, and frustrated, with a side order of dissatisfaction.

My youthful neighborhood was 1960 normal, where fathers went to work, and mothers cleaned, made dinner and helped at school. There were also the right amount of bikes and bugs, and we played at night until it was dark, or until someone yelled for us to come in. I can’t complain, it was simple and basic, like the grocery and drug stores that were separated by Woolworth’s.  Looking back now, everything we needed was either there or already at home. I also had a best friend next door, and one across the street, along with other buddies, scattered on adjacent streets, eventually ending at our school. However, in the wonder years that would follow, both girlfriends moved.  One family went a block over, and the other a few miles further. We tried to stay in touch through junior high, but as everyone knows, along with boobs and facial hair, everything changes.

Back then, seeing through immature eyes, I only focused on my own existence, that of a lonely, nerd of a girl, more isolated than entertained, passing time as teacher’s pet, and being the one people counted on. Because of that, I missed seeing how the lives of my friends fell apart. Looking back, I see that I did become the wife and mother I hoped to be, even if it didn’t have the staying power of Mom and Dad. There were also high profile jobs and opportunities, where I achieved things never planned, opening more than a few doors (some of which should have been nailed shut), all offering me a look at the world many never see. I also wrote my books, and offered them to the world. In many ways, I filled that youthful bucket.

It was only then; all pieces fell into place, due to my still selfish hopes of being a bestselling author, and successful entrepreneur slapping me in the face. Looking deeper into my memories, I remembered why my best friend across the street moved…her father had walked out on the family. To survive, her single mother struggled, and took up sewing, before foreclosure put them into an alley apartment, hidden behind a questionable television repair shop.

As a kid, I had no idea the poverty they had been subjected to, because my ignorant middle class couldn’t relate. After I was married, I learned she had turned to drugs, and was selling herself on the street, almost dying after a bad abortion. Now, I only wonder what became of her and her two sisters. The life they got certainly wasn’t what they dreamed of, during lazy days when we played Barbies on their cement driveway.

My other friend, who moved from next door, only went down the street and a block over, but  got an equally unplanned life. Both of us had loved our fathers as true heroes, and although mine was much older, hers was a muscular, handsome man, that drove a truck for a living. It was also on once such trip, when he fell from his truck, landing on his head. The result was a true Flowers for Algernon bookmark, and his scrambled existence was never the same. Unable to cope, his wife turned to drinking, and was later diagnosed with cancer. She eventually took her life, leaving behind a family shattered in too many pieces. As an adult, my friend married and had children, but when it went south, she also turned to the bottle, and driving under the influence killed a man on a motorcycle. Like her mother, she too left a family in pieces, having been sentenced to prison for vehicular manslaughter.

Because my mind remained on a roll, I remembered more friends, one that died of AIDS, long before it became a known disease, years before any school reunion. And then another, one that lived the happy family home life I had known, dreaming as early as Kindergarten, that he would be a surgeon, (substantiated by the mouse he autopsied in first grade). However, his parents split after a rumored affair, and even though he took his dreams to college, he couldn’t make the grade in medical school…literally, ending up as a chiropractor in a retail strip mall. Sadly, I think the only shining moment in my recollecting, was a boy nerdier than I had been, picked upon mercilessly, and ignored long past not being selected in gym class. You see he became not just a beautiful swan, but a jaw dropping piece of man candy, every Heather bound cheerleader dreamed of landing. The perfect irony was he also came out as gay, and at our reunion ignored all of them! Karma, well played if you ask me.

It was then, that I sent my side of dissatisfaction back to the chef, and admitted to my fifty something self, that I had got a life better than most, even if I didn’t know it at the time, or during my own struggles with life, death and change. Because dreams never happen exactly the way we hope, and certainly not on any schedule we pray they will follow. However, there are always moments to be thankful for, and never take for granted. Something no twelve year old will understand, and most adults fail to appreciate.

That being said, I still hope those who read my book, Stiletto, smile between detective banter, and colorful clues, seeing there is proof of compassion in the world, and people who are LGBT are no different from anyone else, except sometimes better for what they have experienced. I also hope a few dollars from Glint in the Dark make it into the fund for justice I pledged them to, hoping to eventually help identify the killers, in the case that saw the West Memphis 3 falsely accused, and branded as felons. Most of all though, I hope I’ve made a difference as a mother, grandma, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor, leaving a small piece of my humanity behind after I am gone. Which, after all, may not be the dream we hope to have, but it is the only one that will ever matter, regardless of what we  live with and through.

 

for the record colored dark