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Computer Issues

Do you remember the original “The Fly” movie?  At the end, the human/fly hybrid is caught in a web and cries out “Help Me, help me” as the spider descends upon it.  That is me in my computer quagmire, trying to determine how to make the machine work before the machine fakes me out and prints out “Sucker”!

I was given a laptop  that had been used before but the files had been cleared out. It is supposed to replace my old laptop which can do no more than freeze up.  I’m hoping to get it running long enough to download all the files still needing to be put on a memory stick.

My brain hurts with all this.  The new computer still needs to be set up.  I have little idea what I am doing.  I’m working too many hours to have the time to devote to this project.  And I am an accident waiting to happen. And I need time to work on my book.

So please be patient dear readers while I get straightened out.  I’ll be back again.  Now, let’s hope I can print this out.

Words to live by?

“In all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other”
Carl Sagan

Is it true? For you, for me? I live a world of aloneness and many times m distinctly uncomfortable in the presence of a group of people. I’m not sure if I’m always comfortable with just one person. Aloneness does that to you. It takes the need for others and twists it into almost a fear of others. Or, maybe just an out of touch displacement in communication, in touching, in hugging.

There are many people I care about, I just don’t know what to say to them. There are people I dearly love and I can find myself stumbling over words, chiding myself over the sarcasm I often use as humor.

I know I need others, but at a much less degree it seems others do. The vastness of space enthralls me. Sure, wormholes which zoom us from point A to point B in the next galaxy are great but, with the exception of computers like HAL that take over spaceships, I think I might like a long voyage into space.

And yet, I found myself planting an Easter lily at my parents’ graves today because I miss them; even though our paths were often torturous. Aloneness is a curious thing. The second you realize you haven’t seen anyone else for a day, you feel a longing for connection. So I guess Carl Sagan is correct – to greater or lesser degrees.

A Child’s Perspective

Daddy rages, Mommy cries,
What about me?
the little child sighs.

No home for my own
yet I have two.
Never alone
but always lonely.
Mourning for one
while with the other.
Never enjoying
without feeling guilt.

I have my spaces.
My objects surround me,
yet I can’t remember
where my teddy bear is.
Is it here or there?

I want two kisses goodnight
from two people –
not the bemused, exhausted
brush of one’s lips
on my brow.

No one asked me
when the choice was made.
I got the leftovers.

Small wonder I am scared,
so angry I want nothing more
than to strike out
at the ones I love most.
Hear me . . .
when can I speak?

yet I can’t remember
where my teddy bear is.
Is it here or there?


Within her lie the seeds of life
from the moment of first breathe
and earlier while still in the womb
all the babies she will ever carry
waiting until the time
when they will take their place
within the world.
Each wounding, each hurt, each trauma,
is inflicted not just on her
but on the next generation –
the legacy continuing
before they ever take
their first breath.

Winter of my Soul

To the winter of my soul I come,
hypnotic mists encircling me
in quixotic rhythms unknown
to one as humble as I.
To the edge of the abyss
yawning deep before
my trembling toes
as they inch closer and closer
to its inky depths.
Into the moments a whisper floats,
“Draw back, remember,
your life is not your own . . .
soon, so soon, comes spring,
rebirth the inevitable answer
to destruction
but hold fast the memory
of the moments on the precipice
as reminders of the cycle,
when next your toes shall dangle
at the edge of the abyss
in the winter of your soul.”

The Weight of Memory

The time has come to move once again. My life is being streamlined down to its bare essentials. Nothing but the most basic and intrinsic valuables will follow me. To that aim, I spent several evenings poring through photo albums, culling duplicates, those shots taken from obscure angles, or those of people of whom I have long since forgotten. Many, many pictures are blurry. . . those you can trust to be taken by me. It is no easy undertaking. My memory does not serve me well – but will those faces resonate with my children or ex-husband?

At first I thought to separate pictures by category – my son, my daughter, our family, friends and family, places visited and vacationed. That stood me well for the first 200 or so photos. I heaved a heart-felt sigh of pure relief and went to bed.

The next day’s dawning brought the discovery of yet another box of photos. There was no ordering of these – I hadn’t the time or inclination. I might get back to retroactive examination, but not until after the move. And I was slowly beginning to realize my shelf space was soon to be severely compromised with those all too many albums. Books would have to be sacrificed to make way for them. That would be a travesty. Surely, I thought, I had found the remaining glimpses into our past.

I started sorting through my daughter’s room. She had moved to California where she attended college year-round. She had taken so much and had told me to throw out the rest. I believed I had done so.

Today I reached for a storage tub on her closet shelf. It was insanely heavy. I couldn’t imagine what she had that could weigh so much for such a relatively small space. You guessed it . . .photographs. I even found a weighty carry-all. In this I lucked out – these were just my daughter’s pictures. If I ever get around to sorting these and putting them in an album, I won’t hesitate to know whose they are.

I am struck by the sheer weight of memory. Its layers bind us, tie us together, identify us, acquaint us with ourselves and remind us of whom we want to be. We need those pictures to fill in the gaps in our memory – the holes where knowledge has slipped out and confusion slid in. They are necessary to substantiate our truths, validate the essences of who we are, or who we think we should be. Many times they serve as simple reminders, happy or grim, of the people we once were, allowing us to document our paths, illuminate them to the haze of our nebulous, pre-dementia fog.

I have so wanted to forget whole tracks of my life. Forgetfulness has served me well. There is much I choose not to remember, much that is an ambiguous fog. I prefer it to be so. It is simply too painful to remember some periods – when I bruised every time my husband yelled at me; the instances when my son threw things at me in fits of helpless rage, unable to control himself, unable to name the wellspring of his anger; my more promiscuous era when men were easily had and frighteningly, effortlessly thrown away; the spells in childhood when my parents wars spilled over on us children; the list could extend indefinitely. I looked at these pictures – at the smiles that went only so far – and still grieve for what should have been, what might have been, yada, yada, yada. I see the brittle shell housing the derelict body trying to pass as normalcy. Yet, there is a core of strength within that has remained firm, has been building, is becoming a viable, actual, everyday part of who I am. The weight of these memories are but ripples on the waters, not the tsunamis of old.

I came across pictures of me in a narcotic-induced, steroid enhanced, bloated characterization of myself, my brown hair dyed Howdy-Doody red; my body an additional 20 pounds on an already far too large form. It was at a wedding – that was a Good Day! My first thought was – why didn’t anyone tell me I looked like that? Then I remembered the neurotic defensiveness that marked my days. My family had tried to tell me. And I kept pushing them away.

My grandmother’s portrait stared back at me alongside her family, taken in Norway before she moved to America. I gazed into her eyes, trying to see the soul of the woman who was routinely battered by her husband, wondering where the fight in them had gone. The stamp of her features was clearly demarcated on her progeny, but so, for a couple, was the propensity to accept abuse. Her husband’s face was transparent in displaying his nature. A bulldog he was; a bully and miscreant who deserved prison and stayed free. Their legacy had been carried out through the generations.

My children’s pictures shone up at me but I had to ask – how much had I dampened the light of their beings? How much had their father and I? I couldn’t look at the happy times without knowing the hard ones were soon on their heels. One time my in-laws were visiting, never easy, and tension was peaked. My husband’s temper blew. He literally tore the garage apart, breaking things, yanking them off walls, emptying cartons. He took me into our bedroom, trying to control me physically and verbally. Then he jumped out the window and took off. I was terrified of him and for him. He was clearly not in his right mind. It took a couple of hours to locate him and when I did, he ran onto a railroad trestle crossing the Sacramento River. I called the police, I was so worried for him. When all was said and done, he had calmed down and we returned home, it was to see our six year old daughter and her grandmother cleaning the garage (out of sight, out of mind). It is a day vividly etched into my daughter’s consciousness. That was how she saw her parents in conflict resolution.

In point of fact, argument and tears were constant remembrances for them. My son, now a young adult, recently watched a video of our family from his early childhood. He was shocked to see his father and me laughing, teasing each other, having a water gun fight. He couldn’t remember us in love. It was one of the saddest things I had ever heard for there was love, a great deal of it. We just didn’t know healthy ways to express it or how to identify our true feelings. It is remarkable that these kids have grown into such capable, successful, empathic young people. Their memories didn’t show them the way.

There are fifteen large albums to stack side by side on the bookshelf. In the past ten years, I have probably only taken ten or eleven rolls of film . . .one for each sports season, one or two for vacations. It is enough. I have less I want to forget. Any time with my son is blessed as he has lived in California during that time. But the futility of pictures filling books which never again see the light of day exhausts me. My years of infamous decrepitude are better left forgotten. My shame has taken sharp reliefs of the person who failed to live with honor then. Yes, there are the good times, but really, wouldn’t I be just as well served by the vocal remembrances of friends and family? Couldn’t my life look forward now rather than back? I deserve that. My family does to. Let me skip from childhood to graduations to weddings to grandchildren, vacations, friends, and fun. The balance can be sealed in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years, when my descendants will shake their heads, ask who these people are and why they should care. Yes, it seems fitting. Otherwise, the weight of memory is too much too bear.

Still as Stone

He sits still as stone,
imperturbably  standing against the stream,
neither in defiance or rage,
but because there is nothing else to do,
because he is and that is the manner of his days,
quietly moving, barely a whisper,
the tremor of his hand extending
so his whole body reflects the vibration.
Tremors but otherwise stillness
to the force of the stream, yet within,
ah, what flows beneath the surface?
A world as rich and full as his skin’s world is spare?
He pays no mind to his lack of movement
for his mind never stops churning,
a choreographed dance of infinite steps,
resting within the solidity of stone.

My enemy . . . Myself


Gears grinding ever slower
Gummed up by old oil
Smoke coming out of ears
As thought winds down.

I’m not a good friend to myself
Once was –
But the shifting trajectories
Confused my mind

Staring at the computer again
And again
No semblance of brainpower
No manifest of concise thoughts

I’m losing myself
That part I valued most
Wisps lifting and flying away
Moths banging against outside lights 

When did poison leech
Synapses, nerve conduits
Knots grown in density
Fog rolling in

For the drugs
And illnesses born
For the wasting away
Of what was God’s for taking 

Sorry for me being me
For the hours upon hours spent looking
Misunderstanding the simplest connections
Snow on the screen of my mind

All verbiage is gone.
I am no longer the girl
brightest at work, in college,
Computer not a handy tool

Father died from complications
Born from dementia
Is this my genetic influence?
Of which I have no control?

I stare at the computer
Mind numb, an enemy of myself
Lost – beating my head against walls
Alone – no longer hearing myself think.


Saying Goodbye

As I stand here today, I can’t reconcile the fact that my  Mom
has died against the woman I knew. She was a force to be
reckoned with, a force of Nature, and the quintessential
matriarch. I hurtled myself at her thousands of times yet
she stayed strong, unwavering. A mother. I didn’t realize
how much I would miss her until now when its too late.
The woman I saw on Monday evening was not the woman
I knew in this life. Her spirit was gone and we all knew
how much a woman she was.

She gave me many things in this life – helped me when I
needed, definitely more than she should have. She encour-
aged me to be a strong woman . . something that was an
inside job for me but not often an outside one. There was
no way I could fill her shoes – One sister is the mirror
of her and fit to walk in her shoes. My other sisters and I
were either more like my father or fierce individuals.
I was her antithesis.  

But even in this I defined myself by her measure.

 My sisters and  aunt and I stood around her hospital
bed and solemnly swore we wouldn’t followed the
same health choices she did. We agreed we would be
closer to each other. Some of that has come true,
some not.

 After she died, I moved to California to be close to my
children. I just didn’t realize they would not feel the same
about me.

My medical issues soon made a burden to my son.  My daughter
was out of the country.  Finally, I realized I had to go back to Con-
necticut  to be where family could help me out when needed and
where I was wanted.

In the course of looking for a new apartment, I had the opportunity
to stay in my  mom’s bedroom for two months. I saw her life and
the things  that comprised it. My anger slowly dissipated, as I
could feel hers do and we made peace.

Our relationship had always been a tough one. A reason
I moved to California was to put as much distance between
us as possible or I didn’t think I would survive.  She was a
remarkable, powerful woman and I had just been too
angry to  see all the remarkable things about her.

I miss her, I have grown and I think she would  be proud
of me now.