A Sucker for a Swing

I swung on a swing today. There was a dilemma with what to do with me while my partner had a quick business meeting. We’d thought about dropping me off at the local library or perhaps I’d wander around the downtown shops but as the time ran out of my day, I hurried to pick her up wearing my work uniform of over-sized jeans, Red Sox hat and matching t-shirt.  It was too rough of an ensemble to fit in with the upscale town that we pulled into, so I worried what we’d do. Then we drove past the park and I felt the kid in me straighten up in order to peer out the car window as we passed by the empty swings. My partner was worried about leaving me there alone but as we eased through the streets of the little downtown, she glanced over at me knowing that I’d be looked down upon because of my appearance. We returned to the park and saw several moms with kids running around playing so I hopped out of the car and made my way to the big kid swings.
I tried a couple. One was too squeaky so I moved to its neighbor. I was surprised to feel the tightening of the rubber seat around my hips as I eased my larger than big kid ass down into it. The full weight of my body squeezed together the long chains and cinched the seat even tighter.  I lifted my feet, grasped hold of the chain in each hand and started to rock my torso back and forth in time with outstretched and then bent legs.
What a feeling. The kid in me soared. I hadn’t felt her around for sometime and it was nice to feel her presence. The squiggly feeling in my belly reverberated through my body as I got higher and higher. When I’d turn my head or look down, anywhere other than straight ahead, it made it worse. But I liked it. For all I knew, I could’ve been on a roller coaster. It was a very similar feeling. I wondered how I went from wanting to flip over the top bar of the swing as a kid to getting butterflies just from the swinging motion. It must be an age thing I thought. And then I thought about jumping off as a kid when the bus would come. I wouldn’t even think about it. Just launch myself into the air and if I stuck the landing, it was awesome and if I didn’t, I’d brush off the dirt and keep right on going. I was certain I’d break my ankle or maybe my leg if I were to do it now. It made me worry. I looked at the frame of the swing set and heard the swish, swish of the metal post in the ground as I kept up my momentum. Maybe it wasn’t meant to hold big kids. Maybe it couldn’t handle the stress of the weight. I wondered if it would collapse or tumble over. I slowed my swing by making opposite movements of those that were propelling me. I got to where I was certain I could hop out of the seat and not bite it. I leapt into the mulch pieces being careful not to fill my Crocs with a billion bits of wood slivers. My ankles screamed at me for doing it but I knew it was a temporary pain. I held onto the chain, bringing the seat with me as I walked back to the small pit made from putting on the foot brakes. I wanted to do it again. I moved to a different seat. I had the whole set to myself. The kiddies were all over on the little tykes swings.
I glanced around. A grove of giant redwoods were in front of me. Signs here and there warning people not to feed the squirrels. Kids screaming off in the distance. An older man sitting at a picnic table not far from me. It looked like he had a radio. I wondered if he was listening to a baseball game. I seemed to remember hearing on the morning news that it was opening day for baseball.  Him sitting there with just a radio seemed so old school but appropriate. I thought about the Red Sox and how much I missed being in Massachusetts.  I loved that I was wearing my Red Sox hat and shirt even though it wasn’t on purpose.  I launched myself again, my hips getting used to the snugness of the seat. I wondered if it would help squish in my ever growing thighs. The new spanx I thought and started laughing as I propelled myself higher and higher.  I felt the swirl in my stomach again but pushed on until I could see the trees from over the top bar. I turned my head to get the fear wave to pulse through me again and saw the man with the radio watching me. Reverse motion, reverse motion to slow me down until I was in control again. He stopped watching. I thought I was being paranoid and felt silly.  I started the process again.  Lean back, legs out. Pull forward, drop chest, legs back. It was like I was a wind up toy. Weeee. Man I loved swinging as a kid. I looked down and felt the smile on my face as my stomach flip flopped. I wondered why there aren’t play grounds for adults. I saw a kid playing catch with his father. I loved playing catch. I looked over at the man with the radio. He was staring at me again. I didn’t care. I heard the sshh of the set bracing itself under my force. I watched as my momentum moved the other swings. I stopped making myself swing and let the motion slow on its own.
I wanted to go. I checked the time. Twelve minutes had passed. I wondered what other sets there were. I didn’t want to go check them out because I felt like I’d appear as a child molester or something. The man next to me stood up and faced me. I looked away.  I decided to look back, thinking that if I took too long, he’d be standing right next to me.  He was doing squats, then picked up his radio and walked off. I pulled out my phone and when I looked back up, he was gone.
Pull back, lean forward, feet back. Legs out, lean back. Weee.
Author of ‘A Series of Events’
Available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/YnToPS
Twitter – @MichelleRStoner

Reading and Writing

I just finished reading the first of four books that I got for Christmas. I took the first book with me on a trip that ruined into a detour to my childhood home because my father, who still lives there, had had a stroke.  I didn’t end up cracking the book open until my flight back home a month later.  I looked forward to getting back to some normalcy, to writing again, marketing my book more.  But when I got back, I found that I had a hard time focusing on my “career”.  I sometimes wonder how I ever held down a full time office job when there’s always so much to do at home.  Rather than grabbing my computer first thing, I thought it was more important to address some issues with the house.  I donned my work clothes and spent day after day outside or on a ladder, doing home repairs.  The couple of days I told myself it would take to finish up a couple of tasks, turned into weeks.
When I couldn’t shut the voice up in my head that screams at me to write, I sat down with my computer and started the drilling and research for ways to market my book.  It took a few days but I was able to get my book requests out to several agencies.  I’d been given a direction to pursue by a friend who suggested I seek out psychological organizations to recommend my book for professionals or to have them review it for inclusion to their magazines.  I felt good after tracking them all down and submitting queries to them.  Feeling like I then had the justification to put my computer down, I did so and went back to work on the house.
A week later, I received an email from a local book store that they wanted to carry my book.  I was so excited that I put my work clothes aside and took a stack of books to the store to drop off.  When I grabbed my work clothes again the very next day, I questioned whether I was avoiding writing.  I looked back to when I stopped writing and thought about my dad in the hospital.  The entire time I was there with him, I wanted to write, to document it all, not just to have the event chronicled but because I was going through so many different feelings and reactions, that I wanted to vent.  With a small computer given to me on loan, I wrote a blog entry just to get myself going and once finished, I started on the events of my father’s stroke.  It was still sitting and waiting on me to finish.  There it was.  I didn’t want to finish it.  I didn’t want to go back to it and have to fill in the remaining few days that I was with him before returning home.  So, I did the next best thing.  I picked my book back up.  I’d gotten about half way through it on the plane ride back home so I didn’t have that far to go to finish it.
I’ve found that the more I write, the more I look at other people’s writing differently.  I notice things more.  There’s little things like font and layout and then bigger things like character introduction, grammar and punctuation, scenery descriptions and layout.  I find myself pausing at times and thinking about the author, which, I’ve actually always done but I tend to do it a bit more often now.  It becomes more of a relationship between author and reader as if they’re sharing something with me. I love that connection, imaginary as it may be.  I ended up finishing the first book in between doing house chores and repairs and decided it was time to get back to my writing.  I finished the story of my father’s stroke and opened up my latest book to continue it.
I found an old friend on Facebook, made a couple of random Tweets on twitter only because it’s required in order not to lose followers.  I checked my reviews – one new one.  I checked my sales channels.  I wrote some restaurant reviews.  I researched a few home improvement items I want.  I read a few articles about people that I went to school with.  So many young people dying.  We are still young.  I called it a day.  I didn’t want to write about my life, the life that was continuing on when so many don’t.  The following day, I wrote a few paragraphs, researched a few contests and wrote a bit more.  I think I’m getting back on track to writing.  And I’m excited about cracking open a new book.

Taking in the Scenery

I’ve had the opportunity to spend the past week or so just a few feet away from the Potomac River. I grew up on the Potomac and have some vivid memories of it. The weather is cold in Virginia now so there’s no temptation like there is in the summer to run out and jump in, clothes and all. I often feel like a Labrador Retriever that can’t wait to hop in, running at full speed until I just fall forward into the warm water. But when that’s not possible, I’m forced to look through a window or from afar to soak in its beauty.

In the past week, I’ve been fortunate enough to see the sun shine on the water, sparkling with laughter and lapping at the shore teasing me. In the evening, it turned black and syrupy as the moon shone over it, washing it in a white light that glistened. The wind blew so hard one day that the white caps warned of the impending chop and danger of a journey that shouldn’t be taken on that day. Lastly, I saw waves reaching for the shore but suspended in time, frozen by the wind and cold.

Each morning, after getting ready to head to the hospital to partake in my daddy’s recovery, help him walk again, encourage him, support him in any way I can, I pass by the window that faces the river. The view grabs me. I stop as I glance up and I’m trapped by the beauty of the expansive water. It seems friendly and inviting. I stare and try to take it all in. I’m drawn to it, my feet unable to move. I forget what I was doing and realize that I have to snap out of it and get going. I wonder if I’ll be able to sit and stare at lovely scenery when I’m older, when I don’t have places to be or things to do. When I don’t have a schedule or an agenda. I picture snow capped mountains, lakes with loons, green prairies, streams with jumping fish, grazing moose where I can spend all the time I want to take it all in. Paint the scene on my brain so that I remember it forever but know full well that I don’t have to remember it because I
can go visit it again the next day.

As I grab my things and head to the door to leave, I wonder if people who are fortunate enough to have a view that is beautiful and inviting get tired of it. Does it become every day so it gets camouflaged with the surroundings, allowing them to rush by and no longer see it? Does the beauty wear off? Do they ever need a change of scenery? I dream of having my own beautiful spot to stare at someday in this world. I’ll share my view with those I love and cherish it each and every day.









Should I Stay Or I Should I Go?

I’ve found over the past few days that it is practically engrained in us to refuse help. We don’t want to be a bother. Don’t want anyone to have to go out of their way. It’s sometimes hard to decipher what exactly to do. We lean towards wanting to be polite without regard to what we really desire or expect and it usually ends in resentment.

I was discussing this with a close friend today and she said that it’s all a bunch of game playing that we do with ourselves. We talk ourselves into thinking that it’s the other person’s fault for not expressing what they really want when in fact, the fault is our own. If you know what the right thing is to do, then don’t ask the question(s). “Do you want me to come”, “Do you want me to stay”, “Do you want me to go”, etc.

When I first found out my father had a stroke, I didn’t know if I should go be by his side. I wanted to be there. I should’ve said “I’ll be right there”. I didn’t. I asked “Should I come”? As soon as I said it, I thought back to just a few weeks earlier when I’d been on the phone with him, asking if he wanted me to come for the holidays. We went through the same process. He wanted me to come but didn’t want me to bother with it. He wanted me to wait because he wanted to come see me in the spring as if it were a multiple choice selection (he could only have me visit him OR him visit me). He finally suggested that I wait to visit with the caveat that I could come if I really wanted to.

With so much wishy washyness going on, I figured he really didn’t want me to come so I booked a trip elsewhere. While traveling for that trip, I got the call that he’d had a stroke. Before being told of what had happened, I was asked if I was in a place that I could talk. I looked around the airport terminal and didn’t know how to answer so I didn’t. I stood in the middle of the isle not knowing what to do. It was suggested I sit down, so I did. Imagining what was about to be told to me, I backed up to a wall and slid down until I was squatted down on the floor.

I asked if I should come. He told me I didn’t have to. I was confused. A stroke was bad news. I heard the word paralysis and tried to comprehend what was going on. How could I not go? I was told he was fine. Fine? I looked around and saw people in the seating area of the airport looking at me. I was confused. I said that I needed to get to my destination before I could make arrangements to get to him. I was afraid I would never see my luggage again if I detoured mid-trip, during my layover. But in the time I was trying to comprehend what the hell was going on and what I was supposed to do, my partner had retrieved our bags and rebooked our flight.

I relayed that we were on our way and asked if perhaps my dad didn’t want me to come. It was too much and I broke down. I sobbed at the thought that my dad didn’t want me there. Thankfully, that was not the case and before long, I was on my way. After a long day of travel, I arrived at my dad’s bedside that evening. The first thing he said was “Thank you for coming”.

I learned from my friend today that it’s not about what others want sometimes. I knew what the right thing was to do and rather than questioning it, I should’ve just done it. I am going to go. No more questions.

Now to try and get that through to my dad. He says he’d like a shower and when a nurse comes in, he says it’s ok, he doesn’t need one right that minute thinking that he’s being a bother, so they leave. He gets mad after 10 minutes when they’ve not returned to give him one. We ring the nurse to set up a time. She asks what time and he says it doesn’t matter. He prefers his showers in the evening so when they give him one in the morning, he complains that he doesn’t get them at night. We request them at night and he says anytime is fine.

Now I know where I get it from. There are a lot of people out there that do this same thing. It’s not limited to parents. It encompasses friends, relatives, people in the store. It’s personal, mental game playing that has started to drive me crazy. I want to make a late New Year’s resolution to stop the games.

Elder Enigma

I talk to my Granddaddy on the phone every so often and each time I do, we talk about the same things.  First, we cover the weather.  He tells me all about what’s happening in his area, as if I needed a weather report for a town that’s 3,000 miles away, and it’s never good.  It’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry, too wet.  Then he asks what it’s like where I’m at but since he can’t hear too well, I give it a few tries to which he gets frustrated with because he doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say.  He attempts a few times to repeat back what I’m trying to tel him and after a mild screaming match, we reach consensus on the weather.

The next topic that always follows the weather is how we’re both doing.  He always hems and haws about one thing or another.  It used to be his sinus’ and arthritis but ever since he had heart surgery, it’s been that he has shortness of breath.  There’s nothing wrong with him.  He goes to the doctor once a week to doctors that he rotates through.  The closest determination is that it’s anxiety.  But since none of the doctors talk to one another or will take the time to figure out a solution, he continues his rounds.  One doctor actually did provide him with an anti-anxiety pill but they told him it was for his nerves so he won’t take it saying that there’s nothing wrong with his nerves.  Would it be wrong to lie to him?  He takes his heart pill religiously because it’s for his heart.  Why not just tell him that he needs an additional pill for his heart because of the shortness of breath?

We then roll into the old memories that he has of me and him playing in the garden.  It’s the same every single conversation.  He misses me but even if I visited him tomorrow, he wouldn’t remember it.  But he’d call me and reminisce once again about when I was a little girl and would visit him and my Grandma.  He’s been tested for Alzheimer’s and doesn’t have it but his tests for dimensia also come back negative.  I don’t know if there’s a way to fool the tests but when given simple things to remember, he can’t.  His primary care doctor knows that he’s getting worse but it seems that there’s nothing we can do.  He was scheduled to have a series of memory tests done but when he was told that they were memory tests and that they’d take 3 hours to perform, he got angry and left, huffing that there was nothing wrong with his memory.

Lastly, we discuss how lonely he is.  He has a companion that we’re sure is taking advantage of him but we can’t convince him of it.  I’ve researched elder abuse and spoken with elder service people and as long as he’s willingly making the decisions, there’s nothing that can be done.  We urge him to keep an eye on his finances but when approached about it, he doesn’t remember so our discussions go nowhere.  We toured some senior communities but they’re for “old people” which he thinks he’s not.  He is in good shape for 86 years old but he in no way feels that he’s old.  It’s a good thing but not.  So, we go round and round about him wanting to stay in his home but that he’d be so much happier in a community but he’s stubborn and won’t listen at all.

It’s frustrating for everyone.  It drives me crazy that housing for elder people is so expensive and that there’s no way to convince him that he’d be so much better off.  I can understand wanting to remain in a familiar place but I don’t understand sitting there, day in and day out, alone.  My Granddaddy does have a job but he’s gotten so bad physically and mentally that the church that he’s working at is having a hard time accommodating him any further.  I know everyone goes through this.  I just thought I’d write about it.  If you have suggestions or ideas, please leave them in the comments.GrandDaddy and Baby Missy

Saying the Wrong Thing

Have you ever heard words coming out of your mouth and as they do, you wish you could reach up and grab them out of the air? As you feel them roll off of your tongue, take a deep breath to retrieve them back into your mouth, turning back time? I can’t even count how many times I’ve done that over my life. No one is perfect and sometimes shit comes out that is hurtful or just unnecessary.

I did it just recently and it’s been weighing heavily on me. I know that things get said and not everyone means every possible thing they say but it doesn’t change the fact that words are hurtful sometimes. I know that often, people don’t even realize they’re saying hurtful things. I’m one that is overly sensitive to things being said to me. I over analyze things and read way too much into conversations.

I fall victim to the feelings of needing to be accepted or to fit in and I lose my sense of judgment. I suppose it happens to everyone but it’s bugging me. How do you apologize to someone you’ve wronged without them knowing that you wronged them?

Is it wasted when you try something new and don’t like it?

I’ve been working on a Pumpkin, Curry and Coconut Milk soup today.  I’ve been doing more chores in between the processes of simmering the onions, heating the stock, heating the pumpkin.  It smells awesome but doesn’t taste so much so.  It’s had me doctoring the dish for a few hours now.  I added more curry.  Added more salt.  Let it simmer for a bit.  Added some smoked, hot paprika.  Nope.  Just not doing it for me.  It’s not like I’ve made this dish before or even tried it at a restaurant and just can’t reproduce it.  This is a first time dish.  I’m kind of disappointed.  It took the remainder of my Halloween pumpkin meat to make the soup so I’ll have to wait until I disassemble and process the other one before being able to make more dishes.  But I don’t want to give up just yet.  However, I wonder if I’ll like the dish no matter what I do to it.  It has the consistency of potato soup, which I love, so I have hope that I can make it good but I don’t want to keep adding ingredients (like my prized sweet potato that I’ve been waiting to bake and eat with tons of butter, cinnamon and ginger that’s now diced and in the soup pot – my reasoning was just as I said, it resembles potato soup so why not chunks of potato, or better yet, sweet potato?) and up the amount of items I may ultimately throw in the trash.  It made me think on the question, is it better to try something and not like it, having wasted the money, time, energy, etc. on something rather than not having tried it at all.  It sucks, yes, but absolutely, it’s worth every bit of wasted everything!  I love trying new things.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  When they work, they’re usually awesome and when they don’t, then I know better for next time.

At least tomorrow is trash day!


Rollercoaster week

I started my week super excited about a spur of the moment job interview.  It was right up my alley and such a perfect situation that I could hardly contain myself.  I’d missed the call on Friday so when I got back in touch on Monday, they asked if I could come that morning.  It was a bit of a rat race but I managed to make it work.  There was a mixup and we ended up missing each other but once it was all finally worked out, I met my contact and then another for my interview.  I was conference called into another office and the interview started.  By the time I left, I was making my way to the car while pulling out my cell phone from my tiny purse.  The rule we have is to let each other know how things went.  🙂 if it went well.  😐 if it went so-so or if we’re not sure and 😦 if went poorly.  I could feel the tears starting as I typed :(.  I drove home in tears not knowing what to do next.  I’m in some sort of limbo and I feel horrible.  I can’t express the despair and loathing that I go through daily.  I cried and cried.  And then I stopped.  I had to.  I had a guest at the house.  Corking my feelings turns me into an unbearable person to be around.  I’m just miserable and make those around me miserable from my miserableness.  But I trudged through.

Skip ahead to today, midweek.  I get a call for a book signing.  It’s a local thing – nothing huge but it’s a start and the person I spoke with was encouraging and understanding.  I’m excited.  I’m crying again writing this.  I’m happy and afraid and confused about what it is I’m supposed to be doing.  I guess that’s life.

Decade Identity

Today I find myself wondering if each person most identifies with a particular decade.  Is it the decade that they most grew up in.  The one that was most comfortable to them?  Is it true with everyone?  I was a child in the ’70’s, a teenager in the ’80’s, a young adult in the ’90’s.  I mostly associate with the ’80’s, however.  I LOVE the 80’s.  It’s not just how great the music was – don’t get me started because it was great, probably the best ever – but it was also the big hair and poofy clothes.  If I still had some of my high-waisted pants, and could actually get my fat ass into them, I would certainly wear them today.  I’d grab a billowy shirt to go along.  It was such a great look.  Tight at the waist but nowhere else.  The padded shoulders were awesome too.  So triangular.  It’s crazy how the waists of pants have gone from being so high to being so low.

I remember in the ’70’s, I would wear my bell-bottoms to play in.  We had play clothes so that we didn’t mess up our school clothes.  I can’t count how many times I’d get those giant pants legs caught in my bicycle chain.  They were so big that I could get off of my bike and sit next to it while I wound the pedal around to get myself unstuck only to hop back on and get it wound in the chain again just down the road.  There was no way to roll them up and by the time I’d get home, they’d have chew marks and chain grease all over them.  But that’s why we had play clothes.  It didn’t matter if I got grease on them or grass stains from playing football.

Groovy ’70’s clothes weren’t for me though.  A friend of mine reminds me all the time of the big wings I had in my hair in the ’70’s but it was nothing compared to the height I could get in the ’80’s.  I would wind my curling brush through and through getting it higher and higher each time.  And then to top it all off with half a can of hairspray to keep it there.

What makes us identify with a decade?  I hear my Mama talk about Fats Domino and poodle skirts.  Is it just when we were most happy, most comfortable, most aware of ourselves?  I don’t really know.  I know I prefer those loose, comfortable clothes more than I do the tight, clingy things that are today’s fashion.  I miss the ’80’s but perhaps only the clothes.  I couldn’t deal with how long it would take to do my hair now.  And I still have the music available to me.

No One Here is From Here

My partner and I were talking about the people of California the other day.  It stemmed from the fact that it seems like everyone we come across here is out for their own gratification.  I don’t think I’ve ever said “It’s all about you” more times in my life than during the past year that I’ve lived here.  It sort of makes sense though as sick as that sounds.  We’ve started down the road of needing to make a name for ourselves.  If you’re not the standout candidate, the close to genius applicant, then you’re not going to get into the top tech companies that line the streets here.  It’s just crazy.  Every company (tech-wise) you can possibly imagine is here.  It only makes sense that everyone come here to make their name, stake their claim in the golden state.  But it also makes narcissistic assholes who learn, mostly at a very young age, that in order to get ahead, you have to step on the face of their competition.  That’s what we’ve taught the kids turning to technology to make their stake in this world.  I’ve never met an executive that’s not a complete asshole so that’s how we learn to get there.  Unfortunately, I think, it’s why neither of us will ever make it past being a grunt worker.  It’s just not in us.  We do have the hope of changing the world, or at least one tech company, that being a leader doesn’t mean shitting on the little people.

With every techy flocking here, it means that no one here is from here.  My partner argued that she’s from here.  I disagreed saying that just because she was born here doesn’t mean she’s from here.  We went round and round for a bit and decided to agree to disagree.

It made me wonder where the people that are actually from here – meaning, they were born, grew up and have roots here – go to since they’re no longer here.  California is such a big state, maybe they just disperse to the other 49 states.  I guess if you’re not a techy person, there’s not a strong reason to stay here with the huge nerd population.

It’s just sad that everyone is out only for themselves.  It makes me angry which, ironically enough, makes me not as empathetic.  Hmmm.