coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Change is hard

In March 2014, we left New York State and started the long drive to Central Florida. Had things gone as planned, it would have been incredible. There are people for whom things go as planned, but T and I are not of that ilk.

We spent the winter downsizing, organizing, packing, and getting the NYS house in shape to sell. We went to Florida twice to find a house to buy. We put an offer down and it was accepted.  We were simply waiting for the closing, originally scheduled for late February. We put the NYS house on the market and it sold within a week.

We booked movers for March 24, before the snow melted. Over the years, we had created one beloved perennial bed after another on that quiet property, bordered by state lands. That was the hardest part for me, leaving the land. I thought it would be best to leave while the flowers were dormant and the beds were covered by snow.

Had we closed as planned, it would have been a fun move. Unfortunately, we were buying a foreclosed short sale from Fannie Mae. At the end of February they ominously postponed the closing for a month. 

Towards the end of March, two days before the movers were to arrive, we got a tearful call from our Florida realtor. Fannie Mae "just" discovered they did not have clear title to the property and they were CANCELING the sale.

We had already sold our house, all our belongings were boxed up, and we were set to get out of town before the snow melted. At THAT point we were still excited and ready to rock and roll. We decided to leave as planned (minus a clear destination) and rent a cat friendly place while we started the house search again from scratch.

We spent one week in what my husband fondly refers to as the crack motel, then moved into an old travel trailer in a RV resort. All our belongings were in storage. We stayed in that cramped little space for 3 months. W
e nearly lost our minds before we finally bought our house.

Here it is, three years later. I found my mind.

I will always miss the land and the endless variety of colorful flowers that grow up North. However, Central Florida has a different kind of beauty; subtle, primal, and wild. We have alligators, for crying out loud! It feels like home.

Some of our garden beds in Central New York

The quiet, natural beauty of a state park in Central Florida

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My faith has been tempered in Hell.

“My faith has been tempered in Hell. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man's meaning.

Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil.  It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness.  But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer."

--Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Girl Culture

I recently accompanied my daughter, M, to my 13 year old granddaughter's middle school where E is in rehearsal for a play. M is the parent in charge of costumes. She has a crew of 13-year old girls to help with sewing, carting things around, etc. There are lots of teaching moments where the girls learn to sew and to problem solve.

I sat back in a corner and observed. I don't have mad sewing skills so I did not have much to offer.  Also, as an older person I find my presence often makes younger people uncomfortable if they don't know me. They feel like they have to behave. So I tried to fade into the woodwork. No need, as it turned out.

The crew was designing padded "parts" for a female character in the play. All these girls are twigs, and the character is supposed to be large.  They were hilarious flouncing around and bouncing off each other with the fake body parts. I couldn't help it, I laughed loud and long at their hijinks. It was like being front row center at an old time Vaudeville show. How glorious they were in their bawdy innocence. They were boldly comfortable with the shared silliness. Most of all, they were happy, young, and goofy.

It was comforting to know that when girls are in what they consider a safe space, they will still act like the children they are. I hate the pressure our society puts on young girls to grow up too fast.

Each one, a joy unto herself

Thursday, March 9, 2017

My Grandmother's Ghost

My mother saw her own mother’s ghost. I think that is why Mom was reluctant to speak of her mother. Grandma (Veronica from my post Enduring Love) died in November 1950. Mom was pregnant with me, about a year later, when she woke up in the middle of the night to see her mother standing in the doorway of the room. Veronica had on her favorite blue coat, and her ribbon hat (apparently a popular style of the late 1940’s). She was trying hard to communicate with Mom. Although her lips were moving and she was urgently trying to speak, Mom could not hear what Veronica was trying to say. She sat up in bed, leaned forward and said “What?” to her mother. At that point my father woke up and the apparition disappeared. 

Many years later (in the late 1980’s), I went to a Spiritualist church for an adventurous night out with a group of friends.  I am not a member of that church (or any church), but sometimes my friends and I would go to a meeting or two at the Spiritualist church each summer. Like many locals we would go for the fun of it when the church hosted open "spirit readings" for non-members. They were good at it, too; very spooky stuff.

In preparation, I concentrated hard all day on asking my dead grandmother to send me a message telling me what she had been trying to tell my Mom that night so long ago. It must have worked, because later that night the Spiritualist minister pointed me out in the crowd and told me that there was a grandmotherly spirit standing right behind me. He said the spirit wanted to give me her message herself rather than relate it through the psychic preacher. He instructed me to concentrate and meditate over the course of the next few weeks so that the “materialization” could take place. "Holy shit," I thought.

He must have seen the look of terror in my eyes, because he took great pains to reassure me there was nothing to be afraid of. Yeah, right. I was absolutely terrified at the thought of seeing a ghost. I thought, “OK, no problem – I won’t concentrate, I won’t meditate, and then nothing will happen.” I only wanted a freakin' message, I did NOT want to see a ghost.

I'm a big chicken about things that go bump in the night. Like a little kid, I was too afraid to sleep. I dozed fitfully, sparingly, and nervously for the next 2 nights. I was afraid to close my eyes because of what I might dream, and afraid to open my eyes because of what I might see! It's funny now, looking back on it. However, I was sincerely scared at the time.

By the third night I was exhausted. I fell deeply and peacefully asleep. I dreamed of my maternal grandmother. I clearly remember seeing her in that dream, and I know she took a long time to tell me many things. When I woke up I could not for the life of me remember anything she said, except for one message I was to give to my mother. She told me to tell my mother not to let her feelings get hurt so easily. 

I called to convey the message to my mother.  She seemed surprised and shocked with what I called to tell her, but she didn’t say much. It was a short phone call. Later I discovered that she had been fighting with her sisters for weeks because she had taken offense at something one of them had said to her, and she was nursing a serious case of hurt feelings.

I wonder if this is the ribbon hat?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Traveling on fire

Not only am I NOT a good traveler, I am a red hot anxiety-ridden mess. Sure, I love being other places and I always have a great time. I just don't like traveling to get there and back, especially by air. As I was reminded during my recent trip, air travel consists of a series of hurdles one must silently endure without losing one's mind:

Will my alarm go off? Did I remember my pills, my phone charger? How early does one get to the airport, and what is the traffic pattern on the way? What if I get in an accident?  Aaaack!

Do I check my bag or try to stuff that sucker in an overhead bin?
How heavy is it anyway, 'cause I'm no spring chicken. How long are the security check lines? Why did that alarm go off? Oh no, did I forget to take my cute little Swiss Army Knife out of my jeans pocket? Damn! I LOVE that knife.

Will the plane actually leave on time, or at all? Will we make our connection? Should I buy a Bloody Mary to calm myself down? Is the lounge even open at 8 a.m.? Do I have time to go to the bathroom? Why are bathroom lines so long?

What zone am I in and does that mean I'll board last?
Will there be overhead space left by the time I board? Why am I the only one who can't figure out the in-flight wifi? Should I buy snacks from the flight attendant even though I'm not hungry? Will the proper lady sitting next to me judge me harshly if I order that Bloody Mary NOW?

When the plane lands and the seat belt sign goes off, do I jump up and try to wrestle my carry-on bag out of the bin, hoping against hope that I still have enough upper body strength to guide it smoothly to the aisle floor? Or should I sit patiently like the proper lady next to me, trusting people on the other side of the aisle to let me out?

I could go on and on, but I'll stop here to give you a break. Nope,
I don't trust the world. Some people assume everything will go right. I assume the opposite. If I travel with others, I often get on their nerves. Surprised? Oh well, at this point I probably won't change. I am more likely to roll with the punches than go with the flow. Taking a deep breathe now and letting it all go. Ha! As if.

I am happy to be home where chaos can be a good thing.