Keep From Singing

I always think of myself as other.

By that I mean that things affect me differently than they do most, and that I express myself in ways different from the majority. For the most part, this is not something that I consider to be a bad thing. It is, rather, just the way I am, the way I am meant to be. I have made peace with the fact that I do tend to march to the beat of my drum.

It was likely one of the singular most incredible things to emerge online and find so many like myself, or at least sort of like myself. As much as I am generally quite loathe to admit, I do enjoy being part of a group. No man is an island, indeed. I have found that over time I have come to think of myself as less of an island and more of a penninsula.

One of the things that used to set me so apart from most of the people I knew was the choice of music. I have also found as I have grown older (hopefully wiser) is that as we (collectively) tend to accept more of others’ experience. Perhaps we learn through our own experience that others’ experiences might have taken them to different conclusions and that there are incredibly few completely wrong answers.

I haven’t ever made a secret of the fact that music has shaped my life in a myriad of ways. There are songs that are my go-to when I feel introspective, different songs that embody the depths of my despairing when my soul is broken. There are even more, still, that I turn to when I just feel like thinking for a while. I am not alone in this. I think we all have music that we turn to in specific times of need.

I have spent a lot of time resting in the last week or so, almost as much time as I have spent working, and if you know me, that is a lot of resting. I had arrived at a place where my body simply could not keep up with my mind any longer. Instead of helping me to accomplish the things that desperately needed my attention, my body rebelled and fought against itself. Not so hard to believe, especially if you know me.😉

I went back to work determined to find balance. Mayhap a bit late, but I am setting my new years’ resolution to finding the balance. So many times balance is an idea that eludes me. I am one of those “all in” types. If I am in, I am “all in”. Win big, lose big, but all in.

When I was young, that was ok. It was acceptable to my body to work early and late simontaneously. Now, not so much . I have to achieve balance, not only at work, but also in pretty much every single facet of my life.

I have returned to my roots. Music is the root of me and always has been. It speaks to me on a different level. I turned back to some of the most soothing music I could find while I was working. I found myself being able to step back from an immediate situation, regroup, and I found that I was much more productive. So, yes, it is something that I might have been able to guess on my own anyway, but at least I am arriving. I have found that life is good, for the most part, and that is something worth remembering.





Today is a milestone day. Today, I have a job. I am once again employed. (cue the hurrahs and confetti)


Well, not today, exactly. I don’t really have to show up until 0800 on Monday morning, but close enough. Today I know that I have a job again. This has been the most nerve-wracking and stressful time I can remember in years, decades even.


I started working at a young age. I can’t really pinpoint it, mainly because I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but to the best of my memory, it was around the summer of the year I finished third grade. (for those of you that are unfamiliar with the American school system, that would have made me right about 8 years old)


Now, certainly I wasn’t “gainfully employed” at that age. Besides being very dangerous, it would also be highly illegal! There is a loophole to be found, however, in the fact that I worked with my family in a family business. Since I wasn’t technically employed, I could work as much as I was allowed (or made to). It wasn’t a “brick and mortar” type business. As a matter of fact, over the years it became several different businesses. While I was young, I was enlisted into helping our family remodel and clean up rent houses. My grandmother (by marriage of mother to step dad) owned seven rental properties. There was almost always one house empty. The area we lived in was the “in between” neighborhood. On one side of us was a very scary neighborhood that frightened me even when we had to ride the school bus through it. The other neighborhood was East St Louis, which isn’t really as bad as it is painted by the people who I live around now. There were really bad parts of town and then there were the other parts of town. People end up in trouble because they don’t pay attention to the surroundings and venture into bad territory. (not so different from the rural areas here, to be honest). All of that aside, the homes were usually pretty trashed out when people moved out of them. It was a process of at least a few weeks to (even) a few months at times to get the homes rehabilitated and ready to house new tenants.


This wasn’t always the easiest work, but really, when we were younger we started with the easy tasks and “gopher” duties. If you don’t know what a “gopher” is, that is the person that has to “go fur this and go fur that”. As my skills became more improved I got to move to more difficult tasks. As much as I didn’t care for the working when I was young,  I value the experience now that I am grown. I can fix most things myself, so I usually don’t have to call for a “handyman” to take care of anything. Cheap and self-sufficient, I like that idea.


As we got older, things changed and my parents decided that we would get into the produce distribution business. I think that this is where I learned a lot of my customer service skills. We did this when I was about 13 until I was in high school. It was early hours, crazy downtown neighborhoods, and a lot of moving boxes and bundles, but it was still really something that I enjoyed. I learned a ton about vegetables and how to take care of stock. I learned how to rotate stock before I learned how to drive our old 4 on the column pickup truck.


When I was in the last two years of high school, we ended up doing odd jobs again, but we also mowed yards. We mowed a lot of yards. So there I learned how to maintain equipment, sharpen blades, change oil, filter, spark plugs, you name it. We were always busy, busy, busy. When I was finally old enough to legally get a job, it was such a shocker to me when I saw how lazy other people are! I didn’t realize for a few years that the reason that others seemed lazy to me was because they simply hadn’t been conditioned to work in the same way that I did. In some ways, it isn’t such a good trait, because I tend to become a workaholic, but at the same time, it does make me an extremely productive employee, and who doesn’t like productive employees? Amirite?


All of what I shared above comes down to this:  I have never been without a job (except for one summer) for more than a day. I have always had an occupation, even before I got paid to have one.


The only thing I know right now is that it has been 31680 minutes since I had a job and I am more than ready to tackle this one.





Full Circle

Sometimes it takes the smallest thing to remind us of what is truly important in life.

Then there are the moments that monumental things make us acutely aware of what we hold dearest.

This was one of those times.

It was two weeks ago today that we got the phone call from the youngest. She was upset and telling us that her live in boyfriend had gone berserk and roughed her up. I was livid, of course. Even for those who haven’t raised children, I am sure you understand what it is to know that someone has hurt a person you love dearly.

This was not the worst, however.

In the conversation following the first few moments, I was also told that my grandson had been manhandled as well, resulting in a knot on his head.

My first reaction was instant fury, the second, cold malice.

I am not a violent person. I think in a former life I might have been a Quaker. I am just on this side of the line of being a pacifist. I detest violence and even loud arguing can make me physically sick. It was shocking, therefore, to realize just how I might have reacted to this news if I hadn’t been 1500 or so miles from home.

For once it was good that I was sequestered away from the action, on the east coast of the US. Without divulging too much, it is sufficient to say that I live closer to the middle of the country than I do to either coast. It took a while to get home, which gave me time to think. It also gave the dirtbag boyfriend time to get himself arrested on other charges, so there is no danger of me following through with any of the half baked plans in my head.

This entire situation takes me back to the life that I lived growing up. It was a tumultuous time, full of terror and shame. I remember being the helpless witness to the abuse of my mother and brothers (not to mention myself). I swore my children would never have to live through such things. It angers me that my stepdaughter has allowed this to happen (trust me, she was warned about this loser before I left…). It further angers me that she doesn’t seem willing to choose her son over this scumbag.

I know firsthand how hard it is for a person to leave an abusive relationship. I watched my mother live in one for over 15 years. It is a mental breakdown, you feel trapped and you make excuses, until one day you can’t anymore. It seems that my youngest hasn’t arrived at the point of “can’t anymore”.

I had to make some big decisions, and I had little time to make them. I think I chose the best solution. Funds will be tight, at least until we get on our feet. We will survive. We have a 100% survival rate up until now.

So, it appears that I will not be driving the truck from coast to coast, instead I will be staying right here, close to my little man. He told me last night that he would like to come live here with Nana and MaMaw. I think that might just work out for him. As for the trucking, if I trade it off for the love of my pint size hero sleeping blissfully less than five feet away from me, well, that ain’t such a bad trade, now is it?



Inside Out

Sometimes life is simple enough. One only must remember to set the alarm for the next morning and everything else can complete itself on autopilot. Lather, rinse, repeat, etc.

Then there is the other 95% of life.

Those who know me on a personal level are likely to have the details of what life is for me lately, some more than others. Like everyone, of course, there are things that go unpublished on the ‘net, mainly due to the fact that I haven’t had much access to internet, at least not in the last four months. For those of you who are still unaware, there have been changes to the routine for me, some minuscule, some gargantuan.

At present I am sitting in the living room of my home, a cat grooming herself at my right elbow, glass of tea at the right and window to the left. In the time that I have spent writing ideas and stories here I can honestly say that this is the first time I have had such a luxury.

I suppose it would be much easier to become excited at this prospect, except that I will likely only have the opportunity to sit in this house for about one week out of four. I have never been one to be content to stay in place, stagnating. I like the freshness of change, and I suppose that must be a good thing, since life generally doesn’t allow me the time to become too comfortable with things before it all upends itself.

These days I have hung up the bus keys and have switched to OTR driving. It is an adventure, and as a bonus I do get to spend every waking moment with my love, also a big change from the last two years. It sounds great, and it mostly is. There are benefits of being together all the time, and yes, there are drawbacks as well. For the most part, I like it. We could do worse.

Being in the truck for three weeks at a time, under each others feet, in each others space…it does wear on the nerves from time to time. Although at first I questioned my own sanity in making this leap of faith, I have settled upon it being a good experience for me.

For years (most of my life, actually) I have been the type of person that avoids conflict as much as possible.I will go far out of my way to avoid situations that make me uncomfortable. I understand most of the reasons for this personality trait, and to be fair, most of the time it isn’t such a bad thing, until it is a bad thing.

For years, She has always complained about my being quiet about being upset. It makes her insane that I don’t yell at people that upset me. It infuriates her (no exaggeration) when I don’t speak up about things that hurt my feelings. In all fairness, I do understand her point. I won’t spend valuable time trying to defend an indefensible position. It does make more sense to let people know when they upset/hurt/anger me. It doesn’t, however, change the fact that my first (and usually only) reaction is to let them do what they will and I just keep on doing what I think is best. For me, it is natural. For Her, it is crazy and alien behavior. She is much more that person who will let anyone know when they have crossed a line. I admire that in a person, but it isn’t a concept I have had much luck with emulating.

As I said previously, being in the truck with Her is much different from being in the house and working each day. There was always time during every day that I was at work and she was too. Then in the last two years, She was staying at a friend’s during the week and I was at home. It allowed for much savings in gasoline, since the price skyrocketed here. She had a drive of over 60 miles daily otherwise. So when I say that there was a considerable time spent apart, there really was. Essentially, we went from seeing each other only on the weekends to seeing each other 24/7. There were growing pains.

After our first tour, which was roughly 4 weeks, I would have gladly made the trip home riding on top of the truck. No kidding. When we took off from home for the second tour, a realization had dawned on me. If this job was going to work out I was going to have to learn to deal with issues in the moment. I wasn’t going to be afforded the luxury of deciding that something would keep and I could simply ignore it until I felt as if I wanted to tackle it.

In short, I became hyper aware that a good deal of our issues were not caused by, but certainly linked to my reluctance to handle them in the moment.I don’t think that I would have come to this realization any other way. Funny how life works like that.

Sometimes in order for us to wake up and learn, life will turn us upside down and inside out.

Richard Cory

Being Richard Cory

Richard CoryI don’t know how old I was the first time that I found this poem stuck into one of my mother’s books, but I do remember reading and being so struck by it.

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,

And he was always human when he talked;

But still he fluttered pulses when he said,

“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich–yes, richer than a king,

And admirably schooled in every grace:

In fine, we thought that he was everything

To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,

And went without the meat, and cursed the bread,

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.

                         –Edwin Arlington Robinson

One of the things that I adore about this particular work is the straightforwardness. The poem does exactly what life does; it creates a beautiful picture, then destroys it in the last stanza.

I have lost family to suicide. I have friends who have had the same unfortunate experience. Could I enumerate the times that I have heard people say, “but things were going so well.” or “she had everything to live for” and even the “suicide doesn’t solve anything, it just moves your problem to someone else because they have to deal with loss as well”.

Sometimes the comments are meant well and it is a case of innocent ignorance of the disease. Sometimes the comments are said in repressed anger, which is many times the case. The aggrieved may not realize that they are expressing anger. Although both scenarios are astounding in their frequency the problem isn’t the statements made. The problem, rather runs a bit deeper: The problem tends to be the way that we as a society view the illness.

For years I have struggled with my silent companion, depression. I have labeled it as such because it seems silent to those around me, those who are close enough to notice, but they seem oblivious to it. Depression is in no way silent to me. Depression accompanies me to each and every minute of my life. It is not, however, always in control. Generally speaking, I am the person behind the wheel, depression is the passenger. Of course, then there are times that I become tired, ill, or just apathetic. It is during those moments that depression seizes the moment and steals away the wheel, taking me for a ride.

That, to me, is what it feels like to be depressed. You have exactly the same life that you have always had, the only difference being the way that you view it.

Picture, if you will, a beautiful, buzzing, living, and lush green forest. Thick grass, twigs and small branches crunching underfoot. The air is clear, the afternoon sun smiling down and warming your shoulders. If you bother to look about you will see the fauna of the wood: deer, squirrel, rabbit, perhaps even a bird. You take comfort in the presence of the other animals. You feel a part of the wood, you belong here and live in harmony with the surrounding world.

Picture the same wood, except now it is midnight. The sounds that were so benign to you in the light of noon become harrowing in the inky blue of midnight. Every sound seems as if you are being followed. You look over your shoulder, but can never put a specific face to a sound. The air is cold, sharp, and cutting. What seemed a pleasant breeze in the noonday is now a howling in your ears, causing you to curl into yourself. Your eyes, squinting to make out any shape can never manage to focus any of the dark, looming masses into a familiar form. Gone are the deer and squirrel, replaced by the ominous shadows of all the monsters from nightmare and horror. No longer feeling at home, you now feel as an interloper into the grotesque.

You see, the setting didn’t change, only the filter used to view it.


Need To Be

Need to be

Where the journey begins, neither of us is unaware.

It commences with my finding myself stretched gently across,

Safest at my most vulnerable,

Almost defiant in my submission.

My trust laid upon your lap,

A tableau of assurance.

It is where I am,

It is but the inauguration of the pilgrimage

To where I need to be.

With the faintest brush of hand upon skin

My breath catches in my chest

As a child

playing peek-a-boo

It hides within  itself.

The warmth of your hands,

One laid gently upon the small of my back,

Its twin caressing my “other” cheeks.

Beautiful as it is,

it is not the place I need to be.

Shocking as always, that first deafening slap

It seems far too loud

The amount of sting

Burning, itching pink.

Is insignificant

When compared to that sound.

My body rebels

My mind seeks quietude

Each slap bringing me closer

To where I need to be.

As the progression continues,

Slap upon slap upon slap,

Each bringing my mind closer

To solace

And my body

To rebellion.

A kick of the leg

Interference from a hand

Threatening the journey

To where I need to be.

Each moment brings us closer

To the eventual surrender

Bringing my body

At last into one accord

With my mind

When I can take no more

You prove that I can

Pushing me from where I am

Bringing at last, mind and body

To where I need to be.


I can’t say that when this began I knew I would still be tick tick ticking away five years later.

And yet, here I am.

So, I have had some great times, and I have seen some crappy times too. Over all I am just plain happy to still be here trying to string two words together and make something that others can enjoy, or at least find interesting.

Not a lot to say here, except thank you to all of those who have stood by and cheered me on. I really couldn’t do it without you. I mean, really, if nobody reads, then there isn’t a reason to publish what I write. So thank you all.🙂


So who is giving me the birthday spankings for this blog??