Blessed(?) Are Those Who Persevere

Photo © Arpad Scott

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” ~Newt Gingrich

It’s that time of year again. No, not the holidays. Although… I’m more than a little “Bah! Humbug!” about those this year as well. It is apparently time for my annual(ish) I-don’t-want-to-work-another-day-in-my-life funk.

I don’t really have a choice in the matter. I have to work. I’ve always had to work.

It isn’t that I abhor my job. Most of the time it’s quite pleasant… as jobs go… if a bit less challenging than I would prefer. I’m employed. I’m thankful for it. I don’t make a lot. At all. Still, my bills are (usually) paid. The boys can eat… and eat… and “Okay! Stop eating!” They understand the “No, I can’t buy that for you today or ever.” concept. Are they always happy about it? Of course not. But, they get it. We have enough.

The point here is that, and I know I have vented about this previously, it would be lovely if I had the choice to work or not work. I get bored easily. Because of this lovely trait of personality, I have assumed throughout the years that, given the choice of working parent or stay-at-home mom (which is a far more serious working parent gig sans paycheck), I would still go to work... for my own sanity. Now, I’m not so sure. I am so bloody tired. So. Bloody. Tired.

But, like I said… I have no choice. I know. I know. Suck it up. I will. Eventually. In this one thing I always manage to persevere. But, for a bit, allow me my funk.

Giving Thanks, Part Seven

The brother and me in Jerusalem, Israel circa 1984.

“In this life, family is the most precious gift we are given, the most sacred. Turn your back on them and that is when you truly have nothing.” ~The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Film (2005)

My family isn’t very large. There are my parents, my brother with his wife and three kids, and me with my two boys. Both sets of my grandparents have passed on and I am not close (in location or friendship) with any of my cousins save one. People are shocked when they find out I don’t speak to my mother or father every day. They are even more baffled to discover I might… might… call or email my brother once every six months or so. As paradoxical as it sounds… that doesn’t mean we aren’t close. The simple truth is that we are accustomed to being apart without the benefit of technology at our fingertips.

My brother and I are five years apart. He went to
our boarding school a year before I did. So, by default, we spent that year apart. Even when I joined him on campus, however, we didn’t spend a lot of time together. Trust me, as a senior, he didn’t want his 7th grade sister following him around. Not to mention, I had my own things to do. My parents would visit when my brother or I or both had sporting events but telephone lines were sketchy at best in Kenya those days… so phone calls were limited to relays of important information when necessary. After my first year at boarding school my brother graduated and returned to the States for college. He would call my folks from time to time but not often. He definitely wouldn’t call me at school. Separation. Normal for us. He was in the USA. My parents were in Tigoni, Kenya and I was at school in Kijabe, Kenya. Four years later I graduated from high school and came to the State for college. My brother had already graduated and moved to Missouri. Me – Arkansas. Mom and Dad – Kenya. More separation. Overseas phone calls were still outrageously expensive. Public internet did not exist.

This was the environment in which we grew up… separated by distance. But, that never diminished our love for each other. I may not call or write my brother often (he doesn’t call or write either) but when we get together… it’s business as usual. We tease one another. We joke. We laugh. We go to movies and leave our kids behind with their grandparents. We tell stories about one another to a fascinated audience of one another’s children. When the whole mob of us converge at our parents’ house, like now, it gets a little crazy. We play tons of board games. With the kids (Boy 17, Girl 15, Boy 15, Girl 13, Boy 10) you never really know what’s going to happen. It’s far more interesting now that they are older and I don’t think I realized how much I enjoyed our once or twice a year get-togethers until this past Labor Day Weekend (September).

I love my family. I give thanks for my family. From the youngest (my Little K) to the oldest (my dad) they are truly the best… and the perfect ending to my seven days of Thanksgiving.


Giving Thanks, Part Six

Holding Hands, Forever © staffh

“The greatest sweetener of human life is Friendship. To raise this to the highest pitch of enjoyment, is a secret which but few discover.” ~Joseph Addison

I don’t have many friends. Truth. Acquaintances abound but solid friendships are rare for me. There are even a few of those regular acquaintances who are under the misguided impression that we are close friends but, with a most of them, everything is superficial. Discussing movies, office gossip or the weather does not a friend make. It’s a foundation but not a true friendship. Facebook would like you to believe I have 346 “friends”. Pfffffffft. Yeah, okay. Don’t get me wrong... I purge my friend list pretty regularly. I actually know all those people but the number of people who would fit into my circle of camaraderie is not so big and the number of those who fall deeper into the inner circle is far, far, far fewer.

My close friends are those who can tell when something is bothering me despite my highly tuned “Everything is happy here!” customer service hospitality face… whether they are in the room with me or thousands of miles away. I received flowers one time from a friend in Dubai who knew I needed a pick-me-up. Another time flowers came from a friend in Montreal. A card here. An email there. These are things that matter. These are people with whom I share a bond that, despite rough times and regular neglect, can never be broken. Stretched? Sure. And yet, friendship lasts.

It’s shocking to most people but there are a number of these individuals for whom I would travel to hell and back (and they for me) that I haven’t spoken to verbally in years. Then again, words are not necessary between soul mates.

One phone call. That’s all it would take if I needed any of them.
One phone call. That’s all it would take if any of them needed me.

And, while I wish many of them lived closer to me, capable of being a sometimes more hands-on support system, I take comfort in knowing they are there for me.

To those friends I say, “Thank you!” I give you thanks for putting up with me. I give you thanks for never giving up on me. I give you thanks for being you.

PS – I’m also super thankful for Cheetos®, but I think we should commission an independent study to find out if they are laced with cocaine. Somebody get on that.

Giving Thanks, Part Five

“If you've ever seen the look on somebody's face the day they finally get a job, I've had some experience with this… they look like they could fly. And its not about the paycheck, it's about respect. It's about looking in the mirror and knowing that you've done something valuable with your day.” ~Dave, Film (1993)

Sometimes I’m still irritated by the fact that I’ve never had the choice to work or not to work. I have always had to work; but, I am thankful that I have gainful employment. In today’s economy this is a blessing indeed. I also don’t hate my job. And, I like my boss. Blessings counted. I didn’t particularly intend to stay in this position for as long as I have (it will be 5 years this January) but I’m glad that I did. I need a raise, but I'm still glad.

I work in hospitality. There are days that are incredibly hectic and stressful… especially during the summer months. I’ve had jobs that were far more challenging so, on occasion, I do get a little restless. I also intended to finish my college education and move into a different field. Life happens. But, then again, when I go to work in the morning, I’m treated to some variation of the view you see above...
Every. Single. Day.

I think that beats the city streets of corporate America. I know. I’ve seen those already.

Giving Thanks, Part Four

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~G.K. Chesterton

Furniture. It seems like such a trifle topic. I’ve written about it before…
HERE… where I discuss how nothing in my house matches, how everything is a hand-me-down and how sometimes I’m ashamed but that my shabby house is a home of blinding light. That post was written over a year ago. It was read by my friend M at the time and she was touched… but said nothing.

M and I went to the same high school. We were acquaintances then but reconnected via Facebook and became friends. She became an enormous encouragement to me… always there to remind me that I am a strong, beautiful woman with a purpose. M decided some time ago that her place was not on Facebook. She deactivated her account and I quickly obtained her email address with the intention of keeping in touch. Intentions. Fickle buggers.

A couple of months ago I received an email from M. She touched based. Asked how I was doing. Inquired about my boys. And then, included in the email, was a confession about reading the post I had written about my furniture situation. It had touched her and God, she said, had clearly indicated to her that she was in a position to help me. She went on to tell me there was storage room in Georgia full of barely used furniture… and it was mine if I could go get it.

Wai…. What?

Was she joking? No.

M’s company had transferred her out of the country shortly after purchasing new living and dining room furniture. She was tired of paying the storage room costs and the first person she thought about was me. She also apologized for not obeying God and giving it to me sooner. APOLOGIZED! And then she kept THANKING me for taking it off her hands. Thanking me. Wow.

By the way… my father drove to Georgia and picked up this gift. I’m still in shock. How do you fully express that much gratitude to a person? How?

M’s gift has changed the mentality I have toward my own home. I am more proud of it. And, yes, I do realize it’s just stuff. But, it’s the nicest stuff I’ve ever received as a gift and, by far, the nicest furniture I have ever owned. My attitude changed. The attitudes of my boys changed. They work harder to keep our living area clean now that they, too, are proud of how it looks.

Oh… and the mismatched furniture I had to remove in order to make way for this gift? Well, the table went to someone who didn’t have one. As did the couch… to somebody else. And the chairs. The recipients of those items were just as grateful to receive my older stuff as I was to receive new stuff. It helped me keep things in perspective.

Thank you, M. You are one of God’s angels.

Giving Thanks, Part Three

Me in Thika, Kenya circa 1976

“So if you worry if your choice was right
You gave me up but you gave everything to me
And if I saw you on the street
Would you know that it was me
And would your eyes be blue or green like mine
Would we share a warm embrace
Would you know me in your heart
Or would you smile and let me walk on by
Knowing you had dreams for me
You wanted the best for me
And I hope that you'd be proud of who I am.”
~Mark Schultz, Everything to Me (Lyric excerpt)

It was a was a normal day under almost normal circumstances in the summer of 2008. Not feeling well, I called into work and stayed home for the day. I rested… as much as single mother can rest with two crazy boys in the apartment. Summer. No school.

Somewhere near 2:00pm Tony, my mailman, knocked on the door. I groaned. I wasn’t expecting any packages (cause for jumping to get the door quickly). He stood there with a certified letter. I signed and then pondered not looking at it or even opening it. Surprise past/unknown/pre-divorce debt notices had become something of the normal… bills I wasn’t aware existed. The last thing I wanted or needed was another financial burden; however, upon closer examination, I realized the return address on the envelope was in Oklahoma. Huh?

Two minutes later I was shooing my children back into their room with no explanation, tears were rolling down my face, and my hands shaking as I reached for the phone to call… anyone while trying to comprehend what I was reading.

What I held in my hand that day was not a bill. It was a letter… from my birth mother.

Throughout my life I have made no secret of the fact that I personally had no desire to go in search of my birth parents. I had an amazing childhood. Once I gave birth to my own children I was curious about my medical history but that was it. That was all I wanted and, on a whim, I posted a request for that very thing on a Texas adoption website sometime around 1995… and then forgot about it.

My birth mother read it.

The letter I received from her, thirteen years after my online post, was one of brief introduction (sans name) and personal medical information. She honored my request for that and nothing more. No pressure. No expectations. The ball was clearly in my court.

For a year and a half that ball stayed firmly in my possession. In fact, I rolled it into a corner so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore.

In November 2009 I woke up one morning in a panic. To this day I don’t know what triggered that panic attack, but I was absolutely convinced that something had happened to my birth mother since receiving that initial letter and that I had waited too long. I would never know anything about her or about where I come from and suddenly, without warning, that was very important to me.

I emailed the family counselor through whom the correspondence from my birth mom had been sent… and I waited. And waited. And waited. Just before my out-of-sight out-of-mind brain took over, in January 2010, I received a response. My birth mother was open to communication but there were some things in her life that needed her attention. She would contact me when the time was right.

On March 2, 2010 I received an email simply titled “Hello”.

In the last nine months, through intermittent email communication, I’ve discovered that genetics is amazing. The number of commonalities we share is borderline bizarre. We’ve learned that we both have an insatiable obsession for music and a strange affinity for Saturday night made-for-TV movies on the SyFy Channel. I’ve learned about my birth mom and her family. She has learned about mine. She has explained to me the circumstances surrounding my birth and her reasons for choosing to place me up for adoption. I have assured her that I never held any resentment to her for that decision. I thanked her for having the strength to make it. See? I was born in 1974. Abortion was legalized in the United States in 1973. She had the choice and for me she chose life.

Every year I have given thanks to her (even when she didn’t know it) for giving me breath and for the amazing life I got to have because she made a difficult choice. This year I give thanks for our developing friendship.

Now, you will have to pardon me because I owe her a long email.

Giving Thanks, Part Two

Obviously I stole this image from

“Health is a relationship between you and your body.” ~Terri Guillemets

I’ve been to see the doctor a lot this year. Being bipolar, regular visits are expected (and this town is small enough that he will hunt me down in Wal*Mart if I miss an appointment), but 2010 required a little more than regular monitoring.

I paid Mr. Doctor Man a visit late in the winter, before spring, to have him check everything… thyroid check, diabetes check, etc. I wanted an excuse. I wanted to have a reason for my inability to lose this wretched weight. I wanted a way out. And, wouldn’t you know it, all those tests came back negative. I was irate. Literally. How logical is that? My thyroid functions fine. I don’t have diabetes. My blood pressure is great. Hell, my cholesterol levels are even a-okay. These are things I should have been happy about but I’ve discovered there is a vast difference between being analytical and being logical when one’s emotions are running amok. I had to swallow a very difficult non-prescribed pill… one I had been carrying around with me for years: My weight is my fault. Damn. I shut down. I’m still sort of shut down. And, I’m still overweight too. Woo.

During that same appointment we discussed this problem I have with sleep. In particular we talked about my body’s aversion to sleep. I’ve been a chronic, and I do mean effing chronic, insomniac for more than three years. Bipolar medications are supposed to shut up my brain. They don’t seem to do the trick; but, as long as my moods were stabilized, I accepted the bad with the good and lived with serious sleep deprivation f-o-r-e-v-e-r. We talked about my sleep habits but we didn’t make any major changes. In the summer I went back for another visit with Mr. Doctor Man and he knew in a glance that I was not okay. We adjusted a little bit of this and he gave me a little bit of that and we made some radical decisions regarding my treatment but I am sleeping now. Lordie, how I love to sleep. My dream time is amazing and, now, when the occasional night rolls around where I don’t get that rest… man, I’m mean.

It is now November. I’m still sleeping (most of the time). I finally… FINALLY… feel like my body is beginning to heal. Surprise, surprise… Mr. Doctor Man told me it would probably take months before I began to feel better because of how much trauma my body had undergone during the years of sleep deprivation. He was right. I should be more grateful for what I do have. Despite still being overweight… my blood pressure is STILL great. I’m STILL not diabetic. My thyroid is STILL working great and my cholesterol is STILL normal. And, I’m finally over the anger.

I am thankful for my health... well, weight aside, my basic physical health. Very thankful. [Let’s hope I didn’t just jinx myself.]

Giving Thanks, Part One

“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.” ~Robert Caspar Lintner

Traditionally, I’m not a fan of Thanksgiving Day. I simply have a problem with the concept as a whole and feel that our society should not NEED a reminder to be thankful but once a year. I know. I know. It is what it is. Don’t judge.

This year, however, instead of complaining about the holiday, I will be counting my blessings. I have received a lot of them this year and I am full to the brim with gratitude. I have given my thanks to people and to God but, somehow, it never seems to be enough. I don’t know if the extent of my thankfulness truly shows. Is my sincerity known?

Welcome to part one of my seven days of giving thanks.

Red Five is my car. The name comes from Star Wars: “This is Red Five, I’m going in!” She sports a Star Wars air freshener, a ‘Come to the Darkside… we have cookies.’ bumper sticker, a Rebel Alliance decal and, hopefully very soon (upon next tag renewal), a personalized “REDFIVE” license plate. Go ahead… laugh… snicker… call me a nerd. I can’t hear you. And, even if I could hear you, I don’t particularly care what you think. [Psssst. I am a nerd.]

Red Five doesn’t look like an X-wing fighter... unless maybe its wings have been clipped in battle. She’s pretty darn old to most people. To me, she is new and she is beautiful.

One year ago I was driving around town in an old Nissan single-cab pickup truck. It was absolutely NOT comfortable for me and two no-longer-little-tykes boys. Just ask Little K who had to scrunch up near to, or straddle, the gear shift whenever we had to go somewhere. We tried to avoid having all three of us in the vehicle at the same time which left us often isolated at home. It was not an ideal situation. Who am I kidding? We hated it. But, my financial situation being what it is, purchasing a vehicle, used or not, simply was not an option.

In January 2010 my parents came for a visit and with them came Red Five. A gift... purchased from a classified advertisement. No strings attached. Yes, I cried. A lot. In a town with little to offer in regard to entertainment and attractions, Red Five gave me and my boys our freedom back.

I give thanks to my parents for their love. I give thanks for their generosity. I give thanks to My Father for providing my parents with the means to help fulfill a need I could not have filled on my own. I give thanks for Red Five.

A Promise

My relationship with the town of Arkadelphia has been strained at best. I’ve written about my love/hate feelings for this place on more than one or even two occasions. After all, it’s often difficult to see the good in why I am here… or in the memories I have of this place.

I moved to Arkadelphia, AR in 1992 when I enrolled as a freshman at
Ouachita Baptist University. I made a lot of less sane… more unstable bipolar… dumb decisions in this town. I got knocked up here. I dropped out of college here. I got married here. I left here amidst unbelievable marital turmoil. Eight years later I moved back here amidst even more marital turmoil (same marriage). I got divorced here. I refer to this place as a vortex or a black hole that keeps sucking me back in and will not let me go.

In recent months I finally began to make a grudging sort of peace with living here. Ideal? Not so much. But, I do give it a far worse rap than it deserves.

As Big K, now a high school sophomore, has become more involved in school, my scheming, plotting and daydreaming of how to get out of Arkadelphia forever has waned. I have started to count the blessings this town has to offer… starting with education. Arkadelphia puts a lot of focus on the education of its children. And, it still has arts and physical education programs. Both boys are in their school choirs. Last year Big K was the Tin Man in the high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz musical. He was also selected for the
Arkadelphia College Prepatory Academy. These are things that are important to a mom. These are things that make a difference.

Today Arkadelphia upped the ante. Today, November 16, 2010, Arkadelphia made a promise to this struggling single mother and her two children.


That promise? A college education without the financial pressure of how to afford tuition. It is one of only four similar programs in the country. And, for that, all I can manage is a tear filled “Thank you!”

This is the cue for all my friends and acquaintances to stop asking me when I’m going to move away.
Arkadelphia: It really is a great place to call home.

“Arkadelphia is transforming college education from a dream to a reality for every single child.” ~Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

King Laugh Finds A Queen

El Morocco by Garry Winogrand
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"Yet even at such a moment King Laugh he come to me and shout and bellow in my ear,`Here I am! Here I am!' till the blood come dance back and bring some of the sunshine that he carry with him to my cheek… It is a strange world, a sad world, a world full of miseries, and woes, and troubles. And yet when King Laugh come, he make them all dance to the tune he play." ~Bram Stoker, Dracula

Earlier this week, while in a meeting, I found the words of someone immensely amusing. Later that day a coworker came to let me know she could hear me laughing from the meeting. That isn’t necessarily strange. I laugh loudly. To say that my voice “carries” is quite the understatement. Of course, when she heard me, she was on the second floor of our building… and I was on the third.

Laughter is my dance. It is my joy. My life is more than often strange, sad and full of various miseries. It is the art of laughing that makes everything bearable. Lucky for me, I have positively hilarious and witty children. I also have some coworkers with riotous senses of humor. I am surrounded by the funny. I laugh loudly. I laugh often. So what if my laugh is raucous? It is real. Genuine. And, it is a sign that, at that moment, regardless of what may be weighing on my mind, King Laugh can make me dance… and, for a time, I am his queen.


Aspiring Novelist Sits on Rock Where Bronte Sisters Reputedly Sat
© B. Anthony Stewart

I wonder: If I cry out “Brontë! Brontë! Brontë!” will I manage to summon one of those literary sisters from the grave to help me banish the writing demons Doubt, Procrastination, Fear and Time Waster from my brain where they, and all their evil friends, seem to have taken residence?

The call to write has grown in strength. And… I write, but I don’t particularly know what to do with it other than my typical scribbling here and there and in that journal or on that receipt or napkin. I have no direction. I have no grand inspiration. Simply put...

"I write because I cannot NOT write." ~Charlotte Brontë

I don’t know if anything I write actually has readability. More importantly, were I to successfully banish my writing demons and produce a more substantial piece(s) of work; do I possess the creativity to capture the attention of more than the obligatory family readings? That question is rhetorical, by the way.

I stopped for a while. Writing, that is. Reading, too, if you must know. I wanted to do both but somehow (Not completely unexplainably... It would take a novel... Bloody irony.) those activities came to a screeching halt. Now they are back with a vengeance and, in all honesty, as a working single mother, I worry. I have a highly addictive personality. I know this. Can I possibly afford to be consumed right now? Can I afford not to be?

"You can write nothing of value unless you give yourself wholly to the theme -- and when you so give yourself -- you lose appetite and sleep -- it cannot be helped --" ~Charlotte Brontë

The Importance of Being Wilde

© Penny Sobr.

"Women are a fascinatingly wilful sex. Every woman is a rebel, and usually in wild revolt against herself." ~Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

I have a problem with authority. Not authority in general… usually… sometimes… okay, often… but, even more so, the authority that generates from within. Every night I go to bed and lie in the dark telling myself exactly what I am going to do the next day… and then, once awake, I scoff, mutter something about not telling me what to do at myself and then I don’t do what I told myself to do.

Some might label this particular personality issue “lack of motivation” or “laziness” or
“madness”. But, I know what lack of motivation looks like… as I have spent a large chunk of my lifetime buried in the melancholy. I know laziness. Been there. Sometimes still do that. As for the madness… well, I’ve never claimed to be completely sane. After years of medication and multiple attempts to quiet the voices (likely the reason I don’t listen when I tell myself to do something) I’ve realized one thing: Sanity is overrated.

The point is: I have more than a wee bit of a rebellious nature. I always have. It is who I am. You can likely chalk half of that up to being raised the preacher’s daughter (Footloose, anyone?) or the more volatile (It’s true.) combination of preacher’s daughter plus missionary kid… but only half. Recent correspondence with my birth mother (I am
adopted.) leads me to conclude that heredity has a much larger part to play in who I am than I could ever have imagined. That fact has a ring of the “Well, duh!” to it but I am so much like my father in various aspects of character that I have always placed a lot of faith in upbringing and environment as it relates to my disposition. But, while my parents had some strict moments (usually combined with being in the “foreign” country of the USA), they were, in retrospect, far less prison warden-like than the parents of many of my peers. I didn’t necessarily have a lot to rebel against. Still, I chose mutiny over acceptance. It could be worse. It could always be worse. I could be someone with a rebellious nature and no moral compass. I’m not.

Adulthood has been far more difficult than those formative teenage “rebellion” years because now, as Wilde suggests, I am constantly… and I mean c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y… “in wild revolt” against myself. As with any war, there are both negative and positive consequences. A prominent negative is my penchant for over-analyzing and subsequently internalizing everything. “It’s entirely my fault.” “Woe is me.” I’ll take some cheese with my whine… please and thank you. But, then, there is the positive. Being über-analytical has often provided me with the ability to step outside my emotions… distance myself from myself… and make decisions that would have seemed overwhelmingly impossible in normal circumstances. My wild nature has also given me the strength to survive, overcome, face and fight some unbelievably difficult situations. I would no longer be here without it.

I spent the better part of my twenties ignoring my wild side… convinced that it had to be tamed when what it really needed was mere redirection. The choice to suppress it was detrimental in more ways than one. In my thirties I began channeling my wildness into the strength and power I needed in order to find myself. Without it I was lost, hungry, weak and wandering. With it I am beginning to recognize the woman in the mirror again. Now, if I can only manage to start acknowledging her “to do” list… because that’s wildly important too.

What Shakespeare Meant... or Did He?

Image obtained from Impact Books

The Bard of Avon… he’s my dude. Unfortunately, he is far too often misunderstood by scholars and laymen alike. Allow me to translate(ish).
"Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go." ~Hamlet
Prophecy: Beware of the Führer!

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!” ~A Midsummer Night’s Dream
People are blithering idiots.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." ~Hamlet
Horatio has a pea sized brain with no imagination.

"Is this a dagger which I see before me..." ~ Macbeth
Macbeth needs glasses **or** LSD and royalty do not mix. It’s one of the two.

“The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.” ~Henry the Sixth
To Do
#1 – Attorney annihilation.
#2 – Whatever the hell we want.

“A thousand times good night!” ~Romeo and Juliet
Romeo, dude, you’re cute and everything but I’m tired. Let me go to bed already.

"When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o' th' sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that." ~The Winter’s Tale
Keep dancing or you will curse this land with a tidal wave. (I can take the romance out of anything if given the opportunity.)

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;” ~Macbeth
Keep waiting. Tomorrow never comes.

“What the dickens…?” ~The Merry Wives of Windsor
What the devil? (No, really. It’s like us saying, “What the hell?” This phrase has absolutely nothing to do with Charles Dickens. See? I’m not all snark.)

“Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,” ~A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Love doesn’t last. It burns bright for an instant and then it is gone.

“Her infinite variety…” ~Antony and Cleopatra
Cleopatra had Dissociative Identity Disorder.

"Nothing can come of nothing: speak again." ~King Lear
Flattery will get you everything.

And now, I must leave you. I fear there is much to be done before The Ghost of Sonnets Past interrupts my sleep for some sound chastising this eve.

Rosencrantz: What are you playing at?
Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
~Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Film (1990)

What Jane Said...

©BBC Video

“We certainly do not forget you so soon as you forget us. It is perhaps our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. You are forced on exertion. You have always a profession, pursuits, business of some sort or other, to take you back into the world immediately; and continual occupation and change soon weaken impressions.” ~Jane Austen, Persuasion

We certainly do not forget you so soon as you forget us.
Truth. It has been almost two hundred years and this statement rings true.

It is perhaps our fate rather than our merit.
Perhaps? I’ve said it before and I will say it again: “
Fate is an evil bitch!” No, there is nothing meritorious about the feminine ability to pine f-o-r-e-v-e-r. It is a curse and I want someone to blame. Eve brought that whole pain in childbirth fiasco down upon us. Surely I can find someone in history to blame for this irrational behavior of pining.

We cannot help ourselves.
Trust me. I’ve tried. And, as someone quite adept at burying, hiding, squelching and purging emotional impulses, you would think that I, before many others of my species, could actually succeed. Not so much.

We live at home,
I thank God daily that moving back home with one’s parents upon becoming single again is no longer the societal expectation.

… quiet,
Me? Bwahahahaha!

… confined,
Yes, but the terms of such confinement have changed o’er the years.

… and our feelings prey upon us.
That they do. Ladies, we no longer suffer the jail sentence of being locked away in our father’s house and treated as the most fragile of china dolls and, yet, amidst all that we do (and we do a lot), our feelings stalk us… feeding upon memory and insecurity and misplaced hope.

You are forced on exertion.
No. Not anymore. That was me… from the moment I entered adulthood. Circumstance dictated I work and work and work. I am weary. When did this change? When did it become socially acceptable for a man to not be a man? The act of women entering the workforce does not absolve man of his duty. Yes, duty. As Craig Ferguson would say when he utters something far from the ludicrous confines of society’s political correctness, “I look forward to your letters.”

You have always a profession,
As do I.

… pursuits,
As do I.

… business of some sort or other,
As do I. Hello… working single mother, here.

… to take you back into the world immediately;
I’m in it, baby, 24/7. No rest.

…and continual occupation and change soon weaken impressions.
For the man, perhaps, “out of sight, out of mind” is a bred-in philosophy. Even in the busiest of busy moments a woman can find a split second to pine. We may find temporary relief in having the brain distracted, but even the smallest of lulls serves as an open window of opportunity for the mind to escape the confines of that given job and run free through the fields of memory. Perhaps that is the very problem, for later on, in the very same passage, Jane Austen writes these words regarding a woman’s penchant for feelings added to the regular pressures of manhood… pressures modern women (Read: Me/I) now face daily:
“‘Your feelings may be the strongest,’ replied Anne, ‘but the same spirit of analogy will authorise me to assert that ours are the most tender. Man is more robust than woman, but he is not longer-lived; which exactly explains my view of the nature of their attachments. Nay, it would be too hard upon you, if it were otherwise. You have difficulties, and privations, and dangers enough to struggle with. You are always labouring and toiling, exposed to every risk and hardship. Your home, country, friends, all quitted. Neither time, nor health, nor life, to be called your own. It would be too hard indeed’ (with a faltering voice) ‘if woman’s feelings were to be added to all this.’”
Difficult? Absolutely. Too hard? Obviously not or I, and many other woman in like position, would have been long committed to the asylum or death by now. And people wonder why I firmly believe that woman has a far superior inner strength than man.

And so, when I don't have the time for foolish games of the heart and mind... when I am drawn to my pining female nature and need to conquer it quickly... I try to remember this: The memory is not to be trusted.

"There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences." ~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

What Dickens Said... But Not Really

New York Public Library, Image ID: 1222890

It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. It is the age of wisdom. It is the age of foolishness. It is the epoch of belief. It is the epoch of incredulity. It is the season of light. It is the season of darkness. It is the spring of hope. It is the winter of despair. I have everything before me. I have nothing before me. I am going direct to heaven. I am going direct the other way…

It is the best of times.

I have received a lot of blessings recently. A lot. I should be more thankful… not to the members of humanity who were the vessels of those blessings… but for the One who obviously thinks I need a wake up call and Who appears to finally be responding to my pleading cries of, “What about me?!?”

It is the worst of times.
I hate money. I abhor the fact that it is a necessity for sustainable living. Communities used to care for one another. No longer. Some of us are left behind despite every effort made on our own behalf… despite gainful employment… despite working hard for that lie of an American dream. It is this, more than anything, that I believe has destroyed my faith in churches. Not THE Church as I believe Christ means it to be… but churches.

It is the age of wisdom.
It may not be the age of wisdom, but with age… wisdom does come. Or… knowledge arrives. Wisdom knows what best to do with that knowledge. Proper application is often elusive. Therefore…

… it is the age of foolishness.

It is the epoch of belief.
More accurately, it is the epoch of wanting to believe or clinging to belief in the midst of unbelievable confusion and the cacophony of popular culture.

It is the epoch of incredulity.
Not believing would be easier.

It is the season of light. It is the season of darkness.
Shall I be literal and play on the words “light” and “dark” as they apply to autumn? That would be far preferable than letting the melancholy speak.

It is the spring of hope.
As someone who has been offered hope… unbelievable opportunities… this year, only to have that hope stripped from me with little or no explanation, I have been reminded, for the bazillionth time, that placing hope in humanity is ridiculous. And, yet, I continue to misplace that hope and inevitably I am plunged into the icy, unrelenting winter of despair.

I have everything and nothing before me.
Something is there. I can feel it. Seeing it is the problem.

I am going direct to Heaven.
Is believing enough?

I am going direct the other way.
Possibly. I don’t actually believe I am eternally damned. Then again, anyone who actually believes Hell exists likely doesn’t believe that they will end up there. Did I mention it is the age of foolishness?

And, so, in this period of perpetual personal paradox I try to remember this:

“There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.” ~Charles Dickens

Finger Strings

Photo credit: Shellular Kellular

A few reminders I need to give myself of late… and for which I want to slap myself upside the head for falling back on (Cliché much?)… but you cling to what you have:

♦ Angels exist. Truth.

♦ This too shall pass. I may be 90 with one foot in the grave before it happens but it will pass.

♦ Money isn’t everything. It is a whole hell of a lot of something but, no, it isn’t everything.

♦ There are good people in this world who will do things for others without having a selfish agenda. They are rare. But, they… like the angels… exist. In fact, some of them probably are angels. “If you have an opportunity to help someone, and you don’t, then you’re wasting your life.” ~Sugar, Film (2009)

♦ Clinging to hope is never enough. And, yet, what do we find…

♦ Jesus loves me this I know.

♦ Plans never go as planned. That’s if the plan happens at all…

♦ Hope, falsely given, devastates.

♦ You can’t fix stupid. This doesn’t make stupidity tolerable.

♦ Pipe dreams are best left to surfers. I think I just coined that one… can I be famous now?

“If life was a big truck, what would be worse – to be run over by it or to have it just pass you by?” ~To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday, Film (1996)


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