writing

The Little Red Sweater


The story outline:  Once upon a time, in a Town Common far, far away in a little New England town, a woman with a riot of curling silver hair that bobbed around her face like kazillion little metal Slinkies, sat on a bench, knitting a little red sweater. Two joggers, one a man wearing a nice tracksuit, and the other a woman in an old t-shirt and shorts, trotted up the cracked sidewalk together. The man looked down at the knitting woman and burst into tears. The woman leaned down beside the woman and spoke to her.

Emily Pigeon stuck her little pink tongue between her teeth as she muttered under her breath, “Perl one, Perl two, Perl three. Knit one!” Making a dog sweater for her sweet little Mitzi was turning out to be more trouble than it was worth. She’d never used double-sided little needles before and she was seriously considering trashing the lot and buying a dog sweater at the pet store.

James Kravetz was content with his run so far. He’d been able to keep up with his new jogging partner all the way, despite being out of shape. It was more than he could have hoped for and he smiled with joy. Looking right and left he saw an older woman knitting a little red sweater. For some reason the color red reminded him of so much – his heart attack three months ago, the fear he might die, and the fear he might never run again. Suddenly, he burst into tears of joy.

Babs McCarthy’s co-worker James was running her into the ground. She didn’t want to complain, but who thought some guy who almost died three months ago would be going strong after five miles? All of a sudden, James burst into tears. Thankful for the respite, she stopped near an older woman sitting on a bench, knitting a small, red dog sweater. The little red sweater reminded her of her Yorkie Sweetie. She leaned down and said, “I wish I was as talented as you are. I’d love a sweater like that for my dog, Sweetie.”

Unfortunately, Emily was very hard of hearing, and said, “What did you say, dear?”

One incident – three points of view.

 

The Dreaded Adverb


I stand in the gazebo in the middle of the Townsend Common and peer into the shadows of massive deciduous trees. The towering oaks and maples create a deep well of shadow. Hidden in the shadow are dark green picnic tables, freshly painted for the summer season.IMG_1880

Feathering out from each side of the shadows are graceful dark wood park benches with black wrought iron trim. The benches are cast in artful design around the gazebo. They surround it in a seemingly haphazard manner. Perhaps they are at the best places for hearing. Perhaps a whimsical designer arranged them. They’ve been in the same places for the last year.

The church to the east begins a muffled peal. Well, to me it is muffled, but the dog startles a bit. Loud. It must be loud. I don’t have my hearing aid in to walk the dog. I look at the clock faces on the front and side of the bell-tower and realize they display different times. How many peals will there be? Nine. Ten.  I check the time on my smart phone. Noon. Exactly. Neither of the clock faces reads twelve o’clock.

Brass colored folding chairs for the Thursday night concert lean against the wall or slump on the floor, tossed hither and yon by recent stormy weather. I envision how, tomorrow, they’ll be arranged in ordered fashion for the band, unlike the graceful litter of  wooden benches.

IMG_1886Here and there, black light poles erupt from the ground. They match the bold black metal fencing that marches around the edges of the Common. Half-barrels full of flowers line Main Street – ten of them – filled with a riot of brilliant magenta petunias. Several more of the half-barrels are next to the sidewalks in the Common itself, filled with a softer pink flower reminiscent of roses.

Concrete walkways crisscross the Common with a long St. Andrews Cross from corner to corner and a short path east to west across the middle. Today it is me, the dog, and ten thousand starving mosquitos. The dog and I descend the stairs of the gazebo, walk back to the car, and breathe a sigh of relief when the mosquitos are outside and we are inside.

Death to Adverbs – stripping adverbs from writing.

Give and Take


Due to an Internet outage I’m posting more than one blog for a couple of days to get caught up on writing assignments.

This assignment is about learning to create dialog through creation of opposing views.

“You owe me,” she said, her arms crossed firmly across her chest.

“I owe you?” I echoed her sentiment from across the lawn. “I owe you what? And why do I owe you?”

“The refrigerator leaked and ruined the antique dressers in the basement.”

I blinked before answering. Okay, I’m hard of hearing. Was that what she really said? “You think I’m responsible that your refrigerator leaked?” I asked.

“Yes. It never did before you moved in.”

“The refrigerator is on its last legs. It’s yours. I was the roommate.”

“The leak ruined the furniture.”

“Hold on,” I said. “You moved it into a wet basement.  A basement you warned me never to put anything valuable in.” I watched her spine stiffen in outrage, but I continued, “Besides, your insurance paid for the damage.”

“It wasn’t enough,” she said.

“That’s a problem between you and your insurance,” I replied, confounded.

I paused, thought, and then slowly said. “I painted your deck, I painted your kitchen, I helped select the new counter for the kitchen, and I helped you figure out what dryer to get when yours died – because you couldn’t make a decision. I loaned you my new clothes to attend a fancy party. For three months I took care of you after a major surgery so you didn’t have to go to rehab. I visited you in the hospital. I helped you figure out how to respond to performance evaluations. I gave you two of my old iPhones – which I could have sold, and I did it because you couldn’t afford to get one. I gave you an Oreck vacuum to use on the stairs because of all the cat litter all over the floor there. I  took care of your dog and cat whenever you went on vacation, not to mention hostessing a birthday party for you. I did that out of the goodness of my heart. Tell me again what I owe you.”

I never heard the answer…I’m hard of hearing.

 

Celebrate Three Significant Songs


There we have it – today’s Writing 101 prompt – 3 significant pieces of music.

I decided to write the response on AnotherBoomerBlog because this blog addresses being hard of hearing, deaf, and dealing with a society that is in large part uncaring about people who are differently able. The deaf, blind, hard of hearing, physically disabled, etc. are tidily brushed to the margins.

A room with a view (yesterday’s assignment) could be metaphorical. It could be the internal landscape of a blind person. Their room could be full of wonderful smells and things to touch. There is no internal metaphor for three significant pieces of music because when hearies (people who hear) think of music they think of sound.

My first boyfriend was born without auditory nerves and had zero ability to hear music. He had no concept of music as a hearie would understand it. He felt vibrations, and his old truck’s radio rumbled bass all the time. He build a removable back for a couch that housed a bass speaker so he could feel the rhythm of music.

I tried to insert a youtube video with no sound, only sign, but after 15 minutes of swearing I gave up.  😦  Feel free to go to the F-You song American Sign Language performance with no sound. For the following songs the hearie challenge is to turn off the sound. Next go to Hero – it is closed captioned for hearies and the hard of hearing. Frozen’s Let It Go is also captioned as are some of the others. Country Music is next – Farmer’s Daughter. Then there’s Story of my Life.  Imagine by John Lennon.  Just the Way You Are. Lastly, go to Sean Berdy and 10 dancing kids – don’t worry, you won’t lose an eardrum.

Adding the incredible expressiveness of ASL performances to music that often the signers can’t hear makes a performance that is – to my mind – superior to sound alone.  Let It Go gains a new dimension when you see them really let it go.  Seeing the tears in Hero adds a dimension.

So here is my twist – how many of you who don’t sign can provide me the three best ASL performances of your life that are the most meaningful to you?  No sound allowed – or at a level where you can’t understand the words. You can chose from the above or find something else. You’ll find that only songs with words are meaningful unless it is dance.

 

 

 

 

 

Unsafe Containers


I have three blogs, one photo and two writing blogs. This is a good thing because as I make comments important to me, I am also involving myself in various blogging challenges. Since I have posted on the other blogs today, I’ll use this one for the daily prompt post.

Unsafe containers deals with the concept of which emotion or emotions are the hardest for me to contain.  And it is an interesting question on a number of levels.

As a social worker involved in abuse investigations I learned to develop a poker face. I didn’t respond negatively or anger-is-an-acid-that-can-do-more-harm-to-the-vessel-anger-quotepositively to the stories of others. To encourage or discourage was to influence the report or indicate something should not be discussed. I learned to compartmentalize like nobody’s business. I could not afford to allow emotion to affect my ability to work in the protective services field and I could not lose my cool in a situation where everyone except the cops and me were out of control. As a legal professional I find letting others lose their cool while I keep mine works quite well.

As someone with a hearing problem I also want to make sure the comment made that I could consider inappropriate or insulting was really what was said. I’ve learned to listen closely and clarify what I think I heard before responding. This makes me less likely to respond with any sort of emotional reaction – from joy to anger – because I need to make sure I’ve got the right understanding before I get on my behavioral horse and ride.

Can I lose my cool? Sometimes. With some people. In some situations. Start abusing someone weaker and more vulnerable around me and I’m likely to be a first responder. In fact, I recently ordered a set of kubatons for my key rings because I lost the old one. I want to practice with one of my martial arts friends again. They are of no use if I can’t use them correctly. And yes, I’d use a kubaton on an abuser without a moment’s hesitation.

Recently I was in a bizarre situation with someone who used to be a close friend who began figuratively jumping up and Entitlementdown in full victim mode, extreme entitlement mode, and greed mode. I didn’t get sad, or angry, or rude. I just said “No” and walked away. Everyone there (three men – one a friend of the other person) told me, “I don’t understand your patience with that person.” I’m still not angry over it, but I now have the answer to the repeated question of  “Why don’t I have any friends?” No, I’m not going to address it because it would not do any good.  If anything, I pity that individual as a lost cause.

Do I ever get angry? Now and then. I become infuriated by injustice. I am irritated beyond belief at many of the comments in the #NotAllMen thread on Twitter and participate in the #YesAllWomen thread because I’m sick and tired of rape culture in America. I remember coming back from Uni in Australia and being traumatized by the violence here for a good six months. I sometimes #yesallwomenvent about the fact medical providers and other professionals don’t treat the disabled (physical, emotional, mental, visual, hearing) appropriately. However, instead of screaming at someone I merely go into advocate mode and get exceptionally assertive.

If anything, I am too quiet at times. I’m an introvert. I’m hard of hearing. I am an observer rather than a participant unless my participant is needed.  So I’m not sure I’ve got an unsafe container lying around. A few people relate to that as my being “wise” to which I respond “Never confuse wisdom with mileage.” I’ve got lots of mileage – more than most – in my almost 65 years on this planet.

It is possible I sent all my unsafe containers to recycling.

The leaky cup


Once upon a time there was a leaky cup. Whether it had a little hole in the bottom
or a crack on the side is unimportant. The cup leaked. A lot. And it hated the fact it leaked.  Because it always went dry and it could not get full.

One day, the leaky cup decided that if only someone could pour enough into it that it would get full.  So the leaky cup went in search of the mythical person who could fill it up to the brim and keep it happy.

Of course, the result was predictable. No matter how much liquid of any kind a person poured into the cup, the cup was always on the losing end of things. And if there was a sort of equilibrium gained through pouring at the same rate the liquid leaked out, sooner or later the person pouring got tired or ran out of liquid and the leaky cup went dry again.

The cup argued and cried, yelled and sulked, pleaded and begged, complained bitterly about the inequity of things, became indignant and blamed the person with the liquid for not taking care of things in the right way.  Meanwhile, the bewildered pourer finally gave up pouring from lack of liquid, lack of time, or sheer exhaustion. The cup went from person to person, asking politely at first and then demanding more, more, more. And when the person could not give more the cup flounced off in search of that ideal pourer.

At various times the selected victim pourer suggested calking or other ways of patching up the leak in the cup, but the cup was greatly insulted and insisted that the fault was in the person doing the pouring, rather than in the structure of the cup itself.  In fact, the cup eventually convinced the pourers they must be mad to think the cup itself could not hold liquid.

Many persons exhausted themselves attempting to help the leaky cup. But sooner or later the leaky cup would have had enough of failure and move on to the next mythical cup filler.

The moral to the story is…If you find you cannot fix the problem with a leaky cup that has taken up residence in your bed house life heart  cupboard, THROW IT OUT! QUICK!

Letting a leaky cup tell you the leak is not his her it’s problem means assuming all the responsibility for fixing the problem.  Pouring faster isn’t the solution. It never will be.  It will only make you feel defective for being unable to fill the cup up.  It only took me 20 years to figure it out.

I need an organizer


I need motivation. I need… I’m not sure what I need.

I have this room, you see. And in it are most of my worldly possessions.  My bedroom furniture, clothing, computer(s) and pretty much everything that doesn’t stay at my office. Except for the stuff in the attic.  And yet, despite my best efforts, things keep accumulating and I have gotten to the point that it has reached almost the stage of a teenagers room.  I’m on terminal overload.

And instead of fixing it – I’m ignoring it.  I crawl into bed at night, grab a book on criminal profiling or some other distracting topic, or blog for awhile and  pretend the chaos does not exist. This is not a fly-lady sort of 15 minute process.  It is more like a version of Hoarders that is going to require a dump truck.  Well, that’s not actually possible, but it feels that way.

All I need are a few sets of fresh eyes and ideas.  I wonder who I can get?  Not my kid who is a spacial genius and wunderkind with organization. She’s off the grid for the next six months recovering from “falling down a mountain” and getting her body pinned back together. Not my friend JP, who is getting ready to move to NH.  I can’t afford to pay a real organizer.  They’re great, but expensive.

Oh, what the heck, I’m going to walk the dog.  Maybe the elven folks will figure out what to do while I am gone.  And did I mention I also need to rearrange it? And get the AC in the window? And… I’m going to go walk the dog now.

Forgiveness


There is disaster in the air.  Miscommunications. Anger. Blame. Recriminations.  It is so incredibly difficult when we find ourselves in the middle of a firestorm of emotions and conclusions when relationships fall into disrepair.

Whether it is friends who part with acrimony or parents who find themselves fighting over children and property in a failed marriage, it results in truly being unable to see the other person in an rational manner.

Sometimes I find myself attempting to bridge a chasm of communication between various warring parties and find both feet on fire. Tact and discretion is strained.

Having “been there” and “done that” a few years ago I understand how emotions can run rampant when friends find relationships have reached a rupturing point and when long-term families sunder.  What begins in such hope, joy, and promise is laid waste by time, miscommunication, and an inability to forgive and move forward.

There is finger pointing, harsh words are exchanged, mistrust developed, and for the married folks, lawyers and legal point/counter-point. Sometimes parents lose track of what is really important (the children) during attempts to achieve a particular goal – custody, a house, who gets the dog, and so on and so forth.  Former friends may divvy up friends in common, forcing them to take sides (never a good thing).

Sometimes there are true crisis points and when the warring parties are unable or unwilling to look beyond their own pain, their own mistrust, then even greater harm happens.  All situations pass in time. All pain lessens in the long run.

It is difficult to forgive in the middle of a firestorm. It is not impossible, though, but difficult as the firestorm itself whips up emotions time and time again.  Just as things calm down another raging bout of inferno sweeps through triggered by some life event.

Sometimes, only through reaching forgiveness and acceptance can we survive emotionally.  Sometimes only forgiveness allows us to see how we are harming others – and ultimately, ourselves.  Failing to forgive is like drinking poison and then expecting it to kill the person we’re refusing to forgive.  It ain’t easy, merely necessary lest we die on our own sword of anger.

Usually, forgiveness comes pretty easily to me. The worst case for me was three years of agony attempting to let go of what I could not change and accept that I have no control over another person, since the only person I have any control over is myself. It was probably the worst period in my life, bar none.

If, today, you find yourself at a juncture at which you can rage or at which you can step back and
consider forgiveness as a tool to helping yourself, I hope you travel the path less chosen.  The one of forgiveness.

Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time—just like it does for you and me.  ~ Sara Paddison

And it’s a tossup


While I like my iCom and hearing my phone through my hearing aid, I think it is a tossup when it comes to the folks who are on the other end of the phone.  Some say they hear me just fine while others ask me if I am on a speaker phone since they get reverberation.   Apparently, microphone placement is critical and I wear mine around my neck.  Then again, I’ve had the iCom under a coat and the gent I was talking to heard me just fine.  Go figure.

From my end, I’ve never heard better in my life (that I can remember) and certainly I’ve never heard this well on any phone, ever. However, communication is a two-way street. Um, hello? Can you hear me now?