Please Vote

I was a freshman in college when Watergate finally took Richard Nixon down. I listened to his resignation speech on the radio at my part-time job. In fact, I became a political science major because of what was going on in Washington, D.C., although my family always encouraged me to read the news and keep up with what was going on in the world.

I was in one of the first groups of 18-year-olds to vote for the first time!

And now, when the world seems to be in constant turmoil, the one thing we can positively do as American citizens is vote! Please do not think your vote doesn’t matter because it does. Every vote matters.

I will not use my blog to promote politics, because we each have a right to our own opinions, and I am not judging anyone’s free speech. However, I do think we have a responsibility as citizens to go to the polls. Today is the last day of September. The days are moving quickly.

Mark your calendar for Tuesday, November 6 and vote.

 

Forget About It

There isn’t anything special about today. It’s Sunday which is a nice rest day for many people, but since my unemployment kicked in, I have been struggling to remember what day it is. After all those years of Monday, waiting for Friday, I’m lost.

I am a control person, meaning of course, I like to have everything neatly piled on my desk and ready to go. I do not line up my pencils; I stick them in a cup, but even with my classes and the book I’m trying to write, no I should say writing because it passed through as a grad thesis from two professors who liked it. Prof Ulrich told me to “shape the dissonance into a dance,” and so I did, but it’s only 114 pages, and there is more.

Much more.

And I think the piece that has stymied my is writing about the effect of depression for the last few years. I feel empty and it’s a lot easier to stuff bad thoughts and bad things from the past deep deep down. In fact, I throw them down the well, the dark part of my mind.

I thought, after my suicide attempt I had sunk as far down as possible. But no, there is more, like a cave ledge. You throw a small stone over the side, and listen to it fall, water dripping all around you, and after a few moments, you realize the stone is still falling and you will, too, if you jump. I wonder what’s at the very bottom of an endless chasm. Is it only endless to us because we can’t hear the stone falling anymore? But imagine, it must stop somewhere! The only way to find out is to jump, and I’m not ready to do that. I’m not brave enough.

adult adventure blue jeans boots
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

All I Can Do is Write

I hate Cancer. I had it and got lucky. I beat it, just in time.

I hear about it so much on social media that I just get angry. Dammit! It’s not fair. I have lost friends and relatives. I read about children who have it. It’s not fair. The treatments are getting better (as mine was), but there is always someone else who can’t beat it even though they try with every ounce of strength in their bodies.

Later, we read, this person lost their battle with cancer. Just wait a darn minute! How do we fight something inside our body that we can’t see? Advantage, cancer. Not fair!

I remember having my last appointment with my doctor after surgery. There was a woman at the counter who had been successful, and she whooped it up, but I saw another woman in the corner who clearly wasn’t doing so well. I mentally sent her good thoughts, but I wanted to hug her. Of course I couldn’t. I remembered people doing that to me, and although they only meant well, I didn’t want a hug.

I wanted to run after the loud woman and ask her if she know what she had done to the woman in the corner wearing the bright head scarf.

I got lucky, but I tried to leave the doctor’s waiting room as quietly as possible.

To anyone, anyone fighting, I send my love.

 

 

Sports and Other Oddities

Girls were just beginning to be encouraged to play sports in the late 1960s. I had half athletic genes from my Dad, but my mother broke her collar bone trying to execute a forward roll during high school gym class. It was gym class, not P.E., and the teacher was the gym teacher, of course. Today, most athletic teachers hate the term “gym.” I just hate the whole subject. Everything we did was prescribed for us, and thank goodness the sexes were separated in high school.

In the fall, we played softball. I couldn’t figure out if I was a leftie or a rightie, because no one had taught me how to hold the bat until the gym teacher yelled at me to use my dominant hand. (“No, Sonya, the other side of the base!”) The first time my bat connected with the ball, I threw the bat and got tossed out of the game. I didn’t do it on purpose. I was just so surprised I hit something! Being in the outfield was worse. We didn’t have gloves to catch the balls flying everywhere, and I backed away from the falling balls instead of trying to catch them. It must have been hilarious to watch me as I cowered down when a softball started to descend near me.

It’s funny now, but I still stay away from flying softballs and other objects. Even in a room, if someone yells, “Here! Catch!” I hold my hands out uselessly. Sometimes I get lucky enough to catch it with my body. It’s not that I think catching things is a required skill in life. I just remember the hoots of laughter (even the gym teacher) when I couldn’t manage the ball.

Guess who was picked last for gym teams.

I think if I had made up my mind to catch the ball, I could have done it, but my head said, “You idiot! What are you trying to do? Be a baseball player?” It was impossible.

**********

There was something I was good at in gym class: square dancing. I swung my partner and do-si-do’d all over the gym floor. I loved it; as far as I was concerned, we could have done that all year. My secret desire to take dancing lessons had come true! Unfortunately, square dancing lasted only a few short weeks, and then the boys went back to their side of the gym, and the girls to theirs. It would be mid-winter by then, and I knew what was coming next: gymnastics.

In the next gym class, the floor would be outfitted with a balance beam, trampoline, uneven bars, and something the teachers called a “horse.” I had watched the Olympics, so I knew how athletes were supposed to use this equipment. We were beginners, but there were always a few girls in my class every year who were good at everything. Everything. And they knew it.

“Please, Miss Loren, please! Can I show how to do a cartwheel and split?”

“Well, Jenny, you may, but remember girls, not everyone can do this!”

And with that caveat, Jenny would do cartwheels and handsprings and double forward rolls and end in a split that earned her the applause and attention she sought. I cowered in the corner and prayed for my period to start and last for several weeks so I could get out of gymnastics. It never worked.

 

Go Ahead and Cry

I have always considered myself a glass half-empty girl. If someone demanded that I put myself in one space or another, it would have to be introvert. Since I have had depression most of my life, that’s quite natural. I’d rather read than play outside, and I still feel that way.

But since my depression spiraled me down so low in the last five years, and I bounced off the bottom of the well, I have become a crier. I believe that when I was a child, I was told to stuff my feelings  down and not cry.

I remember clearly, the afternoon after my sister had been hit by a car when my grandma Lilly came to my classroom to pick me up. I had no idea what had happened, but one look at my grandmother’s face scared me. As my teacher helped me with my coat, my eyes never left grandma’s face, and finally, as I stepped near to her she whispered, “Deanna was hit by a car. She’s in the hospital.” As my teacher helped me with my coat, I began to tear up, but grandma told me not to cry, and she took my arm as we walked away.

I don’t remember much after that. Deanna had a concussion but wasn’t hurt badly. She got flowers and a lot of cards from her classmates, and I believe she might still have a small scar near her eyebrow.

It was my sister, hurt.

But I wasn’t allowed to cry about it.

So I didn’t.

And now, I am crying about a lot of moments. Yesterday, I cried while I watched John McCain’s daughter speak. I also cried when the military men carried the coffin and gave a slow salute to honor the dead Senator. Maybe I am making up for it. There are a lot of sad things in the universe, and I am crying about them.

Parking Garages: Convenient or Confusing Hell?

Sometimes I forget about what scares me until I have to do it Twice in the last week I have had to use a parking garage.

Oh, big deal. Yeah, I know some of you use them daily, so you are immune to the dangers.

I hate parking garages! They speak to my claustrophobic tendencies in a way that is almost too horrible to describe. They are dark. They echo. They have confusing exit signs. They direct you to drive around until you are certain you have entered a parallel universe. There is a mechanical arm blocking your entrance and exit. You must take a ticket, and like the Pennsylvania Turnpike, if you lose the ticket, you will pay the MAXIMUM AMOUNT. They never tell you what the maximum amount is. What if you don’t have it? And speaking of money, how is it fair that my time begins when I get past the mechanical arm and not when I finally find a parking space?

Parking in a city garage is like driving your car in an unmarked cave of doom. My city even has the parking thrill ride of a twisted spiral in order to exit! Round and round and round. Reminds me of a hated art teacher I once had. And if you don’t move fast enough, the guy in back of you becomes a ogre and beeps his horn. Which of course, because he is going to ride my bumper and squeal his tires on purpose.

“C’mon lady! I ain’t got all day here!”

I continue to creep, stomping on my brakes at every turn, until, there it is…a perfect space. I start to pull in and see the sign. “Parking is only for residents.” Well, who would want to live here anyway?

So, usually I end up on the rooftop where there is no one, but I can let my car get some air. Frequently, it is either raining or snowing. This adds to the ambiance which I try to enjoy until I find the elevator down.

Before that, I take a picture of my level, but in one garage that didn’t help because I was on third level to park and had to go down to the second level to find the walking bridge. I was fine until I wanted to take a bag out to my car. Third level. I walked all over the hotel trying to find the walking bridge until I just gave up and waited to ask the bartender. I tipped her for the information.

When I finally found the exit, there was no attendant, and I had to figure out how to insert my parking card and pay. I swear the same guy was behind me: “Lady!” I opened my window and told him to calm down, not nicely. Then I turned the corner, and there was the street at the bottom of a long steep descent. Who designs these garages? Stephen King? Oh, the horror!

 

 

 

Waiting for the School Bell

As I write today, I realize why my moods have been introspective, and I have had to fight the Bad Critic when I thought I have been experiencing a reprieve. I woke up Sunday morning, and like two big globs of dark jelly, depression hit me hard in the face.

There’s no reason for this, I thought. I don’t have to go back to school to teach. My summer can continue for a bit. Of course, I remain a grad student, but I have no books to stack, no pencils and pens to stash and no bulletin boards to dream up.

Can we do a big Homer Simpson “Doh!”

I have been going back to school every year since 1990. I knew this moment was coming, but I thought I wouldn’t be affected. I remain a student. What’s up with this, Bad Critic?

By Sunday afternoon, I retreated to my safe place, where I don’t have to think. I napped for three hours. Three hours? Seriously, that cannot be healthy. But the reality is, my world has changed over the summer, and I walked out of the classroom. I said good-bye and cried a little, but I wasn’t expecting the Bad Critic to show up two weeks before school even starts here in the city.

I guess it all goes back a lot of years to when I was a kid, jumping up and down and anxious for school to start. New everything: clothes, lunch box, papers, pencils, everything. I mostly loved school all of my life. Regina, who lives next door, told me she was excited to go school shopping, too. I asked her if she would miss summer, and she said, “No! I’m sick of my brothers!”

Okay then. I’m going to be just a little school-sick, instead of homesick.

When I know why I’m feeling the way I do, I can get out of the depression easier. For example, when I was driving alone on the highway last Sunday, I yelled, “Get out. Leave me alone!” And you know what, it worked.

Happy Back to School, and listen to the school bell (buzzer). You might miss it one day.