The Imaginary Girl

 

Long past the age of adorableness and magic, I began to realize I never had an imaginary friend. I think I read about it (yes, I was that precocious) and heard about it (undoubtedly, by my mother’s friends who gushed over the cuteness of their littlest angels) but began to feel I had missed out on something important. Something I could do that would get my mother to gush. I missed an important normal step and knew it was crucial to fill this lacking, and that clearly, was something I could fix.

I set up my family (why have just one imaginary friend?) behind the couch. My mother tastefully arranged her two love seats at a 90 degree angle, in our expanded Levitt living room, so there was space between the wall and sofa pieces, as well as a large, 3 panel divider behind them, which created a nice hidden corner. This is where my dollhouse furniture went. I just had to figure out how to differentiate between ordinary dollhouse play and conversing and playing with a small family that did not exist.

I began to spend time behind the couches, in my imaginary family’s little rooms. I felt smaller. I fit in. I made sure my parents knew I was there, and, in rapt attention, translated the invisible, silent dialouge that occured.

I could tell I did not have them fooled.

I knew my miniature people did not exist, but as I became more adept at pretending they did, the more I took comfort in them, that space. The quiet.  Out of sight. Agreeing, out loud, with whatever advice my imaginary people were telling me. They were accurately right most of the time.

One day, after the mail came, my dad called me out from behind my lair. Dad was home during the day, as his newpaper had gone on strike months before.  He had an air-mail letter, which I immediately recognized was from my brother who was in Vietnam. The thin, transluscent paper, scrawled with my brother’s small, even letters, spelled out my parent’s worst fear- he had been gravely wounded. The letter was written from the hospital, so he had been through the worst of it (describing the gangrene in great, gory detail). My father, at that moment, told me my job. My job was to create a last page forgery, a “rosier” army portrait of events, and dad would throw out the bulk of the letter. My dad was company historian for his company in WW2 and recorded both “official” documentation and “unofficial” documentation- the latter, as it turns out, was the true version.

Forgery seemed to be a talent of mine. My father figured that out when he never received my report cards. I got good grades, was placed in advanced reading, but my conduct was always a red letter “U”for unsatisfactory. Signing my parent’s  names became secondary nature. My dad took out blank pages of air-mail paper and told me what to write. It only took me two tries before he felt it would pass the test. It was brief, “counting the days ’til (he) returned home,”and sending love. It managed to bypass the injury, hospital stay and near-amputation. My father felt he needed to tell my mother the news another way. Hysterics followed her and preceded her.

My brother returned to the states that Christmas. I don’t remember what happened to the home for my imaginary family. I imagine it was cleared out, as we had company and no one mentioned or asked “who lived behind the couch?” if they accidentally saw any evidence of doll furniture. Or heard quiet voices.

I never went back to check on them after that day. I guess I lost that part of my childhood. But I gained something even more important; my dad needed me to soften the blow to our family. Something that happened far off, away from our minds and imaginations, created havoc unless I fixed it.

And I did.

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SELF-CARE

1) Don’t rush through tasks

     – Have you noticed when you are feeling stressed -out (See: November 8, 2016), everything feels like a chore? I mean EVERYTHING: From showering to dusting to making love, we tend to want to put off or rush through it. That feeling of “I’m not doing enough.” Or “On to the next thing!”

We all know the story of the spiritual apprentice, who travels 1000 miles to find the wise guru in his fields, tilling the soil. “Oh, Great Master! I have come far! What is the SECRET to life?” The sage continues looking down, tilling the soil.

Be mindful. If you mind wanders, bring it back to the task. Do not beat yourself up when your mind wanders, however!

It will. Just don’t check Twitter yet.

2) Tell yourself, often: “YOU’RE DOING GREAT!”

     – Did you brush your teeth today? Great! Did you reach out to a friend? Great! Did you watch caterpillars all day? Great! Are you breathing? Great!

3) Remember: Actitivity leads to action leads to activism.

     – Notice when you are active, focused on task or playing or creating, you feel empowered. This empowerment can be utilized into making a small difference in this political climate- calling your representative about an issue, signing a petition, volunteering in a food kitchen, reaching out to like-minded individuals, doing something for someone else. Nothing is small or insignificant.

Tweet if you must. Just don’t spend the majority of your time, living through the lives of others on Facebook.

4) BREATHE

     – Yes, everyone says this, and we say “yeh, okay, of course” but stress causes shallow breathing and thus, poor oxygen and blood circulation. Andrew Weill’s Breathing Technique of 4-7-8 works well. With your tongue on the roof of your mouth, sit up straight, and breathe in for the count of 4. Hold for 7. Breathe out, through your mouth, for the count of 8. Repeat 3-5 times. Do this several times a day.

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A reminder for today. And by the way, YOU’RE DOING GREAT.

 

 

 

 

The Brand (And Myth) Of Reality

We think that the seeking, the attaining, the working at, the goal-setting, the relationships, the failures and successes, the meditation, the spiritual practices will bring us to a moment, an experience we created, exposing us to a piece of what? What feeds the fiction that we are driving and in control of this projected separate experience of some individuated perspective – this is not a meaningless illusion?

This is not a drill. This is the Big Phuck.

If you don’t reach or find or discover meaning, congratulations, you are free from the brand of the illusion of reality.29078795502_b48734e822_o

[blog # 14 #AntiSocialSocialMediaExperiment #SocialMediaSummerSabbatical ]

Take comfort in your characters.

“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.” ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

“Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”― Samuel Smiles

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I look forward to spending time with my characters the five days a week I write.

I can’t wait to see what they’ll say and do. I feel for them.

40,000 words into my 2nd draft. Head down now. No more distractions.

Where will I place my characters when this journey is over?

[blog # 13 #AntiSocialSocialMediaExperiment #SocialMediaSummerSabbatical

 

Impermanence

“Death is not an ending. It is a transformation. What dies is only our sense of identiy, which was false to begin with.” – Deng Ming-Dao

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The cocoon seemed so exposed. The ants had already destroyed one that precariously hung off the patch of milkweeds. One butterfly, found dead, was not fully formed or perhaps, eaten by birds. We decided to take the remaining cocoon on the porch. I carefully cut the stalk of the milkweed stem and placed it in a vase with other flowers. I tied the milkweed leaf on the stem on day 3 after I noticed falling dead leaves, afraid the leaf holding the cocoon would be next; a delicate operation, but success! On day 10 or so at 2 AM, I noticed the cocoon changing color (as it had over it’s metamorphosis) but darker now. My butterfly was emerging. I stayed up as long as I could to witness another miracle. This was not my first birthing of butterflies. The next morning, my little buddy was next to her cocoon. My husband had placed her and the vase outside but I wasn’t ready to let go. I easily convinced myself: it wasn’t ready, it’s gonna rain really hard, the birds will eat her before she has a chance to fly away. I brought her back onto the porch. It rained really hard! She could not yet fly, as monarchs spend hours drying their wings. My husband said “how could this be? how could they ever survive? can nature be that cruel?” (we know that answer, don’t we?) My sweet butterfly lived on the porch for a day and half. This morning, i saw her on the screeen. I offerd her my finger. She climbed onto it. I opened the porch door, and walked with her to the milkweeds down the path. I placed her on the orange flower. She quickly flew off! I watched her circle the swath of flowers, up into our oak tree, then over our fence, away from view. I felt happy. I smiled. My little girl was grown and free. It’s the afternoon now and it’s raining really hard. I am trying not to focus on “oh no, what if she’s too wet?” and think instead: she’s safe under a bush. Life is impermanent. Holding on to anything is futile. I will find freedom with this knowledge.

[ Blog # 12 #SocialMediaSummerSabbatical #AntiSocialSocialMediaExperiment ]

Momma always said “Politics Is Like A Box Of Cereal” – Forrest Trump

You want a bowl of cereal. You’re craving a bowl of cereal. Something sweet like when you were a kid. Trix. Alphabits (but the ones before they changed the ingredients). Coco Puffs (only because they were not allowed in your house).

You check the kitchen cabinet and damn, you’re out of cereal. You check the pantry: Eureka! But damn damn, it’s generic bran flakes. You go to the dollar store down the street and go to the cereal aisle. There is only brand name (expired? damaged?) cereal but it’s those large tasteless rectangle wheat bars. Kinda shredded-like. (no one enjoys being sued).

You go home with your tasteless weird wheat shreds and pour a giant bowl. Your plan is to cover the damn things in as much sugar as you can, slice up some fruit on top.

Oh. My. God. You don’t have enough milk. You are not about to go to the store again!

You look at the carton, hoping for x-ray vision, gauging just how much milk is left.

Cereal to milk ratio is the meaning of life.

After giving the carton a good shake then peering inside, you realize you have to remove some of the cereal. You will have to sacrifice some of the rectangles and most of the banana. You start a second bowl with the leftovers and put it in the fridge, leaving it for “later.”(tbh= throw out)

You wait until your show comes back on before pouring the milk on the cereal because cereal to milk crunchiness is the meaning of life.

You do it. Grab your spoon and napkin first, then pour!

Perfect. The fucking milk is bad! The milk is lumpy, smelly and sour.

You dump it all out and decide to move to Italy and eat gelato for the rest of your life.

 

[Blog # 11 – #SocialMediaSummerSabbatical #SummerSocialMediaSabbatical #AntiSocialSocialMediaExperiment ]

 

How to not hold on to sanity

A458C7C6-1A34-445F-AAB7-DEF018AE0583I get into the most trouble when I try to hold on. It doesn’t matter what it is: an idea, a thought, a feeling, a relationship, an experience- none of it serves the ME in the end. What’s harder? Trying to let go? Trying to let go of: an idea, a thought, a feeling, a relationship, an experience- either way, the cluster fuck seems to be in the “trying”.

Could it be the ME is drawn to self-imposed suffering; a non-stop, commercial-free, one way fearful trip to a future that never arrives?

I live an extraordinary life and yet I wake up to battle everyday. I don’t give myself a break until hours after I’m conscious. Sometimes, I’m relieved that in 20 years I’ll probably get to punch my time card for the last time and retire to the Afterlife. I put in my time on Earth. I won’t be needing a gold Apple watch either.

There is respite. Today,

I find comfort in my  thoughts or they can be my worse enemy.

When my mind is searching around, waiting to land on the roulette wheel of emotions, I can easily fall to existential angst or the latest shooting/attack/atrocity (#Munich #CharlesKinsey #TrumpSpeech) for suffering solace. Or perhaps because the first love encounter you are writing for your character turns into a sexual assault.

Perhaps the trick is forging ahead (“just keep swimming”) and keep that augmented reality in the background.

Perhaps I have to let go of this notion.

7/24/16

[BLOG # 10 #SummerSocialMediaSabbatical #TheAntiSocialSocialExperiment #SocialMediaSummerSabbatical ]

 

Mental health, the criminal justice system, and how I blame Elayne Boosler

Yesterday, I did something out of the norm. I sent two letters out. Both to prisons. Both to men in their 20’s, serving time for violent crimes. One for 13 years. One for life. They both suffer from severe mental illness. One is a friend’s son and one is an ex-client. Neither could get proper help on the “outside”.  Neither is getting help on the “inside” – the justice system and these privatized institutions do not deal with “crazy”. Why should they?

Only 15-20% of Police forces in the country have crisis intervention officers specializing in mental health. [Nightline: 7.22.16]

I have a close friend on Twitter with PTSD who just bought a gun. She sounds angry and out of touch- a lot. Today she’s TRUMPED up by the fear mongering. We are to believe we need to treat these pockets of horrific violence militarily, not as the law enforcement or mental health issue and gun proliferation that it is. We ignore the roots and want quick easy answers.

I wonder if we’ll ever be able to connect the dots to sanity in this country?

 

On another Note-A Confession: I cheated this week and went onto Facebook. I went to check on a friend and came across an Elayne Boosler Game. How could I resist? I checked Twitter today too and even posted via an anonymous account. #Munich #MichaelKinsey #RNC #damn

 I still blame Elayne Boosler for my Social Media Sabbatical slide.

[blog # 9 #AntiSocialSocialMediaExperiment #SummerSocialMediaSabbatical]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on the task at hand: saying goodbye to VHS.

Find myself wanting to scroll through Twitter SO BADLY at times – like a smoker, HABIT/ INGRAINED in my muscle memory. MUST PICK UP PHONE. I’m used to checking after coffee, bathroom breaks, afternoon slumps, teatime, lunchtime, during coffee, waiting for anything. Mornings, Afternoons, Late evening. Before coffee.

ADDICT/SCHMADDICT

True, I fell off the wagon a few times. But I’m making the rules. I am allowed (says me) to post on my news and political account once in awhile and to dm my brother. The universe reminded me STAY OFF when I saw “jihadi obama” on a hashtag. O.M.F.G. Remember the “UNPATRIOTIC AMERICANS” questioning Dubya? Don’t get me started.

Doing better with Facebook but went on once to see how my friend’s surgery went (only because she didn’t return my call.)

I didn’t visit or “like” (emote) any posts. Phew.

Guess what I’ve discovered? I have a lot more time! When the break from writing becomes a green adventure outside or Tai Chi or stillness (watching the infinite between my thoughts) becomes priority. When I can remind myself- you are chipping away at whatever arbitrary (read: SO IMPORTANT) goal you set- progress is being made! Maybe they won’t want to bury you with your bins afterall! Film gets scanned, photos get deleted, edited, organized S.L.O.W.L.Y., home movies get CONVERTED TO DVD THEN PLACED ON YOUTUBE.

(It’s official. We are no longer carrying memores on VideoTape!)

The green is calling me now.  Will visit the monarch caterpillars who are all cocooning.

Just like me.

post #8 #SocialMediaSummerSabbatical

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