Bravery In The Wee Hours

Ready. I prepared to hit the spider my cats had cornered in the bathroom, and I held a napkin for the clean-up—me, the tired human living with two felines who chase bugs.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Even in the middle of the night, my male cat leaps over objects to obtain prey. Like the predators they are, my two lovely beasts will stop at nothing, not even toppling lamps, to reach a moth or “water bug.” I put the last in quotes since exterminators have informed me those large critters are American Roaches.

Oh My!

It was before my coffee, and I expected to see one of the brown American visitors being the latest prey. Until I saw it wasn’t. I’d been rather blasé regarding the event because of my assumption. Seeing changed my attitude. Every inner alarm came on and I was awake. I started grabbing needed supplies and shouting commands like a drill sergeant, “I need paper towels.” I also snatched a shoe I’d slipped off after work last night.

I was ready.

I flew into the bathroom, still freaking out about seeing the massive spider in front of the two cats, and then I looked closer. Dammit! It was a black plastic Halloween spider. My cats had spoofed me.

Cats! They do the darnedest things.

Cats make me smile

We Are Beautiful People

She is broken.

A misfit. She doesn’t fit anymore. The whispers surround her. You see that lady, the one at the end of the bar, her clothes were once beautiful but now are wrinkled with lingering odors.

When the men knew her name, they poured glasses of champagne, brought her lush red roses, and whispered sweet things in her ear. Now, she drinks alone.

In her dreams at night, she still stands on the stage. She’s engulfed in a cloud of cigarette smoke and wearing her favorite dress. She belts out a song with such enthusiasm that the audience rises to their feet—the best day of her life.

Bowls and Memories

The world was big and ready to be explored when I was four. It was also a scary place where I could fall. But the fear didn’t stop me.

There was a hole in the kitchen floor. In my two-year-old mind, it was huge. My family lived in a travel trailer. There were a hundred acres of land with pecan trees and livestock, horses, chickens, all with a nearby river and wooded area, wild enough for any child’s fantasy. The hole—I avoided it, walked around it, afraid of falling.

When I was three or four, I remember picking pecans. My first experience with money and the thrill of commerce. Power.

I remember sitting carefully on the toilet. Mom bought an adapter seat so that I wouldn’t be afraid.

Falling in holes, dropping in toilets, we can’t forget that I dove out the door. I was young. Early that morning, dad had been plowing the cornfield, and he had a bowl that he wanted me to come and get. I was happy to run to help — a good little worker. I stood on the edge of the open door, and I knew I should sit down and scoot. The steps were tall. Four-year-old little legs can’t leap the way her big brothers do, but I never realized this. So I jumped.

I jumped and missed the steps. What happened afterward is a blur. I screamed. I’d fallen awkwardly on my arm, pinning it under my body against the concrete steps. People say there’s no pain when you break a bone. Or it hurts worse if you’re an adult. I don’t know what type of weed they’re smoking because pain hurts everyone.

For fifty years, I’ve tried to convince Mom that I jumped, that Dad did not force me to run outside for the bowl, but she’s stayed stuck in the blaming. Dad will always be The Evil One. And I’m not sure where that puts me.

I had difficulties at a young age. As a kid, my life was out of my hands. Written in these paragraphs are memories, vivid. They are the squares of fabric I’ve sewn into my life. Why did I save these and shelve the others? Memories are packets, and you change them each time you examine them. And every person who sees an event will see it differently.

How do you see yourself?

People Watching

Do you enjoy guessing what people are doing, where they live, or what their bad habits are? Do you people watch? I do it to pass the time.

Who are these people? Are they going to work or playing a game of dress up?

Fearless people are interesting to watch. 

Ron Perlman

From the voice of Chibundu Onuzo–I’ve missed traditional people-watching during the lockdown. Of course, we all watched people from our windows. The delivery drivers who always seemed to go to the wrong address. The mothers (and it was mostly mothers in my neighbourhood) on their school runs, herding children to the school gates. And of course, the righteous runners, cyclists and power walkers, refusing to let a global pandemic stand in the way of their fitness goals.

The Guardian, Lockdown Stole the Fun of People Watching

How to Begin People Watching by wikiHow.

  1. Find an area with the demographic that you want to watch.
  2. Go to an area that is well-populated.
  3. Sit in a spot where you’re out of the way.
  4. Set goals for your people watching if you want to learn something. (people watching is good for character studies in writing and acting)
  5. Bring a friend with you to have more fun.
  6. Wear an outfit that won’t make you stand out.
  7. Bring a notebook to write down interesting moments or people.
  8. Act like you are doing something on a phone or laptop.
  9. Think about each person that passes and who they might be.
  10. Avoid passing judgement on anyone.
  11. Observe people’s body language to pick up on their emotions.
  12. Listen to people’s voices as they talk to learn more about them.  – steps by wikiHow, italics are mine

Most of the information is simple, but there are a few reminders which I find useful such as, don’t make yourself obvious. I also like going to heavier populated areas if I can. The more people, the less likely you will be noticed, think sports events and farmer’s markets.

Remember why you are watching people. For me, this is not stalking or ridiculing people. I enjoy observing real speech patterns and true interactions as they happen. If I hear a good phrase I jot it in my phone app. These are valuable when writing fiction dialogue.

Being an actress, I find myself people-watching and I can be quite shy. 

Emma Watson

Is there anything you would add or change? Do you people watch? Or is it repulsive to you? I want to know. Leave a comment.

The Day For Luck – 13th

A black cat crossed my path many years ago. It was around 2002. I haven’t been the same since Ms.Kitty moved into my home then took over my life. I struggle with writing these words because I miss her cuddles. She was my best friend. Eighteen years is a long life for a cat, a good luck cat.

May all go with you today. All of the bad has happened and is done, and for today, this one day, may there be beauty.

May the luck of the cats be with you.

The Balance of Living

Today seems like a good day for taking it easy. I believe it’s good to find balance in each day. I want to work, rest, be generous, and remember to find the “awe” of life by watching a sunset or doing things I enjoy.

Life is about living. As soon as we stop and plop ourselves onto a couch, our purpose is gone. Well, I think you know what happens next. It’s the downhill roll. I want to live and be full of the energy of growth. Keep going. Learn new things. Go to new places. Or do stupid stuff. Have fun in this life.

I KNOW it’s not easy. And I’m sorry for those who are struggling. We need to keep trying. I will, and I hope you will be here with me.

#Thankyou for being here with me. Could you show me your fun and happy pictures? #happypictures

Trigger Yourself Happy

Are you telling yourself that you never win anything? The loser. Stupid. Have to get everything the hard way. If you get any extra money, something will break. Or any other hysterically depressing life script. It’s not a laughing matter at all.

Emotions are a great navigation tool. We feel jealous, irritated, and mean if someone gets an opportunity we wanted.

Is someone bragging about their perfect marriage? An opportunity to go back to school? A moment in the limelight? Yep, we all know the feeling. So I get irritated when I hear that some celebrity has published a book. And it’s a children’s book. I pull out my collapsible podium and go at them. How dare they? What qualifies them to write anything? They are a celebrity without skills. Not fair! Your sister or coworker gives birth to a baby, and their baby is adorable—cough, cough, gag.

TELL YOUR NEW STORY

Old: I need to catch up. I need to be faster, or I will get left behind.

New: I am going at my speed. Life has varied paces. We are not in a timed race, and there’s not a finish line.

If the story of a friend’s vacation makes you want to punch her, take a hint. You want a break. Do you deserve one? Or do you think you’ve worked harder than her and you didn’t take one? Investigate your envy. Start checking your irritations instead of ignoring them. The “Not Fair” flashing alert comes on for me at times. When you feel anger, ask, “what am I missing in this?” Do I want what they have? Or the ability to have a choice?

When you feel anger, learn to question why.

Memories can be the beginning of your new story. You’ve done the most challenging part. You’ve identified what makes you jealous. Finally, you can make it into a new story, the story you want to develop. So now, let’s give it some life.

START AGAIN

Find a memory that supports your new story. I have a strong memory of enjoying work. I loved making money. It started around age three. And all the way through high school, people knew me and thought of me as a good worker. This is important since I had Fifteen years of not officially working and being told that my money wouldn’t be needed in the household. Those years in my marriage drained away my confidence. I had to pull from my memory to rebuild myself. So, I am incredibly thankful for the old votes of confidence.

I am thankful for every determined woman or man who refused to sit down and shut up when someone challenged their rights.

Energy flows to where your attention goes. And if you are driving in the fog and it’s difficult to see, maybe all you can see is the car in front of you. That’s where you look. Otherwise, you drift off the road. Your life script is your guidance. When the times are tough, you have to remember that it doesn’t last forever. That a new day will come. When someone else gets the job you wanted, remember you are just as blessed. Maybe their boss favors them. But tomorrow is a new day. That boss may not last another week, you don’t know. I’ve seen it happen. That sure thing can fall through. And yes, we have seen the sure bets collapse. If everything fails, what do you have? Your life story can’t be taken from you.

IN SUMMARY

  • Find your emotional flashing lights.
  • Examine the emotional story.
  • Use your emotions to learn what you want.
  • Build a new story with examples from your memories.
  • Repeat.
  • Keep at this and you will forget the envy and jealousy.

Sit and Rest

“Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk
and we’re at
the edge of the roof.”
Rumi

It’s enough for today. Whatever you have done, all you accomplished, however little or big it was, it is enough. That mental list you keep, it can go into a drawer for now. Let’s rest. Sigh. Stretch. Sit back down. Fluff your pillow. Quit measuring your success. It’s only a shadow anyway, an illusion.

Remember what you enjoy. Is it cheese? Or the many shades of red? Do you love the sight of the sun as it sets over the ocean? Capture the feeling of these moments. Experience more of life. This is your real success.

Sunny Side

I’ve been a blonde since as far back as I can remember. That’s how I think of myself, a blonde. I don’t say I have light hair, or I’m the one who streaks bleach through my short strands then masks on some vanilla toner. Nope. It’s a self-portrait thing. This is me, The Blonde. As a teenager, my method was a cocktail of lemon and peroxide. Then, with a bit of music, hot sunshine, and my stinky stuff on my hair, I had my own spa and salon.

The ridiculousness of color and identity isn’t lost on me. So I’ve been pushing those boundaries, trying to gently explore new possibilities. But there are limits. As a child, I wished to be as dark-eyed and brown-haired as my cousins were. My mom’s youngest brother has almost black eyes, and in my memories from my childhood, his hair was dark and wavy brown.

Across the Border

A girlfriend and I decided to walk across the border from Brownsville, Texas, into Mexico. We were on vacation one summer around 2005 and had driven 18 hours to get away, to be free. This was our wild moment. So we walked our very American-looking selves into the crowd and the cars already filtering toward Mexico. Neither of us had been here before. My friend, “C,” had recently lightened her hair a lot. Ordinarily, she’s a brunette. She was 5 foot and prayer tall, with a good dose of the short person’s complex, or as she called it, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Personally, I think C just had a rough life.

Cigarettes were cheap on the other side. And it was C’s smoking habit that encouraged us to make this trip into Mexico. I was excited to do a new thing. We stepped onto brick streets and entered a narrowing old-world city. The roads were willy-nilly, and we came with no map. C became agitated, which surprised me. For all of the time I had known her, I had thought of her as bold and brash. Finally, I said we should walk on, just remember the way we came in.

Hey Blondie

While we walked through markets that were selling blankets, bags, dolls, and rugs, the male stall owners hollered in English, “Hey Blondie, Over here. You come. Buy.” over and over again. “Hey, Blondies.” Now, my friend was ready to go. And I understood. I’m sure she had been catcalled and whistled at before, but she was feeling like prey. It made me reconsider how I have been treated. The men didn’t upset me. This concerns me.

As a child, I was blondie, even to strangers. I didn’t choose my identity or my name. The culture I was born into chose my religion, politics, dress style, and education. Somewhere in all of that, I made choices. Our identities guide us. Yet, we are blind to the choices we make because of their influences.

For another version of this story read my earlier post from 2016 Profiling Me.