Sober–Angle of self deception? Looking at sober in a new way?

Are you Sober? Am I? What is Sober?

Is Sober merely abstaining from mind altering substances such as liquor and street drugs, or, is it also being in a rational mental state also abstaining from anger and rage and silly frivolity? Is Sober avoiding (if it can be avoided) the depths of melancholy and self pity? How many people are actually Sober in your state your country, the world? Not so many.

Most of my life, I believed I had been “Sober”. Actually, I was only “Sober” on paper since I did not drink nor do street drugs with a few backslidings with alcohol and teen experimentation with pot. I also smoked for a few years.  There was also that time I did the diet pills….For the most part, I did not drink, smoke, or use recreational drugs for almost 50 years. Still, I drink lots of coffee, eat lots of sugar and bread, and take psych drugs, including benzodiazepines.  I’m a junkie, really, if you get down to it.  I have also indulged myself emotionally in anger and ranting and cursing and long periods of self pity and depression.  My Sobriety comes in moments, maybe hours but never for even a day.

I think I have used this “sober clean living” thing as a facade.  It’s a platform for sinful pride.  I’m prideful that I do not indulge in cigarettes, alcohol, sleep with men, gamble, etc…makes me think I have an “in” with God.  It’s all a lie.  God looks at the heart.  Maybe some of His favorites are junkies sitting in alleys.  Mine is a hard fisted miserable sobriety done more for self preservation than to be “good”.  White knuckles could describe it.  If I had a buck for every time I’ve wanted a cigarette these past four years….

There are many actions and attitudes in today’s society that although they do not include beer, cigarettes or cocaine or even an innocent cup of coffee, are not “Sober” activities.

Giving way to anger and rage puts one in an altered state that is ungodly.  People who used to do various drugs and drinks and tell happy stories of those days or linger on those memories or still act immature are considered “dry drunks” by organizations such as AA.  People who indulge themselves in jealousy are taken over by a demon that can lead to murder.  If your cup of tea is melancholy it can lead you to living a “dark” lifestyle where the negative and even gross aspects of life gain importance and God loses out.  Some people use incredible amounts of legal supplements to get a sort of “high”, like the kind you get drinking Red Bull or Five Hour Energy.  Those substances are good in a pinch when extra energy is needed and there is little time for rest.  God knows I have had Red Bull and Five Hour Energy, I just avoid the occult looking Monster drink.

Some people get a high off of starving which some people say is the reason it is so hard to get anorexics to eat.  Some hallucinate on long fasts and keep going on them to get enlightenment or not.  Some people eat until they get sleepy enough to block out the world.  Some people use pornography for a temporary high. There is a hypnotic state achieved by watching a movie or even TV.  Between the constant ads, brainwashing and flicker rate TV and movies are a drug.  I used to feel a lot “better” when I used to watch TV for hours every evening.  Some people use compulsive and extravagant shopping trips to get a high.  Some people play video games for hours on end. Even poor people like me buy stuff we don’t need but want just to “feel better”.  NO one is totally “Sober”.

Most of us delude ourselves into thinking we are living “clean and sober”.  With our laundry list of little habits and emotions we retain a sort of high, just enough to get through a day.  If we were to be truly sober or all substances or media including starving, overeating, and shopping, it would be unendurable to most of us.  Were they more “Sober” in the old days without all the psych drugs and TV and coffee on every corner?  Maybe not.  People consumed a lot more alcohol than we do now and there was not a “drinking age”.  Alcohol was served at least once a day in an average household that was not overtly religious.  People smoked more, too, especially men.  Overall, they were “more Sober” than we are in this techno-controlled society.  Shopping was limited, there were not restaurants on every corner, no easily available porn, or psych drugs.  People were grateful to eat and did not worship “skinny”.  For some, they did not even get needful medication for their ills, living in constant pain.\

Could people live “Sober” today?  If one was willing to live without the TV, the Internet, Coffee, Sweets, any psych drugs, movies, drugs and alcohol and cigarettes, and even shopping except for necessities, you could be sort of “Sober”.  What about books?  Do some books make people high?  Would people have to live without novels or sensational journalism?  What about puzzles?  Where does it end?  Would we be hunched over a candle in a small room reading a Bible Commentary for hours or be like Lincoln reading Law by the fire?

Twenty….exploding hyperbole on an OBJECT

Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.

A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.

Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.

How long is long? That’s entirely up to you to decide. You can go with a set number — 750, 1000, or 2000 words, or more (or less!). Alternatively, you could choose your longest post thus far in the challenge, and raise the bar by, say, 300 words, 20 percent, three paragraphs — whatever works for you.

 

I’ve went through my apartment to look for the one MOST valuable thing but found nothing.

My grandmother’s old table is a memory back to the times when my sister and I went to her house to go off the JCC pool all day. We’d sit and have breakfast before setting out.

My grandmother’s two vases and candy dish graced her parlor and I have memories of out of town guests joining us there and sitting on the plastic covered furniture.  It was light blue.  A sofa and two grand chairs.  But that is not it.

My dying phone is pretty valuable for obvious reasons and I pay plenty per month just to keep it on.  But that’s not it.

My fans are nice in summer especially late at night when the air cools and I can try and bring it in:  but no.

My semi elderly computer is ok and I use it a lot but if a miracle happened I could get a newer version of a computer and also faster browsing.  That’s not it.

My Bible is getting marked up and torn apart.  Sure, I use it a lot, but at least for now, a Bible can be had in most any store.  When the time comes that Bibles are illegal or hard to come by any Bible will be precious.

My Mp3 player is nice but aging as well.  One day I will replace it, but, the store that sold this kind does not seem to have it anymore.  Just a few paltry other ones in brands I don’t know.  I might have to get a piece of junk next time or spend for an ipod.

The few tables in this house have history.  Two of them come from my deceased father’s old office.  I got the bookshelf from the ex daughter in law in the previous post.  The 2 bureaus are from the previous tenant who had to leave fast to go into rehab.  He does not miss it but my few raggedy clothes are in there and in the dusty awkward closet.  I bought a simple dress lately.  I might need it in the near future, I may not.

I could not live without my fridge and stove or elderly washer and drier.  Life at the Laundromat is hell for a target.

My computer table is very useful but shows signs of wear as do the other wooden things in the house.

I use a comforter my sister used in her teens.  It is falling apart and would look better on the back of a bum.

Nothing in this apt is so valuable that I would not part with it if I had to.  Even my worthless college degree.  I am planning on burning it soon.  The other certificates of uselessness and my GED can burn as well.

I have two letters from my mother.  I value them pretty much.  She wrote kind letters to me when I tried to live away from town.  I have a huge wedding photo of my mother and a portrait.  This is the last of my mother I have.  I value it.

The most valuable “thing” in this apartment is not a thing at all.  It’s my cat, of course.  Without the cat, the apartment would not be a home at all.  It would just be a place I stay at and hate.  She wakes me up in the morning and lets me know she loves me throughout the day.  She is mischievous but fun.  She can catch mice too.

They were letting her die at the shelter.  She had become too sick to eat and no one noticed she had become a bag of bones.  They let me take her home that way and she was just sitting sullenly and would not eat.  I took her back to their hospital to get her better because they guaranteed a healthy animal.  She was there over a week getting antibiotics and lots of other things.  After a week they were force feeding her so she could eat but she would not eat on her own.  They asked me if I wanted another cat.  I  said no and please teach me to force feed her.

When I took her home she weighed about 5 1/2 pounds.  Just a sack of skin.  I brought the prescription food they gave me and mixed it up a bit with warm water and filled a syringe.  I put the syringe to her mouth and she was licking eagerly at it as if she would rather eat!  I nudged her towards the bowl and rest they say is history.

Today she weighs a little over 11 pounds, a bit overweight, but not huge.  She is healthy but a bit clumsy at times and seems to have allergies.  She has been in a couple of cat fights when she was allowed to run around but now she hasn’t had a bite to treat lately.

The vet likes her thankfully.  Going out there is 2 hours on the bus…with perps.  Her weight and the weight of the carrier wear me out.  The bus stop is a long way from the door to the vets.

Since I have no children at all she is like my child.  I don’t have lots of money to spend on her but I get her needs met.  I worry about the future when she gets older and gets health problems.  I will not be able to afford expensive operations or procedures.  Meds I could probably fit into my budget if I skimped somewhere else.  My sister was able to give one of her cats a lifesaving operation for thousands of dollars and I cannot.

I don’t know how much cat insurance costs or what it will cover.

The best thing about my little cat is that she keeps me from being focused on myself all the time.

My longest post was “18” and I doubt I can pass it with this post.

So I’ll keep it short and sweet like my cat.

Nineteen, free write w/o editing..spelinng optional

Yesterday’s post got me to thinking about the sad state of the elderly poor. They sometimes remain naive of the ways of the world especially if they are widowed and are largelay taken adventage of.

My “Mrs Pauley” post was partially based on a real person whose life fell apart. She was married to her third husband and living in low income housing. They were pretty happy but poor. He loved her. She loved him.

When he was dying he asked his family to help take care of her since her family was quite estranged from her. The only child she talked to was in prison and the only other person she talked to was his ex wife–crabby and bipolar but with a love for cleaning.

She had some friends amongst her neighbors but they could do little for her as they were poor themselves.  She was friendly with a crabby lady downstairs and did many things for her but then they fell out.

This person’s life was mainly focused on her job as an in home dispatcher for her family’s plumbing business.  She would earn extra over her Social Security and be kept busy without leaving her apartment as she was somewhat disabled with COPD and arthritis.  She still smoked.

When work was over she watched television. She cooked a little here and there.  Her few outings took her to restaurants or to her ex daughter-in-law’s apartment.  She loved to go out and would dress up a bit and had a smile on her face.  She loved to talk and also to brag about how good her son in prison had become.  She had a tendancy to gossip.

Then, her life started to fall apart bit by bit.  First, it was her doctor.  He started giving her fewer pain pills because the HMO she was with set a limit.  She was left with pain during the day.  At first she used menthol rubs and Advil and such to mask the extra pain but it never completely worked.  Still she lived with it.

Next, her son came out of prison.  He was not the reformed creature she said he was.  He was on the make, always looking for drugs.  He stayed at his mother’s house on and off sponging off her as much as possible.  He struck up a friendship with an alcoholic neighbor across the hall and they schemed to steal whatever was valuable from the old lady’s apartment.  I don’t know how he got the safe’s combintation but he did.  Things started missing from her apartment.  I started calling the alcoholic woman the “thief” and she did a few dirty perpy tricks on me.  I was not upset when the management made her leave later on.

When I visited her alone or with my friend she would joke that she had “old-timer’s disease” which filled me with terror as I saw my grandfather die badly of it.  I assured her she did not, but, her work performance started to go down.  Her in laws fired her.  She was left virtually destitute.  The pain was worse.

We took her to the ER for something and one of the nurses said she was an alcoholic but I had never seen her with a drink so I was angry and thought they lied to rile up a vulneralble woman.

Soon I saw the alcohol.  She bought Whiskey at a half gallon a pop.  I didn’t even know they made it that big.  Whiskey, cigarettes and Coke were her mainstays to keep the pain away that the lower does of pills did not handle.

She was getting my friend or even ME to go to the liquor store to buy her half gallon of whiskey at 30 bucks.

Finally she could not take care of herself at all and the state got involved and put her into some kind of assisted care building.  I inferred they had diagnosed her with Alzeimer’s as well.  She was only in her mid 60s.

She had had a hard life in the woods of the South.  She had no plumbing as a child.  After two disastrous marriages and a few kids she moved here with her last husband.  He was a quiet gentle man.

He treated her as she always wanted to be treated.  She drank during her earlier marriages but remained dry for at least 20 years with the third marriage and afterward until her life fell apart.

We visited her only once.  She had moved maybe two miles away to an apartment building refitted for assisted care.  Instead of an apartment she now only had a tiny room that led into a common area with a fridge and microwave.  Another woman lived in a room off the common area as well.  That was her life.  She also went to adult day care where they put her with the “droolers” even though she still had lots of lucidity.  The indignity.

I’m sure she has passed away by now.  It frightened me how people will take advantage of an elderly person alone, especially one who hadn’t had much education or experience except the hard knocks.  Even with them, she seemd to be a little lamb amongst wolves.  The only book in her house was the Bible.

She was a friend to me when I needed her and I wonder if she was being perped.  I hope she remembers me when she gets to Heaven as a have few friends on the Earth.

Eighteen, perspective–the saga of Aunt Trina

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

 

The House Across the Street

Saturday is always a drag.  After working all week for wages my dog should earn, I wake up on Saturday morning to face the house and all its chores. Unlike my boss’ family, I won’t be going out on the lake to escape the heat on this blaring summer day.  First, it’s cleaning, then laundry, and then I save shopping for Sunday.  Being single really stinks.  If I had a wife, we and our kids could knock this out faster and have fun and then, on Sunday actually do something fun like going hiking or fishing or just to the park.  But I, Mark Smith, am a slave on the weekend.

All this manual work gives me time to think.  I have thought about work, my ex-girlfriend, philosophy, my aging parents, the state of my thinning hair, the bills, the state of the economy…I even think about the past.  Today, while I was slouched over the toilet, brush in hand with the oven self cleaning, I remembered Mrs. Pauley from across the street!  More or less, about when I was twelve she was evicted!  That and its aftermath were a formative time in my young life.

Now I’m fifty years old and a total failure, but the memories of Mrs. Pauley haunt me.

I was 12 and it was Summer.  Beautiful early Summer long before the worrying about “going back to school”  starts.  Saturdays were best.  My best friend and I went fishing with my Dad almost every Saturday except Winter when he took us sledding or snowshoeing.  My friend’s dad was a real bore and worked even on weekends and loved Saturday with my Dad even more than me.

This morning was different.  I woke up and heard a sound.  At first I thought it was a bird defending its nest, then I thought it was the neighbor girl and her friend playing outside.  I got out of bed and shuffled down the hall to the front door in my jammies and looked out.

Old Mrs. Pauley was screaming.  My parents were already up and on the porch and Dad was wanting to go over there and comfort her.  There were 2 cop cars over there, and a hard eyed man dressed in his golf clothes taking her things out and putting them on the street!  Mrs. Pauley just stood and wept and screamed that they could not do this:  they had no right.  Mrs. Pauley begged them to call her son who lived in another city now.

My father finally walked over and hugged Mrs. Pauley and invited her in for breakfast as her whole world was being put on the lawn.  She was a mess and she stank.  She was wearing an old housecoat, tattered slippers, and carried a sorry looking purse.  Her fake red hair was everywhere.

Mom invited her into the kitchen where she just sat and sobbed.  I looked up at Dad standing at the end of the kitchen and knew we would have no outing today.  I would have to call my friend.  But, now, we would eat breakfast and see if we could contact Mrs. Pauley’s son to help her out.

After 20 minutes of sobbing and Mom rushing around the kitchen, Mom went into her purse and brought out a little bottle and took a pill out of it.  It was a pink pill shaped like a “v”.  She gave it to Mrs. Pauley with water as she sat over her untouched coffee with globs of snot running out of her nose and onto the table.  Mrs. Pauley took the pill and shuffled over the couch to go to sleep.  We ate a silent breakfast alone the only sound being Sparky, my dog, begging for some bacon and eggs.

After that, I went to call Bill and Dad agreed we would just play in the backyard until we knew what to do with Mrs. Pauley.  Instead of the backyard, Bill and I went to the front porch to watch the proceedings across the street.  The cops were gone and the hired men that had shown up later had put almost everything on her lawn except her cat.  Finally the cat came out and I rushed over to get it so it would not go to the pound.  My big sister was away at college doing a summer internship but if we could keep the cat until she got home she would be happy.  She always wanted a cat.

The pound was more than happy to release the cat to me as there were already way too many mouths to feed there.  I carried Mrs. Pauley’s big fat orange and white cat to our house.  Mom was not thrilled but took the cat and put her besides Mrs. Pauley’s sleeping form.  The cat climbed onto Mrs. Pauley and slept too.

Us guys in the neighborhood always thought Mrs Pauley was a bit creepy, but, things had gotten worse after her husband died.  After she died there were rumors passed by the adults that Mr. Pauley had left nothing for his wife, had no will, and none of her kids (there were 6!) seemed willing to help her at all.  At first, concerned neighbors especially Mom and Dad and Bill’s folks were over there helping her out with things, but, after awhile, people drifted away and Mrs. Pauley was left to herself.  Sometime in April, she had stopped getting dressed for the most part.  She’d wander the yard mumbling and attempt yardwork but never finish.

In May, some neighbors said they saw her at the store and she had booze on her breath.  She would talk to no one after that.  My Dad was talking to some of his church buddies and said that Mrs. Pauley had “social security” whatever that is, but it was not enough to live on and the little she had she used on liquor and cigarettes.  They spoke of putting together a fund to help her but somehow it fell through.  They were going to move her into some retirement apartments or something.  I guess that’s why Dad looked sort of guilty standing in the kitchen.  He still walked around the house uneasily.

When I was very little, like 5 or even 7, Mrs. Pauley was different.  She always got dressed and was involved at the church.  She even had a job.  She worked part time at the hospital gift shop.  We kids, 3 of us, even got rides from her once in awhile when Mom was not feeling good.  She took us to movies and even for ice cream.  Then, something changed.

At first, we noticed that her children and grandchildren were not coming over anymore.  Mr. and Mrs. Pauley went on as usual, but, they looked way older and very tired.  She stopped taking us places too.  By that time, I was wanting to hang out with my friends or just my father anyway and I was the youngest.  My older brother and sister had long outgrew the old woman.

Then Mr. Pauley got sick.  He walked very slowly out to the car whenever he went anywhere.  Later, he was in a wheelchair and wore oxygen.  The adults whispered “cancer”.  I was worried I had cancer for a few months.  My Mom called me a “hypochondriac”.  Soon he was never seen at all but nurses kept on coming and going and then one day this Spring, he died.

Us children did not go to the funeral but the adults did.  My mother looked big and scary in her black suit and black shoes but her face was so sad I wanted to hug her over and over.  Later, after the funeral, us kids got to go to the reception which is probably the best part anyway.  That’s where all the food is.  There were casseroles and casseroles and tons of cakes and cookies and chili and other things people brought for her to freeze and use later.  She sat in the corner and said almost nothing.  Us kids got to play with her grandkids. One of them, Gary, was close to my age.  Me, and Bill, and Chuck, and Steve from school and Gary got up into our treehouse to get away from the adults.

Gary told the story why his parents and his aunts and uncles never came to visit anymore.  They had always had a big Christmas and all the six children, their spouses and all the grandchildren crammed into the small 3 bedroom house.  Some slept in the kids’ old bedrooms on the main floor and the one created bedroom in the basement always reserved for the oldest child living at home.  I guess they had four bedrooms.  Others slept on couches and even air matresses.  It was a very fun time.  I went once and got to help decorate the tree.  There was so much laughing and joking I thought maybe our family was lacking.  Plus my Dad’s prayers at meals are lame.

Well, I guess 3 Christmases ago, when I was 9, Mrs. Pauley and one of her daughters got into an argument over something real stupid like a recipe or something.  Instead of the fight ending and everyone saying sorry, it got worse and Mrs. Pauley, “grandma” to Gary, lost control and started throwing things and screaming.  They had to call the ambulance.  I remember seeing it that day and when I asked Mom what it was and Mom said that Mrs. Pauley had fallen and sprained her ankle.  That was not true.

Gary said that Mrs. Pauley and Mr. Pauley went to the hospital along with one of the sons and the rest of the family stayed behind and cleaned up and made the best of things.  I watched as the cars left one by one and by December 28 they were all gone.  Mrs. Pauley had not come home because they had put her in a looney bin.  Some doctor said she was crazy and needed to rest awhile.  Mr. Pauley was around and cheerful then and would tell us kids that Mrs. Pauley needed to rest but would be back soon.

She came home about exactly 3 years before she died and 2 1/2 years before Mr. Pauley died.  The reason the family never came again is that they wanted to put Mrs. Pauley into a nursing home and forget about her as she was now crazy and also was an alcoholic, which is when adults drink booze all the time.  Only her husband, Gary’s grandpa, stuck up for her and wanted her home.

Gary said he could not understand it.  He said his grandma was the best ever and sweet and kind and never forgot birthday gifts.  He did not understand why his folks and his aunts and uncles were so mean to poor grandma.  He even tried to argue with his father over it and was told it was none of his business.  Gary decided to try Dropping Eaves, or listening to others when they ain’t aware you are there.

He tried every night for a week, and kept his hiding spot well.  Finally at about 11pm, 2 hours after his bedtime, the folks started to talk.  Turns out grandma was not always so nice and drank a lot when Gary’s father and his sisters and brothers were kids.  She yelled and yelled and even threw things, and had to go away more than once to “dry out”.  She refused to do housework when on a drunk and would not even feed the kids.  Mr. Pauley had to raise the kids, keep his job, and babysit his wife.  He almost had a nervous breakdown himself.

One day, when Gary’s dad was in High School, Mrs. Pauley decided to go to “AA”.  After than things were better for all of them until she started drinking again as an old woman.  Gary then tried to find out why his grandma started up again.  Turns out she had lost her job at the hospital to a younger prettier woman the boss liked and that people were treating her bad at church even though she had been there for years.  He had to sit crouched in his hiding place for hours for all this.  I told him he should be in the FBI and catch the bad guys.  He gave me a dirty look.

His folks said she had started to talk to herself and act weird.  Mr. Pauley had taken her to a shrink but he didn’t do anything.  She could still fake it for awhile but then it got too much and she needed to drink to get through the day.  She covered it up pretty good to her family that year even though they “smelled it” on her and were going to confront her later after Christmas had ended.  The big fight ended all that.

I used a word my father likes to use and said why didn’t they “forgive” her?  Gary didn’t know.  I heard his mom calling him.  I never saw him again.

The cat, called Baby, walked out onto the porch and rubbed against us.  We pet her awhile and took her in.

Mrs. Pauley was up and showered and wearing an old outfit of Mom’s which just hung on her since Mrs. Pauley was now very skinny.  She and Mom were talking about little stuff like the weather and Mom’s garden while Dad was in the other room arguing with someone on the phone.  It wasn’t going well.

Bill and I went to the door to listen and the cat almost gave us away.  Sparky was in the basement barking and barking.  It was like a “madhouse” my Aunt Polly would say.  A one sided conversation with angry sounding peeps on the other end was going on:

“We could move her into Wild Oaks with some help from you,”

“I know she has problems, but they have social workers on staff,”

“Of course she’d need to be hospitalized awhile.  She has insurance.”

“What do you mean not one penny?”

“Can’t you be the big son and just forgive?  She’s in a weak condition now”

“What about all her things?”

“Just throw them away?”
“Mr. Pauley, what do you intend to do?”

“The state home?!”

“She will never last in there!”

“Mr. Pauley had no will and spent down to his last 500 dollars with his cancer.”

“Your father worked hard all his life.  I’ve lived in this town 50 years.”

“He was NOT a loser.”

“Just try and be Christian about this,”

“I guess we will have to try and help her.”

“He hung up!!!!”

Bill and I ran away before Dad could see us.

The next few weeks at our house was crazy.  Dad and Mom and Bill and I and Bill’s Dad went through Mrs. Pauley’s stuff to see if anything was salvageable.  Most of the stuff smelled and was dirty and needed to be thrown away.  Dad found a few dollars she had hidden behind a wood panel and put it into an account for Mrs. Pauley.  The landlord’s cleaning men came to clean up the house and were rude to us but we persisted in getting anything good out of the mess on the lawn for Mrs. Pauley.  One day a truck came and took the rest of the junk away.

Mrs. Pauley was very nice at first, even helping around the house and even going shopping with Mom.  Dad got Mrs. Pauley’s, whose real name was Trina, old car to work and we parked it in front of our house.  She got better and better.  Soon she started to wear makeup and jewelry and even looked like the Mrs. Pauley I knew growing up.  Then she got strange a couple of months later.  Dad had poured out all the booze at her house and hid ours so no one knew where she had gotten it.  She had been “dry” for 2 months but no longer.  She got way drunk and pitched a rage and started trashing our house.

Mom gave her one more chance and even took and drove her back from AA meetings.  Another month later “Aunt Trina” which we were calling her was found dead drunk in the backyard talking to herself.  She ended up in the home after all.  She didn’t yell or fight.  She knew it was all over for her then.

The State Home was 200 miles away.  She was silent when we drove her there despite Mom’s promises of outings and visits.  Dad looked as if he could cry as if he could have prevented it from happening.

I watched as the nurses led her away.  She never looked back.  We drove in silence for 4 hours not even stopping to eat or use the bathroom.  I had to get my own dinner that night as Mom and Dad were talking quietly and did not want to be interrupted.

In the morning, Dad sent me to the mailbox with a letter for Lance Pauley.  After I put it in I went to play with Bill and Steve and when I got home things were normal again.

A month later we decided to go visit “Aunt Trina” at the home.  Mom packed all kinds of clothing and sweets for her and even a TV.  She threw in a homemade quilt she had made when I was young as well.  The staff had agreed for us to come and visit but not for an outing.

When we got there we walked on back this time.  The whole place smelled of pee and something else I did not know but did not like at all.  I wanted to run.  Aunt Trina’s room was at the very end of the hall.  Her roommate was up in an easy chair knitting and Aunt Trina sat in a wheelchair looking blankly out into space, drooling.  Then I noticed the restraints.  They had tied her to the wheelchair.  We all started talking to her taking turns but no response.  Then we just sat there for an hour.  She never looked at us.  When we got up to leave after promising her to come back, she finally moved and used her arms to turn her chair around and put her back to us.

We had another silent drive home with occasional sobs from Mom.  Mom went to bed that evening early but seemed OK the next day.  After that,  my parents started talking to my grandparents about arrangements when they grew older so a disaster never happened to any of them.  My grandparents are still pretty healthy and don’t need doctors and all that yet and there are no drunks in our family.

I went to bed early one night about a month after our visit.  I got up all weird and dizzy in the dark to hear the phone ringing.  I knew what it was even though I didn’t get the phone.

This time the funeral reception was at our house.  None of the Pauley’s came but lots of Mom and Dad’s friends from church did.  My dad bought her a stone.  We decided to go on vacation because school would start soon and we all needed a break.  My big brother and sister were home by now and helping to take the load off my folks and me.

Now it’s Fall.  School has been in 3 weeks.  The leaves are just turning all sorts of colors.  One of the red leaves reminds me of Aunt Trina’s hair.  I am riding my bike around.  Bill is busy with band practice and my other friends are all busy too.  I have probably rode far out beyond where my Mom lets me ride.  I just turned 13 and my folks took me to an adult restaurant to celebrate instead of McDonald’s.  I have grown 3 inches and my voice does funny things when I yell.  I think a new girl in our school is cute.

I see the graveyard.  For some reason, I decide to go in.  It didn’t take much looking.  I found the stone.  It was large and had flowers carved into it.  It said “Loving Wife, Mother, and Grandmother, Christina Pauley, March 25, 1907-August 22, 1977.  I stayed for awhile and then left, speeding all the way home because Mom was making Spaghetti.

Baby sat meowing for me at the door.  Now I’m her mommy.

 

 

 

 

Lost and Found–The Sixteenth Temp Agency

Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

 

So, today’s twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of “lost and found” more generally in this post.

By the end of Writing 101, you’ll have multiple posts around a theme — material you could thread together in a longform piece.

Questions to think about as you write your post:

  • What have you learned about loss over the years?
  • What does it feel like to find an object that was once important to you?
  • When can reconnecting go horribly wrong?
  • When are things better left buried and forgotten?

In your “lost and found” tale, tell us something larger — a life lesson, perhaps —

This post is based on this website.  State mental patients in Upstate New York left their few belongings which ended up in storage.  The “Suitcase Project” became famous and a catalyst for patient rights in the current era.

The following is fiction:  I never held a job like this…dcms

It had happened again:  I was caught broke and hard up with no one to help.  I needed money fast.  I went to the Recollections temp agency because they seemed to offer jobs a little different than the ones I got at standard temp agencies….could I possibly get any experience on these assignments instead of the usual gig that lands you in an office somewhere doing work my cat could do and look better doing it.

I knew it would be different when I heard my first assignment would be at a CLOSED mental hospital.  There would be no administrative tasks to be done:  no filing, no answering phones, no data entry, no food service in the now closed cafeteria.  I could  not imagine why they would want people to work in an abandoned mental hospital.

I was sent to the sub basement to a huge area filled with boxes of patients belongings.  These were the few personal belongings of patients who had died at the hospital and had no one to pick up their few scraps of possessions.  There were lots and lots of boxes.  Once we were done collecting, categorizing and repackaging belongings, they were to go to the Metropolitan museum to become an exhibit.  Lives Lost:  the possessions of the dispossessed.   There was even a show on Discovery Channel planned.  I felt exited and honored to be part of the project even though the temps were offered nothing but their wages.  We would not be listed as contributors to the project.

There is little ceremony on a temp job.  We were set to work with latex gloves and dusting wipes to snoop into the lives of the forgotten ones.

The first person my work buddy and I came onto was an old lady that had died in the institution.  She had photos of relatives dating from the 1940s all the way until 1986 when she had died.  She also had a few pieces of costume jewelry, a brush comb and mirror, and some very old expired cosmetics.  There was a book of poems by an obscure author and some white gloves.  There was also a pair of heels and cheap-fancy underwear.  She must have been a “trusty” who was allowed out on passes to various events or just to shop or go out to eat.  There were a few stilted letters from her husband, the guilty one, who had put her there.  If he had been alive when she died he never bothered to get her things or to bury her because her burial plot number was put in Magic Marker on the outside of the box.  The graveyard for patients was about a mile away and there were thousands of simple crosses and small headstones that marked the lives of the disposable people.  Over 100 years of unloved ones buried beneath the earth.  It was going to be a Historical Area so at least the remains would not be disturbed.

The second suitcase was a set.  In the first one there were clothes, underwear, cosmetics, and even expensive perfume.  There was a small packet at the bottom of the suitcase.  I lost myself to time and place when I found myself reading love letters from this woman’s boyfriend written a year or so before her admission to the hospital.  The letters ended abruptly.  They had broken up and he had married the woman his parents wanted him to marry and left her heartbroken.  The second box contained tons of sheet music for the violin and piano loaded up with instructor’s notes.  The fading spidery notes were guides for some musician to improve playing the piece at hand.  I felt a chill.  The box also contained some novels and philosophical books and even a Bible.  On the bottom was a box of hats and gloves and a cigarette holder.  This was one elegant lady.

In yet another big box there was a case in which there was a dusty violin with broken strings.  Lumps of rosin accompanied the instrument and there were spare strings along with a photo of the Boyfriend.  Turned out she was a concert violinist on the verge of big fame when she went into a downward spiral over the loss of her engagement.  She took to drink and was found drunk on the street.  Instead of putting her in jail where she could have called someone they took her to one hospital after another where she did not appear to get better.  The one picture of her before the hospital showed a slim stylish woman with all her faculties.  Where was her family, her friends?, her lawyer?  She was transferred to State and spent the next fifty years of her “life” here helping wash dishes in the hospital kitchen.  She spent a few years in a group home towards the end but poor health brought her into a nursing home.  Apparently there is one recording of this woman’s playing but a Net search failed to produce it.

The next person’s suitcase looked like an elderly grandmother’s.  It was full of Bibles and Bible Commentaries and knitted and crocheted and tatted items of good quality. A letter by James Vernon McGee had been framed in a cheap frame. She had been on the “Bible Bus”.  A small transistor radio was found. There was a looking glass, brush and comb, and a nail clipper with file.  No cosmetics.  A paper bag revealed Mother’s Day and Christmas and Birthday cards to the inmate from her family.  The cartoonish or gaudily floral greetings seemed so out of place for State.  There were also a few drawings and Report Cards full of A’s for the inmate to look at.  There was a romance novel full of pressed flowers and a dried bouquet in the box.  Her husband had kept in touch.

The next box of hers revealed lots of flowery house coats and a few dowdy dresses.  There were 2 pair of sensible shoes, size 11.  The one picture of the woman was taken slightly before her incarceration at State.  She was a Middle-Aged slightly fat woman with fading beauty and a sad face.  Her hair, done in a dowdy bun, drooped.  I could have cried.  What was this woman’s crime?

The woman was once a very active Church member of a village nearby and had a family of 7.  She was quite happy and busy as a small town housewife and leader of various charities in her Church.  Then the change happened.  The old pastor left and a new one came in.  Also, strange people started joining the Church and some of the wives challenged her right to run her groups.  Some of this group got together to ruin the woman by starting a psychological campaign to destroy her by undermining her Spirituality and making her believe she had never been Saved.  In the end she fell apart, had to quit her groups and even the Church.  She had been brought to a village hospital after a suicide attempt and never seemed much better after that.  She was brought to State to live out the rest of her 30 years.

The only reason anyone knew of all this was that her husband had petitioned for her release into his custody to accompany him to a country retreat and he gave this testimony of his wife.  Turns out the Church totally fell apart and disbanded months after this woman left.  The damage had been done though.

In her early years at the hospital according to Dr.’s Notes she had been sullen and uncommunicative.  She made more suicide attempts.  Later, when they put her on psychiatric drugs she calmed down enough to go to an unlocked ward and attend Occupational Therapy and to work in the Kitchen.  She even had a small cottage to herself on the grounds before she became too ill physically to live there.  Her husband even took her on passes to town to shop and to eat out.  When asked if she would like to leave the hospital she would grow pale and shake and retreat within herself for several days.  The loving husband died rather young and the family slowly lost touch as they grew up and moved away.

The third box had me in tears.  I almost could not go on.  But life goes on and I had rent, a car payment and cable to pay for.  There were 500 boxes that had been left there and they were still looking for more around the huge campus when I finally left to get a job in my field.  It was getting stressful with the tourists and TV cameras anyway.

It was ironic how these lost people had been found by strangers and made well known though modern electronic media.  I will never know if the lost ones we found really wanted to be found at all but I can only hope that life after death had been kinder to them than on this side of mortality.

Some things when lost, remain lost forever.  The joys of this life pass quickly and sometimes there is nothing to replace the loss here on Earth.  I have rarely reclaimed something or somebody I had on Earth.  I used to find
“surprises” at my parent’s home if I searched the top of my old closet.  Items from the past, worth nothing but remembrance.  A window into another time.  I used to peruse an old brown suitcase full of old family pictures my father had including some of me.  I would sadly note that the times had passed, people had died and I had not “turned out”.

Several years ago, I backslid and tried to somehow return to my old “life” as a groupie.  It not only failed, it hurt me more than I could say.  I asked God this time to show me my idols as they really were and He did even though I backslid.  I was very disappointed.  They were just men and flawed ones at that.  Then the perps took what I was doing and turned it into a nightmare.  When I finally turned away I heartily regretted what I had done.  The past belongs in the past.

I believe I should have simply forgotten my idolatry from the past but my rebellious nature got the best of me when my life went downhill.  I got angry at God and opened up that old can of worms.  I had found nothing had changed nor gotten better.  One evening, when I was living in one of my fantasies, I came to myself and found I was acting like I did when I was a girl and new to the fantasies.  I was sickened I had slid all the way to the bottom of the hill.  I have tried to reclaim my faith since then but it has never been the same.  The beginning of sin is as the letting forth of water……

 

They would cancell my show? Fifteen.

Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force.

How does that make you feel?

Today’s twist: While writing this post, focus again on your own voice. Pay attention to your word choice, tone, and rhythm. Read each sentence aloud multiple times, making edits as you read through. Before you hit “Publish,” read your entire piece out loud to ensure it sounds like you.

After eons of targetting, I have gradually withdrawn from life.  I don’t go to large outdoor gatherings if I can avoid it.  The perps are all there and I’m miserable.  I don’t go to malls–they are perp havens and tin badge playgrounds. I have not been to a concert in 23 years, don’t go to bars, amusement parks, or even movies.  With no car and no money, vacations are out of the question.

It’s even been a couple of years since I’ve been on a hike.  I have stopped walking in the city for about a year now. I don’t feel well now that I don’t exercise.  I used to do it almost every day but then the stalking became too much and I began to feel in danger after almost being run over by a truck and seeing dead animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, mice and even a deer. I live in the city so it took effort to find and kill all those animals. Also, the little emo skits they had to play on me every walk ate my soul out.   After that I walked with a friend but now even she won’t walk due to medical considerations.  I found only one person to walk with and she will only go once a month or so.  I don’t trust this person but walking alone seems to be a thing of the past.

Each walk is harder and harder to complete and I’m stiff and achy and slow.

So what has my life become?  Trips to grocery stores, veterinary offices, pet groomers, doctors and shrinks.    Even the part time and volunteer jobs have all dried up. I only eat out maybe 2 to 3 times a month. I haven’t checked out a library book in months.  I went, and paid my fine and was looking for books to take out and one of the employees made some quip about one of my chronic diseases while I was in the stacks and I got this feeling they had put things in the books to make me ill. The only “work” I do is my friend’s laundry since she has sucky machines in her building and won’t use a laundromat, and looking after my and her cats, which was an adventure recently.  Now, most of my life is at home on the Net.

A few years ago, I started listening to several Christian shows on the Net, but, one by one they floated away or they openly perped me on the show to get rid of me.  The same happened with the Christian radio stations:  either open or subtle perping made me turn the radio off. The few Christian friends that I met on Skype all went away (touche).   Now there is only one show left I listen to.  I have never gone on the chat board there and have not made myself known to avoid the perping.

The show is a mixture of Christianity, Prophecy and Conspiracies and Politics.  It is only one once a week and I pick up the podcast once it’s done.  The owner of the show said recently he wanted to end the show as he felt it was all played out and he was tired of it.  If he leaves the air I will feel as if I’ve lost my last Christian “friend” even though I have never written him or chatted with him.  It’s a tiny spot of BEING, not existing, in my week.

If he goes I don’t know where I’m gonna find another Christian podcast I would like.  The one I REALLY like is “forbidden” to me by the perps with a very stern warning so I’m scared to go back there.  I have also been forbidden to attend Talkshoe ti shows on the Net by the same perps with the same warning.  I’m a slave, a former citizen of the United States.  My life is getting smaller and smaller.

It will be a sad day if my show goes off the air.

Fourteen

Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word and see what images appear, and then go from there.

Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.

I haven’t been to the library lately, so the only book nearby was the Bible so I went to page 29 and it was in Genesis the part where Abraham’s servant went to get a wife for Issac.  The word that popped out for me is “drink”.  At first, before I really looked at the word I thought it said “drunk”, but it was “drink”.

no quick fix

“Drink” to me means alcohol even though the Scripture reference refers to water, and for camels at that.  Soft drinks and water and coffee and tea are “beverages” which is all I drink now.  A few years ago, as my anxiety level went up with increased gangstalking and lack of support system, I temporarily turned to alcohol to take the edge off.  I am so poor I only got it once or twice a month but I got drunk at least twice and buzzed almost every time.  I finally went off for good when I went back on the psych drugs for anxiety.  The Bible says drink is a mocker…it mocked me.  I sort of miss having beer on a very hot afternoon and a glass of wine at night sometimes but I live without it.  Once when I was drunk, my heart beat very fast…I wondered if alcohol could cause heart disease.

Dear Drink,

Sorry I haven’t written for a long time.  I’ve been too busy doing Bible Study, endlessly checking the weather, and supervising the cat.

It was OK when we were together but I don’t really miss you too much.  You just did not do the job to vanquish my anxiety and keep it away as you should have so I wouldn’t have to become enslaved to psych drugs again.  That anxiety rebound effect of yours sucks.

Everywhere I look I see people all over town with you.  You are getting very popular.

I can’t really afford you anyway and having to go through perpy liquor store clerks to get you was too much.  Now grocery stores are starting to sell you here but I won’t bite.  They were really sweet that day I bought that hoity toity 20 dollar gin, though.  Guess it is how much I paid for you that day.  The day I bought 20/20, the clerk threw the change at me.

I cannot love you the way I do Mr. Ice Cream and Mr. Coffee.  They will be in my heart forever probably.

If you ever become a cure for fat I might hook up with you again….except MD 20/20.  I can’t believe MOGEN DAVID makes it.

dcms…the would be lush?

 

 

 

Day Thirteen Serial Killer Part 2

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today, write about finding something.

Tell us about the time you retrieved your favorite t-shirt from your ex. Or when you accidentally stumbled upon your fifth-grade journal in your parents’ attic. Or how about the moment you found out the truth about a person whose history or real nature you thought you’d figured out. Interpret this theme of “finding something” however you see fit.

Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

You could pick up the action where you stopped, or jump backward or forward in time. You might write about the same topic, but use a different style, or use the same style to tackle a neighboring topic.

Not sure how to approach continuity? Here’s a time-tested tip: pick a favorite book or two. Read the last page of chapter one, then the first page of chapter two. How did the author choose to connect these two separate-but-connected narrative units?

In the last installment of a cereal killer I had lost everything:  my freedom, my joy, my laughter, my love of country, any trust I had for my family, any notion that I was “free” in any way.  If everything is lost and is not coming back, what is there to find?  There are small things, and thin comfort they are, but they exist nonetheless.

By losing everything by being a ti you gain the knowledge that everything is not as it seems in life and you are forced to walk around awake and not asleep.  The new knowledge you gain is painful and unpleasant as you see the nice little world around you crumble and ugly realities take their place.  No one is who they seem to be.  You cannot trust the news anymore, you cannot worship celebrities anymore.  Amusements don’t seem fun anymore if there are lots of people there.  You begin to see the multitude of amusements around you as stupifying activities for the hypnotized masses.  They go to amusements to waste time and get their pocketbooks raped.  Even simple passtimes like walking and visiting a library or museum are ruined by the presence of law enforcement and guards everywhere along with aircraft that dog you from the sky and of course the perps.  This is a thin recompense for your past life but at least its real.

You get a keen painful awareness that people are taking all kinds of trouble and time to get ahead in life but that if will give them nothing.  They attend school after school to attain degrees they will never use, or, if they use them at all they will work beneath their potential in a soul stealing job that they will probably lose due to layoffs or whatever whim the “boss” decides to use to get rid of them.  The few that succeed will have their souls (yes their souls) demanded of them if they wish to continue to be successful.  Some good people slip by and work hard in their fields all their life to be laid off with months to retirement and nothing to show for it.  Others will retire with some money only to have a long illness take it all away.  The only ones who grow rich and keep their money and toys are the evil ones.  Everyone else ends up in the poorhouse or in very lean circumstances otherwise.  This knowledge brings you nothing.  The perps even stop you when you try to learn something online to try and “get ahead”.  To learn for the sake of learning and not earning and for personal use and not economic use is a new concept for many,

You realize any happy or joyful moments are rare and do not return.  That any joy does not come from the amusements THEY provide but from God.  The hollow laughter at a sitcom, the scream on the roller coaster, or wild applause at a rock concert are plastic.  Did you ever get the feeling at a concert that you were there and supposed to be enjoying it but you didn’t and you felt crowded out and miserable in the dark amongst people you would cross the street to avoid?  You try to whoop and cheer and forget about it but the whole thing was plastic.  Did you leave the concert feeling cheated, almost raped?  I have.  I never shared that.  People brag about being at this concert or that, but the actual experience sucked.  There is more real joy in watching a bird fly or lightning in a storm.

The loss of family is real and cannot be replaced though.  How can you replace it?  If you have God in your heart and a relationship with Him, He can love you in the absence of family.  You still can’t replace family, though.

Day Twelve way too late

We don’t write in a bubble — we write in the world, and what we say is influenced by our experiences. Today, take a cue from something you’ve overheard and write a post inspired by a real-life conversation. Revisit a time when you wish you’d spoken up, reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a conversation happening around you right now and write your reaction. Take time to listen — to what you hear around you, or what your memories stir up.

 

Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

This assignment is hard for me because as a ti people do not act normally around me.  Even conversations I overhear are usually “directed conversations” designed for me to overhear and to agitate or depress me.  It has been a long long time since people acted normally around me and I didn’t feel the vigilance of people to capture my every word and deed.  I have thought over these last few days of conversations I might have overheard in my family as a child and young person but even those are few and far between.  Even then I was not privy to family secrets and I was also kept from the real life of the family…the love.  I was set apart, kept in the dark.  I do not know if my parents were perps but I certainly was not accepted in the family.  Only on a surface level.  I was a guest in my own house…like a sort of foster child.  There was a wall there put up right around the time I was 8 or 9 or so.

OK, here’s one I heard at my last job, which was over 5 years ago:

A man at our work table announced he had been a father at age 8.  I forgot the response to it.

It’s hard to hear convos even though I try.  Due to my targetting everyone is on guard around me like I’m some criminal.

It’s hard to remember when anyone was natural around me even in an overheard conversation,