Yesterday, I ran into someone I have known for years–or did know. “Jacob” was the director at a residential program my then-therapist recommended me to after my parents wanted rid of me–again. It was a residential treatment center for people with mental illness looking for a way to live independently. I saw him in the lobby yesterday after going down the stairs at the mental health center. He has hardly changed. He was still tall and slim and had long hair and a beard. True, his hair was white and he wore glasses, but you would know him anywhere. His clothes were a bit more “business” than when I knew him 30 years ago, but they were still trendy–“young”. I was shocked he still worked at the mental health center. After he left the directorship of the “house” in the 1990’s, he worked as a clinician (talk therapist) at the mental health center’s East office where I went to attend therapy after an ER visit due to an especially perpy day. I was there 7 years, left for 10 and am back now for over 2. Now he’s an Executive of the Mental Health Center. The Center has grown very large. They were pretty much a startup when I first went there in 1990. Since I have been a part of “mental health” services since the early 1980s I remember there were a few more private hospitals in town but I don’t know if there was a Center like the one I go to. I’m thinking Health and Hospitals took on outpatients as well as private therapists who took Medicare/Medicaid. The place where I have stayed twice was open in 1976 and there had to have been mental health services before then. The City still has a separate mental health program but its conducted in an old smelly building that used to be the main mental hospital. You can still see the bathtubs in the restrooms upstairs. You can feel the “ghosts” of patients past in there. “Jacob” is now a big shot, but still an “old hippie”. He sort of stood out in the preppy 1980s. After a short interview I was invited for “dinner at the house”. It was July 18, 1985. It was a warm, dry day. I had gotten there early. Dinner was at 6:30 back then. I thought it was sort of late because we ate at 6 every night at home. I remember sitting in the shade of a huge, old elm tree and listening to the cicadas sing and asking myself why my therapist of 3 years and my mother wanted me there. I was not dangerous or out of the hospital or did drugs. I was currently dropped out of college because of low grades and lack of interest. I had a job working the overnight shift at a gas station/convenience store. I was the one who sat in the little hut and collected the money. It was a busy street full of nightclubs and I’d get some rude and drunk customers. I drove myself to the huge red brick building that used to be a convent in my old Plymouth Fury III with the AM radio and no A/C. The transmission sucked, too. I was 19. I went inside just before dinner started and got the customary greeting: “why don’t you go into the kitchen and see if the cook needs help?” The cook didn’t. Dinner was announced with a huge chuck-wagon triangle. We sat down for dinner. The dinner was my community interview. People would ask you questions about yourself, your “illness”, what you intended to do when you were there, and your long term goals. You either had to work or go to school and had to see a therapist. I remember feeling scared of Jacob because he was so big. I felt judged and thought for sure I would not get in. End of story. II. I was called the next day. I had gotten in. I was to move into the house in 2 days. I would pay 63 bucks a week for rent and 6 dinners a week. (I told you I was old). You could also nab leftovers and government “commodities” for lunch if you were home at midday. Breakfast food was bought by residents and stored in cupboards. You would get a section of a cupboard for your cereal, etc… I was making 130 bucks a week after taxes so it would work. A “buffet” apartment where I lived in the 1990s now goes for 1050.00! I paid 265.00 when I lived there with utilities covered. The rent at the community is still pretty low considering the rents in the city since they have to cater to people on benefits, mostly. Toilet paper and linens were provided but not anything else like toothpaste, soap, cosmetics, etc….. I lived in a “shared” bedroom because it was cheaper. I think the singles were 80 a week or so or even a little more. I lived in room 3 I think. The rooms were nun’s cells before, so the singles were tiny, but the doubles were larger but without a sink. I remember there being some kind of destroyed nasty shag type carpetting and no screen on the window which was common in this area back then before climate change provided more summer bugs. My roommate didn’t seem to like me. She was up in her 30’s and had a good job. She was a substance abuser, so up on the house’s social scale. She was haughty and cold and got really angry at me when I looked through her record collection. I should not have but didn’t have many social skills after my isolated childhood and wild adolescence. She was always laughing and flirty with everyone but me. I saw social disaster for me. Her eyes were always red but she swore she was sober. We lived next door to the tub bathroom and down the hall from the smoking room. When I was first there, there was a tornado warning and I remember sitting on my bed and looking out the window at the pouring rain and hearing the sirens. It was hot up there but summer was already almost over once I was settled so I didn’t suffer that much. There were no fans. I kept going to my gas station job from 10pm-6am across town then tried to sleep at the “house” during the day. It was very stressful. The “house” was noisy during the day and I only got a few hours of sleep. In September, I transferred to another location nearer the house and got to switch to day shift. I even got an engraved name tag instead of one put on with Avery sticky tape. At first I didn’t fit in, and and I did not think I would last very long. First of all, I was the youngest there, and my problems did not seem as severe as the other residents at the time. Turns out they probably would have seemed more normal if they weren’t on huge doses of “old generation” neuroleptics. Jacob, who seemed to take a liking to me, said I was “high functioning”. A high functioning WHAT? My dx has changed a million times, getting “worse” each time! I do not believe my dx. I think I am and always was Asperger’s, which is mild autism. I also grew up in a cold home and did not know how to give or receive love. Thank God for my Grandma who did show love! The people at the house that were at the top of the pecking order were the substance abusers and people with eating disorders. People with mental illness were underneath. The substance abusers tended to be younger and less drugged than than the mentally ill people as well. Later, two 18 years olds moved in after I turned 20, so my time as the “baby” was short. After a month or so, people started talking to me, and my “roomie” had left the house over some rule infraction. I almost always had the room to myself after that. I’d get roomies off and on but they’d spend the night away from the house, etc…it was sort of weird. I got sort of an extra large single room. Soon, I made a friend of a new arrival. She was the divorced wife of a local DJ and had depression. She was so depressed she was made to get ECT which fried her short term memory. She had also lost custody of her sons. She accepted me immediately. She was in her early 30s and was sort of a big sister to me. She went out and bought a little coffeepot and we’d have coffee in her room Number 2 every morning. We would go out with others to a local bar where I did a little underage drinking and later some legal drinking. I also made friends with a young man from England who was tall and dark with blue eyes and loved “new wave” music. (what’s that Grandma?) We went on trips to the ice cream parlor with staff. I made friends with the two staff members, also. The lady staffer, C, had ridden into this city on a HORSE when she came here to live! The male staffer was kind to me sort of like an older brother. I remember going to the movies with him and he may have been the one who let me ride with him on his motorcycle! Staffers were usually Divinity students getting internships working with us. There was one young man who was always “coming onto” me, and there was another guy who hated me but he seemed to be the only one. For the first time in my life I felt “accepted”. Between the social activities at the house, my then-“boyfriend”, my job, pen pals, and my family I really felt I had a life. I was always on the go. It was too bad Ms. Coffee turned into a perp later. I got 40 hours a week at work and regular days off at the new location. They even gave me hours for “watching the store” during remodeling. Strange, my boss gave me a copy of Animal Farm to read while I watched the store. Did he “know”? One of my little rituals was to eat the breakfast buffet at Big Boy on Saturday morning, one of my days off. I also remember putting 10 bucks of gas in the car on Friday night after I got off work. I think work even cashed our checks. I was so proud of myself–3 years before I was locked up in a psych ward and now I was living away from my parents, working, had my car with me, had some friends, and felt good for the first time in my life. I tried Clove cigarettes (terrible for your lungs) at the little coffeehouse, got high in the park with another resident and went back to the house and lay on my bed in fear that Jacob would come in and know I was high!!! There were mostly special and some not-so-special memories from the house. There was a woman I met who had anorexia and we found a sick bird. She knew a woman who did bird rehab and we sent the bird to her across town. The bird woman had a huge Checker car called the Bird Ambulance. I got to go to a fancy dress dinner in Spring ’86 in a borrowed dress. I bought fancy stockings, shoes, and earrings. The female staffer made me up. The featured celebrity there complimented my looks! Another time, I went in Ms. Coffee’s car into the hills to a remote bar. We were coming home and Ms. Coffee was drunk? and the man who always wanted to get it on with me had to drive. It was 2 or 3 am when we got back to town. He was a smartass and would try and go thru the synchronized lights just as they turned green. At one intersection, another car was running a red and smashed into us. A window blew out and the car was totalled but no one was really hurt, just bruises. I remember the day Challenger blew up–I was trying to get food stamps. It was in February ’86. In December ’85 a bunch of us went into the hills and cut down a Christmas tree. I remember being so happy helping to decorate it! I went crazy with my new independence! I dyed my hair blue!! It lasted a week. The customers at work were angry with it. Now, it’s common. I did it when it was risque. Ms. Coffee and a group of us went to Easter Sunrise Services outside–I had always wanted to do it and I did! I also went camping with a few other residents and went on a rafting trip (my only one) in 1987. Cooking dinner, especially on Sunday, was an adventure. You had to be “cook” once every two weeks. You had to plan your meal, keep it within the draconian budget, cook it, set the table, serve it, then CLEAN UP. It was here I discovered I liked to cook. Cooking on Sunday could go for hours, especially if you had to finish cleaning up after Sunday Meeting. Jacob seemed to take an interest in me. There was a diner a block away and we’d go for a One Dollar Breakfast (2 eggs, toast, home fries), fifty cent coffee (take that, Starbucks!) and sometimes a Dollar slice of Baklava. He acted like he wanted me to succeed in life. I felt like I was sort of in his “inner circle” of residents and ex-residents that he liked. Another resident that Jacob liked was a serious young man who had had to drop out of Oral Roberts University. This guy asked me out but he was too sick at the time and when I met him later he was better and he wasn’t interested in me anymore. I was attracted to the cute dark English guy with the blue eyes and freckles anyway. He would share his Walkman and we would go on walks. I think they had Walkman players with plugs for 2 sets of earplugs then. He would tease and tickle me. He even tried to kiss me. I would’ve gone with him but he was bi and AIDS was a big threat then. He had a tragic end about a year after I left the house. I used to visit his memorial when I lived closer to it and talk to him. There was the fun day when the volunteers arrived and we all helped to paint the house! I kept my old U2 t-shirt with peach colored paint on it for years since it became a memory of better times in my increasingly dark life. I spent a lot of time in Jacob’s office. We “just talked” and he did not mind. He almost felt like an uncle to me or a much older brother. On Sunday night we had a “spiritual” group that was very faintly Christian and Jacob would wear jeans and my feelings (and other girls) were far from filial then. He was married though and I met his pretty wife at the Christmas Party. My best memory was when the staff and residents surprised me with cake and ice cream on my 20th birthday! I had not had a Birthday Party since age 10 and that is when all the other girls turned on me at my own party–how sweet! so this little party was great. People seemed genuinely happy I would celebrate my milestone birthday there. Finally out of my teens! I have not had a birthday party since. Soon I will be 50 and since I am targeted I’m sure there will be NO PARTY. I did not know that in 1985-1986 I was living in paradise and the hell of targeting would soon steal all my joy bit by agonizing bit. II Like all good things, my house stay came to an end. I had quit my gas station job in March ’86 then I got an on-call job at a shoe store stocking shoes that didn’t pay enough to stay at the house. I had to leave without my dream of moving into one of the transitional “satellite” apartments nearby. They rented for about 300. I moved “home” in June, 1986. I went to Florida to become a professional groupie but came back in only 5 weeks since I was only getting paid what I was getting back home but my room was 88.00 a week without food. I went back to school in early 1987, graduated in late 1988 and did not find permanent work. By 1989 it was bad at home. I still hadn’t found work beyond “temping” and my mother and I were at each others throats. My sister was still in college and I was on the outs with my Grandma by late 1989 since she started taking my parents side on everything instead of being my advocate. My father had had bypass in the Spring, my Aunt had been incapacitated by an ill-advised surgery, and I had become a TARGET and did not know it. I lost both my Grandma and Aunt the next year. My mother booted me out of the house just before Christmas in 1989, giving me some money my Grandma had gifted me with at birth. It wasn’t much, but at least she didn’t just boot me onto the street. Since I had never looked for an apartment before, I ended up back at the HOUSE again. This second time it was not as pleasant, however. Jacob was still there then, and I was welcomed back, but it was DIFFERENT now. First of all, I was not the “youngest” anymore. I was not a cute little teen all bubbly with youth and energy. Also, Jacob seemed different. He said to me, “boy, have you grown up,” like it was disappointing. Was I to remain a child forever like Peter Pan? Life had gotten rough and so had I. I had a single room this time and it was 465.00 a month. I paid monthly this time since I had money starting out, plus my “graduation gift” was a 1st month’s rent at my 1st apartment, so this was “it”. The first room, Number 15, was tiny and right off the library smoking room. Later, I moved to room “1” across a men’s double that was very noisy since they played fantasy baseball and their printer was always running. It was also over the steep kitchen stairs that a lot of old homes have: sort of like servant stairs, so I’d get foot traffic going up the stairs. “2” was the room where Ms. Coffee had stayed. The second friend I made at the “house” I met the day I came to dinner. She was in a crisis over dinner being done on time and here I was to save the day. And so it went. We were friends for years. The “house” was different, somehow. The atmosphere was more hostile. There were a group of residents and a few hangers on that “ruled” the house” and they held court in the “library”. They were like the adult version of the Mean Girls or something. They harassed a man out of the house when I was there and probably were relishing the thought of his destruction but he just moved on and was fine. I tried to ingratiate myself with these bullies but they hated my new friend so I ended up loathing them. By that time in history, society was becoming more cruel and perpy. A man that came to dinner said he had a breakdown after seeing the movie “Heathers” which I thought was so weak of him since I only thought the movie was about bullying…I looked it up last night and the movie has murder and violence in it…and kind of “predicts” as The Powers That Be often do the school shootings that would start 10 years later. There was a victim of SRA that had become a Christian but still had MPD. She could switch to one of her child personalities on a dime. That was almost a deal breaker for me. The worst people from before were schizophrenics. Two of the men were Vietnam Vets, one of them physically disabled. The other was married to one of my old counselors from the hospital where I stayed at 16. They had a suicide plot and one bailed and the other survived but their friendship was OVER. Another man would DIE during his stay there because he had a heart attack and could not get treatment without insurance. I’m surprised he wasn’t taken to the city hospital where they treated indigents. Instead, the hospital down the street sent him home and he died. He was 55. He started a “baking club” at the house where residents would get together and bake one night a week or so. There was always junk to eat in the house after that. I met a woman with horrible SI scars and horrific art that she drew depicting a rape. A man jumped out of a second story window and broke his ankles. The house was a dark place now. I only had a PT temp job this time. Because I had that extra money I went out and splurged on highlights for my hair for a then absurd 80 bucks. I went to Wal Mart and got some sheets for my bed instead of using the old sheets the house provided. I noticed people were acting oddly to me sometimes…inside and outside the house. The targeting had started in late 87 but it seemed to get worse overnight when I moved out. Weird old women laughed at me when I walked down the street. There was this woman I hated there who only stayed a short while but kept on popping back up in my life. A person called me at the house but when I got to the phone no one was there. I had to go to the mental health center because I no longer saw my private therapist. They put me on drugs that had side effects. I lost my temp job and tried to stay on at the house doing janitorial but could not keep up with the rent after my Grandma’s money ran out. Sunday meetings were a hoot when it was decided that there would be a “chore committee” that would “grade” people’s chores. The people on the committee were of course the house bullies. They would give themselves 10 on their chores and give others 4, 5, or 6. It was like the bullshit orchestra tryouts in high school when the conductor let the kids determine section seating. I was at the house all day in the basement since a heat wave hit. Nasty talk shows played all day that showed audience members ganging up on guests they didn’t like. Proto-stalkers??? Sally Jesse Raphael, Gerado Rivera, Cathy Jones???, etc….that and all the “judge” shows. The heat was horrible upstairs. We were getting a 100 degree spell which used to be very rare. I had a west facing window. The June sun set late and the city heat island kept things hot all night. The temp in my room was about 95-100 at night and down to about 86 in the morning. They provided no fans. A woman resident with a fan was able to reduce her room temp. I can reduce the inside temp to about 76 in the morning with a huge fan during a heat wave but it will go up during the day–but not to 100!!! I felt ill with the drug side effects and the heat. Another woman resident got smart and set up a hammock in the back yard. I decided to go downstairs to sleep in the cooler “chapel” but someone was already there and he made me leave. The room was huge. He yelled at me and said I reminded him of his MOTHER. OOOOOH. What a perpy insulting thing to say. I had to go back upstairs and burn. I started feeling ill. I finally just gave up and moved home, owing the “house” money for rent. I wonder really what the “house” had to do with my life. Were they setting me up for stigmatization as a “nut” later? My 2 stays propelled me towards independence since we had to learn to cook fast, do chores, pay rent, shop, etc…, yet, somehow, I was being funneled into the trash can of society. Were they setting me up for stigmatization as a “chronic nut” for life? Was I to live in the wasteland of the Severely Mentally Ill with the loss of dreams and the acceptance of “lower expectations”? I found out later at a “clubhouse” for mental “consumers” that the staff at the clubhouse was not using it as a place for people on benefits to get away from home and isolation, but, as a job factory to funnel people on benefits into low paying jobs which got people off benefits and steered them to dead end jobs that are self defeating since you lose medical benefits and end up losing the job and going on the street and applying for benes all over again…but now, you are worn out and ill and willing to be more COMPLIANT to overdrugging or whatever they have on the agenda for you. There were a few favorites that got good jobs at the clubhouse that seemed to function normally but that was tokenism. I think the clubhouse was destructive. I had a degree and at least wanted a job that had some responsibility: I did not want to be a file clerk or work for Burger King. This job scam is a subject for another post! I think people who are on benefits should be able to work but should be able to keep benefits unless they are truly better and can continue on their own. A LOT OF PEOPLE TOOK JOBS AND ABANDONED THE BENEFITS BECAUSE THEY WERE ASSIGNED PAYEES THAT DID NOT LET THEM HAVE ANY MONEY–EVEN FOR GROCERIES. They gave these poor souls “gift cards” for the store. One such person left benes and went to work and then lost her job and came back a year later, looking 10 years older and dragging an oxygen tank. I could go on about forced drugging but I covered it on my old blog that cannot be resurrected. Sometimes it’s needed, but not at the extent they do it. Forced drugging with neuroleptics (antipsychotics) is legally sanctioned torture due to the akesthesia symptoms that are a side effect. I have tried 6 different ones and they all had the same depression/anxiety effect on me. My Dr. wants to try me on a seventh. Essentially, I was able to live w/o “meds” for over a decade, but, targeting, witchcraft aimed at me, and God knows what else drove me back to the Docs. Targeting took away my dreams of overcoming my bad childhood and adolescence. I stayed poor year after year after year until I just wore out and went on benes–then I had no life at all! I thought God had a plan for my life but satan and his helpers stole it, for the devil comes to kill, steal and destroy. Again, I wonder if my first stay at the “house” in 1985 was a setup.. I was sort of “lovebombed” there as a youth and it was a way for them to make me think I was on of the Seriously Mentally Ill. I sort of started to think of myself in those terms–someone who is “chronic”, E.G., SOMEONE WHO WILL NOT BE “BETTER” WITHOUT DRUGS. A career nut. I even “tried” for benes as early as 1986 but got turned down because the doc who saw me thought I “just had to get away from my parents.” He was partially right. I would have made it if not for targeting. I was jealous of another young woman who did not have to earn her bread since she had benes, yet, she was not on psych drugs, or seeing a therapist, or going to a clubhouse or anything. She was free as a bird. She got around her town on a bike. She lived in squalor, though. I was suffering at the time working a nasty temp job and only having about 30 bucks over my rent for food a week and maybe 10 for anything else. That was a 40 hour job with a long bus ride and the bus was a dollar each way and took that 10 a week. I struggled to work until mid 1999. I was 33. I did a variety of temp jobs, food service jobs, day labor, and one “real” office job that lasted only 2 years. My last job was Mickey D’s, which is in another post. I finally threw in the towel and took the “checks”. I’m not a bad worker. I’m not fast, but I work consistently and like to be accurate in the office and produce good food in the kitchen. I also was accurate at the “till” usually being within a dollar. I rarely called in sick, and only when I was really ill. I was getting “fired” so much that I had NOTHING to show on a resume. What I got “paid” for these often physically exhausting jobs, was no more than benefits. NO health insurance. One job kept me on a yearly average just ONE HOUR UNDER what I would need to qualify for the HMO. Shysters. At the end of my working life, I felt often ill, colds dragging on for months, always scared about being fired every day I came in, and even scared about my next meal at times when my tiny check ran out a week before the next payday. I lost my apartment in 1999 and I found myself living in “community” again–at a shelter. Oh well, at least I had experience. PS Just saw some fundraising videos about my old community. They did a major remodel a few years back. The place was really dirty and run-down and trashy when I was there. It’s now Posh Palace. The resident testimonials were sooo great. It cannot be that great, but, that is what keeps money coming. The community DID have its success stories–people who returned to full work in “society”, but for the most part people moved into apts, but on benefits. There were a lot more people who used the place as a revolving door back in my time, but now there are time requirements. It seems more structured with more groups now. Back then, we were pretty much on our own. We were expected to attend a few dinners a week, Sunday Meetings, and “cook planning” meetings. You could also go to a meeting on basic money management and have a “one-on-one” with an under-staffer, or Resident Coordinator. Overall, the “house” was good and bad. I had some of the best times of my life there, but I came to see myself as “ill”. I still see Ms. Coffee on the bus every once in awhile. She just perps me. I’ve seen a few others from the “house” off an on over the years but not many. I saw a “success story” that had an apt and a job that I knew from the second time give me a dirty look on the bus years ago. Ahhhh, targeting…. I guess the “house” was the best it was ever gonna be.
w/o Internet at home I have more time to read..and read. Just finished a 400+ page book called Straight Into Darkness by Faye Kellerman. It is about pre-Hitler Germany and how a troubled understaffed police department and a detective with at least a few morals left solve a case of mass murder in Munich or “lustmord” which is I think the definition of “love of death” or something. It also examines the state of the art and entertainment around Germany at that time. Munich was sort of a place of middle class “respectability” compared to Berlin…so they did not get the hootchie cootchie shows as much but they did have Kabarets, or nightclubs. It also explores the world of 1920s German art which had themes of violence (the lustmord) as well. The main character watches as Hitler rises, and his rallies and his (eventually disposable) Brownshirts become more and more violent and how the police have trouble controlling the riots from the rallies and how the police and populance become more and more sympathetic to the Nazi cause and how honest people like Axel Berg (the main character) are getting fewer and fewer. Kellerman leaves you guessing to the end who the killer is and the ending is a big surprise. It is a good read for a ti as perps have been compared to Brownshirts over and over again. Another theme is…drum roll…FOOD. German pub food sucks apparently, and if the Germans had a better cuisine they probably would not have had to have so many wars. I bet Postwar Germany is full of Chinese, Mexican, Indian and American food. Kellerman uses lots of German phrases to make the novel seem authentically German even though it is written in English. I recognized a few German words due to my Grandmother using some Yiddish words even though she spoke English. She also spoke Yiddish and my mother understood it. I can only make out a few food words. Apparently Jewish food is German food, essentially, sort of like Macrobiotic food is Japanese food, essentially…except for SAUSAGE. The Jews ate Brisket and bird not sausage
Three sites I follow online are suddenly gone. One is NE1 another is a blog about eating disorders and another is a pastor that put his sermons up….poof! All gone. Police are hanging around again looking to put me into trouble. My former “friend” is also gone, too. She never talked to me more than half the year anyway. Selfish old bitch. The demons who run these perp operations put all kinds of evil thoughts in her head about me. They put evil things in my neighbor’s heads and everyone I see on the street. Total Orwellian hell. No hope. Even God is on vacation it seems.
PS….Well the Pastor is keeping his old sermons up but nothing new since mid October when my newest troubles were beginning. I can’t go to church because I just get perped. I ain’t “Going to Perp” to tithe my money and waste time getting dressed up to get harassed. I”m thinking Burger King or McDonald’s or Wendy’s can have a kid’s coloring sheet a.k.a. “Where’s Waldo”? with the Pastor to find. Where’s the Pastor? I’ll have his bald old head poppin up all over the page and hapless kids and adults looking for him including Shelock Holmes and Matlock, etc….
PPS…reading another ti’s blog (Uncontrolled Opposition) and the “Where’s Waldo?” comment is rude. It refers to Catholics looking for nonconformist “Waldensians” who were started by Peter Waldo. Did Burger King think they were cute when they made that little tray liner game? “Waldo” was some kind of nerdy guy in the game. Maybe the Pastor is being targetted and is not posting sermons for a reason. I hope he’s OK.
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.
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.
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……
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.
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,
Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.
Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.
“Aw c’mon dcms, there must be SOMETHING comforting from your childhood!”
“Well, I already told you about Passover and what a comforting tradition that was so I guess there’s only Shabbos, or Friday night dinner left.”
“Okay, tell me about it.”
“It was one of the most enduring traditions of my childhood. It happened every week! Ya couldn’t escape it! Friday was Shabbos! When I was very young up to about age 13 it meant going to Grandma’s across town to eat what she made. It was just us four, Grandma and Grandpa, and the dog. It was always good. We always had Candle Lighting, except in Summer when it was so late, then the family would gather and we would do the prayers over the Challah and Wine. My Grandpa and Dad would take a piece of Challah and say the Motzi and then put some salt on it and eat it. Then we started eating.
There was always a first course. Usually it was chopped liver or cold turnip salad with Challah. I didn’t like either much, but the liver was better for me because the turnip salad was bitter. Of course I loved the homemade Challah with white raisins.
Then we’d get to business and the main course. It usually was some kind of chicken but Grandma also baked beef sometimes and occasionally did a “milk” Shabbos with tuna casserole as the main dish. We’d also get cold salad and a hot vegetable and kugel. I liked every kind of kugel except potato. Sometimes it would be rice kugel or noodle kugel which were both sweetened with fruit and cinnamon. Potato was plain and there were no condiments to put on it. Sometimes we’d get pickled green tomatoes my Grandma put up from her tomatoes.
After that there was dessert, the best part. Most times she would bake some kind of cake: either banana or marble cake or even a pie. With a milk meal it would be coffee cake. Sometimes there would also be fruit salad or even in summer, Grandma’s version of ice cream made with Coffee Rich, usually strawberry flavored. For a beverage, it was usually Swee Touch Nee tea and sometimes coffee.
The best part however, was being together at the end of the work/school week and talking. If it was Summer, we’d retire to the patio to talk till it got dark. If it was Winter, I’d go with the ‘rents and my sister would stay over and go to shul with Grandma. I had allergies at her house and could not stay the night even though I tried a few times.
After the dog passed I would stay at her apartment she later got for the whole weekend for a few years. Then it would just be Grandma and I eating the Shabbos after my folks got into it with her one Friday. My sister came to these dinners also if she wasn’t out of town at college or at her job. At the end it was just Grandma and I. The food would not be finished so we would eat the rest for lunch the next day.
All those days are gone now. Everything is gone now. Only my sister and her family are left alive and she does not talk to me.
“Wow, dcms, Shabbos was a real stable part of your young life.”
“It sure was. I probably turned out better than I would have if not for those family traditions to keep me somewhat grounded.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve been to “the park”. I used to go almost every day, but after almost being arrested for giving a dirty look to a cop, having dead animals put into my path, skitted and scammed with fake little dramas and then to top it all off seeing my OLD landlord at the park who made me homeless back in the 1990s and finding out he is trying to take over a large part of the city…..ugh, a nightmare.
Here’s an old one from a few years ago….
Wow, what a great way to make money! This has to be the best untapped way to make a buck! Making money off the backs of the homeless! I supply the drugs and they sell it to their homeless buddies! All I do is sit here in the parking lot and rake in the cash! And the cops do not bother me! It’s almost like they want me here! Like I help to “keep order”. I am a feudal Lord! Some ugly bitch over there keeps giving me dirty looks and I think she’s on to me, but, she is one of those targets and can’t do a damn thing. Plus all my guys keep staring at her and giving her dirty looks as they constantly go back and forth to my car! What a sucker that woman is! I bet she comes here to get away from the “neighbors” if you know what I mean. If this keeps up I won’t have to go back to work! I’m afraid when the weather gets colder though the bums will go inside and I will lose income. Better think up another scam. Maybe I should be a stalker….
It can’t be! That bastard is dealing drugs out of the park and destroying the only peace I get at all! His “men” keep staring at me as they walk back and forth all over the bridge. Not one cop in sight. Where is that cop I keep seeing following me around everywhere? He zips past me on the bike path, he “meets” me in parking lots, once he even kept speed with the bus as I was on it! I even see him sitting half a block away while I wait for the bus! I see tire tracks on the grass sometimes but if those belong to cops they aren’t messing with this operation. They follow me on the street when I walk home from the park turning and driving past me dozens of times but these guys deal drugs out in the sunlight just like my “neighbor” does. The cops tell my landlady that there’s “nothing they can do”, but, I watched an interaction with him and the cops one evening and it’s obvious he’s a snitch even if he’s not a well-liked one! He was trying to demand respect from the cops and they were laughing at him. But they won’t arrest him even though he does his dealing in front of everyone. Why are those asshole bums staring at me like they want to beat me up? I’m not interfering with their “business”. They know I can’t call the cops because they won’t do anything but accuse me of being nuts and trying to force me into a hospital or on psych drugs.
Wow what a niiiice awesome day for me to ride my bike! I look awesome in my tight “bike outfit” Cowabunga! I hate all the poor people walking on the path, they get in the way. I want to go fast! A guy like me needs to stay in shape to get girls in bed! My current girlfriend is a drag and is getting demanding so I’m gonna have to trade her in–matter of fact I’m already cheating on her ass! She’s gained like five whole pounds and a yuppie like me cannot be seen with a fat girl. I hang out with the guys from work and I’d lose social cred if I’m seen with a needy fat chick! Here’s the park! Sometimes my buddies and I come here for a few beers or to pick up some cheap chicks–like slumming! Usually, I just ride past here as fast as I can since there are bums everywhere! This summer, it’s like weird. They seem to be walking up and down the path near the bridge every time I come here. I almost ran into one. Ten points! Can’t they see they are getting in the way of my fitness goals?