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……

 

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Shabbos–Day Ten

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.”

 

Summertime

This is the time of year I start thinking of Summer.  There was thunder lightning and hail.  Early summer, the prelude to the real thing.

Summer was fun before I was a target.  I was bullied at school but Summer meant most time was spent with family and occasional visits with cousins at my Aunt’s house.  I liked to do all the Summertime things I would not dare do now because I’m an official Outcast, official Off-scouring–the ti.

It was fun hanging out at my Aunt’s eating myself sick and doing errands for her. Making burnt pancakes on her ancient stove.  Playing with the neighborhood kids occasionally.  Meeting a lost little kitten on my Aunt’s porch.  Watching her grapes ripen and knowing my mother would want some.  Her favorite food of all was Concord Grapes.  It was hot at my Aunt’s but we were thin and wore shorts and tee shirts and it was sort of like camping sleeping in the small stifling bedroom that used to belong to my grandmother.  There were windows way high up and it took hours to get a breeze.  The big window stayed closed as it was a rough neighborhood then.

I could wear shorts before I got fat.  I was actually comfortable in Summer at my parents A/C home wearing Summer clothes.  Ever since I have moved out it has been one a/c less apt after another.  I’m too fat to wear shorts and even feel sort of naked in capri length pants.  I spend three months a year under the relentless 50mph blow of a huge fan.  I do wear tank tops but now they stretch the bounds of decency because I’ve gotten large on top so now I’m paranoid about that and am wondering if I should go back to regular hot t shirts for Summer.  People make fun of my attire and I’m too poor to get nice things.

I used to go swimming at the J CC, at the local High School Pool and the lake behind our house.  As a child I would do dives off the diving board and might dare a forward flip.  There was that little jittery feeling as I ascended the high dive and also the determination I would go off it and not climb back down to my utter humiliation.  I would dive off the high dive and get water up my nose.  At the lake there was not much room to swim for so many people so my mother got us floating rafts to sit in to go out on the water.  I would sit and read in the raft.

As a young trip there were trips to Dairy Queen to get soft serve.  I insisted on at least a Medium Cone which was huge then.  It was 35 cents.  Occasionally my father would let us get dipped cones.  On special days we’d get to go to Baskin Robbins and I would get a double cone of the most odd flavors I could find or the most decadent chocolate flavors or one of each.  I’d get daiquiri, pina colada and every other weird sherbet.  A double cost, what, 79 cents?  My latest forays into ice cream shops gave me nightmares with the high prices and perps everywhere,

We would go to movies and enjoy the a/c before we had a/c at home.  It was a magical world in the dark eating overpriced popcorn and drinking drinks worth their weight in gold, and you didn’t want to movie to end.  Now I’d be sitting in the dark with a bunch of angry perps…I do not remember the last time I went to a movie.

We would go on vacation and sleep in dive motels and eat at greasy spoons.  Dad would drive too much during the day.  There would be fights.  It was the typical American Vacation.  My classmates got trips to various Islands and resorts but we had less than they.  I still remember going to the beach for the first time in San Diego and being fascinated with the seaweed on the shore, the pelicans and the cool coastal air.

I would take my sleeping bag and sleep in the backyard only to be woken at about 6:25 am under the morning clouds and the clatter of my mother’s Cottonwood tree.  I’d walk inside and she’d say “good morning, how did you sleep?”  Like a baby that’s what. NO pills either.

We’d go to the amusement park at night to escape the heat so we’d see the older crowd of teens and adults and not whiny babies and hot ride seats.  I was grateful for that.  We would stay until they closed at midnight.  My mother went on all the fast rides with us girls while my dad played skee ball and fascination.

We would eat before going at an Italian restaurant.  I would get a huge calzone.  It was a family run place, closed now.

We’d beg for sweets at the park later.

We’d pile tired into our big old car for the drive across town to the suburbs sleepy and happy.

I have not been to an amusement park since 1990 and am not eager to go.  Surrounded by people again.  Perps and skits and park security.  Nope.

If it stormed at night we’d go to our parents’ bed and tell them we were scared.  We were told “It’s just a storm” and be told to go away.  To me the great flashes of lightning and window rattling thunder and sheets of rain were the end of the world.

My mother said she saw a tornado out driving once.  My childhood dream was to see a tornado.  I saw one later on but it wasn’t so great.  The dream was already dead.

One summer we joined a hiking club and hiked as a family.  Oh those 5 am wake ups and those breakfasts on the road with the group!  The beautiful forest and rocks and then crossing the tree line and eating the same whole wheat bread and cheese of everyday but it seemed a feast up there.  Falling asleep on a breeze in the mountain meadow before we had to hike down….begging for ice cream in the first town we saw.

My mother’s forays for fudge in any small town we went thru on vacation…

I’d lay on my bed and listen to America’s Top 40 on my little radio with the windows wide open.  I never thought I would end up like this.

The summer crickets would chirp and a breeze would float in.  Life was a summer dream.  The nightmare was out there waiting for me.

Had a hard time coming up with something

Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us.

The hard cold feel of the fake leather upholstery of my first two old cars on a winter morning with torn pieces sticking out and pieces of fluff escaping.  It was really uncomfortable before the car heated up but not as uncomfortable as getting on a bus full of leering perps.

Here Comes the Slut

here comes the slut

I don’t have a TV.  That being said you cannot avoid TV outside the house because it’s “on” everywhere.  It’s playing in the check line at Wally World, at Social Services as you wait for an agent to see your file, and especially DOCTOR’S OFFICES.  Where I go there’s a huge screen TV out front and in the smaller office where I go there’s a smaller TV people watch as they wait for the doctor or shots.

Try reading the BIBLE waiting in that room.  You’ll get looks.  Even reading a novel is hard as the TV blares all the time, usually Judge this and Judge that where person A will sue person B for 114.13 and find the need to take it to a Judge and put it on TV.  These shows play over and over and over at the City Clinic.  Where I go to the Dr., it’s CNN on the big screen and potluck on the small TV where patients can choose the channel.  Once in awhile I’ll get the Weather Channel on and watch it the whole time.  I suspect even if I wasn’t a ti I would not be that popular.

I didn’t like what was on TV in the Dr. office.  It was Maury or something and the guests were getting humiliated as usual acting like asses and everyone hooting like they were at a football game not watching peoples personal problems.  I changed to channel to my guilty pleasure when I DO get to watch a TV:  TLC.  Yesterday there was a show on trying on Wedding Dresses and as I hadn’t brought my Bible to catch up on Bible Study nor brought a book, I watched it.

The show is Say Yes to the Dress and I’ve included the You Tube link to its full episodes.  An aside, if you have noticed, ADS take ONE THIRD of all TV time.  Each half hour episode is 21 minutes long.  If you can find a free hour episode of something like my favorite detective, Monk (the detective with Asperger’s) the time is like 41 minutes.  That’s a lot of brainwashing per hour.  The ads are filled with rapidly flashing imagery and sexual innuendo.  Even public TV has added ads.  Back to the show: the premise is that a woman is searching for a wedding dress and is willing to travel across the country to an expensive dress salon in New York (now Atlanta) to try on and buy a gown for their upcoming wedding.  They even PAY for the gowns…big rich TV network are cheap b*astards.

Each customer gets a personal consultant to find the right gown.  That level of service is rare outside of wedding boutiques.

Watching that show, in a way, was like traveling to Alaska.  It’s something I’ll never get to do being targetted and the experience to me is fascinating.  Something popped out at me after watching a few episodes at the Dr.s and then at home on You Tube….it was the same dress over and over pretty much-or a slutty alternative.  Basically it’s TWO dresses shown over and over with the occasional exception that is usually just as slutty as the others.

Dress One, the cake dress, is a tight strapless sweetheart bodice combined with a huge skirt in a variety of floof and lace and beads.  Dress two is the “fit and flare” which is dress one but is tight through the rump and only flares below the knee, like a mermaid.  Most all the dresses are in white or cream.  The few that had straps or sleeves have very deep “v” cuts in front or only some netting for “sleeves” above the usual strapless sweetheart cut.  One rare bride bought a red dress than proceeded to marry a man she met only online.

There were a FEW more modest gowns but when the girls put these on they complained and complained.  They wanted to be falling out of their gowns on their wedding day.  Here are some examples of wedding gowns that are even WORSE than the ones on the TV show.  Look at the one on the bottom, she needs to shave her STOMACH.

The worst examples on the show were a woman who was going to be a pastor’s wife and wanted a “sexy” gown that she was falling out of.  “We saved ourselves for marriage, so now we get to pop pop pop like popcorn,” said the bride to be. Her horrified mother gave in too easy.  Another one I saw was a very hefty woman trying on gowns that would NOT cover her huge breasts.  She bought one bling infested gown with two interchangeable skirts.  The designer gave her a break on the price.Good, as she had “only” 13k to spend.  Remember that when you are eating beans at the end of the month, ti’s.  I could use that to buy a car or a van.

The worst of all was the poor woman who imagines she talks to Princess Di and wanted to be a “princess” on her weddding day.  She was so desperate for her gown she lost 35 pounds for it.  It fit. Her husband, the poor “prince” is like 400 pounds.  Be quiet, however, the couple are COPS.  Shhhh. The runner -up is a woman who was hooking up with a real ugly guy from her high school days 40 years later and wearing this see thru pink gown and having her stupid gullible friends burst into TEARS when she tried on this gown in front of them.  This 50 year old hussy took the cake so to speak.  All these “gowns” were sold at two exclusive boutiques and started at about 1500 dollars.  One was Kleinfeld of New York and I enjoyed the New York accents I no longer hear anymore.  (I was raised Jewish).

The dresses started at about 1500 dollars and went up to about 20k or more depending on the designer.  I wondered why they all looked the SAME:  then someone on Slate had the answer:  it was CHEAPER to add a poufy skirt to the same ol top over and over than to fuss with sleeve designs.  So these bridezillas are really suckers.  They did not show ONE gown with real sleeves save one…”sleeves” mostly were netting and lace at the top of the gown or spaghetti straps. They were getting ripped off.  One had sleeves then a “cowl” neck that left the whole FRONT of the gown OPEN to the waist.  WTF?

Still, I was addicted to the show and kept giving the brides attempts to come up with gowns “numbers”.  The family would tear up and say it’s a “10” and I’d say “two”.  LOL.  I watched until I pretty slender lady came in with all her huge obese in laws (I should not talk) and started trying on gowns.  These fatsos were really critical, especially the groom to be.  They had the gall to say she looked “fat” in one of the gowns.  They should be so fat..Finally, she came out with a gown she thought was a show stopper and her fiance said, J*SUS derisively when he saw the gown.  He was taking the Lord’s name in vain over a dress.  I had to stop watching.  My bad for trying to participate in the WORLD.  I figured if I kept watching I was gonna earn God’s Wrath.

I looked at a modest bride site that was Mormon and there were gowns with sleeves that covered you up but were pretty boring.  I liked one of them that looked like it could have been worn in the middle ages with a sort of low boat cut and bell sleeves.  None of the gowns were purple.  Too bad.

My mother wore a “Camelot” style wedding dress, basically a knee length dress with short sleeves and a little bling.  It was very covered up compared to what I saw on TV.  My sister’s dress could have been featured in a convent compared to these numbers.  My mother’s dress looked kind of like the lady on the RIGHT.

on the right

My mother was so skinny her arms looked like toothpicks, not tree trunks like most of the “ladies” I saw on the show.

So now you know I can be very superficial and vain.  Hahahaha.

Any moral to all of this?  Can’t think of one.

the prettiest contestant

Dear 12 year old me

Hello from the future.

There’s something you need to know. You are falling down a hole that you are making for yourself and wasting your life. What is left of it…See, 10 years in the future you will be “picked” to be a gangstalking target and will lose your life bit by bit until you have almost nothing left and every day will be a trial and a burden. By the time you are middle aged you will regret you had been born.

So, 12-year-old self, make your life now count. Enjoy life, nature and the few people you have in your life. Examine your potentials and try to excel in them in the time you have left because soon it will be all gone.  Be nice to your family.  Soon they will co opt them and they will be gone to you.

Don’t waste any more time on that band. Don’t suck your brain into extinction. The pop music culture was designed to make you promiscuous and stupid and will eventually draw you down into a cult like mind state. Life is too short for this. During your free time, read, before your overlords count the pages and impose punishments if you rebel.  Rock music is designed to rot the mind and control it.  The “establishment” you rebel against is behind this “music”.  Go out in nature and enjoy the sounds of birds and enjoy the night sounds before the voices come

Wear the prettiest clothes you can and enjoy yourself in them. You are NOT too fat. That will come later. Honor the Sabbath with the prettiest clothes you have since one day you will have no one to celebrate the Sabbath with.  Later they will tell you what colors to wear and you will end up in black and brown mostly.

Go on hikes and enjoy nature and freedom. One day you won’t even be able to look out the door without the neighbors screaming at you or go anywhere without an army of stalkers following and mocking you. Get involved in the community and volunteer to help others because when this starts no one will even want you as a volunteer.

Pray to God. Talk to Him. Later you won’t be able because when you pray a computerized voice will answer you with curses. Try to get that Bar Mitzvah. Beg for it and get it.

Do good in school. It’s not a sin to be a good student. “They” don’t like you any more for shunning your schoolwork. Those snotty people at your school will never like you, never. You will still see them from time to time in MIDDLE AGE even–perping you. They are worth nothing. Ignore their names and taunts.

Get to know Jesus really well, as I said before, because their technology can block prayer sometimes.  You might need to hide this from the parents unless you would love to experience Foster Care.

Take care of your teeth, you will need them and dentists will no longer be your friend.

Learn useful things like sewing before they are “forbidden” to you and these torturers do punish.

They are even threatening me more trouble to post this post.

This post will come to you in the MAIL on PAPER with  STAMP.  I am you, decades in the future.

Suicide? you say?  This is my dark future?  My life already sucks old lady, why did you go on living?

I didn’t know, I lived on hope.  It failed.  All I know is we are given a life to live and must complete it or forfeit eternity.  I sure hope they who said that were right.

Back in Time

When I was 8 I first remember going to my Aunt’s to stay for a few nights. I don’t remember exactly why, but I think it was because my parents had had a fight and needed time alone together.  My allergies precluded me from going to Grandma’s, which would have been more fun since she always was doing things, so away I went (I forget if my sister did too) to the poor side of town to stay at my Aunt’s.

When we arrived, I remember sitting in the small living room of the house built in about 1900 and seeing my Aunt, then about 60, talking to my mother, dressed in clothes that were out of date by decades. It was the 1970s but she seemed stuck in the 1940s. She seemed very sweet and kind and wanted me to feel welcome. She had trouble walking but that did not keep her from living her life. Everything about her and the house seemed out of time. She wore a long green pleated skirt that hit mid calf, had special black shoes that enabled her to walk a bit (remember the old time orthopedic shoes that old ladies wore?) put her hair up in a twist instead of having a “haircut” and style, and wore old time style makeup that would have looked good in the 1940s. Even her face seemed preserved from that time. She had relatively few wrinkles in her fair skin that was set off by black hair. Her voice was deep and even sounded from another time as if the voice had been allowed to wear out with time and almost creaked on its hinges, which is strange since she never smoked. Her voice was just that deep. I later found out she had trained as a contralto (female tenor) singer.  I caught her singing once when she was cleaning up the kitchen and she acted like I caught her in something shameful.  How had that woman been hurt?

My voice is deep but not even near to hers nor my other Aunt’s. I don’t smoke either. It’s hereditary.

Pictures hung on the wall of my Aunt and my Father and my Aunt and Uncles.  All were very old from the 1930s and 1940s.  They were the kind they took in Black and White and colored in later.

The house was fascinating to a kid who lived in a newer (at the time) subdivision with the modern conveniences. The house was on a tiny parcel of land and the tiny front yard was on a hill. The former Jewish neighborhood had become Hispanic over time. There was an old fashioned swing on the porch. The tiny backyard was overgrown and sported a grapevine which bore grapes that my Aunt gave away every year.  There was some crime there and even a dirty picture house on the corner.  If you sat on the swing, the leches would check you out.  Ewww.  If you went down the street to the 7/11 or another errand men would pull over to pick you up. The dirty picture house still stands there today.  This neighborhood isn’t falling fast to gentrification like the other older neighborhoods are here.

The house was built as a bungalow with living and dining rooms right behind each other.  The three tiny bedrooms were on the side.  I got the one where my deceased grandmother had slept in. Some of her old things were still in the bureau and bedside tables. The “middle” bedroom was for guests, usually family, and her bedroom was the smallest but had a window unit for air conditioning.  She had a high single bed.  Her old bureau had old earrings and perfume.  She wore Youth Dew as did my Mother when she wore perfume.  Also the smell of Pond’s Cold Cream was everywhere.

There was a long kitchen complete with a stove that hardly worked, an old fashioned sink that had a “back”, as in the ceramic went up the wall behind the sink (I’ve seen another one since and Laura Ingalls Wilder had one in Missouri), and a tiny old washer that did not work.  The elderly maid had to go to the laundromat. The fridge was old and smaller than ours was.  It was full of food that was forbidden at home. The floor was old linoleum in a yellow pattern, very worn in places.  There was a huge walk in closet that stayed locked on one side of the kitchen that held my grandmother’s old clothes from the past.  Behind the kitchen, out back was a “summer kitchen” where my Aunt cooked on very hot days in order to not heat up the house.  She barely made it out there and back but did it anyway.  It was dusty and had an older stove than the one inside.

There was an unfinished basement full of spiders (said my Aunt) and where strange old things were found after my Aunt’s death. Apparently there were Victorian area things left from the previous occupants.  I would have loved to see the antiques and old clothes that were taken from the house.  Many old clothes worth money were stolen by “nurses” she had to hire in her last years when she could not do the transfer to the toilet anymore.  Back when I was a kid she still walked and had a cane for going out–well, it was a black umbrella actually.

I have a rather narrow view of people who do home health care.  The mostly untrained “nurses”  also did not treat her well and would stay out all night when she needed someone there all the time.  I wonder if my Aunt was a target.  She worked for the government as a clerk stenographer but had had a bright future that was strangely derailed.  She never married and never left home after something “happened” away at college in Chicago.  She was living on a small pension and Social Security when I knew her.  She was skilled as a writer and a singer and could play piano.  She was also considered good looking.  Apparently a few men asked but she always said “no”.

The bathroom had a huge clawed tub that my Aunt managed to get into to bathe.  No shower.  The faucets had separate Hot and Cold spouts so you had to create the happy medium yourself for bathing and even hand washing.  the old fashioned sink sat alone and had rust stains.  The toilet was more modern but it was odd shaped as I recall as old toilets were.

An elderly maid came once a week.  She had been coming for years.  My Aunt would cook, wash dishes make her bed and even sweep, but the heavy housework was too much.  The maid had a push broom instead of a vacuum.  Have you ever seen one of those?  They don’t clean much.  They used one on a PBS special where a family was supposed to live like the old days.

My Aunt’s house was fascinating for an 8 year old.  Later, as I went there for dinner, weekly, in college, I found the whole setup creepy and wished my Aunt had a modern apartment with setups for disabled people and an electric wheelchair.  There was a huge B/W TV in a console when I first started going there for visits and a huge record player that had a 3 foot high speaker.  It played in “mono” I think.  The old dark green carpet was thin in places.  Later on she had a color TV where my Aunt, me, my cousin and my Uncle would watch 80s shows like Family Ties, the Cosby Show and Night Court.  We would watch the news until the Weather was over then it was bed for my Aunt and we had to leave.  Later, my older cousin lived there and did not have to leave after the weather was over.

After my Aunt died I continued to have dreams and nightmares of going over there.  A few years ago, I took a walk and saw the house from the outside.  It looked fixed up and repainted.  Central A/C had been added.  I did not knock or ask for a tour.  As a ti I am persona non grata.  I think my Aunt knew I was going to be a target and she did not like it.  I think she distanced herself from me when she saw it coming.  My grandmother did not distance herself though.  She did not act ashamed of me.

I told my Aunt not to get her final surgery that proved to be her demise but she did it anyway.  The Dr. promised her paradise and she came home a total invalid and lived one more year after a hellish 5 month hospital stay.  I hope he’s flipping burgers, but I bet not.  I really needed convincing to get my surgery.  I had no complications but I think I got some implants.  I waited at least 5 years longer than I should have to have it thanks to my Aunt’s experience.

I was already a target in the beginning stages and starting to get paranoid of people and their intentions.  I did not think my Aunt looked healthy enough or young enough for the surgery but she insisted and called me “foolish” for trying to talk her out of it.  She’d get angry at me in later years.  I was crushed since I remembered my sweet Aunt from childhood.

I would go visit her after the hospital.  She lay in her hospital bed at home and the inevitable “nurse” would be there listening to all conversations and poking herself in when not needed but withdrawing when real work was needed.  There was a triangle over my Aunt’s bed since now she even had trouble pulling herself up to sit up.  She had a bedpan and needed the nurse to get her into her chair.  All the weight she had lost thru her mistreatment in the hospital had been regained.  She was hooked on benzos.  A color TV was rigged over her bed so she could watch all day long.  Her love of books seemed over.  I could barely stand to visit.

LIttle did I know Death would visit my grandmother only months later and then my mother would go a few years later leaving me no real supportive family members.  My cousin’s apartment has that sort of out of time feel but not so extreme when I visited.  There is a sense of creepiness that seemed familiar.  Old ghosts hanging around.  (Even though there are no ghosts, my religion forbids it)

My apartment is way too old but has had some work done to it.  It reminds me of my Aunt’s house the way the rooms go from front to back.  I have no TV, no maid, and one furperson–a few of the differences but the creepy feeling is there.  I wish I could move far away out of the city and get fresh air and a big yard but wishes are like horses for ti’s.

No Puter?

Your life without a computer: what does it look like?

Way back in 1991 when I “moved out” from home I not only had no computer, I had no TV. I would read a lot and listen to hours of talk radio before bed. I especially liked the man who did his show after midnight.  Later on, I would listen to Air America (the perps forbade that EVENTUALLY LOL) and listen to Mike McCoy? take down all the neocons.

My first birthday after leaving home I got voila! a TV.  After that, I would watch some TV but not all the time.  I still had time for books and endless music listening at top sound. And eating.  I’d go out and buy food to binge on at night when the store was closer.  I watched Oprah, 90210, Dharma and Greg, ER, and the Saturday cooking shows along with Masterpiece Theatre and Are You Being Served?  Later on I got hooked on CSI type shows and HSN.

I was never on the Internet until 1997 and I put something into a search engine about diet guru Susan Powter (what happened to her?) and got a satanists web page as a result.  It confirmed my fears:  the Internet was invented by satan.

A few years later I got an email address for the first time (no home puter yet) and found there were just as many Christian Sites (if not more) on the Web than the bad guys had.  Good, now the Web was Converting the Masses.  Later, I found out it had a bit of everything and I was hooked.  I lost it laughing at James Lileks Institute of Official Cheer food section and almost got kicked out of the computer center where I was.

I had an email account and one pen pal that lasted about a year or less.

In very early 2005 I finally admitted it to myself I was a ti.  After spending hours at the library computers (unlimited at the time) and at a friend’s computer I finally got hooked up at home to join Yahoo mailing groups like Mulitstalk.  I learned to Instant Message as well.  I was hooked.  I started a blog right away on another platform then another three before settling on WordPress in 2007. I ran that Blog until 2011 then I took a break until this February. I am now a computer addict since I have little to do otherwise.  The perps even limit my BOOK reading to 50 pages a day.  I used to enjoy very long days at the park with books and snacks from home (when broke) and fattening crap from 7-11 (when not broke).  I got a long walk in as well.  I was also on supplements and no psych drugs.  I felt younger than I had in years and much stronger.  No more moaning and groaning moving around.

Did I answer the question?  What would I do if there were no more computers?  When my first computer broke I’d haunt libraries but it was not a great fix.  If there were NO computers at all the surveillance grid might go down and I might be free of V2k.  I definitely would want to read more.  I’d probably listen to more radio.  After my operation, I could not sit for long and sat in bed listening to hours of Dr Laura (who is no longer around–got taken down for saying a semi racial thing, sort of like Paula Deen) and also Coast to Coast since I got only little sleep until I could lie all the way down.  I really loved Dr. Laura and want to know who the little twit was that took her down.  Laura was abrasive and insulting along with giving good advice:  what on Earth did she say?

I could not go back to my Heavy Metal for music and if the computer were down I could not download songs.  I’d have to carry a transistor like a crazy old man. Maybe I’d get a metal detector to pick up old pennies all day and wear white slacks and mumble to myself.  I should have kept my old walkman that played tapes.  Who sells tapes anymore though?  NO TV, no computer, no MP3, I’d have to get a job.

I’d be flipping burgers listening to Paul Harvey tell THE REST OF THE STORY.