Writing 101: Dark Clouds on the Horizon

darkclouds

 

One night, after I finished eating dinner, I was bored and lonely and decided to call my boyfriend.  We had been going out over a year, but during this time period I went from being a healthy independent career woman to someone with an invisible illness that had sucked the life and energy out of me.  My relationship was strained as a result of becoming sick, as my boyfriend was uncomfortable being around old and sick people.  I knew this before I became ill, but at that time it really wasn’t an issue.

It was a Wednesday night and usually we tried to see each other once during the week and then we spent the weekend together at his house.  I was isolated living in NYC with my illness and he really was my lifeline.  He’d pick me up on Fridays and drop me back home after the weekend, as at this point I was working from home, trying to sort out my health situation.

We had settled into a routine, although neither one of us was all that happy with our situation at this moment.  He wanted more from me and I really had no more to give.  I was like a battery on it’s last charge, puttering a little, but not completely dead.  We had bickered  a lot during the previous weekend because he didn’t want me to go home on Sunday and I said that I have no more to give, I’m completely exhausted and bone tired.  If you need more, then you probably should start dating.  He had said much worse to me and in a tone, that I became all too familiar with.

So on this Wednesday night, as I picked up the phone to speak with him, I wanted to smooth things out and figure out a way to avoid having the same situation occur the next weekend.  But to my surprise, when I dialed his cell number, I heard him pick up and I said, “Hello”, but he wasn’t on the other end of the phone.  Instead, what did I hear…  I heard him talking to another girl, yes he was on a blind date, with someone for the first time.

At first I couldn’t believe what I heard, I was in disbelief.  I didn’t know if I was more shocked that he was on a date, or that somehow the Universe was letting me know he was on the date and letting me listen in.  I heard all about her,  that she was a widow, with 2 grown kids and that her parents recently died.

I heard him suggest his favorite Italian entree and I immediately knew what restaurant he had choosen. We had been there many times together and I was picturing him sitting there with this woman.  I heard him describe his situation, his children, his ex wife, his job and I felt like an intruder, yet I just couldn’t hang up the phone.  I was in shock.  How could he find someone to date in 2 quick days.  Was he dating all along, since I became ill?  Would I ever know the truth or be able to trust him again completely?

I feel that you should never ask a question that you won’t believe the answer too.  So my mind was racing, was I going to ask him about this date?, was I going to pretend I didn’t know? or was he going to own up and tell me that he went on a date?

At this point, 2 hours had probably gone by and I had my headphones on.  Yes, I probably should have hung up, but I couldn’t.   The dinner was coming to an end and he paid the bill and they exchanged pleasantries outside the restaurant.  Was he going to kiss her?  Well he didn’t, instead the conversation switched and they started talking about cell phones.  And what does he do, he reached into his pocket to show her his new cell phone and he sees that he’s connected to me on the phone..  OMG, I panicked and quickly hung up.

Now thinking back while writing this post, I’m laughing and have a big smile on my face, but at the time I wasn’t laughing or smiling.  I knew he would start calling me when he was alone and I really didn’t know if I was prepared to speak to him right now.  Sure enough 15 minutes later, the phone starts ringing and I don’t pick up.  His  personality, is such, that he won’t stop calling until I answer, he had displayed this behavior before, so I gave in and gave it to him!!  We had an argument and then I hung up the phone and tried to sleep, but I didn’t sleep.

I couldn’t shut my mind off.  I was hurt, very hurt, that 2 days after I told him to start dating if he needed more, he did.  Really what hurt me the most, is that I realized he must have been planning on dating way before the past weekend when we bickered a lot and he had this girl waiting in the wings.

The next day, he showed up at my door and apologized profusely, over and over again.  There was no connection between them, he doesn’t want to see her again and he wants to be with me, even though I’m ill.  It took me a while to get over the hurt, but I did forgive him and we did give it another try.

What happened that night, has always stayed with me, as one of the funnier situations that have occurred in my “off the wall” dating life. I have many of these stories, but this one is close to the top of that list.  Maybe the one that’s at the top is when I was on a blind date myself, after the meal, I had to go to the rest room and when I came back to the table, my date was gone.  He left the restaurant.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I don’t remember what we talked about, or else I could have used that story for my post!

Writing 101: A Girl Grows In Brooklyn

Brooklyntree

I grew up on a typical street in  the 1960s in Brooklyn, NY.  I lived in the same 2 bedroom  house for my entire childhood until I left for college.  The small, but uncluttered house was home to my parents, my little sister and myself.  Once you walked up the 7 brick stairs, you immediately stepped into an eat in kitchen with yellow, orange and black plaid wall paper.  There were 4 vinyl brown swivel kitchen chairs, surrounding a round walnut table.  Underneath the table, was our toy apricot poodle, who waited patiently there so that she could get fed scraps of meals from my father, as he had a soft spot for this dog.

Next to our kitchen was the living room, with green shag carpet and a green plush velvet couch, covered in plastic.  There were 2 high back velvet flowered print chairs across from the couch and in between there was an oblong marble table.  The piano, which I played (but not very well), was on the far end of the living room, flanked by 2 candelabras.  Above the piano was a beautiful oil painting, done by my favorite uncle, who was a Canadian Artist.  The sheer white curtains, barely shielded the room from the intense sunlight, that would stream in and discolor the carpet and the couch.  The view was onto one of the most pleasant streets any child could hope to grow up on.

The pick and black tiled bathroom was an eyesore, with black and white square floor tiles and pink fixtures.  One bathroom, 4 people.  Imagine that!  We never locked any doors in the house. To this day, I still don’t see the point of it.  Knocking was key. The pink and black stall shower when it wasn’t being used, stored the laundry basket and portable clothes dryer, which was used during the winter, when the weather was just too cold to hang our wet laundry outside.

The 2 bedrooms were a little further down a rectangular hallway.  My room, was shared with my sister, who was quite a bit younger than me.  Our blue paneled walls, surrounded red shag carpeting. My side was the right.  Her’s the left.  The fake wood wall shelves that hung above our small desk were filled with little blue smurfs.  Hundreds of smurfs.  My parents bedroom had green painted walls and a light shag carpet.  The big room looked empty, as there wasn’t much furniture, until later years when they purchased a dark wood, used bedroom set from a neighbor that was moving.

Most of our time was spent in the kitchen.  Funny to think that we survived without cell phones or computers.  We actually talked to each other during dinner.  We had dinners together almost every night.

After dinner, we would sit on our porch and so would most of the neighbors with their children.  Many of these children, I’m pleased to say are still in my life, some more than others, but the contact with many has kept up over the years.  The block was an extended family, as I didn’t have many close blood relatives.  We would be playing hit the penny or stoop ball  or drawing hopscotch boards on the sidewalk, only to be washed away by the rain.

The house was filled with love and the block was filled with real lifelong friends.  That’s my most favorite memory.

Writing 101: A Character Study

characterwelcome

 

Shortly before this course started, I posted a blog about 4 incredible women that I have met in the years since I’ve been ill, but I don’t want to talk about them today.  Today I want to describe a man that has touched my heart and my life in ways that no one else has and probably never will.  He isn’t my boyfriend or my husband or my partner, but he is my truest friend that I could ever wish for.

I met this man close to 20 years ago when we both worked for the same company and we have both changed a lot since then.  I remember being intimidated by his stature at first, because he was an ex navy officier, who stood up straight, walked with a steady and deliberate gait (even in his cowboy boots) and had the biggest belt buckle I have ever seen.  His thinning hair was covered by a 10 gallon cowboy hat and his silver trimmed glasses highlighted his kind eyes. Beneath all of these clothes was a man who exuded positivity, warmth and love.

When he walks into a room, he commands respect, but not in a snobbish, pretentious way.  You just sense that this man has something important to say and that being around him will make you feel good.   He speaks in a calm and gentle tone and in all the years we’ve been friends, maybe he’s raised his voice once.  When he speaks to you, you believe in him and in what he has to say.

He is a protector of people and I have been protected by him in many ways, both on the job and in my personal life.  Since I’ve been ill, he has come to my rescue on so many occasions that it’s hard to recall them all, but he was the one that took me to my disability hearings so that I wouldn’t have to go through it alone.  When I had to stop working and go on disability, he bought me an ipad, so that I could keep myself occupied and during the first holiday season that I was sick, he came and picked me up and drove me around NYC so that I could see the holiday decorations.   When I had to move because of my illness, he handled the movers and made sure my apartment was empty and clean.  He makes me feel safe whenever I am near him and he doesn’t even have to do anything but be himself.

But he doesn’t only protect his loved ones, he was the last man out on our floor when our office buildings were evacuated on 9/11.  He made sure everyone else got to safety before he left the building and then he made sure to secure our computer and data systems, so that our company would be protected from downtime and data loss.

His approach to life, when I first met him was very foreign  and strange to me, but as time went on, I began to start to see life as he did.  He was an example of the “law of positive attraction” and he taught me to ask the universe for things and to change my thought process.

Although I am still working on this, as it doesn’t seem to come easily to me, to him, it’s second nature and there is no other way. He never seems to worry about little things, such as checking the bus or train schedule.  He believes whenever he gets to the station, there will be a train waiting for him.  He never worries about finding parking spots because they always open up when he drives on a block.  He  never worries about how much things cost because he believes everything will even out in the end.  He is generous to a fault, to the people that matter to him and I am lucky enough to be included in that group.

This man is one of a kind, and I thank my lucky stars ever night that he walked into my life that day.  When he greets you, he encompasses your body with a big warm bear hug or when he calls you on the phone and says “Morning”  in his southern drawl, you know things will always be alright as long as you have him on your side and in your corner.

 

Writing 101: Serially Lost

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Losing someone special or something that you care a great deal about is very painful, yet it’s something that everyone has to deal with and process in their own way and in their own time.  I lost 2 very special people, within a few months of each other and I’ve been thinking all day about which one I should write about and how to approach this post.  But as I sat down to write, I realized the greatest loss I have had in my life is losing the last 5 years to an illness.

When you lose a person, there’s a grieving process and the pain and sadness ease up after a period of time, but what happens when you lose your life to an illness and I don’t mean death, I mean having to figure out a way to live a purposeful and happy life, while you lost your previous life.  Grief associated with an ongoing illness isn’t as finite as losing a loved one.  The event happens and doesn’t go away.  How can time heal all wounds when your life is a daily permanent reminder of that loss and it is never ending.

Five years ago, I was in a great place, living a great life, not perfect but great.  I had entered a new relationship which was very special to me, I had a terrific job, where I was fairly compensated and I had freedom and unlimited choices.  I was happy and optimistic about my future.

It was a very cold February night as I went to sleep, thinking about the fun I was going to have at tomorrow’s Super Bowl Party and hoping that the numbers I picked in the office pool were going to net me the big win of the night.   I fell asleep quickly that Saturday night and when I awoke on Sunday morning, nothing was the same.

I couldn’t move, couldn’t get my legs to support my weight and I just lie there wondering what was going on.  After a while, my legs stopped shaking and I was able to make my way to the kitchen and brew a pot of coffee, thinking that would help me get on with my day.

Unfortunately, 2 cups of coffee later, I was in no better shape and had to go back to bed, where I spent the better part of the following week.  Everyone kept telling me I must have picked up a nasty virus and that I’d be back to normal in no time, but I knew something was very wrong and that a week in bed was not going to cure this ailment.

When you have a chronic condition, you are forever walking down a imaginary line that separates the past from the future. I think back to what I used to be able to do and think about the things I’ve had to give up and the time that I lost.  When I look forward, I can’t really picture what my future will bring, as I’m entering unchartered territory.

 

 

 

Writing 101: Write about the 3 most important songs in your life and what do they mean to you?

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Music touches everyone’s life in so many different ways and really is such a personal thing.  What means something to someone, doesn’t necessarily resonate with the next person.  I can think of so many songs that bring me back to different places in time over my life like Paradise by the Dashboard Light or Oh What a Night, but these songs aren’t important in an epic way.  They bring a smile to my face when I think back about High School and College days.

Three songs that mean something to me in an important way are:

  • From this Moment by Shania Twain
  • There’s a Hole in the World Tonight by the Eagles
  • I Want to See you Be Brave by Sara Bareilles

From This Moment was my wedding song and I still get chills when I think about dancing with my now Ex Husband for the first time in front of all our friends and family.  The night was a magical night, unfortunately the marriage wasn’t.  I believe that when I met my Ex, my life was truly going to begin and that I did belong right beside him for the rest of my life.  But I guess after looking back, he didn’t feel the same way, as he gave up on the marriage.

There’s a Hole in the World Tonight is a sad and powerful song performed after the attack on the World Trade Center in NYC.  I lived through that day and the horror in the coming days and there was also a hole in the ground and in my heart for a very long time.  This song brings me back in a split second to that day and the weeks that followed.  The smell in the air, the confetti and gray ash flying all over the place and the armed guards standing ready on most street corners.

I Want to See you Be Brave is a song I wrote about earlier on my Blog and I think it is a powerful song about saying what is on your mind and saying what you really feel.  I won’t repeat my blog post but I do wonder why some people can say what’s on their mind and get their point across without being cruel and hurtful, while others just spit out whatever thoughts are in their head, without regards for the other persons feelings.

It seems odd that a collection of sounds and words gets immersed in our brain and becomes associated with such deep memories and emotions.  Certain songs bring us immediately to tears, while others put a smile on our faces.  And as I finish this post, Pharrell Williams “Happy” song is playing in the background and my feet are tapping away!!

 

 

Writing 101: A Room with a View (or Just a View)

http://www.nyhabitat.com (photo NY-14516D71)

 

I live in New York State, currently in one of the 5 boroughs, less than 10 miles from Manhattan.  Until I became ill and had to move out of Manhattan, I lived in NYC for 20 years, in the same apartment building.

Manhattan was great when you are able to walk around, take public transportation and have enough money to order in meals. But once I became confined to my apartment because of my illness, Manhattan became a horrible place to live.

Parking was a nightmare and none of my friends or family  could come visit me during the day, even on weekends it was difficult. I was a prisoner in my apartment, when I lived in the busiest city in the country, the city that never sleeps.  I sat in my apartment day after day,  looking out my window, seeing the world pass me by, as I tried to figure out what my illness was.

If I had to leave the apartment, I would count the steps required to walk up the block to the bus stop and then would picture in my mind how many steps were required to get to the doctors office that I needed to get to on that particular day.  My social life consisted of doctor visits and occasional phone calls when I had the energy.

My living room became my solace and I can still picture every last inch of it.  It’s etched in my mind and I loved being in that room.  I had lived in my apartment prior to my marriage and then remained there after my divorce.  Once my divorce was finalized, I redecorated the place so that I would have a fresh start.  I love to decorate and to pick out colors.  I don’t look at this process as work, or as a chore, like so many people do.  I was enjoying this process and everything I choice, I loved.

So if I could be transported back to one place, I would love to be able to go back to my old apartment in NYC and be healthy and once again enjoy what Manhattan has to offer.  I would visit the WTC Museum and have lunch at my favorite neighborhood place, which served the best grilled chicken salad, with hearts of palm and roasted artichokes.  Then I would walk cross town and go see the Broadway play Aladdin.

I probably wouldn’t have wanted to live in Manhattan forever, but I would have wanted to leave on my own terms and not be forced to leave because I became ill, went on disability and got fired from a company where I worked for 15 years at a job I absolutely loved.

Writing 101

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Since I enjoy writing and always want to be better at it, I decided to join the Writing 101 course offered by WordPress and today I have my first assignment.

The assignment seems simple enough, it’s to take 20 minutes and just free write, don’t think about what you are writing, just write whatever comes to mind.  Sounds simple enough as my mind never stops working but are people really interested in my random thoughts.  Well maybe today they are.

Mainly right now, I’m thinking about how cold I am this morning and how unprepared I am for the fall weather that has hit NYC. I love the fall, that’s my favorite season, but always hate the change in seasons as we go from warm to chilly to freezing and then again to warmer weather.  When you live in a small apartment, the change of seasons also means dragging out last season’s clothes and shoes and packing away the currents seasons items.  I have always hated this process and have come to hate it more since I’ve become ill.

I barely have energy to do what I need to do and this added work is a nuisance for me and takes about a month to complete as I can only do a carton a day.  Today I had to find my fuzzy slippers as flip flops won’t work any longer.  It’s funny how quickly the weather changes and your mindset has to change to.  Halloween is approaching and I even saw a commercial for Christmas Lay Away.  It is only September, but time marches on very quickly, even if I don’t march quickly.

I was excited about this course, as I was hoping it would help pass the days and also help me learn something as my mind has also slowed down, with my body slowing down.  I need to learn and am hoping this helps me feel challenged, even in a small way.