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Give me a buck…

My advisor would send each of his underlings (including me) an occasional, encouraging note via campus mailbox.

Today, I found a couple sorting through papers:

“Dear Joy!

Only a few more days till you’ll be free for the holidays.  Your hard work will be rewarded.  Here’s a buck; please take a break and have a drink on me.  Good luck with your finals!  Blessings, Dr. Stone.”

“Dear Joy,

The End is near! 

I would enjoy a moment over coffee with you to process the ending of another great semester-If you need to set up an appointment, contact my office.

If not, have drink on me (buck enclosed)!

Trust all is well!

Dr. Stone

Proverbs 3:5,6

Depression 101

What it’s like:

I’m a card-carrying, lifelong member of the club, so here’s a few highlights:

–  Can you guess how I am feeling today?

–  I can’t focus on anything; all I can do is continually talk myself into keeping a calm, clear mind today.  It’s on-going.

– I tell myself, ‘Tomorrow will be better. It just doesn’t feel like it.’

– It’s like walking around with a wet blanket wrapped around your head.

– I feel everything and nothing.

– I don’t want to feel this way.  I can’t get anything accomplished.

I don’t feel it at all today, but I know factually that tomorrow may be better.  When depression is very severe, I am not

capable of even thinking of tomorrow. Fortunately for me, today isn’t so bad.

– Everything requires so much energy.

– I have to MAKE myself do basic cares.  Time can pass by without the thought of it.

– The thought of stepping inside a shower wears me out mentally. I talk myself through it.

– I try not to think of the past, the future, or anything really, but its all demanding my attention.

– If several people circled around you, all demanding your attention, all yelling in

gibberish….that is what depression is like.

When I left..

It was a long time coming.

You should have known, but you didn’t think I had the guts to do it.

How many times did you you say you wanted out?

Maybe the time I didn’t want to go to town at 11 pm, which I quietly expressed, being wrapped up in an art project.  My saying so was a challenge to you;  I think it represented other aspects of our lives that you were unhappy with.  You wouldn’t lay a hand on me, but you gave me your best intimidation:  Your black, unblinking eyes steady as you charged into my personal space- just close enough to mean business.   Then, you threatened to rip my painting- All because I asserted an opinion.

I made sure to do it gently too, so there could be no accusation of “rebellion.”

You yelled,  you clinched your fists,  packed a bag or two, and I watched from a window as you tossed them onto the back seat of the car.  I think you circled around the block a few times while I called my sister at 1 o’clock in the morning, terrified.

I  tried to hold my calm- which you always hated.  You said more than once I should express my feelings differently  because I appeared lackadaisical and uncaring.  But we both know that wasn’t always the case.

I asked myself once again: Why do I continually encounter this episode with men?

Before going to my sister’s house for the night, I have to say I was truly afraid, unsure of what you might do.  I had experienced occasional hurt when you were overcome with a meanness that wouldn’t rest until I had tasted the bitterness of it, and tears…that seemed to be the objective.  Once fulfilled,  you withdrew in shameful repentance after a revelation from God that I hadn’t done anything to deserve such treatment, that you ought to have behaved better.

As years passed, and after many more words and irrational confrontations, I became numb.

When you said “I don’t think I want to be married to you anymore,”  and how I had been a lousy wife, something changed in me that instant.  I never quite got over that.

Later, When I said I wanted a separation, you came up with things like:

“Your credit isn’t good enough..”  (It was excellent, in fact).

“You cant make it on your own..” (I have).

The only sad moment was your shock, when you slowly fumbled your way toward  me with genuine tears and said:

“Don’t leave me…”

Pictures of you as a toddler came to mind, because you looked vulnerable like that little boy.  I saw you as human, not

my husband.

I stayed for a long time…17 years- because I believed in marriage.  I left for the same reason.  I knew your religious belief would never allow you to leave.  After our divorce, you informed me the international headquarters of your church had a file of my behaviors and my leading the divorce, which cleared you of any fault, and free to pursue ministry.  I knew that would be the case.  Make the most of it.  Divorce was the best decision I ever made.

BUT no, it wasn’t easy.

What my Dad said…

Regarding religion:

“I used to think a lot about it- wondering if I was doing the right things. When you get older, you settle into what you believe.”

When he was a boy-

“Most community people called my dad, your grandfather “uncle John.” Mr. Hadley was an old farmer in overalls, and he always addressed me and your uncle Jim as “Rusty ol’ son-of-abitch”, or “bastards.” He called us rusty, because we always went around without a shirt playing and were dirty. I always wondered… why would my dad would let him say that?

Customer 2 at the Florist.

She places her purse on the counter while hubby circles the showroom.

“What do you want to tell your Mother?” she asked him.

Huh?

On the card. What do you want to say to your mom?”

“oh, hurry up and die, already…..”

She rests her elbow on the counter, her chin cupped inside her palm. She rolls her eyes rolled upward…
“I’m gonna kill him,” she said.

“I know,  ‘turn that frown upside down,’ and ‘feel better soon.’ “ she decided.

Hubby interjects- “I don’t wanna spend no more than thirty dollars…”
Wife looks over at him.
I explain to them the minimum costs for delivery, wiring  charges, delivery, taxes…

%$#^ it, – I can just take her out for a meal for that kind of money.

Thank you, have a great day.

In the back of my mind

As a young girl, shame seemed to overshadow everything: Spilt Drinks, Wallpaper slit in corners, because they weren’t lying perfectly flat; scribbles and smiley faces on bricks and painted walls, piles of papers, coffee-stains missed on washed dishes, the inability to remember…my brother received a stretch Armstrong for Christmas, and after the doll’s newness wore off and it sat dormant, I couldn’t wait to slice it open to see what made him so pliable. I loved deconstructing almost anything to see what it was all about, how it worked, but soon my mind was taking me off to something else, and said items usually sat piled up for another day. I can’t explain it, but there was an overwhelming compulsion to do exasperating, senseless things. On top of that, I rocked most of the time, I couldn’t talk on the phone without pacing and I picked my cuticles incessantly until they bled.

My brother, sister and I enjoyed games together, but the matching game was dreadful. I could not remember where two cards alike were hiding. Meanwhile, my siblings racked up, blasé as they tossed their married cards into piles. I was determined to remember on my next turn- I carefully watched each one turned face-up and quickly flipped, but their memory faded before I had time to store them. For a while I had difficulty telling time, so my father took a flat cardboard box, and on it painted the face of a clock. He made two wooden hands, and secured them with a screw, nut and washer for realistic movement. After supper, he would get the clock out of the utility room, sit in his chair and quiz me each evening. Eventually it became comfortable.

Generally, Numbers have always been a foreign language to me: I would try to absorb them like the match game cards, but I couldn’t grasp them. My dad and I had many showdowns during his attempts to help me with homework. I’m sure many Parents get frustrated when they can’t find the exact words to use when trying to teach something, and after many attempts of explaining the same thing, over and over, exasperation took over. He would end up yelling, I would end up crying. So besides associating numbers with a mysterious dark void, they also seemed to be another means of separation.

My favorite pastime in class was reading the SRAs. They were cards with stories which you later tested yourself on key points. The spoken word was wooden for me, but the written word, was my first love. I relied on the page- while I could not find words to explain things, I found if I could write them down as I spoke, they came alive. The visual was my tool to connect with others, to share common knowledge.

As I ran toward puberty, the learning and social difficulties began to increase.  One day my mom told me my desk would be placed in front of the class, side by side with my teacher’s. “It will help you pay attention,” she said.  This took place casually and nothing was announced or said about it in class.

I never was a girl’s friend, those who immediately connect, share gossip, brush each other’s hair or whatnot.

I had friends, and many laughs, but they weren’t steady. I remember once scanning female classmates, and thinking of them as “otherworldly…” separate. I sensed their experience to be very different from my own. It wasn’t just my weight struggle or my bowl hair cuts, or even my difficulties in school, though I admired their femininity, their long straight hair and their propensity for good grades. It was the right to simply be that I admired, no questions asked.  My proudest moment was winning the class spelling B.

By grace I was passed to the 7th grade,  and my first year at junior high was one of my most difficult of all my school years, just it time for boys, a menstrual cycle, and a changing body.  It probably would have been better had I been held back a year.

I prepared all summer for my upcoming move to a new school. I had blossomed and became more delicate looking in my opinion. I was turning into a young lady as seen in my mom’s old joe weider exercise booklets from the 50s. My brother, sister and I always went for the introductory first volume for a laugh, which featured black and white photographs of the three breast types: Small, large and saggy. The last photograph created laughter like an unexpected punch line, and each time was like the first time. I spent that summer taking Joe’s advice. I practiced walking with a book on my head, doing scissor exercises and used the ornate, powder blue dumbbells included in the exercise kit for my budding breasts. I had learned the popular jingle sang by girls in small groups- with the pumping of elbows it was chanted-

“I must… I must… I must increase my bust-
the bigger the better the tighter the sweater
I must increase my bust!”

I was hopeful about having a social life, making girl friends and doing girl things- meeting boys, and was crazy about clothes. My mom took me clothes shopping on Friday nights, where I bought trendy blouses, slacks, and accessories. She and dad were always generous in buying for us. She took me into her room once to show me all the jewelry she had, including her first pair of gold earrings she bought when she was 17- tiny acorns to wear in her tiny earlobes. I enjoyed the passage into my teen years with enthusiasm, and appreciated all its beauty ritual and accoutrements.

Lady-in-Waiting

She writhed on the gym mat, playing coy and light:

“Am I doing it right? It’s like this, Right?”  Up on her hands and toes, she slowly crawls, hands splayed, backside in the air, then a quick crash and roll.  It was her interpretation of the bear crawl, and she’s milking the blond.

His hands were folded into his chest with authority, feet placed apart, like men do when they want to create presence. He wore a reserved smile as he circled her, gently and intentionally kicking his foot out with each step. She was a curiosity, the squirming mouse of the batting tomcat. It was a situation which required a bit more grooming.  

I remember when I first joined the training sessions, he was a new employee, and I overheard him ask a coworker: “You mean, whatever I tell them to do, they have to do it??” After receiving a nod, he begins yelling as I imagine he did while serving in Afghanistan. That question reminded me of how young he was. We had all guessed; His eyes had something dark behind them. I knew he didn’t like the job, but life had placed him there for the meantime until something more meaningful came along. Maybe it was something he had seen. Maybe it was a combination of things.

uh-oh. She’s waaay too transparent.

She’s trying too hard.  She’s needy. She’s like a pound puppy with new tricks.

I watched as she headed for the exit. he called her back and slipped her a piece of paper. She smiles, turns to the door and passed me. She held tight the paper to her chest, smiling, eyes wide and determined.

Day 2.

More mingling and giggling. It was a bit annoying to us who were waiting for his instruction. The training session lasted an hour, and we were already 5 minutes in…
The three of us stood silently, waiting for him to join us and review our food logs as usual. He said:

“You, you, and you…” go into the fitness room and do 15 minutes on the cross-trainer, something, anything. Go warm up…”

DAY 10.

I walk in with my Cubbie ball cap, and as I pass through the weight room to the dressing room, he whoops at me, as if my hat signified some type of readiness for hard work. “whoo hoo,” got the cap on and ready to go…” I smiled. We aren’t really on the friendliest terms; not that I didn’t want a good rapport with my fitness instructor; The first session I had with him, he told me I avoided pain and hard work because of my past hurts and experience. I really didn’t know what to say to that. I thought it was because I was fat and out of breath.
Not long after, he and a teammate were in front of me, and he said to her clearly and loudly: “You know, you are my favorite…” I couldn’t blame him for saying so. She is what we call quality people. Meanwhile, any attempts to discuss past injuries or simple comments were met with silence, yelling or indifference…an occasional snarky remark. I had two ways to view the situation: On one hand, we were being pushed beyond our limits. On the other hand, I didn’t enlist in the Marines. I decided I had made an 12 week commitment, and I would follow it through. I made no more attempts at pleasantries. Sometimes, two people just don’t get along.

One day when I tried to adapt an exercise, he confronted me: “You just do whatever you want to do, don’t you?”
“Yea, pretty much…” I answered.
he roared “Run three laps around my building!!!”

So now, there she is on the weight machine, and he appears to mindlessly spot her when he called out my hat with enthusiasm. Its already started, I thought. Its her hour of personal training, yet he’s doing anything to distract himself.

Day 14.

No more mixing and giggles. They are on opposite ends of the room- like strangers.

DAY 16

She was doing a wall sit, when he walks into the workout room and in an impersonal yet professional voice, asked “Hey how you doing?”
as he continued moving forward.
I didn’t hear her answer, but I saw her lips move but He didn’t wait for for her answer- It was just a drive-by. All I remember is the flinch, as she pressed her cheek against the wall, trying to make herself disappear. I can think of a million reasons why.

Later, I saw her in the changing room, and for the first time close enough to see her face. See had a beautiful doll face. A porcelain complexion, lovely blue eyes, full lips and beautiful smile. Hadn’t noticed it; before, she was always dressed out in loosely fitting tank tops, and once without a bra.
“That’s a really pretty dress…” I said.

“Thank you…”

I saw her a sporadically until she disappeared.

After the 12 weeks of training was complete, I participated in a group training session when he again my trainer. He jokingly said as we reflected back: “YOU shut me out…” he said.
“No, YOU shut ME out…” I said.
As we progressed, I began talking about my arthritic knee, and he said: “You never told me anything about that!”
“Yes, I did, it just went through that little shredder you got inside your ear!”
“Wha????”
“yea, That shredder inside your ear, you know, I say something, and its just like “Ffffffftt….” (I make a wave signal with my hand) it just goes right through that shredder of yours..

He laughed. “Yea I do have a habit of that…”