Needy Nancy

needy

Yup, I have been a Needy Nancy. Believe it or not, this was something that just dawned on me recently. Not sure why but it probably has something to do with the fact that I went through a pretty needy period not so long ago. Truth be told I didn’t like me too much during that period either.

In looking back though I wanted to see if I could understand where it came from or if it was a good or a bad thing. I’ve always prided myself on being very independent and for most of my life have taken care of myself. Even as early age eight I had some sort of going business concern – washing cars, raking leaves, babysitting. Something to earn money. Even at that age I had a real affinity for money or more for what money could get me.

And there is nothing wrong with being independent, in fact, we encourage one another to be so. We work toward it from the first time we reach for something on our own, don’t we? The first time we push the bottle away or try to grab the spoon that mom is shoveling down that mushy lump of peas? From the cradle our impulses are always in the direction of finding our own way and making our own discoveries.

And that was me. In fact, I believe it was the source of much torment and dismay for my mother in particular. I remember distinctly a time when I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea and talking with my mom. I forget exactly what the topic was but I believe it had something to do with the fact that some other family member had disrespected her or embarrassed her. For an eight year old, I was giving her some pretty sage advice – like ‘forget them’ ‘you don’t need them’ ‘don’t pay any attention to them’ or something equally brilliant. Suddenly though she looked at me and started to cry. When I asked her what was wrong she lamented that I’d never been a child.

This was an odd statement considering I was only eight at the time and I pointed out to her that I was in fact, a kid. Then there was more lamenting about my not playing with dolls or some such girlie thing. I shrugged and told her I preferred books.

As the years went by the term, ‘you were born 40’ issued from Mom’s lips hundreds of times and I always marveled at why she seem to think that was such a bad thing. I suppose she was right – there was something adult about me even when I was a child – even in photographs of me as a very young child I have the same face I have today – fewer wrinkles of course, but definitely the same.

As usual, I digress – suffice to say that my independence was something I wore with great pride and in many ways became my best friend. Despite a few fragile moments in my life – my bounce-back-ability was second to none. Then last year happened…

I don’t know what it was about last year. It seemed that everyone I knew went through (and in some cases are still going through) some set back, crisis, bad news, disappointment and so forth. In my case there were many things – and they made me shaky – but it wasn’t until my friend Kelly had her accident that I began to doubt my own ability to ride the storm. I’ve talked about this many times and am not going to revisit it except to say that seemed to be the beginning of my needy nancy stage. I fought it and I fought it hard but I found more and more I had to ask for help. Something I am particularly bad at doing – it embarrasses me so. Track up to my move to the east coast and then back again – and needy doesn’t even begin to describe what was going on there.

It’s been a tough few months trying to regain independence and righting my footing. Though I had a few realizations along the way…

1. It is okay to need other people
2. It is okay to need help and to ask for it
3. It is okay to admit you aren’t bullet-proof or infallible
4. It won’t kill you to feel lost or even alone
5. It won’t hurt you to just look at the hopelessness of it all
6. Just because you need someone doesn’t mean they need you
7. If someone can’t help you doesn’t mean they don’t care
8. Other people have troubles too
9. Sometimes you just need to get over yourself.

So to all my friends who have helped to prop me up – encourage me, even dole out some tough love, I say thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

How about you guys – any needy nanciness happening for you? What did you realize about it?

Advertisements

Ask Her – Theme Fridays

I don’t know what led me to that house in the woods. It had stood there, all of my life – alone, a solitary vigil against the elements – a prop for many scary stories told around camp fires – a dare I was always afraid to take. But a voice in my head said, ask her. So, I got up before dawn and dressed in jeans, sweater, wooly socks and boots. I grabbed my smokes and my keys and was off to, ask her.

The town hadn’t changed much since I’d lived there. Still small and quaint and smelling of Sycamores and Oaks, rich earth and mown lawn. The sun rose lazily over the hills as I drove out Old Towne Road. I’d always liked that road, it was quiet and when I was young I would walk it from end to end, pondering the height of the trees that flanked it and my purpose for being. A feeling, warm and comfy like an old quilt settled around me and the closer I drew to the spot, the more right I felt.

Morning was still sleeping and I saw no one on my travail, not even Ike or Morty, legendary for their early morning hikes down to the fishing hole. It was Sunday, maybe they were sleeping in and planning a family breakfast then church, instead of a jaw session about sports and affairs of the day, and bait and fish hooks and lures. I was alone with the day and that felt somehow right too.

Before long it was time to pull the car over and park. I couldn’t drive where I was going – the walk would do me good. I hadn’t walked, really walked anywhere in a long time and my legs missed it and my body rose to the challenge of it. The air sunk deep into my lungs and it tasted sweet and fresh. I wondered then, why I’d left this place, this town, my home. No place since had ever meant anything to me, had ever owned me, wanted me. And the trees felt happy to see me as their leaves cruched under my booted feet.

And then it was there. The old house. A house I secretly loved all my life. A house I dreamed of often, fantacized owning someday. I would renovate it with my own hands, bit by bit, until shone in the afternoon sun, like a trophy hard won. Ask her, the words sounded again in my head.

I stood at the front door, so old it was grey with time and weather, so strong nothing could knock it down. I lifted the brass knocker, an eagle’s head who peered at me proud and defiant, and let it drop. The sound was deep and I wondered if she heard the thud inside or if I would have to call out or knock. But the door creaked open on its mighty hinges and there she was. “I knew you’d come,” she said quietly. “Someday.”

I studied her face and saw that special blue of the eye, the turn of the nose, the light spray of freckles over her cheeks and I seized up inside, wanting to turn and walk away. Run away. I’d already run for so long, so far and yet always ended up back here. To this place. The one I watched all my life from a distance. The one I could never touch but only want.

Drew me inside with a smile and maybe she took my hand but I was so scared, like a child introspect and lost, I couldn’t tell. Ask her, the voice demanded. Ask her, ask her, ask her!!

She sat me down on her old divan, blue and of silk brocade, and put a cup of tea in my hands. And we sat like that for a long while, sipping tea, waiting for the other to speak. Dread came over me and I regretted coming, I couldn’t ask, I’d never be able to. “I should go,” I stammered, “thank you for the tea.”

“It was like lightning,” she said so quietly I had to lean in to hear her. And then I sat down. “That’s very rare, you know? Most people never know it. Most people don’t believe it. But I did, we did.” Her eyes reached into mine and I couldn’t look away. “It was wrong. We both knew it but we couldn’t stop it. Nothing could stop it, something so rare and beautiful…”

“But you hurt people,” I whimpered like a small child.

She nodded. “Yes, we did, very much. We didn’t mean to, we didn’t want to – but yes, we did.” She flushed deep and red like a young girl whose skirt flies up in the wind. “I’m sorry about that. About hurting people but I’m not sorry about it. I never was and I never will be. I loved your father and I will love him to my grave. He was not mine and could never be, but I loved him with all my heart.”

“And what about me?” I screamed. “Did you love me too! I guess that would be a no, since you gave me away!”

She didn’t flinch or become angry but remained calm, almost loving – it confused me. “I gave you to your father and his wife. It was the only thing I could do. The right thing to do. And you know it.”

I couldn’t bear looking at her, feeling all the betrayal, remembering all the hushed stories behind my back growing up, the gossip, the looks, always feeling the outsider. “I have to go,” I said jumping to my feet. “I shouldn’t have come. I shouldn’t have ever come here.”

I flustered and couldn’t focus, where was the damn door? I had to get out of there. I had to breathe.

“You’ve been coming here, all your life. Standing at the edge of the trees, watching. I’ve seen you so many times and I wanted to go to you…”

“Then why didn’t you?”

“Because you weren’t mine to go to!” she cried. “I had no right to you. It would only have hurt you and confused you and I’d already done that, why would I do that more to my only child?”

I found the door, and closed my hand over the knob, shaking and trembling with anger and grief. “No, instead you abandoned me. Let them gossip and talk about me behind my back, for something I never did. You’re a coward!” I pulled open the door and walked through it.

But she followed me. “Ask me, Gina. Ask me! You came here to ask me something. Ask me!”

I stopped and turned back to her, suddenly calm and looked my mother in the eyes that she gave me and said. “Why did you stay? All these years. Why?”

“Because I was waiting for you, my dear. I stayed for you.”

GO SEE WHAT CHRISTINE SAID TO ASK HER

Autumn – Theme Fridays

Emma brought her coffee to the livingroom, turned on the old stereo and carefully placed the needle down on the LP. Her heart rose with the violins as the music began to play. The Autumn leaves...

She drifted to the window and looked out at the old sycamore, bent and reaching toward the sky in all directions, crowned with gold, amber, crimson, russet and topaz. A gust of wind came up, rattled the window and danced the fallen leaves across the lawn. The music continued to play and rose the flesh on Emma’s arms. And it took her back to him and them and all their many years. David’s eyes were blue and bright in the sun that he loved, his black hair shone like an obsidian miracle always wore an impish smile that teased out of tanned face. Happy to pull at weeds and coax the lawn to grow, which never did no matter how many tools or potions he took to it.

Emma put her hand to the window, as though David’s was there on the other side, touching back. Reassuring her that he was there and all was well. And the ghost of him smiled for an instant before the wind rose up again and shimmied the sycamore into involuntary trembles.

The music ended and Emma went again and placed the needle carefully down to bring back the music and loosen the squeeze in her chest. David held her in his arms and they danced in the dark, the music leading them, love guiding them. And he tugged at her hair and smacked her behind and they laughed. They argued politics and secretly read each other’s books. When Katie came along it made them a family, bonding them in ways they could never fathom before her entrance into their lives.

“Don’t give your child beer, you mad man!” Emma chided.

David shrugged. “A little taste won’t hurt her.”

The little house on Manhattan Street with the blue shutters and screen door that never closed properly no matter how many times David wielded his toolbelt. The old oak table they found at the side of the road and worked weeks sanding it, smoothing it, rubbing oil into it. This house they were so proud to buy, to nurture to fix up with paint and nails, new windows and rosebushes.

Every moment they spent, every adventure, every tear, every joy they had, stood with her at the window and watched the Autumn leaves swirl as the music played.

VISIT CHRISTINE’S AUTUMN

Whose Life Is It, Anyway?

Did you ever wonder if you were really living your own life? I don’t mean that in a shallow sense like the kids, the job, blah blah never leaves you enough time for yourself – I actually mean it in a more literal way. Like someone you love suddenly dies or has a terrible accident – and you become so distressed that you practically will yourself into becoming them. That you so don’t want that person to leave your life you begin to lead their life for them, rather than your own?

I know, WC, where the hell do you come up with this stuff? Hard to say but it has nevertheless been on my mind lately. As most of you know there has been lots of crazy action around me the last few months and it seemed to start when my friend Kelly had an accident that should have killed her but which she was too stubborn to die from. When I learned the news I actually felt myself do a funny little thing – not one of those out of body experiences but it was as though I was driving east and suddenly I picked up the car and turned it west and drove that way. And it stopped feeling like my car too.

Obviously in extreme situations, we will react with stress and our stress manifests in different ways. In my case it seemed almost a personality transplant had taken place. I often found myself thinking I didn’t recognize myself and was confused by my own actions, my own thoughts, my viewpoints. Though I suppose some part of me remained or I wouldn’t have questioned anything, I still felt obsessed, possessed and not truly under my own will.

Suddenly things just happened to me, rather than my making things happen. Odd, that. Not like me. I would get irrationally upset about things that never bothered me before. Saw danger where there really was none yet it all seemed very real. In fact, for a while, I couldn’t drive without the image of someone slamming into me. I thought incessantly about Kelly’s children and family – natural you might think because of the situation – but it wasn’t the thought so much as the viewpoint of the thought – as if I were thinking for Kelly.

And suddenly many other things seemed to go to shit in my life as well. Inexplicably. As though it were now my turn to ride first class on the shit tour. Blow ups with friends, room mates, my dog acting weird, clients not paying me – yeah it was shoveling faster than I could shovel it out. With me, just shaking my head and asking WTF?

Though there came a point that we realized Kelly was going to make it and we could let out a collective breath, it didn’t return me to myself, so to speak. I still felt weird, odd, strange. Not me. So instead of ignoring it which I’d been doing and hadn’t changed a thing I made myself think about it, examine it, turned it into a science project if you will and I realized something very interesting. That I’d done this before – the first time when grandfather died, then my brother, then my father (that was a real tough one) and now Kelly. It gave me pause to see a pattern like that. I was tempted to just say, ‘well, that’s natural, that’s normal, we all go through loss and stress and so on.’ But I really couldn’t buy that for me. I am a strong person with a very strong personality and strong will – I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t some decision on my part involved in it. I don’t necessarily rational decision but decision nonetheless. And when I really looked at it I could spot the decisions – see them, almost hear myself think them. And it goes something like this, “I’m not going to fucking let them die, no matter what.” Spooky, huh? I thought so.

And so the pattern began and has lived on – some dumb part of me believing that through sheer will I can somehow continue another person’s life by being them or acting like them, carrying on for them. With no mind to my own life and all the many things that I need, want, have. Well, I’m here to tell you folks, it can’t be done. It really can’t. I can only truly live my own life, as can anyone else and that’s how it should be.

It’s a relief in a way to realize it – so much guilt I now don’t have to own, so much worry, so much grief. I can empathize, I can understand and I can grieve but it’s not my job to continue for them. And so I can just tend to the job of being myself and living my own life. Which is hard enough, eh?

So, any of you ever feel that way or is this one of those posts that you wonder if I’m smoking crack or something?

Car Keys – Theme Fridays

Lucky had a key ring, big and jangly. Car keys, house keys, padlock keys, work keys, mysterious keys that unlocked secret things. It hooked to his back belt loop and danced and sang whenever he jaunted about. Looking down at the big, black shoes with the round toes, the cuffed dungarees and white socks. And they hypnotised me, my eyes compelled to follow their big bouncey steps. Always, I wanted to reach out and grab them, like a stranger playing hide and seek, they called to me, promising a prize if I could catch them.

Patsy’s keys didn’t jangle, nor were they on display but were rather a dainty little thing she tucked in her purse with kleenix and gumballs, a small leather wallet and a pink rat-tail comb. I never watched those keys, maybe because they were hidden and did nothing to tease my eyes or my mind. They held no magic or intrigue because they were so normal.

I longed to have keys like Lucky’s to have the power that they would avail me. Loud and big – jaunty and strong. I wonder now, if each of those keys had a place that they fit into or if many of them were gone but Lucky couldn’t let go of the keys to the missing locks. He didn’t like to throw things away. He was a keeper. He kept things and fixed things and made things that were dead to other people come back to life.

Always in his workshop (which everyone else called the garage) with his salvaged refrigerator, radios and televisions. Cleaning tools, steel wooling the rust off, whetting the blades. Tinkering with old cars and castoffs. The doctor of unloved things, always able to cure their ills and give them a new home and a place in his life. He was just that way.

Even now, I wonder about those keys and where they got to and all the secret place they unlocked. I see there dull metal brightness and hear their song stiIl.

I’m afraid Jess won’t be joining us this week, because somebody got those car keys away from here. 😉  However  Christine’s car keys are janglin still, so please, go here to hear their song.

The Words

The words try too hard to say
what comes so easily to my heart
They strain to define
the what of you –
the soul, the spirit
the elan vitale

They flounder about
gape and drool
like Idiots
in a pie eating contest

And never arrive at
the finish line
Off course, eternally
dehydrated and lost
craving water

Forgetful of their mission
Distracted by the blue-ing sky
purple finger-painted sunsets
Picnics and roller coasters

They sneak away
like randy teenagers
on a summer night
Just one small word
hangs back….

Safe

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Love,
Me

Julia Child’s Turkey Christmas – 12 days of xmas #6

New house, new man (with two sons…why do they come in two’s?) and yet another memorable Christmas. Still cooking. In this case, cooking up a veritible storm. It started out pretty simple me, Tom and the boys with a few friends…but then I started getting these phone calls. There was a bevy of Christmas orphans that year with nowhere to go and could they come to my house? Sure, the more the merrier!

As each day inched nearer to Christmas, more phone calls, more unexpected guests to feed. I’d never made a really big turkey but this was the year to do it. The house was small so there was no way we were all going to sit down, so a buffet it was.

It’s a rather odd and surreal experience (even to a Christmas nut like me) to have a houseful of guests for Christmas dinner when you’ve never met half of them. Sort of like stumbling into a big frat party. But I loving to cook and have guests the way I do decided to just roll with it.

I got up early (can you say 5 am?) and Tom just had to get this shot of me in search of my first cup of coffee. Oh how I love to have my picture taken in my jammies with no makeup and a dumb expression on my face.

But I digress.

So, out came the 30lb turkey to sit on the counter while I drank coffee and made the stuffing. Now I’m a kind of organic cook – I generally abhor recipes and I honestly can’t follow one completely as I always add things or change things. So instead of taking the easy way out and following Mrs. Cubbitson’s recipe that was quite conveniently on the back of the box, I set to chopping up apples, nuts and onions, sauteed all that in some butter and threw in a few handful of raisens – I happened to have some cranberries too so in they went. Once the vat of dressing was made and the turkey stuffed to the gills and the remaining dressing in a sheet pan, we set to making the basting sauce. Butter, chicken broth, orange juice and white wine, a little sugar for good measure and we were ready to roll. Into the oven it went.

The next hour was spent peeling potatoes because of course home made mashed potatoes were a must and I had a lot of guests and they were going to want those darn potatoes. Ooops, one of the kids just shot a toy soldier into the potato pot. No harm done, the soldier was barely injured. On the back burner with those. Next sweet potatoes, peeling, dicing, glazing with butter, cinnamon, pineapple juice and brown sugar. My gawd how glad was I that I made the pumpkin pies the night before? Very, I must say.

As an afterthought, I grabbed a couple of bags of frozen peas since no one really likes vegetables with their Christmas dinner, do they? Unheard of, really , absolutely scandalous!

And between the basting and trying to find enough dishes and the the parade of guests and little gift giving, before I knew it, it was time to pull it all out of the oven. Of course by that time I was ready for a nap but i had an army to feed and they were getting restless with Ruffles and beer being their only appetisers (I know, shame on me – but I just couldn’t clone myself to make nibblies).

The turkey needed to rest before we could carve him up – so I put on my best Julia Childs impression and entertained the guests while extolling the many virtues of the giant perfectly browned bird.

Then came the rue for the gravy and separating the fat from the drippings – oh my where was that little bit of coffee I saved for the gravy? Is that bowl big enough for the potatoes? Why on earth don’t I have an electric mixer? Do you know how hard it is to mash and whip 10 pounds of mashed potatoes? My biceps were quite impressive that day. At least Tom opened the cranberry sauce and carved the turkey.

Finally we ate and ate and then we ate some more. We played Trivial Pursuit, got drunk and finished the leftovers. I think I finally had to kick everyone out around midnight. Since my orphans had cleaned up after me when dinner was over, I had a clean kitchen and just enough to share a turkey sandwich with Tom before we crawled into bed for a long winter’s nap. Of course I swore I’d never do that again. And yet I did, the next year and the next year and the year after that. 😉

WC

Why Yes, It Is a Wonderful Life – 12 days of xmas #3

 

I moved to California when I was 20. It was a big dream come true for me as I’d always wanted to live in the land of summer for as long as I could remember. Though when I actually got to the land of milk and honey I experienced some serious culture shock. Having grown up in the midwest I was a bit too much on the wholesome side to have taken easily to some of the things I saw in L.A.

Long story short, after a couple of years I pined for home and family and was terribly lonely. In a moment of insanity I agreed to come home at my mom’s behest. To my utter amazement, my view had changed without my noticing. Almost as soon as I got home my world became so small.

It was winter and the landscape I found depressing. Nothing had changed around the old neighborhood, as though it had frozen in time since I’d last seen it. Don’t get me wrong it was wonderful to see my family and old friends but I still felt like piece out of place. Like a new toy in a box of old favorites. People kept mentioning my California accent and how different I was. It was really quite surreal.

I think I lasted about 6 weeks before I was utterly miserable and wanted to go back to California. This did not go over well with Mom who really wanted me to stay for Christmas at least. I know I should have, I know that as a good daughter I should have let her have her way but there was something inside of me that just wouldn’t let me. I had to go back.

So, a couple of weeks before Christmas Mom and Dad took me to the airport so I could return to the land of summer and apparently my new ‘home’ in the universe. I remember Mom was so upset with me she could hardly speak to me and we all felt kind of sad. I kept telling my dad I was sorry but he just smiled and gave me a hug and said: “It’s okay Babe, you have to follow your dreams. You don’t have nothing without them.” (What a guy, eh?)

So back I went and Christmas was bleak to say the least. I’d given up my apartment and belongings, I literall had nothing but a few clothes and a lot of hope. A friend had offered to let me stay in his extra bedroom for a few weeks until I got re-settled. But he had plans for the holidays and so I was really left on my own.

It was pretty bleak. I think I had a bologna sandwich on Christmas Eve and watched old movies on tv by myself for the night. I was sad and depressed and so conflicted wondering if I’d made a mistake in coming back. I scolded myself for being so indecisive and loopy. That I could at that moment been with family, eating great food and unwrapping presents.

And then it was midnight and officially Christmas. I was alone in front of the tv and couldn’t sleep. A movie came on called “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’d never seen it and since I wasn’t about to sleep, I decided I might as well watch it.

I know this may sound really stupid and silly but really that movie changed my life. It made me realize that everyone does indeed touch the lives of so many others and that we all have an important and special place in the world. And that Christmas isn’t always about getting your wishes but more about celebrating your life, no matter what it is and where it is. That life offers us choice and second chances continually, if only we keep our eyes and our hearts open.

And though there were no fancy parties, presents or even company for me that year – it was indeed a wonderful Christmas. Because I realized I had a wonderful life too.

WC

Dream on Dreamer

Dream on Dreamer
Broken dreams have I
Pasting them together
with no reason why
Scattered out before me
they shine like
broken glass
Why I keep on trying
I dare not even ask.

Why I keep on hoping
that the day will come
that what I have created
will known to some

Why I keep on looking
for days of brighter light
why I continue in this
fleeting, lonely plight

Dream on Dreamer
Illusive dreams have I
and when I reach for them
they take off for the sky

I wonder what I’m doing
and wonder what it matters
and if my broken dreams
will rend my life to shatters.

copyright 2006

A Halloween Dud

I never really liked Halloween – mostly because my costumes were always such a dud. Besides the usual sheets with painted faces (ooh, scary ghost little girl) black leotards & whiskered faces – the usual stuff parents do to children too young to protest – mine were the worst.

I mean, you’d think somebody like me who says such an overactive imagination, costumes for Halloween would be a snap. But no…I guess my imagination ends with words. Maybe my mind is just too obtuse to translate into something as silly as Halloween.

Think I’m exagerating? Well here are some notables from the past: One year I dressed in my brother’s clothes, smeared charchol on my chin and put on a hat – I guess I was supposed to be a hobo – but most people asked me why I was wearing my brother’s clothes. I threw on a lab coat and horn-rimmed glasses and went as a psychiatrist but nobody even knew I was in costume.

Even the year I went as a witch I blew it. I worked in a sort of trendy L.A. bistro and all the waitresses were supposed to dress up as witches. So, I borrowed my sister’s one shoulder black flowy dress, sprayed my hair silver, made a necklace with torn black lace and a dead rose – added some ruby red lipstick and nail polish – a pair of hurt me boots and off I went. Oh my God, did I catch hell. When I arrived all the other girls were wearing shrouds, warts and nose prosthetics. Were they pissed!

“Hey, you were supposed to come as a witch!”

“I did,” said I.

They glared.

“Well,” I stammered, “nobody said I had to be an ugly witch.”

LOL – that went over like a lead broom stick.

Anyway, in the spirit of the season, I found some great little pics of people who are serious about their costumes.

The Ghouls Brothers?

The big & beautiful witchy assistant?

Wonder Woman? Wonder Man? You decide.

Feel free to come to my house if you’re trick or treating. I’ll definitely have some yummy chocolate candy and maybe be donning a pair of devil ears – but don’t expect a fog machine, ghosts hanging in the tree, scary doorbell sounds or even a carved pumpkin. Hell, you’ll be lucky if I hear you crying ‘Trick or Treat!’

WC