Feeling Out Of Place

Feeling Out Of Place
Image provided by Dan Wayland
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dw2/

The assumption of belonging is usually taken for granted. Within your own family, chances, without reservation, are you are a member. When you walk through the front door of a home belonging to a relative, there’s usually a happy greeting and you’re offered a place to sit and told to make yourself comfortable. Often this happens with friends and colleagues too, but sometimes under limited circumstances.

All the same, some people don’t acquire that affectionate bond with such simplicity. Is it because these people have introverted personalities? I would think this is the case with some. With others it could be the possibility of being shunned, either for substantial reasons or circumstances that are exaggerated or fictitious. With still others, though the number may be minuscule in comparison, haven’t had the opportunity to develop these ties due to his or her life situation.

I’m one of those charmed people who live in a state of remoteness for all three reasons I give above. Let me assure you that it isn’t as climatic as Peyton Place or any other soup opera. This is just life as I travel down its path.

Most often it’s the first reason that puts me in these circumstances. Alone doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely. There’s a tranquility I revel in while I’m detached that cannot be obtained when other people are around, even the ones I hold dear to my heart. No one is expecting anything from me. All responsibility is what I choose to take or whatever I put on myself. Yes, I do take on self-induced obligations. I’m particular about some things so I make sure those things are in order.

The third reason I mention (I’ll get to the second one) is associated with my disability. Getting out and around people is extremely difficult in my present surrounding. I don’t have a vehicle to drive. There isn’t a public bus, train, or subway system here. Everyone who might be generous enough to give me a ride doesn’t live near enough so I can just hitch a ride. Outings must always be planned. Living in a small town doesn’t necessarily mean anything is really closer.

The second reason (I told you I’d get to it.) is the one and only that upsets me. Until I moved here, It never even dawned on me that I would ever be rebuffed. I am not without negative qualities. After all, I’ll an imperfect human being. However, any of those qualities that I’ve been aware of or have been informed of are ones I’ve rectified or, have at least alleviated. I’ve made amends whenever it’s been possible. Yes, I am shunned. To my knowledge, whatever has put me in this light is either distorted or fabricated.

Nevertheless, this is, in reality, just one of the bumps in the journey of life. I may wish with my entire soul that it was all different, but it isn’t going to make it so.

I handle this plight the best I can. I concentrate the extreme present moment, not dwelling on anything from the past, no matter how recent, or going into the future, even when it only has to do with tomorrow. Of course, I can’t work this strategy all the time. In many of those instances, I’ve either reflected on times when I lived where I was accepted and dream of the time when I can move to such a place again.

As I stated before, my predicament is not another version of Peyton Place. It’s just life happening with all its good and bad mixed up as usual. I see my solitude as my source of fortitude.

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How do you deal with your dilemmas that don’t have quick solutions?

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.” Buddha

 

Is Writing a Lonely Venture?

Is Writing a Lonely Venture?
Image provided by marie-a-la-framboise
https://www.flickr.com/photos/marie-a-la-framboise/

I read a blog post last week that discussed the isolation associated with the craft of writing. (I can’t remember which blog it was now. If you do, please forward the URL.) The supposition was most writers are introverts at some level. Sitting alone to write page after page isn’t the sort of activity that, supposedly, would appeal to an extrovert on a daily basis.

I’m an introvert myself, so I can understand this line of reasoning. Even family gatherings can be a little too much for me. Two hours of  participation at those events is all I can comfortably handle. After that, all I want to do is collect whatever I brought to the festivities and vamoose. I’m more gratified by spending time reading a good novel or writing.

I’ve had family members try to pull me out of what they call my shell. Apparently they think I live in a vacuum of some sort because I’m not out there whooping it up somewhere. I get the distinct impression some of them think I suffer from a mental affliction that I need help with in some way, all because I gravitate towards physical solitude. They ask why I’m not interesting in what is going on outside of what they think is my personal sphere.

If they only knew. If they could merely comprehend what’s needed to be competent as a writer. If they just understood the difference between physical and mental engaging.

I find such pleasure in the written communications I have with different people while delving into the research and constant education needed for this craft. My time with the outside environment as I contemplate and wrestle with ideas in the realm of writing are filled with the fascinations I see, hear, and feel in the nature around me. The mannerisms and conversations I come across are marvelous. I watch and listen, hopefully with intensity, to gather schemes for stories and learn more about how dialogue and idiosyncrasies are formed.

True, I may be missing out on events due to how much time I spend writing and in the pursuits associated with this endeavor. However, the people who are avid spectators at sporting events (for example) are lacking the enjoyment of expression through written words. Each to their own, as they say.

I don’t think lonely is the right term to explain the environment of the writer. I think maybe solitude better defines the space needed to be an effective wordsmith. Moreover, even though this craft is at its best with solitude, if only within the mind of the scriber, that person may also be reveling in activities that include many other people too. Many writers have a “day job” in addition to their passion of writing. (It’s in quotes because some of those jobs are second or third shift.) This other job may be for monetary purposes, but may also serve as an outlet to be sociable. Writers, including the ones who are introverts, do need a little human contact. This, however, doesn’t mean we’re lonely.

I guess I could be considered one of the scribes who lives a life more in reclusion. Sure, some of the reasons are out of my control, but I love the quiet and am so glad to get back to it after being in the commotion I step into when I walk out my door, whether to do errands or to participate in gatherings.

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Do you think writing is a lonely profession?

Life can’t ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer’s lover until death — fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant. ~Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963

 

Character Sketch: The Woman Next Door

Character Sketch: The Woman Next Door
Image provided by UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences
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I had told you, my readers, I would be doing some character sketches in my quest to improve my writing skills. It was back in November when I had decided on this. Yet, so far, I’ve only wrote one.

Disgraceful.

Below is #2.

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When Lydia Schuhart and her family moved in next door, the impression she gave to the neighbors who lived on the block was undistinguished and considerably dull. In contract, her husband and two daughters were spirited and gave the appearance of usually being cheerful.

She was a housewife and a mother; and didn’t work outside the home. Her entire attention was on her family. My mother was the same, although did activities with the church and had several friends in the area who she’d get together with periodically. Lydia’s wholly existence didn’t go beyond the yard of the Schuharts’ property. My mother invited her to our house a few of times for coffee, but she always had a justification for declining the offer. Soon my mother gave up on that particular idea.

It took one and a half years for Lydia to say more than hello in response to my mother’s greetings, but once it had happened, I began to see her talking to my mother a couple of times each week, each leaning against the fence that separated the Schuharts’ yard from ours. It was during these chats, while I played jacks on the driveway, I got to know who Lydia Schuhart was by simple eavesdropping.

My first discovery was her hair wasn’t the dull dark brown it appeared to be from a distance. At a closer examination, it was clear that it was the color of baking chocolate, rich, thick, and lustrous. Her eyes were a lighter brown with flakes of gold in them. It was then that I realized that I had been afraid of this woman and the reason wasn’t credible. I had misjudged her according to appearance that wasn’t even accurate.

Listening while I went through the threezies and fourzies of my game, I found out that she was from what she called Christmas tree country. I later learned that it’s an area in the northern central part of Michigan where the pine tree farms were. Instantly I had questions about Christmas trees I wanted to ask her, although the inquiries didn’t come easy until later the next year. I also realized why she had insisted her husband plant a Blue Spruce in their front yard. Being four states away, living on the high plains of eastern Colorado, she was bound to be lonely for the landscape she had while she was a child. My parents ended up putting a Blue Spruce in their front yard too. Did this come about because of Lydia?

After discovering Lydia was just a typical mother like my own, I got curious about the inside of her house. I played with her daughters sometimes but it was always something like riding our bikes or going to the school grounds to play on the playground equipment. I finally asked Karen, the younger of the two, if I could go in with her while she got her tennis shoes on. Walking in through the back door, a  pungent whiff of cinnamon hit my nostrils. Lydia stood at the stove slowly stirring the mixture in the large pot sitting on the first burner. She opened a small packet of cinnamon candies and dropped the beads in and continued to stir.

Then she asked, “Do you want a taste?”

The first thought I had was the question, Will it taste good or will I gag?, but all I did was nod. She took a small spoon and dipped it into the pot. Before handing it to me, she blew on it a few times so my mouth wouldn’t get burnt. I took the spoon from her and looked at the concoction. I know what this is — I think. I put the spoon in my mouth and closed my lips over it. Yes, that’s what it was, apple sauce. I never had homemade apple sauce before. The jarred kind was good, but this was stupendous.

Although Lydia was more than willing to answer my questions about Christmas trees, and I was feeling welcomed in her home, there was still some mystery about her that caused me the ponder when my mother and her would have one of their chats. Why doesn’t she come over to visit us. Why are my mother’s and her conversations held with a fence between them? I finally couldn’t stand the not knowing anymore so I asked my mother. She told me Lydia was having difficulties getting used to living where there were hardly any trees. As things were, she only felt half comfortable at her own home and cherished her privacy. I didn’t press for anymore of an answer, guessing I probably wouldn’t understand anyway.

It was only a few years later when the Schuharts moved out and went back to Michigan. I guess she missed the trees too much.

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“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” Teresa Calcutta

 

Where Tolerance Stops

Where Tolerance Stops
Image provided by Michael Korchia
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkorchia/

This last Tuesday I wrote a short piece entitled, She Endured. (This one is shorter, isn’t it?) Aside from it being an exercise in writing for me, the point of the scene was to give you a glimpse of what many couples experience on a daily basis. The woman showed fortitude and patience.

What if she hadn’t been so tolerant of her husband’s shortcomings? I would think there’d be arguments, an emotional freeze in the air, and maybe a breakup.

Would the latter be tragic, heartbreaking, or the ‘wrong’ thing to do?

How much of the negative should a person tolerate?

The  resilience varies from person to person, of course. I think of the work place when I think of what so many put up with, both the employee and the employer. An employee will resist quitting despite the verbal abuse s/he is receiving from the boss. S/he needs the job after all. An employer will withstand the constant tardiness of an employee to keep good relations with all of the employees and so s/he doesn’t have to train someone new.

The tolerance with friends and family can get sticky and tangled. Should a spouse be lenient when the other one has excuses for not being there, not making good on promises, not participating in the functioning of the family? Should a person permit the friend to use him/her and ignore him/her the rest of the time? Some people have oodles of perseverance. They’ll take almost anything that’s given to them and will endure it. Are these people saints or patsies?

Is there a place to draw the line on tolerance? I, for one, think there is that place. When a person’s life become a series of forgiveness, leniency, and permissiveness, it’s time to paint that line. A person shouldn’t be a mat to be trampled all over. A person shouldn’t have to always give in to someone else’s wants while the person’s needs are not being met.

Yes, that’s my opinion, but not all of it. The fault cannot just lie with the recipient of all that  benevolent stuff. After all, the one pouring it out isn’t holding back. The giver has to — must stand up for himself/herself. If s/he doesn’t do that, the revolving situation is going to continue. Sure, it’s damn hard to stand up for yourself. All those feelings of doubt, guilt, shame, and disgrace are probably going to, at least, touch the person, even though they’re probably unfounded in the equation of things.

It’s sometime next to impossible for a person to stand up for himself/herself. Yet, to break the damaging cycle going on in that person’s life, this is the only way. Does the person think waiting until the other leaves that person’s life is going to do it? Don’t bet on it. All that past garbage and negative feelings are still roaming around inside the person’s head. Standing up for oneself is the only way to make those awful feelings the frivolous little pieces of the past.

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As I’ve stated before, this is just my opinion. Whether you agree or disagree, I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

No man will succeed unless he is ready to face and overcome difficulties, and is prepared to assume responsibilities.William J. H. Boetcker

 

Ponderosity and Me

Ponderosity and Me
Image provided by
Lotus Carroll
@ https://www.flickr.com/photos/thelotuscarroll/

I was a fat kid. This wasn’t something I was afflicted with because how much I ate or what I was eating.

My family was on the poor side. I say it that way because we did have a luxury occasionally, which I know some families never have. In fact, there are some who can’t even afford all the necessities, let along any plain wants.

The family budget was tight. My mom would pay the bills and be ecstatic if there was ten dollars left that could go into the pot for something like a short trip to visit family in another state.

One of the strategies in keeping the budget under control was being careful about what was bought at the grocery store. There was never ever any soft drinks. A treat for my brother and I was a glass of Kool-Aid in the middle of the afternoon.

Mind you, we didn’t starve at any time. If one of us was hungry and it wasn’t mealtime yet, Mom would get out a piece of fruit like an apple or orange and split it between us. If it was getting close to time to eat, Mom would bring out raw pieces of vegetables, cut a few up, and let us gnaw on them while we waited for the clock to say, “Dinner time!”

So why was I fat? No one could figure it out to any satisfaction.

I couldn’t eat a whole hamburger until I was nine years old, and that was only if I didn’t have the french fries and let my brother drink most of my lemonade. “Lemonade?” you ask. McDonald’s wasn’t in Denver until I was in high school so our favorite fast food place was Henry’s. (It was one of those luxuries I was talking you about.) They had soft drinks but their lemonade was cheaper. My brother and I didn’t care what was in the paper cup as long as it would quench our thirst.

I battled with ponderosity daily. Yet, I didn’t have a clue as to how to fight it really. Most of it was aim and miss.

I was a tomboy. I was that one with the pixie haircut riding my bike with the neighborhood boys. I loved the vacant lots. I’d peddle up and down the dirty hills, stopping once in a while to observe a bug or pick up something way beyond rusty. (Despite these outings, I never was rushed in for a tetanus shot.) Invariably, I’d find a garter snake and knew I just must take it home to scare my mom out of her wits. (Snakes are her one and only phobia.)

Can you see why my massiveness was such a mystery?

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Let’s get completely honesty…

I wasn’t obese. In fact, I was just one size bigger than other girls my age. Yes, I was and am a little on the short side. My full height was five feet, four inches. Now that I’m harboring on retirement age, I’m even shorted.

What wrought the notion into the depths of my psychic was my father’s nickname for me — Big Glyn. In addition, he made sure to mention my weight whenever I would get new clothes.

What kind of hideous monster does this to his or her kid? My mom tried to shelter me from this type of abuse as much as she could without actually punching my father in the mouth. She, also, pointed out all of the worthwhile qualities I had, that my father didn’t, right in front of him. Maybe that wasn’t such a good thing to do because he got his brother and his family to jump onto his bandwagon. I became know as ‘Big Glyn’ at all family gatherings.

When I got pregnant with my son, of course, I gained weight. I was married and out of the house so I didn’t have to listen to anything my father was saying. Before my son was born, my mom divorced him. She was sick and tired of trying to make it work. She kicked him out.

My father got the surprise of his life when he saw me the next time with my baby boy. Somehow during the pregnancy, underneath the layers of fat for my son’s nourishment, I lost weight. I was wearing a size six instead of the size eleven I had worn before. Sure, I wasn’t dinky, but there wasn’t any way my father could insinuate that I was fat.

The ponderosity of misjudgment can be so burdensome that a person can, and often does think death might be better.

Do Not Misjudge

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The wrong person won’t think you’re WORTH their love, loyalty or respect. So, they’ll offer you something less. DON’T ACCEPT IT. Know your worth and move on. — Sonya Parker