Weekly Recap 7/4

Weekly Recap 7/4
Image provided by
paul gy
@ https://www.flickr.com/photos/fotobuena/

Today is a holiday here in the US, Independence Day. In 1776, we declared our unconditional separation from England. We usually celebrate this independence with barbeques, picnics, lots of beer, and, of course, the fireworks once the sun goes down. This year, in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, the rain may put a damper on all of this fun. There’s still a little time, a few hours, to see if we can proceed as normal.

A Little Trivia for You

If you’ve read this somewhere else in my blog, sorry for the repeat.

On July 4, 1972, I was seventeen years old. It had been slightly over a month since I graduated from high school. (Long, long ago and far away) I was looking forward to going to college in a couple of months. The day was cloudy and the powers that be were threatening rain, again.

I was conned into going to a county fair with my parents and little brother. By the time we got there, I had a headache, not a bad one though — it was just one of those annoying ones jabbing me on both sides above the temples.

When we got home, I took two Anacin and leaned my head back on the sofa. It seemed to do the trick.

When Robin called, wanting to take me to a movie, I said yes. We had been dating for several months but because of the way I felt about another young man, I wanted to break it off with Robin. Guys had always broken up with me in the past, and because of being a realist, I always took it in stride. Still, I want to be as gentle as I could with Robin. He was a wonderful loving young man. Because he was taking me to a drive-in, we would definitely have the privacy that would make this announcement easier.

I was able to do this awful thing to Robin without tearing him up. In fact, he had met a woman he wanted to date but didn’t know if he should tell me or not. One-third through Downhill Racer, our relationship had gone from boyfriend and girlfriend to instant best friends.

Robin went to the concession stand and bought a couple of sodas for us. We sat back and watched the movie.

About three-fourths of the way through the movie, my headache came back, full strength this time. It was so bad I blacked out right there in the passenger’s seat of Robin’s Challenger.

I had a stroke. I because dependent on Independence Day.

Why Not Today?

I’m on the email list for David Steven’s newsletter that comes floating in once a month. David is a Life Counselor, with his specialty is helping people forty years of age or over to lead more fulfilling lives. I haven’t had the need for his individual counseling; I hope I never do. All the same, his newsletters are thought-provoking, which, I believe, is exactly what David wants as a reaction from the reading.

The newsletter I got from him yesterday was entitled Some Day. In his dialogue, he talked about setting high standards and adhering to them. He stated that life is too short to be dilly dallying around. If we don’t start living to our potential today, you may not have the chance tomorrow.

It got me thinking about those phrases in which the term some day is used.

Do people really take the phrase, I’ll do it some day, or maybe some day I’ll get to it, seriously? I remember being given that line as a kid from both of my parents at various times. When I’d heard it, I just knew that whatever it was, was not going to happen, period. It was a satirical statement to push me into the realm of reality.

Is it that I live life more deliberately than most? Do I do this naturally; you know, born this way? This could be. After all, I know that reaching for the impossible is a waste of time. I think I’ve always known this instinctively. Yet, at the same time, I believe I’ve pushed myself to go beyond what I’ve been told to be the limit, if for no other reason than just to see if I can do it. Because of this, I do have a tendency to drive people crazy at times with questions they’re sure I got from outer space.

Are there people who think there’s a ‘some day’ like in the song from the movie, West Side Story? Yes, I know there are such people.

I know people who would greatly benefit from David’s counseling, but they’re also the same people who will never listen to him either. They’re convinced, probably by themselves, that what is holding them back is something out of their control. They believe that it isn’t their fault (if that’s the right term to use), or it isn’t their responsibility to get themselves out of whatever rut they’re in.

The common excuses:

  1. too tired
  2. [whoever] would be so upset if I did [whatever]
  3. it cost too much
  4. have other commitments coming up (a lie of course)
  5. (and the really far out one) it isn’t in the stars for me

Have these people lived their entire life believing these excuses are valid? David, if you’re reading this, what is the percentage on this?

Last Week’s Capers

  • Exercise: Whelp… I didn’t get in four sessions on the bike. I did get in three though. Not good enough but headed in the right direction.
  • Reading: I’m reading Carol Balawyder’s Missi’s Dating Adventures. You may think that this EBook is for young adults. I rather doubt it though because of the passages about sex. I’m enjoying this book. If you’re looking for some reading in EBook form, you may want to check this one out. I’ve also been reading Mortal Fear by Greg Isles
  • Emotional Health: I guess that’s what the whole point of me going outside is. The weather didn’t cooperate last week, and this week isn’t much better. If I get out there a little later on, it will be my third time this week. I need more!
  • WIP: Revised both the setting and scene outline templates so that they’re better suited for me. I got 5871 words in this last week. I’m not going to push this count any farther, at least for right now. My total word count for my project is 38990.

This Next Week’s Antics

  • Exercise: GET ALL FOUR SESSIONS IN WITH THE STATIONARY BIKE!
  • Reading: Finish up Mortal Fear and Missi’s Dating Adventures. Start reading Black Cross, also by Greg Isles and Hacking the Billionaire by Jenny Deval
  • Emotional Health: GET MY BUTT OUTSIDE!
  • WIP: Do another 5000+ words and read some articles on character development and descriptive narrative within the story. I’m hoping to also find some free pdfs on these two subject.

If any of you know of any articles or blog posts that hit on character development and/or descriptive narrative, please point me to them.

What does this next week look like for you?

 

New Beginnings – Part 2

It’s taken me a while to write part 2 of this series. Part of the problem is that I’ve had to piece memories together in my head. This isn’t an easy thing when you have chronic short-term memory loss. If you haven’t read part one of this series, you can click here to do so. (A new window or tab opens so you can easily continue with this post.)

New Beginnings - Part 2
Image provided by
Jono Martin @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/geojono/

Shortly after I got the car, I, also, got a job at a financial company located in the industrial park, Denver Tech. Center that’s south of Denver in a suburb. It wasn’t the greatest of jobs but with my disability, I knew that I was fortunate to have it.

In many ways, finding a job as a person with disability was easier back then than it is now. Employers used to feel that if I wanted a job, they were willing to try me out. The only thing they insisted on was that I agreed that their insurances wouldn’t cover anything connected to the disability and it would be treated as a prior condition. This would include health, life and personal injury. It sounded fair to me. It still does. Yet, employers of today have it in their heads that at some point, I’m going to sue them for something. Well, no one said that people weren’t foolish.

I did data entry at this company. Yes, boring work. I sat in a cubical with a balance sheet spread out across my desk, punching in the numbers for their computer. Back then, one computer filled an entire room. My desk, along with four others were lined up against the wall of this room with their 5 feet walls on either side to insure a quiet environment for each desk. It certainly wasn’t my dream job, of course, but it was my first full-time job.

I, also, hooked up with someone I knew before the stroke. No, he didn’t go to my high school. I worked with him at a part-time job I had at a cinema. I was the one in the booth taking the money and doling out the tickets. He was one of the ushers. I didn’t think one way or the other about Mike then. He was just a co-worker, nothing more. However, unknown to me, he wanted to ask me out but couldn’t muster up the courage.

The one thing that was scaring everyone away from me, the stroke, was the very thing that made it possible for Mike to approach me. Did he think I was perfect before? Nay. Could he have thought I was out of his league before? Maybe, although I can’t fathom why.

Truth be known, I do know what it’s like to be afraid of someone who has a disability. Before the stroke, I worried about how the person would react to my line of contact with him or her. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing. There are a few, a very few, who still think they can “catch” the disability if they get too close, but I think most people are more afraid of doing something to upset the person with the disability — so they avoid the situation instead of taking the risk.

Mike was willing to take the risk.

Mike and I dated until the last of September that year. He had decided to go into the Marine Corps. He felt that his parents were disappointed in him, and had it in his head that if he was a Marine, he’d automatically be accepted by them. I asked him to write to me once he got out of boot camp so I’d have his military post address. He never did write, but I saw him a year later.

I’ll be telling you about how my life progressed in later posts. I want to batch them in an attempt to make them easier reading.

 

New Beginnings – Part One

Trying to write about what happened after the stroke has been trying for me. Several of my regular readers have said that writing posts about this time in my life will be therapeutic. I have no doubt that they’re right. Still, saying and doing are two different things.

This is the first post in a series of three. I hope you enjoy these and learn some things from them.

That first summer after my stroke proved to be a hodgepodge of events. When I think back on it, I’m surprised at how full that summer had been. I’ve heard of and seen how desolate people with disability become right after the accident or whatever has caused the hellish condition they must live in for the rest of their lives. I expected the same to happen to me. Conversely, my life became complex.

 

New Beginnings - Part One
Image provided by
Katherine Tompkins @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/katescars/

My father could not accept the idea of me being so dependent on others for the rest of my life. At the time, I wanted to believe that it was because he loved me, but the true of the matter was that he didn’t want the burden he thought I may be. It really doesn’t matter what motivated him because the end result was I got a new car that he paid for, lock, stock and barrel. It was a snot-green Ford Maverick. Yes, that poor car’s color was nauseating to say the least. Actually, it was a year old but the only times it had been off the lot was when someone took it for a test drive. In my eyes, you can’t get much newer than that.

My father also paid for driving lessons by AAA. After all, if I had an accident, once again he’d have to take care of me, which was what he was trying to cast off.

Regardless of my father’s reasons, the lessons turned out to be invaluable. My stroke had effected the right side of my body so using the right foot on the accelerator and brake were not an option. I learned how to cross my “bad leg” under my “good leg” and use the good one for the pedals. When I had learned how to drive the first time (when I was fifteen), I was instructed to turn my head to look on both sides and behind the car. Because of the way I had to sit now, the instructor had to teach me how to make better use of the rear-view mirrors. I was learning how to be a truck driver with a car that had an automatic transmission. The lessons on the road were the same-o same-o as before. There was the parallel parking, getting on and off ramps leading to and from the highway, what to do when stopping on the side of a road or highway when needed without the ample space being there and, of course, the rules of the road.

Once the lessons were over with, I had to muster up the courage to go take the written and driving tests. Remember, this is in the 1970s, so having someone with a physically disable come into to apply for a driver’s license caused heads to turn and whispers to be heard. True, the soldiers were slowly coming back to the US from Vietnam but rights and dignity for vets with disability hadn’t come into play yet. Trying to find an instructor who was willing to take me out for my test spin proved to be a little challenging. Finally, the supervisor came up to bat for me. I did everything out on the streets exactly as they should be done, which made him admit, on the way back to the agency, that he had to re-evaluate what was going on in the office and get some retraining in gear for the instructor.

Later that day I took my car out for its first solo drive around the parts of the city I felt comfortable in. I felt, for the first time in over a year, like a “normal” person. I know, I’m supposed to feel “normal” anyway, and I’m sure someone is asking, “What is supposed to be normal?”. Right? I know that “normal” is a subjective and relative term but to not have someone notice your disability first is a super big deal. Believe me on this one. I didn’t go to the park where I used to hang out. (I’ll tell you why in my next post in this series.) I did, however, go to Washington Park where the birthday party for Cathy was held. I didn’t get out of the car. I was too enthralled with the ecstasy of feeling “normal”. Nevertheless, some of the hippies mulling around that day came up to my car and talked to me for a while. Yes, I did tell these few about my disability and they congratulated me on getting out and trying to get my life back together. Yes, a very uplifting and therapeutic experience.

 

Of course, this wasn’t the only thing that happened that summer. As I had stated at the beginning, this particular summer turned out to be a full one. The next post in this series will be about “the gang” at the park that year.

 

Where Tranquility Resides

I guess I’m having difficulties finding the words to explain the things that happened to me after the stroke. There were years in there that had no happiness or laughter. Eventually, I’ll figure how to tell you, my friends.

Lately I’ve been in a frenzy of writing projects. I started off with one — it’s stalled but I haven’t given up on it. I started a second one — it stalled too. Now I have a third one going and so far, my momentum is up. I find myself waking up at the ungodly hour of 2pm something because I’m thinking about the story in my sleep. The only way to get back to sleep seems to be writing 500 to 1000 words on it.

So once again, I’m running a little late getting my Saturday post out. I might have to adjust my schedule a little. This is another writing prompt that I got from Today’s Author.

 

Where Tranquility Resides
Image provided by
Prayitno @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/prayitnophotography/

The man, only known as the Traveler, had pauses to rest his yearnings of his search. He thought he may find it in the greenery with all of its delicious aromas. Conversely, the stink of progress had intruded in on his moment of felicity.

He detected it as he inhaled the smell of the rosebush; the wind shifted and brought with it an entirely new smell. The highway buzzed just feet from where he stood among the flowers of the botanical garden. Yet, he couldn’t see it. The lush belt of forest hid it from view. Nonetheless, he could definitely smell the diesel from the trucks carrying their wares across the country.

There must be a place where one can feel the tranquility that is truly important, the Traveler thought. He felt certain that he must find it soon before it’s too late for him. The urgency held him within the sway to carry on with his pursuit.

The Traveler moved on, carrying his belongs slung over his shoulder in a knapsack. His leather shoes still wore without any hole but who knew how long that would last? He still had currency for beverage and toast in the morning and a decent meal in the early evening. His rations would suffice for all other times.

Still, the Traveler’s thoughts began to get muddled. He questioned himself as to which way to go. He pondered too long on where to pause and rest his longings.

The next day he traveled to the mountains on his quest to find that perfect tranquility. As he hiked through the forests and up each incline, he began to think that he might have finally found it. Up above timberline, he could look out for miles… that is until he paused and looked up. Above him was the vapor trails of the planes slowly polluting the air with smog.

This is better but it isn’t what I know I need, thought the Traveler. The time keep slipping away. His suede coat was getting threadbare in places. Soon all he’d have it his thin shirt. He felt so tired and worn. His hopes were quickly evaporating.

Later that same day he saw a small girl riding her bike on the lane that bordered a small park. He doubted seriously that she would know where it is but what did he have to lose by asking her? He said good afternoon to her. She replied with a hello. When he finally got the gumption to ask her, she looked up at him with a quizzical look on her face.

Then she said, “Tranquility isn’t a place, sir. It’s a state of being.”

 

That First Year After

This is kind of a continuation of the series, It Was My Little Black Cloud. However, because any of my posts about my life as an adult is influenced by the disability, I’ll start moving away from the these challenges as a focal point and tell you about the actual events that have been so colorful.

 

That First Year After
Image provided by
Parker Knight @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/rocketboom/

Being physically and slightly mentally disabled at the ripe old age of eighteen is not fun. You can bank on it. Strokes are awful no matter what your age. It’s just that at eighteen, a person is just starting to experience things, were as when you’re older, you have some idea of what life is about. Believe it or not, anymore there are many young people who have had a stroke.

My physical challenges consisted (still do) of having the sensation of feeling everything through a thick wool sock on the right side of my body from my toes up to the top of my head. This meant that I was never sure where anything was on my body on that side. Was I moving my arm at all? I didn’t know until I actually looked at it. Is that pan on the stove hot? Maybe I should check to see were my arm and/or hand is. Oh my gosh! Yes, the pan is hot. I burned my hand — see the red burning flesh.

My slight mental disabilities were harder to deal with. Although the medical team said my emotions would settle down, I felt like I had a severe case of Bipolar Syndrome. Either I didn’t care what was happening and would get engrossed in sitcoms on TV or I’d be a bucket of continuous tears. Neighbors could hear me ranting about some of the most trivial stuff, and I do mean stuff as in not being worth anything.

My cognitive skills, which effected my ability to write had been severely damages. This is what bothered me the most. I couldn’t remember anything for more than about two minutes at first, at least nothing that I thought I should remember anyway. I couldn’t even remember how to write the word ‘was’. When my writing buddy reads this, I can assure you that she’ll be shocked because now I can’t seem to get away from the damn word when I write. I remember sitting with a pencil in my hand and a clean sheet of paper in from of me, crying because I was trying to remember how to spell this stupid word for over an hour. I couldn’t even look it up in the dictionary because I couldn’t figure out the letter it even started with.

Of course, there were other things I was forgetting too. I had forgotten all the telephone numbers that I used to know by heart. I forgot my friends’ names. I could get lost so easily in a store that I had been in dozens of times before. Getting lost to the point where you don’t even know if you’re in a city you’re familiar with and also in a store that looks foreign can be mighty scary.

At first, the only three places where I felt completely at ease were the living room, my bedroom, and the bathroom. Most of that year was a blurry in spite of the fact that I did take a quarter of college part-time. I took classes I loved in high school, or at least the closest thing to those classes. I couldn’t play the flute anymore seeing that nothing worked the way it should on the right side, so I took the History of Music class. I took the 101 creative writing class, which gave my brain a boost so that I could remember how to write words. And I took 101 typing. The instructor found a text book on typing with one hand. It was the most useful class I had.

I know disability is hard to live with no matter where you are in your struggle with it. The world looks so different from the perspectives I have available to me now as opposed to the ones I used to have before that night when everything changed. I’m sure the level of difference is the same for all others who face these challenges.

Do you have a story to tell me?