Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Favorite Song when I was 15

My favorite songs

Living Next Door to the Country Club

I wrote this essay some years ago, in a senior center memoir writing class that allowed disabled people in it.  It was the year my husband's first lay-offs had occurred before we moved here. While the elderly people fondly remembered good times on the farm and grandchildren, there I was, just starting to process my crazy childhood and life. Hopefully my essays didn't shock them. I have added a few corrections here.

I was raised to marry into wealth. My mother had escaped her hardscrabble farm kid's lifestyle and had escaped to a big city by the age of 19. Poverty suffered as a child is easier then as an adult. At least when you are a kid, it's not your fault.

So while I would be an adult of currency exchanges, Save-A-Lots, scrimping every penny and living in fear of ghetto criminals, shopping was a fun hobby to my parents, the overpriced mall a center of delights. I grew up among Ethan Allen furniture, private school education, vacations and in high school lived on what was considered the richest street in town. Thank goodness, I had no idea what would await me as adulthood beckoned.

My parents lived on a near six figure income by the late 1970s and I grew up clueless. I had no idea what a sirloin steak really cost, my mother would fill 2-3 grocery cards full should relatives visit from out of town and think nothing of it. I didn't realize that a 5 course dinner could sent you back forty dollars. I grew up in a house that if the Russians had bombed, there would be food for a year. Today towards the end of every month my fridge is absolutely barren.

                                   this isn't my mother's collection this is a normal sized one.

Money was wasted on strange things. Thousands of dollars on china figurines was spent freely. One day I entered my mother's living room during a warmer December day to see at least three-five thousand glass snowmen of various kinds standing like a snowman army. My eyes bugged out as I calculated how much money she had probably spent on the endless variations of clay, porcelain and fabric Frosties. There had to be at least $30,000 dollars invested in this particular shopping spree. My mother should have bought stock in Hallmark.

For my father there were car parts to be refurbished in the garage, and entire "muscle" car in one side of the garage to be redone, and endless gadgets and tools. He had everything from an air compressor, two or three riding mowers and endless construction and house re-modeling items.

I was no spoiled kid, as I actually got goaded by the other high school kids for living in a 6 bedroom house next door to the only country club in town. While the neighborhood kids went on constant vacations, and got to play golf, we never joined. Everything was about keeping up with the Joneses, model households, "work til you drop, children or not. Today several family member's houses look like untouched museums and the houses you see in magazines. While I would get a decent number of Christmas gifts for good pictures, I didn't dress like a rich kid. I was befriending the kids who lived in the projects and the working class neighborhoods nearer to my school. My mother didn't buy me very many clothes and when you show up in high school wearing the same 2-3 outfits over and over, it establishes your social rank more then your parent's address.

The rich kids of my neighborhood rejected the whole lot of us, my family didn't realize that farmer's daughter and that a man with an New Jersey accent who cussed his head off in a Honeymooner's a la violent Fred Flintstone fashion don't quite fit into some upper class enclaves no matter the pretensions made. If anything after the neighbors called the cops, on my Dad cussing his head off so loudly they covered their children's ears, we were forbidden to play with the rest of the neighborhood teens. They avoided us like the plague. One popular girl fled my house during her first visit, when my father stomped up the stairs screaming about some lost papers and throwing things. She was petrified. At least she could run away, I was stuck!

My family never had heard of women's rights. While I was a good student, having free laborers came first. I still remember 10-14 hour workdays, scrubbing, polishing and dusting the 3,500 square foot house we lived in. Cinderella just wasn't a fairy tale. Before anyone says, "Quit yer whining all kids have to do chores!" This was a labor camp with a mean drill sergeant by your side. Perfectionists out of the gates of hell--Mommy Dearest and Daddy Dearest nightmares that made Joan Crawford's whining about the wire hangers and chopping down the tree in the backyard a slight tiff. No one would ever realize there are 5,000 ways to rake leaves the wrong way or even fathom that a rake had to be held the right way. I would grow up with a lifelong distaste for housework and yard work.

As college rolled around, my father kept threatening to throw us out on our ear by the age of 18. Having a father who won a full-4 year ride to university due to extreme math skills I did not inherit meant as a normal kid, you were simply resented. I worked 30 hours a week, my last two years of high school in restaurants as a salad and prep- cook. I used to hoard money like a fiend. The irony would occur to me years later. At one point in late high school, I had the greatest amount saved in the bank that I would have for the rest of my life which was $5,000. College and payment on my first car soaked it up like a sponge.

Things got only worse, in college, I in youthful idealism chose art education as a major not realizing it would sink me into future poverty. Some people make that one bad decision that turns their life on the dime towards the bad. For some it's getting pregnant as a teen, dropping out of school, doing drugs. This was mine 3.4 grade point average or not. I was good at art and actually a very good art teacher in the few years I got to work in it. The subject of art had served as my escape for survival. It was not only an interest but a vocation, but sadly my declining health blocked me from the good teaching jobs.

My parents hated what I stood for. The money I got for help to get through college was paid for with as pound of flesh attached even as I worked my way through college in the dorm cafeterias. I was called an evil hippie and a prima donna because I wanted a state school education and wanted to be a high school art teacher. One would think I wanted to run away and join the circus or had become a prostitute by the reaction of my father to my choice of a future career. He even tried to get me to join the convent and got angry when I refused, saying they would pay for my college.

No one warned me of how hard it was to make a living. No one told me that young adults could struggle. No one told me or prepared me for the fact that life may brings struggle or turmoil. With parents who could indulge in immediate gratification, what did I know? My mother who had no college even got a $40,000 a year job via my father who gave it to her. No one told me how to write a check, or how to budget or that the wrong step could lead to years of poverty. No one told me that things had drastically changed since the Baby Boomers made their first steps out of college. There were losers and winners and the winners had money.

By age 22, even with a part-time $14.00 an hour art teaching job and then making the decision to go back to school for a paralegal degree, I was considered a wash-up by my family. The summer I graduated from college, my 20 year old sister was marrying the ex mayor of a big city's son. She never would have to worry about living out of milk crates or struggling to pay bills. My parents would tell me, "Why can't you be more like your sister?". She went to community college and met her husband right after high school graduation. She has never lived on her own and went right from her twin bed covered in Garfield sheets with stuffed animals on top to her suburban housewife bliss. I wondered if the marriage was arranged since she never dated in high school, went from zero to 60 and they both treated each other like they were entering a business partnership instead of showing normal love behavior like kissing and hugging one another.

My sister had reached the pinnacle of success in my parents eyes by being engaged at age 19. My college graduation was ignored and neither parent showed up. One of my friends drove me to my college graduation. I would be stuck living at home for a year paying a small amount of rent and saving money for my great escape into my first no contact.

The years then came where as an adult, I would visit my mother's house with the perfect rooms, with one room of new furniture equaling a year's salary for me and my husband. Two doors down from multimillionaires, she added onto the house, and remodeled to her heart's content. After my father died, the insurance pay-offs made her even wealthier and more self satisfied. She has no idea what my day to day life is like. She doesn't know what life without money is like. The glass snowmen stand on patrol every winter with their empty eyes surveying the suburban landscape.

See:  Money, Snobs and Narcissists

Made Some More Cards

Being Housebound Sucks

                                               [picture source]
"Let me out! I just want to see a coffee shop and the library again!"

You feel like winter will never end. You don't get to go out and do things other people do. For me it is a dismantling of my entire life over and over. My church probably thinks I have dropped out. I have not seen but 4 human beings in the last month. Food is tasteless. I am addicted to the Internet. I watch shows and read books where people have actual lives and go live theirs instead of having one.  County jail time at this conjuncture in my life would be nothing compared to the sentences served inside. Involuntary pseudo "house arrest" on a tether made of temperature is the norm for me. When do I get to escape. I can mentally gear up for some months like this for winter and time in summer but when it gets too long the tears begin.

Last night I missed a dinner with friends, social invitations don't come to me as often as other people,
and when you disappoint people over and over, it only adds to the lonely and frustrated feeling. It was a Mensa dinner too and I have wanted to attend one for awhile. I'm not a member but wanted to see what it was like.  The friends came to visit me after their dinner but I wanted to shake my fist at the sky and scream as the temperatures stayed in the teens.  Today my husband is writing on a festival, I wouldn't mind going to and will miss. The cold and heat never let up, our weather has grown worse.

I had two months of illness from Dec-Jan. I do not know why I am not being spared when it is almost March. I need some air.  I need a vacation. I need to see some people.  The four walls of this apartment I pay way too much for are closing in. Paying for my cage and then guilty thinking "Oh don't complain, there are homeless people out there.". You could be freezing your butt off on a park bench.  More guilt thinking there are people stuck in nursing homes and even totally bedbound, it could be worse. Cursing the lungs and the body for the live unlived. Internet addiction grows. Doing the day to day chores from dishes to the walk down the hall feel like a walkway to nothingness.

So many things delayed, paper work for adoption, getting glasses, getting a digital hearing aid, going to counseling because I am like a rat in the cage and the temperature refuses to budge to 30-32, where I could escape. I feel for my husband who is having to do every errand alone including mountains of paperwork. I imagine Mini-Me happily driving around, and the Queen Spider enjoying her warm Florida days eating dinner out and at her community center while life for me narrows. Healing would come quicker with a good life to replace my bad memories.

Maybe I should move to a new climate, but I am tired of moving, tired of starting over, tired of goodbyes. So much has already been ripped away and I do not know how to replace it. The only climate that would work is Seattle and northwestern Washington State, but I don't have money to make the over thousands of mile trip to even see if I like it there. I've never been there. The cost of living means I would be living in a cardboard box on the street too. Heat does the same thing and could trap me as bad as the cold so moving to a more southern climate won't work either though if I was rich and could snow bird it, life would be far easier. Why did I get COPD so young when I never smoked in my life?

Then I was walking in the apartment hall for my exercise and saw two 80 something women going out shopping in 5 degrees. One had several shopping bags. How do they breathe out there? It gave me a strange feeling. How do they not fall out there on the snow and ice? Even with a walker the slightest bit of slush seems to make my feet act like a cartoon character slipping on thin ice.

I talk to doctors about this, they know I am stuck inside all the time, and the mobility and breathing issues. They tell me "Do your best," and "Don't push it" and admit there are reasons that if I tried to go out in 10 degrees, I would be seeing the ER. My circulation and body even shut down beyond the breathing if I get too cold. When I was young, I would push it. Who wants to have no life? Everyone wants one.  I would even throw up and have many bad things happen to me. I've been dealing with housebound issues since 1999.

I do develop my "own little world" and always have something to do, trust me, I do not get bored but while I can mentally prepare myself for a certain period of time when it drags out too long, it gets wearing. I sometimes wish I could just get on a bus and go see something new, without risking homelessness because I spent the money on travel instead of rent. How did my life get so blah? Is it my fault?

I'm just so disappointed. It's March and I've actually been struggling with being stuck inside and more since mid-November. The winters seem to be getting longer and longer. The money shorter and shorter. You just want to have a life like everyone else does. You pray to God asking "Why me?".

I think of things to change this but remain so stuck. Stuck behind a wall of ice. I think of things that I want to do and the body and lack of money that prevent them drives me insane. I try to come up with other options and fall flat.  One dreams of a better life, and visas to be seen not an endless prison sentence.

Why Is My life So Rotten?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Stamp Mania


I have tons of stamps to sort, need to get more Vario pages.  I sorted things just the other day. There are certain countries I am specializing in now.

Tired of Trying

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Outcast from her family

I don't want to label everyone a narcissist which can be a danger for those in recovery, but I watched this show today and thought this was a classic narcissistic family. The father seemed more quiet and was more on the sidelines but it was disturbing to watch this show.  The mother gaslighted and kept calling her a liar even as Marissa admitted her wicked deeds as a teen and that she was in prostitution.

The sisters gave me the willies to the point, while watching, I thought that they had the same negative "energy" as my sister with the same obtuse faces, and the looks of disdain. I am clean living, never drank, or drugged but mine gave me the same exact look. I was told I was an "embarrassment" as well. They looked to me like the two sisters from Cinderella. Their helmet hairdos triggered me back to the last time I saw my sister. Their dark eyes was reliving moments in my life with her.

Sadly some scapegoats like Marissa can rebel, and end up in a life of drugs, prostitution and worse.  Some run to the drugs and drink to kill the pain, while the rest of us turn things more inward.  I tend to think because this young girl was adopted into her aunt's family because her mother was incarcerated, that they laid those things on her heavy, otherwise why did a girl who grew up in a middle class or upper middle class and was a straight A student go directly into prostitution?

My Aunt Scapegoat went the "rebel" route and the same dynamics played here that I saw in my family, the outraged narcissists all saying "How dare she!" and using her to play off of.  One aspect of narcissists is they are secretly happy when someone has gone down perdition highway because then they can use the alcoholic, drug addict, prostitute, street person relatives to make themselves look superior and to play martyr off of. Here within lies extensive nuggets of narcissistic supply. Those false looks of disgust and head shaking I am so familiar with. One would think both sisters saw themselves as Prim Hester or the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live in comparison to their wayward sister [actually cousin].

Being Aspie, I didn't rebel or go into the party lifestyle or sex industry, so my family had to make up sins for me. However in Marissa's case I felt like they were all ready to brand a "W" into her forehead and be done with her for good. The tears in my opinion on the part of the mother and one sister were fake. This was a family that cared most about appearances.

One of my friends who I have complained to Dr. Phil about says he is missing the narcissism because he is a narcissist himself. I am not sure, but I have to admit watching Dr. Phil tell this young woman that her "mom" [actually biological aunt] loved her when she said she did not triggered me back to those times too, I was told by various relatives and others that my mother loved me when I was being abused. Someone needs to do a seminar on narcissism with some of these psychologists. I think that is one of worse things he could have said. I believe in the crucible of that narcissistic family she was told she was "lesser", would end up like her mother in jail, could have faced some racial discrimination and definitely there is a reason she ended up having severe problems with her self esteem.

By the way throwing a 17 year old into the streets without any support is almost a guaranteed way to have them end up in the sex industry. Even if she was sexually active, or smoked pot or did other things that were bad teen behavior, they seemed ready to toss her into the streets and did not care if she starved or died. I know so many know crow on about tough love, but I think tough love makes things worse, maybe that is a subject for another post. By the way if a young woman is poor enough, the sexual predators and traffickers will find them. Being overweight doesn't protect you either.  That is how this world works.

Dr. Phil acted like this family could be a foundation for her healing and I was thinking she needs to get far far away. He did offer her a restart in her life which is I think the main reason she went on the show and willingly got put through it. Marissa needs to stay away from the people who brought her down and have no mercy for her even if they call themselves her family.

It looks like other commenters agreed with me who watched this Dr. Phil Show:

No wonder poor Marissa feels like she belongs nowhere. The woman who raised her(And in no way is that woman her "mother") doesn't seem to think Marissa is worth a darn. She says Marissa is a liar who BELIEVES her own lies? Excuse me, as human beings we KNOW when we lie and when we don't, so to accuse Marissa of being "nuts" (my word)  in front of the millions who are watching had to be incredibly painful for the young woman. And I'm willing to bet that Marissa's many issues started about the time her female caretaker blew her off when she spoke of being raped.

  People treat children who aren't their biological children differently than they do blood. This pretend "mother" says she gave Marissa "everything"-but where is the unconditional love Marissa should have received?  THAT means more than all of the material things she could have ever received. I think Marissa was a mere "duty" to the woman. She only got attention if she was the PERFECT child, & very few children are perfect. There's not a kind word out of that woman's mouth. This entire family has rejected poor Marissa, despite protestations of the IMAGINARY "love" they have for her.

  Some people AND families are just plain toxic & the only thing a person can do to remain sane is to separate herself from them. Marissa needs to let her dreams of a loving helpful family go cos THESE people don't fit the bill.  That woman makes me cringe every time she opens her mouth to say she "loves" Marissa and then goes on to talk about her like she's trash to be dumped. 

  Dr Phil needed to stand UP for this young woman instead of allowing her female caretaker to put her down so mercilessly. And to separate Marissa from the black half of her blood cos the CARETAKER didn't want to subject herself to "those people"-well, now I see why Marissa feels so lost and alone. It starts in the home.