Big Troubles and a Fence – Reprised

Getting bullied feels like you’re alone in the middle of a cavernous field surrounded by an electric fence charged by your fear, the callousness of bullies and the apathy of bystanders. I remember this from when I was nine years old. I’ll always remember because no one forgets their encounters with bullies, ever.

playground 1For whatever reason, in grade four I caught the eye of our school bully. His name was Shane and although we were in the same grade, he was almost a head taller than me. I suppose it’s not surprising that a bully might have sought me out; I was one of the smallest in our class. I’m sure he felt confident of my vulnerability.

Shane would look for opportunities to push me around and because he was so much bigger than me, it didn’t take much of a push from him to knock me down. He would generally follow that up with slapping me and threatening worse after school. There weren’t many options for me after school, it was either run like hell for home, try to hide behind people as they were walking, or just take the beating while trying to fend off too much damage. Teachers weren’t much involved outside of class in those days and my parents were otherwise occupied with the drama of their own lives.

One Saturday I was heading over to a friend’s a few blocks from home. I had a temporary shortcut because a house between my street and hers had been torn down and I could cut through the now open yard. The only impediment was a fence in the back that I could climb over at the alley.

I started to walk across the yard, but suddenly a shadow caught my eye. Shane stepped out from behind some building debris that I’d just walked by. His face was sheer glee at having me cornered and alone. My mind took in the entire scenario in about eleven seconds. I knew exactly what was in store.

My heart dropped as I watched him slowly stepping toward me with the promise of pure menace. Within those eleven seconds, I figured my only options to get away were to run back past him or run for the fence. As my panic escalated with his every step toward me, it felt like I couldn’t move my feet anyway. I knew I’d reached the point of no return.

He got closer and as he raised his hand, instinct took over. I closed my eyes and I ran toward him. Hard. His head being higher than mine was providence; it turned out it was the perfect height for my hands to reach his face, which I blindly pummeled with my fists. Hard and fast.

I heard a cry. I opened my eyes and saw that Shane had stepped back from me. He was holding his nose and just staring at me. Then he took his hands down and looked at them. They were covered in blood. He couldn’t see it, but so was his face as the bleeding from his nose dripped steadily down his chin. We stared at each other equally stunned.

Then he brought his hands back up to his nose and started crying. I took this as my cue to head for the fence. At the same time I started to move, so did he, but the opposite way.

My body was unbeaten that day, but the adrenaline continued to beat in my heart.  I didn’t bother running to the fence, but I’m pretty sure I scaled it like a parkour athlete.  I was safe and I would remain safe.  Shane never bothered to come near me again.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a life changing event.  It wasn’t just that I was able to defend myself, no matter the miracle was unplanned. It was because it was the first time I was consciously aware that I did something I had no idea I could.

Unfortunately it wasn’t the last time I would encounter bullies in my life, but sometimes, when I do come up on the short end of the stick in those meetings, I remember that sweet, sweet time I kicked ass. Like a boss.

RL

The Wins of Futility

[Short story – theme: conquer]

He enjoyed the idea that he was tormenting her while he dangled his presence around her, but the facades of his intent were very poor disguise, rather sophomoric and predictable. The fitting of his mask rendered him completely unaware that it was she, who was leading him by the nose.

So, there was little intrigue to hold her gaze. The offering was thin, weak even… the fact that she’d seen it for what it was and rejected it, in the end, was genuinely puzzling to him.

It drove him to play cat, but without the appearance of pawing at the mouse. He left that to the kittens he’d made believe were his fighting defense of immense ability.

The worst of it… that part that whirled his twisted out vision was that it didn’t look like she’d made any changes in her life that completely sealed out room for him, and that – that was the most incomprehensible.

So, he continues to prowl around corners and spy, hoping to provoke a second look, but it never comes. Not the way he craves. It will never be returned, and he will labor in that eternal circular chase for as long as that emptiness and his meowing backup guide him.

She remains true to her purpose, employing her memories and inspirations without ever having to touch the reins he casts toward her. She shoos away his gnat-like fly-bys, exercising her right to indifference. This is her freedom, and his own imprisonment.

RL

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/conquer/

First Blog Resulted in 3 Unbelievable Opportunities!

Four years today… Blog Womaning bliss! The outlet for personal record became a portal of learning, teaching opportunities and making contact with the some of the greatest examples of human decency – and well, admittedly, an occasional dip toward the lowest. Luckily, those are very few, kind of like that deal I got to mull over not long after my first post back then…

teacher blackboard green irishI was really quite flattered when after I published my first blog, I received some attention from a fellow blogger with a message to follow his blog too.  I looked at his page and saw it was very well done. Quite sophisticated and up to date with all kinds of interesting media to flip through.  I liked, as in appreciated the post that was at the top of his published works. Nicely written, inspirational. Even more impressive was how young he was.  So, I hit the like button and even clicked on the blog ‘follow’ button.

Not long after, I started receiving inspirational emails from him that included ideas on changing my life, by changing my financial circumstances, by learning a really, super cool way to earn a living via my blog!  This guy did it and look, he’s only 18 yrs old and already retired in the Thai jungle of his retirement dreams – as demonstrated in his selfie-video telling me so.

The promo soundbites were right up my marketing background alley; though slight, the description sounded reasonable and plausible.  So, I followed the links as directed and got to a 45 minute video of two guys sitting casually in elegant chairs in front of a beautiful interior pool of an obviously expensive house.  My spidey senses began to web-out.

The guys opened their pitch with their personal histories and like young blog guy, they described their beginnings from nothing, with little prospects.  One had actually lived out of a van that cost less than the pen he was holding in his hand.  It was a pretty good looking pen.

The beautiful house was also his, and we wouldn’t believe that all he has now, was achieved after figuring out – are you ready for this – a simple, 3 step idea for making millions via the internet.

About 20 minutes into alternating the talk between how really hard life had been for them, yet so drastically changed with little effort into the still unexplained way they did it, another screen flashed up under their picture.  If I act now, for only $25, I will learn (finally) the secret 3 step plan for making millions – or as much as I am willing to work for, it’s all up to me – but I better hurry because there are limited spots left.  Ugh! Gut instinct confirmed, video turned off.

Pffftt! The not so secret ‘secret’ was revealed; original flattery flattened, thrill about having blog skillz fizzled. Hell, maybe I even did miss an opportunity to ‘retire at 18’, but I trusted my gut and I’m sure I’m richer from not doling out those bucks.

What this did do, was get me thinking about all these pyramid or multi-level marketing schemes that come up over and over. Sometimes they provide genuine product offerings, but mostly they’re about the quickest immediate cash grab for the idea guys.

I can’t begin to count how many of these pitches/ads/infomercials I’ve seen and you know what they all have in common?  Vans.  Ever notice that too?  Almost every one of these self-made from dirt poor guys who luck-out on the answer to millions, start out by living in vans.  Really shaky rickety vans too.

I’m re-thinking plans for my son’s formal education after high school.  I’m going to just shove him into a van when he’s 18 and say, “Go forth, my son, and prosper”!  Bring me back one of those great-looking pens when you’ve made it.

This lit up the third idea bulb – I’m going into the old van selling business.  Low overhead; at near break-down level anyway. We’ll sell ’em to these young guys who’ll eventually get rich. Win-win. Whose in? Time limited offer. Oh, and my son gets his half-price.

Top of the marnin’ ta ya, (sorry about that)

…and a round of green full-bodied gratitude with a heady froth of love for these awesome folks, each a very fine mug-O’-talent; thanks for the ongoing support and friendship over these years…

Cheers,
Ned Hickson
Le Drake Noir
Robert Hookey
Trent’s World
Joanne at My Life Lived Full
Lynne at Life After 50
Jill’s Scene
Dan Antion
Randall Willis

RL

With Lois, For The Win

I determined I’d open  2017 with a gratitude post, but to be honest, and this is no complaint, there were so many avenues I could go, I wasn’t sure where to start. I’m privileged enough to have most of my needs met and most importantly, I have pretty amazing family and supportive community.  It was in this, that I felt inspired to say how writing has played a role in winning me some of that love and support.

Years ago I reported for newspapers, later side-lined for an opportunity to make a bigger splash by managing the start-up of a non-profit foundation.  After that, a similar turn in the private sector, and then onto the biggest job ever, motherhood.

Throughout those years, I continued to write – scads of your basic business letters and mountains of personal journals. Then Facebook came along.  Once in awhile I’d wax on, and on…. and on and fill my status box with a full-page of opinion. I’d get pretty good feedback, but more likely, I’d hear from Lois.

loisWe’d met at a performing arts studio where our kids attended.  Lois was smart, an English major and she was a writer. A real one; which she practiced with a business blog.  I enjoyed her replies to my status comments – witty and smart. Sometimes, she intimidated me. Not in a bad way, she made me want to try harder.  Then she brought up the idea of starting a blog. She’d simply suggest it now and then, until one day after yet another of my Facebook essays, her inner- warrior firmly tapped out the order, “Blog, woman”!!!

And thus a new blog was born.

Lois continued the encouragement through my spotty and rough start. I do know I’m not above some clunky writing here and there. Anyway, she was always very kind about it all and this was just an extension of her amazing generosity and wonderful, thoughtful presence.  Our shared connections always gave her the highest marks for decency.

Yes, it’s a cliche’ when I say it feels like only yesterday, when I got that Lois smack-down to work up to something. it’s especially so now, because we lost Lois last October.  A brain tumour discovered a couple of years ago overcame her.  I was out of town when she passed and I wasn’t able to attend her service.  Not unusually, I struggled about what to say to her family, especially from a distance.

I wrote her daughter, Kathryn, a friend also and within that note, I ended up explaining how her mother’s influence affected my life in ways that I’d never told Lois. I asked for permission to print parts of that note here.  I thought my 2017 gratitude for writing couldn’t begin without my 2013 re-start from Lois.  What writing has done for me over the last nearly four years is inextricably tied to her…

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Kathryn… I’ve tried so many times to write something to you about your mother.  It’s hard to admit a loss for words, but it’s especially frustrating when you want to tell someone how sorry you are for their losses of such significance…

I want to tell you what a wonderful person your mother was… is.  But you know that – and I am so glad about that for you and your family.

I want to tell you how much your mother influenced my life.  I want you to know how she actually changed it.  I want you to know that her insistence, with that boot to the butt,  that I write for real, introduced me to a world I had no idea existed and yet there it was, waiting for me to meet dozens of amazing people who would then move me along into opportunities I never could have dreamed were waiting for me.

Even love was there in that new world.  I found all sort of love and that too changed me and grew me up some more.

I would never have found new work that challenged me to use every creative thought I could muster. I would never have found friends that stand like sentries whenever I need.  My whole world would not have been so beautifully enforced.

Initially, I think I found it hard to believe that a writer really thought I was a ‘writer’.  I was once a reporter, but somewhere along the way, I’d lost the idea that what I’d write in my journals could possibly be readable, or understandable, or maybe even helpful to someone else.

Your mother gave that gift back to me. She made me take a chance by offering a glimmer of confidence that I could claim for myself.

So, I want to say, I am so glad and I am so enriched in so many ways to have met Lois Wasstrom.

I thank God for, Lois.

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I’d also mentioned to Kathryn I was certain her mother would always be a guiding force for her family. I can only hope that maybe now and then, she’ll continue to lend a hand to this very grateful writer.

RL

I Would Die For My Words, But I’ll Stand With My Superpower

i-am-my-words

“Why are you speaking out so much? You’re going to get hurt”.

Going to get hurt? I’ve been hurt my whole life, what don’t I already know about hurt?  I’ve been hurt deeply enough to have died.  Literally.  (Life skillz pro tip: I highly recommend dying near a handy defibrillator; CPR hurts like a bitch – for days).

As a matter of record, this year has been one of the most painfully tumultuous for me and yet, I’m still here and I’m still talkin’ – unflinchingly.

I wish to continue asking people to step out of what they’ve learned is ‘success’ and question if it truly makes their heart sing, keeps them at peace and benefits anyone/anything else outside of constant, immediate personal gratification.

Well known, feminist activist, Gloria Steinem said, women become more activist conscious and engaged as they grow older because they lose power. I agree with her, re: our current paradigm.  We are prized for our beauty, our ‘niceness’; especially our willingness to ‘pleasantly get along’ regardless of any inequity levels in front of us.

She also said, men gain power as they age; that many tend to become more conservative – because they become more fearful about losing that advantageous power and so will use whatever manner to constrict others to protect that cushion.

I believe her words. I’ve lived them, but I refuse to accept them for me and my son.

This year especially highlighted my weaknesses, particularly from a genetic disease that doesn’t allow me to march or dance in all the ways I love, and from profound losses that reshaped my life, but I found ways to help change old paradigms anyway.

I’ve been gifted words and words are a superpower.

My words burst or seep in all kinds of form. I’ll write statement after statement about injustices that ignite my passion or calls to fierceness.  I often confess my words can be a stream of the most colorful profanity, that I could be speaking 6 other languages I don’t even know. Sometimes my words just want to be heard in the softest tones of poetry.  Sometimes my words are filled with laughter, and sometimes my words can embarrass the hell out of me.

What my words mostly are though, are a life source; a critical part of my purpose.  It’s been said so since I first spoke (a string of 3 expletives). My family gleefully and variously confirmed it with all sort of eye-roll inducing teases.

So, in answer to my concerned friend that I may get hurt by my expanding work to speak up against injustice – yes, I may, but since when is stretching not painful? On a personal level,  I’ve turned that around. I now refuse to spend any unnecessary time with anyone over 30 who refuses to relate in a straightforward grown-ass manner. I can confirm, time is precious. As Betty White said, “Vagina up, man”. She explained, why say,  ‘grow a pair’, when testicles are really quite fragile? We’re talking about actual birth canals; talk about taking a beating”! Man, I love that woman! Anyway, maybe this’ll net me fewer conversations, but saving time and connecting with people in a more real way for purposes greater than myself seems in fact, to be the point of my life.

I know that’s not entirely the pain my friend is concerned with, but – I can speak with some fair firsthand authority now, to assure that the most painful hurt, is not harsh words or bruises, broken bones, CPR or even dying. Outside of losing loved ones, what hurts most, is indifference.

So, I’ll continue to ask, which of our success representations are truly so valuable that we couldn’t live without them?  We don’t have to die to learn most of what we fear losing is really, not so much after all, but many do die because we refuse to look at the question.

We do everything we can for the safety and comfort of our loved ones, but will we extend that to include those who have suffered on any level for that comfort? If you don’t know who that is, please, please seek to learn; we need to look beyond our own small space in this great big world. Indifference is the poison that is instantly diluted by even the simplest act of compassion.  Just do it. I know you want to.

RL

Waking a 12 Year Old’s Dream, Part 1 – Short Story

The girl ran over hills and dunes, striving to keep up with him while holding back the hair whipping all around her face.  He urged her to follow, and hurry.  He made jokes about how tiny she was… how he could just throw her into his pocket and rocket them away. They were going to wherever their running legs would take them.  Who needed a plan when any direction was good enough? There wasn’t any need to determine a finishing point. Their companionship was the ultimate destination.

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Her 12-year-old heart laughed with his in complete ease. He told her she was the nicest person he’d ever known. He called her every name that he knew meant precious and he said that no one could ever be the best friend she was.  She was so happy to have found him; no one wanted her for their best friend like that – ever. She was somehow always lacking a certain something that said No. 1 material,  like the kids who always get picked last for every team.

She’d first sought him out when she caught glimpses of him in behind all the grown up discussions coated in angst, behind all the searches for adult contentment that had surrounded them for years.

At 12, he was still as shy as he’d been at 6, but she saw him when most barely acknowledged he’d even existed. He was taken off-guard when he realized he’d been spotted.  He was used to being ignored, often drowned out by back to back beers or wine or depression. When the grown up around him wanted company, the last person he chose was his 12 yr. old.

The boy didn’t know he was lonely until he’d been seen. He didn’t know he could actually even love. He came to adore her, first for her seeing, then for being.  He couldn’t bear to be away from her for even an hour.  He’d go to sleep with her fully enveloping his thoughts until he woke up to resume them.  Lifetimes of plans replaced empty, faraway dreams.

One night, after an effort of determined, careful planning, they got to share a room, snuggled within the safety of one another’s presence. They were startled awake though, in the middle of the night. The grown ups were fighting, loudly.  It terrified the boy and he bolted.  He ran as fast as he could. He left her behind.

Somewhere in the middle of his running he decided the grown up of his experience was right, the only way to be, the only way to cope was the head-on pursuit of simplicity, the eternal chase of a good cocktail and easy lovin’.  Safety ensured by familiar pattern.

When she realized he’d turned back to the shadows, she stumbled from the room, once again rushing, this time blinded by the tears coursing over her face… As she ran, she heard his grown up and his grown up friends laughing behind her.  They yelled out, “Ah, face it, kid you weren’t enough anyway”…

When she got home, her grown up cried with her as she rocked her.  She whispered, “I’m so sorry sweetie, but you were always meant for far, far more than simple”…

RL

Dedicated to one 12 year old heart that still doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks about her or them; ever the bravest, of them all…

What Did You #%&*@* Say?

So, I was reminded not too long ago that my predilection for profanity was especially evident lately. Lately? Where hath these innocents been?

Yes, OK, I have a mouth and it’s pretty potty at times, but I believe I’ve earned it honestly. I’m sorry, but I cannot apologize for it.  According to even more recent studies than the ones that said swearing helps with pain, they now say my kind of swearing indicates genius level intelligence too.  I wouldn’t lie about that…. I’d swear to it….

So, in that vein, I (re)present an updated story I published a few years ago about passing the gift down…

For about a millennium now it’s been said that kids say the damnedest darnedest things. I know this truth first-hand and I’ve kept a journal to capture a good number of eyebrow raising, head scratching and -are you for real- statements that my son has spouted since he started spouting.

I always encouraged free and open speech with him and I’ve always adored hearing what comes out of that new and unfettered brain.  The only thing I’ve forbidden is swearing.  It’s not that I’ve pretended that swearing doesn’t happen; we’re all aware of its worldwide domination, thus he’s heard such a word or two in the homeland.

He had attempted to copy those words, but only once, (that I know of), OK, technically twice, but the second time was just a noun change.  It happened when he was two and a half.  We were on holiday and his dad was desperately searching our vehicle for the camera before the beautiful tall ships we were watching passed by.  While he was frantically throwing items left and right, he yelped, “Where’s my f*#kin’ camera”?

A couple of hours later, on our way home, I noticed my son frantically looking left and right.  I asked him what was wrong and he asked, “Where’s my f*#kin’ camera”? To be fair, his toy camera did, in fact, appear to be a missing casualty of his father’s earlier desperation.

About two weeks later we were playing tea party and he came out of his room with most of his supplies except one.  With hand on hip and grave consternation, he spoke. “Where’s my f*#kin’ teapot”?  We had a little chat and I have to say he’s been pretty good at finding alternative adverbs and adjectives ever since.

Actually, he would eventually become a little too efficiently aware; he grew into the Soup Nazi of potty-mouth alternatives. Our self-proclaimed lord of language decency worked his moral indignance to a level that drove me to drinkHe deployed a ‘swear jar’, a wretched vessel of confiscated loonies for every swear word he caught, thereby generously cutting into my own happy hour funding. Which also had me questioning my study-confirmed intelligence for having agreed to this insanity.

So, yes,  I can swear like a truck driver.  Actually, I feel that analogy is an insult; I’m certain my stupendous ability could teach a truck driver a thing or two.  Lest you accuse me of hypocrisy, I look at it like being an artist of abstract art who had to first prove that she can paint a real-life landscape before delving into free-flow style. My swearing is not a replacement for regular speaking skill, just occasional, as required, colorful enhancement.  Certainly some days need more color than others.

Also, as a public service announcement, there have been recent studies that state hollering four letter words helps to alleviate pain. Think about that the next time you hammer your finger.  No really, look it up.

swearing hammer guy

OK, back to my son.  What I’ve always told him is profanity is adult language; he’s free to swear when he is 18 or paying the bills, whichever comes first, (not gonna lie – secretly hoping it’s paying the bills).

No, I don’t really believe he will never swear again before he turns 18, but I’m pretty sure he’ll have learned to speak ‘real-life’ English first. After that, if he wants to add a little color now and then, fine, but more importantly, maybe then I can earn some #*@kin’ coins back.

RL

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