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All posts for the month June, 2014

A Part in the Park – Writing 101: Day Nine

Published June 13, 2014 by Liz Ault

Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View. A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Twist: Write the scene from three different points of few.

Young Man

I can’t remember my lines. Finally getting my first break and I forget my friggin’ lines? Holding her hand? Check. Walking on path? Check. Lines? Un-check. This so sucks. OMG are those tears on my cheeks? They are. How am I supposed to get out of this one? The more I try to remember my lines the faster the stream runs down my face! And now she’s smashing my fingers.

Young Woman

So hard to believe they selected this dork to be my co-star. He can’t even walk down a path correctly. I just looked at him to give him the stink eye, and he’s crying! Geez, wish I’d stayed in bed this morning. I am so going to squish his fingers.

Old Lady

How did I get in the middle of this? I’m getting $50 to be an extra. An extra what? What’s with the sweater and knitting needles?

Sweater

Here is my big break! They are going to be so blown away by my talent. I’m the first dancing sweater in dramatic comedy. Or is it a romantic comedy? Who cares. Slowly the sweater picks up the knitting needles and uses them as extensions of the armholes. Looking much like a de-feathered, headless chicken, and kicking those stubby legs he goes into a song and dance, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious….”

Clapboard sounds and CUT!!

An Hour in a Lobby – Writing 101, Day Eight

Published June 11, 2014 by Liz Ault

Writing 101, Day 8: Death to Adverbs. Go to public location and make a  detailed report of what you see. Twist: Write the post without adverbs.

I was at a local hospital with my ex for a preliminary MRI. That’s when I saw this assignment on my cell phone. To go public?? Perfect, was already in one. Starting roaming outside and watching. An older man who looked like a previous pastor was the acting valet for today. He was very busy indeed.

Went back inside and sat in the x-ray waiting room. The technician came in to the crowded room and called for Charles. Three men stood up. It was funny. People forget that many baby boomers were given this name in honor of the Prince of England!

Moved to the lobby. Seemed folks were on a mission. Almost no talking or interacting going on. Quite a few wheelchairs, and even more walkers. In 10 minutes there were at least 6 pregnant women who looked close to delivery – maybe a La Maze class? Maybe a clearance sale for obstetricians?

Walked in to the gift shop. There was an entire counter devoted to angels with little signs/saying underneath them or on a sash across their chest. “When you see sun peaking through the clouds that’s your loved one looking out for you.” (That was a wide sash!) The little birdie that lands by you…I couldn’t keep reading these. Who comes in to a hospital and buys one of these to take to a patient? “Hi, Mom, saw this in the gift shop and thought of you.” “You, what? I’m not dying.” I looked up and my ex had come back from the MRI. I was glad to get away from these morbid angels.

As I thought about this hour in a lobby, it hit me that we continue not to communicate with each other.  Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s aging. Maybe it’s cell phones. I left this experience feeling sad.

Goodbye Dan – Writing 101: Day Seven

Published June 10, 2014 by Liz Ault

Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take. Focus today’s post on the contrast between two things. The twist? Write the post in the form of a dialogue.

My brother’s best friend for years was named Dan. Dan and my brother went through the tail end of grade school, and high school together. Dan was a year younger than I.

I had my driver’s license, the boys didn’t, so I drove them to the HS dance. I had no desire to go in to the gym.

“Liz, I can’t handle walking up that long walk to the gym.”

“What’s up?”

“I don’t feel right. Something is just messed up. I’m so confused.”

“Dan, I don’t care either way if we go up there or not.”

We ended up making out, talking and hugging for several hours. Jim never knew.

That all happened about 2 years before their HS graduation.

Mom called me, “Liz, Dan has aids.”

Excuse me?? I had just had my first child, and had first heard of aids while I was pregnant. 1984.

My brother could not accept what happened to Dan – he thought that meant he might be “gay.” I couldn’t stop thinking about the long talks, hugging, kissing back in 1972 with Dan.

Dan was one of the early ones. He died while still in his twenties.

Life and death? One religion vs. another? Nope, tragic loss of a great young man. I dream of what he could have been. Life is precious.

Liz, meet Liz – Writing 101: Day Six

Published June 10, 2014 by Liz Ault

Writing 101 – Day 6: A Character-Building Experience. Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.

January 18, 2014, 12:15 p.m. It was a reflection she knew so very well, yet was seeing for the first time. The fine lines like webs stretched gently from the corner of the eyes toward the temple. The loosening of the skin on the neck seemed to happen over night. The feelings were very mixed. By the calendar, it was 60 days. Sixty long, agonizing, nauseating, and freeing days. In a few short months she would begin her final year of the decade. The final stretch to 60.

The 60 days was the freedom from an addiction of over 40 years. The highly addictive action of smoking cigarettes. Don’t let anyone tell you it is a “habit.” Biting fingernails is a habit. Cracking knuckles is a habit. Cigarettes are a crippling addiction.

The lines and loosening of skin is part of a process called aging. But that day it came in to clearer focus. So did the inability to easily climb stairs, pick up a toothpick dropped on the floor, or getting in to and out of a car, chair – heck so many things. Fibromyalgia mixed with osteo-arthritis made so very much difficult to do.

It was at that moment the woman in the reflection met the woman opposite the mirror. It was the day that everything changed. The Liz of yesterday met the Liz of today.

In the few months since they met, I joined a gym and hired a trainer. I became a gentler, kinder friend to myself. I continued not to smoke – and it will be 7 months soon. I greeted my 59th birthday with a smile and greater mobility than I have known in many years. And mostly, I am no longer a prisoner in my own home.

I like this Liz!

The Letters, Pt1 – Writing 101, day five

Published June 6, 2014 by Liz Ault

Assignment: “You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.” Twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

The Letters, Part 1

The workers have left the house. On the counter is a small stack of letters that were found in the wall. Some have been opened, others were still sealed. A single rubber band binds the letters together. The top most letter is postmarked June 6, 1944 from County Down, Ireland. These letters were 70 years old!

Suddenly she felt like an intruder in her own home. There was a sense of awe that these were found, and how well preserved they were. They were all to the same person, Miss Hattie Dugan, at her address. Her mind whirled. Gently she placed the stack in a clear bag.

A sense of urgency took over. She became obsessed, single minded and needed to get these into the hands of the addressee or a family member. The first stop was the local library to try to find this family in the 1944 city directory. It took multiple libraries before a 1944 directory was found. The 1940 U.S. Federal Census was next. When at last the page was found, she had head to toe goose bumps. There was Hattie Dugan, a student, aged 13. I felt like I could reach out and touch her.

The possibilities were endless in her fertile mind. The journey to find what might have happened to Hattie took longer than she had wanted, but her life would take a whole new turn. Stay tuned.

The Serial Killer, Pt 1 – Writing 101, Day 4

Published June 5, 2014 by Liz Ault

Today, write about a loss. The twist, make it the first in a three part series.

She went by the name “mom”. She had been married for 3 years and no babies had happened. Lots of stories of the different fertility measures used in the early 1950’s. So with no babies in sight, and an uncle who had just been ordained a priest, Dan and Bette had been moved to the front of the class. I was “gifted” to them on the 6th of December 1955. I was 6 months and 3 days old. It took a year in that state for adoption to become final. This is what I looked like before that happened:

Image

A year after I was placed with this family, my next brother was also placed with “us”. Then the UNTHINKABLE happened. Mom had two kids under 2 and she was throwing up every day. Catholic Charities called her to say they had baby #3 on the way. Mom said, I have my boy and girl and this is all too much. No thank you.

Turns out she was pregnant (betting you guessed that). She was sick for months. If I’d been a little older, I may have found pleasure in this.  Mom’s next door neighbor and dear friend told her why she was vomiting all the time. That would be my sister. The first “blood” child. For my mom, all bets were off. It became US vs. THEM. US were her kids, THEM were the adoptees.

I was too young at this point to be of much use around the house – that came later, and not much later. Three months after my sister arrived, mom was expecting again. She wasn’t happy with dad.

But by the time my brother (#4 kid) was born, I had been introduced to that infamous closet.

I was always told I was a very sad child. I showed little emotion. Not surprised. I was born to a single mother in 1955. Her mother had just had a lobotomy, and she snuck off to have me. She didn’t sign relinquishment papers until I was 10 days old. That blew my mind. No matter what my imagination did, these adoptions were sealed. To find out against all odds she held me over and over was overwhelming. But abandonment was a feeling that pulled at me for most of my life.

Catholic adoptions at the time were the most secretive.

Before I hit 5 years of age, I knew how to change diapers, feed a bottle, scrub toilets, rinse out soiled cloth diapers in the toilet, and use a toothbrush to clean the tile around the toilet.

The US vs THEM was now fully in force. By this time it was the turning point and a chance at a “normal” childhood was lost.

 

Music, Youth and Coping; 101 day 3 – Commit to a Writing Practice

Published June 4, 2014 by Liz Ault

Write for 15 minutes…

Precious and Few by Climax

December 8 1972 driving from home to a high school basketball game on a Friday night. All afternoon had waited to find out if there were any survivors of United flight 553. We had found out about 6 pm that my dad had swapped his seat on the United flight for a seat on the company plane with a co-worker. It was one of the longest afternoons of my young life at that point. This song played on the radio and I let the tears flow. My dad’s co-worker was one of the casualties of that flight. Can’t tell you what the score was on the game, or who won it. At mid game I rushed to a pay phone (they were big phones that hung on the wall and you fed them money) and placed a call home. My dad answered, I cried. That song still reminds me of that day and how close I came to losing him.

I am Woman by Helen Reddy

Fresh off the biggest break up of my life before or since, I yelled out this song every time I heard it. Figured if I yelled it loud enough or sung it strong enough, I would come to believe it. I was 21 then, 59 now. Just thinking of this song and letting my mind roll back so many years, I made a great discovery. I AM WOMAN and I survived (but that is another song). Looking back I realize more clearly than ever that I have always been stronger than I thought I was. Thank goodness!

I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor

Since “I will Survive” entered my brain stratosphere, and I’m not supposed to over-think, it had to make it my third song today. It was a theme song throughout my mid-twenties. So much to overcome and it was/is such a catchy tune.

Realizing that music hasn’t been such a defining thing for me as time went on. It was the thing that helped me to cope from early grade school until I married. Then life kicked into even higher gear, and I wasn’t around radios, etc. to hear the latest music. As my kids grew up I heard their music and watched them enjoy it or use it to cope. On the beat rolls on…..

Timer dinged.

 

The Closet – Writing 101, Day Two

Published June 4, 2014 by Liz Ault

Slowly opening the door. The house is old enough that no doors open quietly any longer. If I open it very slowly I can minimize the sound. Wow, just opened it. In my mind I’m taking a huge cleansing breath as I walk in. There is the smell of the plastic bags on the “off season” clothes that are stored here. The dust even from a closed closet is deep in my nostrils. The sense of smell has always been strong for me, but not here. Here it is about light vs. darkness.

Fall 1960 I was placed in this narrow “room” for the first time. I realize that when we are children, sometimes things seem bigger or smaller than we recall as adults. This bedroom was over the garage, so one of the largest. On the east was a closet that ran the length of the bedroom. It was quite narrow. Maybe 2-3 feet wide, but very, very long.

My first visit to that space was my mother placing me in the 1960 equivalent of a time out. She forgot where she put me. I learned to like the smell of the plastic on the clothes and the stair that led to the next part of the closet. Even the dusty smell was a comfort. SHE FORGOT where she put her 5 year old oldest child!

It was totally black. It was an inside wall, so the only light was a single bulb with a chain and string attached. I was too short to pull the string and light up the closet. I’ve said it already, but had to remind myself again.

The darkness became my friend. When I heard the words, “you are adopted and thank God not my genes that caused you to be xyz.” When my dad wasn’t home, mom would dig her fingernails into my upper arm, so it would be covered by my uniform blouse. That part isn’t for today, it’s for later.

My first reaction to this assignment was to talk about a beach in Australia when I was 25. Then I smelled the lilac trees. Then I thought about my 59th birthday and my mostest quietest place ever – that closet where she first tried to silence me.

Who do I think I am?

Published June 2, 2014 by Liz Ault

Still day one. Still trying to get my arms around the basics. Seems part of that is to discover or figure out why I’m doing this in the first place. My world is small, very small. There are only a handful of people in this small world of mine. But, with that said, there is a huge world out there. There are things in my background and experience that could help others. There are ways that I can make a difference.

I’m retired now. My last and longest job was in IT supporting the telecommunications infrastructure both at the home office and remote locations. When I left that job I was broken. The recovery was a slow one. It’s not complete, but I no longer feel broken. Not exactly fixed either, but most importantly not broken.

I kept diaries and journals most of my life. They actually helped me to cope with a very dysfunctional childhood. As an adult, they helped me get my thoughts together and “think” through what to do or how to act. The problem with diaries and journals are who they can or can’t help. They are only for me. Once I’m dead, I guess my kids will know more of my life adventures both good and bad, happy and sad. It’s time for me to reach out of my comfort zone. That has to be one of the perks of growing old. Worrying about the judgement of others lessens with age.

Some of what I hope to do is to cover some subjects close and dear to me. As I’ve muddled around the site the last few days, I’ve noticed a subject that has influenced me more than anything is adoption. When I used it as a key word I got pages and pages of posts about cats and dogs. Animal adoption events. Animal adoption experiences. Maybe I just didn’t enter enough information, but I saw nothing about human adoption. So, I’m guessing this is where I’ll probably start. There have to be people out there who want to share the adoption experience. And mine was not a Hallmark experience.

Another subject, or matter, or pet peeve is how little information is available about male breast cancer. I hope to be a voice on this also.

A year from now, I want to look back and feel like I’ve made a bit of a difference, even if only to myself.

Stream of Consciousness; 101 day 1

Published June 2, 2014 by Liz Ault

I’ve spent at least twenty minutes staring at this computer. Went out and mowed the back yard. Came back and stared at the computer. Smelled dog poop. Dang it’s on my shoe. Got up to clean shoe. Sat back down, stared some more. Guess I’ll get a popsicle – note to self, that was the last popsicle.

I’m working on the 39th of 48 crocheted squares. When those are done I have to do the edging on each square before assembling. I hate doing the edging. Oh, well.

What have I gotten myself in to? Well, not exactly gotten in to, since I didn’t pay for the pleasure/pain. Quitting is allowed.

Today is the last day before a new year. Mind is all over the place. What have I done this past year? What have I not done that I wanted to do? Sometimes I feel like I’ve sat still and watched a life move along. But on reflection there are some things, big things, that have been accomplished, yet so many things that lay on the sidelines. There are 355 days before it’s the end of another decade.

The sun is missing. The sky and air look green. Every so often the branches blow in the breeze, then suddenly all is perfectly still. The house feels like early evening instead of not yet noon. The dogs are both sleeping soundly, unaware that their human parent is struggling to write anything at all. Judge Mathas is playing in the background. He caught another person in a lie.

My timer is almost ready to ring. Twenty minutes is almost done. Then I can sit here until tomorrow and wait to see what the day 2 assignment will be. Or, I could actually do something with the rest of my day. May as well stay put, the noon news will be on shortly! Whew.