Writing 101

All posts in the Writing 101 category

Silence…..Isn’t as Quiet as You Think

Published July 21, 2015 by Liz Ault

You may have heard the latest “buzz words.” Silent illnesses. “What’s the matter with him?” “She is parked in handicapped and even has a placard, but she’s walking in fine.”

I have dealt with many silent illnesses for most of my life. Abuse came first. But the short sleeved uniform blouse was just long enough to cover the fingernail stabs in my upper arms. High enough that no one would see, but hell, even if they had, back in those days, the nuns never would have called authorities.

That was accompanied by verbal attacks. “You are so stupid.” “You will never amount to anything.” “I can tell you aren’t my blood – never would have happened.”

At this point, knowing that I was adopted gave me hope and filled me with despair. I didn’t fit in anywhere.

As an adoptee, I was much taller than my mom by the third grade. That stopped the half-moon fingernail piercing on my upper arms.

When I was in the first grade, my uncle, who was a priest, was the assistant pastor at my grade school. The nun who had my first grade class seemed to think it would impress my uncle if she found me doing something I shouldn’t do. Little crap, like chewing my pencil in half. Or, being called on in class to answer a question – and you had to stand up to reply – that was the day we were allowed to bring Christmas albums to school and I sat back down on the album. This nun took me on the walk of shame several times that year – leaving the other kids (59 of them) alone, so she could mortify me. I still remember 55 years later standing in front of my uncle’s office door as the nun knocked each time. I never remember what happened after he opened the door.

Grade school was finally over – only other thing of mention was my youngest brother was born between sixth and seventh grade year. I had one year of non-Catholic education and attended public junior high.

We moved the summer before I started 8th grade, so a new school. I was hopeful. But I think I was also cursed. I had zero confidence in myself at this point.

Got through high school. Shit still happened, but nothing to really add here. I went to several different local colleges. I was engaged by 19, so was trying to find something that I could to add income while he went to law school.

That relationship didn’t make it to the altar. And my next life-defining thing happened. I was 22 and raped. Raped on a college campus in rural Nebraska while visiting my brother. It may sound stupid to some, but I was so grateful when the term PTSD came into our vocabulary. I’m 60 and still have remnants of the July of 1977. Silence? Yup. Went back to my motel room and squatted in the shower for four hours. Hot water lasted about 10 minutes.

Fast forward. Did marry for about 7 years – never could commit myself longer than that. Too many ghosts. In that time I had two beautiful children. He was a reservist. His unit was not called up for the first Persian Gulf War, but he volunteered. I felt abandoned yet again. We divorced about a year later.

When I was 18, I ended up with a bleeding ulcer. I lost 4 units of blood, and received 3. The next year was hospitalized again with ulcerative colitis. I still deal with that. If you ever see a person doing a fast walk leaning backwards, give them the right-of-way – they are heading to the Target/Walmart/any bathroom and afraid to death that they will shit their pants.

I move forward to the 2000’s. Think my undoing started in about 2003-4. The great thing was that all IT people at my company were regularly given raises from 1998-2001. My salary grew substantially. Y2K was my friend.

Was in my mid-forties at this point. I was the only female in my group and also the youngest by at least 10 years. My supervisos wanted me to give up some of my regular work (PBX, auto-attendant and programming) to these soon to be retired asses. My spirit was stolen. When all was said and done, by 2004 I was a highly paid billing clerk.

My body ached. My joints hurt. And I was confused. My PTST kicked in even more hard core than ever. I just didn’t understand why my body was betraying me. In Friday, the 13th of July, 2007, I walked out the door of my work. Didn’t tell anyone I was leaving, I just left. It was about 2:00 (normal leaving time for me was 3).

It took many doctors and many appointments to be diagnosed with severe anxiety (silent), fibromyalgia (major silent), depression, etc. I was fortunate then I had a physician who was willing to work my case as a disability and it went through the first time.

I was on a leave of absence from July of 2007 to the end of May 2008. I was granted retirement. My LTD was fought for a year and didn’t succeed, but SSD did.

This brings me to more recent times. Since February/March I have gone to Urgent Care with total dizziness, vertigo and vomiting. Each time they saw water in my ear and prescribed antibiotics. GUESS WHAT??? Silence.

I’ve been diagnosed (dx) with Meniere’s disease. Brings silence to a new level. When I’m in an episode, I often can’t hear anything. The others symptoms vary with the episode, I don’t always have all of them, but even just a few bring my life to a standstill.

My other silence factor? I smoked for 40 years and in the last 10 years was just under 4 packs a week. I stopped smoking 19-Nov-2013, but still suffer from hard core COPD. And that is why I have a disabled placard for my car. SO QUIT F*CKING STARING AT ME when I walk into the gym or the grocery. OK??

SILENCE IS GOLDEN, except when it isn’t.

Advertisements

IN THE NAME OF

Published August 16, 2014 by Liz Ault

Walked through Ferguson, Missouri today. Actually went over night. Kids were bringing their own laundry baskets, trash bags, waste baskets into the store that was the “one” that Michael Brown supposedly looted.

Interesting as the Chief of Police Ferguson chose to preview his “naming the cop” message with a message of “gosh gee whiz did you see these funny pics of strong arm before he was gunned down?” Bad move on Chief Ferguson’s behalf.

KSDK decided in a stupid moment to release a picture of Darren Wilson’s home. No wonder the violence picked back up Friday night.

I may piss some off, but, I’ll take that chance. STOP LOOTING YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOODS!! The businesses that you are destroying pay taxes to your neighborhoods and your schools.

Biblical history – the chosen wandered the dessert for 40 years. The “we will overcome” folks have been wandering for over 50 years. Look at things differently.

Take up your mantel. Pick up your children. Move forward.  I pray for all. MOVE FORWARD! Peace out.

Fearless Fantasies – The Daily Post

Published July 15, 2014 by Liz Ault

How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?

Reading these questions there was no hesitation or thought, it was instant – by far much better with fear gone. I would have found my voice many, many years ago. The frightened little closet girl would have spoken up. She would have defended herself. Explained herself. Maybe even loved herself.

 Guessing this will make it into the shortest post ever….Great question.

Can’t Stand Me – The Daily Post

Published July 10, 2014 by Liz Ault

What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?

Video is the hardest. Audio – sound enough like my adoptive mom, that I figured it would finally make me fit in. Haa, haaa, haaaaa.

The video made me see that I was many inches taller than my whole family. The video made me see how my own siblings stared at my tall assed self. 

I always felt like I didn’t fit in. Each thing I saw made it uglier and uglier. I was just sure I wasn’t worthy of love of any sort. I was too tall, was too ugly, was too unlovable. Damn.

Video seemed to magnify the negative in my own eyes. Too bad it took me so many years to start to appreciate myself. I could have saved the younger me so much pain.

Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things we Treasure

Published July 4, 2014 by Liz Ault

For our final assignment, tell the tale of your most-prized possession. If you’re up for a twist, go long — experiment with long form and push yourself to write more than usual.


I’ve read and reread this assignment. Many thoughts on most prized possession vs. the things we treasure. They can be totally polar opposites. My “things I treasure” were my dolls, but they never were, technically, my possessions. They were Christmas and birthday gifts from my parents. They had strings. But still my most treasured. Also treasured would be my two wheeled bike – girls 24” Schwinn.

Possession would be my first car that I bought and paid for on my own. No Santa, no parents (okay, a bit of help from dad), no siblings, no nothing.

Conditions would be the more appropriate word. What came with conditions and what didn’t?

Technically my first car had a condition. Dad got it and signed all the papers, he expected me to make all payments, and then it would be mine. It was a 1976 Chevrolet Chevette hatchback. It was a lease to purchase. $3600 cost. $100 plus tax each month for 36 months. I also had to continue my own insurance. Once final lease payment was made, the title was signed over to me. I never missed a payment, never.

So, I think that would qualify as my first “possession.” By 24 I owned my own car free and clear.

I have to reflect back on the Schwinn that wasn’t technically mine, but gave me the first taste of freedom. My mom would send me with some cash to a neighborhood corner store for missing ingredients for dinner. Somewhere 8-10 blocks away from the house. When we moved the summer of ’68 the area was not fully built up. Oh, the places to discover and just get away from everything.

One event shaped the way I thought about possessions. What was mine or what was yours. If something is yours, it is up to you and keeping, selling, giving away or anything is up to you. Just you. Some may think, “Grow up!” But it had nothing to do with it. That’s a catch phrase that doesn’t deal with the real issue or issues.

I had moved out of my parents’ house twice. At 25 I was living there. I was also 25 when I lost Hoot (my grandmother). My birthday was always a day I felt life’s losses the most keenly. Three days after my 25th, Hoot died. No story here – no details to share, that’s not what’s important here. About a week after the funeral, after all out of town family had made their exits, I was getting back into my schedule.

Saturday was the day I went to practice with my bag pipe band. I was a bass and tenor drummer. We normally went out to lunch after practice. It was typically about 3 pm when I returned home after our practice and extended lunch. Later if we were in a parade.

As I drove down the street, I saw a Goodwill truck driving toward me. It looked like it was pulling away from my folks’ house. Turns out it was. Dad had decided that this was the day to clear out the garage and the attic. It was done without any forewarning. I felt the blood draining, and a feeling of dread.

As I approached the garage, I asked dad about the truck. He was pretty vague. I noticed immediately my Schwinn was missing. I asked about it – he said I had a car, why did I need a bike?

I asked what else went. He said he cleaned everyone’s stuff up. My bike was the only one missing. I went to my room. The floor below my triple windows was bare. Chatty Cathy, Tillie the Talker, the Beatnik doll, 1960 ponytail Barbie all gone. The Barbie car and wardrobe containing all her clothes was also missing. My room had been raped of everything except my bed, dresser, desk and stereo.

I ran to the basement, and my sewing machine was still there. Guess it survived since I made all my own clothes and did repairs to any clothing my family might need. I had purchased the sewing machine and the stereo.

I would have expected this from my mom. I was blown totally away that it was my dad that took these precious things.

Possessions? Treasures? They can be the same or totally different. They can be gone in a moment. I would have been okay in the long run if they had been lost to a tornado or other force of nature. Not from a force that should have been nurture for the previous 25 years.

I have 150 collectable Barbie dolls in my basement. Still in box – more valuable that way. I can’t enjoy them in the box or the basement. I’ve never been able to replace that loss – spent a small fortune trying to. Nor do I understand how it was all ripped away from me by someone who loved me.

Stay tuned – my posts are heading me toward some healing. Healing on my own terms!

Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin’ – Shower Power

Published June 30, 2014 by Liz Ault

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.


I had a mom and a birth-mom. I had a dad and a birth-dad. Never thought I would meet the birth parents. Spent most of my life with a fantasy life that would sound stupid to most. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to look like someone else.

Had a freaky call about 25 years ago. It was from a person who still belonged to the Midwest Adoption Triad that I belonged to when I lived in Omaha. She told me that she monitored ads run in the Omaha World Herald that had any reference to anyone in the adoption triad (adoptee, adoptive parents and birth parents). There was an ad in late February that said “looking for a baby boy born June 3, 1955 in Omaha, Nebraska.” This woman had called and was the intermediary between myself and the MAN who had posted the ad. The man???

I was ill-prepared for a father to search. It was always a birth-mother on TV shows and in magazine articles and books. Was freaking just a tad.

I always lied to myself that the reason I wanted to know who my birth parents were was so I had medical information. That wasn’t a lie, but was so fucking far from the truth it wasn’t funny.

Birth dad and I talked later that evening after the intermediary and I visited. This was the world after databases but before the internet. I was up all night. BD (birth dad) and I talked from about 10 pm on Holy Thursday until the wee hours of Good Friday morning.

He was newly “born again.” He said Jesus came to him in the shower and told him it was time to go find his son. Thus we come back to baby boy from the ad. He eventually contacted birth mother (not too hard since they were first cousins) and she said I was a girl not a boy, dang.

My husband, now my ex, was serving in the military as a reservist, who went to the Persian Gulf War I. He was gone when all this shit happened.

BD came here to see me and my kids. I was freaking out and afraid.  The kids and I went to the airport. I wanted to puke. I kept looking for someone who would be my twin. Twin? Damn girl. I was able to leave my kids with a teacher for a birthday party for her daughter – my kids fit perfectly in age.

We went to lunch. He started talking about this shower Jesus shit. Then told me about his dad’s and his own young sex life – in vivid detail. I didn’t want to hear about BD losing his virginity in his dad’s auto junk yard.

I didn’t want to know I had a half-brother who was six months younger than I. That after he and my BM had intercourse, he married my half-brother’s mom.

I didn’t want to know that my birth parents were so closely related. If I hadn’t already had my two kids, I know I never would have had any. My grandpa was my great uncle, my grandma was my great aunt.  I was the very stuff crazy shit was made of. I’m my own cousin and half-sister.  Okay – slightly exaggerated, but so fucking overwhelming.

I so had hoped to fit in somewhere. But turns out that was foolish. My BM met her future (and still) husband when she returned to college after giving birth. She HAD, actually HAD held me and spent time with me for nearly 10 days. Then she signed the papers and left.

When BM and I first talked over the phone, she was cautious, but warm. She shared stories, mailed me family history, etc. I flew out to meet her after I had met BD. It wasn’t long after that that she started to feel threatened by my letters and phone calls.

About two years ago, I called with an update on medical (she has 5 kids besides me and they have kids). She said to me, “What do I have to do or say to get you to leave me the fuck alone?” My reply? “You just did.”

Still trying to recover.

Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View – Twelve Sucks

Published June 30, 2014 by Liz Ault

Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.

Her name is Jo-Anne. I only know because my parents talk. She has a daughter, Mary Kay, who is in my class. Mary Kay picks up where the teachers leave off on the teasing. She makes sure it follows me home from school – the opposite of the lamb following to school one day.

Jo-Anne has six kids now. She is very short. Even at 12, I am taller by quite a bit. Her yard is a semi-circle, so I can sit right here and she probably won’t even notice I’m here. Today her eyes look tired. She has funny clumps of blue bulging out of her calves. I’ve heard those are called vercose vanes. Those are strange words. They mean she is on her feet all day. 

She has kind eyes. I wish when my mom looked at me they looked the same way. So gentle. 

Her young son, Tommy, is in the yard. “Mommy, mommy, don’t leave.” “Tom, you will be fine, your sister will take care of you, I’ll be back in an hour.”

I see fear in Tommy’s eyes, but know his mommy will never let him down.

Wow, Mary Kay just came out of the house. She has called her cousins from up the block to play baseball. Looks like I’ll be the adopted home plate. Why do I keep doing it? Why do I keep wanting to feel like I fit dam in the whorl?

Guess I’ll go in the house. Or maybe stay out and have everyone laugh. Can I be thirteen soon?