Love’s Labour’s Lost

Robot Brain

“I’m on the outside, I’m looking in
I can see through you, see your true colors
‘Cause inside you’re ugly, you’re ugly like me
I can see through you, see to the real you”

“Outside” Staind

I texted a link to this song to my ex-wife, N____, Saturday morning. “This had me ugly crying”, It’s not like it was, “our song” or anything. I’m sure she has heard it before but I don’t know if she likes it or what. It stemmed from the text conversation we had Friday afternoon, after/during my outdoor, public panic attack.

“I’m having a meltdown” I know it’s not fair. She isn’t responsible for me after all these years apart. “What’s going on”, I told her about my freaking out after the simple job of changing the tire on my bike ended with me overfilling the tire with air at the store next door and it exploded. It’s pretty funny, but now I am still without my bike and summer is coming to a close. The bike expands my travel range 20 fold. The worst was the loud bang made like ten people at the store turn and look. I threw my hands in the air to say, “Yes, it was me” and picked up the tire to leave.

“Take a shower, it will calm you down”, “I’m in bed slowing down my breathing, my arms and hand are numb, It’s okay, I just fucked up, it was stupid.” “oh, good.” “The worst part was walking past all these people crying and hyperventilating.” “That’s okay, I’ve seen you like that before and I still love you, fuck them!” “Ha ha, Thanks.” “Listen to music, it helps me relive things.” “I haven’t been able to listen to my music, never know if it will bring up good memories or bad.” “That’s what I like about it, I’ve been listening to Pearl Jam, Ten, it came out 30 years ago today.”

Oh my fucking God! 30 fucking years. What happened? “I can’t do it, I can’t listen to anything with lyrics, I get too emotional.” “okay.” “I got Chillhop streaming on youtube no words just beats.” “….”, “How have you been doing lately?” “Pretty good, just today.” “You seemed pretty manic last week.” (I can see through you, See to the real you) “Just anxiety.” (I lied)

Saturday, I woke up and said, “Fuck this,” I hit the power button on the radio/docking unit that holds my iPod classic for the first time in months. Jesus Christ, how old is this thing? 2005? Still fucking works… No bluetooth, no wi-fi, plugs into the wall, charges the iPod but 4 D cell batteries if you want to go “wireless”. Ha ha, What the fuck?

It was okay, I don’t remember the songs that came on first. They brought back memories, but of course, they are my songs, I chose them. Then it came,

“Just last night I was reminded of just how bad
It had gotten and just how SICK I had become
But it could change with this relationship
De-de range we’ve all been through some shit…”

You know the rest. Fuck, The Violent Femmes… My first “true love” put it on my turntable the first night she spent at my house. It was new to me, I didn’t know how popular it would become. I liked it. I remember after it finished, I said, “Wow, these chicks are pretty good.” Ha ha, pretty funny. I didn’t really need to hear that, but not too bad. I think the Black Eyed Peas after. Something I downloaded the whole album cause it didn’t have any meaning to me and it was upbeat and funny. Good break. A song I got from my daughter, “Come on Over” Royal Blood. Good… First song she learned when she got really good at playing the bass. She was so excited the day she got the Big Muff distortion pedal so she could sound like him. She recorded herself playing and sent it to me through the phone. She is good. I recognized the song within the first few notes. She had it down.

Then I started thinking, this was probably a mistake. Every song I heard was hitting me harder. Then Staind came on and I hit “POWER” off when it finished. I was a wreck. I don’t know why. I mean, I like the song, I’ve heard it a million times… It never meant anything special to me. I texted the link to N_____, a while later she got back, “I can’t listen”, “Sorry”, “I can’t remember it, I just don’t want to feel sad today.” Okay, it didn’t mean anything to her either. I just wanted to give her an example of why I can’t listen anymore. Why was I so overwhelmed.

I figured it out. It wasn’t the song. It was what I was doing all last week and still thinking about. I was still planning on going to that party with the meetup group. “STICK TO THE PLAN”. I don’t understand. That wasn’t the plan. The plan wasn’t to blow up my own spot! Meet new people to go out and get shitfaced? Put it all on my credit card? The credit card is buy groceries at the end of the month if I need. Or something small I can pay off immediately. Going out drinking is not an emergency expenditure. And it would certainly overrun my budget by a large amount. I don’t skimp on partying!

The party plan was over anyway but I was still hanging onto it. Friday night I was changing my mind then I got an email from the woman I was texting about getting a ride to the bar. Okay? I’ve been downgraded to email? And it was an email sent through the website. I guess? The last I heard from her was Thursday, Her, “Great, I will text you Saturday and let you know.” The email said, “Sorry, I am going to the beach in the morning, post on the site saying you are looking for a ride.” Umm… Wasn’t that what I did Thursday? Isn’t that why she gave me her number and said, text me? I replied, “Thanks for trying Karen!” Whatever, some bullshit.

Saturday I was still hanging on the PLAN that wasn’t the plan. I was still thinking of ways to follow through. Even taking an Uber and possibly ending up wasted and stranded at Hampton Beach. Or worse, waking up a week later. “Where the fuck am I?” “How did I get here?” “Good, still got my wallet and keys, phone.” “How do I get home?”. I made up my mind after some serious debate. What debate? How was there even a question? Of course I’m not going anywhere. I’m not leaving the house this weekend!

My depression had hit just in time. It made the decision for me. I still thought I should be polite for some reason. I don’t know why? Karen wasn’t. The last I heard of the main guy, Ivan, was Tuesday when he posted, Remember, if you can’t make it be sure to let us know so someone else can take your spot. He was the first to mention carpooling to the general space. I never heard from him when I floated the idea. Maybe it was a good idea I changed my mind. I went to the website and posted, “Sorry can’t make it, really would have like to meet you all.” (I think I lied.) Doesn’t matter, a few hours later I got another email from the website, “Karen C. has cancelled tonight’s event.” That was it. No explanation. She cancelled? Still no word from Ivan, the guy who runs the group. Would he be in charge of cancelling? She is just a co-organizer. I guess that was fortuitous. Fuck that shit. I’m supposed to let them know ahead of time but they cancelled on 15 people at the last minute. I’m done.

I was lucky. After all my machinating, providence saved me again. I stayed inside for the rest of the weekend. Anxiety ate me alive. None of my techniques alleviated. Sunday I fired up the google machine and typed in “CBT for cognitive distortions” I’m no stranger to the concept. But fucked up’ed’ly, None of my therapists had ever worked on it with me. My last therapist handed me a printout early in one of our sessions about 5 years ago. It listed the cognitive distortions but said nothing about what to do. I told her, yes, I do all of that. I have a shitload of anxiety. She never mentioned it again. 5 years. Every time I talked about anxiety she said the same bullshit. “Just stay in the moment.” What the fuck? What if the moment absolutely sucks so much you will do anything to get out of it? My favorite was, look around the room and count 3 things that are yellow. Okay, That will help. My anxiety is going to triple cause there is nothing yellow in the room. Whatever, she was nice enough to talk to and I’ve had worse therapists.

(Got sidetracked) I found the “Three column layout.” I realized I have already been doing that in my head. One person said it helps him if he actually writes it out. I’ll try anything now. I got a blank page and divided it into three columns. I wrote my worst thought on the left. The middle was for cognitive distortions. I wrote, “Ha ha, all of them, no, seriously… End of the world, I’m evil, Worst person in the world, I ALWAYS do this! etc…” On the right I wrote out the logical thought. It was pretty lengthy but it made sense even if I didn’t believe it. It helped! A little… I went back and read it each time I started ruminating and it stopped. While I was doing it I thought, this will never help. Now I’m wondering why nobody ever mention this to me. Its not like an obscure technique. It was all the results that showed up on Google. It’s been used for years.

The plan in ,”STICK TO THE PLAN”, Is focus on my daughter, focus on my family, and don’t fucking blow up my spot! If I blow up my spot the plan goes out the window. If any of you reading my posts sees me making other plans, could you do me a favor? Please leave a comment saying, “STICK TO THE PLAN!” Thanks.

Synchronicity

Pendulum clock

Lunch with my daughter was fabulous! She is brilliant! I am biased, but it is true. The best part? We went to Five Guy’s! She asked me as soon as I got in the car, I hope you don’t mind… I said, Actually, I was kind of hoping… I got that big greasy, double cheeseburger I had my mind set on. I didn’t care what we did. She is a joy to be around. She is a person who makes other people feel good. It’s her nature. Delightful!

Afterward, I took myself on another bicycle ride. I was amped and lately it seems that every day is the best day ever. There was no way I was going to waste it. Third day in a row… 85 degrees, full sunshine, slight breeze, low humidity… Hampton Beach is 5 miles away, saying, Come see me! Intoxicating.

I burned the fuck out of my face the last two days. I’m like a a little kid. I hate putting on sunscreen. I relented because it would have meant certain death. I closed my eyes and sprayed. Hey. It worked.

I am really digging this riding as slow as possible thing. I enjoy it more than ever. I am still getting the hang of it. I catch myself pedaling as fast as possible in low gear. I am in no hurry. I will be going downhill, still pedaling. I’m not going any faster. I don’t want to go any faster. Why am I trying to go faster? I catch myself and slow down. Look around. Enjoy the view. There are so many new things to see and I have lived here most of my life.

For the past few weeks I have been noticing some unusual happenings when I leave the house. People have been smiling at me, saying hi, giving me waves when I pass, starting short conversations in the checkout line. Like never before. Speaking to me before I speak to them. I didn’t pick up on it at first but for the past three days it has been very obvious. I’ve been riding my bike down the central beach forever and I’m always making eye contact and smiling, but now instead of people avoiding my gaze, they are reacting in a positive manner. I couldn’t figure out what made the difference until today. My smile is real! I am genuinely happy and people can tell! I can tell. I can feel I have a big shit eating grin on my face and I’m cruising along singing a song!

Another crazy realization. I’ve been dawdling along the waterfront these days and about 3 hundred and 27 times I’ve thought, Who the fuck is this old broad smiling at? Me! She is smiling at me! We are the same fucking age, fer chrissakes! Here I am still thinking I’m 30 years old. Like, I never? These old broads are hot sometimes too. What have I been thinking? Like, What the fuck? What am I going to do though? Pull over on my bike and ask for their digits? I don’t know… I just might!

The clincher was when I got back to my town in the late afternoon where people are just sick of driving in traffic because all there is to do in this town is drive in traffic. I was still in the flow though. All week long I’ve been in the right place at the right time. It’s no big deal for me to stop at a red light and wait but lately I have been pulling “naturals” and hitting all green without slowing down or speeding up. I made it down the length of route 1 to the last light and hit it just before it turned yellow. My ass was sore and I really needed to make it home. I was so happy! The woman waiting at the red laughed at me as I crossed. The biggest obstacle was the major intersection, I coasted to the sidewalk, put my foot at the bottom of the pole and hit the walk button. BOOM! The little man on the light turned green and it was my time to cross. A woman yelled out her window. “You look really happy!.” I smiled more and said, “I am loving it!” and vibed on that the for the last mile.

I know I have had better days, but come on… This has been pretty fucking incredible!

Not So Fast!

Robot Brain

Every morning when I wake up I have to reprogram my brain to manage what I will be listening to for the rest of the day. I do it by listening to music. It replaces the voice I hear. I used to turn my iPod on as soon as I woke up. It works but the problem is the songs are too familiar. I’ve been listening to the same shit for years. I may end up with the same snippet of a lyric running over and over in my ears. It’s too intrusive. I like slow tempo chillout streams on YouTube. It doesn’t really matter which one. All the songs are similar. I won’t really hear a particular one all day. My brain will remember the beat and usually make up it’s own soft melody. It is fairly unobtrusive.

Recently I remembered something I found a few years ago. I searched 60 bpm (beats per minute) music, which is my resting heart rate. (That’s not too esoteric, is it?) I was surprised a million choices came up. The only one I could listen to was “Elemental healing sounds.” There is also some of the 528hz and Alpha waves. I’m not really into that crap but this is just piano set to 60 bpm. An hour is about all I need to do the trick. Listening while I read some blogs and write my own is quite relaxing. Sometimes it can last 24 hours. Yesterday I fell asleep for an hour in the afternoon (which never happens) and when I woke up, the noise was loud and rapid fire. It wouldn’t stop. Anxiety went sky high. I’m not sure what I did to calm down but it did involve eating a bowl of chili. I guess?

The active noise cancelling on the earbuds I bought only works when no music is playing. Couldn’t I just wear earplugs? It makes sense. If I’m listening to music loud enough to to block outside noise, how would I know the difference? It’s no big deal. I only spent 40 buck at Walmart for them. Before I bought them I read a few independent reviews and they all said don’t waste your money on more expensive brands. The sound quality is good but they keep popping out of my ears. Even though I tried all three sizes of silicone inserts. I still like them. I’m not using them for sports. I got them so I can walk around the house and not be attached to a device.

My daughter is picking me up to bring me to lunch in a few hours. Since she started driving she thinks that is the best. I like it. I don’t get to see her as long I normally would. I thought I would see less of her when she got her license. She is always driving somewhere. I remember all I wanted to do was drive. I was never home. I’m still excited and happy for her. She is out there getting it done. It does make me a little sad but I am glad I spent as much time with her as I could when she was growing up. I’m looking forward to lunch! Late last night she texted me to confirm. 🙂 Ha! I didn’t ask her where we are going. I want to be surprised. It doesn’t matter. I just want to see her. I’m kind of hoping for 5 Guy’s again. I could go for a nice greasy double cheeseburger. I haven’t eaten meat for a for a few weeks.

Nice! Now I have my head on straight. I lied. It takes me a lot longer than one hour to get ready for a new day. I hope everyone else has a good one. Try to do something good for yourself.

It Happens to the Best of Them

Robot Brain

Sunday, August 8th, 2021: Babs (Barbara) fell down and broke her leg sometime last week. I just heard about it yesterday. Babs is my ex wife N____ grandmother. She has been living alone in Florida where she lived with her late husband, Howard, before he died about 6 years ago. She is around 90 years old. She has been living alone by choice. She has family with the means to take her in but she is too stubborn and refuses help. She has been doing well by herself but I don’t think she will be able to recoup from a broken leg without serious aftercare. I’m not even sure she will be let out of rehabilitation after she leaves the hospital.

N____ booked a flight to Florida yesterday and was supposed to leave at 11am. Later she told me the flight was canceled. I didn’t ask her why. I didn’t want to stress her out more. I asked if she would try another flight and she said in a couple weeks.

When N____ and I were married, Babs and Howard would spend the summers living with us and the winter time at their house in Florida. Howard had a great career and retired with many benefits that were passed on to her, so she has not had to worry about money. They were always good to me and treated me like family since I met them. She loved to cook and always made sweet deserts. All day long she would “accidentally” drop food on the floor for Kelsey, her favorite of our dogs. No wonder he was such a porker.

They both had a great sense of humor. One day we had family at the house and people were loving their wine. A few of us were sitting in one room and wondered if they still had sex. We were laughing about it and N____, who is never shy, said she was going to ask Babs. Sure enough, when her grandmother walked through the room to get a refill, N____ asked her if they still did it. Babs stopped and said, “We’re old, we’re not dead!” We all fell on the floor! After that Howard came in and we told him what Babs said. He smiled and grabbed his belt with both hands, “Well, I better go upstairs and get ready.” We all died again! That was 20 years ago and I can still see the whole episode. I’m laughing and crying at the same time now. I’m going to remind N___ of that day when I talk to her later. I know she still remembers it.

Driven to Distraction

Robot Brain

My daughter went to the Green Day concert Thursday night in Fenway Park with family and friends. Her mom texted me videos of her having a great time jumping up and down and singing along. It makes me so happy she is out having fun while she is young. I texted her the next day, She said she had a good time. I asked her if it was the best concert ever. She said, I don’t know. That is her way of telling me no.

I wanted to see her but she had to work. Instead I took another 3 hour bike ride. The exercise makes me feel so much better. The last 2 times I have gone I discovered it is a lot more fun when I take my time. I don’t know why but for the longest time I was trying to go full speed needlessly. I was always on the clock, trying to beat my best time. I could never remember what my best time was but I was still trying to beat it. Last week I had to force myself to slow down and enjoy the ride. I realized I had been missing interesting things all these years. I was still trying to keep myself in the highest gear without too much strain. Yesterday I got down to the beach and thought, WTF? I am still going too fast. I shifted down to 2nd gear and kept it there. I was like, Oh no, what’s wrong? I’m coasting down hills and it is much easier going up the other side. It was very relaxing and I got to spend more time in the sun and fresh air and smelling the ocean.

I know the main reason I was always going so fast was my last bicycle had a speedometer/odometer that also kept track of average speed. I was always trying to raise those numbers. Now I think, who cares? I’m still going to get where I want to go. I want to do it again today but it will be hotter and I usually don’t take long rides 2 days in a row. My body is not sore at all today and I am already restless so I think by 11am I will be running out the door!

In other news, I don’t think the tinnitus so much directly related to anxiety. For a couple days I had minimal anxiety and it was still as loud as ever. You would think that would cause more anxiety. I did have some worries it might last forever but yesterday and today it has been at about 50 percent. Only getting louder after I returned home from my ride and into my quiet apartment. It again lowered in about an hour. It didn’t interfere with my sleep. My next guess is it is from high blood pressure brought on by all the new stress I’ve had recently. I have no way of checking it. If it gets worse again my next step is to go to a doctor where they can check several things and still may not find the cause.

I have been jazzed to get outside today since I woke up and saw cloudless skies and checked the weather app showing only the slightest chance of rain. It is already August and I don’t want to waste anymore of these beautiful summer days. My daughter is stopping by to drop off the wireless earbuds I ordered. I get packages shipped to her house because there is a problem of items being stolen in my apartment building. Boxes are left on the floor in front of the community mailboxes at the front door. Last time I had something delivered here I got a text confirming the delivery and went down within 15 minutes and it was gone. Assholes!

I’m still positive today!

Welcome to the World

Robot Brain

July 31, 2021, Saturday: When I woke up this morning I texted my daughter, “Good morning proletariat”. Then I thought, Maybe I should have looked up the spelling before I wrote it. I Googled and had it right, it also meant exactly what I thought. I got lucky because I used be so sure of these things. Now I doubt my memory but I am usually surprised. Unless I am having a huge brain cramp.

I was nervous all day about her first day at work for no good reason. She loved it. She made friends with the girl who trained her and they went to lunch together. I was surprised. She used to be slow at making new friends. I am still so happy!

I checked today’s weather yesterday and it is going to be another beautiful day. Again, I told myself I am going for a long ride no matter what happens. I didn’t really sleep and by 8am I was already making excuses to get out of it. Too chilly, little cloudy, wind is blowing the trees pretty hard. Fuck all that! I felt so good the last time I went, I have to do it. It is going to feel weird going for a ride on a Saturday and not be visiting my daughter. She is working again today.

Maybe I will ask her mom what is going on at her house today. I know most of the people who might be there on a weekend but I don’t want to invite myself over. We have known each other for 20 years and we are still friends. I get along with her husband. I have always gone there to see my daughter and I don’t want to put her in the position of having to say no.

Ha! While I was typing that my mom texted me and asked if I was going to see my daughter tomorrow on her day off. I was confused. I had it in my head she was working Sunday and had Monday and Tuesday off. Completely backwards. I don’t know why. I saved the pic of her schedule and I’ve looked at it several times. Another excuse to stay home today. I don’t know if I can make the ride two days in a row. Which is bullshit, I know I can and I don’t even know if she has plans tomorrow.

I definitely have tinnitus and it is getting worse. It used to be slightly annoying. Now it is front and center. I searched for a way to relieve it and found there was no cure. That scared me. I read people use noise cancelling headphones to help or low background music. I’ve been trying the low music and writing to take my mind off it. It was helping a lot but today it is loud. CBT is also supposed to help but I’m not sure how or where I could find a therapist who knows about it. I was afraid the magnesium was causing it and did a Google and found it is specifically used for relief. I thought it worked a couple of times but today I don’t know. It may not have had time to kick in yet. It is fairly loud and hard to ignore. I may have to invest in a pair of headphones.

I started worrying about how much they would cost while I’m sitting here with all the information in the world at my fingertips. I was surprised I could buy a highly rated set of noise cancelling wireless earbuds for $44 at Walmart. I was thinking they would be out of my $ range. They are on the way! No need to fret!

“Keep their heads ringin’!” Dr. Dre.

Space Exploration

My daughter starts her first job today! It’s at Goodwill. But, believe it or not, it was her first choice and she got hired two days after she got her license! She has been buying all her clothes at thrift stores for the past few years. Except her Doc Marten’s. She has started wearing dresses and skirts for the first time since she was 4 and started choosing her own clothes. That was a shocker. She would pitch a fit whenever her mom tried to make her wear them. But now she is into boys and has a serious boyfriend.

The Goodwill store is about a mile from me. Yesterday I told her I was going to come in and embarrass her. She said, “Please don’t.” I said, joking. I asked her if I was going to get the inside scoop on the good t-shirts now but she isn’t allowed to buy anything until it has been on the rack for a week. I like to go there once in a while because I can usually find an interesting shirt, never worn with the tags still on it. But still only 6 bucks. She is only scheduled 15 hours a week but it pays $11 per hour. I was surprised. I thought it would be minimum wage. $7.35 an hour which is ludicrous because it has only increased by 10 cents in 40 years. Here in America, the richest country in the world. That is a big Fuck You! to the common man. I said she will be excited to make her own bank. She has really taken to having her own car. She knows how to jump start the battery and check and fill the oil. She is afraid to do the coolant but she will have to learn since the warning light keeps coming on.

My anxiety is still under control. That is pretty cool. It was the first time in my life I really thought it could last forever. Now my biggest anxiety is the super anxiety returning. Now I am back to my little fears I can quash pretty quickly. I am having a newish disturbance. It started a few months ago as annoyance but now it is incredibly intrusive. I will hear short phrases or bits of the last song I heard repeating all day and night. I can’t fully fall asleep. I have had songs stuck in my head before but this is different. It takes over half of my brain. Strangely, I can quell it with deep breathing but I can’t concentrate on that and something else at the same time. Luckily a few days ago I discovered if I listen to one of the chillout or lo-fi hip hop stations streaming on YouTube while I’m writing one of these in the morning, I can usually hear it for the rest of the day. It’s not entirely unpleasant. The worst is when I’m watching television and they play a short clip of a familiar song, it just sticks. Yesterday sucked. There is a commercial for some product and all day I heard, “Build me up, Buttercup.” Over and over. I tried YouTube a few times but it didn’t work. I don’t know… It’s not really interfering with my life. I’m still taking care of myself and my responsibilities. I’m still focused on my daughter and glad I can share in her happiness.

Happy Days are Here Again

Robot Brain

Wed July 28 2021: I was quite proud of myself yesterday for making it through 2 weeks of the worst anxiety of my life. (that is saying a lot) I was happiest because I did it without drinking (since I’m a raging alcoholic) and only taking 1mg of clonazepam each day, although I am prescribed and and had available 3mg per day. I don’t know how I managed that. Every time I saw the bottle sitting there I really wanted instant relief. That would make the anxiety worse. (as if that was possible) I don’t know why I was so determined. Like I said I was feeling pretty good about kicking anxiety’s ass, until it came back unexpectedly later in the evening. That was scary because none of the techniques I used yesterday were working. My biggest fear was it would go on forever. It only lasted about an hour. Phew! I was getting pissed because it was interfering with the joy I felt sharing in my daughter’s happiness about getting her license and being out there doing her own thing. She is a very different person now.

Speaking of my daughter, she is doing great! She is the first of her friends to start driving and they were waiting in line for her to take her for a ride in her old school black on black BMW. It’s so old it only has a CD player for her music. No phone plug in and certainly not bluetooth. She likes it since she is into retro. She already has a pretty good collection of CD’s and wants to bring me to her favorite music store in Portsmouth. She has her eye on the next one. She has great taste in music. When I visit her the first thing she does is show me what she has added to her collection. I was surprise to see Jimi Hendrix “Are You Experienced” one of my favorites from when I was younger. The first week she was driving she and her boyfriend had a picnic in Prescott Park. I was surprised to hear that. It doesn’t sound like something she would be into. She made him peanut butter and fluff roll ups, his favorite and they had strawberries with sugar. When I left I told her how happy I was she is getting out there and doing her thing.

Tomorrow she is going with her parents, their friends and her boyfriend to see Green Day in Fenway Park! She is so excited. It is her first concert since the virus and she has never been to the ball field. She wanted to take her car but her mom won’t let her drive in Boston. I told her she is going to have the best time! I am so excited for her. Thinking about how awesome she is makes my throat tighten and my eyes start to tear up. It is a new feeling for me. I am so happy!

Let the Good Times Roll

Robot Brain

Monday, July 19, 2021: My daughter got her license Saturday! She is so happy and excited. We all are. We were texting each other the play by play all day. I was really hoping she would pass the first time because of the look on her face when she was describing how to parallel park. I knew she would ace the driving test but she wasn’t as confident about the written. She is taking me out to lunch in a couple hours! I can’t believe it. It seems like yesterday she was just a little peanut I could hold in one hand. Now she is driving around in her own car.

Family Vacation

When I was 4 years old I hitchhiked to Florida with my mom. We started at the north end of Rte. 1 and headed for the Keys to meet my aunt, cousins and brother who had driven down in a van beforehand. I don’t remember much of the trip. One thing that sticks out was we had to walk extra far in the woods to sleep in Georgia so we wouldn’t be seen by the police.

We didn’t meet up with my aunt and them because J____ turned tight and hit the curb and flipped the van on it’s side. None of the adults in my family talked about this unless we overheard pieces when they were drunk. Us kids pieced it together ourselves. When the van rolled my brother was tossed around in the back unhurt. A_____ got glass in her head from the driver’s side window. My cousin was 7; old enough to take the weed and stuff it in his pillow.

Someone got arrested down there but nobody can figure out who. I think it was my mom because I spent a year in foster homes. I remember I lived with a black family and the white kids would throw muck over the chain link fence and say it was shit. I knew it wasn’t shit. They were just standing in a swamp.

I lived with another family. I think they were rich. They had 3 kids of their own and me. They had a single level house with a good size yard. Right on the inlet. We could step outside the back door and walk in the water. We had to be careful for rays. That’s what they were always telling me. I could always see them. The water was clear. The older brothers caught a sand shark. Pulled it right up onto the lawn. Nobody knew how to process shark so they had a freezer full of chunks.

I got my wisdom teeth taken out. All four of them. I don’t remember; gas. They did a funny thing. Instead of putting the teeth under the pillow to get money from the tooth fairy. They set up a mason jar on the floor and a chair. I was to kneel on the chair and for each tooth I dropped in the mason jar I got a quarter.

They did another strange ritual. We sat around the coffee table in the living room; candles burning and had a seance. Looking back, I don’t know if they actually believed in it but at the time I believed they believed in it. I saw the devil’s face in a candle flame that night. I don’t think I slept for nights afterward.

I believe I was frightened that night because of a family I lived with for a short time before that. I don’t remember much of them. What I remember is their Southern Babtist Fire and Brimstone Church. Where I was a sinner just for the act of being born. And I had to repent or I was sure to spend an eternity in hell. Even with that, many are called but few are chosen. Even if you spend your entire life doing it all true. You may still burn in hell. It took me 20 years to get over that shit.

I know they couldn’t afford bail or a lawyer so I have no idea how everyone got home. I remember being so happy when my mom showed up after so long.