Tales of a Nearly 49 Year Old Nothing

Listen to me! Think what it is like to have most of your life ahead and be told you are obsolete! Think what it is like to feel attraction, desire, affection toward others, to want to tell them about yourself, to feel that assumption on which self-respect is based, that you are worth something, that if you like someone, surely he will be pleased to know that. To be, in other words, still a living woman, and to be told that everyday, that you are not a person, but a joke. Well, I am a bitter joke. I am bitter, and frustrated, and wasted, but don’t you pretend as you look at me, 43, fat, and looking exactly my age, that I am not as alive as you are, and that I do not suffer from the category into which you are forcing me. Zoe Moss-It Hurts to be Alive and Obsolete: The Ageing Woman

In the conference room, I sat in a chair without arms to accommodate my hips and ass made too large from stress eating. The food I put in my mouth seems to be the only control I have these days. I hate that I have no control, hence the reason I’m sitting in a sterile conference room on a Monday morning, with the HR Manager and my team lead. I was feeling confident about the performance improvement plan that I’d been on for the last sixty days, as my job performance and accuracy had been increasing. That was until they began to speak. I was told that I’d failed it and would be removed from my position immediately. It had been decided by the team lead and her supervisor that there was no way I could continue the momentum of my accuracy rate of 97%. I also wasn’t approving at least 30 reports a day, so they were going to immediately move me another position.

The HR Manager slid a sheet of paper in front of me and ask that we read through it together. This was difficult for me as I was in tears, and trying to digest all of what was being discussed. In summary, the settlement agreement would allow me to stay long enough to be eligible for full retirement from the U, but I could not be hired into the my current placement  ever again. Here I was, almost 49, single, fat, no higher education, a recovering addict, mother of grown children and grandmother, being told, bitch, you got to go!

They sent me home to read the agreement and consult with a lawyer before I signed it. I did that, but I also thought about how I’d gotten here. Part of the reason I was here was because I was an addict that had ruined my work reputation while I was trying to kill myself with drinking and other self destructive behaviors. I also had shown too much of my personality while at my new job. I laughed too loud, I joked too much, and I was too friendly. I didn’t focus enough on the work at hand, and that caused my managers to look at me negatively. I was scrutinized every time I made a mistake, but I owned the errors.

The next day I went back to work. I went back to my old desk and packed up my crap. I was smart when I moved to my new location and didn’t place too many personal items on my desk. I swear, I instinctively knew that I shouldn’t get too comfortable. And I never was…

I was told by the team lead and her manager that I would make the announcement to my colleagues that I was moving. And I did, with a smile on my face and positive lilt to my voice. But, if they could have seen inside of my body while I spoke to them, they would have seen a maze of jangled nerves, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and racing thoughts skittering around a brain in early recovery from alcoholism.

I took my medicine though, and I walked my chair and box of belongings down to the first floor.

My former supervisor handed me off to my new supervisor. The new supervisor greeted me with such positivity and warmth, I was so overwhelmed that I started to cry. I kept my head down to hide the tears, and went about the task of setting up my new work space. I put up a couple of photos of my grandson, but now that I’ve been in the job a few weeks, I’ve removed them. I’ve decided to keep my work space neutral. To keep the desk space clear of clutter, and to keep focused on learning my new job.

I’ve learned that I’m expendable, because of my personal and work history, and my age. I’m obsolete. I’ve married and divorced. I’ve bore children and raised them. I’ve worked at the U since I was 20 and I’ve worn out my welcome at nearly 49. I’ve nowhere to go from here. I guess what I should say is, I don’t know where to go. I’m so unsure of myself and I wallow in anxiety and depression everyday. I’m not young, but I am not old. I am not book smart but I am not dumb. However, because of previous errors in my life, I will always viewed as not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough. Never enough.

My daughter has told me to buck up and deal with it, but my tender heart continues to be crushed with sadness and fear, every time I try to look into the future. Because honestly, I see no future for me. Tell me, wouldn’t you be scared if that’s what you saw when you looked ahead, was nothing?

I want to feel vibrant and alive again. I want to feel stable. I want to feel hope again! To sparkle. Unfortunately, I don’t even know what to do or where to begin this process.

Actually, I think I’ll start here. I pray that this is my future, and I pray that I find my way home…

 

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The Darling Buds of May

Darling buds of May

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 18-Shakespeare

I stood outside with a purple dog leash wrapped around my left wrist. I patiently waited for the dog to finish feasting on the fresh crop of green grass that I was sure he was going to pee on. My mind wandered back to last spring and how I had missed out on getting the chance to watch the barren trees bud and begin to sprout leaves.  It was also impossible for me to even see my favorite flower the lilac, bloom. I missed their radiant scent permeating the air around me.  I missed walking barefoot, branch cutters in hand and cutting off as many branches as my arms could hold. I missed stealing them from other people’s yards and placing them in vases all over my kitchen and living room. Oh how I missed my favorite season, the one of rebirth. 

While Eddie continued his inspection of the yard, I looked above my head at the branches and saw the darling buds. It wasnt May yet, but I was so thankful for the unseasonably warm weather we’d had and the early burgeoning of said buds. The green, brown, red and gray of them too. I reached up pulled the branch closer to my face and took in the scent of new and dirty life. 

To my right and  down the drive, there are lilac bushes. I won’t get to see them bloom again this summer, because of another ankle surgery that will leave me housebound. But at least I get to see the darling buds of May, only they are out in April. It seems that God is giving me back my favorite season only a little at a time. Maybe it’s His way of making sure I don’t take it for granted ever again. 

For now I will love the scent of spring and the buds of new life. I can’t say that this is the beginning of life for me or if it is the end. All I can say is that it is spring and I will rejoice in it. Dear Reader, go outside, and smell the scent of spring. Revel, in the light and life of newness. Revel, in this thing we call life. 

Amen. 

My Body Bathed in Moonlight

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It wasn’t long after I’d graduated from high school and broken things off with my first fiancé that I began to run a little wild. I met up with G. at a party but I’d known him since he was a freshman in high school. He was a senior and a jock so we really didn’t run in the same circles.  That’s not entirely true, I ran in any circle I wanted to, seeing as I was a chameleon and all.

G. brought me a drink, a cheap brand of beer most likely. We sat and chatted while other party goers took turns doing lines of cocaine off a huge mirror that had been placed on a dining room table. I’m not sure if G. was into coke or not, but that drug scared the hell out of me. Our poison of the evening was alcohol, though we didn’t begrudge anyone else for choosing to snort lines off a mirror for five bucks a pop.

One beer turned into three and our tongues loosened. The conversation turned dirty and I saw a glimmer of mischief in his eyes. I gladly returned a devilish look and answered yes to his request to take me to bed. Walking hand in hand we quietly retreated to a friend’s apartment just a few doors away. We wasted no more time with pleasantries and innuendo. He produced a condom and I grinned from ear to ear. I’m pretty sure I rolled that condom onto his cock with my mouth.

It was a long time ago so I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember having a lot of fun. I don’t ever remember laughing so much and feeling such comfort while completely naked. His body was beautiful, athletic and lithe. I lay underneath him enjoying the weight of his body on mine. The outstanding feeling of his hardness moving in and out of me. I arched my hips up to meet his thrusts when he stopped suddenly, and rolled off of me. There I was splayed before him, completely naked and vulnerable. My breasts and midriff were lit faintly by the moonlight streaming in a nearby window.

‘Fuck, you’re body is beautiful’, he said.

I was tongue-tied by his comment. No man had ever looked at my naked body with such reverence before. All I could manage was a smile that I hoped he could see in the moonlight of his friend’s bedroom. I pushed him onto his back and straddled his waist as I guided his cock back into me. Sweet Jesus, how he filled me completely.

Our bodies spent, we laid in bed and cracked jokes. I think we might have even shared another beer. As we dressed, we heard his friend S. come home. The poor boy was so drunk, I think he banged his arms and torso on every wall as he stumbled to his bathroom. S. threw up into his garbage can as G. and I walked out of the bedroom.

‘Hey Renee, how the fuck are you?’,  he asked.

‘Better than you’, I giggled.

G. and I helped S. into bed, he whined incoherently about something and passed out almost as soon as his head hit the pillow. G. and I headed back to the party a few doors down. We didn’t exchange phone numbers and we never saw each other again. I can’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed, but sometimes sex is just that, sex. It was fulfilling and beautifully dirty.

I did see G. a few years later, at a little family restaurant in Saline. I walked in with my future husband and sat down in a booth. I looked up and there was G. grinning a devilish grin. The blood rushed to my cheeks and sex as I smiled back at him. I might have even said hello. I remember thinking what a delicious secret G. and I had.

I wonder, if I saw him now, would my body react the way it did 28 years ago? I’d like to think it would. I also wonder where he is now. I hope he’s happy. And I also hope he tells the woman he’s with now how beautiful she is.

Oh, Love

I witnessed the most beautiful sunrise this morning. I hope you did also, she texted.

I did, he typed back.

There was so much more she wanted to say to him, but the sun coming up was all she could think of. She wanted to say come live with me. To say she couldn’t live without him. That all she wanted to do was go to sleep, and feel the warmth of his body next to hers.

I hate my life, but I get up every morning and deal with it, she typed.

He didn’t respond right away, but she knew what he was thinking. He wondered what happened to his Sunshine and the only light in his otherwise mundane life.

He replied simply, we all are trying to muddle through.

At least we enjoyed the sunrise, she quickly responded.

His final response was an emoticon, a winking smiley face. She sent back an emoticon kiss, snapped on her computer and began her workday.

They wished for each other on those sunrises. Maybe someday they’d get the chance to watch one together.

 

Living a Full Life

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“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.
C. JoyBell C.

A few years ago I went through a major weight loss transformation and I became addicted to working out. I found that it didn’t bring the world to my feet and it most certainly didn’t bring me happiness. Sure, I liked the looks I got from men and women. I loved the highs of working out. But I was still looking for something to make me complete.

Since my injury, I’ve gained weight because I haven’t been able to move much. I hated being sedentary. It felt like prison. I ate a lot, but found that it didn’t bring me happiness. It didn’t stave off the desperation I felt, and the extreme loneliness. I’ve been trying my very best not to beat myself about it. I won’t.

I have begun eating healthier and the weight is coming off. I place my feet in gym shoes and set about walking the sidewalks of my apartment complex at least five times a day. I’m building stamina so that I can walk to the bus stop to get myself back to work in early August. Physical therapy is grueling but worth it.

I’ve decided I will not become addicted to food or the gym again. I will not worry about every piece of food that goes into my mouth. I will be mindful of my eating, but I will not beat myself up about having a piece of cake. A full life for me means walking outside in the fresh air, biting into a ripe nectarine, or watching my dog carry a stick that’s bigger than him. Yes, that’s a full life.

Two Days Til Touch Down

Pushing Forward

‘You look so pretty’, I told Lo as she walked up the stairs.

‘You do too’, she replied. ‘Why are you wearing a dress?’

‘Because none of my shorts fit.’

‘They will again, ya dork.’

I gave her a tiny smile while I put the brakes on my chair and lifted it over the threshold of my apartment door. I have to admit, I feel pretty bad ass when I do that. Who knew I’d be able to lift a wheelchair while standing on one leg? I stood at the top of the stairs as Lo walked past me and took my chair down the stairs. I laughed as she banged the damn thing down every step. She laughed as I hopped on one leg down those same steps. I’m sure my neighbors hate all the noise I make. When I run into The Old Lady that lives beside me, she often gives me the stink eye for absolutely no reason. Bitch! I digress.

Lo waited for me at the bottom of the steps. I hopped and fell into the chair.

‘I’m so damn sick of this shit!’

‘Think about how I feel’,  Lo exclaimed. ‘I have to carry that damn chair of yours everywhere.’

We laughed as I hopped yet again and maneuvered into the passenger seat of her car. As we traveled to Saline, we caught up on the events of the night before. She went to visit a mutual friend of ours and I hung out with Bette. I tried not to cry while she told me of her happiness. I sat next to her and smiled, but behind my sunglasses the tears flowed.

‘I often think it would be easier on everyone if I died in the accident.’

‘Nae, God saved you for a reason.’

‘What is that reason though?!’

I for reasons I can not fathom think it would have been easier if I’d died. My family and friends would have grieved, and I wouldn’t have felt any more pain or loneliness. I would have stopped incessantly crying, or the constant wishing for things that are never going to come to me.

‘Lo, I feel so broken.’

‘Honey, we are all broken, in our own way.’

‘At least you have the prospect of someone to love you.’

God saved you in that accident. He hasn’t shown you the reason you were saved, because you’re not open to Him.

Our conversation died when her phone rang. I sat with my hands crossed in my lap and tried to compose myself. Rolling down the window, I let the fresh air dry my tears. I inhaled the scent of summer and freedom. All of a sudden, I was slammed with the urge to tuck and roll out of Lo’s car and find a pool to jump into. Wheelchair and advisement from my surgeon be damned! How I’ve missed my rebel spirit.

Before grocery shopping we met T at Cancun for lunch. I was so glad I’d done my hair and makeup. I felt pretty, even though I was sitting in a chair, and had gained so much weight while I’ve been recuperating. T’s daughter joined us and Lo and I made sure to talk about inappropriate things while we we ate. Sex was often the topic. T admonished us more than once, which seemed to make Lo and I act even more lewd. T’s daughter didn’t seem to mind, though she did blush a time or two. The young woman was so fair complected, I bet one could see her red glow from a mile away. She had a gentle but guarded smile, and all I wanted to do was hug her.

At Wally World, Lo brought around scooter for me to shop with. I drove the thing like a pro. I didn’t have my brace on and was constantly hoping other shoppers didn’t think I was using it because I was too fat to walk. I have no idea why I gave a shit what perfect strangers thought of me driving around in a Walmart scooter, but I did. I made sure to smile at the people that stared at me. Often, I balanced on one foot to grab items from a high shelf. Lo may have to drive me, but I did my very best to be independent when shopping.

After checking out, Lo took me home. I waited while she took my groceries up to my apartment and placed them on the table. Her car radio blared because we needed to hear how the Tigers game would end. While Martinez struck the ball with his bat, I raised my face to the sun and breathed in my last bit of summer and freedom for the day. The Tigers won while she wheeled me to my door. She dragged my wheelchair up the stairs, and I went up the steps on my butt. I slid into my chair like Lieutenant Dan and lifted that damn chair over the threshold on one leg. My BFF and I hugged and said our goodbyes.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the last time I would be lifting my chair over the metal molding in my apartment doorway. It was the last time Lo Lo would have to drag my chair up and down the stairs. It was the last time I would have to take my wheelchair on a shopping excursion. It was the last time she’d have to push me around in my chair while I stubbornly tried to push it myself.

Two days till touch down…I hope I find out why God saved me on that snowy night in March…Maybe it’s something as simple smelling the aroma of summer and freedom…Maybe it’s for something greater…Maybe it’s to experience the joy of becoming a grandmother…Maybe, maybe, maybe…

A Final Rendezvous With Renee

In my Dreams

These days words leave me hollow like a rotting tree stump. It may be dying, but there’s life buzzing in it anyway. Insects and animals colonize within, while the stump slowly decays and becomes one with the earth again.-Heath

I’m hollow. An empty vessel. Spent. And my story has been told. Every single one of my posts have helped bring me peace. I’ve poured my heart into every word I’ve written. Doesn’t matter if the story was real or fiction. I still bled on these pages.

The fictional stories have all had some grain of reality. A real person. A need. A want. A longing and desire. I have never created characters. I’ve created living, breathing people. Maybe someday I’ll tell you the origin of some of them, but probably not.

My journal entries, now those were something weren’t they? They taught me a thing or two about over sharing. Without them, I would have never learned about this gift that I have. It’s a curse too. See, once you begin to write,  it controls you. You immerse yourself in fiction because reality is too much to bear.

Sometimes words came so fast, I couldn’t write or type them fast enough. I was obsessed, to say the least. Photographs and paintings brought forth words and stories. I never realized how much I had to say.

My first fictional piece was called Ascent. About a girl that wanted to die. She didn’t though. Her newly discovered wings saved her as she began to plummet toward the sea. Little did I realize I was the one sprouting those metaphorical wings.

My writer, he pushed me to write for Friday Fictioneers. What began as a lark proved to be a much needed exercise in discipline. My writer fled, but I stuck with FF. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields has been a terrific mentor. I’m honored she worked so hard with me. I adore her for every criticism and kudos. My best flash fiction story was, The Invisible Man. I may submit it to Narrative Magazine. They’ve rejected my work before, but you never know what can happen.

I’ve had five short stories published by EtherBooks. Alan and Melissa from Ghost, and Damon and Rhiannon from Sounds will always be my best creations. The stories are still available for download on your iPhone or Android phone. The app is free, so please download and critique my stories.

‘The Ghost of a Great Love’ 

‘A Night Swim with Marilyn’ 

‘Dawn at Antietam’ 

‘Sounds of Orioles and the Taste of Lemonade’ 

‘On a Hot Summer Night’ 

Sometimes God Sits on a Stoop is a favorite recent post. I saw the face of God that day. I’ll never forget Curt, or his story.

I’ll keep the blog active for awhile, but don’t be surprised if one of these days it’s gone. Like me, she is a force of nature that can’t be contained.

Real life is waiting. I’m going to live it. I suggest you do the same.

Love,

Sparkly Girl

P.S. Don’t hate on me for posting the 1D video. This song is the shit. Even if it’s sung by a British boy band.

P.P.S. How can I forget Rory, my brother in arms? My world will never be the same now that you’re in it. I love you.

Although I am broken, my heart is untamed, still
And I’ll be gone, gone tonight
The fire beneath my feet is burning bright
The way that I’ve been holding on so tight
With nothing in between
The story of my life…

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Woman in WoodsNot all who wander are lost….-J. R. R. Tolkien

I awoke at nine last Sunday morning intent on spending at least an hour in bed reading a book that Harry recently gave me titled, Telling True Stories. Seems he’d found it in the bargain bin at a bookstore (Harry is a very, shall we say, thrifty man.) and knew that I would adore reading it.

As I snatched the book from the nightstand, my text alert chimed. Seems my young friend Cami needed me to check in on the animals where she was house sitting.   After my positive reply, I put the book back with plans to read a chapter or two before bed that night.

Once showered and dressed, I set out on my adventure. Travel to Plymouth, a little town east of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The fall day was flawless and the sun shimmered with an unusual brightness for this time of year. My left hand lightly gripped the steering wheel. The diamonds in my thumb ring,  displayed tiny prisms that danced around and dazzled my eyes. I chose not to wear my sunglasses. I wanted to delight in the radiance of the day.

Acoustic Brunch on 107.1 was tuned in on my car stereo, and Serena Ryder sang about a Brand New Love. I depressed the automatic window button and let the wind rush through my freshly washed hair. I cared not that it was in disarray. Humming along with Serena, I felt such stillness in my heart. Contentment too, and dare I say, happiness.

I zoomed past trees full of vibrant color. Blazing crimson, and dazzling lemon and gold. Various colors of orange, like apricot and titian. The life of some of the leaves had expired and were the color of dust. Had I stopped and run my fingers through the branches, the leaves would have crumbled at my touch. My sky-blue eyes devoured every sight, and my ears received every song as if it were communion. I felt as if the gate to my life was finally open.

I displayed no symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder. There was nothing to stop me from arriving at my destination. I’d never been there before, but didn’t care. The quote, ‘not all who wander are lost’ came to mind and I began to beam, like the reflected light emanating from my thumb ring.

I exited M-14 and traveled from Ford Road to my destination. Of course, I got lost. Twice! Yet there was no fear to prickle the hairs on the back of my neck. I just went with it, and continued to smile and sing.

When I arrived at my destination, I was wildly greeted by two of the cutest dogs I had ever seen.  My spirits soared as they frolicked around my feet. They wanted nothing more than to be loved on, fed and walked. I did all of those things for them. In return, they gave me a reason to view the fall colors liked I’d never seen them before. With freedom. Without fear. With wild abandon.

The Sand Beneath My Feet

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Wrapped in a bright yellow sarong, I light the doorway of my ramshackle hut. The sun is beginning to brighten the sky and I can see the magnificence of my morning view. There it is,  my bliss. My light. My life. I carry a freshly cut piece of coconut in my left hand. The white milk drips and is sticky on my fingers. I lift it to my mouth and bite at the chalky sweetness and chew slowly.

Waves crash and my heartbeat flutters. The constant motion of the sea makes me giddy. It’s like the hustle and bustle of city life without being constantly run into by people. All of them on some kind of mission. Going nowhere, but everywhere. All at the same damn time as me.

But here, I’ve a feeling of unmitigated peace. My smile is as radiant as the bronze color of my skin and the blonde shimmer in my hair.

My family can’t quite believe that I made the transition, but where else would a budding novelist go? The feel of sand beneath my feet is finer than any red carpet that I could ever wish to walk on.

The wind picks up strands of hair that have fallen from the messy pile that I’ve carelessly placed upon my head. Sea spray settles on my sun dappled nose and cheeks.  I glide my tongue along my bottom lip and taste the tang of salt and whisper, ‘I’m home.’

Meggie teases that my freckles are age spots, but I don’t care. I’ll keep wearing sunscreen and pray that I keep aging gracefully. Who am I kidding? I will age, whither and die. It’s inevitable, and a necessary part of life. Until then I’ll write a story, or 1000 of them. However many I can.

I wend my way to my favorite spot, where I pray for inspiration and understanding. I lay pen to paper and let the words rush out of me. While all around me the waves tumble, seagulls call, winds blow and my heart soars.