This was a classic joke when I was in grade school! We’d crack up every time. Do you remember this joke?
I’m all over the place today… I go on vacation from the day job at 1:00 pm today and will not be back until 8:30 am on Monday, November 6th! I got plans for writing, traveling, cemeteries and photography.
Also, decluttering! And maybe some naps.
I am trying to write this damn memoir, but everything is pouring out of me in little piles of shit and it is frustrating the hell out of me. I guess I should just write it down. I started one before, but that one is more of an autobiography and I am not famous enough (yet!) for anyone to give a shit about my entire life. But I wrote until I got to the really hellish part and then stopped.
Now that is where I feel I need to focus to finish this process of healing.
I got tunes and coffee lined up for my writing projects (I told you I am doing NaNoWriMo, yes?) to complete another book!
Have a great day my friends. I will see you from time to time next week.
My life was surreal until about five years ago when I finally met someone on the same frequency as me in any aspect of my thinking. Is there anything more refreshing than meeting someone who ‘gets us’ in any way? I don’t think so.
Back to my story.
2007 was coming to a close and I had recently started my new job. Money was tight and like an elf without toy making tools, I was worried about Christmas. To be blunt, I needed money. And I had an idea on how to get it: win it in a radio contest.
All I had to do was submit my name and a time and the radio station would do the rest. I just had to listen for my name to float across the airwaves in the DJ’s voice, call up, say I was me and voila… a guaranteed $100 with the potential for $500.
I walked in the park a lot on my lunch and this one day was no different, except that, I had a feeling. Sometimes when I get feelings, I talk to animals. And sometimes they talk back. I never told people this because people tend to not accept anything further than their own reality.
In essence, people would call me batshit crazy. But I do get feelings and for some reason, even to this day, ignore them. Nothing ever goes well when I ignore my feelings – intuition I guess it is.
I was walking in the park and thinking about that money and how much it would help me. As I walked I saw something pretty fascinating.
I saw a red tail hawk in a tree. Not ON a tree where they often are. But in a tree on a midlevel branch. Winter approached and most of the leaves were dead on the ground much like I felt my life was at that moment.
I looked at that hawk. He looked at me. I thought, ‘They’re going to call my name, aren’t they?” A voice said, “Yes.” I thought, “I’m not going to hear it am I?” A voice said, “No.”
If you’re still reading, this is an insane exchange to the average person. Who the hell talks to hawks, and more importantly when the hell would a hawk ever talk to a human? That is another story for another time. I am deeply connected with nature, and particularly hawks. I walked for another ten minutes or so, and when I came back by the tree where the hawk was, it was empty. No hawk.
After my gathering with nature, I went back to work and as I did my tasks, listened to the great classic rock tunes pouring out of my internet radio. And then, the DJ said,
“Time to announce another name for the radio station payroll of one hundred dollars an hour! And that name is________________”
Wait. What? I freaked. The station decided to buffer and cut out just as they said the name! They couldn’t have called me right? I mean that would be nuts. I even called the radio station and was going to ask if they called my name but when the DJ picked up, I chickened out and hung up the phone.
I kept listening (now that the radio station didn’t cut out magically) and the DJ said:
“Well, looks like Joe Smith is still on the payroll because Darlene Steelman didn’t report for work.”
WHAT?!?!?! The hawk was right?!
Oh. My. Freaking. Gawd.
I was devastated. Partly because I didn’t win money that could have helped me but more so because that was not the first time (nor would it be the last) in my life I didn’t listen to that voice. That voice has spoken to me over the years in various ways taking on various forms and that has only happened to me since I had my accident in 1996 when I lost oxygen and was dead for a good half hour. That’s a whole other story.
Oh, and by the way… that weekend I went and got a radio for the office because no way in hell was my opportunity to win money going to solely rest on the flakiness of internet radio and a message from a woodland raptor!
Have you ever second guess yourself and wish that you hadn’t?
I was born and raised in the city and I hated almost every moment of my life there. My grandmother lived in the greater northeast part of Philadelphia, and while still the city, it was calmer than my neighborhood. Plus she lived down the street from a section of Pennypack Park where I spent most of my outdoor childhood when I was at her place. Being in the woods was nicer than being in the city.
The cacophony of traffic, people, heavy equipment, and sirens was enough to drive me insane. My neighborhood wasn’t too chaotic, but when I got older I had to go to schools outside Bridesburg and there were more people, trolleys, buses, and lots of noise. A few times I cut school with a friend and we took the el train down to the Gallery in Center City Philadelphia and that was insane!
All the noise and business frustrated me.
Almost every weekend I would go up my grandmother’s place and despite her still living in the city, she lived in a less congested part and it was like a breath of only semi-polluted air. Then we would take a ride out to New Hope, PA and that was mind-blowing.
It was so quiet! Where was the cacophonyof madness that was in the city? Where were the loud vehicles, screaming children and occasional, rambling lunatic at Bridge & Pratt?
How could I make these twisty, tree-lined roads a reality for myself?
The stillness, the glimpse of a deer on the side of the road, old cemeteries and farmhouses and of course, the little borough of New Hope with it’s quiet, bustling Main Street was enough to instill in me a life goal of becoming a lawyer, moving to New Hope and having a cat – but no kids.
Life didn’t go that way and now here I am, almost thirty years later, back in school as I try to make my dream of small town, quiet living a reality. My husband and I are researching small towns in Pennsylvania because as soon as I get my degree (I am thinking Behavioral Science now) we are effing out of here! We live in a suburban borough, but it is still too busy for me.
Every Sunday, my husband and I take a drive out to a new town in the country and I love every moment of our adventure. Yesterday we wound up in Lehighton, PA and found a cool fall festival loaded with awesome treats, great crafts, and free parking!
I have a confession: I was a huge Madonna fan when I was little. I loved her! My mother? Not so much. I once asked for a BOY TOY belt buckle and my mother flipped. I didn’t know what it meant! Still, her belt buckle and slithering ways weren’t what lead me down a path of promiscuity. Despite her being ‘not what everyone thought she should be’ I feel Madonna really set the bar for a lot of women and girls because she had no fear. She did what she wanted (risque at times) and she was good at it.
There has always been this separate set of rules for men and women and people like her have slowly closed the gap. I remember when I was about 25, arguing with someone about promiscuity. Why was/is it okay for men to sleep around but not for women?
Anyway, that is a post for another day.
The point here is, EXPRESS YOURSELF! YES.
Why are many of us so afraid to express ourselves? I was always afraid because my mind doesn’t work like most other minds. Sometimes I believe I am a psychopath with a conscience. I love animals and bugs more than most humans. I love to write about dark and disturbing things. I have tried to write about happy shit, I have tried to love shopping and I have also tried desperately to love the color pink.
I love bugs, cars, getting dirty, football, serial killers (their minds, not their actions), abandoned buildings, barns, and farmhouses. I love it all! And I am still looking for a way to express my likes and loves into my art and words.
Though I haven’t painted anything in months, I think about it often. I mean, it feels so good sometimes to just let it out! Draw it out, paint it out, write it out, sing it out, dance it out, photograph it out, sketch it out, scream it out.
This post isn’t terribly fantastic (again) but I am on day three with this stupid migraine. The frustration I feel with this thing is palpable and only matched by my sheer annoyance that it is only Thursday.
To be brave. What does it take? I think most of us are brave every day. We just don’t bring it up. There is, after all, not much humility in bragging about a character asset. There is a hashtag going around – #metoo – in order to spread awareness about sexual harassment.
Not many people want to talk about being a victim, but we kind of have to talk about it. Awareness is a biggie in helping others and it is oh so brave to share a painful shame-filled story. Of course, it hurts… it hurts when I share my pain, but I know deep in my soul it helps almost as much.
Bravery isn’t planned. It just happens. The bravest this to be is unapologetically yourself. Every f**king day. Just be you. It is a wonderful thing. Be brave and say NO. Be brave and say YES. Be brave and just effing be YOU.
‘And it harm none, do what ye will’
Everyone should live by that rede. The world would be amazing if we would. It is braver to do the right thing that it is to be part of the crowd.
You told me I was brave
As you looked the other way
I had no way out
But had so much to say
I was just a child
And you were quite a man
You held my whole world
In the palm of your beastly hand
Now I am much wiser
As I look around the world
I am no longer a victim
No longer that little girl
*This is not my best writing, but I am dealing with a migraine today… Have a beautiful day my friends. ❤
Most people, I think, hear the word fraud and think of money or maybe counterfeit goods. Or maybe they hear fraud and they think of some guy preaching from the pulpit of a ‘church’ while he commands the plain folk to give money else Christ will be sure to make thou heathens pay for ye ‘sins.’
I got a real story about a fraud.
I knew this woman once: good looking, smart, pretty well put together and she could talk her way out of a paper bag (or maybe into one). Her charm was only exceeded by her wit and both were trumped by her smarts. Men were wooed by her – bewitched – as they fell for her wiles, but she only possessed these wiles when she was sober.
And sober she was not very often.
She was one of those women you may have seen at the bar: first, she is the picture of beauty and poise but soon after she starts slamming back the shots, she morphs into this whacky, immoral tramp that decides it is a great idea to flirt with your boyfriend in front of her own boyfriend.
Ugh. What a bitch!
Oh wait, that was me. I was that fraud of a woman pretending to be mature and just, all the while the alcohol would let the real me slip out 100% every damn time. I lied to everyone and anyone I could so that I could either be the victim, the hero, or the shining star set at center stage.
The truth was: I hated myself. I hated everything about me and I hated everything about anyone else that was just like me. Okay, I hated everything about everyone no matter what they were like. Nothing ever went right, no one ever treated me right, blah blah blah.
Well, how the fuck could they? They never knew who I was because I never knew who I was! It’s like trying to have a moody alligator for a pet. Sure, he is nice once in a while, but no one knows when he is gonna snap (your face off). I was happy for ten minutes but then someone looked at me wrong or maybe it was too warm that day and I didn’t get the right compliment on my outfit.
You’ll all pay!
So I would use my fraudy ways to get people to like me and spend time with me and then as soon as I was sure I had them right where I wanted them, boom. I would start to change, little by little, bit by bit.
I think the correct term is a NARCISSIST. I guess it is close that I was a narcissist, but, if I truly were, there would be no helping me without years of intensive professional therapy. Narcissists don’t recognize their demented ways, so I can’t say without a doubt that I was one.
All I know is that I was a fraud. It was a long, hard, winding road to get to a point of sanity and self-acceptance but I am here now. I work on myself daily and really try to be a better human every day. Of course, I have bad days (don’t we all?) but getting through the bad days helps me appreciate the good days.
People complain about pain, but pain helps us grow. It tests our boundaries and lets us know what we like and don’t like. It helps us feel when we’ve had enough. Pain shows us what we can handle and what we have to change.
Change is inevitable. Sometimes I hate change, but it has to be. I mean, nothing changes if nothing changes. Sometimes I wish it was still 1986 and I could get a ‘do over’ but then my life might be different right now. We can talk about fate, journeys, and predetermined destinations in another post.
I watched the miniseries on Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) and I felt sad. I felt sad because he was a man who was a genius who had been through a lot. He could have helped so many people but he chose to hurt people. He could have used his knowledge and pain to help others and make a difference. Instead, he used his gifts for malice. He lived in a hunting cabin in the middle of nowhere and that frightened me because I would love to live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Does that make me a psychopath?
I went to the park Saturday to take a walk and reconnect with nature and also with myself. I’m still weeding out stuff to write this memoir (which I already started) that is really a rough draft. I have gone through every event in my life so far.
I have been through hell.
But I am still here.
So my story needs to be told – not with homemade bombs but with powerful words.
I used to be ashamed of my scars, but now I am proud. Why should I be ashamed of things that have shaped me? I shouldn’t and neither should you.
Never be ashamed of your scars. They are a part of who you are.
Fashionable. Ha! What a riot. I have always been two seasons behind on fashion. My grandmother tried desperately to keep me up with the times when I was a kid and a teenager. “Oh, Darlene, it’s the latest fashion. Don’t you want to be in style and fashionable like all the other girls?”
I guess after seeing how much dirt I played in and clothes I ripped, she decided I was a mini version of her and gave up. I tried to get ‘back into it’ when I got older; but, after a while, I gave up because it was just too much work. How the hell do you women keep it together getting all dressed up, doing your hair, full face makeup, and ill-fitting shoes every single effing day? Do you love it? Does it make you happy? Do you even think about it when you are spending countless minutes, sometimes hours in the mirror prepping yourself for the world? Could you leave your house and feel just as confident without makeup and fashionable clothes as you do with them? I am not asking as a smartass… these are legitimate questions I have because…
To me, it is exhausting. The most effort I ever put into getting dressed up and looking nice was the first four months of my sophomore year of high school. By January? I was wearing ripped jeans, flannel shirts and going to school with wet hair and no makeup.
I am not knocking the women who do it… I just know the whole time Iwas doing it, I felt false. Like I wasn’t really being me. I was just being the version of a woman that society wanted me to be. And as long as I pretended to be the ‘woman I wanted didn’t want to be’ I would like myself.
As much as I admire all you ladies for your hard work, I also wonder about these things for myself. There was another time in my life when I couldn’t leave the house without makeup, hair styled, cleavage aglow, and the highest heels I could find, because me being 5’10” just wasn’t tall enough when I was in my twenties and thirties. I did this because I hated ‘the me’ inside and I felt like if I could fake the outside, the inside would merge.
I played that part for a while, but every day when I was getting ready for work, school, to go to the bar, whatever… I was annoyed the whole time. And at first, I was seriously judgemental about women who I saw often and were dressed and spiffed to the tee. I said awful things about you in my head and now, as I reflect on that part of me, I know that I was as envious as I was jealous. I felt like it was your fault that I had to dress like that.
I wanted to be like you! I wanted to get excited about picking out an outfit and putting on makeup and going to the nail salon for a pedicure. I wanted to get excited about styling and/or getting my hair colored. But now I am in my mid-forties and I just give up. It is too much effing work and in the end, I feel like everyone can see through my facade of falseness.
These days, I do get dressed up (a little) for holidays or maybe if my husband and I go to a concert or something, but even still, when we go out, I am not really dressed up compared to most of the other women I see. I’ve accepted this part of me at this point in my life. I am as comfortable not getting dressed up as some women are getting dressed up.