Getting My Act Together

Nineteen eighty-three found me floundering. Appropriate for my Bostonian roots. Absolutely Nothing was going well in my life. I was in a relationship that only caused both of us to drink too much. Little did I know that she was cheating on me, but as I said I tend to cherish ignorance, especially if I don’t want to make any major changes.

Yet, I knew deep down that I had to make some changes or I wouldn’t make it out of my twenties. I got to ring 1983 in with a double shift at the Tufts New England Medical Center. I was at the cush assignment: monitor the Biewend Building while totally empty. My biggest challenge was not falling asleep after already working eight hours, but back then I had a sure-fire method of staying up all night.

I had always wanted to be a police officer, my brief experience as a security guard in the heart of the Combat Zone in Boston, other occupations attracted my attention. I also knew that if I didn’t get away, far away, it didn’t matter.

With plenty of down town, journaling had a better chance of becoming a routine. It didn’t take me long to walk the thirteen floors, keying in two a floor,  didn’t take much time, especially when I ran the obstacle course of desks. I kept track of how quickly I could do the course and tried to beat my personal best. I had to come up with something that made the job worth while. The pay was okay. The benefits great. But the powers to be and most of the “force” didn’t want me or any females to wear the uniform, and they certainly weren’t going to give any of us a gun, which was fine with me. We all knew that I was short-timing it until it dawned on me as to what I needed to do or where I needed to go.

I had always loved to write. Off the wall stories kept myself entertained. I don’t recall sharing them with anyone. Journaling and stream-of-conscious writing was taught in school.

All through high school and my first year or so of college, I tried to become addicted to writing, but I was busy getting addicted to everything else, all the things that would help me to stay lost and confused. I yearned to get my act together even though I didn’t really know why or how or what it even looked like. I kept trying. For my constitution, sometimes I have to fail at something a few times before I take it seriously and dig in to do it to the best of my ability.

January 1983 I was ready to put single sheet writing paper aside and my old ways of journaling and get down to serious business with a spiral. Narrow Rule. 80 sheets.Maybe I didn’t want to overwhelm myself or perhaps this was all I could find at work as I borrowed office supplies. I considered a notebook and pens just a bonus for my making sure no one stole anything from them.

It wouldn’t take much discipline to not rip any of the sheets out. And it’s not like I couldn’t add single sheets. Sometimes I didn’t have my journal with me. If I were stationed to a tour that didn’t allow me a desk and a chair, I would write myself letters and then mail them to myself. I just made sure I kept stamps in my wallet. There may be letters in my journal that I’ve refused to open, like my own time capsule.

It took me six months to fill the pages of the spiral, but was able to find the identical spiral to have volume II. I felt like I was creating a owner’s manual for this life. Until I figured it out, I practiced putting my life on hold as if I were treading water. Treading water was my best stroke.

Avoidance is another stroke that I’m really good at. June 17, 1983 shows me how well I could avoid a subject even when it is staring at me and is larger than life in my face. I was reading a book about Imagination. I’d been told many times what a great imagination I had. Some of my favorite people had vivid imaginations. My Godmother, Barbara Clifton, was an amazing artist. She talked to the rocks that she brought to life as she painted them. Cats were known to stalk the rabbit she painted and put out as a door stop. On this date, I was reading the similarities of neurosis and creativity. At this point, I didn’t have any experience with anyone who was neurotic. I didn’t know that my  grandmother  was institutionalized at a young age and lost her hold onto reality.

It’s possible that by writing about Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalytic theories, this was a fool proof way to keep people reading my journal. After a page or two or three of note taking, most people if not all, would declare this boring and put it down. This wasn’t my strategy back then at least not consciously. It’s so boring that I can barely re-read it myself. It’s rather ironic that I’m reading about unconscious processes and unconscious motivation while attempting to find out what makes me tick. This is my main purpose of journaling.

In 1983, it was as if I were stepping onto the Yellow Brick Road and on the path to Get My Act Together.  When anyone asks me why I moved from Boston to Eugene, Oregon, I simple  state that I wanted to get my act together. Thirty-three years later, I’m not there yet. Either I’m really close or perhaps it doesn’t even exist, like the Bermuda Triangle or Sasquatch.

According to this book, which I probably borrowed from a  psychologist at the hospital, creativity and neurosis both originate in conflict and the human’s natural nature of needing to solve the problem. Natural instincts steer our behavior. My life  was stretched to the limits and the best I could  do was  act on survival mode. Every time I patrolled the streets, I had to keep fear in check. Being petrified took all of my energy as I tried to put it out of my mind as I knew that my radio and heavy Mag flashlight was not as useful  as keeping my wits about me.

How many times have I re-read this page and skipped over the word sublimate. I used to take words that I didn’t know and write them in my journal with the dictionary definition. Now I just have to click onto my computer screen and get the definition, but the words that stick with me are the words I write down. How many mannerism have I altered in order to match what I perceive as social acceptable behaviors. More times than I can count and more times than I will admit to. I could have used this book when I was reading The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” with all of his daydreaming.

I’m surprised that I kept reading this book after reading how Leonardo da Vincis creativity came from his conflicts over his homosexulaity. I did have to stop for that shift when I got wind the Sergeant on duty was gunning to catch me with my dog. I didn’t always bring my dog to work and it did help to have spies planted to tip me off. It never occurred to those trying to catch me red-handed to look on the roof of the building, but they were probably scared of the gargoyles up there.

The threat of a surprise inspection never came to be. The wild Boston night life can keep a hospital security department very important, much more important than a girl and her do dog.

After my friend Steve, Steve Yeoman, left to patrol his area, I returned to the book of creativity. From the looks of it, I need to refresh my memory on where the ego and id and super ego fit into my life since the notes I wrote about the book have absolutely no meaning without that background information. I’ve always been interested in how my life has unfolded, the influences, the choices. Makes me think of the Robert Frost poem, a poem that was put to song that my choir, Soromundi Lesbian Choir of Eugene, recently sang. Making choices and making the best of said choice.

Choices that I made even before I was born. For a long time, I thought that I was born a month premature was to get away from the alcohol my mother was consuming, which could have been part of it, but most likely it was the blood differences. Back in 1960, the blood type of my mom and dad played a critical role in my sister’s and my survival. How  a days a shot can  be given to the mother, preventing the body from wanting to expunge the baby or what was seen as a foreign body. My main running joke is that I came a month premature so I could be born a pisces instead of an Aries. My non-Aries friends find this funny.

Maybe when I look at his 1983 journal again, I’ll have written about something other than this Psychological non-thriller and see if I had a game plan on how I could Living a Life with My Act Together, though right now I’m starting to think that it doesn’t exist; I’d have an easier time finding the pot of gold at the end of  a rainbow than Get My Act Together. Until then…

me and Yang on 6-21-16 at 7.12 PM

Anniversaries of Nothing Special

The main purpose of my journal is to help remind me of my life. What did I do last year on this specific date at this specific time? I don’t live an extraordinary life. Yesterday, for example, aside from emails and journaling and watching the Red Sox lose, I spent the majority of the time in my vegetable garden. I took last year off, making this reunion with the soil and dirt extra special.

I can go days without ever needing or wanting to go off the “hill.” We live on the edge of the road known as Blanton Heights. High enough that I haven’t touched my bike in the dozen or so years we moved into the dome.homeandgarden040716

 

 

I have done a lot of work since April when this photo was taken. Due to some unusual warm weather and some part-time days, I managed to get crops in early. I knew I was taking a gamble, but my chance paid off and had corn knee-high by the fourth of June. I’ve got tassels on some of them!

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I can blame the sabbatical year for over planting, but I always over plant. I try to imagine how much room the squash family plants are going to take or how big the root system for brassicas are, but I lack that ability or perhaps I just turn a blind eye on the entire thing. I’m eating squash already. Do you think that stopped me from buying another squash start? Blue Hubbard aren’t as prolific as Zukes or Crookneck, but they still take up a lot of space.

I started this blog because Facebook created a On This Day page, which is exactly what my journal does but in a more convenient fashion. For me to go back year by year, I either have to look up the date in an electronic file, each month of the year gets their own document, or for the older years, I have to pull down a three-ring notebook. Facebook just might make my journaling obsolete, though there’s plenty of things I tell myself and not share to the rest of the world.

Four years ago I was slugging my way through more graduate classes to get my reading endorsement. Oregon doesn’t trust Language Arts teachers to teach reading. Four years later and I haven’t taken advantage of this special endorsement. Maybe this summer will be the springboard of doing something about that.

Abby081211Five years ago, Abby the Labby Number Nine joined the pack of two, Ricky and Lucy. Ricky had only been part of the family for a few months. I didn’t know him well enough to predict his reaction to an eight-week-old pup. For not that long, I called her a bag of potatoes, but it wasn’t long before I couldn’t pick her up. She never did grow up into the size predicted and settled on fifty pounds or so. She’s half Lucy’s size.

Seven years ago I dined on steamed beats, turnips, peas, and onions, not a typical noteworthy event, but they all came from my garden. As did these wonderful Garter snakes. According to http://www.livescience.com/44072-garter-snake.html, a male Garter snake can emit female pheromones to trick males.wpid-616104_4510443484403_1024497440_o.jpg

“They will secrete female pheromones to lure other males toward them rather than to the female. After the other males are away from the mating ball, the males posing as females will dart back to the female to attempt to mate. [Related: Estrogen Turns Male Snakes Into Same-Sex Charmers]”

Being able to look at days long gone provides me with the opportunity to think about people long gone. Sunny McHale, one of my first friends after moving to Oregon, was one of those friends that physical proximity wasn’t a requirement of growth; years could pass without seeing one another, but when we saw each other, our friendship had grown even closer. Cancer snuck up on him and took him so quickly. Such a beautiful song bird; when Sunny smchale-sunny-maleang, I found myself melting. I treasure being able to re-read his emails and Facebook comments from seven years ago and earlier.

All of these moments that make up my life help remind me that life is precious even if all I am doing is weeding and battling Western Cucumber Beetles. There is no such thing as just weeding. Just, in this demeaning definition, has no place in my life.

 

What’s In That Glass of Water?

glass-of-waterWhen it comes to drinking water, what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. Not by a long shot. I suspect that this tidbit of information isn’t news to you. Flint, Michigan was a rude awakening, though it’s been a while and even though the lead contamination is still a current problem, media has moved along to bigger and better Oh My Gods.

Today I was talking to Zackery, a student at Agnes Stewart Middle School; he was just finishing up on his Eighth grade final presentation where he’s been researching contaminated water. He was looking at a chart that graphed the various drugs that has infiltrated our drinking water supply. When asked what the most alarming thing that he had learned so far, he said that Marijuana is off the charts in terms of drugs. Opiods and antidepressants round out the top three.

Zack went on to explain that when someone thinks of drug pollution problems, they tend to think of drugs that are disposed, either thrown in the trash or flushed, but what people need to pay attention to are the drugs we excrete. It never occurred to me. I know that in many cases people tend to pee out a lot more vitamins and other supplements than our body can absorb, but I tend to be of the out of sight, out of mind kind of person.

According to one source, http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/drugs-in-the-water, they don’t know what the long-term consequences are to humans, at least not yet, but perhaps fish are acting like the canary in the coal mine. Estrogen is being blamed for altering not only the ratio of female to male fish, but a problem with intersexing has been discovered.fish

I don’t have the slightest idea as to the gender of the fish pictured above, but this is what popped up when I searched for intersexed fish. According to Fishfeel.org, fish with high levels of estrogen not only display male and female organs, but they are also more aggressive.

Due to premature menopause, prescription estrogen was recommended. But when I learned that I was ingesting pregnant horse urine, I switched to a synthetic form. And then research concluded that there was more harm than good with the product, so I stopped completely. Maybe I could have avoided osteoporosis if I stayed on the regimen. Hard to say.

Back to the subject at hand. What can be done? Estrogen is going to be excreted whether it be natural or synthetic; it’s just part of the flow of nature. I would think that more could be done with waste water before it becomes part of the biosphere of rivers and other bodies of water.

Digging deeper. I have no reason to not believe FishFeel.org, though Harvard is probably a tad bit more reliable. We all know that data can be used and misconstrued to fit an agenda. I try to persuade students to use as many .org and .edu web sites as often as possible. And even then a wide range of sources is the best answer.

“… contrary to what has been stated or implied by media reports and anti-contraception advocates, synthetic estrogen from birth control pills is not the sole or primary source of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in water.”

estrogenimage

There’s so much we don’t know, and so many times we don’t learn from our mistakes. At one point, they believed that smoking was actually a beneficial thing; after all, Olympic athletes didn’t show any adverse effects from smoking and back in the late thirties and early forties, they probably weren’t even using filtered cigarettes. I wonder how many of those athletes lives were cut short because of ignorance.

Fish are great indicators of the stress water systems are experiencing due to inadequate waste water management. Another great article, Sex-Changing Chemicals Can Wipe Out Fish, Study Shows (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/05/070521-sex-fish.html.)

There are so many different directions that Zack could go with his research project. Too many drugs, too little time. Perhaps with the newly passed law making marijuana legal in Oregon has caused him to travel in that direction. Speaking of directions, I have a new throng of kids making their way into C102. Maybe another blog will be inspired.

fishgraphic