Tag Archives: Storytelling

The Conman

I had finished a couple of beers and an appetizer with a friend at a local pub.  Nice neighborhood.  Quiet part of town.

While he had to leave, the night was still young, and I decided to mosey on over to the bar and have another round before I hit the trail.

I generally like meeting new people at the bar, and I’ve met some fine ones and had wonderful conversations.  Trading stories.  Slices of life.  Different paths in different timelines converge for a bit.

A smiling between souls.

Continue reading The Conman

The Heart of Storytelling

I read a post a couple of days ago stating that the difference between humans and other animals was the ability of humans to tell stories.  And that this ability is what has led to discoveries, inventions (good and bad), art, poetry, war, etc.

Of course, I believe other species have their own way of telling stories. 🙂

Stories have been said to create a special niche where we love to reside.  Fictional worlds that fill our minds, the majority of the time for some of us, with a central plot-line of underlying “conflict.”  There are generally dark forces to overcome, battles to be won or lost, struggles that define the protagonists, to whom we relate ourselves.

It is us that mirrors back as being the heroine or hero.  Whether defeated or exalted.

Continue reading The Heart of Storytelling

Neural Roadmaps Revisited

Revisiting the past seems to cycle in our lives.  If not physically, mentally.  But it seems there are times when the physical odyssey is unavoidable.  It may even be unconscious at first.  We embark on a journey just to realize midway we are circling back in time. Perceptions have shifted, aged, but we are retracing routes gone by.  “Treading trodden trails,” as the saying goes.  Neural roadmaps.  Highways of memories.  Echoes of day dreams.

The roads might be slightly different.  And the faces we see this time around may be new to us, drawn together, in passing, by a transitional event.  In this case, it was my mother’s final breaths.

I saw the parallels as I was driving by the home where myself and my brothers grew up.  A small town now a burgeoning suburb of a major city.  When the family moved there, the population was around 250, plus a lot of corn fields.  When I left, there were little more than 2500 people.  It’s no longer a rural community and the population has passed 30,000.  The corn fields replaced with structures.  More boxes for storage, of categorized life.

My old home is now a dental office with the yard paved over.  A parking lot for tooth repair.  The vacant lot across the street, a playland of the imagination where mythic battles raged in the jungles of weeds, now a motor bank.  The majestic apricot tree on the corner by the park, gone.  Not even a seed to carry its memory of the sweet fruit it offered free for the taking.  The lake we fished in, fenced off, imprisoned.

The historic downtown, an outward reflection, a mimic of time, but the core has transformed.  The library is office space.  The hardware store, an art gallery.   The feed mill, a microbrewery.  The old school is torn down.  Time and places evaporated.

But all of my memories are intact.  The pleasure and the pain of growth.

Every summer this home was a launch point for the family reunions.  First with my dad’s family in Indiana, and then my mom’s in Michigan.  Those were times of active voices.  Of laughter and play.  The excitement of seeing cousins, of family card games, and mysterious old homes to explore.  Spiral staircases to dusty attics, and coal furnaces in the basements.  We mined for treasures.  And we found them in shiny objects unearthed, planted by the generation before.

And there were haylofts in old barns, where we leaped into the sky, hay piles lying beneath to break our fall.  Flying for instants that lasted forever.  A shirt was a cape, or a parachute.

An old hand pump still brought water from the earth.  A hidden aquifer of life.

An electric fence for horses, and a dare to feel its pulses.  Grab hold the wire and zap a brother with the other hand, before mom or dad would shoo us away.

Pulses, pulses, I feel my heart beating as I drive, wandering back in time, shuffling though images not matching the roadway.  Highway hypnosis.

I’m retracing that reunion route again, but this time, the nuclei of both families are gone, having passed on to the Blue Road of the Spirit.

My father passed in ’09, and after revisiting the ground where I was raised, I stop to pay my respects to him and my paternal ancestors.  He was buried in the family plot in the town where he grew up.  A few miles down the road is “Stearleyville,” or its shadow, founded by my great, great grandfather.  The reverse of my hometown.  The small village is gone, fully reverted to farmland.

The cemetery is filled with generations, back to the original immigrant couple.  Two stones eerily bear my own name.  One my grandfather, and one his second son that died as an infant – born on my same birthday, passed 30 years before my birth.

I remember my dad’s funeral.  Full military honors.  Steeped in tradition.

He taught me the meanings of honor, integrity, loyalty, strength of character, and hard work.

We talk in silence.  For a while.

Then it’s on to Michigan.  A small town on the border of Ohio. My mother also to be buried in a family plot.  Similar small town and farm family roots.  The memories of both homes blurred.

She’s outlived the rest of her family so we have a small ceremony.  A few cousins, whom I’m meeting for the first time.  It’s a nice service for a well-lived life of a good heart.

She taught me compassion, empathy, and self-sacrifice.

My parents’ bodies lay some 300 miles apart.  Their spirits united?  Their soul contracts complete?  And the particles of consciousness they helped bring into the world are scattered about the Midwest. Such is the stardust of which we’re composed.

Family plots.  Family traditions.  Traditions I will not follow.  My ashes are to be released into the wind.  No name carved in stone.

I wonder, when I leave, what neural roadmaps my daughter’s memories will travel.  I hope that she too has flown wearing a magic cape.

***

 

Photo: I didn’t actually take this image, but it is an image of my brain from an MRI . . .

And if you didn’t see it earlier, check out my intro to this post in my Daily Musings – Rotation.

Rotation

A number of things were swirling in my head as I woke from my slumbers.

For one, Kirk Douglas died yesterday.  And as I read off the list of his many accomplishments and movies I was reminded of the film “Lonely are the Brave.”  Now I saw this film a long time ago, loved it, and when I watched it oh so many years ago, I had no idea of the connection with Edward Abbey, whose work I’ve also come to thoroughly enjoy.

It’s strange how things can circle around in our lives.

Continue reading Rotation

The Club 66

There is always a struggle in a writer’s mind about just what to write about.  We want our posts to be meaningful in some way, although the definition of meaningful may vary from day-to-day.  And lately, I’ve taken a little rest from writing.  It’s not because I don’t have stories to tell, it’s just trying to decide which I want to tell, and how I want to tell them, and if they’re relevant, and would a reader enjoy them?

Those are big questions, and I don’t have any answers for any of them this morning.  But I need to write.

It’s sort of an addiction and I’m in withdrawals.

Continue reading The Club 66

Thrown for a Loop

Back in early November, I had settled into what I thought was a pretty decent routine.  Reading, walking, hiking, meditating, and exploring my hobby of photography.  That routine came crashing down when the house I was living in became contaminated and I had to make a hasty retreat.*

My patterns are still in a state of disruption.

Writing has become a bit secondary to solving the housing problem.  But I did finish a series, at the invitation and encouragement of my blogging friend George,** about marriage and divorce.  And that too left my head spinning a bit.  I was, after all, revisiting some very painful memories.  Basically, these memories, as well as the present situation, all involved a theme in common – the loss of home.

And I mean “home” in the more intangible sense of that word.

Not just a place to stay, but a feeling.  A feeling of sanctuary.  Of warmth.  Of love.

Loss of “home” is not the same as moving out of a place we’ve “occupied.”  It’s abandoning a sense of security, of integration, of sentiment.  A home is where there is a heart connection.  It becomes part of you.  An extension.

Usually, this extension of ourselves is tied up with another individual or a family.  It’s a communal nature.  What makes a “house” a “home” is not the decor.  Not the pictures hanging on the wall, or the color scheme of the bathroom fixtures.  It’s an amalgamation of the feelings of warmth and protection and mutual love.

Quite an introduction there, I guess.

Intro to what?  You know how I like to switch gears. 🙂

Continue reading Thrown for a Loop

Reflections – Three

I was visiting a friend this past weekend and we had tea, did some meditation, and a little bit of guided writing.  It’s an interesting way to spend a few hours.

Setting an intention to engage in mindful activities.

So, the writing exercise was basically a prompt, and we saw what we could come up with in ten minutes.  I don’t think we could have been more ying-yang.

Continue reading Reflections – Three

The Darkness and the Light

Fear, desire.  Lightness and dark.  The polar opposites are said to be interrelated.

But that doesn’t seem to match our perceptions of reality.  I mean, do people fearing some awful event actually have a secret or subconscious desire for that event to happen?  Self-flagellation??

I’m not really sure.

There is a growing body of literature talking about our power to manifest the things we want in life.  And I’m not sure how much credence to put in that line of thought.  This mystical power if activated improperly, by a negative focus, would rain terror down upon us.  And that seems to negate the concept of free will, or our ability to say “no thanks.”  “I don’t wish to be struck by lightning.”

Continue reading The Darkness and the Light

Lighthouses and Kleptoparasitism

I have to tell you,  I’ve not been feeling well.  The living situation is draining me right now so I can’t seem to get very fired up about writing.   So, I thought, why not just add a pic to your photo journal today?  But then I also found a reminder about a word I wanted to write about.

I couldn’t remember why I wanted to write about this word.  I know it wasn’t solely from its basic definition.  I had some application or twist I wanted to highlight.  To play around with.

While staring at the blank screen, I either remembered or thought of a new one. 🙂

Today, you get both, the image and the word.

Continue reading Lighthouses and Kleptoparasitism

Advanced Camping And Chemical Chaos

I was on a pretty good writing streak for the last half of October and into November, but Thanksgiving this year has brought some new challenges and disruptions and we’ll see where the Universe is going to take me now.  Still plenty to be thankful for.

So, what’s the new chaos??

And I suppose you could call this Part 9 of my series on marriage and divorce, because separating from my last wife is what placed me in the environment that spawned the challenges I now face.  A product of many factors, but economics was one of the primary triggers.

Not that I couldn’t survive monetarily, but the loss of assets lead me to the house I would end up in, and that would lead me to a different type of deterioration.

***

Continue reading Advanced Camping And Chemical Chaos

To Have and to Hold – Part 8 – Dodge the Bullets

Four years after my first divorce, in a courtroom on the other side of the state, the parties were gathering to complete their divorce case.  Apparently, things were going really bad for the husband.  He knew he was going to lose it all, so it lost it all in a different way.

Mentally.

There was limited security in the courthouse.  No metal detectors.  The court relied mainly on its bailiffs to keep order.

The husband, seemingly an ordinary guy of even temperament, an aerospace technician, had stashed two pistols in his briefcase.  It wasn’t long before the gunfire began.

He shot and killed his wife.  Shot both his attorney and her attorney.  Shot a bailiff and a sheriff’s deputy.  Shot at, but missed the judge.  All before the police responded and took him down.

He sustained nine gunshot wounds – two to his head.

Before the paramedics arrived, and while he was still conscious, the story is that he exclaimed:

“Did I kill the bitch?!!  Did I kill the bitch?!!!”

Now that is some powerful hatred.  From a man who presumably, at least at one time, loved the woman he just killed.

Continue reading To Have and to Hold – Part 8 – Dodge the Bullets

To Have and to Hold – Part 7 – Bedtime Stories

They say time heals all wounds.  But that’s just a cliché.  Sometimes our minds gift us with the ability to forget, maybe selective dementia, erase the slate, ease the pain.  But other times, not-so-much.  And while writing about this stuff is therapeutic, it also raises those dead memories from the past.  Tears the scab off the old wounds and brings the pain right back to the surface again . . .

Oh, and I still have the paperwork. . . I’m afraid to throw it away.

***

Continue reading To Have and to Hold – Part 7 – Bedtime Stories

To Have and to Hold – Part 6 – Oh Where, Oh Where Did My Property Go?

I was the charge nurse for a general surgical floor and you might say that things were a bit hazardous.  That’s actually putting it mildly.  You might have less risk of harm bungee jumping off the Kawarau Bridge in New Zealand with rubber bands wrapped around your ankles than receiving patient care under these circumstances.

Between sundown to sunup, just what would the body count be?

Working on the night shift meant that in addition to myself and a LPN, my staff was composed of a rotating group of five or six graduate nurses still waiting to see if they passed State Boards.  They weren’t licensed, but the hospital let them practice as though they were.   This small band of ragtag, inexperienced, semi-educated, youngsters and I had to take care of forty-nine very, very sick, post-op surgical patients.

We had twenty-four patients on cardiac monitors, and I was the only RN on duty and the only nurse certified in the reading and interpretation of EKGs.  I was the only nurse on that shift for that ward with any length of experience.  In addition to supervising my grads and ensuring their patients’ safety, I had to take a full load of my own patients.  And based on the hospital’s patient acuity system, each nurse would routinely be assigned 14 to 16 hours of patient care to deliver in an 8-hour shift.

Nice.

I worked those shifts at a full gallop.  And once the graduate nurses got their licenses, they would move on to other units and other shifts and be replaced by another group of graduates.  Thus, the five to six-month cycle of rotating bodies.  This always left me with a staff of inexperienced nurses who needed constant supervision and on-the-job training.

Crazy and dangerous as this was, we also had conflicting and distracting interpersonal situations to deal with during work hours because of the many doctor-nurse relationships.  It was quite a simmering stew of young women mixed with older, rich, prestigious men.

Soap opera and reality combined to form some pretty insane chemistry experiments.  Anything you can imagine, from nurses having “quickies” in the treatment room, to giving doctors blow-jobs in the bath room.  It was safe to say that there were more than just the patients’ body secretions floating about on the ward.

How long would a patient have to wait to get their call-light answered . . .

Continue reading To Have and to Hold – Part 6 – Oh Where, Oh Where Did My Property Go?