Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Suspended Memory

Yesterday, while driving home, I saw a house. Its lawn was manicured and it had newly mulched flower beds. I noticed that there was a section of newly replaced wooden fence. It looked particularly tidy and well groomed. I thought about it somewhat mindlessly. It seemed like the owner had intentionally fixed it up. Or maybe they took particular care to upgrade and maintain the house. I pondered whether it was for sale, or if new owners had just moved in. Absent of a pending or recent sale, I wondered what kind of person might put that kind of extra effort into their home without a specific reason. This thought reverberated in my mind because it is so far from what I have known in my life, especially while growing up. I don't remember my father ever changing the oil in our car or even washing it really. Nothing in our home ever seemed to receive attention unless it was needed. Sometimes, needs weren't met right away. Sometimes, needs were never met. Sometimes, needs faded away and made way for new needs. 

When I saw the house, the site of it gave me a sense of déjà vu. It felt like I was stuck in a memory that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I couldn't decide what memories it invoked, but I felt them. It felt like childhood and family. It felt like the turning of a page. I thought about it for quite a while. I tried to place the thoughts and feelings that came over me but I couldn't. I thought it reminded me of my Granny's house. Her yard was always perfectly manicured. She had a tall wooden fence. Not the kind you buy in sections from a big box hardware store, but the kind that is specially built to maintain a certain aesthetic. I remember the smell of her home, which if I had to name it smelled new. I remember the crispness of the sheets on the guest bed I slept on. I remember the smell of mulch and fertilizer when stepping out of the back door into her garden. I remember the smell of coffee and the crinkling of newspaper when I entered the kitchen in the mornings. Every room, every surface, every piece of furniture felt cared for. It stood in stark contrast to my home life. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Dead Blog Walking

I haven’t posted a Blog in years. In fact, I kind of thought the Blog was a little bit dead. But if so, what has replaced it? I suppose everything has gone the way of the social network these days. Unfortunately, just like my Blog here, I’m not very good at keeping up with social media. However, this is something I happen to appreciate about myself. I love the fact that I don’t feel the immediate need to post an update on social media when something newsworthy or special occurs in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I do post, but it’s usually an afterthought or something I make myself do. I’d prefer to just be present in the moment and enjoy it. Of course, there’s also the opposite situation, when things might not be going my way. And in this case, social media is the last place I want to turn to. I’m pretty sure I’ve discussed this before in a Blog, but I’m one to internalize and withdraw when I am going through turmoil in my life. 
I also have a love-hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I cannot quit it. I appreciate seeing the updates of my family and friends. I even appreciate the hands-off relationships it creates. Although, I also think it waters down those relationships in our lives that we should nurture. The fact is that you could not actually maintain a functioning relationship with every acquaintance, childhood friend, distant relative, or old neighbor that you probably maintain in your given friend list. On the other hand, relying on social media to passively communicate with your sister or even your best friend (even if she is across the miles) will not foster a healthy, active relationship. I know this from experience.
So, I could go on and on listing the pro’s and con’s and loves and hates of every social media platform, but that’s not really my aim here. My thoughts are this…even if Blogs are dead…even if social media has many ways to replace the life-capturing aspects of a Blog…I am discovering that this Blog still has a place in my life. I’ve always treated my Blog as a diary of sorts, and I’ve never had a true following for my Blog. So, all that really matters is that I come here. That I have something to say here. 
There is plenty of research that tells us that journaling is healthy for working out your feelings. I find that to be the case for me. I also appreciate being able to look back and remember a time through my own words and observations. I recently looked back on an old Blog to convey a sentiment to my young niece. We both really enjoyed going down the wormhole and reliving my words. Of course, she helped me to reinvigorate my desire to Blog. The fact of the matter, is that I really want to capture this time in my life. I want to have it in writing and in pictures to look back on.
So, here I am! 
Viva la Blog.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What Remains

This blog has had many evolutions. It has seen many times in my life. Over the years, I've had many different ideas about what I would like it to be. Despite my desire to make it something (of what I still don't know), I have posted inconsistently and have not managed to keep any semblance of a theme. Nevertheless, the one thing this blog has done consistently is to remain, however inconspicuous.

I actually have at least one similar, "what is my blog for?" post such as this. But what I want to do here is to simply state that I no longer want to define it. Yet, at the same time I want to pin this as an introduction of sorts. An introduction for an audience of one, perhaps?

I was just taking stock in the aesthetics of my blog. The forlorn black an white, the lonesome birds, the empty bench. All wispy and somewhat elegant to me. At least that is probably what I thought when I took the time to design it. I put it together a long time ago, so I can't even say for sure. But I was just taking note of how my feelings about my purpose of even having a blog carries through in its display.

It makes me think of one of my favorite poems, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. I love that poem for so many reasons, but one of which is that feeling it gives me. The part that reverberates with me is that the rider lingers in a place that captures him for no apparent reason. I know that feeling. And even though he has other things to do, he takes the moment to stop. That is what I do in my writing. Just moments taken for reflection, many times for no apparent reason.

Love: A Poem

by Stacy Fain (circa July 2002)

Love - forever's path to eternity.
For are we survivors or victors of love?
Am I an empty vessel to a means?
The all consuming fire of love
leaves me incomplete and yearning for more.
Yet love is kindly deceiving,
a wolf in sheep's clothing.
It lures me in once again,
and still I am drawn.
In the end that is never ending
all that is left is the conquered,
anesthetized and imprisoned for all eternity. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Stepping Out

Sometimes I feel so lost in life. There are so many pieces of me. They are so spread out that sometimes I feel incomplete with what is left. There are pieces in the many places I've lived and left behind, pieces in the many people that decorate my memories, big and small. Sometimes those memories feel like reruns of an old sitcom, or well worn shoes that you spot in your closet from time to time but never wear. You know they belong somewhere else, in another time. I want to say they belong to a better time. Because what is better than the known? Than the familiar? The trouble is, you can't know without leaving it behind to find out. But that is uncomfortable.

I am reasonably afraid of heights, like most people I suspect. When I was a kid, I remember stupidly taking the elevator all the way up to the top of the 300 foot tower at Six Flags. I remember that I immediately questioned my choice once the elevator left the ground. At the top, I remained glued to the interior wall nearly the entire time I was up there. However, little by little I inched out close enough to the railing to enjoy the view. Seeing my surroundings from such a great height was a brand new perspective for me. And the act of overcoming my fear was both invigorating and reassuring. The journey to the top would've nearly been useless had I not found the courage to step out further. 

As I am writing this, I am just putting all this together in my head. Life and circumstances and choices have led me to this point. Each step and each turn have led me out of my place of comfort. It has been a journey for sure, but now I am here. So, now is the time where I step out a little bit further, so I can take in the beauty of where my journey has led me and soak in the lesson it has undoubtedly taught me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

15 Years a Veteran

Fifteen years ago today, I was a proud (ok maybe a little scared and shell-shocked) resident of Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, NJ – aka Coast Guard Boot Camp. I don’t think I truly understood pride until that day. And I knew with every fiber of my being, Veteran’s Day would never be the same for me again.

The reasons for this are different than what you might expect. It wasn’t as if my change in perspective was simply because I was now a part of this thing. On the contrary, it was born from an overwhelming feeling of responsibility and of not being enough. I was now, by default, a part of something that was bigger than what my 18 years of life had prepared me for. 

I felt beholden to the men and women who laid this path for me. For all of their sacrifices and for all of those that had given the ultimate sacrifice. I felt so proud that I could be considered among them.

Yet, every year, I am surprised by how my admiration and respect for those who serve our country has continued to grow – now that I am a mother, now that my husband and the father of my child continues to serve, now that I continue to gain perspective.

I have wanted to write this blog for a long time. However, every year my words get jumbled and lost in feelings. I’ve wanted to write about how the first thing I remember seeing that morning was a poem that someone had scrawled on the board in our barracks, “Freedom Isn’t Free.” This pride that I previously spoke of, it began welling up in me at that moment.

You see, before that moment, I didn’t even know what day it was. I was in my 6th week of boot camp. I barely knew day from night. The days ran together and I felt like I was living in an alternate universe. In that place, Veteran’s Day stood as a reminder of the life that I was building. A glimpse of what lay ahead for me. And I wanted it so much more with that glimpse of perspective I had gained.

At a certain moment on that day, November 11, 1999, I had an epiphany. I don’t remember what exactly we were doing, but I clearly remember my surroundings. I had this realization that was as crisp as the crackling sound of a newly cut tree falling in the woods. It created a clear dividing line in my life. I can’t help but feel like that was the moment I grew up. That was when the pride that began welling up in me that morning became crystalized. I still don’t fully understand what it meant, but I know it changed me.

That night, I huddled in the window with the other females in my company as we all strived to hear the bugler play. I got lost in the sound. I felt the sound of Taps that night right down to my soul. It reverberates with me still.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Unplugging for 2014

This is something that has been brewing in my mind for the past few weeks and it is beginning to take shape. I’ve decided that I want to unplug from technology for a bit. Since the New Year is upon us, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try this. I certainly know I am not the first to try or the first to make a thing of this. In fact, I have discovered that there is even a National Day for Unplugging (http://nationaldayofunplugging.com/) which will be on March 7th this year. Sign me up!

I really don’t want to make a big scene about this endeavor either. Because it is simply about me – not my social network, not the one person who might read this blog – me. However, I do want to capture my unfiltered thoughts and emotions about it to reflect on in the future. And I would like to recruit some people to try it out with me. So, I’ve decided to blog about it, which I know is a little ironic.

The New Year is the time to reflect on the past year and what you want for the coming year. What better way to do so than to reconnect with your family, your friends and your thoughts by unplugging from the very thing that distracts you from that the most?! There are a lot of great things that technology has brought us; I am not here to argue against that. I just realize how captivated I have become by it and I am a little annoyed with myself about it.

So, here’s the deal. These are the parameters that I have decided to set up for myself:

I have decided to try this for 7 days, which I think will be challenging enough to make worth it. I won’t be able to unplug 100% because all of my work is done on the computer. So, as far as work goes, I will only use my computer, internet and e-mail when expressly necessary to accomplish work. This means, that I will turn off my messenger and will eliminate any personal e-mails or electronic communication that can be done via telephone instead. Other than work, I will not use a computer. That means absolutely no computer or electronic games. I have decided that telephone and radio is allowed, but that means radio in the car and telephone to have actual conversations with people. As far as my iPhone, I plane to turn it on Airplane mode and will only use it as a phone – no games, no texting, no e-mail, no Apps at all. I’ve decided that also includes the camera on my phone. I may allow myself to use my actual camera though, if I can even find it, lol. And lastly, I have also decided to give up television. That may be the hardest thing, especially if my hubby doesn’t decide to try this with me. Since I am not the only person in my house, if the television does get turned on, I will try to be true to my goal here and otherwise engage myself.

I don’t feel that I have set arbitrary boundaries. All of this is nothing short of how I lived my life as a child, except the no TV thing. I feel like I will be able to enrich my life and my relationships, even in an arbitrary 7 day period. I want to unplug to reconnect. So, this all starts at midnight on New Year’s Eve, which means no wishing happy New Years on Facebook and no selfies of ringing in the New Year. I’m ready for it!

If you want to join me, even if it’s for a day or if you have different rules and boundaries you’d like to set, please let me know. There’s strength in numbers you know?!
"Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain." -Vivian Greene
"Success is not final, Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Sir Winston Churchill