Winter Warmth, Warm Dogs, Warm Hearts

Blog #3 Learning to be Warm

This time of the year is hard on me. There are the usual reasons; family missed, short days, money, and Multiple Sclerosis. That’s my secret. I’m not alone either.  Yes, 400,000 of us try to adapt our schedules so that we can be with family, avoid viruses, and hide our secret thoughts. MS is that which causes me to write, to photograph the world, to try to remain as human and hopeful as I can and which causes me to fall off the precipice of who I was. MS is the lassitude which prohibits me in strange ways. It is the challenge I mentioned but did not clarify before. There is company, PatientsLikeMe.com is where I can go to feel normal and pass on what positives I can when others need to hear them. They made me an Ambassador this year, seeing in me something I can’t always find. What I find is that life lurks all around us. Hope is the most important link to being alive.

Hope is an astounding emotion. The wings it gives to you so that you can fly somewhere you had lost are astounding. It can lift you from the depths of despair and let you soar among the stars. I need that hope. I can find the dark moments with no trouble, but the light, that is what I find lifts me out of the house and into society again. Clouds are places to rest, marvelous palaces of cool vapor waiting for angels to sing their choruses and composers to write them down.

My dogs and silly cat keep me warm in the evenings when the alone monster comes to call. Foxy will “Yarf” at me; waiting attention, to play chase, to go outside, and to have dinner. We eat together. Tigerlily, the oldest pup at 14 1/2 carries my heart in her dancing. She doesn’t like to eat much anymore so I spoon feed her. She is so happy just to be with me, to sit on a sofa and nap. Frankenstein is a long haired tortoise shell cat who at ten pounds thinks she is the Queen of Quite A Lot . She bosses the dogs around, moving them out of their food bowls to check and see if they have something tastier than the fish in her bowl. She tells us to go out and in. The door needs no bell, it has a cat waiting. Leave your name and she will pass your message on. I can’t forget the dogs outside, because she waits at the window for them. She commands with a low growly voice and I obey. Eat, go to the bed, behave, she tells me all of these things and then drifts off into thoughts which only a cat can know. T.S.Eliot understood cats well.

I drift into my music: Barber’s Adagio, Fanfare for the Common Man, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Thomas, Bach. I find the tears on my face, the glow of harmonies, the waves of humanity and heaven filling me full. This is one of the secrets I have. My music, which should have been my life, has returned to greet me at the moment when I most wish to give up. When walking is stumbling, treasures dropped, and the company of man is gone, music fills that hollow space in my chest with memories and love. I remember my childhood, my father, uncles, grandfather, aunts. I remember my friends, mentors, and teachers. It’s okay to miss them, and even to talk to them still, as long as I have something worth saying. “A Place for Us” has begun to play. West Side Story balanced what I knew of the world and racial prejudice as a teen and resounds still in my mind. The stories of today are seen in vivid noise on the news, but I can still believe that somewhere and sometime society will fix its ills.

Now you know two of my secrets, the MS and my fear of not having done what I was born to do. Every one has regrets somewhere. Mine are no more special than anyone else’s. I have tidied my corner of the world as best I could. I have pride in having done at least that much.

The lights on the house and the Christmas tree are a gift from my children. They want me to remember when I gave them the miracle of the dark giving birth to the light. They have given the light to me this year. I want to embrace the shine, the purity of color, the smell of pine and cinnamon, and the feel of a family come together to laugh. It gathers around me, holds me, pokes me in silly places and it gives me shelter from being lonely. I am a lucky woman, many don’t have that support. The pillars are there so that I will never have to be totally alone. The lights on the tree will last me until April when growth becomes obvious.

Go and hug those who are dear to you. I can wait a bit for you to return.

Ann WJ White

Birth of the Snow Legend

The worst of the snow,
balled together and sticking
to twisted twigs,
gave the illusion of a monster,
a snow monster.

Given life and breath
under icy skies,
it lifted its frozen eyes
to a landscape cruel and seasonal,
a tundra.

Abominable and frosty,
it thought of the eternal winter
as it hoped Spring
would not be sprung upon it.
A tender wish.

Fables would grow mentioning
a creature of delicate habits,
ferocious only when seen.
Teased, it would strike back
and stay alone.

In between the Spaces

IMG_1233

Blog #2

I live in between the spaces on the page. Illusion has to balance with what I am trying to say without force feeding you the reader. So I blend a careful recipe of what life has shown me to be true with a way of letting the reader hear a story. Ultimately, the hope is that the reader will take home some of what I have written to think about. There is no guarantee of that, of course, because as soon as the words leave me to travel on their way, readers see what they know in between the spaces. It makes for a great deal of excitement when the two views find each other again.

I knew a beautiful woman with bright blue eyes and a smile that never deserted her. She lived in Minnesota and was a librarian for a college of women. She never ran from learning, in fact she often ran towards it with a smile that increased by the second. Rikki Tikki Tavi was her role model and I’m not sure she ever met a snake that she didn’t understand. She had a singular motto, “What can I do for you today?” She was an unusual species of woman, more concerned for others than herself. She would be an excellent model for a character. Honor, loyalty, someone we all hope to meet someday. It’s the essence of a character that appeals to most of us. When someone like her appears in a story, we know something good will have to come out of it.

Then there is an antagonist who will do everything to undermine the stability of a life. Perhaps an old boss, or an abusive husband, or someone that lives in the shadows that is unpredictable and out of focus at the beginning. It could be written as a fairy tale character, or an insect. Notice I don’t list the villains I know, that would be imprudent. But a story can’t live without a conflict, the more unusual, the better.

Then there is the protagonist, use me. I’m a mom, living with my husband, a grown child, a couple of dogs, and a cat. I’m always running to get to the next thing that needs doing, and somehow I’m always late. Somehow the keys slip to the bottom of my purse. I forget presents for people who really could use them. I’ve been young and middle-aged. I’ve been able and unable. I was Super Woman, but that didn’t work out so well for me. School was never a place to be avoided, I knew everything at one point. Well, I thought I did. So, sometimes stories are me mixed with other traits. I find it amusing to torment my poor main characters. It’s only fair. I know how to torment them best.

I like to watch people and imagine meeting them. Would they interest me, hold that interest and pull me into their lives? The good ones might. Some of them might be predictable. I’d love to meet people like Bryce Harper, Mr. Werth, and others from the Nationals. I’m a big baseball fan. I’d love to meet the grounds people at the National Zoo. If a driver on one of the Metro trains that runs through DC ever started talking to me on his or her way to work, I’d listen. You never know where your story will find you.

I did find a story. In-between the spaces of my notes, an idea started forming. I saw it in a few of the poems I’ve written. I’ve been chasing it for ten months now, and it’s almost to the very end. Just like this blog.

See you soon,

Ann WJ White

 

Finding a Voice in a World of Words

This is my first blog. Oh, I wrote about my biography when I got a wordpress.com account and it’s all true. The problem with that is that I think all of the time. I think about the news, old friends, gone friends, long nights and short days. I write poetry to work my way through the wiggle room that we need to hide enough of our emotions from a world that might not understand them.

The news these days is full of fear mongering and hatred. Envious of Canada, France, Germany and Norway, I wish I could solve the fear. Humans turn to violence and blind devotion in the face of the unknown, but I hope our survival will show us as developing creatures of conscious. Dogs need homes with people who love them. Cats adopt us and quickly teach us their rules. They believe themselves to be the adults in the relationships and mindfully shepherd us to dinner, outside, to bed. Humans, though, find solace in company of other humans. When they don’t find sympathy and love with humans they are open to other species. We even created pet rocks.

Growth never stops for us. We try out new foods, ways to clean, ways to travel, and somehow we retain our identity in the first focused moment when we say, “I am.” This is usually followed by a listing of traits, education, important people in the world, interests and hobbies, and what we are to our families. We determine what is nice and what is cruel. Ever defining those things, those moments, we learn to say no or yes. We become confident or stumble into the shadows  looking for a cure.

The universe, while being neither cruel or kind, is interpreted as being both. Philosophy governs interpretations which inspire world leaders. Then the world brings in a sound stage and attempts to bring you to who you are. It’s uncanny the feeling of being in front of a group of people. Some will like you. Others will be baffled that although you speak the same upbringing and language, you are off your rocker. I’ve been off my rocker for years.

I thought I was a patient woman until I had to put up with myself. I could always advocate for others, but never worried about doing it for myself. That made me a target for bullying as a child. I learned that bullies are always around us, but my father told me to learn to like myself. If I could do that, I would be able to help others.

When you find yourself diagnosed with a severe, chronic or fatal disease or condition and your body decides to pull pranks on you, you had better be a person who likes themselves and is patient. That was a hefty lesson. I dropped things. I fell down. My brain became a clutter of insecurity and the harder I pushed myself, the more I couldn’t do things. You loose your edge, become fatigued. In fact, the fatigue is more a lassitude, and leads to your going through the stages of grief as if you had just died before your eyes. You don’t die, however, you become stronger. You take your time and pick up what you drop, including yourself. The small victories become huge victories, you see the little things that make up life. You pixilate yourself. I even bargained with myself about my expectations.

I tried to be normal, but that didn’t work out so well. I tried to be serious, only to find myself the butt of my own sense of humor. I fell asleep in the classroom only to find out that I do snore loudly. Doing that in front of the director of Language Arts was not the best move during my career. So now I am regressing to who and what I loved at the age of 12. I am writing. I am looking for the small bits that make me smile, and the larger realization that I am not done growing up yet. I will never be done growing up.

I’m a lucky woman. I have a family who love me, a home, a set of shibas who spend their days being my primary sense of companions. Joined by the cat I alluded to above, I’m not as isolated as I could be.

I haven’t said what is wrong with me. I don’t need to in order to let you understand me. Besides, I’d start joking about things and I’ll do that in another blog. Be aware that I am not alone. There are many of us who look healthy, but aren’t. Who look drunk or lazy, but are just having an out of body day. If it is me, I’m probably on a trip in outer space and have left a puppet to hold my place.

It’s nice to meet you, and I will be back soon. Happy Holidays and nice to meet you.

My name is Ann White.

Addiction

Gone forever, so high the cost
That took from laughter to lies,
Your sense of home.
The referee between women,
Morphine, and cocktails, pacified,
Struggled with her lack of sobriety.
Sober as a judge, your own life.
Your leash cinched tightly.
Your words planned to
Balance on a knife’s edge.
Cruel words striking.
A life wasted, putting salt grains
In a jar with pickup sticks,
With Chopsticks.
Saki bottle,
Or gin, or rum, or morphine, her perfume.
Her pain, her lack:
Luring, alluring
Without humanity.
We lost you then, drowning, as
Tears raced upwards.