My Inspiration

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

Friday, July 8, 2011

The essay from hell

I started back to school several months ago with a great deal of excitement and apprehension. Did I really have what it takes? Could I hold my own? How would I handle the extra work? Three classes down and I feel like my worries were all in vain. After the first class, everything fell into place beautifully and it has all been good. That is up until now. I am taking what I thought would be my easiest class when in reality it has been my hardest. Music appreciation has thrown me a curve ball. I LOVE music, all kinds of music and get a great deal out of listening to the different varieties. This class was supposed to be a walk in the park for me because of that except it has not been. I have learned very little in this class and have struggled to get that.

Our professor is over our heads. Way too smart and unable to keep a train of thought to completion. We go off on tangents that look like a roadmap across the country plotted out by a child. Syllabus be damned.

Mind you, this is a five-week class so how hard can it be. Well after the first three weeks with nothing but 100s of pages of reading and listening to CDs, we get our only assignment of the class. We have to write an essay of a minimum of two pages regarding something that I can summarize in two paragraphs. Easy for me since I write all the time one would think but such is not the case. This cannot be fluff, it has to be scholarly, and it cannot be paraphrased or filled with citations he wants it in our own words. OMG! How did I get into this predicament? Half a dozen rewrites later I am finally at two pages with one cite. I cannot read this paper again or try my hand at flushing it out any more than I have. My head hurts just thinking about all that I have gone through to get it to where it is today. Will it pass, yes, am I happy with it, no. A well thought out paper requires more than one week writing it especially when you have work, life, required reading, and listening to do on top of researching the paper.

So I ask all of you scholarly musical geniuses, what is the role of the conductor?


Grieving is to feel or show grief over. Grief is deep mental anguish, as that arising from bereavement.

One would assume that I spent this past year grieving the death of my father and two uncles and while I wish this were true, it is not. There are five stages of grief, which are denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

I have gone through two of these emotions, depression and acceptance, or what I would call resignation. I spent several months in a fog walking around on auto-pilot before seeking help for clinical depression. I have resigned myself to the fact that their time here on Earth has ended and that they are all in a better place. I am grateful that suffering is over but the tears have not come. The anger is absent. I am not in denial about their deaths but I remain emotionless, numb, resigned. Death is a constant. Something we will all experience but grieving is just as normal as death and I cannot seem to get myself to go there.

I miss my Dad and uncles very much but I do not think of them often. It is as if I have blotted them out of my mind. I see their pictures but I am not really “seeing” them for whom they were and what role they played in my life. They are like characters from a magazine or TV show. My memories are blocked. I refuse to go there unless there is a group of us talking about them and then it is all good, no sadness, just laughter and good times. While this is OK it is not enough. The knot is still there. The holes are still there and the feelings that were quick to rise up at the time of each death acknowledged.

Unfortunately, for me the defense mechanism of strength (i.e. being strong - crying is a sign of weakness) kicks in and overrides my senses and the moment passes not recognized for what it really is until something else triggers it. I do not want to experience another loss to grieve the loss of these three people as it will take away from the one who should really be grieved but I have to find a way to allow the squashed feelings to rise to the surface and released. I have to face these deaths from a personal perspective not a clinical approach. I am not on the outside looking in. These three people meant a great deal to me. They helped to mold me as I was growing up, now they are gone, and with them, a piece of me went too.

I want to cry, to release the pent up emotions but I cannot. It will not happen at least not right now. The one year anniversary for all of them have come and gone and still nothing, although I feel it lying just beneath the surface. Counseling has helped me to acknowledge it but so far nothing has helped me release it. One day I hope to be able to feel that this is all over for me and I will think of them and our times together often and fondly. In the meantime, I am waiting for the moment or moments when the wall comes down, the lid comes off and the emotions will come spilling out and I can move forward.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why do I write?

Why do I write? My first response to that question is why not write? I cannot remember a time in my life when writing was not a part of it. I have written poetry, short stories, journals, rants, and raves for as far back as I can remember. Was it all publishable or even worth someone reading, probably not but it was an outlet for me and that is all that mattered.

Having said all that I guess it is safe to say that writing is an opening for me. It allows me to express myself in ways otherwise unavailable. I get to determine who my audience is and when, if at all, to share what I have written. Thoughts are constantly floating around and although they do not always make it down on paper, they are stored in the file cabinet for a rainy day.

Writing is therapeutic for me. I can write about things that are on my mind from today, yesterday, five years ago, or longer. Thoughts have a way of holding you captive until released and that is where my writing comes into play.

Sometimes if I am having a rough day instead of carrying it around with me, I will write about it and then delete it. Never having seen the light of day but gone from my mind are those thoughts that have held me captive and I am all the better for it because it has been set free.

Our brains are like mini computers. We take stuff in and eventually if it is not stored somewhere else you run out of memory. With my writing, I download every so often thereby freeing up space and allowing the brain to defrag.

That is all practical and good but my writings embody my emotions and at times things get bogged down or bottled up because of what I am feeling and they marinate for a while until I can find a way to get them out cohesively. This is where I am right now and have been for a few months now. Feelings are disjointed and running amok making it difficult to put into words and so they have been festering, soaking, and have reached the boiling point. They need releasing before they spill over and make a mess and so this 30,000-word challenge could not have come at a better time. With that said, if I seem to be like a Mexican jumping bean (all over the place) you will understand why. There is a lot of stuff up there just waiting to come out.

Summer memories

Summer has quickly consumed us. It has insulated itself into our every thought and action. The weather, the weekend, the events over the next few months all revolve around summer. Will we have good weather? Will we get rain? Can I take vacation and get a couple of good days in without it being a washout? As the kids are out of school our actions are centered around them and keeping them entertained; camp, swimming, football and cheering practice, visits to the library and of course the ever groaning vacation trip with the famous words, “Are we there yet?”

It is too soon to say, “I am bored”. One would hope we could get a few more weeks of them sleeping until noon, eating everything they can get their hands on, playing video games, texting, and tweeting until all hours of the night before speaking those words.

I for one remember a different kind of summer; one where you went to stay with your grandparents the weekend that school let out and did not come back until the weekend before school began again. Being that they were from the old school, meaning before the days of electronics, TV, and entertaining the kids it was up to us to entertain ourselves. We found something to do on a daily basis to keep our minds from turning to gel or getting ourselves into trouble while trying not to be bored. Fortunately, for me New York was full of wonders and excitement and the possibilities were endless.

I spent hours at the museum looking at art and wondering what the artist meant when they painted such things. King Tut’s display was my favorite visiting attraction and it was fascinating to look at all the pieces, read the history of discoveries in the tombs, and ponder it all with the brain of an adolescent. The botanical gardens brought another facet of joy in itself. The Japanese gardens, the Koi ponds, and the vast array of flowers and greenery took my imagination on trips to far away lands.

Rainy days found me in the library tucked into a window and reading for hours at a time. I got lost in the books. They opened up a new world for me. Reading was my outlet, my escape from the reality of what I considered a terrible life. Ah the mind of a child, the things we thought and felt in contrast to the reality of the situation.

I loved the smell of the subway or should I say the smell of the logs in the subway; the freedom of the trains was overwhelming. One could get on and ride for hours all through the city going from borough to borough and people watch. It was a great past time but not one I would recommend for the faint at heart because there was quite the eclectic group of characters that boarded the train depending on where you happened to be. My favorite part of the city was the village. I never knew what to expect when the doors would swoosh open to accept a new load of travelers caught up in their own worlds heading to destinations unknown. There were the gypsies, the punk rockers, the yuppies, and the vagabonds. Pink hair, Mohawks, body piercings, tattoo covered bodies, vintage clothing, spiked dog collar jewelry, heels, cowboy boots, shorts, sandals, and on and on it goes. I loved to see the vast array of attire adorning these strange characters that ventured onto the train when we stopped in their world.

The park is every child’s dream world except when you suffer from motion sickness and then it becomes your worst nightmare. Nausea and I were very good friends because I did not want to be left out of the fun. Swinging, see-sawing and the merry-go-round were my arch enemies but everyone loved to ride these rides and I wanted to be part of the “in” crowd and so I would venture a ride or two only to suffer for the rest of the day. It took a few years of this before I wised up and decided that the “in” crowd did not compare to not feeling like I wanted to heave my guts with every step I took. Surprisingly, I did not miss much when I begged off riding or swinging. I was still part of the “in” crowd and I did not have to sell my soul to be included.

Although those are great memories, I saved the best for last, Saturday trips to the beach. These moments defined us as a family. It was an all day affair. We would leave at 8:00 in the morning and get back around 9:00 at night. Everyone knew that the Dunham’s were spending the day at the beach. It was a love-hate relationship. I loved to go but hated the part when it came to getting in the water until I learned how to swim. That is another story in itself. We would wake early and help Nana and Grandpa get things together. All packed we climbed in and off we went. The beach had so much to offer, there was a playground, basketball court, skating on the boardwalk, stores with trinkets, and the beach replete with sand, sand, and more sand. I could never understand how no matter how or in what we wrapped the sandwiches or covered the potato salad sand made its way into the food. As the sun set with hues of orange and purple majesty, we packed up and made our way back into the city sleep long before hitting the expressway and dreaming of the fun we had that day. What I wouldn't give for one more day at the beach with my grandmother and grandfather, ah the memories of summer.

July Writing Romp - 30,000 in 31 days!!!

Ack! I signed on to write 30,000 words in thirty-one days as part of a challenge to get me back in the saddle and writing again. Today is day six and this is my first entry. In all fairness, I have been writing an essay for school this past week that has consumed all of my time and it is finally nearing completion so I thought I would get started with my 1,000 words a day. If I push, I can make up for the time I have lost and still make the deadline without any worries so that is my game plan.