“Come out and take it, you dirty yellow-bellied rat, or I’ll give it to ya through the door!” – James Cagney partial quote from the famous film “Taxi”1932

Scene 1, Take 1000 ROCK Leans Against Lm’s walls of pain and reminds us all that she may crumble but she is one tough cookie.

As many of #RealStuffbyRealMe readers know Lm has been a bit unhinged lately; ROCK has been trying to take a breather and sighs as he remembers with unbridled compassion her earlier feisty days. Okay, you are right, stones don’t need air. Rock is more like a highly trained navy seal and would fight from the bottom of the big, blue sea for Lm. She has sunken on dry land however and he can only protect her from selfish indulgences she turns to when masking her pain. He shares in his best Cagney impression a memory he hasn’t thought of in years. There is so much about Lm that others don’t know. At nineteen, or was it eighteen?… she sailed with two licensed sailors in their early twenties from the well known Annapolis, Maryland, USA yearly boat show to Fort Lauderdale, Florida! There was TJ, with light brown, sea-salty hair, soft blue eyes and a reputation for knowing everything one is to know about sailing; he was a ladie’s man of sorts, one who knew the ropes of the sea but had a deficient vocabulary and well, Lm found him simple. The captain was sly, short, and had quite the interesting nose; he was boastful with a big mouth, pushy and an extremely mysoginistic character that Moby Dick would have spat upon. He learned quickly that Lm would not comply to some unspoken norms that went with the gig. Lm being completely daft and desperate to escape her home life jumped for the opportunity to go along. Apparently, many galley gals were expected to entertain the captain at sea with more than just their singing. She ducked his sexual advances, refused to laugh at his flirtatious nature he called “joking” and was on guard fully after the forty foot Nordic left the Chesapeake Bay and entered the Atlantic. The boat had been bought by a wealthy Floridian and the crew was to be paid very well (except Lm, another story, another day). In many ways she was running away from BaD Dad and Elle’s impending divorce and the non stop crying and yelling, yet she was also running away from a broken heart. Her first major boyfriend who damaged her trust as much as her father in all future relationships had called and advised against her going. This only gave her more incentive as he doubted her ability to handle life at sea. He was a jerk and in all facets of the definition of a decent human, he failed. Lm will most likely go on and on about him to you later. Now caught at sea with the creepy captain and his side-kick, she was in a storm that they were warned about by the radio weather monitor; it was approaching fast with wild winds and waves from four directions. On a sail boat with no way out she had to brace herself and go through it and believe in someone she despised. Storms are nothing to scoff about at sea. Harnessed in at the stern and both hands tightly on the helm she did exactly what captain said, “stay on this precise course and don’t let go.” The winds were steadily building while the guys worked the sails. She ducked as the boom swung from side to side and despite the captain being a very conceited man she was literally praying to God she would never sail again if he just guided these two sailors safely inland. After the storm they took an unplanned pause at the port in Beaufort, North Carolina. She and the guys got off the boat speechless and ran straight to a bar full of fellow wild water sailors. Drunk and scared she met a curly dark haired girl named Tilly with ankle bracelets and a big heart. Tilly was not afraid of anything and was as free as the winds which Lm believed could have killed them all. TJ and Tilly were seasoned and tanned by their multiple yachty-ness experiences and hooked up that first night; they were in full crush mode and she was welcomed to finish the journey with him and the captain. The captain was even more cocky toward Lm now that TJ had a pretty girl in one night and grew more and more agitated over the slightest things. In a snarky voice he barked at Lm to bring him a sandwich. Lm had been hiding out below in an aft bunk for as long as she could. Frightened yet angry at his savage ways she took two pieces of bread and peeled plastic away from the fake processed cheese food, then slapped some ham on it. She was not happy about his behavior toward her although she was grateful he chose to listen to TJ and take the intracoastal waterway and navigate toward St. Augustne, Florida. She looked at the sandwich and took a bite off the corner and spit it out as she was a strict vegetarian. Nextly, she took a squirt bottle of French’s mustard and wrote RAT on his sandwich in bright yellow and orange. She stepped up from the cabin, handed him the sandwich on a paper plate and quickly went to sit with Tilly who was dangling her legs over the side starboard. The captain had one hand on the helm when Lm gave him the plate and he didn’t notice it’s appearance or say thanks as usual. Both girls giggled. Then they heard “Bitch!” and watched a ham and cheese sandwich fly over there heads and into the salty waters and float away. Lm was not asked to make any food for him again. Believe ROCK when he tells you that when Lm says she smells a “RAT“, she is spot on. She does adore all other rodents however.

Drifting; Lost at Sea or Found?

Photo by Laurie Kingdon on Pexels.com

Rock, Lm and NOW. Alone with vivid memories, I don’t move. I am here like driftwood waiting for someone to kick me around or discover my unique beauty. I am lonely and tired. I feel desperate and afraid; I am so tired of being “OKAY” for everyone in my family who doesn’t want to hear the TRUTH. I do not care if BadDad is being a “better” father to five other siblings; I am not one of them. I am the branch that broke off during the storm, free floated through salty teared seas and landed in a secret safe space. I am no longer negotiating for love, understanding and playing by others rules. I stopped caring today. I have no grand words to cultivate, no more deals to make. I AM. I RELEASE. I SAY GOODBYE TO THE PAIN THAT STEERED MY LIFE. I am loved for who I am by very special people. I will never again reach out across the globe to make others feel nice. I am not NICE; I am Honest.

Inner Galaxies; Undiscovered Black Holes Within Lm.

Constellations of memories light up Lm’s brain, she can’t sleep as they flicker on and off stopping only when the sun rises and even then there is a only a tiny dimmer switch to rest with her pain. Physical pain was once easier than the psychedelic light show her mind set loose just as she tried to sleep. Now the two sources of pain have made a unique blend that she must try and swallow and go on with each day in conscious repression. Steven Hawkings would be proud of her discoveries, even if she hasn’t shared them with others. She is like a small wild flower in a glass vase much too big for her beauty to be noticed. She lies at the bottom, her petals dancing with color and no one sees her. The pain is like over watering an African Violet, she is drenched and can not do anything about it. Entering her thoughts is risky, for one could be sucked in and not find their way back to safety. She will hold on to you, beckon you not to go and the swirls of ruby fire lit asteroids will attach to you. Escape plans must be made and to survive her pull and force of neediness you must be strong.

In Over My Head; A Journey Back to Me

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EyesOPEN, Gray, Blinding visions, first feeling the pain of waking, assessing my spirit’s cage carefully. Roll over to wake and see nothing to greet my loss of self. SickWith me. LittleMe, MiddleMe, OlderMe, AngryMe, SadMe. I see sundrips upon my skin, they are playful, like the child I once was. I do not feel free but bound and stranded within my soul’s carriage. I am half way nowhere and there is noone to save me but ME. Do I have the strength to fight for Lm, my self worth, my existence or don’t I? That is the real debate. I feel like I am on satin sheets, sliding downwards to an end, an end of what? This life? My consciousness is aware of other’s expectations; my mixed emotions are more like a forced collaborative art project in mixed media. I remain a conglomerate of my past and I can’t get over grief just because it’s part of the healing process assigned to me. I can not recreate a new me from a piece of yarn, a stroke of a paintbrush or one poem. There is no recipe or delight in growing a new version of self if I can’t even remember who I am anymore. I wish upon stars and hold amythyst next to my chest, I breathe in chance and exhale death. I am not so sure ROCK can carry me further. If I lose him as my frontline force against the world, I will lose me.

Little Red House in the Woods; Rock is on a Holiday or is He?

ROCK’s narrative is completely different than Lm’s; same team with different stories. His voice is gravelly, hoarse and deep. He looks stern and yet if he became human, he would be an interesting type of handsome. He would favor perhaps a weathered and a rugged actor such as Sam Elliot or Morgon Freeman. He thrives on being surrounded by nature, fresh air and cool, wet moss. Most Rocks do prefer to be kept outside but by now you know he is a very special kind of stone. Lm is refusing to leave the little red house. She favors her mother in mannerisms when angry, furrowing her brows and wincing, yet she has BadDad’s freckled red complexion with a crooked smile and his light blue eyes that squint in the sunlight. Overall, Lm asks “Why do I have to look like the one who hurt me most, left me over and over again and snapped my trust in LOVE into the ground so hard that I continue to fight and dig myself out of this pain to this very day, meaning NOW?” Lm reminds ROCK of a young Hemingway descendant or Sissy Spacek in the horror film Carrie and when she is tender, she has a bit of Lindsey Lohan. As a child, she began using her empathetic nature to sniff out trouble, find reasons to help others, meaning humans, dogs, dead birds who needed burying and had a list of ways to make people smile. She knew her babysitter loved her hair combed and despite it’s oily smell she would sit on the sofa behind her sitter and comb her hair and watch Gilligan’s Island. Her step-father irritated her and yet he could also make her laugh. He had told her mother that she was to hard on Lm and she wished her mother had listened. Her moods are always whipping all around like a cyclone of anxiety, or as if one is walking on a dusty trail in the Arizona desert behind an Appalosa but not riding it. Whimpers come from under the bed and ROCK tries to pull her out and coax her with some fun memories. Remember when you and your grandparents were driving to your great-grandparents farm in Georgia and “Nanny” wanted to get out in the eastern hills of Tennessee and look for UFO’s? Remember you lying in the back seat with the windows cracked and the smell of Paw-Paw’s pipe filled with cherry tobacco and how he claimed you as his special girl? Why can’t you focus on “AP” dancing and giving you your first Tom Robbins book “Still Life With Woodpecker”? Think, think, dig for the good stuff and remember how much your beloved friend still is here for you! She is in your heart on call and she has guided you through life like an angel from heaven? She is the sister, the mother, the leader and the one who taught you to try and keep going. Think how she would be if she were here right now. “AP” has not been introduced to readers until today. She lives far away near where Lm was born; Lm lives in Scandanvia. Lm lashes out at ROCK, “she would not be like you pushy face!” then, “she would crawl under this bed with me!”. Pouting and picking at old wounds Lm has resolved to be mute today. Her bad memories of unexpected slaps by her mother’s hand stinging her face, her mother’s pinching on her skin and under her breath words, angry stares, and mostly the belt with holes blazing across her raw pale buttocks. The criticism and strict rules all are puffing up and causing Lm tears. Lm stopped talking, eating and trying to be seen as a teen and still falls back into the hole, rewatching the reel to reel of memories that made her who she is. Meeting “AP” was by far good timing; they both were on dates seated closely together at a cabaret with music and cigarette girls. That fateful night in 1981 they shared champagne. Lm was eighteen and lost like a kitten on the side of the road. “AP” would become, even to this day her most trusted, loyal friend, the strong, older sister she never had and when she laughs she makes a very special giggly sound, when she talks she goes from subject to subject and Lm understands “AP” as she bounces her thoughts around. ROCK decides to go out and guard the door; Lm stays under the bed pretending her best friend is with her and pulls out her pastels, her old photos, thinks of camping under the stars with “AP”, reading Thoreau, identifying flowers and plants and is soothed for now. Lm is so tired and he is worried she will not pull herself through this blockage of physical and emotional pain without “AP”. There are no magic wands or fairies yet he does not argue with Lm about her whims and silly beliefs because they make her happy. ROCK is outside and she has locked him out in the rain. He will let her draw, escape, cry and believe in all the magic love can bestow upon her. This vacation is not for Lm, it’s for ROCK. She will feel raw, scalded and lonely and sink deeper and deeper, down into her traumatic past and drag each memory up. She will sob, lose all the progress she has been working on and he will have to go back to ground zero with her. There are never enough minutes in the day, enough room for perfect dreams in the night or enough hands to hold when she slips and falls into the scattered past that swallows her heartbeat and hope.

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Photo by Andrea Polla

ROCK’s Weary

For as long as Lm struggled ROCK had her back; the question is how long will Rock continue. Smooth yet petrified, ROCK has covered for Lm for soon sixty years. How does ROCK move on and integrate Lm’s trauma into one neat little package? Gazing into the future, releasing Lm’s agony has to begin. He has to hand over her pain and get her ready for the new and beyond. Lm’s so broken that he is ashamed to admit he too, is weary. The late nights at free falling into frail memories is getting very difficult to control. Is Lm going to become stronger, ready to fly on her own or will she continue to fear each day and ask more questions,? How will she learn to forget? The work to merge the two personas into one is constant, like tiny Santa’s helpers preparing toys for Christmas. They are diligent, undermined and need to be celebrated for their behind the scenes duties. ROCK needs as much as she needs him. A dubious path, fraught with periods of silence together they must meld into a better version of each other. Dry tears form stones into artifacts; artifacts are rediscovered and pulled into the light to be examined. It’s a hot bed of pain and Lm is not moving forward, rather than accepting the two, three or four and more sides, Lm is clinging to ROCK’s bravery and what she knows as Love unconditionally and vows not to hang up her coat or hat just yet.

Shuffling through Life With Lm and ROCK; The Games We Play

Sunlight filters in through Lm’s drawn shades; she can’t sleep and watches as it changes shapes on the ceiling from her bed. None of these studied details will come again, like each diamond, every piece of sea glass and snowflakes the sun continues to provide a different light show everyday. It was a tiny slice at first, narrow and pointy. It widened, lengthening and flickering until it became so engaging going back to sleep was ruled out. Like a deck of cards well shuffled one rarely gets the same hand twice, we never know what we will be dealt and what will happen as the game is played. Life is rarely a royal flush but with curiosity and perhaps hope we continue to play loosely mindful of the whole picture. No one wins more time no matter how many clever tricks they can do. Magical potions, merciful angels, or the great mystery known as God might let us exchange a bad card for a little more time before we finally reach the end of our game. How do we finesse our individual house of cards to spend more time with those we love. How do we prolong our own reflections, our unique light that we project throughout our own lives? The light on the ceiling is no longer visible yet I know another morning design will wake me up, or do I ? The smallest parts of our intricate selves are never fully seen by anyone, yet we continue to try to show our imprint, our colorful feathers and deeply desire understanding with a need for others to believe in us. Will you have lived your life knowing you never cheated yourself or anyone into seeing all that you have to share? How can we take risks, pull out a card from our own hand and use it to justify our dreams. Procrastination is never going to be the winning deal, one must act, take a chance and live as if we all must fold our hands tomorrow. “Someday I want to go on a train to Prague, Croatia, the Adriatic Sea. Someday I want to return to the most northern isles of Norway. Someday I want to see “The Scream” in Oslo. When I turn sixty, I want to be with my best friend anywhere. When I turn sixty I will get a baby piglet and name her Opal or Pearl. When one of my best friends comes to Sweden we will go to Stockholm together and have girl time and catch up eating chocolate croissants and coffee in bed, opening champagne at lunch, see the small galleries and by each other pretty scarves and pretend we are sisters. Someday my siblings will see my Truth, I won’t be the Black sheep but a herder of my flock. When my daughter’s are home together we will take them on a surprise trip to ski again, just like when they were eight and eat pizza and start over again. One day I will sell my ArT work and I will be free from pain, and when that happens I will fly like a strong Canadian goose to see my family far, far away. All will be perfect, we have good genes. Letting Go is a long time away, we don’t need to hurry or be afraid. Our children are safe, they will have good lives and even more good things will come. In the autumn, in the spring, next winter or?

Heavenly You

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UP, in the light, beyond all of eyesight is where our love lives. It is a beacon, a safe place where we retreat and are one. Each night you breathe in and out, the sound of your heart beating holds me, your warm flesh near mine soothes me, the smell of us is a new constellation. I am awakened and driven to tell the whole Universe our story yet I am insecure and hold onto us like I will never find you again. I want to hide you in a special place, a beautiful space with all your favorite things. I want to live and be strong and keep us, our starlit passion and dreams alive. Am I failing or falling as I lose part of me to pain, past afflictions, and a mirage of memories? Please don’t forget me if I spin off into a black hole, remember how I adore you and believe in more than me. Behind this galactic beauty is another world where we will be released from the boundaries of humankind; we shall be the stars of our own Odyssey, the dancers waltzing to a song we have composed whimsically and we will shine, oh how we will shine. Our love is our faith in one another, our destiny is enraptured without haste, we come together to be. To be. Be. A Lover’s concerto, a newly formed star that sparkles into the eyes of those still searching for truth. Our love will surpass earthly constrictions, lifting us to heights we do not fear. Don’t be afraid my Love; you are my wings.

Floating On By…

Release, LET GO, Still, Be, Flow, Hear the ripples of Love? My far away calls, to you? Listen as the night stars breathe out LIGHT; No pattern, no scheme, no day, no regime; Belong as you are, NOW, float in the storm and free yourself from the pain in whatever way you feel it, close your eyes, rest, accept how it is right now. Rock keeps Lm steady as she fights off the bruises of time, she is feeling soft, needing warmth from the western winds, she is above water at least and knows there is no pattern to getting to the right place; she will let the wild waters take her where she needs to be. She hopes you will meet her along her journey and hop in the stream, the sea, the river, be there rocks, waves or sandy patches she vows to be constant with her effervescent Love; Mindful of your presence always, she hears your TRUTH as she holds you tight no matter, no matter, no matter what, Lm won’t give up on you. Blessed Be.

Stolen; The Embodiment of Trust (Are you familiar with Lm and ROCK? If not, remember to read my older blogs to catch up. We will be in the same spot as always.)

Bound by societal conformation we adorn our fingers with proof we are part of another; we have consigned within ourselves to be part of a whole. As a pair, wedded or not, both persons give part of their sentient “SELF” away. Inside the heart’s overflowing bloody pool many are tredding and desperatly clinging to reach the shore and shake off the idea of identifying themselves as seperate; like a wet labrador retriever humans often dedicate their entire lives to this bigger entity called marriage. Leashed, we toddle along and are faithful to our significant other in roughly 75.9% of human to human relationships. Yet, what if you were never whole on your own to begin with? Entrapped like a caged chimpanzee, your inner being never came forth. Lm was and is still hidden under layers of sediment and has never been set completely free. What does freedom really mean? How does her dedication to another feel when she is only a ghost of herself? Lm is not bound by religous doctrine and her insecurities wrestle with her pride daily. Why do people hide behind their roles, children or religion? What exactly is friendship? What makes one fear being who they are? Rock allows Lm much freedom to explore without guidelines. As far back as I can remember I have been shocked when others hurt me. It’s as if I have no shield between the real world and my heart. If I am betrayed I am not very good at forgiving. Where does this come from? I recently opened a door to a haunting memory at a southern USA summer church camp. I had one good friend joining me on this adventure and there would be new youth from all over the state of Tennessee to converge into this lovely, peaceful setting. I had my menstruation as I recall and was in much pain and couldn’t get in the pool. In the girl’s dorm before lights out I wrote in my journal and slipped it under my pillow each night. I described breakfast, vespers by campfires, the piney smell of the forest and my activities of the day. Each night at the campfire there was a boy who I thought was very cute and had a mean crush on. Note to all blossoming empathetic beings, never leave your journal where it can be found by others or in particular, don’t trust that good people won’t do bad things. I looked daily at the activity sign up sheet and made sure I was in whatever group he was going to be in that day. I laughed at his jokes, smiled with my shiny braces and always looked to see where his eyes wandered around when we met for campfire sharing before bedtime. My friend who came with me was very outgoing and had a sense of confidence I did not. She was the oldest of in her family of three sisters and one foster brother. We did not attend the same school however so my relationship with her was built on our both being in the loosely labeled ” Non-Denominational Christian Youth Group” in my part of the state. She would call me and ask if I was going to youth group each week and if I was going our mothers took turns picking us up. We also took ballet, tap and jazz dance lessons together and mall walked on Saturday nights together sometimes. She would become to me the monumental meaning of ” two-faced”, a term used in school amongst clicks talking about who could and could not be trust worthy. The depth of my innocence and lack of competence in social circles hadn’t hit me yet. I was not only the naive one in most situations but also the silly one. If I had no idea what to do I would make others laugh. Laughing was and is a good thing unless you become the target of others cruel wit. As camp neared the end of the two week stint I shared with my friend who had taken the long bus trip to western Tennessee with me that I had a crush on this boy. Unbeknownst to me was she already knew. Customary at camp was to give our new friends our addresses and many took photos. I asked my friend to please get a photo of me with this sweet boy and I would then suggest we exchange addresses. I stood as close to him as possible and he draped his right arm behind my neck and over my shoulder in full camp pal mode. I got his address and ran back to tuck it into my journal. What? Where was my diary? A sting swelled in my cheeks as if I had been slapped and tears broke loose. We were to all sit on the cabin steps for a group photo and I didn’t go back out. My youth counselor came in to find me and asked me why I was upset. As I told her my journal was missing she said that surely it must have fell behind my bunk bed when I was packing my things to go home and she would help me find it after. Teenage or middle aged trigger warning bells are chiming. I sit down and my friend asked me what was ” that all about?” and I told her. After the group’s picture was taken we were to pick up our lunches prepacked in the dining hall to eat on our buses home. I ran to get mine and as I was heading back to my room I saw my counselor with my journal in her hand; she always had a happy smile that all youth group leaders have, “I found it on the lower bunk.” I was grateful but certainly confused. We loaded our bus to the Nashville suburbs and my crush boarded his bus to far eastern Tennessee. My friend sat next to me and we ate our Lay’s potato chips first and giggled about different things we’d experienced all the way home. When we got off the bus I gave her a hug, never expecting it to be my last. I gave my film to my mother to have developed when she was driving. She stuck it in her purse and asked me lots of questions. I couldn’t find words to talk to my mother. I wanted to say I had a crush on a boy and I froze. I never could openly talk with my mother and I wasn’t about to start then. Days before school was to start my mother came home from work with my camp pictures developed. Excitedly I looked at each one and threw away the ones blurry with my big thumb also in them then, wait! What was this? My mother was near but busy making dinner yet she heard my outburst of tears and saw me run to my bed and do a full face down on my mattress kicking my legs and sobbing. She couldn’t understand my words but kept asking what was wrong. She looked at the picture and didn’t see what I did. As my photo was examined my TRUST, my Loyal Beagle friendship myth was broken. There I was with the boy who I had a secret crush on that only one person knew about. My holier than thou church pal who’d taken the photograph had also not only read my journal but given it to him to read also. There I stood like a fool, the rush of being close to this boy had my eyes reflecting my giddiness and well, the boy with one arm around my neck hanging over my shoulder had his other hand pulling my journal out from under his tee-shirt from the back. Yes, my friend took this photo and had shared my secret. Trust crumbled and I was unconsolable. On youth group night I overheard my mother speaking to my ex-friend’s mother about who was driving and I ran to her and motioned for her to cover the wall phone’s speaker. I blurted out I wasn’t going because I had a headache. My mother finished her conversation and hung up. A headache. She felt my head. I didn’t feel warm. I got out of this one night of humiliation yet I did not get out of my life sentence of anxiety when attempting to make new friends. To this very day that memory still comes up. I still take on the smiling persona that Rock helped Lm build to bravely navigate through social situations and sadly, this would not be my first lesson on friendship and meaningful communication. I would be hurt again and again because I cared too much. Today’s goal is strengthening my boundaries and my family which I have built on one solid foundation, Love and Trust. I am a good friend to hold onto however, without doubt I will remain in my stairwell peeking out at anyone new who wants to try to know me. I am still recovering. Still easily bruised and I am still fighting to understand what makes Lm happy.