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.
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.
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.
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.
Where has ROCK been? Why no writing? Lm rose above his domineering persona and said, “Fuck Off!” She pushed him into a hidden closet on the fourth step. She is OUT! She is running, diving, jumping, rolling, shouting, sobbing, vindictive, angry, broken, lost, alone and we must help her before……before she doesn’t turn around and trust us anymore. Her team is on the sidelines and she is sufferring. If you see her be gentle and slow to approach her skinless, impaired and descending self execution. She is so tired, she is so burnt, so ready to yank off her mask and spare no one a break. She is running numbers,scanning through all of her files; 001001001001001001001001001001001001 and Lm will reveal every single detail of her deeply buried pain. She will name the names, she will spit at you and she doesn’t care anymore. She hurts everyday, all day and all night and with ‘kin, not one cares to know, hear and show they respect the TRUTH. If the Onekin, (her description of her siblings are numbered as she runs a virus check through her brain NOW), stood up. If Onekin really wanted to be part of Lm’s safety net, well let’s just say Onekin has had a whole lot of information and still adores BadDad. Hurt? Hell yes it hurts. And there is more for Onekin to know. Lm is debating opening the door with so much sickening pain that it would hurt dear Onekin. Lm does not want to hurt Onekin. Or Twokin, or Threekin, or Fourkin, or Fivekin, or Sixkin, or Sevenkin. Lm only wants TRUTH. To be seen as the survivor she is. She is so insecure and was doing so well. What happened? Triggers do not go away. A gun was drawn that set off memories and Lm is wildly spinning into a tornado of such sorrow that she may not ever make it back to ROCK. She can’t live a lie, she does not trust anyone. SHE DOES NOT TRUST ANYONE! 001001001001001001001001001001001001001001001001……..
(Remnants of Isolation 2020-22) As a young adult living in Vermont, USA, tuning into a regular radio broadcast on Sunday morning with a warm mug of dark roasted coffee was a soulful retreat from the busy hum drudgery of the week. Garrison Keillor’s radio broadcast, “Prairie Home Companion” was exactly that, a delightful guest in my kitchen, a welcomed visitor with a smooth and soothing voice. The program was broadcast live from Minnesota, far away from the familiarity of my view of Mount Mansfield, part of the Green Mountain chain, where tall dark pines grew as far as the eye could see and neatly stacked firewood lined my weathered fence, much in need of mending. His famous quote, “Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” His smooth tone ensured my next hour was pleasant and the inner reflections silence brings would quell any worries. I now live on Sweden’s west coast beside a lake named Lygnern. I am far from Vermont, even further from “Lake Wobegon” and soon for ten years this view from my bedroom window has given me insurmountable pleasure. Although I have human companions, two furry Lepus who have leapt into my heart (domestic rabbits of the Teddy Bear and Lion haired-breeds) and spoiled Hedemora chickens, the comforting confinement I once chose has now become a quarantine for survival. I have seen the lake shine like an ice-covered pond on sunny days, frothy waves rustling from gales off the North Sea, moon beams bouncing playfully and Lygnern completely hidden by heavy fog. This body of water I have become enchanted with is my companion and I its guest. I have sat on the edge of my bed crying with only Lygnern as my witness and comfort. I have sat with my husband on warm summer evenings by the shore, hands embraced, our eyes indulging in its romantic hues. Our love deepens while the water ebbs and it has become the idealistic metaphor of daily life. I have watched children splash, laugh and wild water swimmers tackle this natural playground. Now I look out and feel the anxiety of the pandemic, grateful for living away from the city yet Lygnern has not changed. It does not reflect fear, rather harbors the history of our region and continues to offer up beauty and solace. It survived the cholera epidemic and on ridges near are graveyards of our village victims who once fished and swam in this lake, too. It has had rowboats browse these shores for centuries, ferries of wedding parties and been the backdrop for celebrations and gaiety for those long gone. Lygnern embodies in its wake the memories we both cherish and take for granted. From my window Lygnern will continue to be my companion differently than any other. All who have a view develop their own relationship with it. My worries flow and my hope grows; each day or even hour this lake offers gracefully and precisely what I need. For those alone during this history in the making, the 2020th year and onward shall forever induce memories of solitude; your view is up to you to create. If you look out and spy a streetlamp or a seagull, they are your personal mirror of Now. In solitude may we all find a path to inner peace by opening the pages of a book that takes us far away from our physical quarantine, tune in and listen to others and imagine your own comforting scenery. I never saw Lake Wobegon or met Garrison Keillor, yet they were as comforting every Sunday as an old friend who’d popped into town and surprised me. From Lake Lygnern I send each one of you a picturesque view during difficult times, and with a warm heart, I wish your days to be a bit brighter than the day before. I will continue to write from my perch above Lygnern in my cosiest sweater and I will commit to compliance not complacency while breathing in my view of this historically rich land and water. From outside the city, where the lake listens, the sun rises and sets and yes, we all `” think” we are good looking, Peace.
An angel from nature saw me sinking and swiftly pulled me through the fog. I had waited and waited for you to call. I heard sweet birds cooing and left my tears on the stone path to dry, for the beauty of my surroundings were stronger than my sigh. Rumbling in the trees a tiny deer appears nibbling on a plum tree bud with it’s tiny little ears. I do not frighten her for she knows we are one. I repeat “I am special”, “I am kind”, “I am full of love to give to all mankind”. LittleMe rises up from my deepest darkest space and ROCK quickly makes a move and puts her back in place. I will not let my love be taken by those who dare not see that I am grateful for myself, I at least still have me.
All aboard! It’s the Pain Train. My seat is permanent, my choices are few and I can’t go to the bar car, the toilet or be around others without making a huge fuss, therefore I choose to stay in my assigned seat. No one can help me; I own this pain. Looking out the window the world flies past and life is taking off at a speed I can’t cope with. The conductor is my nervous system colliding with my brain’s reactions to every tiny bit of stimulus. I see you and I care but I am off track and my brain signals are traveling at such a rate that I do not understand the smallest of conversations or even my own thoughts. This is not the train anyone with any healthy lifestyle wants to board; but it is packed. People are laying in the aisles and hoping for assistance, recognition and acceptance. Chronic Pain Syndrome or CPS is an official diagnosis now by WHO, (no not the band) , rather the World Health Organization. I was recently diagnosed with a severe form that has caused me to lose my vocabulary, shortened my fuses so to speak causing me to be easily startled, reacting with a scream or even sobbing as if the whole world is ending. In some ways, on some days, it actually does feel like a hopeless battle to live this life and ride this train. I have a collision of diagnosis. Degenerative Disc Disease, an inherited condition that I’ve known of since I was in my twenties turned from a back ache after gardening into the most severe form fast in my late forties. At that time I was given 20mg patches of morphine that I changed every few days. I believed this was as bad as it could get then. Yet, I was swimming, walking and riding my bicycle still. I also was cooking which I love to do. From there I slowly began to develop boney growths jutting inward toward my throat and spinal cord and I was told I had unfortunatly signs of early onset osteoporosis. I was put on a bone mineral supplement and more vitamin D and calcium was prescribed. Can’t get worse than this I thought, until it did. A spinal specialist said there was nothing that could be done. I not only have scoliosis, but also severe arthritis and various deformations head to toe. Earlier I had been sent to a university hospital rheumatologist who diagnosed me with fibromyagia, something I would not accept or grasp until I had the most severe flare I have ever had recenty. ( I am recooping now yet have a lot of work to be steadily on my feet again). The Dr.’s who upped the morphine years ago are unable to treat me now. I will say it barely takes the edge off on 30mgs daily slow release which includes fast acting oxynorm up to three times a day, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, blah blah blah. The more boney growths, the worse my spine becomes. Earlier I was walking with a rolater and or crutches or a cane. Sitting was and remains one of my worst enemies but as I said, my seat is assigned for life. I then contracted covid in March of this year after three vaccinations; the very first time I went out into the city I caught it. I have not regained my strength, have developed chronic asthma and sleep as if in a coma or swing to the other extreme, experiencing severe insomnia and nothing will knock me out. My head hurts daily, I now have tinnitus and vision issues. The train chugs along and now I am in cue for a pain specialist rehabilitation hospital north of Stockholm. I never write about physical pain because I don’t know how to project the feeling with words so that others understand. I know that a really nice man, the husband of an American friend said the right thing one time years ago and it stuck with me. “Hello, it’s nice to see you are having what looks like a relatively good day”. It meant the world that someone knew my good days were fewer than my bad and that he also understood people like me don’t get better, we are chronically living in a state of pain that can ease up a bit but never leaves us completely blissful. For all the readers and writers out there who are living with CPS, I understand you now. I am sorry that I did not understand what my fellow passengers were experiencing until now. Mental health is important to address for everyone and somehow I let mine fall apart. Hopefully after my stay in the Pain Rehabilitation hospital (Uppsala University Hospital) I will be able to read with focus, write with more clarity, listen to others and converse, start walking for my overall health and socializing a bit more with those who have hung in there with me. I will still ride the train with you and I will try to reach out to all of you much more. Remember, you are not alone. We are on board together.
She would love the old farmhouse and joke about marijuana not being legal in Sweden. She would look at all of my art and feel something. I would have a hard time keeping up the conversation because of my fibromyalgia flare, non stop headaches and chronic pain syndrome. My spine wouldn’t let me cook her one of my famous soups so I would put out a nice bottle of red wine, lay fresh wild flowers by her glass and talk about how fucked up the world is and how we can’t do enough in our short lives to save it. I think I could manage to make a Västerbotten pie which is a Swedish favorite and saute kale, shredded cauliflower and sesame seeds with chili flakes and grill corn. I wonder if she likes caviar. My pain would overwhelm me and I would need extra morphine. I’d tell her how her Easter album changed me, made me feel less guilt and oppression internally from my Bible belt upbringing. I think she’d like me. Maybe I would touch her wild gray hair and talk to her about Bob Dylan and how he can’t be repeated, reincarnated and how many people idolize his ability to hit his listeners over the head with an iron skillet, while repeatedly trying to wake society up. I would serve sweet strawberries and cream and she wouldn’t care that I was in my pajamas because I hurt so much. She would probably not stay over and have ” a guy” that drives her around smoking camels in my driveway. She would hug me and I’d ask if we could take a selfie. She’d oblige and get into a black SUV with dark windows and slowly the driver would make it around the barn, past the silos and I would feel satisfied how well it all went and write a long journal entry. I would call my friends and they’d doubt me. I would have met a rockin’ icon and remember how she empowered all women to continue to stand and raise our community UP to higher ground.