Category Archives: Childhood Traumas

My Life — It’s All Wrong — Again (Still?)

Somehow, I got the story of my life wrong.

I’m really not at all sure how it happened.   But apparently I did.  I don’t like to talk about it.  But I can feel you twisting my arm.  UNCLE!!!!

The thing is, I’ve been telling the story of my life for years.  For my whole life, in fact.  It’s fascinating.  Intriguing.  Hilarious.  Well, it is the way I tell it, anyhow.

It’s the stuff of legends.  Because like every good heroine in every good novel, I had a transformation.  A metamorphosis.  A change of life (no, not that kind).   I went from being a pathetic, shy, “please don’t notice me” sort of person into, well, me.  The person I am today.  And you will agree, that I am not shy, retiring or ashamed of breathing air.  But I used to be.  Really.  You can trust me on that. You see, I was there.

Besides, I can pinpoint the transformation.  I know exactly when the moth turned into the butterfly.  It happened on  January 22, 1977.

As it happened, I’d moved to Boston in October, and truth be told I was horribly lonely.  Living away from home was not the wild time I had dreamed of in my yearning to be an adult living in the big city away from my parents.  There I was living in Boston, a city filled to breaking point with people my age, but I didn’t know a soul.   I had no friends.  No one to talk to.  No one to go out with, and I hated going out by myself. I was miserable.

Actually, I was so painfully shy that I avoided talking to anyone I didn’t have to.  I didn’t know how to make friends.  I was afraid that if people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me.  So I made sure that no one had any opinion of me at all.  I was pretty much invisible.

In fact, that’s how I had always lived my life.  In high school, I had a small group of close friends, and really didn’t ever try to go beyond them.  I was in Players, but there I could pretend to be someone else.  That’s what we were supposed to do.  But mostly, I was still friends with the folks I’d gone to junior high school with.  I didn’t branch out much.  I kept quiet, kept my head down.  Nobody knew me.  I always worried that if people knew what I was really like that they wouldn’t like me.  So I didn’t let anybody in.  Then if they didn’t like me, well, they didn’t know me.

My invisibility was confirmed a year or so after my transformation when I was parking my car at my hometown’s train station.  My boyfriend Erik was with me, when Kevin, the heart-throb of Players pulled up next to me.  I’d had a huge crush on Kevin all through school.  He played the lead in all the plays, could sing and dance and was incredibly handsome and talented.   In spite of that Kevin was always nice to me – in fact, he was one of the first people to seriously encourage me to sing.

(Google Image)

(Google Image)

I got out of the car, walked over to him and said:

“Hi Kevin, it’s Elyse.  How are you?”

“Ummm,” said Kevin, clearly not recognizing me.

“We went to high school together,” I reminded him.  I mentioned the plays we’d done together.  Erik stood next to me.

“Sorry,” he said.  “I don’t remember you.”  And he walked away.

Naturally, I was mortified.  It was proof positive, in front of a witness, that I had been invisible.  That nobody had noticed me.  That this guy who had really actually given me my first smidge of confidence on the stage didn’t remember me.  (And we won’t even get into the fact that he could have just said, ‘oh, yeah, how are you doing, it’s been a while.’)

Now, back to my transformation.

Being shy was fine as long as I was at home – my few friends were still nearby.  But when I moved?  I didn’t know a soul.  Worse, I didn’t know how to make friends.  And I had no idea how to learn a skill that I believed you either have or don’t have.  I didn’t have it.

In January 1977 I found myself in the hospital.  Sick, miserable, far from home and family.   My boss, on his way to visit a sick colleague, stopped in to say hello.  He was embarrassed as I was sitting in my hospital bed (appropriately) in my nightgown.  He didn’t stay long.    Nancy, my office mate, came too.  But she was older, married with kids.  She too could only stay a minute.   My parents came up over the weekend.   Otherwise, my only contact was with doctors and nurses.  People who got paid to talk to me.

Cambridge Hospital

(Google Image)

It was pathetic.  I was pathetic.  I had no friends.  Nobody cared.  I cried myself to sleep for the first two nights I was there.

On the 22nd, a light bulb went off.

Maybe if I talked to other people, if I took my nose out of my book, well then maybe, maybe I could make a friend or two.

And really at that moment I decided that being shy was stupid.  All it got me was loneliness.  And being lonely for life, well, that didn’t sound at all appealing.

So I forced myself to be not shy.  I made myself talk to people I didn’t know.  To let them get to know me and decide, based on knowing what I was really like, whether they liked me or didn’t.

But talking to strangers is really hard.  So I developed a fool-proof strategy.  Whenever I was with someone I didn’t know, I’d say to them:

“Don’t you hate trying to figure out what to say to people you don’t know?”

As it turns out, everybody hates trying to figure out what to say to people they don’t know.  And they all have something to say about just how hard it is!

I’d stumbled onto success.  And then I went further.  I was nice to people.  I made them laugh.  I asked them about their lives.  Let them tell me their stories.  Let them help me develop my own.

I was a different person.  A completely different person.

I even have a witness to this transformation.  You see, I was in a play that winter/spring.  Rehearsals started in January, just before I went into the hospital.  And at the first couple of rehearsals, I sat next to Howard.  Howard kept chatting me up, being friendly to me.  I had my nose in a book, grunted my answers and really was too shy to be more than polite.

OK, so I was a bitch to Howard.  He remembers.  He would testify to the existence of the shy Elyse.  After my metamorphosis, Howard became one of my closest friends.

It’s a great story isn’t it?

But, you ask, how did you get it wrong, Elyse?  You know I’m going to tell you.

You see, about 3 years ago, I went to a reunion of my high school acting group, the Players.  It was the 50th anniversary of the start of the group, which is well-known in Southern Connecticut.  There was to be a tour of the completely renovated school building, a review show starring Players from all the different eras who still lived in the area, a dinner and many, many drinks.

My old, close friend and fellow Player Sue and I decided to meet and share a hotel room.  I picked her up at the train station, and we drove through our memories together.  It was great – we caught up, laughed, acted like 16 year olds who were allowed to drink.  We had a blast.

At some point, I mentioned to her how shy I was in high school.

Shy kid

“You weren’t shy in high school.”

“Yes I was.  I was horribly shy.  Afraid of everyone.”

“No, you weren’t.”

“Well, you were one of my best friends,” I responded.  “Of course I wasn’t shy with you.”

Sue looked at me skeptically and the conversation went on to more interesting topics.

The next day, the day of the reunion, we linked up with other friends from our era.  Of course my close friends remembered me.  But so did people I didn’t remember.  In fact, most people from those days remembered me.  I was shocked.  How could people remember  invisible me?

I mentioned my surprise to Karen.  Now Karen was someone I looked up to.  She was (is) smart.  Funny.  Talented.  She’s someone I would have liked to have been close to in high school, but, really, I was way too shy.  And she was really cool.

“I would have had a lot more fun in high school if I hadn’t been so shy,” I said to Karen.

“Elyse, what are you talking about?” Karen said, her eyebrows furrowed and her entire body leaning towards me across the table.   “You were exactly like you are now back in high school.  Talkative.  Funny.  Vivacious.  You weren’t shy in the least.

Vivacious?  Me?

According to everybody there, which constituted most of my high school universe, the story I’d told for decades is wrong.  I was not shy.  I did not transform.  I am probably not even a damn butterfly.

I am so confused.  How do you get the story of your own life wrong?

*     *     *

I decided to re-post this piece from last year after a fun discussion about introverts and extroverts over at Gibber Jabber.

So what are you, an introvert, an extrovert, or as brilliantly suggested by Glazed suggested in yesterday’s comments, an ambivert?

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Bloggin' Buddies, Childhood Traumas, Crohn's Disease, Friends, Health, Health and Medicine, History, Huh?, Illness, laughter, Mysteries, Plagarizing myself, Rerun, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, Toilets, Wild Beasts

Everybody Hates Birthdays

It’s Duncan’s First Birthday!

There are presents!

There are treats!

There are new things that squeak!

And there are these damn hats.

What’s with these damn hats?

 

I am going to bite that woman.

I am going to you, Mom.  Hard.  Really, really hard.

 

Now that he’s a year old, Duncan is no longer a puppy.  So he has to behave.  Right?  Right?

Actually he’s started behaving better already.  He didn’t eat the hat.  That’s a start.

 

 

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Earth Day/Birthday — Recycled Recycled Post

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the 45th Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 63rd birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets find food, shelter and work — to enable them to jump-start their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  But hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.

*     *     *

If this looks/sounds familiar, it’s because I recycled this post from last year.  Because you should never use fresh when you can reuse something already written.  And you can never get enough of “Hey Jude.”

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Filed under Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Beatles, Birthday, Childhood Traumas, Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Crazy family members, Family, Farts, Global Warming, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, laughter, Love, Politics, Science, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts

A Nose for Gold

Have you got a Nose for Gold?

Growing up at the beach, I never had much use for those little dweebes who would pan for gold in Long Island Sound. All they ever got was a plastic container of cigarette butts.

Well, it is Connecticut's "Gold Coast" but that's not quite what they mean.  (Google Image)

Well, it is Connecticut’s “Gold Coast” but that’s not quite what they mean. (Google Image)

And on my one trip to California when I visited a ghost gold town, well, I was still not all that impressed. But at least they got them some gold. Some of them.

I can't even remember if this is the gold miner statue I saw.  (Google image)

I can’t even remember if this is the gold miner statue I saw. (Google image)

But more recently, I’m thinking that maybe I’ll try my, ummm, hand, at gold mining.

Yeah — me!

In fact, it might just be an opportunity for me to work from home.  I may actually be sitting on a gold mine. Really! Who knew!

More than for personal gain, however, I will do it in the name of science.  You see, scientist now think that this type of mining may just save the planet!  It could reduce the need for more environmentally harmful types of mining.

Oh, I guess I forgot to explain the rest.  You see, I just read that scientists are, ummm, mining for gold in unexpected places. Silver, too. And you know, they’ve found some platinum, too.  A veritable jewelry store of precious metals.

Wanna know where?

In poop.  People Poop.

Really! They’re finding all sorts of shit in there! I just read about it in an article entitled:

Scientists Want to Mine Our Poop for Gold

According to the article:

Every year, Americans are flushing a fortune down the toilet. Literally. More than 7 million tons of biosolids—treated sewage sludge—pass through US wastewater facilities annually. Contained within our shit are surprisingly large quantities of silver, gold, and platinum.

I am prodigious poop producer.   I figure, well, I’m golden.

Google Image

Google Image

I’m hiring pan sterilizers if anybody is looking for a job.

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Filed under All The News You Need, Bat-shit crazy, Childhood Traumas, Crohn's Disease, Disgustology, Extra Cash, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, History, Huh?, Humor, Science, Stupidity, Toilets

TRIFECTA!

When I studied humor writing, I was taught something called “The Rule of Three.”

As the second deity in my holy research trinity, Wikipedia, says:

The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.[citation needed]

That is the only reason there are Three Stooges. Because two just wouldn’t be funny. Come to think of it, THREE haven’t been funny since I hit puberty. But still.

Anyway, the Rule of Three works. Three is funny.

So I was delighted this week to learn that the GOP has adopted the Rule of Three! Yes, It’s true. They are pushing the envelope for legislative giggles. Ba Da DUMB!

Google, Natch!

Google, Natch!

Have you been paying attention? Because here’s what happened just this week:

In the Ring on the Right, we have Michele Fiore, Majority Leader of the Nevada State Assembly who has a whole new take on cancer, cancer treatment and what is apparently cancer of her own mouth:

“If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus, and we can put a pic line into your body and we’re flushing, let’s say, salt water, sodium cardonate [sic], through that line, and flushing out the fungus… These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective.”

Photo from Crooks and Liars.com

Michele standing up for freedom with Cliven Bundy’s gang. Yeh Haw! Photo from Crooks and Liars.com

It really is amazing just how inexpensive death can be — there aren’t even any copays!

As my Dad would have said, “There’s a fungus among us.” That line is the only thing I could think of to say in light of this previously unknown cancer disclosure. Thanks, Michele.

Deja vu!

Deja vu!

 

In the Other Right Hand Ring is Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri (R) who showed once again how the GOP really, truly has no fucking clue about women – literally or figuratively.  Or anatomically.

It all happened at a hearing on Tele-medicine – there is a bill in the Idaho Legislature that would prohibit doctors from prescribing medications that can induce a miscarriage — an abortion — from doing so via telemedicine – an online consultation.   Have you seen how fucking BIG Idaho is?  Or how it is somewhat phallic looking?

As stated in the AP Article:

Dr. Julie Madsen, a physician who said she has provided various telemedicine services in Idaho, was testifying in opposition to the bill. She said some colonoscopy patients may swallow a small device to give doctors a closer look at parts of their colon.

Now wait for it.  Here it comes … Your turn, Rep Barbieri!:

“Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?” Barbieri asked.

Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

Allow me to rephrase this:

A man who has been duly elected to office – in the United States of America which office grants him a certain measure of control over many things including women’s reproductive rights, does not understand that there is no direct link from the mouth to the uterus.

The AP article went on to state:

Barbieri later said that the question was rhetorical and intended to make a point.

I’m pretty sure that Rep Barbieri made THREE points:

  1. That he doesn’t know shit from shinola,
  2. That he should just dig a hole and crawl inside for the remainder of his life.
  3. He should try stand-up comedy because I have had too few good belly/vagina laughs lately. Until I read this.
You know where I got the stupid photo, already.

You know where I got the stupid photo, already.

Now you know how there is always a serious guy in the comedic trio? This circus of GOPers is no exception.

In the Other Other Right Ring:  Here is the MO of this trio: Idaho GOP state Rep. Christy Perry!

Christy, is (of course) a good Christian. Being a good Christian, she is “pro-life.” Well, as long as that life isn’t breathing oxygen on its own, anyway.

Because Ms. Perry is apparently pro-life only until a baby is born. Apparently she finds it perfectly OK for parents to deny their children medical care in the name of the Lord. For Religious Reasons. And, you know, for FREEDOM!

Remember at this point in the movie, they are removing his intestinal organs.  There is no camera inside there. No vagina either, come to think of it.

 

*     *     *

 

So you see, our GOP reps really have the world of comedy all figured out. Ain’t it a shame though, that they only know slapstick.

And ain’t it also a shame that we as a nation are always the ones who slip on that damn banana peel?  Because we are down on our asses until we get these folks out o’ Dodge.  And DC.  And out of your statehouse and mine.

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Pet Power!

Elyse:

What a terrific way to cheer up a kid in the hospital.  I was 17 the first time I was hospitalized — it’s a terribly lonely place to be.  So sharing some pictures of my Duncan is the least I can do.

Thanks, Tops, (of Life With The Top Down) for letting me know about it! Duncan pics on the way to Anthony!

Originally posted on Life With The Top Down:

Immediate Smile Immediate Smile

This morning as I was trolling on Facebook I noticed that one of my friends posted an adorable photo of her two puppies Cosmo and Emma, but this time it was different. She included a well wishes to someone named Anthony. Hmm … further investigation was necessary.

After a few clicks I found out that her photos were actually part of a wonderful event Photo Doggies for Anthony. Anthony is a 16-year-old boy who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

As I was reading his story I found out that Anthony is a firm believer in the power of pet therapy and animal healing. I know my Peanut has wonderful nursing skills, so I can’t argue with that thought. 

Therapy dogs are just not available every day for every patient, so some wonderful people in Anthony’s life came up with this incredible idea…

View original 171 more words

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An Actual Fun Office Christmas Party Idea — REALLY!

Damn it.  (No, that’s not the Christmas party idea.)  I meant to post this earlier.  Like in November.  But I forgot. Because in spite of not being terribly fond of Christmas any more, this is a great idea.

Thanks to Doobster for his post The Office Christmas PartyIt reminded me that I forgot.  Or something.

So embedded in this story is the great office Christmas Party idea.  Whoever comments on it first gets to give me his or her favorite stuffed animal.

A Different Toy Story

Nobody suspects I would have done anything of the sort.  I’ve fooled them all.  Well, at least I’ve fooled the folks I work with.  And that will do.

You see, we have a terrific Christmas tradition at my office.  We have a party, yes, and it’s actually fun because we like each other.  And the highlight of the party is a gift exchange.   About two weeks prior to the party, we choose the name of a co-worker, and bring a gift for that person as if he or she were 7 years old.  We open the gifts and have a great time guessing who gave it to us.  Then the toys are collected and given to a local charity.

We have a blast, it’s for a good cause, and everybody tells their funny childhood remembrances of what we would have done with a toy like they got.

But it was awkward for me this year, because I got a doll.

She was a beautiful, blue-eyed doll with rosy cheeks and curly blond hair just like mine.  Any girl would love her and gently care for her.  Any girl would treasure that pretty doll.  Any girl would have given that beautiful doll to her own daughter to love, too.

Google Image from Etsy

Google Image from Etsy

Link to doll

Any girl but me.

Because for the most part, I hated dolls.  And for most of my childhood, I did anything to avoid playing with them.  Except when I was about 7.

Well, I guess I answered honestly when I said that, uhhh, yeah, I would have played with the delicate dolly.   And, yeah, I would have played with it when I was about 7 years old.  So yeah, the gift, umm, fit me.  I didn’t elaborate, though.

I didn’t, for example, tell anyone that the dolly would not have been happy with the situation.

I blame my parents, they bought that particular house.  I blame my brother. Me, I was innocent.  I was led astray.  I was forced to do it.  The fact that it was hilarious and became one of my favorite memories is completely irrelevant.

You see, the house I grew up in was next to the railroad tracks.  And naturally, because it was strictly forbidden, my brother Fred and I used to spend lots of time playing on the tracks.  We’d put our ears to the rail to listen for trains, and, once we were sure none were coming, we’d run across the tracks.

That was fun for part of the first summer we lived there, but hey we were 6 and 9.  We needed growth opportunities.

We flattened pennies until we had enough to lay track from New York to New Haven made entirely of smushed Lincoln faces.  For a while we would wait for a train to come and then hop across the tracks, trying not to trip and die.  Fortunately we both succeeded and outgrew our interest in that particular challenge.  We tried to flip the track switch so that the train would jump the track and go down our driveway instead of on towards New Haven.  But for some reason, someone had locked the switch, and no matter what we did, we could not get the train to go down our driveway.  It was probably just as well.

One day, I got home from a friend’s house to find that my favorite stuffed animal, an orange poodle won for me by my dad, was missing.  Naturally, I accused my brother of hiding it.

“I didn’t hide it, Lease,” he said.  “I played with it.  It was just sitting on your bed,” he said in that brotherly tone that indicates I was stupid for questioning him.

He walked into my room, grabbed another stuffed toy, my stuffed Pebbles doll with the plastic head, and said. “Come on.  This is really neat.”

Out we went, down to the tracks.  We waited and waited, putting an occasional ear to the rail.  Finally, Fred placed Pebbles on the tracks.  Like Pauline, Pebbles looked skyward.  Like Pauline, as the train approached, her feet wiggled.  Unlike Pauline, however, there was no rescue.

 

We would have let Pauline go, though. Really.

The train whizzed by sending the most delightful plume of stuffing up and out, way over the top of the train.  It was a hit.  We rushed back for additional victims.  All my stuffed toys and each and every doll met a sorry end.

As it turned out, today at the party, my boss had picked my name, and the doll was from her.  “Would you have played with a doll like her?” she asked, no doubt envisioning me dressing her up and playing with her like other girls.

“Absolutely,” I said, weighing the doll and imagining just how high up this particular doll’s stuffing would go.

*     *     *

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Awards, Bat-shit crazy, Childhood Traumas, Christmas Stories, Family, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Stupidity