Tag Archives: Family

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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Filed under Adult Traumas, Awards, Bat-shit crazy, Birthday, Childhood Traumas, Crazy family members, Criminal Activity, Dogs, Duncan, Family, Farts, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, laughter, Love, Mental Health, Negotiating, Peace, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts, WTF?

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

Dog in a Box?

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a dog lover.  Even when I want to throttle my own dog, Duncan, I love him.  So I don’t.  Throttle him, that is.

If you know anything about dogs, you know that they are bursting with personality.  Each and every one of them.  But until you get to know a dog, you don’t often get to know what they’re all about.

So Guinnevere Shuster, a photographer who works for an animal adoption organization in Utah, found a creative way to capture the personalities of several dogs who were up for adoption.  She put them in a photo booth.

Here are my favorite photo groups:

I need someone with a good sense of humor to humor me

I need someone with a good sense of humor to humor me

And this one:

Seriously.  You can't go wrong with a guy like me

Seriously. You can’t go wrong with a guy like me

There are more photo series at this article.  Thanks for this one go to my son Jacob who sent it on to me.  Thanks, kiddo.

And since I can’t do a dog post without a new picture of Duncan, here you go:

Duncan 4-19-15

Camera Shy Duncan 4-19-15

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Filed under All The News You Need, Conspicuous consumption, Crazy family members, Dogs, Family, Health, Huh?, Humor, laughter, Love, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other, Wild Beasts

A Love (?) Story — Revisited

When I tell this story, I always have to put in a disclaimer.  Sort of like Dickens at the beginning of A Christmas Carol, when he says

“It must be understood that Marley was dead, otherwise nothing strange and wonderful could have happened.”

In this case, this fact must be understood:

I was really, really nice to everyone

Promise me you’ll remember that.

Once upon a time, I had a job at a law school.  The most fun job I’ve ever had.  I was the administrative assistant to a student organization, the BSA.  Pretty much the Boy Scouts of America, law school chapter.  The BSA members were 2nd and 3rd year students who did a lot to make the first year students happier during their (relatively miserable and difficult) first year.  They did orientation, taught legal writing, answered questions on where to go, what to do.  The office was large, with comfy chairs and a couch, a full free coffee pot.  A good, friendly place to hang out.  The members did, and so did a core of 1st years who, naturally, tried to become members for their 2nd and 3rd years.

It was a wonderful job.  Basically I answered questions and was nice to people.  Always.  A smile on my face, a laugh, a soft shoulder when needed.  It was easy to be nice in such a fun job.

Substantively, I had to know what was going on with the members’ various activities, because I was the one in the office when the 1st year students had questions.  I had to know what was going on to give the  answers.  Because that was my job.  The BSA members were all nice.  Except Monte.  He wasn’t.  He was a jerk.  Totally uncooperative.  He deserved that name.

Monte was in charge of a very important program that was one of two mandatory moot court programs for all 1st year students.  Essentially, it’s where they learned how to present and argue a case.  A whole case.  They write the briefs and argued the case in front of a panel of judges.  The students had a million questions, and they were also apprehensive, because it was an important part of their first year.  They asked ME all of those questions.

But Monte was in charge and wouldn’t let me know what was going on.  He wouldn’t answer my questions.  He wouldn’t keep me informed or involved.  I invariably had no answer to give to the poor student who really needed one.

Now, it might surprise you to know this, but I really hate to look stupid.  So one day I’d had enough of being unable to help, unable to answer questions I was supposed to answer.  Unable to do my job.  So I took Monte into the back room and politely explained in the nicest possible way, why he had to do things my way.

He responded, and I quote:

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”  And he left.

Me, except I’m blond. And in color.

To this very day I have never been so mad at anyone.

I went back to my desk fuming, steam coming out of my ears, angry tears, the works.  As I stood there, shaking mad, a tall, blond 1st year student entered the office, came up to me and said – oh I don’t remember what he said.  But it was a question about that program.  Monte’s program.

“I DON’T KNOW.  YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK MONTE WHO IS A COMPLETE JERK!” I screamed at the tall, completely innocent blond guy.

He stood there, put his hands on his hips, shook his head and left the office.  He never returned.

I remember it clearly.  Well, except all I can see in my memory is the outline of a tall, faceless blond guy.  Standing there, hands on his hips, shaking his head and clearly thinking “what a bitch she is not very helpful.”

John did not propose then and there.

In fact, we didn’t even cross paths again that we know about during the two years we were there together.  We met again in DC through a guy I was dating who worked with John.  Years after I broke up with the other guy, John asked me out after we met up again at a party.

Whenever someone asks us the “how did you two meet?” question, well, I make sure I tell the story.  Because John claims I fired nuclear weapons at him, which is a slight exaggeration.  And it makes me look bad.

Really, I didn’t shoot at him.

But hey, my husband can never claim that he didn’t know I could be a bitch.  And that has been worth its weight in gold (or nukes) for almost 30 years.

*    *    *

This is an old piece that I’m replaying for Valentine’s Day because, well, it’s one of my favorite “love” stories.  And because there are lots of new followers who didn’t read it.  If you already read it, you can stop here.  See?  I told you I was nice!

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Christmas Stories, Criminal Activity, Family, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Law, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

Married People

Married people are screwed.

That didn’t sound right.

Married people don’t get any.

Closer.  But no cigar (which is good; cigars are disgusting).

There are no good songs about married people who have been together longer than dirt.

Yeah!  That’s it!!

This morning I was happily singing away in the shower, belting out one song after another when I came to a realization.  Songs, at least the ones that are in my vocal range (2 notes) are all either about the beginning of love or the end of love.  If it’s a country song there is a dead dog in there as a bonus.

I’ve been married to John since 1986, living with him since 1985.  Thirty years Where are the songs to describe that kind of love?

Well, there aren’t any that I could think of.  (That’ll probably happen as soon as I hit “publish.”)

So, I decided that I have to write one.

It’s a challenge in that I can’t read or write music.  And I hate poetry.  And, well, I long ago stopped singing publicly — I don’t drink that much any more.  But still, I’m gonna draft the lyrics of a song for all of us old married folks.

The Second Half

Because I love you,

Let me snuggle up with you on the couch

while I write a bit on my blog

🎼

***

Because I love you

We’ll spend some time tonight

Just hanging out together

For you, I’ll only watch the second half.

🎼

On second thought, I guess there’s a reason there aren’t any songs about old, fat, bald, married folks.  My bad.

But I wouldn’t change a thing.  Well, maybe a few things.  I have a list, in fact …

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Conspicuous consumption, Family, Farts, Flatulence, Huh?, Humor, Taking Care of Each Other

Can Ya Help a Girl Out, Here?

Do you like a cliffhanger?

A story that traps you, makes you want to know what happens next, and then doesn’t tell you?

I hate them.  I just hate them.  And when you, my bloggin’ buddy do it to me, well, I remember.

A little while ago, I read another damn cliffhanger, this time from Doobster at Mindful Digressions.  Doobster wrote half of a really great story.  A mystery.  His characters are realistic, the scene and plot work.  The dialog flows.

UNTIL IT STOPS.

I yelled at him.  But he won’t finish it for me.

Would you?

Go on over there to Doobster’s, read it, and tell me what happens.  http://mindfuldigressions.com/2015/01/31/i-seen-it-all/

Please leave the comments over there at Doobster’s — he likes his stats.  You can also leave them here if you want.  I’d turn off comments, but well, I’m not only mystery-plot challenged, I am comment-stopping challenged.  Yeah, I know.  First World Problems.

Please go and read his story and finish it for me.  I gotta know what happens.

Thanks! You’re the best.

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