Author Archives: littlelostsunny

Grandma

It’s been a weird couple of days. No need to delve into detail that eludes and evades direct and rational discussion. My thoughts are muddy and muddled and making little sense. I’m running on fumes.

However, I have had a pleasant side-effect stem from all of this. I thought about my grandma a lot throughout my relatively sleepless night and the subsequent quiet contemplative morning that followed. Her presence was jarring, but not alarming. Being startled or unsettled by this would be the wrong reaction to have–she is a constant source of security and comfort when I find myself struggling. As far as I can determine–there was no reasoning behind her resurgence into my consciousness. It’s not her birthday. It’s not yet an anniversary of her passing. It’s just another day in August. However, the meaning behind her sudden appearance from invisible and usually unnoticed hand upon my shoulder to the forefront of my psyche is irrelevant and not worth dwelling upon. These are wonderful memories to have surge and sift through! I did not shepherd her away and will always without questioning welcome any thoughts of her to my day’s happenings.

But, it got me thinking of how grandparents are perceived and how they appear to be expected to behave in this day and age. They seem to have taken on a role rife with more responsibilities and myriad commitments than they had in the past. They’re no longer solely the voices of wisdom, offering up sage advice, and providing guidance when called upon to do so. They are not utilized only in cases of emergency or as a last-minute babysitter when something unexpected arises out of the blue. They seem to now be…. substitute parents…. almost replacing them (or usurping them). They do the fun and the not-so-fun aspects of child rearing. I find this bizarre. I find it jarring. And I don’t know how I feel about it, which is completely useless information to deliver to the internet. But, here i am.

I suppose that I feel so strongly about this because of my own personal experiences growing up. I maintain that one of the best things my grandma ever did for me was to not spoil me rotten. There were never piles of presents bestowed upon me or copious amounts of sticky sweet saccharine nonsense presented on my plate. In fact, I recall so few instances where money was spent on me at all–and those times that I do remember are etched into my brain as being particularly special, poignant and note-worthy It meant something more to me because of their infrequency.

As a young whippersnapper, my cousin and I would make plans to spend a night or two together at Grandma’s. My grandpa was no longer alive and it would just be the three of us. When we were there, we would partake in these little mile-long outings together. He and I would set out on these sojourns to the closest eatery, Jack-in-the-Box, for lunch by foot or by rollerblades–while my grandma would get behind the laughably over sized ship-style steering wheel of her gigantic automobile–the precursor to the SUV–the Scout II…and meet up with us at our dining destination. Chicken fingers, curly fries and a chocolate milkshake for me… cheeseburger, fries and a soda for my cousin… and for dessert? A trip to Eckerd’s Drug Store for a small little gift to play with during our stay at 1005 Thomas Avenue. When I say “little gift”… I mean it. The prices of these prizes never amounted to more than two dollars. We were both very fond of Hot Wheels cars and Andy and I would spend our allotted aisle time inspecting every millimeter of the tiny die-cast vehicles in their bright and crisp blister packs. The decision-making process was never taken lightly and could make or break the level of enjoyment derived from our weekend shenanigans. May the best car win! Vroom Vroom! Between the two of us, we had a fairly large collection amassed. He and I would admire each other’s cache with respect rather than envy… okay maybe I was the teeniest bit jealous of his green Mercedes convertible with its pearl finish and tan interior and perhaps he ogled my red Viper with gold hubcaps more than I was comfortable with. But, for the most part–we played together wonderfully. Hours upon hours were spent building up our fictitious towns– Legos and Lincoln logs forming the foundations for our garages and numerous edifices. The bulk of the time was spent creating the canvas upon which to park and show off our vehicles. Once that step was completed– the game was essentially suspended for that session. It was all about the element of construction and one’s ability to present their proud and shiny medley of minuscule machinery with the most flash and skill. He was a master crafter who could create wonderfully engineered and meticulously orchestrated wonders….architectural delights. Sound and sturdy. Multi-tiered and aspirational. Mine were… well…more akin to giant parking lots complete with crude fencing around the perimeters and with the propensity for roofs to collapse during the earthquakes created by foot traffic… or the hurricane-like forceful gusts of my panicked labored breathing as my concentration and attention span grew exhausted.

Yet, regardless of the outcomes–fun was always had in excess. We didn’t have fancy accessories or store-purchased kits with which to embellish our creations or give our creativity a boost. My grandma had an off-white plastic bin in the “toy room” at the back of the house… filled to the brim with an assortment of cut blocks of wood. There were a wide variety of sizes, widths, and textures–all lying there eagerly awaiting the hands of two elementary aged children to reach out, grab them, and give them a purpose again– Their origin remains a mystery, but there they were–cut, smelling of aging humid timber, and ready to be brought back to life. We literally were gifted a box of wood, appreciated it, and let our imaginations run wild with it! Frequently, there would be some dead bugs wanting to join the party(usually roaches, ick!), mixed into the array of constructional materials… but, once that situation was taken care of–we were granted with endless opportunities to build up our little worlds in the manner in which we saw fit. No instructions. No guidelines. No boundaries. No limits. It was all up to us. And we thrived because of it.

The other toys available? Well, had a couple of mismatched sets of plastic Cowboys and Indians figurines in a taped together ratty old cardboard box, edges feathered and tethered, disintegrating from the frequent wear of tear of our grubby little paws. We had a chest-of-drawers with coloring and painting books stored within the confines of those cavernous cabinets– real Crayola Crayons and a plethora of paint brushes from which to choose. There were many puzzles with varying levels of difficulty, materials and subject matter. Most, if not all, of these items seem to be acquired from garage sales. There were a few archaic plastic games from yesteryear.. a vintage Tomy Strolling windup bowling game and one that used baseball cards as batters. We had an exercise bike that was questionable in regards to safety–especially when the sole goal was to see how fast you could pedal. Bruised shins and unrivaled fear were commonplace. There were many many rounds of tic-tac-toe and intense matches of Go-Fish, Battle, and Hi-Lo. There were chain link dog leashes that we would hook up to the overgrown tree-like bushes outside–attaching them to our belt loops and pretend as though we were rappelling from dangerous and rugged terrain. We played with sticks and rocks. We rode trikes and bikes in the driveway–hooking up a little homemade trailer to the hitch and hauling “lumber”. We raked the lawn. We braved the darkness, the odorous nature of chemical inhalants and fertilizer, and the inescapable insects, using nothing but flashlights and an adventurous spirit as we perused the shed in the backyard for oddities and peculiarities. During our quieter moments, we would hole ourselves up in the rickety old 1970’s era camper trailer parked in the side-yard. We’d pretend we were vacationing out in the wilderness somewhere together– he recalling upon actual memories spent doing just that– me… cobbling together my own imaginary recollections to create a new original narrative. I never did go camping with them, but I got to live out the experience by wrestling and subsequently claiming my sleeping quarters in the bunk near the ceiling (the best spot!), by opening the hatch on the roof, climbing up the ladder on the back, by eating our sandwiches, playing cards, and reading magazines at the dining booth. Only thing missing was the bugs, the boredom and using the bathroom on board. Could have fooled me– I felt I was living and experiencing it all. But, I never left the driveway.

We would ofttimes find ourselves doing little more than lounging around in the back yard with grandma beside us… she recounting stories from her past to our wanting ears… we all rocking back and forth in that wooden swing… two vastly different generations…in such synchronization and solidarity…sharing bloodlines and backgrounds… and enjoying, no, REVELING in each other’s company with such feverish intensity that planning our next visit was being discussed before the current one even had a chance to end. We were lucky. We only lived a few miles apart. He lived fifteen minutes down the highway and I was just 2.5 miles across town. These sleepovers may not have occurred with the frequency that I remember, but that’s just the thing, isn’t it? In retrospect, it seems as though my childhood was chock full of positive and plentiful moments spent with my cousin at Grandma’s house. There were no frills and no fluff accompanying these visits. She was kind and compassionate, but never afraid to reprimand us when we got out of line. Her sternness would come as such a sharp right turn from her typical delivery–which was almost always genuine, cheerful and accompanied by a little bit of giddy laughter. It was so jarring that it rarely had to be utilized and was always heard and abode by without a second warning ever needing to be issued.

Our routines were relatively structured. We slept when she slept. Well, okay, she would drift off during the day with her head tilted back onto the cushion behind her–mouth agape, snores reverberating loudly against the walls and windows– we wouldn’t sleep during these periods, rather we’d chuckle under our breath and try to tickle her with bird feathers. However, at night… our schedule was dictated by her own. She would make a pallet on the floor of her bed and we would curl up in it while watching her dial-tuned television flicker steadfastly on throughout the evening–during the winter, the space heater warmed our toes and gave us comfort. Our dreams saturated with reruns of “Night Court,” “Mama’s Family” or whatever was on during the late hours. If we could get away with it, Andy and I would take turns playing Tetris on his Gameboy. I was not fortunate enough to have one of my own, but he was more than willing to share it and for that I continue to be grateful. When the morning came, she would not ever drag us out of bed prematurely, despite her rising at an ungodly hour. Nope. We could sleep until around nine–and then gather around the kitchen table for a simple breakfast of corn flakes, toast and jam, buttery pound cake, or on the rare occasion: Church’s Chicken biscuits. Other menu options throughout the day? I distinctly recall eating a lot of frozen microwave baked potatoes, handfuls of Fritos and saltine crackers, and to sate our eight-year old sugar-fiend selves: gummy orange slices, store-bought oatmeal and sugar cookies piled up to the brim within the parakeet and panda bear ceramic jars on the counter top, sherbet, icebox pudding pies with graham cracker crust and Cool Whip and whatever candy we inevitably picked up on our outing to the gas station at the end of the street!

Other times, we would stroll down Thomas Avenue, through the church parking lot, and straight into Candy Cane park with Sissy the dog and Grandma in tow. Here we’d swing on the metal ponies, climb on the monkey bars, summit the steel structures and tumble over the wood and tire “car” apparatus. Countless hours exploring and running free. So much time spent in our own world, developing and growing our ability to create something from nothing, all while under the watchful eye of our Grandma Helen. I can’t imagine how bored she must have been during these visits, but she never complained to us. She never made us feel as though we were an inconvenience or a nuisance. We never felt like we were unwanted. But, we also never made her the star of the show. She was our guardian, but we knew that we couldn’t (and shouldn’t) look to her as our sole source of entertainment. We did revel in the times that she would indulge us in trips down memory lane–me especially– flipping through old photo albums, scouring over nature books focusing on backyard songbirds or the mountains of Colorado, having her show me her old paintings and sketches. We lapped it up. However, for the most part, it was left up to the blank slate of our whim and whimsy to fill up and fill in the hours spent at her house. She offered the venue, the supervision, the patience and the few random tools we might require and then she unhooked us without hesitation, fear or regret and let our brains serve as the compass plotting the weekend’s course.

I was and am still indebted to her for this.

My nostalgic cup runneth over with such beautiful memories of her and the time we spent together. Yet, none of them are connected to purchases she made, items she bought or the result of any extravagant expenditures or grandiose gestures of any kind. She literally opened her home and her arms to us and that was all we required, wanted, needed or craved. She was enough. And she will always be enough. Even after Andy and I drifted apart and stopped spending our weekends at Grandma’s… she continued to remain a constant fixture in my life. Just her. Looking back, I don’t remember a single Christmas gift she bestowed upon me. But, I do remember helping to decorate the exterior of her home with my Dad and cousin– draping it in colored lights. I remember the Christmas afternoons spent sitting in her far-too-small living room with the ever expanding Smith clan and knowing what it meant to have a family that loved you– a family where the laughter deafened the sounds of tears and the warmth from love could thaw all the frigidity the world could ever throw at us. I don’t remember any birthday presents she brought to me, but I remember what she would write inside the cards. She never would forget a birthday and she was in attendance at every one. I don’t remember her taking us out to see a movie in a theater, but I do remember watching “Sister Act” on repeat on VHS tape in her living room. I don’t think she ever contributed to my large library of books at home, but she definitely took time out of her days to read out loud to me when I asked…. even though her selection was small and led to her reciting her least favorite of all: “Green Eggs and Ham” more times than I’m sure she would have preferred. And because of this… I can instantly recall her voice and the face of disgust she would make at the material as she read it out to me. I do not remember her buying me trinkets or figurines, but I do remember her letting me go underneath the spare bed in the guest room and hand select some of her own to take home with me as a keepsake: birds and dogs that continue to be displayed on my mom’s shelves. She might not have gifted me new stuffed animals whenever I asked for a new addition to the fluffy furry family I obsessed over, but I do recall that her favorite toy from when she was a little girl was a panda bear. And I take comfort in knowing where that little buddy is today (in a cabinet in my parent’s house). I don’t remember her buying any new clothing for me, but I remember playing dress up with her, trying on her jewelry and spritzing myself with her perfume, sorting through her and grandpa’s closet, and even still could probably recall 99 percent of her wardrobe by heart. I don’t remember her ever coming over to babysit. Yet, I remember her coming to every basketball game I ever played in. I don’t remember special accommodations being made for me. I don’t remember those things. But, I will never forget HER. She, with nothing more than her presence… her existence…her endless supply of love… was able to carve out a place within my heart that will never be able to be filled by anything or anyone else. It has remained empty since her passing over a decade ago. On the plus side, I was able to have her around until I was in the middle of my high school career. Not long enough….it never is…but, it was enough to have provided me with so many blessings and cherished memories and moments that will remain with me for the rest of my life here on earth.

No idea why I’m rattling on and on about this. I guess I just miss her. It’s raining and murky outside. I’ve been struggling mentally with many issues as of late. And so I’m choosing to focus on the few good thoughts that manage to make their way inside my mind. I guess I just want to remind everyone out there that material objects are overrated. I know it’s near impossible to grasp that in this consumerist culture. We are glued to our screens. We are always one-click away from owning more toys. It’s so easy and quick to buy buy buy more more more. More is better. That’s what they say. But, it’s not true. All you need is just…. enough. Subjective, I know. Enough for me as a kid proved to be what I could carry in my Hot Wheels carrying case and within my head and heart. I might not have thought that at the time. Yet, with hindsight… it’s all I have managed to carry with me through the years. We’re kidding ourselves into thinking that objects make us happy. We’re losing touch with that which really fuels our fire. We’re better off when we are the creators, the inventors, the engineers… when our happiness is not dictated by what we own but how we feel. My best memories of my youth were not due to things bought from Toys-R-Us but by the world I constructed out of dreams, wishes and desires. My grandma gave me the best gift of all in providing us an outlet with which to stretch our wings safely and securely. She did us a favor by not buying our love and affection, but by allowing it to develop organically. What is more authentic than that? We loved our grandma because she was our grandma– no strings attached. We never went to see her because of an expectation beyond that which only she as an individual… as a person… as our grandma could provide: her company, her attention and her love. That was all we wanted. And that was more than enough. heart emoticon
And man… do I miss her.11187834_10205624814891253_7076128898538397878_o

Failure is not an option.

Confession: I carry a notepad with me almost everywhere I go. In my imagination I hope that when I say that you visualize a gumshoe or ace reporter of yesteryear—one with a fedora on her head, pencil behind her ear, full of ambition and rattling off phrases like “What’s the scoop?” Because honestly… I do feel quite like Harriet the Spy when I whip out my archaic recording device, flip-open the lined sheets of paper held together by cheap Target dollar spot metal coils–essentially a twisted up paper-clip….flimsy and unreliable….like my brain. Hell, I love the imagery it conjures up. It’s comforting and classically cool.

The reality is, as it so frequently is, less impressive than the fantasy.

I don’t carry it because I am an observer of the world around me… always trying to solve society’s woes or crack a code or thaw out a cold case. Nope. I am utilizing this degree of documentation to fill the void left by years of alcohol abuse. See what I mean about reality and its penchant for epic disappointment?

Drinking as heavily as I was, with the frequency and consistency that I somehow was able to maintain, with the low quality of the tepid wood-varnish variety vodka I had on a continuous IV drip directly through my bloodstream…. I was able to cause irreparable damage to my nervous system. No surprise here. And no debate to be had. Last year, when I made the life altering decision to put away the shot glasses and retire the vomit bucket for good— when I determined that the hangover I had that lasted from the 14th through the 16th would, in fact, be my final throe into poisonous torturous despair…. I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that I was going to come face to face with a slew of uncertainties: mental, physical, emotional as well as otherwise. I understood that such transformations could not be entirely predicted—rather only anticipated with hand-wringing levels of anxiety and suspense. I had a tacit understanding with my body and mind that I knew I was in for an uphill battle and that I would do whatever it took to maintain some level of sanity throughout the arduous process.  I did the research. I read the facts. I read personal accounts. I brushed up on my science. Yet, still, all aspects of my being were uniformly terrified.  Any foray into the unknown gives us some degree of trepidation and this was no different. The fear began to manifest itself in to specific areas of the monumental task I was beginning to embark on. I was not necessarily afraid of abandoning my metaphorical crutch–or of losing my cocktail of mock-confidence–or even at the daunting notion of learning how to fill the day now that you have so much free-time. It was not even the physical taxation of withdrawal that sent shivers down that spine–the one that wasn’t sure if it was quite ready to shirk away into submission or straighten up. Those were all concerns, yes, but, they were not the most crippling of my imminent fears. The victor in the competition to claim the coveted position of “most frightening” was addressing the permanency of the damage that had already been done.

One of the perks of subsisting on a clear colored chemical was that I didn’t have to worry myself with responsibilities or pesky realities of every day life. I didn’t have to be confronted with uncomfortable truths or burdened by facts that might quash my buzz. Any obstacle that managed to unearth itself and attempt to outstretch its reaper-like bony fingers in my direction, beckoning at me with an overly dramatized curl of a limp wrist and begging me to heed its warnings of doom and despair were quickly and swiftly extinguished with another couple of rounds of liquor poured down the ole’ hatch. Anything threatening my carefree consciousness could always be fogged over and forgotten. The blackboard was constantly being erased of all traces of pertinent information needed to thrive, excel or even exist in the world in which we live. My reality, during this muddied epoch, was distant and alternate from the one I share with you all now. All of this was calculated. Although my initial foray into the world of stupor and blackouts started innocently enough—the dark shroud that addiction can pull over you was not a wholly unwelcome one. It was oddly comforting. It protected me. I wrapped myself tighter and entrenched myself deeper into its trenches and into the rabbit hole.

But, that post is for another day. The point of mentioning it is that I had enjoyed living in the mindset that everything was reparable and repairable during this period of time. I was young– my liver would bounce back (It did, mostly, liver function tests are fine—fatty liver remains). My mind resilient. Indomitable. It would recover. I would recover. This was the liquor talking. It was our humanly inherent justification instinct kicking into high gear. It was wrong. So, here we are. It’s been a year. One whole year of slaying dragons, defeating demons and battling the banshees that scream and berate relentlessly in my ears throughout the day. The temptations are strong. My tenacity stronger. Not every day is created equal. But, what I can count on with 100 percent certainty, is that each and every morning provides another opportunity—another opportunity to either crumble under the weight of the remnants, rubble and shambles of my former self or to strap on my armor, assemble my artillery, and through sheer grit and determination vanquish the seemingly indefatigable foes once again. The intestinal fortitude that I have discovered and latched onto throughout this process has surprised me in the most wondrous of ways. I am a warrior. I am a conquistador set to conquer and quell that which they said could not be done. And I am winning at this sobriety thing. I am actually doing it. I am living proof that it can be accomplished and not only that it can…but that it should be done. It is not a sentence of mediocrity or of an existence situated in the mundane… or to just be endured…rather it is a journey in progression to be embraced and celebrated… even the messy parts…even the moments that find you at your most vulnerable and pathetic. When stumbling through the steps of sobriety— the beauty is that you remember each moment…never to forget again. Or do you? Well, that’s a little more complicated. I will explain.

Indeed, reflection and introspection have served me well during the past calendar year. While, as previously mentioned, I may choose to detail out this odyssey in its entirety at a later date, for now I offer to you  an area that has proven most fascinating to me on a personal level. The rebuilding of a mind pulled, pushed and put through the proverbial ringer. I was a willing (yet woefully unprepared) participant in experimentation at its most lethal and unforgiving. We took the healthy, yet already psychologically decrepit and emotionally scarred, brain of a twenty-three year old and binge-drank it to near fatal levels for years. Over and over and over again. We started slowly and worked up to the frenzied fanaticism of a newly minted law student out to change the world or the unbridled enthusiasm of a young perky Kentucky blonde getting off the bus on Hollywood Boulevard. I full-throttled this research study…dedicated scholar in the sloppy science of the slovenly and sloshed that I was. I was the shaman of the spiritual world of, well (ha!), spirits (haha!). All of that said… I was a mess for years. I would begin and end the day with a thirst to quench and it was done so with copious amounts of alcohol. It wasn’t a bender. It wasn’t a weekend distraction. It was a 24/7 lifestyle that I carved out for myself. I cannot stress enough how serious my addiction was and for how long it was that grave, dire and severe. BAC levels taken, while still able to walk, talk and process my surroundings, were clocked at over .35. These results are not from a crude party toy that someone’s parents bought them to keep in their car, but the numbers from laboratory tests at the hospital. This was also not abnormal. This was my constant. A handle of vodka (1.75L) would last two or three days. I drank until I was poisoned more than the desired amount or initial intent— I drank until I’d be reduced to an incapacitated, trembling, retching, convulsing, drenched and jaundiced mass of misery on the bathroom floor. Unrecognizable and unworthy. If I ever managed to achieve some version of sleep—I’d fear it’d be an eternal slumber rather than a respite from the living nightmare I was consistently enduring. I’d drink to escape the woes of everyday toils and turmoils and live in fear of being too successful. I drank to forget. I drank to not feel. Sometimes I’d drink to remember that which I forgot (“Oh, yeah, I put my keys into the freezer so they wouldn’t get too hot because it was 100 degrees out yesterday and I felt that they might melt.” Exaggeration, but you get the picture). And sometimes I drank to not feel the physical ramifications of the previous night’s mistakes (hair of the dog). The intoxication was not limited to a smile-infused jovial high, but served as an active contributor to the lowest of lows—the buzz never dissipated, the haze never lifted, the fog grew impossible to elude or escape from. It followed me everywhere. It was unshakable. The dizzying affects made the transition between consciousness and conscience blur to the point of being indistinguishable from one another. I was stuck in some sort of eternal purgatory—unsteadily straddling life and death…unsure which was more enviable. Rinse and repeat. The spin-cycle always in motion—never reaching completion. Or for some “Grey’s Anatomy” parallels— the carousel never stops turning.

Until it did.

And welcome to today.

I came home from a walk this morning with the thoughts in my head cranked up to eleven. If I could anthropomorphize the synapses firing inside the cranium, they would strongly resemble the coked out weekday warriors of Wall Street in the mid-1980’s…with less strippers..way less strippers. I could not, for the life of me, silence them… or even quiet them. Ideas were bouncing off the interior of my skull in rapid fire succession. POP POP POP. My body was in recovery mode from the heat and rigor of the outdoor work-out, but it was as if my brain was just now getting started. It was revved up, roaring and ready to go. But, to where? Problem was… there was too much at once. The thoughts were non-linear, scattered, and jumping from topic to topic in such a way that they could not be corralled, controlled or quarantined. I couldn’t concentrate on one long enough to give it a chance to blossom and bloom from concept into actual. They flitted about in such an erratic fashion that I am sure that the emotions in the cortex control room (think Pixar’s “Inside Out”) were probably bopping and bobbing their heads about like they were watching a ping pong match or a fly buzz around the room. A brilliant spectacle, our mind at its most optimal and finest showing, to be sure, but a wasted one. It took a long cold shower to calm the fervent storm into a far more tolerable, yet still quite frustrating, drizzle. I could once again focus. I could breathe without my chest pounding comically from the excess stress and adrenaline. Whew. Crisis averted.

But, this is the type of challenge that I now welcome and even appreciate. It’s reassuring in that it proves that I’m still here—that I’m still capable of formulating concepts and ideas. That I’m not completely broken or fully lost.  That knowledge is not irretrievable or absent. That there is still a thriving world beneath the skin and bones housing the most important parts of me. This is, however, also indicative of some of the lasting issues I struggle with even now—even with 366 days of sobriety under my belt…. hence, I carry my trusty sketchpad with me—always armed with the tools necessary to transcribe onto paper any of the words or thoughts that spontaneously and unceremoniously erupt as I go about my day. Always unannounced, always intense, and ALWAYS extraordinary and miraculous in their sheer existence. During the course of the past twelve months—there have been moments, many moments, where my mind would work against rather than in cohorts with the rest of me. I would attempt to vocally convey my thoughts and end up grasping at thin air where I foolishly expected words to appear. Nothing but blank spaces and dotted lines against a black backdrop of empty space. To be fair, this still plagues me on a daily basis, but the issue has improved dramatically since the first couple of months.. where it was a welcome surprise when a coherent sentence was formed or when I was able to communicate on a level above that of the most rudiment of cavemen. Guttural grunts would probably have been more effective than whatever gobbledy-goop oozed from the corner of my droopy dopey lips. For a WordSmith (!) this proved the most frustrating of the side-effects that I have encountered.  Even still, I am able to recognize my good fortune and do not take any of this for granted. My body has bounced back from the brutality it encountered at my own hands. I Benedict Arnold-ed myself.  And I am lucky to be here.  There is no explanation for any of this, but I am stronger than ever. I did not deserve such an auspicious outcome, but I treasure it. And through an immense amount of faith, patience as well as self-prescribed therapy through writing and blogging— my brain has, for the most part, returned to its pre-drinking performance level. It’s impossible to know for sure how much I lost or how much harm was actually done through the years of heavy drinking I partook in. I will never have the imagery or scans of my pristine untarnished unblemished mind of which to compare and contrast its current state with. Perhaps there might have been no limits to the level of genius I could have reached had I skillfully managed to maneuver this tragic detour–had I chosen to avoid diving head first into the deep end of alcoholism. I will never know.  I cannot know. And I should not dwell on that which I cannot change. Oh, I see now why AA embraced the serenity prayer with such ardor (God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference).

All I can do now is focus on each day as an individual entity separate from the one prior. I must accept and acknowledge the challenges that stem from each and every one as they come. For every twenty-four hour cycle is presented to me wrapped up nice, neat and tidy-like with a bow.  It is confounding, even to me, even now, how I welcome this opportunity with such inscrutable conflicting feelings so simultaneously polarizing in nature: impassioned excitement and debilitating fear. But, the rational side of me continues to win out with the acknowledgment that when my eyes crack open after a night of slumber to a world filled with light and life—that I have been provided a gift that is both undeserved and seemingly against the odds. I embrace the struggle of the daily dealings that existence dictates as I navigate through the treacherous waters without a compass or guide just like everyone else…one foot in front of the other.  Instead of lamenting the time that I wasted or drowning in despair reminiscing of the failings of the past or the setbacks that I faced— I think of the future and what all is left to discover and to accomplish. I stick my hands into my chest and grip the sinewy fibers surrounding my heart and feel the unmistakable “tha-thump” pounding and pulsating within the confines of my ribcage…everything within ticking-and-tocking like clockwork…despite the battering and splintering, and wearing and tearing.  Those are my war drums. They provide the rhythmical soundtrack that leads me into battle—that give me the strength and perseverance necessary to wade through the residual muck left over from my the mistakes in my rear-view mirror. Through necessity my entire internal processor has reformatted to provide me with the best possible chance of survival— my negativity replaced with an upgraded unit capable of putting a positive spin on the most atrocious of realities. Sure, I am still a realist… a Dr. Temperance Brennen, a Daria, a Debbie Downer. But, when it comes to keeping my personal outlook and morale up—I am Sunny Sunshine. I am a living personification of my moniker. I find solutions to the problems  scattered in front of me—one at a time… or if you prefer your overused cliches in the Roman Emperor variety: brick by brick.  I have learned to chip away at the insurmountable— breaking down the massive infrastructures into less formidable opponents, with my tiny little pick-ax hard at work, never a moment’s rest (think of the diamond-mining dwarfs of Snow White lore size.)

So I have lapses in my memory? I admit it— I have a mental handicap when it comes to my ability to conjure up every detail my mind formulates during its name-worthy brainstorm sessions. I might say something out loud and not be able to repeat what it was thirty seconds later. So what? I write it down. I document that it occurred and have the scribbled out proof to remind me of its existence at a later time. I consider it not as a damnation to suffer a life of mediocrity or as a weakness dictating the quality of my existence or definition of my character, but as a reminder that we are not infallible. We are predictably imperfect. Industrious, inventive and ingenious, yes. But, all susceptible to missteps, setbacks, bungles and collapses in judgment. It does not have to be a death sentence. I am out to prove that I am as erudite, sharp, quick-witted and annoyingly intelligent as ever. It’ll take some time to get everything back…. but, my patience is paying off. And who knows? I might be able to help you with your grocery list at some point—I do make a note of just about everything that wafts into my ear canals these days!

The negative ramifications and consequences don’t end there. They are not all silent. My body is scored with scars—remnants of ripped flesh, deep wounds, rash decisions and liquored-up logic. The physical toll of internal issues left dormant and untended to until they became impossible to ignore any longer—coaxed out through the songs of the Sirens— They serve, not as notches on a belt and worn with traditional pride, nor are they stored out of sight and hidden in shame. They are constant reminders of what I went through and what I endured…of what I survived. They cannot be erased. They cannot be minimized. Their existence cannot be denied and their truths cannot be diminished or down-played. The past isn’t pretty. But, I unabashedly maintain that my future is a dazzling array of hope and glory and fully ablaze with light and luster. This tissue, no matter how marred, pepto pink and grotesque, is painted with a silver lining. For I am one of the lucky ones. I made it—not entirely unscathed, no— but, one year later and I am back and better than ever. Hyperbolic? Hardly. My days are more good than bad… and there was a time that I never believed that I would be able to say that with a straight face…. guess I still can’t… because I cannot peel the smile from my face. My cravings are more few and far between. My optimism unrivaled. My dedication unwavering. My desire to continue to exceed everyone’s expectations, including my own, inextinguishable. Maybe I’m just having a particularly revelatory type of a day. Maybe. But, just for today… nothing can dampen my enthusiasm or tamper with the goals I have set for myself. I will be the best that I can be. And look forward to seeing how high I can fly or how far I can soar….. notepad, pencil and fedora in tow. So, there’s the scoop, ya see?

11749854_10106859715277474_41520174_n

Mommie Dearest.

I dread this time of year.   Sure, the weather warms, the sepia tones burst into candy coated Technicolor almost overnight, and the sun’s rays creep into your bones replenishing your depleted stores of Vitamin D.  You feel good.  You feel recharged.  But, then the metaphorical bomb drops.

The blanched canvas tent popped-up with little fanfare earlier this week.  Sometime in the dark of night this unassuming teepee erected itself in the middle of a wide open sea of black asphalt at our local supermarket.   Its appearance, while predictable and perennial, always catches me slightly off-guard with its premature teasing that yet another holiday event is fast approaching.   The flap of the entrance flutters in the morning breeze just long enough for this passersby to peek into the bowels of the big-top…its entrails fragrant and floral and adorned with lace, paisley and pastels.  The thought bubble above my head illuminates with an incandescent heart shaped light bulb flashing the realization:  Mother’s Day is nigh.

I flinch as I try and dodge the barrage of anxieties and the onslaught of panic that suddenly swarms and overwhelms me.  As I stand there, slack-jawed, motionless, and momentarily paralyzed, I have an opportunity to recompose and digest the information that I had just unwittingly stumbled across.  I have one week to prepare.

I suppose one might wonder why such an incredibly warranted and justified holiday could instantly inundate me with such acute dread and consternation.  And I openly admit that little sense can be gleaned from harboring this fear of festivities–especially when the focal subject of all of this laud and celebration more than deserves a day dedicated to their sheer existence.   My issues should not distract from the ardor and zeal I feel in regards to the second Sunday in May, but they do.  However, the source of my uneasiness stems primarily from the sheer belief that no action on my part could ever be enough to accurately convey my love for my Mom.

I sit here and stare blankly at my smudged computer screen as I contemplate what to write and where to start. I am completely submerged in my thoughts as memories and moments begin to pour in and flood my consciousness with warmth.  But, that’s all I’ve got.  Once again, she provides me with contentment while I struggle to compose even a single line of an essay meant to commemorate her..

I distract myself by clicking on facebook. My social media feed bloats with posts and boasts of motherhood supremacy. Proclamations and declarations of their mom’s superiority are made unabashedly and with great pride and definitiveness. Their words drip with the requisite schmaltz and cloying sentimentality found printed on a dime store greeting card. No touch of deftness, no nuance, no subtlety… nothing but simplistic stock expressions of love and admiration for the women, who created, carried, cradled and cared for them throughout their life. And I am no different. We all seem to revert back to our most infantile state of mind when pressed to find a way to let our mother’s know how important they truly are to us.

My mind drifts to wanderland and I surmise that flowers seem futile.  Their fragility not at all consistent with the toughness and tenacity I equate with my mom.  And no bargain bouquet can ever recreate the time I was pulled around in a rickety red wagon at the local nursery– included in the annual gardening excursion for the first time.  I performed my assigned tasks dutifully, carefully selecting the bloom most beckoning, picking up pots and planters, and finally plunging my tiny hands wrist deep into the damp Texas dirt… planting the seeds to a cherished memory.

Brunches and breakfasts-in-bed prove misguided, trite and too full of carbs and crumbs to provide any lasting substance.  All attempts appreciated and enjoyed, but none comparing to the tens of thousands of meals she provided me throughout the years– never coming close to the times we quietly sipped hot chocolate together on those frigid December nights leading up to Christmas morning. Flannel pajamas, books brimming with stories of reindeer, elves, and holiday cheers, all tied up nicely with ribbons and bows and stored within my soul. The taste of Hershey’s cocoa mix and warm milk linger long after the copper bottomed pans and festive mugs are washed and put away. No plate I could ever present to you could rival that which you have lovingly prepared for me—grilled cheese sandwiches cut tenderly into tea-time triangles, spaghetti scraped of all traces of toxic red tomato sauce, grits stirred and seasoned to perfection—devoid of clumps, all served on dishes, in bowls and with silverware that evoke waves of nostalgia within me.

Soaps and scents in delicate bottles, with elegant names, and exorbitant price tags might impress with their promise of opulence and luxury. However, no amalgam of manufactured chemicals can replicate the smell of your Mom. No matter how much time passes I can always immediately conjure up the fragrance of her perfume.  In the past it served as a beacon of hope in the midst of crowds, chaos and confusion– providing me with a trail of recognition–and leading me back into her warm embrace.  And on one sobering occasion it offered me enough comfort to make it through a particularly bleak epoch of loneliness. I felt as though I had lost everything. I buried my head into a freshly laundered blanket on the bed inhaling the scent of home and remembered all of those fighting for me.

Tick tock…

Stop stalling.

I’ve watched pre-dawn give way to a heavy mid-afternoon and now to early evening with nothing to point to and show my mom. How will she know I love her? What will she put up on the refrigerator? Once again my striving for perfection left me coming up empty handed. Perhaps a scribbled sketch of the two of us with a handwritten “I Love You” would have sufficed after all.

Now it’s getting ridiculous…. I just have to put something on paper. Here goes…

———

Mom,

I’ve spent the better part of the day attempting to carve out some semblance of a letter to you that demonstrated the depths to which my love for you goes. However, after hours of time spent staring at the computer screen–I realized that it was never going to happen… that nothing I wrote would ever truly capture what I feel inside. I’ve stopped and started so many times that I lost count. Type. Space. Delete. Repeat. The print on the keys has practically worn off and I’m sure glad we’ve moved past the typewriter age. I have gone on walk after walk with the dog searching the trees for inspiration and finding nothing but squirrels and birds.  I put headphones on. I took headphones off. I went outside. I went inside. I showered. I changed clothes. I stared at the computer some more. I used the laptop. I used a pen. I used Word. I used Notepad. But, nothing worked. This did not stem from a lack of content on which to cull from…quite the opposite… too much to say and no ability or skill with which to do it. So, I almost said nothing at all.   However, I will sloppily provide you with this:

I cannot put into words the depths to which I love you. I tried and subsequently failed to accomplish this today. Our relationship has grown and developed this past year into one that continues to astound and bewilder. You are no longer just a mother, but my best friend, my therapist, my sidekick, my confidante, my driver, my banker, my interior designer, my everything. My reliance on you must tax and burden in ways that I cannot understand and it destroys me knowing that my life absolutely did not unfold as it should have. I apologize for this and will continue to do my best to make it up to you. How? I remain unsure other than to promise you that I will keep working on becoming my best self.

I hope that when you look at me you do not label yourself as a failure; that you accept that my shortcomings do not reflect any mistake made on your part. From my perspective you never faltered nor let me down in any way. No blame rests on your shoulders. I cannot stress enough the sincerity of my sentiments on that issue. I equally hope that you take notice of all of your hard work and how it has helped me grow stronger and more capable with each passing day. It may seem as though I am suspended in a pervasive state of stagnation…. marching in place without making any forward motion towards improvement. But, rest assured that I have and I am.

Perhaps without noticing it, you have pulled out the best parts of me and aided in unlocking areas of my personality that have laid dormant for many years–too far out of reach for me to have reached on my own. Sure, they need dusting off and fine-tuning, but you have instilled in me the confidence to test them out. By gently nudging me out of my safety zone and allowing me leeway and freedom to extricate myself from any concrete plans and ironclad obligations — you have allowed me to stretch my weak and atrophied wings. Though currently incapable of sending me soaring through every obstacle unscathed–they have made it possible to move closer to that goal. This has proven intrinsic to my recent successes. I grasp how insignificant and minor these accomplishments could appear to someone unfamiliar with my situation, but I promise that each one serves as a new learning and important learning experience.

My participation in these little adventures with you have given me something that I did not realize that I had the ability to possess any longer–and that is hope. You injected me a desire to wake up and move forward… one foot and then another…on days when the world seems far too intimidating and indomitable Through you I have become more optimistic that something worth pursuing exists beyond the walls of my apartment and that despite everything I still have a future to look forward to.   I know that you understand the significance of these outings in relation to building up my confidence and equally grasp the immense internal struggles associated with my partaking in them. Throughout it all, you have shown nothing but kindness, patience and compassion towards me throughout the years and most specifically during the past couple of months. Rather than give up, you have pressed on, and that steely resolve you possess has somewhat rubbed off on me. I am learning how to enhance my character, outwardly present myself, and act in a responsible mature manner by emulating you. You are an exceptional role model to have and I am beyond fortunate to have you as a guide during this rough chapter of my life.

I am greedily pocketing each of our experiences and storing them away to serve as a source of strength when I fall to my weakest.   I can flip through my card catalog of memories and pull any one of them out and instantly recall what I am fighting for. I covet every treasured moment from the mundane of running to the store, sitting on the balcony, going to appointments to the grander treks through the mountains and to the coasts…. all of equal importance in my process of developing and recovery.

I am a stronger person because of you. I am more complete. I am more open. I am more giving. This might seem impossible to recognize when I appear so internally weak and battered. But, I urge you to trust that I speak the truth. My increasing reliance on trust and hope have emerged and burgeoned because of your unwillingness to relent. It paid off. I now see a glimmer of light in every dark space I stumble into. I no longer immediately accept defeat as my only available option. And though the overwhelming outlook might still maintain its unmistakable blackness—I can now focus on the bright spot most of the time–enough to allow my trust in you to win the battle. I believe you when you say that going out will improve my mood and I am happy to attest to the success of this method.

I also hope that you know that each and every gesture of kindness and extension of support, both tacit and vocalized, did not fall upon deaf ears or blind eyes. I noticed. I always notice. I have never felt entirely deserving of the level of devotion you have maintained and exhibited towards me. But, those actions forced me accept that you cared and loved me even when I wanted so badly to believe no one did or could. You truly have earned your superhero’s cape, Mom.

I have many regrets and a long (very long) list of things to apologize for. But, today I just want to iterate that nobody can compare to you. I meant to say this yesterday, but your own mother would be so proud of you and what a positive influence and guiding force you provide in my life.   I do not know whom to thank for granting me the past twenty-nine years of having you as my greatest ally. But, I must have done something right in a past life to earn the right to call you my mom. Thank you for all that you have done for me. And thank you for all you will inevitably continue to do in the future. You have given me everything and I love you to the moon and back.

11260781_10106537689245224_5109156871369250747_n 10428075_10106537695572544_3364292421995455584_n 10981727_10106537694754184_6766597023044944893_n 10985261_10106537695103484_2672502111484682607_n 11009090_10106537694589514_3239880569692988297_n 11114095_10106537694599494_8870779255685920835_n 11118137_10106537688761194_6400977679067266296_n 11150680_10106537689749214_8276094395751405032_n 11182065_10106537694664364_1302606545506113247_n 11203213_10106537693975744_3351015398430527104_n 11204994_10106537695462764_2250239589486112957_n 11205099_10106537688446824_6128170007240280597_n 11229381_10106537688441834_952621098817830260_n

Orchestrating a Memory.

The past two Friday nights were spent in the audience watching Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, and Elton John at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Upon reflection, I am beginning to realize that I should probably make a concerted [ha!] effort to go to more shows at this impressive amphitheater. I have thoroughly enjoyed these recent outings. It’s been a rather alarming and surprising switch in my cranium’s circuitry.

I am not an easy person to cajole into stepping out of my safety zone. I’m relatively comfortable and content within the confines of my miserable little hobo-hive. Miserable? Yes. But, misery is company. And quite simply, I prefer my baggy t-shirt, no make-up, tousled hair look to being forced to face the realities that the mirror and ill-fitting clinging clothing offer me. Getting ready to present myself to the world beyond my chipped rust-colored front door is a challenge that I am usually beyond unprepared to partake in. So, when an invitation to an event I might potentially enjoy attending presents itself to me… the color immediately drains from my face and my stomach sinks to the deepest of depths. I, of course, accept graciously. I am always grateful for every opportunity that I am given. However, I am unable to follow through on my wants and desires with far too great a frequency. I have lost almost everyone in my life because of this flaw. The difference here is that I AM typically good at sticking to commitments that have financial penalties if I opt out of them at the last minute. There is a monetary investment here. It’s my obligation. It is my duty. I have to conquer these experiences bestowed upon me as if they are painful instead of potentially pleasurable.

So, I go. I fret. I pace. I worry. I stress. I panic. I leave a trail of destruction in the hallways from clothes thrown on and viciously ripped off…distributed about like Hansel and Gretel’s crumbs. They mark the tragic path that my brain is making from safety straight into the belly of the beast…that gaping darkness of the unknown. I create a ruckus by rummaging through the cabinets and drawers– clamoring… looking for something but not having a clue of what that something might be. I paw around clumsily within our cache of cosmetologist tools attempting to will my hair into some semblance of a style–hoping that the crease from the eternally suffocating ponytail isn’t too blatant. I’m sure it was. I’m positive it was bulging out from the silky straight strands flowing around it–gasping for air and begging to be cut free. I’m not a long hair type of gal. One more thing to worry about.

I go through all six stages of grief in a cyclical rapid fire succession. I’m like clockwork in this way. I am crumbling. I get desperate. My girlfriend is sprawled out on the couch in such a fashion that one can only assume that her batteries corroded and her movement ceased mid-sentence She is stuck in a state of fever dreams and in the early stages of what will be a rough evening for her. I’m among company but utterly alone. I shift my gaze in her direction…nudging the air gently with my nose.. hoping to revive her from her booze soaked slumber. She’s been running on fumes for a few weeks now. Starved of nutrients both real and emotional…life has drained her. I am not innocent, but not the sole[soul?] perpetrator. Life’s not easy with me. She’s a mere shell of her normal self. We all have our demons. We cannot always predict when they emerge. We cannot always prevent them from striking unexpectedly. We cannot always protect ourselves or those around us from their ills. I look at her with both frustration and devastation. Guilt? I want to shake her into submission, leash her up, parade her around with me. I want her to open her eyes, see that I am struggling and swoop in and save the day…save me. I want too much from her. She is crumpled there and her labored breathing and soft whimpers provide me with evidence dictating that she can no longer help me. Today, her demons won. Some day they won’t. Not today. This was a battle I would not win. I find my mouth suddenly parched, constricted and swollen. It pained me to swallow. The lump that unknowingly developed in my throat prevents from air from entering into my searing lungs. I am forced to make my first of many difficult decisions–collapse and cry or rip the metaphorical serpentine crushing my pipes from my clenched neck and brave it alone.

Flashes and fragments from the previous years whir in front of my deadened unflinching eyes. Memories are jumbled, broken into pieces, blurred into a garbled mess of highs and lows and ups and down. So much marred by intoxication… so much pain I personally caused and so much I wish I could take back and things I wish I could forget. I have no time to lament. I have no time to mourn. Not tonight. Not this night.

I choose to march forward. Through clenched teeth and silent protests… I go. The depths to which I must reach inside my reserve units of bravery and courage are immeasurable. I come up empty handed time and time again. But, I am relentless in my pursuit– determined to scrape off just enough residual confidence to drag myself to the car awaiting me down those very long lonely four flights of stairs. Just getting to the car is an epic journey for my mind to commit to… I can feel my body wanting to turn around and run back up to my sanctuary. During those moments all I can concentrate on is the jiggle of my thighs, the blemishes on my face, the flyaways on my head, the smudged makeup on my eyes, the lack of words to fill the inevitable silence to come. This way of thinking is so nonsensical even to myself. There is no reason nor logic behind it. But, it is so real to me in those moments. It is inescapable and unrelenting…so unforgiving. Karma? The price and prize of sobriety is clarity. I am suffering with each trepidatious step. Imagined gusts of wind chill me right to the bone even in this near-ninety degree heat. The logical area of my brain is reaching frantically for some sort of weapon to deflect the dragon’s breath–the flames singeing my very last few drops of available resolve.

I can do this.

Close my eyes and count to ten.

One step. Two step. Red fish. Blue fish.
Lord, grant me just this one wish.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.

Then I’m in the car. I’m no longer free to make the choices or call the shots. Plans are set in motion. Inertia pulls us forward as we head in a steady line towards our destination. My outsides calm and poised. Inside I am spinning quickly and disastrously out of control in orbit. Me and the Russian spacecraft are on a collision course. It’s ultimate untimely demise locale is still unknown… mine is an absolute certainty: 30.1614° N, 95.4639° W. I will land smack down amidst a throng of sweaty strangers and soon.

Palpitations. Pumping. Thumping. Is that my heart beating out of control or is it the vibrations from the theater beginning to breathe life back into my lungs? Both. I just don’t know it yet.

And then there I am… stepping out of the safety of the car’s womb and into that familiar sticky humid Texas heat. It catches me off guard as it coats me with its unfamiliar newness. I am immediately enveloped and immersed into this whole new world full of commotion and chaos. And like magic I somehow forget all of my worries and begin to feel free of my burdens and restraints. All of the weight is being shed with such rapidity that I begin to float up the stairs and to the lawn above. I am just living in the moment–for the moment–and only this moment. I embrace it. I wedge myself right into the thick of it. It’s almost dizzying to take deep breaths of the air outside…polluted with smoke, spiked with beer, and dripping with the sugary sweet soda and butter drenched popcorn. I’m inhaling the excitement of my fellow patrons…feeding on their adrenaline, soaking up their stories from the day. I am stealing their vigor. I am a parasite getting my fill of life and experience from these unsuspecting victims. It is not until later that I realize that they are willing to share. They give as much as they take. I feel alive. I feel like I am a part of something. I am a part of something–something special.

I simply adore this world. It’s so different from the cocoon that I’ve created only a few miles northward. There are no walls. There are no corners to hide in. There is no artificial light telling me what time of day it is. I see the moon overhead–it’s almost full. I see a few stars peppering the hazy sky. I can feel the light gusts of wind brush intermittently against my cheek–proving a stark contrast to the methodical circulation provided by my ceiling fan’s propeller. I am not lulled into a trance from mechanical repetition. No. Not even close. It’s all improvisational. It’s a jazz tune. It swings and it rings. It is perfect in its imperfection. It’s unpredictable. It’s fresh. It’s catching me completely off guard and pulling me in. It’s injecting me with a renewed sense of energy, thirst and fervor. Everything is bright, vibrant and colorful. I can actually see despite my otherwise limited vision. It overwhelms my senses–each enhanced beyond what limitations I previously thought possible. My heart and soul are inflated to right near their bursting point [insert obligatory deflategate joke here].

The ambiance, the smells, the sights, the sounds, and all of those sixteen-thousand other people coming together for a singular shared passion. We are all there for no other reason but to seek out and capture a tiny sliver of happiness. No one has ulterior motives. No scorn or malice present on the faces of the beings surrounding us. No one is there to sulk or languish away in their sorrows. It’s an escape from the harshness of outside realities to a place of revelry and revery. You can get out of this experience whatever you wish. And I did.

The enormity of it bewilders and momentarily knocks me off my game. I’m off-kilter and unbalanced. I steady myself by grasping the arm of a stranger. I do not know his name. I will go on to ask him for the time later on in the evening… unsubstantial to most… but an unbelievable victory for me. The blood is rushing vigorously through my veins. I close my eyes and attempt to absorb the reality of everything transpiring around me. I am here and living for the now I lose all control of my body and can tell that my face is contorting without my telling it to do so. The cheeks pulled taught, lips turned upright, teeth shining brightly and reflecting the colored lights from the stage in front of us. I’m smiling. The mask is removed and my smile is real. The laughter is incessant. The memories being carved are incapable of being scrubbed out or remembered only in fragments. This one is here to stay. They all are now. Each day there is something new to add to my blank sober slate. Each day an opportunity to improve and grow. I am cultivating my future without a compass and without any idea of what is to come. It’s thrilling and utterly terrifying.

This night could of been a disaster. It could of been another instance where I wearily waved the white flag of surrender. I could of given in and given up. But, I didn’t. I am proving to be made of a stronger material than I previously thought. I may have slightly underestimated myself and my intestinal fortitude. There is no doubt that I have much left to conquer and more areas to improve than I care to delve into or address even to myself right now. I am not only a work in progress, but one in distress and duress. I take steps forward only to regress and fall three or fifty back. I stumble. I sink. I flail. I falter. I am barely making it through each day. But, I am slowly accumulating mental check points to reflect back on and use for internal fuel when times are harder and the waters rougher.

Yesterday, I was a daughter with a mother sitting on the balcony porch staring at the trees and discussing mundane matters of the day. I was an aunt to a niece who is growing up too fast– our paths crossing too infrequently– finding pure and utter joy in the wonderment appearing on her face when I blew a bubble with my chewing gum. I was a daughter to a father who stepped in at the last minute to be my companion at a concert that I so desperately needed to attend. I was a girlfriend to a woman who I put through so much and who asks so very little for in return. I failed her early in the day only to come home renewed and revived able to fall asleep entwined in her arms. I was one of sixteen-thousand… living through a shared experience… but coming away with something so utterly special and personalized.

Two concerts in nine months have changed and transformed my life in ways that I could of never seen coming nor ever anticipated. One marking my first day of sobriety after hitting the proverbial rock bottom I so wanted to avoid but so desperately needed… and one granting me confirmation that I am getting better. that I have a chance… that it’s not too late for me to be something….to be somebody… to be happy…. to not give up. The days seem long and often bleed together. I cannot see the changes within myself. But, they are there. Who knew?

Lady Gaga and Sir Elton might be my guardian angels. But, none more so than those people surrounding me and giving me something to fight for and fight alongside.

In the end, it is a pretty pricey investment for a couple of hours of entertainment based therapy… but I definitely could get used to placing myself in the middle of that crackling crowd, those sizzling sounds and those frenetic fans cavorting around and about! Enjoying and seizing the day. Worth every dime.
https://i0.wp.com/bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/yourhoustonnews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/50/c5035ba0-9378-5782-a2b9-fef7051aaf5e/4dd4007d69b57.image.jpg

Season of Santa

IMG_8645                

 IMG_86741502889_10153620302625133_976943717_o  These were taken last December. My niece will be 5 years old on December 23rd. It’s a blessing beyond any words I am capable of pecking out on a social media status update that we are able to have this little moppet with us for another year. Life can be so feeble and so delicate, as we have seen in the media in recent days, weeks, months. You must always be thankful for each second you have with your loved ones. As always, my family’s health and happiness is the most precious of presents that I can ask for each and every year.

However, there is something a touch sad about rushing through the holidays the way we, as a society, have become conditioned to. Perhaps, I was a little too affected by the “never grow up” mindset of the titular Peter Pan and the Lost Boys depicted on-screen in yesterday evening’s live televised event of the J.M. Barrie classic. Or maybe it’s the incantations of the Toys R Us commercials of yesteryear reverberating within the caverns of my cranium–“I don’t want to grow up. I’m a Toys R Us kid.” Or perhaps it’s a slight tinge of Grinch green envy of being too old, too wise and too jaded to indulge in certain aspects of this particular season. Maybe an amalgam of all the aforementioned.

Regardless of the reasons, the fact remains that we are now screaming down the tracks of the Polar Express with a one way ticket to the realization that the North Pole is a destination that will never be reached. In about two years– this concept of a singular entity being responsible for delivering gifts to all of the world’s “good” kids will be shattered by a child’s intuition, logic and reasoning developmental skills sharpening, blabbermouth peers, the Internet or by just wanting to grow up a smidgen faster than we would like.

All of it is just a part of the process of aging. It’s an inevitability. But, I believe that being able to so harmlessly pull the red satin hat over their eyes and deafen and quell their innate suspicions with jingle bells and elves on shelves is one of the greatest joys we are bestowed 1486791_10153620304550133_369294095_nwith during a child’s youth. It’s a little gift that we are given to inject just that much more personal excitement (on both ends) into an already thrilling time of the year.

I understand that not everyone chooses to indulge in this way. I know that not everyone is comfortable with the entire concept of Saint Nicholas. I am equally aware that many do not even celebrate Christmas for a myriad of reasons. And that is OK! This wasn’t composed to incite scrutiny or to stir up latent hostilities or ruffle and rile your inner Scrooge. Yule have to kindly exit stage right and let me revel in the yore and yarns of the season.

However, I write this with a bittersweet mindset of wanting her to continue to develop and grow in such a brilliant fashion, while still yearning for a few more blissfully oblivious years of buying into a truly magical concept rather than buying into, well, the buying and selling capitalistic culture that is so omnipresent. She doesn’t need to know that yet! Thankfully, this year, barring any tragic occurrence, she won’t. But, soon… it will come crashing down as deflation, destruction, devastation and the defeat of innocuous idealistic idolism occurs with one fell swoop. And with that revelation…we, as a family, selfishly lose a bit of the infectious enthusiasm that comes hand in hand with having a kiddo in the family running afoot.–

That ear-muffed, rose colored glasses wearing, wide-eyed tiny human serves as our beacon of hope–a flesh and blood incarnation of innocence, and wielder of endless cheer amidst a backdrop of cynicism, injustice and despair.

When you have a four-almost-five year old whispering her singular want for the year (a Paw Patrol toy that she is getting!) to the 34th street Santa in Manhattan…. in your life… you can’t help but be momentarily engulfed and swept up in the splendor of the holiday.. Even the coldest and darkest of hearts can be thawed by igniting a spark of that inner spirit and sparkle that burned with such passion when you were of a similar age. You smile and you melt into a puddle of peppermint syrup and saccharine sentimentality. You are blinded by the twinkling lights, intoxicated by the cocoa and candy, you hum carols in your head and you remember that despite all of the negatives saturating your daily lives– there is the beauty of an untarnished canvas right there in front of you. They are formulating their memories that they will cherish and hold dear for the rest of their lives and hopefully pass on to their children in the future.

These rosy cheeked cherubs (or imps, depending on the time you ask) are the torch carriers that will determine the course of their generation. What a wonderful thing to be able to aid in such an immeasurably important task! You are shaping and sharing this period of their development with them! You are their role models and the holidays serve as another opportunity to teach them a solid set of morals and other important lessons: the gift of giving, the art of being polite, the act of sharing, the oft overlooked trait of tact and the importance of patience, the notion that all actions have consequences–both positive and negative, and that sometimes realities will fall very short of expectations.

Unless your holiday fare is filled with marathons of “Wall Street” leaving children with visions of Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is Good” dancing in their heads… your little one will be picking up on early cues of what the season is really all about. It’s an incredibly stressful time for everyone. And if you pay attention to the news– it’s a tragic and scary time for all–some more so than others. And I do not want to take away from that. Shielding children from facts, of course, not my intention here. They should be abreast of the happenings in the world and aware that life is not always fair

But, remember that there is always a ticking clock on the magic of this particular holiday that will melt away with the snow one year soon– and will never be able to be recaptured in its entirety. While it is 100 percent true that the lights will never lose their luster, the freshly cut firs will be ever fragrant, and gifts will always be a true menace to wrap in time (no matter how far in advance they are purchased!)– the traditions and enjoyment will be eternal BUT, this one part of just believing in the unbelievable…. will be boxed up as nothing but a memory….stored away in the attic forever Enjoy it. Treasure it.

I realize that every family is different. That’s part of what makes the holiday season SO special: the traditions. We all have them. And perhaps I care so much because they are so intrinsic to our Smith clan’s celebration of Christmas. Maybe it is because my grandpa was THE Santa Claus at the store we visited growing up. Maybe it was because I was up on the roof of my grandparent’s house stapling lights into shingles with my dad and cousin, untangling strings of half burnt out bulbs, and living in what I believed to be a literal winter wonderland since I was very young. Maybe it is that I fell asleep each night of the season dressed snugly in themed flannels, my mind filled to the brim with illustrations and imagery from holiday classics, my window saturated with the soft glow of twinkles from the proud adornments and decor dancing in the yard outside, and my belly always full of goodies, treats and cocoa lovingly presented to me by my parents. Maybe it’s because they encouraged creativity and instilled imagination in my sister and I from day one and went above and beyond to make sure that Christmas was spectacularly special for the two of us. It was not something to shrug off or sneer at, but to relish and to revel in the reveries. We were egged on to drink the proverbial punch (or non-alcoholic eggnog!) and suspend disbelief, if only for a few measly magnificently marvelous and magical weeks. Maybe it is because everyone in our family still harbors an unapologetic and unabashed ardor and zest for that Christmas cheer deep within the confines of their own hearts. Maybe it is because even now when I close my eyes and reminisce of family get-togethers from past Decembers, an overwhelming and undeniable sense of warm contentment blankets and consumes me–acting as both an insulator of happiness and as a shield from the harsh bitterness of the outside world’s realities. I might, in fact, be a direct descendant of the Claus crew. Anything is possible.

For Caitlin Noel…. right now…anything is truly possible.

She will learn, sooner rather than later, that life is full of disappointment, sadness, heartache and betrayal. But, right now… reindeer fly and on Christmas morning…. the tree will be lit, the cookies and milk will be consumed with a handwritten note of appreciation left from the big man himself, glossily wrapped presents will be strewn across the floor and a flurry of Kodak moments will inevitably ensue. Hugs, tears, laughter and smiles will etch themselves into your internal scrapbook. Let them. Live vicariously through that indescribable youthful fervor for fun and festivities. Try to catch their charmingly effervescent contagion. For there is truly nothing purer than the joyful spirit that these youngsters have gleaming organically within them.

Whip out the advent calendar and embrace the sheer enjoyment of every day during this all too short of seasons. Mark down the moments of merriment and try to formulate the most positive memories you possibly can. Yes it’s stressful. Yes, it is draining. Yes, it is exhausting. But, every second of duress and distress will become an afterthought when you witness the whimsical wonderment appear on your loved one’s face. Nothing is better or more worth it than being an active participant in injecting cheer into a child’s soul.

Remember to reminisce and recall the most famous reindeer of all. Let loose and let go. Say yes more than no. Replace the iphones and ipads with ice rinks and icicles. Embrace the red and the green– the tinsel and holly. Be happy. Be merry. Be overly jolly. But, let’s make one thing clear, don’t you go and be naughty! This day only comes but once every year, so replace all the chaos with nothing but cheer. Teach that it’s not what comes in the sled, but more the things that you’ve done and you’ve said . Share your traditions with the young and indulge in their fun. The best part of the season is not wrapped up in a bow. It’s not the wanting or getting nor sledding in snow. It is the glint, gleam and glimmer and sparkle in their eyes. The giving, the sharing, those are the highs. So sit back and enjoy. But, don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Savor the beauty and soak up all the Christmas.

51 (1)           49 45 43 38 l_9fb5f6b2464f2ee87de877209cb2b38152 2317GetAttachmentaspx-2

Gifts for Cate

Doc McStuffins Doctor’s Coat

$14.99

Product Description

Doc McStuffins is everyone’s favorite toy doctor, and now, your little one can dress up just like her using the Doc Mcstuffins Doctor’s Dress Up Set! Your set includes Doc’s signature white lab coat with buttons, doctor’s name badge with interchangeable inserts, her super sparkly pink headband and of course, her stethoscope! Fits sizes 4-6X.

Doc Mcstuffins Doctor's Dress Up Set -  Just Play - Toys"R"Us

Dalmatian Vet Kit, 15-Piece

$26.49

Overview

This 15 piece set includes a puppy, 8″ x 8″ x 10.25″ vet cage, bowl, tray, brush, blood pressure meter, mirror, ear examiner, hammer, tongs, scissors, tweezers, 2-piece syringe, stethoscope and thermometer.

Disney® Frozen — Elsa Musical Snow Wand

$9.99

Product Description

Bring the magic of Disney’s Frozen to life with Elsa’s musical snow wand! This beautiful wand features an Elsa figurine inside of a mini snow globe, on top of a beautiful wand! Shake to watch the snow magically swirl around Elsa, then press the button to hear Elsa’s beautiful song from the film!

 

LeapFrog® LeapReader™ Reading and Writing System

  • $45.99

The LeapFrog LeapReader helps your child learn to read and write by guiding letter strokes and sounding out words interactively. This reading and writing system offers imaginative stories with lively character voices to help build your child’s vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.

  • Combines reading, writing and listening exercises to help your child become an independent reader
  • Imaginative stories with lively character voices and fun sound effects sound out words letter by letter
  • Children learn to write stroke by stroke on special LeapFrog Learning Paper with interactive handwriting guidance
  • More than 100 audiobooks, sing-along songs and trivia challenges can be found in the LeapReader library
  • Holds audio for over 40 books
  • Compatible with most Tag books

What’s Included

  • LeapFrog LeapReader
  • Sampler Activity Book and Learning Paper Writing Sheet
  • Download with one audiobook bundle, one music album, one trivia challenge
  • Built-in, rechargeable lithium polymer battery
  • USB cable
  • Quick Start Guide

KidKraft Teepee, Orange

Price: $86.99

 Add a little excitement to your child’s bedroom with this colorful Teepee from KidKraft. This toy, featuring a chevron print and two view windows, stands at over three-and-a-half feet tall and is built to last.

Pacific Play Tents Safari Tent and Tunnel Com.

$47.99

details

Go on an adventure without leaving the living room. This jungle safari tent and tunnel combo features a roomy tent and a colorful crawl tube, which together form a cozy play space for several explorers. Skylight windows provide excellent ventilation, and a waterproof floor cleans up with a damp cloth. The sturdy tent poles are shock corded for easy assembly

Crazy Forts – Princess Playset

$59.95

Overview

Crazy Forts Pink are a unique, award winning, building and creative toy. Crazy Forts come with 69 child-safe toggles and rods that join together to build any play space from your child’s imagination. Create a “Cave” one day, an “Igloo”, “Pirate Ship” or “Castle” the next … put the pieces together in different configurations, cover with bed sheets and “voila!” kids have a unique new play space every time!Crazy Fort is powered by a child’s imagination. Each Crazy Fort Kit contains 25 geometrically precise balls and 44 sticks that connect to create a multitude of possible play structures. This kit comes with pink rods and balls, perfect for your little princess.

 

Paw Patrol Rescue Center

$39.99

details

Your child can plan exciting rescue missions from their own Paw Patrol Rescue Center! They can use the Real Working Periscope to catch any dangers lurking around. In between adventures, your child can play Rescue toss with their friends. Patented Twist N Fold technology allows for instant set-up and easy fold-down storage.

Paw Patrol Rescue Center

 

The Happy’s Pets Plush – Bentley the Golden Retriever

$16.99 Dog

$9.99 ball

$17.99- Agility Set

Your child will love the Happy’s Pet Bentley the Golden Retriever, which does tricks with the included Happy Treat and plays with your little one like a real dog. The durable plush pet will chase the Happy’s Chase N Play Ball (sold separately) for even more fun.

Product Highlights

  • Does special tricks with the included Happy Treat
  • Durable stuffed animal can play with your child
  • Chases the Happy’s Chase N Play Ball (sold separately) for even more doggie fun
  • Requires three AA batteries (not included)
  • Treat requires three button cell batteries (included)

What’s Included

  • Happy’s Pet Bentley the Golden Retriever
  • Happy Treat
  • Three button cell batteries

The Happy’s Agility Course includes 2 tunnels, 3 cones and 1 teeter tooter ramp.Train your Happy’s pets to be their best! Zig Zag through the cones, lead them through the tunnel or run over the teeter tooter. You can set up many combinations for hours of fun!

The Happy's Chase & Play Tennis Ball -  Cepia, LLC - Toys"R"Us
The Happy's Agility Course -  Cepia - Toys"R"Us

Minnie Mouse and Figaro Pet Travel Carrier Play Set

$20.00

Kitty carry all

Fly away to far-off lands (or just around the corner) with Minnie’s rolling play pet carrier, complete with purr-fect plush Figaro pal – plus all the accessories needed for a weekend of fun ”fur” all!

 Minnie Mouse and Figaro Pet Travel Carrier Play Set

Frozen Hide-and-Hug Olaf: A Fun Family Experience!

$17.06

Overview

This deluxe box features a brand-new story about Olaf the snowman. Inside, children will also find a huggable Olaf plush. Following the hide-and-seek theme of the story, parents can hide the plush for children to find and deliver Olaf’s big, warm hug!
 Frozen Hide-and-Hug Olaf: A Fun Family Experience!

Sven Plush – Frozen – Medium – 16”

$19.95

Reindearing

Climb to new heights of high-altitude fun with our super-soft and furry plush reindeer, Sven, direct from Disney’s hilarious new comedy-adventure Frozen

Sven Plush - Frozen - Medium - 16''
Frozen Figure Play Set

Orbeez Luxury Spa: 

$31.99

The fun LED lights of the Orbeez Luxury Spa help set a relaxing tone. Enjoy getting pampered by the thousands of warm, bouncing Orbeez and the massaging vibrations. The built-in strainer helps keep set-up and clean-up simple, and the large foot area makes the spa comfortable for your feet. The activity booklet provides ideas about how to use this luxury spa to its fullest.

Product Highlights

  • Massaging vibrations and bouncing Orbeez soothe tired feet
  • LED lights help set the mood
  • Built-in strainer for simple set-up and clean-up
  • With the large foot area and 2,220 Orbeez, your feet will love this luxurious spa
  • Activity booklet provides fun ideas

PLAYMOBIL PONY PASTURE COMPACT SET & PONY WAGON

$18.62

  • Celebrate 40 years of PLAYMOBIL!
  • Compact set is jam-packed with imaginative fun and includes a special bonus set
  • Look after the ponies as they graze in the pasture
  • Take an afternoon ride through the country in the bonus Pony Wagon with functioning wheels
  • Includes 3 figures, 3 ponies, grooming tool, harness, wagon, birds, butterfly and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL TAKE ALONG HORSE FARM

 $37.32
  • Gallop into action at the Take Along Horse Farm
  • After a day full of riding, the horses can rest in the two stalls with nameplates
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Set includes 3 figures, 2 horses with saddles, 2 horse stalls, grooming tools, riding crops and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL PADDOCK WITH HORSES AND FOAL

 $19.99

Product Description

Give your horses a chance to enjoy the outdoors with the Paddock with Horses and Foal. Set includes one figure, two horses, foal, food, fencing, hay, tree, and other accessories. Recommended for ages five to ten

PLAYMOBIL GOLDEN RETRIEVER WITH PUPPIES

$7.19

  • Enjoy some canine fun with the Golden Retriever with Puppies
  • The first of six collectible sets Playmobil Dog Breed sets
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Includes one figure, two adult dogs, two puppies, leash and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL DOG HOUSE PLAY

$8.99

  • Give your dog a comfortable sleeping place with the Dog House
  • Removable roof offers both an enclosed and open structure
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes one figure, dog house, dog, puppies, leash and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL HORSE SHOW PLAYSET

$40.49

  • Show off your riding skills and take first prize at the Horse Show
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Includes 2 figures, 2 show horses, obstacle course, winners’ podium, prize ribbons, trophy, fencing, and additional accessories

PLAYMOBIL SHERIFF WITH HORSE

$11.79

  • Patrol the western countryside for outlaws with the Sheriff with Horse
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Includes one figure, horse, wolf, snake, cacti, handcuffs, and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL CARRYING CASE VET CLINIC

$13.79

  • Have fun on the go with the Carrying Case Vet Clinic
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes figure, kitten, puppy, guinea pigs, accessories and convenient carrying case

PLAYMOBIL CHILDREN’S ZOO

$44.29

  • Children will love roleplaying petting and feeding animals at the zoo
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • This set includes four figures, piglets, goats, sheep and lamb
  • Also comes with fences for the animal enclosure, rock formation with water fall, birdfeeder and many other accessories

PLAYMOBIL HOLIDAY CARRYING CASE PLAYSET

$13.79

  • Take the fun wherever you may go with the Holiday Carrying Case Playset
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes 2 figures, snowman, reindeer and sleigh, Christmas tree and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL SANTA’S WORKSHOP CARRYING CASE PLAYSET

$13.79

  • Take the fun wherever you may go with Santa’s Workshop Carrying Case Playset
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes Santa, elf, gifts, toys, wheelbarrow, table, chair and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL SANTA’S HOME

$36.79

  • Kids will love visiting Santa at his home in the North Pole
  • Santa keeps his home nice and cozy with a wood stove and has a Christmas tree for holiday cheer
  • The loft is a great place to store toys or ride the rocking horse
  • On the front patio, a snowman is on the lookout for visitors
  • Includes Santa and an elf figure, soccer ball, guitar and other assorted toys, tree stump with ax, table and bench, mailbox and other accessories

 

 

PLAYMOBIL SLED CAROUSEL

$14.99

 

  • Seat the figures on the sleds and spin them around the carousel
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Set includes four figures, functioning carousel, and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL SANTA’S SLEIGH

$15.79

  • Help deliver Christmas presents with Santa’s Sleigh
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes Santa figure, angel figure with wand, sleigh, two reindeer, presents, toys, trumpet and other accessories

Schleich Horse Stable Christmas Advent Calendar Set

$38.38

These unique Advent calendars from Schleich are hard to find in stores, but make a unique gift for kids! Each set includes high quality, hand-painted pieces to be opened each day leading up to Christmas. Schleich earns high ratings for quality and detail, making them collectible!

These calendars make a great addition to the existing barn & the new horse stable! (Both are on the Holiday Toy List for 2014!)

Schleich Christmas on The Farm Advent Calendar Set

$38.38

 

Schleich World of Nature Dogs Series 1

$25.49

Whether it’s a Boxer or an Australian Shepherd – you can’t do without man’s best friend.

Set Includes

  • Two Boxers and puppy
  • Australian Shepherd and puppy
  • Two Pugs
  • Labrador and puppy

 

Melissa & Doug Fold & Go Barn

$44.19
  • Young MacDonald’s will enjoy “down on the farm” fun with this fully assembled, wooden barn
  • Two-story barn is stocked with seven realistic plastic farm animals, a wooden ladder and a folding corral
  • Chunky handles let you take this little bit of “country” wherever you go
  • Exceptional quality and value

Safari Ltd Dogs TOOB

$10.29

  • Each figure is professionally sculpted and finely hand painted
  • Excellent “carry-along” for any excursion since the figures are neatly packed in a reusable acetate tube
  • All our products are phthalate-free and thoroughly safety tested to safeguard your child’s health
  • Featured is our dogs toob. Replica size: 1.5″ to 3″ h (4 to 7.5 cm)
  • Toob includes: beagle, bulldog, dalmation, boxer, sheep dog, saint bernard, great dane
  • Also includes collie, golden retriever, dachshund hound, german shepherd and doberman pincher

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Superman and Wonder Woman

$9.00

  • Team up with Superman and Wonder Woman to take down the world’s biggest villains!
  • Let your imagination soar with this super duo!
  • Includes Imaginext Superman & Wonder Woman figures, and Lasso of Truth
  • Add to the fun with more Imaginext DC Super Friends! (Each sold separately and subject to availability)
  • Create non-stop adventures by expanding your Imaginext world!
 

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Batcave

Price: $25.00
  • Turn figures on activation disks throughout the Batcave to open the Batcomputer & extend walkways, flip up the Batwing, and open & close the front door
  • Press button on launcher to fire projectiles
  • Clip a figure into elevator to access all of the Batcave level
  • Batcave includes Batman figure, Robin figure, flight suit, Batcycle & 3 projectiles for launcher
  • Download the free Imaginext Batcave app on your iPhone & bring it to this Batcave for interactive fun on your iPhone screen and is compatible with iPhone 3G/3GS, iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5 and iPod touch 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th generation (device not included.)

Imaginext® DC Super Friends™Superman™ Playset

$28.00

  • Push button on projectile launcher to fire
  • Clip in 2 figures and slide the lever to make them battle
  • Turn figure on disk to open armory and reveal cape
  • Includes Superman figure, General Zod figure, Superman cape, projectile launcher & projectile, 2 swords, secret key, and handcuffs
  • Superman Playset is modeled after the new fortress of solitude

Justice League Boxed Set w/free storage bag

$18.99 + $9.99 shipping

  • Justice League Box Set
  • Includes four bendable super heroes (Batman, Wonder Woman, Super Man and Green Lantern)
  • Great collectible item for any comic book or super hero enthusiast
  • Each figure measures 5 inches tall
  • Recommended for ages 3 and up

Basic Fun Lite Brite Magic Screen

$24.89

  • Magic Screen that blocks the light when pegs are removed- now kids can make endless free-style designs
  • Reusable Templates – no more throwing away the paper templates
  • New peg shapes makes more detailed pictures
  • Brighter images and more blinking effects
  • Designed with modern inspiration from trends in the marketplace

Basic Fun Lite Brite Magic Screen

Color A Dog House

$25.95 $19.46

Product Description

New for 2014! This large preprinted corrugated dog house will provide endless hours of coloring, drawing and doodling fun for children. Easy to assemble, strong walls provide a safe and fun playhouse for kids (and a dog is included!). Color it, paint it and decorate it – let your child’s imagination be the guide. Ages 4+

Includes:
1 Corrugated dog house (when assembled 17.75″ L x 23″ W x 21″ H)
1 cardboard doggie
6 Giant, washable twin tip markers for broad and fine tip coloring
Easy assembly instructions

PlasmaCar Blue

$44.99

Product Description

The streamlined and colorful PlasmaCar requires no batteries, gears, or pedals–simply hop on and go. Turning the steering wheel propels the vehicle forward and steers it as well. The easy operation will have your child driving, turning, and cruising all over the house in no time. Recommended for kids aged three to eight years, the car holds up to 220 pounds so older children and parents might be tempted to take it for a spin when no one is looking.

Simple, Fun Operation

The PlasmaCar is a well-designed toy that provides a thrill that belies its simple, colorful look. Driving around the house, maneuvering nooks and crannies, and going in reverse never lost its appeal for our testers. They were surprised by just how much speed the car was able to pick up considering its manual operation.

Our testers found the PlasmaCar rides best on hard flat surfaces. Carpet, grass, gravel, and other “rough” surfaces diminished the toy’s ability to propel forward.

Develop Motor Skills While Having Fun

The PlasmaCar rewards good hand-eye coordination and fluid movements and provides a fun way for kids to get exercise while keeping occupied. As kids learn to drive faster and more precisely, they will be developing motor skills. Young children who have trouble propelling the car forward by steering can still have fun on the PlasmaCar by pushing off with their feet.

Because it has no electronics or motor, this toy is pleasantly quiet making it appropriate for indoor and outdoor use.

Durable Design Holds Children up to 220 Pounds

The PlasmaCar is the winner of multiple awards, and our testers had to agree with the consensus: it is a truly superior toy. The PlasmaCar has a durable design that can accommodate children up to 220 pounds. Our testers suggest that adults meeting this threshold hop on and go for a ride themselves. The car is deceptively simple but a lot of fun.

Quick, Easy Assembly

Putting the PlasmaCar together took our testers only a few minutes and required a rubber mallet and a screwdriver. In just a few simple steps, parents should be able to have the car ready for play.

 

Learning Resources Pretend & Play Doctor Set

$22.77

 

  • Standard Packaging: this version comes in the traditional retail box. The perfect gift!
  • Includes stethoscope and pager with realistic sounds
  • Also comes with battery operated cell phone, forceps, bandages, thermometer and more
  • Everything fits into a handy 12″ x 14″ x 3 ½ ” plastic clamp-tight case
  • Your little doctors will have fun with this award winning toy!
  • Prolongs battery life with automatic shut-off feature

Zoobooks DVDS

$30.00

We went in search of the best footage we could find to complement Zoobooks magazine and we hit the jackpot!

Wait until you and the young ones set eyes on these amazing creatures–in habitat footage like you’ve never seen before! What a wonderful way to watch the animals in Zoobooks come to life!

Titles include:
The Kitty Kats,
Beetlemania,
Totally Reptile,
Baby Talk,
Crazy Creepy Crawlers

and
Zoo of the Wild.

You’ll be glad you added these amazing DVDS to your family collection!

 

Run time: 70 minutes per DVD, a total of 3 1/2 hours of wildlife viewing!

Way Cool Wildlife DVD Set

Casio SA-76 44 Key Mini Keyboard, Orange

$49.99

This SA-76 Casio Mini-Size keyboard is great for children to explore the world of music. The SA-76 is an economical way to introduce a child to keyboard playing. The small size is fun to use and will surprise you with great sound.

The Casio Mini Keyboard features:

  • 44 Mini-Keys, perfect for small hands
  • 100 Tones, 50 Rhythms, and 10 Songs
  • One Touch Switch for Piano/Organ
  • LCD Display and Headphone Jack
  • Auto Shut Off after 6 minutes to conserve batteries

Features

  • 44 Mini-Keys, perfect for small hands.
  • 100 Tones, 50 Rhythms, and 10 Songs.
  • One Touch Switch for Piano / Organ.
  • LCD Display and Headphone Jack.
  • Auto Shut Off after 6 minutes to conserve batteries.

Safari: A Photicular Book

Ocean: A Photicular Book

41 Used from $4.6085 New from $10.99

14 Used from $15.6663 New from $9.68

In its extraordinary debut, Safari, introduced the world to Photicular technology. The cheetah bounded, the African elephant flapped its ears—and readers could not believe their eyes. Now the creators of Safari take their work a step further.Ocean offers not only a refinement of inventor Dan Kainen’s Photicular technology, but a subject—undulating creatures of the deep—perfectly suited to the immersive visual pleasure of the process.

The Book with No Pictures

18 Used from $8.0563 New from $6.74

A #1 New York Times bestseller, this innovative and wildly funny read-aloud by award-winning humorist/actor B.J. Novak will turn any reader into a comedian.

You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . .

BLORK. Or BLUURF.

Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.

Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)

 

Press Here

$12.56

The New York Times bestseller
“Irresistible.” –The Wall Street Journal

Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages!

 Press Here

Mix It Up!

The New York Times bestseller!

Accept Hervé Tullet’s irresistible invitation to mix it up in a dazzling adventure of whimsy and wonder. Follow the artist’s simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader’s imagination. Tullet—who joins such greats as Eric Carle and Leo Lionni as a master of his craft—sets readers on an extraordinary interactive journey all within the printed page. Tullet prompts plenty of giggles in addition to a profound understanding of colors, and once again displays his unique genius and vision in a work that is a glorious and richly satisfying companion to Press Here.

 

The Secret Life of Squirrels

$11.90

Overview

Adorable squirrels as you’ve never seen them!

You may think you know what squirrels do all day…but Mr. Peanuts is no ordinary squirrel. Instead of climbing tress, he plays the piano. (“Moonlight Sonutta” is his favorite.) Instead of scurrying through the woods, he reads books (such as A Tail of Two Cities). But everything is more fun with company, so Mr. Peanuts writes a letter to Cousin Squirrel and invites him for a visit!

Featuring candid photographs of wild squirrels in handcrafted, homemade miniature settings, this irresistible book is sure to surprise and delight readers and animal lovers of every age!

The Secret Life of Squirrels

How to Train a Train

$12.99

Overview

Everything you need to know about finding, keeping, and training your very own pet train.

Finding advice on caring for a dog, a cat, a fish, even a dinosaur is easy. But what if somebody’s taste in pets runs to the more mechanical kind? What about those who like cogs and gears more than feathers and fur? People who prefer the call of a train whistle to the squeal of a guinea pig? Or maybe dream of a smudge of soot on their cheek, not slobber? In this spectacularly illustrated picture book, kids who love locomotives (and what kid doesn’t?) will discover where trains live, what they like to eat, and the best train tricks around—everything it takes to lay the tracks for a long and happy friendship. All aboard!

How to Train a Train

How to Babysit a Grandma

$13.66

How to Babysit a Grandma

Overview

New York Times bestseller

When you babysit a grandma, if you’re lucky . . . it’s a sleepover at her house! And with the useful tips found in this book, you’re guaranteed to become an expert grandma-sitter in no time. (Be sure to check out the sections on: How to keep a grandma busy; Things to do at the park; Possible places to sleep, and what to do once you’re both snugly tucked in for the night.) From the author-illustrator team behind the bestselling How to Babysit a Grandpa comes a funny and heartwarming celebration of grandmas and grandchildren.

 

Snowmen at Night

$10.04

Overview

Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered . . . what do snowmen do at night? This delightful wintertime tale reveals all! Caralyn Buehner’s witty, imaginative verse offers many amusing details about the secret life of snowmen and where they go at night, while Mark Buehner’s roly-poly snowmen are bursting with personality and charm. From the highly successful team that created such winning titles as Fanny’s Dream, Snowmen at Night is fabulous, frosty, and fun!

Snowmen play games at night when no one is watching.

Snowmen at Night Snowmen at Night

 

The Numberlys

$12.59

Overview

From the team who brought you The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore comes an alphabet tale extraordinaire!

Once upon a time there was no alphabet, only numbers…

Life was…fine. Orderly. Dull as gray paint. Very…numberly. But our five jaunty heroes weren’t willing to accept that this was all there could be. They knew there had to be more.

So they broke out hard hats and welders, hammers and glue guns, and they started knocking some numbers together. Removing a piece here. Adding a piece there. At first, it was awful. But the five kept at it, and soon it was…artful! One letter after another emerged, until there were twenty-six. Twenty-six letters—and they were beautiful. All colorful, shiny, and new. Exactly what our heroes didn’t even know they were missing.

And when the letters entered the world, something truly wondrous began to happen…Pizza! Jelly beans! Color! Books!

Based on the award-winning app, this is William Joyce and Moonbot’s Metropolis-inspired homage to everyone who knows there is more to life than shades of black and gray.

The Numberlys

 

The Day the Crayons Quit

$10.96

Overview

Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me—now a #1 New York Times bestseller!

Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.

What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?

The Day the Crayons Quit

 

Kinetic Sand Box Set

$19.99

Overview

Your child can have fun shaping this fun sand into just about anything with the Spin Master Kinetic Sand Box and Molds Set in the Purple style, which features four plastic molds and a sandbox tray for tons of creative fun. This wacky sand sticks together but doesn’t get stuck on your child’s hands and doesn’t leave behind any residues. Your little one can feel the sand ooze and flow like a liquid through his or her fingers without drying out and create sandcastles without having to make a trip to the beach! Your child will let his or her imagination run wild with the fun molds and endless possibilities of kinetic sand.

Product Highlights

  • The sand oozes through fingers like a liquid without getting your child’s hands wet for a fun, tactile experience
  • Stimulate your little one’s imagination as he or she creates fun shapes with the four plastic molds
  • The sand won’t dry out or get stuck on little hands
  • Leaves no residue behind on surfaces
  • Sand is made from 98% sand and 2% polymers for a long-lasting design that is also gluten-free

Melissa & Doug Cowboy Role Play Set

$24.99

Product Description

Little cowpokes can slip on these pleather chaps and denim-and-pleather vest to dress up like a real cowboy and rustle up adventures in the wild west! The costume set includes a hat, red bandanna and removable badge, so your youngun’ can be a make-believe villain, sheriff or both! This role-play set, sized for children ages 3-5, will inspire limitless imagination and pretend-play fun.

 

Melissa & Doug Role-Play Costume Set – Knight

$29.99

A fabric tunic, a “chain mail” hood, and durable foam sword and shield will transform your young adventurer into a valiant knight! With authentic medieval details, these role-play accessories encourage lots of exciting pretend play.

Richard Scarry Airport Game

$15.97

Get Ready for Take Off

It’s a busy, busy day at the airport, and you’re the pilot. Set up “destination” game boards around the room. Load your plane with your favorite busytown characters and wait for the “all clear” for take-off. Then fly to faraway places–the beach, mountains, city, and more. Collect souvenirs wherever you go. The player with the most souvenirs wins. It’s out-of-your-seat role play fun.

Richard Scarry’s Busy World Comes to Life

Watch the classic stories come to life as the game box transforms into the busy airport where players use the 3-D control tower and dice to load passengers discover destinations. Sturdy game pieces will stand the test of travel and hours of active play.

Quick Set Up, Easy-to-Learn Gameplay

Place the destinations around the room. Drop the dice down the control tower and load the passengers or get the call for take-off. Then fly your passengers to place they need to go.

 

Baby Dinosaur 36 Piece Shaped Box Floor Puzzle

Overview

Great, new learning puzzle for young children. Each puzzle is packed in a delightful, heavy-duty contoured storage box with 36 rugged, oversized pieces.

 

Baby Dinosaur 36 Piece Shaped Box Floor Puzzle

 

 

 

 

retail rantings and rumblings

This is the time of year that I start to get an itch for my old life as a retail drone at Best Buy and Hastings Entertainment. It’s the busiest period, the most bustling and chaotic, the most dreaded by everyone but the higher-ups in this consumer based field. The ringing of the Salvation Army’s charitable bells are the shrieking of banshees to the employee and the mythological Sirens to the shoppers.  Ting-a-ling. Ting-a-ling. Cha-cha-cha-ching. The repetition of carols and holiday classics quickly morph into this maddeningly melodious nightmare–losing their chipper quality and instead taking on an eerie, slow motion horror film quality….crackling and echoing inside your mind and ping-ponging against the cavernous four walls around you.  They haunt and fa-la-la-la- follow you everywhere.  Sweaty, stressed and surly shoppers come and roam the aisles in droves with lists, demands and desires aplenty. These zombie-like hoards are relentless…. blinded by the baubles and twinkling lights and lulled into submission by the subliminal advertising, they grunt and groan their way through the aisles with no regard for anything or anyone but themselves.  Physical decay is replaced by moral and social.  Filthy beasts!  Lines are long, tempers are short, products sell out, ads are misprinted, feet are aching, babies are crying, etc. This is most employee’s idea of what Hell might look like. To me, however… this was my happy place. I loved it. And I miss it.  I miss being a part of the process of making people’s lives a little brighter. I flourished amidst the freakshow.  Schmaltzy and scarily honest.

I worked retail for about 6 years. I never felt ashamed of my job title. I never thought that I was lesser of an individual because I was not making much money. Sure, I was surpassed by my peers and not even coming close to fulfilling my potential. It’s painfully evident that I never truly even physically attempted to stretch my wings wide enough to accomplish any real goals that should and could be attainable by me…. Mentally is another story entirely… But, I was  paralyzed by fear of being mediocre and thus I searched out something easy and low on the stress totem pole.  Interestingly enough, I soon learned that this undesirable little shift job was one that I was enjoying and surprisingly adept at.  It bolstered my confidence, provided a service to the general population, and it suited my debilitating social anxieties and phobias. It was a good fit. It still would be.

My only problem with retail, besides the negative stigma attached to it, is that no one else ever seemed to care about being the best they could be at the position that they held as much as I did.  It was exasperating, confusing and perplexing on many levels. I prefer to surround myself with others who mirror my enthusiasm and desire for excelling at any given task…no matter how trivial it seemed or probably was. To me,each time I was challenged to solve a customer’s dilemma, locate a product, utilize my encyclopedic knowledge of film trivia, recommend or suggest their entertainment selection for the evening, answer any questions, or just offer up light conversation with a smile– I would take those seemingly mundane assignments as seriously as I would anything else in my life and any misstep would linger and haunt me for days (and sometimes even years!). As they say at NASA, “Failure is not an option.” No problem could be too big or too small and nor should it be.

I’ve always believed that I would thrive at a local independent establishment– one where you are rewarded with incentives, hours and raises rather than threatened with cuts, department switches or even termination.  The idea of forming relationships and true bonds with returning regular customers and almost familial ties with coworkers appeals to me…to be a part of something that lived and thrived because of your individual contributions and determination fills me with intrigue and want.  I crave that community.I love the thrill of a good add-on or upsell… but only without my being forced at hypothetical gunpoint into doing so by corporate bigwigs and their impossibly out of touch policies and numerical goals.  One of the worst aspects of being an underling at a big-box store was essentially working as though you were receiving commission, when really you were just fighting for job security.  I always felt that I caved to their mandate of pressuring customers into buying product and pushing promotions that lacked sincerity or customization because…well… I was.  But, on a personal level I gained nothing. I did not enjoy being a corporate puppet or talking mouthpiece for faceless boardroom suits and ties.

I understand how capitalism works.  I understand why rules, regulations, guidelines, etc are in place and play at these establishments.  I don’t have a problem with any of it in theory.  And truly all of this could of been rectified by the occasional pat on the back.  There is nothing that makes me work harder than affirmation that my attention to detail and devotion to my craft is noticed and appreciated by others…and nothing that cripples and demoralizes me more than harsh words,unnecessary discipline or worse…. a complete and utter lack of any acknowledgment whatsoever!  The degree to which other people’s opinions and words matter to me is incredibly unhealthy, but a fantastic motivator!

I also enjoyed taking pride in the physical area of my department and fastidiously maintained it to meet my most stringent of standards.  Everything had its place, everything was alphabetized and orderly as to make it easy for the customer or employee  to find the appropriate product and to promote an air and aesthetic of professionalism.   This was not as important to a big corporation than the bottom line was, which made for many days that I would come in off-the-clock as a “customer” and furtively arrange and tidy things to my liking.  I could spot a misplaced item a mile away and it would send me into fits of panic and unease upon its detection.  I inherited this from my mother.  She who would sweep the pine needles from the dirt floor at a campsite in the woods.  The appearance of the environment around us is representative of ourselves.  I also firmly believe that if your surroundings are clean, streamlined and efficient then you will feel better and perform at a higher level as a result. I keep my little hovel of an apartment orderly for the same reason–despite us never having any visitors!

But, I digress… the fact of the matter is that I am a little bummed that I don’t possess the keen vision that I did four years ago.  Reading signs is near impossible, staring at a computer screen is a challenge, flying through tasks at record time is no longer a practical possibility…. I’d be a great asset and addition to anyone’s team, but not an all-around MVP anymore.  I find that unacceptable.  Without the leniency and forgiveness that I could find in an independent setting– I am out of luck finding a suitable business to share my wealth of retail awesomeness with.  I was beyond thrilled and even more envious of the Northeast on my most recent trip to Massachusetts.  There were a myriad of reasons for this, but one was the abundance of locally owned and operated stores and shops–streets of them!  It gave me hope for my future.  But, in the meantime I save my smile, small talk,  and never ending endurance and willingness to go above and beyond for my friends and family…and mainly my dog.  I still get my kicks by picking up fallen items in the grocery store, folding clothes that are crumpled and tossed aside at the mall and laser lining the hell out of stocked shelves.  I might even awkwardly continue utilizing my ingrained mantra of helping anyone within ten feet of me. Sigh. Perhaps in time my confidence will catch up with my mental drive… or I’ll wake up in Beantown with an accent and new life. Until then, I will be the lunatic who yearns to be the communal whipping boy in a sea of real cynicism and mock enthusiasm during this crazy shopping season.. I’ll continue being jealous of my girlfriend who wears a vest and name-tag, wants to strangle Charlie Brown, Snoopy and The Vince Guaraldi Trio and comes home doused in glitter, tinsel and disdain for humanity.  Ah, what a wonderful world!

I will still enjoy this holiday season.  I will enjoy it more than years past.  I will not be participating on the commercial side, but I will throw myself into the mix of that of the consumer.  Perhaps monies won’t be exchanged for goods because of the whole lack of funds thing.  However, the material will be replaced with the consumption of ambiance, energy and second-hand frenzied hysteria.  The jubilance and cheer will enchant and mystify me enough to detract from my deepest insecurities and personal failings. My visual acuity may be dismal in regards to details and minutiae, but it excels at absorbing the warm embrace of color and light.  I do not have to strain my sight to become instantly engulfed in a kaleidoscope of candy-coated razzle dazzle, sparkles and shimmers, twinkles and glimmers, an explosion of pure wonderment.  It truly is a feast for the eyes and a dizzying array of decor and delight await me in the coming months. This year I’m truly happy to be a part of the festivities that come hand in hand with autumn and winter.  Unlike the past six years, I won’t be singing the blues but rather rockin’ around the Christmas tree.   I won’t be in a holidaze for the holidays and will instead be soberly (but not somberly) soaking up every precious moment of the season.  I am prime for people watching.  So, bring it, Santa!  Let’s do this!

tis the season

Hindsight is 20/20…. Foresight is….Questionable at best.

  So, it’s been about a year exactly since I woke up behind a veil of haze and fog–to what I thought was nothing more than a temporary side effect of a night of fitful sleep. I cracked open my crusty lids to a blurriness that I believed would dissipate shortly after getting up and at ’em. However, minutes turned into hours, then days, then weeks then months…. and after many ophthalmologists and specialists poked, prodded and peered into the frightened distressed blue marbles resting upon my broken visage…. it was deduced that this was my “new normal.” I had already accepted the inevitable by this point and instead of being visibly crushed I was silently and graciously accepting that I could now close this taxing chapter of uncertainty and focus on that which now laid ahead (I have to choose my paths, directions and such more carefully and with more trepidation these days! :P).

I am still not comfortable with this new ocular outlook.. I’ve adapted and adjusted to this astronomical shift in my life in the best way I know how….not well. But, I manage. To go from 20/20 with glasses to being incapable of driving a car or reading a book after twenty-something years is…. not something you can segue into easily. I am the partner of an artist of whose work I cannot fully appreciate. The daughter of a photographer of whose pictures can no longer be seen in the detail they deserve. The daughter of an avid and voracious reader whose enjoyment and appreciation of books can no longer be shared with. The sister of someone who writes a blog for a living that can now only be skimmed because of how frustrated I get with being unable to focus on the screen. I worry about what will happen when my parents are no longer able to drive me to and fro. I have to strain my eyes at all times just to make sure I don’t trip, misstep, or fall. I have to rely on others to tell me what items are on menus or ask them what signs say or what they are talking/laughing about. I have to memorize what people are wearing when I am in a crowded area so that I have at least a slim chance of finding them again when separated. I have mistaken others for my parents, sister and Meg on more than one occasion. I have to watch foreign films while sitting on my computer an inch from the screen to read the subtitles and I still don’t always catch the entirety of the written dialogue. If I see a gnat or a spot on my glasses– I panic thinking that maybe the impairment is growing more severe or morphing in some way. And I go to bed each night worrying that in the morning there will be no sunshine–and all that will envelop me is total darkness. It’s a fear that I am not quite sure is completely unsubstantiated.

Yes, it’s scary and more than a little deflating to have each minimal task multiplied by a million in terms of complexity, but you know what? It could always be so much worse. I can still see. I can see colors, shapes, the freckles on Meg’s face when I’m up close, the flowers peppering the ground, the blooms on the trees, the major details on buildings and landmarks, the sun in the sky, the smiles on faces and virtually everything wonderful about this world. I just don’t see it the same way I did… or that you do.

Life has it’s way of throwing curve-balls at you and keeping you on your toes. I’m pretty good at baseball, but I would be most appreciative if the powers that be could lob the pitches from now on– a little harder to catch and prepare these days! And looking on the bright side (which is always a good idea now) is intrinsic to my plowing through each day with vigor and fervor. I’ve become more social and mirthful since I started having to stare through the equivalent of a waterfall or frosted glass all day. My dependence on others has forced me into this position and I have had to learn to accept that my independence in this particular area is no longer an option. I find humor in the mundane and joke to make it seem or feel less awkward and frustrating. And as mawkish and ridiculous as it may seem… I appreciate everyone and everything just a little bit more. The sight that I have, the cacophony of sound around me, the breeze on my cheek, the pounding of each step, the touch of a hand, and the kindness of others. There are worse things. However, I am still waiting on my new super power that takes the place of sight.

So, yes, I may now read like a four year old stumbling and stopping over each individual letter. I might appear as though I am using a foreign language dictionary in a strange land to translate words into sentences that make some semblance of sense. I might quadruple check both ways before I cross the street as though I am playing the classic “Frogger” arcade game. And I might have premature wrinkles from squinting with such prolonged intensity. But, that’s all ok. I’m somehow happier. From this myopia and dystopia came a cornucopia of happiness, empathy and unbridled enthusiasm that had been held captive and laid dormant for so long. Stranger than fiction.

I went into a period of cessation from documenting my life for multiple reasons. One main purpose was to stop feeling as though I was complaining too much. I never sought out that type of confessional . I always wanted this to be a diary of thoughts and realizations that I encountered each day. The reason it became so intense was because I entered a realm of disorder that needed to be attended to in a professional manner.

I have no shame in that. Yes, I have sliced my skin to shreds, I have wounds that will never heal, I have hurt everyone around me, I wanted to die, I went to a psychiatric ward, and I am still a pawn in the ultimate chess game of life and loss.

There is a silver lining here. I am twenty-eight and am now finding happiness in my day to day existence. It took about as long as I would of anticipated. I did not start my period until sixteen and did not lose my virginity until twenty-two. I’m just always going to be late to the party. I’m ok with that. I’m very logical, level-headed, and literal. I will never alter the way I view the outside world. I have no inkling nor any innate desire to do so. Practicality courses through my veins.

All I concentrate on at this juncture in my life is making everyone around me’s life easier. This is what I know I can do without any extra effort. I am a generally nice person. I will always be as kind as I can when granted the opportunity.

Each day is another chance to prove that there are great people in this world. And I hope to make someone smile and feel a little happier every morning! I may not be religious, but I am always hoping to be a saving grace.

PostScript.

10518692_10105045162086614_9166007125624177136_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections are an interesting fear to tackle. There are two main fears that are associated with what a mirror will provide you with instantly: a look at yourself in the present and/or send you spiraling to a  situation that you may have experienced in the past. I somehow managed to gaze both directly into these perpetually confounding eyes, always aglow with the prospect of gaining knowledge and understanding…. (but, still not sure if they are blue, green, or a new crayon color) on a daily basis without even coming into contact with reflective glass.

I’ve avoided mirrors for years and years. Much the same way that I have also evaded the dictatorship that a traditional scale will provide me with. I don’t need to know how much I weigh and I am perpetually aghast by the pallor, the pimples, and petrified wood effect that my skin has been forced to endure over the years. Government, fix that! I don’t need to be reminded of the ghastly visage and general mien that I possess.

There have been zero days where I found myself attractive, but I have sort of learned a valuable lesson during the epoch of anorexia that provided an unwelcome shady umbrella that literally fell upon my life– and that was to never look at myself in the mirror or to calculate my pounds on a scale. Ever.

I’ve held true to those sentiments as outlandish as they are. I’m happier that way. (Yes, I have to inform nurses at the doctor’s offices.  However, if you must know… I am 5’5″ and weigh 120)  Thanks useless people at doctors’ offices.

Eating disorders are not things you just wake up and cure yourself of. They stick with you forever. They can and often times do consume you- literally. At this point…. I have given up on the idea that I will ever be “pretty.” I am not going to be THAT person. And this is a big step for me in the sense that I can let go a little on the attempts to achieve perfectionism. It would of been a goal that left me reaching and reaching and reaching further for a finish line that never truly existed. It became time to accept the wonderful blessings that I was bestowed in lieu of a waist-size that is unachievable Make the best of what you were granted, because honestly you are beautiful, gorgeous and special no matter what you believe yourself to be :)

I’m going to also add this little tiny bit of knowledge and realization that has provided me with confidence that I never knew that I had. I have learned to stand up straight and hold the door open for others– while asking them how their day was or stating that I hope they have a wonderful evening. I am so shy that none of this comes naturally. However, I have determined, just utilizing a simple five day venture into the Nation’s Capital, that a simple phrase or praise can turn someone’s life around. It can change a Monday into a Funday. Why not try to help someone…. if you are granted the opportunity? A smile and a familial exchange can go a long way!
No one wants or deserves to live inside of a calorie calculator.
https://twitter.com/sunbearsmith

I may be the opposite of what my parents wished for their second child, but when you combine the powers of my amazing sister and myself– we are unstoppable!  Caitlin can be added into this triforce.   And yes… that is a Zelda reference.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.