Wonder Woman — Kayla’s Welfare

Someone once said that, “Ginger Rogers could do everything Fred Astaire did; only she did it backwards, and in six-inch heels”. Batman and Superman have dominated since the Golden Age of Comic’s.  There is only one woman who could battle beside them as an equal; even in high heel boots and a strapless bustier.  That one woman is Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman’s character, as created by William Marston, has been turned into a feminist archetype. She serves as a goddess symbol, and ideal woman on many levels. Some of those levels have been criticized for being cruelly exploitative. Some of those levels are aspirations still worthy of today’s woman.  Wonder Woman’s breast revealing bustier could be interpreted as eye-candy for lusty men.  There is also the controversy regarding the multiple bondage scenes in every issue. Then again, she is also longest running heroin comic of all time. Not to mention the fact that she holds the title as the only girl who’s been able to keep up with superheroes like Batman and Superman for nearly 40 years.

Which leads one to debate: is Wonder Woman just another caricature for men’s perverted fantasies? Or is she something more? Is she a representation of the gifts that lay inside every young woman as long as they can resist male domination? Was Wonder Woman’s stoic grace mightier than a perverted pen? Wonder Woman’s inception into comic book media began in the December 1941 issue of DC Comics’ popular All Star Comics.  (St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture). Before she was Wonder Woman, she was the daughter of the Hippolyta who is Queen of the Amazons. The Amazons were refugees of Greece looking to escape a destructive male-dominated society. The women claimed an island in the Bermuda Triangle as their home.  It is surrounded by a magnetic field which hides their location from the rest of the world. Women from this island are trained from birth to be as strong as Hercules, as wise as Athena, and with the competitive drive of Ares and Apollo, all combined with a capacity for love like Aphrodite’s.

The majority of superheroes are usually off-shoots of a science lab gone awry, an alien from another planet, or perhaps a mortal with an inner code of vengeance for some massive injustice. Like the mutant orphan Spiderman’s quest to avenge his Uncle Ben’s death; or Batman’s repressed orphan issue’s, Superman is an orphan also. But unlike her most infamous cohorts, Wonder Woman never had a father figure, or even a male role model. Amazon Queen Hippolyta asked the goddess Aphrodite for a daughter to keep her company. Aphrodite told her to form a child made from clay. Aphrodite blew the breath of life into the clay, and thus was born Princess Diana. Her mother parents are very much alive inside her. This is what makes her wholly feminine approach to every situation so remarkably believable.

Wonder Woman chose to leave her Paradise Island to come to America when American Intelligence officer Steve Trevor accidentally crash landed his plane onto her island. The Princess Diana, as she was named at home, nursed him back to health.  Much like an “English Patient” she fell madly in love with her charge.  Princess Diana is intrigued by America, which is a society dominated by men.  She sneaked her way into a competition to see who could go back to America with the handsome captain.  She entered the competition by using a disguise, and won. Thus she earned a reward- her protective outfit.  This included a lasso that when wrapped around someone they would be forced to tell the truth. She was also given as a reward two bracelets that were stronger than any other substance on Earth. The bracelets were the also a key to Diana’s downfall, i.e., her Achilles heel, her kryptonite. The only time Wonder Woman could lose her power was if the bracelets were chained together. Even this was done with a specific empowering message. In the origin story written by Marston, the Amazon women are saved from the tyranny of Hercules by their goddess Aphrodite, but with only one hitch:  they “must wear wrist bands always to teach [them] the folly of submitting to men’s domination” (Daniels.150).

Most importantly, she was chosen to go back to America with Pilot Steve, and thus began her adventures battling Nazi’s and protecting human rights from tyranny and mad super villains. She integrated herself into society as a nurse. She was a healer of men. She comes to enlighten and protect. Wonder Woman chose to live as a repressed mortal, much like Superman uses his secret identity to include himself in society. Superman’s version of a human man, from his alien perspective is weak, insecure, and awkward. Wonder Woman’s version of a human female is just what ladies needed to see. Diana Prince, her mortal alias, is an educated professional. She is confident, capable, and self-sufficient.  Those are the two most important words for a woman of the WWII era- self-sufficient.

Wonder Woman stands as a testimony to feminine strength. I specify feminine strength as opposed to masculine strength because she used a different, less violent, approach to crime-fighting versus her super-peers. She always used wit, not war, as the means to achieve just ends, not revenge.  “Wonder Woman does not shoot bullets or heat-rays; she deflects them. She does not beat the truth out of captives; she ties them up and lets the properties of her lasso mesmerize the truth from them. She does not hide in darkness, loom over criminals, and attempt to “‘strike terror into their hearts’” because she knows them as “‘a superstitious cowardly lot’” (O’Neil 37). So leave the steroids and the pissing contests to the men. Wonder Woman had a job to do.

Another way that Wonder Woman’s crime-fighting methods differed from her male counterparts was because her methods involved self-actualization, (admitting truth with the magic lasso) and then reform (criminals were sent to Transformation Island).  This was a more productive approach as opposed to the typical stalk then strike method.

There is however, an aspect of the Wonder Woman comic book series that has haunted both me and her critics for many years. After long deliberations on the subject, I now understand the symbolism behind the repetitive bondage theme throughout her history.

William Marston has a very subjective history with women. He was married to an academically successful and talented wife named Elizabeth. He graduated with a BA from Harvard University in 1915; a LLB from Harvard Law School in 1918. He also earned a PhD in Psychology from Harvard University in 1921 and worked as a teacher at the American University. After teaching at American University in Washington D.C. and Tufts University in Medford MA, Marston traveled to Universal Studios in California in 1929, where he spent a year as Director of Public Services. () Olive Byrne was his mistress whom he met when she was a graduate student in the psychology department. Eventually he told his wife about Olive, and she moved in and they lived together quite openly as ménage trios.  He had two daughters by each wife. Elizabeth continued her academic career and Olive stayed home and took care of their daughter’s.

To quote the library of rotton.com, “If he was writing comic books today, Marston would be eaten alive by the morality police.”  This is true considering he was once quoted telling the artist at D.C Comics that for his last wonder woman script he “called for seventy-five panels showing women in bondage” (Daniels 75).

I believe that Wonder Woman’s strengths have endured as a contradiction to what excessive bondage drawings might immediately represent.  William Marston’s symbolism of a powerful woman in sexually submissive positions was admittedly intentional. Marston was even quoted on his motives on writing Wonder Woman. “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, and peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with the strength of Superman plus all of the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” If the girls are going to always be represented as the victim, or the weaker species, who would want to be on the losing team?

Girls want to grow up to be strong women. We see the advantages boys have because they are usually faster and stronger. We are conditioned to believe that we cannot protect ourselves because we are inundated with images of women being perpetually saved. The restraints come into psychological balance when one can handle both aspects; the physical strength of a man combined with the mental endurance of a woman. A man’s strength lies in what pain he can inflict. A woman’s strength lies in what pain she can endure.

The majority of these scenes take place with Wonder Woman being tied to large phallic shaped object. The interpretation may be a contradiction to his message. Whenever Wonder Woman was in peril, it was because she was tied down to a penis.  She persevered every time. She has 40 years worth of publication, two television shows, and a movie in the works to be released.

I have always taught my children that violence is what a person resorts to when they are not intelligent enough to work their way through a situation. Wonder Woman represented women at their most brilliant. She was unconditionally a lady. She could be touched, but not held. She was intelligent, resourceful, strong, and consistent in her moral code. Regardless of Marston’s original intentions, or personal life, Wonder Woman stands proudly in pop culture history as the most wondrous woman of our time.

 

Works Cited

Coletta, Charles . Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Vol. 3: 1940s-1950s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. p583-585. Character Overview

Daniels, Les. Wonder Woman: The Complete History. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000

Dietrich, Bryan D. “Queen of Pentacles: archetyping Wonder Woman.” Extrapolation 47.2 (2006): 207+. 13 July 2010.Academic OneFile. Web.

nndb. http://www.nndb.com/people/160/000093878/.web

O’Neil, Dennis, ed. Secret Origins of the Super DC Heroes. New York: Warner Books, 1976.

Pyle, Christian L.  Seduction of the Innocent .St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Vol. 4. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. p350-351. Article

Ray, Belinda S.. St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Vol. 5.  Detroit: St. James Press, 2000.p171-172.Article

Rotten library. http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/mad-science/william_marston/.web

Segura ,Alex.Wonder Woman ditches hot pants for leggings.www.perthnow.com.au/…/wonder-woman…/story-e6frg3gl-1225886662459. 28 June 2010.web

Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Moulton_Marston.web

Wonder Woman History.15hqqv. Charles Moulton’s creation of the perfect woman superhero. http://www.vex.net/~dq711/wonder_woman.htm l.web

© Copyright 2010 Kayla Strangelove (UN: Kayla at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.

Kayla Strangelove has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive

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Wonder Woman

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Someone once said that, “Ginger Rogers could do everything Fred Astaire did; only she did it backwards, and in six-inch heels”. Batman and Superman have dominated since the Golden Age of Comic’s.  There is only one woman who could battle beside them as an equal; even in high heel boots and a strapless bustier.  That one woman is Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman’s character, as created by William Marston, has been turned into a feminist archetype. She serves as a goddess symbol, and ideal woman on many levels. Some of those levels have been criticized for being cruelly exploitative. Some of those levels are aspirations still worthy of today’s woman.  Wonder Woman’s breast revealing bustier could be interpreted as eye-candy for lusty men.  There is also the controversy regarding the multiple bondage scenes in every issue. Then again, she is also longest running heroin comic of all time. Not to mention the fact that she holds the title as the only girl who’s been able to keep up with superheroes like Batman and Superman for nearly 40 years.

Which leads one to debate: is Wonder Woman just another caricature for men’s perverted fantasies? Or is she something more? Is she a representation of the gifts that lay inside every young woman as long as they can resist male domination? Was Wonder Woman’s stoic grace mightier than a perverted pen? Wonder Woman’s inception into comic book media began in the December 1941 issue of DC Comics’ popular All Star Comics.  (St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture). Before she was Wonder Woman, she was the daughter of the Hippolyta who is Queen of the Amazons. The Amazons were refugees of Greece looking to escape a destructive male-dominated society. The women claimed an island in the Bermuda Triangle as their home.  It is surrounded by a magnetic field which hides their location from the rest of the world. Women from this island are trained from birth to be as strong as Hercules, as wise as Athena, and with the competitive drive of Ares and Apollo, all combined with a capacity for love like Aphrodite’s.

The majority of superheroes are usually off-shoots of a science lab gone awry, an alien from another planet, or perhaps a mortal with an inner code of vengeance for some massive injustice. Like the mutant orphan Spiderman’s quest to avenge his Uncle Ben’s death; or Batman’s repressed orphan issue’s, Superman is an orphan also. But unlike her most infamous cohorts, Wonder Woman never had a father figure, or even a male role model. Amazon Queen Hippolyta asked the goddess Aphrodite for a daughter to keep her company. Aphrodite told her to form a child made from clay. Aphrodite blew the breath of life into the clay, and thus was born Princess Diana. Her mother parents are very much alive inside her. This is what makes her wholly feminine approach to every situation so remarkably believable.

Wonder Woman chose to leave her Paradise Island to come to America when American Intelligence officer Steve Trevor accidentally crash landed his plane onto her island. The Princess Diana, as she was named at home, nursed him back to health.  Much like an “English Patient” she fell madly in love with her charge.  Princess Diana is intrigued by America, which is a society dominated by men.  She sneaked her way into a competition to see who could go back to America with the handsome captain.  She entered the competition by using a disguise, and won. Thus she earned a reward- her protective outfit.  This included a lasso that when wrapped around someone they would be forced to tell the truth. She was also given as a reward two bracelets that were stronger than any other substance on Earth. The bracelets were the also a key to Diana’s downfall, i.e., her Achilles heel, her kryptonite. The only time Wonder Woman could lose her power was if the bracelets were chained together. Even this was done with a specific empowering message. In the origin story written by Marston, the Amazon women are saved from the tyranny of Hercules by their goddess Aphrodite, but with only one hitch:  they “must wear wrist bands always to teach [them] the folly of submitting to men’s domination” (Daniels.150).

Most importantly, she was chosen to go back to America with Pilot Steve, and thus began her adventures battling Nazi’s and protecting human rights from tyranny and mad super villains. She integrated herself into society as a nurse. She was a healer of men. She comes to enlighten and protect. Wonder Woman chose to live as a repressed mortal, much like Superman uses his secret identity to include himself in society. Superman’s version of a human man, from his alien perspective is weak, insecure, and awkward. Wonder Woman’s version of a human female is just what ladies needed to see. Diana Prince, her mortal alias, is an educated professional. She is confident, capable, and self-sufficient.  Those are the two most important words for a woman of the WWII era- self-sufficient.

Wonder Woman stands as a testimony to feminine strength. I specify feminine strength as opposed to masculine strength because she used a different, less violent, approach to crime-fighting versus her super-peers. She always used wit, not war, as the means to achieve just ends, not revenge.  “Wonder Woman does not shoot bullets or heat-rays; she deflects them. She does not beat the truth out of captives; she ties them up and lets the properties of her lasso mesmerize the truth from them. She does not hide in darkness, loom over criminals, and attempt to “‘strike terror into their hearts’” because she knows them as “‘a superstitious cowardly lot’” (O’Neil 37). So leave the steroids and the pissing contests to the men. Wonder Woman had a job to do.

Another way that Wonder Woman’s crime-fighting methods differed from her male counterparts was because her methods involved self-actualization, (admitting truth with the magic lasso) and then reform (criminals were sent to Transformation Island).  This was a more productive approach as opposed to the typical stalk then strike method.

There is however, an aspect of the Wonder Woman comic book series that has haunted both me and her critics for many years. After long deliberations on the subject, I now understand the symbolism behind the repetitive bondage theme throughout her history.

William Marston has a very subjective history with women. He was married to an academically successful and talented wife named Elizabeth. He graduated with a BA from Harvard University in 1915; a LLB from Harvard Law School in 1918. He also earned a PhD in Psychology from Harvard University in 1921 and worked as a teacher at the American University. After teaching at American University in Washington D.C. and Tufts University in Medford MA, Marston traveled to Universal Studios in California in 1929, where he spent a year as Director of Public Services. () Olive Byrne was his mistress whom he met when she was a graduate student in the psychology department. Eventually he told his wife about Olive, and she moved in and they lived together quite openly as ménage trios.  He had two daughters by each wife. Elizabeth continued her academic career and Olive stayed home and took care of their daughter’s.

To quote the library of rotton.com, “If he was writing comic books today, Marston would be eaten alive by the morality police.”  This is true considering he was once quoted telling the artist at D.C Comics that for his last wonder woman script he “called for seventy-five panels showing women in bondage” (Daniels 75).

I believe that Wonder Woman’s strengths have endured as a contradiction to what excessive bondage drawings might immediately represent.  William Marston’s symbolism of a powerful woman in sexually submissive positions was admittedly intentional. Marston was even quoted on his motives on writing Wonder Woman. “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, and peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with the strength of Superman plus all of the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” If the girls are going to always be represented as the victim, or the weaker species, who would want to be on the losing team?

Girls want to grow up to be strong women. We see the advantages boys have because they are usually faster and stronger. We are conditioned to believe that we cannot protect ourselves because we are inundated with images of women being perpetually saved. The restraints come into psychological balance when one can handle both aspects; the physical strength of a man combined with the mental endurance of a woman. A man’s strength lies in what pain he can inflict. A woman’s strength lies in what pain she can endure.

The majority of these scenes take place with Wonder Woman being tied to large phallic shaped object. The interpretation may be a contradiction to his message. Whenever Wonder Woman was in peril, it was because she was tied down to a penis.  She persevered every time. She has 40 years worth of publication, two television shows, and a movie in the works to be released.

I have always taught my children that violence is what a person resorts to when they are not intelligent enough to work their way through a situation. Wonder Woman represented women at their most brilliant. She was unconditionally a lady. She could be touched, but not held. She was intelligent, resourceful, strong, and consistent in her moral code. Regardless of Marston’s original intentions, or personal life, Wonder Woman stands proudly in pop culture history as the most wondrous woman of our time.

 

Works Cited

Coletta, Charles . Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Vol. 3: 1940s-1950s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. p583-585. Character Overview

Daniels, Les. Wonder Woman: The Complete History. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000

Dietrich, Bryan D. “Queen of Pentacles: archetyping Wonder Woman.” Extrapolation 47.2 (2006): 207+. 13 July 2010.Academic OneFile. Web.

nndb. http://www.nndb.com/people/160/000093878/.web

O’Neil, Dennis, ed. Secret Origins of the Super DC Heroes. New York: Warner Books, 1976.

Pyle, Christian L.  Seduction of the Innocent .St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Vol. 4. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. p350-351. Article

Ray, Belinda S.. St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Vol. 5.  Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. p171-172.Article

Rotten library. http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/mad-science/william_marston/.web

Segura ,Alex.Wonder Woman ditches hot pants for leggings.www.perthnow.com.au/…/wonder-woman…/story-e6frg3gl-1225886662459. 28 June 2010.web

Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Moulton_Marston.web

Wonder Woman History.15hqqv. Charles Moulton’s creation of the perfect woman superhero. http://www.vex.net/~dq711/wonder_woman.htm l.web

 

© Copyright 2010 Kayla Strangelove (UN: Kayla at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.

Kayla Strangelove has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive

 

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THOUGHTS, CONCERNS, IDEAS, BELIEFS, OPINIONS, “JUST SAYING…”

Grow up, But Not Until You’re Ready

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I’m being a better parent, by unparenting. I told my girls that it doesn’t look like they’re getting into Oxford, but that I don’t particularly care. I won’t love them based on their academic accomplishments. I don’t care if they go to the right college, or even any college. Why would a parent give their child such reckless advice? Because there is only one thing I need them to be when the grow up- happy.
Whatever makes them happy- find a job that will support that. I never want my kids to feel as though their value is either measurable, comparable, or erodible, because they didn’t perform well enough compared to someone else. Don’t waste precious youth on adult worries, and adult problems. Good morals are instilled young, and reinforced by example and practice.
Of course, I inspire and encourage them to reach for the highest apple on the tree. I want them to love themselves enough to believe they can achieve, and that they deserve, all they wish for. I offer them every opportunity to become whatever their dreams tell them to. I give them navigation skills. Positive choices usually produce positive dividends. Negative choices usually have consequences. Work for what you want. Never count on someone else to give you what you need. Personal accountability is an important trait. Your intelligence level is by choice. My personal favorite is, do the right thing not the easy thing.
Honestly, a person can go to college at any point in their life, but only be young for one brief period of time. So much of youth is spent worrying about how everything you do or don’t do now will affect the rest of your life. Obviously, we can commit heinous undoable crimes, at worst; or make things harder for ourselves, at the very least. There is truth to the proverb, investment now reaps great rewards later. What no one tells us is that we have the rest of our adult lives wide open to work on stuff, learn from bad choices, and finish what we started; or change horses, and go in a new direction.  Goals are important, but if you miss your mark the game isn’t over. Life is about the journey, not the destination.
Please, baby girls, Mama only wants you to be happy when you grow up. The rest is details. Come alive. Don’t just exist.

All the white roses in the world…

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20170301_102034-mercys-pic

Drawing by Mercy for her deceased brother, Ambrose Sullivan. She thought September was the 10th month

… could never fill this hole inside me.

Today is the six month anniversary of when David Vega killed my son, and left his body in a ditch to rot.

This is six months of screaming in my head that never stops. I am always sobbing, just not always aloud.

For six months; every breath, every lub-dub of my heart, is deliberate and debated.  I have to consciously choose to keep living because I would not dare leave my daughters in this world while they still need me here to raise them. Although, I feel utterly helpless and ineffective.

I have endured six months of questions that have no reasonable answer to them. “Is he still free?” “Why haven’t they arrested him, yet?” “You know he moved the body, right?” “What will the cops charge him with?” “Will you let me know when the trial begins, so that we can be there?” I predict the courtroom will be standing room only.

Each morning, I make my way to his shrine in my living room. I put my hands on either side of the cold, marble urn. I look into my son’s eyes in his photograph. It’s his Senior picture. He was killed just before we could celebrate his graduation. He was killed, and so every celebration we will ever have, or never have, is incomplete. Every day, I lay my trembling hands on his cold urn. I look into his warm, stormy eyes. I talk to him about his cat and his sisters. I talk to him about what is going on in the wake of his killing. I know that my pain is hard for him to watch from the other side without being able to offer me comfort.

“What did you expect, God?!” I wail at the ceiling.

Marley needs her brother more than ever now. She is growing into another version of Ambrose. She is introverted by nature. She is emotionally ambivalent to most things, even though she is also highly sensitive. She is a thinker, not a feeler. She is becoming overwhelmed by being who she is and wondering who she will become. She needs to find an outlet for all the pain and confusion inside her. Her love of anime, music, and books, are all expressions of her brother. So is her insecurity, and her ability to crawl up inside herself and hide there without complaint.

Mercy lets it out in different ways at different times. Sometimes, she’ll draw a picture for him. Most often, she will make playlists of their favorite songs to listen to together. It will always contain, “Heroes” by Bowie, “Particle Man” by They Might Be Giants, and “Heroin” by The Velvet Underground.

Six months now, I have lived in my son’s tomb. For six months, I have started longingly at the basement door, begging for him to walk through it. His arms up stretched over his head, he would walk over to me and give me a big hug and say, “Good morning, mom. I love you” just like he did every day.

As for Ambrose’s friends and family, we are still suffocated by shock. This can’t be processed because a world without Ambrose in it is unacceptable. I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know how a world without Ambrose can come into play for me. I sure as Hell can’t figure out my way here. I’m a wreck. I’m behind in everything. I am so focused on surviving hour to hour I can hardly remember that another day is going to come at me, and  that I might need to prepare for that. I can’t feel a future in front of me. I only exist in this moment. I hate this moment.

Bartending is my only solace. It’s the only time where I can be distracted from myself, and my grief. When the waves come, I can’t cry there. Not being able to cry at work has made my job a sacred place. What’s even more special, are the friends I have there who are holding my shaking hands as I navigate through this Hellscape. The Vega’s are already banned from where I work for stealing money from the waitresses. Yes, there is a special level of Hell waiting with a Vega Family placecard on the table.

To all the people who have reached out to me; Thank you, thank you, thank you. My heart is shattered, but hundreds of hands have been helping me to put the tiny shards back into a place. I will never be whole again, but perhaps functional. I have survived these past six months. Time hasn’t healed anything. Please, quit spreading that vicious rumor.

Some days I feel like I must be indestructible. If this doesn’t end me, no one can.

Other days, I have the mental fortitude of a dixie cup. If I leave my bedroom I might surely perish.

Ambrose isn’t here to share in the improvements. Money isn’t an issue anymore. I’m not crazy anymore. There are other things, too. He deserves to be here.

So, I live in his honor. I will raise his sisters successfully. I will know what to do with Marley because of my experience raising her brother. I understand why her friends on the computer are so important to her, and that they are very real relationships. She isn’t into appearances, and doesn’t want the company of those who are. Mercy has Ambrose’s brazen nature. She has his disregard for public opinion over self-satisfaction. Her joie de vivre is unmatchable, just like her brother. Mercy and Marley are both proud of inheriting their brother’s apex of portention. It is matched only by their compassion for humankind and the suffering of others. Their altruism is awe inspiring.

Obviously, that means he is still here. I am still raising him, in his sisters. I am still engaging him whenever I play music, or read Ender’s Game to Mercy. Mercy adopted Ambrose’s screen name, Ender 42, online. So, he still exists there as well. Marley is another embodiment of her brother. I see his quiet brilliance in everything she does. We will fight through this adventure together until eventually we all get to the other side; where we will inevitably begin a whole new adventure together again.

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My 3 Babies

Valentine’s Day and the Meaning of Love

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Today is the day. The 21st anniversary of the first step on my maternal journey. It began on a grey and dreary Michigan Valentine’s Day of 1996. My best-friend/roommate Tanya and I were arguing again over whether or not I was pregnant. I insisted no. She insisted, equally as stubborn, yes I was. I had already taken a negative pregnancy test over a week ago . She insisted it was wrong. She wouldn’t let it go, so I agreed to come to her first prenatal appointment with her and get tested at her doctor’s office.

While in the waiting room, I chatted with a girl I knew from high school. Tanya went in and I waited for my name to be called. It was. I went through the usual testing process, and then returned to my seat to wait and to see if I passed or failed.

My name was called again. This time, I was led down a pale blue hall with blue-grey carpet. The office had a very warm, mahogany saturated decor. A piece of paper was laid on desk. A nice woman with a bright white coat and a badge walked away and said she would return in two minutes.

I leaned over the desk and saw that the paper was my test results and they were… (da-da-dum) POSITIVE! I was so happy that my entire body elevated and I floated two inches above everything for the rest of the afternoon. Tanya knew as soon as she saw me exactly what the results would be. Heck, she knew before we even got there what the results would be. It was an immeasurable feeling.

The first place I insisted on stopping before we went home was to the library. I checked out every pregnancy and child developmental psychology book I could loan at once. Then I went to my Aunt Bobbie’s house. She was so happy for me. She gave me priceless advice that I’ll never forget receiving and she will never forget sharing.

He was special, I explained to her. I could feel it. I knew that I was going to give birth to this amazing person. I wanted this child. I came back from a coma specifically because I told God that I needed to have this child. Then there was this baby. I was chosen to be this babies Mama. It was the happiest moment in my life.

I couldn’t wait to tell Larry! He had wanted my pregnancy as soon as he met me. I called him up to tell him that I had the best Valentine’s Day gift of all time. We were having a baby together.

“Oh,” he said, in the same way one says, “Oh,” when you tell them their shoe is untied.

“I guess I have to get another job then. I’ll call you back in a couple of days.”

And that was the end of Larry Mims role in our story.

I had an inspired existence with unimaginable potential growing within me. Its very creation was an extension of the best my body had to offer. I was responsible for the heart of this immaculate soul with exponential potential. So, instead of continuing down the self-destructive path that I had so carefully laid out for myself, I was now a vessel for pure innocence. My slate was a mess, but this relationship, this extension of me, was going to come into this world clean. Clean meant free.

That is love. That is purest love. Love that stands for, ‘I will do whatever it takes to keep your best interest a priority’. I knew without hesitation that I was in a relationship that I was willing and ready to invest my entire self into, because I knew without any uncertainty that the rewards would be infinite. My love was righteous because I knew that I was the only one capable of appreciating fully all that was profound about this person. Our bond created a purest level of an amazing love we shared. This human being loved me as its own mother. I was devoted to deserving that love from such an immaculate, and awe-inspiring human. I did not let anyone else define that love or whether or not I deserved it. It was perfect. More than that, though, I truly treasured this love.

“Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of children.”

The day I became a mother, Valentine’s Day of 1996, is when I learned the meaning of true love.

 

End the Diagnosis Era

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Is it introvert vs. extrovert, or empath vs. narcissist?

Are you depressed, or does the oversaturation of tragedy you are exposed to everyday make you feel overwhelmed with sadness because you have a heart?

Do you have anxiety, or do you get so nervous you freak out when things get potentially weird quickly?

Are you paranoid; or are are you aware of the fact that you live in a dangerous world, and you should always be alert to protect yourself, especially if you are a female?

I rarely hear a person say, “This is my weakness. I have to try harder than most others to do this.”

I mostly hear, “I have/am (insert label or diagnosis here). I can’t do that.”

Will I make my daughter with Cerebral Palsy in her legs join a kickball team? No, that would be ludicrous. But will I ever tell her she can’t play kickball because of her CP? I definitely would not. Kickball isn’t her strength, so we focus on her horseback riding lessons instead.

My other daughter has always felt uncomfortable in large social groups. She’s not socially impaired, she’s at her best in closer settings. She has the opportunity to be enrolled in an online school and she is excelling there. I learned the bent of my child, and I worked with it.

People are over labeling themselves They are being prejudice not only against the other labels, but also categorizing themselves because of it. I know, because I was diagnosed with bipolar level II, manic depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I was in a car accident when I was 20 that left me in a coma for two weeks and I awoke with traumatic brain injuries.

Even though I healed, I didn’t realize it. Any failure, or misjudgement was because I was brain damaged. Actually, I was just being human with a lot of life challenges. I was advised to not pursue a lot of areas of interest for me because, well, I couldn’t do those things anymore. I missed my job.

My life was very chaotic for a while. I moved around a lot. I quit jobs too easily. I stayed in relationships too long. I had a temper. For all these reasons I was convinced I was emotionally unbalanced. It must be chemical. So, like a good insured American, I went through the pharmaceutical experimental cocktail nightmare.

The light turned on for me that I was mostly doing this to myself when a friend from work noticed that I had become different than when I first started. I used to be full of energy and pretty sharp when I first started a month ago. Now, I was absent minded, and sluggish. She asked if I was put on any medication recently. I was, and kinda a lot. A month before our talk, my son was killed by a hit and run driver when walking home from work. A week later my doctor doubled my dosage on all of my head prescriptions. I started sleeping 12 hours a day and I was a mush brained idiot. My friend’s observation made me do some research. Seroquel does indeed inhibit mental functioning, and that increases over time.

The day after I talked to my friend, I had unexpectedly run out of my Seroquel. The pharmacist said it would be a few days before insurance would cover a refill. Weird, I thought.

I woke up the next morning, one full day off of Seroquel, bright and early. I was awake like I hadn’t been awake in longer than I could remember. I was also in great gastric distress. Withdrawal from Seroquel is physically the same as heroin withdrawal, but it was worth it. Upstairs, I had me back. I could memorize cocktails, names, what was said a moment ago, and bartending was easy again. I was on high energy and upbeat most of the time without most of my medication.

Then I thought about things from a different perspective. What if the reason I couldn’t succeed in Administrative Support was because receptionist is a painfully BORING job? What if  it wasn’t that I couldn’t handle retail because I couldn’t handle people? People are absolutely horrible when it comes to working in retail. It’s a gig that can turn Snow White cannibal.

I’m not spineless. I’m a people pleaser. It’s not because I’m codependent. It’s because I truly enjoy people when they are happy. I’m aware of this tendency in me. I make sure to not hurt myself in the process of helping others. It’s not my job to heal everyone’s hurts, but I will help anyone I can. I will always try to be nice. It’s not as easy to be nice all the time as it is to just be a bitch. Kindness is a powerful strength. I like it that I’m kind.

I still have times where I lay awake crying for hours over everything that ever happened in my son’s life. But it’s not chemical. It is real. There are still dark places in my head that I can  get to. When I thought I would never leave the snake pit in my head, I didn’t. When I gave myself permission to be a human being and make mistakes like everyone else, then I could console myself. I still have some lingering regret, but it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me. Regret is a there for a reason. It is a true lesson hard won. If we seek revenge on ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made then we will never heal our wounds.

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe in better living through chemistry. I drink coffee every morning. I still use a bit of lamictal to keep the edges smooth. However, using meds to avoid fixing the real problem isn’t healthy. Using diagnosis as excuses only suppresses an otherwise capable person from a self validating experiences.

I decided I definitely wasn’t crazy or brain damaged anymore. My life was crazy, and I reacted accordingly.

I talk too much. I cus too much. I love too quickly. I hate on myself. I scream. I fart. I lust. I freak out. I regret. I cry for hours. I lose sleep. I oversleep. I don’t eat enough. I eat too many sweets. I think too deeply. I care too much. I don’t care enough. I dance in place even when people are watching. I probably wear too much black on top of it all…

Diagnosis? American Woman.

 

Inside-out Christmas

Christmas was barely survived this year. It was vaguely experienced. It was ruefully noticed. Christmas was turned inside out. I have never felt farther removed from my family. My most heartfelt connections were with people I barely know, but we are all members of the Worst Club Ever. We are mothers of Angels. Our children’s lives did not play out in a natural way. Now what is natural feels like a perversion of what should be.

There were more tears than tinsel this time. There were no handcut snowflakes or colored popped corn to string this year.  I’ll let the grief keep this one, this one year’s Christmas.

Yesterday, Nick told me, “I understand the adjustment this year, but please don’t let it stop you from celebrating the holidays like you used to. You were the biggest trumpet for every season. I don’t want the kids, or anyone else, to miss out on your spirit.”

How could I not take the advice of my oldest friend?

I am very independant. I do not appreciate anything having control over me. Therefore this grief cannot have me.

 

“This is the moment. This is exactly what she was born to be;

and this is what she does, and this is what she is.”

 

Next time, Ambrose will be celebrating with us again. We will have a toast to him. We will donate a toy in his name. We will eat big. We will laugh, and sing, and cut out decorations again.

Last year was claimed by grief. I was in a state of mortal depression before the tragedy of Ambrose’s unnatural death. I haven’t been right since I lost my Cattail house, was homeless, moved into a worse situation, my dog died… I had a nice vacation. I caught up on some bills, did some cool community outreach stuff in Detroit, took in an orphan, then BAM!

I’m going to own 2017.

I’m beginning a new career.

I’m going to live without a diagnosis.

I’m going to be everything that Ambrose ever wanted for me.

I will live in peace with myself and the Universe and God.

I will live up to my, POTENTIAL…

Happy New Year.

 

Happy birthday, Ambrose

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Dear Ambrose,

Happy 20th Birthday, son. I have a whole head full of things we were supposed to do today.  We would go out to eat at your favorite restaurant. I would probably have taken us to a Japanese steakhouse. Then we would have gone to Barnes & Noble to pick three new books. We were going to have a Left Handed Presents theme for your birthday party this weekend. It was a death to being a teenager type of year.

My mind is racing through everything we accomplished together last year. We only had 2 more things on our Todo list. You should be driving your car to your friends houses later. You should be listening to that same ‘the day you were born’ story. A lot of remorse for that Todo list.

There is a can of corned beef hash in the pantry. I would have made you a big ol’ breakfast for your birthday with all your favorites; corned beef hash, eggs with garlic, hash browns, and a big glass of Welch’s grape juice to wash it all down. Now, I have one can sitting lonely. I feel as if, like me, it is waiting for it’s purpose to be fulfilled. Sorry.

Mercy broke down crying 20 minutes after she awoke. I had to hold her for a long time until she could go back to her school work. Marley hasn’t said anything. That’s probably how she will be for the rest of the day. Sean woke up grumpy and ornery.

I’m sitting in the living room. Your sisters are supposed to be doing their school work. I am not allowed to grieve yet. I have to wait until Sean comes home so the girls will be distracted while I’m down stairs bawling my eyes out. For this moment, I am the mom who has it all together. This moment is a very long moment.

It’s your birthday. We should be having parties celebrating your existence all week long. We should be…

…but we are not. I am staring at your picture on the wall. It doesn’t answer me. I see the beautiful marble urn Jason picked out. Your body is burned to ashes and your burned up body sits patiently in the corner of my living room. This can’t possibly be a reality.

Reality it is. The morning and afternoon held me down and ran over me.  Your sisters were in top form. They were angry and fighting more than they normally do. There was spit, muffins, and M&M’s everywhere. I cussed and threatened to hit them over the head with random objects. I thought of you, and I tried to take away the seriousness while still being serious. I reflected upon the absurdity of that approach. It’s absurd for them to use aggression as a means of communicating their needs. We’ve always been working on that with them though, haven’t we Chickpea?

It’s like the four of us are threads that complete one whole tapestry. We are different pieces  of the one scene. Sometimes we were slick as silk. Sometimes we were soft and supple like kashmir. Sometimes we were as tenacious as spider webs. But you and me son, we’re not tied to one another. It’s more  a meshing of spiritual space and time and psyche. We are the same thread woven into the fabric of the Universe.

I thought I would lose my mind from missing you. I thought that today would have been more, I don’t know, dramatic. I thought I would die in my sleep. The day is not done yet. Maybe I should have made a party deal of it. That would have been disgusting. I really thought I would have spent the whole day alone with  you.

I always believed our relationship to be beyond mother/child. When you were conceived, I felt a part of me break off. It was the tiniest piece of me, but I felt it separate from my soul. I also felt a tiny wisp of a new spirit it me. You were so very tiny, yet you were so significantly an immaculate portion of myself. At that very moment I knew you existed, son; I devoted my last breath to your well being, so help me every God. You were the most brilliant one to come bless us with your sacred soul. I told that to everyone who asked me about my big round belly. I explained that I was chosen to be the mother of a prodigious child. The best part was that this child chose me to be his mother. I had a pretty big job to live up to.

We moved three times while I was pregnant with you. I worked up to three jobs at one time. A friend of mine sent me a random check for a thousand dollars. I adopted a tiny, long haired, tortoise-shell colored kitten. I named him Hyro. I was also reading the books Diamond Age, and Snow Crash to you in utero. It felt good to be just you and me. Larry had taken off as soon as he was let out of jail. Jason and I were on a good friend level again. It was summer. I had friends, family, and my prodigal son on the way.

Then you came! You came with flags and bells and whistles and banners for only me, you, Jason, and Aunt Bobbie to see. I didn’t want anyone else there during labor. It was the UofM v. MSU game that day. I watched Legend, the Beautiful People video, and the first snowfall of the year while I waited for you to engage in your journey to the other side of my womb.

You wouldn’t fit. My heart nearly exploded but you healed it. Surgically, you were removed from me.

Every single possible little thing that had anything to do with my precious Ambrose had to fall within my exceptionally high personal standards of child rearing. All of it paid off.

You insisted on being held upright, and if so would rarely cry.

When you cried you sounded like a motorboat.

You only cried when you were bored, or if I drank a carbonated beverage before breastfeeding you.

You were a perfect baby.

You were months advanced in everything you did. The older you grew the deeper and more profound your perspectives grew. Everyone was amazed to be near you. Everyone who got to know you at all could see that you had inner grace that would not be choked or restrained.

School was a relentless war everyday. There was a war between me and every school who wouldn’t protect you, or teach you on the level you were learning at. You fought to not fight the other relentless boys. There was fighting over your allergy. There was fighting over bullshit ADD suspicions. We fought them all with our words.

“Violence is what people resort to if they are not intelligent enough to solve a situation.”

Through every war we held our peaceful protest with honor. The more they tried to beat us down, the harder we clung to our sense of humor. We understood the fierce power of music. Ours, yours, was an ineffable inner strength.

We fought everything, son.

We fought to survive on our own.

We fought to be back together with Jason.

We fought to make our way in Ann Arbor.

We fought to recover from a divorce.

We fought our way in and back out of Colorado.

We fought homelessness again. Then I found a room, then a bigger room, then an efficiency, and finally a two bedroom with a balcony, and a kitten.

We fought against Cecil.

We fought open heart surgery while I was pregnant with your sister.

We fought Cecil.

We fought the trailer park.

We fought Cecil some more.

We fought Pinckney bullies.

We fought to survive.

We fought homelessness again.

We fought to accomplish your goals by the time you were 20 years old.

We were 62 days away from winning that goal.

 

 

Deep Inside, I am Full of Wishes

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Today was an okay day. I kept it together. I organized a corner of a room. I got the girls to laugh over something silly. I had several hours all unto myself. It felt like a test. I called my attorney who revealed that it will take at least a year to begin the legal process. He said that it is not unprecedented for people who are guilty of crimes to wait for a year or so before being charged. So, I let go of that hot coal.

I used the time to call the two people I should always call the most- my best friend, and my mom.

I let the disparagement of the case float off and away like incense smoke through a window screen. First, there is a lingering perfume. Then it fades from the air around us and into our olfactory memory banks. In place of anguish, I now have room for peace in my aura. I feel it deep in my soul. It is embedded in me deep as dandelion roots. Like a dandelion, I will keep coming back to reach my sun. I can be chopped down a hundred times and I will always grow back. Deep inside, I am full of wishes.

I feel him with me now. I feel his embrace of warm energy surrounding me. It comforts me. Thank you for all of your prayers.

 

Today is not that day though.

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Day 38 without Ambrose.

Today, I am okay.Today I am in good spirits. I woke up to a bit of a plot twist, but I say, “Hey, challenge accepted, Lord.” I’ll be at Whitmore Lanes today from noon until seven or so. I am putting the bad feelings into a box. I am setting it down on a sturdy table. Then I am walking away from it for a couple of days. I will have the rest of my life to mourn my son.

There will not be discussions regarding my son.. No one may touch me above my wrist. I’m a good listener. I don’t need to be a good talker.

We want the heck out of here. We don’t want to leave our church.  We want to live a life far away from all of this horror show. At the same time, I don’t want to leave Ambrose’s ghost behind. His headstone will be here. His tomb is laid out perfectly downstairs. Sometimes, I pretend he is sleeping, and that I will see him later when he gets up. After a while, I just lean my head against the door and cry. That might not be the best thing.

So what.

I know who killed my son. Now, we wait for justice to either prevail, or trip blindly.

I made it through that first day back at the Lanes, with a little help from my friends. I will do it again today, too. I am truly blessed to have that trampoline beneath me. I can’t even begin to express their significance.

That’s what I have left. I am grateful for it all.

I Will Never Have Enough Eyes

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Saturday, September 24, 2016. It sucked. I started out ok. I went to volunteer to help a friend from church with a tiny little Fall Festival. I make the coffee. I had my daughters with me. It was quaint, and healthy. Then I got a call. It all came back.

I forced myself to replay the entire conversation aloud. The cops have drastically changed their story. The first officer told me that he was definitely killed. He told me that my son was walking where he should have been- off the shoulder and facing traffic.  He told me the car obviously went off the road to hit, and kill, my son.  The officer I talked to last Friday told me that he could see everything from “the kids” point of view. All the evidence to exonerate this “poor kid” is collected. Any information that implicates him in killing my son, is “still being investigated”. He went into graphic detail about how my son was broken and then killed.

“First of all, the car broke both of his legs, right here. Then there would have been blood all over the place, but his head was broke wide open and I didn’t see any blood. That means his heart stopped instantly when it slammed against his rib cage.”  I was lost all over again. I fell completely apart.

But then he went on about how being a police officer doesn’t pay much so he had to start his own asphalt company. He just works afternoons, after work.Then he wanted me to feel sorry for, get this- him because he had a lot of work to do. So that’s why when people complain about not enough patrol cars, it’s because they’re busy. (I saw three no less than three cops sitting on the side of the road in downtown Whitmore Lake over the next 24 hours).

I couldn’t get it, me, back all the way. Then I ran into someone I knew from Ann Arbor when Ambrose was just a baby. She heard the news. She wished me condolences. She held me a moment. For some reason, I always feel like I’m consoling the other person when they hug me and tell me something sympathetic. I wasn’t crying. I didn’t initiate contact. Then they hold me until they feel better. It is quite traumatic when someone you care for is stricken with immense grief. I understand the compassion. It is a harrowing and unique experience when someone kills your firstborn; your son. I am consoled by many kind thoughts and prayers.

I am finishing this post three weeks later from when I started. I am haunted. The ghost of my joy looms outside my thoughts. It is never far away. It is never unacknowledged for long.

Sometimes I feel peace. Mostly I feel like I have no skin so that everything burns me. Everything is unbearable. I just do it anyway.

Morning is the worst part of my day. I lay there without interruptions drenched in the remorse for Ambrose. I count how many days it has been since I last saw my son. I replay days, years of his life in my mind until my phone sings me the “get out of bed and do this for your daughters” song. Then I crawl to the coffee maker.

Every day starts with agony. Then I go through a few motions. Sean does the rest.

Every night, I fall asleep knowing that the real nightmares will start as soon as I wake up.

Last night, I woke up over and over again. Each time holding in my tears as long as I could before sobbing again. I kept waking Sean up. That’s no good.

I can’t shake this awful feeling about the cops coming to my house with a sympathy rant for the person who killed my son. Something tells me that someone is going to get away with murder because he is the senior quarterback. Why ruin two lives? Because an eye for eye. My life, and the life of everyone who ever knew Ambrose is forever mangled by this person’s carelessness. There will never be enough eyes for me.

The day the music died

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and-mds

5:40 pm Wednesday August 31- I took Ambrose to work his shift at McDonald’s. Before he got out of the car I said, “I love you son. I am so proud of you! You will have a great time tonight. I can’t wait to see you in the morning!”

Ambrose replied, “Bye! I love you, Mom!”

10:33 pm Wednesday evening I texted my son. I told him that I wouldn’t be able to pick him up for work. I apologized because I had taken my medication. It makes very sleepy very quickly. I texted to him that I didn’t think that I could stay up that late. That I was sorry. That I loved him.

10:52 pm he texted back “Rip”.

2:00 am Thursday Ambrose left work from McDonald’s. He was walking home facing south on the northbound side of Whitmore Lake Road. He was on the gravel. He was well off the road, and past the bike lane. He was walking with his shirt over his shoulders which would have shown his pale 6 foot frame. An uninsured yellow corvette driven by an eighteen year old man slid off the road in front of Corrigan Oil. He hit my son hard enough to throw his body into the bushes off of the road. There are no brake marks. There are only skidding away tire marks, and tire marks off the road.

9:14 am I texted my son to tell him that I was sorry and I wouldn’t sleep in on him again. He never came home from work. I assumed that he had called a friend to pick him up, and was still asleep.  I texted him throughout the afternoon telling him of appointments I was making for him and his cat. I never heard back. He never responded about needing a ride. It was still possible that his phone died, but he got a ride to work, so he didn’t want to bother me.

Friday morning I began to panic. I utilized the time that he was away to clean up his room and do his laundry. I even laid out a pair of pants for him to wear to work that night. I knew something horrible had happened. I called the hospital in Ann Arbor and Brighton. I called the jails. I tried calling all his friends. I tried to get a hold of people online. Mike Cook called me back and insisted on coming over.

5:45 pm I called his  work to see if he showed up for his shift at 5:45. He did not. Ambrose was a committed employee. He would never be late. They told me he didn’t show up the day before either. I hung up and called 911 to file a missing person report. I told Sean that he might be in a ditch on Whitmore Lake Road and no one had seen him yet. Sean left and drove to Whitmore Lake Road. Within moments a Green Oak County officer was at my door. I met him outside on the front porch. He asked me about my son. I told him that he was about six feet tall with short blond hair. I told him Ambrose is a good, good, boy. That he didn’t smoke cigarettes, or ever drink, or ever do a drug his doctor didn’t prescribe him. That he would never ever go more than a day without calling his mother. The officer told me that he knew where Ambrose was. I thought he would tell me that he had been in a hospital. He told me that my son was dead. I fell to the ground wailing. At that moment Sean pulled up in front of the house and was crying. As soon as I had gotten off the phone with McDonald’s, an employee drove down Whitmore Lake road towards Eight Mile Road. That person saw Ambrose’s hat on the side of the road. They pulled over and saw Ambrose’s body. The policeman told me that he would have his entire top investigation team working on finding Ambrose’s killer. There were pieces of the headlights all around his body. Mercy came around the corner in the driveway and saw how I was crying. She knew right away what had happened. That was the same sort of sound I made when Gaz died. At some point Mike Cook showed up. I called Jason, but he didn’t answer. I called my mom. She was in the truck with Jeff. I gave her a quick summary. Jason called back, so I hung up with my mom. I told him what happened. I heard him yell loudly, “Not now!”. I called Sarah, but she didn’t answer. I called Nick. He was stunned and started crying with me. I called my Grandma, and Tanya, and Jennifer. My Grandma sent both of my Aunts down to be with me. I called Karen Olsen. My pastor called me. I told him he could come see me the next day. Nick came over right away and sat with us until I was exhausted from traumatic shock.

 

September 3- Saturday morning, I woke up screaming. As soon as I could talk at all I called Sarah. She still didn’t answer. About 10 minutes later, she texted to me “My mom just passed”. I texted back, “So, did Ambrose”. She called me back immediately. We both sobbed and wept and wailed. It was a moment of ultimate sorrow, and horror show experience. I just wanted to wake up so desperately. I couldn’t force myself awake. Women from church started pouring into my house and driveway. Arms full of hugs and tears embraced me from every direction. Arms full of food came stacking up into my kitchen. Nick brought pizzas and coffee. Sarah came immediately. As soon as she got to me house, we stitched one another to our sides. There were so many people. My grandma and grandpa came. I was shook. I was mortified. The emotional pain was excruciating, like nothing else I could know. The world was wrong. My baby boy laid in a ditch for 2 days. I was shattered. My skin filleted off from me. The air was painful. I felt this crushing weight that was so heavy I would collapse to the ground. I wanted to hold and feel my baby boy.

He was so good. He was on the last few weeks of teenage hell. That Thursday was when we had plans to go get his driver’s permit. He had a job. He was doing well there, and was saving money. Every paycheck he would buy a gift for someone or himself, take someone out to dinner (usually me) and then put the rest into the bank. He was a great person. The last big ticket item he bought was an action figure from Marley’s favorite cartoon. Ambrose had introduced Marley to Jo Jo’s Great Adventure, and they had spent countless hours watching it together. He was an excellent brother.

Saturday Evening- The police return to tell me that they caught the person who killed my son. The guy’s brother turned him in. The damage to the car was exactly when and where my son was hit. They had hid the car. The guy admitted everything to the police. He told the officer that he thought he hit a deer, got out of his car to look, but didn’t see anything and drove away. But that isn’t true. He still isn’t under arrest.

Sunday, Jason and I already had many decisions to make. We had to come speak with the  small funeral home I picked in Pinckney. It was right down the street from my church. As soon as I got into his car I told him explicitly that I could not listen to music.  Jason could not tolerate any music whatsoever either. I accidentally had him drive past Whitmore Lake Road that first time we went out together. I only made that mistake once. Jason drove me down the street to my church. I had to get a good healthy dose of church family loving. Jason chain smoked in the parking lot. Jason has been more than gracious in every way. Nick was at my house if he wasn’t at work. My grandparents stayed with me all day. Sarah came with Ricky. Sean took Ricky down to Ambrose’s room. He was devastated. Too much time never to be accounted for.

Monday, everyone on board with mourning Ambrose and Linda (Sarah’s mom) were exclusive to the rest of reality. Everything was so surreal. The First borns of The Fab Four were a whole other level of tragedy. Sarah is by my side with her son, Ricky. Ricky is a wreck. Tanya was in North Carolina, but Sarah picked her daughter  Jacque up from her dad’s house. When Jacque came to the house, she was speechless. Jen was house bound by medical chains. Her daughter, Mary, was just freaked out. Those four kids knew each other before they were born. Their mothers had been best friends for decades. That corner of the square is gone. I was still trying to call anyone I could about Ambrose’s murder. I was inconsolable. My mother would be arriving Thursday. My grandparents were there every day. Sarah was driving all over the state of Michigan to be sure that no one was left out. Nick… the indispensable Nick. The only one who had anything useful to say. He was the only person I knew who had their child die. The odds of it happening to both of us seemed so miniscule. It happened. It really happened. We talked continuously of Ambrose’s valor. I decided what tattoo I would get for Ambrose. Nick said he would get the same. Sarah said she would, too.

The hospital would not release his body until we had him cremated. Jason and I had to choose an urn. I wanted Jason to have Ambrose, too. He chose a large marble urn for me to keep, and another smaller one for himself. I was in a cold haze. I felt so empty. I felt incomplete, and robbed. I felt vulnerable to the worst events. I mean, I prayed EVERYday for my babies. My baby boy was murdered. This was really happening. It was happening for real.

By Tuesday, the story of Ambrose’s murder was all over the media. I didn’t know that at the time because I was absent from reality. None of it mattered. Nothing matters.

I was mostly at home. I took a couple of short walks with the dog. It was painful to leave the property, because I couldn’t leave even the energy of Ambrose. Lots of sitting in circles while weeping. A lot of weeping. A lot of reminiscing. A lot of counting the things of which he can never have a chance to do. God was off in the distance. I was down in it.

Sean was in the background raising the girls, and propping me up. Church friends were still drifting by and checking in on me. Ambrose’s best friends were at my house every day to take care of me and the girls and Spike. Jason and I were connecting, but it was in a morbid way.

Sarah and I decided we should get drunk.

Wednesday I did not leave my nightgown or my bed, excluding tasks regarding bodily functions. It felt like the right thing to do. My pastor came by and we discussed what a memorial service for Ambrose might look like. There were 3 songs I needed to be played for Ambrose. I had to make one of those damn poster boards. I didn’t even acknowledge much of the rest of it. Sarah came by with mead, wine, and whiskey. Nick was still here with me as much as he could be. I was rocking a lot. I would stare off into space for a long time. I continued silently screaming into my hands all the time. There was a screaming in my head that would not stop. I was still waiting to wake up.  I had to get drunk so that I could go downstairs in Ambrose’s room. I had to get pictures out from storage. I might have done a better job sober, but it was the only way I could get through it.

Sarah and I decided we should get our nails done.

Thursday, Ambrose’s friend Chappy came by with a pastor. He was a nice man who discussed mourning with me. He had a lot of positive things to add to my coping skills box. I was touched by Chappy’s gesture.  Sarah came over in the later that morning to get our nails done. We had to do something to break off from the grieving train. It’s not ok to be in that state of ultimate sadness for long periods of time. The music in the nail salon was pop. That meant it was the same as listening to a noise that isn’t music.

Sarah and I decided we should get a tattoo.

Then we drove out to Hartland where Nick’s cafe and the tattoo shop that I had a gift certificate is. Sarah and I made got coffee and lunch at Kahuna Coffee, and then went next door to the tattoo shop. I had a $150 gift certificate from a Make-a-Wish fundraiser. Nick holds one every year in honor of Emma. The guy needed more time to design it. Sarah and I made a new appointment for 5:00 pm the next day. There were some issues in keeping with the integrity of Ambrose’s music. I asked Sarah’s dad if he would play Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. He accepted. Heroes by David Bowie. Death is not the end by Nick cave and the Bad Seeds. My mother and stepfather stopped by for a bit.

Friday, it’s the day before my son’s funeral. Morning’s were the worst. Every morning I woke up, I thought of Ambrose and nothing else. It was excruciating knowing that I was fucked living another day without him. His murder was real another day. Another day I can not hold him. I started at doors waiting for Ambrose to walk through one. Sarah was consoling her family. I was consoling mine. Many tears. She and I spent as many moments as we could carving out the agony together. Jason picked me up that morning so that we could go to the church and finalize Ambrose’s memorial. He had already learned the back roads to get there.

Saturday, THE day. It was raining, of course. Emily had given me the just right dress to wear, and a mourning shawl. I wore as many layers as I could. Make-up, perfume, covering all my skin, I was prepared but not ready for this. I rode to the funeral with Jason and his wife, Sarah. It was quiet and cold.

As soon as we arrived at the church, people approached to hug us. It’s a blur. I went outside and saw my small smoking section. Nick was there. Jeff was there. That was important. I saw Isaac. That was important. I saw many people. They were all important. Before the service, Pastor Bonnie came to me. We both cried as we both prayed. I heard Sarah’s dad start playing Hallelujah, the Leonard Cohen version. I put my mourning shawl over my head and began the slow walk in. Paul Zissler gave a moving introduction. Pastor Bonnie gave a moving sermon. Chappy gave a brilliant eulogy. There was a slide show of Ambrose. The song Heroes by David Bowie played in the background. People said 2 word adjectives about Ambrose. There were many perfect compliments. Ryan Ponessa played All the Poor and Powerless. Then something… Then when the song, Death is Not the End, by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played; I walked slowly up the aisle through the sanctuary. There were people all over me, hugging me, crying with me. People who I hadn’t seen in many years had come to pay tribute to the Mighty Ambrose. It was standing room only after all of the chair space was used. At least 250 people were there.

I was held up by Nick and Sarah all the way to the Fellowship Hall for a bread breaking. People were around me in droves. I was surrounded by arm, and tears, and wailing. Some people just ate. No one smiled. My Isaac was there. Even Melodie and Ryan were there. All the food looked like raw animals, or body parts and food coloring added. When I saw Jason’s mom I just wailed. When I saw Jane Clark, I begged her to tell me what to do. “I don’t know what to do now, Mrs. Jane.” Jeff Stewart was there because he should be. Jonathan came. Of course he came. He indulged in showing Ambrose underground art and media.Every single person ever was there. There were a whole corporate board and all his co-workers from McDonald’s. People tried to make me eat, but it couldn’t happen. Eventually, I was walked to Nick’s car. Sean took the girls home. Or maybe they went with people. I don’t know. Jason, Sarah, and Charlotte went to Chappy’s house.

A circle made it to Nick’s. Not just any circle, but a circle of people who had been by his side to watch him grow, and contributed to his development. The people who really knew Ambrose. It was me, Sarah, Nick, Jonathan, Ricky, Mark, Mark, Tanya, Jacque and Darryan.

We sat and chain smoked cigarettes. We talked about Ambrose and we talked about everything for hours.

I made it home somehow. I must have fallen asleep at some point. I will never stop crying. I know that there will never be any true joy or happiness ever again in my entire life.

A Wonder of a Woman

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Someone once said that, “Ginger Rogers could do everything Fred Astaire did; only she did it backwards, and in six-inch heels”. Batman and Superman have dominated since the Golden Age of Comic’s.  There is only one woman who could battle beside them as an equal; even in high heel boots and a strapless bustier.  That one woman is Wonder Woman.

    Wonder Woman’s character, as created by William Marston, has been turned into a feminist archetype. She serves as a goddess symbol, and ideal woman on many levels. Some of those levels have been criticized for being cruelly exploitative. Some of those levels are aspirations still worthy of today’s woman.  Wonder Woman’s breast revealing bustier could be interpreted as eye-candy for lusty men.  There is also the controversy regarding the multiple bondage scenes in every issue. Then again, she is also longest running heroin comic of all time. Not to mention the fact that she holds the title as the only girl who’s been able to keep up with superheroes like Batman and Superman for nearly 40 years. 

    Which leads one to debate: is Wonder Woman just another caricature for men’s perverted fantasies? Or is she something more? Is she a representation of the gifts that lay inside every young woman as long as they can resist male domination? Was Wonder Woman’s stoic grace mightier than a perverted pen? Wonder Woman’s inception into comic book media began in the December 1941 issue of DC Comics’ popular All Star Comics.  (St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture). Before she was Wonder Woman, she was the daughter of the Hippolyta who is Queen of the Amazons. The Amazons were refugees of Greece looking to escape a destructive male-dominated society. The women claimed an island in the Bermuda Triangle as their home.  It is surrounded by a magnetic field which hides their location from the rest of the world. Women from this island are trained from birth to be as strong as Hercules, as wise as Athena, and with the competitive drive of Ares and Apollo, all combined with a capacity for love like Aphrodite’s.  

The majority of superheroes are usually off-shoots of a science lab gone awry, an alien from another planet, or perhaps a mortal with an inner code of vengeance for some massive injustice. Like the mutant orphan Spiderman’s quest to avenge his Uncle Ben’s death; or Batman’s repressed orphan issue’s, Superman is an orphan also. But unlike her most infamous cohorts, Wonder Woman never had a father figure, or even a male role model. Amazon Queen Hippolyta asked the goddess Aphrodite for a daughter to keep her company. Aphrodite told her to form a child made from clay. Aphrodite blew the breath of life into the clay, and thus was born Princess Diana. Her mother parents are very much alive inside her. This is what makes her wholly feminine approach to every situation so remarkably believable. 

Wonder Woman chose to leave her Paradise Island to come to America when American Intelligence officer Steve Trevor accidentally crash landed his plane onto her island. The Princess Diana, as she was named at home, nursed him back to health.  Much like an “English Patient” she fell madly in love with her charge.  Princess Diana is intrigued by America, which is a society dominated by men.  She sneaked her way into a competition to see who could go back to America with the handsome captain.  She entered the competition by using a disguise, and won. Thus she earned a reward- her protective outfit.  This included a lasso that when wrapped around someone they would be forced to tell the truth. She was also given as a reward two bracelets that were stronger than any other substance on Earth. The bracelets were the also a key to Diana’s downfall, i.e., her Achilles heel, her kryptonite. The only time Wonder Woman could lose her power was if the bracelets were chained together. Even this was done with a specific empowering message. In the origin story written by Marston, the Amazon women are saved from the tyranny of Hercules by their goddess Aphrodite, but with only one hitch:  they “must wear wrist bands always to teach [them] the folly of submitting to men’s domination” (Daniels.150). 

      Most importantly, she was chosen to go back to America with Pilot Steve, and thus began her adventures battling Nazi’s and protecting human rights from tyranny and mad super villains. She integrated herself into society as a nurse. She was a healer of men. She comes to enlighten and protect. Wonder Woman chose to live as a repressed mortal, much like Superman uses his secret identity to include himself in society. Superman’s version of a human man, from his alien perspective is weak, insecure, and awkward. Wonder Woman’s version of a human female is just what ladies needed to see. Diana Prince, her mortal alias, is an educated professional. She is confident, capable, and self-sufficient.  Those are the two most important words for a woman of the WWII era- self-sufficient. 

    Wonder Woman stands as a testimony to feminine strength. I specify feminine strength as opposed to masculine strength because she used a different, less violent, approach to crime-fighting versus her super-peers. She always used wit, not war, as the means to achieve just ends, not revenge.  “Wonder Woman does not shoot bullets or heat-rays; she deflects them. She does not beat the truth out of captives; she ties them up and lets the properties of her lasso mesmerize the truth from them. She does not hide in darkness, loom over criminals, and attempt to “‘strike terror into their hearts'” because she knows them as “‘a superstitious cowardly lot'” (O’Neil 37). So leave the steroids and the pissing contests to the men. Wonder Woman had a job to do.

     Another way that Wonder Woman’s crime-fighting methods differed from her male counterparts was because her methods involved self-actualization, (admitting truth with the magic lasso) and then reform (criminals were sent to Transformation Island).  This was a more productive approach as opposed to the typical stalk then strike method.



    There is however, an aspect of the Wonder Woman comic book series that has haunted both me and her critics for many years. After long deliberations on the subject, I now understand the symbolism behind the repetitive bondage theme throughout her history.  

    William Marston has a very subjective history with women. He was married to an academically successful and talented wife named Elizabeth. He graduated with a BA from Harvard University in 1915; a LLB from Harvard Law School in 1918. He also earned a PhD in Psychology from Harvard University in 1921 and worked as a teacher at the American University. After teaching at American University in Washington D.C. and Tufts University in Medford MA, Marston traveled to Universal Studios in California in 1929, where he spent a year as Director of Public Services. () Olive Byrne was his mistress whom he met when she was a graduate student in the psychology department. Eventually he told his wife about Olive, and she moved in and they lived together quite openly as ménage trios.  He had two daughters by each wife. Elizabeth continued her academic career and Olive stayed home and took care of their daughter’s.

    To quote the library of rotton.com, “If he was writing comic books today, Marston would be eaten alive by the morality police.”  This is true considering he was once quoted telling the artist at D.C Comics that for his last wonder woman script he “called for seventy-five panels showing women in bondage” (Daniels 75).  

    I believe that Wonder Woman’s strengths have endured as a contradiction to what excessive bondage drawings might immediately represent.  William Marston’s symbolism of a powerful woman in sexually submissive positions was admittedly intentional. Marston was even quoted on his motives on writing Wonder Woman. “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, and peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with the strength of Superman plus all of the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” If the girls are going to always be represented as the victim, or the weaker species, who would want to be on the losing team? 

    Girls want to grow up to be strong women. We see the advantages boys have because they are usually faster and stronger. We are conditioned to believe that we cannot protect ourselves because we are inundated with images of women being perpetually saved. The restraints come into psychological balance when one can handle both aspects; the physical strength of a man combined with the mental endurance of a woman. A man’s strength lies in what pain he can inflict. A woman’s strength lies in what pain she can endure. 

    The majority of these scenes take place with Wonder Woman being tied to large phallic shaped object. The interpretation may be a contradiction to his message. Whenever Wonder Woman was in peril, it was because she was tied down to a penis.  She persevered every time. She has 40 years worth of publication, two television shows, and a movie in the works to be released.

      I have always taught my children that violence is what a person resorts to when they are not intelligent enough to work their way through a situation. Wonder Woman represented women at their most brilliant. She was unconditionally a lady. She could be touched, but not held. She was intelligent, resourceful, strong, and consistent in her moral code. Regardless of Marston’s original intentions, or personal life, Wonder Woman stands proudly in pop culture history as the most wondrous woman of our time.

          

Works Cited


Coletta, Charles . Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Vol. 3: 1940s-1950s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. p583-585. Character Overview

Daniels, Les. Wonder Woman: The Complete History. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000

Dietrich, Bryan D. “Queen of Pentacles: archetyping Wonder Woman.” Extrapolation 47.2 (2006): 207+. 13 July 2010.Academic OneFile. Web. 

nndb. http://www.nndb.com/people/160/000093878/.web

O’Neil, Dennis, ed. Secret Origins of the Super DC Heroes. New York: Warner Books, 1976. 

Pyle, Christian L.  Seduction of the Innocent .St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Vol. 4. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. p350-351. Article

Ray, Belinda S.. St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Vol. 5.  Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. p171-172.Article

Rotten library. http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/mad-science/william_marston/.web

Segura ,Alex.Wonder Woman ditches hot pants for leggings.www.perthnow.com.au/…/wonder-woman…/story-e6frg3gl-1225886662459. 28 June 2010.web

Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Moulton_Marston.web

Wonder Woman History.15hqqv. Charles Moulton’s creation of the perfect woman superhero. http://www.vex.net/~dq711/wonder_woman.htm l.web

 

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The End of a Dysfunctional Era

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Whiff of Honeysuckle by Jonathan Cheeseman

For 21 years, 7 months, and 8 days; or  1127 weeks and 2 days, or 7891 days, or  189,384 hours; or 11,363,040 minutes; or 681,782,400 seconds; I have struggled to survive despite the car crash that nearly killed me.

Survive, I have. For the first time in my weird life, I am proud of what is left of me. I am a testament to the miracles of a human woman’s body. I let go of the thin string of remembrance tied to what I once was. It floated away at the end of a balloon filled with all of my remorse for my character; regret for my hesitations, failures as a woman, and shortcomings of my surroundings. A big orange mistake shrinks in the distance until it is lost behind a flat blue sky. Inside of me is the soul of a lady willing to thrive. A tower of accomplishments are emerging from a lifelong journey of resilience.

At the present moment I am at my prime. This is the best version, the ultimate edition,  of me I have ever been. I think I am super fine. I accept this me. I am finally on the right meds. I eat the right food. I don’t have negative relationships with dysfunctional people. I have a solid support network comprised of stellar angels, and formidable warriors. I quit smoking tobacco and I have not been physically sick ever since. I go on vacations. I serve at the church every week. I’m in love with my husband. My kids love me.

I finally became this healthy woman once I finally admitted that I was really sick. Then I prayed on Jesus’ teachings about discerning relationships and behaviors. I learned what I needed to know to empower myself. That’s how the whole prayer thing is supposed to work, and it did.

A person, in general, is not actively fixing a problem they don’t realize they have. One could say, “the car isn’t running properly, even though you don’t hear a clunking noise”. I have a traumatic closed head injury in three sides of my brain. Conversely, my body doesn’t look at all handicapped. In conversation, I am quite intelligent, although I can’t always retain information in my head long enough to process it correctly.

Despite knowing this, I have attempted to work at least 50 different jobs over the past 32 years. It took me 7 years, but I accomplished an Associates degree in writing. After 2 years and 3 different majors at a university; a vocational school certificate, and experience in everything from front desk reception at the University of Michigan, to repairing and reconditioning the Meijer Penny Ponies, I still could not manage to stay employed anywhere. I just could not do it. It was time to apply for the SSI.

So, after 21 years, 7 months, and 8 days; I concede that I can’t do what the other kids do. That’s okay with me because I still do things that are useful to my world.

I validated myself as a mental gimp, and it is the most intelligent thing I have ever done. I can also forget the little things without feeling as guilty now. I still feel incompetent when the big things fit through the gaping chasms that are throughout my mind-brain. I am thriving despite my salad bar of diagnosis. I used to feel inept at adulting compared to how successful my peer group is. Now, I feel accomplished that so many people of high intellect, and accomplished talent, accept me into their tribe. So,  if my weird brain offends you- suck a lemon, I don’t care how anyone feels about my head injury, or my mental health.

Now that I’ve accepted my weaknesses, I can make sensible decisions about what I truly can and can’t do, or will and won’t do. It is no longer a measure of me vs. what anyone else has done. I am off from that measuring scale. I don’t weigh other people’s should and should not’s on the triple beams, either. I will encourage everyone to view one another as just a decent person trying not to die.

By the end of January

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Deep thoughts with Nina Simone.

The quandary persists.

To be abused by Christopher Trainor & Assoc. v.  State Farm Insurance,

or take my chances. Jump ship. Fire CT&A and hire Sinas Dramis to defend me.

I will be taking a long term risk in exchange for a short term sell-out. So I called the best attorney in the biz. She said she’d ask her partners if she can take my case. (fingers crossed)

Doh! I’m too close to my court date to change attorneys. Hazel really did sympathize with me for my pathetic lack of legal council from Christopher Trainor & Assoc.

I tried standing up to my attorney to tell him what he needs to do before court on Tuesday. My fate is up in the air. Or perhaps, this legal torment may finally end.

All I ever wanted was to get my dang teeth fixed. Bureaucracy hates me.

Once again, I am bullied, called a liar, and basically run through for having head injuries. News Flash- The closed head injuries did not affect my IQ. For a brain that was medically determined to be unuseable, my body somehow rebuilt it for survival and kept the rest of my body functioning enough to stay alive. I am not stupid.

But my teeth are still falling out of my face!

The least I can hope for is I get my teeth finally fixed. It would be nice to have a whole smile again. More importantly, I would like to eat food that isn’t soft and only room temperature.

I hate being a victim. I tried to take control. By the time I figured out what the heck was going on, it was too late to change it.

Judge Teresa Brennan is judging like a boss. She has no problem telling lawyers they are fucktards. She knows the law better than any of them, yet they ALL act like they can get away with bending laws in front of her. What idiots! This judge is an uber pro! Attorneys hate her if that gives you any idea of how awesome she is. I can tell she is on my side.

*sigh.

I wish I were tougher. Money makes people tough. When someone has more money than me, it means I have to submit to whatever they want or say. It does. Don’t say it doesn’t. Your boss at work? He is only an authority figure because he makes more money than you.

And the politicians, physicians, and academics who make more money than me, will tell me what should be important. They would know. They make more money than me. Education? I have more education than many people I know. But they make more money than me, so their thoughts and opinions count for more.

It only takes one tiny ‘thwack’ on my fingers, and my family falls off the capitalist ladder. We are barely holding on to our rung. At any second we could fall off and plummet to the floor.

I am not so unlike the homeless women I made a project to help. I can help them keep themselves clean. The only difference between me and them is- I’m making my rent. Not really. Actually, barely. Honestly, if we weren’t renting from a dear Christian friend we would be fighting for space on a shelter floor. Me and the girls would probably get to stay on the floor in a corner somewhere. Sean might not get to stay. Women and children first.

I do not visualize a grandiose future. I envision us alive another day. I think I can manage that. Kids college? Me and Sean’s senior income after we are too old to work? It isn’t on the table yet. Of course I know that these are the things I am supposed to aim for.

But my goals are not the same as everyone else’s. It takes me fifty times more effort to make it through day to day than a normal healthy person would. I have to make it look like I’m not having to try harder, too.

I have faith in God. I have committed my life to his cause, which is unconditional love to every living person on earth. I am working for God, and God is working for me. That’s all I have, but I’m keeping it.