Friday, February 18, 2011

Past Times Behind

Sometimes I am surprised that anyone reads my blogs at all. I write what's on my mind and I don't know that it would interest anyone else. I do like to write as if I have an audience. I think that's just my style though, more interesting to me than if I was writing journal like entries. And though it surprises me that people do occasionally read what I write, sometimes it amazes me to discover who is reading what I write!

My latest entry was read and commented on by one of the people I mentioned in it. That just sort of blew me away. I had messaged her on Facebook to see if she could help me with a portion of my memories and when she responded she mentioned she had commented about me recently. Can I just say how good it feels to know people are thinking of you? I'm sorry I missed her comment when she posted it, but happy to go back and read it:

"while driving to work listening to an old Hall and Oats song.....reminded me of road trips with my friend Betsy and then of a hat and scarf someone made for her that was hideous, but she loved it because it was made with love! (she only wore it once for a picture that I know of....but she loved it just the same! Thinking of you today Betsy! Have a great day!

Now I am about to reflect on memories of time I spent with Debbi, oooooh, so many years ago, so many children ago, an entire lifetime ago. How does it fly by so fast? And where does it go? And more to the point, why can I remember so much of it and yet so little of what happened in my life yesterday or last week???

Hall & Oates. Love those guys. I am sure we were listening to Abandoned Luncheonette on 8-track. Tell that to your kids and you'll spend a bit of time trying to explain to them not only what an 8-track cartridge was, but possibly a cassette tape as well. And no, kiddies, the tape doesn't "stick" to itself while spinning around the gizmos inside the do-hickey or player. The tape isn't even sticky!!

Road trips. I love road trips!! It never occurred to me before but perhaps Debbi is why I love road trips. She's cute and funny and sweet and nice and probably the perfect person to be stuck in a car with for hours on end. To be honest, I forgot we did any road trips together, but of course we did!! Bear with me now, because all the facts are not still lodged in my feeble brain, but I hope I can make enough sense of what is to still there to write a comprehensive story.

One road trip took us to Eastern Washington and I am not sure why. It may have been a part of a bigger trip but I don't think so. Debbi had a roommate who couldn't imagine what people in Eastern Washington did for entertainment. Someone came up with an answer that went something like... "Yada yada yada... and sit around drinking Walnut Juice." For whatever reason that was hysterically funny so when we went to Eastern Washington we created a jar of "Walnut Juice" to present to this friend upon our return. Oh, we were so clever!!

Another road trip with Debbi took us to Ketchum, Idaho to pick up my belongings as I had decided not to return to Sun Valley for the Summer Season. I still sort of regret that decision. We partied with my friends for a day or two while there. The clearest thing I remember though, was a comment Debbi made about my friends. "They don't really laugh. They just say 'that's so funny' but they don't laugh!" It was an interesting observation and also true. I loved them anyway.

I went to visit Debbi during the hottest time of the summer when she had moved to Portland. Oh.My.Goodness!!! I had just bought a little pick up which some people I knew referred to as my F*ck Truck. Did I mention Debbi and I were both dating "bad boys" at this time? May have something to do with it. We drove that truck into the mountains out of the city heat and camped out.... not too successfully as everyone had the same idea. What I remember though, was swimming in an ice cold river and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. Getting out of the water was like being an ice cube in summer heat. Skin so cold it hurt, but the sun so hot it felt good.

Another time, another road trip, but the companion was not Debbi - the destination was Debbi. Colleen and I heard that the best place to see an upcoming eclipse was in Portland. It was one of those "special" eclipses that wasn't going to be around again for hundreds of years. So late in the day we decided we'd go to Portland to see it. We lived on an island in the San Juans so caught the ferry and off we went. I don't remember telling Debbi we were coming, but I hope we did as we arrived in the middle of the night. She was living with her grandmother, I think. The sky was overcast. We saw absolutely nothing, were dead tired and slept a while. And then we drove back home. Debbi - I can't believe you put up with me!

Here's a big secret... Debbi is the reason I quit school. Really. Debbi was going to college in my home town and I was going to school across the state. Debbi needed to take a summer class, so when I came home for summer break she moved in with me and my mom. I also signed up for summer classes. I decided I wasn't going to go back to school in Pullman and transferred to Western. One morning Debbi woke up late for a class and missed an important test. It was her final straw and she announced that she was going to withdraw. That may have been the last day to withdraw from classes without penalty. I thought is seemed like a good idea so I quit, too. All Debbi's fault!

Debbi's mom was opening a business in another city and Debbi was going to run it. The first place she lived there was in a small and cold travel trailer. On one of my visits to her in this town we played cards and drank wine. The wine was oh, so, good!! Do you remember T.J. Swan?? Yep, it was at least a full step above MD20-20 or Strawberry Hill. The choice of real aristocrats like us. When we finished the wine we desperately wanted more. I was broke. Debbi was broke. How to get more? Where there is a will there is a way, and I don't remember exactly where we found them all, but we did manage to find enough pennies (yes, actually pennies, not just a reference to money, but the actual coins we used) to buy another bottle of wine. Didn't the convenience store guy love us!!

Because it was back in the old old days when I met Debbi, things were quite different. There was no security gate at the airport and people could just wander around and go right up to the boarding gates. What a concept! And on nights when we were bored, that's what we did. We walked around the airport. I guess the mall would be the modern day equivalent.

If you are still with me I dare say you need to get a life. This blog is certainly too long and boring for anyone who wasn't actually there. I need to make a few notes here before I wrap it up, though. First off... it's not me in the photo of the crocheted hat & purse, same articles mentioned by Debbi on Facebook, and it was a purse, not a scarf. That was another friend at the time, Mike T. I did not sport a mustache of any type in those days. Secondly, many thanks to Debbi who unwittingly allowed me to recall all these fond memories. I had forgotten that we had actually spent so much time together and what a great friend you were/are.

And thirdly, I want to say that I know there is much more, some memories I am sure I will never recall, and others that will continue to come to mind long after I post this... such as taking my east coast cousin to Ocean Shores and playing Super Woman as we threw ourselves on the beds. What wild and crazy women we were!

Lastly... the title to this blog is the name of the actual first album of Hall & Oates. I couldn't find it anywhere in their discography but it's an album I own and adore (vinyl, yes!) I finally found why it's not listed anywhere:

"Prior to releasing their debut album Whole Oats, Daryl Hall and John Oates had sketched out some demos, originally released as the Past Times Behind collection (since reissued under a variety of titles). Those recordings found them earnest and tentative, in the throes of their folk-rock phase, and they led to Atlantic signing the duo..." Full article.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wandering Around in the Past

As I am wont to do, I decided to play a little "What Ever Happened To...?" on Facebook yesterday. This time I chose a girl that I worked with at Jack in the Box over 30 years ago. Funny, I've often wondered about her, but it wasn't until yesterday that I realized our time of friendship, of hanging out together, lasted only six months or less. How do some people stay in your head like that and others flit through as if they never existed?

I was in my second year of college and had transferred from a University to a Community College, wanting to be nearer my freshman year boyfriend, who had also transferred out. I never saw him again even though I made that move. Silly girl.

I got a job at a Jack-in-the-Box drive-in and became fast friends with the other workers. Karen, Debbie, Kathy and Mike T. are the ones I particularly remember, in fact two of the women are friends of mine on Facebook even now, although we don't interact much. Debbie is one of the sweetest funniest people I know and the one I stayed most in touch with, attending each other's weddings and meeting each other's children as babies. My family and Kathy's family got together once or twice when the kids were small. But we all live in different areas and life is busy and so on. You know the song.

Karen is the one I totally lost touch with. When I decided to go back to the University something had happened to our little band of friends and I am at a loss to remember what. But Karen was on the outs, that's all I remember about it.

Karen was also fun to hang out with. She drove a hot, black with white stripes on the hood, 67-68-ish Firebird. Please forgive me if I got the year or make wrong... It could have been a Camaro. I'm usually pretty knowledgeable about cars in that era, but it's been a long long time. I recall us taking her baby (car) through the car wash prior to going to a Beach Boys concert. As we neared the end of the car wash the blower was doing it's job and the car's little windshield wipers were vibrating like crazy. OMGosh, we laughed so hard and mimicked the vibration with our hands on the dash. It became our symbol of excitement. The kind of sexual excitement young women feel over things not necessarily sexual... like a hot car or a rock song that shakes you to your toes. Although no one around me understands it, to this day I occasionally make the same hand movements when something is "totally cool!" and excites me.

And we decided to change the lyrics of a Doobie Brothers' song on our way to the concert...

Give me the Beach Boys
and free my soul
I wanna get lost in their rock and roll
and drift away

Even now I sing the wrong lyrics if I hear that song.

So I went back to the University, leaving my new friends behind. Here, once again, I've lost the thread of the friendship, but somehow I contacted Karen. Birthday card, maybe? She was so excited and wrote me right back that she was getting married in just a short time. She had been dating another co-worker at our restaurant and was pregnant. Ha! So many women are when they get married - even more so back then, I think. I happened to be passing through the area the day of her wedding and so I was invited to stay at her parents' house that night and attend the wedding. And that is basically the end of the story. I never saw her again after the wedding and we didn't keep in touch. Her husband had either just joined the service or was very shortly going in. I don't know if that was why or what. But that is the short story of my friendship with Karen, although she never fully left my thoughts.

As many women put their former names on their Facebook profile I decided to look for her, using both her maiden name and the name of her husband from so many years prior. Nothing came of those searches. I decided to search for the boy/man she married, although I was sure there would many hits to look through.. and would I even recognize his profile if I came across it?

So I typed in his name....

I got ten hits and many more to follow if I click on the "see more results" link.


Not inspired to check out any of the male photos that popped up I instead clicked on number ten, a photo of a car. Can you believe it... everything in the limited information provided about this guy matches. Could I really have scored a home run on my first at bat? I took a chance and sent him a message (actual transcript):

Me (February 16 at 7:50pm) : Did you ever work at Jack in the Box in B***** back in the 70's?

Him (February 16 at 8:50pm) : I sure did. A short stint back in 75 / 76 I think.

Me (February 16 at 8:56pm) : You married Karen Baer? I'm just wondering what ever happened to her. I was there at that time...

Him (February 16 at 9:06pm) : She passed away of breast cancer Oct. of 08.

Wow. I felt like I was struck dumb. I managed to pull it together and find out a little more about her life since I last saw her. Her marriage to this man didn't last. I don't know why and it's none of my business, but from our brief exchange I have a lot of respect for the person he seems to have become.

I'm sorry I never got to say "hi, how are ya" to Karen again. Even though our friendship only spanned a few "in person" months, she must have made an impact on me to have remembered her for so long.

R.I.P. Karen Baer. You are missed by more people than you could ever know.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Do You Really Hear What Your Dreams are Telling You?

Okay, before we get too far into this, I am going to be upfront and tell you this blog really isn't about dreams at all. But I am going to start with dreams because it's a whole lot easier than starting with what's really on my mind.

We'll morph into that as we go.

I've always had odd dreams as far back as I can remember. One particular recurring dream I had as a little girl. It terrified me. I shared it with my daughters once in a weak moment and they laughed until they cried. I guess what's scary to one small child is not so much to another.

I don't put a lot of stock into analyzing my dreams for meaning unless they are recurring dreams. If I am dreaming the same thing more than once then there is something niggling at my subconscious that I need to bring to the surface and address, or at least acknowledge.

Let me tell you about a dream I've had over and over before I finally took a look at what it means to me. In this dream I am always wearing in-line skates. I don't believe I have ever put on a pair in my life, but I am a pretty decent skater when asleep, apparently. The rest of the world is dressed normally, including shoes, but I am zipping through my day at an accelerated speed on my skates. But I always get going too fast. I find myself out of control and desperately braking. Like a skier turning my skis one way and the other biting hard into the snow to slow down or stop, I twist my skates one way and the other trying to dig in the wheels and stop. There is never a nasty ending to this dream. I don't fly into a busy intersection or off a cliff. I just keep trying and trying to gain control.

Gain Control.

When I finally thought seriously about this dream after the umpteen multiple times of dreaming it, I finally realized I was feeling my life was out of control. I need to 'put the brakes on' slow down, take a breath and re-evaluate. Make a list, do whatever necessary to feel that I am back at the driver's wheel. What an amazing discovery that was! Now, when I have this dream I have something to think about. I also found the dream to be a bit of fun, now that it makes sense, I can enjoy flying down a flight of stairs in my skates. Really.

For a couple of years now I have been having dreams that disturbed me involving my mother. When she died a year ago, she was very fragile in both body and mental capacity. It had been a long process, losing her abilities. She lived with me three of the last four years of her life until I couldn't care for her at home any longer. The dreams I had that involved her were simply that I would come across her somewhere and she was completely "whole." She could walk, talk, drive a car, etc. Basically she was back. It wasn't that she had never grown as disabled as she was, but that she had recovered. You may think, why would that be disturbing? Simply because it could never happen. To wake up and think someone I love has been "fixed" to quickly realize it's impossible is just too hard on me. I guess I thought it was "wishful dreaming" while she was still alive, but I continue to have those dreams, and just recently began to question why.

What I believe my dreams were telling me now is that Mom was going to be as healthy and happy as she's ever been very soon. And since her death, they continued in an effort to tell me that yes, she's "whole" again, that I should be happy for her, too. Maybe it's actually her that is sending me this message. I don't know but I'd like to think so. Part of faith is not knowing what comes next, but trusting it is wonderful. She's there. She knows. But if she can communicate with me it's only in ways that I can understand here & now. Life goes on, but not only in the way my little mortal brain can understand. I find this comforting.

And yet, there is more. Something which haunts me and riddles me with guilt. I could refer to it as my mother's dying wish, but it was conveyed to me long long before she died. While she was still very much herself and the mother I'd grown up with.

As long as I can remember my Mom had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order) in her medical records. From the time I was in my early 20's or maybe even my teens, she would talk to me about those things. The bank had my signature on file as a signor on her bank account. My name wasn't on her checks, but I could legally sign them. I had her POA (Power of Attorney). I was told where all the important papers were and what to do if she should die unexpectedly. For me it was part of my young adulthood growing up. Things I didn't really want to think about, but I had to on the occasions she felt the need to remind me. Good thing I was a trustworthy kid or I could have robbed her blind and disappeared! Just kidding.

One thing she told me with all that other stuff, was that she desired a 'condition' on her DNR. It's not possible to put a condition on a DNR, you either don't resuscitate or you do. But her desire was that if she was dying that she be kept alive long enough for me to get there. If it was possible she wanted me by her side when she died. It's something I've known for years and that she's told me more than once.

The thing is, it was possible. But I didn't go.

The nursing home called me at 2:00 am and told me they were sending Mom to the hospital, that her vitals were very low. I took the call but couldn't muster myself out of bed. At 6:00 am the hospital called and said she wasn't going recover and I should get there right away. Mark and I left immediately but it was already too late. She was gone before we arrived.

I'm having a very very hard time forgiving myself.

I can't say Mom never asked anything of me. Whoa, that is a road I don't want to ever travel again. I was her "beloved" daughter and the one who made up for all the injustices in her life. She had expectations of her sons but if they didn't come through... well, they were boys. Sure she was annoyed, but... I felt her expectations of me to be more or less "everything" to her were much higher. On the other hand, she always said she never wanted to be a burden to her kids. She never expected us to care for her in her old age. And yet I took her into our home and cared for her and loved her perhaps the best I ever did in my entire life. That was not an expectation of hers, but a true gift from me and for me.

But I can't let go of the fact that the one thing I knew was so very important to her, to come to her before she died, was the thing I let her down on. I can't go back and have a do-over and I can't move forward and do something to make it all better.

I am hoping that part of the dream where-in she's healthy and happy, is her telling me it's okay. That that one moment in time wasn't as important as she thought it would be and that she forgives me. Or better yet, she thinks there is nothing to forgive.