Soap Operas, Harlequin Romances, and Heavy Drugs

daysofliveslogo There are some things that have never been a draw for me.  Soap operas, Harlequin romance novels and heavy drugs (or even really mild ones, for that matter) have never posed any particular temptation for me.  Even so, I remember the words from one of the soaps my mother, or maybe it was the babysitter, used to watch: “As sands through the hour glass, so are the Days of Our Lives”. 

Sand, hours, days, lives, soaps, romances and heavy drugs.  It’s an impressive lineup don’t you think? 

Heavy Drugs

Most of my childhood occurred during the seventies when there was a real emphasis on educating children about the dangers of drug use.  Fat lot of good that did any of us!  Sadly, all that well intentioned tax money was wasted on me.  I had, after all, the very best, real life, hands on drug awareness experience a child could have.  I had someone in my own home overdose, get hauled out on a stretcher (yes, picture three wide-eyed children under the age of eight, two bewildered and alarmed parents, large medical emergency vehicles with lights flashing, watching the live-in babysitter get hauled off on a stretcher).  Take one wild guess which of those three children was tasked with trying to awaken the body that had already slipped into a drug induced coma.  That’d be me. 

j0308903 No. Drugs, even in an effort to satiate my deep seated need to be accepted, approved of, and mostly to belong, never ever posed even the slightest temptation to me. 

Soap Operas

This is easy.  Force something on a child all the years they are growing up and, well, chances are they will either acquiesce and adopt the thing or they will rebel.  I had soap operas and TV and noise going on all throughout my childhood. I think this had something to do with having an aging father and two other siblings and living in a home where conversation and opinions and even dissension were not only tolerated, but welcomed.  I rebelled against the TV and noise but retained a love for all things passionate and articulate especially if they tend toward the nonconformist.  After leaving home, I never watched an episode of any of the daytime or nighttime soaps, I loathe TV except for the express and planned purpose of vegging out because I am so overwhelmed and just need to turn my mind off. If given the choice to stay in and watch a movie or something on television, I will opt to read a book, do something in the yard, surf the net, the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-by-stieg-larssontake my dog for a walk, invent cryptic status updates to annoy all my friends on Facebook (who haven’t yet hidden me) with, or write.  But, lately, I don’t have time for even that. Lies!  I’ll always make time for the status update messages, because, well, now I has iPhone!

Harlequin Romances?

This is a bit more convoluted because I love romance.  I love the idea of it.  I love the feel of it.  I love the hope and passion it can inspire.  But really?  If you’ve read one Harlequin romance novel, you’ve read them all.  Give me something along the lines of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, or Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask, or even the much more recent and sadly deceased, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy and I’m all in, but a Harlequin romance.  Ugh.  Yawn.  Not a draw for me. 

A Rehabilitated Internet Dating Junkie

In posts past, I’ve alluded to the fact, correction, I point blank declared, that I was an internet dating junkie.  I was.  I admit it.  I was successful with it too, if you consider being able to get dates with attractive, intelligent, employed men by merely posting a profile successful.  If the truth be told, I am still meeting and getting to know people that I “met” and began corresponding with online, over two  years ago.  My social calendar is exceptionally full these days and I haven’t had an online profile anywhere for months.  Okay, I lied, I tried out OKCupid.com and Zoosk on Facebook because I have several friends on Facebook that are dating coaches and, well, curiosity killed the cat. They suggested, I bit.  I’m over it now.  I was on each of those for two weeks, met one person in person who is fabulously interesting, but I could quickly ascertain that I neither have the interest or desire or energy to get back into the online dating thing.  Screening profiles, deleting winks, and wading through thousands of misspelled, poorly punctuated and horribly written profiles is, well, a lot like reading a Harlequin romance.  When you’ve read one…

Temptations and Time~Living Life in Face to Face World

ar120347955688524 The days of our lives can slip away from us like sand pouring through the narrowest portion of the hourglass.  The sand at the top appears untouched, but the sand at the bottom is fighting desperately to comply with gravity’s demands. Eventually, the entire lot of it cascades into the bottom portion of the hourglass.  This seems an appropriate analogy for much of life. 

For me, spending time in fantasy land like soap opera world, internet dating, drug use or reading Harlequin’s is just not something I want to do.  The false and superficial have never attracted me.  Give me an authentic disagreement (done respectfully, I hope) over a false veneer of cheery friendship any day.  When it comes to internet anything, it is so easy to hide, to disguise, to pretend, to escape.  This,  I’m learning, is a temptation that can be very deceptive.  After all the internet comfortably keeps people at a distance.  You can connect, without really ever having to connect.  Don’t want to talk to someone, just show up in stealth mode or “unfriend” them.  It’s the convenience of digital relationship.  Besides, who wouldn’t love to recreate themselves (if even for a few minutes) into something that only mildly portends a resemblance to the reality, or disappear into a relationship that holds the promise of the upside (fun, flirty, romantic and non-invasive) of relationship without any of the downside (how the heck are we going to decide which side of the bed you’ll be sleeping on? And why do I have to make room in my closet for you?). 

I’m also learning that this kind of relating, while useful for providing some entertainment value and escapist fun, does not really work for me.  I’m not twenty something anymore.  A few years back, I had to renew my driver’s license.  My picture, is awful, as most of them are.  Mine was especially bad, because as I was going through the renewal process I was crying.  I was aging, caught in a nightmare at that time I felt I could not escape and I truly thought my life was over.  My outlook is so different today. 

I’m still aging.  I can’t do much about that.  I ended the nightmare the best way I could, but I ended it.  The fallout from that has not been easy but life is good.  I’m meeting many fabulous new people through the adventures I’m having with the friends I already know in my face-to-face world.  Some of the digital relationships have bridged the gap from being merely digital to actually tangible, and, while romance isn’t running rampant in my life like weedy vines overtaking my garden, some very valuable and wonderful friendships have developed.  I’m busier than ever with work opportunities in an area where people are struggling to hold onto their homes after losing their jobs.  I’m meeting people in my community that I enjoy spending time with and who, while very different from me, are a source of friendship and camaraderie.  I’m healthier than I was at the start of the year, in every sense of that word, and I like it.  I’m busier than I’ve ever been and yet, less stressed and more content.  I find all of this slightly ironic, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth by over-analyzing it.  

j0179131I’m simply going to ride this horse where ever it will take me.

After all, life is short.  Far too short and far too valuable to allow it to disappear into the meaningless, the shallow, the pain-dulling fantasy escapes that come in so many forms whether, digitally digested, inhaled, injected or imbibed.

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times

Music can take me places.  I’m sure you know how that is.  You’re minding your own business and suddenly a song comes on that you haven’t heard in ages and then suddenly you are transported.  You’re completely removed from the present to a different time and place, a world ago, a lifetime ago.  You can smell the smells, feel the feelings and suddenly you are awash in memories like you never left that time or place.  Music transports you.  It transport me.  I was just transported.

I have music all over my house.  I have a small house and don’t have a surround sound, piped in, fancy system like some have.  I do like to “feel” my music. Even as I write this, I have my little 5 CD changer in the kitchen (I have one in nearly every room)  turned up to some ghastly number on the volume dial.  I can feel the reverberations.  But, today, a particular song transported me, and it just came on again and it’s transporting me…again. 

The time was not so long ago.  About this time last year, if my memory serves me well.  The song is K.T. Tunstall’s “Heal Over”.  The events in my life at that time were best described by Charles Dickens in his famous book, “A Tale of Two Cities”.  For me…that time of my life was truly, “the best of times, it was the worst of times”.  I’d left my second husband for the final time.  Divorce proceedings were in process.  It was going to happen.  As a person who walked into marriage the first time with the high fairy tale hopes of “till death do us part”, having to end a second marriage was a devastating blow.  I was in the midst of dealing with that reality and moving back into a house that my ex and his 7 children had just vacated.  And when I mean vacated, I mean vacated.  They took with them things I will be paying for, for many years to come. Things that were purchased at Christmases and birthdays for my children, not his.  And I was left with a house that was little more than a wreck. (No, I’m not bitter or anything.  LOL!) I was embroiled in a battle that had every potential to get very ugly and I was very scared.  It was very possible that I could end up homeless and in debt and, because I had no way to provide for my children, I was afraid I might lose them.  It was the worst of times.

But…it was also the very best of times.  While I was out of my house because I had to leave under police escort to protect myself against a volatile spouse and get what I could in the 20 minutes they allow, I was able to see and experience the goodness and love of friends that I might never have otherwise experienced or known.  I had friends offer me their travel trailer so my youngest and I would have a place to stay for a month while we finished out the school year.  I had other friends offer me a housesitting job while they went vacationing.  That got me through the month, and to the court hearing where I was awarded the house and full custody of my youngest daughter.  And in the background of all of this, K.T. Tunstall’s song, “Heal Over” was playing.  Playing. Playing.  Reminding me of what my mother always used to tell me, “This, too, shall pass.”  And…it did.

I ended up being awarded my house, my ex disappeared rather than creating a crazy scene, I did get all the marital debt but I have my home and don’t have to move four kids out to a rental and worry when I will get 30 days notice so they can put the house up on the market.  I’m safe.  My children are safe and all the fears I had at this time last year have dissipated into nothingness.  But that song, that particular song, takes me back.  It takes me back to a time of uncertainty and transition.  It takes me back to a painfully difficult time of learning to parent on my own, and of learning what it means to be a homeowner.  It takes me back to hot, sweaty days of having to repaint, repair, clean out, fumigate, and scrub, scrub, scrub every surface and cabinet to make my home clean and liveable for my kids and I. I takes me back to spending a month trying to figure out how to clean out a pool, finally having to drain it completely and start over.  It takes me back to days, when filled with fear and uncertainty myself, I had to be strong and hopeful and positive for my children.  It takes me back to days, where we pulled together, attempted things we didn’t possibly think we could handle in a million years, and we did more than just handle them and we did them well! 

That song takes me back.  Heal over?  You bet I’ll heal over.  Make no mistake about it.  

It was the best of times and the worst of times but, funny thing, all I have are good memories.