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I hear the voice of my grandmothers calling me
I hear the voice of my grandmothers calling me
They say wake up wake up, they say wake up wake up
-Voices of the Grandmothers chant
* please note: I didn’t write this, but there are conflicting sources online as to its original writer, and it has been shaped and changed by the many communities who have used it. My apologies for not properly sourcing it. *
My mom used to love to feed the giraffes at the zoo. She couldn’t see them, but she knew they were there, and she loved the experience. Looking back, my mother had that spirit in all areas of her life.
I can not remember a single challenge or occasion in life my mother didn’t rise to. When she lost her site she learned braille and newborn care in the dark. She got a Guide Dog and eventually a job teaching computers to the blind. I have days when I can barely remember how to tie my shoes, but this woman thrived no matter what was thrown at her. This is what I remember when I feel like I just can’t fight anymore. That my mother did not just survive her life. She lived it.
When faced with significant things like motherhood and love she dedicated all that she had to give, and she never turned down a friend in need. At times it let people take advantage of her kindness, but it never stopped her. If she could help, she did. If she couldn’t help directly, she found a way. I grew up knowing my mother loved me and would give anything for me to have a good life and a happy heart. I never knew anything other than acceptance and support, never doubted she believed in me, and that unconditional love has carried me through many points in my life where I’ve veered from the beaten path to find myself.
What else has my mother’s spirit lived on to each me? That no matter how hard things get it’s always alright to laugh, to play, and to dream. As a kid I watched my mom bowl, play Frisbee, and beat the pants off of everybody at Monopoly. She decorated a giant tree every year for Christmas, dusted around ridiculous decorations at Halloween, and dared to wear pointy little heels to work. She rode roller coasters and went to concerts, Disneyland, and, yes, the zoo. Nothing was ever off-limits or too much trouble. If it sounded like fun, my mom was there before anyone.
Which brings me back to the giraffes. My mom never had to see them to know they were there and to experience their beauty. We spend so much of our lives looking for something, and quite often it’s already here waiting to be experienced, waiting to be loved, or waiting to be nurtured. Sometimes I close my eyes and the world becomes a very different place, one with more potential than I can see with my eyes. It’s all so very simple, but it’s something many of us spend our entire lives trying to learn. My mother knew. If you hold the food out, the giraffes will come.
Go now, feed your giraffes.
There was supposed to be Rapture last week. There wasn’t, but people spent their life savings and waited for the world as we know it to end. People tried to cram a lifetime into a day for fear that time was up for us all, a reality people with terminal diseases and chronic conditions face every day. What causes this panic? What causes people who have sat around complaining about life and never taking a chance suddenly try to change it at the last minute? Furthermore, what if that moment of living was what ended the world as one knew it? If you knew that the experience of a lifetime would cause your death would you relish the moment or risk never living?
This is not a simple question. It’s one we would all like to say we know the answer to, but would we all have the nerve if we knew for certain what the end looked like? If Amelia Earhart had known we’d be pondering her disappearance decades later would she have ever learned to fly? Would Abraham Lincoln or John F Kennedy have become an accountant instead of President of the United States? Would any of us take the chances and risks for our passions that we do?
I’d like to say I would, and there have been times when I’ve made decisions that could have lead to some terrible end for me. I’ve hitchhiked, I’ve followed complete strangers through unfamiliar cities for a fling, and I’ve done some pretty stupid stunts on a dare. In retrospect, maybe those decisions were ill advised, but it brings up another realization. At some point in my life I started to fear the world instead of embrace it. At some point I let everything cause me anxiety. Who knows how many opportunities I’ve missed. Gods only know how often my head jumps to the worst case scenario.
In the last few months I’ve been faced with some pretty tough decisions and realities, and I have come to the conclusion that if it all came crashing down tomorrow there will have been moments I haven’t lived because I’ve held myself back. This is unacceptable. This is not who I am. This is not who I want to be on my deathbed, wherever and whenever that may be.
Because of this realization I have instituted changes. I have been completely honest at times when maybe I should have kept my mouth shut. I have let my heart be broken and my pride be hurt. I have left myself open and vulnerable, and I have fallen. On the other hand I have a new girlfriend and some wonderful memories. I have had the opportunity to love without fear and the comfort of knowing I survived the only possible result of that love. I have taken control of my career and refused to let indiscretions slide. I have spoken my mind and been validated. I have been open about my lifestyle and how I choose to live, and even if I have been negatively judged I am confident and free. If my life ends tomorrow, I will end it knowing I have been true to myself and open to the world. I may not yet have experienced all I want to in life, but I will have taken hold of the moments to me and lived them. In between the mundane responsibilities and chores in life I have made the memories that will sustain me in my last moments.
My answer to the original question. Yes, I would relish the moment. As I recently told Hubby, you’re not a failure until you stop trying. Never stop trying. Never stop living. Never stop experiencing life. Of all the risks, don’t let the one you take be the risk of regret.
Go now! Make a memory!
My tradition’s yearly installment of a ritual honouring Cernnunos always hits me somewhere deeper than I walk in expecting, but this year his message may as well have come with a gift tag with my name on it. It was one I wish I’d been able to hear a week sooner, but one I may have needed a little pain with to really absorb and appreciate.
He spoke of hard times, both ones we’ve endured in the past year and those yet to come. He spoke of the fight we must be willing to put up to keep our spirits alive. He spoke of enjoying life despite hard times, using the light and energy from those memories to recharge us when life seems bleak. Sometimes it’s not the moment of the belly laugh we need as we’re short of breath with tears streaming from our eyes. Sometimes it’s the memory of that laugh, with whom it was shared, or how it felt not to care who heard or saw us or what they thought about it that inspires us in the moments when we most want to scream, cry, and give up on life. It’s these moments that make that laugh a beautiful gift. Our ability to remember and relive is magickal and transformative, but only if we use it.
My four-year old stepson is in crisis mode every time he leaves our house. In his mind the world is ending. He’s leaving us, and that thought takes over his young mind. It’s a heartbreaking routine, but every week we remind him of all the fin we shared that day and assure him he’ll be back to do it all again before he knows it.
Oh, how we adults have convinced ourselves we have grown past this type of behaviour. Frankly, we haven’t. In fact, we have made it all even more complicated with “complexes”, excuses, addictions, and people who enable and feed our negative outlook. The four-year old moves on with life. The :mature adults” dwell, hold grudges, and give up on those “fun” moments. We forget how to live and begin to merely survive, or worse, give in to self-defeat and stop worrying about survival altogether. I won’t let the four-year old handle my “good china”, but I will take a lesson from him on what’s really valuable.
This leads me to wonder why adults tend to use our ability to remember only to dwell in the negative past. Why do we readily dig up abuses and even the most petty arguments we had as children but not remember the hug or kind word we received just yesterday? Furthermore, why do we forget how far this fight to keep the spirit alive has brought each one of us?
Yesterday I stopped myself short of complaining about lugging my overnight bag to and from work everyday. Merely two years ago I would not have picked the bag up, let alone carried it for 20 minutes. I realized then how much I fall prey to this mentality. Had I forgotten the long road I’ve taken to get here? Had I forgotten that I could not walk to the bathroom let alone the thirty blocks I walked today to run errands? Had I forgotten the days I spent bracing myself against counters so my customers would not notice I was unable to stand on my own? Had I forgotten that up until recently I had been one sick day away from derailing my career path? I am not functional, working overtime, planning a wedding, and thriving. I found the fuel to learn, research, and execute a plan, all while stuck in a constant fog of confusion and exhaustion.
In the worst days of my illness I had never given up, but a little stress was going to break me? Why? How? The memories flood back to me even now. On my darkest days, when I was tired and weak, I was reminded by everyone around me that the sun was still shining, I was still loved, and there was still joy to be found in life. Every time Hubby tried, with tears of helpless frustration in his eyes, to make me smile and laugh, every time a friend took me to the mall or sent me a silly text message, or every time I had a rare good day and was able to forget the pain gave me fuel to keep going, keep fighting, and keep growing. I never lost faith, and I never let the spirit die.
That fact, above all else, is what hit me when I heard Cernnunos speak to me. I had forgotten the long arduous road behind me. I had forgotten the scars, the landmarks,a nd the victories that were no small feat to overcome. I had forgotten every moment I had been a warrior, and I had dismissed the belly laugh, the sunny day, and the touch of a lover for insignificant everyday hassles and annoyances. I was throwing a tantrum over a broken crayon. I certainly would never accept this behaviour from the four-year old. Why on earth was I accepting it from myself? It certainly wasn’t helping my in any way? Help, not hinder, Autumn!
The message Cernnunos gave was not a bubble wrapped, candy coated assurance that everything will be copacetic as long as we think happy thoughts and keep a firm hand on the pixie dust. It was to remind us of the reality that bad things will happen, probably to you and me, and we will be miserable and strained if we refuse to find some reminder that those bad things do not rule our lives, nor can we relinquish our responsibility to the earth because we’re tired of the bad days. The message was, you might as well find some enjoyment in it and let that enjoyment get you through the rough spots.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many more of these recharging moments you begin to recognize once you start to acknowledge and appreciate them. They’ve always been there. You’ve just been too wrapped up in a tantrum to notice.
Go now, whistle while you work.
Fourteen years ago I lost my best friend, my mother. I immediately felt guilty for all the things I had not done. I was sure I missed an “I love you” somewhere, sure she was mad at me for not visiting her in the hospital, sure I could have somehow been a better child. I went through all the stages of grief at once. I was angry with her for leaving me, but I was sure at times she wasn’t dead and that she’d come back to get me at any minute. I kept a packed bag just in case we had to run. I avoided all memories of her as sick or weak, and instead envisioned her as a secret agent forced to fake her own death. When I wasn’t blaming myself I blamed my stepfather, who was on a different drug every week and stealing from her on a regular basis. I tried to bargain with every deity I could think of. I promised to be a better daughter. I wanted to make sure I had done everything I could to make her come back. I was sure that if she were alive my room had been bugged by whatever government entity had taken her from me.
I went through all the stages established by the Kubler-Ross model, and I acknowledged in my logical brain that they were all happening in my psyche. I knew she was dead. I knew she wasn’t coming back. I knew it was silly, but I was a child. I was a child who had made most of the decisions for her own mother’s funeral because no one else seemed capable. I was a child who had not cried at that funeral, and refused to let anyone see me cry at all, because I didn’t want to seem fragile. I didn’t want anyone to worry about me.
Some people simply believed I was not allowing myself to grieve, but children process things differently than adults do. I had a lot of adjusting to do. Not only had I lost my mother right before my thirteenth birthday, but I had lost my home, my spiritual guidance, and anything familiar in my life. I moved in with my father and his parents, who did everything they could to make the transition smooth, but it was still a drastic change. To top it all off I hit puberty that summer. I had hit the time in my life when a girl needs her mother the most, and for the first time in my life I didn’t have one.
Children not only process things differently, but they develop their own way of coping with and understanding tragedy or loss. I did what I had always done. I made myself busy. I dug myself into school and extracurricular activities. I got a job. I made it impossible to have any alone time in my head. Unfortunately, my thoughts are a force to be reckoned with. Eventually all the feelings and thoughts I was trying to avoid caught up with me. It was the day I found out one of my best friends had killed himself. A week later a friend of mine’s mother lost her battle with cancer. A week after that I lost my mind in the midst of a computer malfunction that resulted in writing the same paper five times and having it rejected because I could not get it to print properly.
It is during these times when we develop the skills that will carry us through life in one piece. After a full day of wandering around in a cloud, I cleared my head and began to put the pieces back together. I started writing, something that has gotten me through every time I think I just can’t go any further. I also pulled my friends around me, and even though the years have parted us they were my strongest asset at the time. I taught myself to actually deal with loss instead of running from it with fantasies or aversion. I learned to face my emotions head on, to embrace them, and to let them happen.
Sometimes I still have moments of survivor guilt. My mother sacrificed her health and her very being for me. She gave me everything she could, and I can only hope I was worth it. I’m learning to accept that this life was her gift to me. Who I am was her gift to me. Her faith in me and her encouragement to believe in myself are things that will never die. This year I’m having a rougher time than I have in the last several years. There’s a lot of stress in my life, and there have been a lot of close calls and personal losses in the past year. I have been planning a wedding, a time generally spent with excitement between a bride and her mother. There have been times when I have simply wanted my mommy. I know it won’t defeat me. It might not make me the most pleasant person to be around for a few days, but I know the people who matter most to me won’t judge or mock me for it. They know the storm will pass, and the old sunny Autumn will be back soon.
And I will be back….soon.
My sister-in-law just got a new job in New York City and has been going through all the emotions that come with relocating. When you’re in college it seems that even if you leave home it isn’t a permanent arrangement. Your home, your room, all the things that make you feel comfortable and secure stay pretty much the same. When you leave school for a weekend or a vacation you’re going Home. When you move for a job or a spouse it’s a big step. For the first time you are leaving Home to make a new place for yourself. It’s scary. It’s unpredictable. It’s a change you can’t take back.
I left home just a week after the attacks on September 11, 2001 on one of the first days of normal operation at SFO. I had no idea at the time what to expect. I had been to Philadelphia twice. I was scared, excited, and nervous, but I was ready for the new start I thought I was getting. I was moving 3,000 miles away from home.
At that time they took everything you had packed out of your suitcase, plugged in all the electronics, and opened all your toiletries. Since I had packed most of my worldly belongings in two slightly overweight suitcases, this took more time that anyone leaves themselves at the airport these days. I had also puzzle packed very carefully, and anything returned to the wrong spot in the suitcase would inevitably upset the entire system. I was also not allowed to touch anything, which meant I couldn’t help the poor agent staring at my bag like a disassembled jet engine trying to figure out how it went back together. She eventually got it all repacked as best she could and sent me on my way.
I grew more and more anxious as we approached security. This was it. They couldn’t go to the gate with me. I was on my own. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to jump up and down until the feelings inside me abated, but I did none of these things. I hugged my family and prepared to leave them behind, but just before I did my father squeezed me tight and said, “remember, you can always come back”. I have seen tears in my father’s eyes twice in my life, and that moment was one of them.
My gate was full of eerie silence where I was used to families getting their last moments in with departing loved ones. For the first time since deciding to move so far for college I second guessed myself. What was I doing? In all honesty I knew exactly what I was doing. I was doing what I’ve done my entire life. I was taking a big jump just to see how it felt. Inside I was terrified and exhilarated and hoping to all that’s sacred I didn’t fall. For a few moments though, as my jump reached that point where everything pauses for a second and becomes clear, I thought about everything I was leaving behind and everything I was headed towards in Philadelphia. I knew I was making the right decision for me, but it didn’t make it any less terrifying.
Landing in Philadelphia brought me new hurdles. The friend I had arranged to pick me up never showed, and I didn’t have any idea where to tell the taxi to take me. He followed the line of cars and parents helping their sons and daughters get settled into their dorms, and eventually we found where I was supposed to go to register. I was on my own from there, quite literally, with two fifty-something pound bags, a guitar, and a full framed backpack. I must have looked ridiculous. After much dragging, kicking, and pulling I found my room, which was of course on the top floor of a building with no elevators, and set out to explore.
At some point I found the one friend I had made at orientation, and immediately everything seemed better. I was once again confident that I had made the right choice. While my college experience may not have reached its full potential or been everything I had hoped it would be I have never regretted having it. The friends I met and the bonds I forged that still hold strong today are worth far more than any of the negative memories I have of the six months I was in college. Would I rather have finished or had the opportunity to make better decisions? Of course, but this is my path. There’s no turning back now.
This very topic came up discussing our wedding guest list with Hubby’s parents. His stepfather doesn’t understand why we would invite so many more friends than extended family. How do you explain to someone who has never left home that these people are family. These are the people who have supported me and cared for me. They’ve laughed and celebrated with me. They’ve comforted me and given me advice. This is what makes this Home no matter where I go in life. I will always have a family and a home in California. My family will always love me, and I know I always have a place with them. That’s where my roots start, but they bloom in Pennsylvania. I will always be a California girl, but this is my home, too.
Thomas Wolfe was right. You can’t go home again. The secret is that you never really leave it in the first place.
When I was young I was a dancer. One of the several forms I studied was Tahitian. I donned a grass skirt, coconut bra, and just in case there was someone who couldn’t see me, a tall straw headpiece adorned with feathers and shells. Just the ensemble for young girls with constantly fluctuating body weight, size, and self-confidence. Yes, I still dress like this on a regular basis today.
During one particular performance it was just me and one other girl. I should have seen the train coming when someone nonchalantly told the headlining talent, a Chinese vocalist showcasing her heavenly voice at a small community theatre in Pinole, CA who unfortunately had no pre-knowledge of American idioms, to break a leg. She thought this person was insulting her and spent quite some time crying hysterically in her dressing room.
When my fellow dancer and I took the stage we had only slight recognition of what we were suppose to be doing. As the drums started we watched each other in our peripheral vision for clues to the next move. All was well, albeit slightly awkward, until the only other person with me on the stage lost her skirt. As she grabbed it and ran from the stage in horrified tears I was left alone with no clue what to do next. All knowledge of how to move, let alone dance, fled from my mind as quickly as she had fled from my side, and I found myself stiff as a statue in the middle of the stage, the cassette recorded drums still pounding away eerily to a stage holding nothing but a frozen ten-year old and a politely quiet audience. A second later I, too, ran from the stage, certain my life was over. I would surely be hung and quartered for my offense. In the end my father, who had never seen me Tahitian dance before and felt terrible for the crying pile of a daughter he finally found in a dressing room that felt a mile’s run from the doomed stage, took me to get ice cream and assured me no one would ever remember that day. Well, I did.
Fast forward to 2010. Around Imbolc I had expressed an interest in casting the circle for Ostara. Having never done this for an even for my coven, and knowing it to be a pre-requisite for putting in my letter of intent to start my first degree work, I thought it would be perfect for the second anniversary of my first ever Assembly event. Unfortunately, no one ever confirmed my role and, frankly, I forgot I had even offered. In my defense, when I asked later what roles needed to be filled so Hubby and I could volunteer for something no one reminded me of my previous interest. Thanks for the heads up guys!
The night before the ritual I had a dream in which I was thrust into the role of cast and call and had to improvise the entire thing. I should have known then that this would be my role in the actual ritual, but I was sleepy and not quite as observant as I should have been. As I gathered our tools and ritual robes I considered packing my wand, which is unusual for me as I have nowhere to hold it during ritual and would not consider taking it unless I was circle casting. Again I was not quite as aware of the signals as I should have been.
Five minute before we left for Philly I checked my email to see that someone had remembered my past expression of interest and seen to it that it be my role for Ostara. Now, any one who knows me for more than a day knows how much I like time to prepare myself and my words or actions before I do anything important, especially with an audience. I am not the best improviser either, so this was really dragging me out of my comfort zone and putting me on the spot.
The entire drive I obsessed over not being prepared and tried to gather my thoughts and remember my correspondences to the best of my ability. Hubby, bless his heart, tried to quell my nervousness with conversation about his latest project, but it only caused more panic. I could feel my focus unraveling like an improperly tied corset. At any minute I was going to lose the ability to contain any composure I had left.
When we arrived in Philly I did my best to feign confidence even though I was sure I would be kicked out of the club if I failed. Hadn’t my high priest said they wouldn’t let us cast in a ritual until we had first done it informally for one of them? Obviously I was going against some rule of conduct by just jumping into an unguided casting! I forced myself to quiet the urges to take the easy way out by telling someone how I’d foolishly forgotten my previous offer and that I was shamefully unprepared. I knew I would not get out of such a thing by just asking to be set free.
Like the stubborn one that I am, I refused to quit. I was sure I was shaking severely enough to knock down the joined circle of people like a set of dominoes, but I cast an acceptable circle without incorrectly naming any directions or finding myself speechless or bawling. I didn’t run or commit any serious faux pas, and I managed to repeat the performance to open the circle at the end of the ritual.
It is times like my cast and call that force us beyond our comfort zones. Too often we confuse stagnation for mastery, never pushing ourselves to grow or learn. Mistakes are the best teachers in the world, and there is no greater power or confidence than that which comes from achieving something one knows will be difficult. There is no value in doing something one has been doing on the same level for years. This only leads to false confidence and pretension, and I have been guilty of this in the past. Taking this step opened my eyes to a world of places in which I have allowed myself to be complacent. I realize now how unhappy I am with this lack of progress, and I am renewed in my desire to grow and learn as a witch and in other areas of my life. I now feel I am truly ready to step forward and claim the potential I possess. Comfort zones are no longer acceptable, for they no longer serve a purpose in my life.
Go now, do something that terrifies you.
By now most of us have heard of the girl in Mississippi who only wanted to take her girlfriend to prom. Instead, in order to avoid conflict prom was canceled. To me this seems a little bit like treating a hangnail by cutting off one’s finger. The school now has more upheaval and bad publicity than it would have otherwise. There have been Facebook pages, news articles, and an appearance on Ellen. My school took a more clever approach.
My junior year of high school I decided I was taking my best friend to Winter Ball. Whether or not we were dating is not really the issue. I knew I was bi, but not a lot of other people did. I had no luck with guys, so I decided to take her. I went to a very small, all female, Catholic high school. There would be no “stag” guys and all my friends had dates. What could be the harm?
My only saving grace in this situation was the fact that my friend has a traditional Japanese name, which the administration may not have guessed is a pretty common female name. Weeks before the ball we had to have a guest permit signed by our date’s parents and submitted for approval by the administration. It never really dawned on me that I was doing anything wrong until I showed up at the ball with my friend on my arm.
The teacher in charge of checking us in gave me an incredulous stare. She didn’t want to cause a scene, and my date had already been approved. How could this have happened? What would the nuns say? Was the baby Jesus crying as we stood there for a second in pregnant silence? She quickly regained her composure, the blood returning to her face, and made sure I was aware that this was not to happen again. The formal excuse I was given was that we already had enough girls at the ball without adding them from other schools. Apparently, if I wanted to share my night with a girl it shouldn’t matter who that girl was.
There was some discussion about it at school the following Monday, but I never made a big deal of it. I took a boy, who I also wasn’t dating, to prom. Friends of mine who were dating were able to attend because they both went to my school, and I couldn’t help but note the hypocrisy in the whole system. I can’t imagine not being able to take someone I genuinely cared about to one of the most important, if not the most important night of a girl’s high school existence.
Years after graduation most of the petty arguments and crises one experiences in high school are forgotten, and we realize how meaningless most of it was. It comes in the relationships we forge and the memories we make that last a lifetime. I may not remember the food, the music, or the dress, but I have wonderful memories of that Winter Ball. Everyone should have the right such things. Should it matter with whom we have them? Prom isn’t a wedding or having a child. We haven’t even crossed over into these kinds of political issues. It’s prom. Let the kids have fun before they’re thrown into the real world and adulthood.
Go now, Facebook your prom date.
After months of bitter cold and more snow that I’ve ever seen spring is upon us. Lore tells us that this is the time when Persephone comes up from the Underworld and graces us all with sunshine and new growth. The days are longer, the air is warmer, and there is promise and hope of new life and fresh beginnings. I have notices blossoms on trees and new sprigs of grass. Unfortunately, the blossoms were blown from the trees and the dog did his business all over the grass, but the signs were there nonetheless.
The more prominent sign of the season to come sprang up at me last Wednesday. I was on the porch with the pooch when I saw it, the season’s first spider, a fiddleback or brown recluse to be exact. It was most likely living under the stone pot on which the dog caught his leash, and it darted somewhat dazedly across the porch in its panic, and I was able to grab the dog’s leash before he tried to eat it.
Let me tell you all what a big deal this is to me. Though I have curtailed it in the past several years, I am a severe arachnophobe. Just the word makes me shiver a little. When I was a child anything that remotely resembled a spider was subjected to my screams and stomps whether they were actual spiders, mosquito eaters, which I thought were flying spiders and couldn’t think of anything more terrifying, or mere dust cobwebs in the corner. Then fifth grade happened.
My teacher in fifth grade was a wonderful woman whom I still talk to this day. Her only detriment was her insistence on two things. One was named Hairy-it and lived in a terrarium a hundred miles too close to my desk. All year I lived in a sustained state of anxiety and panic. What if it got out? What if it decided crickets were no longer good enough to eat and went carnivorous? What if she had mistakenly been sold a venomous beast? If this didn’t bring me close enough to dropping out of school in the fifth grade and living out the rest of my life as circus performer, the second thing would really drive me into madness.
It was a report, but this was no normal report. We had to catch, you heard me, catch a spider in a jar and observe if for a little over a month. There were 36 students, which meant there were 36 spiders just hanging out in the classroom. The jars sat on our desks, and once a week we would open the jars and feed them. I had a hard enough time looking at the thing. My grandfather trapped it for me, and I spent the next fortnight trying not to vomit every time my gaze wandered towards the jar haphazardly sitting on my desk just waiting for an excuse to fall, knock over the other 35 jars, and set all the eight-legged captives free to claim the fifth grade classroom. The research phase of the report eventually came to an end, and some brave kind soul let my spider free so I didn’t have to chuck the glass jar at a wall and run like mad. I got an A and lost five years from the end of my life. I have done research reports and dissection write-ups on some seriously repulsive things, and have done them happily with not even the urge to look away. None have ever caused me as much turmoil as that one spider report.
I am happy to report that I stayed in school, and even graduated. I have also noticed that as my arachnophobia matures it takes on strange nuances. For instance, I am more bothered by spiders in a movie of on TV than I am of real life spiders. Why? I think it’s because I can kill real spiders whereas I am forced to watch two-dimensional ones until the scene ends. There is a quest in Diablo II in a spider cave, and I almost didn’t make it through the level because of it. Hubby had to coach me. It’s extremely difficult to kill things and pick up gold and gear with one’s eyes shut tight.
Living with someone who is almost as anxious around spiders as I am has helped me fortify my nerve at least to the point where I can kill them or trap them and toss them outside if weather and environment permit. I still shriek like a little girl and brush myself off for 20 minutes each time, but I’m a lot better than where I was. It still doesn’t mean I like it, but I’ll tolerate it if it means sunny weather is here again!
Go now, dear readers, sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider…with the hand motions. I won’t watch.
My first memory of snow is not exactly a happy one. I was young, maybe three years old, and terrified of the cold mush falling from the sky. I was also certain my grandfather was making it snow more as he threw snowballs into the air in an effort to convince me snow could be fun. I was not swayed in my hatred, but would have a love-hate relationship with snow for the next two decades. I should mention here that my next two memories are of losing a shoe in a gopher hole the moment I jumped out of the car and of breaking my foot by stopping an out of control sled with a tree and hopping around on one leg all day. In high school I picked up a love of snowboarding, and snow an I made amends and agreed to a mutual respect. This is why I will forever remain a California girl. I love being able to drive “to the snow”, spend a weekend, and drive back never worrying about shoveling or grocery shopping in the mess.
My first winter in Philadelphia was extremely mild. It flurried and stuck to bushes, but nothing enough to inconvenience my life. It was pretty, albeit slightly cold. The next year I would stand in the middle of Market Street in wonder, as I had never witnessed main streets being shut down or department stores being closed due to weather. I earned my snow legs that winter as I carried my groceries from the corner grocery, the bottoms of my bags scraping the surface of mid calf deep snow. I was, once again, not convinced of the good intentions of snow.
Since that first year I have come to accept snow as a part of my wintery life, but this year has tested the limits of the contract I made with snow as a child. As we face our third, and possibly heartiest, record-breaking snowfall of the season, I have to wonder what was I thinking? I admit, Hubby and I have had our fun. We’ve rolled in it, posed in bikinis on a dare, trekked through half-shoveled sidewalks due to a lack of transportation, and built a giant snowman in the dark with the tot. We’ve laughed at the dog trying unsuccessfully to find a spot on the frozen lawn in snow taller than he, and managed to foster out a cat in addition to the new one we brought in to our home.
Still, there is something warm and cozy about watching the snow fall from the porch, Hubby in one arm a cup of hot tea in the other. No matter what this last year, the last few weeks specifically, have thrown at us we have hung on and made it through. From the nice Jewish couple who drove me home from Acme to the friends who have offered their love and support, we have acquired the company of warmth in all forms. We are growing stronger and continuing to make happy memories in the midst of a literal and metaphorical blizzard. I guess I can get used to the snow.