Knocked Over By A Feather




All of my peers received a balloon at school one day. I was walking home, holding on tightly to my string, when I noticed that one of my classmates ahead of me on the sidewalk was crying.

His balloon was quickly ascending into the blue afternoon sky.

I remember feeling so sad for my friend. I hated the fact that he was upset and I wanted to fix it, to make him feel better. I told my mom that I wanted to give him mine.

She probably asked me if I was sure and I must have said yes, I’m positively sure. (This was many moons ago, so the details are no longer at my disposal.)

So, I gave him my balloon and he was happy again.

I’m sure that my mom must have said something like, that was so nice and kind of you, Mer. And yes, it was pretty damn sweet of me to give up my own helium balloon, to a kid who in our older years would join in with the other boys who teased me.

There are times when I truly loathe being an empath.

I absolutely feel other people’s emotions like they are my own, on a daily basis. I absorb them like a sponge, only I’m not so good at wringing myself out.

It’s exhausting.

I’ve tried everything to help myself filter them, to close my pores. But they come off of people, like waves from the ocean crashing up against me. I can usually stay the course, but I often lose my footing and fall into the foamy tide.

“You can’t fix the world.”

“You can’t take on everyone’s problems.”

“Pain and suffering is the human condition.”

I’ve heard these things my entire life, in varying forms. Although my mind can understand the meaning behind the words, my heart isn’t getting the fucking memo.

I can come across as an extremely aloof bitch sometimes, but it’s mostly a bunch of bullshit. It’s my shield, my way of protecting myself from the continuous onslaught of distress and dismay.

And you want to know something? It’s everywhere. There is no hiding from it, even if I don’t leave my house for an entire week. It’s online, it’s on the TV, it comes from my immediate family, my friends and even within the books that I read.

If I didn’t have my sense of humor, I don’t think that I’d be as functional as I am. I get really scared when I lose it for any length of time.

I know that my purpose in this life is to help others in any way that I am able to. I’d be thrilled to give you my balloon if you accidentally let go of your string.

I just need to learn how to replenish my own supply of helium afterwards.

The Funeral That Won’t End.

Recently I attended a funeral of a very dear loved one. I knew her since I was a babe, she was the sweet lady that put me down for my naps, my mother’s best friend, her daughter was married to my brother. She was like a beloved aunt, close to a second mom. I loved her so but age was not kind to her and poor health took her a bit too soon. I went into a heavy fibro flare. I had a family obligation and damn it, I would not be stopped from saying my final goodbyes! I took out the ‘rescue medication.’ I knew I’d be nodding off like a heroine addict if I took my regular dose and wasn’t able to nap until the pain eased but I didn’t care. Come hell or high water I was going to attend… and here is what I remember saying and thinking;

“Yes, thank you.” (What the hell is your name again?)

“Well, we knew it was coming.” (Why do I have to make you feel better?)

“She will be missed.” (My heart is broken asshole!)

Why are people so willing to turn out for the funeral of a person they haven’t seen in years but have such a hard time visiting them when they live a block away? After the funeral ends there seems to be a method of ‘after death stalking’ that takes place. All of a sudden you see these ‘attendees’ everywhere. EVERYWHERE… and what they say versus what I wish I could say;

“How are you doing?” (Two more pain pills and I’ll let you know.)

“I dropped a casserole off at your house for you.” (Yeah, that was nice but tuna casserole is cheap.)

“I miss her so much.” (Apparently since you hadn’t even spoke to her in years.)

Sometimes I feel like a horse attached to a merry-go-round. All prettied up and does its job, giving rides, up and down… but it is the same, day after day.  I really thought I was still angry. Angry after 20 years of dealing with this disease, with doctors, with myself… but I’m not. I’m just sad and it is harder to be sad than to be angry. Sad hurts a lot.

I know that people try to do the right thing. And their ‘right thing’ may not always jibe with what your idea is. But they do mean well. I honestly know they really do mean well. And it is OK to be sad and even angry at times but then you must remember it is within your power how to react to a situation. You determine the outcome by how you react to it. Therein lies your power to whatever this life throws your way.



On the Horn

When I started Kindergarten in the fall of 1979, my teacher taught me the alphabet, how to write my name with a stubby pencil, that sharing is caring and made me memorize my address. And, of course, my phone number.

Not surprisingly, I still remember it, the same phone number that I had for almost 20 years.

Area code 216-228-3609 (Not my current phone number, I have no idea who’d answer now if you dialed it.)

There was a girl named Melanie who was my best friend in those early days and when she called my house, she’d ask whoever answered (usually my ma) “Is Mer there?”

“Mer, you have a phone call!!”

Well shit, someone actually wanted to talk to me.

I’d excitedly grab the receiver of our landline rotary telephone, nestle myself into the chair that we had next to it and engage myself in conversation about Barbie Dolls, the latest episode of Punky Brewster or whatever else little kids talked about back in the 80’s.

Those leg-warmers Punky was wearing on TV last night were totally boss.

Hit fast forward and when I was a teenager, my uncle bought us a cordless telephone for Christmas. I could now go sit in my backyard at the picnic table and talk with my peeps whilst enjoying nature, making sure to stay in range.

Those were the days, my friends.

The only person that I talk with on the phone now with any regularity is my mother. Once in the morning and then again in the afternoon around 3PM. I’ll rarely get a call on my smart phone from my old friend Elinor who moved to North Carolina or my best blog friend Alice who lives in Texas.

That’s about it, unless you count the times when I have no other choice but to make an “important” phone call. (Example, please don’t turn off my internet, what the hell would I do with myself without Wi-Fi?)

Last week, my friend Paul aka Desertcurmudgeon was going through a bad turn. I offered up my phone number in case he had any interest in, you know, talking to a live human being for a fucking change.

This past Saturday evening, he took me up on it.

It felt like the old days! For two hours, we told stories, personal anecdotes and I think a couple of times I burped, although not loud enough for him to hear unless he was really listening.


Did you hear me belch, Paul?

Anyways, in a world where we now mainly communicate with people digitally, it was an official nostalgic experience. Not only do I know Paul through his wonderful writing on his blog, I now know what his real voice sounds like. I know if he snorts when he laughs (he doesn’t) and I now feel like he’s more than just an online friend.

He no longer just lives in my computer, he’s a real, honest to goodness person. I heard the inflection in his voice, something that you can’t get from an online chat.

I highly recommend talking to an online friend on the horn. Pick one and ask them.

Seriously, you guys. Let’s all kick it old school and help bring back this archaic form of human communication.

If we try hard enough, we might even be able to forget about our insanely chaotic world for a little while.

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