Transient – Like it’s a dirty word

bohemian caravan

I was once accused of being transient.  Transient – like it was a dirty word.

I looked around at what I had back then.  A second floor apartment in a white stucco building downtown.  A TV, a lawn chair for a chair, a lamp and an end table or two, a bed, a keyboard with bench and stand, and a couple kitchen items.  The apartment was was simple and clean; newly remodeled.  The kitchen appliances were brand new and rarely, if ever, used.  In the evenings, palm fronds brushed against my windows, creating pretty silhouettes in the shadows.  There was a coffee shop right across the street (Mother’s Milk I think it was called) where they had live entertainment in the evenings sometimes, and I could hear it from my windows.  It made me feel like I was part of something, whether I went there or not. I made friends with a mechanic in the shop across the street, who invited me to his more inland house when there was a hurricane threat.  A Turkish man owned the gas station next door and had great prices on wine.  I could walk, rollerblade, or ride my bike most places.  

When I moved there, everything I owned fit in my car.  The car was a Grand Marquis (I forget the year), so it was pretty roomy.  But I still had one of those cartop carrier thingies on top that I think I put clothes in.  In my travels, one of the straps had broken and I literally drove with my driver window open, holding that strap, across several states because I couldn’t figure out a way to fix it.  

Joe was this guy I met back then.  He was a furniture builder and also a doorman/bouncer who worked the door at a nearby club.  He was okay.  I think he liked me more than I liked him.  One afternoon not long after I met him, he told me that he had just recently gotten out of jail in Texas.  I can’t remember for what.  Anyway, he had this thing for dressing nice and being “classy” and having nice and classy things.  One day, he looked around my apartment and made a comment along the lines of, “it looks like a transient lives here.”  It wasn’t so much what he said; it was more how he said it that made me feel weird.  

Why do some people feel the need to judge others so harshly?  Especially based on what they have or how they live?  Did it ever occur to this guy that I had just moved cross country, by myself, and started all over again with no place to live and no job?  I packed what I could carry and brought it, but that was it.  Within days I had a job and it wasn’t much longer till I found my apartment.  No, I did not immediately wrack up a credit card just so I could get a bunch of impressive furniture.  I’ve never liked to spend beyond my means, and I usually stick with just what I need.  I’d say that’s smart and not something to be ashamed of.  

As far as transient goes?  Hey, I never promised to be permanent.

 

My Metal Heart

My heart aches for what once was

though I wouldn’t change a thing about today

the longing is still there, a remnant of days gone by

and I can’t help but wonder…

There was a time of freedom and not much responsibility

when all that mattered was the music

we lived and breathed the music ~ it was a lifestyle

There was the excitement of youth

when each day was brand new and anything could happen

The spontaneity and hope; starry eyes and puppy love, and what we thought was real love

Days were something to endure while we waited for the night to come

That’s when the magick happened:  our hearts free to explore; an open book 

waiting to be written;

attractions so magnetic – highly charged and bittersweet

because somehow, we knew this couldn’t last

Life happens.  

Like going to sleep and waking up in a different world

What we call maturity is somehow a gain and a loss all at once;

you can get disoriented along the way

Society telling us we should look like this, live like that, own this, pray for that

Frustration mounts, comes to a head

and we suddenly know what we must do

what matters

A plan forms in the very depths of our hearts

because there are still those among us who have stayed true to theirs

an inspiration greater than all

waiting in the wings to be wholly and completely embraced once again

by the metal hearts who have decided ~ it’s high time.

If you are living a lie, then you are wasting time because you are merely a shell

of what you should truly be

Because what really matters is what is in your heart

and to that you must stay true

 

Little Square House

cottage

I once lived in a little square house.  Downstairs it had a kitchen, dining room, and living room.  Upstairs, a bathroom and bedroom with a makeshift closet along the hallway that connected the two rooms.  It was sturdy and brick.  When I had the shingles replaced on the roof, the carpenters exclaimed over the hardness of the oak boards underneath.  I replaced the old “shutter style” windows with new, vinyl windows and had one opening done in all glass block.  No more snow getting in on the inside like it used to!  So this house was nothing fancy, but I kept it clean and cute.  

The yard was nice and big with trees and a half circle drive.  The back yard led down into the woods where a trail opened up to a large, fast-flowing stream.  If you followed the stream up, you would find yourself in a graveyard.  This led to much speculation on my part as to whether the stream itself could be haunted (haha) ~ just par for the course of my wild imagination.  But it was a pretty setting.

This little square house was old.  I imagined that it could have been the carriage house for a much larger and grander house that stood down the road.  At one time, in the past.  Maybe.  Either way it was a pretty place even though it was small and old.  It was the first house I ever owned, and since I was only in my early 20’s, I was pretty proud of myself.

So it was with some dismay when I heard a guy I was dating describe my house to others as, “she lives in this BOX….” said with a mild hint of disgust…as if I was living in a cardboard box under a bridge or something.  In fact, he lived in what can only be described as a “U” – which was actually a small, generic-looking, U shaped apartment in a building with lots of other U shaped apartments.  So okay, I may have lived in a square and he in a U, but you didn’t hear ME knocking his U!  In fact, I’d never have thought to do so.    

But I always remembered him saying that, and the look on his face, and it made me feel insecure and self-conscience about my little square house.  It shouldn’t have, but it did.  I wondered if, since he felt that way, is that what others thought, too?  Should I have cared?  No!  But at that age, I did very much care what others thought.  In fact, this was just one of several places I lived that was good for me, but that other people I knew criticized.  What’s funny is that the people who usually criticized me didn’t really have any room to talk.  They weren’t doing any better or more fabulously than me!  It shouldn’t have bothered me.  

Eventually I moved, as I always knew I would, and I sold the house after a few years.  When I think of it, that little square house reminds me of some of the tiny houses that are so popular now.  It wasn’t exactly that small, though, but it really was super efficient and a perfect place for me at the time.  I don’t have an actual picture of the house – the image is from google but hopefully will give you the gist.  The actual house was a little bigger and had windows on the second floor with dormers.  But that’s the general idea.  The house is still in my family.  I sold it to my dad who rents it out.  

Back to the Basics

My first full-time job was a secretarial position at a small lumber company.  My clerk-stenography teacher hooked me up with the job while I was still in high school, doing vocational training in her class.  My senior year consisted of going to school till about 11 am, taking a quick “sort of” lunch break, then arriving to work at the lumber company at noon and working till 5 pm.  I had weekends off which I thought was the schizdig, since my previous jobs had been part-time ones that always involved working on weekends.  Immediately after graduating high school, I became full-time at the lumber company.  “Real life” had begun for me.  I was 18 years old, living in a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate, and working 7:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday for minimum wage.  And I was broke.

I was living on the least amount of money ever.  I remember distinctly waking up late on a Saturday and being SO hungry.  I needed food – fast – and there was literally none in the apartment.  At the bank, I discovered I had $12 whole dollars in my account.  I took enough out to buy a value meal at McDonald’s, and seriously worried about what I’d do the rest of the week.  Yep – those were the days!  I had no choice but to be as frugal as possible, and I somehow made it through.

Back then, I stressed over how I would afford decent clothes.  The lady I worked with, who was also the owner, dressed beautifully every day – very professional and classy looking.  Being so young, I remember looking to her as a kind of role model for how to dress.  But there was no way I could afford some of the brands she wore.  So, my solution to this was – buy the very basics and make them work.

I bought two skirts; one was light tan/khaki and the other was navy blue.  I bought a couple button downs; white and pink.  I had a couple pairs of pumps.  There were probably a few other hand-me-downs in my wardrobe, but that was about it.  From there on, I mixed and matched like crazy.  I made things last and last.  Like I said, the things I bought were the very basics – to be mixed and matched in as many ways as possible.  It never took me long to figure out what I would wear in the morning, since there wasn’t much to choose from!

clothing-basics-2

Fast forward to today, many years later (haha!), and I open my closet in the morning to find this insane jumble of clothing.  Not much matches and I struggle to put together outfits for work.  Where did I go wrong?  Oh yeah!  I began to make enough money to buy more clothes.  Also, my younger years of having to be so frugal have made me want to hang on to things – just in case.  Something’s got to give!

Simplicity, minimalism – these are things I admire very much, and over the past couple years I really have made an effort to simplify my life.  It feels great and it works, yet the idea hadn’t quite made it into my wardrobe – until now.  I recently learned about this movement called Project 333 – you dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.  Anything you haven’t used in that time can be donated.  I’ve only skimmed over the basics of it, but I thought – I could totally do this! While I know I won’t follow the rules exactly, just the idea of it has given me so much inspiration.  I think back to the days of buying those first-time basics that I bought so many years ago.  I already know this formula – I just need to follow it once again.  This time, though, I am not so broke and I will look for quality over quantity.  In getting rid of stuff, I think it’s safe to say that if I haven’t worn it in over a year and am still not very interested – well, then it can go!  Yesterday, I took a large bag of unneeded and unwanted clothing, shoes, and jewelry to donation.  I’ve always donated items in this way, but yesterday it was with a new purpose and determination, a determination to get back to the basics.  And it feels GREAT!

 

“That is when greatness will happen”

Ragnar: I’m not going to stand here all day watching you try to be normal when you never will be.
Ivar: I am normal!
Ragnar: No, you’re not. Once you realize that, that is when greatness will happen.

For those not familiar with the television series – Ivar, son of legendary Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, struggles to keep up with their band of warriors – despite being crippled since childbirth.  Ivar eventually goes on to become an extremely powerful and famous warrior.  In this scene, Ragnar becomes frustrated with Ivar’s attempts to be “normal”, telling him, “No, you’re not (normal).  Once you realize that, that is when greatness will happen.”

Powerful.  That was my thought as I let those words sink in.  And while they could mean different things to different people, to me they took on a highly personal significance.  Don’t get me wrong; I am extremely blessed with excellent health and no physical detriments whatsoever.  Still, I have struggled throughout my life with finding a niche, fitting in, finding acceptance, approval, etc.  I’ve often felt “uncomfortable in my own skin”, out of place, and have found it difficult to connect with people.  I’ve been unhappy in my employment and in relationships.  While I can get along with most anyone, I’ve had few friends.  I feel like I’ve constantly teetered on the brink of doing what I thought was expected of me versus doing what I really wanted.  I’ve been shunned by my own family for silly things, left out, been the “black sheep”.  And I’ve been badly hurt by people who I should have never let into my life.

Throughout, I’ve always maintained a positive attitude – there’s so much in my life to be thankful for, and some of these more personal things seem petty in the big picture.  Still…. I am often dissatisfied and find it an effort to determine what I truly want out of life.  And I wonder about some of the things that have happened to me.  Fortunately, age has a way of helping us figure out what really matters.  With the passing years, we care less about what people think of us.  Maybe that’s why Ragnar’s words had the impact on me that they did.  I think of them again, “Once you realize that, that is when greatness will happen.”  He’s telling Ivar to realize and accept that he is NOT normal – to even embrace that fact!

That is what I want to do!  I want to embrace my uniqueness, my differences from others, all those things that have made me not “fit in” with the people I thought I should.  I want to stop trying to be something I’m not so that I can become who I am!  I feel that once I let myself be ME – the person I truly am – perhaps that is when I will find that particular niche that needs ME to fill it.  I think what this is all about is staying true to yourself and embracing the person you really are.  That is when you will attract the right people for you, and will go to the places where you should be – that is when greatness will happen!

“Say Your Thing, Man (or Woman)!”

jim-2

As Jim Morrison famously (or infamously) and most certainly drunkenly said years ago and definitely way out of this context, sometimes you just have to SAY YOUR THING.  And as I write this, my only hope is that I can inspire someone else who has been in my same situation.

bad-guy

For years (and I do mean YEARS), I have prided myself on my calm manner and professionalism in all types of workplace situations.  Indeed, I was the one who rarely “rocked the boat”, didn’t bring personal problems with me, was a people pleaser and nice guy – many times when the situation didn’t necessarily warrant it.

In the position I have now, I am the fixer and problem solver of many things.  This is fine with me, until it comes to someone intentionally making my job more difficult.  This just happened, and the person who did it just happens to also be someone who has irritated me in oh so many ways before.  Did I ever speak up or tell that person how I felt?  No.  Well, not until just the other day.  The situation had gotten out of hand and this particular person’s immaturity was really and truly causing me unnecessary problems with completing my own work.  For months, just by shear will and determination, I had avoided confronting this person (who, by the way, is supposed to be my superior).  But one day, things just came to a head and I HAD to say something.

I did it.  And when I did it, I couldn’t hide how upset I was.  But at the same, I remained as professional as possible – didn’t cuss or insult or anything like that.  Still, I voiced my feelings and let her know how I really felt.  My closing words were something I had wanted to say to her for soooooo long:  “You may have some other people fooled around here, but you don’t have me fooled.”

Aaaah!  There, I said it.  And my life has changed ever since.  From that moment on, it was like this “poison” had left my body and I felt different – all over.  It’s like a new me!

brave

From this experience I have learned how important it is to stand up for myself.  Sometimes there are things that need to be said, feelings we just have to show, or they linger in us like a “poison” and hold us back.  Sure, I can tell I am not so “well-liked” as before.  There are some people not talking to me.  But inside I feel great.  And these people?  Well, they were never my friends to begin with.  I’m looking forward to the rest of my life.