Mary Jane's Shoes

Mary Jane's Shoes

Musings of one person among many. Not exceptional in any way, as with all, I have exceptional experiences and varied reactions to those events. Mine is one of many life stories and how I manage and cope with the events which make my life my own, I attempt to put forth by way of my writings.

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Writing is Preferred

June 10, 2013

I put pen to paper to convey what I cannot by way of speech. Inherent in writing is more time for thought preceding the actual expression, whereas in conversation, words (my words) come out hastily in a somewhat less deliberate fashion and I make more mistakes in context and grammar. Body language and gesturing are often used to complete the thoughts, very much so in my case. In writing, the words have to and do stand on their own. There is no help, no support by way of gestures or facial expressions. As well, that type of support isn’t needed.

Time isn’t as precious in writing. With speech, there is more urgency in communicating ideas. One doesn’t have the luxury of time. Maybe that is why some prefer to write, as I do, and communicate better via written words than spoken. Time affords more confidence in transferring that which I want to deliver to the recipient. Control of that which is exactly conveyed, without any visual disturbance to the receiver from the writer, is greater when writing my words as opposed to speaking. The increased time and control are often necessary for the writer. Both are needed luxuries for this stumbling writer, one to whom writing is preferred.


Travel By Rail

March 27, 2010 2 Comments

My husband and I drove to Florence, SC. (I like to refer to it as Firenze. Florence, Italy is actually Firenze, one of my favorite cities.) I boarded for a trip to D.C., more specifically Alexandria, Virginia. Given the seat assignment of 11.

This was an interesting ride, different from the previous when I traveled with one or both young daughters. Eight hours alone on a train, I spent most thinking, pondering, reading, and enjoying the peace, and relaxing without my fear of being in the air on a plane. Extraordinarily fun to have so much time to let the mind wander. A more fun time was had watching people move through their travel day.

A young man, from Europe I assumed for various reasons, was seated next to me. He actually had already taken up residence in my seat next to the window at a previous boarding. He was “plugged in”, set up and comfortable. I did mention that it was my seat. He just looked “surprised” and I did not force the issue. Besides, now I could move freely about without the often used words, “Pardon me”. This young man wore almost all black; his backpack as well was dark with the exception of the bright Lufthansa airline tag hanging from its zipper. I was a tad curious as to his story. Okay..nosy. During our trip, he watched several movies on his laptop with ear buds. One of his selections was a movie about Hitler; the name escapes me at this time. It was subtitled in English, so I was able to watch a few minutes on the sly. (Am sure he knew.) He never spoke a word except when he needed to say “Excuse me.” He would then leave his window seat. His accent was barely audible, but existed.

Across the aisle, one seat up, a young woman sat continuously busy with her hands. What struck me initially about this person was her demeanor. She moved in a confident manner, very comfortable in her own skin while performing her tasks. She did not lean away nor turn her work so as to keep it private. This is the direct opposite of the way in which I roll. Privacy at all costs when creating and “trying to” creatively emote. I wondered about her field of study, graphic design, photography, painting….as her first order of business, beyond boarding, was to pull out a travel sketch pad. I couldn’t tell her subject; her right hand was covering the sketch. As she completed her 20-30 minute drawing, her hand slowly dropped to the bottom of the page. Her art had moved in that direction and now I was privy to the work. A sketch of a train was exposed, not the somewhat modern version in which we rode, but a very old train. It was a train of dreams, of coal, of real travel by rail. She wrote few words beneath this drawing that I could not read of course. I sincerely wanted that piece of art. I am not sure if I admired the work itself, or if I was drawn to its simplicity or the nostalgia it evoked. Possibly I was drawn to the work due to the air and attitude in which she created it – so freely.

No longer is it March 12th. It is March 18th and I am a day late. Yes, I missed my train yesterday. The departure of train #89 did not consider the fact that I might not awaken at the correct time. Thank God for my parents, I might have slept long enough to worry many in my family. I am highly experienced at missing flights, or changing my mind at the very last minute. I am even a pro at not getting off at my intended destination. On one particular trip home to DC, the call was made that we would be making our next stop in Alexandria within minutes. I gathered myself and my two very young daughters, our things, and headed to the door at one end of the car. Another woman was waiting with me. Our door didn’t open. Yes, there was panic on all of our parts; yes there was a bit of sweating and cursing on all of our parts. Mind you the cursing was from the two adults. In disbelief I saw through the window my Mom’s jaw drop, as the train left Alexandria and headed to DC’s Union Station. This was in the early 80’s when cell phones were the exception and not the rule. I do not know how we found each other, but the sight of my Mom was one of the most comforting sights I have ever seen. Thanks Mom for saving me!

I love trains, despite the unplanned events. Those from Charleston to Washington and those from Firenze to Rome. Train travel is real travel. I see the pine forests and swamps; I do not fly over them. I see the ocean and the mountains, at eye level, not from above.

My trip is winding down. Moving back into real time, I am holding on to the swaying and rocking as we move over the tracks. I am thoroughly enjoying my time at the cafe cart, actually seated at a table, moving through the North and South Carolina lowcountry. I had, on this portion of the trip, been seated next to teenage girl purposefully seated away from her parents. Their discussions became a bit heated so I made the move to the cafe cart, lunch in mind as well to be honest. Before I excused myself, I heard the “daughter” remark. Living away from the big city would never be an option for her. Her parents agreed. I have been blessed with the luxury of living in many towns of various populations. I actually felt sorry for this near-adult that did not know what life was really hidden within the trees that she couldn’t see beyond.

So here I am in the cafe cart, people watching. Living for several hours in a confined space is quite a lesson in the varied lives of all of us. It is a very refreshing lesson. The conductors tell stories, tease the children in a friendly manner and joke. They tell many jokes as they sip their coffee or Pepsi. I feel lucky to be a part of their conversations. A single traveler reads her copy of the Washington Post, pushing her glasses into place every few minutes. Her blunt cut gray hair and black suit say business to me. I wonder about her personal story as well.

To be on the receiving end of the visible, audible cues of others, and those of the train as well, is quite a gift. The touch of seat backs as I wobble down the aisle, the smells of perfumes, baby formula, smoke lingering on clothes, these all add to the creation of a portrait that evokes a happiness in me. It is a satiated, calm, complete happiness.

I think I will soon be booking another trip by rail.

I Have

September 30, 2009 4 Comments


I don’t know why I write, therapy possibly.  Trying I am to understand why I am somewhat dysfunctional.  Well I actually know the answer to that question, OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder.  Writing helps me gain control, operative word, of blinding emotions and extreme thoughts that push and pull me to complete certain rituals.

“I have six kids.”

This statement runs through my head without conscious decision.  OCD.  This other half is the basis of who I am. Though I know this is not true, OCD rules my life.  Through therapy, I am to think of it as a monster of sorts, something to rid myself of completely.  It is difficult to push what seems such an innate part of me, and has for my entire life in various forms, away.  Upon those times when I try to push anxiety away,  not follow through with the vast outline form of life that resides in my head, “I have six kids” is immediately in the front of my brain. It arrives without warning and seemingly without conscious decision. It is the beginning of a list that I repeat in attempt to decrease fear and anxiety. This way of beginning a ritual is new to me and a great deal simpler than in previous years. I have shortened it, cut off some of the initial thoughts. For me, progress.

I can stop myself there sometimes.  It is a bandage of sorts to stop the flow of returning to my REAL lists. Yes I have lists upon lists.

Those that really know me, the members of my family, have suffered greatly as the recipients of my insatiable desire to “make it right”, perfect, organized. In lovely addition, I save; I hoard.  Every drawing, test, every newspaper that might have some significance to our family, to ‘our lives together’  has been a source of stress.  Do I hold on or give up.  Choice of words says much I guess.  I have recently relinquished many items that have meaning to me, perhaps they had been inappropriately important..  There is a guilt I feel when not repeating the same behavior with my younger children. Guess not repeating these behaviors is progress.  To me it is a type of failure….still.  I have a long way to go.

I have tried to explain it as a nesting disorder, in my case, as well as an effort to freeze time.  Items, as are photographs, are moments suspended. They represent moments that I cannot begin recapture, unless I have a photograph, or some sort of documentation. The passing of daily life is a melancholy event to me. I find the joy in what is happening at the moment but am greatly saddened when the fleeting moment has passed.  I suppose I want to stop the world from turning.

In reference to nesting, I veered, as is my way.  As females, in particular, the desire to take care of our offspring is animal.  This makes sense as we are such.  Survival of the species.  This is a biological urge that is very difficult to overcome, should one desire to do so.  Within the realm of OCD, this urge can overwhelm and consume.

This disorder manifests itself in various forms.  The thoughts, obsessions, dictate behaviors, compulsions.  They intrude when not desired.  The obsessions resemble a recording playing on a continuous loop.  Hitting stop isn’t an option.

Epiphany.  1987.  My husband was doing a psych rotation during his years as a student in medical school.  One patient that caught his attention in particular had OCD.  For this patient almost no movement was spontaneous.  He was the male version of me, including his eating disorder.  He and I were trying to do everything without mistake…trying to be perfect in some ridiculously unattainable manner.  The similarities were shocking to me, as they are to any that suddenly realize that they are moving through life in an extraordinary, different, fashion.  This realization though did not impede my behaviors

I remember an article, a short piece in a parenting magazine.  (As of this day, I have every issue of every year during which a child of ours was born.  I promise I am trying to let go.)  The author, as a new mom, refused to let herself not handle all that she had pre-baby.  She wrote of the broken, unpolished nails and clothes that were out of style.  She wrote of the yard that was strown with toys and the worry of neighbors’ disapproval.  I thought her concerns were extremely ill-placed, her priorities silly.  I still, though, understood the need to make all just right, albeit with different priorities.  This fed my OCD monster.

Everyone has a desire, to some degree, to ‘do it right’, correct mistakes, keep illness and germs away from themselves and loved ones.  Within the confines, literally, of this disorder, the drive is much stronger.  Nesting has gone awry.  Counting, washing, retracing a path, these behaviors are an effort to rid oneself,  one’s family, the world, of a negative.

I have come to understand that nothing is in complete order.  Fighting that notion is a different beast.  Perfect is very different for each one of us AND is unattainable.  I am learning.  The word ‘perfect’ should be negated from our vocabulary.  It is elusive, beyond such, it actually makes no sense.    I suppose, with my belief in tolerance and acceptance, I have finally begun to apply that concept to myself.  This acceptance is allowing me to try to get rid of the monster under my bed.

It is a daily, hourly struggle.  I will somehow move through and beyond this disorder, one day, for the sake of my children, my husband, and myself.

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