Small town trash…

Trash. It’s what I was called growing up in a tiny town full of judgmental folks who, as it turns out, were just better at hiding their own dirty laundry than my dysfunctional family was. Everyone had their secrets, their failures, their shame inducing moments. This is going to be about just that; the purposeful degradation of others in order to hide or deflect our own personal foibles, if you will.

I’m going in deep so hang on to your hats!

When I was around 8 years old we moved from the state I was born in to a much more rural area in another state. I don’t see any sense in naming this town or state because it’s the people who created the atmosphere of gossipy backstabbing and constant belittlement not the locale. And, it was these people who made living in this small town feel “not quite right” for me. Well, they shared in it, but weren’t the sole reason. We weren’t a healthy family unit to begin with and I’m certain they could sense it, like hungry sharks can sense chum churning in the ocean just waiting for a chance to gobble it up!

They circled our inner turmoil with delight and picked and picked and picked until all of our previous wounds burst open again. It’s hard to recover when there is always another predator waiting in the shadows to partake in the bountiful bucket of YUCK that was our family. And, yes we’ve all heard the saying that only hurt people hurt people and that was true in our case but, it still felt very personal and very vindictive. Was it just my imagination? Was I overthinking the situation? Maybe, but these “hurt people” seemed to enjoy the heaping of scorn and the stabbing of backs and the not so whispered gossip that was clearly intended to get back to us. “Oh, you heard that? I was just kidding. Don’t be so sensitive!”

The utter misfortune of moving from one emotionally precarious situation to another, and then another and then another was a big part of my childhood. My family moved around a lot and I recall going to kindergarten in two different states before being moved further south a year later. Multiple different houses, different towns, moving one state over and then back to where I was born, only to up and move on to another state entirely. No wonder I never felt like I belonged anywhere. To this day, if asked where I grew up, I’m not sure what to say. Do you mean the place I’ve lived the longest or the place I learned adults can be very cruel and they can’t be trusted when they say, “this is for your own good”?

My very first encounter with the local folks came not long after we arrived. It started with a sneering look cast my way by a woman at the church my father chose for us. He chose many different churches but this one seemed to fit the bill for him in that it looked the other way on the issues of domestic violence and child abuse, two things the man didn’t believe existed so it was a virtual match made in hell for us. We were told we had to attend every time their doors were open, no matter what and if we were caught misbehaving then a beating, physical or verbal, would await us at home. Every Sunday and Wednesday were met with deep dread and even our summers became consumed with church camp, when some of the good church folk took pity on me and paid my way, or “vacation” bible school. If all of our time was eaten up by talk of sinning and how God would punish us then there wouldn’t be anytime for fun! Fun is for the rich and church was for people like us, I was told. A training ground to prepare for our “great reward” which, I quickly found wasn’t so great and involved more punishment than actual reward.

So, back to this sneering woman; I recall her face very vividly, her gaze of searing judgment, the pursed lips, the perfectly coifed hair and stylish clothes. She was looking at me as if I were a steaming bag of garbage she didn’t want obstructing her rose-colored view and her crinkled nose indicated she feared breathing the air around me. I could never compare to the utter angels she birthed so I was dismissed as being beneath her and those perfect offspring. At that point I knew I would never be friends with any of the other children in that church. Oh, we would talk and pretend to get along but I wouldn’t be invited for sleepovers or birthday parties. I wasn’t one of them and I would never be good enough. So much for those loudly proclaimed Christian values and ideals. They only applied to those of a certain socio-economic standing, those born into the correct families and not interlopers who dared cross the tracks into their fair town, filled with idyllic 1950’s, all-white, male dominated nostalgia. You know, from the GOOD OLD DAYS!

And, who exactly were they GOOD for again? Not me. Not my female family members who were subjected to the bible-backed adage that “boys will be boys”, men are in charge and women have no say, no power, no worth. In looking back, everything added up to a pretty bleak outcome for those labeled meek and female. As for myself, I was far from meek. In fact, I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut, especially in situations where I knew something wasn’t right. It didn’t matter if it was the brother of a friend, the son of another church member, a male teacher or even a male member of my own family. If I felt I was being treated unfairly or expected to quietly endure personal insults, I would try to get at least a few words in before being shut down by withering castigations or, in the case of my father, a fist. It was worth it though. I knew they would never be right.

Of course, as with any tale of woe involving tiny towns with emotionally stunted, petty people there are always the “exceptions to the perception” and I have the great pleasure of still being in contact with a few of those gems. No clan mentality for them, no strict adherence to small town pride and being loyal to your own kind. Own kind? Was it just the color of skin or how and who they prayed to? No, that wasn’t it completely because they made a few, on the surface, accommodations for the very few minorities in town but, I would suspect that if they had been poor their happy song of inclusion would have sounded much different. Just a hunch. Was it the similarity in size of their bank accounts? Again, not entirely because sometimes the HAVES extended a hand to a few who didn’t HAVE AS MUCH but, the cavate was looks. As in, “she’s pretty so we’ll let her on the team”, until they used her up, tore her down and then trashed her reputation that is. No, it seemed the kind they were referencing was more of a homogenized jug of lukewarm milk, devoid of any flavor, culture, imagination, humility, empathy or compassion. Just straight hatefulness chased with a side of bitter vindictive spite. Followers, the whole lot of them. Stuck in a box labeled NEVER CHANGE-NEVER PROGRESS.

I was neither jealous of the small town ruling class nor did I feel sorry for those still stuck there after getting married young, divorced, remarried, and then divorced again. Despite the assumptions that may be made about what I am describing here, I simply wanted out, I never wanted to be them. I had no desire to take their spot on top of the dog-eat-dog heap and while I may not have gotten as far away as I wanted, in my heart I know I’m insulated from any reprisals. Let them come though, if they want. I’m ready, as always. And, that’s the thing, I actually was pretty adept at dealing with judgement and criticism because I faced it daily in my childhood.

Yes, the insults they reserved for me; troublemaker, thief, white-trash, dirt poor, stuck-up, whatever made-up nonsense that came to their narrow little minds, stung and made me want to lash out. But, I bided my time instead. I smirked at their attempts to put me in the low place they felt I belonged, laughed out loud and kept on moving. It was my defense mechanism and I think that might have pissed off more than a few. I know that many in that town readily described my father as a know-it-all asshole so, maybe I should thank him for that? He did teach me how to really agitate the feudal class of that rural fiefdom. The only difference is that I made sure my “knowledge” was accurate rather than the unsubstantiated bloviated ramblings of arrogance. That man possessed enough hot air to power a dirigible all the way to Australia and back! Ask around, I’m not exaggerating.

Anyway, here we are at a point in time when we are no longer as young as we used to be and yet, not as old as we could be or, as Paul Simon would say:

Now the years are rolling by me—
They are rockin’ evenly.
I am older than I once was,
And younger than I’ll be.

“The Boxer”
(1969) Simon & Garfunkel

I have moved on from my childhood but, many from my youth have not and they remain trapped. Some have passed away entirely too young, having lived their lives on the edge, either by way of drugs and alcohol or they suffered the potential physical ramifications that go along with following such a dark path. Some fought debilitating health issues bravely only to have those diseases win. And then there are others who ventured out and traveled well beyond the borders of town, state and country. These wonderful few have experienced the immense joy and satisfaction that comes from living in the moment rather than wallowing in the shadows of the past. I see all of their purported moments of happiness on social media, some may be exaggerated, that I know, but for the most part I can tell which have grown up and which have stagnated.

To even think that life was better back then is so ridiculous to me because finally letting go of caring what others thought has been the healthiest aspect of my adult life. It took me a long time but, I’m now at peace and all of the hurtful interactions get lumped into a category of petty things insecure people did that no longer matter. None of those early negative influences have any power over me now. Not the woman from my parent’s church, not the parents of one of my former friend’s who regularly called me and my family those people because we weren’t from there and were poor. Not the big-eyed, red-headed little girl who actually did invite me over for sleepovers for a while only to drop me like a scalding rock as soon as the connected and popular girls started taking notice of her. It always started out good, let’s be friends forever…but only until someone better comes along. She was new to town just like I had been a few years before but her desire to status climb was greater than mine so I couldn’t keep up.

Many years later I received a Facebook friend request from her. Our first conversation involved her apologizing to me for spitting water in my face on the last day of school when we were in 8th grade. I had forgotten all about it until she brought it up but then I started really thinking about it. I wanted to ask if she did it because she knew she could get away with doing something potentially humiliating to someone like me who was unseen, poor and unpopular or did she do it simply because that was her true nature? To be cruel simply to gain additional clout with the popular girls?

I accepted her friend request and we commented back and forth on pictures and posts for a while but then, after she scoured my connections for the people she really wanted to reconnect with I was unfriended, again. Thinking this was simply a mistake, because we were now adults, I reached out and sent a new friend request myself. We repeated the same pattern as before, commented here and there and then I was banished yet again! I finally got the answer to my earlier question. I won’t be sending another request.

Nope!

Some things, and people never change but I have changed a great deal, with the help of a lot of hard, personal introspection and therapy. I own that and will announce it every chance I get. I remain a considerate person, a good friend for those who need one but also a determined woman who refuses to diminish her enthusiasm and passion for certain causes in order to keep from ruffling the feathers of the unchanging throng. That may be where my past and present collided but, I can’t turn my volume down and I shouldn’t have to. Having something so banal and juvenile happen as an adult, like being deleted as a “friend” on social media just makes me scratch my head, express a momentary feeling of annoyance but then keep on moving forward.

I will still wonder about her from time to time though. Is she really happy? Do her comments on mutual friends posts really ring true? I wish her well and hold no grudge because, after all, we don’t really know one another. We are grown women who have been apart for over 30 years. That’s a whole character on Friends, or like a 1991 Honda Accord, big red bow attached, as a present for completing college on-time. In other words, and aside from my clumsy attempt at humor over how old we are…it was a lifetime ago. The cuteness has faded and the power steering no longer works.

And, isn’t the real point here to not respond at all? To not waste precious time? That small town and the small-minded people in it, connected to it and, impacted by the experience of having lived there are all just a small drop in the larger ocean that is the world. It’s okay for me to let them think they have bested me because I know otherwise and can just smile and nod should I ever see them again. Or not, it won’t change a thing for me or them. No engagement, no catching up because I already know where they are and what they have been doing since I was last in their presence. But, they have no idea what I’ve been doing and that, right there, is my power. If they had stayed in my life and were an actual part of my sorrows and joys then maybe, just maybe, they would be allowed to know me. I have never been one to tell all and have been accused of being vague and secretive but I choose to call it self preservation and the wise conservation of personal energy. It keeps me true to who I am and who I want to remain going forward. I won’t play for the crowd no matter how lucrative the pay is.

It is in that exact sentiment that I realize I never was “trash”, I never was less than or deserving of being ostracized. I told myself this many times and then forgot about it. Life moved on, tragedies occurred, joyful memories were made and the past dimed in the rearview mirror. Now, I have time to think about it more and believe their calling others names was a fumbling attempt at coping and I feel sorrow for the ones left behind, the ones still holding onto edited teenage glory that really wasn’t all that glorious to begin with. The good old days were never all good, they are just old and in need of a better view. An updated perspective coming from the eyes of an adult who has experienced life outside of that carefully curated and decisively biased bubble. That wasn’t real life, that was nostalgia brushing back your hair to wipe your tears and say, “There, there little one. The world is a scary place so just stay here with me and you’ll feel better.”

Staying stuck does not make anyone feel better. It just keeps you stuck. Come out into the sunshine and take a deep breath. Take in the scenery, the people, the exotic cuisine. I’ve been here for decades and can attest to the fact that being an adult is liberating. It’s not scary in the least. I promise.

© 2021-2022 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chopping Down the Family Tree of Misery…

Just when I think that old gnawing discomfort caused by mentally reviewing the past has finally gone away…something else occurs to bring it back to the forefront. It may never be done because there is just too much misery to go around and too many players who failed to get the memo that we were planning to improve ourselves and our lives.

That something else, which recently occurred was tragic, saddening and completely preventable. It came out of the blue and if I had been asked whether I thought such a thing could happen I would say, no, even though anything awful is highly possible with my family. I’m still processing why it came about at all and remain puzzled as to how I even talk about it because no matter how I word it I will always, forever, be part of the problem with this one. To say I didn’t know things were so bad is a lie and to say there wasn’t anything I could have done different is just the same old lip service we apply to every negative cloud following us.

Misery does indeed love company

A little over a week ago one of my adult nephews died. The circumstances remain uncertain and they probably always will remain so because his father, my oldest brother, chose not to have an autopsy and the local coroner hastily called this senseless death “natural causes.” Case closed. We have no way of knowing one way or another what really happened but I do know for sure that it was, in part, a death caused by emotional and mental neglect with 100% certainty. The death of our father was expected and, if you’ve read any of my other work, that event was greeted with relief but this? This loss was shocking because of my nephew’s young age and also because it took so long for anyone to even notice he was dead.

I feel like I need to provide a bit of back-story here but honestly, I have very little additional information to provide. You see, I didn’t know this nephew very well and had only been around him maybe a handful of times over his sad, short life. None of this was his fault, it was entirely my fault for not trying harder to be present in his world. I fell into the “judging” trap that my family so despised from outsiders yet they gleefully heaped judgment high within family ranks without hesitation. Tearing each other down is a familial pastime after all and the sins of the parents get readily transferred to any offspring in this ragged clan. It’s not an excuse. It’s a huge part of one of our many problems.

Because of our less than warm relationship with our oldest brother the negative feelings felt for him impacted the way we interacted with his children, our nephews. It was one side of the family against the other even though we were all just as damaged inside. It made no sense but here we are now, standing amongst the rubble of yet another life destroyed by generational anger, abuse and neglect of soul. To an outsider we would appear cruel but to us it was just “normal” behavior. “Oh, you won’t talk to me? Well, I will just shun your whole family!” We reap what we sow…still.

We were not normal then and we aren’t normal now…

To the point on why it took so long for my nephew to be found: one has to understand that peculiar deficiency in humanity we all inherited from the Grand Patriarch, my recently deceased abusive father. Indifference. We all, at one point or another in our lives were indifferent to the suffering each one of us experienced. Granted, some hurt and got hurt more than others but the inability to express that pain in real-time or recognize it in each other is but one of the many side effects of abuse that went unnoticed for decades.

And so, because we were brought up in “every man for himself” mode we don’t always see how disturbing it may be to fathom someone’s son, nephew, cousin, and grandson going to bed one night, passing away and then not being discovered until 24 hours (even possibly 48 hours) later. To care so little as to simply not see the importance of checking in, paying attention or, giving a damn.

I see it now.

The horror is setting in.

To be so broken yet unable to see the multiple layers of cracks and sharp edges ready to cut and maim.

Sickeningly broken.

I don’t know the exact events that led up to my nephew’s passing and I won’t speculate on his life because I wasn’t part of it. Also, neither my brother nor my mother will speak to me about it because I am effectively dead to them as well. I DO know that this occurred as a continuation of the misery perpetuated by this particular DNA chain, a tragic chain that needs to be broken, reconstructed and fortified with kindness, patience and love. This didn’t have to happen and I know I don’t bare all of the blame but I still feel leveled by the extent of damage one man started and the unfortunate progeny who continue to carry on his harmful legacy. To say our experiences combined had nothing to do with this particular loss would be foolhardy because pain begets pain and until it’s healed it won’t stop.

Please, let it stop!

It must stop for my nephew’s sake and for every other potential casualty of this family tree strewn with hollow, disease ridden limbs. Let the suffering stop here and now because we can be better than this.

We MUST be better than this!

© 2021-2022 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It was the unintentional emotional withdrawal for me…

The past 12 months have been an somber pit of nothingness. Dark moments punctuated by occasional bursts of energy that are quickly extinguished by the knowledge that the world is filled with festering human sores, intent on infecting everyone and everything. Beauty replaced by ugliness, the fire of happiness and joy instantly put out by the pissing and moaning masses who have been sucked in by lies, misinformation and internalized nastiness. This world is incessantly exhausting and…utterly disappointing yet, we trudge on, one reluctant foot in front of the other.

I truly admire motivated people and, occasionally, I research their advice for success and say, “Yeah! I want to be like that!” And then, I look around and see all of the thousands of things I need to accomplish, groan and just sink back into my chair, wasting precious time scrolling through TikTok videos and searching things like, “How to access my Akashic record” and, “Why do I belch like a wild beast after drinking Topo Chico?” You know, the important stuff. It could be Covid fatigue or depression or even adult ADHD, because I have a long history of jumping from one thought to another, making wild plans only to see them crumpled up in the corner of a closet, packed to the brim, in the back of my imagination. The idea factory between my ears is still up and running but the distribution center has been closed for over a year.

The main takeaway from that is….at least I can still dream up wild ideas. It’s the implementation that needs work.

And so, because of my current apathy, I haven’t really written anything of merit since January. I simply lost the will to come up with pithy prose and, if I’m being completely honest, I just don’t feel like sharing my life, my memories and my hard earned wisdom with people anymore. Why should I? Each request for input is now met with suspicion because the maliciously ignorant are huffing and puffing around every corner waiting for the chance to spray their troll shit all over, ruining a good joke and an even better bit of satirical therapy. I used to share because it was cathartic for me but, it was also an attempt to save others from making the same mistakes I made. Now, I don’t care as much, if I ever really did at all and the unsolicited opinions of strangers mean even less to me but, now, this time in space does feel different. It’s hard to explain but, the air in this social media reliant world feels thicker and harder to breathe yet, also much easier to stop trying to exist in such inhospitable environs.

The shit is indeed getting deeper and deeper and my patience is growing shorter and shorter. Even more so than before so now, I spend my time painting weird shit, talking to my plants, dancing in my kitchen to music I know no one else likes and generally feeling pretty great about being exactly who I am supposed to be. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea but, you know what? I didn’t offer to make any damn tea for those who aren’t me so take that unsolicited opinion you’re itching to share, roll it tight and deposit it straight up your angry ass! I have no time for you. I’ve got oddities to create and clouds to gaze at endlessly while I swing in my hammock. That’s my release, my zen, my everything that doesn’t have to include anyone else unless I so choose. Easy. No worries. No stress. NO FUCKING DRAMA.

Also, I have come to the harsh realization that the people I once knew, like former classmates, coworkers, friends, neighbors, most family members…well, I just don’t like them very much anymore. I probably never liked them to begin but just pretended to out of some warped obligation that I hung on to for nostalgia’s sake. My daughter would scoff at this and say, “Mom, you’ve never really liked people,” but I know that I did my best to test that theory these past few years; looking for the good, slogging through the trash in hopes of finding commonality somewhere, anywhere. I was reaching out, wanting to connect in a meaningful way, more so than in the past and, I felt the effort and exertion on my part but nothing of a reciprocal response came back which made the cutting of ties much easier. The personality quirks and characteristics I once overlooked, falsely describing them as “charming”, I now find repulsive, arrogant and tedious. People have literally out-peopled themselves, gone and exposed their asses to the whole world, forever branding themselves sociopaths, racists, homophones, xenophobes, sexist, fascist and just generally vile, all while wearing a proud as punch, shit-eating grin from ear to ear. Assholes, the whole lot of them.

There! I said the obvious part out loud.

It felt good.

I don’t care if it angers anyone.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I stopped being so concerned about how I possibly impacted others. I never went out of my way to influence anyone, I merely stated how I felt, nothing more. And, for many years I was harshly assured that my thoughts didn’t matter at all and no one cared but obviously some of them did or I wouldn’t have received such backlash for saying the ugly parts out loud, for refusing to be silent. Good, bad, indifferent, none of it matters anymore because the reactions of others are just that, theirs and are of no consequence to me anymore. I will lose no sleep at night fretting over whether or not I should be gentler, nicer or less honest with my words. The candy coating no longer sticks and if I have zero control over how those words are perceived then why dress them up? It never mattered how hard I worked to make my words palatable for the masses anyway because someone ALWAYS found a reason to be offended. It was never about me anyway. It was always about them.

Fuck ’em!

I’m not here to soften the blows, I’m just here to say my peace and then keep on moving. It really makes the most sense because wasting time pondering and ruminating over trivial shit never got anyone any place positive now did it? So why keep doing the same thing over and over only to come back around to that nauseatingly familiar place of nasty unfinished emotional business? It’s not going to change just because you say it should. Put some grit into it! Get that business finished and be done with it once and for all, never looking back, never taking the time to get acquainted with regret.

I regret nothing.

I don’t have time for regret anymore.

I’m too busy living.

© 2021-2022 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lying Tree…

I do not have a conventional family tree. I have a lying tree.

For as long as I can remember the “facts” behind who my blood relatives really are have been blurred and carefully edited to fit a narrow narrative of acceptability. What will the neighbors think? What will random strangers on the street think? And, finally, what will the people at our church think? That last one always created pause for me since church implies certain moral values and the very act of lying to cover personal embarrassment from fellow churchgoers is ironic and laughably hypocritical.

But, don’t say this to the patriarch and matriarch of this fabricated fable!

In modern times there is this little thing called the internet. On this construct exists a massive online newspaper archive called Newspapers.com ( and I am sure there are many more) where anyone willing to pony up a few bucks a month can search the names of relatives, friends, ex-friends, and ex-lovers to see if they ever “made the news” from the 1700’s to the 2000’s.

On this website, I found out that my paternal grandfather was charged with and eventually found guilty of misappropriation of funds while a Justice of the Peace for Cook County, Illinois in the 1960’s.  He was sentenced to 6 months in county jail and not once, in all the years I have known my mother or father have either said one word about this.  Not surprising really since my mother said once, in church, that my older brother was “away at college” when he was actually in jail.  Being a scofflaw runs in the family you see but, Que sera sera, there is not one thing that can be done about it now. The fibbing branches just keep falling…

IMG_7660

Several years ago, after a few glasses of wine around my younger sister’s kitchen table, my older sister mentioned a conversation she had with our mother that included the words, “That was the time when your grandfather was away in jail.” Wait! What?  “Oh, didn’t I tell you that?” was my mother’s response to my sister’s shocked surprise. No, you sure as hell did not!  Much like the various health conditions relatives had that were not shared with us or the fact that she had been borrowing on life insurance policies our maternal grandmother purchased for us for years without our knowledge. I’m sure there is more but will stop at the tip of the ice burg for now. What they don’t know won’t hurt them right?

THIS is the kind of thing I am talking about here. This is also the kind of thing that the truth-impaired bemoan as  “ancient history” and “what’s in the past is the past” but my argument is that this very shit stabs right at the heart of what is wrong with my family and many others. Lying just for the sake of lying, lying for personal financial gain and finally, lying to save face. Once you have protected your image to the point of alienating and potentially physically harming family it becomes clear what is more important to some people:

Not us. Not me. Not my daughter. Not my partner. Everyone is fair game for an attack apparently. I have the letters, emails, Facebook posts and text messages to prove it.

My family is a sad stomach churning potluck of avoidance, delusion, resentment, and selfishness. And, I too have experienced and participated in all of these things over the years and will make that clear. In order to write this I have to be honest and in order to write this, I also have to shore myself up for any pending attacks on my recollection and character. I have been attacked on both fronts by both my mother and my younger sister so any further vitriol is easy to shrug off. They will do what they do and have always done and I will do the opposite because to do anything else is a sure recipe for self-harm and I’m too old for this shit!

As you, dear reader, peruse this little essay I am sure that there are other eyes scanning as well. Eyes that are looking for any mention of them, any mention of blame, any mention at all. Hello! Despite our falling out, I am glad you are here and I am even gladder that you might be reading my words. Take them in. Mull them over for a bit before responding and, might I add, before firing off in a flash of keyboard courage consider picking up the phone to address any grievances with me personally. I will take your call and I will listen to what you have to say. I may hang up without saying more than an initial “hello” but I will listen none the less.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will be HONEST. Everything I write about will involve confession, confrontation and, finally the search for redemption. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need to be redeemed in my family’s eyes but in my own. I am looking for peace, nothing more and nothing less.

Stick with me on this journey okay? I might need a cheering section when the wolves arrive…

© 2018 L.A. Askew
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That one time I was almost on the Nate Berkus Show….when he actually had a show.

Whenever I think about this experience I have to squint and move my eyes back and forth like I am concentrating real hard. The kind of hard thinking that smells like toast burning. Curling, white puffs of smoky grey matter twisting around the skull, knocking to get back in kind of hard thinking. It’s rough being the sort that willingly chooses to keep all the bad stuff up front in the window display of their life while keeping the truly interesting bits and pieces back in the storage area. Dammit! Why do we do this?

Anyway, when Nate Berkus first showed his stylish, elf-like face on the grande dame Oprah’s show I was fascinated. I wanted him to release me from the dungeon of “old lady” decorating suggestions (this is a WHOLE OTHER story in itself) and help me find my true style. I wanted a designer middle finger, if you will, that I could display every time said “old lady” tried to tell me how cheap or tacky the things I really loved were.

Take that ya old bat! Nate likes it and I like it so go choke on your frilly toile curtains and musty transferware dishes hung just so on the wall. ON THE WALL!  Dishes on the wall scream OLD LADY to me but what do I know? I needed Nate on my side.

Every time he was on I would watch with great intensity, taking notes, honing my decorating style while also learning that my opinions about what I did or didn’t like mattered. I found my voice and my courage to say what I wanted in my house and what I thought was pretentious, trendy bullshit, designed only to lighten the wallet and not my mood. It didn’t always go over well but satisfaction was gained from knowing money can’t buy taste and bullies hate it when their targets grow a backbone. Mine started out as a flimsy balsa wood twig and grew into a mighty reinforced beam of Brazilian walnut. Strong, unyielding and shiny. God, the old lady hated that. Thanks Nate!

Fast forward to 2010 and I’m watching The Nate Berkus Show when I see a little blurb about viewers sending in their stories of overcoming odds to make their dream career come true or something like that. My memory fails me at times but the gist of this was that I sent in an email to the show telling the producers how I always wanted to write but felt held back by the less than supportive people in my life and how I finally ditched them and started writing in earnest. I wasn’t making any money doing it but I still felt free enough to actually let strangers read my scribbles. That was huge a self-conscious, formerly badgered soul that was so unsure of her abilities.

And…I got a call from the show not long after I hit send on that email. I was asked to explain more about my dream, how I wanted to accomplish it and what my roadblocks had been. Great, so far I thought, but then came the shit cloud…Bethenny Frankel.

What did I think of her? Did she inspire me to try to make my dream a reality? Uh, no. Honestly, if I had to give credit to anyone for prompting me to get my shit together it would be a 50-50 split between aging and my therapist, Dr. Tarrasch. A reality show “character” doesn’t even make the list but I sensed they wanted me to gush about how much she helped and inspired me because they wanted her as a guest. The true indication of this came when they asked if I would be willing to stand up and ask her how I could “make my goal of writing a reality” from the audience. Good grief and lumpy gravy, NO! But, I said sure! I wanted to be on that damn show!!!

Next, I was asked to write a little bit more about my goal and when I first became aware of Madam Frankel as the paragon of business acumen and goal reachiness (my own word but it fits) so I did just that. Maybe too well because I didn’t get a callback and the next thing I know ole Bethenny Big Eyes is on Oprah on the date she was supposed to be on my Nate’s show.

What happened? Did she realize she had no viable advice for me or did Nate’s producers just decide to chuck the segment? Or, and I think this is more likely, that publicity hag tied her line to the mothership Oprah and cut Nate loose at the last minute.

She got a better offer and ditched the person that brought her to the dance. And THAT is how Bethenny and many other questionable business entrepreneurs succeed. It’s easy to keep your high heels un-scuffed when walking on the backs of others.

Okay, rant over and memory released. That felt great. Do I still like Nate Berkus? Yes, yes I do and I always will. He’s likable and seems genuine. Did I learn anything from BF? Yes again. I learned that the outcome would have been the same even if I said I didn’t give two shits about her supposed power to influence or motivate because the segment was going to get dumped anyway.

Always be honest about who or what really motivates you because, in the end, self-respect tastes much better than an over-priced watered-down vodka or margarita mix. Go for the damn bourbon you babies! It’s strong, true and never pretends to be what it is not. Now, get your ass out there and work! That’s my advice.

The “little things” that are actually quite large…

A welcome from Reverie…

Small gestures, little acts of kindness, minute details that get overlooking while searching for the big picture…in these, most, if not all answers to, “why am I here” can be found.

Yet, they are little, tiny, unimportant things and we like grand entrances and annoyingly bombastic noise signaling something hugely awesome is about to happen, so much so that many times we miss what is truly “awesome” completely. On to the next big event! And make it larger than the last one please!!!

I like the little things because I find great intricacy and inspiration in their simplicity. A smile given at just the right moment or a nod of accepting acknowledgment.  The sun shining after a particularly shitty day is what triggers my sense of awe in the unending discoveries unfolding around me. It nudges me forward with a, “See? The show ain’t over yet. Stick around to see what else you can do!” And, it’s that anticipation that fuels me and keeps me moving forward; the validation received from the world at large that we are here, we are seen and yet, we have so much left to see, hear, touch and do because we all matter.

And, we do matter. I matter and you matter. Not our things or accomplishments or even our failures but our purposeful connectivity with one another. I smile at you and you smile back in return…or frown, scowl or even, maybe, laugh. All are fine because they are reactions to my action. I caused it simply because I am here! That is power my friends.

When I touch the hand or heart of someone I care for that little thing grows into a large thing that promotes growth, expansion and continued expression. How is that a small or insignificant thing? It is not. It is massive, all important and amazingly enough, free!

Several years ago I had the great pleasure of being introduced to a very wise person who told me all the supposed “big” things I worried about and expressed anger over were horse shit. He also told me that I was the architect of my life, no one else, and it was my responsibility to choose who and what I wanted to be.

I want to be a simple little player in a large extravagant play with a few excellently memorable and quotable lines because I wrote them and I want to set my creations free. I want to see where they float, who they touch and what happens next when they are picked up and carried forward by a new player. The true adventure in life is fluid after all, not planned or plotted but stumbled upon.

Let’s stumble together and maybe the next path we crash onto, laughing or crying, will be one that leads to yet another great experience. Come on! What are you waiting for?

© 2018 L.A. Askew
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.