Monday, April 29, 2013

From Paige to Page

 Funny how some things written or argued 50 years ago are still so relevant today. Here is a new site I am following that honors one of the more relevant writers of yesterday and of today.

From Paige to Page 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Gypsy in Me

“I don’t believe in coincidences.” I’ve heard this from many people, friends and strangers alike. For me, I just don’t know what to believe.  According Coincidence is “the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.” Is it then coincidence that on April 14th, 2013 I lay awake half the night with a sense of foreboding; so much so that I called my best friend and told her “something big is bugging on me, and I don’t know what”? United States History will forever remember April 15th, 2013 not as “tax day,” but as the day a terrorist bombed the Boston Marathon. I’m not going to join the multitudes and speculate the “who, or why” of this horrific event. But I do wonder why I was awake half the night before.

Yesterday, April 17th, 2013 at about 4:00pm PDT, I sent an email to my best friend. Again describing a sort of anxiety I was feeling. I told her, “It’s not like a panic attack, but more like a heavy feeling as if something big is going to happen.” A couple hours later, at about 8:00pm CDT a fertilizer factory in Texas caught fire and blew up with force enough to destroy a radius of several city blocks. More died in this explosion than in Boston two days before. The injured and missing are still being sought. Coincidence? Maybe – or maybe I am channeling my Gypsy heritage.

My family heritage comes from the German Bohemians. While the family is of German descent, they lived in Bohemia – what is now known as Czechoslovakia. One of my Great-Great relatives married into a Gypsy family. I grew up with romantic notions of the Gypsies; their nomadic lifestyle, and their connections with the mystical world. I grew up “knowing” things. Not big stuff – I was not able to predict the future, or tell fortunes. But I was able to know when the phone rang that the call was for me, and that it was my cousin. Is it coincidence she lives in Texas?

My best friend is psychic. She knows things and feels things. We call on her frequently when we can’t find the car keys or something. She describes where they are (not typical or usual places) and then we find them.  The last time they were lost she described “dark green shag” like a carpet. The keys were found in the front yard in tall grass.  She also “knows” or feels people.

It’s an energy thing. She can tell when someone is “off” or when there is “more” to the story. Skeptics say that it is just an ability to read body language. I don’t know. She was instrumental in helping us determine how our house fire started. She insisted that Isaac knew more than he was telling. Despite the quality of his lie (until then we could always tell) she pressed on until he finally admitted playing with the matches. She was the one who kept on Isaac, telling him he wasn’t giving us the truth. She is the one who asked the probing questions that led me to see the moment of give in his eyes. I had stopped asking him and started telling her to drop it. But she knew.

We both feel spirits. She sees them and hears them. In a sense, she lives with them. I mostly feel them – at times. I know when I feel my mother, or my grandmother. They come in loud and clear. I feel others too. I don’t  always know who they are, but they are there. We have a guardian angel that used to watch the boys when they were toddlers. She sat with them through the night. She is an older woman with merry eyes and full of love. My best friend says her name is Mabel and I know her. I don’t recall anyone named Mabel, although we did have a Mildred. I don’t think she is Mildred. We also have an impish spirit. This one I see out of the corner of my eye. It passes into the kitchen and out again. I used to think it was one of the boys, barely tall enough to be seen over the counter. But I still see this spirit on occasion and all three boys are taller than the counter now.

The Gypsy in me knows things. I can read people and know their spirit. I know what is broken in them. It is an energy thing. I feel their “vibe” and instinctively know how to soothe them. Is it coincidence then that I also know how to hurt them? This is an unfortunate consequence of “knowing.” Naturally, I never intend to harm anyone, but on occasion when I don’t reign in my gift, I do. Perhaps this is why so many Gypsies also have the reputation of being self-serving con artists. That is another story for another time. I embrace the Gypsy in me. This is a gift, whether blood born or not, that must be cherished and nurtured. This is a gift we see in Nathan. It is up to us to teach him how to use it for good things and not allow the “knows” to consume him.

This is the coincidence of life. We are all here on this earth, co-existing as manifested energy. We are all each other and what one emits another feels or knows.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Eighteen years in law enforcement; half spent in a department where I was cross-trained as a firefighter. At least that is what I tell people.  Our training consisted of two weeks of what not to do and some basic fire science. Nonetheless, I did fight fires on occasion. Eighteen years of knowing what to do in almost any emergency - seven years later I felt like an absolute fool.

It is said that in times of stress or emergency a person falls back on their initial training. Rote practice enables muscle memories to take over and actions automatically fall into place. Not really though. When the emergency becomes close and personal, things change. OK, that and maybe six years have dulled the autonomic responses.

Tuesday afternoon our house caught fire. Yep, something you only read about in the news... it happens to others in far away places. Tuesday, it happened to us. The boys smelled smoke and mentioned it. I dismissed it as "the neighbor's BBQ." Then the boys said it smelled like plastic burning. I didn't smell anything but wood smoke like a fireplace (not likely in 80* heat) or maybe wood chips in the BBQ. I want BBQ.

After a few words back and forth, we all saw the column of smoke billowing from our wooden patio covering. It was a lot of smoke. Just like we'd practiced, every time I burned dinner and smoked out the house, I told the boys to get out and go to the neighbor. They handled their part perfectly. I on the other hand stood in my bedroom trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. I couldn't remember the plan. I finally settled on the laptop computer (have to attend class when this is all over) and the cat. I also had the presence of mind to call 911.

Just like in every nightmare I've had, I couldn't get the phone to dial out or miss-dialed. When I finally got it right I told the operator "I'm on fire!" That is about the time I came to my senses and started over. All the while going back in to get the dog. Really, the fire was on the patio and hadn't come inside yet so I had plenty of time. By then neighbors I've never met were there with hoses dousing the inferno.

We were ripe for this fire. An old sofa just outside the back door had baked in the sun for two years. An old broken rocker sat nearby and last year's dried out Christmas Tree was right beside the sofa. The fire started in the sofa. A bright orange wall of flames consumed the tree, sofa and the flashed over (rather under) the wooden awning.

While neighbors were dousing the flames, I walked in circles in the front yard. Not only was I stunned, I was in a fog and felt helpless. Sheriff deputies and firefighters all arrived and finished putting the fire out. Damage was minimal - all things considered. Then came the hard part. How the hell did a fire start in an old sofa?

I watched as the Captain interviewed all three of my boys. I suspected the truth and I allowed the Captain to question them without my presence. He came up with nothing. Isaac has apparently begun perfecting his lying skills. He had us nearly convinced, but for the fact that there was no other way.

I promised all three that no one was "in trouble" and no one was going to jail; just tell the whole truth. I repeated it several times to Isaac until I finally saw that investigative moment. The moment of resignation. There was fear in his tear filled eyes. I asked him if he was afraid and he barely nodded yes. I knew then that it was time.

Isaac, as many 11yrs old do had played with matches. Of all things, he had lit the match (or matches), extinguished it and then dropped the hot stub on the couch. Apparently the match had enough heat to smolder under a perfect storm of heat and wind, because without much more the flames were lit.

Isaac had no intent to start the fire. He was doing what so many do; acting grown-up. Lighting matches because he is old enough and mature enough to do so.  I thought I'd taught him about smolders and about how matches burn even after they are blown out. I guess I hadn't. The look in his eyes was all I needed. Isaac was truly impacted by the fire and "what could have happened." I'm sure it won't happen again.

So in the aftermath, we are dealing with clean-up crews, construction crews, insurance agencies and three boys terrorized - again - by fire. All three remember the fires of 2007 when we evacuated. Austin had nightmares and fear of fire for years.  Now it has started all over. All three refuse to sleep anywhere but in our room with us. Austin couldn't close his eyes without crying, twitching, or all out screaming. At least at this age he could tell us what he saw. His nightmare visions of lightning, fire, and firemen dying made me cry. That was three nights ago.

So now what? I don't know. All the training and practice in the world never prepared me to be the one on the helpless side. But that is what I feel: helpless. Helpless to comfort a guilty child. Helpless to comfort a terrorized child. Helpless to comfort a quietly suffering child. Helpless, helpless, helpless.

Maybe once the construction crews are gone and our house is back to "normal" things will fall back into place and I can go back to being the one in charge and the one who has it all together. Or maybe nothing will ever be the same.  I just don't know.