Manchester, Ky. July 22, 2019
So the strangest thing happened to me yesterday. I died. Sort of. Or at least I think I might have almost tried to. (I’ll explain.)
So I was lying on the couch, fairly exhausted after returning from Manchester, Kentucky, to find Josh’s childhood home- and the apartment where his mother was murdered. I’ll touch on that later. So I had been watching my beloved Egyptian and Roman history documentaries, when I drifted off into blissful sleep. (The kind of which you don’t remember drifting off at all.)
Next think I knew, I had “come to” in a dark, circular room- like a circus tent. I couldn’t make out any edges. I sort of was just there. It was a bit creepy. And to make it even more creepy, I was completely lucid. I knew I was “dreaming”, or at least I thought it was a dream. (I used quotation marks because I know the difference between a dream and being out of one’s body. This sure seemed to be the latter of the two.)
It’s been a few years since I’ve dealt with floating out of my body. When I was a teenager, it began happening more and more and it got to a point where I could simply push with my mind while holding my hands up (like Superwoman) and I immediately was flying at what seemed like hundreds of miles per hour. It’s super fun at times, but more times than not, it’s scary as hell. One of the best times was when I was flying over a forest and could control my direction, and one of the worst times was when I was sitting in a movie theater, surrounded by occupants. Every now and then a person would look over at me. This became more frequent until most everyone in the place was looking at me, simultaneously. If you don’t think that’s creepy AF, I promise, it is.
I knew I needed to get the crap out of there so I stood up and when I turned toward the door, I began to fly- super fast- with my arms outstretched. I was flying down a hall, when I turned around to see all of the people (who were actually vampires, and I knew it then) were close behind me- flying after me. I saw a window at the end of the hall and flew right through it- despite it being closed. I escaped, thankfully. Anyway, these are just a few examples of my lucid “dreams”.
Lately, I’ve been slipping out of my body and into vacant, dimly-lit buildings. It’s so crazy! I’ll suddenly “come to” in my consciousness of being there, and I’ll recognize that I need to wake up. So, I try to find the exit door and can’t. I wander around here and there for what seems like 20 or 30 minutes. Lucid dream time is the same as real time. It’s not speeded up or slowed down, but exactly the same as if you were there IRL.
So after wandering around, meandering about, I start to get bored. Nothing’s happening and it still hasn’t dawned on me that I need to wake myself up- myself. As that realization comes to me (after a while), I know I need to “push” with my mind and concentrate and then I usually wake up after doing so.
Back to yesterday. So, not unlike most other times, I “came to” in this dark, circular room. I perceived that I was alone. Something was off though, and after trying to open my eyes completely, I realized that my right eye was stuck. This had never happened before. I moved my face around, trying to force open both eyes widely. Nada. I couldn’t figure out why my right eye wouldn’t open!
Suddenly. I became aware of a presence in the room with me. I saw a glowing form in the center of the room, but I was too scared to look at it. I told myself that if I looked away, it wouldn’t materialize. (It worked.) But shortly afterward, a male voice called out from the direction of the form and said, “Whatever…”, somewhat malevolently.
That did it for me! I knew that sometimes I needed to move around and shake myself in order to wake myself up, and so I jumped up and down 3 or 4 times. Weirdly though, my feet weren’t on the ground. I was floating and when I jumped, I was moving really fast, like super fast. It seemed that I was in spirit form. It didn’t work and I began to realize that I was stuck in this place- with a hyper-awareness of my consciousness and situation. It was extremely unsettling.
I began to think that maybe I was dead. Maybe I had died in my sleep. I remember having the overwhelming feeling that there was a whole lot more darkness in front of me, in that direction, and around me to the left and right. But I remember having the acknowledgement that “light”, and life itself, was behind me. As in, proximally. I needed to get back to the light! I couldn’t turn around (physically) and was just stuck there, with my right eye sealed, thinking I was dead, but wanting terribly to get back to my life. I had an overwhelming feeling of being alone; like I would never see my loved ones again. I tried jumping again, and focusing on trying to find a way back.
Not too much time had passed when I became aware that I was lying sideways, but I couldn’t see, and both eyes were shut now. I was lifted upward, as if I was floating, upward and then floated backwards and down, as if a wind had blown me up and back in and down again. I could literally feel my spirit going back into my body. Needless to say, it was not fun! I opened my eyes, so very thankful to be back again. Back to the land of the living! I thought about what had happened and realized that what had actually happened was that I had left my body- partially- only my left side had moved out and my right side (around my eye, in particular) was still very much in my body, which would explain why my right eye felt sealed shut. I’ll be happy to never experience that freaky situation again. It really is quite terrifying.
Basic Update: Josh and I are doing really well. I’ve been away from my blog here for so long, with only the periodic update several times per year. Things were really hard between Josh and I when I was still active here, and then I had some heartbreaking situations with one of my daughters that I couldn’t write about- I had to stay very quiet and low-key. Then my little brother died. I was slammed pretty hard, and it was relentless for a while. I’m finally in a good place again and Josh and I have grown so much closer over the past year.
I love that man with a love that is beyond this world. He’s my heart and my very life. Fourteen years is a long time to be in somebody’s life! We’ve grown up together, and love the life that we’ve built together. He’s grown his beard out all shaggy. He’s such a hippy. 🙂
My Baby- Headed to Manchester.
So we decided to take a trip over this past weekend. It was a spontaneous decision. We were thinking about going to a recording studio and checking out where we might begin recording our music together. He had mentioned going back to his childhood home, in Manchester, Kentucky, to seek out his childhood home, and the home that his mom was murdered in.
She had been in an abusive relationship with a guy named Abe. He was the manager at the apartment complex. They began dating, and he began physically abusing her. Josh was only 7 when she decided to take her two kids and leave. Abe had other plans. He cut the phone lines to the entire apartment complex so she couldn’t call for help and then “accidentally shot and killed her when he was cleaning his gun”.
I can’t begin to list the many ways in which her death has affected Josh’s life. I never knew her, but as a woman, I feel that I owe it to her to give him the love and protection and goodness that he deserves. Every now and then she’ll cross my mind, and I’ll go and give Josh a hug- for her. (I usually don’t tell him that it’s for her. I’d want somebody to do that for my son if I were gone though.)
As for my schooling, despite my many obstacles lately, I’m still chugging away at this Master’s degree (Psychology and Addiction Counseling). It hasn’t been easy, but by golly, I carry on. I only have two more classes left after this one, which is Psychopharmacology for Counselors. Good stuff. 🙂
Until we meet again. XoXoxOxO
Manchester, Ky. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 film lens
I’m in a ridiculously good mood: I just found out that I made the Dean’s List again this semester. SO stoked. In the past, I wanted to make the Dean’s List solely for bragging rights (I can admit to that), but now, I have to make the Dean’s List or there’s no going forward. When I begin working on my Master’s degree- just around the corner- there’ll be no such thing as “making a C”. If you receive a C in psychology at the Master’s level, you’re automatically expelled from the program. Yep; anything less than a B- and you’re considered a failure. So, I set the bar really high for myself every semester because I have to. But my semester’s finally over, and I have until July 7th to relax and enjoy my summer (and work on my photography & art). It’s OVER! 🙂
Sometimes, when I don’t have the words of comfort that I’m looking for, I take pictures instead. This is for you, Y, and your friend. I wanted to take pictures of flowers for you, and I changed my mind at the last minute. I took a few pics of the riverside instead.
I hope you like them. xo
Unknown couple, sharing an intimate moment
Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass/f/2.8
Josh existing my mother’s house after dropping off his homemade burgers
Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass/f/2.8
Second Street bridge- joining Indiana and Kentucky
Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass/f/2.8
“The most painful goodbyes are the ones that are never said and never explained …”
Taking a break from the schoolwork.
Jeffersonville Marina- early this morning in the fog.
Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass/ f/4/ISO 100
“Is that a mop she’s carrying?” I asked my daughter.
“Looks like it.”
I pulled the car slightly behind the woman, who was making her way across the parking lot taking slow, methodical steps. I happened to have my Canon around my neck with my trusty 50 MM prime attached and ready to go. I went to work quickly, snapping away shots of this curious woman- I didn’t know at the time that she was homeless. It was Valentine’s Day. My daughter, who knows me all too well, said, “You’re not going to stop…”
“Of course I am,” I replied.
My daughter then realized that it was the same woman she’d had a previous encounter with, and not a friendly one at that. The woman had been using a grocery cart and my daughter had recognized the store and had asked her about it, while passing her on the street. The woman fired back a few semi-obscenities and continued on her way.
“You’re going to help her?” she asked.
“Yep.” Said I.
It was then that I recognized her. I had shot the residents at the Haven House (homeless shelter) two Christmas’s before: she was there that day, and allowed me to use her photo as part of the website’s pictorial. I knew that if I approached her with a DSLR around my neck and a myriad of questions, she would be put off. So, I basically rushed her with a big smile and a hug and asked her how she was doing.
“Hey, remember me? We were at the Haven House together!” This isn’t altogether untrue.
I could tell by her expression that she didn’t recognize me, but I held her with my smile and made small talk, making light of my camera. She warmed up to me quickly and began telling me her story.
She wasn’t a junkie, or alcoholic. She was once a registered nurse, who had suffered a series of unfortunate events in her life. She continued sharing her story with me, as we made our way back toward the abandoned train yard where she currently resides. The owner, who is a Christian man, allowed her to move into one of the cars four years ago.
“They call me the caretaker,” she said, pride intact.
“Do you want to see it?” she asked.
“Well yeah!” I said, hardly believing what I was hearing. She went on to tell me that she had no running water, no heat, no air conditioning, no electricity, no medical coverage, no car, no government check, no computer, no cell phone, and very little else.
“You’ve been living here for four years?”
It was all I could do to not break down crying. We have a new, fancy bridge that’s being built in our city that’s costing millions of dollars, connecting Indiana to Kentucky. While that’s great and all, our transitional housing program has been cut- lack of funds.
“What’s your name- first name only?” I asked her.
“Jean, I’m Birgitta.”
And we traded another smile.
“I can’t make any promises Jean, but I’m going to see what I can do for you. Tell me what you need; can you make me a list? I’m going to see what I can do to raise some money for you, ok?”
She made a small list of things, such as AAA batteries and other miscellaneous items, and I gave her my home and cell numbers.
“If there’s anything you can think of, call me, ok?”
Jean shared more of her story with me, and the plights of trying to receive medical treatment while being homeless. Our city’s main hospital, Clark Memorial, has an extended emergency room: the Behavioral Health unit. Because substance abuse is such an endemic problem in Southern Indiana, people who are thought to be mentally ill or exhibiting behavior associated with substance abuse are directed immediately to that area of the ER, and without question. They tell you that it’s simply part of the overflow area where they put people when it’s crowded. Because homeless people are stigmatized much of the time, and filed away quickly straight over to Behavioral health, many homeless people don’t receive the necessary treatment they need.
“I fell off my steps 10 days ago. Look,” Jean said.
She raised her shirt and pulled her pants away from her hip, revealing several large, yellow-green bruises that covered her backside.
“I can’t go to Clark Memorial because they’ll stick me in Behavioral Health.”
This too made me want to cry. I mustered my strength and fought to maintain my composure so that I could finish conducting the interview. Just then, two men with kind eyes and a pair of crutches came walking down the tracks, toward her train car.
“Here ya go, darlin’,” said one of the men to Jean.
And then Jean looked like this:
I introduced myself to them, quickly establishing the necessary street repoire that states clearly, “I’m one of you guys.”
After another quick round of shots, sans the gentlemen, I trotted back to my car, ending our rendezvous. I went back later that night, with a bucket list of things that I wanted to try to do for Jean, and a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup. As I made my way down the dark tracks, it was bitterly cold, and the desolation was palpable. I knocked on Jean’s door and she answered quickly.
“Yes? Who is it?” her voice carried a note of dignity and hospitality. She made her way to the door with a flashlight in her hand.
“It’s me- Birgitta. I have something for you.” I said. “I think you should know that I make the best chicken soup on this side of heaven,” I said with a smile.
That was two days ago. Last night was teeth-chattering freezing. I cried off and on throughout the evening, thinking of Jean in her train car; no lights, no heat, no t.v., no company.
When I mentioned online college, aka distance education, Jean had taken great interest. Having been a registered nurse, she might like to further her education, just as I’m doing. Josh happens to be in possession of a standard size construction trailer. It’s an 8×20 with a built in kitchen nook that looks like a diner from the 50’s, along with a tiny bathroom, door included.
I literally AM the poor, but I can’t keep something that might be of use to somebody else, especially in Jean’s situation. I’ve talked Josh into giving it to Jean, if she’ll be allowed to have it there. At least it has windows. I’m not going to let her know beforehand, but if she can have it, we’re going to fix it up with a bed, pictures (that I can provide myself, being a photographer and all), and other necessary amenities. I love surprising people. 🙂
I’m going to petition several small businesses and ask if they can donate their services (cell phone, laptop, wireless printer, etc.) so we can help Jean get her life back. I have a children’s book I’d like to market and promote, as well as a music album/CD I’d like to compile (being a singer/songwriter musician) and a virtual art gallery to create, but I’m putting everything on hold for a bit so I can at least offer Jean some reprieve. I have a lot of irons in the fire: it’s something that I’m used to.
Did I mention that I have an intestinal virus? And, TMJ (my jaws crack and pop like Rice Krispies when I open and shut my mouth it’s so bad, and extremely painful), scoliosis, and of course, the arachnoid cyst on my brain stem. The car accident back in October compacted every one of these afflictions- I have nerve damage as a result, along with other damaged areas. I’ve been so sick these past few days. (The insurance company, Allstate, who represents the lady who split my bumper, has offered me a paltry $1,700 for my pain and suffering. Um, are you for real Allstate? After I had to drop out of school last semester (with a doctor’s note), repair my GPA, have suffered unthinkable pain and suffering to my overall alignment- in my vertebrae, not my car) and am barely able to hang on to this semester due to all of the stress…and they offer me $1,700. Unbelievable. No, you are NOT in good hands with Allstate.
I could get a lawyer and duke it out for a year or so, but that would mean that I would have to go through the “doctor gauntlet”, being referred here and there. I know the drill- I’m a research hound and stay up on many things.
Poor J- he’s hurting everyday as he continues his decompression therapy several times per week. It’s no picnic! I’m concerned about his liver- he takes a lot of Ibuprofen, but basically, he lives uncomfortably and in pain much of the time. The car accident has absolutely turned our lives upside down.
Because I refuse to take prescription pain medication, and/ or anxiety medication, doctors aren’t sure where to go with me. They’ve suggested a number of medications for me to try, but the majority of the meds double as anti-depressants (the latest fashion in chronic pain meds) but I refuse to be a guinea pig after Topomax almost killed me. They’re quick to diagnose you with a conversion disorder if you’re a chronic pain sufferer, which in short, translates to “it’s all in your head”. (Which in this case, it is. Literally.) I’ll take my chances with cayenne pepper, ginger, green tea, a mile walk (when I can squeeze it in), and other homeopathic avenues.
As much as I regret it, I may have to cut my own throat and take the offer from Allstate simply because I want to set Jean up with an Android cell phone with a paid one year contract. That would at least give her a lifeline to the outside world via the internet.
I’m not driven by money- never have been- never will be. I am, however, going to add a PayPal tab here in this blog (up at the top, later), temporarily, so that whoever may have it upon their hearts to contribute to Jean, will be able to. I’m hoping to be able to collect at least a few thousand dollars for her. This is my target list for Jean, and what I’d like to get for her with outside help:
Medical coverage for 1 year
Inexpensive, but descent car
Paid car insurance for 1 year
Smart phone (Android) + 1 year paid coverage (internet)
Battery powered printer (wireless printer accessible from Smartphone)
Small Generator with (some) gas
Water filtering system (portable)
Jean has given me permission to work on her behalf: Lord knows somebody needs to.
She’s grateful for all of the help.
Josh is going to use his awesome talents and make her a homemade walking stick/cane. We’re going to go soon and select a sturdy tree branch so that he can smoothen it, stain it, and shellac it. It’ll be another nice surprise for her.
If you’d like to make a monetary donation, the PayPal email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Any and all contributions for Jean will be documented, systematically filed, and then made available for public viewing. Thanks again. 🙂
Now I’m going to go and collapse.
The breakup letter worked. It’s been difficult, but I haven’t chewed on my cheek/tongue since I “dumped it”. (Hey, whatever works.)