Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Oh, the Weather Outside Is Frightful"

Spring is never easy for someone with Meniere’s disease. Why? Because many of us have Meniere’s headaches, which are like migraines in intensity but without the sensitivity to light. Many foods, such as chocolate, tomatoes, strawberries, and dairy, can trigger these headaches. But most often the trigger, at least for me, is a precipitous barometric change.
         I live in a part of Missouri that is known as tornado alley and so the weather here is volatile, especially in spring and the bar graph on my barometer bops up and down like a roller coaster. Then come the headaches and I toddle off to bed, chant a mantra, and try to distract myself so that I don’t think about the ache in my brain! Medication can help if I take it soon enough to nip the ache in the bud. But sometimes the headache wins the race and just assumes a life of its own within my brain.
         These headaches keep me from thinking clearly and so reading and responding to blogs become somewhat difficult. Even writing my own postings takes a number of hours just to make some sense out of what is swirling around in my mind. This posting is taking much longer than you would think.
         I haven’t visited your blogs to read and comment in a week. Moreover, the forecasters are predicting many days of rain.
         So once again I’m going to drop out of sight for a few more days. I hope to post on this blog next Wednesday, the 24th. If all goes well, I will. I won’t be posting on my word-crafting blog this coming Sunday, but hope to return to it on the 28th.
         I do miss reading your blogs as I find so interesting your lives and stories and this A to Z Challenge with which many of you are engaged.
         I hope all of you are enjoying spring and that those of you who have these headaches, for whatever reason, are able to take some time off and simply rest.
         Peace to you and thank you for all the empathy I know you are feeling for me right now. Blogging has surely opened up my world. Please believe me when I say that I cherish the friendship so many of you extend to me.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Anklets, Saddle Shoes, and Droplets

Last week you learned that I pee when I laugh too much. This happened a lot in grade school. In fifth grade I began my friendship with the bus driver because of blotches left by pee. He found a way to deal with the problem without embarrassing me.
         In seventh grade I also met gentleness with regard to my peeing. But this time I knew real embarrassment.
         The incident began when Sister Mary McCauley, our seventh grade teacher, asked our class to speak for three minutes about something that interested us.
         One by one we walked resolutely up to the front of the room. The boys mostly talked about wars and westerns. One of them had been to Yellowstone and described Old Faithful. The girls related how she’d learned to play the piano. Several talked about their favorite movie stars. One classmate had seen the Atlantic Ocean and talked about the thunder of its waves.

         When my time came, I hurried down the aisle to the front of the room. Already a history buff, I’d chosen to talk about the Liberty Bell that hung in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia.
         The boys knew my weakness because we’d all gone through grade school together. So as soon as I started talking, they crossed their eyes and tried on their most grotesque faces. I started giggling.
         Then it happened: pee trickled down my legs. I tried holding them tightly together, but that only made the boys redouble their efforts.
         More drips and dribbles.
         I stood in a spreading puddle of pee.
         I had to talk for three minutes to get a good grade, so I forged on with facts and dates.
         More seepage.
         The pee wet the tops of my white anklets.
         The puddle kept spreading around my white and brown saddle shoes.
How much pee does a kid’s bladder hold? I wondered.
Finally, I finished and raced down the aisle to my desk. Maybe when I sat down, the pool of pee would magically disappear.
         Sister Mary McCauley’s voice brought me to a halt. “Dolores, there seems to be a wet spot on the floor. Would you please get a rag and wipe it up. I’d appreciate that.”
         The boys guffawed; the girls tittered.  
         I got a rag from the closet, wiped up the puddle, trashed the sodden cloth, and sat down quietly at my desk. Behind me, a classmate who was sweet on me whispered, “I liked your speech best.”
         Well, at least it was the most entertaining. A real show-and-tell.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Busdriver and the Blotch

The fifth grade holds many memories for me. During its first three months—September, October, and November of 1946—a neighbor daily molested me in his car. This happened as he drove my brother and me and his own children to and from St. Mary’s Grade School. In January, I wrote three postings about Mr. Jackson. To read the first of those three, click here.
            The fifth grade, however, also holds wonderful memories for me. Sister Mary McCaulay began to teach us how to craft sentences. Late last year, on my writing blog, I shared three stories about how she began with prepositions, then introduced the building blocks of sentences, and finally helped us construct paragraphs. Thus began my love affair with words and writing.

            My introduction to the memorizing of poetry also enhanced fifth grade. I mentioned the joy of this in my posting last Wednesday.
            A final memory from fifth grade always brings a smile to my face. I hope you, too, will enjoy this story.
            After my parents confronted Mr. Jackson, I rode the city bus to school. Its route brought it out into the countryside. Each morning I’d climb aboard the bus at the juncture of Kentucky and Dickinson roads.

A 1930s school bus that came before the yellow ones we’re now used to.

            When school ended each day, I could either board the bus by St. Mary’s or walk down Liberty Street and hail down the bus whenever it came by. I mostly chose to do the latter because that meant I could walk several blocks with my best friend: Barbara Ann.
            I shared two stories about Barbara Ann way back in October 2012. The first had to do with preparing to receive First Holy Communion. The next concerned the mishap on that day of celebration. We were in second grade then and we remained fast friends throughout grade and high. Our friendship endures and she called me for my birthday on Monday.
            By the fifth grade, Barbara Ann and I had become connoisseurs of giggling. Gigglers par excellence. Anything and everything could make us giggle. And did.
            Daily we walked down Liberty Street giggling about what Jackie had said when Sister Mary McCaulay asked him to pick his favorite preposition. Giggling about what John Tom had for lunch. Giggling about what an astounding jump-rope jumper Judy was. Our giggling itself made us giggle.
            And as we giggled, the pee began to dribble down my legs, wetting my cotton panties. I’d walk nine blocks with Barbara Ann, giggling and peeing all the way. Then she’d turned left to go down the street to her home and I’d wait for the bus to wheeze to a stop and pick me up.
            The seats in this bus were leather or something that seemed like leather. Maybe naugahyde. So of course, when I sat on them with wet panties, I left an imprint—a large wet blotch. And since I mostly sat in the same seat each day, that blotch got bigger and darker and more obvious as the school year went on.
            Finally one day in early April, I boarded the bus, greeted the welcoming driver, and started down the aisle. Before I could go more than a step or two, he called me back. “Dolores,” he began in a whisper, “I can’t let you sit down on the bus anymore.”
            “The boss said so.”
            “So I can’t take the bus?”
            “Oh, you can ride. You just can’t sit down." He paused and then whispered more softly. "Do you know why?”             
             “Did I do something wrong?”
            “It’s the spots you leave behind.”
            “Do you want me to walk home?”
            The road out into the countryside was narrow with one lane going each way and deep culverts along the side. Cars came barreling down that country road. In truth, I was a little scared to walk those three miles home.
            “No, Dolores. As I said, you can ride the bus home, but you’ll just need to stand up here instead of sit.”
            “Stand here by you?”
            “You can stand in the stairwell. And we can talk.”
            During those final weeks of fifth grade, the bus driver and I became fast friends. I told him about my classmates and what we were learning. He told me about his two preschoolers and the funny things they did.
            We talked about the Blues—they were the Kansas City Triple A baseball farm team for the Yankees. And we talked about reading. He liked Zane Gray and I liked fairy tales and books like Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates: A Story of Life in Holland and Peter and Wendy.

Hans Brinker tying on his sister Gretel’s ice skates.
The friendship between the bus driver and myself continued throughout all the years I took the bus home because that stairwell became Dolores' throne. The truth is that I never stopped giggling with Barbara Ann . . . and I never stopped peeing!

All photographs from Wikipedia.