When Dad got his GI loan, we moved out of that 'squalor' of an apartment to our own newly constructed two story family home. The reward. I remember helping my father cultivate the back-yard, preparing the land and seeding grass. He must have done the front. We had lovely Kentucky grass that came up.
On one southern corner, I had a patch of tomatoes for a while, and on the northern corner I had some watermelon, which is another story.
I was somehow in charge of the garden, weeding and such. I did have some amazing irises one year.
Most of all, I wondered about this lawn. How ideas manifest! We were now the middle class, with my Dad as a professional for the American Government. That house, that lawn confirmed it. How Amercian! How Protestant Work Ethic! The evidence and support of the rewards and righteousness of hard work.
The American Dream. And Chinese dream, too: even own a square of American land.
This was not really what came to my mind. The garden of my Italian neighbors was so appealing. The first time I ever tasted a slimy grape was in their garden. They did make their own wine in the cellar; they used these grapes and dandelion flowers for home made wine. They had rows of vegetables. chicken coops and cherry trees.
The grandma was ....well...amazing. She rolled this heavy roller around the 'farm' to pat down the soil. I couldn't move this thing if I tried. But, once a year or so, she prepared the soil.
Their yard was so productive.
No one got divorced in the sixties. You made your bed and you had to lay in it...forever, or so it seemed. That was the day of the sleezey private eye who had to prove infidelity. I think that was one of the few acceptable grounds for divorce. Wife beating didn't count. Alcoholism and drug addiction didn't count. Nothing seemed to count except infidelity.
Everything had a consequence back then. Or so it seemed. Of course, there was arsenic, then, too. If you couldn't act openly, there were always other ways.
Catholics married for life. If you divorced, you couldn't be in the church. If you were an observant Jew, you could get a civil divorce, but you had to get a religious divorce, too. That meant going to a high rabbi and spitting in the shoe thing. That was the most shaming. The civil divorce was just a fight and an unfair, ugly one at that. At least for my family. Not only was divorce not done in general, it certainly wasn't done in the Jewish community.
You became unwelcome. It was like having a disease. Leprosy, maybe.
Now, what is it? One in every three marriages ends in divorce. Getting married is relatively easy. Having a no fault divorce is easy, too. If there are no kids and no property, just a civil separation will do.
This is not the case in Israel. In Israel, it is not so easy to marry. You have to provide proof that you are Jewish. Included in that is what group you come from. A Cohen cannot marry an Israelite. Maybe they are not as strict about this anymore. But a Jew cannot legally marry a non-Jew. If you want to be legally married, then you have to go to Greece. I think your marriage would then be recognized. In any case, getting married in Israel is not an easy thing to do. Getting divorced...that has to be even more complicated.
In Muslim countries, there are temporary marriages. I watched some program on that, and it is a legal fooling around arrangement. There are some financial benefits involved. It is not a forever match. Then again, there is legal polygamy, like the Mormons. We are actually supporting these multiple wives. The Brits are, too.
So, the consequences of any act are not so permanent any more. Acts are not so dire anymore. It's all rather confusing. All this redefinition of everything.
I have nothing against my doctor, clinic, or insurance. However, I feel like I am taking my chase there whenever I have to complete my 3 month check up. It is efficient and successful and routine. One week I give up some blood and some urine. The next week I see the doctor. Before I go into the room, I am weighed, then in the room my blood pressure is taken. Finally, the doc comes in and reads and interprets my data. I only take two prescriptions. For months now, all my data is satisfactory.
And when I have a chance, I go to see the acupuncturist. For me, she is my real doctor. She is an MD, a nutritionist, and an acupuncturist. My latest visit has been amazing. You see, I am an addict. I love cigarettes and have been hiding this horrible habit out of shame. I decided to finish with it.
Under treatment, I can see that I am able to reclaim my life. She doesn't just do acupuncture for the cessation of smoking, but she offers helpful suggestions, herbs, and other detoxing treatments. I have tried to get away from this addiction and not been successful. I see that I really needed a coach, someone who actually is invested in this process, someone I felt a connection to and could trust.
She is a tiny woman from Colombia. Her English is impeccable. She exudes confidence and serenity in her very walk. She truly inspires me.
Mother was going through something. Somehow I couldn't stand being at home. So, I ran away.
I never heard of kids running away from home. I just jumped out the door and headed north. No thinking at all. No plan. No money. No clothes.
I ran, then walked till I tired. It was getting dark. The sky was turning pink. I finally realized that I had no where to go. I turned back.
When I got home, I got the beating of my life. Not like television where the adults were/are portrayed as excited, lovingly welcoming the child. My Dad bounced me off the four walls of my room.
This started my journey.
I never use a comb. I haven't used one since I was about 11!
As a family, we lived in a new two level home that my Dad was able to afford with his GI loan. Bedrooms were on the second floor while the recreation room, and laundry were in the basement, while the kitchen, dining area and living room were on the first level.
My bedroom was close to the bathroom and next to my parents' room. My sister's smaller room was the first up the stairs and on the other side of my parents' room.
My Dad was always first in the bathroom during the week. He had the challenge of walking to the train, then riding the train to work. One day, he came bursting into my room scaring me to death. He was screaming that he couldn't find his comb. I don't know what was the final result of this explosion, if he found his comb or not.
I do know that after that incident, I have never used a comb. That is not the complete effect. I still get excited and upset if someone accuses me of something I didn't do. Now, as then, I simply don't respond. I am learning not to even get riled inside. That is a great achievement!
His name was Chi. Chi in Chinese means the energy of life. My understanding of this was incomplete. Once, on a test, a question asked: what has Chi? I didn't get the answer. I thought Chi was restricted to humans and animals. A rock was dead. Modern physics reveals that even a rock has Chi.
Everything is alive. And we are part of it.
I've lived all over the world, but the buggiest place has been Florida. Ants. Roaches. Blue-flies. All other sorts of creepy crawlies. I mostly use pure essential oils to repulse them. My latest for the roaches is white vinegar, water and peppermint. This doesn't kill the bugs, it just disgusts them and they go away; I have to apply it often, unlike poisonous alternatives. I have cats and don't want to spread poisons around.
When I moved into my current apartment, I didn't have a bed. The efficiency I rented had a fold up futon couch that the landlord let me use. It served me well for years, until one day, a bed bug crawled across my shoulder. It freaked me out and turned my life into a month long nightmare.
I had to throw out the bed and purchase Bed Bug Bully to spray everywhere. I'd get up in the middle of the night to inspect everything and spray, spray, spray. OMG! I didn't expect to ever be rid of these blood suckers. But finally, they were gone.
I had attended a community Chamber of Commerce meeting where a bed bud specialist gave us a lecture on the problem. Seems there is an epidemic of these pests and getting rid of them is quite the challenge. NYC, I'm told, has also experienced this invasion.
Once I thought only dirty places get these pests. Not so. I don't know where they come from, how they proliferate, and how they get into your house. I am only glad that since I have gotten rid of them, I haven't seen any. Aside from my essential oil applications, my furbabies manage to catch anything that moves. They earn their keep!
I loved living in Manhattan. I didn't need a car. Public transportation including buses and subways and trains were reliable, ran often and affordable. There were taxis, too. But I loved walking. Even when I lived in Jersey City Heights, right across the river, I'd go into the city just to walk around.
I'd walk everywhere. Harlem. Midtown. The Village. Chinatown. Little India. Little Korea. When I lived in NYC in an apartment as small as a closet, I never felt closed in. I had all of NYC. I never felt unsafe. I had a regular shopping routine; I never went to a supermarket. Instead, I'd get groceries in Chinatown, Little Italy and other local stores. My total for the week never exceeded $20!
When I moved to Pembroke Pines in Florida to stay with a cousin, I started to walk around. OMG. That was a mistake! I was approached by so many men. I stopped walking. Eventually, I got my own place in Lauderhill and a car. I couldn't believe that it took me over a half hour to go across town.
Buses in Florida, if you are going East to West....well, I would wait till I was almost in tears for them to come, if they came at all.
Finally, I found a great apartment, centrally located. Everything I need is in walking distance. I bike to the center of town, though. So, my walking is only to the local store up the street, or across the street to the supermarket and CVS. After having sat in pee on a bus, I try to avoid the bus. I miss walking. I have tried to exercise in the apartment, but...somehow, I never get to it. I don't like gyms. It's too hot to bike to the beach.
As fortune would have it, we have a pool at my complex. Swimming has become my exercise. Looking at the sky, being at home with pool access, is truly a blessing. I still miss walking. Seeing the shops and their changing displays. Seeing all those different people from around the world. Looking up at those buildings. Discovering new neighborhoods. But a blessing is a blessing. How could I complain?
I learned about Shiatsu from my supervisor when I lived in Tokyo. She was accepted as a student by Chinese acupuncturists, which was really unusual. She needed someone to practice on and I volunteered.
Shiatsu helped me live and helped me help other people when I was in Israel. I lived in a farming village in the Arava desert. Our closest neighboring village was several miles away and Eilat was an hour or so by car. We had no stores and our supplies did not include medicine. I was able to help relieve headaches, help relax a mother enough so she could nurse, help toothaches, back aches and so on, including relieving menstrual cramps.
I earned a certificate as a Shiatsu practitioner in Tel Aviv.
When I returned to the States, Ohashi, who wrote the book I learned from, had a school in NYC. Massage in general was still unrecognized and Shiatsu was practically unknown.
I finally moved to Florida in the '90s and became a licensed massage therapist. Swedish massage, sports massage and other advanced modalities are wonderful, but, compared to Shiatsu, they are not 'medicine.' Shiatsu is based on Chinese acupuncture; the difference being that no needles are used, only your hands. Other than that, the principles are the same.
It amazes me that people still would rather pop pills than use acupuncture or Shiatsu. When I was a massage therapist, one of the other therapists at our location had hurt her wrist. I had had hurt myself around the same time. I got a treatment and was back at work the next day. She, on the other hand, was in a restraining device and out of commission for a few weeks.
I've been to some acupuncture clinics here in Florida. They are amazing. Upgraded and beautiful. How times change!
I want to write about my cat, Mishu. My neighbor adopted this orange kitten and named him Mishu. He wouldn't stay in the house and would yowl until he was let out. This went on for a while. He'd come yowling around my apartment looking to be fed. I already have to cats and wasn't ready to have another. The neighbor would give me money to feed Mishu.
Eventually, Mishu decided I was his human and began to come into my house regularly. He is now a year old. I could set my clock by him. He comes in at 5 or 6 am, eats a little, then sits by me till I move. Then he goes out to return again at 6 pm. At first, the other cats did not like him. Now, he comes in and stays for longer. When he cuddles next to me, he constantly purrs. He is so affectionate. And the other cats, especially Mickey, licks him and sniffs him when he comes in.
We decided we had to have him fixed. The day he came home, I kept him in. I got up in the morning and he was gone. I couldn't figure how he got out until I saw the torn screen in the bathroom. I have jalousie windows, and he tore the screen and escaped. I don't have a cat door so this is his escape route.
We thought having him fixed would calm him down. No way. He is domineering, territorial and possessive. He still fights with other neighborhood cats coming home with cuts and scratches. He brings me captured birds, mice and lizards as love offerings.
When he is home, the other cats don't come into the room. I am HIS human after all.
Animals, like babies, do not have a cluttered mind. They see things we don't. I am in a program that helps me with the rent. The other day, my social worker came over. Mishu took one look at her and dashed off to his escape window. I take his assessment seriously.
The other evening, his former 'owner' had some guys over; they were outside,playing music and being loud. Mishu was coming home, and when he saw them, he freaked. I had to grabbed him and take him in the house.
I take his assessment seriously.