Category Archives: musicians

What It’s Like To Love An Alcoholic During A Pandemic.

Alcohol is my mortal enemy. She wears a harlot’s face. She dresses like a skank. And, she waits in the shadows of the country roadside distributors and “buy one, get one free” holiday specials to snatch away hope, impossible promises, everything worth emotional investment. And, during the pandemic she, too, wears a mask.

About 22 years ago, I learned the meaning of isolation. A lifetime of vocal abuse, yelling outside in the ragweed and grass pollen at the high school marching band and generally clamoring over everyone had created a polyp the size of a Champagne grape on my left vocal fold. The surgery itself, an expert excision performed by the robotic arm maneuvered by Dr. Clark Rosen at UPMC Voice Center went without complication; but, the post-op, follow-up patient compliance would prove daunting. I had to remain absolutely silent, for two solid weeks, never so much as clearing my throat lest I destroy the tiny cauterization and blow out my cords — and, then, only permitted to speak for five minutes every hour for two more. My landscape was bleak; I would be in for a very long haul, nearly three months alone and six more under prescribed restriction. Nobody wanted to hang out with somebody who could barely speak.

Given that year of life spent avoiding human interaction, when the coronavirus pandemic descended I was hardly fazed. I had this. Real, fake, or somewhere in between, I knew the drill.

But, for these past nearly four years, I’d been quite accompanied. Either with me on occasion at my house or more frequently at his country idyl twenty some minutes south of our town, my partner — my man — had been ever present. Our relationship was a challenge; not exactly compatible, we’d thrown ourselves at each other late in life after a 30 year separation caused by the details of what each of us had known life to be in the town of our birth. But, after more time than I’d ever spent with one man, we found ourselves bonded. Many would call it love.

I was addicted to him. And, he was addicted….but, not to me. He couldn’t drive past any sign that flashed BEER without stocking up. And, his patterns were, among those who imbibed, the least healthy; whatever he purchased, he drank — all at once, over a period of just an hour or so. The assault on his body frightened me; but he, muscle bound and head strong, hardly gave it a second thought.

When the word came down that everyone of a certain age should stay home, I looked at him and made the decision for both of us. He would shelter in place, with me — 24/7, for a solid month. This would take him well past day 28, the period of time every addiction therapist believed was required for the body to be cleared of alcohol and all its affects.

And, this appeared to work. We had, by both his account and mine, some of our most joyful time together to date. We rearranged my kitchen to make it companion compatible, my assisting his gourmet meal preparations nearly every night; we walked Bella, the Rotty, under the grand oaks and firs at the nearby cemetery; and, the only binging happening was our umpteen seasons of HOMELAND. During the coronavirus pandemic, no less, I thought we’d achieved what everyone else called happiness.

At the end of the 28 days, he was ready to return home. It was May; there was garden soil to turn, and a cage to pullet, and the spring lawn to mow. And, he said, he had to “test” whether he could sustain his now streamlined figure and newfound mental clarity alone.

Of course, my addiction dictated what happened next. I’d be monitoring his every going and coming, texting and calling – urging him to wear the n95 mask I’d given him from my tool drawer, reminding him to wash all packaging upon returning from the store. Wondering, alone at home, if he’d slipped. Agonizing over whether this 65 year old, sleep deprived, retired nurse in a compromised physical condition was watching the news and realizing how lucid he’d have to be, daily.

Tomorrow is Labor Day. We’d endured nearly six months. Tonight, after a major row about nothing, a two for one sixpack binge the night before, and another canceled plan to be with me for a Sunday, I drove out yet again to get my things. This time, I walked out onto the back stoop, searching for a place to toss the three empties instead of smashing them on the pavement.

And, there it was. A black mask just like his, neatly folded on the landing.

I didn’t remember whether he’d said he had one, or two. I only knew that he wasn’t home, he always kept his in the truck, and this mask sat, folded, on his cement step. Not even an alcoholic in a boozy haze goes outside to stand on his own backyard stoop with his mask still on his face, only to remove it, fold it, and set it down. This one had been on somebody else.

I don’t scream much, anymore. The throat surgeon taught me well. Now, when the overwhelm of grief driven exhaustion descends upon my small bones, I just increase my step and hasten my exit stage left. I run, to the car, and tear off in the increasing dusk, my jaw set in the rear view mirror, my eyes aflame.

Being alone has its merits. Solitude can be a gift. Loving someone who loves something else more than you eats your soul from the inside out. This pandemic had better end. I have better love to give, all mortal enemies be damned.

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© 9/6/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Originally published at Medium.com

littlebarefeetblog.com

WHY WE NEED SOLDIERS.

by Ruth Ann Scanzillo, 3rd grade, Mrs. Osborne

LINCOLN SCHOOL.

Why do we need soldiers in our country?

We need many soldiers because human beings have to kill each other in order to get land and the stuff that comes from the land. Everybody knows that, without land, people can’t live on planet Earth because people don’t have gills. So, people have to get as much land as they can, even if it means taking it from people who already live on it. And, if the people who already live on it won’t let anybody take it, then it sometimes helps to try to get the stuff from the land, like oil to burn for cold winters and gold and silver and diamonds, because those are things that people use to make roads and buildings and machines and getting the stuff instead of taking the land means less people will have to be killed because human beings don’t like to share – they want to keep their stuff. Oh; and, some people believe in religions that kill people to get what they want, too, and when they believe these religions this makes the killing part okay. So, religions that say it’s okay to kill people are more popular with the people who want more land. But, some religions don’t believe in killing people for any reason. The people who believe in those are quiet, and don’t even mind living alone sometimes, and they grow their own food even. They don’t much need stuff from other people’s land but, when they do, they are willing to trade some of their extra stuff for the things they do need. But, in our country, most people don’t live alone. They live in houses with other people, some houses full of other people called families, and some of them have jobs that make them leave their houses during the day. Most of those people who do jobs in buildings make things on machines or sell things made on machines or work on machines or drive big trucks to take the things that are made to stores so the stuff can be sold. Machines make all kinds of things that people can’t make on their own. Most of the small stuff the machines make are for people who want things, like clothes and telephones and parts for cars and bikes and games. Everybody wants things, because having things gives them something to do if they can’t sing or play the piano. Really big machines make things for the soldiers, like planes and guns and bombs because killing to get more land is a big deal and requires very powerful equipment so that killing the people actually works. Nobody wants to kill all kinds of people for no reason.

And, that’s why we need so many soldiers in our country.

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© 8/27/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

“Sweet Remembrance.”

This is Felix Mendelssohn’s first “Song Without Words” (Lieder Ohne Worte), Book I. It is Opus 19, No 1 — but the title, “Sweet Remembrance”, is not found in every compilation.

To those who might be interested, this performance was recorded on Steinway Model M, short stick, Blue Yeti stereo mic set at cardioid, using the PhotoBooth platform on Macbook Pro.