Category Archives: sociology

The Snooze.

CHAPTER 49.

Her niece was getting married the very next week. A lovely young woman, about the same age as she was when the body clock sounded its first alarm.

Instead of retiring “at a decent hour” as her beloved departed father would have insisted she decided to succumb to the more customary, post midnight mania and try on her intended outfit in front of the full length mirror. Her gut was talking; should she look frumpy, maybe last minute flight cancellations wouldn’t be the only reason to stay home.

The sleeveless jersey A line with its graduated greens to blues seemed a fit; thank God, becoming scrawny again still bore up under generic M sizing. Her faded greying hair, freshly trimmed and styled, seemed the right length for the scoop neck and bangly geometric necklace. Bohemian fabric ankle boots held up well around thick, multi colored socks and the olive stretch leggings, their color chosen to complement the bridal party palette, would likely work nicely to hide untanned calves. By all appearances, she was cleared to take off for the much anticipated event celebrating the last single child of her eldest brother’s brood.

Then, facing the glass, she saw them. Bubbles, and ripples, cascading down her forearms and over the tops of her hands. What?

Blood vessels. Every vein, bulging, like a 3-D map of the Interstate highway system. What? She stared, recoiling. Is that why she looked so old in the candid front porch photos beside the beloved little 4 year old music student? She’d thought it the bright sun, meeting the digital phone lens designed to capture detail beyond that which the human eye could see. But, this. This? This was how her arms looked – in real life?

Having melted all the midlife fat the previous pandemic year, she’d devolved to wrists the width of twigs. But, this was a different animal. This was a topography heralding the unmistakeable, unavoidable hallmark of old ladies everywhere. This was age.

At least, that’s what Google said. Skin, thinning; vein valves, weakening; blood, wearily making its endless, return trip back to the heart like some army of tired ants.

She’d remembered touching her grandmother’s skin, the part of her neck draping the throat, marveling at its velvety texture; was this nature’s way of making that which could barely be seen anymore in the half light of the old fashioned boudoir something to be felt, instead, tactile pleasure displacing what could no longer entice the eyes?

She wondered if a man would bear such a preference.

The gathering was a destination event, pulling all family members from the four corners of the continent to meet their new in-laws for the first time. As such she, the most remotely connected of any among her own kin, might put a kink in it. She’d stayed “home” to build her life; the rest had moved miles away. Career choice, and time commitment, plus the absence of proximity had formulated an equation, the opposite side of its equal sign a brand to a relationship void of social attachment; she would be as much a stranger as the whole lot of those awaiting their guests’ arrival.

Add to all that, age. Who’d want to talk to the old, childless aunt? Only those trained in the art of polite exchange would muster up. Could she adopt character, be the jester, an angle proving workable in the past? Oh, wait; in this clan, that would be the patriarch’s domain. Rob him of his coveted role she would not, lest he be named naked Emperor in front of all.

These were anticipating their first opportunity to establish extended family connection. Energy was to be focused. Best not to distract, by provoking extraneous noblesse oblige. Detach; observe; record, like the ubiquitous camera filming the reality show. Would anyone notice?

She’d been 36, the year of her own wedding; her niece was now 38. Twenty four additional months spent deliberating, in quiet expectation. Like ten minutes of Snooze on the alarm clock, more time to resist the inevitable.

Maybe the airline would discover a staff shortage. Perhaps maintenance, or an empty terminal bay, would send the schedulers in a mad dash through their Rubik’s Cube of impossible variables.

She’d let reality play, sans voyeur’s lens. Wedding days came, and wedding days went. Marriages were supposed to endure. Time to take ten, and wait it all out.

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Copyright 9/4/22. Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, the old aunt, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole, part, or by translation. Sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for sitting with your own family.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Longest Week.

Today was the eighth day.

Jehovah’d created the whole world in six, and the next day rested.

She was worn out.

Age made time move faster, she’d been told. But, she believed otherwise. State of mind, that’s what governed time. The degree to which mind attended to detail across the hours determined how quickly they were perceived to move. That, and resistance, the force designed to provoke action.

Back in the day she’d committed every waking minute, including those spent asleep, to action. Forty five of these, unassigned to task, was a vacation. Add to that the fertility cycle, applied to a body in constant motion, and you got what made a whole day take eons to end. That, and resistance, the force designed to prevent progress.

Now, she’d made every moment of these eight days deliberate. Wariness, the state of awareness heightened by foreboding expectation. She had to monitor her mind, across time now; it had become her adversary.

That, and resistance, the force with the capacity to frustrate.

Her thoughts always in charge, these days had been consumed by them. Intricate; hyper-conscious; fixated. Not on a single subject, but the juxtaposition of two. Then, convergence. Dissonance.

Thoughts driving action, she’d become skittish. Intent upon fulfilling predictable patterns, obligations, but determined to move through the newer resistance.

The two subjects were seemingly opposed. One, give; the other, take.

Each carried their own assigned actions. Were they mutually exclusive? Should she give or, instead, take?

Her existence had become about these questions, more poignantly now than ever before.

Notions of reciprocation having dissolved with a decaying fantasy, she was left only with the task of defining need. Her own.

If she continued to give, would doing so provide inherent satisfaction? Whence would the signal to take arise? If she chose instead to pursue the latter, would there be anything there to receive?

Would that the source of either be singular; but, historically, she hadn’t been so blessed.

Eight days hence, the decision to choose remained.

Thank God for the first day of another week.

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Copyright 9/4/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose thoughts these are and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole, part, or by translation. Sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for thinking, first.

littlebarefeetblog.com

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AVERSION.

Two magnets opposed cannot touch.

Or, we humans lack the strength to bring them together.

But, what of the psychological forces which repel?

I have no memory of what could have provoked the first episode, nor can I recall the manifesting scenario. All I do know is, my tendency to be easily averted has been lifelong.

Basically, aversion is turning away.

As a force, aversion seems to drive me to move in a direction opposed to that which I would otherwise choose. I can avoid tasks, events, even people, for days to weeks, cause not immediately named. And, my emotional connection to the activity or the person doesn’t seem strong enough to prevent this.

Rejection, or its potential, always lurks as a catalyst.

Often, the behavior of a single, key individual affects whether or not I turn from something toward which I would normally run. It’s as if some negative power or influence attaches itself to what I love, rendering it hostile. Like a poisoning.

Several months ago, I was displaced as pianist by another available candidate who had actually been nominated by me to serve temporarily in my stead when I could not. I made this recommendation on the basis of another’s reference, something I rarely do without knowing the quality of the player. But, ultimately, I lost my seat to this person, the panel in place to choose having determined availability to be the sole criteria in line with their needs.

While all these appeared satisfied with their decision, I was fairly well demolished by it. Gradually, I lost interest in my association with the group and, even more astonishing, my desire to play the piano. Now, every time I so much as look at my beautiful Steinway grand, aversion grips my soul.

The initial emotion was, invariably, anger; how dare anyone infiltrate my precious relationship with the music I made on this magnificent instrument?

Yet, the anger gets directed toward that from which I’m averted! The piano itself embodies the negative force exerted by those who have expressed their rejection of me, as if to become a tool of their power.

The dishes in the sink, waiting to be washed, seize me similarly. If I do not wash them immediately, they become increasingly capable of averting me until not a single clean plate or bowl remains and the task demands attention.

I use the term “lifelong” because I cannot return to a time when aversion was not played out in my realm.

Psychologists posit that trauma is the originator. Pain, and the fear of pain, cause us to do everything in our power to prevent its recurrence. Somehow, trauma causes pain and pain becomes associated with that which we hold dear.

Childhood trauma has many aspects – physical abuse; sexual abuse; emotional abuse. Being beaten; being violated; having love and care withheld. Our brains make connections. A single event can permanently associate the pain it generates with any number of experiences in the future which trigger its memory.

Likewise, the source of the aversion attaches itself like a barnacle to that from which I’m averted. They meld. The source seizes ownership.

Many, many years ago I did experience a memorable trauma, one which can be isolated and named. That episode caused PTSD, a phenomenon still manifesting residually all these years hence. And, what did this affect? My other musical instrument, my priceless cello. The ghosts of the nefarious surround me every time I look in its direction.

My conscious awareness of the cause, plus my love for my students, are the only forces which overcome this realization; I deliberately penetrate the veil of hate every time I choose to grasp hold of that instrument.

Aversion isn’t just a psychological neurosis. It’s the power of hate to command control over that which is loved, very well one of the demons about which the ancients speak.

We must all rise, and stand against such a force. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” – Song of Solomon 8.

Nothing should touch that which is loved except love itself.

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Copyright 8/28/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Plagiarists, take your hate and turn away.

littlebarefeetblog.com