…the flake

To: realmom@stake.out
Is there a law in most states, against marrying—like the one against cousins marrying to avoid birth defects—if your mother has been declared hopelessly incompetent and forgetful? Is that possible? I’m really worrying about this one and I need reassurance. Write back... now! Again, desperately seeking… Terina

On-demand therapists are what my friends, family and even total strangers have become. Anyone who ventures within hearing must listen to my newest foul-up. It’s become the job of those around me—even sometimes the unsuspecting bystander—to pick up the pieces, put me back together and set me back on track to continue with life.

To me,
Today’s goof happened when I was at a daughter function and another young lady came up to me and in a whisper, reminded me that I was responsible that day for my daughter’s spotlight in her young women’s group.

“…just a short letter from you and her father telling her how great she is and then another note with cute anecdotes, so we can get to know her better and guess her identity...”
I hear water running. Back in a few, T.

Most instant-psychotherapists, when faced with this dilemma, reassure me by relating stories of their own to halt the self- flagellation and try to make me feel better. It’s a weak, “I’m-as-whacked-as-you-are,” assurance, because no one could ever top me. They attempt to reassure me that today’s blunder is understandable and “should expected from a person so busy and so involved.”

Could it be that I subconsciously seek out fruits and nuts of my same genus to reassure me that I’m not the only split pea in the pod,[1] and to inveigle myself into their lives to see how they cracked they are?[2]

To me:
This young girl had called ahead and warned me two weeks previously and I had immediately placed it in my mental memory, under the main folder, titled Forget!
Twice more in a three-hour period I was reminded and twice more I forgot. I could take two pages to explain how muddled a mélange my mind is, but suffice it to say, I was thinking about other things. Later, T.

I’m trying to identify with unique individuals to appreciate their eccentricities and assure myself that I’m just like them…well, in an individual way, and they are just like me… well in a communal way. But most importantly, I want to reach the point where we get to know each other so well that we like each other.[3]

To me,
So I end up at the youth meeting, in front of twenty young women hiding my blushing face behind a too-small sheet of paper while the spot-lighter explained that she would highlight this girl, but it was impossible because her mother was not forthcoming with the information.
The group unanimously guessed who the girl was. My reputation precedes me. Blushing, T.

I must face it; no individual is as oddball as I am, so I have to learn to appreciate me. When I do, that means others are forced by the dictates of polite society to reciprocate in kind, right? Yeah! We do all fit in.[4]

To realmom@stake.out
Hey, family, so I’m just wondering if sweet innocent girls with flaky mothers are allowed to wed if there is no possible way the mother of the bride can be that organized? I promise I’ll remember all the little details, but probably not the big ones.

My daughter reassures me that on the way to the wedding, she will call me an hour before the ceremony and remind me that the groom will be by to pick me up. And not to worry, she will have my dress. Whew! Terina

Reality bite: No, it’s not fair for my children to be saddled with me, but I remind them, “That’s Life, It’s not fair. You can choose your friends, but not your mother.”[5]

[1] Reality television helps
[3] If that’s too deep, or just plain confusing, skip it.
[4] An issue left over from the teen years.
[5]I mangled this one personally.

…personal paradox

In my constant quest for stability, I seek balance in many issues that catch me off guard and knock me for a loop. These issues make me go, “Huh?” with that quizzically wrinkled brow, and an incredulous look.

It’s my quest, however, to understand my fellow beings, so when I overhear or read something tweeks my interest—when my head snaps around and my eyebrows raise—I must follow up!

To me:
Go right ahead and insist that green M&M’s be served for breakfast. We’ll change the word, “groupies” to “entourage” just for you, and then we’ll venerate your underwear and sell it on ebay.
But this only happens to the “famous,” the rest of us are only indulged at this level until we reach our terrible two’s. Seeking clarification, Terina

Some of the topics that pique me are obvious distortions because from a simple glance, their left or right leanings are easy to spot, but others are perfectly straight-forward and those I review under the magnifying glass to expose the plumb that is half a bubble off.

If I write about an issue that I find totally off kilter, I can usually realign my center and find better balance.

That’s the purpose of all my writing—just trying to retain my equilibrium as a stable member of society in the fluctuating insanity of the world. I could reclude and wander the house muttering about the strangeness of everyone else, but I’m not rich enough to pull off eccentric. So instead I’ll write my opinions and evaluations and compare the mystery to the strangeness of myself. Then I’ll send my essays to everyone I know. (Just in case you too were wondering how you ended up on this list.)

Reality Bite: Just struggling to find my place and fit in.

…pretzel loop

Speaking of lost… Great segue, no? Most of the challenges I face in life are self-inflicted, like my driving.

I’m lost again and isn’t my fault… entirely. I drive back and forth; round and round and I’m surprised when I find myself back at the same place.

I don’t mind asking for directions, but I think I must have a tattoo on my forehead that glows when I’m lost that says, “Go ahead—confuse me more!” I wonder if it blares that I am left brained, or right brained, or perhaps no brained whatsoever.

Remember the rest stop in that dumber than dumb movie where the two guys get turned around?[1] It’s in Kansas, I know because I’ve been there and I’ve done it! In the middle of a twenty-four hour road trip, I got off and got back on, headed in the opposite direction.

Reality Bite: Oblivion is a great place to visit, but try not to live there.

[1] I’m not in the mood to pay for rights to remember the correct title here.


When I admit that I’m lost, it’s no big surprise to anyone. For me, lost is a permanent condition—more than just a directional disability. I give up and ask directions only after I’ve explored all other alternatives and circumnavigated the lengths and breadth of the twilight zone.

Directions don’t help because I’m still wandering about searching for the reference points from my latest rescuer who thought he could use a GPS (Guy’s Play Stuff) locator—the newest high-tech gadget for location. “At latitude 68, longitude 54, turn magnetic North and drive to mile marker 357. Then turn West and drive 6.258 kilometers northeast.”

I see how it may be invaluable during a game of international hide and seek., but for big city driving, it’s a failure. It does nothing to alleviate the real problem which, as close as I can tell, is the fact that the earth itself is tilted.

I’ve considered implants—of the directional variety. If anyone ever needed a permanent locator it would be me… not to locate myself—I also suffer from THHD, (Technologically helpless, hopeless disorder,)—but to help someone else locate me and decipher my ramblings.

The cell phone thingy helps. Today when I got lost, I called for directions. It still took an hour for somebody to figure out where I was, but I have the “stay connected to friends and family plan,” thank goodness.

Reality Bite: Size doesn’t matter. Today’s landmark was a 90-foot radio tower off to the side of the road and I still missed it.

…familial compass

When I’m driving with the family and I begin to show inklings of rambling, my on-board support team surges into action. The oldest child yells, “Everybody quiet!” while the next one chimes in, “Lost, again, Mom?” One salvages a map from the depths of the fetid floor coverings, while another calls in the cavalry (their father) who is mobilized online electronically for just this eventuality.

When short errands turn into lengthy voyages, the little one revises his original complaint of, “Are we there yet?” to wonder, “Are we lost… yet?”

To Me,
From this day forth, I’m going to be proactive and recommend that all directions include not only, “You know you are on the right road if…” but also, “...and I'll know I’m in the wrong place when …” It works. T.

...futility exercises

Sometimes when I’m lost, and I need some reassurance, I like to pull into a parking lot and watch people amble by, looking for their cars. Somehow this exercise becomes my symbol of companionship—a sort of impromptu support group—that builds my confidence and reassures me that here, I fit in perfectly.

To me: I’m desperately seeking the support structure that was my foundation. Crumbling in Okefenokee, Okmulgee, or Ogalala, where ever I am OK, Terina

I watch these fellow seekers as their confident stride falters, slowing to a hesitant shuffle and all the while, the head turns like a broken compass bobbing back and forth seeking magnetic north. [1]

As the scene plays out, I use their success or failure as portend of my fate—a magic ball to foretell the end of my trip. Either I will have eventual success or I should stop right now and go home. It’s nice to have some small hand in my own destiny. With their outcome, either heartened or disillusioned, I drive off into my day.

Reality Bite: Ha! I’m not the only one. When my friend goes to the restroom in a restaurant, her family knows to retrieve her from her kitchen inspection, and redirect her back to the table.

[1] All of life's problems stem from disregarding magnetic north, (except for those directly related to the breaking of the universal clean-underwear rule.)


Being lost isn’t all bad, sometimes it takes me to places that I could never imagine—to beauty unparalleled. I see firsthand scenery that would flash by virtually unnoticed if I were in a hurry.

I’ve decided that one can be mad and lost or one can choose to be happy and lost. It’s all about one’s attitude and not at all, ever, about being totally oblivious.

I am going to change my attitude and enjoy the view as I pass it—again going the wrong direction—repeatedly, for the fifth time.

Dear Sis,
Sorry about the extra mileage. Tell your husband that while he blissfully slept in the backseat, I really enjoyed the four hours of uninterrupted talk time with my sister.
It wasn’t really my intent to disrupt his dreams of Yellowstone Park with the reality of waking up in Montana. I don’t remember turning left instead of the right, but if was fun to meet that nice man at that last-chance bar and grill. He gassed us up and redirected us down that dirt road and then we made great time. Give your aghast one hugs for me, Terina

Upon first appearance, the road of life doesn’t appear too complicated (and certainly not as convoluted as I’ve been accused of making it.) Life can be compared to an enjoyable jaunt across the country. One expects on such a lengthy journey that there may be minor stops and starts, but I’m working to get from here to there while enjoying myself. If that is my destination, I’m just going to have to accept life's little detours.

Reality bite: That and the little bobble head glued to the front dash are the essentials in life.


To me,
Life’s problems are like a Moebius loop—spiraling around and around, unending. Whee, T.

I adapt to all the little twists and curves of kismet, fate, luck, doom, karma, (whatever it is that each of us tend to title life’s little ups and downs) by talking and writing about these calamities. Therapists call it active participatory therapy, I call it venting.

I use this therapy to identify problems and then I write to defuse these stressors. It’s about then that I realize that writing is the stressor.

Writing should help me loop through the conundrums of life and garner solutions, but it’s become an endless cycle. I sort through past years of garbled vicissitudes[1] and discover that my life requires constant clarification and urgent revision!

So I write more! It is then that I realize that this idea of writing therapy is not new; it’s been around for centuries. I expect it to work about as well for me as it worked for Poe.[2]

Reality Bite: “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”[3]

I plan to continue to twist and record my adventures until I either confuse or convince myself to do otherwise. I’ll shoot along this track pell-mell, encouraged by the idea that I’m making some therapeutic headway.
In lieu of that, I fully expect that my writing will explain my eccentricities to my progeny. I can picture them now. “Remember how Grandma got lost every time she ventured beyond her back yard?” Well, now they will have my response in perpetuity.

Reality Bite: Don’t explore anything too deeply, it’s not safe.

[1] Abrupt or unexpected changes or shifts often met with in one’s life, activities or surroundings. (Webster) Isn’t that word great here?
[2] Edgar Allan, if you’re still too young to have revisited 8th grade lit. homework.
[3] Yup, I have an 8th grader, obviously.