CHILDHOOD SCARS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

We are all shaped by events from our early childhoods. Childhood traumas can have permanent effects. Their scars can affect the development of self-image and self-esteem in our early years. They can determine how we see ourselves and how we perceive the world around us. They can affect how we relate to others.

I started life with a handicap. I was born with what today would be considered a milk allergy. In 1949, when I was born, it was called Celiac. I couldn’t digest even the lightest baby formula. It gave me severe colic and projectile vomiting. For years, children had died from this condition.

Me as an infant

Fortunately for me, someone had discovered the banana diet for Celiac babies. It turned out that infants with Celiac could digest bananas and goat’s milk. So I was put on this severely limited diet. The doctor told my parents to bring me back when I was four years old. By then I would probably have outgrown the disease. At age four my parents started feeding me regular food and I can and do eat everything now.

Me at age two

But for my first four years of life, I couldn’t eat ANYTHING that everyone else could eat. My parents decided that to ‘protect’ me, I should eat alone for those four years. They never allowed me to watch them eat, or anyone else during that time. I didn’t go to people’s homes or to other children’s birthday parties. My parents hoped that that would minimize my feelings of being different from everyone else. It didn’t.

I vividly remember standing in the playground, watching other kids line up for ice cream at the Good Humor truck. Of course I couldn’t eat ice cream. It hit me that I wasn’t like the other kids. There was something wrong with me. I was defective. That became the core of my self-image, and still is to this day. On a subconscious level, I always felt inferior to other people. Lacking in some way.

Me at around four with my grandmother (top) and a cousin

Unfortunately I also suffered from undiagnosed childhood anxiety and depression. I didn’t sleep through the night and wet the bed until a was around six or seven. I had severe school anxieties and learning problems. I developed ‘stomach problems’ of unknown origin, like cramps and constipation. I was in therapy by the age of six.

Ironically, my father was a well-known psychoanalyst who wrote about the lasting importance of the first three years of a child’s life. Sadly, he understood the damage that my early illness would cause. He and my mother, also a psychologist, tried to bolster my ego as much as they could. I’m grateful to them for trying to mitigate the damage.

Me with my parents at around age seven

I had years of therapy as an adult, including a technique used for PTSD sufferers called EMDR. Eventually I was able to loosen the grip of these early negative self perceptions. They weren’t all due to the Celiac diet. But my early illness exacerbated my anxiety and depression disorders. It also made it harder for me to fight my demons, since they had been reinforced every day till I was four years old.

I have reached a point where I can feel good about myself, most of the time. After an abusive first marriage that lasted 25 years, I now have a wonderful husband and wonderful, healthy relationships with friends and family.

I can finally say the scars have faded. With a little luck, they will eventually disappear.

SHARING MY WORLD HAVING PASSED MID-SUMMER

Share Your World – July 17, 2017


What is your favorite cheese?

Still-life with cheese

Bleu cheese is my favorite, with Jarlsberg right behind it. Any good Swiss cheese will improve my sandwich. Third place? Very sharp cheddar. But to be fair, I like almost all cheese.

Are you left or right-handed?

Absolutely right-handed. My mother could do most things with either hand, including writing. I did not inherit that. I wish I had.

Do you prefer exercising your mind or your body? How frequently do you do either?

I used to love both. Then I got sick. Now I am gradually getting better, but at this age, it’s a lot slower than it was when I was younger. “Bouncing back” from illness is a rougher road in your seventies.

Meanwhile, my brain gets a lot of exercise. I often wish I could simply turn it off, especially at night.

Sleep tight

Have you ever noticed that cats and dogs do not get insomnia? Just saying.

Complete this sentence: Hot days are …

I’m okay in relatively dry, hot weather, but we get hot and humid and I hate it. Even if it isn’t very hot, it’s super sweaty weather. Sometimes, the air doesn’t feel like air. It feels like hot soup and I can’t breathe. I’m a big fan of air conditioning!

BUT WORDS CAN NEVER HURT YOU … BY GARRY ARMSTRONG

Marilyn recently wrote a piece using the word chutzpah which I’ve always badly mangled in pronunciation. It’s a word, what the heck? That was my take for many years until Robin Williams and Billy Crystal gave me a proper public whupping for butchering the pronunciation of chutzpah.  I don’t try to say Chutzpah in public anymore. It’s a word. I respect it because it carries different meanings and images.

These days, people often use words or phrases without understanding their origin or meaning. I hear political aspirants, celebrities, athletes and civic leaders say things that make me scratch my head and run back to my dictionary.  Words!  They can be powerful tools if used correctly. They can be dangerous if used in ignorance.

I grew up in a home full of books, including dictionaries. Big ones and pocket dictionaries. My parents insisted on using proper language and crisp diction.  Street slang guaranteed a head slap or a smack that stung. My two brothers and I were warned about using prejudicial clichés. Since my head has never been properly wrapped, I’ve been guilty of violating those warnings because of my warped sense of humor. Marilyn warns people that I have toys in the attic.  True.  Some of the toys are very old.

A friend and I were trading insults the other day. I snapped at him with, “That’s white of you”.  His smile said everything. Words!  You gotta know who, when, and where to use them.

Way back in olden times, I was 19 years old and worked in a department Store in Hempstead, New York. I was the only goy working in the children’s shoe department. I was waiting on a customer who drove me bonkers. I couldn’t take it anymore and told the parent he was a schmuck.

The manager quietly called me into the stockroom, explained what schmuck meant and asked me never to use it again — even if the customers were jerks. I think he was smiling although reprimanding me.  It was a word I’d often heard used in friendly banter, but I didn’t know its origin or real meaning. It was just a word. What was the big deal?  I was 19 and knew everything!  I used big words, “10 dollar” words to impress people. People often complimented me, saying I spoke very well.  I didn’t understand the veiled insult behind many of those compliments.

After all, they were just words.

John Wayne, of all people, once commented on words and ethics.  It was movie dialogue but still resonates more than half a century later.

In the 1961 film, “The Comancheros,”  Texas Ranger “Big Jake” Cutter (John Wayne) is lecturing his younger sidekick, Monsieur Paul Regret (Stuart Whitman). Regret asks Big Jake to spin a lie to his superiors to alleviate a problem. Big Jake refuses. Regret doesn’t understand, saying they are just “words.”

Big Jake, with that iconic Wayne frown, says softly, “Just words??  Words, MON-soor, are what men live by. You musta had a poor upbringing.”  Regret looks puzzled, not fully grasping the ethical code of this rough and ready Texas Ranger.  It’s a sublime moment and perfect for the young 1960’s when youth was defying the older generation’s moral code.

I recalled the scene years later in an interview with John Wayne. He smiled, shaking his head because he was in the middle of on-going national dissent against the Vietnam War.  Wayne was one of the most visible and vocal “hawks” in the Vietnam controversy. He had been ridiculed by strident protesters at a Harvard University gathering earlier that day.

“Words, dammit,”  Wayne looked at me, angry and sad. “My words! No damn Hollywood script. I have as much right as those damn college kids.”  Wayne was fuming. The Hollywood legend collected himself as I redirected the conversation to my time as a Marine. I had enlisted in 1959, fired up by the “Sands of Iwo Jima” script.

“Words. Good words,” I said to Wayne who smiled broadly.

Today, words are often tossed around loosely on social media, sometimes with little regard to truth or the repercussions of ill-advised words. We have a President who uses words without thought in a daily barrage of tweets.  Our media is engaged in a daily war of words, often ignoring crucial issues facing our nation and world.

Those of us of a certain age shake our heads as we watch young people immersed in tweets rather than direct conversation with friends in the same room. Words have become an endangered species.

I remember the good old days when me and friends went face to face with verbal jousts like “Your Mother wears combat boots!”

Words!  I love them.

THE CHANGING SEASONS – JULY 2017

The Changing Seasons: July 2017


It stopped raining for a few days this month and we took advantage of the time, brief as it was, to go take some pictures. Last month, everything was still sparse due to the cold, rainy weather we’ve been having since March.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

As soon as it warmed up at the very end of June, everything that could grow went into hyper-overdrive, producing the must intense, lush flowers and leaves and ferns I’ve ever seen. To make up for the lost weeks of non-spring, we got spring and summer wrapped up on one crazy-ass ball!

The pictures were taken by both of us — Marilyn and Garry Armstrong. Except those taken around the house, they were taken in one of the Blackstone Valley Historic Corridor parks in Uxbridge.


Don’t miss Max “The Cardinal’s” wonderful pictures! Drop by his site and take a look.


The sun has been slipping in and out all morning … maybe there will be more pictures today.

 

DISASTROUS? OR JUST UNFORTUNATE?

SAVE ME, THE WOLF HAS ARRIVED!


One of the things about social media is that whereas in the past we complained to our friends on the phone or over the fence, these days we complain to the immediate world. What used to be unfortunate and inconvenient … and sometimes “Wow, what a bummer!” has become “OMG the sky is falling.” It’s not that personal disaster is gone from our lives, but everything is now a disaster. Nothing is merely annoying, inconvenient, or frustrating. Everything is terrible, catastrophic. Mind-blowing. Calamitous.

I know people who are online every single day telling the world which fresh disaster has afflicted them. It is “the boy who cried wolf” writ huge and sometimes with international implications.

The result is exactly the same. At some point, “the world” just stops paying attention to the latest calamity because you can’t tell the difference between this calamity and the previous calamity. When everything is a disaster, ultimately nothing is.

I think maybe we should all tone it down. Try to determine which of our messes is a genuine killer … and which ones are just unfortunate, inconvenient, annoying, aggravating, frustrating. Which ones need the SWAT, the police and fire department … and which need a good friend, some excellent coffee and maybe top-quality cookies.

If we could tone down the note of hysteria that seems to accompany so many posts on social media, I think it would help calm us down. It doesn’t mean we won’t have some serious problems. We have plenty of really serious problem — personally, nationally, internationally  — but wouldn’t it be easier to sort them out if we weren’t hysterical all the time? I think the U.S. has been in a state of national hysteria since last November. I get it — really, really get it — but I have come to recognize that the frenzy isn’t fixing anything.

Nobody is thinking anymore. It’s all railing at the heavens.

RETRO NEST COMIC – BY EVIL SQUIRREL – FOR MY BROTHER MATTHEW’S BIRTHDAY

Today would have been my brother Matthew’s 74th birthday. We understood each other because we shared that strange world in which we grew up. I will always remember and miss you, Matt.


RETRO NEST COMIC – BY EVIL SQUIRREL


Since today is my birthday (please, hold your applause!), I figured I’d share what I believe is the only comic I’ve done that is centered around that oh so egotistical of holidays that I think we sometimes take just a bit too seriously.  While this comic is only two years old, it is definitely one of mine and my readers’ favorites… and maybe one of my favorite Buster appearances where the poor guy doesn’t get mutilated in some way.  This was Comic #159

I am still tinkering off and on with the comic that was originally supposed to be posted two weeks ago, and that should be up later today or tomorrow.  I have four regularly scheduled days off next week, and I am gonna be extremely disappointed in myself if I don’t get the comic backlog caught up by next Friday.  In that regard, I really need to get me one of those thingies that lets you draw straight onto your computer…. it might change the look of my comics, but I think I’d cut the time it takes to make them in half!

Original source: Retro Nest Comic – May 14, 2015

REAL REALITY, VIRTUAL REALITY AND REALITY TV REALITY – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m having a real problem with reality lately. And it’s not from taking too many drugs. I think it’s from not taking enough drugs. The problem is that we have too many realities to choose from. We have reality TV, which everyone knows is not real at all.

We have our real reality, which seems to be a really bad reality TV show and is very surreal.

And very now we have Virtual Reality, which is oddly, very real.

“Cool”

I recently made the leap and got a VR (Virtual Reality) system. In this case the Sony PlayStation’s VR platform. There are currently two others out there, the Occulus Rift and the HTV Vive. Which one is better? It depends. Mostly on which one you own. The Vive is the most expensive, the PlayStation the least. I’ve seen all three. Frankly, they look pretty much the same. By that, I mean AWESOME!!

“Whoa!”

Unfortunately, I can’t describe the experience. You have to experience it. Imagine being inside an HD movie. Everything is to scale. You can walk up to people, walk around them. They are human-sized. Not TV-sized or big screen movie-sized. It’s amazing. The only downside is that the games and movies available right now are sort of skimpy. There’s a Batman game in which you literally become Batman.

“I’m Batman”

It’s incredible, but the whole game only lasts about an hour. This is because of the enormous amount of data the system requires. That will change. Soon. Most of the games involve looking around at things and marveling at how real they are.

“I’m gonna need a bigger cage!”

That all changed when a new game came out called Star Trek, Bridge Crew.

In this game, you are on bridge of either the Federation Starship Aegis or the original Enterprise. The detail is amazing. You can sit at any one of four stations.:  Helm, Tactical, Engineering and, of course, the Captain’s chair.

Each station has its own console and responsibilities. Helm steers the ship, sets courses for both warp drive and impulse drive. Tactical fires phasers, photon torpedoes, scans other ships and objects, transports people on-board the ship and can disrupt enemy ships functions, such as disabling their shields, weapons, engines, etc.

The Engineering station fixes the ship, re-routes power, etc. (I need more time!) The Captain runs the show.

Here’s where it gets cool. The whole program is linked  to IBM’s Watson super-computer. When you play in solo mode you are the Captain. Your crew are AIs (artificial intelligences). You can talk to them in normal language. You can say “Helm prepare for warp.”

Helm AI will respond “Yes sir.”

Engineering AI will say “Charging the warp coils Captain.”

When you are ready you actually can say “Helm, ENGAGE!” And it does!

“Engage!”

The Watson computer is constantly learning. You can just talk to it and it tries to figure out what you want to do. This means that when you are being attacked by five Klingon Cruisers, you can shout “Red Alert! Raise shields, arm photon torpedoes, fire phasers at that goddamn Klingon!  Helm! Prepare impulse. Get us the fuck out of here!” And it does.  Of course, there are glitches, but for the most part, it works.

The solo part is not what the program was built for. You can play the game with three other real people. It doesn’t matter what system they own. They all work together. You have to work together to finish a mission and the missions are not easy. Usually, you blow up the ship.

“I think we’re about to die”

It’s a lot of fun. The first time I tried playing with real folks I was at the Tactical station and our Captain was a 14-year-old. The conversation went like this.

ME: Tactical is ready Captain.

CAPTAIN: Helm, prepare to warp the Devos system.

VOICE OFF IN THE DISTANCE: Honey, it’s time to leave!

CAPTAIN: Ma! I’m busy!

MOM: I don’t care what you’re doing, it’s time to go!

CAPTAIN: But Ma! I’m on a starship!

MOM: I don’t care where you are, get your butt up here.

CAPTAIN: But Ma! I’m the Captain!

The rest of us were laughing our asses off. The engineer recorded the whole episode (you can do that) and posted it on his Facebook page.

One other time we sat at the space dock for a half hour because the engineer seemed to have no idea how to energize the Warp coils.  I was the Captain.

ME: So, engineering, figured out how to energize those Warp coils yet?

ENGINEER: Uh, yeah.

ME: Well, we don’t seem to be moving.

ENGINEER: Uh, yeah.

ME: Let me guess, you need more time?

ENGINEER: Uh, yeah.

Eventually we got so bored that the tactical guy started blowing up our own ships. Yeah, you can do that.

What I find odd is that many of the reviews of the game are sort of negative. They complain that you can’t get up and walk around. You are stuck in the chair in each station. Excuse me? That’s what they do in any Star Trek episode. They sit in their  friggin’ chairs and to their friggin’ jobs! I mean what would happen if Captain Picard ordered Worf to lock phasers on a Romulan ship and fire … and he’s off wandering around the bridge.

PICARD:  Worf! What the hell are you doing?

WORF: Uh, walking around the bridge Captain.

PICARD: Are you kidding me!! For Christ’s sake, get your ass back in that chair and fire those Goddamn phasers!

WORF: Well normally sir, I stand at my station.

PICARD: Oh for Christ’s sake!

Ever since November 8, 2016 I’ve been obsessively watching all the Star Trek series — because Star Trek Reality makes more sense than our real one.  Now, until our surreal reality TV show reality returns to real reality, I’m going to spend as much time as I can in the Star Trek Virtual Reality.


Engage!