Me, Anita, and “What The Hell Was That?!”

Me, Anita, and “What The Hell Was That?!”

Back in the early 1970’s, when I was in my 20’s, I worked for Volt Information Sciences. Sounds pretty impressive, huh? We put out the Yellow and White Pages for New York City (all five boroughs), Westchester, parts of upstate New York which Westchester might or not be a part of, Long Island, and a couple of other counties in the metropolitan New York Area. That’s a lot of white and yellow pages.

Now this was just before the World Wide Web. There were no laptop computers, no desktop computers, no i-pads, i-phones, smart phones, flip phones, no nothing so when I tell you we had to alphabetize the White Pages just imagine a group of people sitting with galleys and galleys of names of companies that had to be listed in alphabetical order. AAAaaa Auto, AAAaAA Auto, AAaaAa Auto – which comes first? I don’t remember the rules but let me tell you it was a pain in the ass to do. Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester – hundreds and hundreds of pages, thousands of names of companies and a bunch of 20 year olds trying to remember their alphabet and the complex rules of alphabetizing. Computers did not do this job 40 plus years ago, college graduates did. Me and my friend Anita.

Oh, there were lots of us: Dave Gitomer, Katrina (Trina), Larry, and a bunch of  others whose names have long since left me. But my friend Anita was special because Anita and I shared a talent or something. Whenever we were together something odd always happened and if we brushed against each other in passing something major occurred.

We became aware of this one day when we were busy alphabetizing the Bronx White Pages, or was it Westchester? Eh, it doesn’t matter. Anita’s desk was right behind mine so when she called my name it was easy to hear her. The room was quiet because alphabetizing is not as easy as it sounds when you have 400 pages sitting in front of you.

“Sharon?” Anita said.

“Yeah?” I said as I turned around to her.

Anita looked up and said, “Um, I didn’t call you.”

“Anita, I heard you.”

”I didn’t call you, Sharon but I was looking at this page and had a problem and said to myself, ‘I’ll ask Sharon’ and as that thought passed my mind you turned around.”

We both thought that was a little strange but we laughed it off until things like this happened multiple times a day. We weren’t afraid or concerned but we learned that strange things happened when we were together.

So one day, after a long, boring, grueling summer’s day of alphabetizing the White Pages for who cares which county, we took the long elevator ride down to the lobby so we could get home.

Volt was on the top floor of the AT&T Building in Lower Manhattan. It was considered the 30th floor but it was really the 60th floor because every numbered  floor had a floor of equipment underneath it. I can’t explain it much better than that. The important thing to remember is that our office was really 60 stories up.

Anyway, we finally got down, walked across the street to One Police Plaza, walked up the loooooong flight of stairs that would get us to Pace University which we also had to walk through to get to the train. The AT&T Building was in the middle of nowhere back then.

Anita and I finally got to the Pace University Campus preparing for our three or four block walk to the train station. It was a hot day in July and maybe 6:45 pm. The campus was deserted being that it was summer, late in the day, and very few students were around.

So we were strolling along when Anita looked up and asked me what was hanging in the sky. “Well,” I said,” it’s obviously a huge cigar-shaped thing-a-mahooie.” She agreed. We stopped and stared at it for a while wondering why it wasn’t moving and just what it might be.

Through the years that Anita and I were friends we were very use to strange occurrences. At times it was almost exciting to see what we could conjure up during the day but we were very careful and knew when to keep on moving along. Which is exactly what we decided would be best to do at that moment.

We walked a few steps when we saw a man walking our way. Anita and I glanced at each other getting ready to run if we had to. The man walked towards us, smiled, and then his eyes started to glow red. This was not the sun reflecting off him, this was not some shadows playing tricks with our eyesight, the man’s eyes glowed a deep red. Believe me or not, it doesn’t matter, but Anita and I were not happy about this encounter.

He walked past us. I looked at Anita, she looked at me, and we both turned to look at the man, who wasn’t there any longer. There were no buildings he could have ducked into and even if there were it would have taken him longer than two seconds to get to one.

So the man was gone and all that remained of him was his glowing red eyes that Anita and I saw. We looked up to the huge cigar-shaped thing-a-mahooie still hanging in the sky. Anita turned to me and said, “Let’s get the hell out of here.” I didn’t disagree and we practically ran to the train station for safety. Speaking as a native New Yorker, when you’re seeking “safety” in an underground train station something pretty bad must be happening because “safety” and underground trains don’t go hand in hand.

What was that cigar-shaped “thing-a-mahooie?” I don’t know. Can men really have glowing red eyes? I don’t know. If Google were around back in the 70’s maybe I would have research these things but I doubt if even Google could have come up with an answer.

Do I believe in Aliens with glowing red eyes? Hell yes! Along with my belief of ghosts and other things that go bump in the night I believe that aliens from other planets have landed here thousands of years ago and are preparing to attack. Well, maybe not attack, I don’t believe that, but I do think that we are not alone and neither does my good friend in New Jersey who has seen her share of space crafts as she walks her dogs. She calls me every time she sees one. No, my friend in New Jersey doesn’t indulge in a nip of alcohol before her walks. Maybe a cookie or two but never alcohol.

One thing that has happened to Anita and myself did frighten us. I still wonder/worry about it to this day and I have no idea how to explain it but that story is for another time and another day.

 

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Ghostly Visitors

Ghostly Visitors

Well, anyone who has read my blog has seen my stories about ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. My apartment is haunted. In fact I think my whole apartment building is haunted. I’ll go so far as to say that every apartment in New York City and all over the world is haunted. I do believe in ghosts. I have had experiences with them, nothing terrible or anything, just experiences. I’m not really afraid, I accept it all because I have no other choice.

I don’t know what happens when you die. I don’t know if you’re given a choice to go into the “bright light” or to kind of stay where you are to watch over things. Maybe you can go back and forth using some kind of heavenly transportation system. I don’t know. Maybe when you die you just aren’t around anymore like when you have surgery and put under and when you wake up there’s no memory of anything. I don’t know. But what I do know is that things happen in my apartment and around me.

I hear noises, footsteps, smell perfume, know when someone is in a room with me even though I live alone. I’m pretty sure it’s my sister who died eight years ago. My sister, even though she was three years younger than me, always acted as if she was the older one. She had to because everything terrified me and Ade was the person who had to solve all the problems. She basically took care of me and taught me things. She might have passed eight years ago but she’s still around watching and caring for me.

My mom drops by every so often too. I can smell her perfume, “Tabu.” I haven’t smelled Tabu since she passed over 30 years ago except for when she visits. Dad pops in every so often too. I can hear him clear his throat like he used to and Grandma Grace drops by once in a blue moon. I can tell it’s her because I can smell her apartment. I do wonder why Grandma Grace comes by since I’m pretty sure that I didn’t mean all that much to her but that’s another story. Maybe grandma got lost on the heavenly transportation system and is looking for one of my cousins.

I’m sure others come by too like Ray (Rachel) one of my parent’s friends who used to live in the building. Ray was a wonderful lady who really did care about me. A day or so after her death she came to me in a dream, kissed my right cheek and said, “I love you Shari.” Ray was the only person who called me Shari.

Lots of people who used to live in my building drop by to say hello once in awhile and that’s fine with me. I don’t mind and I know they’re just checking up on things. Their visits do not frighten me. When I sense their presence I always say hello, smile, and tell them that I miss them. I do miss them.

Two years ago I was in the hospital. The doctors thought I had a heart attack, I thought I was suffering from severe panic attacks. It was atrial fibrillation but the point is that Coney Island Hospital (lovingly known in Brooklyn, or at least by me, as “The Hell Hole”) admitted me into their Coronary Care Unit.

My room was right by the nurse’s station and because it was the heart unit I was alone in it. Well, kind of alone. Many times, many, many times, I saw old men sitting in wheelchairs in the room with me. Only men no women and they looked like they were at least 80 years old. Maybe some were younger but they all had that tired look that people get when they’ve been very sick for a long time.

I didn’t recognize any of them. At first I thought my dad might be one of those men or maybe one of my uncles, a grandfather? But no, I didn’t know any of them.

One day I was taken for a test, an angiogram. When I got back to the room and was finally able to move around all the men were sitting in their wheelchairs looking around and surrounding the upper portion of the bed. I looked at them and asked, “Who are you people?” I had to whisper it because I didn’t want “Nurse Ratched” hearing me. “Nurse Ratched” is for another story at another time.

“Who are you?” I asked the assemblage of eight or so wheelchaired older men sitting near the bed. They didn’t answer. I wasn’t surprised at not getting an answer. I wasn’t really expecting one. It was a rhetorical question.

I suspect they the men were the ghosts, souls, specters, of men who were in this heart care room at the end of their lives. I think they died there and still kind of haunted the room. I do wonder why there weren’t any women specters around though. No, I wasn’t afraid of them. I was afraid of Nurse Ratched, well, more like annoyed with her. She was a real pain in the ass. The male ghosts were docile enough and seemed content to sit in their wheelchairs watching other patients come into the room and maybe join them eventually. I have no idea.

I was in that hospital room with those elderly men for five days. The day I was discharged I wanted to be alone in the room for a moment just to say goodbye to the ghosts but Nurse Ratched was constantly in the room with me giving me directions on how to swallow the numerous pills I was given.

Did the men follow me home? Of course not. They’re probably still in that CCU room watching other patients and within the past two years maybe more men have joined their group.

But I do believe that my sister did visit me when I was in the hospital. I’m pretty sure she was the one who lead me to think that the men had passed away in that hospital room and were just sitting there waiting for something or someone.

I tell you this story to let you understand that ghosts, souls, whatever, are around. I think. I’m pretty sure of it. I know my sister is always with me. My mom and dad pass through and I get lots of visits from my cousin Donna who passed, I don’t know, nine years ago?

In my dreams I’ve been allowed into a room or something, where I think people who have passed on stay when they want to talk to people who are still alive. I’ve been in that place many times. I used to see my uncle come in and out of that room as I walked along the long hallway to get there. I wondered why my uncle was there since he was alive. Years later I learned he had heart problems, which I did not know about. Maybe there was a question about if he’d survive his heart surgery, which I also didn’t learn about until years later. Maybe I was being told through those dreams that he was very ill and might not be around much longer. My uncle lived about 15 years or so longer. Pretty good.

Just keep your mind open that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to this life and death than can be explained. No need to be afraid if something odd happens. As I tell my cousin, who questions everything and wants to know “WHY??” and HOW” and needs an answer to every little thing that occurs. It drives me nuts sometimes. I tell him, “things happen that can’t be explained. Either forget about it or live with it. If you want to research something, research it, if you want to question something, question it, but sometimes there are no answers and if no answer can be found then just accept it and go on with your life.”

And that’s what I do. I accept the strange things that happen to me. What’s the use of wondering if it will drive you crazy? I can’t explain what goes on or why I seem to be so susceptible to these occurrences. I do know my sister was able to “feel” these things too but I think my talent in that department is stronger than hers.

I have lots of stories that I need to write about, things that have happened with me and my friend Anita that did kind of frighten me but that’s because Anita had the same “talent” that I have and together Anita and I did and saw some strange things. I definitely have to write about that.

 

Message To My “Sista” – It’s Okay Not To Fight

Message To My “Sista” – It’s Okay Not To Fight

I wish I can tell you this. I wish we can talk but you’re in the hospital again and I can’t get through to you so I will write it here hoping that through some kind of osmosis you will hear my words.

When we spoke a week or so ago I told you that I support you in whatever you want to do. If you want to fight this cancer I am right there with you but if you want to let the disease run its course I’m with you then too. It’s your decision to make, not mine, your family’s, your good friends, or anyone else’s. You are living with it, you feel the pain, you have your thoughts, and you deserve to make the final decision. 

Your bad news started years ago when they found your first cancer and you fought it and won quite a few battles but with cancer it’s tough to win the war, not impossible, just very hard. Now it’s seven or eight years later and winning the skirmishes are getting harder and harder. Recently you were told that you might only have a few months left. Maybe a little longer if the chemo works, which is a 50% possibility if you can even tolerate the “cure.”

You called me the day you received the news. You were hysterical saying, “I’m afraid, Sharon, I’m afraid.” What can you say when your “sista” has been given such bad news, is so fearful, and you’re silently crying so she won’t know how your heart just dropped to your stomach? I said nothing and listened to her fears, how she told me that when she passes she will somehow send me pennies so I’d know that she loves me and is with me. She also asked if I thought she will see Christmas this year and mostly she lamented that no one will listen to her fears about her death except for me.

When she tries to talk to others they almost get angry at her, thinking that speaking of death will make it happen. They would climb Mt. Everest and shout into the wind that she will survive, beat the cancer, see this coming Christmas, and live to be 900 years old. They could shout it from the mountains, shout it from their roof tops until their voices are hoarse but they will not change the inevitable.

I’m writing this for myself because I’m angry, angry at me, no one else. I posted something on Facebook this past Friday about my friend. The post was about her disease, the prognosis, and what she asked me about her seeing Christmas.

First of all, let me say, that I write about this friend all the time. She asks me to do it. She even made me promise to write stories about all the laughs we’ve shared, and I will. She is happy whenever I write about her and her battle with cancer. I wrote about her on this blog about a year ago and I had over 500 unique hits with the article. When I told her she cried with joy because finally other people listened to her story and identified with her. She discovered she was not alone.

Her family was furious with me. The nerve of me to write their mother, sister, aunt, was dying. No big deal to me. Let them be angry, I unfriended the lot of them.

Friday’s post received a similar reaction from someone who is very close to my friend. I was told that if my friend saw the post it would make her feel bad. I know that would not be true! This person also commented on the post saying that if asked, my sick friend would say that she would see Christmas, and she would fight the cancer, and on and on. I doubt if my sick friend would say those things. It’s the friend who posted who needs to believe that our sick friend would say that.

I took my post off my Facebook wall which made me angry at myself. Not at this woman but at me. We all react to death and dying differently. This woman is having a hard time coping with the fact that our friend might not be around too much longer and I appreciate her feelings but I’m much more pragmatic than she is. There’s nothing wrong with facing the truth when it’s slapping you in the face. Screaming that things aren’t so bad will not change the situation but, as I said, people deal with this topic their own way.

My friend needs to be able to talk with her family and close friends. Just because she feels depressed doesn’t mean she will give up her fight, she needs to talk about it.

I will post this on my blog and it will automatically come up on my Facebook page. I will not take it down. I’ve stepped back from Facebook because of what happened last Friday and only discussed it with one person early Saturday morning. She knows who she is and I thank her so much for her sage advice.

I’ve allowed myself to be bullied my whole life and after 65 years you would think I could ignore it. From now on I will not allow anyone to bully me into not expressing my ideas or thoughts. If you don’t like what I have to say then keep on moving. I have every right to talk about whatever or whomever I like and since my friend wants me, no, needs me to talk about her, I will.

I hope my friend does see Christmas this year, and Valentine’s Day next year, and her next birthday but I also know that there is a chance that she might not. No matter what, I will support her and I want her to know that it’s okay not to fight, it’s okay to live the rest of the life you have in peace and pain free, it’s okay to close your eyes and enjoy the day.

I love you Janette.

Weight Rant

Weight Rant

I will mark this day in my calendar. May 12, 2017 – I am no longer “Morbidly Obese;” I am no longer “Obese;” I am no longer “Overweight.” For the first time in my life I am now considered “Normal Weight.” How long will this last? I have no idea. Maybe just for the next hour, maybe for a day or so, maybe a month, or maybe I’ll become “Underweight” some day, although this is highly unlikely. But the point is that I am now considered normal. Because, you see, if you’re even the slightest bit bigger than what society says you should be then you are far from normal.

For the past 64 years, 10 months, and two days I’ve been told that I wasn’t normal by the actions and remarks of family, friends, and total strangers. “Sharon, you have such a pretty face, you should lose weight and show it.” “Sharon, you should lose weight because your uncle doesn’t like fat people.” “Hey you fatso, eat a salad and lose weight you lazy bitch.” Those words and much worse were said to me throughout my life. My aunt said that thing to me about my uncle when I was 12 years old.

A cousin lectured me about my weight when we were both in our twenties. She said that losing weight was easy. Yeah, it’s easy when someone who weighs 100 pounds soaking wet is saying it’s easy. When she turned 45 or 50 she started putting on weight and became “obese” and then called me to tell me how hard it was to lose weight and no one understood what she was going through and all everyone did was lecture her. Really? I thought losing weight was easy.

I was working at a company that put out the Yellow and White Pages back in the 70’s. One day I had the nerve to put a hard candy into my mouth. A co worker, Maria, said, “I thought you were on a diet.” Why did she think I was on a diet? Because I told her? No. Because she was part of the diet police? Or maybe it was because I was fat and not allowed to have a piece of hard candy.
In the 80’s I was an editor at a big financial institution and was eating lunch at my desk and one of the secretarial supervisors looked at what I was eating and told me that I should think about eating better. I had the nerve to be eating some tuna fish. Guess tuna fish isn’t allowed to be eaten either when you’re fat. Let’s start making a list: no hard candies or tuna fish allowed. Another 100 pound when soaking wet person who ended up obese when she got older heard from.

Now I have to talk about my grandmother. My cousins are not going to like this because they never saw the grandmother that I will describe. She hated me and my sister and I suspect my mother too because we were all obese. She might have included my father on her hate list just because he married my mother. He wasn’t obese.

My grandmother would constantly make comments to my sister and myself about our weight and not the nice comments but evil ones. The kind of comments that made you want to stay away from her forever, which my sister ended up doing. When grandma tells you how ugly you are and how you don’t chalk up to the rest of her grandchildren because of your weight then you don’t want anything to do with grandma.

How about strangers? People who you never saw in your life feel they have the right, more like “morally obligated,” to lecture and call you names because you’re fat. They’d tell me how unhealthy I was because of my weight. Duh, yeah, I know, fat equals dumb and I would never know that being fat was unhealthy. Thank God some stranger felt they had the right to tell me this otherwise I would never have known.

My sister died from colon cancer. The last three months of her life all she could eat, when she could eat, was yogurt and ice cream. We were alone, our parents were dead, of the few family members who knew of her dying no one called or helped out at all except for one or two. I was a mess trying to figure out how I was going to survive after watching my sister die this horrible death.

One July day my sister asked me to buy her some ice cream, the kind that had chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I was happy to do it and a little relieved that she was hungry for anything. I went to the corner grocery where the owners and people who worked there knew about my sister dying. The owner always gave me yogurt for her without charging me.

But this one July day I was online to pay for the ice cream when an older man looked and me, looked and the ice cream and started yelling at me. “You’re too fat to eat that. It should be illegal to allow people of your size to buy and eat ice cream. Put that back and do something about your weight.” I stared and this man and wondered if I could get away with hitting him. I wondered if I even cared if about the consequences of such a violent reaction, when the clerk who was ringing up the ice cream called over the owner and said something to him in Russian. The owner took the man aside and started yelling at him in Russian and kicked him out the store. Then the owner came to me, apologized profusely, gave me the ice cream for free, and handed me a ton of yogurt for my sister.

When I got home my sister saw how upset I was and asked what was wrong. I said everything was fine and that it was just hot out. I gave her some ice cream and she wanted me to eat some with her so I put some in a plate and sat on her bed with her and we talked. Yes, I ate the ice cream but I never told my sister about what happened in the store. She died three months later.

So I want to say to all you “caring people” who feel obligated to make remarks to fat people for “their own good” to mind your own business!

Back to this morning when I weighed myself and saw that after one year, nine months, and 12 days of struggling I’m finally considered normal weight and with the right BMI. I then slipped into my pants which is sized at an 8/10. I lost 176 on my own. No surgery. No real help except from my cardiologist who was my main cheerleader as the pounds came off. He’s prouder of me than I am of myself.

This isn’t my first time around the block with losing 100 pounds or more. It’s my third or fourth time around. For those of you who don’t know, which is most of you, losing weight can be easy, keeping it off is the hard part. That’s yo-yo dieting. You do well losing weight and suddenly you stop losing weight. The body is fighting the weight loss and the hard part is to keep going and not give in to the anger and hunger you feel as you still exercise, stay within your calorie limit, and still see no progress and sometimes even some weight gain. Yep, I have gained weight at times while maintaining an 800 calories eating plan.

You might say, “But Sharon, isn’t the struggle worth it? You must look great.” I don’t look good. I look like a walking clothespin. My face looks drawn, my skin is sagging, my shape is gone. No more curves at my hips or at my bust. My breasts hang on me like two flat pancakes. I looked better when I weight 30 pounds more than I do now. But I want my doctor to see me at this weight and let him decide.

Am I happy being a “normal” weight? Yes and no. Yes because I blend into society better now. No one feels the urge to stop me in the street and abuse me because of my weight. No one knows I’m there.

I’m not happy about this new “normal” weight because people who’ve lived in this neighborhood with me for years are now friendlier to me. “Hi, how are you?” they ask. Why didn’t they acknowledge me like that three years ago, or five years ago, or 10 years ago? I was friendlier then. Now I’m mean and my face shows it. I don’t talk to them, or anyone really because I’m in a perpetual state of anger, or is it hunger? I don’t know. But I do know that if and when, I gain the weight back they won’t give a damn about how I am and will go back to making nasty remarks.

Nope, losing weight has done nothing much for me except to allow me to become invisible in a world where invisibility might be best.

Signed – Hungry old lady

me dd

Change of Seasons by John Oates – Needs Some Flavor

Change of Seasons by John Oates – Needs Some Flavor

I’m reading John Oates’ book, “Change of Seasons” right now. I was looking forward to reading it and was happy when I was the first person on the hold list for it at the library. I’ve since learned that I was the only person on the hold list. Guess Brooklynites aren’t into John Oates.

At the stroke of midnight on March 28 I downloaded the book and then dug into it. So far I’m not sure about what I think. Maybe John’s early life was too normal to be real interesting. His grandmother took care of him, he loved music, race cars, and wrestling. He went to Coney Island a lot to record Italian songs that his grandma taught him. That got my interest up since I live and have always lived within walking distance of Coney Island. Maybe I saw him there when I was a kid. Nah, I doubt it. What I’m trying to say is that so far this memoir is too bland for me.

Would any of you want to read stories about my life growing up? Well, actually some of you have already. The difference is I can kind of write. Wait, wait, wait, John can write too. He’s in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, or whatever it’s called, but there’s a difference in writing songs and writing a story. I can’t write a song to save my life and it kind of looks like John can’t write a story to save his life so he wrote his memoir with the help of Chris Epting. Chris is a writer but even with his help so far the book is lacking flavor, spice, entertainment, or something. John, if you’re reading this, and why should you be, I’m sorry.

I know this is not a book about him and his good buddy Daryl Hall. It’s John’s memoir and I do like John a lot. My North Carolina “sista” calls him “the other one.”  I guess she isn’t much of a John Oates fan along with Brooklyn. Maybe the book would be more inviting if John wrote about the Daryl Hall and John Oates story stressing John’s point of view of course.

So far, “Change of Seasons” is a little slow going which is why I haven’t finished it yet and am reading three other books along with it. The pace is dragging.

But Oates has included some nice pictures. I especially like the one with his parents.

I will finish this book and will post full review of it. Maybe it will perk up later on.

In the meantime, here’s a good video interview with John and Salon.com about “Change of Seasons” for your listening pleasure.

Oh, and if you want to borrow the book (e-book) from the Brooklyn Public Library they only have one copy and I still have it. But the good news is that the hold list is still empty so you’ll get it when I return the book.

What does Brooklyn have against John Oates anyway?

change of seasons

 

The Haunted Library

The Haunted Library

The library is haunted. Why is that such a shock? We all know it, we even talk about it in whispers. It’s never been a secret. But what’s really interesting is that 60 plus years ago the library was located about three blocks away from where it is now and it was haunted then too. When the library was moved to this new location the ghosts came along with it. The spirits followed the books and silently watched as different librarians took control.

The library watched as patrons entered the new building and the rules and regulations became lax. Sixty years ago you weren’t allowed to speak above a whisper and even then the stern librarian would glare at you. Now talking is allowed, beverages are allowed, ringing phones are allowed, screaming kids are allowed. No more are patrons shushed for uttering the lowest of sounds, anything goes at the library in this new age of technology. An age that the library spirits never imagined.

The library doesn’t like this change. It doesn’t like that the silent respect for it is gone. It isn’t happy so it allows its ghosts and spirits to haunt the new building especially after closing time. And sometimes a very sensitive person, like myself, can hear the library whisper to itself about the changes telling the wandering angry library spirits to be prepared for when the library closes for the day. Because when the last librarian leaves for the day it’s time for the ghosts to take control.

The library was closed for over a year. “Restorations,” the city said. “It will be better when it reopens,” the city said and when it reopened, over a year later, there was no difference. The chairs were the same and the tables were the same, but the setup was a little different, and there were less books. The library was not happy.

Everyone was welcome to the library grand opening. The crowd sat and lightly applauded as councilmen gave speeches and apologized for the six-month delay of the opening.  “New heating system, new cooling system, more computers,” they bragged. All of that might be true but the real reason the library was closed was because the city knew about the ghosts living there and these spirits had to be exorcised. The ghosts knew too much and they were getting much louder than they were in the previous century. Pretty soon non-spirits would be able to hear the complaints.

The library is still haunted. I’ve been there at least ten times since it’s reopening and the ghosts are still haunting the shelves. I saw my friend Janet there today. But not the 65 year old Janet, who might or not still be alive. She was very sick the last time we spoke seven years ago. Instead of the older Janet I saw the five year old Janet, the one who was wearing her school dress with patent leather shoes and her little white socks. The Janet who ran around the card catalogs at the old library, the one who was interested in the Dewey Decimal System by the time she was ten years old.

Five year old Janet spotted me, smiled and ran over and took my hand. “Where have you been, Sharon? We’ve been waiting for you to come.” “Who’s been waiting for me?” I asked. “All of us.” Janet said indicating a corner of the room which on first glance appeared empty but then I saw them. I saw some other patrons from 1960, people who I haven’t seen in decades.

I also saw Madeline who lived in all the Madeline books I read as a kid; and there was the Phantom Tollbooth with Milo and Tock standing guard; I saw the three children from “Half Magic” and remembered how one of them, while sleeping, wished that his dead father would come back. I remember how I felt when I read that part as a child thinking that I would wish that too if my dad died. I have wished that many times as an adult. I saw the little child knight I read about in a book who had the mumps and his cheeks became so swollen that he couldn’t get his head gear off.

I saw Stephen King’s clown laughing in the back showing his sharpened teeth holding his dangerous colorful balloons. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight were there talking with some other knightly characters. And trying to take control of the situation was a librarian from 60 years ago who was hushing everyone.

My mother was there too looking up from her book to smile at me. I’m pretty sure my sister and father were there too along with some of my cousins and long gone friends.

“See, Sharon, we’re all here. Your friends, family, and characters you’ve loved to read about. Stay with us Sharon, we’ve been waiting for you.” It was tempting, I wanted to stay but I turned to Janet and told her that I had to get home. It was 5:55 PM and the guard was making the announcement that the library would be closing in five minutes and to proceed to the checkout machine to borrow books. Janet looked up at me  and said, “Check out machine. The librarians used to check out our books. You remember when they did that and now you have to do it yourself.” Yes, I remembered.

“Please proceed to the machine to borrow your items, shut off your computers, and please log off all devices you have connected to our WiFi” the guard stated.

“WiFi, computers, devices, do you really like this better? Wouldn’t you rather stay with us here in 1960?” Janet asked. “No. No, not really. I do prefer 1960 but my cousin is coming by tomorrow and I promised him I’d be home. I can’t stay today but I’ll come back for a visit on Saturday. But one day I will stay here with you in 1960. We will play again, Janet, and maybe all our other childhood friends will be around too. Then we all can talk with the book characters and be happy all together again. But I can’t stay now, maybe in ten years, maybe in 15 years maybe within a year, I don’t know but when the time comes I will stay here and haunt the library with all of you.”

Janet dropped my hand and gave me a small wave as did the little knight and the clown, “It.” “I’ll be back to visit day after tomorrow” I sadly said because, the truth is, I would like to stay with them and see my old childhood friends, and maybe seek out Robert Frost and Herman Melville and other authors. They have secrets to tell me, dangerous secrets that the city tried to silence by the having the new “renovations.”

It would be nice to stay but that won’t be for a little while. Until then I will visit my old friends, books and people, at least three times a week.

Yes, the library is haunted and everyone knows it. The renovations didn’t get rid of the spirits living there. They will always be there, forever, and one day so will I.

To see more of my childhood memories go to  S.A.K. Remembers on my blog.

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Cancer Is Not Always Pink – Dress In Blue Day -March 3, 2017 – Graphic Details

Cancer Is Not Always Pink – Dress In Blue Day -March 3, 2017 – Graphic Details

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month and tomorrow is Dress in Blue Day. Please wear something in blue to support your fight to end this cancer. I know everyone has their causes and Colon Cancer is mine. I’ve written about my sister’s battle and there are so many others struggling to become a colon cancer survivor.

Most people don’t like to talk about Colon Cancer. It’s not pretty, not that any cancer is, but Colon Cancer deals with a very personal part of the body. It’s ugly. To be brutally clear here, you defecate in a bag that is attached to your stomach. Through surgery your rectum is attached to the stomach and when you have to move your bowels everything comes out from there into a bag. Many health insurance companies only allow for  ten bags a month so each bag has to be used for three days. You have to empty the bag and then clean it before you reattach it to your stoma, which is the rectum that is now at your stomach.

Grossed out yet? I have more. The stoma bleeds very easily, IF you scratch it while cleaning it or scratch it while changing the ostom bag it will bleed -a lot. Think of how much a hemorrhoid bleeds. The stoma is very delicate

Want to hear more? There are times when the stoma become prolapsed. That’s when the bowel protrudes through the stomal opening in the skin to a greater extent than was anticipated. The amount of protruding bowel can vary from 2-3cm to more than 10cm. Although when this first happens it can be very distressing and frightening it is usually not serious. My sister’s stoma grew to 9 inches. She had 9 inches of stoma hanging from her stomach. They had to operate on her to take the hanging portion off. The doctor said it was like removing a penis. That’s how big and thick it was.

And here’s another good one – visiting nurses aren’t allowed to change the bag, at least not back when I needed a nurse to stay with my sister for a day while I had to go to a Disability appointment. I was told to have a neighbor come in and help my sister change her ostomy bag. A neighbor! A visiting nurse wasn’t allowed to change it but a neighbor was qualified? I didn’t make my appointment that day.

I can tell you a lot of horrible stories about Colon Cancer but thinking back on all of that upsets me.

But I will ask you to wear something blue tomorrow, March 3, 2017 to HONOR everyone who is going through this dreadful type of cancer and to honor their caregivers too.

If possible change your Facebook image for an hour tomorrow with the blue star that I’ll post at the bottom of this page.

Colon Cancer is not for the squeamish. It’s devastating and deadly. If you’re over 50 and don’t really watch what you eat get checked. There are symptoms but you don’t always have them but beware of blood in your stool and pains in the left side of your stomach.

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