Denise Dances: A Return to Perfect Health - Body, Mind & Spirit!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Museum of Fine Arts

"REGIONAL IMPRESSIONISM" Paintings by Denise Hickey Oils on Canvas 1992-93 1. "Wheeler Pond," Montville, CT From a photograph Freestyle at a friend's house in Norwich, CT (1992) 2. "Untitled" Montville Adult Ed course Taught by Teacher (Name Unknown) from Ohio (1992) 3. "Spring Freshet" Saturday Workshop at Mohegan Firehouse Montville, CT Freestyle, Original Idea (1992) Ohio Teacher, Name Unknown 4. "Untitled" Artware Store Class, Groton, CT Teacher Christina taught us to see all colors of the spectrum in all things... (1993) 5. "Academia" Class taught at Artware Store by artist in residence at Granite House, New London, CT Alexander from Russia (1993) Shown in: "The Third Crossing" Annual Juried Exhibition at "The Hygienic" in New London, CT Guest Juror: Jeffrey Anderson Director of the Florence Griswold Museum April 26 - May 24, 2008 For more info on The Hygienic, visit: http://www.hygienic.org/ Open Thursday-Sunday

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Buddy"

The Pavilion at Ocean Beach Boardwalk

(2008) Hi! Back from Labor Day weekend! May sound boring but just did the beach, sandwiches, saw my parents at the beach, and went to the first Coast Guard band concert of the season!! It took months, but I can finally attend one of these concerts without crying as it was one of my buddy Paula's favorite things to do. OK, so it pays to mix up the daily routine a bit. Shake things up!! Did my grocery shopping right after breakfast Tuesday morning. Came home, fretted about future funds for food, got a headache, took a nap.

"Ferry Traffic," Ocean Beach, 2008
Had already planned to rest and go for my daily walk later in the day for a change. So I was leaving my apartmentat about 2:45 PM, when I passed Nosy Neighbor #1 pausing outside the fire doors, pretending to go through her mail. As I passed through the second set of fire doors, I could see why. She was trying to eavesdrop on what fairly new Nosy Neighbor #2 was saying to brand new Nosy Neighbor #3. Number 2 is a real talker, a man who lives across the hall from me and works outdoors. Number 3 I have not yet met, in all probability another "old barracuda" whom I prefer not to meet after my past experience of eight years living here.
"Nature Trail" along Alewife Cove Ocean Beach (2008) NOSY NEIGHBORS So I passed by them cautiously, knowing that I look pretty good, even though I do have health conditions which no one understands; in my gray "Nantucket" T-shirt, khaki shorts, and "New Balance" sneakers, a navy headband about my halo of hair. Drove my car to Ocean Beach, just down the street. I can hardly wait to feel better so I can walk the mile and a half distance, but I often have to pee and I need substantial snacks if I excercise. So, not yet. Another novel thought is to get the chain fixed on my Trek mountain bike (it busted from being shoved into and pulled out of the back seat of my car on a recent sojourn to Block Island, so scared was I of being spied upon by the Nosy Neighbors). So, anyway, I brought some bottled tap water, grapes, and an apple to the beach. I approached the Pavilion, the long rooftop over all of the wooden benches, facing the ocean. Saw some more gossipping "barracudas," (this is New London), so I searched for a quiet place to sit. "Our Office," Observation Deck at Ocean Beach (2008) MY GOOD FRIEND BUDDY And who did I see but my good friend, Buddy, sitting very quietly, all alone on a bench. Approached slowly, hoping it was him. I know him from 2000-01, when I was a cashier at Stop & Shop in Waterford, CT. Also where I met my best buddy Paula, where we both worked together for a short time. As a customer, he often came in, very fit and trim, wearing his white paint-spattered denim cover-alls and his white hair. We became fast friends and he would often buy me a coffee or a Diet Coke from the bakery and sneak it under my register!! "Our Office," overlooking Alewife Cove (2008) BETTER I missed him very much when I quit the place to try to "better" myself: first as a full-time Cage Cashier (later changed to Pit Clerk) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville. But I became very anxious there and only lasted three months, working into the wee hours of the morning and unable to sleep on my days off. Couldn't stand to sit in one place for a ten-hour shift although we had breaks. But did enjoy the bands they had nightly in the Wolf Den, while I typed data entry info in the casino pits. Returned to Stop & Shop in the fall. Of course, I still wanted to better myself, having an Associate's degree in Liberal Arts, Bachelor's in English, and Masters in Education!! I wanted BETTER pay, BETTER hours, and BETTER, more interesting work. So I left S&S again to try work in a corporate daycare center as an associate working with "Transitional Twos," or Pre-school Prep. I loved those children and the "outside time" we shared each day. But it soon became apparent to my superiors, as they explained, that "the age group isn't right for you." Told me one morning they wanted to see me in the office at the end of they day. Stressed me out!! Reprimanded me over a minor incident: I had told a parent that his son bit me (lightly) on the thigh. They said that a coworker had warned me not to tell the parents. But rather, she told me to tell another associate to tell his parents. I took it upon myself to do so at the end of the day. I can see now that it was just a way to set me up, to "frame" me, as either: (a) they could see that I was depressed and anxious and didn't think I could handle four small children at once or (b) they saw that I had a Master's Degree in Education, a perceived threat to their positions or (c) Both. TUNNEL OF DARKNESS Once they terminated me after nagging me about not having improved at all in a week, I became very, very depressed and even more anxious, fearful, even. Often crying throughout the day for no apparent reason. Not sleeping all night. Worrying about money for groceries. Unable to concentrate on simple things. I couldn't stand to be in my new apartment alone! You hear about people who get so depressed, they can't leave the house. I was just the opposite. I couldn't stay home!! I was only unemployed for about a month, February 2002. The depression I felt could also have been due to Post 9/11 stress, the feeling of having no security. It is fortunate through all of this that my landlord was a friend of mine, but I was still responsible for my own bills and groceries. Also, the fact that I was about to turn 40 made me realize that it was too late for me to start my own family. PAULA In March 2002, I got a job at a different grocery store, tried cashiering but they made me a bagger! I'm not sure why, maybe it was because I was so depressed I couldn't concentrate. I was depressed to be a grocery bagger at 40 with a college education, but I soon got used to it and the people and I even grew to like my job with its variety of duties. A nurturing Group Therapy counselor suggested that I apply for SSD as she couldn't believe I was trying to make it on what a bagger makes!! I was able to get it and so my life began with my friend Paula: movies, Walmart once a month for catfood, swing dances, Coast Guard concerts, the symphony, Ocean Beach, etc., etc. JULIA And a year later, my niece Julia was born on my birthday, on March 3, 2003!!!! :) :) :) So, back to Buddy! I didn't see him much after I left S&S. But this is the second time this summer that I see him, at Ocean Beach, on the boardwalk, under the Pavilion. Must be Paula's doing. She knew him, even lived down the street from him (which she never told me!) So we talked, we talked about her, about our respective landlords / ladies, and it made me laugh! He also confided to me about his past. His father was an alcoholic, used to come home drunk, beat up his kids and his wife. One night, Buddy had had enough. He held a bow and arrow to his father's head: threatened that if his pop didn't leave his mom alone, he would shoot him. His father took off that night and eventually, he didn't come back. I remember that Paula once said Buddy wouldn't fight for anyone. Guess we put that one to rest!! We talked about how we don't like people who are overly religious. In childhood, I was very religious, went to church every Sunday wherever I lived, and now, I said, I've "graduated" to spirituality. Buddy said that some people think they're better. That they go to church on Sunday and say "Hi, I know you," to everyone. But they are just hypocrites the rest of the week!! And the original point of this exposition is this: That we are better off than we think we are. If we have a good place to live that is safe. If we don't pay a high rent to live in this area because we know our landlord / lady. That you have to put up with certain things if you live in a safe, nice place and don't pay a lot of rent and know your landlord /lady. Buddy suffers from "a bad case of nerves." As I do. He can't work with other people or deal with stress. Neither can I. He likes to be outdoors, moving around, keeping busy, working alone. I do, too. THE BIG PICTURE Said he was sitting here today, trying to see "The Bigger Picture." Picture this: A very long boardwalk, been under repair for three years now. Completely closed for one year. They say it's a mile long but a certain worker on the boardwalk claims it is only one third of a mile long. A sandy beach lies before us. Diverse crowd, colored umbrellas. And the ocean at the mouth of the Thames River, known as Long Island Sound. Fisher's Island lies in the Sound, a long, green chunk of land within commuting distance by ferry. I worked out there for a short time as a Landscape Gardener, rushing to catch the ferry every morning, hop on the back of the pick-up truck to whatever estate we were working on that day, and sleeping very well at night. Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, using the woods as a bathroom as the summer homes didn't have the electricity turned on yet. But I digress. Always numerous ferries and tugboats, the big old ferries and the high speed ferries now, fishing vessels, power boats, an ever changing scene, yet always the same, timeless. BUSY Even at home, Buddy said, he had to keep busy. Said if he gets lonely, he just goes to a restaurant. Simple enough. And we talked about his landlady, who knew Paula and whom I met at Paula's memorial service. Think this is a small town? You don't know! LIVING OFF THE LAND We discussed our living situations. Very similar. We both have a disability which interferes with our jobs. We both pay low rent and know our LL's. Each has a difficult personality for us to deal with: seemingly nice and caring one day, alternately mean and nasty the next. He said he gets stressed out and sick for four days and so do I. But she has helped him a lot. But he has helped me a lot. He mows the lawn for her and watches her cat when she goes on out of town trips. I water the front gardens where I live, three evenings a week during "the growing season." Each "pro bono." If one of them is without their car, the other will drive. Said she was a backseat driver which reminded me of Paula and I laughed and laughed, saying how much I missed that! He said he was in the hospital after a recent heart attack. "Feeding tubes all over my body....one here and one here and one here...I couldn't sleep at night," he said as he held his arms out and I laughed! He called his LL to take him home and she wouldn't do it! They were going to put him in a convalescent home! Said he'd rather be dead. Said you have to do things when they tell you to do them: Get up when they tell you to. Eat when they tell you to eat. Go to bed when they tell you to go to bed. That it would be like jail! And so his LL did come to get him. With a written "contract" of what sort of behavior she expected of him. That he'd lived in other places. Where there were syringes in the hallway. Drug deals going on outside your door. Places where the neighbors banged on your door all night long, asking for money, for food, or to borrow a cup of sugar. And break-ins!! "Thanks for talking some sense into me!" I laughed in relief. Realizing, at long last, how GOOD I really do have it. And agreeing with Buddy that personal freedom is the most important thing. FREEDOM Freedom to get in the car and drive down to the beach and sit and chat and recollect with an old friend of a late summer afternoon. With the chill of fall coming on, Buddy admitted to me that he didn't think he would be around much longer. As we hugged goodbye, I hoped it wasn't true. "Hope to see you again soon!" I said. But I won't be surprised if it's true. That I'll be reading about him in the paper soon... So this may turn out to be a Tribute to My Good Old Friend Buddy. To be glad I knew him, had the pleasure of his company when I've needed it most. To remember him, living and laughing. LOOKING GOOD!! And to take his compliment to heart: That I do look 20 years younger! But that men can be creeps, just beware...but not all of them, right???