Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Insatiable Longing of Wanderlust


I was raised on trains
My first two years
And learned to walk
To the sway and bounce
Of the railroad cars,
Chasing my father
From base to base
Across the war.

My childhood home
Was within the sound
Of the Doppler howl
Of diesel trains
Racing across
The lonely prairie
Through eerie night
Of small town '50s.

My present home
Is within the sound
Of the diesel trains
Of another town.
It's strange somehow
That through the storms
Of all these years
That brought us up
From cloth-winged planes
To space ship flights,
A child can still
Lie awake
In the eerie night
And hear the trains.

copyright Angela Parson Myers 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Growing Wild

House plants and I don't have a good relationship. I'm one of the few people I've heard of who can kill a philodendron while trying to nurture it. 

On the other hand, outdoor plants seem to thrive under my neglect. Wild strawberries and violets covered the ground under the old mailbox this spring. A resurrection lily, mowed down repeatedly last year, popped up next to a pile of rock this summer, blooming as if carefully tended.

So my response to plants might be a little peculiar. Trees have always seemed to me to be almost sentient, like the Ents in The Lord of the Rings, and I always feel like they're trying to tell me something terribly important--I just can't understand the language of the wind in the leaves.

You might recognize the photo above as the background of my blog. I love it because not only do I feel like the trees are alive, but I feel like woods fairies could be peeking out from behind the ferns, giggling at my clumsiness and inability to hear the earth speaking to me. The photo to the left was taken in the same area, Reelig Glen in the Highlands of Scotland, and shows a little more of the play of light through the mist and leaves. The paths that lead through the glen are the paths that Victorian ladies once walked, but few of their footprints seem to be left.

This wasn't the only area in Scotland that, perhaps encouraged by a vivid imagination and love for fantasy, seemed magical to me, and it wasn't the only area to which I felt an immediate, elemental connection. But it was the area where I most felt the presence of the verdant life that had been Growing Wild for more years than I can really comprehend. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trust--Getting the Dream Job

Sometimes events occur in such elegantly ordered fashion that you can’t help but trust that Someone Up There has taken charge. Getting my dream job was like that.

When I finally graduated from the university at the advanced age of 46, I realized that the company where I worked would never give me the opportunity to put my degree to use. As a supervisor, I had reached the glass ceiling.

So I started applying elsewhere, to no avail. At one company, I was told flat-out I was too old.

One evening, I decided to take a long walk to sort my thoughts. The weather was beautiful, and before I knew it, I was at the park about half a mile away. Up drove a high school friend of my daughter, come to visit her mother who lived across the street. Several years ago, I’d hired this young woman because the company was having trouble finding reliable employees. She’d been promoted to another department, where she was trained in skills that landed her a good job with a large corporation about 40 miles away. When I told her I wasn’t having any luck finding a better job, she said, “Send me your resume. I’ll give it to my supervisor.”

Several weeks later, I was called to the corporation for an interview. But after half a day of testing, I was told that although they were impressed with me in spite of my lack of experience in the field for which they were hiring, another applicant actually had a degree and experience. I told them I understood, but that they should keep me in mind in case they needed someone else, because I learned fast.

Several months passed, and I was at the end of my rope with my job. And I finally had two prospects: one at a community college and one in sales. The sales job offered the better likelihood of good earnings, but I knew that as an introvert I would be miserable even if I managed to do well. I decided to accept the job at the community college. When the phone rang Friday night, I was sure the community college was calling to offer me the position, though I thought it an odd time to call.

It was one of the interviewers at the large corporation. The person they hired hadn’t worked out. Was I still interested? I managed not to shout, “Hell, yeah!” Monday I was offered both the jobs I’d been considering. I trusted I'd made the right decision. 

Thus started a two-year period of learning. I took classes in my (new) field and everything else I was offered. When my department was downsized, I volunteered to go to another (entirely different) department, where I took more classes and read from their extensive library during my down time. It was fun. But it still wasn’t my dream job.

Two years later, the young woman who had carried my resume to her supervisor stopped by my desk. “There’s a job posted that is meant for you.” The writer/editor of employee communications had decided to retire early, and his supervisor convinced human resources to post the job internally first on the outside chance someone already working there was qualified. 

I had the degree in communications/journalism. I had been a newspaper staff writer for several years and had boxes of clippings to show. I had knowledge of the workings of the company gained over two years of varied experience. I was positioned perfectly to take the kind of job I'd wanted ever since I graduated from high school, and I trusted it was no accident.

That job was meant for me. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Earlier in the year, tornadoes hit hard in several areas in the South and Midwest. I felt like it would be inappropriate to publish poetry about how much I enjoy a good, loud storm. But now that fewer thunderstorms bring tornadoes, I can share this poem. 

The wind's moans make me laugh,
And its shrieks bring me joy
As I capture it in the circle of my arms.

Its elemental parts shift and whirl,
Rubbing positive to negative,
Creating power.

Charge builds, earth and air,
And I, composed of earth and air, take it,
Make it part of me.

I ride the roll of thunder like a wave,
Call down the lightning
And grasp it in my fist.

It crackles and struggles in my hold,
But I drink its ozone odor
Till it fades to darkness on my palm.

copyright Angela Parson Myers 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Two Shall Become as One—Intertwined Wedding Rings

           The overlapping wedding rings on my parents’ tombstone aren’t gold, of course, but aside from color, they look much the same as the photo that was the GBE2 prompt this week. 
            My mother selected that tombstone when my father died in 2005 at the age of 85. The leaky heart valve that kept him from becoming a pilot in the Army Air Corps finally gave out.
            My mother hardly knew what to do after that. From the age of 17, her life had been devoted to him.
            Neither of my parents came from happy circumstances. My father’s mother died when he was 15. His father was left with seven children, from 17 or so to just a few months old. He did what he had always done—he left them while he went to find work in the Texas and Oklahoma oil fields.
            The children lived with relatives while my father tried to finish high school. Finally he and his younger brother left the girls with an aunt and uncle and hopped a freight train to join their father and find work.
            My mother’s father was a barber—a good one, I’ve been told. My grandmother was only 13, one of a large family trying to make a living off a small farm in the Midwest, when they married. She had her first child at 15 and was told she probably wouldn’t be able to have any more.  About 15 more years passed before she did.
            I don’t know when my grandfather started to drink, but I know he was dangerous when he did. Fortunately, he didn’t usually stay home for long. Unfortunately, every time he returned, my grandmother had another child—until his mother gave her the money to divorce him. 
            By then, my grandmother had four young children to rear at a time when government aid was nearly non-existent. She worked as a cook in a restaurant all day and ironed for people most of the night. Her oldest son helped as much as he could, but he had a wife and two daughters of his own. So to lighten her burden, my mother dropped out of school at the age of 16 and went to work as a waitress.
            Then oil was discovered in Illinois. Drilling in Texas and Oklahoma was showing down, so my father came with his father and stepmother to try their luck in this new area. They often stopped to eat at the restaurant where my mother worked. My mother, now 17, shapely and with a bubbly personality, didn’t care for the boastful older man, but the 20-year-old with the baby face and curly hair was quiet and cute and seemed sweet.
            Her boss noticed and said, “Bet you can’t get a date with him.”
            My mother responded, “Bet you a quarter I can.”
            A week later she collected the quarter. A month later, they married. My father had been 21 just about a week, and my mother was a few months shy of 18. World War II had started, money was scarce, and they expected my father to be drafted any time. Instead, my father joined the Army Air Corps and started training to be a pilot, then a navigator when the leaky heart valve was discovered. The war ended just as he finished training.
            My parents went on to build their own house, own their own electrical contracting business, and raise two daughters. When he was in his 40s, my father passed his GED with flying colors and went to work as an electrician for a large university. They had a long and happy retirement before my father’s health began to fail. They were married 64 years. 
            After he died, my mother moved to a condo near my house. We went out to eat, we shopped, and we took trips together before she started to show symptoms of Lewey Body dementia. She never stopped wanting to be with my father, even in death, and saw him frequently during that last year. She died in 2008 at the age of 86.            


Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Little Micro-Poetry

Some micro-poetry I've tweeted in the last several weeks, repeated here:

Fields like the world before the Flood,
Mist rising up out of the ground,
Resting in pockets among the cornstalks.

The uncertain voices of children,
Singing off key, softly or shouting,
Is the most beautiful sound in the church.

Our little acre of yard
Is conquered by wild strawberries
And clover.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Mother’s Instinct

My father was trying to figure out how to break the law on Monday and get away with it.
            Then my mother got up the Friday before and said, “I had a dream last night.”
            My father’s predicament wasn’t as strange as it sounds. He was an electrician at an Illinois university at a time when it was illegal in that state to strike against a public entity. But the electricians were paid so much less than those working for private companies in the area that they decided they had to go ahead and take the risk of being fired and perhaps prosecuted.
            My father was torn. He didn’t want to be fired or wind up in jail. He had started his career at the university only a few years earlier, and working there for at least 15 years was his only hope of a comfortable retirement. But he agreed that something had to be done to get the attention of the people who had ignored their requests for equitable pay. What to do?
            He asked my mother what she had dreamed.
            “I dreamed that Angela had her baby. We have to go to Atlanta.”
            Hubby and I had been married a couple of years when he graduated from college and found a job as an aircraft electronics repairman. About six months later, he was recruited by a large manufacturer of aircraft to teach electronics to some of their customers. We moved to Atlanta, where we knew absolutely no one, three months before our first child, and my parents’ first grandchild, was due.
            “She’s not due for another month,” said my father.
            “I know, but I have a funny feeling.”
            My father went to work that day and requested a week of vacation because his wife had “a funny feeling” about their eight-months-pregnant daughter in Atlanta. His boss chuckled and made some wisecrack about “women’s intuition.”

            I had spent Saturday afternoon shopping and was absolutely exhausted. I was so big that people asked me if I was expecting twins or triplets, and the baby—the doctor assured me there was only one in there—was so active even the doctor remarked about it. After a light supper, I went to lie down and watch my stomach bounce while I tried to rest.
            About 8 o’clock, my parents knocked on the door. They hadn’t bothered to let us know they were coming, and when my mother explained why, I laughed. “You’ll just have to come back next month.” I was sitting on the sofa eating one of the donuts they’d picked up on the way when my water broke.
            By six, my pains were three minutes apart, and we all piled into the car and headed for the hospital through an early morning ice storm, my mother timing my contractions while Hubby tried to concentrate on driving.  Turned out there was no hurry, though. Our daughter wasn’t born till 4:30. She still had fuzz on her face, but she weighed more than six pounds and was already trying to lift her head to look around.
            And because my mother’s intuition told her she should come to Atlanta four weeks early, and her instinct told her she should pay attention, she was able to hold her first grandchild on the day she was born.

copyright 2011 Angela Parson Myers