Thursday, September 27, 2012

From My Memoir: Journey To A Normal Life

Part I - Windy City

The Commute
It was always snowing or sleeting that first winter.  We waded across the back yard of our Brookfield dwelling each morning in snow up to our knees.  It seemed to take us forever to scrape ice from the windshields and sweep snow off the top and hood with a broom.  If we made it out of the alley without getting stuck in a snow bank, we bumped (so hard my teeth rattled!) on chained tires over ice-crusted streets and slipped and slid all the way to Congress Expressway.
The expressway was a nightmare; cars weaving from lane to lane, moving too fast for conditions, and every day—coming and going—we saw several wrecks (which just about scared me to death; I was certain we would be killed the first week!).  Helicopters whirred overhead, and we listened to them on the radio as they advised commuters to take a by-pass here or there to avoid a pile-up.
We exited onto Lower Wacker Drive which took us deep into the bowels of the city.  Eye-stinging gasoline fumes hung in the air, echoing sounds of car, bus and truck motors bounced off the walls, and strange, hopeless-looking people hovered in corners or lay sleeping on the edges of sidewalks (barely out of the way of traffic) or sat on their haunches ripping the last bits of chicken from bones from nearby garbage cans. 

Two people we saw regularly in that vast and dark place were a thin, haggard man in bib overalls who carried his Bible and preached hellfire and damnation, a rooster perched on his shoulder; the other, a tall, emaciated woman with a Dutch-boy haircut perched on a curb, chin resting on her bony knees, yelling, “I got bugs!" 

(Excerpt from my weekly letter to my family:  I've never seen anything like Wacker Drive!  There are very strange people down there!  It's almost spring, and I don't think it will EVER stop snowing here!  I bet the frogs are croaking at home.  Oh, how I wish I could be there to hear them.  I sure do miss everybody.)

Then there were pleasant parts of our commute.  Like the mouth-watering scent of fresh-baked bread wafting through the air as we drove past Dressel’s Bakery, the sight of the bright morning sun illuminating the Wrigley building, the Tribune tower and nearby buildings in all shapes and sizes as we crossed the bridge over the Chicago River, the commuters coming and going up on Lake Shore Drive where there was a long, glittering line of vehicles as far as one could see.  The force of the city seemed to swoop down like a whirlwind and suck me into its roaring chaos, sending electrifying energy coursing through my veins.  

At times like those, I embraced the Windy City with all my being and never wanted to leave.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This Picture Speaks To Me.

European Beech Trees
Mariemont, Belgium
(Photo:  Jean-Pol Grandmont)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What a Wonderful World

What a Wonderful World 
This was sent to me by a friend.  It made me realize how lucky we are to live in such a world.   

Thanks, Ben!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

May God Bless You All

These Are the Days

* * *
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.  May God bless you all.        

Monday, September 3, 2012


Art is the lie that tells the truth.
~Pablo Picasso~

Saturday, September 1, 2012

As She Lay Dying

Throughout my adult life I have had psychic experiences.  Among other things, I somehow know when someone is going through bad times; when they are sick, depressed.  I don't know why I pick up those feelings.  I don't look for them.  Maybe it's because my mother has them.  Nevertheless, it happens every now and then and I'm come to accept it.

One of my first experiences occurred during the early morning hours of my 22nd birthday:  August 5, 1962.

My husband and I lived in Bloomington, Illinois.  We had gone out for dinner that night with friends Mike and Janet, and after we got home we settled in to watch television. 

I usually stayed up late on weekend nights; however, at around 10:00 a sudden wave of exhaustion swept over me.  I felt as though I had been doing deep physical labor all day or running for miles.  And then I got so sleepy that I could hardly hold my eyes open.

I reluctantly went to bed.

I tossed and turned for what seemed like hours.  Which was unusual for me; I normally went to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.  I was restless, anxious, waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

Finally, I drifted off to sleep. 
I woke with a start.  I knew Carroll was still in the living room; I could hear the murmurings of the television, see intermittent flashes on the bedroom wall from the changing of the scenes.  Other than that, there were no other noises.

So what had awakened me?        
Suddenly, an icy shiver zipped through my body.  I snapped to attention:  What on earth was that?  I was shaking, now, teeth chattering.  It was a hot August night, so why was I so cold?  

I didn't have time to ponder on it.  The ice-cold feeling was quickly replaced with feelings of isolation and hopelessness, darkness.  It was as though I were all alone in the world.  The clock on the night stand pointed to 2:05, and a thought ran through my mind:  Thank heavens I'm safe and cozy in my bed with many people who love and care about me.  How awful it would be if I were all alone in the world right now!  

I was not sad or depressed, so I knew the feelings weren't my own.  And then I realized I was picking up the feelings of someone else.

But who?

I was still trying to figure it all out when the dark, empty feeling lifted.  I became very calm and peaceful and soon fell into a restful sleep.

The next morning, as I was stirring up batter for pancakes, I turned the radio on.  "Marilyn Monroe," the announcer said, "Dead at 36."

It has been fifty years since Marilyn Monroe's death.  And the time of her death has been debated for years and years.  Some say she died around 9 or 10 p.m., Saturday night, August 4; others say it was near midnight.  But I think it was sometime after 2:05 a.m. on August 5.  And as much as I would like to believe otherwise, I think I was experiencing her thoughts and feelings as she lay dying.
All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley