BoE Stories: Rec

NEW STORIES

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Torn Up, Missing BF

My boyfriend is away for a few days and although I find that in itself hard to cope with, what’s killing me at the moment is that I haven’t heard from him all day today. I know what you’re thinking: one day, big deal. But it’s tearing me up. I’m having panic attacks and feel like I can’t breathe. I burst into tears every couple minutes. I can’t focus on work, either. Nothing can take my mind off the fact that he has not texted me. I keep wondering why. Have I done something to hurt him? Or has he lost his phone? (He doesn’t have my number anywhere else.) It is just so unusual for him not to text me. I’m flipping out, imagining all the horrible things that may have happened.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

R-1: You’re in the same situation as I am so trust me on this. If you text him every day he will end up feeling trapped and smothered and think you’re obsessive. If you call him he might not answer, which will make you feel even worse. If you have already sent him a text today, don’t send any more. Leave him to text you first and he will when he’s ready. Besides, the day isn’t over yet so just calm down. Your imagination seems to be going wild. I get that. I used to be a worrier myself. Thankfully I have outgrown it, and feel much more comfortable in my skin these days. What you need to do is stand up to your fears and not let them get you down.

You’re worrying far too much. Nothing is wrong; he’s probably just busy – especially if everything up until now has been going well between you. I suggest you wait and let him get in touch with you even if it takes him another couple of days. I expect you’ll hear from him soon. But please, resist the temptation to send any more messages, it makes you look needy and immature. Don’t let him see how anxious you are. And when you do see him, just let him know you missed him, that’s it. Don’t tell him off for not calling you earlier.

R-2: I recognize the problem you’re having. It’s called having too much time on your hands. Why don’t you just call him to see why he hasn’t texted you back? Or maybe you haven’t received his message. Maybe he hasn’t got yours yet. There’s so many things that could have gone wrong. I have had this argument with my boyfriend. The other day I totally bit his head off for not writing to let me know he was ok. While I was yelling my head off, my phone started beeping and I received five texts he had sent the day before. Just call the guy to put your mind at ease.


 

Mindy’s Recovery

My parents ran a restaurant and they were always gone so I would sneak out to parties on the weekends. One thing led to another and I tried my first line of meth. I was curious about drugs, so it was an easy sell. I took my first line and was hooked. It started me on a path of getting high at school and then eventually dropping out altogether. I was 17, out of control, addicted to drugs and in the middle of all of this, I became pregnant with my son.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

One day I got to thinking about how much I would hate to not see my little son grow up. That’s when I realized I had to change my life around and I knew I’d better not waste any more time. The sooner I quit dope, the more time there would be left for me to become a good mom. I found some mental health help, they suggested a sensible plan and I went along with it. It ended up changing my life.

I took recovery seriously and sometimes I’d go to as many as five meetings a day. Anything to get me through the day without using was good enough for me. I also joined a class that taught me basic life skills. I lived at a center for nine months, taking classes on budgeting and parenting. The idea of being self-sufficient was mind-boggling at first. I was terrified to even set a goal for myself. I hated the daily chores and meeting curfew, but then I started to get used to them. Following the rules was a small price to pay for a chance at a new life.

My case manager meets with me once a week to set and review my goals. She encourages me to feel more confident about myself. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore and failures don’t get me down. Not as much as they used to, anyway. When I pay my bills, I am thankful for even being here. I am lucky to have been given a second chance. Not everyone is so lucky. When I look at my son, I am proud of the progress we have made. No matter what happens now I’ll be there for him. That’s a promise I could never make before. At long last I have become someone that he can truly depend on.

These days I give a lot of speeches at various events. When there are young people in the audience, I make a point of mentioning how great it felt to be high at first. Then I explain how you get stuck and struggle to fight the addiction. Some just shake their heads and smile. They know better and I can relate to them. That’s what I thought, too, right until I hit bottom.


 

Betty’s Memories

In the five years that I have spent in this nursing home I have developed a routine that keeps me from going crazy. For instance I make a point of getting up before the cleaning lady gets here. I’m not allowed to move around, let alone clean up. But cleaning up is pretty much all that I can do that makes me feel good. So I always get dressed quickly and get busy, constantly checking the door so I don’t get caught. Sometimes I even sweep and dust on the sly. I always make sure she doesn’t find out, though, because she’d get very upset and she would probably tell on me to the director. I’m not supposed to do anything that could put me in harm’s way. My son doesn’t like to see me clean up, either. He keeps telling me that I’ll fall and break an arm or a leg. But if I listened to them, there would be nothing left for me to do.

Until recently, I had been able to watch TV. Not anymore, though, not since my sight started getting worse. At least I hear better than I see, but that doesn’t mean that I hear all that well. The cleaning lady, whose name I haven’t been able to remember except that it begins with a P, does read me the news each week, which is really nice of her. I like to stay on top of things even if I have no one to share all this information with. I’ve also started writing my life story — well, my son is the one who actually writes it down, I just sit here recalling things that have happened to me. I have him come here every other day and write at least five pages at a time in case my memory fails me before I finish the story.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Most days, however, I just sit remembering. Some of the memories make me feel like my life was worth living. Some don’t; certain dreams of mine didn’t come true and certain things didn’t happen the way I hoped they would. When I was starting out, I dreamed of becoming a movie star. I believed that things would work out for me like they did for that Monroe girl. But apparently it takes more than talent to make it big in show business. There was a time when I thought of myself as a complete loser for failing to break through but I got over it.

Some things are harder to get over. This Christmas I didn’t get cards from six of my friends who used to send them year in and year out. They must have died. Why else wouldn’t they write? It’s not like we called each other every day, but just knowing there’s someone else out there who has lived through pretty much the same things that I have can be comforting. With these people gone, the outside world is starting to feel like a place I don’t belong in anymore.


 

Santa’s Big Day

It was late December and Santa was getting ready for his annual trip. He knew that children all over the world were waiting to see what gifts he would deliver this time. Watching them get excited over things he brought was very rewarding to Santa. But this year there seemed to be problems everywhere and they threatened to make the trip much less enjoyable. For instance, four of the elves that Santa had on his payroll had called in sick on very short notice and the trainees didn’t work nearly as fast as the regular ones.

Santa realized that he was running way behind schedule. Once again he had left things a little late and failed to allow for the possibility that things could go wrong at the last minute. He went to complain to his wife, but as usual she wasn’t much of a help. In fact, she reminded him that his mother-in-law was coming to visit, which stressed poor Santa even more. To make things worse, when he went to check the reindeer to make sure they were ready, he found that three of them were about to give birth.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

When Santa finally got around to loading the presents, one of the boards on the sleigh cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground, scattering the toys. Growing nervous, Santa figured a shot of whiskey might turn things around. But frustratingly, he found that the elves had hit the liquor cupboard earlier that week and there was no booze left to get drunk on. Seeing the empty shelves, Santa dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of pieces all over the floor. Santa sighed and went to get the broom. That’s when it turned out that mice had eaten the straw it was made from.

Santa leaned against the wall, breathing heavily. There’s no way I’m going to make it this year, he thought. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. Just then the doorbell rang. Santa briefly wondered if he should bother getting up. Unless it’s an army of hardworking elves who are all set to get busy, what would be the point? In the end he did answer the door but not without cursing all the way down the hall. There was a little angel at the door with a great big Christmas tree. The angel, who had no idea what Santa had been through, gave the old bearded man the sweetest smile and said: Where would you like me to put this tree, sir?

And that is how a little angel got to be on top of every Christmas tree.


 

Dodgy Ducks

I’ve been getting loads of toys from our relatives lately. Some of them I like, some are too simple or just not enough of a challenge for someone my age. You see, I’m pretty smart and accomplished for a two-year-old. Like, I have no use for a shape sorter anymore (never mind what my parents think) but on the other hand I was very impressed with the color-changing ducks that my Great Uncle Phil brought me. I wonder how he thought of getting me this particular gift because everything he has given me so far went straight out the window. The ducks certainly hit the spot, though.

Now, you may think that watching colors change can’t keep a child’s attention for too long. But trust me, when you’re not old enough to read, this is as good as it gets. Here’s how the ducks work. The second you put batteries in, they light up, which is pretty cool in its own right. Seconds later the colors start changing. That’s even more fun, except that there’s no way to stop the colors changing. Every time I start to like a color, it changes and never comes back, which I think is just too bad. I mean, I don’t think I have seen the same color twice. I just wish there was a button on each duck that kept the colors from changing. That’s all it takes. A single button that does one single thing. Is that too much to ask? The duck would just keep whatever color it was at the moment you pushed the button.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

At first I thought there must be a way to make a color stick. But after pushing every button-like thing on each duck, I realized that the colors simply weren’t meant to stop changing. It got me wondering how else I could make it happen. Not surprisingly, I figured that I could achieve this by smashing the ducks against the wall, the same way I make things happen with all my other toys. I gave it a shot and four broken ducks later, I could tick off another box in my list of accomplishments. It was a huge relief because for a while I almost became convinced that it couldn’t be done.

I guess this goes to show that when you put your mind to something, you can do great things, even as a small kid. Clearly, I would make a great toy designer. It is obvious that those old guys have no idea what it takes to entertain a baby. Not that my parents were too thrilled to watch me throw the ducks against the wall over and over again. Neither was Great Uncle Phil, for that matter. But they’d better get used to that. Until I think of a better idea, this is how I’m going to make my toys do what I want them to do.


 

A Thousand Marbles (1)

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Maybe it’s because I am the first to get out of bed, which allows me to spend some time on my own, or maybe it’s the joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are very enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I started one of these mornings by walking toward the garden shed with a cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life teaches you sometimes. Let me tell you about it.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I turned on my ham radio so that I could listen to a Saturday morning discussion. A lot of people were telling each other stories that they thought were interesting but in fact most of them were pretty dumb. Then I came across an older sounding guy who was telling whomever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles.” I was interested and decided to listen to what he had to say.

“Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. It’s hard to believe that a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital.” He continued, “Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of “thousand marbles.”


 

Howards’s End

If Howard had his way there would be no children. Anywhere. Ever. The ones that there are now would be whisked away out of sight so they wouldn’t get in the way of people who want to live their lives to the full. And Howard is far from alone in wishing that our lives revolved less around children and more about things that are actually fun. So although it may come as a surprise to you, no matter how well behaved our kids are or how cute we find them, there’s a growing group of people who would rather they simply weren’t around. I met with Howard recently to ask him if there’s any chance he might reconsider his position. The impression I got from the two days we spent together is that it’s highly unlikely. Not only does Howard not want to have his own kids, he honestly wouldn’t mind if he never got near a child for the rest of his life. In case you wondered, he’s not ashamed at all to describe himself as a child-hater. In fact, the way he sees it, the term is a compliment.

The evening I first met Howard, he drove me in his yellow convertible, heading north out of Sacramento, doing what he often does on weekends, which is looking for someplace new to live. I was sitting in the passenger seat listening to him explain why exactly he’s moving out of his nice little bungalow that we’d met at an hour before. It turns out that he hates the idea of giving up the house. He wishes he could stay there forever, but he also feels that he really has no choice but to move away. In the three years since he started settling in, the neighborhood has changed and apparently, there’s no room for people like him anymore.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The couple next door have had a baby girl, and with the lots so close together, Howard can’t help hearing her yell and whine all day long except when she’s taking a nap. When the parents asked him one day to turn down his music so that the little princess wouldn’t wake up, he was too stunned to even say no. The family on the other side have two young sons who used to like to peer at Howard through the fence until he became fed up with it and replaced the grape-stake fence with a solid redwood one. The boys turned out to be very resourceful, however, and now they use that fence as a soccer goal. They tend to play whenever Howard finds himself in the mood to read a book or have a quiet glass of wine.

As for the teenagers down the street, they have formed a rock band, a loud one. Also one that enjoys rehearsing outdoors. None of the neighbors has had the nerve to ask them to cut it out, possibly because everyone’s children will one day become teenagers and make a lot of pointless noise. There used to be a nice elderly woman across the street and some retired empty-nesters a few houses away but apparently they have seen this coming and sold their homes. The new owners, not surprisingly, immediately set to work building huge fairy-tale wedding-cake mansions. We drove past three or four such house earlier and I could practically hear Howard’s teeth grind. You don’t build something this ridiculous unless you have kids, he pointed out. I tried to think of something nice and comforting to say but couldn’t.


 

Living a Lie

My boyfriend and I have been together for five years, and I couldn’t be happier. During the summer, he was gone for months on business, and I did something I’m ashamed of. After a night of what I thought was harmless flirting with a guy at a bar, he invited me to crash at his place. I made the biggest mistake of my life and cheated on my husband-to-be. I’m not blaming the incident on too much alcohol although that had a hand in it, too. I’m afraid to tell my fiancee but at the same time, I don’t want us to live with such a huge lie. The same thing ruined my parents’ marriage, and I swore I wouldn’t be like that.

To make matters worse, my best friend Ellen is now dating this person. She found out what happened and was disgusted by it. Funny thing is, while she is disappointed in me, she doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that her boyfriend had a part in this. Talk about double standards. In fact, the guy has been sending me text messages lately that I’ve been ignoring. Being a good friend, I guess I should let Ellen know about this. But if I told her about this, she would no doubt blame me again. So, what do I do? Tell my amazing fiancee what I did, hoping he can find a way to forgive me, or keep my lips sealed? Is this a case of Damned if I do, damned if I don’t?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Let me get this straight. Your best friend disapproves of what you did, and is now dating the guy you cheated with; and the guy you cheated with is trying to betray your best friend so he can have another shot at you. Chances are, your fiance will eventually hear about this—and you don’t want to spend each day from now on praying that this is not the day someone blabs. Yes, if you tell him, you run the risk of losing him, but at least you have a chance to show you’ve come forward. Explain that you are sickened by this single slip, and you pray he won’t give up on you. It would also be helpful if you could say you have already gone into therapy to figure out why it happened and make sure it never does again. As to your best friend Ellen, I wonder why someone who’s not willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and puts other people’s interests above yours is still your best friend?