Safe house

All the missing people were here, on the other side of this door. Well maybe not this exact door, but one like it in shape or color, if not style.

They all came here eventually, either on their own or with a guide. But even that wasn’t guaranteed. Guides could only come here once and then they had to disappear too.

There were plenty of robin’s-egg blue doors, and plenty of others that were arched. Not all of these were part of churches, but many were. Churches were the best place for secrets, after all.

Perhaps it had started with confessions, where deep sins were revealed and had to be hidden away. It wouldn’t do to have anything escape the confessional. Then word would get out and nobody would come. Without confessions, the church might as well cease to exist. Those relieved of their burdens were often so grateful that they tithed more. It wasn’t a one-to-one correlation, you understand. It wasn’t as if the priest said “say 20 Hail Mary’s and put $200 in the offering plate” but it worked that way anyway.

But there were plenty of other lost people who came through doors like these. People who’d lost their way in the world. People who didn’t fit in. People who were unwanted, or who just felt that way.

Children weren’t allowed, at least not in this kind of sanctuary. There was a sort of asylum for them, there had to be. Plenty enough children went missing over the years, so there had to be places for them. But this place was permanent. This place was no turning back. This place was more serious, more forever than marriage. There were vows here too, legal documents to sign here too, but there was no change of heart when things got tough. To be more accurate, hearts could change but the situation wouldn’t. No matter how much you begged or pleaded or cried, you could never go back through the doors into the real world. This was your world now.

Plenty came who were turned aside, deftly but firmly informed that there was no such place here. They left, confused, still searching. Perhaps they would find a different clue, overhear a different snatch of conversation. Perhaps they would locate another safe house entrance. Those who were turned aside were fleeing problems – money, love, drugs, either too much or not enough. They wouldn’t last here, wouldn’t be able to knuckle down and get to the business of really living this new life. They would be the first to want to leave and the last to settle down when they finally were made to understand there was no going back.

This new life was more permanent than marriage, more permanent than a tattoo. Both of those could be erased.

Sensory Issues books

Does life feel a bit too much? You aren’t alone.

Cain, Susan.  Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.

Heller, Sharon   Too Loud, too bright, too fast, too tight: what to do if you are sensory defensive in an overstimulating world

Kranowitz, Carol Stock – The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder 

NurrieStearns, Mary.    Yoga for anxiety: meditations and practices for calming the body and mind

Simone, Rudy.  Asperger’s on the job: must-have advice for people with Asperger’s or high functioning autism, and their employers, educators, and advocates

Willey, Liane Holliday.   Pretending to be normal: living with Asperger’s syndrome

Zeff, Ted.   The highly sensitive person’s survival guide: essential skills for living well in an overstimulating world 

Short and Strange volume 2 is now available!

The link to the print version.
The link to the Kindle version.

This is a collection of 21 stories that were written from December 17th, 2017 to October 15th, 2019. They are all based on unusual black and white photos that I found. Some themes will become apparent – monkeys, alligators, names, citizenship. Who is “in” and who is “out”? What is “normal” – and who decides?The photo is the basis of every story. I select pictures that are odd, that seem to have a backstory. Yet, none exists. The human brain needs completion to feel at rest, even if the completion to the narrative isn’t necessarily true. So I write what the picture tells me to write. It is a little like being a detective, and a lot like being an artist. What would you create with limited ingredients or information? Sometimes a limit can be helpful. It forces you to focus on what you have. These stories might disturb you. They might make you think. Both can be useful. It is up to you to decide. These were initially posted on my blog, betsybeadhead.com. Many have been polished up for this book. If there is a difference between the version on my blog and the one here, the printed version is preferred.

Parenting books

Leman, Kevin.  Have a new kid by Friday: how to change your child’s attitude, behavior & character in 5 days

Ricker, Audrey.  Whining: three steps to stopping it before the tears and tantrums start

Dobson, James C.   The strong-willed child: birth through adolescence

Frost, Jo. Supernanny: how to get the best from your children

Runkel, Hal Edward.  Screamfree parenting: raising your kids by keeping your cool

Severe, Sal. How to behave so your children will, too!

Nelsen, Jane. Positive discipline

Bailey, Rebecca Anne. Easy to love, difficult to discipline: the seven basic skills for turning conflict into cooperation

Baker, Jed. No more meltdowns: positive strategies for managing and preventing out-of-control behavior

Swedo, Susan. Is it “just a phase”: how to tell common childhood phases from more serious problems

Greene, Ross W.  The explosive child: a new approach for understanding and parenting easily frustrated, chronically inflexible children

Smith, Karen A.  The sensory-sensitive child: practical solutions for out-of-bounds behavior

Kurcinka, Mary Sheedy.  Raising your spirited child : a guide for parents whose child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, energetic

Recovery books

Beattie, Melody.  Codependent no more: how to stop controlling others and start caring for yourself

Cloud, Henry.  Boundaries: when to say yes, when to say no to take control of your life

NurrieStearns, Mary.  Yoga for anxiety: meditations and practices for calming the body and mind

Semmelroth, Carl.  The anger habit in relationships: a communication handbook for relationships, marriages and partnerships

Tolle, Eckhart. The power of now: a guide to spiritual enlightenment / Eckhart Tolle.

Powell, John Joseph. Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? : insights on self- awareness, personal growth and interpersonal communication

Forward, Susan. Toxic parents: overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life

Friel, John C.   An adult child’s guide to what is “normal”

Stone, Douglas.  Difficult conversations: how to discuss what matters most

Tessina, Tina B.  It ends with you: grow up and out of dysfunction

Wilson, Sandra D.   Released from shame: recovery for adult children of dysfunctional families

Wholey, Dennis (editor).  Becoming your own parent: the solution for adult children of alcoholic and other dysfunctional families

 Farmer, Steven.  Adult children of abusive parents: a healing program for those who have been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused

LaMar, Donna F.  Transcending turmoil: survivors of dysfunctional families

 Wolin, Steven J.  The resilient self: how survivors of troubled families rise above adversity

Want more? Look up the subjects of “dysfunctional families”, “codependency,” “adult children of dysfunctional families” in the library catalog.

Re-branding

Finally, on a Wednesday they walked through the door at the bottom of the garden. On the other side, all identity was erased. No longer defined by race, or gender, or religion, or nationality … anything. This meant the pros as well as the cons. It all had to go. Now just a number, X17359 was a little sad, because some of the old identities were useful and conferred a bit of priviledge. But there was no way to separate the wheat from the chaff with this process. It all had to be burnt away in the purifying fires of re-branding. Even the new “name” was as un-unique and vague as possible, with no accompanying meaning for or against. The “names” were even randomized so people couldn’t brag about how long ago they had walked through the door. Not like they wanted to, not after that experience, but this way there was no chance of temptation.

For you see, nobody was forced to walk through that door, a nobody who had gone through mentioned it to others. It wasn’t advertised, but everyone knew about it, one way or another. Some thought about it every day until they finally just did it, and for some it barely registered with them and they never did. But they all knew. It was encoded in fairytales and scripture. It was woven into pop lyrics and advertising jingles. It was never overt, but it was always there. It was kind of like a pattern you could only see when you had polarizing sunglasses on. It was hidden in plain sight, but only those with eyes to see noticed.

Papa and the gun

Papa brought his gun everywhere he went. It wasn’t a small gun, either, no sir. It was a shotgun, meant for bears and the like. Gardening or the grocery store made no difference. He toted it all over Grandville, in the elbow-carry position most of the time. Sure, he got some strange looks when he was off his property, but everybody knew he was a retired Colonel (full bird, not Lieutenant) and cut him some slack. He’d never shot anything or anyone his whole service career, but that didn’t matter now. He’d been an electrical engineer before the World War started and he signed up as soon as he could. He wanted to do his part to help out his country. Maybe deep down he also wanted to make right the shame his father had brought to the family all those years ago when he left his family the permanent way.

But now he was at his new home, his two children (the requisite boy and girl) waving at the edge of the forest. They had just moved there, the 3 bedroom, 2-and-a-half bath, 2288 square-foot house they came from just wasn’t enough for him anymore. Maybe he was like a hermit crab and had outgrown his shell. He’d had to find a new one and fast or he’d die. That unsettledness was his inheritance from his Pa.

Papa was a tender soul in a hard world. Deep down he would have preferred to walk in the woods, without a care or obligation. He married out of social expectation, but had requested they have no children, but his wife had snuck two in on him before he’d insisted on separate rooms. He didn’t want children because he couldn’t bear to think of a child having to undergo what he and his sister had – the hardship, the skimping, the growing up fast after their dad died at his own hand. The family story was that it was during the Depression.  It was a depression alright, but not the capital-D kind. More of a personal kind than a public one.

Yes, that was why he carried a rifle. His father had used a revolver. And while you could kill yourself with a rifle, it was a lot harder.

You’d think he wouldn’t carry a gun at all, but he needed a reminder of the weakness that might affect him. He wanted to never succumb to weakness – whether inside or out. He needed a reminder to never forget how easy it was to go astray. Some former cigarette smokers kept their favorite ashtray, while some ex-drinkers kept empty bottles on display. It was all for the same reason. They kept their old sin before them so it wouldn’t become their new sin all over again. He never knew if suicide would sneak up on him like it had his father, but he was determined to not let it get a chance.