Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Bean Man.

I want to tell you a story about the "bean man."  I was in college, on summer break, and I ran Pete's Stand while others brought in the fresh vegetables.  Over the years I also worked in the fields, and drove the tractors, but for that one year, I was needed to run the stand every day, so I did.

There were customers of all types.  Most were faithful to Pete's Stand and my grandfather who had passed away just the autumn before.  They would come and tell me how sorry they were that he had died, and how glad they were that the family would keep the stand running.  I would tell them that one of Pete's last wishes was to ask my father to keep farming... Keep Pete's Stand alive, even though he was dying.

We also had customers who would ask to have their picture taken with me.  Tourists... stopping to buy a real bunch of carrots with the tops still on them, from a girl in shortalls and bare feet... dirty toes...  Pete would have told them to get the Hell out of there.  I smiled for the pictures, and made sure to keep my hair in a braid.

The bean man, at first, came to the stand once a week, but then he was there more often.  He was gruff and mean.  I always smiled at him, even when he made me feel very grumpy.  He would eat the beans off the stand and tell me they were too big, overgrown, picked too late, or didn't have any flavor... but he would buy a pound or two of them anyway, as he asked me if our scale was legally checked, in the way that scales like that have to be... certified each year to be working properly.  "Yes, I would tell him," and then I'd reach over and grab an extra handful of beans and add them to his bag for no charge, "Just in case the scale is off."  He didn't like that.  Oh, he was mean.

He would grumble at me.  I started to tell him to stop eating all the beans, that he probably ate a half a pound while he looked at vegetables and yelled at me.  I told him I often had to pick the beans, and it was very hard work... We had to pick them delicately, not to pull on the plants so there would be a second harvest.  And how would he like to crawl along in the dirt and be confronted with yellow bean bugs, that always ended up squished on your skin, all gross and making your skin a yellow/orange that would't wash off.  He would look at me as he crunched a bean, then laugh, heartily.  He was an old, big man with a beard.  He said he had thought I looked too delicate to be a farmer, but maybe I was a farmer after all.  I told him I was a Janiszyn.  And he smiled.

I would tell you his name, because of course he introduced himself, when he realized he liked my company. I like to remember him as the bean man.

He would come and sit next to me, and we would both eat raw beans from the stand while we talked and I waited on customers.  He'd even take over the little cashbox if I had to run into the bathroom.  He would talk to the customers--Tell them not to strip the corn.  Pete used to do that.  I smiled.  He made me laugh.

He never had children.  He told me about his diabetes.  I didn't understand, that he was so unhealthy.  He had a big gut, was a big man, but I didn't know it was a deadly disease.  My cousin has diabetes.  I thought they just needed to check insulin levels, and keeps things regulated.  I made him blueberry muffins, once, but he couldn't eat them, he told me. His diabetes was very bad. 

 He passed away a few years after I met him.  The diabetes was very bad.  He would ask about me, when I didn't run the stand anymore.  He wondered where I was and what I was doing.  My father told me how he asked about me.  He'd like to see me again, sometime.  I didn't get to see him.

His sister came to the stand, some time after, and told my father that he had died.  She said how he had spoken about he stand and how nice we were.  She really appreciate our kindness towards him.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Just when things seem so crazy (and I feel crazy!), things calm down, slow down, and look up.  Most pain is bearable: It doesn't even really hurt.  That's because I realize I am lucky to have what I do, and be where I am considering all the life-stuff that would break most people.  I write a lot about the many things that challenge me, and challenge Sam, and challenge my family...  But everything, all things, lead to a strength and understanding that helps all of us prevail.  We remain.  We keep going.  We are okay.

February 9th was the 15th anniversary of Sam's and my first date... Well, our first "official date."  As the retired principal of Mount Holly School commented on my FB page, "Weren't all those visits from Sam while you were working at the school considered "dates?"  Haha.  Sam did come to switch the school over to DSL, which was a big deal for the little school in 2000-2001.  And he kept driving all the way to the little school to "check things" and "work on things" and "test things," when he would really be sitting on the floor with me and a group of first graders cutting out construction paper shapes or watch me work with students in the tiny computer lab.  He would tell me I looked beautiful that day, and ask me silly questions, which were far too obvious, like:  "So you really like children, huh?  How many kids do you want to have?"  Sigh...  I thought he was silly.

And I told the principal, back then, that I was not dating Sam and I wasn't going to.  We had been friends in high school.  He was a nice guy.  I just wasn't interested.  I didn't think I was.  The principal thought it was all very funny.  I'm lucky he was such a wonderful man, and so understanding.  If Sam had made trouble for me at work, I would have been very frustrated with him, and never agreed to go on any dates with him, official or unofficial!

Our first date wasn't that great.  It was actually really weird.  He brought me to a VTel retirement party for a man I didn't know... actually I really didn't know anyone there... and, although there was a dinner, there were also many, many speeches for the retiree, and I was bored... and I couldn't even talk to Sam.  We had to sit and and listen and clap.  He didn't kiss me goodnight.  I wasn't sure if we would go out again.

But Valentine's Day was so soon afterward, and he took me out to dinner, alone that time, and we drank too much red wine, and could barely eat our dinner.  We had fun talking, though.  Sam was funny.  He asked me if he could kiss me when he was dropping me off at my parents' house (I moved back home after college to be with my little sister, who was 12), in their kitchen.  I said, "Well, now it's weird.  You're not supposed to ask, you're supposed to be romantic and seduce me, not just ask me when you're standing 4 feet away from me."  

He tried to then be suave, and I told him, "Okay, now this is even more awkward, you dork.  Try again next time we go out."  Yet, as I walked to the door to say goodbye, he turned around on the porch and grabbed me and kissed me.  It was still a bit silly, because I wasn't expecting it, and he was really trying to sneak up on me, so our faces banged together at first.  But that was okay. 

And then we were a couple, quite easily and comfortably, he came over to my house and hung out with Mikhaila too... We were often all together: the three of us.  I remember Sam telling us that his aunt and uncle had a condo in Naples, Florida and said he could go stay there, any time.  And there we were sitting around the computer in the dark family room as school April vacation was approaching and we thought it would be a good idea to bid on tickets to Florida on Priceline.  We didn't read the fine print, or even the directions, really.  We even put in my credit card number, which we thought was, you know, just for... whatever... Duh.  We put in a really low bid for three tickets, saying that the days were flexible, and suddenly it popped up that we had purchased non-refundable, round trip tickets for weekday flights to Florida, leaving before the school break even started, and not returning until after break was over.  Teachers are not ever supposed to "pad" vacations with sick/personal days unless they have a really good reason... And Mikhaila was going to miss 6 days of school?!  My parents were watching TV in the front room, and we were all like children, sitting there realizing we had been very naughty and wondering how we would tell our parents what we had done.  Bad kids!
Ha!  We sent Mikhaila in to first ask if she could go to Florida with Sam and me during April vacation... they weren't even agreeable to that at first... then we had to tell them it was actually longer than the vacation, and we would be missing school.  They weren't so happy.  And the principal sighed, and shook his head, "Aren't you supposed to be a computer expert?  How did you buy tickets on the internet by mistake?"  He had to be the one to talk to the superintendent...  We promised we would just not go and lose the money.  It was okay!  We understood it was a mess.  But we ended up going.  

Sam and I went on a two week vacation after dating for two months... with a little chaperone, but it was still very crazy.  Mikhaila and I had never been on a big plane before, and certainly never to Florida!  Our family always went to Maine or Massachusetts for two day vacations in the summer.  That was it.  It was all so new and exciting.  Time really didn't seem to matter, things moved fast... 

But here we are, 15 years later, with 9 year old twins.  Our 14th wedding anniversary will be this June.  Life is so strange, and wonderful, and scary, and sad, and funny.  On this anniversary, of our first date, I really understood that Sam and I are in this together.  We are in life together.  And we are great parents.  And we have two really amazing kids.  So, no matter what happens, or how we are challenged, we have been blessed in many ways.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cry me a River...

I believe a person is always haunted by his or her mistakes and past.

Anything I did to hurt other people, will come around to hurt me right back, and I can't do a damn thing about it.  I pushed the start button, and the cogs of that terrible machine started grinding and then moving faster and faster.  Cry me a river, when I'm hurt in the very same way I hurt someone else.  I earned it.

But, that's a scary way to live... looking in front of you, waiting for the come uppance... It's scary, to not know how to break the cycle, or if it's even possible to stop the forces of nature from doing their work.  I asked for it.  I was asking for it.  What do I expect?

I know what I expect.  I want to think I'm better than my mistakes, and what I did in the past, the things that tore me into a million pieces, weren't me, or who I wanted to be.  I want to be more than any of that.  I know I'm more than that.  I'm not a sin, I am repenting my sins.  And I want to hope that the people in my life are better than the equivalent of my sins and my mistakes.

Pain.  The deepest, most soul-ripping, excruciating pain causes us to do things that hurt others, sometimes.  I mean, good people... Good people have to have a dark and staggering pain to hurt anyone they love... I do know that.  I know that.  I'm not sure how many people escape any of this.  Are some relationships immune to crisis and ghosts?

You know, I think my views of all things in life are skewed by my depression and my PMDD.
Of course even the healthiest people have some problems, and all relationships require work and understanding and trust, but a marriage between two people with mental illness is kind of fucked.  Maybe not fucked, as in, there's no way it could ever work, but fucked in the sense that there will be a lot of fucked up stuff to deal with, and both people will need to have a lot more understanding, and trust, and hope.  Way more work will always be involved... Which is kind of funny, (in the most not funny way of all), because how much harder is it for people with mental health issues to be hopeful, and understanding, and be faced with fucked up, stressful stuff to handle and work on?  Maybe that creates stronger bonds when all is said and done?

I'm crying me a river.