Monday, July 27, 2015

Defining Moments

“Those moments, they stare back at you.”  

Who knew that I’d be using the Sunday night series on HBO, True Detective, as a jumping-off point for a post?

It’s even more amazing that it would be dialogue from the show that would trigger thought, considering that Rolling Stone described the dialogue from this year’s season as
“sounding cribbed from a video game cut scene.”

The catalyst was an event from this past Sunday’s episode in which
Vince Vaughn’s character, Frank Semyon, visits the widow of one of his henchmen, killed in the line of duty.

He pulls the bereaved young son aside after learning the boy is inconsolable over his father’s death.  In an attempt to comfort him, he says:

“Sometimes a thing happens, splits your life. There's a 'before' and 'after,'" says Frank to the kid. "But if you use it right — the bad thing — you use it right and it makes you better. Stronger. Gives you something most people don't have."

My life has happily been free of murderous thugs wanting to off members of my family.

And yet when I look back, those milestone are there, moments so defining that a big, wide line divides everything into the before and after that Vaughn’s character speaks of:

Moves from one place to another: New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia,
          Oklahoma, Virginia, England, Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia, New Jersey,
          California, and finally, back to Massachusetts.
Changes in career: waitress, clerical government work, ice cream scooper, car
rental agent, hospital secretary, television production instructor,
teacher, and now writer
A sudden plunge from irresponsibility to adulthood: college to motherhood to career
And all those decisions, both private and public.

I remember giving birth to my first child, alone in an Army hospital while two Nurse Ratcheds stared down at me and commented to each other, “She doesn’t know how to breathe.”

I remember running hand-held camera on a remote shoot where I was not only the oldest person there, but also the only female.

I remember finally slogging to the end of my Masters in English, after three years of reading a book and/or writing a paper every two or three days while still working full time.

Even staring down a room-full of large, grumpy teenagers who had already decided they didn’t like English or me even though they’d only entered my room for the first time ten minutes before. 

And after I conquered each experience, I told myself, “If I can do this, I can do anything.”


  1. It is my private theory that I can do anything, if I have to. I do wish the theory hadn't been so thoroughly tested over the years though.
    And isn't it amazing what we can do, when necessity comes to the party?

  2. We do have those moments and we still trod ahead taking the beauty and the ugly and mixing it together til it is easier to swallow.

  3. You thrived on these challenges. Some people would be destroyed. Sometimes I had kids come in my class who attended several schools in a year and they thrived. Other kids who did the same thing were basket cases.

  4. I have had a just a few defining moments...with prayer anything is possible! I can learn new how to give infusions every week. Not much fun but you do what you have to do.
    Interesting the places you have lived...Massachusetts and New Jersey must be special places for you:)

  5. I've never thought about my milestones or challenges, I just keep on keeping on. For sure the milestones have been there, but I didn't note them at the time and now they're just memories.

  6. Age is what has given me the gravitas to not care that much whether I do it well or not. It has taken the edge off of my critical eye. I also have been hardened with time and can get through almost anything. Life has taught us well.

  7. I have those same strong demarcation lines in my own life. Lots of before and after scenarios, that define my own life. Interesting and thought provoking post. :-)

  8. Interesting post, I'd not thought much about milestones, but you're right, they definitely define us.

  9. I always felt that with the challenges came a fork in the road. Sometimes I wonder just what would have happened if I had taken the other road.

  10. of course we do. we all do. we deal, we change, we adjust. what else is there to do? not like we can just lay down and refuse to face it. oh, we may for a day or week but eventually we have to get up and carry on.

  11. Thank you for this post. What's true for you can hopefully be true for me as well.

  12. I have those watershed experiences that have defined my life, too, and it seems that at different stages of my life I revisit and rethink them and see them differently. It's interesting to me that at the time they occurred, they mostly involved a lot of pain but when I look back I can see the positive things that happened as a result. The birth and adoption of my children was all joy and certainly each time life changed immensely. Such an interesting post!


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