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Victoria S. Hardy

Victoria S. Hardy

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Those High School Years

Those High School Years

I was reminded of my high school days today when a friend passed away.  I never did well in school, and it wasn’t the grades that pulled me down, it was the much-needed participation that I found hard to deliver.  My grades were good, mostly As and Bs, and then total Fs. 

The hardest part of my life was gym class – I hated, not only due to the clubfoot that made me a bit clumsy, the whole idea of putting 30+ girls in a room together to change clothes.  I was chubby, and already picked on, and I tried a few times changing clothes in the group, and then in the bathroom so no one could see me.  After about the second week in 7th grade I gave up and would no longer participate.  I usually sat on the bleachers, or stands, or wherever the class was taking place, in my regular clothes and reading a book.  And I did that from 7th grade to 11th and then I discovered I couldn’t graduate high school unless I had changed clothes in front of a hoard of folks and participated in the silliest things. 

I took an F – a failure all those years with no regret.  I would see the cute girls in their tiny bras walking about with small hips, no jiggle, and tiny stringed panties, and then I would look at myself in the mirror.  Why would anyone expect me to change clothes in the same room?  I was smarter than most of them, although I never studied, yet still achieved good grades. 

In my last year of high school I discovered I couldn’t graduate, if I didn’t participate.  Luckily, my mom gave me her credit card to go shopping and I spent most of it on bras and panties that complimented my form.  And finally, I dressed out, standing in the stinking locker room with the others.  I was still heavy, but had thinned out a bit, and I changed clothes and participated. 

My gym teacher, who left the middle school, followed her class to high school, and who I had failed every class under, was still my teacher.  I didn’t bring in doctor notes to explain the clumsiness, and we did well.  She praised my athletic ability, and wondered why I hadn’t worked so hard in all those years in gym class.  I don’t think at the time I could tell her my challenges – I didn’t talk much back then. 

Then came the time in April or May, under Georgia heat, we had to run.  It was a big part of our grade.  With a clubbed foot, and uneven hips, running is not something I do.  Evidently, running that quarter mile on the track was part of my grade, and I had to have the grade to graduate.  I tried three times and couldn’t do it.  Stupid foot, and uneven hips, and with no doctor’s notes or reprieve - my father had quit writing notes for my birth defect in the 4th grade, as he said I must be able to be like the others - I was doomed.

Miss Ward, Maggie Ward, decided we’d do it together.  As the other girls sat on the stands, easily done with their part of the grade and agenda, she set a pace that I could do, and ran beside me.  We did that quarter mile around the track, her encouraging me the whole way, and I finally received an A in gym class.  I had participated for once, but even more, she had seen my unspoken struggles and helped me.  I think of her often. 

Nowadays, I’m still not very athletic, but I do tend to animals, gardens, swim deeply in the lake, and sometimes play a game of badminton with my husband in the grass.  I’m not as athletic as I want to be, but I still hear Ms. Ward encouraging me every time I think I can’t do a thing I know I can do.  Sometimes, we don’t actually know our blessings until they are gone. 

Our friend Buddy, odd, strange, sweet, and picked on a bit in his youth is gone today.  Carol Holland, a teacher who encouraged more than I would have believed is possible, is also gone.  And for Ms. Ward, I hope she is still kicking about and will appreciate how much I love and loved her.

I suppose the truth always comes with some pain.

Truth is painful, it’s challenging, and be it a decision or action made for a child, sibling, student, classmate, stranger, spouse, co-worker, or partner, I believe we should be just and fair, thoughtful and understanding when dealing with people we don’t understand.  I know it’s hard at times, we all have our own filters, but I believe breaking the lens to see deeper is important. 

Ms. Ward didn’t have to be so nice to me, especially while knowing that I needed her help to get my diploma, she also knew I had failed her classes, deliberately, for years.  She could have been offended, but she wasn’t.  She helped me, and she may have bent a rule or two to get me around that track.

I suppose truth like that is heartbreaking - like watching a sunrise.  It’s undergoing pain to experience a birth.   It’s falling in the dirt to be reborn.  It’s surrendering to the knowledge that we don’t have all the answers.

Today, I lost a friend, and I am reminded of those painful teenage years, where the levels of acceptance were clarified in the locker room dressing out for gym, and then I remember the teachers who saw the least of us and lifted us up.  I truly hope my friend experienced the same kindness.  I didn’t know him very well as an adult, but I remember him, and us, as kids.  And we rocked!  Weird, odd, strange, genuine, and mostly unsullied, but a bit scarred, by what was happening around us.

Saturday, June 18, 2016



Tabby glanced at the calendar on the wall, and then out the window at the sun low on the horizon.  “Something’s not right,” she muttered, pulling a beer from the fridge and popping the top.  She stepped into the yard, looking over at the chickens heading to the chicken house for the night, and checked her watch.  “Not right,” she said again, walking to the garden.

The seedlings were just beginning to poke their heads out of the dirt, but she knew there would be no harvest this year.  She had planted the seeds three months ago as her father and grandfather taught her to do on the eve of Good Friday.  Even though the official Good Friday had been removed from the calendar, she kept up with the date as best she could and had decided it was in April. 

She glanced up at the sun again and then down at her watch.  She took a long pull from the bottle, mourning the struggling plants and shaking her head.  “I feel insane,” she whispered.  “Everything has changed.”

She been over it again and again with friends and co-workers, but none of them seemed to remember long summer days when the sun set late, nearly in the northern part of the sky, or the heat.   They said this summer was like all the others, and the media backed up their beliefs.  She watched the plants, silently encouraging them to grow, as she finished the beer. 

Tabby sighed, and turned from the withering garden.  She tossed the bottle in the trash and went to the shed to retrieve the feed for the chickens.  She filled the bowls, refreshed the water, and scattered some feed.  She remembered when the birds would excitedly talk and pick up every seed, but today they didn’t come out of their roosts at all, there was no excited chatter, and there were no eggs to be had. 

She locked the door to keep the chickens free of predators and stepped back in the house as the sun fell below the horizon.  She stepped in her bedroom, pulling a sweater off a shelf and buttoned it as a shiver worked through her body.  She grabbed another beer, remembering days of working late in the yard and garden, and sat on the couch, turning on the TV.  The local news had just started and she dropped the remote beside her. 

“Happy Summer Solstice,” the busty blonde at the news desk wearing a pink halter-top declared with an overly white, nearly fluorescent, smile.  “Today the sun set at 3:56 pm just as usual.  And here are pictures taken all over the world of how the sun lined up perfectly to show things are just as how they have always been.”  There was a slide show of photos from Stonehenge to Manhattanhenge where the sun rises or sets perfectly on the Solstice.  “Today, July 29th is the longest day, we’ve had 8 hours and 3 minutes of sunshine, actually a minute longer than usual.”  She laughed and her breasts bounced, pulling the eye away from her fluorescent mouth.  “The longest day of the year and here are some photos of how people have celebrated.”  Another slide show appeared of the average Americans cooking on grills, picnicking in parks, and wet kids shivering as they played in lakes and oceans. 

The news went to a commercial break and Tabby shook her head.  “This isn’t right,” she said again, walking into the kitchen for another beer.  She leaned her head against the door of the refrigerator listening to the commercials from the other room – “Are your family members acting strange?  Are they saying things have changed?  Are they depressed?  Maybe they just need a change …” Music swelled and the tone of the speaker softened.  “Some studies say up to 30% of Americans are suffering under Fact Rejection Syndrome.  FRS is a debilitating disorder that often ends in mania and death, but Pharmacyde is the cure that can change your suffering family member.  Signs of FRS are disremembering events, times, and holidays.  With Pharmacyde they begin to regain themselves and reality.  The cherry flavored powder, when added to food or beverages, will aid you to get your loved one back on the right path.” 

Tabby pulled her head away from the fridge and then lightly pounded it on the forgiving wall.  She briefly remembered summer nights and fireflies, she remembered planting in the spring and the harvest in the summer, she remembered long hot days, and she knew she had never turned on the heat in July.  She shivered, and pulled her head away from the fridge.  She walked back into the living room, settling on the couch as the news began again, and pulled a blanket over her to halt the shivers.

The newscaster with bright teeth reappeared wearing an even smaller halter-top of the same color, and began casting out numbers.  “3400 hundred people died today, most by suicide, others by murder, and a couple hundred were killed by sharks, alligators, bears, and large cats.”  Another slide show began and was filled with people attacked in water or on land by mammals or cold-blooded creatures.  “And in New Jersey, a woman was killed by a sea turtle,” she continued, as video showed a woman struggling beside a boat as a turtle pulled her down under the water over and over again. 

“What the fuck?”  Tabby cried out, looking over at the aquarium that held a turtle. 

The news went back to a commercial break.  “Are your family members acting strange?  Are they disremembering events and times and seasons?  We’ve set up a 1-800 number to help.  Pharmacyde is the only way to cure those suffering…” 

Tabby thought of what she used to know, how the seasons had changed, and then glanced at the turtle in the aquarium.  She picked up the phone and dialed 1-800-Pharmacyde.   

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dry Rain

Dry Rain

The dry rain came, yet no one could see it except the homeless guy and me.  We sat on the curb, watching the invisible drops crashing through the leaves.

“You see that?” he asked, as we shared a cigarette. 

“Yeah, I see it,” I said, watching the women in sun dresses and the men in khakis go in and out of the stores.

“The dry rain is never good,” he said, taking the butt from my hand and drawing deeply.

“What does it mean?” I asked, looking at the road and seeing no drops of rain splattering on the blacktop, or on the trashcans set in the gutter waiting for the truck that would come in the morning.

“A change, changes always come after the dry rain,” he licked his lips.  “Got another cigarette?”

“Yes.”  I dug in my bag, pulling free a pack and handing it to him.  I didn’t know him, he was just a guy I’d seen pushing a shopping cart to and fro.  Sometimes I felt sorry for him and wanted to run out and give him things … things I couldn’t even discern, but it seemed he had all he needed in the shopping cart. 

He took a cigarette from the pack, lighting it with an old butane silver lighter, which had something engraved on the outside. “Just watch,” he said, handing me back the pack. 

I took the box and pulled out a butt and lighted it with a Bic, settling as well as I could on the curb. 

“Just watch,” the old man said, dragging on a cigarette that probably only cost me about forty cents, but the cost and the waste made me nervous.  Who was this old, unshaved man pushing a shopping cart down the streets?

 “Just watch, it’s like clockwork, once the dry rain comes …. Don’t you see it?” 

I looked back at the horizon and at the trees, and saw the rain falling.  I looked at the ground and on the street and at the brick before us and saw no evidence of water, rain, or anything liquid.

“It’s not raining,” I said, settling in on the dirt behind the curb, resting my old bones into the dirt.

He glanced at me, drawing deeply on the cigarette, his eyebrows raised.  “Now you don’t see it?  You saw it a couple minutes ago.”

I looked into his eyes and wanted to deny what I had seen.  I wanted to be reasonable.  It wasn’t raining, but I had seen the rain.  I shook my head, looking down at my lap, as a chastised child would do, and then looked into his weary eyes.  “I saw the dry rain.” 

He smiled.  “Keep watching, it’s always this way.”

I found I was almost lying on the dirt in my denial, staring at the clouds in the sky and I felt drunk, although I hadn’t had a drink.  I struggled to sit forward, to observe the things he wanted me to see, but my stomach retracted and would not bend or give. 

The old man reached for me.  He smiled as he set me up on my ass, and turned my face to the street and the things he needed me to see.  “Just watch.”  He pushed my hair from my eyes, and touched my jaw, making sure my eyes were focused on the block. 

My eyes fell to where some ants struggled on a piece of something I couldn’t identify in a break in the blacktop crossing the expanse between us and the shoppers.

“Wake up, girl!  You drunk?” He leaned into my face, and his smell shook me to the core.  Was that garlic, onion, or cinnamon?

“I’m not drunk,” I declared, the scent of him sending a bright light through me.  I sat forward, my eyes on the place he wanted me to see.

“Good to know, just never forget the dry rain.”  He pointed to the trees lining the street.

I looked and saw it again.  I wanted to sleep; it couldn’t be real. 

He shook my leg. 

I woke, and observed the trees hanging over the block.  A shiver worked through my body as I saw the elusive rain.  I turned and studied the old homeless man who traveled with a shopping cart, and I shook my head. 

“Look!” He demanded, and I watched the street filling with people as the movies, restaurants, stores, and diners closed early, and the dry rain fell on them. 

I lifted my eyes for a moment and saw the tree above me, it was a huge Magnolia, the limbs descending to the ground large enough to lift a truck, and I saw the dry rain.  I felt drunk, stoned, and crazier than any good acid trip, but I wasn’t – I had simply stepped outside of the house.  I knew the old man was telling me the truth, he was simply showing me reality.  The ground called me again, but his hard bony arms pulled me forward like some skeletal cage.

 “Look, God Damnit!”

I looked, I watched, and I felt the people thrown from their regular safe places.  I saw anger, the stiff backs, the girls falling, and the women wailing. I witnessed three fights and saw the people slipping on dry ground as I looked above and saw the invisible rain falling.  I was reminded of an ice rink I saw sometime in my past, but there was no ice, no rain, and yet the people stuttered, slid, and tried to grasp something solid as they left the familiar places. I glanced at the old man.

“ ‘nother cigarette?” he asked

I handed him the pack.  “Keep it,” I said, no longer worried over the cents I may have or may have not spent.

“Take one,” he said, handing me a butt.

I thanked him, smiling, and happy for my own cigarette. 

“You’ve seen the dry rain.” 

I looked above, seeing the rain that didn’t exist crashing on the leaves, and turning my eyes to the chaos and screaming on the street, I nodded.

“Never forget, the dry rain is always about change,” he laughed, his eyes crinkling and resonating the words.

I smiled, laughed, and reached to hug him …

I woke later, cold and alone, on the sidewalk, and found my way back into my space.  Luckily, it was my weekend off as I read of the death and chaos that happened outside of my apartment.  I wondered if it was a dream, if the old guy with the shopping cart was simply an illusion, and I tried to find peace in the fact that I no longer saw him. 

I spent two days sleeping on the screened in porch listening for the old man, and heard many who carried his sound, but they were not him.  Sometimes it was just someone pushing a lawn mower; sometimes it was someone pushing a broken motorcycle. 

The old man is gone.  Maybe he disappeared in the chaos that happened in front of my windows, which made the news.  I wish I’d given him more than half a pack of cigarettes. 

So here I am today, watching the dry rain ….

I wonder what he would have said …

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Do You Even Science, Bro?

I try to be a reasonable person, I really do.  I try to encounter many voices and sooth those arguing as I did tonight as one neighbor bitched about Trump signs in the other neighbor’s yard, as they wanted to counter with a bigger sign for Bernie or Hillary in their own – I encouraged them to get the sign. 

I try to understand while people post their opinions, totally sure of their stance – “Don’t you even science, bro?” 

And the one thing that I don’t even have a hand in, or a ticket to the show, is vaccines.  I’ve had very many smart and educated people telling me that the science is done, vaccines are awesome and we are idiots, uneducated, and less than cave dwellers if we don’t agree. 

I do not have a dog in the fight, my child is long dead, and my grandkids do not exist, but the fact is vaccines come with aluminum, mercury, and formaldehyde, not to mention animal cells, aborted fetus cells, and now they are using insect cells to grow vaccines. 

I’m weird for pointing it out, but as a writer and a reader I wouldn’t want insect cells injected into my child, or myself, call me weird, but I read The Metamorphosis by Kafka – Damn!

I’ve posted a few objections on the Internet and I have found my most educated friends commented about how the vaccines saved the world, but I have also found that those same friends haven’t actually studied the history or the truth of the times.  I have found my very educated friends have simply repeated what they have heard, repeated over again, without having actually looked into the facts or checking the ingredients which are easily found. 

Sometimes I feel crazy as a loon when I mention the truth and people get angry with me.  Truth is doctors are not experts about vaccines; truth is they know very little.  They don’t have classes telling them the ingredients and how mercury or aluminum or insect cells are good for the human body, or how they affect the body over time.  They listen to the pharmaceutical sales folks, and haven’t actually researched (much love to my doctor friends).

Most doctors think all that is in a vaccine is a little sterile water and a little dead virus or a little dead bacteria and most don’t read the printout that once unfolded is almost as tall as I am.

Did you know the MMR printout (almost as tall as me once it’s unfolded) mentions autism as a side effect?

How many doctors or pharmacists read the printouts?  None that I know as I got into a heated discussion a few years ago with a pharmacist and he finally admitted he hadn’t read the printout for the flu shots.  He didn’t know the aluminum content in the shots he was selling, he simply didn’t know. 

I’ll try to post as many links as I can to the truth of the matter, but I also understand that most folks won’t hear me, they will trust the mainstream media and their doctors over me. 

As I said earlier – I don’t have a dog in the fight, or a child going to the doctor and receiving the shots that send them screaming, thrashing, and developing high fevers right after the shots.  There is really no reason for me to say these things except wanting people to understand that your kid can be healthy with good water and good food - same for the old folks with all the new vaccines for a myriad of ailments. 

The information is free if you check it out, even on the CDC website – damn.   Do you think you need aluminum in your bloodstream?  Mercury? 

Did you know that the corporations who create the vaccines can’t be sued?  Even if they kill your kid or grandparent.   Did you know that the government has paid over Three Billion dollars in vaccine-related injuries since the 80s?  Did you know your taxes are paying for folks injured by vaccines?  VAERS? 

Sometimes I sit by the water and lament and wonder and cry over people who don’t see and can’t understand what the world is.  I am a Christian, and I understand it from that perspective, and I cry and laugh and help as much as I can. 

And I do science, bro, more than most folks I know who ask the question.  Maybe we shouldn’t shoot animal cells, aborted fetus cells, insect cells, or a hoard of chemical things we don’t even understand into the veins of people.  I do science, bro, and I English too! 

As always, keep seeking.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Being a Girl

Being a Girl

I’m just a girl, a single human being with girl parts.  I have that weeping thing between my legs, and a mind that thinks too much.  I have so much love in my heart for every critter and every person who finds themselves in hard times.  Sometimes I give too much, and sometimes too little. 

Life, it befuddles me, but here I am, still a girl and still a turtle.  I have a shell of multi colors because I have touched so many people in my life, and they have touched me.  I can’t express what happens when you hold the hand of someone so different than you and you listen to their pains and angst.  You grow and share, and maybe you lose something, and maybe they gain, but both are better for the experience. 

Here I am – 50 years in this body, this marred, scarred, and tattooed body.  But it is my body and it still works mostly.  I can still breathe, and I still love, and I still cry for others.  I still try without the judgments I see thrown out to us like wind - like happenstance - hate this, accept this. 

Sometimes I want to squirrel about and ignore all the things calling me.  I’ve done the hard work.  I’ve literally done the hard work. 

Girls, we are a blessing to the earth and the world.  We do the hard work, not just turning over the dirt, or planting the seeds, or holding the hands of those who are dying.  We create the next generation, we yell, and cry, and show emotion, and the world is only better for having us. 

Girls, we are a blessing to man, we love, we embrace, and we understand things that may be a challenge.  We laugh, we dance, we sing, and we console.  We wash, cook, clean, and iron.  We love, sometimes when no one else will.

Seems we are the soft, safe, and secure place the world keeps saying doesn’t exist.  

Keep seeking as always. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cotton Shirts and Good Folks

Cotton Shirts and Good Folks

I often lament that my only child was taken too soon.  I wanted to be that eclectic Granny that brought the sunshine when she visited.  And as much as I lament about those things, and want to shut away the goodness my own world holds as I envision the goodness of a life that no longer exists – I have to say God has given me the goodness. 

I don’t have my name written on children, I am not their grandmother, but I am Victoria, and there is goodness in that.  This weekend of running crazily to the gigs of my husband and to gigs of others we’ve been wanting to see, I understand that even though I will never have grandkids, and my son is long gone – I’m still here and I know awesome people.  People so amazing that I wonder why I am so blessed to know them.  These people are like me in a way, taking their pains and loss and making something better of the whole life experience. 

Last night, after 3 days of running crazily, and then settling into the water of the lake, I wanted to write a blog about the awesomeness of a good white cotton shirt – seems ridiculous today, but maybe I am missing something. 

A good shirt fits, and sometimes, if we choose wisely - they last decades.  Good material, exceptional sewing, and solid buttons will give you years of comfort knowing if nothing else, that shirt rocks.  Yesterday, downtown I was wearing a 12-year-old cotton shirt and had so many compliments on it.  I had rushed all day, waking too early than my body wanted, and seeing people I loved in a beautiful park, and then running down to catch a band at the festival full of people I admire and respect. 

I think the cotton shirt, and those awesome people are one in the same.  Firstly, they never let you down.  Secondly, they are tough and survivors, be it a washer and dryer, or life yanking at them.  And thirdly, they are the trustful go to’s when nothing else feels right; you know they are there and you know they will just be who they are, and you trust their fortitude, good lines, and strong thread.

Thanking all the good folks and solid cotton shirts and feeling blessed that my world suddenly seems so full when I was sure it could never be right again. 

As always, keep seeking.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Digging In The Matter

Digging In The Matter

“Art mends broken hearts, pulls people up for air, and soothes the worst pains mankind can deliver.”  – Victoria S. Hardy

A friend asked for a favorite quote from an artist, and since I felt rushed, or at least didn’t want to surf websites for one - I wrote my own.  It got me to thinking, though, and I suppose that is what art is about, saving us from or delivering us to our demons. 

Words are so hard, and relating to the world is difficult.  Pain and loss and vision and dreams and experiences are real.  Yet, we live in a world that defines the parameters, and there is too much media defining us.  We forget that our differences are what make us great. 

Today my husband said to me that we shared the same curse of not seeing ourselves as good as we are in our personal callings.  That is true.  We do what we do without the confidence given to others.  We struggle under the world’s rules of not feeling good enough, tall enough, thin enough, smart enough, educated enough, and forget regularly the call that has us writing or singing or painting or playing. 

For whatever the reason, Chris and I grew up under burdens and they may seem simple and lackadaisical in today’s world, but broken families and dead siblings make a mark on any child.  I suppose it ingrained in us a knowledge of how quickly life could change and also a sad recognition of how people accepted the changes. 

God given talent, or tragedy, or heartbreak, or stunning realizations at any age opens the door, and there you are - an artist.  Some of us throw it out there, others keep it safe and close - the art, the healing, and the dealing with a society we haven’t understood, or no longer understand.  Some slam the door and lock it, dealing with themselves and their things in a different matter.

The world tends to define talent, and mostly it seems to change year to year – they have their talent shows and lift some folks up, while ignoring so many.  We accept the judge’s decisions just as we accept so many things - as we are only allowed to see so many things.  But I am beginning to grasp that the world is much vaster than the media would like us to believe. 

I know great artists, and I feel so blessed to have spent time in their presence, and what I know from the great ones is that they are a little nervous, worried that they aren’t good enough, and concerned how the world views them.  Great artists are odd, lovely, but odd; they may seem anti-social at times, or disconnected, but they are digging in the matter and figuring how to relay it. 

Art is a way to show pain, or to rise above it.  Art lifts us with color, or ink, or words, or drums, or strings, or brass, or cloth - something to sink our heads, hands, or bodies inside for a bit while transmitting messages that we don’t fully understand.  Art is the poor man’s way to richness, if only for a moment.  Not the richness of the media, not the richness of history, but the richness of knowing we made a difference, somehow, and someway. 

Art is life.  Art is history.  Art is color.  Art is the word.  Art is the sound.  Art is all the things that remind us of hope and our early beginnings.  Art can be lonely.  Art can be too busy.  Art challenges us to find that simple voice in us, which always encourages us.  Art makes us dig through the matter to find the jewel that rests inside of each of us. 

Much thanks to Laura Neff for asking the question and as always keep seeking.  

And below is a video of Chris Hardy's song "Digging In The Matter" with my shaky camera work as I figure out video vs. film.