You Can’t Make This Stuff Up… Doing Something With Your Life

Strange stuff behind the scenes.  This can be chocked up to the Uranus transit to my Moon. My unusual roots / childhood popping up all over the place, it’s pretty wild…

The other night I told the soldier about going to the top of the bank with, Henry. He’d never heard the story. The soldier knows little about me in a way. He knows everything he needs to know but he has always sort of avoided my childhood.

He did it when we were kids and he does it now because it causes him grave pain??? I suppose that’s it and I take his cues because I have no need or desire to talk about anything but this stuff is coming up with my sister around and seems interesting to me at the moment.

If you have been reading here awhile (years) you know I tried to talk to the soldier when we were kids but I found it impossible because he was just do blustery and know-it-all.  He arrived in the desert quite authentically worldly but had not yet learned one should not make assumptions.  Consequently he thought he knew everything (or at least that he knew what he knew) but what he knew led him to peg me all wrong. If you look at that picture from back when he knew me, it is easy to see why.  I don’t exactly look like I am having a problem or ever have which is the Neptune affect of course.

newspaperThe other day my sister was mailing me about those cartwheels we’d do to travel and she mentioned how we got so hungry we started eating newspaper and this is true.  We would tear strips of newspaper and eat it to fill our growling stomachs. We did this as a last resort sort of like people who eat other (dead) people in some extreme situation do so that they may survive.

In fact, it was exactly like that. The first time you eat newspaper because you are hungry it seems strange but we learned right away you could fill your stomach in this way. You go from starving to ‘full” so it does not take long to transcend whatever may be weird about it and come to realize you’ve stumbled on a really good idea.

Now back to the soldier when we met as teens he assumed because I was American, I’d never gone hungry a day in my life and there was no telling him otherwise. I tried but you know. No one believes me! When you look at that pic, he’s almost excused isn’t he? I just don’t look (and didn’t act) like someone who grew up eating newspaper but I did as did my sister and we did it for years.

Plus you have to see this from my perspective, not yours. I didn’t exactly know other people did not grow up hungry. I mean, how would I know that? It’s like Mowgli of Jungle Book who grew up with wolves. He does not know he is a boy until he meets a girl and even then he doesn’t exactly know what the hell.

Less you be too worried, you should know that surviving by eating newspaper did not stop my sister and I from going to school and getting straight A’s. It did not stop us from winning 1st and 2nd place in the city’s science fair and it did not stop her from being the #2 ranked tennis player in her age group in the city.

But back to the soldier, when he told me he came from a place where people were hungry and kids grew up starving, I told him I grew up hungry and he laughed.

‘I mean, really hungry, Els,” he said. “Americans don’t know what hunger is. I am talking real hunger, there is no food to eat.”

I’d have argued but I didn’t know. I had no frame of reference so I took him at his word. I mean, I knew I had been hungry in my life but I supposed these other people must have been hungrier still so I shut up about it.

Last night I told the soldier about eating newspaper. We ate it for about three years, I think. We ate whatever we could get our hands on.

In fact, I distinctly remember telling my sister I was hungry. “Here, have some paper,” she said, handing me a sheet of newsprint. We both cracked up.

We were never depressed kids, see? We were learning astrology. We were doing something with our lives and if you are going to do that, then you’ve got to survive and we were both resigned to this.   For independent reasons, I’d say, but equally resigned.

41 thoughts on “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up… Doing Something With Your Life”

  1. I can understand not knowing that other people didn’t live in similar situations to you. I’ve experienced that as well.

    You are an amazing person. I’m glad you learned astrology. You make it interesting.

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    We used to eat paper – it was because we were weird, not hungry though. Sorry you had to eat paper Elsa. Glad it filled you up though!

  3. I hate having to read that this was part of your life at one time….but you overcame it….this occurs in all parts of the world, but because the US is known as the powerhouse of all nations, one cannot imagine that happening here and it does….I have witnessed it myself in some of the neighborhoods where I have gone to do investigations on crimes and it is like a warzone and it hurts me for the children.

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    Well, I did the search because I wanted to know if there is nutritional value in paper. I also wanted to know if you could have been harmed in any way from the ink.

    Not sure what is beyond comprehension. I personally could not imagine having to eat grubs to stay alive. I cannot imagine the hardship of having to eat paper to stay alive either. That you did and survived while staying upbeat about the hardships in life? Make me think you are amazing, and I’m glad you are around to tell us about these things — there are many of these types of shadow stories that are out there and nobody to tell them.

    I am sure from Dawny’s response that there are conceivably worse things to eat than paper (and yes, I guess I am weird enough to find the humor in her statement). I am sad that you had to experience what you did. Just as I would be sad that any one would have to be in that situation. The humanitarian in me feeds children. I hate it when they go hungry.

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    I’ll add this then I’m getting off and going to bed as it’s been a long day & I’m sure there are others who have more interesting things to say than me at this juncture of tiredness…I’ll respond tomorrow if I can think of anything applicable.

    I seem to always tend to attempt to find the humor in a situation to make things bearable, the ‘tension in opposites’ I think they call it. Or maybe it’s the Sag or Aries in my chart that makes me put my foot in my mouth. Did not mean to appear insensitive to your situation.

  6. Such resilience in the face of adversity always amazes me.
    I’ve asked others before about this and concluded that it was intrinsic to ones character, but I am always wondering what else contributed.

    That you never were depressed, that “We doing something with our lives” makes me wonder where the resolve, strength and inspiration came from… what models you had, or what was the one or two things that really tipped over the scale toward your response to stress. But maybe for that’s another post.

  7. Dina – I had big hair. I was emulating an older woman who mentored me at that age (Scott’s sister). Matter of fact, I learned most everything I needed to know from her – Libra with a Scorpio Moon. She was very VA-VOOM!

    Dreams, I have no idea what to say. I was appalled by your comment and have not shook the feeling but I will.

  8. Well I think this just illustrates “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. And thank goodness you had your sister and Henry, and other mentors. I wonder what your life would have been like had you not had them?

  9. grr… I think my sister and I would answer that question very differently. Also, my experience is different than hers.

    She had a lot more awareness than I did about… everything. I was so incredibly oblivious and she was must less so.

    I have no idea why this is. She was older than me, but not by much and surely not enough to explain the gulf between my awareness of reality and hers. She just had a better grip than I did – much better.

    On my end, I was fearless. I was just totally rarin’ to go. I would assume any and all risk at the drop of a hat.

  10. ah, that’s pretty Marsy! character again. Along with people connections. Having a mentor is priceless!

    Once I met this women, a writer, on a train, I was traveling alone and maybe 8 years old. We spoke for a good deal of the journey which was a day long. She significantly altered my world view, raised my standards/opened my eyes to new ones. I am so grateful she took interest in me and shared her self. I did not realize what a big impact she had at the time, but this one time encounter really changed my life.

  11. Wow…I can’t express what I’m feeling right now after reading this…

    All I CAN say is this – Elsa, you look amazing in that pic (but then, I always think you look amazing 😉 hehe)…and I’m so glad you and your sis were able to transcend your experiences in this life & come out better for them 🙂 (or at least, that’s how I see it…)

  12. I want to make note this was not a classic or simple situation of kids living in poverty by any stretch of the imagination. It is far, far more complex. But it is good people come up close to some of the realities of poverty.

    The soldier has lived places where parents abandon the children because they can’t afford to feed them – the cops take them out in the woods and shoot them as a matter of routine. Nobody wants them, no one can feed them and this is just what happens.

    If you understand and internalize this… *the reality of poverty* you might realize how important it is to keep this country prosperous.

  13. I’m with Lilly. Hard to express. How sad but how totally practical. Makes me proud to be a human somehow. Thank you for sharing that! What do you think made you and your sister flourish where others would use deprivation as an excuse for failure?

    All I can think is how terrified I would be if my son ever had to eat paper. Certainly nothing wrong with parents who find themselves in that situation, but a fear I can’t shake.

  14. This story makes me want to go grocery shopping and feed a bunch of people. I don’t know any kids who’ve gone hungry and while there have been times I’ve scraped the back of my pantry to find something creative my kids have never known we were close to not having enough. I know there were times my mother did the same, though I didn’t know until I was an adult.

    I’m so sorry Elsa. That should not have happened. You should not have gone hungry and I hope for the rest of your life you always have enough to meet your needs and enough to share.

  15. Thanks everyone.

    I usually just let this stuff be but I am unusually compelled to fight the projections. I imagine this is because my sister is involved?

    I would just hate for people to project a false reality onto us – imagine that we were living some kind of Loretta Lynn country song because it was nothing of the sort. Our parents had plenty to eat, as did our brother.

    There is a vast difference between not having food and having food but not being allowed to eat it. We were in the latter situation and to me it was just that. A situation.

    Having grown up in many (dozens) of situations like this and having to resolve them, it should be no surprise I can solve the problems of my clients.

    I mean, I can see the problem, it’s scope and it’s depth and know what it will take to resolve it. From there it depends on what the client wants to do but when people really have their back up against a wall – I am her and if I can do that, I can do the lighter stuff too.

    In whatever case, we are not Loretta Lynn so don’t project that onto us, it is insulting like meeting someone who has survived a prison camp or one of the concentration camps and talking about how good the experience was for them. How heartening. Um…

  16. This information puts the whole seashell odyssey in a new perspective, too (that you were doing it for your sister is now even more poignant.) There are so many layers to your life and your stories. In a lot of ways your character has been forged in fire. Feels very Capricorn. There is much to admire.

  17. Wow. that turns my stomach- knowing that the food was there, but not for you. I’m so sorry.

    (((Elsa & sis)))

    your high spirit is simply amazing.

  18. Well, remember when the soldier’s friend fed the soldier and fed himself but did not give me any food?


    Life is flat out weird. I watch this stuff and marvel.

  19. Hey Elsa, I’m sorry, I was writing about myself thinking in the role of parent because I simply can’t identify with being the child in this situation. Just nothing at all to compare it to. That’s why you sharing this stuff is so valuable. I am sorry to conflate my own motives as a parent with yours or anybody else’s– you are right, there is a vast difference. I think what Lupa said was the best. That just shouldn’t have happened to you.

  20. Jessica, you didn’t do anything wrong. You made a right assumption but as I mulled this I decided where as I had already qualified my statement, I’d best spell it out.

    I don’t mean to be evasive though I am sure it seems that way. The thing is I can’t see through your eyes (at all) so I put something like this up here and THEN I know how it is received.

    This is why I mention from time to time I routinely check things with friends because I *just don’t know*. I can’t tell you how many times (100?) I have called satori and said, ‘What does a normal person think of this, do you think?”

    That she is able to answer a question like that makes her worth her weight in gold… quite literally. Someone has to be a rudder for someone like me because I just think people are crazy all the time. 🙂

  21. When I ask you something like that, satori, your response is always enlightening, sort of like asking the soldier a war question. I always find out something I didn’t know.

  22. Wow. This actually just brought tears to my eyes. I’m not sure why.

    The hall of mirrors is just so poignant to me right now. Something about the way you and satori are talking to each other. I am glad you have that. I was simply floored to read back your original words and realize how intensely we sometimes feel and project our own life experiences onto others… how different everyone’s experiences are.

    Having Libra, I can relate to the experience of not being able to “see” something until it is reflected back to me. God damn if this blog isn’t a tool for enlightenment.

  23. makes the days i’d pour mrs. dash on my hand and lick it up so i could _taste_ something come in better focus… it was always just a day or two to the next paycheck by then.

    that situation is not altogether uncommon… and it does seem to happen more often to girls. at least, i’ve heard the story before.

    in america.
    in other parts of the world things certainly get much worse. it’s easy to forage for decent food here, at least in cities.
    in many ways humans haven’t changed much from when the greeks (for example) would leave their newborns out on hilltops to starve or be eaten.

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    I can’t begin to speak to your situation or history Elsa. I can, however, speak for myself. I have a fairly abundant garden IN the city and am constantly asked “but what if someone takes your fruit, veggies, whatever”

    I cannot fathom where they come from that they ask that question. If someone is taking something from my garden then they must need it or want to eat it and that is why I grow a garden – to be eaten.

    I remember times of less food – always late spring into early summer before that summer’s garden was in. I remember food stamps. But I do know, I always ate and as a Taurus am immensely grateful for that.

  25. Elsa, I am constantly amazed at the depths of hell that you and your sister had to go through. I’ve been reading here a long time and this added a comletely different layer, and makes me so sad. And not just for you, but also for the Elsa right this moment that is saving some paper for breakfast while chaos swirls around her. I can understand why it would pain the soldier to try and process this.

    I just went through a peer mediation training for a program that we are starting in our school and it dealt with perceptions and listening. The counselor was shocked when I told her some of the things (not in a gossipy way, but it a wake up and smell the coffee way) that the students in my neighborhood (that go to our school) deal with. The reason I’m aware? I listen, I’m the kool-aid mom, I ask and I care. I’m sure your former teachers would be shocked, like the one at the bar. I hope I hear your stories in my head when I want to judge or doubt.

  26. Thanks, Heather, there is a reason HQ decided we had to limit what made it into my book. He said no one would be able to read it and I had to take his word on that.

    This stuff I am writing about now.. I never give it a thought. What I mean is, how it impacts you is not how it impacts me.

    This coming out now can be attributed to the Uranus transit to my Moon (food), I’d say and of course it has wider purpose. I do know you have read a long time and I used to mention, I never, ever do anything with a single purpose.

    As I said earlier in the comments, I don’t think it is such a bad idea people get a whiff of what this is really like for any number of reasons I expect to become more and more relevant.

  27. God bless you and your sister Elsa!!!
    It is very funny how life manages to connect you to total strangers, who become fellow travelers…and one day they say something that make you realise that you have more in common than you thought…I can so relate to the days of going to school with no food in my stomach (because there wasn’t any!!!) and still manage to get straight As…I did rehappen to me in my 20s, and sometimes i feel like smacking people when they say to me “you shouln’t eat that…too many calories”…I want to ask them if they know how it feels to go hungry…but then I realise they would not relate…so I don’t say anything…
    I do agree with you that we needs to keep this country prosperous…that it is the only chance we have to “Feed the world” litterally…

  28. Omg Elsa! It’s horrifying to think of the hell you went through as a kid. ? But in a twist of irony, those experiences made you you. I’m just happy you and your sister perservered through that and came up better for it. Blessings to you! ?

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