Friday, September 30, 2005
Go back a few generations and there were plenty of us, but they're all dead now. I have one brother. My mom has one brother and my dad is an only child. I have two cousins that I really don't even know. My husband has 62 first cousins alone. 62!
But that's not the part that bothers me.
My parents' parents were wonderful people. Loving, caring, and supportive of their children. But they were SO up in their business. My mom and my dad were virtually smothered by their parents while they grew up. My mother left her hometown to go to a college many miles away just to have some elbow room. My dad stayed in his hometown for college because his parents wouldn't allow him to go away.
Attributed to this, my parents have always been very adamant about not intruding on my brother's and my life once we were grown and on our own. They said it was because they knew what it was like to have your parents always around, cramping your style when you're trying to start your life, and they didn't want to be that way with us.
I'm not saying they don't love us. I know they do. They were wonderful providers and teachers and have always been there for us when we needed them. But extenuating circumstances aside, I have barely seen them at all but a few times a year since I've been out on my own. And even since the birth of our son, we practically have to beg them to come over. They are always up for a visit from us if they're around, but I bet they haven't visited me 5 times in 10 years.
They visit my brother a lot. He is the oldest and all, and has 2 kids. But my brother lives on the other side of the country. They live less than an hour away from me.
The truth of the matter is, I have often wondered if they just didn't want to be around me anymore.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
A woman received an organ transplant due to an autoimmune deficiency in her liver. She knew very little about the donor except for his name. After she received her transplant, she developed a hankering for cheese doodles and peanut M&M’s, two things she never really cared for before. She discovered an interest and a draw towards music she never liked nor could even understand the words to before. She also began having dreams of a young Latino woman with light hair.
One day she attended a donor club meeting and just by chance met her donor’s family (recognizing the name). They began talking about the young man from whom she’d received her liver. This man was 18 years old and had put a gun to his head. His two favorite junk food snacks were cheese doodles and peanut M&M’s, and he was very into rap music. And the Latino woman with the light hair? She was his girlfriend. She was the last person he saw before he killed himself.
Is this possible? To transfer a person’s memories simply by transferring cells? Can living tissue retain thoughts, emotions, and characteristics?
Fascinating. I couldn’t stop thinking about this. If this were indeed possible, it throws a whole new spin on metaphysics. It would mean that traces of the “soul” may stay in the tissues residually, and/or that the “mind” clearly is not housed in the brain.
I realize this might be an urban legend. I don't really care if it is as I’m not endorsing nor debunking this concept. Just turning it over and over in my thoughts. I love this stuff. There’s so much to know.
Monday, September 26, 2005
I don’t know her well, but I remember these steps and the emotions accompanying them, vividly as if they just happened. This alone seems to bring her deep into my circle of concern and empathy.
I find myself wanting to tell her things. Things for which I can’t seem to find the exact words. I’d really love to just sit with her for a while, with a steaming pot of tea to split between us, and just talk about things. When I went through it all, it seemed there was no one in my life who could understand. People tried to help, usually by making jokes about it or saying completely inappropriate things as people tend to do when they don’t know what to say. She has said things that indicate to me she’s running into this as well.
Much as I knew it was the right thing to do to move on, and regardless there would be no returning to where I once was, ever – it didn’t make it easy. It hurt like hell. Even being awake hurt like hell. It’s very difficult to accept that a huge part of what defines your life turned out to be wrong, and in effect you must start over with yourself.
I remember how valuable one particular friend was to me while I went through it all. The only person in the world who could even closely relate to what I was going through. Others were sympathetic, but no one else really understood. This wonderful Godsend companion is still very, very close at hand. :) My blog friend has a similar figure in her life – and for this I am very happy. They are learning and growing together, and I see that already she is healing.
It’s difficult to understand why we must go through such times of trial and heartache. It’s hard to wrap your head around what the benefit could possibly be, to bear such burdens. All things do happen for a reason though. The older I get, the more I see and believe this to be true. I walked through the depths of hell those many years ago, but I can see the difference it made in me. It changed me into a wiser, more grounded person – it equipped me with tools I needed to continue into broader lands and deeper valleys and greater challenges. My friend is being tempered in the fire, and when she’s through it, she’ll be stronger and wiser for the wear. She is becoming what she was destined to be.
A fire can decimate a forest. Leave a once thriving ecosystem all but wiped out. But in time, shoots come up through the black carbon. Flowers bloom. Saplings become trees and fauna returns. A richer, more lush fortress replaces what was there before, nourished by the ashes left by the tragedy of what came prior.
Friday, September 23, 2005
On the far eastern coast of Aruba, leaning stubbornly against crashing brutal Atlantic surf, lies Wishing Stone Beach. An atypical landscape, this part of the island. Rocky, rugged and stoic. Rather than sand, this stretch of the coastline appears to be constructed of lumpy stalagmites. Upon closer examination, it’s discovered they are not solid pillars, but carefully balanced columns of stones. Smooth, oval stones, shaped by the ages and constant flogging at the hand of the elements. Stones in shades of pale plum and gunmetal and caramel. And as far as the eye can see in either direction – thousands of little columns line the shore.
You may think their placement is way too deliberate to be by nature – and you would be correct. Here is observed an old island tradition, where visitor and resident alike come to offer three sacred wishes. One for health, one for wealth, and one for happiness. The wisher is to select one stone to represent each wish, and from only those not already engaged in a column - Only the elements are acceptable disassemblers of any of the previously constructed piles. The wisher is to meditate on their wishes as they stack their three stones atop of one another. They then leave their wish-encapsulating stones there by the shore.
In February 1999, I visited Wishing Stone Beach, and added my wishing stones to the multitude. I remember the day – the smell of rain in the air – the ocean wind whipping my hair against my cheeks – the tails of my shirt lapping behind me. I remember my wishes. They were indeed answered, but not in ways I’d expected. God has a funny way of doing things like that.
I’m sure that by this time, my column has succumbed to collapse, and my stones so carefully selected and wished over have gone on to become pieces of someone else’s altar – maybe several - just as what we strive for our lives to become is built up and torn down and restructured by forces beyond our control, and in the process we become a part of one another.
Lovers and the lost. The ambitious and the broken. The naive. The jaded. Newlyweds. Expectant parents. Clean-slaters. Children. The aged. Perhaps even a young girl from Alabama, while celebrating her new life and possibilities - and later her mother, weary and pallid from searching for her. How many have come to this spot and offered their wishes, their prayers to the Heavens and have symbolically left them there to be tended? Only our Heavenly Father knows, and He has heard every one.
We must still the racket around us to recognize His answers, and still ourselves to accept them.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
He was never one to bark or whine to go outside, he would just quietly stand by the door and if no one noticed would often end up piddling there - so when he was still a youngster we trained him to ring a bell hung from the doorknob. We have a bell on the front, back, and bedroom doors. He caught on in about half a day and it’s worked well ever since.
Hearing that bell clang around at 2:30 am is equivalent to fingernails on a chalkboard to my weary head, but I try not to doubt him when he says he has to go. I forced myself up and took him out (on the leash, as he tends to get the notion to gallivant around the yard for a while at the times I most desperately want to return to my warm bed).
He did indeed have to go, and I waited patiently on my end of the 30-foot lead in my cuddle duds and old frayed robe. While he tended to things, I tipped my head back and gazed up at the black suede sky. In the east I noticed Orion in hunting stance – a sure skyward sign of the coming winter. The moon, 4 nights past the full Harvest phase, was still bright enough to bathe the property in a comfortably spooky glow. A thin brushstroke of early morning fog was sliding lazily through the back acre.
The dark sweet country chill ran its fingertips across my skin, like a lover’s touch. The song of crickets, toads, and something that sounds like an organic spacecraft serenaded me, more loudly than I’d noticed upon first shuffling out on the deck. I closed my eyes and breathed in the cool damp night. Smells of dewy earth and cut grass and dying campfires and faint traces of manure from the stables behind our property filled my lungs – filled my heart.
Suddenly I felt wide awake.
Most beautiful dog was ready to return to the business of sleeping, so we went back inside. He snuggled down in, between the Hub and me, and in seconds was snoring softly. I, however, was wide awake – thoughts still out on the deck - dancing, swirling, intertwining like the shimmering stars and embracing scents of the night air.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Naturally, I was crying through the whole thing. This is a very sensitive subject for me.
Before the birth of my wonderful boy, we traveled a very difficult road. We lost 5 pregnancies. Those were the blackest days of my life. There is no possible way to describe to someone how devastating losing a baby is. How deeply you can love someone who isn’t even in the world yet, and how destroyed you can be - and for how long – after they are gone. And as horrible as it was to live through these times, others have had it worse.
My best friend lost her baby to what the medical profession politely calls a “cord accident”. The umbilical cord wrapped around the child’s neck, cutting off his bloodflow, and he died in utero. She was far enough along that they had to go through with delivering him before planning their baby’s funeral. They then went on to lose several more pregnancies to miscarriage before finally being blessed with their little boy.
To this day I have no idea how she managed to survive such a tragic course of events. I don’t think I could have done it.
My brother and sister-in-law had a little girl in 1988. Everything seemed perfect, until she was born and never started breathing. She died. An autopsy revealed that her lungs never developed properly – she didn’t have a chance. In the days before ultrasounds were as clear and precise as they are now, no one knew.
Logically, it doesn't seem that cutting ties to a being that never really got a chance to become anything doesn't seem like that big of a deal. But it is, in ways that defy logic and transcend sensibility.
I realize people just - don't know. So if there is anything I could tell anyone who knows someone suffering such a loss, it is this: Be understanding. Be patient. Be careful what you say. Understand that though you never saw or held this child, that he/she was very real to their parents. Recognize and acknowledge the child and the loss – it will let the parents know you care and you remember. Understand that if they cry when you talk to them about it, it’s not because you hurt them. You are helping them grieve. Don’t think that the thoughts of the baby are bad memories – the bond, love and dreams they had for their child were good and full of love. Don’t stay away – it only makes grieving parents feel forgotten. If there are times they wish to be left alone or move on to other subjects, they’ll let you know, but to let them know you remember and care is a powerful salve for them – not to mention many others may have the same idea and they are subsequently left with no one around them who says they care. Don’t say anything like “You can have another baby”, or “It was nature’s way of telling you something was wrong with the baby”. While this may be true, babies are not interchangeable and another baby will not be the same – and even if something were wrong, that baby was perfect to its parents. To say otherwise can feel like a slap in the face for the heartbroken. Be understanding if they don’t want to be around other expectant parents for a while. It’s not that they aren’t happy for them – but it’s a painful thing to witness others being blessed with an event that was taken away from you. Naturally there will be feelings of jealousy and emptiness, and it’s not selfish of them at all.
Most of all, be understanding that this is not something anyone can get over in a few weeks or months. Or even years. Allow them to heal at their own pace, and be unconditionally supportive of them. That’s what friends do.
Each path of mourning is as individual as the ones affected. I remember when we lost our first child, the Hub told me he found his comfort in thinking that his Dad, who had died in the early eighties, is with our baby, his grandchild, in Heaven - and they are both in our Lord's loving presence as they await our joining them. Though it did not make my heart nor my arms ache any less, I liked that thought too. This heartbroken couple was using a memorial placed on the father’s skin to aid in their healing over the loss of their baby girl. Would it be the method I’d choose? No, but it wasn’t about me. We each grieve and rebuild in our own ways and in our own time. I pray to God that this will help them along their path.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE trivia and any useless facts that will clutter my brain in the place of more vital information. I also love Native American lore. While visiting my blog friend Michael’s post from this weekend I was reminded of the moon phases and their Native American monikers. For your interest (or boredom, depending on who you are), here are the Native American seasonal lunar phase titles.
Wolf Moon (January) – Wolves are getting hungry, and habitually howl outside of the villages.
Snow Moon (February) – Heavy snow season is here. Also known as the Hunger Moon, as harsh conditions and the length of winter has set in, hunting is difficult and rations are getting low.
Worm Moon (March) – The ground is thawing and the worms appear. Can’t you just smell that damp wormy smell of spring?
Pink Moon (April) – The phlox blooms of spring are appearing. Also known as the Fish Moon, as shad are returning to spawning waters.
Flower Moon (May) – Wildflowers are everywhere now.
Strawberry Moon (June) – Marking the short harvesting season of the treasured strawberry fruit.
Buck Moon (July) – Bucks are budding their velvety antlers. Also called Thunder Moon, for the plentiful summer thunderstorms of this month.
Sturgeon Moon (August) – Fishing season for the large sturgeon fish of the Great Lakes region. Also known as Red Moon, for the fiery hue taken on while rising through the hot summer haze.
Harvest Moon (September) – Marking the autumnal equinox and harvesting season. Farmers could work late into the night by the light of the bright moon in the clear fall air.
Hunter’s Moon (October) – With fields reaped and leaves fallen, it’s time for hunting up winter meat rations for the long cold winter.
Beaver Moon (November) – Time for setting traps for a supply of warm winter furs.
Cold Moon (December) – Also called the Long Night Moon. The nights are their longest and darkest. The moon is now in its longest nightly trajectory.
As the lunar phases vary slightly, each being normally less than a calendar month, placement of where the full moons fall can vary, and occasionally a full moon will occur twice in one month. This, as you may know, is the beloved Blue Moon.
Enjoy the velvety black sky and bright silver moon of this delicious autumn season!
I woke up with a headache, too.
I have this stupid dream a lot. Many factors vary, but the main plot line is always there - I need to go take an exam for some brainiac class that I haven't gone to all year, and my entire academic career depends on me passing it. Along my hurried journey to get to the class on time, a series of unfortunate events trips me up and therefore I run later and later. The dread and panic of the situation always makes me feel like I didn't sleep a wink all night.
Must have been the clash of cultures in my gullet after going for sushi and sake with the gang, and then heading across the street to the Mexican place for salsa and Tecate.
Friday, September 16, 2005
I read a really sweet news story yesterday about a soldier’s final letter. It seems that some fellow in Kansas bought an old stack of newspapers from 1915 at a yard sale. Tucked inside one of the newspapers was an unopened letter with a military postmarking dated March 1944.
The man felt a strong pull to find its rightful addressee and thus placed an ad and picture of the letter in the paper, hoping to find remaining members of the family or someone who knew their whereabouts.
Word of mouth reached the letter’s author’s sister and she was thrilled to claim it. Her brother was an infantry soldier stationed in Italy during World War II ~ he had written a thank you letter for a watch, candies and nuts sent for his birthday. He had been killed in action in May 1944. This letter had been the last he’d sent home, and it finally arrived 60-some years later.
Isn’t that remarkable? I mean, can you imagine how precious it would be to receive such a letter from a loved one who’d been dead for nearly a lifetime? It would be as if his spirit was reaching through the veils of the dimensions to become a material part of your life again. Whispers of their soul’s presence captured with pen and parchment. Written so many years ago, the words “I love you” still remaining, fresh and crisp as if the ink had just dried.
In a similar experience (much downscaled), I unearthed an old journal not long ago, and while flipping through the dog-eared book ran across a letter tucked between the pages. It was a letter from J, written 15 years ago, almost to the day. I read through the letter, holding the pages as gingerly as if they’d disintegrate in my hands, though the paper didn’t seem brittle or ancient. The writing was mid-conversation as our letters always were – phone calls in long-hand, we’d call them – and I reflected bittersweetly as I strained to recall the situations and cast of characters. Many I remembered but many others had faded from our recent lives and memories. I was still with S, she was with C. R was just a baby. Her health issues were retrospectively minor compared to what she’d struggle and suffer with in the later years. She was getting ready to go back to school for the psych degree she ultimately earned. She asked about the classes I’d be taking in my upcoming final semester in college. She commented on two poems I’d written and apparently sent to her. One I remember. The other I do not.
Details have a disturbingly stealthy way of fading on you.
Such an unexpected glimpse back, finding this old letter, and it reminded me of how though we lived states away, how interwoven our friendship managed to become. It was always like that with us.
It was sixteen weeks ago today that she died. I'll never stop missing her.
When we moved last summer, I threw out a bunch of old letters and stuff, many from J. Had I known how precious they’d be a mere year later, I’d have kept them all.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I’m terrible, right? Well, let me explain. First of all, he’s the same age as me. I don’t know what that has to do with anything, just maybe because he loves to seem like the experienced old timer about things. Next, he talks about his drinking days like he’s immensely proud of them and that we should be in awe of his capacities.
“I used to come home from work and grab two beers. I’d have the first one drank before the second one would even start to sweat.”
Okay … So?
Finally, I’m not convinced he indeed was/is an alcoholic. Just because you drink a ton of beer for a period in your life doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an alcoholic, it just means you’re a binge drinker. And this big display he puts on about needing to stay away from any situation where alcohol is accessible seems just a tad overdone and a little self-gratifying.
Between you and me, I bet I have consumed more alcohol than he has.
I drank a lot when I was younger. Booze and pot were the hip drugs to do when I was in high school – I never much liked pot so I just drank. I drank whenever I could, and usually a lot. I’m not bragging, I’m just saying. College is, well – you know – college. What happens in the bars stays in the bars ;). Then in my 20’s my friends and I went out every night. EVERY night. We laughed, danced, and invariably got snot-slinging drunk and crawled home some way, some how. And being that I don’t like the world’s #1 and #2 selling beers, not to mention am always looking for the shortest route between point A & B, I drank liquor.
I drank the most around the time the Hub and I first met. We killed a liter or two of Canadian Mist every couple days. That’s a lot of booze.
I don’t drink anymore – well, not much anyway, just now and then. But it’s not due to hitting rock bottom or anything – I just grew out of that phase in my life. When I quit smoking, man that was a job. VERY hard habit to break. But booze was just take it or leave it.
So why did my hard stuff-drinkin’ butt just walk away while AA-Boy wrestled so hard with … (crinkling eyebrows in disbelief) … beer?
Then I think, I’m a real piece of poop. How do I know what burdens my friend bears? To what addictions he’s more susceptible than I? Why should I assume what is easy for me is easy for everyone?
I don’t and I shouldn’t.
But between you and me, it still bugs me. Like he’s grandstanding or something.
What’s up with that?
I'm sure a bunch of people are going to beat me up now, but I'm just saying ...
“I like your tattoo.”
That was the first thing he ever said to me. We were in that dark, dirty metal bar that we both frequented on AC/DC Cult Night. We got to talking because that’s just what you do when you’re young and social.
I really didn’t know who he was. I’d heard his name but had no idea who he was just to look at him. He was kind of famous, on a local level. He’d cut a CD that was selling well, and he played a lot of local clubs. To be honest I’d only heard one of his songs, and that was only recently, so I just treated him as any other person without the least hint of being star struck. Maybe that’s why he liked hanging out with me.
He was kind of scary looking. Spiky black hair, milky complexion, skeletal frame. Tall, with googly eyes. He came over one time and half scared the crap out of my prissy roommate. I still laugh about that. He had substance abuse problems and was easily a two-packer-a-day, maybe more. But he was a good person.
We talked a lot, both face to face and on the phone ~ deep into the night, when darkness and quiet and the lack of looking someone else in the eyes makes you feel less guarded with your feelings. We got to be very close friends, and he confided deepest secrets in me. Horrible things about his past. The things that pushed him into the quicksand of poison in which he secretly floundered, trying to overcome but having no success. I listened, and I cared. He told me I was the only one who seemed to, and he loved me for it. He was a brother to me. I was happy to be there for him and even now have not breeched his confidence.
He met this girl one time, and he completely fell in love with her. She was very nice and exotically beautiful. I could understand his attraction. He got off drugs and totally cleaned up his life with the strength her love gave him.
He told me she was his savior.
They got married and I was so happy for him. For both of them. And just like that he disappeared.
A few years later, I saw his face on the news. I wasn’t sure I heard right at first. After his wife had left him, he put a gun in his mouth and blew his brains out.
I miss him.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
A blogger friend of mine posted a(n assumed) rhetorical topic recently, regarding forgiveness and grudges. He discussed briefly how he had some offenses brought on to him in his life, of which he tells himself he’s forgiven, yet they remain open wounds on his feelings and even anger him when he thinks about them. He is concerned about holding grudges, not wanting them to jade him as a person and toxify his life – but didn’t know how to forgive if the wound never heals.
I think about this a lot myself – so much that I decided to go off on my own tangent here at my own blog. Some people have hurt me badly in my life:
~ The kids at school who made fun of my hair and skin and clothes and good grades, some of which were friends who turned on me in favor of being accepted.
~ My bulemic college roommate who ate all my food when money was scarce to buy it anyway, and habitually threw it back up in the toilet and didn’t clean up the oversplash and stole my clothes at the end of the year.
~ My rapist, who still walks the streets, somewhere.
~ The boss who fired me from the most fun job I ever had for something he had given me permission to do.
~ My ex-husband, who slyly and subtly sucked the very life force out of me before adding insult to injury with an affair of which I was the last to know.
And others …
I say I have forgiven, and usually truly think I have. Sometimes it doesn't bother me, other times it does. Sometimes very much. But does that mean I haven't forgiven them? Does it necessarily mean or prove I hold a grudge? Must the two states be joined so severely that the presence of one couldn't possibly mean the absence of the other? Or is it that even WITH forgiveness, you'll just bear sensitive scars that may very well continue to hurt ~ maybe forever ~ and that's that .
Maybe it comes down to the simple fact that while outward facades can be altered, there is no plastic surgery for the heart.
Now this makes much more sense. I bet if you talked to a thousand random people, nearly every one of them would tell you that at some point they’d met another person who felt like an old friend only hours, even moments, after they first encountered them. It’s as if you remember each other from another place or level or consciousness … or … something. Something unidentifiable but undeniable. Almost supernatural.
Is this a mere figment, invented by our brains? Simply a condition of social creatures displaying the innate need to form a pack with others? Or is it deeper than that? I’ve brushed on this before in other posts, but what if we were all “grouped” in some way, before we were born? That as our souls awaited assignment of our respective mortal bodies, that we congregated and became friends with others there, wherever it was that we were before here? As we are scattered like splinters across the face of this plane, are we drawn back to one another with an intention and magnetism that we don’t even notice? Are these the people we deem “soul mates” when we run across them here – and something deeper within us, less outward in appearance, recognizes them - and begins to pick up where it left off?
More thoughts on the existence of souls above and beyond our current perception are beginning to do the Riverdance in my head, but again – these are posts for another time.
In any case, by the end of our conversation I’d retracted my initial response. Sort of. I do indeed believe in soul mates. Just not the way pop culture or romance authors or palm reading charlatans have resculpted the term into being.
But when it comes down to brass tacks, it’s a simple conclusion. And that is I believe because I have them.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Ultimately, my final answer is a resounding … It depends.
In this context, I'm addressing lovers. Friends, platonic companions, fellow travelers on the sojourn of life are another matter, and a post for another time.
The popular dreamy concept of the Twin Flame Soul Mate (one person for one person, in matters of love and life partnership) is the one in which I don’t believe. That there is one perfect match out there for you – living Mizpah Coins - one lid for your pot, one yin for your yang, and once found the dance of joy commences for the rest of your days - is an idea quite quaint and appealing. Even practical (and a heck of a lot easier than real life) in theory. But age and experience will teach you quickly that it’s not that simple, and the few and far between examples of such are very much an exception over the norm and quite probably involve a severe case of selective memory. ;)
I loved my high school sweetheart very, very much. Even now, he is still in the top 3 loves of my life. But we broke up and somehow survived on our separate paths, each finding love again. I loved my first husband more than I could ever place into words. When our relationship fell to ruin, I didn’t feel I could live anymore. But I did. And I found love again. I love the Hub on a plane I've never encountered before. Here is where I know I belong. That’s not to say it’s easy, or even fun, all the time - contrary to the twitterpated portrait of the state of soul matedness.
So. Are all three of these influential men in my life, my soul mates? And if there is only one, which is the one? Any of them?
I don’t know if anyone is “predestined” to be together exclusively, romantically - as in, no other would or could ever fit. There is not only one man in the world possessing the abilities and qualities to make me happy, and I’m not the only woman any man could ever love. The fact that humans are forever changing and evolving creatures is enough to back up this statement alone.
Ultimately I decided that in the classic definitions, a soul mate isn’t something you necessarily find, in a neat little package, just waiting to be opened by the right suitor. A soul mate is something you become. While there are rudimentary beginnings –sprigs and sprouts which burst from sewn seeds, climb and flourish – after a while much care and pruning is required. Anyone in a relationship that has outlasted the fire and glitter of infatuation can tell you that in time, the wheat and chaff separate and it comes down to choice – and work. You grow and evolve together, or you (as a paired entity) die and you each move on to try again with someone else. The Hub and I met and fell in love. It wasn’t the first time for either of us, obviously. But we chose to be together and stay together. Ten years have passed since our initial sparks flew, and we are still together not only because we love each other deeply, but because we continue to make that choice every day. A wonderful gift that we voluntarily give each other. Something we cultivate together, this state of soul mateness - not because we were meant to be, but because we can be and choose to strive to remain.
May we all become and remain soul mates with ours.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
They'll never read this, but I've got to get it out. So here we go.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I don't dwell on it to a morbid degree. But I do make sure I go back to it on a regular basis. I return, revisit, open the wounds again so that they never manage to heal all the way. This is how I choose to incorporate it into my life - to always keep it with me. It hurts as much now as it did when it first happened. But I reopen and reopen, because that's how it should be. It should never callous over.
I watch the documentaries when they come on. I bought a few of the picture books that were published. I want a part of the day to stay in the present. I think we all should.
I still can't hold back my tears, to see the burning fuel and debris spilling out of the sides of the buildings. To see the most desperate jumping to their deaths below. To see the looks of shock and terror and disbelief on the dust-encrusted citizens of a city much at peace in its everyday routine only moments before. To see the mighty towers and all their contents sprinkled all over the city. To see the candlelight vigils. The faces of those in despair, searching, holding up photos, names, and contact information for loved ones missing. The rickety shards sticking up in askewed angles where tall majectic buildings once touched the feet of the angels. To look upon images of the smoldering Pentagon and the laceration carved into the Pennsylvania countryside by a runaway plane taken back by everyday folks turned heroes.
And most of all, to hear those who have already forgotten the impact of what they did to us all spout about how we deserved it, and how it serves corporate greed right. Shame on you. Those are your fellow citizens you're degrading. Someone's parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend. Good thing they weren't yours.
So we struck back. And listen up. It's not about money and oil and vendettas for Daddy. It's about offenses to humanity.
I found the film of that poor soul on the internet before it was wiped off out of decency and respect. I watched and listened to those rotten pieces of living shit saw his head off with little more than a steak knife as he screamed like a tortured animal for what seemed like forever. Not because I wanted to. Certainly not because I liked it. But because I wanted to brand it on my brain so I would always remember what they did, and why they deserve no mercy or respect for their way of life and their twisted actions in the name of their twisted god.
I studied the history of the mastermind and his ministry of hate - and of the tyrant and his sociopath sons and their reign of coldblooded torture and manipulation of his own people. And don't tell me for one second they aren't connected. I think everyone in America should learn what I found out, so that the bleeding heart we-should-mind-our-own-business drivel will be silenced. If they knew what I know, they wouldn't hesitate to back the thought process that whether they were directly involved in the events of that day or not, they are of the highest figureheads in the tentacles of terrorism, and the world could be nothing but better with all of these leaders from the seventh level of Hell out of it.
Hindsight is 20/20, and recourses can often be carried out in several alternative ways. But to have done nothing would be to say it's all right. That we don't care, not only about them as a people, but about our own. Live and let live? Screw that. They don't give a damn about you or your olive branches in return. They'll kill you too as soon as you'd blink.
There are times when a country must unite. Times of emergency. Times of tragedy. Times of war. Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party or whatever else, and whether you support the current cabinet or not, or support the war or not, should be beside the point right now. Decisions have been made, and now it's time to get things done that have been started. Showing that we do not display a unified front encourages strikes at the progressively gaping kinks in our armor.
I pray for our President and our country's leaders every day. That God will help guide them in the directions and decisions which will be wisest for our children's futures. And if you don't, where is your head? What are you even doing here? Please defect to the Middle East, or to France, or take your pick, I really don't care, and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
Oh, you won't do that? Because America for all her faults is still the best place on Earth to live? You're damn right.
So act like it.
Take time to remember how truly horrifying the day was that we commemorate this weekend.
To let the wounds callous over - to not remember at every opportunity - is indeed to forget.
Friday, September 09, 2005
A painted garden spider was building a web between the dogwood and the hedge outside of my front window yesterday evening. The Hub and the boy were cutting the grass, so I had the time to sit for a while and watch her work.
I love spiders. I know this is an oddity among women, but I really do. Not only do they eat bugs that I’m less fond of (like mosquitoes and flies), but they are nature’s graceful epitome of the trade master and artisan. Delicate. Precise. Patient.
All the things I’m not.
I was reminded of a class I took in college as I watched her weave. It was a strange class of which I don’t remember the title, about becoming aware of our connection with Mother Earth and all her beings and elements. It was taught by an aging hippie with pewter colored hair that had not been cut (or shaven) for a long time. She wore cotton tee shirts and peasant skirts, and always jingled faintly when she moved, the way Hindu women do.
Part of the course involved picking a creature or element that would be our “life form” for the duration of the course. Something we would connect with, commune with and essentially become, symbolically and transcendentally. As our exercises evolved, so would our connection with their roles and purposes on the planet.
I chose the spider. The spider is a creature that I have always been fascinated by and respectful of, and this exercise in observances taught me much about why – and what I desire in myself metaphorically - perhaps the root of my admiration of them. These memories of lofty standards pined for came back to me as I watched the garden spider work. She busied herself intently with her project, weaving skillfully. A perfect web. Beautiful. Delicate. Strong. Practical and functional. Graceful slender legs moving, maneuvering, measuring effortlessly. I thought upon the lessons of how success is rewarded for immaculate craftsmanship, lack of discouragement, and a bottomless well of perseverance and patience.
Perhaps my flippant attitude towards the notion of pursuing my crafts more seriously relates directly to that. The skills and traits of the spider within are not what they used to be. I don’t take myself and my so-called talents seriously anymore. But perhaps it’s not a matter of taking, but of simply being. Being what you were designed to be – doing what you were designed to do. The spider doesn’t worry about failure, only in creating what she must to live the life she was meant to live.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
I love my dog to a ridiculous degree.
No, I’m not one of those people with an extensive wardrobe for him (though I’d love to put kerchiefs around his neck, if he wouldn’t wriggle them off and eat them). I don’t take him to Doggie Daycare while I’m at work so he won’t be lonely (though I probably would if I could afford it). He doesn’t have his own monogrammed velvet cushion to sleep on (he doesn’t need it, as he sleeps in our bed with us). But he is my oldest son and I love him to the nth degree. From the time he was a seven-pound pup to his present-day seventy-pound, circulation-cutting loveable lapdogness, he has been the furry peg of my heart. He is my baby. He is my cherished.
Five minutes of that damn Oprah made me cry the entire 20-mile commute home yesterday, and sporadically off and on through bedtime. She was talking about an angle of the Katrina situation that somehow, I’m ashamed to say, hadn’t even crossed my mind.
As rescue workers go in to help people get out, the refugees have been forced to leave their dogs behind.
This simple statement put a vice grip on my heart that is still in place. I know many people will say, “They are animals. They can fend for themselves.” I don’t think that’s necessarily true. They are animals, yes, and animals have been known to survive nicely without human intervention. But these are domesticated animals, dependent upon their human families to care for them and help provide for their needs. They don’t have the ability to take to the wild, particularly conditions in which thinking, reasoning humans are lost as to what to do as well. They need their people. People who were forced to leave them behind, alone and without a star to guide them.
Some agencies are now going in and helping to get these poor pets to safety and reunited with their families if possible. But there are so many, and even I, a woman who prefers the company of animals to most people, had somehow overlooked this unspoken epilogue subplot.
I know some of you will think I’m a loon for saying this, but I would not leave my dog behind in the mess there. My husband can take himself and my son to safety and shelter – I will stay behind and be there with my beloved pup and help him scrimp and survive until someone came along who could help us as a package deal. I know I would be risking my own life and health. But I love my dog, with all my heart. And he’s counting on me to keep him in safe hands.
I realize that things don’t always happen neatly. I realize maybe my husband and I would be separated, and I’d be forced with a decision to choose either getting my son to safety alone or staying with my dog and jeopardizing my son's well being. Obviously, I would have to choose my son. But please don’t make me say it out loud, because with that I’m saying that I’d abandon my sweet dog. And I can’t even bear to think about it.
The story was illustrated with a distant shot of a small dog, sitting on one of three or four empty lawn chairs in the center of the mess. He sat on his haunches, looking, scanning, with the persistence that only a loving and faithful pet can possess. His ears were perked, but the look on his face showed confusion, hurt, and lonliness. He searched and searched the sea of faces, but couldn’t find his people.
How freaking ironic that this just happened.
An old bag lady just came in to my office and asked if she could use our restroom. We don’t have a public restroom and we’re not supposed to let people who don’t work here use them, particularly vagrants. But not many people were in yet so I let her use it, because deep down I have a kind heart. Don’t tell anyone. ;)
She was in there a long time, and when she came out she told me a man had stolen her purse and she didn’t have any money for the bus. I told her I didn’t have any, and she asked if I could ask the other people in the office. I said I’d already gotten in trouble for letting her use the restroom so I wouldn’t ask for her. She instructed me (and all of us) in no uncertain terms to go to hell, and stormed out.
She also left me with quite a mess in the restroom as a thank you. Enough said on that.
This is why people’s hearts grow stony towards those who need help.
I say this is ironic because the following is what I had written to post this morning:
~ ~ ~
I grew up in a Big 10 college town, and while a student (at another college in town) I worked in a cheese steak shop on the Big 10 campus. Football Saturdays, as you can imagine, were a madhouse - but really any given day was. We made great cheese steaks.
There was a typical bouquet of panhandlers that I would see every day. Some I even knew by name. I gave them a little change when I could, but being a poor college student, sometimes that wasn't much. I couldn't help but feel, though, that maybe they needed my quarter more than I did.
I remember two guys in particular. One was very extroverted and quite likeable. Had he been on a different path, I'm sure he'd have made a great salesman. He used to come in the shop once in a while and ask for a sandwich, and we'd usually oblige - free of charge. At first he'd only ask occasionally, so it wasn't a problem. But he began asking more frequently, and the owner started getting sore about it. So we had to begin turning him away.
One day he came in and asked for a sandwich after the owner had instructed both him and us that the free meals were over. We had to say, you know we can't help you out anymore. To our surprise, he slammed his hand on the counter with so much force it made us jump, as well as half the customers quietly eating their lunches. He began yelling at us. We had to tell him to leave or else we'd call the cops. He raved and gestured all the way down the street.
The other guy never came in our shop, but we saw him every day. Usually he would simply be walking down the street, but sometimes we'd see him pause at trash containers. He'd look in, pull out a half-eaten sandwich or slice of pizza or whatever was there, and walk on as he ate it. After a while we'd try to catch him, and offer him a fresh sandwich and a place to eat it. He'd humbly and gratefully accept the sandwich, but would decline the offer to come inside.
He never asked for anything, either from our shop or from any one of us on the street.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
One evening we found ourselves leaving Estes Park on the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, in preparation to watch the sunset from the top of the Continental Divide. We loafed leisurely along the pass, making frequent stops along the way to commune (at a safe distance) with grazing elk and to drink in the soft slow curling of the clouds as they congregated in the deep valleys. I remember the sunset was particularly fiery that evening – the entire sky was ablaze in oranges, fuchsias, violets and indigos, progressively moving westward, accentuated by lofty wisps of clouds capturing and layering the luscious shades.
As the last embers of sunset went out, we descended the other side of the Divide. The mountain air was clean and cooling rapidly with night’s arrival. At around 9,000 feet elevation, the strangest thing happened – we drove into a wall of flurrying white. The Hub queried in disbelief, “Is it snowing?”
Indeed it appeared that way, but it was too warm, and the sky above too clear. We stopped the Jeep and blinked at the swirling enigmas. In a few moments, we realized they were moths. A virtual blizzard of frilly white moths, with wings the size of guitar picks.
We got out of the car and stood in amazement, as if witnessing angels. The moths flitted and danced all around us in the light of the headlamps, like a whirlwind of carnation petals. We held our hands out for landing perches and wore the grins of children.
After a length of time of which neither of us are sure, we got back in the car and continued our descent. About 500 feet closer to the valleys, the riot of winged fairies vanished as suddenly as they’d appeared. We looked behind us, and in the taillights could see the dividing line of the mysterious force field containing the community of busy, swirling creatures.
It was the most beautifully peculiar experience.
Monday, September 05, 2005
We're taking a break right now. The boy has been napping for a few hours and the Hub has run to the store for cookout items. I'm relaxing in the overstuffed easy chair in our living room, breathing in the gentle late summer breeze that blows through the open window overlooking the bean field. Across the room, my handsome canine companion catches a snooze on the couch after running in large sweeping figure eights in the back yard all afternoon. He sighs deeply and contentedly in his sleep. I couldn't agree more - I feel more at peace right now than I have in a long time.
The boy is beginning to rustle in his crib, so it seems my stolen peaceful moment to myself is about to be a thing of the past. I didn't want to let it slip by though, without stopping to reflect on the quiet beauty of this perfect September afternoon, and to wish all of you a Happy Labor Day. Hope you are enjoying yourselves.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
I am curious about a great many things, it's just how I am. When I lived in the city I used to frequent a new age bookstore that offered free seminars on various topics during evening hours. I became a semi-regular attendee, as I tend to find myself often searching for things more interesting than my own small existence.
One of these evenings fell during a time in my life where I'd made a recent snap decision. I was freshly divorced and still reeling from the emotional blows of that debachle when the relatively new man I'd been seeing bought a house and asked me to live with him. I agreed and we'd begun settling in, but I was unsure on whether it was a good idea. I'd decided I loved him and it seemed that he loved me, but I had lost all faith in my judge of character. I was quite honestly just looking for some temporary security if nothing else, but was wondering if I would be just as wise to take flight before I got in too deep.
I went to a seminar at the bookstore just to get away and focus on something different, hoping the distraction would help me think more clearly on this situation when my thoughts returned to it.
That night's discussion was upon reading auras. I take such things with a grain of salt, but at the same time it is my nature to not rule anything out, especially when I know little about it. If nothing else it seemed interesting enough to serve the purpose. A woman that had the "gift of seeing auras" led the discussion. She said she'd been able to see auras her whole life. I don't remember her name, but she had a kind face and a way about her that set you at ease.
The discussion was much more detailed than I'd expected, and quite interesting. She explained about different colors and what they each tended to represent. She talked about auras being the manifestation of a person's spiritual energy and emotion, how like with personality differences, some are more strong and easily seen than others, and how some emotions can cause such a shock to your system that it can cause injury to the body ~ Of how sometimes words or non-physical actions that are damaging to your heart and soul can consequently be felt in and throughout the body and this is why many will speak of physical pain while suffering from a heartbreak. She likened it to being beaten up from the inside out. She talked about how some auras can connect, and the connection can be seen even when the people are not in the same room or vicinity, their auras flowing into each other in streams and blending like warm currents.
All the while the woman cast glances at me. She looked at everyone there, but I was sure she was looking at me more than average. I didn't think much of it at the time, until she interrupted herself.
"Excuse me," she said apologetically, looking straight at me, "I don't want to make you uncomfortable or embarrass you, but your aura is just - I'd like to tell you about it if you don't mind."
I was a little surprised, but didn't mind the call out at all. I wasn't sure how much stock I'd put in all of it, but was rather interested in what she'd say, so I agreed.
She proceeded to tell me that she could see that I had been greatly hurt deep inside recently - my chakras were practically bleeding out. I remained unreactive as I could past simple interest, but was captivated by this, as I knew no one there and no one knew what had been happening in my personal life. She went on to say you'll be fine though. Your aura is the most stunning bright blue, the brightest in the room. You are strong, and you're going to be fine. She smiled, and I smiled. And that was that.
She went on to read a few others there and continued her interesting discourse, and at the end invited us to stick around for further, less on-the-spot chatting about the subject. I remained, and waited my turn. When we had the time, I told her that I didn't know much about auras before tonight and that her reading was dead on, I had indeed been hurt very badly and doubted my abilities to recover, but was feeling a little more confident now after her encouraging words. She smiled and said, I'm glad you stayed because there is something else I wanted to tell you. Remember what I said about auras connecting, and some can stream to each other even when the people aren't together? I said yes. She said, there is someone in your life who loves you. Really, really loves you. Their aura is finding you and encirling you, I could see it the moment I saw you. It's coming from that direction.
She pointed in the direction of our house.
Ten years later, while things haven't always been a dream, never have I been so loved.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
It's happening. When not so many days ago relief from the stifling blanket of summer couldn't be found even with nightfall, the air is turning. The weight, the smells within, the very texture of the air is transforming as autumn makes her stealthy slide into the Midwest.
In the region that I live, Labor Day weekend is a virtual light switch. With the last long weekend of summer comes the near instant transformation to fall. I don't know how the earth knows when Labor Day is, but she knows. The nights dip into the 60's, even 50's, and four months of lake water warming is undone in a matter of days. The battle cry of the cicada begins to subside. The mob of stars above our country home become sharper, clearer, and more numerous as the dog-day haze humbly bows and gives way to the crisp and clear foreshadowing chill. No sooner have I vacuumed up the dog's summer sheddings than a warm winter coat once again begins to sprout on his pink belly. The grass gives one final burst of green after the hot drought of August, as the trees flame up in yellows, oranges, crimsons.
It's funny how you think of things differently in different points in life. Thirty years ago the onset of autumn meant back to school, and the bittersweet mix of saying goodbye to summer fun and freedoms and the anticipation of new friends, teachers, classes and knowledge. Autumn meant new clothes, new shoes, and dressing in layers. Thinking about what you wanted to be for Halloween. Jumping into huge leaf piles with your buddies, laughing till you couldn't breathe.
Twenty years ago autumn still meant back to school, with the additions of pep rallies and football games. Moths and crane flies swarming madly around the bright stadium floodlights. The taste of those twelve inch astropops you could buy at the snack bar. Hard metal bleachers that chilled your buttcheeks till long after bedtime. The marching band belting out "We Will Rock You", despite the team being pummeled by a 6 touchdown lead.
Ten years ago, autumn's magic was overshadowed by the impending doom of winter. It was the time to winterize the boat, move the motorcycle battery indoors, and pack away the bathing suits, sunscreen and riding gear. The bright splendor went all but unnoticed in the wake of mourning the passing of our season of fun and dreading the endless gray of winter.
My life is now coming full circle. Boating is still our beloved pastime but come September I'm ready for a new batch of seasonal joy. Though I'm no longer a student and the boy is less than two, the jingles of television ads and reappearance of school buses brings those old feelings of anticipation back. The games are starting up and the Hub and I make plans to gather with friends to cheer for the home team. The boy and dog scamper and crunch through the earliest of falling leaves. The golf cart rides we recently took along our country roads in the early evenings, seeking the relief of a breeze to cool us off, are now taken with a blanket thrown over our laps ~ as the twilight air chills more than you'd expect. The smell of backyard fires stoked in our pit and the pits and chimineas of our neighbors permeates the crisp cusp of night. And it's all exquisite.
Autumn will soon be over, but not without my enjoying it this time around. This year I will run to catch up with the girl I once was as we take the boy out for tricks and treats. I will indulge in s'mores around the fire pit as I snuggle down in my cozy sweats and listen to the final serenades of the crickets and toads with the Hub. I will rediscover the simple joys of my childhood, buried for too long, at the bottom of a bright, crisp pile of leaves.
Friday, September 02, 2005
This is a section of a painting I did when I was about 21. A portrait of a starlet of unconventional beauty, who in time became quite famous.
While probably not the best thing I’ve ever done, it’s one of my favorites. It represents much more than the woman I captured. It represents a time in my life when I was discovering who I was and what was important. A time when I was unbridled, unbroken. I became unafraid in my painting as I was becoming in my life, expressing what I was feeling in my heart passionately with fiery-bright liquid inks and bold rich juxtaposed strokes in contrasting colored pencil.
So much has changed. I don’t know if I could ever paint like this again.
An audible gasp, followed by an over-accentuated, over-drawn-out, “Hiiiiiiiii!”
I remember you. Unfortunately I’m at my place of business so I can’t tell you to take your phony salutation and go to hell. So I force a wordless smile and hope it doesn’t look too much like a grimace.
You and your little friends made me miserable. I was gangly, I had unruly skin, my hair refused to curl and defy gravity in the proper ways and my folks didn’t see the sense in paying $80 for a pair of jeans so I wore off-brand clothes. And you all made me feel like I was diseased for it.
I was a nice person and I didn’t deserve that. Though I never would have let it happen in front of you all, I cried every day thanks to you. And don’t think I’ve forgotten any of it.
A friend of yours waits on my mother at the bank. You know, the one that followed you all around like an approval-seeking Chihuahua? She recognized the last name and now always asks about me.
“She was so nice,” the Chihuahua always chortles. That’s funny. She never returned the favor.
Later on, my awkward angles smoothed out into sexy, svelte curves. I learned the subtle communications that can get men to do anything I want, and make women admire and envy me. I wield power now, and do it forcefully.
“Oh, maybe you don’t recognize me,” you say. “Look,” (you strike a profile, a la Jimmy Durante), “I got a nose job.”
So, you felt as ugly secretly as you made me feel publicly? Good.
I hope you still do.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
This is a picture of my great-great uncle. I do not know the date this photo was taken but he died in 1930 so it’s more than likely in the 1920’s. Though he was not as well known as say, Henry Ford, he was a great automotive pioneer of the day. His cars were high-end, mostly driven by movie stars and other well-to-dos, and were raced in the Indy 500. He also designed motorcycles, fire trucks, and upon his death was hard at work on an innovative design of airplane engine. His accomplishments were remarkable to say the least, and I always admired him for rising above his farming roots to chase his dreams. I have often wondered if he is the mysterious link in my gene chain which affords me the guts and hard headedness to step out of the stream, from attending a college different from the one my entire family had attended to my occasional, seemingly off the cuff, snap decisions pivotal to the directions of my life.
I love the nonchalant-ness of this photo. The casually crossed leg, the quick glance up at the camera. While most portraits of the day were stiff and posed, this seems to merely be a frozen moment. Perhaps he and the photographer were having an impromptu discussion about how the heck this new fangled contraption in his hands is supposed to work.
Old photographs are fascinating windows to me – like looking upon the faces of ghosts – long after the subjects have left the bonds of Earth, their earthly images remain on pieces of paper, canvas, metal.
I have always loved the water. From the time I was young I longed to be near it – fresh or salt, it didn’t matter, so long as I could visit its shore, swim in it, set sail upon it. My folks weren’t sure where I got this, as no one my family had a particular interest in water and boating. But I loved it. Eventually I married a boater and we spend our fair weather weekends happily on the local water fares and when traveling often frequent some shore or another.
Years later, in the process of researching my family history, I read in an autobiography published by a preservation club that Uncle H had a huge passion for water and boating. This fact had been lost somewhere in the annals of my oral family history, but obviously the strand quietly carried on to an albeit distant branch of the tree. I was thrilled to share this link with him, and it brought our relationship closer to home for me.
Among my other treasures linking me to my past is my Grandmother’s cookbook. This is my other Grandmother, not the one with the famous beef and noodles. This Grandma was very different than the other. She was tall and beautiful and truth be told, traces of evidence point to her being a wild child in her day. She married late (by the standards of those days) and was never known for her cooking talents. That’s not to say it was for lack of trying.
She painstakingly collected and tested recipes most of her life after marriage. Mom quips that it’s a wonder she and her brother lived to adulthood.
This tired and weathered book was published around the turn of the century and I assume was given to her, or perhaps she purchased it for herself in preparation for domestic life. Its recipes call for ingredients that spoiled and finicky moderners wouldn’t think of using. Bones. Brains. Suet. In nearly any blank section of page is scribbled in her royal handwriting, some recipe or another handed down by her mother, sisters, a neighbor or friend. The passage of time and wear has nearly faded some of them into unrecognizable hatchmarks. Clippings of recipes and hints torn from women’s magazines of the day, many accented with an unnaturally ecstatic cartoon housewife in heels and pearls, stick out riotously from the covers. I straighten and tuck them back in periodically but they seem to wander their way back out again when I’m not looking. Maybe these are the recipes she never got around to trying. Maybe she is telling me to make the time to do the things I want to do. To not let too much time slip away. "If done right," she whispers, "this could be good."