Thursday, May 12, 2011
The following is my contribution for Velvet Verbosity's 100 Words this week. This round's word is FORGOTTEN. VV is choosing very helpful words for my process. :). Thank you, my sweet readers, for your patience and compassion while indulging me.
Appraising someone else's treasures is more difficult than you'd think. I struggle with evaluating and thinning Dad's beloved book collection, and glance at his sacred "ham shack" in the corner. The old amateur radios that used to whisper through the registers after my bedtime are now quiet until sold to other operators. The powdery ash that was once my Daddy will soon be one with the Rockies, assimilated and quickly forgotten by the elements. I've never been one to linger by caskets or gravestones ... but maybe that's what I'm doing now. Letting go so very reluctantly.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
After spending the past week disbursing death certificates and helping Mom update their accounts, I had a squinchy feeling of remorse deep within. As if we were erasing him from the world.
His ashes have now reached Colorado, where my brother will scatter them in the mountains. We'll have no grave to visit. Not that I would anyway. Still, it somehow bothers me no one will ever be standing somewhere and know he was here - even strangers.
Such a ridiculous fret. We know. Dad reaches beyond monuments, beyond his own mortality. Blossoming through us.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Well, much like the challenge, this trying month is over.
Dad's memorial service was today. It was fairly short and sweet - much as he'd prefer. Lots of old familiar faces and awkward but heartfelt words. I managed not to cry while I was there. I worry that Mom is crying right now. Or perhaps that she isn't. We are not very proficient processors of overpowering emotions, either one of us.
I spent time with my brother, nephew and neice this evening. We played Trivial Pursuit and had a fun time. It feels good to laugh and love with my blood. I don't see them nearly enough.
The difficult month that draws to a close tonight has changed me in ways that will never reverse. I have aged, and my heart has lost a few irretrievable shards. I've said goodbye to people I love - people I cannot imagine not being here.
But I have a husband, and a little boy, a dog, friends and family who are here. They love me and I love them. I continue to mourn. But I will do my best to return to the living.
Monday, April 25, 2011
My Dad passed away early Saturday morning.
I've been continuing with my previously mentioned running to Mom's, now to help her with arrangements. He wanted to be cremated, which simplified many aspects of the planning. If you can really do that. Very little is simple about laying a loved one to rest.
My brother will scatter Dad's ashes in the Colorado Rockies, which Dad did not propose himself but would no doubt approve of as his point of re-entry, becoming one again with the Earth.
I have drawn a lot of comfort in knowing Dad is no longer suffering. He was in incredible pain and discomfort with his cancer. He was so weary from his fight. While he didn't want to leave us, he seemed to know it was coming sooner than later. I truly think he was ready to be at rest - perhaps even willfully ushering himself there.
My Dad and I shared a delicately balanced, eggshell-filled, and often tumultuous relationship. Not often close, not even always speaking to each other. But he was my Dad, and I his daughter, and in these last few years we have mended or otherwise let go of the static between us. I have had nothing but love for him during these final years, and I know he felt the same.
I have begun mourning a little bit, but the bulk is still to come. This is a big one, and add this blow to the fact that we've lost yet another close family member only a week ago (I had not blogged about this out of respect for family privacy), I truly have not even been able to get into the grieving process very deeply yet. I have a way of holding it together for the sake of being strong for everyone else until it's all done and life can return to normal. But then many days later something will flip the switch. I will probably see an amateur radio license plate on the freeway, or hear Sultans of Swing (one of Dad's favorites) on the radio ... and it will hit me. And I will fully grieve then, because that's when the time will be. It just needs to come to me on its own.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the weary, for they shall find rest.
Rest in Peace, Dad.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
I don't speak about my personal life here much deeper than little anecdotes that reflect quaint little life lessons. But I feel like going deeper today.
My Dad is dying. He's all but lost his battle with cancer, which began in his colon and liver a few years back and then stealthily spread to his lungs and bones. He had many months of quality time left only last week. But then he suffered a fall and fractured his neck. This seems to have led to a dizzyingly rapid decline. He now lies in palliative care in a neck brace the rest of his life, which was quickly reduced to an estimated six months, then two months, and now only a few weeks. Only Monday he was quite himself, joking around with me, flirting with Mom and charming the nurses. He is now out of it with pain management medication way more than he is conscious. Still, I talk with him like he can hear me, hoping that he does despite the lack of outward cues. I hold his frail hand and tell him I love him each time I leave, hoping it rings through the fog for him. Hoping (selfishly, perhaps) it's not the last time I can do so.
Just as difficult to witness, my Mom is falling apart before my eyes. Always a pillar of strength and faith throughout our lives, she is crumbling in the face of reality - her valentine of 53 years, her husband for 51 of those, is failing. she is losing her partner, her right arm, her heart. She is devastated. I can be there for support, but I cannot stop her pain. She is not well either and I'm afraid she will lose her own will to live after Dad is gone. I don't know how to help her.
My Dad is being moved from the hospital to a nursing facility near their home later this afternoon. There he will receive hospice and round-the-clock care he will need to be as comfortable as possible for the remainder of his days.
Sunday is Easter. My Dad loves Easter eggs. This is the first time ever my Mom didn't make Easter eggs. She just didn't feel like it. I guess I don't blame her.
I don't know whether to wish for more time or for a quick release from his suffering now. Any alternative is almost too horrible to think about.
I love you, Dad.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
She made her way though the empty outbuilding with the stragglers brought in by the auction. It had been a lucrative day. Even the box of ancient snapshots and postcards had been bought by a vintage photo collector. She wasn't sure why something lacerated inside her as she let go of the box, when she didn't recognize a single person in them. She watched the last buyer pull away as her parents' cherished Imp squeaked arthritically behind him. A slideshow of summer memories flipped through her mind. She felt her heart fold in on itself like that leaky old boat.
"OSAR puppies, CMPN?"
-- childhood play-with-letters joke
Does anyone remember this? The rough translation is 'Hey, Bee, see da puppies?' 'Hell, them ain't no puppies.' 'Oh yes they are puppies, see 'em peein'?' It was so naughtily funny to tell a joke about pee (not to mention the implied bad word) in grade school.
The above joke is totally unrelated to anything at all, and I fully admit this is cheating by the rules of the A to Z Challenge, using 4 letters in one post ... but some emergencies have come up in my life and I need to consolidate just this once. I'll try to get back on track as soon as possible.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I have just about had it with the race card.
I'm not saying racism doesn't exist, because it most certainly does. But just because I expect answers doesn't make me a racist. Neither does expecting a leader to make responsible decisions. Pass responsible laws. Handle the national budget with sense. Refrain from lavish vacations for himself and his family on the country's dime during times of fiscal crisis. Demanding that the will of the people be taken into consideration. Remember that whole not the color of my skin but the content of my character thing?
Many people question his citizenship. Supposedly born in Hawaii, the question has been raised he may have been born in Indonesia or somewhere else - rendering him disqualified from being President of the United States. To be honest I don't really have a strong feeling either way on which is right. But I will tell you I have a very low tolerance for bullsh*t.
Listen up: If you were born here, prove it. Not with relatives swearing by it, not with xeroxed newspaper announcements, not by chuckling dismissively and saying you're getting picked on by racists. You're wasting my time. You're wasting America's time. Ante up your proof with original, doctor signed docmuents and settle the matter if you very well can so we can get on with important business.
And by the way, sticking up for a sub-par, expect no accountability president just because he is black (*ahem*, half-black, but you never hear mention of that), IS in fact, also being a racist.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Everyone knows I love a great horror movie. Everyone also knows that I don't think there's been a decent horror film out in years and years (unless you count the SAW movies ... which I LOVE but consider them more to be psychological thrillers than true "horror" movies). Horror films have been so stale for so long that every time I waste two hours of my life on one I swear it's THE. LAST. TIME.
Needless to say, I saw Insidious on opening day.
This movie is the one I've been waiting for. Part Poltergeist, part Shyamalan-style, and with the exception of a scant few cheesy cliches and a possible Darth Maul makeup ripoff, it was exceptional.
What's been done that hasn't already been done? Well ... not much. But I jumped out of my skin several times, and a chill trickled down my spine way more than once. And that's what I paid for.
Saturday, April 09, 2011
A few generations back, everyone wore hats. Take a look at old films and photos. Women and men alike seemed to never leave the house without some sort of hat. Most were typical, even identical flat straw boaters or felt derbys - but many were so ... awesome looking. Ridiculously large. Overburdened with feathers and thick satin bands.
I'm really not a fashion addict. But I wish hats were still a wardrobe staple above and beyond bitter winters, bad hair days and casual sun protection.
Do you have a favorite hat? I don't mean your old lucky Dodgers cap with the mustard stain on the bill. I mean a cool style of hat.
I always thought cloches (most popular in the 20's and 30's) were really cute, not to mention having a high potential for sexiness. You could do some bigtime mysterious seduction peeking out from under that snug brim.
But my all-time favorite hat is the top hat. I mean that's some serious badness right there. If you're wearing a top hat, you have self-confidence to spare... You know it and so does everyone else. I love 'em. In fact, I think I'll wear a top hat to my next business meeting. Talk about making a statement. Who's going to doubt someone wearing a ultra-cool hat like that?
Meandering blearily through the tight maze of shops bursting with cheap trinkets (made, ironically, in China) and bilious tropical wear, she struggled to collect her thoughts. She couldn't recall where she was exactly, but knew it had to be deep in town, far away from tourism areas. She tried not to think about the tender new tattoo of a tequila worm in a sombrero and ridiculous mustache nagging at her bikini line. A tawny flower showed her a collection of beads. She ignored the sales pitch and dug deep into her broken rusty spanish. "Vender bragas?" Do you sell panties?
Friday, April 08, 2011
Most writers and artists will tell you there is a palpable vulnerability to sharing your work, particularly within a large arena of viewers. Summoning the guts to do so can be good. Constructive criticism is every bit as helpful in helping the artist grow as appreciation, if not moreso. But there is also the fear that people will scoff or insult the nudity of your soul.
I joined a poetry writers' circle on Facebook, thinking it might be good for feedback as well as inspiration. I was thinking of sharing my haiku cluster I wrote last weekend, and then as I started reading through the page.
Many comments left by other members are helpful. But some of the members are bluntly nasty. A few of my 'favorites' are as follows:
"Trivial piece. I don't care for the topic or the way you presented it."
"I ahbor end line rhymes."
"Terrible metaphor." (That's helpful.)
"If I didn't leave a comment it was because I didn't care for the poem at all and had nothing to say that could make it better." (Really? Was it necessary to say this?)
I'm not so sensitive that I can't take constructive criticism on my writing. But, I don't know. To me these sorts of comments are not helpful. At all. But should one expose one's self to those as well? Does brutality fortify your guts?
Thursday, April 07, 2011
I would take music over every other form of entertainment without a moment of hesitation.
I was raised in a wildflower field of musical styles. My mom loved The Everly Brothers, The Sandpipers and Peter Paul & Mary. My dad loved Johnny Cash, The Who and Grand Funk Railroad. My brother, 6 years my senior, was into The Beatles, The Ohio Players and AC/DC. He brought home KISS ALIVE! when I was in first grade. He only listened to it a few times, but I was changed forever. But all three saturated my little soul with this bouquet of styles, and I love it all.
Fan is such a tiny word. Music is more to me than music. It is memory and identity, blade and bandage, joy and breath. It is as much a part of my life force as my blood and my thoughts.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Have you heard of this? It's not new, but there's a big boon in its popularity of late. People collect coupons from papers, magazines, websites, swap groups, and anyone not fast enough to run away from them. Then they scour store ads for all the sales, and strategically orchestrate a battle plan to swoop into all markets and marts within their area and cherrypick the best deals. Some extreme couponers save 90% or better on their grocery bills and get many items for free.
Ya know, I think that's great. I mean, I cut coupons, sure. And I usually save between $20 and $50 a trip by using them. But it takes some planning, and a lot of comparison shopping. And to be honest, I just can't make my shopping trips a full-time job, I don't care what the bill adds up (or down) to. I go to one store - the one I think has the best prices overall - that's it. Besides money, my time is valuable to me as well, and I've got other crap to do.
Hey, Godspeed to all you extreme couponers out there, though. Can a borrow some money? I spent all mine at the store today.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
I had a nice long chat on the phone today with a good friend. She works in the editing business, and we share a common love of snark, the Steelers, good music, travel, and proper grammar. She's been one of my strongest supporters in following my writing dream, and does a great job of convincing me I really can do it. We've been buddies for many years now. Yet I have never met her in person. We met on a music message board and a lovely friendship blossomed from there.
It's curious to take note of how people come into your life. Even more curious that geographical distance seems much easier to bridge for me than emotional distance.
Even when I was a kid, I have always made very dear friends who live far away - by pen palling before the days of email and Facebook and message boards. Technology seems to make it even easier. Sometimes I wonder if it prevents me from making friends, in real life. Then I remember that I am indeed friendly ... but no one seems interested, in real life.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
Inspired by another blogger, I thought I'd jot a haiku cluster for my A to Z Challenge today. I wrote this in the car while Incrediboy was at a birthday party, so don't expect much ;).
Currents running on
Perpetual, as clockwork
Slide in, then suck out -
Or is it down? Leeching to
Some otherworld place
Currents running on
Indifferent to this place
As any other
I imagine, hard,
My soul running down
Now part of the sea
Flesh, memories, burdens, life
All left behind me.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
Here's a fun (and possibly funny) fact about me for those who didn't know: I love bellydancing. I wanted to learn since I was a teenager, and for the past few years I've been taking the occasional class and have amassed a "few" (ahem) DVDs focusing on learning the art.
Friday, April 01, 2011
There aren't many things I love the way I love the old family photos and jottings that have found their way to me.
I am the youngest child of two youngest children, which means most of my elders were gone before I got to know them. While I was born in the Age of Aquarius, my grandfather was born in the 19th century. He died an old man when I was only in first grade. My memories of him are only tiny vignettes themselves - whisps of a waist-high view - my eyes level with the pocket of his houndstooth coat as he'd sneak me a piece of candy. The bright jewel colors of his blanket, always on his lap in his last months.
In the photos I have, he is handsome and commanding. Hair inky black instead of winter white. In one he holds a baby that looks just like me. My mother.
Another of my favorite photos is of my grandmother and her best friend. They were all of twenty years old, wearing tweed pants, vests, ties and big newsboy hats. In an age where so many photos were stiff and posed, these two were mugging it up - fat cigars clenched tight in their teeth, laughter in their eyes.
Grandma gave me her cookbook before she died. It was published in the twenties and had revolting recipes with ingredients like suet, tripe, and chicken feet. Frugal times commanded a frugal kitchen. I imagine I'd be much thinner with entrails on the table.
What I love about this book though, are her notes. Some stuck haphazardly about the pages on scraps of paper, others written in margins or inside the blank cover sheets. Reminders scrawled in her confident, jagged cursive. As identifiable as a fingerprint, and even moreso.
In some ways, having a snatch of handwriting is even more precious than a picture. My ancestors weren't just ghostly images on brittle photographic paper. They were real. Their writing left like footprints, like whispers. Like pieces I've been looking for to complete the puzzle of who I am.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
He earned his living with that voice, hosting radio shows featuring oldies or lonely heart dedications. Deep and enveloping, immediately familiar. Equal parts thunder and romance. And always strong.
He paid our bills with it. Put food in our bellies, put our green asses through college. Put the fear of God in us.
I never knew it to show weakness, even when Grandma died.
Until we spoke today. Over the hollow line, it was time his only daughter knew the severity. I could hear the cracks, like sugar glass. Unsure if it was in his voice, or from within me.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The first few cuffs across the chops she let slide without question. If her strict upbringing taught her anything, it was that the man was head of the house. Reminding her of her place was probably called for.
As his corrective hand grew firmer over time, it became a little more difficult. At least now he only struck her where it wouldn't have to show.
But when she found streaks of blood in her daughter's little panties, that was too much.
As the officer placed the cuffs on her own blood-soaked wrists, she smiled - certain any judge would understand.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
This is my first contribution to Velvet Verbosity's 100 Words Project - a fun little exercise I've decided to invite myself to join. Each week a word or phrase is presened to participants, to build from however we are inspired - in exactly 100 words.
This week's inspiration is SLEEK.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On any ordinary day, she sees herself as a lumpy, mousy, fairly unremarkable girl. But during these devoted hours, the constraints on her meager self confidence fall away. She allows the music to soak into her , dissolving her insecurities. New world, middle eastern, modern rock, it doesn't matter. They all seduce her instincts. Sensuality billows within her. Working boneless arms, fluid spine and sleek swiveling hips glinting with coin scarves, she transforms. Still the same body, but not the same girl. She is a goddess. Day by day, more of the goddess remains afterwards. She's becoming beautiful to herself - finally.
Friday, March 18, 2011
I wrote these words almost six years ago. It didn't take me long to stray from my creative soul's steps to salvation, though.
I've really been farting around with this blog for a while. Going months without posts and then wasting everyone's time (most significatly, my own) with jabber containing little to no creativity. I've missed writing. Not just blogging, but writing, as a practice. I've allowed myself to become too preoccupied with other things, and my creativity has gone into a coma.
The shock of newness will often shake you awake. Some life-altering events have happened in and around me and my family recently - and in courses I won't try to explain, my longing to create ... I don't know, something ... has returned. And I had a revelation the other day. When I was at the height of my creative production on this blog, I was most rewarded with serenity in my heart and mind. I received more satisfaction from writing a good blog post than from drawing and painting - what I have always considered my prominent creative outlets. Am I missing my calling?
So, long story short (too late), I'm going to return to creative writing pursuits here at Clew's Blues. It may suck sometimes. I feel rusty. But rustiness doesn't come from lack of capability as much as it comes from lack of practice. I'm going to devote more time (more consistently, also) to creativity here. Directly my dear readers, who are still hanging in there with me despite my lame attendance record, will see that I'm going to experiment with some prompts and challenges from some writing groups I've found. Behind the scenes, I am looking into eventually submitting some pieces for publication. Will I get rich? Doubtful. Will I even be selected? Probably not, not right away anyway. But ... who knows?
Why not me?
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
The whole thing got me thinking about checking out some Hemingway. Somehow I'd avoided reading any of his works throughout school - and while some of his contemporaries left me ... let's say, underwhelmed, at the time ... perhaps I'd developed enough over the years to have a great appreciation for this literary genius.
I took Incrediboy to the library last night and while we were there I grabbed a collection of Hemingway's short stories (which, I have gathered from my nosings, is the forte where he really shone). These were written duting the time frame of TPW, so that made it even more fun.
I read about 50 pages last night - the equivalent of 5 short stories.
I wasn't impressed.
Other than a few dazzling lines sprinkled sparsely throughout, I found his style to be choppy, awkward, and even juvenile. THIS is the greatest American writer of the 20th century? Really?
I guess he's just not my style.
I'm going to keep reading for a while, thinking that maybe Hemingway is an acquired taste for me. I also have the desperate feeling that I'm simply missing something. Personally, I think I'm a pretty good judge of worthy writing. I like it beautiful but simple. Poetically descriptive yet not too fluorishy. Could I really be so at odds with what's considered literary gold?
I'm telling you though - my creative writing professors would have given us a C-minus at best for turning in that stuff. I'm really quite perplexed.
Friday, February 25, 2011
I don't read much anymore - and life's busyness (not to mention an insufferably short attention span) prevents me from finishing significantly fewer than I manage to start. But now and then I run across a book that I just absolutely fall in love with - nigh devour.
I was liesurely flipping through the Sunday paper last weekend when I caught a little writeup on The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. The story focuses on the events surrounding the meeting, courtship, and marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley - long before Hemingway was famous, and their life in Paris and other cities as his writing career blossomed and took off.
I don't normally go for this sort of book. I'm more of a ghosts and serial killers type, actually. But this one intrigued me. Perhaps it was that it is written in Hadley's voice, and I do enjoy stories told from the perspective of the less usual subjects (a la "Mary Reilly"). Mostly I think it's because the story is based upon letters she had written to Ernest. The first of his four wives - and only for five years, Hadley is remembered as little more than a footnote in Hemingway's mainstream biographical information - but he had kept all of her letters his entire life - a tidbit I find heartwrenching.
I will confess, I don't think I've ever read a word of Hemingway's writings, and was not familiar with Ms. McLain's work. But this book - oh, this book. It's written so beautifully ... such as you want to hold phrases on your mind's tongue to savor their sweetness. Devastatingly romantic. Not just regarding young love, but the passion of writing, of creating, of chasing muses. The naivete of believing anything can happen from merely wanting it so much. All of this speckled with wisps of bittersweet hindsight which makes it so accessible and relative to one's own experiences and life lessons.
It makes me, on numerous levels, long for the writer I always wanted to be but have never quite achieved.
While I realize it is largely fictional and not a true biography, it has sparked my interest in reading some of the works of Hemingway and other writers mentioned therein. Maybe my muse is being serenaded awake by those gone before me. Inspiration, much like the Lord, moves in mysterious ways.