Thursday, March 31, 2011

Snowing in My Mind

I lost a whole day of writing yesterday.  The characters paused in mid-stride, mid-sentence looking at me expectantly for what comes next.  Their expectation only making it all worse.  Oh, I tried.  For almost six hours I made myself return to my chair like a naughty spot.  For six hours I crept away from there like a rebellious toddler.  I made more tea.  I did laundry.  I even dusted (Yes, it was THAT bad).  But most of the day I spent staring out the window all moony-eyed at the snow.

Snow in Ohio-ucky in March is weird, but that was only part of what distracted me.  I kept flashing back to Saturday night and kissing J in the snow.  WTH - right?  When I caught myself doing this, I berated myself  for behaving like a 14 year old girl.  "Act like you been there." Then I would be able to sit, my characters STILL staring at me, but no words came and fifteen minutes later my mind is not in Nordalbingia anymore, but in that parking lot again.

"It was one date for chrissake." Nope.
"Get a grip." Nope.
"Who behaves like this?"  Nope.
"You are being irrational."  Ouch.  And nope.
"Stop being crazy."  Obviously pulling out the bigger guns.  Nope.
"Yunno a writer is good at inventing stuff.  Are you just inventing what you want to see?"

"THAT'S IT!!  Get the fuck outta here.  I am not going to listen to you anymore.  What I am going to do is sit here and daydream about a wonderful evening with a perfectly nice guy all goddamn day if I want to and there's NOTHING you can say to stop me.  So shut the fuck up or leave.  I don't care."  And I went back to staring out the window at the snow.

Of course it all made me feel guilty.  So much time wasted.  And it's embarrassing to admit that this logical-minded, middle-aged woman got all swoony over a dude she has been out with ONCE.  But I did and it was glorious and I am quite done apologizing for it.  The thing is, that I don't feel like that today, not that it isn't there.  More that it isn't ruling my world today.   That at least is better given I have a job interview today.

I caught myself turning over that last comment, the idea that I created it and projected it.  But I'm pretty sure than even I would not write such a hack Hallmark moment as that.  Which can only mean that I really do like him.  After one date.  Which is kinda exactly what I asked for.  So now that it's here, why am I so afraid to just allow it to be cool and exciting and fun?  Why am I struggling to embrace its sweetness?

I could continue to try and figure it out, but I'm gonna try something new here.  I'm just gonna go with it and see where it leads.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The A to Z Blog Challenge

The idea is that you blog everyday on serially alphabetical topics (not the cereal Alpha-bits.  Pay attention.  Here, have some more coffee), posting every day but Sunday.  See that little icon to the right with the apple?  Yeah.  That one.  Click on it if your interested in blogging along with us.  Even is you aren't, you can find the blogroll of writers there and read what they are writing.

I have been trying to decide what I want to blog about for this one or do I just want to randomly blog whatever comes up that fits the alphabet letter that day?  Ideas I have considered:

- blogging every day about some of my favorite words

- blogging about science topics (I was afraid I might lose the few loyal followers I have with that one though)

- doing photo blog pieces for it.  A standard photography class assignment is to have the student photograph the alphabet - only thing is it can't be actual letters.  And is there a name for that - a photo blog?   Yunno like a video blog is a vlog.  Is a photo blog a phlog?  Why does that sound more like a phunny S&M blog than a picture blog?

All of those felt too rigid in a blog challenge that has built in rigidity.  So I have opted to just let my hair down and fly by the seat of my pants.  Tray tables up kiddies, because this blog challenge starts Friday.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It Doesn't Matter How You Get There

I went out to run some errands today.  Mostly going to the bank to get rid of a couple years worth of pocket change.  My mom, gawd love her wrapped over $500 for me - a task I loathe.  I can't tell you how many times I almost took the jar to the Coinstar machine just so I could avoid wrapping it.  My mom looked like I had given her a new car and immediately sat and wrapped it all like a kid in some reverse kinda Christmas thing.

Anyway, I was out and driving around kinda aimlessly which I am prone to do when things get me too - too hard, too emotional, too empty, and too full.  As I drove though I realized I was close to the cemetery where my dad is buried.  Ironic how many times I end up there when I feel like I can't hold any more.  I go and I dump out all that there is with him, sort through and pick up the pieces that I really need and want while he keeps the rest for me.  In July it was too sad.  In November and December it was too much family.  In January and February it was too stressed.  Today I was none of those things.  Quite the contrary actually.  So why had I gravitated here?

My life has taken an amazing turn and I am excited to jump on see where it goes.  More excited than I have been in years about my career.  Excited about someone new in my life.  Light, happy, spring.  So why am I leaning against this tree crying?  Simply because the container is so fragile that it can't hold all of this unbounded energy and there are only a few ways to let some of it out - tears being one of them.  Happy tears today.  Relieved tears.  Who better to share them with than the person I always do?

No Boogers Here

OK, the last couple days have been challenging blogs.  I am not used to people seeing so much of me as the blogs about my latest adventures in Dateland and I don't like having a topic chosen for me, even though I can clearly write about anything.  Today's blog is going to be more about where the ideas grow.

I was at a party recently chatting up a woman I didn't know.  We were talking about writing and Women Writing for a Change.  I may have been waxing a little too much about a book I am writing.  This woman turned to me and asked "Where did you get that idea?"  What I heard was "Where did you get THAT idea?"  I am still not sure exactly how she said it.  But I appreciate both questions.  One is about process and growing ideas uttered perhaps with an I-could-never-do-that awe.  The other is clearly the inner critic popping up its head to tell me, yet again, that this is crazy, that I am crazy for doing it.  WHACK-A-MOLE critic time.  That entity is not allowed to ask that question any more and they know it.

But it got me to thinking about where DO the ideas come from.  It may not seem like it, but every piece of writing comes out of my personal experience.  Weird huh?  Just like Jung's dream interpretation, it seems the writing is also all about me.  Perhaps it is a piece inspired by the woman struggling with the tantrum-y toddler in Kroger.  Sometimes they are real descriptions of things going on in my life.  Some will dare to dig below the full-of-yucks surface and find out why things happened that way (the scientist part of me LOVES this kind, the emotional side not so much as these pieces tend to kick up a lot of shit).  Some are just born onto the page - by which I mean that the idea, words, everything, just arrive in my brain like it's Grand Central.  I love this last kind because it requires almost no editing.

My favorites though are the ones that live in my head for a while collecting bits of string, dust bunnies, old left over story bits and just simmering.  The Beauty and the Beast tale is in the simmering stage, while the book moved from there to the writing stage last fall.  Nominally the book is about some of my ancestors living in pre-historic Northern Europe.  Zzzzzzzzz......Oh, I know it sounds like history class, but this is a story and one I hope will explain why my brother Jim looks like Black Irish, why some of my family is drawn to the Old Religion, our intimate connection to the land and maybe a few other quirky family skeletons.

It all started when my cousin Dan posted a newsletter about his genealogical research into my dad/his mom's family.  He has traced them back to mid-1400's Germany, living in the same area today as then.  Pondering that, the scientist popped up and asked a simple question "Where is that farm?  I bet we could find that on Google Earth."  Two minutes later as I am circling the virtual farm, a thousand more questions tumble from the answer to that one.  And that is how it starts.  Eventually characters start swimming in the primordial stew pot back there and when they are ready to tell me their story, they simply dump themselves out and start moving around.  I just describe what I see.

......and that is where stories come from.

Monday, March 28, 2011

About Boogers

Painted myself into a corner by saying today's blog would be about toenail fungus or boogers and was called on it - TWICE.  Since I can't even watch those Lamisil commercials without puking in my mouth just a little, that leaves boogers.  Great.

So what follows is a ten minute fast-write* on boogers.  Starting now.

Gawd, what kind of mess have I gotten myself into here.  I mean we fast write every week for class, but to do it publicly not knowing what will come out of the unfiltered pen is yikesy.  (NB - Barb I don't know how you did it much less did it for NINE DAYS).

My first memory of boogers is probably kindergarten and Paul L.  He was a booger eater.  There's always one of these kids in every class isn't there?  Paul also sampled the paste (seriously HE ATE THE PASTE), pencils, and I'm pretty sure I saw him put a bunny turd in his mouth once from one of the class rabbits.  He is probably a famous actor or politician by now.  I mean anyone who can put the stuff in their mouth that he did can swallow anything.

In addition to Paul L, there was Jerry O.  This kid was the one who always had the double trail of green under his nose.  Knowing what I know now I have to wonder was he chronically ill?  I am generally more empathetic to the nasally challenged since I are one.  Most of Cincy is yunno.

I was that kid with the tissues wadded in little balls in my desk all the way thru to college.  In HS, I got in trouble for ripping the seam of my plaid uni open and sewing in a pocket so I could carry Kleenex (yes, they are always Kleenex and rarely the more generic tissue) and tampons for when I needed to slip to the bathroom and didn't wanna have to haul my purse.  Like anybody DIDN'T know what you were doing when you took your purse.  I don't know if I got in trouble for adulterating the sacred plaid or by starting some kind of craze.  Pretty soon everyone had a pocket and the nuns were PISSED OFF!

Oh, that wasn't the only thing I did to that hideous polyester nightmare.  After I burned a fairly big hole in it smoking (who knew polyester was so flammable?), I found a panda patch (Panda was our school mascot.  A big slow bear that does nothing but eat and is too stupid to mate - Woo freakin hoo) and sewed it on to cover the hole.  Detention for that one.  Had to buy a new uni.  Was forbidden to install the pocket, but did anyway.  Just careful to never put my hands in it and walk around lookin all James Dean and stuff.

My HS had a 60 page handbook for conduct and a lot of those rules were about dress.  Standard white school blouse, (also some heinous poly blend) tucked in, buttoned with the exception of the top button.  I, being the clever smartass I am now, took home my new blouses and simply cut off the top buttons so that I could have a lower decolletage.  Like why it mattered I STILL don't know.  ALL GIRL HS.  Who would be distracted even if I walked down the hall topless?  Sr. M Mercedes stopped me in the hallway. This particular nun busted me weekly for uni violations.  I hated her.  She hated me.  On this particular morning she pokes me with her claw right in the cleavage and asks me to quote the handbook about blouses.  I recite the piece I wrote above and her eyes began to gleam like she knew she had me.  I calmly explained that I was within regs and showed her where I had simply removed the top button.  She turned a lovely shade of alizarin.

**DING**

Yes, I was an arrogant little berk.  A snot-nosed kid from the burbs who wanted to be anywhere but where she was and took that out on everyone.



* For those people reading this not from WWfaC, a fast write is an exercise that is stream of consciousness writing without any edits for a designated period of time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

First Kisses

Today I am thinking about first kisses.  How many have there been?  Why can't I recall more than one or two?  How long will I remember this one?

I have about 35 years of dating under my belt.  During that time there have been a few longer relationships that lasted about a year or two.  All tolled perhaps 10 years of that where I was happily dating one dude.  So maybe 8 first kisses there.

A really long dry spell.  Too embarrassingly long to admit.  First kisses during that 1 or 2.

15 years of productive dating averaging 2-3 guys/year.  2.5 guys X 15 years 36.5 first kisses.  Rounding off 36

So about 46 first kisses.  Not one of those stands out.  In fact, I had to wrestle the neurons to even cough out one or two of these.  And then all it vomited out were the most recent ones.  Why don't more of them stand out?  This is such a profound moment.  How was I unable to recall more?

Immediately I rule out two-thirds of them because they happened under the influence.  That leaves about 15 sober ones that I should remember, but don't.  Just unremarkable in any way.  Maybe rushing to get to the goodies beyond the kissing.  I just don't know.  And somehow I feel that I have cheated myself by not stopping and choosing that moment to commit to memory.   Maybe cheated the relationship by never truly being in the moment and enjoying it.

So last night I chalked up the first first kiss of 2011 (eternally hopeful that it will also be the last first kiss for this lifetime).  Present to the moment while the unexpected March snow fell quietly around us in the dark.  Brushing the snow off of his head and laughing.  Being pulled into the warmth of his coat and feeling like I belonged right there in that moment and no where else.  When I look at him I feel the pull and it isn't me leaning in or him but both of us meeting somewhere in the middle.  We pull apart to go our separate ways and I realize my glasses are fogged, but only the right lens.  When I look at him I realize his are the same and we both giggle like kids.  Lips meeting one last time even as we continue to giggle.

This seems like one I will remember with all its sweetness however things proceed from here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Letter to Mama

Dearest Mama,

I catch myself today repeating the usual pre-first date litany.  Please let him be the one.  Please let him be the one.  Pleaselethimbetheone.  Through 30 years and countless men, it has always been the same.  Two or three I have thought were right.  Two or three have thought otherwise.  It is my challenge to continue to look.  To hope.  To believe that one day you will hear my prayer and he will fly across my path as if by magic.

Let him be the one who sees my brave heart and compassionate spirit.
Let him be the one who focuses on the lilt of my poems rather than the size of my hips.
Or if his eyes do linger along the curves, let them be filled with fire at their generous proportion.

Let him see beyond the glasses to the laughter sparking in my eyes.
Let the chemistry be mutual, incandescent, and lasting.
Make him feel as if I have known him my whole life.  As comfortable as family.

Let him be brave in his words and fearless in exploring his own heart.
Let the feel of his fingertips brushing my skin make my breath catch.
Let him flow into the empty places I have created in my life against his arrival.
Let him add books to my shelves that have yet to delight me.
Let him know the purpose for that melon baller thingy.

Let him accept my support, but not need it given constantly.
Let his words be a mix of those I love and some I don't know enough to love yet.
Let him be easy in his skin and in his laughter.

Let him create space for me in his words and in his thoughts.
Let the smell of him be familiar and comforting.

Let him see me as I am, as I was and as I want to be all at once and find it both humbling and pleasing.
Let me be the same to him - except for the melon baller.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Carnegie Library

Old library building in Newport
My parents weren't big library goers.  Despite being an avid reader, my mom still can't even tell you where the library is.  So I pretty much discovered them on my own.  A library is a miracle of thought no matter whether it's a bookmobile or a closet in a prison or the NY Public Library.  A place where you can go and read any book without charge.  Even take it home and sip tea while you do.

I have had a long-standing love affair with any number of libraries.  Just to walk through the door of a library causes euphoria.  When I feel a little off kilter, it's always the library that sorts me out and brings me home.

My favorite was the Carnegie Library in Newport (4th and Monmouth).  Not that new one by Newport HS - soulless that.  No this one was everything a library should be.  Constructed when buildings were art in 1899 with funding from Andrew Carnegie.  This building was THE library for 100 years

I loved this building with its polished marble floors that were like glass, always cool underfoot even in summer when I slid off my flipflops and padded barefoot from my window seat to the stacks and back.  The grand staircase with its wooden balustrade polished by thousands of hands as they slid down its length.  The floor to ceiling windows were majestical.  And the light....ah the light was positively swoon worthy.  The whole place bespoke grace and elegance - the kind that isn't readily found much anymore.

Through the deeply shadowed stacks prowled dragons.  Doorways led to Narnia, Waverly, a Little House in the Big Woods, the den of thieves, Hobbiton.  Doors opened onto the whole world from there.  And always they led safely back again.

I know it's been 'repurposed'.  But I hate that it isn't available to me anymore to just meander around and see where I might land on a cold Saturday in March such as today.  I miss my window seat.  I like to imagine that behind those doors everything is just as I left it the last time I was there.

The Beast of Beauty Pt 3.

Yes, I AM still thinking about this.  Someone do me a favor and SHOOT ME!

This week, I decided that some reconnaissance might be in order to see what other people had written about this story.  Or re-written about it.  Nearly all the available books were located, according to the card catalogue* of the computer, in YA and J.  Where the hell is that I wonder?

I wander a bit increasingly frustrated before I realize that those designations are Young Adult and Juvenile.  Guess that explains why I have never seen those books before.  In an effort to be thorough, I checked out books from those sections of the library.  I was a bit surprised by the amount of occult-themed writing in the YA section no doubt due to the popularity of a certain series about vampires located in a part of the US where I had just visited.  I wonder how many of those Harry Potter hating parents even knew about this explosion of wizards, witches, vampires, weres, and all manner of supes in their public library?  I'm thinking not very many or there would be more outcry.

But I digress.  I recently saw the movies Beastly (snore).  Save your money or see Red Riding Hood instead.  Gary Oldman - nuff said?  Beastly is a tepid retell of the original.  I have seen the Disney version (which I sheepishly now admit I LOVE), and the Cocteau film which I cannot recommend highly enough for it's visual treat-ery.  But this quest was for those other stories - the ones I hadn't seen yet.

So after trips to both Newport and Ft Thomas my haul included:

The Dragon Prince by Laurence Yep - a Chinese telling of the tale I found in the children's books.  GREAT artwork.  Soso story.

NEXT


The Princess School: Beauty is a Beast by Jane Mason and Sarah Hines Stephens - Oh HAIL NO!  This one is a trifling adaptation which takes place in princess school and reads like some Hannah Montana storyline - Only less interesting.  It's one redeeming feature is that in this crap story the heroine is both Beauty and the Beast.  The hero vapid to the point of annoyance.

MOVING ON

Belle by Cameron Dokey.  Short chapter book which re-tells the story in a pretty standard way.  Omitting some of my favorite parts.  Still a truthful love story rendition of the original.

NEXT


Beast by Donna Jo Napoli.  The most interesting aspect of this book is its taste of Persian culture and Islamic faith.  Nothing really interesting except that is this variation the Prince does not anger a witch, but is cursed by an evil spirit for improperly preparing an animal for sacrifice.  Talk about a vengeful god.

BATTER UP!

Beauty by Robin McKinley - perfectly safe, perfectly boring.  YAWN!  Do kids really read this stuff?


STILL TO READ


Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

But honestly, I don't hold any hope that there will be even a novel thought in any of these. Just more of the same.  Why is that what sells?  Is the general public too lazy as thinkers/readers/movie-goers to take in something truly novel?  Sigh.......




*A card catalogue for those of you under the age of 30 is a beautiful piece of cabinetry with small pull out drawers that were a mile long full of index cards listing the library's holdings.  Nothing replaces the feel of the paper and the sensation of flicking through them rapidly.  But I'm afraid that the card catalogue has gone the way of the window nooks, the smooth as glass marble floors and the cool shade of the old Campbell County Branch Library.  I miss the way that building was always cool even in summer and how those seats were an open invitation to just sit and read.  Sigh............

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Ant and the Grasshopper

This is a famous story by Aesop that was used to illustrate the power of hard work and how doing that would get you through the toughest times.   I come from many generations of thrifty German peasant farmers.   My parents were both children of the Great Depression and this was one lesson they beat into us. So kinda hard to be anything besides an ant with that training.

For 25 years, I have kept my head down and done my work.  Digging the perfect ditch no matter what I was employed doing as per my father's instructions.  That made my inner grasshopper absolutely miserable.  I started at the beginning and no matter how broke-ass I was, I paid myself first putting money aside into an account for retirement.  When TIAA-CREF became available to me the money was invested there.  When I got a pay raise, I simply changed the amount to my investment account so that my take home pay remained relatively the same over the last 15 years.  So I was doing really well for a single income.

Then the stock market tanked and the economy went bust.  I saw my investments shrink to a piddling amount.  The grasshopper jumped up and said I told you so. The ant mourning the loss of all that time and effort.  The grasshopper in me mourning all the fun I could have had blowing that money on things like travel and stuff.  I continued investing because that was what I had been taught to do.  Many quarters I couldn't even open my report because it made my eyeballs bleed to see how my investments were losing money faster than I was putting it in.  Stashing it in my mattress would have been better than investing it.  The grasshopper in me kept saying I should stop investing and enjoy the hell out of it RIGHT NOW and screw winter.   But the ant continued to win out in those arguments.

In the last year, it has made a small recovery.  Today it's only about 1/3 of where it was at the max and that despite another 2 years of added investments.  Today I have been unemployed for five months.  Today, I broke down and gutted part of that small storehouse I had put aside for my winter.  The little ant in me is inconsolable.  Turns out Aesop was a damn liar!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Discovering My Superpower

This morning I am having my car serviced.  I have been dreading that unexpected expense.  (I don't know why it's unexpected.  I mean I have owned a car since I was 20 and maintenance is part of the dealio).  It's not part of the regularly scheduled bill paying rotation and I don't always account for its eventual appearance by laying a bit aside for it.  And in the recent past, it hasn't been an issue.  There was plenty of money for things like that.  And pretty much anything else I wanted - including, but not limited to a bicycle I no longer ride, a bass guitar that I gave up playing when I stopped hanging out with the friend who was teaching me, as if the bass I didn't play wasn't enough I added an electric guitar to the pile of things I want for no earthly reason.  That is just a small smattering of what's cluttering my space.

Where was I?

Oh yeah........unexpected expenses.  Anyhoo.  Honda service is pricey and the alphabet soup services become increasingly owie pricewise as the letters get beyond B.  The D service is enough to bring a grown woman to her knees.  So my little CRV is due for a C service, which just sounds painful like a C-section.  Painful for the car.  Definitely painful for my pocketses.  I have been kinda deferring the service so as not to deal with the money thing at a time when the money thing takes my legs out on a daily basis.

If there's one thing my dad drilled into my brain, it's that preventative maintenance saves you money in the long run and that a car can't be ignored for long.  They are super jealous that way.  So, while I have my head in the automotive repair sand, I can't keep it there for very long before he starts tapping my shoulder and pointing to the car.  I eventually sucked it up and booked and appointment.  I did this yesterday online.

Since then I have been running and re-running budget scenarios using all the grey matter where I usually quest for plotline.  That left a lot of characters hanging in mid-sentence.  Every time I re-ran the budget that service price got bigger and bigger and bigger like a well blown piece of Bubblicious.

So as I trudged into Honda Service this morning, head down, scuffing my good chucks as I went.  I walked as toward the scaffold of fiscal doom.  The projected cost for this service $122.  Elation!!

So, now I am to the point that I wanted to write about and that is my mad skill at worry.  OKOKOK...maybe insane WOULD be a better word, but I am writing this not you.  I do this a lot.  Worry I mean.  Pretty sure I have the hole in my stomach to support that hypothesis.  The thing is that the reality is never as bad as I imagined.  I worried for three years about the end of my job and when it finally came, it was almost anti-climactic.  I have always been a worrier.  Pretty sure it's deeply embedded in my DNA to worry - especially about money.

So the question I am asking as I sit here is WHY DO I DO THIS?  It's a complete waste of energy and brain space and it's really starting to have toxic effects in my body.  My parents fought about money - ALL.THE.TIME.  I don't think I ever heard them talk about money calmly.  Usually screaming mimi's, sometimes frosty weeks of no words that were even worse.  I am just now realizing at the tender age of almost 50 (that's right kiddies the Blue is almost 50!), that money for me is deeply associated with those memories.  That no matter how much money I have made, it has never been enough for the angst to go away.  I suspect that even if I were Bill Gates, there would still be money angst because the angst has nothing to do with the money.  The breath-holding, stomach churning, mind spinning is just an ingrained response to any discussion of money left over from my childhood.

Oopsie.  Time to start deprogramming that pronto.

Imagination is a cool superpower and it can be used to create cool and interesting chucks or it can be used to create imaginary car repairs costing thousands of dollars.  You're right Indy, I will choose wisely.

I hereby promise to henceforth use my superpowers for GOOD.

Now excuse me, I hear Rock and Roll Heart and it's time to futterwhack here in the Honda waiting room.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Journey Vision 3/20/2011

I got up at a reasonable time, but felt the pull to lie back down and do some journeywork.

I am led to a location where people are sitting or squatting on the ground briefly, then moving on.  It seems a strange behaviour even for non-ordinary reality.  My friend nudges me toward it indicating that I should try it out.   Which I do.  I hunker down and grab some ground.

YOWZA!  How to describe it.  I tried it multiple times and the force of it varied.  But the initial time, it was like having a stream of energy rush directly up through your chakras and blow them all open simultaneously.  A sensation akin to having your ears pop with altitude change.  So not painful at all, accompanied by a sense of relief.  Followed by just a completely relaxed and floaty feeling that was delish.  Subsequent encounters were much more mellow and more about the floaty feeling and less about the whooshy pop of the chakra clearing.

What a great place to know about.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Beast of Beauty Pt 2.

So, I have been puzzling the gender reversal of the tale of Beauty and the Beast and coming up empty handed.  Just having trouble imagining it.

This week, I am catching up on back episodes of Glee and there right in front of me is a reasonable example of what I am looking for.  The storyline between Noah Puckerman, resident Glee bad boy and all 'round hottie and Lauren Zizes the female HS wrestler.  Not that I think Lauren is disfigured or ugly.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  Actually she is played as a confident, sexy, kick-ass, beautiful round girl that knows who she is.  She doesn't fall for his bad-boyness or his charm or his fake machismo.  Lauren holds out.  Holds out where the pretty girls mostly cave to him.  How extraordinary.

This storyline has been developing over the past 4-5 episodes.  And at the beginning, I thought it was just gonna be more Glee plot schlock (there is lots of this), but this past week I give the story writers credit.  They have me BUYING the unlikely pairing.  I catch myself believing that Puck really cares about Lauren in ways he didn't for traditionally pretty girls Rachel, Santana, and Quinn who were just conquests for him.  I give them credit for NOT making the heavy girl desperate for a BF.  For giving her a sly sense of humor.  And for writing her strong!

I am curious to see how the writers will play this one out.  Will they allow it to be real, or will they fold to culture norms and let both characters fall back into cookie cutter expectations?  One can only hope.

P.S.  I am also cheering for Kurt and Blaine's romance which seems written in an equally real fashion (or as real as a musical TV show series about HS glee club gets).  And that they will write a love scene for Coach Bieste the Amazonian woman who coaches the football team.  

A Portland Reboot

Yeah, I know.  I'm one of those people who likes to turn things over in my head long after it has happened.  Dissect a piece that felt bad down to its component parts and see if I can find the canker that created the yuck.  It drives some of my friends BON-KERS!  Usually I wait until the emotion has drained out of it.  I don't do it for anyone but me.  So that I can learn a bit about what makes me tick and clear up useless behavioral boogeyman programs.  Survivors accumulate these like loose change in the couch cushions, hundreds maybe even thousands of defense mechanisms and survival skills.

After the abuse is over, even though they serve no purpose any longer, they don't go away.  They pop their evil little heads up at inopportune moments to bite me a reminder of how things were, then scurry back down into their twisty tunnels leaving me to deal with the aftermath.  They don't do this in the places where you might expect it, they are tricksey that way.  Equally tricksey, I have learned how to dig them out of their tunnels like a rat terrier, bonk them on the head with a big shovel and move on.  So, lest you think I am completely insane, I will tell you that I have successfully routed most of the little bastards, but a few still elude me.

Anyway, I had one of these in Portland.  Robbed of a true childhood, I sometimes will become an intractable toddler and have a tantrum.  It's very rare these days.  Portland definitely saw one of these.  But this time, it was diffused in the kindest of manners.   Duz simply chose to take me someplace that he knew I liked and had been happy - the tea shop - where we passed a most pleasant afternoon.

It won't be until a week later that I realize why that worked to diffuse the whole thing.  Because in the midst of the angst and drama, someone else listened to me when I told them what I needed and they chose to defer what they wanted in order to give me what I needed.  What a great gift.  I didn't come in a little turquoise box, but it was worth so much.  I can't say I have ever experienced it before, someone chosing me over themselves RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DRAMA.  It felt good.  Drama went POOF!  I want more of this please.  People willing to make drama poof with me.

I am the one who generally defers to someone else's needs or desires.  Someone who creates drama poof for other people.  But if I am always drama poofing other people, then my needs are never met and how am I happy?  I'm sure that's how I have ended up alone for so long.  The only way that my needs have gotten met in the past is if I do it for myself.  I have done this for so long, that I had simply stopped looking for someone out there to ever do it for me.  By deferring my own needs so frequently, I have forgotten how to let someone else care for me and I have cheated the people around me of the pleasure of creating drama poof for someone else.  Being on either end of this is a lovely experience.  Being always on one end or the other is unhealthy.

RUH ROH RAGGY!  That feels like the vermin piece right there.  Time to bonk it.  Shovel please.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Trip of Sorts

Finally settling down with some tulsi chai and Roy Orbison.  12:53AM.  A whole day and not a single word written.  What a shame.   But today was another yikesy day emotionally where anything that came out of me would just be shit.  I know that because I managed to spew that same shit on a couple people before I bailed for solitude.  Not much lost really.

It was seriously bad.  I needed the woods.  But, it's raining....yup.  I don't care.  The woods are my crack.  My oxycontin.  The place where I feel better for no reason.  And when there is no destination in mind, it is always the tree trail. I go with all the energy of sloth, but I go.

Less than five minutes onto the trail, I wipe out.  Not the little going down onto a knee, but the kinda slide that results in full body contact with the mud as you slide halfway down the hill on your ass.  Great.  Lying there in the mud while the rain dribbles on to me, I know I am OK - physically.  Emotionally is another story.  I don't get up.  Almost like I am just too tired to break the contact.  I lay flat on my back and let my head fall back into the ooze.  I close my eyes and just accept where I am.  Lying there in the mud and being rained on.

I don't know how long I lay there, but I do know I felt much better when I got up.  As if some of the yuck had been drained out into the mud.  I finish the trail.

It isn't until I'm driving home that I realize in that forehead slapping way - of course I felt better.  In the Dagara tradition the Earth element is about home and abundance.  I haven't really been feeling that abundance thing.  Pretty sure that I have been inhabiting a place full of fear and scarcity.  Earth is the element where I am prone to get stuck from time to time.  (It is also about home in the sense of body which I'm not feeling great about right now either),  Stuck so badly today that I was called to the trail where slipping on the wet leaves and mud was pretty much inevitable.  And once the contact was made I was down for the count and got what I needed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Beast of Beauty

While I was in Seattle, Duz and I had a conversation about the image of women in the media.  More specifically the objectification of them.  I always like to get a man's perspective on these things, especially when I know that whatever I say won't piss them off forever.  That is the genius of family.  From there the conversation turned to gender enculturation and how difficult it is to overcome that.

I brought up the fairy tale as an example of how young girls are indoctrinated to believe that being beautiful is more important than smart or talented.  And that they can also be used to show them that it isn't important for a man to be so for a woman to love him.  That's when Beauty and the Beast came up.  I explained that this dynamic is predominant in our society - the beautiful woman who falls in love with the plain or not-so-handsome man.  I cite as examples Paulina Porizkova and Ric Ocasek, Shannon Tweed and Gene Simmons, Donald Trump and....well.....anyone, ditto Larry King.  Not just entertainers, but also politicians, and athletes.  I then challenged him to name me one couple where the woman was plain or fat or just not pretty and the man was hotness in a skin.  He couldn't do it.  Of all the people that we both knew from the media or even in our personal lives, neither of us could think of one.

I must have said something to the effect of turning the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale on its head and writing it the other way around.  Or maybe Duz suggested it.  Come to think of it, I am pretty sure that he told me if I didn't like it that I should re-write it.  Don't get me wrong.  Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite tales.  I love the story line.  It speaks about the heart of women that look for content over surface.  Pretty sure I have seen or read most tellings of variations on the original including the Cocteau film.  Yes - even the Disney version with its inimitable earworm music that I hum for days after every viewing.  That got me mulling about it.  I have been mulling a couple weeks now.  The trouble is, that I can't do it.  I can't write a fairy tale where the woman is ugly or disfigured, the man is handsome and loves her anyway.  Because I can't imagine it.  I don't believe it can happen.  I don't think it would be believable to anyone else either, even as a fairy tale.

That makes me sad and kinda embarrassed to admit.  I will continue to ponder it and maybe it will come to me how to wrap the tale along the bias.  Until then it just sits taking up brain space.  If you do think of an example where I could not, where Duz could not, then feel free to post it.

A River of Shite

The last couple days have really tested my sanity.  It all started when I decided to CMA by filing for unemployment in case I needed it.  That's when the date really hit me when the money train wouldn't stop at my bank account anymore.  That ramped the panic up.  Then this morning there was a glitch and I had to dig up all the pay stubs that I have gotten since November, the ones for my vacation payout and other sundry items.  Panic hitting major levels.  Stomach fried.  Guts roiling.  Can't quite catch my breath and heart rate is in the hummingbird zone.  Can't even get a cup of coffee down.  Forget food or necessary meds.  That's when the nosebleed started.  Having never had one before, I had no idea what to do.

I had asked my friend Suz to do a Soul Retrieval for me and we had picked today.  Moments before leaving, I flushed the toilet and it overflowed a river of shit onto my floor.   Before I ran downstairs for the plunger, I threw whatever I could find to contain the crap.  Whatever in this case would be every towel I own - even the 'good' ones.  As I am trying to clean it up enough to go, I can't stop crying.  The overflowing toilet seems a perfect symbol for where I am right now.  I am so full of anger and disgust, pieces of shame, tired, frightened and I just wanna quit.  And did I mention the anger?  I so want to just regurgitate it all like the toilet.  But I don't want someone else to have to clean up the mess.   I get the mess contained and the bleach swiped across the floor to dry while I am gone.  Towels in the washer to soak.

I bawl the whole way to Suz's.  I am late.  I don't really wanna do this today.  I just want to go sit in the woods somewhere and scream until I lose my voice.  I get a phone call on the way there and manage to dump some of my shit onto the friend on the other end.  Great.  The day just keeps getting better.  I think about turning around, but I look up and I am there.  Shit.

So, I went through with it.  Props to Suz, who had a million other things that were on her plate having JUST MOVED INTO HER HOUSE.  But she made space to do this for me just because I asked.  Ya gotta love a friend like that.    I felt better just sitting and gabbing with her this afternoon.  And the SR - that was spectacular.  It saved today from going completely in the shitter.

Please ancestors.  I need your help.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cranes for Chikako & Chizuko

People kept asking me "Have you seen the videos from Japan?"  My answer always in the negative.  I didn't need to see it to feel the devastation half way round the planet.  It was exactly the same way when the tsunami hit Thailand.  Most of my friends felt it coming - the pressure and stretch as our beloved blue marble tries to find balance.  All of us felt the after effects of so many people perishing all at once.  This has been no different.

It isn't that I wanted to wall myself off from it.  It's more about being careful to wait until I know that I can handle what I am seeing.  Unlike a movie where I can tell myself that it is all made up, I know that the video from Japan is real.  That the shock and destruction of the tsunami were just the beginning of a re-building that will take years.  Watching that happen before I am ready can take me down to a place of such sadness.

I did eventually watch a few videos.  What struck me were the ubiquitous little white cars swirling around in the rushing murk like ice cubes in my glass.  Each little white car clinking uncontrollably against another.  I think how each little white car has an owner.  One who goes to work every day.  One who picks up kids after soccer.  One who is fiercely proud of her first car.  One who does volunteer work with the elderly in the neighborhood.  One who is a businessman working 12 hour days to provide for his family.  One who goes about a life not very different than mine - up until a few days ago.  I will dream about those little white cars for years to come.  The image was just that potent to me.

And here I sat feeling sorry for myself because my life is kinda upside down right now.  Compared to the owners of those little white cars, I am the luckiest bitch alive.  I have lots to eat, a warm place to sleep, and I know that my loved ones are safe, that I AM SAFE.  THAT is worth more than whatever I am fussing about that can be and will be remedied.

To my friends Chikako and Chizuko, who rounded out the little UN that was my college crowd, who taught me everything I know about Japanese culture and food, who taught me to swear in Japanese, and who bathed my life with laughter.  I folded these cranes, just like Chikako taught me and I blow them across the world to you and wish it could be more.  Much more. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sleepless Not In Seattle

In Seattle, I slept like the dead (which is not very accurate since technically the dead aren't sleeping).  Let's say I slept very well.  Rain and cold weather kick start the hibernation genes which had just started to shut down before I left.  Seattle reanimated them putting me at their mercy.  Reanimate is a good word choice here because I feel very Zombie when the weather turns dreary.  So maybe better to say I slept like the un-dead.

Anyway.....one of the things I always look foward to when I travel is sleeping in my own bed again.  Ahhh.  I never sleep as well as I do there.  Not last night.  My head was a midnight country carny show that you could see for miles.  All of it centered around the idea of designing and decorating my own chucks.  WTH!?!  Yes, it's a cool idea that I saw in Seattle, but not one that should have kept me up all night.  I must have decorated a dozen pair last night in my head.  Each time I would have to kinda pull the chucks out of my head while the inner child cried and whined.  Then I would sigh and close my eyes to the peaceful blankness inside my head.  Only to find less than five minutes later, that same kid had pulled out a brand new pair of chucks and gone to town on them.  I don't know how many times I went through this same process, but I fell asleep while it was going on.

The first pair was definitely the nerd chucks busting with science stuff.  The unraveling strands of DNA that turned into musical staff, or piano keys, or interlocking celtic vines.  Paramecium.  Cartoons of Einstein with some of my favorite quotes - "Curiosity has its own reason for exisiting" or maybe "Not everything that counts can be counted.  Not everything that can be counted counts" or "Imagination is more important than knowledge" or any number or other phrases that flit through my head and settle onto the constantly morphing shoes.  Or Richard Feynman "Stands at the sea.....wonders at wondering....I".  Yes that's the one.  I love Feynman and this statement is very Yoda-like.  Swirling atoms.  Equations.  Everything I love that is remotely geeky.

Shoes #2 these were more about power and magic.  It all started with the lions and how cool it would be to have them with me all the time.  Full of helpers, totemic abstractions, Reiki symbols......

Shoes #3 these were more about the writing.  Snippets of Wm Carlos Wms,  Poe, Mary Oliver, Carlos Castaneda, Tolkien's elvish script.....

Shoes #4 - the girliest of girly shoes (I know - WTF right??).  Pink chucks with sequins stitched around the perimeter.  Hearts and stars.  Lots of stars.  The shoes then morphing entirely into midnight blue chucks with silver falling stars and constellations.

Shoes #5 - these would have a copy of Houkasi's iconic woodcut The Great Wave Off of Kanagawa.  Just in case you aren't familiar with it by name, that would be the picture at the top of the blog.

Shoes #6 Day of the Dead Shoes full of skulls and flowers and.....

and on and on and on it went.......

I think I was finally able to go to sleep because somewhere in all of that assembly line of shoes, I decided  on the design of the first pair.  I had been plotting some ink for a while.  But I could never quite bring myself to get it.  First of all, I feel like I have enough tats for now.  Secondly, really good tats are a budget buster.  So I imagined putting that design on my shoes instead.  And where it might have worked as an armband, it totally rocks the chucks.  At least one of them.

Now all I have to do is come up with a design for the other one and I will be able to rest peacefully.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Big and the Small of It





I thoroughly love things 
that are innately oxymoronic. 
Case in point bonsai sequoia. 
These are in Elandan Garden 
in Bremerton, WA. 
I found these too delightful 
not to share.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reclaiming What Was Lost

The last year has been one hell of a roller-coaster ride.  I lost lots of spare change, a compass, shades, countless socks - oh wait that was the dryer never mind, and other stuff on this particular ride.  Understandable given that things have been turned on their head, spun around in circles and centrifugal force has been applied until the pressure is cheek flapping.  A certain amount of loss is to be expected in this case.  Most people would lose their lunch on such a ride.  It's not the small things that are bumming me out.  It's that I lost a few big things.  Mostly it seems some pieces of me fell out when I wasn't looking.  See what happens when you do not keep your hands in the car at all times?

I lost my job of 25 years.  That destroyed one of the lynch pins and made the ride distinctly less comfy and more wildly swinging. I have dated more men in the last year than in the 15 years preceding them.  And still I'm riding in that car with my hands in the air all by myself (Oh Gawd!  Eric Carmen earworm).  Those two things have shaken more than a few pieces of me loose.  I am more jaded.  I don't like that.  And the girl who used to laugh so easily has been MIA for most of this year.  I miss her most of all.  I miss the way she used to swagger and not give a rat's ass what the world thought about her.  I miss the funk of her personality.  The way she could toss her hair and move on from the small owies.  The spark of her insane intellect.  How do I get that back?

My goal over the next couple months is to reclaim the pieces that fell out of my pocketses over the roller coaster ride of last year.  To divorce the things I love doing from the unpleasant memories that circle them like scavengers and prevent me from enjoying them in the now.

My short list of things I will reclaim:

Drumming.  I used to love this.  It made me feel totally high.  It made me laugh when I fucked up, or even when I didn't.  But I let the drumming be contaminated by a number of bad relationships with drummers.  So much so that both my drums have been in storage this year where only the spiders interact with them.

Painting/Drawing.  I loved this too.  I don't know where it went.  Collateral damage to the time crunch of a busy life with only so many hours to spend in the creative flow.  That flow these days consumed always by the writing.  I am not sorry that writing has taken over most of it, but I do kinda wish that the other was allowed out to play from time to time. too

The knowledge of who I am.  Serial dating kinda made me forget to do those things that sustain me.  As my life became subsumed into one dude's life after another, I lost the thread of my own.  Ironic to me that the thing that I have been chasing is the very thing that has been nibbling away at my foundations.  I am going to honor me first and if there's room left over for someone else, then great.  What I am NOT going to do is cast away pieces of me to make room for someone else.  Gawd how this makes me radically unhappy.  Package deal.  All or none.  FYI - It's a spectacular gift hidden in a fairly average package.

Meditation.  This one kinda went poof this year as well.  My brain feels both hyperactive and sluggish at the same time.  Slow when I need it to be quick and pinging around in the brain pan when I need quiet.  If I learned nothing else in my time in Seattle it was that my essence is tired.  I need some stillness.  Yes, I live alone.  Yes, I am unemployed.  Both those things should afford me scads of still space.  But I have become almost afraid of where my brain tracks when I allow it.  money.  relationship.  money.  fear.  MoneyRelationshipMoneyFear.  MONEYRELATIONSHIPMONEYFEAR!!  Swirling until I can't sit still.  This part of the ride makes me feel nauseous all.the.time.

Laughter.  It's always been a lot tougher for me to laugh.  But I love how it makes me feel.  Open.  Energetically flowy.  I used to laugh more before things got all serious and shit.  I am someone who appreciates a good laugh.  Really clever wise cracking smart alecky people rock the earth plane for me.  What I don't like is sarcasm, which always seems a thinly veiled and protected way of saying what you would like to, but lack the balls to say directly.  This year has been full of sarcasm and not at all the funny, rock my world kind.  Trust me people, it isn't funny to make these comments and then fall back on the 'I was just kidding' excuse when called on it.  Yes, I use it.  How could I not?  Life time pre-paid sarcasm card was installed at birth.  I don't like it when I do it either.  So, I am going to change this part of me inasmuch as I can.

Music.  This is hard to admit, but in the last 4 months, there has been absolutely no music around me save the EC concerts in Seattle and Portland.  I miss it.  Some of that got lost in the tangle of other people's musical preference and the strong association of my entire ipod library with the lab.  Mostly I just let it slide away because music is a hotline to my emotions and bawling in Kroger's because they're playing I'm On Fire is bad enough, I don't need to spend any additional time with my nose buried in a Kleenex.  Music is emotional to me.  I cry at the movie soundtrack, at the opera, at TV commercials and at concerts (why yes I DID cry at EC).   Maybe the edges of me have felt too raw to allow another note in.  So why not just put on the music that makes me giggly and happy?  Mix Stray Cats and They Might Be Giants on a continuous loop and rock out?  Dunno.  It just never occurred to me to do it.  THAT despite a VG friend who uses music as a mood altering substance ALL THE TIME.  I plead insanity.  Brian Setzer is on right now and I feel sooooo much better.

I'm sure there are other things too.  But those are enough for now.

So, I am off to make a mix tape for Reclamation.  If you care to suggest some of your best happy music in the comment box, I will check it out.  And can any one point me toward the rollercoaster Lost-N-Found?

A Place of Joy

Last night was the public read around at WWfaC, and during it I had one of those rare transcendent moments of understanding that this is exactly where I need to be.  I dig moments like that where all the crap parts of my life fall away and there is just this place where I am right now that feels so good.  It doesn't matter that I am unemployed.  It doesn't matter that I haven't gotten laid in a while now.  Or that there is a pile of dirty laundry on the living room floor along with the half-unzipped suitcase that used to contain it.   Neither do the pile of bills matter in that moment.  Here it is simple and full of joy.

Mostly today, I wonder how I can string together more of these moments.

Friday, March 11, 2011

2011 Rant #3

OK....you had to know this one was coming.  While I was in Washington, out near Olympic NP, I was stopped by a State Trooper for doing 68 in a 55.  A place well known for its speed traps and for its overzealous troopers by the locals.  So much so that a local espresso bar offers a free bev with your citation.

I may or may not have been speeding.  I suspect I was following the flow of traffic and that I got targeted because I had a visible GPS marking me as an out of towner rather than a local.  I am not going to rant about the ticket.  Lord knows I have driven over the speed limit countless times, so I got caught this time.

Nope the rant is about what the officer said DURING the stop and I quote.  "I wonder if you are driving around taking pictures of OUR monuments so you can blow them up.  I have to ask - are you a terrorist?"  To which I spluttered and stuttered a No having never been asked that particular question EVER before.  He had already seen my license and rental agreement and knew I was from Kentucky here on vacation.  Why would he even think something like that, much less have the balls to ask?  I mean did he really expect me to say yes?

So that part you all probably know.  Today I am having my taxes done and the guy doing them I have known for 20 years starts telling me a similar story about a traffic stop in Indiana.  He looks as much a terrorist as I do and is a decorated Vietnam Vet to boot.  He informs me that this is now SOP for all traffic stops to ask if you are a terrorist.  I think he's pulling my leg because it's so ludicrous to consider it as truth.  I try to Google it, but have some qualms about even entering the word terrorist into the search window for fear it will flag me in a Homeland Security computer somewhere.

"Uh, Jim, looks like the suspected terrorist who was cited on the 101 in Sequim (pronounced SQUWIM) has now performed an unauthorized google search containing the word terrorism.  And...uh.....yeah, is currently writing a blog containing the same word."

I can't begin to tell you how appalled I am that this may be a policy that is enforced everywhere in the country to ask motorists who have just rolling stopped, or crossed the double yellow while answering their iPhone, or been pulled over for speeding if they are terrorists.

First of all.  Do they really think that ANYONE is going to answer in the affirmative?

"Why yes officer, I am a terrorist.  Could you please direct me to the nearest monument so that I can blow it up?"

Do they think that they are really gonna be able to tell anything from someone's response?  I think my response was pretty typical to the question asked - kinda pissed about the $150 ticket he just gave me, stuttering, shocked, biting my tongue so that I don't tell him what a stupid asshat I think he is, flustered beyond belief.  In other words, looking guilty as hell to the casual observer.

Do I really fit ANY terrorist profile?  Middle aged, mid-western, white, WOMAN.  I mean how many women terrorists have Homeland Security encountered domestically?  As far as I know that would be ZERO!

Why did the combination of the printed page with the Veteran's Memorial and my camera that elicited the terrorist comment not elicit one of compassion instead?  Why did he not ask if I were the mother, wife, sister or child of a Veteran (which I am)?  Why peg out to terrorist?  It doesn't make sense.  And things that don't make sense bug the snot outta me.

Mostly I am just sad that someone, anyone thought this was a good idea.  Much less wrote policy on it and encouraged it to be put into action.  Putting aside how stupid I thought it was, I was so deeply OFFENDED that a representative of my country would look me in the eyes and ask me that question.  Distressed at the thought of other people being asked it.  Wonder what people might think when they are visiting from somewhere else and are asked it.  I am afraid that the terrorist xenophobia is spreading to include everyone who isn't me.

I gladly tolerate having my shoes removed and my various body parts, sniffed, probed and felt up when I fly in order to possibly detect potential ill intent.  But I have to draw the line at being asked if I am a terrorist during a routine traffic stop.  That crosses a boundary for me.  It doesn't merely cross it, it explodes it.  What's next?  Will they knock on my door and ask me to stop writ........

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Page

Sister Sarge aka Sister Mary Magdalene used to tell us that way back in First Grade.  I would hear it repeatedly during my elementary school years as a way to discourage cheating from one another.  Really all it did was force the kids who were gonna cheat to be more creative, which they did.  Elaborate code coughing, AMSLAN using, Morse code pencil tapping, crib sheet hiding pros bloomed in their place.

I was not one of those kids.  Learning for me is like crack and I was that kid who took all the books home and poured over them BEFORE CLASSES STARTED.  My favorite day in college was always the day I spent obscene amounts of money on books that would depreciate to nothing as soon as I stepped out the door with them.  In my 19 years as a student, I cheated on only one test, AP European Studies Music.  Nope, I have always been the kind of person who succeeded or failed by their own hand.  There were many successes as you might expect, but there were also a few spectacular failures.  Those failures spurring me on to do better.

No one ever explained that this system, while it works perfectly in a school setting, does not work at all in real life.  Don't get me wrong.  It applies to work in so much as you have to get there on time and accomplish what you were hired to do or brave the consequences.  Sometimes you experience failure through no fault of your own and no amount of doing better, working harder, longer, giving more etc will change that.  Trying those things only digs you in deeper.  That has been a recipe for exploding my life over and over - to encounter one of these failures that I can't do anything about.  I'm kinda in another one right now.

This time though I am going to try a different approach.  Any scientist worth their weight in labcoats and beakers knows that it is futile to expect different results when you conduct an experiment repeatedly and change none of the parameters.

While I was in Portland a lot of feelings came up around someone I considered a good friend but who stiffed me for a lot of money last year for some writing I did for him.  Money that I could really use.  Money that he could easily generate if he chose to, which he does not.  Not only did he stiff me the money, he kept the work product and refused to send it back.  I don't know how you justify doing that in your head.  But whatever.  I have been very angry about that for the last year.  OK.  I am still angry about it.  And just before I left, I got a newsletter in which he talked about writing yet another book.  That set the whole thing off AGAIN.

The killer here is that I have tried to address the issue and gotten nowhere.  So I am left standing with the boiling pot of anger where my stomach should be while he tools around the globe all carefree.  THAT is the place I lost my mind in Portland.  That unknowingly pried the door to the crazy behaviour closet open.  You know the one I'm talking about.  Don't even pretend you haven't stalked someone on FB or dialed the house of an ex and then hung up.  So as I caught myself reading his newest newsletter and fuming, I recognized that the crazy closet had been breeched and immediate action needed to taken.

The closet crazies like to stick my finger in the socket over and over through any media possible just to see how high they can make me jump or how big a puddle they can reduce me to.  (I don't know what's in it for them, but they are very good at their jobs).  In this case their mission seemed to be to keep that seething sub-surface anger alive in the pit of my belly.  The problem with stomach anger is that you can be generally unaware of it most of the time, but small things that you used to deal with easily make your stomach feel like you're suddenly firing up a Weber grill down there.  Every food suddenly annoys your stomach.  You are hungry all the time.  Anger needs a lot of caloric fuel.  Your belly hurts.  You get short with people who have no idea what's going on.  You erupt the hot coals on them and push away the very people you need.

The totally sick thing is that the person who is paying the price for this is not my friend.  It's me.  Yes, I got screwed over.  But, now the crazies are labeling boxes and urging me to move to hell permanently.  Hold on there Babalou.  I have been there.  I didn't like it.  No welcome wagon.  Bad neighborhood.  No resale value.

One way to combat the closet crazies is to take direct action against them.  In this case I hid the electrical socket by taking charge of the electronic media.  I unsubscribed from his newsletter and unfriended him on FB to prevent unsolicited communication that might start the whole crazy cycle over again.  I stowed the copy of the book I wrote for him in a subfolder of a subfolder in the bowels of my computer so that I would not be forced to look at the folder every day on the desk top that said in big neon letters "HE FUCKED ME OVER"  (No, it isn't really titled this.  It's called _____'s Book).  I would delete it, but I did write it and maybe someday he will honor his word to me.  Yes, I still hold that thought in my heart because not to closes the door on the possibility forever.  

I will try to forgive him for what he did, what he is doing.  Not for him, but for me.  Because I know that forgiveness is really a gift for me and no one else.  Until then, I am following Sister Sarge's advice and keeping my eyes on my own page.

Monday, March 7, 2011

EST v PST Round - the last

SeaTac Airport 8:45PM local time.  Hanging in a small airport eatery the likes of which you can find in any standard run of the mill US airport.  Trying not to think about the calf muscle it seems I tore going up a two foot grassy incline yesterday, instead focusing on getting mildly foxed so that the flight home is a zzzzzzzfest.

Trying to find the sweet nostalgic spot that is the result of this time so far away from home.  It isn't hard really.  I haven't had the luxury of that much time away without constant money worries in years.  Away - yes, but constantly pinching every penny.  I am truly fortunate to have someone who loves me as well as Duz does and who thinks enough of me to invite me on these excursions.  Even when I blew up all over him on our last day.  It wasn't my best moment that's for sure.  One I am not proud of at all.

Everything for a reason though.  I got a chance to feel what it's like to have someone be very patient with me when I behave in such a less than stellar way.  It was like being immersed in the warmest bath to have someone respond to what I said (or whined) and to choose to put aside their own needs and do what I needed in that moment.  I hope I remember that when it is my turn to be the calm one.

I can't honestly say that anyone has ever done that for me.  Diffused the entire shit energy that I was stuck in by calmly giving me what I needed.  That was perhaps the best gift of the whole trip.

Before I get all maudlin here.....glass of wine #2 will do that.

Things I learned in the Pacific NW

- Bad things often lead to fortunate ones.  We bent Squishy's tail.  Hopelessly inoperational.  No GPS.  No letterboxing!  Got her an new one at Wallyworld.  Turns out that one doubles to download photos from my camera to my laptop.

- Very cool places are sometimes not the ones you expect.  My favorite for this trip are Tao of Tea recommended by a friend as a must do.  The other is Elandan Garden where I went for a Tupperware and discovered an artist who moved me to tears - really.  Glad no one is reading this, cuz I just admitted that bonsai made me cry.  

- Jump off stuff.  You might get hurt, but WTF!?!  You could just as easily blow out a knee climbing a tiny hill in a city park.  Be adventurous.  Write the big story.

- Play.  OMG!  PLAY!!!  If there were one thing I could convince the world to do, it would be play more.  Dare to look foolish.  Play the theremin as if you were conducting the philharmonic.  Do DDR with someone who will hand you your ass.  Play with the gadgets.  Try on the butterfly wings.

- Buy the fucking shoes!!!  Don't wait.  Complete happiness with every dancing step.  So after I get some power sleeps, I'm contacting the chuck artiste and ordering me a pair of hi tops!  I just need to decide what I want on them.

- Tea, even highly charged tea, calms me.  Ironic huh?  My suitcase is bulging with samples.  And I suspect that there will be many packages in the months to come.

- Help is there if you ask for it.  My healer friends took care of my hinky stomach and a bitchin' flu-y cold in no time.  Kept me mostly upright and movin.  When I couldn't decide which way to go, I asked for a sign.  In particular a bald eagle (that was my target animal for the trip).  I only saw 2 on the whole trip.  Each shortly after asking for help/sign.  Take that as you will.  But both times, I'm sure that they led me in the right direction.

- That family is strong.  That forgiveness is underrated.  Boo-yah!

Peace out.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Winding Down

Each trip has its own energy.  Some are just gigglefests while others tend more toward snore-y.  There is an unmistakable ebb and flow to them.  The rush of packing, anticipation and finally going.  The delicious gooey middle.  The melancholy of leaving and the small sweet joy of home.

The energy has definitely turned today more toward the leaving aspect as I begin to wind my way back toward Seattle and SeaTac airport for tomorrow night's red eye.  A few letterboxes still in my sites, but my eyes are focused on home.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why I Letterbox.

Arm of a dragon chair
I don't think people understand the why of letterboxing.  Lots of reasons.  I love the quest.  I love the art.  I love the outdoors.  I love the companionship.  I love the unexpectedness of it all.  Will the box be there?  Will the stamp be cool?  Will the plant be clever?  Will the hike take me someplace astounding?

Letterboxing out of town requires some paring before the trip even begins.  Just ask Phil who was subject to the trip of a thousand clue pages to Connecticut.  (I heartily apologize for every tree that died for that trip).  It's just so hard when you don't have the capacity to print any new ones once you are there.  And who knows how many you can really get in one day.  Although my personal best still less than 30.  So doing the math 30 X # days on the trail should get me there.  But that doesn't account for changes of plans, or whims to travel down the coast and see big ships, or travel gnomes or ANYTHING!
Cats in the ceiling

It is almost impossible to tell from a set of clue pages when a true diamond will fall in your lap.  Today was a lucky day for that reason.  There is no way I would have been in Bremerton, WA if not for letterboxing.  No way I would have driven to a small place there called Elandan Gardens .  I mean who except a local would know about this place?  A place full of cool Buddha heads and abstract rock sculptures outside, dragon chairs

and cats who crawl around in the ceiling inside.

Just the coolest collection of stuff under one roof that I have encountered in quite a while.  And outside?  Whoo-weee!!!  The motherlode of bonsai.  I kept thinking this is all, then would see another section and another and another.  All so elegant and beautiful.  Chunks of trees, pieces of marble, buddhas, small henges, ponds, more bonsai.
Dan Robinson's Art
 I felt like I had stumbled into a place that was holy.  Just the amount of love and care and time in each of the hundreds of tiny trees was overwhelming.  Each surrounded by the flotsam of art so as to make the whole feel as if it were just always there.

Beautiful even without its leaves




To add honey to the experience, I got to meet the artist who created this space and shake his hand.  We spent some time gabbing.  I told him what a wonderful eye he had for space and how he had created something that to me felt powerful and real.  Second only to Stonehenge for something man-made.  He seemed deeply touched by those words the way that artists sometimes are when someone speaks about their work who really sees it for what it is.

As you might guess there were hundreds of photos, but I reigned myself in to just a small smackerel of what was there.  Still they are nothing compared to the real live specimens.  So if you ever find yourself in Bremerton, WA - letterboxing or no - check out Dan Robinson's world.  It will not disappoint in any way.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tree Snot and Real Snot

Spent last night in Port Angeles.....yes, THAT Port Angeles.  Screw Stephanie Meyer for ruining the rep of such a cool working town.  Stevedores, giant ships, the gorgeous mountains on one side, the ocean on the other.  It's nothing like the pallid town she refers to in her books.  There was not even a sketchy side of town that I could find.  But there was a huge store downtown dedicated to, you guessed it, Twilight.  I wonder how the locals feel about that?

Anyway.....I set off for Olympic National Park and a hike to Marymere falls.  Naive, unsuspecting me.  Frozen, snowing, trees dripping ice on me, my camera.  I did not make the hike to the top of the falls.  The frozen stairs made me turn around.  But I did glimpse the falls thru the trees.

By the time I hiked the mile back to my car, it was clear that something was amiss.  My nose was running like crazy and I felt terrible.  But I couldn't call it quits quite yet, so I drove to Bremerton and am about to crash at 5:30PM.  Bow feverish and achy.  Nothing like traveling across country to get sick and lay in bed.

Booooo germs.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Know Who I Am

I dunno.  I woke up this morning and it was one of those days where I just know who I am.  There's nothing to explain or hide.  No pretending to be something else.  No need to make myself seem smaller than I am or puff up like a sparrow against the cold until I am twice my size.

I don't need someone to see me to make me more real.  I don't have to be shored up because I am sagging.

I am just me and that is sufficient today where somehow yesterday it wasn't.  Where yesterday I couldn't touch this place of contented authenticity.

EST v PST Round 7

I woke up yesterday and I was a bitch.  There I admitted it.  Living alone most of my life, I am used to following the signals that my body gives me.  Yesterday it just wanted to stay.  It wanted quiet.  5 days of nearly constant motion either by car or by foot.  5 days of nearly constant rain and being wet.  5 days of wind and near freezing temperatures.  5 days of mostly generalized wandering.  5 days of togetherness and space filling words.  Maybe it was just overload.

I tried to push through that sensation, but failed.  We got in the car and left Vancouver, WA with no plans and the alien thing just erupted from my chest with all its truth right over Duz with its full bitchitude.  "I don't want to letterbox.  I don't want to walk anymore because every joint in my body hurts.  I don't want to wander aimlessly.  I want to stay put."  He wisely chose to backtrack to a place we both had liked in Portland where we went to sip and savor some food and tea.

Even the stasis of sitting in the tea shop helped me feel more grounded and less unanchored.  The steamy warmth created by the stove, a stark contrast to the near constant cold dripping of outside.  Sweat collecting on the cool windows until they became opaque like bathroom glass creating a separate world from the out there that had suddenly seemed so hostile to me.  The comforting aroma of hundreds of teas and savory food.

Maybe it was the Mate Chai with its sweetness.  Maybe it was the tofu with mate, lime and ginger.  Maybe it was the lotus seed moon cake with its at first strange then spreading delicious taste.  But I think it was just honoring that demand for more quiet and less "out there."  We sat for a couple hours.  Bought more tea - of course!  And then were able to get back in the car and wander happily back to the airport a couple hours away.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

EST v PST Round 4, 5 & 6

Slacker girl!!!  Where are the blogs????

The second Clapton concert - a-may-zing.  Emphasis on the ZING!  Same set list.  Perhaps a bit less fun on EC's part, but mucho energy from the audience who, unlike crowds in Cincy and Indy, knew the entire Clapton discography and not just Layla, Cocaine and I Shot the Sheriff.  They sat reverently during the acoustic set which made me deliriously happy.  And even though lots of people sang along, they did it softly enough so as not to interfere with my hearing EC's dulcet vocals.  Standing for most of the show and bringing down the house for the encore.  WOOT to Portland fans!!!!

The real hit of Portland, after EC of course, was the Tao of Tea .  I went here on a friend's recommendation and WOWIE!  Not often you watch as a die hard coffee fiend falls in love with the subtle aroma of tea.  But he did.  The food was equally bodacious.  We liked it so much that we went back today for seconds.  My suitcase is groaning with the tins and bags of tea.  And I am gonna have to do a major purge to accommodate it when I get home.  Ditto Duz.  So watch out Whitefish.

I did manage to score both a Washington and an Oregon Letterbox.  So the gods of letterboxing have been appeased - for now.  Still have not planted my box from a fellow Cincy boxer, but I may get to it tomorrow.  +21 for this trip so far.

Just kinda pooped from the cold.  So have the heat cranked up on hi, jammies on and the remote in hand.

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...