Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for......

I was going to blog about Zeddicus Z'ul Zorander because Black Ink Pad has been flaunting her superior multiple letter usage over everyone this week and I thought that might top her last entry.  LOL.  Actually she has done nothing of the sort.  And while ZZZ IS one of my favorite characters in a series of books written by Terry Goodkind, (Not that washed up crap TV show made off the books in which Zed is an old man - YIKES!) I doubted very many people would be familiar enough with him or care about what I thought about him.

But Zed got me thinking about zed, so today's blog is about zed, little z.  The European pronunciation for our letter zee.  I prefer this.  The same way that I prefer the mathematical zero and seven that have the line through them.  No reason for this other than their exotic nature perhaps.  I dig different.  That should be clear by now.  Mebbe this is just an iteration of that.

Anyway.....I am done with the A to Z blog challenge.  Whew.  Those last couple weeks were the challenge.

Check back in later A to Z fans.  Cuz the girl ain't done talkin yet.

Zee End

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Y? Because We Love You

A cheesy abuse of Mickey just to get my Y-blog in.  I don't even feel badly about it given how much money Disney has filched from my pocketses over the last 30 years.

I taught a class for OLLI (Osher Life Long Learning Institutes) at my friend Patricia's invite yesterday about Shamanism.  No I am NOT a shaman.  Not even a little s shaman much less the big S Shaman - although I do know folks who rock those chucks.  I am just me.  And this me is interested in all sorts of stuff including all sorts of stuff that led me to shamanism in a thousand little ways.

Yesterday I wrote a piece about my love of old stuff, archeological stuff.  I will also now fess to a love of Anthropology, Philosophy, Women's Studies, World Religion, Spirituality of all sorts.  So no real surprise that I KNOW about shamanism since it springboards off most of those studies.  What came as a surprise, at least to me, was that I GET shamanism in a way that I didn't get other spiritual beliefs.  As if my body/spirit/mind/soul/whatever had already encountered it and knew it.

I had resisted any involvement in OLLI despite Patricia's persistent efforts because:

1)  I was working during the time the class meets
2)  I don't feel drawn to teach.  At least not in a formalized way like this.
3)  I don't respond well to 'nudging'.  And there was more than a little of that going on.
4)  I loathe public speaking of any kind.  Even to small groups like this one.

I prepared nothing, instead did the class on the fly.  (I know some of you are shaking your heads and wanting to know where Mary went right?)  The wet weather made drumming out of the question, so I grabbed a little tiny bowl of beauty aka a singing bowl and a few other things.  I wasn't even sure what I was going to do with any of those things.  I just grabbed and stuffed and stuffed and ran out the door.

The conversation turned easily to one of communicating with the ancestors.  When I opened my bag, I realized I had almost everything I would need to create a small ancestors shrine including stones for everyone that they could take with them to facilitate linking into their ancestors after they left.  Even though I didn't know how many people would be there, there were exactly the right number of stones in the bag for all.  This part was an amazing success.  The people who were in the class were genuinely interested in most of it and especially in the hands on part.

Each person was encouraged to invite his ancestors in and be receptive to the message they brought.  My message was not surprising - to Patricia anyway - and I'm afraid I have now given her ample flicking fodder.  My peeps simply asked how I felt about having done the class and my honest response was that I had really enjoyed it.  I mean REALLY enjoyed it.


Did I just say I ENJOYED teaching a class?  I did!  How odd.  The peeps have been poking me all day and asking why I think that is so.  I have been mulling on it.  I think that something has radically shifted in me for the better.  That little girl who practiced being invisible at every turn, who was terrified of being seen, finally stepped out of her closet and discovered the world is not a hostile place anymore.  She discovered that she can talk about her passion without feeling a freak.  Quite the contrary.  Turns out she might have something to say after all.  I was starting to think she had become mute after all those years.  

When Patricia introduced me to her students, I expected her to peg me as another of her students the way she did in the past.  Therefore, when she introduced me as her daughter/friend instead, I had to take a couple quick breaths because her admission caught me off guard and my eyes tried to embarrass me by leaking.  I have long known how I felt about her.  She is in some ways the mother I needed and in every way my dear friend.  But I had never heard her acknowledge that in quite that way - to claim me as her daughter.  I am used to her nudging and her flicking ways, but this was surely a different Patricia than the last time I stopped long enough to really look.  Seems we have both rubbed off on each other for the better.  That small statement was the cherry on the sundae that was my Thursday.

A Random Small Stone


like the deer
snitching seeds
from my neighbor's

I wait.

Cleaning out the blog archives today, I found this little stone.

☠ X Marks the Spot ☠

Sometimes I wish life came with a treasure map.  Yunno one with a big red X on it that told me where I could go to find happiness, maybe another to find love.

I wouldn't mind the failed attempts so much then, or the wandering if I had hope that those things were really truly out there and not just the stuff of legends.  The City of Cibola, the Holy Grail, Shangri-La, Love.  All seem more myth than actual.

And who wouldn't mind a heads up about troubles in your path with a little "Here there be monsters" label.

My faith is shaken and my compass spinning - nothing for it but to pull up my boots and put on my pirate swag until I find calmer waters.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Meandering Thoughts About Dead Stuff

I have this weird fascination for dead things.  Not recently dead things with their odd maggoty decomposing Zombie flesh.  Things that have been dead eons.  Things that have succumbed to the pressures of evolution and that don't exist in our world anymore.

Not dinosaurs - just not a reptile kinda girl and any spark of interest was probably killed by the portrayal of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park.  Other than Bruce, the Jaws shark, no animal has given me the willies as badly as those.  I know that real raptors were lots smaller than those, but no one ever says they were not that clever do they?  T-rex is all big and blustery scary, but a ravenous pack of pirhana can do just as much damage even though they are tiny.  So size doesn't decrease effectiveness in predators.  If anything it makes them quicker and more deadly.

Gotcha - no dinosaurs.  Dead people - absolutely.  Love me some bones.  Skeletons of all kinds.  Day of the Dead - abso-freakin-lutely.  Huge nerdy fan of Lewis Leakey.  I blame that one on Nat'l Geo too.  Odd how much of what I dig as an adult was first encountered within the yellow bordered glossy pages of that mag.

Direwolf  Canis Dirus
Today I am pondering direwolves.  I learned about direwolves in Archaeology class way back in 1982.  Direwolves inhabited most of North America up until about 10,000 years ago.  They are the same general size and shape as a grey wolf, shorter in the leg, larger teeth and slightly larger head.  I love their name and have always imagined them a handsome beast and would love to have seen them run wild.

There used to be a bar in Whitefish, MT called the Direwolf where I would go with my brother when I was visiting him.  It felt very remote and rather like I imagine The Brick would be if there really were a Cicely, Alaska.  I always liked going there because it felt the kind of place one could encounter Indiana Jones or a shaman or any number of other characters.  A writer's heaven.  Sadly much like it's namesake, the Direwolf is no more.

You can find lots of direwolves in the fantasy community.  They are generally given the same bum's rush that real North American wolves were.  They are villified, vampirized and generally considered the tools of evil.  Funny how some myths persist in the human sub-conscious long after we have obliterated the thing we fear.  I'm sure that direwolves lived a life not unlike that of their extant kin the grey wolf.  Enter George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones and now every HBO-watching mother's son knows about direwolves.  YAY!  So there is the possibility that if I mention one, I won't get a blank stare anymore.  Thank you HBO!

Anyway...... I find myself today with a head full of direwolf thoughts and nowhere to go with them.

W is for Whatever

I hate this phrase.  I catch myself saying it sometimes.  I hate it even more for creeping inexorably into my vocabulary.  It's dismissive.  It's used like the Hitler corollary, to end an argument when you can't think of anything to add or sway your opponent.  You might as well just slap someone, it's about the same thing.

But that's how I feel today.  Like the whole world can just go whatever.

Monday, April 25, 2011

In Vagina Veritas

I was being a smart ass when I chose the title, but man was I surprised to find that there is a website by that name that is about creating discussion around this topic in much the same way as Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues.  BTW - that show rocks.    

So where was I going with the title?  Honestly, I thought it was so punny, I didn't get much further than the yuck factor.  But after stopping to think about it, I, of course, will climb onto my soapbox and proselytize about something.  I think a woman's body should come with an owner's manual and that you should be required to read, understand and pass a test on it before you operate it on the open road.  Black market copies would be available to dudes with deep pockets.  I could retire on the profits of THAT book.

Think of how much easier life would be if you could just thumb to the troubleshooting guide to see if there was a biological reason for how you feel.  Say hormones?  Those are some evil little bastards is all I know and most of that particular section of the manual would be about those.  Or what about a 1-800 number for your more obscure needs?

I dunno......whatever I was going to write about here got kinda thrashed in the emotional goo of the day.  Hard to be funny or sarcastic when what you're really feeling is hurt and anger.  So, I'm just gonna leave it here before I put someone's eye out with a particularly sharp misplaced word.

BTW - If you find a copy of the man handbook, I wouldn't mind seeing that.  They confuse the shit outta me.  My luck it will be in Sanskrit.

Alternate U Blog

The unknown both excites me and pisses me off.

I love threading my way down deer paths
tearing down walls to see what's over there
being the first to breach that landscape
and leave fresh footprints in new snow.

The little thrill of starting a new job again after 25 years.
The challenge to figure out if I can do it.

I do not love the unknowable nearly so much.
Wondering why the phone no longer rings
why the emails and texts go unanswered.

I love the unknown.
I hate not knowing.

U is for Unbridled Spirit

Living in a state that is generally in the bottom five for everything, per capita income, education, etc. one gets used to dealing with bad press. For instance, when I travel across the US and meet people their initial response to hearing I am from Kentucky is to look at my feet to see if I am wearing shoes.  I have heard all the jokes and am familiar with all the stereotypes of Kentuckians as inbred moonshiners and Dukes of Hazard wannabees in our supercharged General Lees.  Some of those same people, of course, couldn't find Kentucky on a map if it were labeled.   That's fine by me.

I am a Kentucky girl by choice.  I was born in Ohio, but even that state feels too far North for me.  My family moved south when I was three to be closer to my dad's family.  I have transited my belongings back and forth across the Ohio, too many times to count.  But for the last twenty years they, and I have remained steadfastly south of the river.  I traverse the river daily to work.  I sit in rush hour traffic.  I pay almost double the state income tax.  I get odd looks.  I stick my chin out like a good Kentucky woman and say "Screw you" to the naysayers.  Stubborn to the end.

There are lots of things wrong with the state.  But, just between me and you, one of the things about Kentucky is that it is still unspoiled and beautiful in so many places. OK, there has been a lot of coal mining in parts, but there are still large swaths that are undeveloped and covered in trees. I imagine that it looks much the same as it did when Daniel Boone crossed through Cumberland Gap.

Most people will never see the place where I live.  They won't fly here to vacation.  They won't slip off their shoes and poke around in the creek for crawdads or stop long enough to enjoy watching the sunset from the porch.  The won't feel the pull to explore little hollers and ridges to see where they go (Yes they are most definitely called hollers).  And that's OK with me.  Because I know Kentucky.  I have seen her heart.

I have space here.  I can breathe without feeling like I am inhaling someone else's used air.  And that breath will carry the lingering scent of bluegrass and pawpaws.  It isn't the beauty of the prairie, but of ancient rolling hills that gives way to sweet pastures bordered in white and red where amazing horseflesh canters.  It is one of the best kept secrets in the US for natural beauty.  The land and the people have shaped each other over generations into free-spirited no-nonsense places of unbridled beauty.

Jesse Stuart said it better than I ever could in his poem Kentucky is My Land excerpted here:

"These things are my Kentucky.
They went into the brain, body, flesh, and blood of me.
These things, Kentucky- flavored, grown in her dirt,
Helped build my body strong and shape my brain.
They laid foundations for my future thoughts.
They made me a part of Kentucky.
These are inescapable things,
Childhood to boyhood to manhood.
Even the drab hills of winter were filled with music.
The lonesome streams in the narrow-gauged valleys
Sang poetic songs without words.
And the leafless trees etched on gray winter skies
Were strong and substantial lines of poetry."

Kentucky is my home and I am hers.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Thunderstorms

One of the few perks living in the heartland is its thunderstorms.  There's no beach for hours, no mountains to speak of within a two day drive, no border crossing with it's delicious promise of strange-to-my-ears languages and even stranger food.

But come Spring it all makes sense as cold fronts meets warm and sparks fly, as low pressure whirls a dervish.  Sirens blare at all hours of the day and night warning of impending apocalypse.  I am not the kind of person to cower in the basement.  Not that I haven't.  I'm just not that person.  Maybe it's because I grew up in a house struck by lightening.  I prefer to stand at the window and watch, or even better to stand outside and let the updrafts take my hair and twist it effortlessly into designs of its own making.

Lying in bed at night while flashes of lightening illuminate the walls brighter than any camera flash, waiting for the window rattling boom to follow somehow calms me, lulls me to sleep.  The towering clouds, the wind, the hail, and oh.....the glorious rain.  Biblical deluges of rain.  Cool misting rain.  Quick soakers.  Sideways rain.  I love them all.

The thunderstorms here are magical.

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Shivah

I thought today's writing would be about science v shamanism and the constant battle the two engage over the landscape of my heart.  It still may.  One never knows.

But I realized earlier in the week that today April 22, 2011 aka Earth Day would also have been my Dad's 90th birthday.  There has usually been a piece of writing on this day in his honor.  I always thought that weird until I met Eve at WWfaC who introduced me to the Jewish practices of Sitting Shivah and Yahrtzeit as a way to commemorate the dead.  Shivah is the ritual for grief at the time of the death and Yahrtzeit is a way to remember the dead on their death date.  She writes to commemorate her parents during their Yahrtzeit every year.  That made me feel less crazy, knowing that someone else had resolved their grief in a similar fashion.  I prefer to remember that he lived rather than to remember his death.

My Da never would have made it this long.  I know that.  His entire family was dead before 70, genetics I hope not to have inherited.  Although I'm not sure about the 90+ from the other side either if it means living with an unhealthy body or mind.  But I digress......

Mirror gazing I seem all her and none of you
Fingers following cheekbones, chin, brows
A face that distant relatives mistake for hers
A rounding middle-aged middle, unmistakably her
My cathedral of books - her story whore legacy
The blueprint for bad cholesterol an unreturnable gift
Even my smile bears the same cursed crossing teeth

I can't find one visible trait that marks me as your child.
My brothers full to bursting with your genes
Pictures of them overlapping you at every age

It angers me today to look so like this parent
and not more like the one who better loved me
Maybe that is why I gaze so seldom in the mirror
Why I never truly look

That part of me that is like you
That part not easily seen
Contained within her prison still.
The war of words and frost
that lit the battleground between you
Silent out there these last twenty five years
Rages on inside me still
No quarter asked.
None given

As this is a deeply personal kinda day and writing, please refrain from leaving comments.  Just for today.  Please don't feel sorry for me or over interpret the words.  It's writing folks.  My parents both loved me in their own fucked up ways 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for the Roving Memes

The other day in a FB post one of my friends used the phrase roving meme.  I thought it would make a good band name.  And since you always start your first band with some of your friends......

Introducing the ROVING MEMES   


On bass guitar, the Merchant of Mirth, that wunderkind of words Mar-eeeee

On percussion,‘The Potentate of Pow’, the Barrista of Booms  Fabekuuuuuuu

On drums, the Wizard of Hearts and Space, that fanatical friend to the four legged Suuuzannnne. 

On vocals the Sultana of Shaboom Sherrrrrreeee

And on the keyboard, that Bitch without Bean, Barb the Barbariiiiiiiannnnnnn.

Yunno we could use a lead guitarist.  Anyone?    Bueller?   Anyone?

Feel free to write your own intro and add it to the comments and I will add you to the band....

You know you wanna.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Sad Transition Through the Dreamtime

I sleep great.  It hasn't always been so, but I taught myself to meditate myself to sleep.  Works.  Works great actually.  No matter what's going on, I catch my 8's all in a row with maybe one trip to the bathroom to pee, two if I have had a lot of water or tea.  

I generally wake slowly.  Not crabby.  Not happy.  Just kinda dopey and sleepwalk-y.  I have to set my alarm to get up at least an hour and a half before the time I need to leave, so I can have coffee and breakfast and all the meds that require the eating of breakfast.  By the time I leave, I may feel rushed, but I am generally in a good mood.  

Last night I slept great.  I woke to my natural time of 8AM, stretched and relaxed back into the nesty warmth of the blankets because for the next three weeks I can.  Actually I tried to stay there, it being all rainy dark, but couldn't.  When I got up, my body felt good.  Able and ready to face the day.  My mind, alerted by the noise of the grinder and the smell of imminent coffee, slowly waking waiting for the water to boil and the coffee to steep.  My heart.  Oh, my heart what ails you this morning?  I have woken with a tremendous sad heart and nothing in my life warrants that.  

The last I remember last night was going to visit Mama, then nothing until I woke.  What did we do last night?  What did we discuss?  What piece of information did she give me that left such an unwelcome blanket over the start of my day?  

I can feel it fade as my natural buoyancy awakens.  And the day is blustery and overcast.  The wind will blow the rest away.  But still I will wonder what it meant.  

Q can only be for Quiet*

Stillness of snow at 3AM
Cathedral dark just before lighting the candles
The sweet space between a lover’s inhalation and exhalation
A heart at peace
The inky blue black of space
A fussy infant finally settled
Upstairs neighbors on vacation
Deepest meditation
The moment just after the TV is turned off
Cloistered footsteps
The seconds after the lightening
A doorway thru which fear skulks in.

*Basically a fast write list.  But feels like the bones of poem reside in the list if I care to spend the time excavating them.  Reaching for the place that is intentionally left silent or happened upon in the day.  I am the kind of person who needs more than her allotment of silence, of sighing spaces, of expansive internal vistas.  I could easily tolerate a cloistered life, a silent retreat, no TV or phone.  Maybe I have become accustomed to silence because I live alone and it is available to me whenever I invite it in.  Or maybe I live alone so that I can open that door for the quiet and experience it without having to explain.  I know my life choices baffle many people.  But they make perfect sense to me.    

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The P-Word

I love words.  I am a lexicographical miser.  The idea of getting rid of a single word makes me roar like Smaug after Bilbo swipes the Arkenstone.  (If you don't understand this reference, you may now leave the blog.)

Even so, there are words that I don't like.  I am really not fond of the word cunt as it is always used as a pejorative.  You won't ever hear me say it - sorry Eve Ensler.  Others that I don't like for how they feel in my mouth vibrationally like rhythm.  Some that I treat like red-haired step children because of what they represent - words like rape, hate and Republican.

Now that we have established where I am, there is one word that I would like to see banished from the English language - a real off-with-it's-head kinda word.  Truthfully, I have nothing against the word itself.  It represents a lovely if unattainable abstract concept.  It is what we do in the name of this poor word that makes me loathe it.

If I could, I would get rid of it so as to free people from it's tentacles.  That word is....


It is the lament when I look in the mirror.
It dammed words inside me.
It whithered love.
It kept me from trying.
It kept me alone.

I have learned to see myself as perfect just like I am, but seriously that was/is a bitch.  It would just be easier if the concept were purged.  Then we could no longer compare and contrast ourselves to someone or something else and find ourselves the wanting.  We would be free to become everything we are.

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Our Own

We humans are not stable on our two legs
Look for me, therefore, in the domain of the four legged.

Wend through the sulci and and meet
me in the House of Intellect

gnaw your way with me along the long bones
to the House of the Physical

dare to be swept with increasing pulse
into the House of the Emotional

and if we be blessed by the goddess herself
reside with me in the House of Spirit.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hmmmm an Alphabetical Day Off

Hmmmm an Alphabetical Day Off.  What should I do with that?  Silly question really.  The same thing I do on other days just non-alphabetically.

So today's post is about a production of Julius Caesar I saw at Cincy Shakes last night.  Let me start by stating that I am a huge fan of the bard and of this company - although I miss Giles Davies' presence there. I am such a nerd for Shakes that I forced my brother Duz to see As You Like It performed at the Globe when we were in London.  PERFECTION!

I read JC back in 10th grade.  Boring Bardly-stuff that one.  Not among my faves and one I imagined passing on.  But then I heard it was being staged with the women playing the roles of the men.  Anyone who has read the blog knows that one of the things in my head stewing is how to reverse the gender roles of Beauty and the Beast and craft a believable story on that framework.  So this seemed a good opportunity to see how it might look on a big stage.  No idea what I was thinking.

Bottom line.  It SUCKED.  It sucked as much as the opera Nixon in China which made me want to stab both my eardrums with a standard yellow #2 pencil at intermission so as not to be subject to any more of it.  It remains the only opera that I did not love.

So what went wrong?  Good question.  J and I tried to analyze that, but in the end we both just ended up laughing.  Why didn't someone see the suck-i-tude before now?  Surely someone else spotted the ridiculousness?  But sadly no.  As a woman sitting in the audience, I was almost offended by it (OK - yes good art does that sometimes.  But was that their purpose in staging it this way?)

1)  Women are not really sword-y.  Forensic scientist knows we are more the poison apple kinda gender.  Or we will just make you so miserable that you kill yourself.  (that's a joke folks).  So that piece felt wrong from the start.  CSC then made it worse by issuing knives instead of full length swords, at least one of which was a samurai short sword, another an Arabic curved knife, ninja blades.  WTF!?!   Surely the prop dept has swords that are....well.....SWORDS.

2)  Women can rock the scheming and intrigue of politics just as well as a man perhaps even better.  So on the surface it seems the play might work.  But the Bard's words are those of a man, not shaped for a woman's mouth.  It was hard to buy Brutus' patriotic bent because a woman would never choose country over a beloved friend even if that friend were an asshat.  We are better than that.

3)  Women are not so bound up in honor as to kill themselves.  (Course this one could just be my prejudice).  Yet there they are are in Acts IV and V falling all over their

4)  J pointed out to me how the costumes looked like they were better suited to Star Wars.  Laughing my ass off I grudgingly ceded this as true.

5)  Mostly I think it was just the thought forms that didn't fit.  The language of war alternating with undying words of friendship and honor felt stilted.  The friendship parts sometimes brushed up against something real feeling, but the words of war out of the women's mouths felt wrong.  Except for Jolin Polasek's Octavius - who just scared me.  At least SHE was believable.

The single stand-out for me was Christopher Guthrie as Portia.  He made every woman in the audience sigh with his tender and genuine portrayal of her.  Bad as I found it, I salute the courage of it and the discussion it fostered.  Now please put the Bard back where he belongs.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nara's Story Part 2

I loved that dog.  So much that I had her cremated and want her ashes cremated with mine.  There are countless reasons for that.  Mostly it's centered around the fact that she kept me from sinking into hopeless depression and alcoholism at a time when I was hell bent on going there.  Hard to do that when you are responsible for someone who loves you unconditionally.  Oh, it can be done.  Trust me.  I have first hand experience with that.  But Nara was the first living being for whom I was solely responsible and I loved her too much to leave her by committing completely to my passively suicidal ways.  She was my life line.  Without her, I don't know where my life ends up.  I certainly know it isn't here.  I suspect it is a little box in the ground somewhere.

She remained a shy and socially awkward dog.  I don't know if she just was that way or if my own personality rubbed off on her.  The whole dogs becoming like their masters thing.  She loved our kitty Rochester aka BooBear - most of the time.  He merely tolerated her at best and loved nothing more than torturing her.  She loved fetch, the water, playing in the sprinkler and snow.  Like most labs she was a walking stomach and when that was full was all heart.  She kept my feet warm and my heart from freezing.

In the fall off 2001, she became noticeably more frail.  Had difficulty standing, was not eating well, couldn't manage the 4 steps down some mornings.  Her hips had been destroyed by hip displaysia - a genetic malformation of the hip socket.  When I asked the vet, he said 'Not yet.'  When I asked 'When?' he replied 'You will know.'  But how would I know I wondered as I loaded her carefully back into my car?  She miraculously improved over the next couple months and I was content to have her stay.

In early November I got a phone call, THE phone call, the man's voice on the other end saying 'You have cancer' as if at the other end of a tunnel.  Making plans for surgery.  Arranging my life to fit this new thing, I consulted the vet because my baby would have to do three weeks in a kennel.  And even though we had the best kennel facility in the world and a caregiver there who loved her, I couldn't bear the thought of bringing her home and having to put her down.  Or worse, having it happen while I was incapacitated.  Better to do it now.  He reassured me that she would be fine.

There was a bit of trouble at the kennel and she bit a worker while I was in the hospital.  My family told me none of this as the time.  The kennel decided that it was the employee's fault and ended up firing him for not treating her properly.  A fact that makes me respect them even more.  That my dog mattered more than their employee.  That they could discern the truth for her when she couldn't speak for herself.

Anyway, I brought her home.  We both hobbled slowly into the house via the ramp my younger brother had built while I was recuperating.  Built it twice because the angle on the first was too sharp for the dog to navigate.  So much kindness.  I broke the do not lift more than 5 pounds rule and helped her onto the bed where we two old dogs napped peacefully glad to be home and with each other.

Fast forward six months.  It's a beautiful morning in June and my first thought on waking is how amazing it is to be alive and how great I feel - back to my old self.  As if she had been waiting for that exact moment, Nara started to weaken again.  Her job done.  My last and hardest job with her just beginning.  In two weeks it would be over and I would return to my empty house with her leash and a broken heart.

Boxes to pack and donate.  Moments in my sleep where I could still feel her at the foot of the bed.  Only to wake and realize it was a lie, a flesh memory.  I could hardly bear that summer.  I travelled a lot.  Spent as little time as I could there.  Shortly after Christmas I would move out.

Fast forward four years.  I am at a workshop called "Intro to Shamanic Journey."  The facilitator is helping us create and travel to our power spots.  No sooner do my feet hit the ground in my power spot in non-ordinary reality than a flying blur of black comes at me.  I start bawling uncontrollably and have to leave.  I do eventually go back in and continue.  It wasn't that I was scared by that black blur, but that I recognized it immediately as my baby Nara who had been waiting for me to make this particular journey.  Turns out she is and always has been right by my side.

I see more clearly the scope of it today.  She was sent to me by the ancestors to keep me from falling off the cliff.  She stayed even when she wanted to go to make sure I was OK.  She hung around against all odd that I would make it back to her.  She was unselfish and loving all the way to the end and beyond.  She is my hero.  

N is for Nara's Story

Dogs for me are like people in that no two are alike. Naming a dog, therefore, carries all the weight of naming a child. Truthfully, slightly less because the dog will NEVER hate what you call it. To a dog all that matters is that you are there.  There was a bit of discussion yesterday about my name and how it isn't me, some suggestion that I take the name of my dog.  To that I would just say NO.  That is hers.  She earned it.  I cannot be who she was.  

About a week after I moved into the tiny little house I bought way back in 1989, I began to experience strange occurrences.  Noises, voices.  Most concentrated in the single bedroom.  One night I was woken from a sound sleep by the distinctive noise of the window sash going up.  Anyone who has ever owned an old house with wooden double hung windows and their clanky window weights knows that raising them is never a quiet affair.  The wood on wood blats like a bugle playing Reveille and the weights clank against one another in their pocket.  All that to say, that the windows being raised or lowered is not a sleep-through event.  Awake, but eyes still shut, I waited holding my breath.

I lay facing away from the window in question, the one facing Mrs. Prinz' drive and the street.  The one easily accessible from ground level.  I heard the sound of someone climbing in the window, walking across the floor, and the sag of the mattress at my back.  Terrified, I tried to remember to breathe evenly so I would seem asleep and this person would leave me alone.  I felt the weight distributed along the mattress as he spooned up behind me, could feel his breath on my neck.  I wanted to scream.  But my throat closed.  I knew I was about to die and I could not move or cry out for help.  The evil breathy chuckle I heard next will haunt both my dreams and my waking for the rest of my life.  Sometimes a friend or a lover will jokingly make a noise like that and I loose my mind.  It's just that sticky of a memory and draws me irrevocably back to this exact moment of terror.

I lay there with that person curled at my back for over an hour.  I could not summon the nerve impulses to move.  When I finally did, I rolled over to find the space behind me empty, the window, not only shut, but locked.  What the hell.  Scared as shit, I chalked it up to that 'imagination' my mom had yammered about through my childhood.  Until it happened again the next night and the next and at regular intervals thereafter.  I began sleeping on the couch.  I began fixing the most miniscule cracks in the bedroom, then mudding and sanding creating such a mess that I moved the bed to the dining room and slept there.

A dog had been part of the vision of my dream house.  Even though I was working 2 jobs and could barely afford my house, I began looking for a dog.  Less than a week later I found a couple in Alexandria who had a golden retriever that had given birth to a mixed litter of puppies.  The culprit the lab daddy next door.  There were 3 puppies left - a male and two females.  I knew I wanted a female.  So I went out to look and see.  One of the females was bright and interactive, came right up to me and exhibited all the behaviour they look for in choosing guide dogs.  The perfect dog......for someone else.

I am not really drawn to perfection, but prefer things that are beautifully broken.  The other little female skulked around the edges of the pen and seemed afraid of her own shadow.  Just like that I lost my heart to this little dog who comfortably fit in my hand.  I took her home with me where she seemed to fade. We went to the vet and found that she was riddled with worms.  What followed after that could only be bourn in love because it is so dis-gus-ting!  I sat on the kitchen floor and hand fed her, droppered water and medicine into her mouth, cleaned up the spaghetti she passed (to this day, I am not a fan).  She got better, stronger, began to romp and terrorize the cat the way a puppy should and life felt righted.

I moved the bed back into the bedroom around this time.  But the dog slept on the floor on her own bed in the corner of the bedroom. Part of discipline according to the puppy books.  I slept better with her there.  She soon began sleeping on the bed and I started sleeping through the night.  The training manual got thrown in the trash.  Whatever those events had been seemed to stop.  Or at least they became less intrusive.  Many nights I would wake at 3AM to Nara standing on the foot of the bed staring at a place on the wall just to the left of the cursed window.  Growling low in her throat.  Hackles raised.  Attention fixed on that one spot.  Guarding her turf.  Protecting her pack.

Whatever that was never came through again as long as she was there.  Even when she was old and frail and couldn't sleep on the bed, she maintained a presence in the bedroom keeping my dreams safe.  Keeping me safe.  She is well missed on this side of the veil and well loved on the other where she remains busy still working as my protector among other things she is charged to do.

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Me, Mary......Or is It?

In my little Catholic elementary school, there were eighteen girls in my class and eight of us were Mary somthing-or-other.  Mary Jo, Mary Kay, Mary Anne, Mary Catherine, Mary Eileen, Mary Michelle, Mary Margaret and me, Mary Rose.  Yeah, I know.  The name doesn't fit me.  It never has.  Given that my mother's alternate names were Mary Louise (super yikes!) or Gretchen, I guess I can't really complain about the moniker Mary Rose.  I might have been able to go with just Rose, had it not been both my mother and grandmother's name.  Nah, probably not.  I am more a dandelion than a Rose and we both know it.  Did I mention all the nuns who taught were also Sister Mary fill-in-the-blank?  My dislike of the name preceded school, so I can't blame the nuns or my sweet little Mary Catholic schoolmates.

My entire family called me Mary Rose growing up.  My grandparents and my dad called me this up to the day they died.  Some of their friends still do call me that when they run into me at the library or in the market.  I broke my mom to calling me Mary a long time ago by explaining how very few people got it right because her name was Rose Marie and mine Mary Rose how they always confused it and called me Rose Mary.  Rose Mary was my grandmother's name and my mom was not a big fan of her mom, so Mary it was.  Secretly, I think she hated shortening it and added that to the pile of mama baggage she carried for my grami.  But to her credit she did concede to my wishes.

The thing is that NONE of those names or variations thereof are me.  I can't tell you how or why that is so, it just is.  There are times when I hear someone say my name to this day and I wonder who that person is they're talking about, even though I intellectually know they are talking about the person that is me.  I have grown accustomed to Mary being the scientist, or the Aunt, but to hear a lover whisper that name is like cold water as I momentarily wonder Who the hell is that before I can recall Oh that is me.  

It is very disconcerting to go through life with the wrong name.  To have to learn to answer to another name like an old pound dog with a new master.  To constantly remind myself that Mary means me.  I don't dislike the name Mary.  It is plain and utilitarian.  Mary Rose is actually a beautiful combo.  But it isn't me.  That name is a placeholder for my true name.

When I was in my late teens I began to toy with changing my name.  The thing is that every name carries so much baggage by the time you are a young adult.  You know Karens, and Sharons, and Michelles and you know a representative from every name that is a complete bitch or fucktard.  My favorite name to dream about was always Evangeline or Evangelina.  No idea why.  But these were not really me either.

In many cultures, a name is not such a static thing as it is for us.  Names were changed at specific points in your life - when you came of age, when you married, to celebrate a life event.  I went through naming rituals a couple times, but the Universe has a way of keeping me from claiming any of those as mine either.  For example, while I was in Sedona, I was given the name Wolfheart.  I loved this name.  It is me in many ways.  My younger brother as I was telling him this story later burst out laughing.  A bit PO'd until he finally stopped laughing long enough to spit out the words Wolf Fart.  (Say them both out loud and you will get it).

I have never really tried to explain this to more than a few people because it is....well.....nuts.  Even so, the older I get the more apparent it becomes, that gulf between Mary and me, such that perfect strangers will now say to me No you're not when I introduce myself to them.  I don't know which name is truly mine.  But until I do, I keep Mary as a placeholder.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Lingering

Not loitering that useless
unintentioned passage of time

but lingering
the word itself music upon my tongue

Staying past the time
where staying is required
Staying by choice not obligation

Staying in the place
where tendrils curl
quietly inward,
Staying where the sweetness
of sleep is lowered like
a curtain on the day

where entire dialogues
are held in hushed tones,
a place for deep gazing
into fragile feelings,
a place consecrated by
the feather touch of lips in my hair.

Oh I will gladly linger there.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Kaleidoscope

I had plenty of toys growing up.  My favorite was not usually the one most people would expect.  My brothers and I loved large cardboard boxes - a lot.  Loved them to pieces actually.  But one of the toys I remember distinctly was a kaleidoscope I got at Easter one year.  (I have no idea why it was in my Easter basket, nor do I really care).  I loved that little cardboard tube with its mirrors and pieces of plastic inside it. Loved it until it fell apart.  Or perhaps Phil and I fought over it until we pulled it apart.  Or maybe Skip took it apart to see how it worked.  He was forever doing stuff like that.  I don't really remember, nor would it matter at all.

I can't tell you why I loved it.  It was sparkly and pretty and spoke to that girlie part of me.  It was geometrical and precise which spoke to the developing nerdy part of me.  It was sometimes beautiful which spoke to the artist in me.  It was like a spyglass that my internal pirate loved.  Mostly though, I think I liked it because it fractured the world into pieces that matched the world as I experienced it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Jackie

I have lots of nieces and nephews and I love them all.  I love Jen for her fearlessness, Danielle for her steadfastness, Jon for his quiet ways, Josh for his quick smile and charisma, Jesse for his unmetered brilliance, Becca for her independence, Tori for her compassion.  I love Sabine for the way her spirit moves thru the world dancing to rhythms only she hears.  And I love Jackie, who is most like me.

I was 18 when I became an aunt for the first time.  Having children of my own was the furthest thing from my mind.  As the brood grew and grew, I continued to deny my own desire to add to it and focused on my career and my social life.  But buried in me was an absolute yearning to do exactly that, to nurture and parent.  A yearning that went unfilled in this go 'round.  I have made my peace with it.  So please don't read this and think I still feel like this.  It was my truth once upon a time.

There have been more than a few times in my life where I prayed to the fertility gods to give me a pass this time, always believing there would be time later for that.  And each time those prayers were answered.  The last time I prayed for that was 20 years ago.  My sister-in-law was pregnant with my niece Jackie.  It was just one of many cruel juxtapositions that the babies played out over the last 20 years.  Juxtapositions that made it increasingly clear what my heart had wanted, but what my body could not do.  Juxtapositions that made me scream for ever having prayed to not be pregnant.  Juxtapositions that broke me the fuck down.

I began to think of Jackie as my-baby-who-isn't-my-baby which sounds all cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, but I did.  I imagined that her spirit was given a choice and that when I prayed not to be her mother or anyone else's, her spirit was diverted to a home close to me but not with me.  A beautiful home full of love and laughter.  The same home that would teach us both about love, about family and about how there is always room in your heart to love one more.  A better home than ever I could have provided her.  In retrospect, I would make exactly the same choice even knowing that was the last opportunity for me.  Funny how things like that work out.

I spent a lot of years after that thinking about babies.  I raged about babies.  I secretly coveted babies.  But, mostly I loved babies.  And how I hated a body that could not give me one.  That hate gave rise to cancer, the way hate is wont to do.  Hate that resulted in the end of that baby dream forever for me.  Ironically, that hate also opened the door on understanding, forgiveness, and moving on.

These days that empty ache is more a sweet wistfulness for what might have been.  Since what I have now is so spectacular, I can't be unhappy.  Because if I had been given those other things, I might never have gotten what I have now which is exactly right for me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Invictus

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

This is among my favorite poems.  I first encountered it in 1984 in a graduate level Literature class featuring the works of Andre Gide and Jean Cocteau in which we read Strait is the Gate.  I can't say I remember Gide's work at all, but I remember the poem that gave that work its title and I remember the prof who taught that class.  He was a breath of fresh air in the stale air of Western education.  This professor from Cambridge.  

He taught me to write.  Or rather he un-taught everything that education had weighted me down with when it came to writing.  Opening paragraph stating theme.  Subsequent paragraphs supporting the theme.  Closing paragraph.  What utter drivel!  And how he hated it.  Papers written in this style came back with F's.  He would quietly sit me down and explain that he didn't want me to write as I had been taught, but to really think about the work and approach it from a tangent.  I can remember the reading load 3-4 novels/week and a paper on top of that.  I whined against the load, but I did it.  Week after week.  I wanted a better grade.  But mostly I wanted to impress him.  

I spent hours mulling topics and discarding them by the thousands, writing and hoping for something to come back with a decent grade.  I dreamed of a B, but was content with a C.  I can still recall how ecstatic I was to get a paper back that had scrawled in the margin.  "This is an excellent thought."  Nothing more.  Grade B.  Toward the end of the semester, I got one back that had written just below the A- at the top.  "The unorthodox approach to the subject was beautifully written."  I had finally written something that he liked!

There are still times when I write that I feel him lean over and point out cliche, uninteresting word choices and bad writing of all sorts.  But there are just as many times where I hear him say "beautifully written."

N.B.  Timothy McVey almost ruined this poem for me by choosing to have it read at his execution.  But like good poetry it outlives things like that.  It retains most favored status.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Alternate H Blog

Yesterday, I was going to write H is for The Happy.  But honestly it sounded so schmaltzey in my head, I just couldn't.  Well I got up this morning and guess what?  That's right.  That blog's still there sitting in the front of my cranium like a big-eyed puppy waiting at the door to go outside to pee.  And since I have been off my writing game for a couple weeks now, it seems ludicrous to turn my back on anything that wants to be written so badly.  Course that doesn't mean that I won't bury it here in the Sunday postings if I don't like the way it  turns out.

I'm not sure when my life took a turn toward The Happy.  I suspect it was in 2001, when I was diagnosed with cancer.  That remains the single most astounding gift that I have ever received - although at the time I was sure it was not that at all.  I don't say that in a flip or disrespectful way to other people who have been diagnosed with cancer and who are living the struggle.  Not in the least.  I was one of the lucky ones.  I know it.  I don't know why I got the Get Out of Jail Free card and someone else did not.  The best way to honor that for everyone who doesn't survive or is still fighting is to make the most of what I have been given.

I don't know when The Happy arrived.  But it must have crept in on Sandburg's little cat feet and there it just was, curled up, napping on the bed.  I stopped thinking about myself as the victim of abuse, of bad health, of circumstances, of life and began to consciously choose to focus my attention on the things in my life that were good.  By doing that I realized how very much in my life IS good and  The Happy stayed.  I liked having The Happy around, so I kept working on shifting my focus toward the places I felt blessed.  The Happy, ever curious, came over to see what I was doing and in doing so brushed my hand.  I smiled.  For no other reason than The Happy had touched me.  As I felt better, I dug deeper into the closet of yucky stuff.  I grew fearless.  The Happy just grew.

The Happy is still with me, is my constant companion.  Less stuff bothers me when it is with me.  I listen more to what it needs and try to go there, in turn it twines itself about my legs to remind me of its presence.  And sometimes, sometimes The Happy brushes up against my cheek and all I can do is laugh.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Han Solo

“You like me because I'm a scoundrel.
There aren't enough scoundrels in your life.”
Course it is.....

Star Wars came out my Sophomore year of HS and I shudder to think how much money I paid George Lucas that year.  It was worth it.  Almost every locker in my HS swung open to reveal a picture of Mark Hamill.  I never understood that.  Too vanilla by far for me.

Nope for me it was all Han.  At least as far as human crushes went.  If my strict Catholic environment hadn't prohibited inter-species crushes, I might well have sported a picture of Chewbaca instead.  *insert Wookie growl here*  Han was the perfect bad boy with the heart of gold.  Yup.  Han was a hottie.  At least until tomorrow and I is for Indy.  Indy would become the perfect character for me just a great blend of action and science.  I mean Hell, Indy made archeology sexy.

So maybe H should really be for Harrison.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sweet Dreams in G

A couple years ago, when I was kinda struggling, a friend offered to teach me to play bass guitar.  As this meant I got to spend more time with him, I was on board.  I am painfully transparent most of the time, but choose not to look through and see what's going on inside if what I will see there means that I can't do something I want to do.  In this case I wanted to spend time with this friend who just happened to be an ex-bf.  So I ignored the part that told me why I really wanted that.  

Shhhhh.....don't tell anyone but I was hoping we might get back together.  Delusional thought that, since we had already failed twice at the dating thing because his lexicon did not include words like fidelity and truth but did include things like humiliation and separation.  And did I mention he was dating someone half my age?  Still is actually.  

We put up the proper front, said all the right things, that we were going to proceed as friends, knowing that this couldn't lead anywhere but heartache.  But we went anyway.  Sigh.........  Honestly, I know why I did it, but I have no idea why he did.  And just this once, I'm not going down the rabbit hole of possibilities for that.  It's a trap.  I have been down there before.  Anything I find down there would be a theory, albeit a good one.  

I only took about 4-5 lessons, then I took a break to have surgery.  After surgery and loads of oxy I saw things a lot more clearly (ironic huh?).  I saw why I was there.  Saw how it wasn't gonna work and decided to let him go.  I packed the bass back in its case and put it away.  

The thing is though, that I fell in love during those evenings filled with laughter and easy camaraderie (We would have made lovely friends if we had not fucked it up so royally with dating).  I fell in love with a  beautiful blue Fender bass.  My goal for this year is to get it back out and start over with a new teacher. 

What follows is a poem I wrote about getting lost in a specific note while learning to play scales.  How I would play, get distracted and when I came back find myself just playing a single note over and over and over because it felt so good.  It felt like home. 

Sweet Dreams in G

Up the scale
And down
Retracing steps

Reaching G

One note held
One spot
Neither inhaling
Nor exhaling 
Blissfully between

Heart unscrewed
On an open G

Plodding off 
Away again
Coming home 
To G

Concentric circles
Where I dove 
Deeply downward
Reaching for G

version 1.0

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Finding.

WOW!  I got so distracted today by finding a job after six months that I nearly forgot all about the blog challenge.  Just a bit too busy fudderwacking I guess.  

I am pretty good at finding.  I must like it as many of my waking activities use it.

Letterboxing aka the finding of lost Tupperware
Research - finding answers
Writing - finding whole stories hidden in my brain
Shamanism - finding myself.

There is great joy for me in the finding.  And if I am clear about what I want, I find things quickly.  Almost as if by magic.  Sometimes, I don't even have to think about it at all.  Driving home today, I happened by the furniture store and pulled in, walked in the store and there was my new couch.  As if by magic.  So, I bought it to celebrate my new job.  I deserve it.

Maybe I should go find me a lottery ticket.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Experiment

My lab bench in the Wiginton Lab c 2010.  
I am a scientist. I was born one. I will undoubtedly die one. My brain just works like that.  I make no apologies for that anymore.

I used to be embarrassed by my cranial leanings in this direction, science being one of the less feminine interests.  But this is one of those cases where you can't escape what you are called to do and I am called to be a scientist.

Even if I weren't working in a lab setting, my brain still spins out a thousand "what if" ideas a day and then set out to discover the answer.  More during this period of unemployment since there is less every day to occupy the grey matter.

So today's word is very precious to me, not in that Gollum-y way, but as in close to my soul.  Everything in my world is an experiment.  Let me repeat that.  EVERYTHING IN MY WORLD IS AN EXPERIMENT.  Why yes, that probably does make me queen of the nerds.  I think my very incarnation here is merely an experiment, a choice, to play on Planet Earth with a certain set of variables to see what I can discern about such intangibles as love, forgiveness and compassion.  Those seem to be the big three for me this go round.  Other people too.  Don't get me started on the whole metaphysical woo-woo dialogue or the blog will be hopelessly lost.

So back to the idea of experiment used here as both a noun and a directive.  One of the things I have noticed in my own life is that I am challenged to learn CON-STANT-LY.  Situations are presented over and over, sometimes in increasingly difficult guises, to help me learn things at the deepest/highest level that I am able.  Sometimes they are wonderful and awesome things like how well I am loved even though I am traveling solo.  Sometimes they are more shadow-y things like exploring the energetic patterns of abuse.  Always I walk away a much better being than before.  OK, sometimes I run like a scared rabbit, but I always learn.

I look at each situation after the fact and kinda objectively evaluate what I did, how someone else responded and what the outcome was.  Then I do something truly weird.  If the outcome was not what I wanted, I change what I do to see if I can achieve a different outcome.  And as long as that change remains within the parameters of who I am as a person, then I have more success.

My life is an experiment, the entire world my lab.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Dew

Diet Dew actually....or desperation take your pick.  It's 9:35 PM and I haven't posted a blog entry for today.  It isn't that I haven't thought about it, quite the contrary.  While in the surgical waiting room for my brother's knee replacement to be done, all I did was think about it.

Devotion - I thought briefly about my ties to my family and discarded it, because I have had enough family to last a while now.

Desire - This one of course comes from my own life.  But one of my acquaintances also blogging the A to Z Challenge chose that word.

Dad - I blog about him all the time

Death - oh gawd.  So not in the mood.

Depression - ditto.

So as I pounded down a couple Diet Dews (that's right I DID give it up, so what the hell I'm drinking ot for now, I have no idea) and I become more and more desperate.  Nothing comes.

Maybe I am just wiped out after driving a thousand miles in a three days and then sitting in a hospital on my first day back.

I can say that this Challenge is wiping the floor with me and it's only day 4.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Red Willow

It's funny how your eyes become accustomed to a foreign landscape so quickly as if you have seen it all your life.  You will wave a mental hand airily as if to say "Oh those old things" when in fact they are new to your visual library.

Today as I am getting ready to drive back to Ohio-ucky from DC, it occurred to me that I hadn't seen any red willow* on this trip as if I was used to seeing them everywhere when, in fact, the first time I remember seeing them is in Seattle.  There they grew in great swaths.  Their bright red color against the emerald backdrop more noticeable for the contrast.  Perhaps more visible since most trees and shrubs there had yet to leaf out.

Either there are none here,  or there are just not great stands of them here such that there is no visual red river for my eyes to follow.  There are willows growing in the creek beds and along the bottoms.  My eyes can easily distinguish their yellow-y stems congregated like the red willow stands in WA.  I suspect we just don't have them.  And now that I think about it, I don't recall seeing any yellow willow in the NW, just the red.  So maybe they are an either/or situation?

Any botanists out there who know, feel free to leave a comment.

*I have no idea what these really are, but they are short, whippy shrubs with carmine red stems.  Duz told me that they are also found in MT where people cut them to make wreaths and such.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

C is for......

I know you're all expecting Cherry because I was/am in DC for the cherry blossoms.  Completely over rated and not at all the zen experience I had imagined. Boooo.......  Oh unwad your panties.  The cherry trees themselves are magical.  It's the whole rest of the free world also gawping at them that ruins it.

But like sometimes happens, the cherry blossoms may have just been the vehicle to get me here.

I was pretty sure that it would be all about the cherry blossoms and that nothing else would pull at me.  But when the Metro stopped at Metro station and I found myself underground with a sea of humanity, exactly the kind of thing that makes me run for the exit, I bailed on the Metro and decided to proceed on foot from there.  Me and all the incredibly lithe runners of the half marathon.  Why am I hearing that Sesame Street song 'One of These Things'?  Anyway.  Since I was on Pennsylvania Ave, I decided to go down and see Barack's Howuss.

Standing there in front of the White House, I get this weird urge to cry.  Really?  What's that about?  It is my first time seeing it, but like lots of other things it seems smaller and more contained in person but hardly enough to make me cry for chrissake.  I suck it up, because it probably isn't a good thing to stand with your nose to the fence in clear view of security cameras and bawl if you have been asked about terrorist activities recently.

From there I tooled south toward the cherry trees.  Stay on target.  I stopped to admire the Washington Monument, which did nothing for me.  Although I did get a pretty decent photo that I like.  Then I got distracted and instead of heading directly toward the cherry trees while the light still held, I gravitated toward the Lincoln Memorial.

The white buildings against the bright blue sky kinda glowed.  And the Lincoln Memorial was just beautiful.  Course I went up the steps where I watched a toddler climb all the steps on his chubby hands and knees.  I paused a moment to feel the thrum of the stones and to hear Martin's words ring through the Mall again.  Of course the stones remember.  Standing at Abe's feet, that strange urge to bawl again.  So much so that I can barely read the words on the wall there because they are all wavery.

On the way back, I checked out the WWII memorial.  I know this one is fairly new and it has a bit more relevance as my dad was a WWII vet.  This one took so long to be built that many of the vets were no longer around at its completion.  I don't usually take photos of strangers, but this young woman, of all the crowd was quiet and still.  I liked that.  Perhaps her feet were sore, but I like to think it was more about honoring those that came before.  

And that is the place that took me down.  I was absolutely humbled by such dramatic and beautiful reminders that I live in this incredible social experiment we call the USA.  I am allowed to say what I think, dress how I want, live without fear of being raped or murdered.  I was allowed school, as much as I could hold.  For me Washington, DC is less about government and more about the summation of people who consent to be governed and are represented in the very stones here, those that are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice on my behalf.  The people upon whose shoulders I stand on this beautiful April morning to gawp at cherry blossoms.

Today C is for courage.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Bedouin

I used to be nomadical.

Or was it diabolical?  I forget.

No wait.  I remember now.  The diabolical was revoked in 1988 after that nude beach "incident".  Nomad it is.

At one point everything I owned fit into a 1974 metallic green flake Plymouth Duster.  On a moments notice I could slip out of one place and into another faster than you can say Witness Relocation.  I meandered to Montana and back with only a box of books, a tent, a toothbrush and a couple changes of clothing.  I was gone three weeks.  I would drive to Chicago or the Smokies for the weekend on a whim for pizza or mountain air.

The Duster gave way to a pink Sundance (much cooler sounding than the piece of shit lemon it turned out to be), then a little white Honda Civic that racked up almost 200,000 miles of American backroads before calling it quits, and now a kinda tan CRV closing in on 80K.

My stuff stopped fitting in my car somewhere back in the early '90's.  Probably about the same time that I settled in one location for longer than a year.  The amount of stuff, it turns out, is directly proportional to how long I have lived in one place.

It was probably about that same time that the nomadic adventures stopped.  I missed those.  And I am trying to see if I can coax them back.  About a week ago, I saw something about the cherry trees in DC and thought how much I had always wanted to see them.  A little Bedouin voice asked "What's stopping you?"  Ironically this year - absolutely nothing.  Oh there are the usual budget concerns, but really compared to the absolute zen of the cherry trees, the budget pales.

So, after debating it ad naseum, I just said WTF, threw some stuff in my car - as little as possible - and left.  Not quite as sleek a caravan as I used to be able to do, but better than any trip in YEARS.  Yes, I brought the laptop so I didn't get behind in the writing.  And the GPS, so I didn't get too lost.

I imagined an uneventful drive thru OH, WV, PA and MD jamming to my favorite travel tunes, which it mostly was.....except for the BLIZZARD I drove thru on the PA turnpike.  Really?!?  A blizzard in April?  Part of me wanting to wimp out, pull in to a hotel, and quit the adventure.  Luckily the rest of me mutinied and kicked that part out.

So here I am in Frederick, MD.  About 45 minutes from DC where, I will now embarrass myself by admitting, I have been only once.  Unintentionally, on my way thru to Delaware.  Kinda jacked about having a whole day to explore or just park my ass under a tree and let the blossoms cascade around me.  Mostly excited to be somewhere new.

That bedouin is nodding his head.

Friday, April 1, 2011

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...