Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The holidays for most of my life, have encompassed my birthday (two weeks before Christmas) and Christmas. Now that I have a husband and said husband celebrates Hanukkah I've added the Festival of Lights to my definition, along with a wedding anniversary a week after New Year's Day. This time of year always seems to be like a hyped-up four year old cracked-out on red and green M&Ms compared to the rest of the year. Plans and presents and parties and going and coming and wrapping and decorating and cooking and baking and so on, non-stop until the drunken culmination of New Year's Eve.
For me, this time of year has been a yin and yang or competing opposites of joy and excitement with disappointment and checked expectations. The holidays represent or are reminders of loss for many of us; loved ones that have passed or even a shitty situation that happen to occur near a holiday seems to serve as an annual reminder of that pain. This year has been tough and as I sit alone in an empty room it's hard to feel jolly and remember why this time of year can also be great. (I said hard, not impossible!)
As I look ahead to the coming days, I know I'll be surrounded by people who love and accept me, even when I am a complete pain in the ass and for that I am grateful. I know I'll continue family traditions and maybe even create some new ones. I know my father will cook his freaking awesome potatoes Christmas morning and I'll eat too many like I always do. I'm pretty sure my sisters will fight about something at some point on Christmas Day. I know my mom's turkey will rock and I'll sit inebriated and full with a stupid grin on my face after dinner.
I think of the approaching "new year" and recognize all the cliches, but am grateful for something fresh and new. It's a an opportunity to change and use something as trivial as the year changing from '08 to '09 as cause and reason to shed your skin, to emerge anew. Maybe this year you'll tackle that project or face a fear or finally allow yourself or someone else to be happy, whatever it is, it's there ready and different and waiting.
If there is anything I hope for myself this coming year it is that I don't live by excuses, that I am true to my wants and dreams; that happiness outweighs sadness; laughter overcomes tears; that I am fulfilled, engaged and challenged; that my ability to understand, empathize and listen grows; my relationships are enriched and I can live up to my own expectations.
Happy happy, merry merry to all and to all a good night!
Friday, September 26, 2008
To be you
scattered and dull
with no home or origin
You are a toothpick, flaccid and weak
unable to withstand this force
you like to
like a piece of gum that's lost it taste
To be her
soaring and golden
reaching back through generations
She is a pillar, strong
and immovable. Her embrace
is soft, all encompassing
fiercely calm and beautiful
like the culmination of
Your mouth is
a house of lies.
Your lips are laced with acid.
I see you
you are. A boy
to be a man.
Her lips will never
My mouth releases
this truth, across sisterhoods
boundless through time.
If you're wondering
what that is you're feeling
it's just my
carving out pieces, an offering
to this goddess.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Now I do not enjoying preaching, speaking or even having any of my words imply anything political, but I must say this: regardless of your party affiliation, if you even have one, please, PLEASE be an informed voter and research each candidate's stance on issues that are important to you! Enough of this, he said, she said smearing! I mean honestly are we all such lemmings that we can't make a decision (read: vote) for someone based purely on their party affiliation, their gender or the color of their skin?? This is an important election year folks, yes there is war, yes the global political climate is searing, yes everyday hardworking Americans are struggling. What scares me the most is the fact that TWO Supreme Court judges will most likely be retiring during the next President's term, so pick a candidate aligned with issues that are important to you! Research! Read! Ask Questions! But for the love of all things good and worth living for in this life, for personal freedom, for our children and our children's children, be informed and VOTE in November!
My mind has been heavy with the thoughts of relationships recently; mother, father, sister, husband, friend, all kinds of relationships and bonds. As children we live in a and have a very small worldview and frame of reference. The family we have and how we interact is all that we know. It's through experience, through meeting and speaking with other people that our perspective and frame of reference can morph and broaden. I recently had an amazing "conversation" with my younger sister. I say "conversation" because most of it consisted of yelling, screaming, partial choking, a whole lotta crying, but the amazing and wonderful thing is it ended in a better understanding of one another and a stronger relationship as sisters and friends.
I pride myself on being a good listener, I mean it is part of my job to listen well, to pick up on any red flags a candidate may be telling me indirectly, to leverage a person's uncertainty or indecision into a willingness to switch jobs or even move across the country. I've mentioned my seeming super-power to elicit confessions from practical strangers or for friends and loved ones to give me their dark secrets as a place of sanctuary and safe-keeping. But someone I've known longer than most people in this world and I thought I understood and listened to effectively, kindly, and emphathetically, made it quite clear and I've come to understand, that was not the case. It is so easy to get into behavioral routine with those in our lives; as they say we are creatures of habit. It's easy to react the same way in similar situations, especially around those we are comfortable with being ourselves. Not to say that everyone is walking around with a bleeding heart and hoarding deep issues resulting is self-hatred or doubt, but this routine and coasting along is risky. We owe it to ourselves and the enrichment of relationships of those we care about to never assume, to break the cycle of redundancy and habit.
There is a lot of shit out there in the world, so much negativity and cynicism and if we can't foster and cultivate the relationships we have and probably take for granted, what is the point? I refuse to get stuck in a cycle, to slowly build resentment or widen a gap of seeming understanding with presumption and assumptions. People are complicated creatures, we have the ability to go about our days with a smile on our face and sadness in our hearts. We have the ability to offer solace and comfort to others even on our worst days. You simply never know what is truly going on in a person's life, what they are feeling and experiencing, which is why it is essential to move beyond the status quo and embrace our brothers, sisters, friends and lovers with an offering of flexibility, a never ending supply of empathy and willingness to understand.
Friday, August 29, 2008
The Ring Toss
It started with a sign, as many things in this world do. The sounds of the Monroe County fair reverberate in the dark recesses of David's memory. Flashes of times past seemed to echo back to him on the darkest of nights, on nights when the moon closes its giant eye and the world seems engulfed in shadow, when even the best of intentions twist into foul play. The remembered smell of a white hots linger across his nose, the sounds of children laughing to the haphazard beat of carnival music, mounds of cotton candy float by leaving circular sugar imprints on smiling faces, ping pong balls bounce happily as goldfish dart back and forth in their tiny abodes, waiting for some kid to swing it around in a plastic bag, most likely introducing it to an untimely death before leaving the fair grounds.
"If you are not allowed by law to be in possession of a weapon, please don't play this game." David stares at this sign and wonders what kind of person in Monroe County, anywhere, could not lawfully play the ring toss at a fair. With the last few dollars clutched in his hand, he contemplates getting a garbage plate and Jolt cola or trying his luck. He notices the colored blades immediately, and he feels strangely drawn, compelled to play.
David looks down realizing he was unconsciously stroking Arlo's handle. He won Arlo in a snickersnee tournament in Mexico City off of a very angry Indian. The handle, carved out of buffalo bone, showed measured and exceptional craftsmanship, a small totem with ancient symbols with an eagle topping it off. Arlo's sharpness had spilled many men's blood, won him food and money and was the reason he was still alive today and would hopefully carry his life through the night. "Thank you again Big Red," he mutters crossing the street.
Alexandra silently watches him approach the Rusty Nail from the alley, she sees his hand reach and gently slide across his blade's handle, like a subconscious tic. She notes the eyes first, always the eyes. You can read into the deepest caverns of a person's being through their eyes if you are trained right and know how to look. "There is a heaviness of spirit around this one," she thinks, they are often surprising in a duel, but their heaviness slows them down and none have escaped the swiftness of her blades. She thinks of her beloved Akecheta and her pact for vengeance ripples through her body; she feels this is the one who claimed her Love's life and took his blade, every cell in her body radiates and she knows this man with the heavy spirit stole her fighter's life and weapon and she will take it back and steal his life as payment.
The Rusty Nail is nothing special. It's floors are grimy, regulars sprinkle the bar,their backs hunched over cupping their pints like the holy grail, a fine haze of smoke shifts in the air with each new patron and the sounds of the young and carefree fill the room, the cracking of billiard balls serving as some sort of rhythmic staccato for this place's theme song. David stares deeply into his glass of whiskey almost wanting it to give him some sort of answer or reason, to spit out a why. He's sensed someone watching him since his approach and knows the time is soon.
Leaning back in his chair, he takes the room in recognizing two men with concealed weapons and a bartender that has an itchy trigger finger, most likely a shot gun underneath. He continues scanning the room and meets her gaze; he can feel the hatred and the fire and realizes he's not sure if he can duel a woman. The only sacred beings in his life were women and even though he can feel this one has enough anger to fill ten men, his ambivalence towards life, towards mankind is suddenly compromised. If he leaves, he is done, no forfeiting a match no matter who the opponent. David weighs the long journey, the blood spilt, the heaviness and loneliness for this quest, for this reason for finding one's self and respect again.
Before a decision can be made as to which path he'll continue down, she is standing before him silence thundering and pulsating with rings of hate in her eyes. The room seems to fade into nothing and they begin to circle one another. He can see her blade reflecting in the gold specks in her eyes, she strikes quickly and rips his shirt for sport. He moves defensively not committing, throwing it all away. "Akecheta!" She yells spins and thrusts her blade. He concentrates on the gold in her eyes and smiles.
The sun warms his face, leaves are glowing with light, he squints with determination and tosses. Eight knives total. He grins at himself and gingerly holds the colored handles, offering a pink blade to the sky, he thrusts it into the earth, a signpost of his winnings.
Friday, August 15, 2008
My initial reaction was, what a bunch of malarkey, OK I'll try it! The point is to be instinctual about it and choose what your first thoughts are. After picking and choosing colors, this was my free sample and insight into my person from the fine folks at Dewey Color System:
You're an Identity Creator!
BLUE: initiator, visionary
GREEN: supportive, concerned
BLACK: emotional, focused
You're in touch with your emotions and clearly express what you want. When you listen to others' hopes, fears and concerns, they discover on their own what’s best for them, as well. You give to others the gift of knowing “who they are.”
Now I'm pretty sure I have one consistent reader of this blog (thanks dear!) and mostly because I ask my husband, so did you read my blog today? I'm grateful he amuses me by answering yes most of the time, but for all of my readers [crickets chirping] who know me, that um assessment up there, is pretty accurate. I'm not sure I'm so intrigued or astonished, I will be paying Mr.or Mrs. Dewey to obtain the rest of my results, but I was shocked and immediately pensive upon reading my test results.
Pretty much all of my friends and sometimes even those I don't know that well, have shared something with me followed by the statement, "I've never told anyone that, not even [enter whomever the most trusted and important person of their life's name here]." In the dark and far reaches of my brain (what a scary place THAT must be) I have individuals' deepest, sometimes darkest, secrets swirling around like wee postcards from those Postsecret books by Frank Warren (if you haven't seen these, they make a great house warming gift as a coffee table book). I feel flattered that my friends (and sometimes strangers, although with strangers it's a little unnerving) feel as though they can entrust me with those thoughts and that I represent an ever-present source of calm and giant sounding board. I sometimes think I should have been a cop or something, I don't even have to say anything to receive confessions!
Perhaps it is because I was a shy and introverted child, perhaps because I am a middle child between two very opinionated and...passionate sisters automatically making me the constant mediator and peace-keeper between us, but I've always been a good listener and a great observer. I look people in the eye, I notice body language, but will always examine and observe before opening my mouth. In my quiet looks I often discover things about people that maybe they are not aware of themselves and like my test results say I help people discover "who they are" and even sometimes who they want to be. This entry is really feeling a little too self-serving for my tastes, but my point is if people would just stop and listen for a change and not simply wait for their turn to speak, perchance we could all provide a sense of peace to a friend or even a stranger and then ultimately ourselves.
If you need to confess any sins, divulge a secret or simply get something off your chest, you know where to find me!
I leave today with a quote:
"It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen." -Oliver Wendell Holmes
Friday, August 1, 2008
How amazing would it be to have your own "Last Waltz" of sorts, as a last hoorah before you leave your earthly body behind? To gather your favorite people, family, friends, inspirations, musicians, whatever and whomever you like! It's quite ego-centric to think that someone like Muddy Waters or Dr. John would show up to commemorate my little life, but it's sure fun to imagine the guest list.
In my mythical Last Waltz, I would want to gather at night under a sky filled with bright stars and surrounded by trees. I would give Charles Bukowski his own table and ask him to simply read his poetry all night long; there would most likely have to be a promise on my end to keep the wine flowing, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Maya Angelou would provide opening remarks, her velvety voice hugging the air and settling on the surrounding branches. I would engage Alice Walker and Toni Morrison in conversation trying to embody their regal sense of tone and power they release on the page. I can't envision music without Tori, but would ask her to sit next to me during dinner as well. Ben Harper would be present for both my viewing pleasure, but also to provide some sweet guitar-ings.
My Nan and Pop would definitely be there, holding hands, finally reunited. My Pop's laughter would set the rhythm for the evening and I could hear him call me Mega-Bucks again. We would sit side by side, pipe in his mouth, as we completed crossword puzzles in our respective leather recliners. My Nan's bean soup would be the first course and I would get to see her smile again and My Uncle Lou's kielbasa would be an appetizer. Ultimately all of my friends and family whom I see now would be there, but I envision a crowd of people who's lives I hope to touch or change for the better in my lifetime.
It would be a glorious party with wine flowing, my favorite foods (so you know watermelon will be there!), guitars, drum circles, banjos, family and friends. It would end as the sun began to rise and the sounds of my favorite things and people slowly faded away.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Listening to my Ipod on shuffle this afternoon, watching people walk by en route to the beach, I came to a wholly instrumental song called All the Girls Hate Her as I witnessed two young girls gossiping loudly about some other girl. Why do we do this to each other ladies? Why as women do we need to judge or to tear down other women? Personally and especially after working at a mental health facility specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, I am very aware on how difficult it is to maintain a positive body image, to be comfortable regardless of the what the number on the scale is or what size clothing one wears. For both men and women, not an image goes by in a magazine or on the television that doesn't glorify beefy men or stick thin women as perfection. Pile on the war of animosity and judgment and gossip women wage on each other and it's amazing that anyone has a positive self-image or well-adjusted feelings of self-worth not tied to one's appearance.
I have all too often resided in the aftermath of an insecure woman's bad decisions. I have too frequently witnessed a judgmental look or whispered voices measuring another girl's body or articles of clothing. I do not declare innocence. It's so easy to get caught up, it's a feeling of belonging of accord of I am better than you are. I am guilty, but these are the moments I regret that I continually try to amend in how I live and act now. I am blessed to have a small, but strong circle of women friends who celebrate one another on our attributes and accomplishments. They are so quick to compliment and to encourage when needed, to provide support. I am hopeful for a day when women celebrate each other, when I walk into a room full of women and feel connected, linked as sisters and mothers and friends.
Friday, July 18, 2008
A new one I've experienced this week is very Alice in Wonderland. It consists of flashes of color; gold and silver and reds and me falling through darkness. I find myself in a dark room that feels as though it is underground, deep inside in the earth. I am walking, almost floating towards a round table. I see hideous things and intuitively I know each thing, each one represents Dante's vision of the the 7 circles of Hell. I am compelled to sit down and I turn to see my brain's manifestation of Ianna, generally speaking a Sumerian goddess, the earth mother and she places her hand on my shoulder. The touch is warm and safe and reassuring and like most scenes in a dream I instantly can understand and feel myself linked to women across history, across the universe. She kisses my forehead. I wake up smiling and as if just embraced.
I don't pretend to know or understand what any of that means. I believe the subconscious needs to work things out; whether that means unspoken desires, daily frustrations or just strange random things based on experiences or memories from the past. When I have vivid dreams as such I always wish I was more artistic and could capture a scene via some paint and a brush. Alas I am not.
Dreams are strange indeed. Can you a imagine if the whole "no rules" environments and scenarios that play out in dreams applied in reality? Could you imagine a world where people just said what was on their mind or acted out fantasies or desires? Good and bad mind you...chaos! I suppose that's why some dreams can be so scary and regardless of how good or bad a dream is, why it's necessary to wake up.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Silence is probably one of the, if not the greatest of all oxymorons. Environmentally or externally you might be engulfed in silence, but it can be described as thunderous. While enjoying the silence, internally it is quite often a different scene. Thoughts can race and shout in your head. Memories can dance vividly in your mind’s eye all while supposedly enjoying the silence. It takes much practice and effort to be able to seriously quiet your soul and mind and is typically achieved through meditation of sorts. Even now as I struggle to find words to convey what jumbled in my head the soft sounds of Depeche Mode’s song “Enjoy the Silence” is playing on a relentless loop in my head.
Words like violence, break the silence…
All I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here in my arms…
With a song stuck in my head I doubt I’ll ever achieve complete and total silence, but I am willing to try. Here’s to complete silence and peaceful moments!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I attended a wedding two weekends ago and it was quite lovely. Since graduating college it seems my husband and I average around 5-10 weddings a year these days, celebrations for our friends and extended families. Weddings are notorious or famous depending on your perspective, for sparking romantic notions, for seeping into the skin serving as some sort of elixir resulting in that warm fuzzy feeling. I do have to admit, it’s wonderful to have someone in your life, especially at weddings because you feel even more engulfed in that warm embrace of romantic love, but all relationships, especially of marriage variety, require much work.
While most people simply enjoy the rose-colored glasses weddings often provide for our outlook on life, I can’t help but reflect on past relationships, whether they are family relationships, friendships or past romances. I’ve experienced heartbreak and pain, but also extreme jubilation and love. I’ve been hurt, really hurt by people who really knew me and knew which buttons to push or where exactly to throw their verbal daggers and I have to remind myself that the culmination of any pain or loss or sorrow I’ve experienced has exalted my happiness. I can move confidently ahead because I know the experiences I’ve felt, good or bad, make me the person I am today.
I’ve been thinking about what it takes to carry these people with me as my life continues to march forward and it of course depends on the person, but why do some friendships fade? Why do certain people come into your life and leave? Then of course there are those you know will be forever inexorably linked to your life, regardless how often you speak to or see them.
All of this rumination about the good, the bad and the ugly of relationships leaves me thinking of hope and specifically one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
I leave you today gently holding hope in the palm of my hand looking towards the sky ready to soar…
Thursday, June 19, 2008
When you are in town, wearing some kind of uniform is helpful,
policeman, priest, etc. Driving a tank is very impressive, or a car with
official lettering on the side. If that isn’t to your taste you could join the
revolution, wear an armband, carry a homemade flag tied to a broom handle, or a
placard bearing an incendiary slogan. At the very least you should wear a suit
and carry a briefcase and a cell phone, or wear a team jacket and a baseball cap
and carry a cell phone.
If you go into the woods, the backcountry, someplace
past all human habitation, it is a good idea to wear orange and carry a gun, or,
depending on the season, carry a fishing pole, or a camera with a big lens.
Otherwise it might appear that you have no idea what you are doing, that you are
merely wandering the earth, no particular reason for being here, no particular
place to go. — Louis Jenkins
Coming from a generation that demands to be taken (very seriously) as individuals and living in a society where words like "unique" or "one-of-a-kind" persons, places or things, demand attention and have mostly positively connotations, I found the poem extremely interesting. In essence, by trying our hardest to "be" individuals whether it is via the way we dress, express ourselves, our interests...aren't we really putting ourselves into little boxes of our own making? And without these labels, as the poem suggests, do we have no reason? No particular place to go?
I can't help but think of that commercial where it's a young guy and lists the prices of his jeans, his t-shirt, the cost of his 'hip' haircut adding up to hundreds up dollars and the tag was something like, 'to get that just rolled out of bed look...priceless.' Whether we know it or not, I believe we all carry around this image of ourselves and what we want to project to the people around us to essentially let them know something about us. Because what this all comes down to really is the desperate human desire to be understood completely and fully by someone else and I believe this is where we’ve all gone a little screwy!
We are too busy projecting images and pinning labels of our own making on our shirts to send a message to the world, this is who I am! This is what I’m about! It boils down to one of those hackneyed life lessons, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” because to truly know someone, to truly understand your reason and your place to go has nothing to do with what you look like, it’s about actions and what you do as a person that truly defines you. And that my friends is what unique is all about…
Friday, June 13, 2008
Noun: Reason or justification for existing
This is one of the biggest philosophical questions we face in our lifetimes. If I were into conducting surveys, worked as a statistician or simply just wasn't as lazy as I am, I might be tempted to poll some people asking if they knew their reason for existing and were they fulfilling that reason in their daily lives. My belief is that most people are like me and would answer:
I don't know my reason for being here on this planet and no I'm not living my day-to-day life fulfilling said unknown/known reason.
I simultaneously feel comfort that I am not alone, but also sadness that much of humanity are just "going through the motions" of their lives, never connecting themselves to a purpose or passion. Creating this blog and hopefully consistently contributing to it, will be my attempt at inching slowly towards something that I am passionate about and when engaged in, it is indeed my Raison D'etre and that my friends is writing.
I do not pretend I am extremely talented at this, that I can write a best-selling, critically acclaimed anything, but it is something I enjoy, it is something that brings me happiness and a sense of accomplishment I've rarely and/or never have felt professionally. To be fair, I've never tried utilizing writing in my "career." I've never given in to the overwhelming fear of potentially failing at something I enjoy to do so thoroughly. So this is my small step in realizing change, to be proactive about my life and its meaning and to live out my day-to-day existence at least doing something, if only for 15 minutes, that I am truly passionate about and makes me happy. I can't promise excitement, perfect grammar or life-changing philosophical passages, just that this exercise of putting words on a page(or screen) sustains me, it is my Raison D'etre.