Help Us Move On

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Long solo drives require that I have good music, and when I’m tired of that I have a good story to listen to on CD.  I never had a reason to get into books on tape when they first came out, but I have come to value them now.  After listening to four music CDs, I was ready to hear an audio book, one I already heard but enjoyed enough to hear again and looked forward to buying a new series for the trip home.  The story asked me to suspend reality, to believe that a cyclops, the last of his kind, wandered an island and all that that entails.  The authors wrote a story that makes me believe. Yes. Why not?

I drove to New York to attend my son’s graduation from high school, and it was a wonderful day.  He is a beautiful thing in this world, not the standard teenage sheep, but a wild spirit full of deep thought, creativity, and the rebelliousness that comes along with not playing inside the lines or staying inside the box.  He’s cultivated some true friends along his journey, friends that certain parts of society might label sinners and sodomites.  He spent graduation night with his “fruit” friends, a name he lovingly calls them, and I am glad he was with them.

The next day I took a long walk with my dear friend in a local park and then we sat at one of the benches under the pavilion to continue our conversation in some shade.  We noticed a long-haired person lying on one of the bench seats, but he was keeping to himself so we kept on chatting.  He got up from his bench and asked if he could bet us that he could change our view of everything in one minute.  He was about 20 with lots of full, brown hair, board shorts, a tank top, and he wore a long pendant that had what looked like a dragon with wings outspread, but there was a symbol underneath my old eyes couldn’t make out and I didn’t want to get closer to discern.  I said, “I won’t bet you, but what’s on your mind?”  And he sprang into preaching the view of flat earthers.  Oh gawd… really?  Sigh.  My friend sunk into her cell phone while I engaged the young man in his beliefs, not trying to debunk him because you can’t tell an alcoholic to stop drinking just as you can’t tell a flat-earther not to believe.  I understood his reluctance to believe in what science espouses because it’s all just a conspiracy to get us to be afraid and conform and turn away from God, but once he said, “Just like they pound it into our heads that we have to accept trans people as normal….” all my light-hearted goodwill shut down.  I no longer wanted to let him take up any more of my time. I stopped engaging him with questions, I think he got the idea that I was done, so he got in his car and drove away.  All I could think was that if my son had been sitting there, he would have been up in that guys face, and it would not have gone well.

I am driving a car that no one could ever believe existed.  We are defeating diseases that no one could ever believe we could.  We build towers and bridges, planes, vessels, and armament that no one would ever believe could be true all those years ago, but here we are. I am typing my thoughts on a keyboard and screen knowing that there are people who will refute the science of vaccination.  I can’t disprove it, so proving it is impossible, like proving the moon does not have a light of her own, which she does not.  Right now I can’t prove that Newton and his society wanted to control the world with fear, nor can I disprove it. Only you can, and I ask that you spread the word of reasonableness. I want to ask that everyone set aside their emotion and look beyond yourself, your children, your grandchildren, and their children.  We are alone in the universe at the moment, not because the earth is flat but because we haven’t found anyone else yet, and even if we did, we need to take care of each other as we would brother and sister.   I would like to stress that the future is not white and god-fearing hetero, but it’s a future that understands we are tender, fragile humans that would like to go on, but you must use science to do so.  Science is not the enemy, no matter what anyone says.   Your beliefs are relevant and no one should ever shut you down, but at a certain point you need to believe that one plus one equals two. And those two need to embrace and keep the whole thing going.

A Wet Graduation.

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Do you remember the day you graduated from high school?  Was it a big day? A long, tired, sad but happy joyful tearful day? Maybe your parents dropped some cash to have a catered family gathering to celebrate the day, or you all met at the diner so Mom wouldn’t have a lot to clean up afterwards? Bellies full, lots of reflection and hopefully laughter and too many pictures?  Perhaps everyone repaired home and went to their separate rooms while you changed your clothes and charged back out the door with friends to spend the night doing what teenagers and young adults do when there’s no parents or teachers around.

The school my son attended has a very small population of students, many of whom live on campus because society just can’t handle them anywhere else, in the “normal” places.  Those students are handed over to the school and, once there, most of the parents wash their hands of them. They don’t show up when the kids get in trouble, when they’re grades are poor–or when they graduate.  My heart broke for the young lady who graduated yesterday and her living parents did not show up to see her receive her diploma, to watch her next steps into the world. Faculty and friends were surrogates and that made the ache a little less.

We celebrated my son’s graduation yesterday with a small group of family.  It’s been a difficult road for him and us and his teachers. He wasn’t easy on himself or anyone else because he’s not a typical teenage sheep that follows the rules and stays between the lines or inside the box.  He is a wild spirit with a huge heart, a deep thinker and deeply creative.  I hope he never loses those qualities as he finds his way in a society that expects us to be productive, to behave and be normal.  It took me a long time to learn and accept he’s just being himself, and that his self doesn’t look like the kind of child my parents expected me to raise.  He is a beautiful thing in this world, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

He said goodbye to that school as only he can, with his girlfriend, jumping into the campus pool with their clothes on.  May there be many more wet, beautiful days to come for them all.

Being In The World

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Good morning, world.  It’s my favorite kind of day, when the clouds and humidity put a veil between me and the sun.  I doubt it will rain, but the sky wants me to believe it will. Everything is still.  Leaves on the trees are greener on days like these, allowed to show their true colors instead of being washed out by the sun’s rays.  My prayer plant’s leaves are more erect, they appreciate the softer canopy and lift their leaves in appreciation.  Haze covers the sky and the horizon so I cannot see across the bay.  What I see is only in near focus, not afar.

I woke thinking about something someone said to me long ago.  He became CEO after being plucked from his accounting office to lead the company.  He was variable as the weather, and my feelings towards him was equally variable.  He said something to me, publicly, humiliatingly, that left me with no response, but in these days of living quietly, of reflection, I realized what I should have said just then. It was a learning moment that passed me by.  Some might say I should be grateful for it.  If we are lucky we learn how to accept and rise from our mistakes and be humbled, grateful for the things we endured in the past, that we can develop our selves and become stronger persons.  Meanwhile, we wrestle with the hurt and grief that never leaves us. And that is not wrong.

It’s a morning where the black kids, employees of the building owner, head back from filling up their hands with buckets of paint and cordless drills, singing–not rapping–but singing.  I appreciate their youth, their working in the hot sun, and still maintain a good attitude against it all. I messed with them this morning, and we laughed, and god, it’s just what I needed.

As I write, the lady finch has finally stopped calling.  I’ve been up since dawn, and she hasn’t stopped making that sound, that “chew” or “two” sound, loudly, over and over and over again. I don’t know if she’s trying to protect her nest or keep away a prospective mate. She’s like Mrs. Roper on Three’s Company.  Why did Stanley put up with her? I wished she would go away last year, and that feeling is back again, but then I remember how silent the world is in winter without her.  I often wonder how she survives her passionate, endless “chew” or “two” call, hours on end, without stopping for food or drink?  Finches are tiny things, and I thought for sure I’d find her body in the parking lot by now, done in by fervor and lack of hydration, but she is stronger than that.  As I write this, her calling has stopped. A reprieve for my ears and for her body, too?  Perhaps she’s feeding or drinking fresh water somewhere.  When I stepped outside last night, all was still. No birds. Tree limbs frozen. The world is changing around me and it’s awesome. I can’t decide if I like activity or silence more.

As for this moment, it’s all about discovery.  Who has access to unending energy, bounty, the desire to create vs. those who watch red balloons floating away and make wishes? Meanwhile, I closed all my windows and turned on the a/c because my spirit, the god of war who turns his back on infants who cry incessantly, needs a rest.

I See You.

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And then one day, it was all gone. It started with Facebook. The world tipped sideways running for Instagram and Snapchat after Facebook disappeared. All those pictures, all those private messages. Gone and gone, gone the way of Vines. Tinder, Twitter, Tumbler… gone. We had no way to tag each other in family pictures or deliver 140-character salvos. No more cat videos or frog memes. No more pics of our dimpled babies sharing summer ice cream. No more wedding fails or fishing fails. No more n-word posts from that girl you know is so much more. The only way we could offer our condolences was in person, or by picking up the phone if we were simply too far away.
 
Black night bloomed because nobody checked their phones in their beds while waiting on sleep. Lovers drew hearts and funny faces on each other’s skin instead, asking, “Does that feel good? Do you like that?”
 
It was the cramp heard ’round the world, all those young people’s hands suddenly grasping pens trying to figure out cursive. The loss of spell-check was called a tragedy.
 
The night social media died the world mourned. But we started seeing hazel and blue and coffee brown eyes and freckles and blonde hairs on our cheeks. We grew about 1.5 inches taller since we were no longer looking down into a glowing screen of infinite wisdom, hate, horror, irony, caring, sharing, and love. All that was left was finding out what our real voices sound like, and discovering we have real thoughts that cannot be captured with a picture of a heart or a snake.
 
“What’s that, daddy?”
“It’s the moon, sweetie. It’s been there a while, and I promise it’ll be back again tomorrow. Wanna come out with me and see?”
There was a long pause. She had nothing better to do, so she shrugged and said, “I guess.”

June 14

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Another blessed day where I rise in sunlight. Hello pretty plants, look at you growing!  Another blessed day where I pick at last night’s leftovers. My zucchini needs some salt and butter love. What’s this? Another thundershower expected this afternoon?  And a beautiful bug on my front door, painted like a mumu from the 1970s, orange with giant white flowers. Good morning, cat lady neighbor dressed in a sassy printed dress, off to work you go. Good morning, lady who works in the realty office two doors down who can’t seem to remember what time the office actually opens.

Another blessed day to reflect after reading the news. The news is self-inflicted, you see. I shouldn’t do it but I do. I guess it’s another blessed day when I find out we haven’t bombed North Korea (or NOKO, if you watch Fox News.)  Another day to decide if I am going to split myself in two post-news, to reach down for the anger or to take it in stride. To assimilate the information, write about it and put it away.

So I come to the page filled with sarcasm and snark, only wanting to say, “God bless guns.” I mean, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about without them, right? God bless politics, it just makes the world a more interesting place. God bless religion, too, while we’re at it, I mean, where would humans be without existential crises?  Yahoo for news! For stuff to write about!  For reasons to avoid social media (or tend it with fervor and obsession.)  We’ve got nothing better to do, eh?

Another blessed day to curate a to-do list. Get ready for some thunder! What’s for dinner?  God bless the farmer and the butcher and the fisherman who brought me this plate of stuff that I didn’t have to raise a hand to put here.   Another day to be grateful for air conditioning and frozen peas.

I should be writing, but all I have is a shrug and sarcasm which I hope (I wonder if that’s the same kind of hope as a Trump hope) that I will translate into true gratitude and some blood on a page.

A Little Paper Chaos Would Be All Right Just About Now

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Writing tools.  Life tools.

Eating, drinking, and sleeping well.

Surrounding oneself with beauty.

Taking challenging dives to earn and learn from the experience. (You and your writing will be better for it.)

Read.  Repeat.

Write. Repeat.

And for the love of all that’s good in this world… don’t forget which thumb drive you saved your stuff on.

Or … did you not save it? Or did you save it 15 times in 15 different versions and now nothing makes sense, hiding behind 15 subfiles of what you called being organized?

When your house is neat as a pin but your writers shed is filled with rusty Sandisks and unmarked thumb drives (the ones you will grab if the house catches fire in the middle of the night instead of grabbing clothes because you sleep naked no matter what your mother said) because you don’t want to print anything anymore for fear of making your house look like a half-baked hoarder lives there, landslides of paper collecting dust, spiritual landmines of defeat… one should decide to start printing shit out.  Go with the paper landslides.  The headache of sorting it all from directory or thumb drive is Herculean and possibly Sisyphean.

That is all.

 

Of Gemini, Vanilla, and Truth

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It’s the dog-walking hour, the hour before the sun takes your breath away. It’s the hour of elderly neighbors standing on the sidewalk telling naughty jokes, or breakfast with a neighbor before church lets out so we are guaranteed a seat in the cafe.

And now is the writing hour, the time before my gumption heads for a sofa and a dogeared book, the hour that I will stand barefoot on the cement balcony to watch neighbors go by with their groceries or work on their next hangover before they deploy, thinking about things I cannot repair or undo with a swish of my wand.

Nothing is the same as it was last year on this spit of land, least of all me.  The beach is wide and flat now. Neighbors are missing and favored dogs have passed away. New dogs and new neighbors have come.  But always, the pastel sky and the wonder of the wheel is present. I opened a journal to read where my heart was on this day last year. Nothing is the same, as it should be, but some things I still carry forward I see.

Today would have been Mom’s birthday, a Gemini through and through. She wouldn’t appreciate that pagan description, but oh well. One thing you could count on with Mom: you never knew who you were getting in a day.  Her moods shifted quickly, and I wonder now if the happy happy joy joy sing-song Mom was for real or just one way she masked her pain? Or maybe both? I will never know, and that’s okay.  But in those days, watching her devolve from parent to child trapped in a desperately lonely life frightened me.  She used to sit at the kitchen table paging through a big Sears catalog picking out rugs and clocks and furniture that she said would look great in the house she imagined. These were not casual musings.  It was hard feigning pleasant conversation about how this rug would go with that sofa, hey how about this one, but I couldn’t tell her I didn’t want to be part of her game.

It’s funny how you can pick up pretty seashells to keep or share, or pick up grocery bags full of cigarette butts, plastic bags and bottles from the same spit of land: the ocean just coughs up more of both every day.  I have two good hands that can manage both, and I struggle to remember this.  Sometimes I feel a very distinct two of me, truly torn, and on those days I worry for my spirit.  I recognize the gentle, rational, creative me and then there is the angry, fightful one, and often the angry one wins, the one that cannot handle the song Hallelujah.   I forget that I have the ability to manage whatever the world throws at me with both hands.  It’s the reason I don’t reply to most social media posts, or the reason I give you one word responses: Momma said if I don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  Well.  On those Two-of-me days I want to create new social media sites where I give myself permission to vent and rant and troll the trolls, to hate the hate– a “safe” place to curse the darkness instead of being the light.   On those days, it is easy to judge others, to rage at injustice or simply complain about a visitor disparaging another person’s sweet dog.  On those days I forget I am free to seek another venue where I can return myself to kindness because anger is just too easy. Now, I am not wrong to feel pissiness, anger, or the rage, just as I am not wrong to want the peace that lives in me, that wells up and allows me to cry.  But feeling the peace, the beauty, the truthful good, when it wells up wide and deep, it often makes me feel overwhelmed and afraid.  It nudges out the anger, my protective shield:  how can I face you, or anything, anyone, naked?  I feel like a piece of beached jellyfish that everybody pokes with a stick or scoops up and tosses back into the ocean.  Most days, for the sake of my peace, I will show you some calm vanilla, a quiet void of non-words. On the days I don’t feel torn in two, when I feel strong and whole, viable and certain, useful and creative, I can speak and write truthfully and happily from my vulnerable place.  I can manage me and you with both hands, but those days are rare, and I want something more.   So.

Here’s to weaving the All-of-me’s together, the polyester, cotton, paper, leather, seaweed, barbed wire, and spider silk together, to threading them with my glitter beads and wampum and balsa, to painting them with silver stars and onyx night, adding a touch of unobtainium, and everything will be just all right — so you and me can know who you are getting on more than any given day.

A Day Of Silence

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Soft.  Soft.

Yesterday, full of meditation.

Full focus on being present.

Refocus. Refocus. Refocus.  Because the mind wanders so easily,

treading paths that sound like jealousy, heresy, inadequacy

detours around

a little girl’s pain

a woman’s leaving

music that reverberates in my bones

dredging a stick through embers

igniting memories and regrets

calling me back to my body that sits in silence, suffering

writing thank you notes and apologies in ink and in blood

so much good will that do unless I put these hands to use.

Yesterday, full of silence.

No candle, no ritual.

Reflection,  insomnolent

Your pure truth was a light for me, your woman’s authenticity.

I’ve never been clear with anyone and not sure I ever will be,

but I learn from you and I hear and remain sleepless.

All I can be is grateful for voices I trust in a field where I walk

looking for wisdom, peace, and silence

amid chuckholes that break a horse’s leg.

Generations of Metal & Thank You’s

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Taking a moment to acknowledge my yesterday, a long day, but a great one.   I looked out the hotel room window last night, curtains open just a bit for some light.  I was wrung out from headbanging for 2.5 hours and shouting myself hoarse, so I committed my body to the sketchy sheets of a king bed touching memories, hoping I wouldn’t forget them this morning as I drove home.

Thank you to Sanctuary, the Iron Maiden tribute band, who put together a pre-concert meet and greet at the Hard Times Cafe, complete with t-shirts and heaping plates of delicious nachos.  You brought old friends together and we made new ones complete with class picture after the gig was done.  Thank you, Rob, for donning the giant Eddie shroud once again so everyone could get their picture taken with you.  Rob, you make great memories for us, and I’m glad you’ve been a part of what’s become a Sanctuary tradition.

I suppose I should say thank you to Iron Maiden, for they are the reason we all became friends, the reason we come from near and far, congregate and hug and sing.  Yesterday as I stood in the tavern watching Sanctuary play, I looked around and saw people of all ages, shapes, and stripes. Looked at the younger ones who are here with their mom or dad, I felt like the night should be called “generations.” Maiden keeps playing, we keep returning, and the music/vibe will live on through the kids. Well. I hope, anyway.

Shifting gears to the lawn, which is the back end of an ampitheater (shed)  venue.  I guess I should be grateful I even got a lawn ticket because the place was sold out.  This was my first Maiden show on the lawn, and you know?  I rather liked standing barefoot in the cool grass, the moon shining overhead.  Thank you, Kent, for keeping me company during the opening act, a band I had no desire to see but they proved themselves to be tight musicians. Not thrilled by their shtick, but like you said, everybody’s gotta have one.  (Still not gonna buy their music, though.)   It was nice chatting with you, and how you randomly found me out of 30,000 other bodies I have no idea. I didn’t steal your purple sneakers as promised, so you’re lucky.

Thank you, two nameless teenagers who were more interested in dry humping during the opening act. First time for seeing that, I must say, and I have seen a lot of things. Little girl, you gave quite a show on that blanket on your back, three knuckles deep in your pie, and your boyfriend getting into the act.  You made a lot of guys happy watching you. Perhaps the world will become a happier place if more of us came in public? Who knows.

Thank you, nameless young father who brought his 4-year-old to his very first concert.  I noticed that when your son, Bear, had enough during the Maiden show you and he curled up in blankets and went to sleep. Thank you for putting your son first. It gives me hope for our generations.

Thank you, two guys who stood next to me during both bands.  (You shall remain nameless as one of you did something he kinda of knew he shouldn’t have and wouldn’t want his name broadcast.)  It was a pleasure meeting you and watching your banter, the product of a close and long friendship.  Thank you, Mister X, for allowing me to watch you as you experienced your first, and possibly last, mushroom trip while seeing Maiden.  I got to see your journey, and yes, it WAS beautiful. Thank you, Mister X, for being concerned that I was alone at a concert, aghast that Kent “left” me to take his place down in front, no matter how many times I told you, it’s OK, I go to shows by myself all the time!

Thank you, Iron Maiden, for playing a tight show.  Nicko’s drums sounded better tonight than I’ve heard in a long time (though… the guitars are still a little fuzzy here and there.)  Bruce, your energy and enthusiasm unflagging as always. Thank you for acknowledging the fans who came from other countries to see you, as they always do, pressed together down front, and reminding us in banter and song that we are all “Blood Brothers,” a family.

People who I would not like to thank, which probably has no place in a “grateful” post, but oh well! To the trains who trundled past and blew their horns not 300 feet from my hotel room three times as I clung desperately to sleep…to the person who thinks it’s a great idea to charge $5 for a bottle of cold water, to whoever designed that “parking lot” — that gravely bottlenecked rats maze a rat couldn’t find its way out of, and to the merchandising team who wants me to pay $45 for a t-shirt…. SUCK IT!   (And as an aside, I’m betting more than half those people behind the wheel were not able to be designated drivers.)  *yikes*

Back to grateful:   I don’t know how you did it, Kent, being down in the front (pit) area to finding me in 30,000 other people as we’re walking through the concourse, but whatever it was….  thank you for helping me find my car in that ridiculous parking lot.  Next time I will be more diligent in noting where my car is on the grid, but your company was appreciated.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, thank you 2001 Lexus for getting me there and back again.  You have been a faithful, reliable prairie schooner, and I couldn’t have done it without you — or the the man who helps keep her steel wheels on the rail.  Thank you.

Angels In The Parking Lot

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It was a week full of wear and a week full of wonder.

Let’s focus on the wonder and the joy for the wear is just too wearying.

Here we have neighbors who know how to ask for help, who know how to help, to engage in the help, and one who sits back and wonders.  So my neighbor got a flat tire and asked me for help.  I got her car towed, and I asked another neighbor to help us take off the flat so she could get it fixed, and then he installed the good tire when it was done. (I supervised, of course, because they’re all using my car and my tools and my jack, but at least I provided some cardboard for him to sit upon so he didn’t get gravel in his shorts.) And, amazingly, he torqued the lug nuts in a star pattern without me having to say so, which is a miracle in itself and I want a fucking medal for keeping my mouth shut.  Neighbors helping each other, even if one of them isn’t as independent as she could be, I should not judge, but I hope she learns a lesson here and gets a spare tire and a jack.  Three strangers showed up and asked us if we needed help, and I knew we’re not in New York, Dorothy.   It was wonderful, top to bottom, even though it was a trial for her getting a flat.  We should look out for our neighbors, a message I want to trumpet as often as I can.  It’s where the real world is, angels holding hands as she’s waiting for the ambulance to come.  Work this human thing, people!

You probably live near someone. Do you know their name? Can you wave to them when you go down to get the mail?  Can you make eye contact or smile just a little?  Will you shove a few bucks in the guys hand when he begs in the parking lot, and can you ask your partner for help when you know you’re really hurting and need help, and I don’t just mean washing the dishes?  Ask for help.  Give some help.  All the rest is just noise.

Love.