Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I don't know why this popped into my head this afternoon but it did.
Where do I begin...
Many years ago, I didn't like Guns & Roses. I hadn't even heard their music but I thought they were crude idiots.
My opinion of the day came about when I was with my boyfriend at the bank, I think. The year must have been the tail end of 1988. Some kid was in front of us with a jean jacket on with a scene on the back of it from one of their albums. It was crude and offensive. After googling it, I find that it was the uncensored cover for Appetite of Destruction. I don't recommend looking it up, do so at your own risk.
Anyway--this was before I had heard any of their music and at the time I was not so much into the Big Hair Metal Bands...not that I ever was "in" to them, so much as really liked some of them...but they weren't my thing...I was more of a punk, retro kinda kid. Anyway it doesn't matter.
This afternoon, as I drove home from work, "Welcome to the Jungle" came up on the ole' iPod playlist (because through the years I have come to enjoy a fair amount of their catalog), and as my mind wandered and I waited at a stop light, I remembered that several years after the less than savory encounter I had with the album cover, that I did come to appreciate Guns & Roses and what they had to offer the angry inner child.
As Slash...slashed away...at his guitar, and Duff thumped away on his bass, and the drummer whose name I still don't know did his thing, and that skinny imp Axl crooned, I remembered that A: I had a very confusing dream in which Axl Rose played a major part, when I was 21; and B: that I had a very brief brush with drunken fame when I met Duff at the Roxy in Los Angeles one balmy summer night.
As I daydreamed away, I reflected back on Axl Rose's ridiculous career and how he has completely careened off track into some kind of mania and how he did not fade away gracefully whatsoever...which brings me to my dream.
I don't remember all of it, but it's pretty close to 20 years ago at this point so the details have been lost. I do remember he was dressed like he was in the video for Sweet Child of Mine, and we were in a most fabulous lip-locked embrace and ooooo... was he a charmer. I woke up confused, because A: I didn't really care about G&R at that point in time and B: I knew that Axl was a very, very naughty man...probably more than naughty and straight into debauched...given that I was a pretty straight laced kinda kid at the time...albeit I did love the make out...I didn't know where this dream was coming from.
I proceeded to daydream into my meeting with Duff. I'm with my cousin, the girlfriend of the Mob House Rocks singer, at the Roxy in Los Angeles in the summer of 1992, and we are in some dimly lit, fairly fetid back stage area, and Duff is there sitting in a big chair, pushed against the curtains, in the semi dark, in a sunglassed, slouched, drunken, debauched state with two chicks on his lap. We say "Hello" and he nods his acknowledgment of our presence in his kingdom and that was my brush with G&R fame.
I got further than many, but not as far as some. There was no signing of the bum or boobies, to my great relief...especially since I'm a pen and paper kinda gal anyway.
Anyway...there is no point to the post...it's just a twisted little story from my twisted little life...in fact it's possible that I have reminisced about this previously...but long enough ago that I'm not digging around for it. ;)
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I love the Christmas Tree which if you really trace it back, ends up as some kind of a Pagan fertility symbol with people rolling around underneath it at some point doing the happy horizontal and has nothing to do with Baby Jesus whatsoever...either that or it ends up with many and varied youths dancing around it in wild abandon right before they set it on fire. This does not prevent me from putting a nice tree up overloaded with lights and ornaments with a little happy village set up underneath it...though we don't set it on fire at any point in time.
I love the whole Santa thing and the reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. I love the mistletoe (with its kissing and berry picking implications) and the songs and the parties and the cookies and the craziness and everything that goes along with it.
More-so though, I enjoy the melancholy of it all.
I think there is the most beautiful melancholy to the whole holiday. Part of the melancholy comes from the people who try so hard to make the Norman Rockwell Christmas vignette in their own lives, some succeeding and some failing, and part of the melancholy comes from the depth of sorrow that so many suffer from because of loss and pain. Part of the melancholy comes from Christmas past, from history and memories that have been and are no more. Part of the melancholy is in the extreme peace and joy that can be felt and the let down, because there is always a let down, ex post facto, when we all return to our non-twinkled lives and our cold January routines. Yes, I can be joyful and cheery and red and white and green and Santa and Rudolph and Frosty...but that's not what makes it for me...that part is fun and definitely a factor...but it's not "It."
What makes it for me is the beauty, the moments that tear your heart out of your soul because you feel ancient and you know there is a God and if you listen and are still you can hear the angels singing. They are the moments that you are listening to something so beautiful that you are moved beyond yourself and that moment spins you out into the universe and you know that you are the tiniest of creatures and that there is so much more than just you spinning across the universe on this little blue and green planet...you somehow know that this is not all there is.
They are the moments when you perform or witness a kindness, or a service, of one human being to another. They are the moments when you see the difference one action can make in the life of another.
Do I believe in God?--yes I do. I'm not going to get into the dynamics of my faith and my hope because simply broken down that's all it is...I believe in God and to me, He is a God who knows me by my name and by my face and He loves me...He sees me and when I petition Him he hears me.
My celebration is in the joy of eternity, of God, of humanity, of this Earth. My celebration is in the birth of Jesus Christ, who as the son of God and man humanized himself to live here amongst us, to have the human experience, who loved and taught, and sacrificed himself to the hands of common sinners and was subjected to the whims of the mortals, both good and wicked. My celebration is in the gift His life was to humankind.
As an addendum--If you do not believe the same, that's o.k. with me, that's your choice and may your life be blessed with peace and joy however you may choose to find it. I have enough troubles of my own without borrowing them by fussing over who believes what and how. Be merry on your way. :)
I told my Beloved that the melancholy that Christmas brings to me is an ancient ache...a longing for something I can't quite pinpoint without becoming evasive as I am unable to quite get a grasp on the words for what I'm feeling and he replied "Well...it's an ancient holiday with ancient traditions. You are tapping in to the power that that holds." He's right. Everything about Christmas is ancient and well before my time. Everything about Christmas has gradually become combined. Pagans and Christians, Believers and Non-Believers, varied cultural traditions have descended down to us as one big ball of Christmas that we all rush around, chasing, chasing and trying to catch.
I decided this year that I would not chase the ball. I was going to wait for it to come back around to me. Just me...standing still...waiting to be overcome. I was going to let it crash into me, tumble over me, envelop me, transcend me and drown me in its meaning and in its tradition.
So this is what I have done. I waited for it and it came and it crushed me in its overwhelming embrace and I felt overcome by the power of it all and subdued by peace and tranquility as I lost myself in the meaning of it all. I released my inner Pagan Girl and my Christ-believing Woman and they did dance and frolic in delight.
I thought I had lost Christmas as my favorite holiday. It had become so embroiled in expectation and busy-ness and rushing here and there and back again...but this time around, it came back to me in ways unexpected, and while the time for the tree and the lights is waning, and while I am not rushing next year's Christmas back around to me, I am refreshed and rejuvenated and will be ready with open arms when it comes back around again.
Merry Christmas to you. I hope your season was bright and brought you joy.
Much love and peace be upon you as you head into the new year...
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
State Farm Dark Side
"Hey Dark Side, get your feet off the car."
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Here is some additional history on this tasty dish:
Wikipedia: Clam Chowder
My husband is an excellent cook. He has several specialties, one of which is New England Clam Chowder. He is from the great and mountainous West...but was back East once, when we were first married. I don't know how it is that he has done it, but, some of the best chowder I have ever had has come directly from his expertise.
We enjoyed some of this fantastic manna-like fare last night and even though I was full I went back for another bowl, and then another bite...or maybe three.
Here is the recipe:
Beloved's New England Clam Chowder
2 8 oz. cans Minced Clams, drained (though we use 3 because we love the clam.)
2 C. Onions, finely chopped
2 C. Celery, finely diced
4 C. Potatoes, peeled and diced (on the smaller side)
3/4 C. Butter
3/4 C. Flour
1 Qt. Half and Half Cream
2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Sugar
Black Cracked Pepper to taste
Drain the clams and pour over vegetables in medium saucepan. Add water to barely cover. Simmer covered over medium heat until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes.)
In the Interim:
Melt butter, add flour. You are making a roux. Blend and cook 1-2 minutes. Using a wire whisk, add cream and cook, stirring until smooth and thick. Do not cook on too high a heat, you do not want to scorch the cream.
Add un-drained vegetables and clam mixture and heat thoroughly. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. You may want to add additional salt depending on your personal taste (we do.)
Enjoy it with Oyster Crackers or some nice crusty bread and butter.
Happy Eating! :D
Last night I dreamt I was running away from a freight train that was crashing towards me. Despite the giant yellow and red engines that were buckling and sliding my way, I miraculously escaped out of a giant gym right into a park where a river was raging fast and hard and rising towards where I stood.
I sat down in a large, brown leather armchair close to the river's edge, fascinated by it's violence, beauty and power. I knew I needed to get away, get to safety, and I puzzled over why I was sitting and not running. It was weighted to stand.
The water continued to rise and I broke free from my invisible bonds as the river came for me and I jumped up and grabbed my things as it lapped at my heels and then ankles as I ran away. Little Calvin (my sister's 3 year old) was suddenly there and I told him "Grab my pocket, let's go!" (if my hands are full, sometimes I tell him to hold my skirt or my pocket until I can free up my hands.)
(It is curious that I said this. Under real circumstances I would have picked him up and run, but then this was a dream and not real.)
We got away and up to dry land. We stood in a copse of summer green trees and long grass. Fields and trees and wild greenery overgrowing old fences and rocks stood near and also across the river and in a distance. The sunlight came from everywhere and nowhere. The sky was not blue but whitish-gray.
All of the sudden the river was as still as a lake, it did not move. In the shadow of the great trees that leaned over it, It was black and the wind rippled it's surface. I saw leaves drop from the trees and gently float on its surface.
Then I noticed the noise and it was getting closer. I heard a roaring like screeching branches against a window--magnified--or like the wheels of a freight train about to jump the track. And I could see the water rushing in a roiling, thick, muddy flood heading straight my way. It was crashing down the main way, too fast to escape. It hit the bend and the front wave exploded upwards with a thudding crash that shook the ground, and around the curve it raced pushing the clean water ahead of it.
I woke up with a start.
Anxiety much? I was happy to wake up. Sheesh.
No really...I really do...except when it malfunctions...and then...it's true I am a mental tantrum thrower.
I don't actually throw things though I would like to...I just get SUPER pissed. It's ridiculous and devoid of rationale and reason to get so irked and overly emotional about it, but really...How dare it inconvenience me, dammit...I have plans...and they did not include a reboot, or a restore, or a new launch, or blah-whatever-blah. I also hate updates. They are so cumbersome and everything ends up changed and you have to re-learn it all, and most of the time I don't feel like I have the time to tinker so then I'm irked and trying to FITFO before I really get into a time crunch. (If you don't know what FITFO is, you'll need to Figure It The...Out on your own...go insert your own words in the remaining slots...and shame on you if you pick the wrong ones. ;)
I know...it's a total whine-fest...I need some cheese and crackers to go along with it.
Anyway, this is not the year for me when it comes to technical devices.
My beautiful widescreen monitor fizzled out and due to budget constraints (we're all suffering from them, aren't we?) I was sans my computer for an achingly long period of time.
As you may also be aware from a previous post, my external hard drive bricked...that was a drama. I'm still in counseling for it... just kidding... not really but I probably could have been committed at the time. I am still recovering from it and get the occasional pang of sadness and regret when I think about all of the lost and beloved data...but so much for that, there's nothing to do about it now.
So, next, my PC at work has it's mostly good days but some pretty crappy ones too. Sometimes it requires a triple or quadruple reboot just to get the internet to hook up and get moving in the morning. Usually on mornings when there is no time for mollycoddling. It's at least once every week or two which is mostly a hassle more than anything else.
Then---oh yes---then there is tonight. My iPod and I have a happy and well tended relationship. I take good care of it and it plays all of my favorites and varied playlists to my heart's pure content. Well, I synched it up and that went well enough...but...for some reason the all-controlling-Apple-in-the-sky has a hard time letting you own your own music and so a work around is in order. While performing an additional synch of a few new discs that I ripped I noticed that the iPod stopped working and I had a frightening message pop up on the computer screen indicating that my iPod was not being recognized and the a Restore needed to be performed.
Now...so far I have 5,264 songs and who knows how many playlists that would need to be restored. I have no confidence...EVER...that when I synch that it's going to work out. To me, it always feels like a crap-shoot as to whether it will work the way it's suppose to. It is definitely a leap of faith. So, after performing some research, I took the leap and followed the directions of the wise and woolly who have gone through similar experiences and so far we are 25 minutes into it and at song 3,338. This better work or else...or else...or else I'm gonna be sitting here in a snit at 2:30 a.m.
As a side note...while synching up, because it's taking awhile, I remembered that there was suppose to be a rare lunar eclipse this morning from 1:30-1:53 a.m. So I thought to myself "Self--perhaps some fresh air might be in order, and if nothing else a lunar eclipse would be a cool way to spend your minutes while you wait."
And so I went outside and it felt fantastic. It was nice to get some fresh air and it was cool and brisk. I noticed that everything was still wet from an earlier rain, and then as I looked up and saw no moon and no stars I realized that it was snowing...soooooo...no lunar eclipse for me. But, the silence was golden and the quiet neighborhood was...well...quiet. I felt better and my head cleared.
Now...after that and typing up my diatribe, I'm at song #4,381...not too many more to go...and then it's "Arrivaderci, amigos and amigas!" because this is one tired chica.
**Good news...everything worked out. :D
Friday, December 17, 2010
The Fantabulous Speed Racer
Because I haven't posted for awhile...not that I haven't had thoughts and written things, because I have...but...on Facebook a couple of weeks back the request went round to post your favorite cartoon from your childhood.
So, being the lemming that I sometimes am, I pondered and thought and chose Speed Racer.
I LOVED Speed Racer.
LOVED him with his dashing blue shirt and snappy white pants and his red racing scarf around his neck and his racing gloves and his cool helmet, and his crazy monkey. I was crazy about Speed and his Japanimation blue eyes and perky tiny nose and how suave and debonair he was, though at that time I didn't know those words, but as a little girl I definitely knew their effect and the charm worked me over.
Fast car + cute boy = the formula for winning little girl hearts through the ages...
and big girl hearts too... ;)
I did NOT love his girlfriend Trixie though...she was just waaaaayyyyy too whiny.
Couldn't she see how fabulous Speed was and couldn't she just shut it and enjoy the ride?? Besides, my mom always told us not to whine, so if it wasn't appreciated in me, why would I appreciate it in others?
So I looked for a Speed Racer pic and this one made me laugh.
It made me laugh because this is how I feel when I'm driving...often.
Anyway, just a little note.
Hope your life is awesome and that Christmas cheer is yours.
I'm working on it. ;)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Tracy: It sounds like you need a treat.
Friday, November 26, 2010
I love family.
I love friends.
I love life.
I love to entertain.
My people bring me so much joy and delight and they enrich my life in so many different ways.
Even though there are logistics to be maneuvered and stress to be tamed, planning a feast is something I love to do.
This year did not disappoint. My entire family came into town for Thanksgiving this year. This is the first time every single one of us, kids included, has been together for a major holiday since my brother Andy's wedding almost 10 years ago. We have come together at different times for different reasons, and have had all of the siblings together, but not always with spouses and children. This was a huge event and worth all of the planning.
Everyone came into town on Sunday and we have been spending all of the time together that we can manage. It is so unusual and yet feels so fantastic to be able to drop by my Mom's and any number of my siblings are there. It is incredible to have my doorbell ring and there on my doorstep are people that I don't get to see very often, but that I love like crazy.
We celebrated our usual Pie Night on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve. This is year number 12 of this happy tradition and our home pulsed with the humanity contained within. We had a plethora of pies, a table heavy laden with savory items to balance out the sweet, and a couple of tasty soups. We had 30 people filling our home with conversation and laughter this time around. It was definitely a packed house late into the night.
Today, for Thanksgiving, we collected en masse at my sister's church hall for our happy feast. The tables fairly groaned with the weight of their contents and children ran scattered, maniacal and happy round and round. We had a chance to break bread together, to talk and laugh, to relish each others company and to clean and pack it all up together. After dinner was done and cleaned up and all of our belongings and howling children were packed up into our cars we mosied over to my mom's house for desserts and games. Though we slowly tapered off into the night with families, pies and left overs en tow, some of us lingered longer and continued our visit late into the night. What an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving...I didn't want the day to end, but home I went into the icy starlit night and here I am, hoping to catch it briefly, between yawns.
Despite the difficulties in the world today, despite the distance and the differences, in the end none of it matters when you have the people you were blessed to be joined with as a family during this mortal probation. Family is what we make it. Family is what we define it. Family is who we include in our personal definition of that word. It may be clannish to voice it in such a way, but I don't care. I love who I love and that's just how it goes.
To my people, whether you are attached to me by blood, marriage or friendship, God bless you and keep you during these tousled times. I love you. Thank you for being part of my life and for everything you bring to it. You are beautiful--remember that.
Kisses & Too Many Squeezes...
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I'm sick. Again. And soooooo not happy about the situ.
I loathe being sick. I hate colds the worst--and this one is a doozy. I stayed in bed most of the day yesterday, being Saturday, the one day when no one owns me and I get to do everything that needs doing and wants doing. I had mild fevers and a few chills. Couldn't get warm and couldn't get naked fast enough...but by then I was freezing...you get the picture.
I stayed in bed and slept, read, slept and watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy...but not all of it, because like I said I slept and read too.
Then I woke up in the middle of the night several times with a mouth and throat that felt like I had left them open in the Sahara and they filled with sand and dust. I hate that feeling. You wake up because you've been a giant mouth breather during the night and you are dry as a bone. You can't get to water fast enough, and you know how when you're sick water tastes disgusting and awful, but you are choking it down just to get some moisture in your mouth. Yeah...welcome to my early morning hours. Not to complain or anything. ;)
After stomping to the bathroom in the dark with my empty glass, and having rinsed it out, just in case an invisible spider had dropped into it that I couldn't see with my dry, squinting eyes that were trying to keep my contacts in, once I had mildly hydrated, I looked up into the bathroom mirror and I jumped back. Whoa!!! Who her??
There was a wild woman with crazy hair sticking up and out in every direction with dark rings under her eyes, parched rose red lips and pale, pale skin...and she sooooo didn't look happy to be there. It actually gave me a wry chuckle. Then that lady in the mirror started hacking up a lung, gave me an evil glare and left the scene to go blow her nose...again.
I felt bad for her. She looked poorly off and I thought, man, she's had a rough night. She looks like a truck wreck in a nightie. I hope she gets feeling better...
Below is a family favorite. We love it. It's delicious and it's easy. It also feeds a fair crowd. We had it last night. I've been sick in bed so Beloved made it. It was everything I hoped it could be. Excellent with some crusty bread with butter and a glass of milk. I was in a carbohydrate coma that helped me forget my coughing, congested woes.
If you try it, I hope you like it. :D
Tater Tot Casserole
© 2 lbs. Ground Beef
© ½-1White Onion, Diced and sautéed w/Beef
© 2 Cans Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soup (not each...the combined cans)
© 1 Can 2% Milk
© 1 lg. can Green Chili’s, diced
© 1 ½ C.+ Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated (Freshly grated is better than the bagged cheese and I like to use a little more than this because we really like it to be cheesy!)
© 1 bag Ore Ida Onion Tater Tots
© 2 cans Kitchen Cut Green Beans, drained
Cook onion, ground beef, seasoning with garlic powder, salt, pepper, parsley and onion powder. Be generous with the onion powder. Add in green chili’s stirring all together, followed by the green beans. Add in soup and milk, stirring all ingredients in together. Let come to a simmer. In a 9x13-inch pan, spread all tater tots. Pour meat mixture over tater tots, distributing evenly. Sprinkle with cheese liberally. Cover in foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese is melted.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
World: Burning Desperation - nytimes.com/video
When I see things like this I want to scream in desperation and anger and refusal that human beings can create this kind of despair in one another. I want to go to those girls and women and I want to hold them and look and their eyes and say:
“Baby girl, baby girl—you are precious—you are beautiful—you have value.
Why didn’t they tell you that?
Why didn’t they teach you that?
Come with me. Let me take you away.”
How can people preach peace out of one side of their mouths and shame and embarrassment out of the other? How can they say that not bringing a gift to a birthday party is a reason for a degree of shame that requires self-immolation? How can abuse be doled out in such a way as to make a married 13-year-old want to set herself on fire just to put an end to the words?
When I see and think and ponder on these things…these heinous acts….this despair and demoralization and the dehumanization that one individual suffers at the hands of another…I don’t want to talk about Jesus, or God, or Allah or Buddha or any other religious figurehead. I don’t want to say or hear the words “The only way to save them is by bringing them God.” Or “The only way they will be better is if they believe in…” Because it’s not true.
The only thing that will save them is for people to behave humanely towards one another. The only way to stop the burning, the beating, the berating, the stoning, the whipping, the cutting, the sadness, the despair, the humiliation, the domination is to just stop. It is not the hands of a God that brings this pain into the world—it is the hands of men who would exert their will and their desires on another human being that brings this pain into the world.
How can you say you love someone and do these things? How can you say “I loved you, but you have shamed our family by holding hands with that boy who is not our same religion, so now I am going to behead you…or run you down with our family car…or chop your hands off…or smother you…or drown you…or lock you in the basement…or the closet?” In no way is that love, or kindness or caring.
The shame is yours for the thinking and for the doing of these things. YOU are the one that is the shame. YOU are the one that is the criminal. YOU are the one that is practicing unlawful domination of one human being over another. It is YOU. It is not them.
You are the one with all of the power and they are subject to your whimsy and your desires. They have no power. They have no control. You hold it all in your monstrous paw. You pull the strings. You decide fate. You make decisions over things that are not your right or your choice to decide, and yet out of respect and fear these women continue cowed by it all.
A woman is, by nature, a sweeter creature who will generally be interested in caring and creating and loving and serving. There is no dispute here. But so often through the millennia man takes undue advantage of this. He takes what would be sweet and mild and he twists, and he twists and he twists. And even this is not the most wicked thing of all. He teaches, through his own example, that to survive one must emulate his behavior and so he passes on his vampiric legacy of abuse and violence to his wife and to his children, both girl and boy.
How can you hear their near-silent sobs? How can you listen to their quiet weeping when they have hidden themselves away from you? How can you look into their pleading eyes that are begging you for a reprieve from your hate and your vitriol? How can you see their bruises and their scars and not weep? How can you watch their blood run from the wounds that you have caused by putting hands, that should have loved them, on their bodies in hate? How can you live with the pain and the anguish shown on the flesh, through spilled blood and in the hollow eyes of those who would have loved you most and best and forever???
If I could I would take them from you.
If I could I would love them.
If I could I would give you their pain as a direct mainline shot into your very soul.
If I could I would condemn you to the worst of hells that any fiction could come up with.
If I could I would take their pain for my own.
I would do this because I already know of my value and I already know of their value. I would suffer knowing who I am and that there is something more. I would suffer, but in my suffering I would relish in the joyful knowledge that they were now free to be the glorious girls and women that they were always meant to be. I would suffer knowing that they now had a chance to laugh and love and be loved.
I would suffer but I would fight against you in every way, taking every opportunity to create problems for you, I would recoil against you, oppose you, balk against you and take every opportunity to oppose you and to combat against you, to bring you trouble until you killed me with your own hands…which no doubt in your misogynistic mind and your megalomaniacal ways wouldn’t take long for you to deliver to me. But every minute of my life that was entwined with yours would be one that you regretted.
If I could I would set you on fire and kick you to hell.
If I could I would demand that justice be given.
But I cannot. I cannot do any of these things and hell is for the victim not the perpetrator, no matter what anyone says.
And so I see you with my eyes, and I hear you with my ears, and I speak against you with my mouth to any ear that will listen. I tell the stories of dead women who were abused at your hands and by your will so that all women who would hear, and all men who would believe, can stand against you to resist the perpetration of additional crimes against humanity.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
If you were Tracy D.'s boss at some point, and you think "Hey--my name starts with "M" and I wasn't very nice to her all those years ago...maybe she's talking about me..." Give the man a cookie...you're right--it is you.
As a caveat, somewhere along the way, and I'm not 100% on how this happened, I've forgiven you. I know, I know--I am surprised. I thought I had resigned you to the 9th Circle of Hell forever myself, but apparently you've made it out. I'm reserving the right to recount the stories though.
Forgiveness = Yours.
Stories = All mine, baby. All. Mine.
So--back to "M."
At the time he was a man in his prime. Superego, misogynistic, arrogant...oh yes. Holding people back-- "Heck, yeah!" Woo hoo. In his 30's, immature, poor judgment a-hole? Oh. I see you have met him...or his brother.
During the course of my time in servitude to him, no matter how hard I worked, or how good I made him look he was not going to let up on the power reigns whatsoever. He had a penis...purportedly...and I did not. That was enough for the torture and micromanagement that he happily doled out on a daily basis.
To set the scene, I had left the company for a very brief 6-8 week time period. I had thoughts of becoming a stay-at-home-mom...well, really they were thoughts of "If I get rid of some of the stress in my life, maybe I can finally get pregnant." And, if that didn't work out maybe I would head back to school for my Master's. (You can never tell career people, women especially, that you want to be a SAHM. They look at you like you've lost your mind and maybe you're not so smart after all.)
Anyway, after my very short reprieve from the work force I had to go back and take my old boss up on the offer that everyone makes, but are you really sure they mean it, "If you ever want to come back..."
I felt apprehensive and humiliated about it, but there was no other course, in my eyes at that time, except for that one. Unfortunately for me, they had just done some hiring for the good jobs and the only job that was available was one working for "M." I didn't want to work for him directly, as working with him indirectly had been a chore and I knew it would be so not fun to work for him directly, being the micro-manager and woman hater that I knew he was from previous experiences. My old boss, however, was very congenial and understanding and was happy to have me back into the department. "M." just acted put out about it. The interview was with my old boss and with "M." and all things considered it had gone really well, until the last question that he tossed out like a grenade and which came to rest with a poof of dust at my feet for me to pick up-- "So you left the company once. If I hire you how do I know you're not going to quit again?"
I was stunned. Really??
"Because my dreams have been crushed you asshole and I have no hope of ever going back to them again.
I have resigned myself to my fate of working in this Hell-hole, apparently for the rest of my shitty childless life. For you--no less.
Thank you for asking.
Can I have the job and get to it so I can go home and start drinking in the afternoon to numb the pain???"
Did I say that?
No. I was 29 and didn't have the figurative balls of steel that I do now.
Instead I, humiliated even further, and now knowing the full power this whiny, self-important man had over me and the course of my career, said--
"That's not going to happen. Those paths--those doors have closed and are no longer an option. My career is here and I don't see myself leaving anytime in the near future."
And the angels heard her heart break and they did sing unspeakably beautiful lamentations for her.
From that point forward, after smirking an evil all-knowing smirk, I was his bitch, and he never let me forget it, forevermore.
So, at that point in my life, during those two years that I worked for him, and a number of other years of interaction with him that trailed behind, I wished him death. But not just death as an end resolution of some miscellaneous sort.
I thought "If the planet, in all of its blue and white and green glory, were to momentarily lose gravity but not stop spinning--and if one person and one person only could be flung from it into the great black void of space, never to be heard from or seen again--If it were "M."--I would not be sad. I would not shed one tear. I would not lament the grief of his wife and children. They probably wouldn't know it, but they would be better off."
It was a number of years before the fantasy of "M."-thrown-into-the-void dissipated and I began thinking "Meh. Who cares? I see he's mellowed. But he'll never be the leader he could have been." Because my friends, the tragic part of the story isn't me--it is him--it is him and what he lost in treating the women around him the way he did. (Women in the workplace can always use a strong champion, they have enough people holding them down in so many places and ways, that did you really need to jump on the bandwagon with the rest of the majority?) The tragedy was in what he refused to step up and do, it is in what he never truly disciplined himself to become, which was a great and charismatic leader.
The thing that is so pathetic is that since those dismal days, as time has passed, he has acted like we are old friends, like the past never happened, and believe me...there is plenty more that is worse than this little tale of woe.
For example, I hadn't really seen him or interacted with him in several years and we ran into each other in the hallway (this was several years ago) and he walked up, clapped me on the shoulder and said "How's my old friend Tracy doing?"
Since when were we on clap-me-on-the-shoulder "friends" terms?
Yes...I was stunned. (Now, I'm not a rude person, and I kept my personal feelings to myself, for the most part, about the poor work relationship I had with him, but I did have some close friends who had either been a direct witness to the misery or had suffered at his hands themselves.)
A good friend of mine, who had also been a subject under his miserable regime, was with me. After he walked on and turned the corner, we looked at each other like a couple of open-mouthed mailboxes in stunned silence...because he had been **serious.** Then we promptly busted into laughter by the shock of it all.
But here's the other bit...men, consistently, who are massive jerks in their younger adult years, after seasoning and maturing and etc., often end up being quite nice in their upper 40's and onward. I don't know what it is.
As long as you meet them after they've mellowed they are great people---but for all of us that they stepped on in the early years...Guess what? Time may have mellowed the pain and humiliation, the wounds may have healed, the stories may even have taken on humorous twists now that they are far enough back in the past, but we still have your boot prints on our backs and a bit of jaded life's experience tagging along from our past with you.
So...yeah...thanks for that and it's super-awesomely-stellar that everyone loves you now...but even though I've forgiven you--even though I have also matured and grown and have moved on--I'll still always be a little wary of you and I will never trust you... but I don't hate you anymore. I don't wish you death anymore. In fact, I hope you're doing all right.
Wishing you the best... well... at least not wishing you the worst anymore...
Friday, November 5, 2010
You know what I delight in?
The occasional late night Friday-eve indulgence with sleepy-can-barely-keep-them-open-eyes listening to melowlicious music, browsing all of my favorites in their Facebook peeping, G-mail snooping, Bloggerific, late night Cops watching kitschy goodness.
I should have been in bed long ago.
I've already fallen asleep once in the Conan Chair (the large, overstuffed chair with both arms covered by sheepskin throws.) I've watched a plethora of CSI's...Miami, NY and the original Las Vegas. I got a little behind and had to get caught up with my people and murder and mayhem story lines. It's a sick addiction really.
I've indulged in several in and out of consciousness episodes of Cop/Jail/Gang/Prison shows...they really all just meld in to one. Half of the people are in uniforms with guns and sticks and pepper spray and the other half are either in jumpsuits or in some degree of undress...or both. Why is it that everyone always ends up half naked in these? And why is it that people are always so ultra pissed off in the summertime? Right now they've got this one show I've never heard of before Women Cops of Dallas or something like that. A couple of these chicks are pretty cool, but the rest of them? --Let's be honest--if I were some of these drunk, angry, high people--I would want to arrest myself just to get them to shut their squeaking, screeching mouths. I'm just sayin'...
Now I notice that there is an empty jar of honey roasted peanuts here on the desk that Beloved must have polished off during his latest round of online Warhammer gaming...I love that man. :)
So, now with the Sneaker Pimps "6 Underground" notes tickling my ears and this latest take down of a criminal on t.v. by 6 cops, I should probably finish turning out of the lights and go climb my weary, but happy, bones into bed.
So...as my sweet cousin Kelly would say..."Kisses..."
I love when she says that...I think it's so sweet and cheery, so I'm going to occasionally adopt it for my own.
So from me to you...Kisses, People...
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I read an article tonight about women and beauty and how they are influenced by the standards that outside parties set, and very definitely by the small, and sometimes large, indiscretions that come out of the mouths of the people around them.
I wish more women would realize that they are fabulous just the way they are.
I wish that they would take confidence in the accomplishments that they have already had.
I wish they would listen less to the false clamorings of marketing and advertising and movie stars and rock stars and the talking heads on morning news talk shows.
Here is the article:
Of course we want to look our best, but that's not what I'm talking about and everyone knows it. I'm talking about meeting up to some plastic infested expectation.
- I'm talking about a face and/or a body that is photoshopped to the point of "0" and anorexic fright.
- I'm talking about fear and loathing. I'm talking about fear and loathing to the point of anorexia and bulimia or overeating and other anti-social self destructive behaviors.
- I'm talking about being embarrassed about your body and missing out on life because someone might see your thighs jiggle while you are running down to the ocean or are hiking to a mountain top.
- I'm talking about being afraid that your spouse won't want to touch your post-pregnancy body or that they will be grossed out by the fact that **gasp** you've aged during the course of your 25 years of marriage.
In marketing and advertising they want your money--that's all. They don't want to be your friend or give you a leg up on the competition. They want your $$. If they make you feel less secure about yourself, or like you are missing some attribute, that if you can just reach whatever standard that they have set, that life will be perfect, that you will be eternally desired and sexy and that nothing bad will ever happen to you, they win.
They win because then you spend your hard earned money on their products which will never bring you eternal youth, or endless happiness, or perfection in your relationships with your loved ones. At the end of the day, you're still stuck with the juggling of your own life and trying to make everything balance out. You may have silkier hair or smooth legs, but you've still got your problems to solve, your relationships to manage.
You can't make anyone else happy, you can only be your best self, because you're the one who knows how best to be you.
I learned that even though words sting and bite and bruise, that it is only permanent if you let it take up residence and you start to believe it.
I don't know about any of you, but I don't have a personal trainer or chef, I don't have my own photographer who walks around with me making sure that I am always in the perfect light. I don't have a bank full of money to pay a posse of professionals to make me something that everyone else wishes that they were.
This doesn't mean that you don't take care of yourself the best you can, or that you don't try to improve on perhaps not-so-stellar habits that you've picked up along the way...it just means that you do your best, you are your best, and you're happy and joyful and you are confident in knowing that you are a wonderful human being.
For myself, at the beginning of the day...and at the end of the day...I'm just me. I'm just Tracy, and frankly, if that isn't good enough for someone else...I've realized that they can piss off because I'm not interested in the misery that they are selling. I know who I am and I'm happy with that person...even if she needs to exercise more and maybe eat more carrots and less chocolate. ;)
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
My Beloved forgot to put out the trash so he called me as he drove in to work to ask if I could do it. Of course, I replied.
I bundled myself out of my warm bed and into a warm coat and flip flops and hustled sleepily outside.
I checked the trashes, and dragged the one full bin noisily behind me.
Halfway down the driveway, as the wind whistled through the trees, I looked up into the still-night sky, and stopped--stunned at the sight that my sleepy eyes saw.
There hung the moon, bright and shining full of her shadows, all clearly visible. Orion was tilted on his side, every star utterly bright and so crystal clear, that had I been tall enough I could have reached out my hand and plucked them like jewels from that navy blue velvet upon which they must be pinned.
To the left, to the right and scattered all around, like diamonds carelessly thrown aside, were many other stars, equally shining, equally bright, all begging to be plucked. And all along and around were bustling storm clouds, lit up by the moonglow in such a way as to not seem real. They were not smudged or blurred in their lines but so well defined as to appear perfectly delineated, so perfect that this night sky in all it's glory seemed like a movie that had been touched up as to have no errors.
And so I stood there, in my flip flops, pajamas and coat--I stood there in this late October night's wind--and I gaped and sighed in awe of this early morning gift, that had Beloved remembered the trash, I never would have seen.
I finished rolling the trashcan out to the street, placing it just so, glancing up at the sky again and again, not believing the beauty of the moment and having to check and make sure that it was real.
I threw my gaze around to my mostly sleeping neighborhood. Most houses dark or just waking, the sounds of life beginning to stir, and I knew that much later the whole ambience would have been changed. I knew that mornings light, which could not be too far off, would have changed everything, and while it may have been a beautiful dawn, that I would have missed this glorious end of night.
And so I took my time, slowly walking back up the drive, my gaze firmly fixed to drink in one last glorious moment, one last great view, before I bundled and trundled and burrowed myself back into my warm home and to my still warm bed, kicking off my shoes, tearing off my coat and nose diving back into my still almost warm blankets for a quick snooze before my alarms went off and it was time to truly face the day.
Burrowed down, eyes sleepily blinking, with a wistful smile, the backs of my eyelids still painted in moons and stars and clouds floating on a midnight blue velvet background that was too beautiful to be real, I was grateful for the forgotten trashcan.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Well, now isn't this a delight!
My home is ready for Halloween. I'm not usually quite ready so early...but I've been working on it for awhile now.
I have decorated my home like a haunted house. I'm really excited about it!
There are cobwebs in the corners and perched delicately on the artwork hanging on the walls, there are dusty shelves and books and nooks and crannies with little guests like spider families going about their business. I have dust bunnies under beds and tucked away under furniture. I even have a spooky smiling skull in my living room. It is going to be AWESOME!!
I have spent all year getting ready for Halloween. You've got to get started early if you really want the authentic look. Dust and cobwebs can't just be added in at the last moment, I mean unless you want the store bought ones, but that just isn't the same...they are too white--too fake, if you want the authentic look, you've got to build your own--wispy and barely there and you can only see them in a certain type of light, and unless you are there at the perfect light you don't know they are there at all...it's much more mysterious!
All I need to do is play some spooky music and I'm ready to go.
...Don't forget the outside though.
I've got leaves galore, and have even managed to hang on to a few weeds for that slightly unkempt look...like I said...this year...I'm taking the prize.
There is also probably a skeleton in a closet somewhere and if I can avoid the bowling ball landing on my head when I peer into an overstuffed closet maybe I will find it!
So...yard sale anyone??
Friday, October 15, 2010
This is all because of blood pressure. My blood pressure has always been pretty good in the past, but apparently not the recent past as in the past couple of months it's been on the high side. Well...let's be completely honest shall we...it has been a little higher than I would have liked for longer than that, just not a lot higher.
Oh you want numbers do you? I use to be 124/80 always. Then a couple of years ago I was generally 128/84 and this year I have been between 128-132/84-ish. Yesterday...not good. I was 165/90...twice. So, I'm dying.
My doctor fixed me with that one doctor look they have, and you know "Oh my. Here it is...here it comes. He's trying to decide how to be kind but firm...here it comes down the pike...YES! It's here." And he's telling me, you need to exercise 4 times a week for 40 minutes each day and get your heart rate up to 150 BPM's. (Oh yes, I just said BPM...if you don't attend the doctor because you are in extraordinary condition, or perhaps complacent and just don't care, BPM=Beats Per Minute.)
I told him I was walking and etc., and he said "O.K. that's good. Baby steps are great, but you need to step it up a little. No running, but the ellyptical would be a great way to get what you need." My baby steps are not good enough. Boo.
So, I need to dust off my gym membership...it's somewhere with my swim bag...which is...hmmmmm...oh yeah...I think it's in the bottom of my closet where I put it this summer after my last venture out to the pool.
Here I go wrapping my brain around all of the changes that will need to take place.
Yay. Go me.
If you need a walking partner I'm your girl and please do not offer me anything that tastes good or has any flavor, because I will have to reject your hospitality and that will make me sad. But hey...if you have a celery stick...or maybe some escarole with a squeeze of lemon and some water on the side...I'm your girl for lunch. Is this chickie a little despondent and bitter...not too much...just a little bit. I'll get over it.
It's not that I don't want to be healthy and do all this stuff, because I do, I always do, I DO. It's just uber frustrating when you work so hard and you get little to no return on your efforts. But, if I want to live happily and healthfully it's something I need to do...and I do...I want to live! Maybe that will be my mantra "I WANT TO LIVE!!! LIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVVEE!!" Kind of like Frankenstein in Van Helsing. Franken-Tracy...only I have no bolts in my neck...and I was born of one person, y'know...not, like, 8. And the shunning...yeah...I don't have that either.
Anyway, so the doctor told me to go light on the salt. I must have had an odd look on my face because I'm not a salt hog. I enjoy salt but I'm not a super-salter or a regular salty snack eater...except for that one time a few weeks ago where I polished off the remainder of some Lays Vinegar Potato Chips while watching an intense movie...I didn't eat the whole bag or half a bag or anything p-i-g hoggish like that...but I did have enough to rough up the top of my mouth...ANYWAY...the doctor told me "Anything that tastes really great, usually has quite a bit of salt, so fast food and restaurant food are typical culprits." We don't do either as much as we use to but it still happens sometimes, so In-N-Out Burgers...it is with a tear in my eye that I say goodbye...at least for a little while.
Now, my doctor is super fit, post-military guy, probably in his mid-late 30's--just to set the stage and he says the following which gives me a ridiculous little bead of hope, who knows why... "I use to take blood pressure medicine. Now, I get up everyday at 4 a.m." I blink at him...he sees me blink. "4 a.m. is painful. It's painful to everyone, no exceptions. I get up and I go work out on my ellyptical in my basement for 40 minutes. I do it, because I don't want to be on pills. If I stop exercising for 2 weeks, I have to go back on medication. So to answer your question, no, you don't have to be on these pills for the rest of your life. It's your choice." Indeed. It is my choice.
I feel so stupid. I have been careless and I feel stupid because of that. I always thought I was doing moderately o.k. Not phenomenal, but o.k. There is heart disease in our family--but it always happens to the older people in the family and when you're young, you don't realize that 50's, 60's and 70's aren't that old, that's still a lot of life left. When you're young you think time in limitless and that age is far away. Have you ever realized ex post facto that perhaps you should have acted sooner, or changed your course earlier? Yeah. I'm there.
So here I am. I am embarking on a new path. It's a shift, a change, but needed. I'm going to be on these pills for awhile, while I get my regimen orchestrated and up and running. I can do this. I can. I can do this and it will make a difference. This doesn't have to be fatal or permanent.
This is not going to be easy but I'm determined not to die...at least not yet. Dramatic...maybe...but sometimes looking at the extremes with a little drama tossed in for good effect works for me to help me focus. Here I go...I'm jumping in. See you on the flip side of fitness. :D
I. Can. Do. It.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Sometimes I think perhaps I’m simple. I’m simple in my thoughts and desires. I use to want to be a lawyer and then a politician. I had an agenda and I wanted to save the world—change the world—help the world. Now, I want to make jewelry and work in my garden and go swimming in the ocean everyday and the thought of politics literally turns my stomach and gives me a headache. I still want to help people though, that hasn’t changed.
I want to make a comfortable living for myself and my family. I’d like a new(er) car and I’d like not to be bossed around by someone else’s timetable, unless of course I’ve contracted with them on an amazing project.
What has happened to me?
This is why you choose a profession in your early 20’s—because that is when you are gung ho and you want to make a big splash on the scene of life. You are full of vim and vigor and you’re chomping at the bit to be cut loose and free on the world.
By the time you hit your 30’s you’ve learned. You know that there are a lot of a-holes out there and that they are only out to get theirs. But that’s o.k. because you are solidly into being an adult and you are hitting your stride. You’re confident and you can tell people “No.” mostly without feeling guilty.
Then come the crazy 40’s where you know that people in their 20’s are full of energy but are mostly still crazy kids running around learning on everybody else and are still maturing and trying to figure it out, but that’s o.k. because they are doing all of the footwork saving the world and making changes that need to get done. You know that in your 30’s (which you liked) you thought you just didn’t quite have it, you weren’t quite there yet, and you realize now that you really did have it all and you’re sorry you’re not still there. In your 40’s, you know who you are and what you think and you’re confident in that. At the same time your life is tipped and off kilter and though you know who you are you realize that you really know nothing at all and it is disconcerting.
You find yourself trying to eat healthy, and the shake you bought with dinner last night? Yeah, it was too big and you took a few bites and then got some Saran wrap out and wrapped it up and stuck it in the freezer thinking “I can’t eat that this late, it’s going to give me wicked heartburn. What was I thinking??”…oh yeah, that was me last night. ;)
All of the sudden you have these aches and pains and silver hairs and a wrinkle here and there. After sitting too long you try to stand up and you feel crippled and you’ve got to stretch and shake it all out. Then there is the time when you’re at the grocery store looking for the items on your list, and you realize you can’t quite read what is on the very bottom row of the shelves and you think “What the hell?...what does that say?” to the sudden realization of “What is it I’m looking for? to the tune of “Holy sh** I’ve become my parents.”
I gave a talk in church a couple of months back. I wasn’t wearing my contacts and was in glasses. I thought I looked nice and I was prepared and ready to go. I get up to give my talk and realize that “Houston, we have got a very serious problem here.” I could see the audience just fine with my glasses on, but transitioning down to my written pages…yeah, that was not working out so well and with the microphone in the way, that added a third dimension that was not usually an issue when I’ve worn contacts while giving a talk.
So while I’m kicking off my speech, I’m panicking deep down in the inner reaches of my rib cage. My heart starts thudding and I’m feeling slightly ill and thinking “I can’t see, what am I going to do???” and simultaneously “Keep it together girl, you can do this, figure it out and for goodness sake get that heartbeat under control so you’re not the chubby lady with the happy smile who keeled over at church while talking about being kind and loving Jesus! You’ll scar the children. Think of the children!”
So I’m working it out and peeking beneath my glasses and over my glasses and then I realize I’m touching my glasses, a big no-no because that can become a twitch and a habit and you don’t want to distract from what you are saying. So I put my hands down and pushed forward. My solution? I had to suck it up and work it out—as in I had to work around my aging eyes and glasses and microphone without looking like an idiot. I couldn’t take the glasses off, because that would have just been odd to have everyone in the audience be super fuzzy and it would have been distracting, so I just paced myself, and focused my brain on the task at hand and got it done. The talk went well, I wasn’t lost in translation but I did vow to never wear glasses for public speaking again.
And do you see these last few paragraphs? Complaining about my aging which is what old people do all the time. “My sciatica!”; “Oy, my cataracts!’; “My bunions!”; “I can’t eat onions anymore! It gives me gas.” Which when you hear that from your grandpa, you’re like “Geez, grandpa—TMI!! Sheesh!” or whatever it is that each individual has as their complaint.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that at 40 there is some kind of inner alarm clock that booms and everybody running the inner machine thinks “Phew! I have been WAITING for this coffee break!” and they go off duty and they’re smokin’ and jokin’ out back, and meanwhile you’re waking up overnight with aches and pains you never could have imagined and you truly feel your mortality—which alarms you and gives you a little kick of panic and so you think “Crap—I really need to get it together and start exercising more and taking care of myself. “
Which brings us back around to the eating healthy, and the thought that I had in the first place when I started writing this up…Where am I and what have I come to when I’m thinking the following…
Dannon’s Light and Fit Vanilla Yogurt is unexpectedly delightful and palatable. I’m shocked that 80 calories could taste this good…I know…I sound like a commercial but I mean it…or maybe I’m just really hungry…because I’m old and I eat lunch at 11:00 a.m. and dinner at 5:00 with the Golden Girls.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Mom & Dad & Me: 1976
I'm building a new playlist tonight to put on the ole' blog here--something autumnal and delightful and I've been bouncing all over Playlist.com while doing it.
It doesn't really matter how I got to the website... "The Top 100 Seventies Singles," what matters is all of the awesomeness that I found there. What matters is the re-acquaintance with all types of auditory delights from my childhood. What matters is that I remembered that my parents use to go Disco Dancing down in Brazil...yup...my parents did a little titch of clubbing in their time.
What matters is I remember the crazy love my parents were in when I was a little kid.
In 1979 my mom was a goddess and my dad was the world. They were perfect and bigger than life, because frankly, you're little--and they are your life. They are your tether to food, clothing, roof, love and everything else you need and want--they can crush you and you're glad when they don't.
Before I digress too far along, these are the Top 10 Singles of 1979:
1."My Sharona" - The Knack
2."Le Freak" - Chic
3."Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" - Rod Stewart
4."Bad Girls" - Donna Summer
5."YMCA" - Village People
6."Reunited" - Peaches and Herb
7."Ring My Bell" - Anita Ward
8."I Will Survive" - Gloria Gaynor
9."Too Much Heaven" - Bee Gees
10."Hot Stuff" - Donna Summer
Oh, I know every one of these songs--and I have loved them for over 30 years. Yes, I know I just totally dated myself but who cares, I've decided to embrace my age, I've earned it and there is no time machine, and because of that--time marches on and waits for no man or balking woman.
I remember my mom getting dressed up in this beautiful pink ensemble and stiletto dancing heels, her hair curled and fluffed, her makeup on, and her lipstick just so, waiting to go out with my dad. I remember my dad coming home and getting ready to go out and he always smelled so good when he would hug us goodnight as they were ready to head out. His suit jacket making that one rustley sound of the lining against the fabric, and his beard tickling my face.
I remember how my mom's eyes would sparkle and she would be all smiles and off they would go-- leaving smatterings and twinklings of the excitement (that those who are heading out to a party and a great evening have)along with a touch of eau de parfum in their wake as the door closed behind them.
What's not to love about a night out, dressed to the nines, with your love, good food, good music and dancing? If you haven't ever done it...might be something new to try out.
Now, don't fool yourself that good times dancing were reserved for outside of the home only...nah, nah, nah--there was plenty of twirling, dancing, dipping, laughing and all manner of music and mayhem in the house. My dad would come downstairs, usually on a Saturday morning, and the music would come on and it was so much fun.
Now kids--this was back in the day, back in olden times, where you had a lot of records, still used a record player, and if you were lucky, and oh yes we were, you just might have a reel-to-reel player in your house. These were pre-CD/pre-iPod and etc., days.
On these Saturday mornings, with sun streaming in through all of the windows, breakfast smells wafting from the kitchen, the chatter of grown ups and laughter, music and dancing, you would wake up and **feel** the electricity of life coursing through you. My dad would play everything (The Doors, The Beach Boys, Santana, The Beatles, Queen, Sergio Mendes, Disco mixes, John Lennon, Elton John, Neil Sedaka, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band, the soundtrack from Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back or Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Blues Brothers or Xanadu or any number of other movies) and he would take requests, and at some point he would play the music from the Electrical Light Parade from Disneyland that he had recorded some time in 1974, and we would dance with nostalgia and delight. (Now that he is gone, the music from the Electrical Light Parade has caught me off guard to the tune of unexpectedly spilled tears...but no sadness...we're remembering sunny Saturday mornings full of joy and delight.) Music mornings make me happy to this day. Sometimes Beloved will do the same, and I'm not kidding when I say it is hand's-down, one of the most glorious and delightful ways to wake up. :D
Since I'm tripping down memory lane--my parents love for each other was constantly glowing...like a rock heated up by a bonfire that just sits there glowing and smoldering. Our house was full of "I love you's," hugs and kisses and that was just the kids. Sometimes my dad would come sweeping down into the kitchen and grab my mom around the waist and twirl her around kissing her, and if we were lucky, he would dip her, kiss her and turn and give us all a big smile and say "I LOVE YOUR MOM!" There was never any doubt that she was first in his book and that he loved her.
Growing up there was always music and good food, happiness, laughter, joy and you knew you were loved. Yeah, we got in trouble like all kids do, and just because there was a lot of laughter it doesn't mean there weren't ever bent feelers or tears, because there were...I mean I was 13 and 15 and 17 just like any other girl, but it was a good home, a good place to grow up.
One of the things I'm particularly grateful for, especially in those early formative years, was the example of love and friendship that my parents exhibited towards each other. Seeing a man and a woman who were different in so many ways, find commonalities, showing a love and interest and respect for each other, and building a life together, that was a great gift I had in my life as a child. They weren't perfect, but to me they were the world.
As I grew older I went through the usual phases of selfishness and complaint and critique like most kids do, but now that things have mellowed, now that I am the age they were when I was in my teens (my dad was 40 when I was 16 and my mom was 39) I see things a little differently. It's funny how age really does give you some perspective if you allow it to. Some of the things they did and said make sense to me now, where at the time I was outraged on a number of occasions because of their words or their actions. I get it now. If I had a 16 year old I probably would have said a lot of similar things.
A lot of things have changed and morphed through the years. My family has moved from here to there and back again. The kids have grown up, gone to school, gotten real jobs, gotten married, had kids--they are living their lives, probably loving and laughing and eating good food and simultaneously astonishing and annoying their kids just like our parents did to us. My dad has since passed on into the next great adventure after this life here on this whirling planet, and my mom is just as kooky and sweet and free-spirited as ever.
Despite all of the change though, there has been one constant through the thick and the thin alike...my parents were crazy about each other--and even though he's not around where we can talk to him and see him, I'm guessing my dad's still crazy about my mom, she's definitely still crazy about him and is holding a big, fat, brightly glowing candle full of love for him until they can be together again. I think he's probably got a big blue-green eyeball watching out for her until they meet again.
I'm glad I was blessed with their example of love and companionship and friendship. I definitely haven't come across anyone else quite like them and I'm glad that I am theirs and that they are mine.
"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."--Lao Tzu
Much love Mom and Dad ~ I couldn't have become me, without you.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Dancing Girl--My Drawing
I am just a mellow girl tonight and I'm feeling fine, baby, just fine.
There are a lot of things that are great for a late night...Ginger Ale is one of them, so is some seriously dark chocolate with a nice bitter bite...top it off with some Reggae and some Blues...and you end up in a nice mellow happy place. Cheers to the evening.
Here are some things I'm working on that may or may not be of interest to anyone and no-one.
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.
I'm loving it.
I'm writing Morning Pages, or Afternoon Pages, just depends on when I get to it. The point is that I'm getting some free write time and I'm decluttering my brain. Who knows what will come of it, but for now, I'm just enjoying the process.
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
I'm enjoying this. It's a good book for October, especially if you like a bit of the creepy and the spooky.
She babbles on a little here and there, but for the most part the story is dark and interesting.
What it comes down to is that it's different from the usual, so I'm enjoying the unfolding of the story.
Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson
Just finished this one up for book club for October.
I enjoyed it, but then I am always intrigued by books that take place in the South. It's a place full of tradition, folklore, myth and divisive history and politics.
I've found that most of the novels that I have read that take place in the South have been books that I have enjoyed. This was another one of these.
Nothing that's really new right now.
Just enjoying the replay on whatever comes up on the iPod.
Tonight though, I'm enjoying some Reggae, Blues and R&B. It's mellowness all the way. Earlier, while my Beloved was still awake and with me, we were listening to some George Winston, and that made for a very pleasant earlier evening.
... the ocean.
... California weather.
I've been using a pedometer for about a month now.
10,000 steps a day is my ultimate goal. I'm not meeting it yet. On weekend days I average anywhere between 6,000-9,000 steps. On a weekday I average 2,500-3,500. That's a big difference. You think you're walking a lot, but really...not so much. So I'm working on that. It's a great motivator and since I'm the most competitive with my own self, it's making me push myself and giving me an actual measurement to work with. I'm enjoying it and it has been fun.
I've been busy with work and am enjoying my foray into the non-profit world. It's a different place, that's for sure. Social workers walk to their own drummer and it's not always one that I understand, and it definitely isn't always rational, reasonable or logical, but that's o.k. I'm learning a lot and I really enjoy the people that I'm working with right now. I can see that in a different life I could have taken this path too.
Life is good and busy right now. I've got some good things on the horizon and I'm sorting it out. The beginning of this year was a bit on the rough side for me, and as I'm wrapping it up here in the next few months, I've found that I've had a lot of growth and some really stellar experiences. I thought I knew what I was all about, but I'm finding that I'm in a state of flux right now, and I'm changing again. Growth always hurts and stretches and taxes but it's a good thing to go through...once you're through it. ;)
Anyway, that's it for now.
Here's the parting shot...
"Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles. What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other?" George Eliot
Monday, September 13, 2010
An artist friend of mine went to a lecture at the local university. The speaker was a female artist by the name of Ellina Kevorkian and she talked about how, when pregnant, she was advised not to go to galleries. My friend, E., posted her thoughts on her blog, which you can find here:
During (and after) reading her article my mind has raced around (and continues to do so) with thoughts and theories as to why this would be. Why would artists, gallery workers and/or agents discourage motherhood or any signs or symbols of it in the physical form of the human person? Why do they deny it in the flesh, but address it regularly in paint and photograph and clay and etc.?
I gave it a lot of thought, and came up with a variety of thoughts and theories. In the end they are just my thoughts and theories based on my own experiences, exposures and ideas, but here they are.
Perhaps it is a leftover bias against women and a disrespect for their ability not only to create serious and worthy art, but their ability to create and carry life, which is the greatest of art, within them before delivering it to the world to see.
It has been my personal experience that despite being in "modern" times that it is not an infrequent occurrence that men (and some women) in the field of art resent a capable and artistic woman. They push her down if she tries to balance herself between hearth and home and outside endeavors. If she gives more time to her family then to her trade, she is “not committed.” If she gives more time to her trade then to her family she is “cold and un-motherly.” A woman cannot win against the critic-a mother and wife even less so.
It has also been my experience that, to some individuals, if you are not soaked in paint 24x7, and avant garde in your politics and your thinking, if you are not pushing the envelope of social standards, that you are not a true artist. I disagree wholeheartedly with this. I do not think you need to place a crucifix in a glass of urine, or paint with feces or take photos of individuals in compromising positions with bull whips to make an impact. Successful and moving art does not always have to be shocking or offensive, in fact, successful and moving art, the art that truly touches and moves the soul should be something that can be shared and viewed over and over again with a positive result. By no means, does this mean that art should be devoid of controversy, because sometimes that is the greatest provocateur of ideas and change, I’m just saying it doesn’t need to always be insulting or offensive.
You might say, “Well, Tracy…the masses aren’t socially aware and we need to make them…” Really? Do you really need to **make** someone see?
Case in point, and a minor digression: I wrote a paper about Robert Mapplethorpe during the peak of his controversy back in the early 90’s. During the course of my research I found him to be an absolutely stunning photographer, a gifted artist and, through his photography, a social commentator. My issue was not with his talent, or his topic, but rather with his public, tax-based funding, but that is a separate conversation entirely. As a human, not even just as an artist, but as a human being we are free to express ourselves, to create and shout out our voices as we see fit. I am not one for stifling freedom of speech and expression. My point in bringing him up is that he became less about the art than about the controversy, in fact, it was my opinion that his controversy actually hid his art as opposed to exposing it.
Anyway—back to the topic at hand…
Motherhood, being quintessentially human, and a practice that is preternatural to the capacity of a woman's body, is often viewed by the more artistically elite as a parochial process, one that the masses should engage in, but not those who are more "enlightened." (Kind of like their view on voting…but I’m not going there today either.) I don’t understand this at all, if nothing else, a woman **CREATES** with more than paint and clay, she creates with her body, her DNA, it’s a crap shoot because she has very little control over what actually turns out, but she is the vessel for the creation that her cells mindlessly take over and produce. Once the child is born, she has the opportunity to mold that little human being, to influence it, to teach it, to raise it in such a way as to being a unique little being reflective and representative of those things that she found most important…or didn’t. Being that close to the creation process, if she is left to create artwork based on her experiences, what amazingness could she come up with if only encouraged and given the opportunity?
I performed a search online of “motherhood” & “artist” and of course was bombarded by countless examples of artwork that focused on women, motherhood and children. I did a separate search for “discrimination of mothers as artists” and came up with a handful of articles on the actual topic at hand. Most of what came up was about discrimination against women as a whole and I don’t really care about that in regards to this article, because I know about that—I wanted to know about mothers specifically.
I came across an interesting article in the NY Times that discussed a documentary entitled “Who Does She Think She Is?” Who indeed. The documentary was directed by Pamela Tanner Boll and Nancy Kennedy and, from the review given, would seem to address these exact issues. Why is the art world dominated by men, when in art school the field is dominated by women? Why must a woman choose between a career as an artist vs. having a family, why do people find it so difficult to allow her to balance the two?
In the world I live and work in I am surrounded by women. These women come from a variety of backgrounds and are diverse in skill, talent and appearance. Amongst these women are many who are artists, some in practice, others in heart, others who have made the trade off for family and put their own creativity on hold.
For myself, I have also made this tradeoff. Some might call it selling out, but I would not. I studied art on a university level and I loved it, couldn’t get enough of it. After graduating, I unexpectedly ended up in a professional world of finance and accounting, travel and numbers. As my career progressed, I fell further and further away from my artistic training, to the point of dust on the brushes and dulled pencils and hardened erasers. On occasion I would take out my old artwork, my notebooks and sketch pads and I would marvel at the girl I had been, my work is good. I asked myself why I left it behind, and then when there was no answer but a melancholic echo and whisperings of things I did not want to hear, I put it all away and returned to the fast paced, high stress world of what had become my “Now.”
As the years progressed, I have dabbled. I have dabbled in drawing, stamping, collage, jewelry making and photography. I have thought about all of the “What If’s.” What if I had seen it through where would I be? What if I had pursued an MFA? What if I had continued additional coursework? What if I hadn’t married and had remained a practicing artist. What if I had only said “I will not choose, but will remain.”? But these “what if’s” lead to a world of nowhere, because you cannot turn back the clock, you cannot change your choices, and would you really if you could?
I would not have missed the experience of marriage and companionship to the man I have loved these almost-20 years. I would not be the same person I am today if I had missed that world of finance and of logic and reason. What I would change if I could have was to have retained some focus with my artistic side sooner than later, but then when I think back on those earlier years, I remember the hardships and when in dire hardship, you’re trying to afford bread and rent, not paint and canvas. You make a choice according to your situation and perception at the time. Overall it is a tough situation and it is a personal choice that we all make. I blame no one. I am who I am because of the choices that I have made, and while I do have regrets as most do, I am happy with who I am at this point in my life. The most interesting thing about it all though…is I still do view myself as an artist.
My point in sharing this is to make note that women, as a whole, often sacrifice their outward showing of creativity for what they view to be a greater good or something more important that must be done now and they often come back to it later on, or perhaps they find daily manifestations and ways to celebrate it and to expose it that allow them to still meet their desires and needs.
With no discrimination against them, nor with a sour word, but rather with experienced truth, men rarely have to choose one thing over the other. It is the nature of the difference of the sexes. They decide and they do. Their primary concern is rarely about having babies in a timely manner or choosing between staying at home and working. Men can have babies forever, women cannot. An old(er) man can father a child and experience the joy of parenting where an old(er) woman cannot. No amount of feminism or discussion can change this. Because of this, why wouldn’t they pursue as they please? In relation to this, perhaps that is why some view women to be weak, because they are limited and dominated on by time and are scoffed at because of it. Due to the nature of biology and the accompanying time constraints, women do often make sacrifices in their youth in order to meet a bone deep desire to perpetuate the species and to procreate while they still can. It doesn’t make them less though, for choosing to do so.
Choosing to be a mother and an artist does not seem to be something that should be in conflict with one another, and perhaps, in the end it is not. Perhaps the conflict is only in the gallery, and in the public forum, where those in power continue to oppress women, holding them down with their hands while they speak sweet words with their lips, for wanting to be who they are without boundaries and limits. Like most everywhere else in life, perhaps the limitations and discriminations are only in the minds of those who hold the purse strings and other scepters of power and who disperse gifts and opportunities based on their unreasonable and/or pet whimsies.
Perhaps women need to shrug off the standardized expectations of others who would define them narrowly and unjustly. Perhaps women should just be who they are, without title, without name, without sex, but just be. Perhaps a woman should define herself as she sees fit, as she pleases, as she desires to be, as she sees herself. Perhaps she should not fear classification or failure because she takes pleasure in who she herself declares and defines herself to be. A woman can be a mother and an artist. A woman can be a stay at home mom without having to justify that she "works too." A woman can be a high powered lawyer. A woman can be a business owner. A woman can be a wife, a friend, a mother, a lover, a grandmother, a neighbor, a human being with dreams and desires, talents and gifts to perform in many different arenas.
Georgia O'Keefe once said "You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare."
What do you declare?
Friday, September 3, 2010
“If you are ticked, angry, pissed off, or otherwise annoyed and/or infuriated with someone you love...surprise them...blow it off, concede, say "It is forgotten!" with a smile and a kiss or a hug. It will catch them off guard and they will smile...or grimace. And who couldn't use a happy surprise on a Friday before a holiday weekend? :)”
It wasn’t posted for any reason other than I was saying my morning prayers, looked up and saw sunshine and my Beloved and thought, “Wow I am blessed woman.” Which turned into thoughts of how long we have been married, and that we are like everyone else out there. We’ve had good times and bad, smooth times and rocky times, but we weathered through it and here we are now. We didn’t weather it because we are different or because we know a special super hidden secret, we weathered it because we wanted to be together more than we wanted to be apart, because we wanted it to work, more than we wanted it to break. We weathered it together, because we are both on the same page as to what we want from each other.
After putting my posting up…(a posting which when my husband said “Uh oh, what did I do now?” I replied “Nothing my love, just sharing best practices and spreading sunshine and cheer where I can…” or at least something to that effect) a friend of mine stated “But it’s so hard, any advice for how?” And it gave me pause for thought and my thought was—“Yeah. I do have advice for how, but only because I walk the walk. I’m not blowing sunshine on this one, this comes from “Tracy’s Personal Learnings From Life” tool box. And so I address the “How?” here…
You do it because you just decide to do it. You make up your mind and you move forward because you want it most, because you want it more than you want to be right all the time, or because it needs to be fair, or it’s your turn. Then, you choose to act through selflessness, kindness, and daily tender mercies.
I know it's hard and sometimes you are right and they are wrong (just like sometimes they are right and you are wrong), but if it's a matter of pride or opinion and not a matter of safety or security, it's o.k. to let go and not get your way if all it is going to do is cause contention and strife in your home. Sometimes, most times really, it is more important to serve more than you are serve, to love more than you are loved, and to give more than you are given.
It doesn’t mean you “lose” when you compromise or forgive or give in and let someone else have their first choice or opinion on something. It just means that you are sharing and serving each other with love and kindness.
This is what I have done in my own life...I'll tell you my story--
My husband is a delightful and very loving man, but he is also obstinate and has a stubborn streak that once he sets his mind, he needs to come around to it on his own if he is going to change. He also has a titch of temper...or what we collectively call the "Blue Devils" meaning that sometimes he can get blue and morose and negative. It's not often, but when it happens, he tries to control it, but it still shows.
A few years back, due to situations and circumstances at that point in time, he was going through a bad bout with his Blue Devils and was ornery and moody more than not. It was getting to me in a significant way, I was now in a funk and it was irritating and making me angry. I found that my temperament was suffering and that my tone of voice changed, that I was more negative, sharper and shorter and frowny. I pushed my "Pause" button, and thought to myself "What are you going to do about this?--Yes, you are in the right to not accept the behavior, but how are YOU going to change the tone of our home?" I told myself to stop thinking about everything he was doing wrong and how I was so right and blah, blah, blah, justify-your-own-self-blah.
And that was when I decided that no matter what happened, I was going to be my cheery, happy, loving self and I wasn't going to give in to the distress and unhappiness. He had things to work through and instead of getting cranky about it, I was going to be a force for good and joy—because if he was having that hard of a time, why would I pig-pile on top of it and make things worse? Instead, I decided that I would be sunshine.
And so I started with small things. "Honey, can I get anything for you to drink?" "I'm going to the store, is there anything I can do for you?" "What would you like for dinner tonight?" "All of your laundry is done!" “I packed your lunch for you.” Giving smiles and kisses and hugs and I Love You’s at every opportunity and then going about my business. If I received a sharp reply to a question or a conversation, I merely smiled and said “I’m so sorry you’re having a hard day. I love you. I’m going to go upstairs and make dinner(, or read, or whatever it was I needed to do next.) Can I get you anything before I do that?”
Relationships are managed and run by the small kindnesses and tender mercies that we show one another. Instead of getting annoyed by a less than satisfactory statement, I would say (with a raised eyebrow and a small smile) "Oh my. Perhaps you'd like to push your “pause” button and take this opportunity I am gifting you to use a different tone, my friend.” I’ve done this with kids, teens and adults, and *most* of the time it works. Because *most* of the time people don’t really mean to be belligerent or abrupt.
Just as a precursor to all of the commentaries about how someone is so mean, or they don’t want to change or they don’t respond to your kind behaviors and acts of service…I know. I know that there are people out there who will not respond, or people who may even be provoked by your kindness, it doesn’t change the fact that doing right for the sake of right, and doing good for the sake of good is still the right path to take. A true sourpuss will not be moved, but it doesn’t matter, you still need to be you. There is no reason not to still be joyful and happy just because someone is a crabapple.
Additionally nothing that I say or that I do makes a difference if you don’t apply it with your own style and your own way. You are first man on the ground. It is your eyes and ears and heart that know what is going on and what can or cannot be done. You must assess your own situation and the people around you that you love and decide what the best course of action is to take. Sometimes people try to replicate instead of incorporate and it does not work as well that way.
Now, just to be clear, I’m not talking about abuse or a situation where outside intervention or counseling is necessary. I’m talking about fairly normal people with fairly normal lives who love each other but are just having a hard time figuring it all out and keeping it all balanced and are going through a rough patch…and yes, it worked, and it still works. He is as kind and as loving as ever, and he has grown, and I am as kind and as loving as ever, and I have grown.
At the time, I just wanted a return to joy within my home; I didn’t know I was making advancements or positive changes in our relationship as we were growing together. I just didn’t want to feel the way I felt anymore, and I knew that whether he knew it or not, that he didn’t want to feel the way he felt anymore either. This is what relationships are about though, and I think it gets lost in the daily hub-bub of life.
We are here for each other, to learn, to grow, to love, to progress, to help one another. Sometimes the people we love the most get a little lost in our day-to-day shuffle, and we need to get back to them and to the things that are important. The best way to do this is to scale our own selves back, to reel our own selves in and to ask not “What are they going to do for me?” or “Well, they are the ones that need to change.” But rather “What can I do for them?” or “Is there something I can change or do to make things better?”
Love and joy and peace are out there in the world. If we grab onto them, and we magnify them through our own actions and behaviors, the world around us has the capacity to burst into an infinite prism of light and goodness all because we chose to love, to create joy and to share peace with those we come into contact with.