Wednesday, December 27, 2006
In my regular work world I supervise a department of eight women who primarily do social work with the developmentally disabled. In our office, it’s common to know about everyone’s drama. Not only is it drama, but life in our office has taken on a Soap Opera-like quality in recent weeks. And boy, are we sucked in, and possibly me more so than others due to my skeptical nature.
Internet dating seems to be the thing these days, what going to bars to meet people, or running into potential dates at work use to be. It’s sort of like blind dating, yet not quite. And for a number of the single women in my department, Internet dating gives them an opportunity to meet and date when working in a world that’s essentially occupied by women. And right now, one of our own is being courted by a cowboy from Oklahoma. This particular cowboy has been nudging her since summer, sending her an email here and there, attempting to engage her in conversation. According to her, his latest try was successful.
There’s this thing in Internet dating called “winking.” One can wink at another without having to do any sort of writing. Apparently he kept winking at her until she finally broke down, wrote back and said, “You live 1,400 miles away from me, why are you winking at me?” We were riveted at work to that little exchange as it lead to an actual conversation in the “real world.” A conversation that sent her running in the other direction and cooled the soap opera off for a few months. According to Liz, this was a man on a mission….a politically liberal guy, home grown in a red state and looking to escape to a blue one. She did not want to be the reason for anyone’s relocation. That was until three weeks ago. Persistence seems to be one of his character traits and it has apparently paid off, at least for now.
Three weeks ago, the cowboy sent an email forward which according to Liz got her dander up. She responded back, in a not so nice way and as a means to discourage his continued attention, although considering the fact that said attention only occurred once every few months, it wasn’t stalker-like behavior. Only what ended up happening was that the cowboy got his wish and found a way to engage her in a conversation. This was all he needed to do.
We work in a field where listening and talking is something that people do a lot of, so for him, getting the conversation going was a step in a positive direction. Liz currently is loosing her mind as the cowboy recently told her that he thinks he loves her. Me, being the skeptic that I am, chimed in by saying “That’s impossible. There is no such thing.” Although, according to the cowboy, “You can’t help who you love any more than you can pick your parents.” Apparently he has no problem waiting for her to come around to his way of thinking. And when talking to her and saying “This is too crazy,” you can almost see her thinking that in fact, maybe it’s not.
I suspect that it will be a little inconvenient to have to call in to my old job, from a new one in order to get the daily update. But, like any good soap opera, I may be able to wean myself down to just getting my update on a Monday and a Friday. And this is the question that I’ll just leave hanging in the air for now or at least until Brian vacations in AZ and loans me his column again. Do you believe that this new age version of “love at first sight is possible? And consider that “at first sight,” in this case, means love at the glance of an Internet dating profile, a whole bunch of emails and phone conversations. Feel free to chime in and let me know what you think, about this, or anything else you might like to comment on.
Friday, December 22, 2006
December 21, 2006
Well, here it is, just a week away from Christmas and I have yet to write or send a card. Last year I was so much better organized and very excited that I found Christmas labels in Staples. I was able to go to the website listed on the package, download their label program and print out beautiful seasonal labels for my cards. And this year, unless a miracle happens the cards are not going to make it out of my house.
Back in October while walking through Macy’s, I began to wonder how we got into the habit of decorating for Christmas before Halloween had actually happened. Yes, it was the week before Halloween and Macy’s not only had the beginnings of Christmas decorations hung, they were lit too! In retrospect I should have gone home that very day and written out my Christmas cards. I could then have mailed them a few days after Thanksgiving and would not be sitting here, thinking and writing about them now.
I like sending Christmas cards. There are people who say, “Why send cards to people you never see?” Those are the people I like to send cards to the most. It’s this one, tenuous connection to others that may only happen once a year, but at least it happens. Writing out the cards gives me the opportunity to think back to all these people and remember what they mean to me. There’s my friend Cathy in Florida, who I worked with in the old Loft’s Candy Store on Main Street when I was in high school, or old friends of my parent’s who made it from their Christmas card list, to mine and who although I rarely, if ever see, remember with great fondness. I get to think about all of them, even if it’s only one time a year while writing out their Christmas card.
And this year I’m being a slacker. I have no idea how we went from September to December without my noticing it. Not only do I have the cards, the labels are printed and the stamps have been purchased and yet I have resigned myself to the fact that they’re not getting into the mail this year. In my old life I would have felt guilty for weeks about this, in my new one I’ve given myself permission not too.
My little 4’ Martha Stewart, pre-lit Christmas tree is decorated and sits in front of my bedroom window…with all the bags of Christmas gifts, still unwrapped and strewn around it. I have not baked one cookie or made one chocolate covered pretzel and the Gingerbread tree kit that I bought a few weeks back, is still in the box. I have yet to finish shopping, am not really sure what’s going to be on the menu for Christmas Eve dinner and have no idea what I’ll be wearing.
Here are the things I do know. I know the shopping will get finished, the presents will get wrapped, and we won’t suffer for lack of cookies or chocolate covered pretzels when we can go out and buy them. Between my mother and I, we’ll figure out what’s for Christmas Eve dinner and I’ll be able to pull something from my closet to wear, even if it’s a sweater with snowmen all over it. And, most importantly, the world will not end for my friends and family if they even realize that Susan did not send them a Christmas card this year.
In my head though, I’m drafting a New Year’s letter. Possibly it might say something like, “Happy New Year! During the time leading up to Christmas I was researching 17th-century witch trials in England and how they related to the play Vinegar Tom, by Caryl Churchill. Now that that part of my life is over and has been turned in, I can dig out my Christmas cards and get an early start for 2007.”
So, for this holiday season I’ll take a breath and wish you all a happy one. Be it Christmas, Hanukkah or any other celebration, enjoy, be well, have a safe and Happy New Year and for those who are like me, learn how not to sweat the small stuff all the time. I’m going to start practicing that soon, right after I get out the cards I want to start writing for next year.
Friday, December 01, 2006
I am a procrastinator and feel as if I should be standing in front of a support group announcing this fact. I vacillate between being either totally driven and focused, or completely unfocused and lackadaisical. This sort of behavior causes me a huge amount of stress and I often ask myself why I do it.
This very minute, as I write this piece, I am procrastinating the writing of two papers that are due in four days. Four days sounds like a long time to write two papers, and in fact would be more than sufficient if I didn’t have to have a day job. Having a day job significantly interferes with the writing that I would much rather be doing.
My mission when I awoke this morning was to get started. I’ve done all the reading which for me was the easy part, and the writing isn’t hard either and yet, I wait, and I wait, and I wait. Mulling over getting started and finding every conceivable excuse not to.
So, after waking up this morning I needed to spend minimally two hours sitting on my bed with my laptop, reading ever bit of news I could find. Then there were a few essential phone calls to make prior to actually getting moving. After breakfast I decided to sort laundry. My plan was to go to my parent’s house, laundry in tow, with my laptop and books, and start paper writing in between trips down to the washing machine. Since my parents are away I figured their house would have fewer distractions for me, allowing me to concentrate better. Well, I’ve made it over here, there’s laundry sloshing around in the washer and I’m writing about procrastination as a means to continue doing it.
Prior to actually sitting down at this table and opening up a blank Word Document I had to stop at 7-11 for coffee. Once I finally arrived here, I had to leave again so that I could bring a container of beef stew my mother wanted passed along to brother and sister-in-law, over to their house. I then had to stop back where I’m living….again, in order to find the first paper I had written for this particular class, on which I had jotted the notes about the second paper when last meeting with my professor. While running up and down the stairs, fetching these items, this little bit of writing hit me. What could I do? I had no other choice but to sit down and write it.
I often wonder how I can be a Virgo. Not one who really believes in the whole “horoscope thing,” I do recognize that I have many of those, over-planning, over-thinking, over-organizing traits that Virgo’s are known for, and yet they don’t carry over into all areas of my life. And this is certainly one area where I need those traits to kick in, or more like kick me in the butt to get me moving.
I’ve been procrastinating long enough to recognize my patterns and I’ve come to learn over the course of attending “nontraditional college,” that I need structure. I am not one who the professor can hand the course outline to and say, “See you at the end of 15 weeks with the work done.” That has happened and believe me; I almost did not survive doing 15 weeks of work, in the space of two. That lesson I learned well.
Now that I have procrastinated yet another half hour away there are no more excuses left to put off writing about Jane Austin, so….I guess I should get started. Well, maybe I should check on my laundry first.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I spent a great deal of time digging around in those flower beds and I loved weeding. Never a chore, like washing a floor or cleaning a bathroom, weeding was relaxing. My mind could wander where it wished, to think or not, whatever I desired. Weeding became a form of meditation, soothing, even though physical labor was involved.
Inheriting a love of gardening was a gift that my mother gave me. As a child I can remember wondering why she would want to be out in the heat of the summer, hot and sweating, and God forbid, getting her hands dirty. It wasn’t until I got older and had empty spaces around my house and yard that I was able to appreciated what growing flowers meant, and how they filled my life with beauty.
My flower beds started out straight and narrow and yet looking back I realize that over the years they gradually changed, as did I. Never one who liked things with hard edges, they evolved to become more winding and rounded and less severe. I liked them full and a little wild, lined with natural rocks or field stones, or just edged with a shovel to keep the crabgrass at bay. I was always looking for a place to plant something new, which often meant needing to dig another bed, pretty much running out of room in my yard as the years went by.
That first year after my house was sold I had a really difficult time coming to terms with the fact that the person who now lives in it, is not a gardener, and which truly is an understatement. Prior to going to closing I gave him a tour of all the plants in my yard, and tried to impress upon him the heirloom quality of some of them, and what they meant to me. Judging from the looks of things now, I’m sure he wasn’t listening. This experience has taught me that there are some people who should never own homes with yards or gardens. Sweeping off green tinted concrete is as close as they should ever have to get to yard maintenance.
Not being a gardener does not make one a bad person. It was just hard to watch as those beds became overrun with weeds that grew up past the dining room windows or watch plants that had been there for years, wither away to become brown and dead from lack of water. I often fantasized about becoming a “guerilla gardener,” sneaking over in the dead of night wearing a coal miner’s hard hat with head lamp, and secretly weeding and watering. I don’t think he would notice, and I do believe my old neighbors might appreciate the effort.
I’ve come to terms with this now though. I am not gardening anywhere at this point in my life. Maybe I’ll do it again and maybe I won’t. I’ll always have a pot of herbs or a geranium on a windowsill somewhere and can be content with that. Despite the fact that they are now overgrown and unloved, I remain hopeful that one day the gardens in my old yard will bloom in all their previous splendor, and will be lovingly tended by some gardener yet to come.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
There’s a brown, webbed folding chair that sits at the head of a driveway down on Park Street in south Patchogue. This particular chair use to belong to Val DeCarlo, a long time resident of Patchogue and a retired English teacher in the Patchogue-Medford School District. The DeCarlo’s lived in that house for as long as I can remember and moved to Louisiana last year to be closer to their daughter. It’s odd to see that chair still sitting there and I wonder if the new owners have left it on purpose, a shrine to one of the more fascinating people who has ever walked through my life.
It was not easy to get an A or even a B on a paper written for Val’s class, and yet, I somehow managed too, a miraculous feat for someone who would often cut math in order to sit in the library and write those papers the day they were due. (I do my best work under pressure.) I doubt there were many who ever showed up without their work done, as he was not a teacher whose bad side you ever wanted to experience. And, as intimidating as he was, his classes were always full because in spite of the fear, you couldn’t help wanting to be there. I read my first R rated book, “The Godfather,” in his Ethnic Lit class. He had the best stories to tell and to this day, I still wonder if he really lived them.
Over the course of my adult life Val would drive by the house I use to live in and he would wave or stop to briefly to say hello. Throughout those years I would stop once or twice a summer to talk with him as he sat in his driveway. He would pull out a spare folding chair from the garage and we would sit and have a visit, which in actuality was really more like a very intense chat.
I use to think of Val on those summer nights when my son and his friends would haul all the lawn chairs from our yard and place them at the head of the driveway, in front of our pock-marked metal garage door. There they would sit and visit with all their other friends who would pass by. I started referring to them as The Italian Patio Boys, my son being half Italian, and the whole “sitting around in the driveway, watching the world pass by,” becoming their patio. Val was the first Italian Patio Boy and this past summer was the first that I did not sit on a folding chair in his driveway at least once and visit.
There are no more Italian Patio Boys sitting in my old driveway anymore. They are all grown up and the driveway no longer belongs to me. It now has weeds growing up through the seams in the concrete and exists in a yard whose new owner gives little care or thought about it. And that is a story for another time.
On my last driveway visit with Val and his family, we talked about my “getting a new life” experience. In his old fashioned way, he assured me that I would soon attract a rich guy to take care of me, the thought of which made me laugh. The whole point I explained to him, was to prove that I could take care of myself, yet I’m not sure that I convinced him.
Val, his wife Ronnie and son Peter are people I will always remember with great fondness. I miss the driveway visits and yet, it makes me very happy to see that his chair is still there. I can still imagine him walking out to the driveway and settling down in it, watching the world go by and waiting for someone to stop and visit. And although he no longer lives here, he will always exist in my memories in a larger than life kind of way. Life changes, people move on and yet we still have the ability to keep those memories alive within ourselves. So, to whoever owns Val’s house now, thanks for keeping his chair there, allowing me to pass by and in my minds eye, still see him sitting there, reminding me not only of him, but also of my other Italian Patio Boys and the driveway they use to sit in.
Monday, October 23, 2006
The procedure I had done today required that it be done under general anesthesia in the outpatient surgery department. Of course when hearing I need to be knocked out two thoughts ran though my head. First, this must be some painful test since you need to be unconscious for it, and second, I might go to sleep and never wake up again. For a week prior I tortured most of you who read this blog with these dire thoughts and do appreciate how patient you all were, while probably thinking, “Susan, please shut up about this already!”
I think that the whole idea of no longer having a “significant other,” in my life waiting in the waiting room for me, is what freaked me out the most. Certainly my mother is a “significant other,” in my life and I am most grateful to have had her with me. Yet, it’s not the same as having someone with you, who is your partner in all senses of the word. I know that I’m whining and I can’t help it. My friend Joanne went through radiation therapy for breast cancer, without her “significant other,” the bastard left her three weeks into her treatment. I have no right to whine about this as I cannot imagine what that must have been like, and yet, I do it anyway. And, I think that Joanne understands my angst about this and forgives me for it.
I adore the two main doctors in my life and both are women. My primary care physician has been known to hug me good-bye, which is not something any doctor I’ve even had, has done…and it’s nice. My “other doctor,” is more reserved, professional and business like. They have two very different bedside manners, and yet I appreciate them both for their care of me.
Today, while lying in the OR waiting for the anesthesiologist to put me under for the cervical biopsy I needed to have done, trying to do some Zen breathing so as not to cry because I’m a baby…. and was terrified and very anxious, my very professional gynecologist came up beside me and held my hand while I faded off into oblivion. I wonder if she has any idea what that meant to me?
Friday, October 20, 2006
I really dislike the expression “When one door closes, another door opens.” Especially when you’re really feeling like you’re stuck in a dark hallway with the door behind you almost completely closed, and you have no idea where the end of the hallway is, or if there will be another door once you get to it.
I was stuck in a hallway for long time. Probably close to a year. And it was dark and I had no flashlight or even a book of matches. In my case, a scented candle would have been nice, but I didn’t have one of them either. I had to start out walking down my hallway pretty much in total darkness. For about a year, I just stood…. still bathed in a tiny bit of light from that almost closed door, and when I finally started to move and got further away from it, the journey became more difficult, at least for a while. Gradually though, I started to see a glimmer of light ahead of me, and now, after two years I think I’m about ready to finally step through the door that I found at the end, and wow, does it look bright!
I did a lot of walking to get down this hallway and it wasn’t always easy. Patience was needed to accomplish this and it is not one of my virtues. I painted a bedroom, purchased a small amount of furniture, found a part time writing job, went back to school, bought a car, sat on my parents and my friend’s couches and cried, started going to the movies by myself, learned to balance my checkbook, went through a lot of boxes filled with stuff from my old life and had a yard sale, learned to smile at interesting people, joined a writing group, and have made a number of new, interesting friends. I will soon graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and have started interviewing on a quest for a new job that will hopefully allow me to swim in deeper water. Yes, it has been a busy year and a year that has finally allowed me to see the progress that I have made in very concrete ways.
It’s hard to do this sort of personal writing in a small, local newspaper. In many ways it would be far easier to write for a much larger publication, which would feel more anonymous. It’s difficult to be an unknown when you are writing about what it feels like to get a new life and your picture and name appear above your writing, in the small town that you’ve lived in for your entire life. It makes writing the more difficult stuff, impossible. For me though, this is the only kind of writing that I can do right now. It sounds a bit self-centered, this writing that is “all about me,” and yet it really isn’t just about that.
In the short time that I’ve had to “write in my own voice” in this space that Brian Curry so graciously loans me, I’ve had the pleasure of talking to people who have read what I’ve written here, and who are able to relate to the experiences that I talk about. It’s reinforcing to realize that I am not alone in this “getting a new life” experience, and to have someone tell me that the words I have written have made a difference in their lives, is truly huge for me. Certainly we’re not talking major life changing differences, but subtle difference in the way people view themselves, where they are heading, and helping them realize that they can get there in one piece.
So, yes, in many ways this is all about me, and yet it is about so much more. If just one person reads this and realizes that although they may be stuck in a dark hallway now, that does not have to be the case forever, then my job for today is done.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The year between age 47 and 48, I spent crying. I cried the entire year and on my 48th birthday I was still crying. I can distinctly remember the three days prior, crying off and on, not feeling as if I had made enough progress in my quest to get a new life. Feeling frustrated and unhappy with where I was at. The day of my birthday I was either sitting in my computer chair, crying, or laying on the couch, crying, or laying on my bed crying, or driving in my car, crying. I wrote about all that crying last year in this very spot.
On my 48th birthday Jane happened to call me, not realizing it was my birthday….. and she listened to me sob about how I couldn’t stop crying. (It was the psychic twinkle thing that made her call me, that I’m sure about.) She sent me “Happy Birthday” flowers that very afternoon and they sat on the dinning room table where I live, long after most of them had died.
Last year was the year I wanted no birthday at all. No cake, no presents. Of course my mother was having none of that and we eventually got around to cake and some presents, but that was a few days after the birthday and by then, I had recovered and resolved to stop all the crying.
This has been a much better year! It has been a year with no real crying to speak of. It’s been the year when I’ve made all sorts of progress…..the kind that I can see. My biggest accomplishment has been school. This is the year that I will finish a degree started long ago. It’s been the 13 year Bachelor’s degree (with an 8 year break in the middle….what was I thinking!). And, with that degree, I can move on to look for a different career path to take….in the hope of being able to finally afford an apartment of my own to live in….. a home of my own…..I think that my 50th Birthday might possibly be even better….. At one time I dreaded the idea of ever being 50; to think that I might now actually be looking forward to entering my 50th year is more progress that I ever thought possible.
I am however, making a birthday resolution, similar to the New Year’s resolutions that people make and never keep. I do really try to keep mine and actually am somewhat successful at the whole resolution business.
A new friend that I made this past spring told me that one of the good things about me, is that I see the potential in people, even if they haven’t reached that point yet. She said that’s it’s a wonderful quality, yet at times does not work to my benefit. I have trouble letting go of those who have yet to meet the potential that I see in them. I need to let go of a few people in this new birthday year. I'm not waiting for them to "come around" any longer.
So, there you have it, another birthday, with a resolution to boot. And new plans being made. I wonder where I will write next year’s birthday blog from. I truly am hoping that it will be from some nice little apartment in NYC….. Only time will tell that story.
This is enough writing about a birthday for one year…….
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
For my 49th birthday my daughter took me to get my nose pierced. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while and for some reason, today seemed like the day to do it. It just felt like it was the “right day” to get my nose done. I can’t wait until it’s healed and I can get a little tiny diamond to wear in it. Of course my parents will be appalled. I am, however, entering my 50th year. If I want to have my nose pierced…then that’s what I’m doing. It’s not a tattoo!
Maybe I’m in yet another of these “life crisis” I seem to go through from time to time. Over the course of this past year I’ve had so few of them that I’m almost feeling normal again. Normal in the sense that my life feels like my own, like I recognize who I am. I think having a small diamond stud in my nose is part of who I’m meant to be.
When I called Erin at work this morning to relay my piercing epiphany, she was right there with me, having had hers done over the summer. I mentioned going tomorrow, on my birthday; she said we should go today. I think she was afraid that I might change my mind again if I waited until tomorrow. I made this decision at 9:30 this morning while sitting at my desk. There was no more debate. It was a done deal.
Yes, I do believe that I was meant to have my nose pierced. Radical for an almost 49 year old…yet it feels right to me. And it looks so cool!
Monday, September 11, 2006
We can understand the anguish felt by emergency personnel who spent hour upon hour, days upon days, searching in the massive pile of smoking, pulverize rubble......their mission always to save....... and knowing that would not be the case.
We mourn in degrees of separation.....those who can still smell the burning jet fuel, or who walked the area of lower Manhattan, pictures in hand, endlessly searching for their lost loved ones. They mourn the most fiercely.
We mourn in degrees of separation....those of us who watched helplessly on our televisions...further removed, yet mourning nonetheless. No, we could not smell the smoke, nor *feel* the wailing of the sirens....yet we mourned too.
We mourn in degrees of separation.......those of us who live in tri-state area, but especially those of us who are New Yorkers. We mourn in a different way than the rest of the country. Just as those in Washington D. C. and in Pennsylvania, and all those with loved ones on four planes mourn. We collectively mourn together in a way that the rest of the nation cannot. Oh, yes...the rest of the nation mourns....but from further away....Separated by many degrees from the anguish that we, as New Yorkers feel.
The following was posted on My Space as a bulletin. The author is unknown....
I AM A NEW YORKER
I am a New Yorker. I was raised on Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Rockefeller Plaza, the Yankees or the Mets, Jones Beach or Smith Point, or one of the beaches on the sound or the bay. I know the "THE END" means Montauk. Because I am a New Yorker.
I am a New Yorker. When I go on vacation, I never look up: skyscrapers are something I take for granted. The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are part of me. Taxi's and noise and subways and "get outa heah" don't rattle me, because I am a New Yorker.
I am a New Yorker. I was raised on cultural diversity before it was politically correct. I eat Greek food and Italian food, Jewish and Middle Eastern food and Chinese food because they are all American food to me. I don't get mad when people speak other languages in my presence because my relatives got to this country via Ellis Island and chose to stay. They were New Yorkers.
I am a New Yorker. People who have never been to New York have misunderstood me. My friends and family work in the industries, professions and businesses that benefit all Americans. My firefighters and police officers died trying to save New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers. They died trying to save Americans and non-Americans because they were New Yorkers.
I am a New Yorker. I feel the pain of my fellow New Yorkers. I mourn the loss of part of my beautiful city. But then I remember......I am a New Yorker.
And New Yorkers have:
Tenacity, strength and courage way above the norm
Compassion and caring for our fellow citizens
Love and pride in our city, in our state, in our country
Intelligence, experience and education par excellence
Ability, dedication and energy above and beyond
Faith--no matter what religion we practice.
Terrorists hit America in its heart but America's heart still beats strong. Demolish the steel in our buildings, but it doesn't touch the steel in our souls. Hit us in the pocketbook; but we'll parlay what we have left into a fortune. End innocent lives leaving widows and orphans, but we'll talk care of them, because they are New Yorkers.
Wherever we live, whatever we do, whoever we are. There are New Yorkers in every state and every city of this nation. We will not abandon our city. We will not abandon our brothers and sisters. We will not abandon the beauty, creativity and diversity that New York represents. And most importantly, we will never forget.
Becasue we are New Yorkers.
And we are proud to be New Yorkers.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
However, she does play the piano well… and we can all assume that she’s a very smart woman, considering she is the Secretary of State. We, as women can be proud of that accomplishment. She does not appear to be one of those warm and fuzzy people though and she certainly does not seem interested in women’s issues. Here she is, this really smart woman, who seems so out of step with the rest of her gender.
Gloria Steinem is wondering similar things about Condoleezza.
New York Times Magazine, September 3, 2006, “All About Eve” an interview by Deborah Solomon (excerpt):
“Q: Is Condoleezza Rice and ally of women?
Gloria: I wish someone would write an article called ‘How Did Condoleezza Rice Get That Way?’ She’s so separate from the welfare of the majority of Americans and especially the female and African-American communities to which she belongs.”
How weirdly cool is it that Gloria is in her house thinking about this, and I’m in mine, doing the same thing? (And she looks damn good for 72!)
Friday, August 25, 2006
"Life is not a problem to be solved but rather a mystery to be lived."
I wonder who thinks up these little sayings and who decides if they’ll make it into a cookie.
I’ll bet there’s a book out there somewhere in the world that is just filled with the sayings that pop out of fortune cookies. I must admit, the cookies themselves do nothing for me. Mainly because there’s no chocolate in them. They don’t really have any taste at all. Actually, they might rival the taste of a Communion wafer….and somewhere out there, there’s a Christian Fundamentalist from the Bible Belt, saying to themselves, “She's goin’ to hell talkin’ like that.” Once again I have digressed though. Christian Fundamentalists are an entirely different story.
I break open fortune cookies, trying to make as little mess as possible, slip out the strip of paper, and read. If I were a gambling person I might also consider playing the numbers written under my fortune. Has anyone ever won the lottery based upon the use of those numbers? All these questions that have come to mind, all because of a little piece of paper, hidden inside a stale, hard, very crunchy item, that pretends to be a cookie. I have just spent way to much time thinking about fortune cookies….and now writing about them as well. Possibly I should move on, get out the tape and find a place to immortalize my one and only cool fortune cookie fortune, and continue on, living my mystery.
Monday, August 14, 2006
My first priority in regard to the gym is to get in the car and drive there. Once I’m there then everything else falls into place. That is unless the battery has gone dead in my mini disc player leaving me without the Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox Twenty or Third Eye Blind to work out with. Then, I either have to go and buy batteries… or go home. Without something other than the Dance Party music they play in the gym, I can’t concentrate on what I’m there to do. It’s hard to work out when you are perseveratively thinking about how crappy the music sounds. My second priority would be making sure I have a pony tail holder so that as I sweat, my hair is not sticking to my neck, driving me crazy and causing me to loose my concentration, or the Zen place I sometimes manage to achieve as I climb treadmill hills. And my third is to work hard enough to actually sweat.
Tonight was the first night I’ve been to the gym in a month. It’s been a long *gym vacation*. The longest I’ve had in the two years that I’ve had a membership, and I’ve missed it. Some of what I consider my best writing has started in my head while on the treadmill. After walking up and down hills anywhere from two to four miles I find myself sitting in my car, scribbling down all the random thoughts I’ve thought about while sweating. I’m not sure why that happens. Maybe it’s because I walk with my eyes closed, music in my ears and no other distractions, allowing my mind to free associate and go where it wants…. running amok without a mother to say “stop that…you can’t possibly think you can do that!”
My original purpose in joining the gym was to become healthier. I made a decision that I did not want to become permanently imbedded on a couch, only to get off of it every ten years to shop for a new one to sit back down on. I did not want to wake up at 60 with diabetes and a heart condition and not be able to participate in my life, nor end up with the osteoporosis that the women in my family seem to be prone to…..so the only choice was to get off my butt and get to the gym. A recent consult with a cardiologist, that required me to participate in a bit of torture called a Thallium Stress Test, has proven that the gym works. (And I do thank all of you who I moaned and groaned to about “the test,” calling you all to say my final good-bye’s, thinking I might die of the side effects of said test. I would like to add here, that for me this particular test rated right up there with child birth, and I’m still not sure which I think was worse.)
I am in excellent cardiovascular shape. That alone should be enough to keep me going, and actually it is. Yet, the benefits for my mind far surpass the benefits for my body. In the first year of my “getting a new life,” I cried….a lot. Without the gym I would probably never have gotten out of bed. Some days, other than work, the gym was the only place I went, at times working out very late at night in order to be exhausted so that I could sleep. Physical exertion made me feel better. I even experience from time to time “runners high.” I may not run, but I work hard and once through that wall of resistance I feel as if I can go on forever. I think…. I meditate…. I visualize my new life…a new job….a new apartment….new people in my life….I write. I do all of this with my eyes closed, music in my ears and beads of perspiration trickling down my neck.
Yes, there are some days that the only thing I’m thinking about is that Quizno’s is next door and they sell small bags of Salt & Vinegar potato chips….which I really love and rarely ever buy. Once in a while I'll play “Let’s Make a Deal”…….walk 800 calories worth and buy a bag of chips. It’s not like buying the big bag in the grocery store. I can have the small one and be content, knowing that I didn’t just consume 800 plus calories worth of a food item that is horrible for me. And, that’s OK. I like the gym and I like the Salt & Vinegar potato chips and if I want, I can have both. My days of thinking about all the other things I think about, far outnumber the Salt and Vinegar Potato Chip days. And, it’s probably a good thing that they do....
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Sitting on my borrowed sand chair, I watch three, thirty-something father’s play with their young children. One holds his daughter who looks no more that four on a Boogie board as it skates around atop the small waves that curl near the shore line. Little boys, also with Boogie boards run out to meet these waves and ride them back onto the beach, future reflections of the older men who are playing with them now, and I wonder…..how do my children feel about their *not so long ago* childhoods? Just the other day my daughter declared that she does not think she like’s being an adult and I felt a sense of relief after hearing that.
I’ve been wondering lately if my children missed that they didn’t have parents who “played” with them. Sure, we had fun from time to time, but most of what I remember was tinged by stress, those foreboding feelings that always existed for me as an adult. If I could go back and rewrite any part of my life and theirs, this is the part I would rewrite….the childhood of my children. I would go back and try to have more fun with them, not letting those adult stresses that I felt so acutely in the past, impact on them, or at least trying not too. Yet given the fact that my daughter would like to go back to her childhood, maybe my stress didn’t affect her or her brother as much as I fear that it did.
Do my children remember their childhoods with fondness? Perhaps they do. Erin could not wait to grow up and become an adult and do the things that adults get to do. And here is she, now an adult, wishing to be a child again.
I’m hoping to be in a position to one day have fun with my children, even if they are grown. To do some of the things I would like to have done with them when they were young, but that for reasons beyond my control and theirs, we did not. To one day be able to take them on a great vacation and have fun with them, free of the worry about what shoe might possibly drop next.
Erin’s desire to go back to that place and time gives me hope that both she and her brother did have childhoods that they will cherish as they grow older. Maybe it’s the *mother guilt* that I suffer periodically from that colors my perception of what their childhood was like?
For now I’m just going to enjoy watching these young men playing with their children and hope that one day, my adult children will be on a beach somewhere, playing with theirs, and that their children…my grandchildren, will have a grandmother who has learned how to laugh and have fun and play. (Let me just add here though, I am not in any rush to become a grandmother!)
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
“As the congregation of the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church looked on and its pastor, Apostle Alton R. Williams, presided, a brown shroud much like a burqa was pulled away to reveal a giant statue of the Lady, but with the Ten Commandments under one arm and "Jehovah" inscribed on her crown.
And in place of a torch, she held aloft a large gold cross, as if to ward off the pawnshops, the car dealerships and the discount furniture outlets at the busy corner of Kirby Parkway and Winchester that is her home.” (July 5, 2006, NY Times, Shaila Dewan)
Jane is a New Yorker who through no fault of her own, has had to relocate to Tennessee. To the Memphis area of Tennessee which is where Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee meet. For Northerner’s this part of Tennessee is a forbidding place to live. For months now, Jane has sent all of her friend’s horrifically humorous emails about what living in that part of the country is like. I sent her the NY Times article this morning to see what she thought and found out that this particular version of the lady, is five minutes from her house and her husband drives by it every day on his way to work. Needless to say, she is less than pleased.
As New Yorker’s I think we have a special affinity for the Statue of Liberty, after all she does live in New York. Collectively we have become very protective of our landmark statuary and very possessive of it all. I also believe that after 9/11 we became bigger New Yorker’s (if that’s possible). I often wonder if that has any bearing on this huge desire I have to move to the city. That I can’t truly feel like a New Yorker unless I have actually lived in NYC. Jane is a big New Yorker who for now, lives in Tennessee. Here are her thoughts on the recent make over and what it’s like to live in the Bible Belt. Keep in mind please that Jane is a very religious woman, much more so than me:
Given further thought...I have some observations about the "Bible Belt".
Living in the Bible Belt seems to give people license to create new religious sects that single out certain people either for an "Up" elevator ride or a treacherous "Down" trip upon their demise. Proximity to "The Belt" allows you to express very twisted, prejudiced and in many cases outlawed ideals by which society should abide.
Perhaps my affinity to Lady Liberty as she stands was reinforced the day I cried for our lost friends and feared that some unknown, perverse enemy might fly a plane into her next. To mutate her for religious cult purposes seems obscene.
We sat at dinner with a lovely couple we met last year. They never appeared to be substance abusers or in any other way criminal. All of the sudden, in the middle of a sentence, the gentleman took his beer (the only beer he had all night) and tucked it behind the salsa and chips in the middle of the table. He hastily explained that their pastor had just walked into the restaurant and if he wanted to be allowed to volunteer for any groups in the church, he'd better not be seen drinking. And I thought "Or cavorting with sorts like us!!". He explained that Southern Baptists only drink in their homes so as not to be found out by their co-congregants. There are a bunch of restaurants down here with little sectioned off rooms for privacy. I thought it was for the old Southern gentleman's discretion with his mistresses (which is probably also true), but our friend explained that the little booths were designed so that your neighbors couldn't see you imbibe. The rooms are still very much in use.
One of my male friends from work (another director) made several rude jokes and comments about homosexuals while in my company during our training in Chicago. I said to him at one point that I found the jokes unfunny and that we had left a church in Memphis due to anti-homosexual remarks made during a sermon. It took him 4 months to tell me that he is gay; he was afraid if anyone knew they would ostracize him. He acted in a self-hating way because of the sick, antiquated ways of the South. I found that so painful. If I was him, I would get in my car and drive North or West or East...I don't know-anywhere but here.
I hate that so many down here truly believe that they have more rights, deserve better access to services and luxuries... freedom to speak their minds (no matter how narrow they are) based on the color of their skin. And it's the same color as my skin and I am embarrassed by that.
So, these are some of the serious reasons I would like to leave this area someday soon. I have met people from Georgia, SC, NC and Oklahoma. They all feel the same way, as though we are caught in some kind of time warp. Memphis as Time Warp....sounds feasible. Even people from Nashville claim a different mind set entirely. We are in the vacuum that is Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi. Places where time stands still.
Beam me up, Scotty!!
Saturday, June 24, 2006
There was once a King who offered a prize to the artist who could paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two that he really liked, and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for the peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The second picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest…..a perfect picture of peace.
Which of the pictures won the prize?
The King chose the second picture.
Do you know why?
“Because,” explained the King, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”
That is the REAL meaning of peace.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
“IHD2HVIT” was what was written on the license plate of the red Corvette that pulled out of the 7-Eleven parking lot in front of me. It took me a few seconds to figure out exactly what it meant, and when I did, I laughed out loud and thought to myself, “how very creative.” While riding down Roe Boulevard behind the “I had to have it” guy, I continued to smile and decided he would be my act of bravery for this day.
Recently a new friend suggested to me that in order to continue down this path I’m on; there are some things I need to do, with becoming fearless in the forefront. Although much braver than I have ever been, I’m still nurturing this trait that in some ways is so foreign to me, yet in other ways, not. My friend suggested that I could either ask myself in certain situations throughout my day, “What I would do if I were not afraid,” or I could actually do one brave thing every day. I haven’t actually done one brave thing every day, but on the days that I haven’t, I do ask myself that question.
My act of bravery for this day was to pull up next to the man in the red corvette, lean out of my car window and compliment him on his license plate, telling him that it made me laugh. I should also have thanked him for giving me something to write about, but at that time had no idea he’d be making an appearance in this piece of writing.
I am much more comfortable initially being an observer, a watcher… prior to opening my mouth to express an opinion. I like to have a sense of who people are and where they’re coming from before I reveal myself. But, certainly there’s no reason to hold back complimenting someone on an item such as an amusing license plate, or a cute dog they might be walking, or in my case a really nice pair of shoes or a bag they’re carrying. My friend Nina will chat with anyone, on any line, at any time, and by the time she’s done paying for her purchases, will know all kinds of things about them. I have not completely developed this skill, and I’m working on it as a means to change old patterns. And although sometimes just a little stressful, it’s very exciting as well.
The same friend who suggested that I might want to try being brave on a daily basis, also recommended that I clean out my closet. Somehow, at least in my mind, these two ideas go hand in hand. She said that I should get rid of anything in my closet that is no longer “me,” regardless of what it is, or how much it may have cost, and to wear what I want to wear, no matter what anyone else may think or say. This would have been my sister’s philosophy as well, so I’ve decided to adopt it and think that I may very well shop for that black tulle skirt and combat boots, an act of a woman not afraid to be who she really is. Maybe they won’t be items of clothing to wear to work, but I would certainly wear them to lunch in Chelsea.
Also in that closet are many, many boxes filled with items from my old life. For some time now, I’ve been thinking that I needed to go through them as I cannot possibly take all that’s in them, to a small apartment somewhere. The other reality though, is that so many of those items in those boxes, no longer “fit me,” physically or emotionally.
So, I’m going to continue to compliment creative men in red corvettes, women who have their own sense of style and don’t care what others think, and practice chit-chatting while waiting on lines. I’m also planning a really big yard sale in July in order to finally divest myself of all those items that are no longer me. And, if I see the man in the “IHD2HVIT” red Corvette tooling around town, I might just have to beep my horn and wave at him.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Once you start to take the risks, they get easier, and in my case, have become a part of who I am *becoming*. I just joined a writing group, and am looking forward to writing and reading my work, out loud and in public. The idea of possibly reading something I've written, out loud, would so not have been me one year ago, yet now I find myself open to the possibility of doing so. To surrounding myself with others who can appreciate what it's like to have something to say and a huge desire to say it in a more public manner. To be able to say, "Hey...here I am. Listen up....please read me."
I can look back on this year's worth of writing and see how I've grown and how happy I've become. I am jazzed about my life and about all the possibilities that still remain. I love all of you, my old friends........those of you who read me and cheer me on and who have so many times dried my tears and called me to make sure I've left the house once in a while, or fixed me tea. And now I add all the new friends I've made over this past year, those of you I'm still getting to know and whose potential I see, even if you may not see it in yourselves or have reached it yet. I adore each and every one of you, old and new....and hold you all, close to my heart.
And my children, who know nothing of this blog filled with writing....maybe this will be the year I share it with them. They, who have become so supportive of me and who I am hoping have come to the understanding that I was not abandoning them, but trying to save myself. And that by saving myself, I will always be here to catch them if they fall. Dramatic..yes, I know. But, that's who I am....I am dramatic. I have lived my entire adult life, not being who I was meant to be.....I was the person who never made waves, never expressed an opinion, never felt as if she really existed.....that person is gone now, she exists in memory only....how wonderful it is to be free! And, yes.......it is....dramatic!
Monday, May 29, 2006
For many of us, *war* is just a word. For those who have lost someone they knew or loved, or who have never been the same since *coming home*, it has a far different meaning.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Yes, I know this is cryptic and someday maybe I'll write the story about it, but for now it will remain inside of me, still tangible and bittersweet, and slowly fading into the past. Yet when I hear this song on the radio, I can't help find myself back in that place and time, remembering what it felt like to have someone who had the capacity to see who I really was. To be seen for the first time was such a profound experience. Oh, I'm seen now....there is no hiding.... no..... *not being who I really am*. Maybe it was a question of finally finding someone who not only saw who I was, but who woke me up and gave me the ability to see her as well.
bring me to life
how can you see into my eyes like open doors
leading you down into my core
where i've become so numb without a soul my spirit sleeping somewhere cold
until you find it there and lead it back home
wake me up inside
wake me up inside
call my name and save me from the dark
bid my blood to run
before i come undone
save me from this dark nothing i've become
now that i know what i'm without
you can't just leave me
breathe into me and make me real
bring me to life
wake me up inside
wake me up inside
call my name and save me from the dark
bid my blood to run
before i come undone
save me from this nothing i've become
bring me to life
frozen inside without your touch, without your love darling only you are the life among the dead
all this time i can't believe i couldn't see
kept in the dark but you were there in front of me
i've been sleeping a thousand years it seems
got to open my eyes to everything
without a thought without a voice without a soul
don't let me die here
there must be something more
bring me to life
Copywrite 2003 Wind-Up Records
Friday, April 21, 2006
People that I… do…not…know…read the column! And really liked it. WOW.
The title of the book I refer to is “Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn,” by Kris Radish. For those people needing or wanting to get a new life, it’s the perfect start to being able to picture yourself in a different light.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
My life over the past year has been one of risk taking. It’s been a process of finding out who the woman is that’s buried deep inside of me, just screaming to get out. Well, maybe she’s not screaming, but she’s knocking very loudly for me to open the door.
Last summer I read a great book that had a significant impact on my view of life. I could not resist the temptation to break out the yellow highlighter, normally reserved for text books, and turn lines and paragraphs of that book iridescent yellow. It was a story told about a middle aged woman who one day finds herself in the position of having to get a new life. Wow, how familiar did that sound?
While sitting around reading with yellow highlighter in hand, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to hang out with this woman. And as I read, the realization hit that I didn’t have to go looking. I was this woman, that somewhere inside of me, she already existed. I just had to figure out how to open the door and let her out. It also made me realize that I did not have to limit myself to the box I was living my life in. That there is an entire world outside of my comfort zone and I needed to go and find it.
I’m a planner, which also leads to a tendency to over think things. I’ve discovered that if you want to be a risk taker, sometimes you just have to “do,” instead of think and plan, and then think some more, to the point where you have “thought” yourself out of doing whatever it was you wanted to do. Planning is not a bad thing and I still do it, but I don’t “think” myself out of things anymore. If my intuition feels right, my new policy is to just forge ahead.
For me, the gradual method of risk taking works best. I’ve spent this past year looking for activities that are of interest to me, but yet are things that I have no experience with and have hesitated to do on my own. Taking the train to New York City alone and making my way about using the subways and buses was a huge undertaking, as was my recent field trip to City Island, which required me to drive over a very large bridge, also alone. Sure, sometimes I get turned around and a little lost in the city, but I keep managing to find my way back to Penn Station, and as it turned out, driving over the bridge was a breeze and not one of the many car dilemmas I have feared for so long came to pass.
Writing as a freelancer for this newspaper is yet another example of doing something risky. Encouraged by a friend to write for someone other than myself, when I saw the ad for a freelance reporter I applied, even though I had not one shred of experience with news reporting. So often we limit ourselves by never taking chances and risks and in no way, taking the smallest step outside of our boxes. It was a big risk to step outside my comfort zone in such a public manner, but has turned out to be great fun and has been a wonderful new experience.
So far, all these steps outside of my box seem to have worked out. I now travel to and from the city by myself without giving it a second though. My drive over the Throgs Neck bridge gave me the confidence to believe that I can now drive myself anywhere, and here I am for a second week, writing in “Brian’s box.”
The most valuable lesson that I’ve learned over the past year is that I can dream big, but without an ability to take chances and risks, that’s all they’ll ever be, dreams. It’s not easy to live outside the box, but so far it’s been well worth the effort, and it gets easier with each passing day. Many small steps later, I have left the box I use to live in. It’s so far behind me now that it’s no longer visible.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
I joined My Space last September when my son’s band, New Piracy, put their website on there. I joined so that I could comment to them, but then never did. The login process was easy once I remembered what my password was, or rather, tried a few of them until I hit upon the right one. And there it was…..a blank profile page, just waiting for me to fill it out. All I need is a profile form asking me questions about myself, and I seem not to be able to shut up. Actually I think I did a pretty good job of describing myself and what I wanted from my, My Space experience. (I secretly love to fill out forms and am usually very thoughtful and thorough. However, in one portion I was just a little too detailed.)
My daughter came over with the digital camera and we took pictures. Since I’m going to be a guest columnist in the Long Island Advance for two weeks, my editor thought a picture to run with the columns would be a good idea, which was the reason for the picture taking. Not one who really enjoys having my picture taken, I figured if it was OK, I might be able to use it for any number of reasons….to run with the column, to finally post on this blog and on My Space, and to use for online dating…should I ever choose to get back on that Merry-Go-Round. Apparently though, there are many people on My Space just for that reason, the Merry-Go-Round ride. And I had slipped up and clicked on “Serious Relationship,” along with “Friendship” and “Networking.” Big mistake….
I had no idea men were really going to try and be my “friend!" There was one who lives in Denver, one in Florida, and a few more, mostly from the Bible Belt. Most were “Christian, God-fearing men, looking for a good woman.”
“OMG…have they not read what I wrote,” I asked myself?
“Do I sound like some chick who wants a God fearing man to take care of her?” I think not, and besides….who wants to “fear God,” not me.
Three earrings in each ear and purple polish on my toes should speak volumes about me….and how did they miss the part about me wanting to move to Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan?
“They cannot read…that must be the answer,” I though.
Please believe that truly, I am not making fun, or being mean. I’m sure they are lovely men and hopefully they will find a “good woman” to hang out with, but that would not be me. Being a bit of a Goth woman (this would be a good place for me to insert a link back to “She Wants to be a Goth Girl….maybe one day soon), a geek and loving rock concert-going, my attraction is for the verbal, well-written, smart geeky men, or the verbal, well-written, smart rocker guys. I’m not into bowling, hunting, or fly-fishing, nor am I looking for someone to take care of me….in my opinion, that should be a mutual endeavor. Plus those of us born and raised in a Blue State do not transplant well into the Red ones…my friend Jane can attest to that.
I have now un-clicked Serious Relationship on My Space. It’s not that I don’t want to eventually have one; I just want it to be with someone who has read and actually heard what my profile has to say.
I will continue with my Computer Applications class in the hope of learning a little more about how to personalize this particular blog. I have managed to insert my picture into this profile and all it really took, was an ability to read and follow directions. Links cannot be far behind. In the mean time, feel free to check out www.myspace.com/crazygoogrl. That particular space really does rock. There are family photos, music and the start of some writing. I’ll probably post a few things on there that will also be here, but this particular space is still my favorite….and I’m confident that one day it may even look the way I see it in my head.
Writing is all about just that, writing and then rewriting, and rewriting again, often times discovering that no matter how many times you’ve printed and read you still sometimes have a stray typo. Or rewriting to the point that the original idea, or piece you started out writing, has become something very different from what you expected it to be.
Life is sort of like writing. You start out going in one direction, and then at some point in time you’ve found that you’re either completely lost and have no idea where you are, or that despite the wrong turn you took three, or five or ten years ago, you’ve somehow managed to end up somewhere cool anyway. Life is like writing in the sense that there are things you can change, or do differently, in order to affect the outcome of the story. You just have to be brave enough to do them. To risk rewriting a story that is not going in a direction you intended, or expected, or wanted.
I’m not really sure how novelists do it. Do they see the whole picture in their heads and write their way to the end? Or, do they just sit down and start writing, hoping the story will end up somewhere? The nice thing about writing is if you don’t like the direction you’re taking; you can throw the piece away, or hit the delete key and start over. Life is a little more difficult to rewrite though. It takes effort and can be dramatic and heart breaking, yet often times, the rewards can be great.
I’m spending a lot of time rewriting these days, articles, essays, term papers and my life. The rewriting on paper, or in my case, on a computer is much easier than the rewriting of my life. Changing the outcome of a life story is much harder than catching those annoying typos, or eliminating a line or a paragraph that just is not working. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. It is worth taking the risks and chances that are necessary to write a great article, or essay, or book, or even a life.
No, I can’t hit the delete key, or go back and erase, nor actually would I even want to, but I can choose to take my life story in a different direction. I can keep some of the old characters and many of the story lines, add some new ones, and not continue to develop others. Sometimes writers block gets in the way, which is where trips to the gym help, as are reminders to do things like breathe. But, despite the stumbling and writer’s blocks, I am writing myself into a new life story that I could never have imagined before. Just look at where this piece of writing ended up. I have just written a guest column for Brian Curry. I’ve somehow managed to write myself here, so I guess I’ll just keep going. I’ve always just taken life as it comes and never really given any thought to the direction my story was heading. Now, I’m visualizing what I want it to look like and will write my story in that direction. Sure in life, as in writing, there will be stray typos and deleted lines and paragraphs along the way, but it’s all about the rewriting anyway.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
The above is a very, very cool idea. I was hesitant to participate, of course always being afraid to download anything onto my computer, especially something that will somehow, do things with my computer when I’m not looking. But, I decided what the heck….live dangerously and maybe even help humanity out while doing so. I downloaded the program a few nights ago and am now completely fascinated with this whole process. I check the points I’ve earned and I become engrossed watching the screen saver-like box travel slowly around my computer monitor. Of course I have no idea what exactly I’m looking at, but it really doesn’t matter…researchers know what it all means, so that's what counts. What I really want is to start a “group,” or join a group, but for now I can be happy to just have my single little laptop computer, hooked into this huge worldwide community grid..... helping to solve complex problems that could effect us all. It's globalization at its best.
Visit the website. Think about joining. It’s easy. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can do it.
Friday, March 31, 2006
"To make the growth choice, instead of the fear choice, a dozen times a day, is to move a dozen times a day toward self-actualization."
"To have dreams is the first step toward making them realities. Once you have squared yourself with your past, approved of yourself, and committed to seeking self-fulfillment, next allow yourself to dream. Chart your course. Envision yourself achieving those dreams. Once you have dared to dream, I believe you MUST pursue that dream. If you do not pursue your dreams they will consume you; the knowledge that you had a dream but did not pursue it is killing knowledge. Consider it absolutely necessary to go after your dreams." - Les Brown, Best Selling Author, Life Your Dreams
"If you step back for a moment and witness the choices you are making as you make those choices, then in just this act of witnessing, you take the whole process from the unconscious realm into the conscious realm. This procedure of conscious choice making and witnessing is very empowering. When you make any choice - any choice at all - you can ask yourself two things: First of all, 'What are the consequences of this choice that I'm making?' In your heart you will immediately know what these are. Secondly, 'Will this choice that I'm making now bring happiness to me and to those around me?' If the answer is yes, then go ahead with that choice. If the answer is no, if that choice brings distress either to you or to those around you, then don't make that choice. It's as simple as that." - Deepak Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Best Selling Author
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Women In Black, Standing for Three Years
For three years, the Women In Black have been standing each Saturday morning on the corner of South Country Road and Station Road in the Village of Bellport, silently protesting the war in Iraq. This past Saturday marked the third anniversary of the beginning of the war and on this day, as all the other Saturday’s, the Women In Black stood. They have stood in spring rains, in the heat of the summer sun as it baked the concrete sidewalk, in the windswept fall as leaves blew all around them, and continued on into the winter months bundled up to ward off the cold. For three years they have stood on this corner with their signs asking for peace.
On this particular Saturday, the Women In Black were joined by members of the South Country Peace Group and Pax Christi as they left their corner and silently walked single file across the street and down the sidewalk to the Bellport Fire House. Crossing the street again, they made their way back to Station and South Country Roads where they again took up their vigil.
Eve Sokol, a founding member of this particular Woman in Black group said about leaving the corner, “We are so stressed that this illegal war has gone on for three years that we wanted to raise the consciousness of as many people as possible.” She said, “It’s our constitutional right to be here,” and added “We didn’t disrupt traffic and crossed at all the corners,” when talking about the short protest walk that the group took. It was clear that they made sure to follow all the rules when venturing off of the spot they have stood on for the past three years.
Women In Black is not a formal organization, but an international peace network that was started in Israel in 1988 by women protesting the war against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Since 1993 Women In Black New York have been standing in silent vigil in protest of war and in support of other peace groups throughout the world.
For more information on the Women In Black you can visit http://www.womeninblack.org/ or http://www.womeninblack.net/
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Yes, it was an awful week. One in which I could almost not breathe from the anxiety of it all. Possibly the wine will cure that though. Not being much of a wine drinker, I have difficulty choosing what to buy. I’ve decided to stay away from the box kind of wine, ever since the date I went on early last spring with the guy who was a wine connoisseur. Sitting across a table from a man who had his napkin tucked into his collar, and was interrogating the waiter as to exactly what time that day that particular bottle of wine was opened, then asking to have a new bottle opened, I found sort of humorous. I had to control my impulse to laugh when thinking “hmmm…at my house you’d probably get wine from a box,” and imagined the look of complete and utter horror on his face at the thought of that. It was at that time I decided to maybe avoid buying the box kind of wine though …just in case a wine connoisseur that I actually liked appeared at some future point in time.
So, there I was in the liquor store, a place that I am almost completely unfamiliar with. As I walked up and down the aisles becoming more and more confused, I decided I needed to narrow my search. Since becoming much more health conscious, I thought if I was going to drink, it should at least be healthy wine…therefore red could be the only choice. Since life is about compromise, I would compromise taste, preferring white, but choosing red.
There is actually one red wine that I have bought from time to time, Pindar Sweet Scarlet. Originally I bought it because the word “sweet” was on the label and I love anything sweet. As it turned out, it wasn’t a bad choice, and I wondered what the wine connoisseurs would think of it. The description on the label read as follows: “A kinder and gentler red – semi-dry (good thing, because I hate “dry”), with rich fruit flavors. Probably too simple a wine for his tastes I imagine.
The second bottle I bought was Yellow Tail, Shiraz-Cabernet. Now, this wine came with quite a description. “This classic Australian blend of Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon leaps (my italics, not theirs) from the glass displaying rich plum, cassis and raspberry aromas. Subtle mint and chocolate notes are complemented by vanillin oak. The pallet is bursting (my italics again) with red berry flavors and soft rounded tannins. This wonderful wine is perfect for bacon wrapped lamb fillets with pesto.” Yes…but is it the perfect compliment for the Nestlé’s foil wrapped, Butterfinger Chocolate Easter Eggs I will be unwrapping to have with it? The only logical choice to accompany the wine for me, especially at a non-dinner hour, would be the chocolate Easter eggs. (We all know the reason I bought this wine was because the word “chocolate” was on the label, right?) And besides, vegetarians do not eat bacon wrapped lamb fillets (although if I were not a vegetarian, just the sound of “bacon wrapped lamb fillets,” might make my mouth water.)
The next thing to do in my quest to relax was to actually open the bottle of wine and have something other than a coffee mug to pour it in. Since I already knew what the Sweet Scarlet tasted like, I opted for the Shiraz. I located a cork screw in one of the kitchen drawers that also had a hammer, a box of electrical staples, some duct tape, a few rubber bands and an aquarium fish net in it. In this “guy house” that I live in, it’s not always easy to find things in the places you might logically expect to find them. I did however manage to find a wine glass, so as not to have to pour the wine into a Christmas coffee mug.
As I soaked in the lavender scented bath tub, I looked at the deep burgundy color of the wine in the wine glass as it sat on the edge of the tub, and was reflected against the white tile of the bathroom floor. Beads of water from my wet hand had collected on the glass, forming little tiny pools at its base. Lifting the glass to my lips and taking a sip, I held the warm liquid in my mouth, trying to taste all the subtle flavors as described on the label. Did I taste mint? Maybe. Did I taste “red berry flavors and soft rounded tannins?” Nope. I’m not really sure exactly what a “tannin” is, let alone be able to recognize what one tastes like.
Wine is obviously not my forte’. If you wanted me to tell you the difference between Diet Coke, and Diet Pepsi, I could. Or how about the difference between the three major brands of artificial sweeteners…the pink, the blue and the yellow? I’ll bet I could do that too, but wine, I don’t think so. I don’t like it enough to really care. I’ll probably never own a wine rack (besides, if I end up in an apartment the size of a closet, there won’t be room for one), nor have more than two bottles on hand at any given time. But that’s OK; I can live without being a wine connoisseur.
For now, I can breathe again. My trip to the gym earlier this evening, the glass of wine, the chocolate Easter eggs, the lavender scented bath and powder afterward….. all did the trick. I am relaxed and feeling very mellow. Possibly it’s time to lay in bed and practice Zen Meditation, trying to clear my mind of every thought….I think the wine might actually help me perfect this technique. That in itself might be a valid reason to actually become a wine drinker, even though I’m still not crazy about the taste. Just how bad is white wine for you anyway? Maybe I should consider that flavor next.
Who wrote that very lovely description on the Shiraz label I wonder? Reading those words was better for me, than actually drinking the wine. It always amazes me the power that “words” have, and I so easily get sucked in by them, on book jackets, in personal ads…….. or on wine bottles.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
This is an attic bedroom, so the window actually goes almost from the floor, to not far from the top of the ceiling, as it becomes the eave of the roof. It was built into a wall that comes to a point at the top and in which it is perfectly positioned. Because of the size of the window and how it’s situated... directly across from my bed, there is a white mini blind that covers it; closed at night, open during the day. There is also a lovely curtain, of the valance variety, hanging on a curtain rod from the top of it. It’s made of a sheer white material that is sort of a V shape, the lowest point of the V hanging just in the center of the window. A trim of clear beads about two inches long each, hang down from the edge and sparkle as the sun touches them. Seeing the sun glint off the edge of this curtain is my favorite part of living in this bedroom.
Hanging down from the left hand side of the window, in a long vertical line from the curtain rod, is a string of shells tied together on fishing line. I strung these shells together years and years ago on a day spent at a friend’s beach house. For maybe 20 years this sting of shells hung from my kitchen curtain rod in the house I use to live in. Now they hang from my bedroom curtain rod and will hopefully hang from yet another one, in another place, at some other time in my future. I love this string of sea shells. They remind me of the summer, of the beach and the ocean, and how wonderful it is to sit by it, close your eyes and listen to the surf as it rolls onto shore and to smell the scent of the ocean salt in the air.
Also hanging from this curtain rod is floral swag of green leaves and a few large, very really looking, white roses. I hate those tacky plastic floral pieces… The flowers start out hanging down from the left side of the window, along the edge of the frame and are hooked to the top left hand side of the curtain rod with a Christmas ornament hanger. They then follow the direction of the curtain with the lowest point midway between the bottom of the curtain and the rod, the other side hooked in the same manner along the right side of the window frame. Twined through the flowers is a small set of white lights that I light when I feel happy, or sad, or just for no reason at all. Sometimes I light them just because I like them and they make me feel good, and because I really do like things that sparkle.
A pretty wreath of pink, blue and white hydrangeas with green leaves, hangs between the top of the window frame, and the top of the wall, which is actually one of the many ceiling peaks in this attic room. It’s a good thing that I’m not overly tall for a woman, as I do tend to occasionally (when not paying attention) bump my head on one or two of the funky ceiling peaks.
I have managed to fix one window in my life exactly the way I want it to be. It’s calming to look at and is really not overly *girly*, despite my description of white lights, beads and flowers. Sitting in my bed and looking at this lovely window, in the middle of the Robin’s Egg Blue wall, makes me feel encouraged. I do however, often wonder where the other windows in my life will be located though, but figure I’ll find them eventually.
Now if I had a digital camera, I would take a picture of this one window and post it with this piece of writing. But I don’t, so hopefully I have described it in enough detail that those of you who read this might actually be able to see it as I do….
Monday, February 20, 2006
"Don't spend so much time looking behind you at the closed door, that you don't see the ones that are opening in front of you."
I'm not looking at the closed door. Yet, I do still have trouble seeing the opening ones...I know they're there, I can sort of feel them....I just can't see them yet. That would be because I'm still making my way through the hallway in between....I still dislike this hallway, but at least I'm not hating it anymore.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
"Ever The Same"
By Rob Thomas
We were drawn from the weeds
We were brave like soldiers
Falling down under the pale moonlight
You were holding to me
Like a someone broken
And I couldn't tell you but I'm telling you now
Just let me hold you while you're falling apart
Just let me hold you and we'll both fall down
Fall on me
Tell me everything you want me to be
Forever with you forever in me
Ever the same
We would stand in the wind
We were free like water
Under the warmth of the sun
Now it's cold and we're scared
And we've both been shaken
Hey, look at usMan, this doesn't need to be the end
Just let me hold you while you're falling apart
Just let me hold you and we'll both fall down
Fall on me tell me everything you want me to be
Forever with you
Forever in me
Ever the same
Call on me
I'll be there for you and you'll be there for me
Forever it's you
Forever in me
Ever the same
You may need me there
To carry all your weight
But you're no burden
You tide me over
With a warmth I'll not forget
But I can only give you love
Fall on me
Tell me everything you want me to be
Forever with you
Forever in me
Ever the same
Call on meI'll be there for you and you'll be there for me
Forever it's you
Forever in me
Ever the same
Forever with you
Forever in me
Ever the same(Ever the same)
Nope. I don't think this is asking too much and this is what I'm going to aim to have. After all, my dreams are really big, but hopefully not unrealistic. (I do wish I could write like this though...)
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
I’m big on getting self-help info. AOL sends me a newsletter on all kinds of motivational stuff. Today’s was about taking risks in order to find things you’re passionate about. For the first time in years, I feel passionate about my life, maybe too passionate, which I think is what causes me no small amount of stress on certain occasions. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the same passion in my work. I love what I do; it’s valuable and makes a difference in people’s lives. Sadly, working in the not-for-profit world does not bode well for being able to afford a place to live. I love the people and place that I work, but it’s not creative enough for me and it’s no longer in the sort of environment that I crave…..
Here are some of the things that I learned from the AOL article:
Passion is “what’s important to your soul.”
“You have to feel your way to finding your passion.” In other words, it’s not good to over think it. (Very hard for those of us who have made *over thinking* into a championship sport.)
“Focus on the things that you fantasize about doing.” (I’m pretty focused; I just wish I knew how I was going to do them. Where is that darn Crystal Ball when you need it??)
“At some point you want to stop dreaming about it, and give it a shot.” (OK….I can do that.)
“Take a step forward. Recognize that you only need to take a tiny step.” (This is hard for me….I want to take the steps in leaps and bounds…all the while, being scared to death.)
When I got to work today I found that someone had installed Microsoft Publisher on my computer. A few days ago, the Director of Program Operations asked me if I might like to take over the agency newsletter. My freelance writing for The Advance, the rebuttal letter I wrote to the Riverhead News Review, who wrote a story about group homes for the developmentally disabled and had a nasty quote in it from some nasty man about group homes (opps….this is becoming a rant), and my article for the agency newsletter about Service Coordination (take a breath), he thinks somehow qualify me to put together a newsletter. You all know how not good I am with technology and figuring out this kind of stuff, right? Along with this deal, I would also be able to let go of half my caseload too, which at his point is really kind of appealing to me. But, like anything else where I work, things take time, some times lots of time to actually happen. Sooo, imagine my surprise at finding Publisher in my computer this morning!
Even though I’ll be terrified about publishing the newsletter, I’m going to do it. Hopefully, the current newsletter person will be available to provide technical assistance. (At the moment, I don’t think I’m on his good side….I didn’t let him take my picture to go along with the newsletter article I recently wrote.) When campaign season is over in the Village of Patchogue, maybe I’ll go and apply for some part time, minimum wage job at the local library in order to see what it would be like to work in one, a library that is. That might be the first step on my way up all the others. The steps I’m dreaming about are located on 5th Ave in NYC and have two very large lions sitting at either side of them, or they might possibly be the steps up to the entrance of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as a museum archivist….who knows? I’ll never know unless I take the first one……but right now, I’m going to take a nap. This is going to be a very long climb.