Let us give thanks . . .

 

Shadows and Reflections

 “Once you have tasted the sky, you will forever look up.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

I’ve written several posts on the subject of being thankful, including the Grace in Small Things series. Today, I thought that I would focus on things, events, and people that I have encountered in my life that have helped to shape me into the person I am.

  • Having the opportunity to see original masterpieces by Renoir, Monet, Glackens, Bernini, Van Gogh, Klimt, Morisot, Wyeth, Hopper, Sargent, Kadinsky, Pollock, Caravaggio, Tiffany, Manet, Leighton, Rembrant, Tissot, Matisse, Veronese, Rothko, as well as ancient Ethiopian art, tribal masks dating back to the 12th century, real Samurai armor and weapons, and photography by Brady, Stieglitz, Bourke-White, Mann, Strand.
  • Walking through a tropical rain forest in Africa and seeing shades of green that I never knew existed. Crossing a hanging rope bridge that was situated high in the air above a stream.
  • Sitting in the dark and listening to live performances by Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Seeing Nureyev and Margot Fontaine perform.
  • Hiding in the trunk of a car to get into a drive-in movie for free and then not watching the movie because it was too scary.
  • Going snorkeling in the Caribbean
  • Walking among the ruins of Tulum amid the huge iguanas and then eating fresh guacamole with cold Sol atop a small mountain.
  • Seeing the volcano in Baguio, Philippines
  • Riding up a mountain to get to Baguio in a bus very much like the ones you see in the movies, which was filled with villagers, chickens, a pig, old women, and my very American mother.
  • Reading some of the best literature ever written: all of Shakespeare, Michael Ondaatje, Marlow, and far too many others to mention.
  • Meeting some of my favorite poets and writers in person at literary festivals, including Chris Buckley, Mary Oliver, Tim O’Brien, Barry Lopez, Caroline Forché, Bruce Weigl, and many others
  • Working in a newsroom right at the crest of computers. Watching the paper be printed, smelling the ink.
  • Attending three wonderful universities: The George Washington, Virginia Tech, and Old Dominion.
  • Doing on-camera interviews for the museum, which sometimes meant being at the studio at 5 a.m, but still fun.
  • Performing for the Queen Mother in London in a Dances of Asia program.
  • Starring as Rizzo in Grease.
  • Participating in a drum-making ceremony with a drum master.
  • Working in a donut shop for a few months during high school and getting to bring home the leftovers.
  • Dancing on the runway at a go go bar for a story on the Norfolk nightlife.
  • Hanging out over the water in a trapeze while sailing on a catamaran in the Chesapeake Bay
  • Going cave tubing and not feeling the least bit claustrophobic
  • Hiking on the trails at Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Getting my four-cylinder Pontiac Sunbird up to 80 mph while driving home from Blacksburg one Sunday night
  • Attending grade school in London
  • Going to a military tattoo in Scotland and sitting in the outdoor stadium wrapped up in blankets because it was so cold.
  • Seeing huge statues in the mountains of Spain as we drove through the country.
  • Seeing live concerts by The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Sarah McLachlan, The Beach Boys, The Doobie Brothers, Sugarland, Norah Jones, and a bunch of other people I can’t remember.
  • Playing Chopin and Mozart on a grand piano at a recital in front of 100 people.

These are just a few of the highlights. I deliberately did not include anything personal about my children, husband, family, or friends as that is an entirely different list. But putting these things down in words makes me realize how very many opportunities I have had in my life to travel, to embrace other cultures, to see stunning natural and man-made beauty.

I have done things that I never thought that I would do, and I have seen in person things that I had only dreamt of.

I have not led a life of privilege, but I have been privileged to have had these experiences. There is nothing on this list that is earth-shattering, nor is there anything that changed humanity. But individually and collectively, these moments in time have changed me in ways seen and unseen. They have moved me to tears and made me cry with delight. Trite as it may sound, I have had a wonderful life.

More later. Peace.

 

Itzhak Perlman performing Massenet’s “Meditation from Thais,” a song that I performed in recital at Virginia Wesleyan College.

 

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Do I Ever Really Have Random Thoughts?

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Water-Lilies by Claude Monet, Oil on Canvas

Or Are They Always Just One Big Thought Without Punctuation?

1. I am a major Battlestar Gallactica nerd. I love this show. So when it ended abruptly almost a year ago with everyone standing on a nuked out earth, and no indications of when it was all going to be cleared up, I was bereft. I have the first three seasons on DVD. That’s how much of a BG nerd I am. So I was more than happy when they finally decided to show the remaining shows to end season four and end the show beginning a month ago that you would think that I would have been glued to my television. I set my DVD to record, but just got around to watching. Go figure the logic in my mind . . .

2. I got the idea for this post from David Bridger’s site, which I visit frequently because he usually has pretty bizarre postings. For example, he had a post about how his daughter’s door squeaked out the first five notes from the Addams Family, which of course, put the tune in my head. Couldn’t let that go, so I put the tune “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” in his head. The last I read, it had gotten down to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” Putting an earworm into someone’s head is pretty sneaky business. I would never do that to anyone. But does anyone remember the words to “Sweet City Woman”?

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3. I’m addicted to hand sanitizer. I have little miniature bottles of it everywhere, in the cars, in all of my various bags, and I’ve made Corey addicted to it as well. He carries a miniature bottle in his carryall. Alexis carries on in her purse. And my sons are so used to using it before they eat fast food. I think that if you’re going to be addicted to something, hand sanitizer is a good thing. Have you seen what people do with their hands in stores? Think about it the next time you use a cart in a store.

4. I really love the color purple and its various shades, light purple, dark purple, lavender, lilac. etc., which is why I am probably so much in love with Monet’s Water Lilies.

5. I wish that I had more opportunities to wear my boots and sweaters, but now that I don’t go to work everyday, I don’t have to get dressed in real clothes everyday. Usually, it’s just sweats for me. It would be kind of silly to get dressed in boots and a skirt and sweater to sit here at my computer for five or six hours, although it might make me feel better about myself.

6. My dogs are unnatural. Tillie is just plain demanding, and vocal about it. I swear the dog talks to me, and gets louder if I do not acknowledge her. Shakes snores and will not let me out of his sight, and also talks; it’s just a different dialect than Tillie. If I stay up too late working on the computer, Shakes gets very impatient and tries to jump in my lap (an impossibility as he is very bottom heavy), and then starts bitching at me to try to get me to go to bed. And Alfie is just plain psycho. I say that with love in my heart, but I can be holding him and rubbing his belly, and all of a sudden, this small dog will start a growl deep in his throat, and it may be because one of the other dogs entered the room, or it may be because he doesn’t want me to touch that part of his belly. You just never know with him. He really should have gotten laid before he lost his manhood.

7. I’m currently using checks that have a misspelling in the imprinted quote beneath the total line. I know the misspelling is there. In fact, I made the check company reprint the checks because of the misspelling, but since I ran out of checks and ran out of money to reprint more checks, and thought of the trees and the waste, decided to use them anyway, even though they offended my sensibilities. The quote is by Albert Einstein, and it is one of my favorites: “Imagnation is more important than knowledge.” This is the quote with the misspelling. Did you notice? Jumped out at me as soon as I opened the box. Corey kept saying, “where, where?”

8. Speaking of which, I try not to be, but I’m one of those pain in he butt people who corrects things like menus, my children’s speech, and various and sundry other things. When I was teaching Editing to English majors at ODU, I used to have them keep an Anguished English journal, in which they had to collect examples of various abuses of the English language. We would share our collections, some of which were hilarious. I once corrected a memo that my Division General Manager had sent out company-wide; it was riddled with mistakes. He had not run the memo by me first for a proofing. The memo concerned a very large, multi-million dollar contract with the Air Force. His assistant had made mistakes such as using the word roll instead of role for the company’s role in the job. It was really quite embarrassing. Anyway, I corrected it and sent it back to him, and told him that he never should have sent it out without sending it to me first. Very few people could have gotten away with that, but when you are right, you are right.

9. I’m obnoxious when it comes to being right.

10. I do actually watch one reality television show: “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” I started watching it when it first came on four years ago, and I became addicted. Those women are so far out there. Who spends $3800 in one day on hats? Certainly no one in my circle. That’s why I watch it.

11. I still have two metal pica/agate rulers from when I worked at the newspaper several years ago. These are the old style rulers that were used to measure headlines by hand if need be. They are made of metal, and they are very flexible but durable. I love these rulers. One is a 12 inch, and one is an 18 inch. I tell you, there are some things that I simply cannot let go of, and certain office supplies are among that category.metal-pica-ruler

12. I have Star Wars pencils with the original Star Wars characters on them. Not the prequel lame characters, but the good old characters from episodes 4, 5, and 6.

13. I still have in my possession my old teddy bear, who is named Mr. Higgins for the green grocer who was just down the street from our apartment in London. The teddy bear is quite worn, but Mr. Higgins was one of my favorite people when we lived in W6. He always gave me an extra sweet whenever we went in the store.

14. I have a tattoo on my right shoulder of a hummingbird sucking nectar from a trumpet vine. It runs down my right shoulder. I plan to have more of the vine added, and possibly a dragonfly. I like some body art, but not a lot of body art, especially when there is so much that you cannot tell where one picture starts and another begins. I believe that if you are going to use your body as a canvas, then you must have an aesthetic, look at it as a whole. I mean, I’ve seen some really weird things put together on one back, and then I’ve seen some beautiful things. Of course, it is completely up to the individual, but I think that some people get tats when they are high or drunk and don’t really stop to consider the final picture, as it were.

15. I believe that Dick Cheney should be punished for all of the ways in which he befouled the Constitution of the United States.

tax_filing16. One day, I will have a new used BMW X5 with heated leather seats for my back and a sunroof for my mental health, and Eamonn will not be allowed anywhere near it.

17. One day, I will get my stuff together enough to find a publicist and try to get this book published.

18. I have to do our taxes this week. That really sucks.

19. The islands are calling me. I keep telling Corey this, but he doesn’t believe me. But would I lie? Every day, one of the cruise lines sends me an e-mail offering me a new deal as a repeat customer, and they tell me that Belize is calling me, or Grand Cayman is calling me, or the whole Caribbean is calling me. It would be just plain rude of me not to answer, and I really hate rudeness.cayman-islands-beach

20. I hate rude people.

21. I also hate people who insist that they know what is good for me. No they don’t. That mantra: “It’ll be good for you.” Where did that come from, anyway? Unless someone is my doctor and he or she has just drawn my blood, put my through and MRI, or looked into my brain, no one know what is going to be good for me. What’s good for me is usually a cup of tea and a nap. I don’t want your best intentions to blow up in my face at some point, which has happened to me more times than I can count. Trust me, hot tea, nap, or maybe Southern Comfort, tiny bit of lemon, and some honey, warmed in a brandy snifter. That’ll cure what ails me if its in my chest. And a nap.

22. Wal Mart was created by the devil and it continues to be run by the devil’s minions, especially on Saturday afternoon when I have a migraine and I really, really need to pee because there is no way in hell that I will use one of their bathrooms (remember, hand sanitizer), and every child in the city is in that Wal Mart at that moment crying or screaming or begging for cotton candy or falling out of the cart because no one was watching and therefore will soon be crying and screaming.

23. Target, on the other hand, is nice and clean and is starting to have almost everything that Wal Mart has. Hooray for Le Target.

24. I have an original “Women for Obama” sticker that Corey ordered in the mail for me before the campaign really got underway. He ordered it because he knew that I supported Obama and he knew that I would want to keep something like that and because that’s the kind of guy that he is.

25. Did you hear? George W. Bush is not president and cannot be president ever, ever again, and that just makes my heart sing!

Those are my 25 random things. Do you think you have 25 random things in you? Of course you don’t have to be as wordy as I am. That goes without saying, but if it goes without saying, why am I saying it?

More later. Peace.

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me

Tonight I Wanna Cry

System Failure

red-green-mms-on-clear-background1So, I’m sure that most of you have heard Keith Urban’s song “Tonight I Wanna Cry.” And if you haven’t, it doesn’t really matter because it’s the title that’s relevant. I’m sitting here in my sweats, new Christmas socks (gingerbread men), a bag of Christmas peanut M&M’s (red and green only), and I’m feeling completely sorry for myself. It’s colder than a witch’s tit outside (have no idea where that completely nonsensical saying came from), my toes are cold, and my neck won’t turn to the right.

But none of these things are what’s causing me to be down. It’s more of a global kind of down, one of those system failures, you know, like when your computer just isn’t acting right but you can’t pinpoint what’s wrong with it? That would be me tonight. I wonder why they don’t have a Symantec scan for people, one that you could plug into your ear and run to find out what’s wrong: A few beeps and knocks later, and then a message appears on the screen: system infected with rhino virus, aka common cold. Take an ibuprofen, orange juice, and get eight hours of sleep. Or system screwed . . . too much information to process. Suggest shut down for 24 hours. Microsoft or Symantec could make another billion.

It’s not a holiday letdown because I never really went into a holiday high this year, too much stress from losing the wallet and its contents prevented that. In fact, it just never really felt like Christmas at all this year, just another day, too weird. I sent out the cards; the tree was decorated, packages wrapped; dining room table was put together, but none of it seemed to permeate me.

I think that I can attribute this low partially to two things: Sarah McLachlan and Carnival Cruises.  It seems that whenever I turned around, there was Sarah Mac on late night television singing “Angel,” and if I didn’t turn away quickly enough, I would see pictures of dogs and cats with one paw wrapped up, one eye missing, clawing to get out of a cage, a beagle shivering in the cold, a beagle of all things. Sarah Mac is evil I tell you. She has this angelic voice, and that’s what sucks you in, but then she shows you these pictures of these poor animals, and  you want to run to the nearest shelter and bring all of them home, especially the beagle and the old golden retriever who is trying to get under the gate.

Why is that evil, you might ask? She is only trying to do a community service ad. Oh, but you don’t understand the evil intent behind it. You take Sarah Mac’s beautiful voice and these helpless, beautiful animals, and then try to look away. You can’t, you simply can’t, and that’s the point, and she knows it. At Christmas, she changed the song to “Silent Night.”  How much can one person take?

Corey had to put the television on mute for my own good. If not, I’d be coming home with about six more dogs, and the reality is that this home is way too small for six more dogs. We’re pushing it with three. I cannot go to a shelter and leave without an animal. I simply can’t. They are all calling my name and wondering why I’m not taking them home. It’s much too painful.

And as far as Carnival Cruise Lines go, the economy is obviously hurting them because they are sending me e-mails every other day offering me wonderful prices on 5, 6, and 7 day cruises as a return guest. Belize is calling my name, they claim. And you know what, I can hear Belize calling my name. I can hear fruity drinks with umbrellas and white sand calling my name. I can hear total irresponsibility calling my name. I can hear a suite upgrade calling my name. And boy does it sound good.

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Wednesday's Child by Maureen Mahoney

I’ve had 365 days of pure crap, and 7 days of cruising around the Caribbean sounds like bliss to me. But it isn’t going to happen any more than I’m going to win the Lotto, so I’m sitting here shoving M&Ms into my mouth and wondering how it got to be 2009 with no major changes happening.

Wednesday’s Child

An old friend of mine used to jokingly say that if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. I know that’s from an old country song, but damned if it isn’t true still. Then another person said that you make your own luck. I thought about that, and I wondered how exactly you make your own luck. Is it the thinking happy thoughts, looking on the bright side of life kind of thing?

Well, what if I were born on a Wednesday? Remember that, Wednesday’s child is full of woe? I used to think that that was the most unfair rhyme ever. Only Wednesday got the short end of the stick because someone couldn’t figure out a better way to fit the rhyme scheme. Great. I’m given woe because of some bastard’s laziness. Figures. At least I have a beautiful portrait to look at by Maureen Mahoney.

But as usual, I digress . . .

Why so blue, you might ask? as if there were one thing in particular bringing down the Lola, the Carlotta, woman of many guises but no single self. Well, it’s the new year, so new things should be on the horizon, but nothing is looming, no Fata Morgana, no signs of change, and I do not think that I can take months and months more of this sameness. 

I feel as if something bad is waiting on the periphery, but I cannot see it yet; I can only begin to feel it, and it does not feel friendly. Attribute it to my signs, if you will. I have no way of holding it at bay any longer. Too many signs are pointing in bad directions. My empty wallet never turned up with just my pictures in it as I had hoped; who would need the picture of Caitlin that I had carried around for 20 years? I know that they just trashed it, and that breaks my heart.

No signs yet that Corey is going to get the Coast Guard approval that he needs for his upgrade, and until he gets that, he cannot apply for the jobs that he wants, and near-coastal jobs are at a standstill. Everyone has boats tied up in the yard for lack of work. No signs that Eamonn is going to come around any time soon, and I am just numb to that situation because I simply don’t have anything else to give at the moment.

I had hopes that we would do more on the house after Christmas, but that momentum seems to have died already, and I can’t really say anything about it because I don’t have any momentum left in me. I can’t even get out of bed in the afternoons, and I honestly don’t know what is wrong with me. I want to get up. I want to do things. But I simply, physically cannot. I am drained to my last corpuscle.

Hence the need for a system diagnostics and reboot. I wish that humans could do what computers do when they go off track. I don’t even have the energy to read one of my new books or to watch a DVD. And this pity party is starting to wear on me. Even the dogs are looking at me cock-eyed as if to say, “Hey. Enough. We haven’t played in days. What’s your problem?” And I can’t say that I blame them. Being this run down makes you more tired than you should be, and even a dog can only sleep 22 hours a day.

Snap Out of It

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Versace Red Snap-Out-Of-It Bag (I So Would If I Could)

I know that it’s bad when my new Christmas socks don’t really make me happy. I’m hoping that this down time doesn’t last too long. I don’t handle them as well as I used to, and Corey isn’t as empathetic when he is already down himself. My mother is no help. Remember, she’s the one who used to say, “snap out of it. Watch something happy on television. You just make yourself sad.”

Her latest thing is that my antiques make me sad, keeping things from the past, like some of my Dad’s old things, make me sad. If she had her way, she would throw out anything old and buy new everything. No nostalgia for her. No sir. Why have memories. They only make you sad. “That’s why they’re called memories, Ma. Because you remember.”

“Who the hell says I want to remember anyone or anything. Get rid of it. That’s what I say.” She kind of reminds me of Heath Ledger’s Joker in an oddly strange way: “Why so sad?” Neither of them can understand why people might want to feel things.

Oh well, enough of the pity party. Maybe I’ll try going to be early and see if that helps. Yep. Whatever. More later. Peace.