Archive for January, 2011

Doing the Right Thing

Posted in Uncategorized on January 29, 2011 by Queenie

A good friend called me the other night.  She’d had a little encounter with the departed one, something that left a bad taste in her mouth, (more like her heart), and she was moved to call me to support me and to tell me I’d done the right thing.  All this time later, I suppose it is good to have validation of such, especially so since it seems that only lately am I coming to a true and honest peace with it.  There’s a cornball homily that things “take as long as they take,” and while we go through all the motions, doing what has to be done, perhaps for a while  we are running on automatic pilot, going through the motions of a life, even if those lives are punctuated with glorious adventures and meaningful moments along the way.  While there’s never been any doubt that I “did the right thing” –  feeling my way through it and moving on with my life – there are times that certain feelings rise up like bad chili and you have to deal.  And question, and remember, and a whole slew of other perhaps not so fun treadmill exercises of the mind.  Let’s just leave the heart out of it for a while.

Several of my caring friends have made noises about this journey, saying that I should leave the past out of it now, and offer no more head space or blog space to anything having a whit to do with, shall we say, my “previous life.”  Sure, if I were super human and devoid of emotions and perfect in mind and soul, (and that heart thing), maybe I could just write it off and soldier on, but I think I’ve soldiered fairly well, thank you very much.   Be all that as it may, and no disrespect to my well meaning friends, but, um, it takes as long as it takes.  I think Freedom and Peace are just now settling in to my bones, and maybe I’m just now being able to let out that deep breath and relax into my new life.  There have been a few days when I’ve about been turning blue, and breath holding or tantrums are not good things for the body to endure.  They are taxing on the mind and psyche as well, and even your friends weary of the witnessing.  Not that I haven’t said this before, and felt like I meant it then, but… I think I’m done.  Or at least more done than I have been.  You have to watch out for those absolutes – they’ll bite you in the butt every time, or at an inopportune one and then you’ve got some “splainin” to do, to quote Ricky Ricardo.  Perhaps this blog is just one big SPLAIN, (with a few pretty diversions and adventures thrown in for entertainment and balance. )

Let me also say that for every get in bed and pull the covers over my head day, (so very productive, as we all know), there have been equal numbers of jaw dropping moments of adventure and grace and gratitude at the sheer volume of goodness and wonder in my life.  I am blessed, and I know it.  But I am also human, so the little grey gremlins sneak in under the door sometimes and kick a dent in some day when I was just ambling along, puttering around, maybe not paying enough attention.  Or maybe I was paying too much attention – to the wrong things.  However, I think I am on the downhill side of Molehill Mountain.

Even the tone and timber of my dreams has changed.  Only days ago  I awoke to the immediate memory of the movie just played in my head, and I had been my own witness to sitting next to an empty shell of a “partner,” one that had nothing to give and nobody home.  Ta Dah.  Now that sounds cold and cruel and totally unsympathetic, but that’s what it needs to be – (mostly – more about that in a minute) – my version of my truth.  Whatever the parts and physics of all our personal equations, sometimes those parts just don’t add up, and we have to be responsible for our own solutions to the equations that just can’t be balanced.  Nobody has to be the bad guy, they can just be the wrong guy, for us.  Or us for them.  Whatever.  No one has to go out with pitchforks and torches to rid the neighborhood of an evil monster – maybe it’s time to just move on, and leave the monster to his own devices, and he might do very well for himself with other playmates.  At this point, it’s no longer any of our business anyway.  (Unless you’ve had children with him or her, and that’s another blog.)  Otherwise, thankfully, it can be Done and Done, and the survivors can go their own ways, out of the ring and no longer to their respective corners before the next round, and who the hell wants to watch (or live) a pay for view fight anyway.  Not me, or anyone I wish to spend time with.  And the price is way too high.  So move on already.  (I know, Easier Said Than Done Department, for a while anyway.)

Let me please insert here that I mostly felt bad for the monster.  Whether Godzilla or Frankenstein’s creation, I generally thought they got the raw end of the deal.  They wrought havoc, for sure, but maybe it wasn’t all their fault.  But ah, here’s the difference.  They had not the capacities to assess their own bad lot and change who they were.  As functional human beings, we should be able to do that, and we do have the choice to change.  It starts with looking in the big mirror.  Sad to say, some of us squander that choice, and happen to think they/we are JUST FINE as they are, and some of them will tell you just that.  Well OK then.  But I’ll be moving on – MY choice.  Even as I consider Godzillla’s plight, I still have compassion for their darkness, along with those he stomps.  But I won’t be living in the dark, and finding myself squashed on the sidewalk in the process.

Nor do I want to assume the role of Stone Caster, and make everything all somebody else’s fault.  A wise person once said, “It takes two to tango.”  (That’s an easy one to go to since I still want to learn to salsa dance.)  Bingo.  I played the game, and it took me a long time to put down the dice and pick up the mirror.  And we all have myriad reasons for staying in the game.  That’s why someone invented therapists.

So I take no credit, really, for doing the right thing.  The thing I did was the ONLY thing – what I had to do to preserve my safety, sanity, and get back on the road to the rest of my life.  It was a longish haul to get where I was, and there was no shortcut available to the new blue highway.  You simply have to feel what you feel, question it, answer your questions, HONESTLY, and then make tracks for the sky world.  There is always the difference in the KNOWING, and the DOING, however.  While, way back then, I knew what I had to do, the doing part wasn’t nearly as cut and dried.  (Simple, but not so easy, remember?)  Even though I moved “forward,” sometimes feeling like I was doing it on one leg, with one hand tied behind my back and my eyes closed, I think actually that was more how I got around, (or didn’t), when I was living the lie, not embarking on any new direction – refusing to look in the mirror and ask the hard questions, much less consider the answers.  After the break, it was sometimes hard to get used to having the feeling back in my hands and feet, and seeing with both eyes instead of through the blindfold of my own self-imposed and nurtured blindness to what was – as in that dream, sitting right next to me for all those years.  Sort of like the actual pain in your feet or hands when they’ve gone to sleep, then you make a move, and then the blood rushes back in.  For  a bit, before “normal” returns, it hurts.  Reality hurts, and then you deal.  For a while, as long as it takes, you deal with the hurt.  Even if you do it on autopilot.  Even while you sort through the questions you didn’t want to ask and the answers you don’t want to hear, and find yourself smiling through the tears so as not to frighten or disturb the public.  After enough time, and work, the smile is finally real.  The sunlight might hurt your eyes after so much time in the darkness, but when your eyes adjust, there is indeed a world out there, and a life you forgot you had.

And after a little longer, you’ve done enough, and learned enough, to give back.  I hope, finally, that is what I’m doing.

However, there are days that I still need sunglasses.

Onward, y’all.

Wisdom does not come without serious Pondering.

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Dead Roses…. or……

Posted in Uncategorized on January 23, 2011 by Queenie

A while ago I made what is my book a major move.  You’ll see in another moment why it doesn’t take much for me to declare something “major,” but then again maybe it’s just alright to find some sort of greatness in small things.  As long as we don’t get obsessive about …. Things.

The thing in point is that, after what amounts to at least a decade, I did away with some dead roses.  Let us first make this a little more substantive than it might appear.  Let us describe the roses in a more meaningful light:  They were dried roses that have been on display as such, resembling an artistic presentation in a lovely little cedar vase.  Before I acted upon the actual dismissing of the roses – art – whatever they are, I considered that act itself.  What exactly am I honoring by keeping them around, however lovingly displayed.  If they are a testimonial for that which is no more, (perhaps like the collection of fresh cut flowers that adorn a cemetery plot, which are going to no good end, most likely, but a hellova sendoff), then it sounds glaringly obvious that their time has come, and long since gone.

When I put thoughts to hands on, or even before that, when I took the time to really look at them, (and with my glasses on, which is most of the time these days as it seems), I was, alas, further enlightened.  They were pitifully dusty, and further ornamented with likewise dusty spiderwebs.  I suppose that’s a Miss Havisham’s Double Whammy.

Now I have to admit I have an uncomfortable relationship with Miss Havisham.  Why, out of all the books we were forced or privileged to read in English classes, the character who stuck with me was the aforementioned Miss Havisham, the aged or deceased (or both at the same time perhaps) not so grande dame in Great Expectations.  (That’s Dickens, if the source escapes you.)  I know there were Pip and Estella, and the old convict sea pirate, or somesuch, but my psyche lodged on Miss Havisham, and I can’t say that sounds like such a good thing.  She was, after all, seemingly ancient and miserable, but I gather she was miserable before becoming ancient, and she rather decided to strap that misery to herself and carry its heavy weight with her for the rest of her life.

I can’t even remember the details, but somehow her beloved was lost to her, must’ve been the day of her wedding, for the centerpiece of her environs became the dining room which was, once upon a time, festooned with gaiety and promise for the event of her wedding to be.  Only something happened, and the wedding didn’t.  At that point, the vital part of her simply ceased to be, and that dining room became her doppelganger, and the cake on the table was never cut, nor disposed of.  That room, and most of the house, actually, became a shrine to the living dead, ribbons of life and light forever relegated to darkness and the realm of curtains of cobwebs.  The bride who never was to be one remained ever in her wedding dress, forever waiting, in terminal living grief.  Time ceased, along with Miss Havisham for all intents and purposes, and dust and decay became the order of the day.  And for all the days to come.  I suppose it’s the perfect description of Entropy, if you want one other than scientific.  (I have always been fascinated by Entropy, which is why I like to photograph old things – buildings and rocks and such.)

The other example of such arrested life spirit that comes to mind was in The Waltons, in the character of one of the Baldwin sisters, (perhaps to my credit, I can’t remember which one, or either of their names, actually, though I could Google them if I were obsessive, and… well…. point taken), who was always pining for her long lost suitor Ashley Longworth.  She does seem to have lived a bit fuller a life than poor Miss Havisham, but she evolved into functional spinsterdom, but always with one hand reaching for the past.  Maybe she was fine with that.  But some form of Entropy had its way with her, too.

And so I came to ponder those roses, given to me years ago by one now so departed, and I wondered what, exactly, is their place.  They’ve passed their prime as art or decor, and seem more a sad monument to what used to be.  They’re hardly anywhere near pretty.  The only pretty they are is pretty much dead.  Time to go.

I think it’s time I found a better subject of expression.  Well, I know, I already have, and it’s in words and photographs and singing and seeing new things and going new places – all that.  But here in the place where I dwell, there sat an arrangement of “dried flowers,” now devolved to Dead Flowers, and they had Miss Havisham’s brand all over them.  Yuck.  And now they reside in the fireplace, awaiting the first fire of the season which I still can’t believe has yet to occur.  Maybe tonight.  Maybe not.  But I did decide I’d “honor” them with a cremation resembling ceremony rather than an ignominious end in the plus size plastic trashbag on the hearth awaiting further contributions.

The part of this little exercise that pokes at me is the connection to a subject I knew I wanted to write about back in December.  Here’s what I wrote to a friend of mine in an email back then:

***

I read an interesting line in a book today, with of course some history behind having the book in my hands, blah blah blah.  The words were from Black Elk Speaks, and the person writing was talking about seeing the old long hairs out on the reservation, (this was back around 1930), how they were disillusioned after the wars and the treatment they had received.  And how they just sat around and “waited for yesterday.”  Oh my, those words cut to my heart and I realized how much time I have spent waiting for yesterday, or hoping for it, and how we must make peace with the fact that yesterday isn’t coming back and how we must make these todays the best they can be, and hope for the tomorrows.  Tough times.  Hard times.  Sad times.  And so we move on.  Don’t know why I’m sharing this with you, but it was a big whack between the eyes today.

***

It was then I knew I wanted to ponder:  Waiting for Yesterday.  There’s a great song in there.  There’s some fabulous essay waiting for flesh to the bone.  I’m hoping I can put it to bed here, because I want to be done with Waiting for Yesterday.  Like Worry, (one of my other, shall we say, less than stellar occupations of a weary mind), it is simply pointless and fails to accomplish much of anything worthwhile.  Except pass the TIME without much to show for it, except maybe high blood pressure or some other bleak malady, and surely there are better things.  Like ART.  And traveling and writing and singing and just Doing Stuff.  Well, shall we say Postive Stuff.  If I’ve learned one thing in dealing with the quirks of the Universe and what it provides, I’d say it’s very important to be specific in manifesting some things, while learning the difference in letting go of others.  Sometimes it all ends up in a wad like clothes in the dryer.  Time to sort it all out.  Without worrying!

And so, today, I sent away some dead roses.  I don’t even need to capitalize them anymore, give them any more attention than what they got over the last YEARS.  I figure I’m worth four dollars a week to buy myself a fresh bunch of flowers and fill that space with color and at least a little fresher life, and then move them on before dust and cobwebs become their mantle.  It’s time to honor Today, and the possibilities inherent in Tomorrow, and let the dead and dusty go to the light.  I don’t have the time to wait any longer for Yesterday, as if I ever did.  Like Miss Havisham’s false lover, and Miss Emily’s long lost suitor, (and yes, I did look it up – no comment), they, and it, are not coming back.  Put it on the pyre, and set the match to it.

Don’t get me wrong – there are things to HONOR about Yesterday, but Honor and *Life Support* are entirely different beasts.  (*Or you can insert Obsession, Fantasy, Mental Illness….. that ilk.)  I honor the Love and support my mother has given me every day of her life, and mine.  Ditto my friends.  Even some dogs and a couple of cats.  I wish we would honor History a little more so we wouldn’t keep doing the same old horrible things to each other on the planet.  (That, by the way, is a Political Blog and not the direction I wish to take here, and you don’t want to get me started…….)

I may be further inspired by Waiting for Yesterday, but I’m sure there are more pertinent things to attend to.  Somehow the concept of Creating Beauty easily trumps Serving Entropy.  I might chronicle it, but I’m sure not going to keep feeding it, at least not on my nightstand.  I think a little bunch of Alstroemerias will suit me much better.  I can’t wait to get to the store.  Meantime, I arm myself with the necessary implements, and begin to tilt at the Dust Windmills, and I think I’ll sing.  Dulcinea……..

And even with the first fire of the season, all this still seems a little sad.  I suppose that’s to be expected.  But in that image of those roses in the fire, they are far “prettier” than their last stand in the cedar vase.  I suppose that’s how it is with memories sometimes.  We forget the dust and the cobwebs, (and how they make us sneeze), and remember how those roses smelled….. too long ago.  And how they looked, when love was new, before the dust started to collect.

And we sing our hearts out for Dulcinea, who was never really there. Except, perhaps, in our imagination.

As someone said, Peter O’Toole did alright with this, and it provides characters to the story, but for sheer magnificence of voice, no one could do it like Richard Kiley, my favorite Don Quixote:

 

Just a Little Beauty…. or…. A View from a Deck

Posted in Uncategorized on January 10, 2011 by Queenie

I don’t seem to have much to say these days.  I’m caught up in regrouping and recovering and re-ing everything that I need to re.  The Blogosphere and the News, (oh please, not more news), is awash with horror and bloody mayhem, and more credible voices than mine are crying out for a cease to violence and a return (yet another re) to sanity and civility.  Hatred is having its day, as it is wont to do, and I don’t know that my seconding all pleas for a cease fire will do much good.  And so, I do what I do, which is an attempt to bring a little beauty into the world.  Remember that?  The world?  The planet…. that little spinning orb out in the vastness of the Universe that houses all of us and “all our relations” – the trees, the animals, the wind and the waters and all the things which we pitiful humans pillage and plunder daily.  I don’t want to believe that All is Madness, though at too many times it seems exactly that.  We foul our own nest, we decide we’ll just go ahead and kill those we tend to disagree with, and we meet our kindred inhabitants with a snarl instead of a smile.  I know, it’s not ALL that way, but dear lord and saints and fates it surely seems that way, too much of the time.  Other than a visit from that spaceship on the White House lawn and Gort the robot to keep us in line, what is to become of us?  Well I don’t know.

All I do know is to keep myself in some sacred space, and continue to offer peace and beauty instead of gun barrels.  I’m old enough to remember the days when we stuck flowers in the end of those gun barrels, and some died even for that.  We seem to be a pretty hopeless lot – never learning, nor even showing much interest in it, when we can just go to war instead, or just shoot someone, or a lot of someones.

So enough already of the pessimism and pitiful words.  Instead I offer you up my skies from the last couple of days.  It’s winter – it’s gotten cold – but before the cold came there were clouds and wonder.  The cold front announced itself with incredible sunlit vistas, drenched in color and alive with movement.  The next day brought in the clouds of change, all grey and scuttling across the skies, but even those gave way to blue.  It was glorious sky-watching, and much better than the news.

The Happy New Year has given way to sorrow, but maybe we can dig up some Hope and Promise out of the ashes.  It IS in our power, if only in our own lives.  All we are saying….. is give Peace a Chance.

Here’s a little beauty, then, some only moments apart….but ah, each is indeed different, as they are the same.  As are each of us.

And then the next day…..

And so returns the blue….

Blue skies to all of you.  But don’t forget we need the rain, and the clouds, and the cold.

Namaste, Y’all.

New Year’s…..already growing old(er)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2011 by Queenie

This time of year, or the end of the last, tends to give one pause.  We get all caught up in Auld Lang Syne, that is until the daily grindedness of the activities of the new year takes us back down to survival mode.  The shiny glitter of the holidays doesn’t seem to last very long, and nothing is as over as Christmas and the season’s greetings, gone flat all too soon.  To still be saying Happy New Year as late as the 5th of January sounds like yesterday’s news, already gone stale and lifeless.  Time to get back to the 24/7 news cycle and hear what latest dread is in store for us.  And there’s always a fresh pile of it.

I just looked up Auld Lang Syne, as I am wont to do when I throw these things out, and want to know exactly what it is that I and we are talking about.  Turns out it’s times long past, or for old time’s sake.  Dangerous territory, if you ask me.  You can get all caught up in those long lost times, and spend more of your precious (and becoming ever more limited by the moment) todays, and fill your plate or your cup with a heaping helping of What Was.  Then you can go back for seconds of If Onlies.  Waste of time.  TIME.

I sat here a couple of days ago and started Googling and Facebook searching old names from my past, even as far back as high school days.  I am far removed from those days, by distance but even more so by the life directions I have taken.  I wasn’t close to so many even then, being already some brand of Different, choosing to run with the few instead of the many, and definitely not of the In Crowd variety.  There were some even more High Lonesome types than I, but they were about on the fringe.  Big cities swallow me up, and then I came to a huge university that completed the Lost in the Crowd process, and I foundered.  According to the dictionary, I also floundered at the same time, evidently an easily accomplished feat.  No wonder I am drawn now to small towns in the West, with vast skies and fewer people.

There were a couple of personalities that highlighted my high school days.  My girlfriend and I happened to date a couple of brothers, twins, who were actually more in the happening ranking of the hierarchy.  I’m sure I felt out of my league, but it was exciting to dip my toe in the deep end of the social class system.  They were even football players – a large deal if you cared about such things.  One was credibly handsome, the other not so much , but ever more entertaining in personality.  Both my girlfriend and I liked the “fun” one, but I got him, and she the handsome hunk.  It lasted only a few weeks, those giddy double dates, but everyone moved on rapidly, and the fun guy settled in on another girl for his steady, and my friend went on to college, being a year ahead of me.  High School – horrible place.

OK then, flash forward a few decades.  The fun guy, the one we both liked, is dead now, having drunk himself to death as I understand it.  One or more marriages, and an inglorious end.  I believe I tracked down, more or less, the debonair half of the twinship, who actually showed a lack of character even back then.  There was a sleazy picture of him on Facebook, all slick looking with sunglasses, essentially unrecognizable, but no further information.  The only other thing that came up was complaints filed against him in public notice as a warning regarding his unscrupulous business methods, in the family business which I suppose he carried on.  Bad news all around.  And sad.  Isn’t it interesting, the lives we inflict upon ourselves.

I’m not sure what is the point of all this rumination.  It was interesting to see what had happened to those lives which had seemed so all-important at the time.  And hasn’t each successive life chapter seemed equally the BE ALL and END ALL of that then current moment.  And then Time and we ourselves move on, and it’s all swept away, like the letters we write in the sand on the beach.  There, and gone, but for memories that sometimes beguile us with false, or rose colored interpretations.  Thank the Fates for the things that we are able to forget, finally.  Or at least deal with under the auspices of  Truth.

I’m firmly planted in the Now, but keep poking sticks into the swirling ethers of the future, wondering What’s Next.  I’m done with investing any more energy into the past, having learned way too many lessons with that little exercise.  But I do hang on to the Lessons, as needed, to leaven the memories, lest I gild them into something they weren’t, or end up worshiping the gilded statues, so to speak.  There are indeed parts of the past that we need to honor – the true heroes, our teachers, those who made a positive difference.  It seems to be one of those Homily Things, (“a tedious, moralizing discourse”), that our yesterdays were more fully and genuinely felt, (if we were into feeling and real communication), compared to our fast paced Today that is based on Too Much Worthless Information delivered SO FAST and so constantly, that it loses meaning and credibility.  And after all, anybody can say anything on the internet.  (You’re reading it right now!)  It’s up to us to pick and choose wisely our teachers, our confidants and role models, and we have to learn to trust our own system of enlightenment – or develop one!  Sometimes we have nothing more to go on than our own experience, and hopefully we will have learned something from the exercise.  And to become a little, or a lot more judicious in our choices.  Finger in the Fan Time, folks – simple as that.  Yet for some, we seem never to learn.  Or Hope Springs Eternal, until you have to let that Hope thing go.  (Queenie went on quite eloquently about that in the book, her most heartfelt offering therein.)

Maybe all this is some sort of a New Year’s Greeting, though it seems tempered in caution and temperance itself, instead of ribald merriment.  While I know to embrace Joy, I seem to be more than a little invested in a way of LIVING that nurtures Joy, instead of the gloom and doom that surrounds us at every turn.  I think I need to be informed, but I feel inundated by too much information from those on the “news” who would provide me with it.  Despite what I’ve just written about living in the past, I think I’d rather have a dose of the “olds.”  I’d rather seek communion with those redbirds, which are proving to be very capricious in their willingness to be photographed.  Other than getting my own nest in order, I wish to spend my time celebrating those redbirds.  And wonder of wonders, the unbelievable singing tree frogs of winter are chorusing once again, and I have to say I’d forgotten about them since I heard them for the very first time last winter.  They were a new addition out here last year, after almost twenty years on the property, and they’re back!  Singing from the trees in winter!  It’s wonderful, and seemingly impossible, but I’ll take it.  I’ll take the clear blue skies of winter, but they are trading headlines back and forth with cold and wet, and I hear we’re in for a real dose of it next week.  Better gather in that firewood I’ve been talking about.

I’m all over the place here.  And that’s alright, too.  Take it for what you will.  Soon I’ll put up the images of those Cardinals – I swear!  Red on Green – I must have it.  And so shall you, too.

Happy New Year, even if it’s late.  Still and all, it’s only early January, and that New Year’s baby should still be in his diapers.  Not time for knickers till at least March, and then I shall be pondering Spring.  But not yet.  Maybe next week I shall be photographing icicles, or snow, or those redbirds!

Marauder 

Sparroons

Teaser

Peace, y’all.