Next Week, It May Be Pink

So, i’m in Ulta killing time while my son shops for comic books. I notice they are having a great deal on some Urban Decay lip glitter, so i am trying the testers to find some colors for my oldest daughter who embodies that Urban Decay look. When i see one that i can’t find the tester for, i ask the salesperson. She points out one that would look good on me. So i explain that these are for my daughter… I am far too long in the tooth to be wearing that kind of statement lip color.

“But, ma’am…” She says, with a duh look on her face and a rather pronounced eye roll that you could almost hear, “You have purple hair.”

Ok, yes, i have purple hair. This week. It was blue last week. But that’s beside the point. My ultra-short funky-colored hair isn’t as noticeable as full-on silver glitter lips. Is it? I mean, wouldn’t that put it WAY over the top? I’d look like some sad woman trying to recapture her youth.

Right?

It’s a fine line between being a silver-age woman with independent and funky style à la Iris Apfel… And being a joke.

I’d prefer to be the former.

But truth be told, i am a bit of a joke. Case in point:

My son and i are watching his new favorite show, Designated Survivor. An ad comes on for some new drug, and as expected, at the end a bland male voice lists the common side effects: Fungal infections, false test results, elevated liver enzymes… And my son and i start adding on our own…

Excessive flatulence

Bad breath

Suspicious hoof growth

Elevated gas prices

Hermaphroditical tendencies (I swear he made that word up)

Lack of Christmas spirit

Inexplicable craving for hockey and cottage cheese

You can imagine the rest. We have so much fun with things like that, as nuts as that may seem. I know it is more expected to have a kind of Tom Hanks humor (Which we love, don’t get me wrong…), but in reality, my family is more Coen brothers and Eddie Izzard. Smart, dysfunctional, sometimes daft, sometimes sick. It’s the liquid in the glue that holds us together. Not surprising, i suppose, to anyone who reads me regularly. And probably adds credence to the purple hair and glitter gloss.

Or maybe not.

Maybe there is nothing that explains a 51 year old woman with purple hair. Glitter gloss or not. One who takes up tap dancing instead of joining a gym like normal people. One who, after raising three amazing weedlings, makes an effort to live life unapologetically. One who writes a blog saying a bunch of stuff that probably would better off if left in my head.

But then, the few of you who get it might not know you aren’t alone.

Besides, my head might explode from holding all this in.

And my weedlings, just like their Ma, aren’t the best at cleaning… I can’t leave them with that kind of mess.

 

 

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The Iceman Cometh

I haven’t been writing much lately. I can blame it on any number of things: The holidays keeping me busy, wrenched my back again, transitioning to a new job at work, too tired, too cold, too too… But i’m not sure if any of those are the reason. Or maybe they are all-added-up-together the reason. It’s hard to tell. Winter is always harder for me. For all of us really. And in spite of taking my extra Vitamin D, i’m having a hard time forcing myself to be thoughtful and productive.

Granted, having spent most of the last month treating yet another back injury hasn’t helped. Momentum creates momentum. Energy creates energy. So laying on heating pads, or even dangling from my inversion table, is hardly likely to give me enough get-up-and-go to get thru more than the bare essentials of the day. But things did start to improve once i realized i was defeating myself.

I had painkillers left over from my neck surgery, so i was using those in conjunction with all the usual fixes: Rest, ice, heat, aspirin, muscle relaxers. But the problem was, when the narcs wore off, the pain seemed worse than when it started. (Yes, i already knew that was how it works, but when you are in pain, you forget everything you’ve learned that might keep it from going away. ) So after a few days, i stopped taking those. Within 24 hours, the pain had leveled itself, and i was able to move around some… Which has spawned improvement ever since.

But even physically doing better, my brain is still aching. And tired. I would say that the things which usually bring me joy aren’t working, but in truth, i haven’t had the will to try them. It’s an odd condition, to be honest. It’s like being confined by one of those electronic dog fences. There is no leash, no gate, no gunman manning the exit, but you keep telling yourself there’s no way out.

And of course, i sit here and intellectualize it. But even still, chances are, i still won’t break for the door this evening.

Many don’t understand the need to be self-confined. The old saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer…”  When you are your own worst enemy, self-confinement is often a necessary treatment. Unfortunately, like chemotherapy, the treatment causes its own problems and sometimes makes you worse.

I’ve been living with this wasp nest of a head for a long time, and i have amassed some amazing friends, so in my silver years, i am lucky enough to be called out before my self-imprisonment becomes a death sentence. This time, i was able to call myself out before they did it for me. (There should be a scout badge for that or something. For reals. The slippery slope of isolation is a real bitch.) I forced myself to a birthday gathering that i was ready to make an excuse for. And while i am sure that i was not the best of cocktail company, i am still proud that i went, instead of canceling and spending the night in bed with sudokus and a couple of melatonin.

And i am writing today. Tho this won’t make it to my Top Ten Posts Ever, it was effort and gets me closer to the other side of the fence. It is my hope that others who are also fighting the brain maggots get caught up in solidarity and take a step of their own toward the door, figurative or literal. If i can do it, so can they. Or you.

We’ve got this. One move at a time. Fake it til we make it, yes; but more importantly, make it for real after a while. I know, I know. It’s hard when it’s too blasted hot or cold (Depending on which side of the equator you’re on) to walk more than a quarter mile outdoors. When you’re broke from the holidays and feel fat from all the extra eating. It makes it worse. It sucks. But it isn’t going to win. You know how i know that?

Because we’ve got shit to do. We’ve got friends to meet, sunsets to see (I accidentally typed “sinsets” at first… And i’m thinking we could use some of that too!), trips to take, and impacts to make. Too many things ahead of us to give in to the mental Ice Man. It is so hard sometimes, tho. That alarm goes off in the morning and you think, “If i called in and knocked myself out, i wouldn’t have to deal with life for another 6 hours…” That is me. Every. Damned. Morning. Only my fear of falling back into that black cave, one i’ve been running from for years (How does it follow us? Is it really the mouth of a beast?) forces me to get up. But i do. And so do you. Yeah for us!

Like, for real. Yeah for us! We beat that beast!

So fuck the winter. Fuck pain. Fuck bills and scales and frigging Valentines Day on the way. Fuck all those things. We are our own army. We will slay it all in due time. One step at a time. And if we see a low point in that fence, lets jump it.

Sometimes, when you’re being chased by a beast, it is worth it hop the fence and outrun it for a bit. That interim between the jump and when it catches up with you is bliss.

It’s Just Another New Year’s Day

It’s a new year. Bright and shiny and bursting with possibility. I should be making my list of what i’m going to do, what i’m going to accomplish this year. I missed one big one last year (I still haven’t learned to play bass guitar), but on the whole, it was a good year. Got better at my job. Developed a love for a specific part of it. Got a little done on the cottage, tho not as much as i had hoped. Had some spinal surgery, but came out well and was otherwise healthy for the year. The weedlings had a great year, good grades, raises, and some fun travel. Siridog put on a couple of pounds, but she is still my bestest pooch. All in all, i can’t complain about the year.  And i’ve got some good things coming up this year.

The part of the job that i developed a love for is now about to become my new job. How cool is that? No more money or anything (at least for now), but i am looking forward to more learning, more growing, and making a niche for myself that i can really own.

Starting in 2 weeks, i take my first tap dancing lesson. I know it sounds strange, but i’ve taken lessons in nearly every other style of dance known to man, but somehow missed this one. My closest buds know that it is common for me to spend an evening looking up old performances of Sammy Davis Jr, Ginger Rogers, Gregory Hines, Eleanor Powell, Savion Glover…. I love them all. And this is a way to keep my brain active (By learning something new) and my body in shape (I’ve never had an ass, except for a man i was once married to, so here is my chance…)… All while having fun.

I’ve made a list of things i want to get done around the house. It’s a reasonable list, and i have already set aside funds and sent out estimate requests on the first one. I may have to forfeit a long weekend away, but i think i can mostly manage the budget for the list without tightening the belt too much. And i’ve decided that, tho i will listen to the opinions of my weedlings, i am going with the changes that I like.

I have decided i’m going to laugh more. Have you guys seen the show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel ? It only has one season out, on Amazon, and i’m rewatching it today because it’s genius. It’s about a Jewish woman in the 1950s who finds herself divorced and thrown into the world of stand-up. You know i love strong female characters. You know i love comedy. ANd no one does comedy like the Jewish people. This is the start of me laughing more.

I also plan on creating more. To set  a good precedent, i spent New Year’s Eve painting a picture that i’d had in my head for about a week. I will never be a Great Master. And that’s ok. Maybe i’ll get better with practice. Maybe i won’t, but maybe it will help keep me sane. Or maybe it won’t do anything but leave me with a heap of hotel grade paintings. Still not a bad deal if it keeps me out of trouble on a stray Friday night.

There are other things on the list, but to you, i’m sure they’d be about as exciting as your average shopping list. A boring one. Without alcohol or condoms or chocolate or anything. No worries. We’re not supposed to be all that enthused about the ins and outs of each others’ everyday. I only shared some of mine to show that we’re all in the same boat. Some big ideas, some small ones. No matter how high on the totem pole you are or how low you feel after stepping on the scale tomorrow… No matter your nationality, religion, or level of assholiness… We’re all the same down deep. We all just want to be a bit better than we were last year. Nicer, smarter, more creative… Learn more, travel more, maybe get laid a bit more. Nothing fancy. Nothing extravagant. Just the basic human quest to improve oneself.

Because we are human, we will miss some things on the list. Some of us will not get around to traveling, or starting the new class, or finding love. But if you get to any of them, you are doing good. So don’t despair. Life isn’t like the game of Life. You don’t have to be the first to get to the end. You don’t even have to get to the end. You just have to give it your best shot.

And if you get the chance, learn to tap dance.

Row, Row, Row Your (Holiday) Boat

For those of us who face depression, the holidays can be a real bitch. Lost loved ones seem especially far away. Our bodily systems fighting the drop in sunlight hours (Take your Vitamin D, my brothers and sisters!!!), weight gain from all these social gatherings that we dread (Because, you know, too many people), and the commercialization of the holiday leaving us anxious, frantic, and financially strapped. Makes you want to double your medication and hide out til Spring.

I don’t have a cure. Truthfully, i’m as beaten as you are. The sadness inside masked by the chatter of holiday greetings and special sparkly lip gloss. Oh the power of a good lip gloss! Anyway, most of the time, the holidays feel to me like that scene in Star Wars where they are getting squashed in the nasty trash compactor. Everything is closing in; the stench of stress coming off you like yesterday’s fish sticks; and the inescapable thought of, “Maybe if i close my eyes, it will go away.” (Yes, my non-ICD-10’d friends, this is part of why we sleep so much.)

Now, as my sister reminds me on occasion, decades of therapy merely make me a profitable therapy patient, not a therapist. So i don’t have an actual solution to the problem. I am not even sure if there is one. But i DO know that we can arm ourselves with the occasional bit of pain relief. And it can be found in some unlikely places.

There are some things in life that are just so good, fulfilling, enjoyable that they can make the worst of times seem a thing of the past, even if only a moment. Some of them are obvious: The laugh of a baby, for example. Some are a little more obscure: Seeing that the schmuck who cut you off 2 miles back is now actually stuck at the same light you are. (Was it worth the karma, dude?) These things don’t cure depression. But they can offer a bit of a reprieve, and sometimes, that’s all we need to make it thru another day.

So if you find yourself getting dark when you want yourself to be light, set your heart and thoughts on life’s helium balloons… Those moments that feel really good… And lighten the load for a bit:

Those mornings when you don’t have to set an alarm and can wake to your body clock.

A beautiful holiday song – Close your eyes and listen.

A piece of really good chocolate – Sometimes there is no better way to spend a couple dollars than on a handmade truffle.

A really good poo – I mean, there really is no better feeling. 

When someone sends you the perfect meme at the perfect time.

A scalding hot shower on a cold morning, or a hot bath before bed.

Taking your bra off after a long day. (Sorry, guys, there really is no male equivalent.)

Seeing a baby deer walking off the side of a road. 

A beautiful sunset or sunrise.

A full moon – And if you see someone fly past it on a broomstick, wave to me 😉

Climbing into a bed with freshly washed sheets.

When you finally get to fart after holding it in forever – Extra points if it is crazy loud!

Homemade mashed potatoes.

Getting the best parking spot, just by happenstance.

The sound of wind rustling thru the trees.

The smell of fresh bread – Worth a visit to a bakery. Usually the smells are free.

When something costs less than you expect.

Hearing from an old friend.

Getting a compliment from your kid – Rarer than a golden goose egg, but also far more valuable.

Hideously gaudy, Griswald-style Christmas lights.

Fresh, hot latkes with applesauce and full-fat sour cream.

A handsome man or beautiful woman in a goofy winter hat.

Hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and stirred with a candy cane. (Make it for yourself. You are worth it.)

A moment of true peace and quiet.

 

Try remembering these, my friends. I hope they help. It is also worth noting that, while you don’t have to do it all, don’t avoid it all either. Pick one or two things to commit to, and let the rest be up to your mood. Baby steps. Take it one event at a time. Take it just one moment at a time if you have to. And if it isn’t enough, up your game by talking with someone. Find your local crisis center, meet your preacher for coffee, find a support group, message people… You’ll be surprised at how many of us are in the same boat…

And since we are all in the same boat, you don’t have to take it all on yourself… We can take turns rowing. And then we will all get there. Together. Just don’t give up.

You got this. We got this.

 

A Spirit By Any Other Name

Elohim, Adonai

Jehovah and Allah

Akal Purakh, Father, Peace

Krishna and Zeus

God, Goddess, Universe, Science

The Force, The Love and The Light…

See It in others.

Find It in ourselves.

This is the day your Lord has made.

Named or nameless.

Formed or Formless.

All together or all One.

Let us rejoice and be glad.

A Quick Glance of London

So, after the craziness of the last few months, i decided i needed a treat and took a long weekend away. I had never been in London except on layover, and it was closer and cheaper than, say, Istanbul or some of the other destinations on my bucket list, so that was where i headed.

First off, let me say that it was not what i expected. Or, rather, the vision in my head, largely painted by J K Rowling and Benny Hill, was not exactly accurate.

First off, there is NOT a tea shop on every corner. In fact, i never was able to have myself a good high tea because there was never a shop around when it was time. In fact, there weren’t many classically British places to eat at all. There were plenty of Indian, Thai, Italian, Spanish, Lebanese, Greek, … With the occasional confetti of fish and chip shops. No glut of pastie purveyors. No banger carts on the street corners. No spotted dicks laid out on paper doilies in glass patisserie windows.

The flipside to the above is that London truly IS an international city. People of all colors, aesthetics, walks of life, and speaking every language known to man. Groups of young adults that resemble a United Nations committee laughing together on the train. Pairs of silver-aged women with more style than any Parisian fashion model, and punk colored hair that would make the Ramones proud, walking in and out of vintage shops. Strikingly regal men with luscious, dark skin and Savile Row suits discussing the engagement of Prince Harry and the potential economic repercussions of Brexit.  The variety of humanity contained there is unparalleled. New York may be a melting pot, but it has nothing on the cottage pie that is London.

Of course, all those delightfully international people shoved into one city means that it is never quiet. I mean, we all know a city never sleeps, but London never even takes a breath!  For those of us who are  a bit hard of hearing, the din becomes like a dull ache. More than once, i found myself pulling up the most boring of meditation tracks on my computer just to gently wean myself off the grinding, metallic discordance. Relief came for real, tho, when i got to visit the white cliffs of Dover. No picture i have ever seen did justice to the expanse and serenity. And brilliance… They really are white. And the total coolness of looking across the bay to France! I do think i could easily have stayed in Dover and done a day trip to the city (Ok, maybe 2 days… there is so much to see!) instead of the other way around. The bliss and beauty that is those cliffs had me easily enamored.

Another thing that i fell in love with on this trip was the history. When home here in Tennessee, i often remark that i miss the oldness, the antique, of my New England heritage. Buildings and monuments that have been there since the beginning of our country. And, indeed, i do still love that. But in London, those buildings and monuments… They tell stories of spirits that were long since dead before my country was even a country. How cool is that? If the walls of Westminster Abbey could talk, imagine the stories they could tell! Imagine the sights and sounds and scents (Pre-Victorian era hygiene must have left some pretty vibrant odors….) All the voices of eras past swirling in the most magnificent pieces of architecture. For people who love history, London is dessert. With fudge sauce and whipped cream.

At the Tower of London, i was more than awed by the Crown Jewels. Mostly because i took it to mean a crown with jewels on it. I had no idea that there were many crowns. And sceptres. And swords. All gilded and encrusted. Heavy velvet robes with ornate detailing. (I admit, i did wonder after seeing all this how uncomfortable it must be to wear something so obviously heavy for hours at a time. Give the queen her crown and a robe and a pair of heels to boot, and i’d imagine she needed a serious massage and a painkiller for the night!) The collection of armor was pretty cool as well. We all know that people come in many different shapes and sizes… But seeing that laid out in metal makes it even more obvious. Big suits, little suits, wide suits, skinny suits… Not to mention the codpieces! (I heard more than one woman discussing the significance of the last bit…)  Sarcophagi of bodies found under the tower stairs. Bits of creepiness everywhere you looked inside. And outside, the vision of London Bridge (Which did not, in fact, appear to be falling down.) I saw many other sights as well: Some just because it was expected, others because they spoke to me.

I had a great time spending a day seeking out some things that were iconic to my weedlings’ childhoods. The obvious first stop was Paddington station. I was slightly disappointed that there was no bear. It would be perfect if there were a statue or something. But, alas, not at the moment. So then i was off to the market. A very specific market. One that had me singing in the legendary David Tomlinson’s voice. “Portobello Road, Portobello Road… Street where the riches of ages are stowed.” I didn’t find any riches, per se, but i did find a shop that sold the most kickass Harris tweed tailed waistcoats and capes. (Unfortunately, it required riches to buy one.) And as dorky as it sounds, i also found a stand that had Cox apples. I can attest to the fact that, as epicures have written, it absolutely is the best apple to eat out of hand. Like, ambrosia good. Straight from heaven. Ooooohhhhhh, that apple!…

Anyway, so i got pictures at Portobello Road, and then headed to another Disney destination. This one important because it was the scene of the Sherman brothers’ magnum opus. (Also, coincidentally, the inimitable Jane Darwell’s final film scene.) If you need another hint, i was looking for a tuppence bag of birdseed. Yup, you guessed it… St Paul’s cathedral. And tho it was a little smaller than it looked in the movie, it nearly brought me to tears. Have you ever been some place that made a special part of your heart feel home? Ya. That feeling. That is St Paul’s. I’m not sure if it’s just memories of Mary Poppins, the exquisite perfection of Feed The Birds, or something inherent in the structure itself; but whatever it is, you can’t ignore it. It penetrates.

One final note: There was one thing that became apparent almost immediately that affected not only my vacation, but the way i try to look at life… It literally started on the train ride from Heathrow. All of us packed tight like sardines. People should be getting to meet and talk with all the people around them. Instead, everyone was plugged into their phones and tablets. The train rattled thru most of the city, iconic landmarks in full view, and no one looked up. I promised myself then and there that i wouldn’t see London thru my phone. I would enjoy the moments, not just take pictures. It was hard to explain to people who wondered why i didn’t have more photos from my trip, but i am still glad that i spent more time actually looking and feeling and absorbing than framing the perfect photo. I may never be a big city girl. I may not have enjoyed everything that London is. But i did experience it as thoroughly as i could. And the reminder of how good that feels made it well worth the trip.

The Doctor Will See You Now.

“What do you want?” She asks.

“What do you want?”

I want to avoid the question.

My answers contradict logic and progress

and each other.

They make no sense,

even to me,

and it would be all i could do to get them out of my mouth

without expelling all the conflicting emotions

along with my antithetic words.

In my mind, i beg to recuse myself,

but She will not allow it.

 

“What do you want?” She asks.

“What do you want?”

I want what i shouldn’t admit.

I want to be left alone,

to sleep and rest and fade into

oblivion.

Nothingness engulfing me like

the plushest blanket.

Sadness, worry, and fear,

leaving me with the last of my breath as

the universe swallows me

whole.

Not as death, but

rebirth.

 

“What do you want?” She asks.

“What do you want?”

I want what i cannot have.

The chance to go back in time

and fix mistakes.

Mend fences before they

fall to the ground.

Keep bridges from burning under the flames

of angry words.

Keep scars from forming

under the red-hot branding irons

of society’s moral cowboys and

my own putrid thoughts.

To stop it all before it begins.

 

“What do you want?” She asks.

“What do you want?”

I want what i am ashamed to admit,

embarrassed to say aloud.

The weakness of wanting,

needing,

to be loved.

No caveats, no limits.

No reminders of human

failures

or failings

or future expectations.

Pure and undiluted.

In spite it all.

In spite of me.

The type of agape, of caritas, of grace,

that has the loftiness of fairy wings,

and is about as likely to be

real.

 

“What do you want?” She asks.

“What do you want?”

I want everything and nothing.

I want to give up.

I want to give in.

I want to give ’em hell.

I want it all or

i want to throw it all in the air and

watch it fall to the ground.

Shattering into a thousand sparkling pieces,

each more beautiful than it was when

it was whole.

The stuff of children’s legends and

Hallmark cards.

Pure fantasy.

 

“What do you want?” She asks.

“What do you want?”

 

What do i want?

 

“I want, ” I reply.

“And it is more than i can bear.”