Category Archives: general musings

salad

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All I wanted was a salad. I’ve been living on popcorn and bananas for two days while I rebuilt Windows and Microsoft Office. Something green sounded really good. Also the sun was shining.

Back Yard Burger apparently went on break and just left the people in the drive-through to sit and wait on her return.

McDonald’s was stacked up so I tried to go in and order at the counter.

But the door was locked. Also they don’t even have salads anymore.

I somehow drove right past the Wendy’s on Yates.

Is it even still there?

So I ended up in Germantown. They were out of the salad I wanted but the one I ended up with was quite good.

The lettuce was very fresh and the chicken was still hot. The tea was also freshly made but they were out of straws so I’m waiting until I get home to drink it.

I mean, my antivirus software assassinated my laptop last week so I’m not very trusting of the cosmos right now. Gravity could fail at any moment.

The first quiet spot I found to rest and eat lunch happened to be Germantown Cemetery.

I like dead people. They are sometimes surprised to see me but they never turn me away and they don’t bug me too much. I see one guy is a Mason. Another has a plinth but no monument. Maybe that is the monument.

Another has a fine looking obelisk but I will have to return to investigate when it’s not so marshy. The recent storms have left piles of debris in the parking lot that look like giant wads of freshly spat tobacco and I am reluctant to tread there.

Plus I have three more hours of CNN in Ukraine to edit.

The dearly departed glance at one another and, one by one, slowly fade from view. And I know what they’re thinking: extra greeters will be needed in Europe’s corner of Heaven tonight. So that’s where I’m sending all the spare beats of my heart for today, just in case it will help.

❤

Photo by Steve Masler, June 19, 2015.

strange times

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I gave up trying to go back to sleep at 4 am and made coffee. I usually only have these wide awake, wandering wee hours in the spring.

To say they are strange times seems kinda duh.

I opened a window in the living room to let in the cool fresh air. Then I wandered out onto the porch in my bare feet, in my summer nightie, and caught the moon backlighting the clouds.

About two miles away, in what used to be a highly desirable residential area, there is gunfire every few days. Yesterday someone on Nextdoor found half a dozen spent casings in their yard. But it’s quiet now.

I’m just about over my cold. But it wasn’t a cold. I don’t know what it was. Fever, chills, headache, yadda. I’m not concerned. I won’t be seeing any of you anytime soon so you shouldn’t be, either.

I can hear a train running alongside Poplar Avenue like I’ve heard a gazillion times. It sort of roots me to the moment, reminding me that some things are still the same. And the moon is still the same, though barefoot photography in December is rather new for me.

I think about some of my younger friends, who are fighting time the way the gangs in Yorkshire are fighting each other, desperately, with no apparent effect other than distress and grief.

Let me tell you, from the winter of my life, I would not trade these quiet moments of wonder and contentment to be 40 again.

Strange times indeed. And I’m glad for them.

Happy Tuesday, y’all ❤

booster

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maryoliver.wingsIn a rare moment of clarity I scheduled my booster shot for when I knew I’d be off the next day. My reaction is much milder than from my second shot but I’m going to stay in bed and drink hot tea until it passes.

The beautiful man in the blue scrubs at the Kroger pharmacy was clearly stressed but treated everyone with kindness and joked with staff and customers alike, even the ones who were maskless.

He cleaned the vial as if he was about to vaccinate his own child. I did what I usually do with people and asked him how he was doing.

He said he just wished it was over and things would go back to normal. I told him that, when I dream, no one is wearing masks. He found that really interesting and he seemed to brighten a little bit, reflecting on his own recent dreams.

I felt the bump of the syringe but not the sting of the needle and I complimented him on his technique. He said he had given about 10,000 injections so he had gotten pretty good at it. He probably meant it as hyperbole but I did the math and that’s about 14 a day so he’s probably not too far off.

I wasted a minute of his time by sending him on a search for my vaccination card when I had already pocketed it. I apologized for my mistake and thanked him for his service. I wished everyone a Merry Christmas and the response was what you might expect from people who are just plain worn out.

I see you, cashier with the pink braids. I see you, postal worker with the wire rimmed glasses. I see you, produce clerk, apologizing for the empty bins. I’m grateful for you and I hope your jobs eventually get easier. I think they will if the Kroger guy keeps on giving 14 shots a day. Thank you for your service and stay well.

Happy Friday, y’all ❤ #AngelsEverywhere

trust the process (2)

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Queen of Cups

art from biddytarot.com

About once a year, when I’m particularly stuck, depressed or just want to run away, I will do a random Hoyle deck draw of three cards and then do a tarot interpretation using:

hearts : cups
diamonds : pentacles
clubs : wands
spades : swords

So I had drawn the Queen of Cups, who appears to be far and away my totem. In some illustrations she even has a mermaid tail, as do all Capricorns; though in tarot, cups represent the water signs.

But her characteristics are:

emotional receptivity
relational fluidity
intuition
psychic ability

This from nylon.com, a site I’d never seen before.

Nylon.com says Capricorn’s card is The Devil, “driven to succeed but chained by earthy expectations.”

And that rings a bell.

“The Devil, too, wants you to know what is and what isn’t right for you — but he wants you to find out the hard way.”

Well, that pretty much sums up my life.

Turns out nylon.com is a pop culture and fashion site. So IDKAT.

Wasn’t sure what “relational fluidity” meant, so I Googled it. Now Google was convinced I meant “relationship fluidity,” and most of those hits pertained to sex, especially bi/trans sex.

So I pressed for my original query (butt out, Google) and those hits brought up papers on social rhythms, autonomy and identity. Now we’re talking.

I think, for me personally, the attribute of relational fluidity means that I relate to all kinds of people, not just the ones mother liked.

Oxford defines the pros and cons of fluidity:

smooth elegance or grace
vs
unsettled, unstable, changeable

— so presumably the Queen of Cups reversed.

Being naturally wary of things deemed superstitious (but intrigued by them nonetheless), I roll everything around in my head like a ball of dough until it becomes smooth and looks like just one single thing.

I’m reminded of what Colin used to say, that the universe is just one big thing doing one big thing.

Googling that quote takes me nowhere relevant, which is why we need librarians.

Also it’s vintage Colin and we don’t have a lexicon for him yet, as far as I know. Maybe I should build one.

But I digress.

I like to say I trust the process, even when I can’t tell what it is and where it’s taking me. And that’s never been truer than now.

Last night I moved from my bedroom to the guest room because it’s better insulated from the sound of drag racing on I-240. I had the sense of staying in an Airbnb — cozy and impersonal.

So I thought, what if instead of running away, I just pretend I’m already where I want to go?

For one, it would be a lot cheaper.
Two, I’m still not entirely settled from the last move.

So staycay starts today, albeit a working one. Gotta save up for when I truly do run away.

A Tale of Two Lewises

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This morning I was trolling C.S. Lewis memes, looking for reassurance in quotes from “Mere Christianity” and “The Problem of Pain.” But as Google is wont to do, it proffered the words of another Lewis, those of the representative of Georgia’s 5th District.

I myself led a quite sheltered life in my youth. While I quietly protested the war in Vietnam in my own way, I was unaware of much of what was going on in America, largely due to media censorship, but also because I was too busy embroidering my jeans and trying to get a boyfriend.

It’s not like in the past 40-50 years I’d forgotten how truly brutally political and human rights activists were treated.  But earlier this week I watched “Steal This Movie,” about the life of Abbie Hoffman.  I’d been unaware that Hoffman was severely beaten for simply wearing a red, white and blue shirt patterned after our flag.

Wearing our flag was something many of us proudly did in the weeks after 9/11 and I’ll bet not one of us thought we’d risk a beating for it.

By his own count, John Lewis was arrested more than 40 times during his days of civil rights activism.  I don’t like to think about how many of those times he was also battered or beaten.  Yet today he stands before crowds and preaches a message of diligence and courage.

I am afraid. I am worried. I am angry and frustrated that America is still a land of great brutality and violence and political corruption. We’ve forgotten that some of us fled England for relief from religious tyranny. We do not remember how precarious it was for the Founding Fathers to write such a thing as a Constitution.

And we still allow those in power to sacrifice lives overseas for economic and political reasons, spinning war as a necessary exercise in defense of freedom, while they, like so many leeches, suck human rights and civil rights from the lives of ordinary citizens.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.”

He also wrote, “We read to know we are not alone.”

So I’m writing this morning as I struggle with understanding. And I will read this morning to find community and comfort, which means taking a break from Facebook and CNN.  And I’ll post this and hope it helps someone else. It surely has helped me.

what I did on my Facebook vacation

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My part-time job as TV news editor has been sort of hateful lately.

So on Thursday, when all my assignments were preempted yet again by another assassination, this time in front of Parliament, I opened my Facebook page to a string of hateful posts related to other crises in America.

I’d had enough.  So I started my weekend a little early.  And I took time off from Facebook.

1. On Thursday afternoon, driving down Walnut Grove,  I laughed out loud at a Blue Screen of Death on a digital billboard.  I’ve never seen one that big.  Maybe another media conscript was feeling mutinous.

2. On Friday, I walked to the Art Center to buy origami paper.  I decided to step into Inz and Outz Gift & Cards, thinking I’d shop for Father’s Day.

Y’all should have told me what that place was before I went in there.

I didn’t buy any cards.  I did, however, consider some of the leather thongs.  Bet those zippers get awfully hot in this heat.

3. On Saturday, I perfected an origami envelope for a direct mail project and designed an outdoor sign, a non-digital one.  No BSODs here.

Sidebar:  I used to have a recurring dream, working at my old job as a graphic designer.  Today I’m literally living that dream.  Life is full of surprises.

4. On Sunday, I was grateful, grateful, grateful for so many things.  I’m grateful that I have air conditioning in my entire apartment now and my butter doesn’t melt if I leave it on the table.

I’m even grateful for my part-time job as TV news editor, even if it does make social media unbearably redundant some days.  There’s lots of love at that job.  My co-workers bring it every day.  Otherwise, I just couldn’t cope.

Actually, there’s lots of love at all my jobs, some of which necessitate my using Facebook.  I just have to remember that I have a choice:  I can unfollow people or pages that post stuff I don’t want to read.

I am one lucky girl.  I live in America.  I get to read about it all, the bad and the good.  Life is full of surprises.  It’s also full of choices.

1. Today I choose to be grateful.

2. Today I choose to show up for the love.

slamming doors

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When my neighbor goes out, I hear him.  This building has heavy doors that have to be slammed shut.  So last night around 8 pm I felt the familiar vibrations in my room.

Good, I thought.  I hope he’s going someplace fun.  Earlier I had heard him singing downstairs.  His car has been in its spot a lot lately, and I was afraid maybe he was ill.  So I was glad to know he was getting out.

He wasn’t gone long.  Maybe dinner out and a movie in.

I heard him leave again around 10. Time for the bands to start.  I imagined him laughing and dancing in a club downtown.

But he returned in less than an hour.

And then left again.

And came back.

And left again.

During the times I was trying to go back to sleep, I made up a story about this charming and lovely young man.  He simply went to the store for cookies.  Got home, decided he needed milk. Forgot his wallet and had to make another round trip.

I remember someone telling me about buying 8 balls all night long, one at a time, until the money ran out.  I don’t remember the figure, just that it was several months’ rent.

I don’t know if the money ran out for my neighbor.  The last time I heard the door slam it was followed by a loud thud, just the sound a large chair makes when it’s knocked over.  Or just the sound a healthy male body makes when it hits the floor.

I got up this morning and put in my half-day at work. I made lunch, loaded the dishwasher.  I sat by the open window to write.

The rain has begun.  It is the only sound on the street.  There has been no singing downstairs.

Mentally I review Chapter 5 of the Big Book.  I am glad my neighbor is single, that he has no children at home.

I ask God to help him, and me, and all the homes with slamming doors.

read the book

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I’ve been to his home, Rowan Oak, in Oxford many times. But before last night I’d never read a William Faulkner novel.

I know, I know; I’m already ashamed.

Maybe it’s because I always tried to start out with “The Sound and the Fury.” By the second page I still hadn’t figured out what the heck was going on. So I always copped to rather more soothing reading.

But James Franco’s “As I Lay Dying” was on Netflix. As it was Christmas weekend and I had a scarf to knit, I figured, what the heck: another California actor trying to play a country boy. Let’s see how bad this is. “The Beverly Hillbillies” has persistently informed Hollywood’s iconic Southerner and we’re still trying to live it down.

As a director, Franco excelled. But it was Tim Blake Nelson who knocked my socks off. I have known people like Anse Bundren and am probably related to one or two. So my impressions of the film were visceral.

In the Delta, you go about your business in the rain. It’s not unusual to see someone on the street without a raincoat. But in Faulkner’s narrative, oldest son Cash works in a downpour, as both tribute and grief.

His sister, Dewey Dell, faces her dilemma with a naivete that speaks to a different time. Her situation, unfortunately, threatens today’s young woman under the yoke of regressive legislation.

An obsessive fatalism ruled the Bundren family. Burdened by such a mission, they tromped on the tender shoots of Providence. The message was not lost on me.

I located a PDF of the novel and downloaded it last night. I did not stop until I read the last page. Today my eyeballs feel blistered and my attention wanders from my work because I have downloaded “The Sound and the Fury.” Now that I have a feel for Faulkner’s cadence and convoluted narrative, I feel empowered to try it again. Also, I’m excited to see if I learn more new words. I had never experienced the term “pussel-gutted,” but I plan to use it in a comment soon.

Franco made “Sound/Fury” into a movie this year. I think this time I’ll read the book first.

coolness

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It is a rainy, chilly Monday morning. I have to drive downtown to see my dentist. I’m killing time before I leave, playing 8 Ball Pool on Facebook.

My opponent is DarkFeelings, and his avatar looks slightly like a Smurf. I’m guessing DarkFeelings is a male, because this game is the realm of mostly young or youngish men, rock star or gangsta wannabes.

I wonder what they think about my avatar: a meme of Gromit with a caption that says, “Knitting: It makes everything better.”

Nevertheless, I sympathize with DarkFeelings. I have some Dark Feelings of my own.

See, I was left off a Cool Girls List.

In times past I have been a Cool Girl, times when I immersed myself in a culture (or subculture) which eventually consumed me.

Right now, I am not a Cool Girl. In fact, I’m practically invisible. Since my dad’s death four months ago, I have been rebuilding social stamina. I’m not there yet.

But being left off this latest list felt a lot like adolescence, when I was always too something. Too outspoken. Too nonconformist. Too alpha female (whatever that is).

The truth is, I like those things about myself. It’s when I’m ashamed of them that there’s a problem.

DarkFeelings scratches the cue ball and I run out the game, leaving him with five on the table. I offer to play again but the Smurfy avatar vanishes.

My next opponent has a name I cannot decipher, because it is in Russian. It could be Kevin but it could also be Katie. (There are a few women on here.) This player’s avatar is a photo of two young boys holding hands. It’s possible I’m playing one of the boys’ parents.

But on Facebook one just never knows.

Between shots I ponder the old, familiar feeling of shame, a straitjacket from my throat to my ribs. While Kevin/Katie lines up the next shot, I Google “cool girl.” One result takes me to an article, which I passive-aggressively publish to my Facebook page. It theorizes that coolness is borne of practice, a kind of covert conformity to a very subtle standard.

I do not try to guess the identity of the next 8 Ball player. Drawing conclusions from the wispiest knowledge set me up to step off Monday’s curb into a funk. Making assumptions about what I am and ought to be is just no way to get rid of Dark Feelings.

Instead I discuss it with my Higher Power. And I recall that Jesus Christ was a Cool Girl — until He wasn’t; that is, when He was too outspoken, too nonconformist, too alpha male (whatever that is).

I recall also that He was always hanging out with people who would never have made the Cool Girls List.

Then I pick up my knitting.

angry

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I’m angry, OK?
It’s the second stage of loss and grief in the Kubler-Ross model. I get that.
Thank God for that woman. She gave me a flow chart for feeling like a maniac.

In fact, I’m so angry that I just Googled it: “I’m so angry.”

I got some hits (ha, about a gazillion. There are lots of other angry people on the World Wide Web.)

Actually, my first Google search was “Help me to forgive.”
I’ve been seeing this meme on Facebook that says, if I want to be a big girl, I have to forgive.  Or something like that.

So that search took me to tinybuddha.com and “How to Forgive Someone When It’s Hard.”
When you land on the page, the subtitle reads “30 Tips to Let Go of Anger.”

By the time I read the first two screens I was more pissed off than ever.
Hence the second search.

And that took me back to tinybuddha.com: “20 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Angry with Someone.”

Part one of the lesson here, Grasshopper, is that you need to be all the way angry before you can forgive.
Part two of the lesson is what I call shaking hands with the Devil and introducing yourself.  It’s sort of taking the emotion out of the emotion, if you like.
Part three involves working with the other party.  This is about navigating relationships.  It gets really tricky here if the person you feel angry about is not open to honest communication.
It concludes in part four, which is the learning part.  It’s here where, if there’s a relationship stalemate, you choose to end it.

So this is really a pretty helpful deconstruction of the second stage of grief by tinybuddha.com.

But it’s still grief and, as such, needs to be recognized.

Anger is a God-given emotion.  It serves a useful purpose.
A workshop I attended once showed me it’s a consequence of pain, part of our fight/flight response, the thing that has helped us evolve as a species.

I have to remember that I won’t always be angry.  Next I get to bargain.  And I’m good at that.
Then depression: I’m really, really good at that.
But at the end is acceptance.  And that’s where I was headed to begin with.

I just need to remember that I’m not there yet.  Right now I’m just where I am.  I’m angry. And it’s OK.