Wednesday, November 24, 2010

on being thankful

Thankfulness is a state of mind that often drifts too far down the consciousness bar. Thanksgiving is one of those days that make us stop and think about what we are thankful for. We get spun around by our everyday lives and forget to look around, count our blessings, view the world a new, or look at the people you care about and say Thank YOU, or I’m Sorry, or I appreciate you. I’m not sure it’s always forgetfulness as much as that we just don’t always take the time to say these things out loud. I know I think them a lot. I look at a friend and I want to say…I really love you, or I miss you, or I just want to thank you for everything that you bring to my life, but I just don’t say it out loud, at least not often enough.

This is something J and I have always been conscious of in our relationship – of expressing our thankfulness and appreciation for and of each other. We thank each other daily for even the little things…thank you for picking up, thank you for washing the dishes, taking the trash out and so on. It’s not to say we don’t get on each other’s nerves, because we do. At times I find myself even thankful for the familiarity of all her annoying habits. I hope she feels the same. There is something comforting in these familiar annoyances. There is a certainty to them; the same as the certainty of her love for me, her unquestionable, unyielding love for me.

So top of my list of what I am thankful for is J. I am thankful for my family and friends and not just the ones that I get to see all the time, but also the ones I rarely get to see, and even some of the ones that don’t want to see me, or the ones I don’t want to see (because in both cases, I am thankful for what we once had). I am thankful for my health and the health of those I love, for this beautiful earth on which we live, for the kindness of strangers that I witness nearly every day and for all the blessing in my life too many to tell.

"If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you, it will be enough." - Meister Eckhart

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The truth is I’m lying if I tell you I’m ok, because I’m not. When my father died it changed me. I found myself wondering what I would do next. I already had a life, but somehow things were different now. No parents. Becoming an orphan at any age leaves you feeling…what…I’m not sure…but something…just different.

Grieving is a tunnel you fall into to. On the very surface is the immediate loss, the thing that you tripped on, your last moment of pain. But the walls are lined with every loss before that. To crawl your way back out, you need to revisit each loss again. They have somehow merged into one. You need to pass through them and say goodbye again. To mom, to lost loves, to lost friendships, to pieces of myself that I gave up. Some are easier to say goodbye to again, some still sting, some you really didn’t want to revisit. It is a cleansing in spite of the pain of remembering.

Before dad died, he looked at my sister and I and said…"I’ll never forget this, girls”…and it made me smile and cry at the same time. Where would he carry that memory, I thought. Would it survive the journey to where he was going? Would he find mom and tell her “the girls took good care me”? He had the sweetest smile on his face when he said it. I’ll never forget that smile. He looked like a little boy. He looked happy, content, most importantly, he looked comfortable. He wanted to look out into his yard so we would sit him in the wheelchair with his feet up on the couch so he could look out. The TV became too confusing to him. He didn’t know where he was. He would look at the TV and ask us what room he was in, he thought he was in the room that he was seeing on the screen. we would tell him it was just the TV, but then he would ask who that man was in the room. We kept telling him he was home, but he seemed to not really believe us.

Dad changed as he got older, he was still his grumpy old self, still funny as hell, but he became softer for sure. He told us all the time that he loved us. I still called him frequently to ask his opinion, get his advice. I always thought he was so smart. Just like every kid that thinks their dad knows everything. That never went away for me. There were just certain things that only dad would know. Sometimes I would ask him things just to make him feel like I still needed him, other times I needed him for real, even more often I would tell him things just to hear him laugh, or to have him make me laugh, or just to hear his concern. I needed that too. I still want to pick up the phone and tell him stuff. I miss that.

I miss you dad.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

on being responsible to each other

Sunday morning and reading the NY Times and it is riddled with endless news accounts about how we are slowly destroying our world−our environment, our global economy, and each other.

Our world has grown smaller. The Internet has created one huge interconnected world where we can no longer think only about ourselves. Everything we do inevitably affects everything and everyone. Look at Greece. The little guy doesn’t pay his taxes; fears that the country can’t pay its massive debt drops the value of the euro for fear of the collapse of the European banks that hold the debt, and then that fear tanks the Dow. Oh boy. Who would have thought?

But after all, we are like children. We learn by example. We need to be shown what is right and wrong, how to be responsible financially, environmentally and treat others as we would like to be treated. But what do we learn when all around us we see preachers raping children, the big guy lying and cheating and stealing our money, the corporation consciously taking calculated risks based on dollars saved rather than lives or nature saved, and when even good presidents get sucked in to making bad choices? We learn to cheat and lie and say, “well if they…”.

It’s hard to always do the right thing. I try to. I think most of us try to. There are times when I feel lazy about rinsing out the plastic container so it can go in the recycling bin and I want to just drop it into the trash. I mean how can just this once hurt anything. But of course globally, just this once, one at a time, it does!

Though I am thankful for all the good of the internet and all the beauty of our global interconnectedness (all you have to do is watch Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir - 'Lux Aurumque' and see and feel and hear the beauty of it all, there are times when all this connectedness has me wanting to crawl into a hole where I am responsible only to myself and my family and friends.

I guess I am beginning to feel overwhelmed by my responsibility to the whole world and I just feel like pulling out all my money, before they successfully lose all the hard earned money I made while doing the right thing, and running away to some beach before that giant 300 foot deep oil plume reaches me.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Life spins ribbons around me today. bright, colorful ribbons of joy. Lots of private smiling from ear to ear going on. All by myself, like J says.

I needed to go to Home Depot for something. I went first thing in the morning, before they were actually open, so I sat in my car for a few minutes. I was looking out my windshield watching this white guy, maybe 50’s, getting out of his pick-up. He was struggling. He had a cane, and one side wasn’t working fully. Stroke, I figured. Sad, he was so young. I watched as he helped his leg out, got his cane, and grabbed a few bags off of the seat. I was watching and thinking…”good for you!!! Don’t let it stop you!”

From the far corner of the parking lot, I see a 30s something, tall, black, working-class guy, walk past mr. pick-up, go get a shopping cart, come back and take the bags out of the mans hand, put them in the cart, turn the cart so the bar was facing properly, pick up the man’s limp hand and put it on the cart handle and then walk away. They never spoke to each other. I watched and then cried at how beautiful it was and delighted in the goodness of people.

Later that day, a 10 year old came into the gallery with her mom. i sit in the back behind a wall and never see, but only hear people walk in. sometimes silently but for the squeaking of the wooden floor. Other times, I hear “wow”, nearly under a breath. It is a very colorful place filled with colorful things. Quin was her name. she was really tight with her mom. very loving, very open with her. I listened to them interact before finally saying hello. I was immediately taken by Quin, her spirit. “I like you Quin.” I said. “thanks.” She said. “you have moxie.” I said. She looked at her mom and asked her what moxie meant. “Oh, OK.” She said.

They left after sharing a bunch of giggling, and I was sad to see them go, but my chest was filled up like a balloon and it felt good.

I liked today.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You’re not going to put that there are you?

This is the way relationships go. I don’t know how many times J has heard me say those words. 15 years later, she still tries to rearrange an item or two, or position a new found object somewhere in the house. She never gets away with it. Whether she hears the words or not, it’s not staying where she put it any longer than it has to. That’s usually under a minute or so, on the outside, a day. But I have to say, each time, I am wondrously amused by her efforts. It is the most endearing thing to watch, and my heart fills up like a balloon as I silently take it all in. She trusts that I will, at the very least, wait for her to go through the charade of placing the object and let her enjoy the momentary delight she finds in doing so. It’s like an inside joke between us. She knows I let her ‘do her thing’, always very clear about the fact that she will be overruled. I love this about us.

This dance actually takes a lot of forms and it moves in both directions. She reluctantly ignores my gorging myself with ice cream, (because I feel it) and then very gently, three quarters of the way into a quart, says, “are you sure you want to do that?”. I always shamefully, but with a lot of theatrics, stop eating whatever I was sliding deep into my throat. In my head, I’m bullshit I couldn’t have finished it before she said anything. Externally I put on a face and thank her for saving me from the additional calories.

We also have some secret signals we covertly mime when either of us forgets where we are and publicly exposes one of our awkward or annoying ticks or bad habits. After so many years, we have developed quite a few signals. This requires extra time on the front end if we are meeting up with friends so we can review and practice some of the newer gestures. J actually isn’t very good at this and has twice knocked over a salt shaker while trying to signal me under the table about my clearing my teeth. I end up having to be quick with a comedy routine to cover up the error, and it pisses me off. It’s always SO obvious something stealth was going on.

We let each other ‘get away with things’, and other times we’re just helping each other along.

Just like that cliché of riding the wave of love…the ebbing tide…that always, inevitably, gives it up to the wave.

The best part is the constant falling in love with new parts, or parts you forgot you loved so much. I like re-falling in love, over and over again.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

swimming in mexico

It’s hot today so I decide to float in the pool for a while before trekking to the beach. A quick submersion then I lay my torso upon a baby’s float, enough to keep my head out of the water. Suddenly a little black bug swims up to my face. He/she looks like a beetle. I have no idea what it is. It has four little legs, all of which are furiously paddling. I scoop the poor creature into the cup of my hand, swim to the pool’s edge and gently release him or her. He immediately turns around and lets him/herself drop back into the pool. I strike this off to disorientation and scoop him back up and place him a little further from the edge where upon he/she immediately turns around and swims back into the pool. I don’t get it.

Now I know that I tend to exaggerate at times, throw in a few details that didn’t actually occur for the sake of storytelling, (everyone must laugh after all…this I have learned…if you can’t be funny, no one really cares. you can tell the most harrowing of stories so long as you throw in a little humor, but, no exaggeration, I pick up the critter once more and heave him as far as I can (I played 3rd base for years, so no wimp toss) toward the garden. He lands on the branch of a baby palm and I watch as he drops him/herself off the leaf and onto the tiles below. I watch. Carefully. Don’t take my eyes off of him/her as he/she rights (fuck it – it’s a he from this point on…) himself and begins his journey back to the pool. I couldn’t believe it. Do beetles have a brain? Can they think? Is he consciously trying to drown himself and am I disturbing the natural order of things. Why is this beetle trying to get back into the pool? Is he just hot? He’s probably totally bullshit with me at this point! I WANT TO SWIM YOU STUPID HUMAN! IT’S FREAKIN’ HOT OUT HERE! And here he comes, back to edge and once again drops himself in. unbelievable.

I am so taken by this that I jump out of the pool and scurry over to the computer to jot down my findings.

Just thought you might be interested in hearing. Need to get back to the pool now to see if he’s still in there.

Friday, February 19, 2010

reading in mexico

So today I will read. I finished my first novel already (The Help – highly recommend) and start looking for another book. I just can’t sit idle, I need something to do and there is nothing I would rather do than immerse myself in a great book that takes me away from the beauty and warmth that surrounds me. A dose of cruel reality is important in keeping fresh in one’s mind how wonderful it is to be where you are.

I take three possibilities to the pool’s edge. I get myself all settled in; towel the recliner, drag the little table within arm’s reach, where I stack the 3 books and my ice coffee, and then proceed to coat my body with 30 sun block. I arrange myself onto the lounger and am immediately pissed that it is just too hot to sit here. I need to pick all this up and start all over again on the other side of the pool where there is shade. So begins the exodus.

Finally, I sit my ass down, pick up the first potential and begin to read. I read for half an hour and am into the second chapter before I suddenly recognize a particular sentence, a profound sentence, which I remember stopping at the last time. This not remembering can actually be a benefit, as one can read and re-read all ones favorite books over and over again and not have to suffer through bad fiction that goes nowhere. Nevertheless, I put the book down and begin the second potential.

I am immediately taken in by the gripping description of a horrid car accident. It’s almost too descriptive. I find myself cringing and feel my face distorting and head shaking….but it is so well written I am compelled to continue reading. Then the book begins to do that back and forth thing, swinging from present time to past tense, which I hate, but the past tense is at least a break from the current state the poor bastard finds himself in, and it is also compelling, so I read on.

Finally, we are back to prevailing times and we are in a burn unit of a hospital undergoing debridement, (the cutting off of dead skin from a burn victim). His description of the pain is so unbearable to read, that I actually feel my stomach rise into the back of my throat and I heave the book into the pool where it floats before sinking.

I pick up potential number three; a story of two best friends, who survive betrayal, disloyalty and pain, to go on loving each other forever -Sounds like fiction to me and the perfect read to escape reality when it’s just too good to believe! Within the first fifty pages, I read the words, “will you be my best friend” “I will always be your best friend”, “promise we will always be best friends” enough times that the words….NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER …no longer hold any value for me.

I get the pool net, scoop out potential number two and resume reading about what it means to survive an inferno while I bake in the sun for added effect.

painting in mexico

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

life in bucerias mexico

J and I have been in Mexico since the 5th of February.

This visit is supposed to be a test run. A ‘can we live here’ test run, so I am trying to live like a person would normally, not as a vacationer lives. That means I get up in the mornings and check email in case someone is looking for me. I am in fact working on this trip thanks to wireless internet access.

Actually I don’t really know what day of the week it is today. It is a rainy day and J left to go into Puerto Vallarta to work with old clients and friends she’s had from a hundred years ago.

On Saturday I relentlessly checked email for any potential work. “It’s Saturday…of a long weekend” J says, “I’ve told you three times already”. “Oh, yea. Forgot.” I say. “Oye” she says.

I have been cooking and reading and writing and painting every day. Not all at once mind you. I’m not that coordinated any more, although I do find I jump from one activity to another with seamless alacrity.

As a for- instance. I was just reheating left overs (shrimp (which literally just jumped out of the sea and cost $3.00 a pound) sautéed in olive oil with garlic, fresh tomatoes, capers, roasted red peppers, and white wine …all which cost less than ten dollars) over angel hair pasta)…just to digress a little more… Yesterday I made a fish and shrimp stew with rice, tomatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms and wine. I needed a few things so I walked into town where I picked up a bag of mushrooms, two avocados, three tomatoes and fresh cilantro all for a total of $1.50!

Anyway, back to the left overs. I needed to nuke the bowl of pasta but we were using the microwave for storage. After clearing out the huge pineapple and assortment of other veggies, I noticed those itty bitty tiny pin head size ants marching around in there. Of course I felt badly, but there were too many to wipe up so I decided I would set the microwave on for a minute or two to …well you know….i set the timer for 1.5 minutes….i waited…ok that’s enough I though. I felt terrible. I open the microwave door to find all the little fuckers still marching around!! How is it possible that you can inadvertently implode your miniature poodle (I’ve heard of such tragic events) but these little things do not die after being nuked???

I was so, amazed, amused, intrigued, curious that I left the microwave to jot down my observations and began to write. This is where I am now…..and what I meant about seamlessly jumping from one activity to other.

…ok, so wrote all that and then went and heated the pasta and ate. It was just as good the second day although I added a little olive oil and some salt, because I salt everything, even if it doesn’t need it.

Just for some color, i thought i would throw in a photo of Saturdays dinner (two "n's" because you always want old friend taught me that..that's how i know when to use double consonants...diner, dinner). it was also quite good.