Friday, February 29, 2008

Of Cabbages & Kings

Happy February 29th! (There, now I can't be accused of being redundant in my writing.)

Here we are at Friday again. Funny how that happens every week (and rarely soon enough!). I'm looking forward to Terri, Kris and Kristyn being here this weekend. We have laughter on the menu. Lots of it. They are probably zipping past the California/Oregon border, on their way North, as I type this - at least they'd better be.

Last night I went to an orientation meeting for what I've come to refer to as, The Big Walk. I was overwhelmed with emotion from the minute I walked in to the meeting. The energy level in the room, and the stories I heard of breast cancer survivors, and from those who've loved and lost someone (and, as in my case, many someones), all the stories, all the lives that were touched... I don't even have words here to describe my feelings. And that was only 50 people. I'm trying to imagine, and failing, what it will feel like when there are thousands of us, gathered strong. I am so glad I'm doing this - it is my great honor.

I thought about John's friendship with Roxan, who died from breast cancer in 2002. She was his very best female friend. She was a beautiful human being. I didn't have the opportunity to know her nearly as well as I'd have liked. But I knew her through John's eyes. If nothing else, I love her for teaching me that it's ok to howl at the moon. She was a damned good howler! So, I was thinking I'm doing this walk in part for turnes out I really am. I'm walking for him because he lost his best friend to breast cancer too. I hadn't seen it from that angle before last night. Roxanne died the night before John's 42nd birthday. I walk for Roxan (and for John, who would have wheeled to the ends of the earth for her).

Can I change the world, one step at a time? Maybe not. But I can change my world, and, just maybe, I can change yours.
If I can reach the stars,
Pull one down for you,
Shine it on my heart
So you could see the truth:
That this love I have inside
Is everything it seems.
But for now I find
Its only in my dreams.

And I can change the world,
I will be the sunlight in your universe.
You would think my love was really something good,
Baby if I could change the world.

~Eric Clapton, Change the World

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chance & Luck

Remember the embroidered line in my dream? Chance never looks luck in the eye.

There's a difference between chance and luck.

Chance: the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled; to risk

Luck: good fortune; advantage or success, often considered as the result of chance

Chance is about having faith. Luck is what comes regardless, good or bad. Faith and Folly. Chance is something you take. Luck is something you get. Chance is buying the lotto ticket. Luck is having the winning numbers.

Chance is masculine. "Hey Chance! Here boy!!" Luck is feminine. "Luck be a lady tonight." (Frank Loesser, Luck Be a Lady)

It stands to reason that Chance doesn't see eye to eye with Luck. They may occasionally be in the same room together, may even walk hand in hand sometimes, but they are, at the outset anyway, separate and apart.

While I'm all about chance, (I'm a risk taking fool of a card player. I'll dive into the unknown just for fun.), I don't much believe in luck, or I should say, I don't believe in waiting for luck. Life is what you make it - do you take risks, or do you sit back and wait for fortune to find you? Like the old joke says, meet the gods halfway... you gotta buy the damned lottery ticket.
the way he said, take it, take it and make it with your own two hands
that was my old man and he said
if all is grounded you should go make a mountain out of it

~Jason Mraz, Sleep All Day

What I didn't mention about that dream was that David was in it, busy doing his own thing while I was embroidering the phrase. It occurs to me... Chance was posting a personal ad. Luck was finding a guy like David. Whatever comes of it (chancy business, this relationship development stuff), I'm honored to know the dude. Lucky me (grin).

Chance never looks luck in the eye.

Hmmmm. Indeed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Remover of Obstacles

Yes, I did. I went out walking last night, blister and all. This time I really didn't want to. But, I thought about Grandma Schmutzer, thought about how she learned to walk again after having her leg amputated when she ws 84 years old. So, I summoned her feisty Hungarian spirit, and made myself get on down the road before there was any choice.

As I walked, I pondered the amazing will and force of the human spirit - that which keeps us going against all odds. I thought of how hard Cindy battled breast cancer so she could stay alive long enough to see Jonathan through his Bar Mitzvah (she did, and then some). I thought about the time she apologized to me for being sick ("You didn't sign on for this...") I remembered a time when her doctor, in an aside to me, shook her head and said, "Quite honestly, I have no idea what's keeping her alive. She shouldn't be." I thought of how I rubbed her feet when she was bedridden; feet that hurt simply because they were still in existence. I thought about the time I bathed her, ever so gently, and changed her sheets, and she called me Mother of Mercy.

I'm walking for Cindy. I'm walking for her and her beautiful family that taught me so much about unconditional love.
Here's an interesting little thing that happened yesterday. I was digging through my jewelry box, looking for earrings to wear to work, and I found an old pair of Ganesha earrings that John bought for me years ago. They'd gotten buried under some other stuff and I hadn't seen or worn them in a few years. Now, suddenly, they magically arose from the clutter.

I knew that Ganesha was one of the Hindu dieties, but I couldn't remember for sure what he symbolized. So, being the research brat that I am, I had to find out. Turns out that Ganesha is revered as The Remover of Obstacles, and as Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles (meaning that he can place obstacles as well). He's also patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom.

Remover of Obstacles... Lord of Beginnings... go figure that I'd rediscover those earrings just now, having taken on one of the greatest challenges of my life. Yeah, right - tell me the Universe isn't paying attention to my tiny existence. Eyes wide open here. No wonder I'm not sleeping well - I'm afraid to even blink for fear of missing something crucial.

In a rather bizarre dream the other night, I was embroidering a sampler that read: Chance never looks luck in the eye. Where the hell did that come from? I've never heard it before. I've been chewing on it for a couple of days now, and I'm totally perplexed. It was a clear message to me - awfully profound for a dreamscape. I'll keep chewing...

Can your heart conceal
What the mind of love reveals

~K.D. Lang, The Mind of Love

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Walking, and Constantly

It seems, that with my commitment to the 3-day, comes a focus on walking. I was going through some old scribbles of mine, old poetry and lyrics, and it occured to me how many involve or are centered around walking. I've been headed toward this for 45 years now, ever since I took my first stumbling baby step.
the walking and constantly
an endless stream of endless dreams
that wheel and roll just past my shoulder
the waiting and constantly
an endless shift of sifting through
the facts, the fey
you never know for sure
i was sure until they asked me
now i don't know
all i know is something touched me
shadows lift my fingers
don't let the cold...
every now and then things become clear
there's nothing that will bring you back
there's nothing that will change this fact
there's nothing that i will take back
i know i know
this is a fact
i'm pretty sure i know
i don't know i don't know i...

~Jane Siberry, The Walking

That song was one of my first introductions to Jane Siberry's music and it's stuck with me through the years. It haunts.

I came home from work yesterday, and I didn't really want to go out and march, but I forced myself. Yet another circumstance where my stubbornness comes into play for the good. If I tell myself I don't want to, I'll dig in and make myself do it. I'm just weird that way. So I laced up and headed out, through the neighborhood, down to the lake. Down to where the ducks flew in a squabble to land with a "shhhhh" on the water, past blooming crocuses and irises, to the water's edge and then out on the boardwalk where it was just the water and the looming clouds scuttling over the Seattle skyline. I had a stare-down with a blue heron. I whispered the names of those I've lost to any kind of cancer, my prayer for strength to the universe: Cindy... Margaret... Dad... Mary... Tom Sr... Dick... Roxan... John... This is proving to be an emotional endeavor so far. I can only imagine what the 60 mile walk will generate within me. I think the well is going to be dug even deeper by the time it's all over with.

And then I turned and started the return walk up the big hill on 116th St. It near 'bout whupped my ass. It's a helluva hill. About a quarter of the way into it, I felt myself flagging, and then Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" came on the iPod... John's song. I kept going.
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

~Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here

I felt good by the time I got home. Really good. I even (proudly) have my first blister - a big nasty on my right foot (note to self: invest in better socks). I found myself smiling as I popped it, slathered it with goo and wrapped it in a bandage. War wounds are proof of surviving battle.
the walking and constantly
an endless stream of endless dreams
that wheel and roll just past my shoulder

Monday, February 25, 2008

Beans & Things

More Bean! What is with this restless, sleepless crap? It's getting old.
So, for lack of anything better from my overly tired brain, I'm posting this survey dealie that my nephew sent me.

Four things that you may or may not know about me, in no particular order...

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Florist
2. Nanny
3. Legal Assistant
4. Customer Service Manager

Four Movies that I Love to Watch:
1. Around the Bend
2. We Were Soldiers
3. Amelie
4. The Color Purple

Places I have lived:
1. Kentwood, MI
2. Budapest, Hungary
3. Chevy Chase, MD
4. Kirkland, WA

Four TV Shows that I watch (if and when I watch TV - it's rare any more):
1. Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
2. Bear Grylls: Man vs. Wild
3. Iron Chef
4. Miami Ink (love the artwork)

Four Places I have been (how do I chose just four? these are the most recent):
1. Northern California
2. Canada
3. Nevada
4. Montana

Four People who e-mail me regularly:
1. Tonto
2. Laura
3. Timothy
4. David

Four favorite things to eat:
1. Popcorn
2. Salads
3. Sushi
4. Cheese

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Hungary
2. Waking up to someone with some fuzzy chest hair and...*ahem*
3. Sparks, NV
4. Anywhere that would involve driving Birddog into the sunrise

Four things I am looking forward to this year:
1. Doing the 3-day 60 mile walk
2. Reaching goal weight
3. Time with family and friends
4. Living

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In the Pink

Well, I've done it! The ad says, "You've got to be a little bit crazy..." Seems I qualify. So, I'm now an officially registered participant in the upcoming Breast Cancer 3-day Walk for the Cure to benefit Susan G. Komen. From September 12-14th I'll be walking a total of 60 miles (20 miles per day). I'm excited about it for so many reasons. This is something I've been wanting to do since I lost my first dear friend to breast cancer 15 years ago. I've since lost two other friends to it, and there's an iminent threat of losing more. One in three women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Unacceptable. I do refuse to idly stand by for that.

I will walk for those who no longer can - for Cindy Simon, for Roxan Wynn, for Mary Johnson; and I will walk for those currently surviving - especially the amazing Sherman family. You all shine - you and your families, and the courage you've all shown have made a difference in my life.

I will hold this banner high against the wind,
to show your colors brightly,
because the light inside your laughter must not end
~Barb Black, Tapestry

As I first promised Cindy, so long ago, I will hold the banner high. I will walk. I've put it off long enough. The time is now. Time for this gypsy to race into battle.

In the coming months, you'll be hearing a lot about this from me. Right now, I'm a little overcome with emotion at just having joined. This is very dear to me.

A video from the 2007 Seattle 3-day...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Spring in My Step

It's yet another glorious day here in the Pacific NW. The sun is high, the sky is electric blue, and temps are in the 50's. I was up early (gee, thanks, cat!). Actually, I was up half of the night. Having been struck by my muse at 2 a.m., I wandered out to the piano and wrote a new song: Not Sayin'.

I headed out shortly after nine this morning for a good long walk. I think I did about 5 miles. I headed down the hill to Lake Washington (I'm about maybe a mile from it), and walked through the park and back around again. The lake was beautiful - calm and clear, and smooth as glass.

I'd forgotten over the past few years just how much I enjoy walking, how much I enjoy the feeling of my feet smacking the earth, how much it regenerates me in so many ways. Sad that I did. There's nothing so amazing as tooling down the road under your own steam. The slower pace makes you notice things that would otherwise go by in a blur, and gives plenty of time for all kinds of contemplation and mental meandering. I'm glad that I've been able to rediscover my love of walking. It's a little different now, what with my gimpy left leg (I don't have any sensation from about mid-calf down), but it's still my very own leg and making it move me feels good.

In my bleary-eyed sift through my quote book as I was trying to fall back asleep, circa 4 a.m., I came across one of my all time favorite quotes. I've been contemplating that much of the day, thinking about what it means, exactly, and how to implement it.

"There will only be one of you for all time.

You must fearlessly be yourself."
~Anthony Rapp

See, it's not just that we only get this one life, but that we only get one of our selves. You and I are never going to be repeated. There will never be another Barb Black to stumble across your paths (yeah yeah... ok... all together now, "Oh, thank ALL the gods!"). Yep, I'm the only one you get. Conversely, you're the only you that I get to have.

Deep thoughts for such a sunny day. Kind of makes you appreciate others more, doesn't it. Makes you appreciate individuality, and the uniqueness of each spirit that enhances your existence.

And, "fearlessly be yourself"... well now, that's what I've been talking about, i'nit? If you bend to the whims, needs, wants and rules of others, who are you really? Be you. Be entirely, ceaselessly you. Be the best you that you can be. You're a precious commodity - there's only one, after all. Live with force.
Now open your arms
Pick up your head
Open your eyes
So you can see
What happens next
You won’t believe
Just how good it can get

The Wallflowers, How Good It Can Get

Friday, February 22, 2008

Forward, ho!

Friday! WoooHOOOO!

I've been putting in 11-hour work days all week, and I think I've had just about enough. My eyes are turning into lint-covered dust balls. I'm ready for some fun and relaxation. Of course, I still have to get through today, but I'm mostly tough. I think I'll make it.

I mentioned a few posts ago that, in September, I'm going to be doing the 60-mile Walk for the Cure to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer fund (the ad says, "You've gotta be crazy to do this!" I figure I qualify.). Well, I've decided to do a trial-hike of sorts in June. There's another group ( that's doing an all night 20-mile walk to benefit The American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide. I think it'll be fun to troop around all through the night. Although I've never personally known anyone who committed suicide (thank all the gods), I've known plenty of people who've been down that low (myself included). While the angry side of me sees suicide as a selfish option, the compassionate side of me can't help but ache for someone who has lost all hope, let alone joy, in life. So, it's a good cause, and it's a good workout for me.

I'm getting to the point in my weight loss that people are starting to notice, and that always feels good. One of my co-workers calls me the Incredible Shrinking Woman, bless her heart. For me, it just plain feels good to be shrinking, to feel less old, to have more energy, to feel less like a semi-truck trying to park in a VW world. I've been asked how much I've lost, and I have no idea. I didn't weigh myself at the outset, and I don't intend to. For me, it's not about numbers, it's about how I feel and how my clothes fit. Currently, everything is baggy. Yippee! When the weather got nicer this week (it's been gorgeous and in the 50s all week here!), I hauled out some of my short-sleeved shirts from last summer... I'm swimmin' in 'em! I love being able to haul out old clothes and say, "Nope, can't wear that anymore," because they're too big!

Walk with me

Walk with me.
There was snow, but now
jump up to meet me.
I greet them with
what Mom calls
"a sunny smile and
blue eyes to match the sky."
I am happier
than I'd been;
it's warm,
healing, to laugh
in the Spring's embrace.
I like when you grin too.
There are wildflowers
begging our attention.
Walk with me.
~bab 1998~

Forward, ho!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Luna See

This moon is a feisty one. It's got claws. It's got fur and teeth.

And, wow! That eclipse last night! The clouds cleared just in time for me to catch the second half of the show. Beautious.

Pretty yes, but the pull of it is showing no mercy whatsoever. I'm not the only afflicted soul either. I talked to Patty in Minny-Soda yesterday and, normally a sweetheart of a gal, she sounded downright fierce. When I told her that with the lunacy (luna IS the root word there, after all) I was feeling, that everyone in my path was about one taebo lesson away from an ass-whuppin', she all but screeched, "YES!"

Interestingly, this lunar tic seems to effect woman more than men. Men seem docile in comparison. Psychological studies have shown that there is no conclusive evidence of the effects of a full moon on humans. Bullshit. Who are they studying?!

All I know is, if you see this woman...
you might want to back off a few paces.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bubba & Beddy Mooch

*skritch skritch skritch*

I'm tired. I worked a 12 hour day yesterday and still had spreadsheets and numbers dancing through my head all night. I remember dreaming about counting pillows in a linen closet as the alarm went off.

At work I've been talking to so many people from Texas lately (we're taking over the world, one pet ID tag at a time, starting with TX! bwahhahaaa) that I think I'm picking up a twang. When I refer to people in plural any more, I just call 'em Y'allz. "Y'allz mind if I make more bean? All Y'allz gonna drink some if I do?" Shit. I think I talk like that anyway... but now it has an accent. Oh, and it finally happened... in the 200 or so new store registrations I've worked on from Texas, I finally got one that listed the store owner as Bubba. Not kidding. Y'allz know Ah wunt kid 'bout no Bubba.

I'm sure they all (themn's, I believe it is) hang up after a conversation with me and say, "Friggin Yank... wah Y'allz s'pose themn's gotta tawk so fahnny?"
Canada is just as fun. "Oh, Hi, eh. We've got your tag display, eh? And I was wondering ah-boat it, eh..."

I love accents. I love to mimic them - for me, it's the same kind of fun some people get from trying on new shoes. It doesn't take much either. If I spend long enough in someone's presence, I tend to follow their speech patterns anyway. Five minutes after I walk in the door at Tonto's house, I find myself matching her leftover Maine "ahyup" without even thinking about it. "Bad traffic?" "Ahyup."

I'm a linguistic ho. A syntax slut.
If I'd a'knowed you'd a'wanta went, I'd a'seed you'da got'ta git'ta go...(the faster you say it, the better it gets)

I think it comes from growing up with a Grandma who had a heavy Hungarian accent. We used to do everything to get her to say the word "third," because she couldn't pronounce 'th', so it came out "turd." "Grandma, which one is the house where Mom took piano lessons?" "Da turd house on da right." Told you I was easily amused.

Wayyyy back in my childhood, when my Uncle Rudi came to visit us from Hungary, he asked my Mom what a 'beddy mooch' was. Mom was stumped. She asked where he'd heard it, in what context. He said he heard everyone say it all the time. Not long after, one of us, upon receiving something we wanted, said, "Oh, thank you very much." Rudi lept up in a fit of joy, pointed and said, "Beddy Mooch! Ahh! Ten Q Beddy Mooch!!!" I still like beddy mooch more than very much.

Alas, another workday looms. All Y'allz enjoy yer day, hear? Doan make me git Bubba....

Ten Q Beddy Mooch

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On the Horniness of a Dilemma

Okay, I was already in a good mood this morning, and then I checked my comments to yesterday's post and found this from Gordon: Your thoughts are not only out the door but about 3 blocks away already. Gordon, my man, in a couple of short weeks of reading my blather from way over there on the other side of the pond, I do believe you've captured the essence of my warped brainscape better than most who've actually met me. Dude, that was beautiful. I'm still laughing!

"Make love in the microwave,
think of all the time you'll save."
~Carly Simon, Happy Birthday

Here's a bit of news for many of you, since I'm in the mood to freely admit to damn near anything - I'm a highly sexual creature. Truth. It's in my Scorpio nature. For a long time, I thought it was bad, shameful even, but now I celebrate it. It's fun, or at least it should be fun. If it's not - kick it up a notch. Gee, can you tell the full moon is back and sex is in the air? Or on the ground. In the trees... wherever, it's only kinky the first time.

So then, yesterday, I talked to a friend of mine (we'll call him Ken) about masturbation. (Funny, I talked to someone else about that on Sunday too! Wait. Two other people on Sunday. Hmmm.) Anyway, Ken had me roaring with laughter - so much so that I told him to turn it into a schtick and find an open mic night somewhere. Ken mentioned that his preferred personal-pleasuring lubricant is a 50/50 combo of Suave lotion and water, (pause for effect) but that it's essential that you buy the unscented lotion, as there's nothing more difficult than explaining why only your right hand smells like aloe and cucumbers... "Oh, it's not just my right hand, Honey. It's my dick too!"

Well ok. Since I'm airing everyone else's True Confessions here, I may as well air my own. What you're about to read is an edited excerpt from an email I sent to David last night:

So, so, so bad. What have you done to me? It must be your fault. If it's not, then I have no one to blame but myself - and we both know I'm much too pure to garner any blame. Ok, confession time (hangs head in shame, or maybe to cover wicked grin - you decide): Last night, with the onset of the full moon, I was faced yet another night of non-sleep. My bio-rhythms have a definite kinship with La Luna, always have. I turn a bit feral when the moon is full. I'll prowl, howl, pretty much go sleepless, and damn, if I'm not darned horny when the Big Searchlight is up there in the night sky. Yes, even more so than usual... hey now, quit giving me that look. That one
. You're making me blush, that's why. Now stop it.

Well, faced with aforementioned lack of sleep for latter-ally aforementioned reasons (sorry 'bout that... it hurt my head too), I decided to try your suggested herbal remedy. Being a guy, you no doubt absorbed the fact mentioned in the previous paragraph, that the full moon makes me
horny. In fact, if it weren't you I was writing to, I'd be inclined to think that "horny
" might have been the only word you noticed in said paragraph.

I digress... I know... you like it when I digress, but (*shakes head cartoonishly*) we need to focus here. No, dear... not down there... here... yes, up a bit further...good. Look in my eyes. There we go. Where were we? Yes, right.

Herbal remedy. Keeping in mind (third time's the charm *wink*) that I'm
horny and prowly from the full moon... I decided to go with your suggestion, take a couple of hits off the ol' peace pipe, and try to sleep. Two tiny hits... just two. That's all. I swear on it. Bad idea. Well, bad idea if I'm alone. Well, no, not even bad then, just... wasted. Do you know, and this is new to me, so I won't be surprised if you're not aware, that pot makes me horny. Not just a little squirmy and "oh how nice" horny, but, as it turns out, Horny
- with two big bad horns, and steamin' nostrils, and heavy breath, and... let's just say there's a fine line between feral and bestial... I'm reasonably certain I didn't cross over. Added to the full moon effect already in progress... oy vey. If it hadn't been for worry of getting rug rash, I'd have been hauling myself across the carpet like a bad puddy-kat.

As it was, and here's where the confession probably really begins; as it was, I managed to give myself the best self-induced orgasm I've ever,
bar none
, ever had. And that's saying a whole helluva lot after, what... 35 years of practice. Hey I was Catholic, I started young. (*shrug*) Let's just understand here, and load a visual if you will, that I had very good reason for howling at the moon last night.


PS Can you believe I wrote all this to you?! I think I need to go to confession. I hope they'll still let me be a nun... wanna help me with my dirty habits?


That's probably more than any of you wanted to know, but since when have I held back on saying stuff? Why start now? If you're going to partake of this glass door glimpse into my life, you might as well get the full view. No, no fear. I'm not going for a full Happy Hooker exposé here (although some of you would probably cheer that on). However, I do think that there's a reason three of my favorite words are lascivious, salacious, and rapacious.

Google 'em. I need to get my salaciously Scorpian Gypsy ass in the shower and get ready for work. Cold shower? Nevah! Why take the fun out of it?

Hoo-boy. G'head Barb... I dare ya to push the "publish post" button. Oh yeah?! Watch me...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sound Off

Once again, my head is too full... and so is the moon.

It's a wonder I'm not an alcoholic or a drug addict. Really. There are times when it would be so nice to have a bit of oblivion. But then I worry... what if I miss that quintessential moment that revealed it all to me? So, I throw myself into creative endeavors, instead of a bottle, in an attempt to quell the raging beast. A few years back I took anti-depressants for a while, but I hated them. Not only did they dull the sadness in my life, but they dulled everything else... my sense of humor, my libido, my energy level, my empathy. I'd rather feel too much than nothing at all.

What is the sound of a feeling?
It's the vague hush just before the leaves rustle.
It's the sound of a distant train.
It's the thunderclap that wakes one from sleep.
It's the sound of piano music coming from a house down the block.
It's a gasp, a sob, a chuckle, a sigh.
It's the bullet whining past your head.

Yeah... see? Like I need to get stoned. My thoughts are already far enough out the door.

" asked who else I could
talk to like this
while I was wondering what to do
with feelings I
couldn't use,
your face
so close to mine
it chilled me."
~Lyn Lifshin, For a Friend

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunny Sunday!

Jupiter anon! *whistles* Everybody, outa the pool!

It's a weekend day in the Greater Puget Sound area and... brace yourselves... it's S U N N Y! How did that happen? What amazing twist in universal fortune brought this about? Unthinkable... unheard of... crap. Now everyone will want to move here.

I was awakened at 7 this morning by the glare of the newly returned Bright Hurty Thing. Ol' Sol was beamin' through the blinds, insistent as all get out, and assisted by Li'l Miss Thang who would pace and howl until I paid her due attention (aka, fill the food dish). I stumbled out to the kitchen to make bean and was summarily blinded by the wash of light coming in my windows. My windows. My filthy, nasty windows... yes, this was my thought before I even made bean... (cue Smeagol's voice here) "must... clean... nasty... windowses...."

So, I've been a cleaning mad woman since (or would that be a mad cleaning woman... the syntax is a bit blurry there, to be certain). Got the windows done post haste, got the floors mopped, kitchen's bleached, picked up the tree limbs that were littering my front yard, swept the porches, and took out the trash. The house is bright, and clean (and freezing, as I have the back door open, thought it's all of 50 degrees), and smells good.

Best thing? It's not even noon! I'll see yaz lay-tuh! I'm goin' walkin'... time for this gypsy to tromp in the sun.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pressure Point

So, ok... I put a lot of pressure on myself. I'm impatient with my own failings, with my own frailty. Hell, I'm impatient with my impatience. It's all on me. I can forgive anyone's humanity, but my own... not so much.

Bear with me here, I'm self-spelunking as I write.

I was talking to a coworker yesterday who is totally stressed out about not doing a good enough job - at work, at home, at anything. I told her to lighten up on herself. As I heard my own words, I thought... who am I to be giving such advice without living it? And how do I do that? How do I lighten up on myself? If I don't hold myself accountable and responsible, who will? And what are the limits to that necessity. Where's the breaking point? I don't know. I really don't know.

I recognize where much of that feeling comes from, but that doesn't change the feeling any. It comes from being the child of an alcoholic, and growing up with the notion that if I was just good enough, if I was better, he'd stop drinking and everything would be ok. Even though I know that's a fallacy, even though I know I wasn't ever responsible for Dad tipping the bottle, I still have the feeling today that if I'm just good enough, everything will be ok.

And what's good enough? And what's ok?

I was asked what I fear. I said, "I fear nothing." That's only a mostly true statement. I don't fear anything the universe is going to throw at me. I only fear not being good enough. Or maybe it's the fear of not recognizing what it is that's good enough.

Aggh. My crowded brain.

I know the principles: Live in the moment; Live well and fully; Love unconditionally; Find truth; Foster beauty; Dance the dance of the eclectic soul; Sing out the unsung. Added to that, perhaps, 'forgive the unforgivable humanness of my own self.' Maybe that will be good enough and everything will be ok.
You have to learn to pace yourself
You're just like everybody else
You've only had to run so far
So good
But you will come to a place
Where the only thing you feel
Are loaded guns in your face
And you'll have to deal with
~Billy Joel, Pressure

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm Just Me

I wrote today's posting last night while I was in a very different mood. I almost posted it last night, but I didn't have the energy to edit it and make it look pretty. When I woke up this morning, I almost thought about not posting it at all. But, I promised I wouldn't censor myself, so I won't start now. Here it is, uncut.

I’m just me.

I should be used to this by now, shouldn't I? Used to the sound of my own breathing, used to the quiet, the waking alone, the cat running in and out of the bedroom to see if I‘m really getting up, really going to come feed her. I should be used to it, but I’m not. I’m not used to it. I don’t like waking up alone, so I’ve discovered.

You’d think, with this little routine I’ve got going here… rising at 5 a.m., making bean, rubbing the crud from my eyes as I wait for the computer (and my brain) to Lazarus up from the dead, throwing my mind into another daily scribble, another pattern of rambling thought… you’d think it would all make more sense. You’d think I’d have greater appreciation for the quiet time alone. I don’t.

I’m impatient with myself, with my process, with the slow churn of the universe. I’m impatient with wondering if I’ll ever get to share everything in me, if it will matter in the end, if I’m just deluding myself, if I believe my own bullshit enough to convince myself to live it. I'm no guru, I'm no prophet, hell, I'm not even a very good disciple. I'm just trying to keep myself from falling into some totally inert, apathetic existence.

I’m tired. I’m tired, and only partly because I haven’t slept well all this week. I’m tired of always being the strong one in my life. I’m tired of being strong alone. I’m tired of there always seeming to be a fucking dragon to slay, and always having to haul my own sword into battle, without even having had time to sharpen it. I’m tired of always feeling like I’m responsible for bolstering everyone else’s emotional needs, when I feel like I’m the one crumbling from the inside out. I don’t mind doing that, really, but isn’t there one person who has an inkling that maybe, maybe, just maybe… I need a moment? One little moment… a teeny slice of time to just let it all fall apart. And why to I always feel so goddamn guilty for needing to melt down?! And why to I have to fucking announce that I need to?!

I’m mad at John for leaving me. He said if he ever decided to leave, I’d know because his books would be gone. Well, his books are still here. I’m mad at all the other men in my life for not opening their ridiculously blind eyes and - for whatever excuse they think they have- not stepping forward and seeing what a jewel I am, and what an amazing companion I’d be, and that they’re wasting every fucking precious second without me. Sounds ostentatious, but it’s true. No, I’m not perfect - my teeth are never going to be white, my boobs are never going to get perkier, I‘ve got ugly scars. But Gents, you are losing out on the greatest love you could ever know. Ask the guy whose fucking books are still here.

Swear to the gods, I’m gonna sell it all, saddle up Birddog and disappear. You’ll find me in some distant sunrise and wonder how you let it happen, wonder why you let it happen, and wonder what the fuck you’ve missed, and maybe even how you could have been so stupid. So put up your walls, search for the impossible. But I tell you… the possible is sitting right here typing at you. Clue in.

Ask the guy whose hand I clung to after everyone else left for whatever so-called justifiable reason they had. Yeah. Go ahead, y’all, and feel guilty for that - or feel pissed off at me for voicing it. Because I tell you… I feel guilty and pissed off every fucking minute of every single day for still being here. For being the one to write to you all and give you shit, and toss smartass comments your way and make you laugh, when he should be the one doing it.

I’m not your conduit to John - *sardonic snort* - I'm not a happy medium. I’m just me. I’m Barb, I’m Barb, I’m Barb. I’m worn out with reassuring you that he’s still here somehow, somewhere in each of us - can you not see that he is? I’m sick of reassuring you that I’ll always love him. Got any idea how much it hurts to have to say that all of the time, to be forced to remind myself of what's missing?! Try this as just an eensy example of the pain it causes: go out and fall off your bike and get a good case of road rash, now go out and do it again the next day, and now the next… and the next… what the fuck… do it for over nine months… and continue ad infinitum.

And if this is all too brutally honest for you - well, I make no apologies. Welcome to the brutally honest world I’ve had to live in for the past year. If you can’t forgive me my feelings, then this is where we part ways… because…

…I’m just me. No slack. On with the day. Go forth, Gypsy Girl… here’s your sword. Ye gods, I am tired. Someone else take the wheel for a while.
She takes just like a woman, yes she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.
~Bob Dylan, Like a Woman

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Greatest of These

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love. It's incurable, and it infects us all at some point. It's the one emotional response we can never predict. Someone once said to me, "Love took me by complete surprise. Shouldn't it rattle first or something?"

...then forget everything you ever heard about love
for it's a summer tan and a winter windburn
and it comes as weather comes to you, and you can't change it:
it comes like your face came to you, like your legs came
and the way you walk, talk, hold your head and hands -
and nothing can be done about it - you wait and pray.
~Carl Sandburg, Honey and Salt

Love changes ordinary moments into something extraordinary. It's the variable in the constancy of our processes. My sense of romance is as quirky and off the grid as my sense of humor. Flowers are mostly lost on me. One of the deepest moments John and I shared, or at least one of the deepest moments I felt - a little snapshot in time, if you will - was in the Safeway parking lot here in Kirkland. I got out of the truck to go in and do the shopping, he stayed behind to read and have a smoke. I was about 15 feet from the truck when I heard his voice, "Hey..." I turned, thinking he'd remind me to get milk or something. Instead, he quietly said, "I love you." I smiled a wavery smile in response and levitated my way into the store. He turned the ordinary into extraordinary.

You never know....

Waiting for the Train

I almost expected
love from you.
You seemed the sort
to give love,
but I didn't
see it coming,
a great steam locomotive
as I stood, unaware
on the tracks,
thinking I was
holding ground -
hit me right between the eyes,
dead center,
knocked me out of my shoes,
left me shaking stars out of my head,
wondering what happened.
Waiting every day now
for the train.

I never suspected
my love for you.
You seemed the sort
to need love,
but I didn't
see it coming from me -
a flowing canyon river
twisting, winding,
carving steps of time
you walked, aware,
into the current.
Knowing I would
come around, you stood
patiently in the rain.

Lucky, you say?
Damned lucky.
It's not often
the train runs on time
and the river
just so.
~BAB 1989~

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Extraordinarily Ordinary

I got tremendous response to my post yesterday. It's got me feeling fairly overwhelmed and humbled. I'm not special. I don't have any tremendous insight into the reason(s) we're all here. I just write what I feel. Evidently, posting my thoughts and feelings here has quite a ripple effect.

Few people are fortunate enough to be allowed to see tangible evidence of the difference they've made in others' lives. I happen to be one of those few and it carries with it a heavy weight. As quoted before, from the movie The Freedom Writers, "You have been blessed with a burden, and I envy you."

This isn't an easy task I've set myself to. I began writing here because I needed to hold the mirror up to my own life, shine the light into my own dark corners, not because I see myself as some kind of funky new age gypsy prophet (much as I joke about that, I wouldn't dare to presume to know enough to foster changes in another's world). I'm prone to failure, to moodiness, to all the humanness that everyone else gets to wade through. I just got tired of it. In watching a dynamic man die far too soon, I realized my own damning, mired in the muck propensity for saying, "Someday, I will..."

"Someday" has to be now. I'm the only one who can change me. How can I dare expect to participate in anyone else's life, if I don't fully participate in my own? I'm just me. While I've had extraordinary moments, I live a terribly ordinary life. I get up, I make bean, I shower, I go to work at a very low-end white collar job, and share mindless jibes with my coworkers, I come home, I feed the cat, I eat mostly sandwiches, or soups, or salads for dinner, I mess with the creative junk that threatens to explode my head, I curl up and drift off to sleep. Occasionally I'll get together with a friend and spend time yammering and laughing, usually while just hanging around and drinking some tasty, but low-cost red. I'm just me. But I'm getting pretty good at being me... and I think that's the most any of us can hope for.

The greatest thing you'll ever learn
is to love and be loved in return.
~Nat King Cole, Nature Boy

If I'm set apart by anything, it's my deep desire to love and to be loved. I'm not talking about mushy hearts and flowers love. I'm talking about unconditional love - the kind of love that says, "I am here for you, no matter who you are today." The kind of love that takes any relationship to an infinite level, no matter what the parameters of that relationship are. Simply: I care. And I think I'm here because I care. And because I feel a sense of responsibility toward that beautiful burden of caring. Wouldn't it be nice if such a basic concept was entirely ordinary?

Because... I'm just me.
Every so often a man has a day
He truly can call his
Well, here I am to seize my day
If someone would just tell me when the hell it is

Oh give me my chance, and give me my wings
And don't make me think about everyday things
They're unnecessary
To someone who is very
~Pippin, Extraordinary

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

World's Done Shakin' Me Down

Hard to believe it, but this blog (yes, I still hate that word) is three months old today. I'm astounded that I've managed to be such an intrepid author, but even more, that all of you have been such undaunted readers. Thank you - though I would likely write regardless - it means a great deal to me to have your support, and to, so often - because of the comments and emails I receive - see my scribbles through your eyes.

There are people who read these little slices of brilliance everyday from whom I wouldn't have expected a second glance (much less a 'save to favorites'). There are people who read this that I don't even know. It's humbling, and it makes me feel a sense of responsibility - not just to keep posting, but to measure my words well. Yes, measure, not censor. Perish that thought! It's about weight and balance, not about hiding.

I've been re-thinking one of my (many) conversations with Timothy the other day. Timothy doesn't like to read, and initially had to be dragged to the Black Ink Pad, kicking and screaming, by Tom. He still doesn't read it every day, but occasionally when we're talking, it'll remind him that he has a lot of catching up to do. Such was the case on Saturday. He clicked on the link and started perusing back a couple of weeks, and I said, "Oh man... you are going to have questions for me. Just read and call me back."

So he did. His first words, punctuated by some manly sniffles (because real men cry), were, "I love you." His second phrase was, "You are beautiful." We went over some of the points I'd made in different posts, laughed about some (he loved the imagery of me donning fishnet stockings and giving blowjobs on the docks for extra cash), and dissected some of the thoughts behind my ramblings.

T-man, I know you're going to read this post eventually (*smirk*), so I hope you don't mind me sharing all this. (Hey, at least it'll prove that you've read it! *raspberry*) But, all too often my post-posting conversations are fodder for a future post. Such is the case herein.

T said something like (going off of my shabby memory here - I have the retention span of a ferret on three espressos), "I believe in so much of what you say. It's so true. Why can't I live my life like that? There's so much I want to change and do, but I go to work, and I come home, and nothing is ever different! I need to meet new people. I need to get outside myself, but every day it's just the same shit all over again." It's ironic to me that Timothy seems to want to raise himself to my standards, because he's one of those people whose standards I admire and strive for. The 'no one can make you feel anything' line has become part of my mantra.

Timothy and I can (and do) say anything and everything to each other. It's a no holds barred relationship, and I really like that. There are three people in this world (none of them blood relatives) who would merely have to call me and say, "Get here now." And I'd drop everything and leave, no questions asked. He's one of them. I say this, not because I'm trying to foster a Timothy Love Fest, but because I want you to understand the integrity of the guy, and the depth of what we share as friends.

Anyway, to go back to his response, the bit about wanting and needing to change. In "coaching" him, for lack of a better word, I started thinking in terms of a step program. So, here it is (yes, all this verbose rambling has a point): The Gypsy 10-Step Exact Change Paradigm

1) Make a list of the things you want to change. It doesn't matter how big or small they are, and it doesn't matter what order it's in.

2) Choose one thing, and only one thing, off that list every week and begin to work toward changing it. Example: I want to ride my bike. Start by riding only 15 minutes a day. Make it a habit. (Sound familiar?)

3) Attitude, attitude, attidude. If you believe it, you can do it. Make it so. Cliché, yes, but truth. Even if you come across a day when you don't want to follow that goal, do it anyway. Force yourself.

4) Talk about it (even better, write about it if you can). Letting others know your goals keeps you honest, and it'll keep your enthusiasm level up. My sis is a marathon runner and every conversation has elements to it of what she's doing to train, or runs shes done. While at times I've thought, "God, that's all she ever talks about!" I've come to realize that it's part of what keeps her going when she'd rather curl up on the sofa and read.

5) Forgive yourself. You're human (curses, I know... how did we ever end up with such a plight?!). Shit happens. Your journey is not going to be perfect. You'll want to give up.

6) Don't give up. Keep going. As Rilke said, "no feeling is final." Physical, mental, spiritual. Growth involves pain. But, as David says when he finishes a particularly brutal workout, "I hurt, but I hurt less than if I didn't do it at all." John used to have a poster that read, "Nothing hurts worse than doing nothing."

7) Expect greatness. Don't be reluctant to be proud of yourself for even the small accomplishments. I once saw an interview with Olympic runner, Carl Lewis. He was asked about "failing" to win a race and how he would analyze his failure in terms of future races. He gave the interviewer a dry glance and said, "I don't look back and ask myself what I could have done. I look forward and ask myself what I can do."

8) Failure is not an option. Stumbling is expected - it's part of our lack of perfection as humans. It's called working toward a goal for good reason. You're going to fuck up (ask anyone who's ever been on a diet). It's ok. Just see it, see the way around it, and move forward.

9) Begin another goal. Yep, right in the middle of working on the one you chose. I find that many of the things I want to change about myself go hand in hand. Often, it's almost easier to meld one goal into another, having already made strides toward changing the first one. Example: I wanted to lose weight. My first goal was to change my thought patterns and habits that centered around food consumption. My second goal was to get exercise so I'd feel better and be more limber (getting old sucks, that's why). The two goals work together to whittle me down to the weight I want to be at.

10) Recognition. In realizing that you want to change, you're already half way there. It's an old AA standard, but it works. It's called enlightenment. Give yourself 'props' for wanting to be a better you. That's what it's all about, my friend.

Write to me, or call me. I want to know how it goes - *grin* - see step #4.

"Oh, I'm newly calibrated
All shiny and clean
I'm your recent adaptation
Time to redefine me

Let the word out, I've got to get out
Oh, I'm feeling better now
Break the news out, I've got to get out
Yeah, I'm feeling better now

The world's done shakin' me
World's done shakin' me
World's done shakin' me down"
~Collective Soul, Better Now

Monday, February 11, 2008

Well, Well, Well: A Deep Subject

^^That's the cover I designed for my Mom's book.^^

It was quite a project putting that together. I printed out over 100 pages - all of which came from this blog - and that's even without the daily dose of artwork, just the writing only. Guess I'm quite the verbose Gypsy, eh? I've never done book binding before, so that was a fun little experience too. All in all, I think it turned out pretty well. It felt kind of strange to see all my ramblings here done up in print.

As I was coming up from the depths of sleep this morning (thank you, Midnight, for licking my eyebrow 1/2 an hour before the alarm was due to beep), I suddenly recalled something that I was told 27 years ago. It was 1981, and I was still in my teens. My friend Jill (who I've long since lost touch with) and I were sitting around, just hanging out, talking.

Let me back up and preface this a little - give you a glimpse of the girl I was at 19 years of age. Mind you, I was a very different person then. Most of you wouldn't recognize the gypsy you know today, but for the vivid blue eyes. I had a far different spirit - pretty much no self-esteem, no confidence, I was scared of everything and everyone, I was shy and I didn't speak unless spoken to. My mood range normally went from entirly passive, to sad, to angry (which usually came out in complete silence). Very little about life was beautiful to me. I was a stranger in an even stanger world. Hard to believe, but it's all true.

So, there I was, hanging with Jill. Jill was a good enough friend, but not someone I was really very close to (but then, I wasn't close to anyone back then). We weren't doing or talking about anything special, when she looked over at me and said, "I had a vision about you, and I think I'm supposed to share it with you." My internal metaphysical self immediately thought, "Ooooh!" My internal practical self thought, "Yeah, right." Outwardly, I said, "Ok."

Jill said, "There is a deep well within you. It's going to take a long time to dig through to it, and it's going to be very very painful digging to it. But once it's tapped, there is cool, sweet water that's going to rush up and spill over everything in your path, and it won't go unnoticed by anyone. I see you dancing at the top of a huge wave, and people are coming from everywhere just to get close to that wave. But, it's going to hurt for you to get there... it's going to hurt a lot. There's no other way."

At the time, I recall thinking that I was already in pain, so it stood to reason that there'd be water pretty darned soon. I kind of set the vision aside, but I've thought of it every now and then when times get tough. Thought of it with a cynical smirk (sure, Jill, sure, what do you know?). That is, until now.

"Hey, hey, hey, something's different in my world today
Well they've changed my traffic sign to a brighter yellow..."
~Jason Mraz, Curbside Prophet

I think the well has finally been dug to completion. I can see it and feel it in the way people treat me, and respond to me. Even strangers seem to gravitate toward the 'something different' about me. Within me, it's a little bit overwhelming; I've never had such creative energy. There just isn't enough time in the day for me to impliment all of the ideas in my head, and they just keep coming. I feel a deep joy that, I think, radiates outwardly. I feel - amid all the chaos of my fevered imagination, cruising brain, and restless spirit - a profound sense of peace. Above it all, is this huge feeling of love for all that has been, and is, my life.

Jill never did say what I was supposed to do once the water hit. Damned prophets - always leavin' a gal dangling. There's a line from the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher that has always stayed with me, and I think I'll abide by it now. Laurence Fishburn is trying to teach the young boy to play a better game of chess. The kid keeps making bad moves. Finally, Larry swipes all of the chess pieces onto the floor and says, "Don't move until you see it." The kid stares at the empty board for a long while, then finally reaches down, picks up a piece and plunks it on the board with a triumphant look. Larry smiles big and nods.

Don't move until you see it. Think I'll just stay put and see which way the water flows. Kinda nifty dancing up here on the wave, anyway.

"I'm just a curbside prophet,
with my hand in my pocket,
and I'm waitin' for my rocket to come on.
Just a curbside prophet,
with my hand in my pocket,
and I'm waitin' for my rocket, y'all..."
~Jason Mraz, Curbside Prophet

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Busy Sunday

*thud* Whew.

I've been up since 5 a.m., and I've been going at it non-stop. Ahhhh, ah, ah, heyheyhey, get your filthy minds outa my gutter! I've been finishing the edits on the book for Mom, and as Bill would say, my internal infernal editor is merciless. I can't believe how many spelling and grammar errors there are on this blog, and none of you has ever called me on 'em! You're either very kind, or fairly obtuse. Let's stick with kind. *sigh* I still have to write a foreword to the thing... "Dear Mom, sorry there's so much swearing in this book. I know you still think I'm your innocent little girl, but at 46 I decided it was ok to cuss a little. A lot. PS: You were wrong - sex is actually a lot of fun!"

I've yet to get to the card order I received on Friday, but I just got another for 2 dozen (yes, Timothy... you need 24 of 'em!) assorted cards, plus I get to design some wine labels. Shee-it! I'm just gonna hang a BlackInkPad sign on my door!

Had a great time talking to T-man throughout the morning (all ten conversations!). I told him I was going to quote him, because he totally cracked me up a couple of times. At one point, I was giving him some advice. I'm so good at it, that's why. I know what's best for people... it's a fault I've learned to live with. He started to protest at one point, so I said, "Aw, geez, I'm just giving you shit!" He retorted, "Yeah? Well go poop in someone elses yard!"

The other time that had me rolling was when I said to him, "Hey! Guess what I've decided to do...?" He replied rather drolly, "I can't imagine..." It made me laugh because, yeah, I guess anyone would have a tough time keeping up with my gypsy whims these days.

But. Guess what I've decided to do?!

I'm going to sign up for the, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research: Walk for the Cure that'll be happening here in Seattle, in September. My sis is footing the registration fee for me, which was a big consideration ("Oh, Barb! You gotta do it! Don't even think about it any more. Just tell me what you need!!"), and the rest I'll be able to raise as I go along. I'm doing this for several reasons - the biggest of which is that I've lost three very dear women in my life to breast cancer; I know three others who are currently fighting the battlle; one in three women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. With personal statistics like that, let alone the national statistics, it's a cause that is very near and dear to my heart.

It's also a great way to whip myself into shape. The walk takes place over three days - 20 miles a day for a total of 60 miles. Yeah. Oy. But... as the dear man said, "It's just walkin'" I figure if I'm down 4 sizes since July '07 by not doing much of anything, then adding that regime ought to have me fuckin' svelt by September. Look out boys... he-yah she comes... badda boom. So, you'll be hearing more about that in the coming weeks and months.

Good grief. 1:15 p.m. already? I've got to get busy, busy, busy!!! Catch y'all in the mornin'!

I wrote this about 10 years ago... time to reclaim it...

Walk with me

I like the power
of my own feet
as I walk
smacking the ground
giving gravity the finger
pushing along
stronger than tides
brighter than sun
I hold the world
(fragile, bleeding, wingless)
in my hand
oh so good, oh so good, osogood
an endless litany
of happiness in being
a mantra in every
pulse of my footsteps
oh so good, oh so good, osogood


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday Summation


My mind is whelmed over this morning. There are too many thoughts flitting about, like bees in a clover field. There's a constant buzz as things land momentarily, then flit off again... ideas that gather and settle, break apart, gather, and settle again. Every now and then, a wayward breeze rushes through and ruffles everything just as it seems to become clear.

I suppose it could be because I ate meat last night. Yes, yes I did. I made Szekely Gulyas (goulash for you yankess - but this ain't your Mama's beef n' macaroni) for dinner last night, and there's no such thing as vegetarian hungarian cuisine. But, oh my, it was good.

I don't think it's the meat.

I think I'm somewhat smitten... can one be somewhat smitten? See, the whole reason I cooked Hungarian food last night was that I invited David over for dinner. Early yesterday afternoon when he replied to my email and said he'd come, I found myself grinning foolishly for the rest of the day. And the grin just got bigger when I opened my door. We talked, laughed, ate, drank some good red, did the dishes together, listened to great tunes, teased the cat (no, that is not a euphemism!) danced, hugged, kissed (oh boy, did we), and then (nevermind - this is where the details stop)... the whole evening felt like a vacation. And I find myself wondering, "Could it be...?" And then I find myself wondering, "If so, who am I to be so deserving?"

I ask myself again, what have I ever done to have earned the amazing people who grace my life? Who am I that I should be so blessed? It's not a self-deprecating pondering, it's just pondering. Because I honestly don't know. Does it matter if I know? Ultimately, not. It's just that I seem to, without even trying, stumble upon people who make such a huge difference in my life, and then I hear from them that it's so difficult to meet quality people.

This weekend is a busy one for me. I need to go in to work today - I've been inundated with stuff to do there, and it will be good to work without interruption (except for the interruptions of my fevered imagination). I need to finish a project I've been working on for my Mom's birthday - she doesn't "do" computers, so I'm compiling a book of my postings here. I need to work on a new card order I got. I need to work on cards that I have to send out soon. There's the ever-present pile of laundry waiting for attention. I need to practice my music. And, hopefully, I'll get to see David again - the one thought that supplants the rest.

"Some days I feel like my shadow's casting me..."
~Warren Zevon

Friday, February 8, 2008

Let Me Ask You Something...

I found this questionnaire on another blog site... thought I'd fill it out and post it for lack of anything else more interesting.

1) Where did you begin 2007?
At home with John.

2) What was your status on Valentine’s Day?
Taken, and hanging on for dear life.

3) Were you in school anytime during the year?
No. But I learned more than I could have imagined.

4) How do you earn your money?
I wade through dingo shit for a living. Ocassionally I make an extra buck or two when I snow someone into thinking I'm an artist. If all else fails, I head down to the Port of Seattle and give blowjobs on the docks...

5) Did you have to go to the hospital?
Not for myself, but I spent much time there with John.

6) Did you have any encounters with the police?
Yes, they were cracking down on hardened criminals, and zapped me for not having my insurance card on me.

7) Where did you go on vacation?
Montana, Nevada and California

8) What did you purchase that was over $1000?
Nada! I spent it all traveling.

9) Did you know anybody who got married?

10) Did you know anyone who passed away?

11) Did you move anywhere?
I move all the time. Life is a fluid thang. Did I relocate? Nope - not yet.

12) How did you celebrate your birthday?
Went to Bill’s house, hung out, watched movies, relaxed, and enjoyed the company.

13) What concerts/shows did you go to?
Way back, last March, I went to see Fire On The Mountain. I’d gotten free tickets and took Vicki with me. Very good show, if you ever get the chance. Took my sister to see Into The Wild.

14) Are you registered to vote?

15) Where do you live now?
Kirkland, WA

16) How did you spend your summer break?
What summer break?! I did drive to Sparks for the best birthday party in the world, in August.

17) What’s one thing you thought you’d never do but did in 2007?
Posted a personal ad

18) What was your favorite moment of 2007?
There are so many… the night-long conversation with John… meeting Krissy… seeing the eagle fly over my house... the moment Midnight chose me… sitting around the fire after the memorial for John… standing in the rain crying and hugging Timothy after everyone had left the memorial... driving Birddog down the highway… spending time with Nana’s family… sitting around the campfire at Trinity Lake, getting absolutely trashed and making everyone laugh with my stupid jokes... showing up at Timothy’s house for Christmas… watching Glenda take down that vicious clay armadillo... getting to know Bill… reading the first line of the note from David that read, “OK Smartass… I hear you!”…so many!

19) What’s something that you learned about yourself?
I’m not afraid of anything.

20) What was your worst month?
Whew. May.

21) What music will you remember 2007 by?
Jason Mraz, Life is Wonderful; The Jayhawks, All the Right Reasons; Ingrid Michaelson, The Way I Am; anything by Joe Bonamassa; The Wallflowers, How Good It Can Get; Shawn Mullins, All in My Head... and a thousand others.

22) Who has been your best drinking buddy?

23) Made new friends?
Absolutely! I needed to. I needed people in my life who hadn’t been watching my process for the past year.

24) What was your best month?
August - that was when I realized what the freedom of an open road meant to me.

25) Overall, how would you rate 2007 out of 10?
10 - strange, but true. As rough as the year was, I learned and did more in one short year than I ever would have imagined.

26) Have any car accidents?

27) Did you have a New Year’s Resolution?
No - I don't believe in them.

28) Do anything embarrassing?
That’s kind of a daily occurance for me… but on my trip to California in September, I hit a blackbird and didn’t realize it was still stuck to the grill until I pulled into the gas station, and the attendant pulled it off and tossed it in the trash.

29) Buy anything from eBay?
Fie! Never!!!

30) Get married?
Fie! Never!!!

31) Get arrested?
Yeah, sure…*rolls eyes* (cue Ron White: “You did it… You got me... You caught the ‘Tater…”)

32) Did you get sick in 2007?
Not once. Managed to gimp up my left knee pretty good though.

33) Been snowboarding?

34) Were you happy to see 2007 go?
Definitely. I needed a new number in my head.

35) Where did you end 2007?
In Sparks, NV with my dear pal Tonto (aka Nana)!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dead Letter

Dear John,

Nine months ago today we spent our last day together. Everyone else had gone away; it was just the two of us. I spent the day holding your hand, feeling helpless while watching the spasms that yanked at your body, talking to you about everything - even though I couldn't tell if you heard me or not, wiping up the bile that you were unconsciously spitting up, and loving you as deep and fierce as I could.

Tenacious as ever, you were fighting as hard as you could to stay and hold my hand. It wasn't lost on me. I needed that day with you as much as you did. In the afternoon, I put on one of your favorite movies, The Last Samurai, and told you what was happening in the movie. When Katsumoto died, I couldn't help but let the tears fall. I turned to you then, and said, "My dear sweet Love, you have been so brave, and you've fought so hard. It's time to rest. It's time for you to find The Beautiful. I promise you, I will find a way to be ok. And I will love you always in all ways. Thank you for all the good and precious gifts you've brought to my life. I'll do my very best to be a woman of honor, and I'll carry your banner forever. It's time to stop fighting, Sweetie. Be at peace."

Three hours later, you surprised me by opening your eyes for a brief moment. Then you were gone. I bathed you in warm soapy water and tears, and I unhooked all the tubes before I called anyone. You deserved at least that much dignity. After that, it's a little blurry for me. I don't know who I called first, or what I said. Vicki and Gary rushed to be at my side. I recall feeling numb and just wanting to be alone. In the days that followed (most of which aren't very clear in my mind), I went on a manic cleaning binge and rearranged our bedroom and the living room. Wendi helped me with ideas of where to put furniture. I couldn't handle going to work - kindhearted Rich told me to take whatever time I needed. I think I took another week. I planted the garden in your honor and you sent the eagle. I ate ice cream for breakfast and sniffed your shirts. I took low doses of your morphine when it got to be too much.

Dr. West called to say he was sorry. He also said he wished all of his patients could have someone like me by their side. Good ol' Jack, huh? I just said, "Shit, Jack... what other option was there? That's what love is about."

In the months that have followed, I've tried to live up to my promises to you, just as others have. Your family has pulled together in a truly astounding way. They've surrounded me with their love (no escaping the Johnson clutch, eh?). I've made friends with Kris, and I love her dearly - whodathunkit, huh? I think you'd be very proud of her now. And Timothy. What can I say? You've left me to carry on an amazing friendship.

Time bends, folds, and unfurls - it seems like years since you've been gone; it seems like hours. I'm getting stronger every day. I'm working toward the goals we talked about. I'm living my life wide open. I'm stretching my creative soul to its limits. I'm breathing in and out. I've had great adventures and I'm ready for more. I discovered your Joe Bonamassa cds, and I rock out to them all the time. I'm learning, always learning. But I miss your smile, your silly emails, your laugh, your voice, your eyes, the smell of the back of your neck, your hugs... a million things, most of them little things. All the little things that add up to a measure of love.

I miss you Swee'tader. Seems like such a ridiculous thing to say, but it's the sum total of it all. I hope your journey in the past nine months has been as rich as mine... richer. Thanks for that electrical hug the other day. I have no idea what it took for you to be able to do that,

I've met a guy who's a blast to talk to, he makes me laugh all the time, and he knows how to hug like nothing else matters. I don't know where it's going, and I don't care. I enjoy it for what it is, for as long as I get to. You'd like him, I know. Very often I can picture the two of you together, talking endlessly and cracking each other up. It's strange to think that way, but it's truth.

I love this life, and I really am doing alright.

I love you,
Barbara Ann

PS. Thanks for the great hat!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Duck and Cover

Every new beginning starts with an ending.

I heard a great line yesterday that's had me smiling and, with a nod, saying, "Huh... yeah...yeahhhh..."

The line was: "I think I should worship myself for all the shit that hasn't killed me yet."

I hate that old axiom: That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. What a crock! That which does not kill me makes me angry and stubborn and cynical. I'm put in mind of one of my favorite old Bugs Bunny gigs.

Bugs and Daffy are arguing over whether it's Duck or Rabbit Season (Season's Greetings! Heh...), while a confused Elmer Fudd keeps shooting at Daffy whenever ordered to shoot.

Finally, as the debate over which animal is actually in season continues, Bugs manages to escape each round unscathed, but Daffy continues to end up getting shot in the bill. Of course, none of Bugs' and Daffy's tactics convince Elmer to lay down his gun.

Daffy notices a sign on a tree that reads: DUCK SEASON OPEN.

Daffy: "Devilishly clever..." (notices Elmer approching) "Uh, oh!" (runs off screen)
Elmer continues walking until he runs into Daffy, who is now disguised as a rabbit.

Daffy: "What's up, Doc? Having any luck on those ducks? It's duck season, you know!"
Enter Bugs, disguised as a duck.

Bugs: "Just a darn minute! Where do you get that 'Duck Season' stuff?"
With a look of confidence, Daffy points offscreen.

Daffy: "Says so right over there on that sign, you're so smart."
The sign now reads: RABBIT SEASON OPEN.

Daffy: (still with a look of confidence) "You know what to do with that gun, doc..."
Elmer shoots Daffy in the bill, blowing his disguise off from the neck up. Elmer has a look of surprise on his face. Daffy quietly stares at the triumphant Bugs with a look of embarrassed fury.

Daffy: (approaches Bugs angrily) "You're despicable..."

Bugs and Daffy then begin reading cookbooks on how Elmer can prepare rabbit or duck delicacies.

Elmer: "I'm sowwy fewwers, but I'm a vegetawian. I just hunt for the sport of it."

Shit happens, and most of the time it's not rational. We don't get to choose outcomes, we are merely allowed to participate. I often feel a bit like Smeagol with my plaintive, karmaic litany of, "We be nice to them, they be nice to us." The whole time The Fates are sitting at a giant chess board, only concerned with protecting their kings, and showing no mercy when it's time to fuck with some poor pawn's day.

So, yeah, a rather dark and twisted view on life events today, but... c'est moi. My warped sense of humor rarely really comes from a lighthearted point of view. I'm more like Ewan (*drool*) McGregor's character, Grimes, in Black Hawk Down - covered in blood and dust, the smell of cordite heavy in the air, just looking for a small clear space to make a good cup o' bean:

It's all in the grind, Sizemore. Can't be too fine. Can't be too coarse. This, my friend, is a science. I mean you're looking at the guy that believed all the commercials. You know. About the "be all you can be." I made *coffee* through Desert storm. I made *coffee* through Panama while everyone else got to fight. Got to be a Ranger. Now it's "Grimesy, black, one sugar" or "Grimesy, got a powdered anywhere?"
~Black Hawk Down

Just give me my beans... it's all good.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Power Percieved

"If it makes you happy,
it can't be that bad.
If it makes you happy,
then why the hell are you so sad?"
~Sheryl Crowe, If It Makes You

Hallelujah, Friends n' Neighbors. The doors to the Church of the Wayward Gypsy are open once again. Have a seat. Better yet, stay standing. We're gonna dance!

Joy and Sorrow. This world is full of woe. It's also full of beauty. More often than not, the difference in perception is our choice to make. Focus on the evening news and you'll end up desparing at our little corner of the universe. Listen to the wind whispering back to the breeze, and you'll feel pretty damned good about it.

Live in joy. Live in the moment. Find your Laughing Place.

"And the fire fades away,
and most of every day
is filled with tired excuses,
when it's too hard to say,
I wish it were simple,
but we give up easily..."
KT Tunstall, Other Side of the World

No one can make you feel anything. (Thanks T-man! You have no idea how often I live by those words!) The choice is yours - how you percieve, how you react, how you project. Power perceived is power achieved. If you project the power of a joy-filled attitude (whether you truly feel it or not), those around you will be affected by it, and effected by it, and the texture of an entire day can change.

"When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life."
~Geoffrey F. Abert

Take charge of your own feelings. Find the joy in the day. It's there; it's always there. Listen to some great music. Dance all alone in your living room. Read something funny. Find it! Shake the squirrels out of your freekin' Apathy Tree.

"When you blame others, you give up your power to change."
~Douglas Noel Adams

Take back your own power. And when you do, why not choose to live in joy?

Someone say amen. Now, go forth and... SMILE, dammit.

Monday, February 4, 2008


"What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life? What do I know should die, but am hesitant to allow to do so? What must die in order for me to love? What not-beauty do I fear? Of what use is the power of the not-beautiful to me today? What should die today? What should live? What am I afraid to give birth to? If not now, when?

If we sing the song of consciousness 'til we feel the burn of truth, we throw a burst of fire into the darkness of psyche so we can see what we're doing... what we're truly doing, not what we wish to think we're doing. This is the untangling of one's feelings and the beginning of understanding why love and life are to be lived by the bones."
~Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Terri and I have been having great conversations lately about life, love and loss. It's been theraputic for both of us. One thing she said yesterday really struck me. She said, "Everyone tells me to move on, and I don't want to move on. I want my brother here with me always." I told her there is no moving on - there's no such thing. All we can do is move forward.

It's a fine definitive. My analogy is, no surprise here, a comparison to driving the road. If I pack my bags and drive off to California, Washington doesn't cease to exist as I drive through Oregon and cross the California border. It's still there, my home is still there, the trees and mountains are still there, all the memories of my time in the state are still there. I've moved forward. Will I enjoy California any less because I have all these thoughts of Washington? No. Will I miss Washington? Yes. Will I think about it; dream about it; and in many ways wish I was still there? Definitely. But life is about experiencing the new - being open to possibility and change.

"Change ain't lookin' for friends. Change calls the tune we dance to."

We move forward, not forgetting where we've been, because that enriches who we are now. Would I exchange some of the bad things that happened in my youth for a Brady Bunch existence? Never. As hard as it was, it made me who I am. I can't base my life on what might have been - it is what it is, and it will be what it's going to be. But, neither can I stay in the past and base every new experience and feeling upon something that is no longer a part of my daily life. All I can do is find some level of acceptance and move forward.

David and I have laughed about people who expect to find a partner without any emotional baggage. Well, shit, you can't hit five years old anymore without having some kind of baggage! The question is whether or not an individual is strong enough to haul their own luggage and not have it impact someone else's space, or whether they're hoping someone else will carry it for them.

Do I love John any less as time goes by? Of course not. Impossible. Do I think of him any less? No. But, I can't live my life as though he's still physically here without miring myself in what-could-have-been, thus losing out on what-will-be (and what is). It's necessary for us to move forward, to continue on, in order to stay healthy.

In the movie, Shirley Valentine, Shirley has a conversation with a Greek waiter that goes something like this (and I'm "shirley" misquoting here, because I'm going entirely on memory):

Shirley: Oh, Hiya! How are you today?
Waiter: Em... ok. This morning I wake with small pain in my back.
Shirley: Oh, I'm so sorry.
Waiter: No, no, is ok. I feel this pain and I am glad because I know I am still alive.

My left leg looks like hell and it often hurts. But it's my leg. I got to keep it. I get to use it. I get frustrated when it hurts, but I never stop being thankful that it's there. Sometimes I'll push it beyond what I think I can endure - but it's still there. It's healed as much as it's ever going to heal. The hideous scar reminds me that I'm lucky to be alive and walking this earth under my own power.

The emotional pain and scars that come from losing John remind me that I'm still alive. Remind me that I still have much to do, and much to give. So, I throw my little bursts of fire into the darkness, and keep moving forward... livin' and lovin'... by the bones.