Friday, January 30, 2009

How Touching

Yesterday on the drive home, I caught an old Peter Gabriel interview. He talked about the impetus for writing his song I Have The Touch (one of my favorite PG tunes). He said he had noticed that in some countries people constantly touch each other when they talk; in other countries they don't touch at all. I happen to be the latter country and it somewhat vexes me. Although I'm a very affectionate person... I love to cuddle, love to be touched and to touch... I don't. (I'm talking in strictly platonic terms here - the sex talk was yesterday's post.) I'm not a touchy-feely person, at least not without it first being initiated by the person I'm with. I'm not one of those who will place my hand on the arm of the person I'm talking to. While I will hug in greeting, I hold back on any other contact. Though I love it when others will make a move to do any of the above, I don't initiate.

It bothers me because I'm all for showing the world a little love, all about letting the people I care about know that I care. I think a lot of us either don't have that natural (or learned) ability to reach out and touch, or else we've buried it. I know part of it for me is that, growing up, my family was never a touchy-feely one, so that kind of contact wasn't a learned one. For so many of us though, I think the ability to touch has become lost in the politically correct / sexual harassment / I-need-space / bad touch scenario. We've walled ourselves off from each other. We're afraid of giving and receiving one of the most basic human needs - the need to be touched. We'll talk about all our deepest feelings, but we fear the intimacy that comes with physical contact. In an attempt at protection, we've had to teach our children to keep their hands to themselves and to expect the same of others. How sad. How terribly and tragically sad.

I remember during a trip to Hungary, my cousin Marianna and I were out walking. Seemingly as natural as the act of walking itself, Marianna grabbed my arm and looped it through hers as we talked. It was utterly endearing, but I was stunned. No one in the states would ever think of doing that! Two girls walking down the street in such a fashion here would beget all manner of looks and rude comments (or at the very least, suppositions). But at the time, a time in my life when I still felt completely unlovable, it was as if Marianna was saying to me, "You matter." Her gesture made me feel as though I belonged.

About two years ago, not long after John's doctors conceded that he was losing the war with cancer, we were lying in bed together. I knew he was in all kinds of pain, so I tried to stay still and give him space. I thought he was sleeping, but I suddenly heard him sob as he asked, "Would you please just touch me? I'm lost." I immediately started sobbing with him as I managed, "Oh Honey..." and wrapped him in an embrace much the way one would embrace a traumatized child. When we had both calmed a little, I explained my reserve to him - that I was trying not to bother him in any way. He said, "How 'bout I tell you when I don't want to be touched? I feel untethered enough without feeling like I'm drifting away from you." Thereafter I made it a point to touch him in any way I could, every chance I got. We both needed that.

We all need that in our lives. Everyday. What tethers us if not the people we love, the people who love us, the people we reach out to and who reach out to us? Let's re-initialize touch. I'm going to start making the effort until it becomes natural for me. So, don't be surprised if next time you're sitting across the table talking to me, I reach out and put my hand on your arm. Don't be surprised if I hug you in the middle of our visit for no good reason. It's a cold, hard world... we could all use a bit o' warmth, huh?

Peter Gabriel, I Have The Touch

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I have a dear friend who is, at long last, meeting up with her paramour this weekend (*wink*... you know who you are). Yep, she'll be trysting the night(s) away. In honor of that, and in the tradition of my occasional Friday lists (yeah, it's only Thursday... so what?!), I'm putting up a list of the top 10 most fun and sexy things ever said to me either during or immediately post coital fun (notice the use of fun twice in the same sentence - that's because sex is supposed to be FUN!). Yes, said directly to me. I'm not telling who said them or why (a gentlewoman never tells, but I'd be happy to give you my phone number). I will say this; only one of the lines was said by someone with whom I've never had the pleasure (oh, but given the opportunity! Gads...), and you'd probably be surprised which line that is. But you'll just have to use your own imagination.

"Lord... almighty... that one deserves a cigarette!"

"Let's get naked and go to bed."

"I know this sounds cheesy as hell, but I could drown in those eyes."
"Don't worry, I haven't lost anyone yet. I'll throw you a life line."
"No, please don't!"

"Do you prefer Barb or Barbara... 'cause I'm about to holler your name..."

"You are un-fucking-real."

"So... how you feelin' now little girl?"

"Holy fuck, my knees are week. Was it your intention to hobble me?!"

"Y'know... I am never again going to be able to look at your mouth without having lascivious thoughts."

"While you're up, please get me a glass of water and a paramedic. My god."

"I'm tellin' you... the Christian version of heaven is alllllll wrong!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Next Sound You Hear...

Sometimes... well, a lot of the time stuff strikes me funny. Especially when it's not intended to do so. Don't ever take me to a funeral or a serious movie - I will embarrass you. I try not to let my mind go there, try not to react, but I've yet to find the off switch on that li'l mechanism of mine, that thing that finds amusement in the way people phrase things or in the syntax they use. A co-worker and I got in trouble at the last company meeting because, based on a completely innocent sentence uttered by my boss and then a knowing nod and an obscure gesture on her part, we managed to distract everyone in our failed attempts to not giggle.

I once nearly got kicked out of church on Palm Sunday. I've told this story to people before and they either get it (and my amusement) or they give me a blank where's-the-punchline look. About 15 years ago I was at Palm Sunday Mass with my ex, his brother and sister-in-law. At the end of Mass one of the dear old blue-haired ladies was doing the announcements. She sweetly talked about used clothing donations, choir auditions, service times for Easter Sunday, and then she invited the congregation to celebrate Passover by attending the
Seder feast put on by the church ladies. Blue hair went on to describe a Seder feast thusly, "This is a moving religious experience, complete with a lamb dinner." And in my mind I heard Ron Popeil say (in a curiously Yiddish voice), "But, Oy! Vait! Dat's not all!!!" Before I could even try to contain myself, a snort ripped from me... a loud snort (in terms of volume, think drunk and snoring 60 year old man)... loud enough to silence anything else going on, loud enough to turn the heads of every attendee and win a glare from the priest. But wait! That's not all!!! It was already too late for me. I was already, as Gordon once put it, three blocks away and 'round the bend. The harder I tried to suppress my giggles, the worse they got. I shook with laughter like a rag doll at the end of a running toddler's arm. My ex picked up on the infection and began laughing too, even though he had no clue why I was. My ex brother-in-law tried to silence me with a look that had absolutely no effect, and then he and his wife scooched down the pew in a feeble attempt to disassociate themselves from me.

I've never heard a priest fly through a benediction and cue the exit music faster than on that day. As we were leaving, me still shaking with laughter and wiping at my leaking eyes, we walked past the priest who was shaking hands at the main entrance. I tried to fade behind my brother-in-law, but he wasn't about to allow me to get off so easily. In a surprisingly graceful do-si-do I found myself facing the priest who already had his arm extended for a handshake. I wanted to apologize and perhaps explain my eruption. As I gripped his hand I said, "F-f-f-father... I'm s-s-so... sssssss..." giggled again and only managed to squeak out, "Mea maxima culpa..." (My greatest sin.) He politely cleared his throat and replied, "Go in peace." (Kudos to him for not simply saying, "Go!") He then promptly let go of my hand and turned to the next parishioner.

I was almost beyond it, but still subject to random fits of laughter, when about a half an hour later the four of us sat down to breakfast at a restaurant. The waitress came over and poured coffee, poised her pad and pen for our order, and asked, "What can I get for you?" Without pause, my brother-in-law tersely and dryly replied, "Anything but lamb." He really should have known better. Between his obvious irritation with me and the waitress's perplexed look and "we don't serve lamb here," I barely managed to wheeze out, "S-s-s-scrambled eggs-s-s-s-s, bis-s-s-scuitsssss..." Then I buried my face in my napkin and tried very hard not to see cavorting sheep with Ron Popeil's face on them.

Fast forward to January 28, 2009. Picture your favorite gypsy driving to work. It's o'dark thirty and Birddog is sailin' down the road at warp speed, headlights on, windshield wipers flappin', radio tuned in to KMTT. KMTT is playing some good tunes and the gypsy is groovin' and singin' right along. Jack Johnson finishes one of his upbeat tunes and a string of ads begins. The ads include one for a fertility program that boasts... oh help... "If you don't take a baby home from the hospital, you'll get your money back."

Mea maxima culpa est risus.
Just for fun... try not to dance to this one...
Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Zoot Suit Riot

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One Is Just A Number

I think I've defined the restless feeling I've been having lately. It's loneliness. That strikes me as odd for a couple of reasons. One is that I never would have suspected loneliness to be a restless feeling. The other is that it's extremely rare that I do feel lonely (hence not initially recognizing it for what it is).

It's always been interesting to me that although I'm a basically friendly person, I don't have a wide circle of friends. At the same time, I'm very aware of the reasons for this. The "I's" have it - Insulation and Isolation. I've lost too many too soon, too unfairly. So, I insulate myself - I can only be so open and let so much in (and, I suppose, give so much) before my wall goes up. Only those who are persistent in their love o' Barb ever manage to make a hole big enough to crawl through. And, once in, they're stuck for good.

Then there's my self-imposed isolation - 47 years of it - all of the banishing myself from the public because I felt uninteresting and unworthy, while at the same time recognizing that I'm all too often way too intense. Dumb, I know, but true enough and there it is. I'm no good at small talk and have little patience for it. I go in one of two directions. I'll spend 30 seconds on the weather and then either I'll look for the door, or I'll launch into something meaty enough that the person I'm talking to does the obvious sideways glance toward the door. I have no boundaries and no filtering system. So, unless a person is equal to the task (and I'm so thankful for those of you who are!), I can't hang and most of the time the other person doesn't want to. That sounds a little ostentatious, I know, but it really isn't. It's a failing of sorts. It's easier for me to turn my feelings and energy toward art than to "waste" time building a relationship.

So, I find myself alone most of the time. Alone, but hardly ever lonely. The good friends I have are miles and miles away (hell, where I live, everyone is miles and miles away) and/or busy. I can deal with that. Most of the time. Just that... every now and again it'd be fun to have someone to just hang with. I think that's where John spoiled me... I was used to him, used to talking and not talking, used to the rests between the notes, the step and parry. I only know two other people that I feel that completely at ease with (you know who you are) - hurry up and visit.

Still, all that being said, I don't find loneliness to be a depressing state as so many do. It just makes me restless. No wonder I love my dog. Time to go for a good long walk.

One is just a number... the first of many prime numbers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Room In Nation

"Like anything worth writing, it came inexplicably and without method."
~Stranger Than Fiction

It was an interesting weekend. Not that it was really so different from any other weekend. I guess I just had a lot weighing down my brainpan. I have a couple of near n' dear ones who are going through some harsh stuff right now and being the quasi-empath that I am, it's painful to me as well. I'm never so frustrated as when everything in me wants to help and yet, there's not a thing I can do. So, all of that culminated in me writing a new song (Let Me). Frustrating in and of itself because I wonder... what the hell am I writing all these songs for? No one ever hears them. I don't know what to do with them, where to market them. And without sounding pious and overly audacious, I think they're decent tunes - decent enough for someone to make into something and play on the airwaves. Yeah, sure, it feels good, and that in and of itself ought to be enough, right? It's a nice way to expel some of the soul gunk. Still... *sigh* I'd love to be able to parlay any or all of it into an income. I don't need to be rich and famous... just give me enough to keep the cabin paid for and warm, with a bit left over to buy kibble for the kids.

If it was just me, I'd say, "Oh, I'm just bein' Barb." Turns out it's not just me. I spent some time this weekend talking to one of my friends, a guy who's currently on a tour of duty in Hell - it's kinda like that bus ride in the movie Speed... ain't no slowin' down and no lettin' anyone off. (Why? Because, much like the Dennis Hopper character in afore-mentioned movie, his ex is screwing with him just because she can. But we won't go there.) This guy, who even in the midst of the fractious fray is funny as all get out, writes very well - swear, our email exchanges read like a Coen Bros. script (in fact, you've seen some of his bits on my various Friday Lists - ain't sayin' what). He's also a talented artist, musician... very much a kindred. Often our conversations (whether serious or sarcastic) center around, "What the hell do we do with all this talent?! Why do we get to give birth to all these baby birds if not to let 'em fly?" We've yet to come up with an answer, collaboratively or individually.

Dunno, dunno... and I'm just rambling now... using this blog as my whippin' post. I guess all the mental anguish isn't for naught. I tend to get busy when I can't handle the brain overload. I hauled a big ol' bunch of wood this weekend - stocked the cubby next to the stove, loaded the bins chock full. I cleaned. I took Sneak Dawg for a long walk in the new snow (yep, got s'more o' dat), threw snowballs, and breathed in the beauty of my woodsy wonderland. It helps. But I still had to get up this morning and come to work. I know, I know... just like everyone else, so quit kvetching. I'm not. I'm happy to have a job. But I've got to believe there's more to having all these creative ideas and viable outlets for them than the mere pleasure of doing.

*heavy sigh*

Friday, January 23, 2009

After All

This is a picture of my nephew Homer and I "enjoying" the It's A Small World ride at Disney World. Alas, we were all coerced into going on the ride because it's my Mom's favorite (why, why, why... oh why?). And if one of us had to ride it, we were all gonna have to ride it. All for one, and one for all... we traveled thousands of miles, dammit... we were going to have fun! Of course, Mom didn't appreciate it much when, as the boat started moving forward on it's looooong, slow trip through repetitively obnoxious cuteness, Nancy and I threw our hands in the air roller coaster style and hollered, "WooHOOO!"

I would say that Homer is my favorite nephew, but then my posts here would end, bein' as how I'd get lynched by all my other nephews. And, truth is, I love 'em all dearly and equally. I will say that Homer is the one whose sense of humor most closely matches mine (read: the poor man is totally warped). Granted, one could argue that it was perhaps my early influence on his life. As a teen when he was a toddler, I often got suckered into babysitting. Not that I minded, he was a very easy kid to take care of - the kind who'd play quietly for hours. Of course, there was the time I thought he was playing contentedly (and he was!) while I made out with my boyfriend. When I resurfaced, it turned out that what he'd been playing so contentedly with was a huge jar (think Costco) of Vaseline. It was everywhere - on his clothes, in his hair, all over the furniture and the floor... my brother's living room looked like it'd been hit by a fairly successful orgy. Ahem...

It could also be argued that he got his great sense of humor from his late mother, Mary. She was definitely a kindred spirit and kept me in giggles whenever we were together. Or perhaps it's his inheritance from my perfectly sarcastically amusing brother, Tom. Maybe all of it. Either way, the dude's funny and fun to be around. Besides all that, he is, simply put, a good man. He's one of my favorite people on earth (it doesn't hurt that he gets me into Disney for free).

At risk of never being invited back to Disney again, I just have to post an email conversation I had with him yesterday. It still has me laughing, that's why. I had sent him a couple of emails that included pictures of the big snow we had here last month. Here was his initial reply (keep in mind that he's a cold weather wuss because he's lived in Mouseville most of his life):

Homer: That's impressive but you should've seen the layer of ice on my car this morning. Last night was the coldest of the year, 28 was the high overnight.

Barb: This is what happens when the Black clan descends on a place... it's epic.

Homer: It was horrible! I was freezing! And there were rolling blackouts. I had to fumble around in the shower in the pitch black this morning. Do you know how hard it is to shave by flash light!

Barb: As a matter of fact I do... when we got all that snow I was without power more often than not for a week. Oh, and my water heater is electric. Got any idea how cold unheated water can be in a snow storm?! I coulda poked someone's eyes out. (Yeah, try wiping that vision from your head!)

Homer: Ya know...sometimes I wonder why I talk to you at all!

Personally, I think he still talks to me just for the cheap entertainment value. My loco familia... good thing we all like nuts.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm Convinced

It's fascinating to me just how much response I got from the "I'm Pooped" post the other day. I never would have guessed. Here I thought I was just posting some lame old crap (pun intended) to placate Timothy.

This is going to be a short post, late in the day as it is. But here's the thing... I've never been a fan of U2, never understood the sex appeal that so many women find in Bono (he just looks greasy and aggressive to me), and more often than not, his voice makes me feel like I need to gargle with salt water. Plus, to my ear, some of their songs are just noisy... the music isn't clean enough for me. I don't know if that makes sense or not... while I can stand some distorted over-extended guitar bits, their stuff seems filled with it. Anytime the DJ's announce that they're going to play a U2 tune, I sigh, turn down the radio and think, "thank the gods that Bono limits his songs to 3 minutes or less..."

So, the other day when KMTT announced that they were going to play U2's new song Get On Your Boots every hour on the hour, I braced myself for a day without radio after the initial morning listen-in. I was astounded at how great the tune is. I just love it. 'Course, I still don't think Bono is sexy...

U2, Get On Your Boots

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rockin' The Casbah

That'd be a pic of my big sis, Nancy... just in case any of you thought that I might be the only nutter in my family. I've had influence. Lots of it. I think we may be banned from the Morocco pavilion in EPCOT though. The woman ran a marathon and a half in two days (13.1 miles on Saturday and 26.2 miles on Sunday) - I'm so proud of her! So, it's just fine by me that she wanted to hang just this side of a bubble off of plumb for a while... and this was even before the drinking began! I don't know why, but all the men in the family deserted the shop when my Aunt, my niece-in-law and I started costuming her. Lightweights, the lot of 'em... can't take a second in the spotlight... no fortitude for infamy by association.

Ok, I can understand the rapid about-face that Homer did. He works for Disney. I can just picture some Uber Mouse calling him into an office high atop Cinderella's Castle... "Uh, listen Black... no more free passes for your family, capiche? We've got a reputation to uphold here. Plus, with the economy being what it is, we can't afford to have your Aunts scaring away the other tourists. In fact, we are considering doing an extended family psychological profile for you to determine if you're really fit to work here or not." "I understand. Sorry boss. Not that it excuses their behavior, but they are Northerners, y'know..." "Be that as it may, Black, we don't want their kind 'round these parts any more. Send 'em to Sea World next time."

As Nancy's husband Mikael reneged on his vow to never run again - evidenced by the speed with which he bolted from the shop - I could all but hear him screaming, "I married what?! Please, Homer, please... get me a Fast Pass for the Haitian Divorce ride!!!"

Jason, Nancy's son, didn't run with the others. He appeared to be wishing desperately for an invisibility cloak as he sidled along the wall until he was safely outside. We later found him under a bench near the Italian pavilion, drooling and singing It's A Small World. I'm sure his therapist's transcripts read something like, "And... and then, m-m-my Mom... my 51 year old Mom! ... she... ohgod... she started putting on this c-c-c-costu...ohgod..." "There, there... let it out. By the way, I'm writing you a prescription for Valium... take all you want."

Me? Hell... I started it. I was the one who grabbed the headdress and put it on her.

*evil grin*

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm Pooped

At 4:15 this morning, just like every workday morning, the alarm went off. I stretched, yawned, farted and smiled... then broke into giggles as I recalled the conversation I had with Timothy last night. I could post about the historical aspects of today's inauguration, about the possible hope for the US, or spout some philosophical bs about new beginnings. But no. I don't want y'all to think for a second that I'm above scatological humor. Besides, Timothy challenged me to write about our conversation... dared me even. Yeah, T? Watch me!

I know I've often said that Timothy is the only person I can say anything and everything to, and not only does he take it... the dude rolls with it. He claims the same about me, and I unabashedly admit to the truth in that. Our conversations take all kinds of oddball twists and turns - he's one of the few people who can take me from near boredom to hysterical laughter to tears and back around to hysterical laughter again. Last night he had me giggling so hard that my cheeks hurt and I nearly had to send out for albuterol (and I don't even have asthma). What had me going? That I can tell you in one word. Poop.

What I can't tell you is exactly how we got on the subject (I do know it was only moments into the phone call though). I only remember him insisting that all women fart (he says I should say poot, but that is far too ladylike for this gypsy). I told him I never do. He said, "You are so full of shit!" I said, "No, I'm not, and that's why I don't fart." And the conversation devolved from there - yes, we can sink even lower. We went on to discuss regularity. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but he asked me if I poop every day. Um. Yeah, I do. And from there it went on to pooping in public... ah, public restrooms, that is... and the ability or disability some people have to, um, perform.

But wait, that's not all! Size and texture were thrown into the mix at some point (long curlies and short stubbies). We then went on to wordplaying "shit"... "So why did you call me?" "Oh, I just wanted to give you shit." "I can't believe some of the conversations we have!" "Eh, shit happens." "Oh, now you're just talkin' shit!"

We also talked about throwing up and/or hucking loogies at the wall... and John (who, at this point, I envisioned sitting on a puffy cloud, sipping some fine tequila, and shaking his head sadly as he tried hard to hide his classic grin). I'm fairly certain that the friendship Timothy and I share wouldn't have evolved into the rustic jewel that it is were John still around, and that kind of made me sad, made my lip feel a bit wobbly... until... Timothy said, "And you know he would jump your shit for...." And I was off again. We were both still giggling madly as we said, "I love you, g'night."

So, my philosophy for today: Good friends are the ones who feel comfortable giving you shit. Really good friends take your shit. But best friends are there for you through all kinds of shit.

(See, T? Told you I would!)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Power Perceived Is Power Achieved

I feel the need to talk about something in my life that not many people know about. I don't tell people about it for a few different reasons. One is that it's very personal. Second is that I don't want to get the "poor courageous you!" treatment (I hate being lauded for surviving something I had no control over in the first place). Third is that I don't wish waste my time and energy focusing on the negative. However, because it's an experience that I've learned from and grown from, I want to let others know how I've managed to dig my way out of this particular bog. Lately I've talked to a few different folks who don't seem understand that they have everything needed to take back what's theirs.

Thing is, I was raped when I was 15 years old. At the time my head was such a mess that I didn't recognize the act for what it was. I was so messed up emotionally (from a childhood that left me feeling unlovable and unworthy) that I thought the guy must really love me to want me badly enough that he felt he needed to force me. It took me ten years and a soul-rattling epiphany (don't ever expect me to talk about that dark, nearly suicidal day) to come to an understanding of what had happened to me. Ironically, I didn't hate the guy who did it - I hated myself for it. It took me another ten years to forgive myself for being so weak and allowing myself to be victimized. It wasn't until I met John that I found some perspective.

One night when a rogue wave of emotion all but swept me overboard, I told John what was going in my head and why. Anyone who knew John would agree that the man was an excellent verbal archer. His aim was true and his arrows could pierce the thickest skin and slam straight into the heart of the matter. Instead of coddling me or just hugging me and saying "it'll be ok," he said, almost angrily, "Why are you continuing to give that fucker any power over you? Stop letting him hold sway in your life. You might have been a victim that night, but that was then and this is now. Take back that power."

I was so struck by the acuity of his words that I immediately stopped crying. And started thinking. He was right. So right. I went for a long walk, and in time to the beat of my footsteps I uttered a litany of, "Fuck you. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. Rot in pieces. You have no power over me." It changed my perspective. It changed everything about me, about how I perceived myself. It changed my life. (John always proclaimed that he wasn't my knight in shining armor, but it was interesting just how often he'd hack through the briars to rescue me - often without even being aware of it. It was definitely he who woke the sleeping gypsy from her stupor.)

Rape is not at all about sex; rape is about power. Rape happens when one person takes what is not freely given or consented to by the other in a way that attempts to crush the other person's spirit. My own definition. Thus, I maintain that at some point we've all been raped in some form or another. We've all had an experience that leaves us feeling victimized, wounded, and lost.

That feeling doesn't have to stay. Don't let it. Don't give the experience any more power than it deserves, and don't give the perpetrator any power at all. They had their moment; all the moments following are your own. So, take back what is rightfully yours. Do whatever it takes to make that happen within yourself. I'm not talking about revenge, I'm talking about fighting back by not continuing to be a victim, by standing tall in your very own shoes.

I promise you... you do that and the world will take on new light. People will ask what's different about you. You will feel taller, stronger, and able to meet anything head on.

"He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still."
~Lao Tzu

Coldplay, Lost

Friday, January 16, 2009

Eyes On

Oy. Enough with the fog already! I'd rather drive in snow than this ethereal pea soup.

Strangers are taking notice of my work - both art work and writing - and it's an uncustomary and peculiar, though not entirely uncomfortable, feeling. Yes, it's what I've wanted all along, but I won't deny that it makes me feel a little like people are peering through my blinds. I don't get to peer back out at them, I can only sense that they're there watching. It's a feeling of... um... hmmm.... I put out the Welcome mat and now I'd better throw on my bathrobe in case someone comes to the door unannounced and gads, I hope my breath isn't too bad, the place looks like hell, but it's mine and they'll have to deal. Ultimately, nutter that I am, I kind of like the feeling. It's one of excitement and anticipation and, well, a little like driving through the fog in the dark or riding a roller coaster with the lights out (controlled fear is my friend). It's also a feeling of justification - not just for me, but for friends and family too - I have to think, "Geez, all my pals aren't just sycophantic lunatics, they maybe really do know what they're talking about." Sorry Gang, my bad. It's not that I don't give your opinions any credence, it's my own lack of self-confidence that makes me question their validity - y'know, kind of like when my Grandma would tell me I have pretty eyes... well, of course she'd say that, she loved me.

Anyway. It's new motivation and gives me new momentum, and for a procrastinating underachiever like me, that's a good thing. Sometimes I get so buried in new ideas that I waste more time thinking about them than simply getting down to it and implementing them. So, I think I'll spend the weekend in my studio. Midnight, the Ink Pad cat, will be so happy.

Then there's my new commitment to doing the half marathon next year (none would argue that I shouldn't be committed one way or the other!). I don't even know how to begin training for that. Run a little, then run a lot, I suppose. As Haute Bisquette says, "There's only one way to eat an elephant... one bite at a time." It's just that I'm not a runner. I've never been a runner. And I know I have a year, but it's probably going to take me a year. And everyone says, "but you don't have to run, you can just walk fast as long as you can do a 16 minute mile." However, if I've committed to doing this, I want to run it - all of it. I've already proved that I can walk. Besides, running will help get the rest of this flab off me, and I'd really like that to happen before my next birthday. So it will. Watch me. This is where I turn my Scorpion qualities - stubborn and headstrong - into assets.

*narrows eyes, sets chin and nods*

Yeah. Watch me. Let the 2009 Gypsy Paradigm begin. Exact change only.

(Guess I'll only spend half the weekend in the studio and the other half, I'll hook Nino to his leash and let him take me for a run - if anyone thinks I walk him, you are hilariously mistaken.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm baaaaaaaaack!

That's right, I've returned. Hope you all found something useful to do with all your spare time! I had a wonderful time with my family. The marathoners and half-marathoners were absolutely impressive. Everyone in my gang finished in fine form (whether they think so or not). They even convinced me to do the half marathon with them next January. Yes, I was sober at the time.... although I had to drink rather heavily later that day once I'd realized what I said. As it is, I nearly repeated my 3-day walk traipsing all over Disney World. Oy, it's nice to be back so I can relax!

My great niece and nephew are just the most adorable children in the world. It's true. Kids just don't get any more precious than those two. They were so well behaved and so much fun to be with. I also had fun hanging with my nephew Homer and his wife Athena (parents to the adorable urchins), my nephew Jason, my sis Nancy and her husband Mikael, and my Mom and Aunt Irene. We had as much fun as Disney World can allow. I think they'll even let us come back again - though we may be banned from poolside bars. Ahem.

Yep. We had all spent the day wandering around Hollywood Studios and EPCOT and eating good food and riding rides and walking walking walking. All of us were double-dog tired. The older folks called it quits and went to bed. Athena went back to their room to put the kids to bed. The rest of us decided that, tired as we were, we still weren't quite ready to call it a night.... that maybe "a drink" would be nice. So, Homer, Jason, Nancy, Mikael and I sat at the bar by the pool for a while. All three men kept buying me these very pretty drinks called Lava Lamps. I think they had about 4 kinds of liquor in them. I recall that my feet and legs still hurt, but I just didn't care any more... and we told silly family stories and laughed... and laughed... and laughed.

It's my fault really. I kind of started it. I got in deep shit with my mother. If you recall from prior posts, Mom is the antithesis of me - she's very proper and ladylike and, well, uptight (I say that with all the love in the world). Anyway, at lunch that day, the runners were all talking about how intensely annoying it is to be two miles from the finish and have spectators yell, "You're almost there!" Totally understandable. Athena said she wanted to get a banner made with some statement on it like, "Do NOT tell me I'm ALMOST THERE!" I said, "Heck, why bother carrying something like that on your run... that's why God gave us middle fingers!" Well, everyone but Mom laughed. Mom gave me The Look and said sternly, "Barbara Ann!" Ohgodohgodohgod... I got The Full Name Treatment - a sure sign that I was in big bad trouble. Then I got a speech about vulgarity and obscenity and... *sigh* Everyone else at the table kind of went quiet (in a thank-the-gods-it's-not-me-this-time way). Even though I apologized to Mom for offending her sensibilities (which took a lot out of my stubborn ass), I still got the red-headed step-child treatment much of the rest of the day. Oh well. I stand by what I said, I still think it's funny and so does everyone else. Almost everyone else. *shrug*

Needless to say, we were all ready for a drink... or six... or ten... by the end of the day, and that evening by the pool was the highlight of the trip for me. No, not (as you probably think) because I tied one on (but good!), but because we were relaxing and talking and having fun and just enjoying each other's company (always the best of times in my book). I sat there drinking and laughing and feeling my lips slowly go numb, listening to Homer and Jason tell their stories, thinking what fine men my nephews have grown into and how cool it was to be sitting poolside having drinks with them. Every now and again we get those moments... the ones that always make me think, "this is better'n perfect." That was one of 'em. For me, it made the trip.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

...And Then Some

I didn't notice until I logged in, but today is my 300th post! And there I was, wondering what the hell I was going to write about! Sheesh. I never would have thought I'd be so verbosely prolific. Thanks to all of you, my faithful acolytes, for lighting the candles, stoking the fires, and keeping the door open in both directions. Funny that Timothy and I were just talking last night - about healing and how it's necessary to get feelings out in order for that to happen. I mentioned that I didn't know how I'd have ever made it through the past two years without him (because I can call him and say anything and everything or nothing, and he gets me). He pointed out that as much as anything, what's helped me is writing here on this blog. True speech, and I'm probably not grateful enough often enough for the liberty and privilege I'm granted here.

So, in retrospect I can say that I don't know what I would have done without the last 299 posts - except that it's likely T-man would need ear surgery by now. Whether I've made differences in anyone else's day(s) or not, I'm just selfish enough to acknowledge that it almost doesn't matter because it's all been relevant to me on some level (even if it was only the act of writing that made me feel better, feel more there). It's helped me heal and helped me grow - and yet, you've all been there, peering into my fish bowl (you brave and curious creatures, you). Ironic that, considering what an essentially private person I am.

I thank you, all of you... for your patience, your tolerance, your kindness, your support... for making me own my shit... for helping me keep my mirror steady... for cheering me on... for making me laugh and not minding if I cry at the same time... heck, for all the love. Realize it or not, like it or not, you've played a part in this Gypsy Revival, and I'm better for it.

And now, I'm off to Disney World for a week. M-I-C-see you next week... K-E-Y-why? 'Cause we are all in this together.
I'm a new soul
I came to this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit 'bout how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake
See I'm a young soul in this very strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit 'bout what is true and fake
But why all this hate? try to communicate
Finding trust and love is not always easy to make
This is a happy end
Cause you don't understand
Everything you have done
Why's everything so wrong
This is a happy end
Come and give me your hand
I'll take you far away

~Yael Naim, New Soul

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mucking About

Now begins the great meltdown. We're having rain, rain and more rain. Nothin' but rain. I still have plenty of snow in my yard, but it's shrinking. And just in time, I'm going to Disney World on Thursday for a family reunion of sorts. My sis and my nephew are running the Disney Marathon. Other more sensible members of the family are doing the half marathon. Yours truly will be there to cheer them on and hand out water bottles (it's a tough task, but I'm up for it). So kids, tomorrow will be my last post for over a week - unless some Rodent of Unusual Size** allows me to use a computer down there in the swamp commonly referred to as Florida.

(**Borrowed from The Princess Bride)

My nephew has already apologized that it's "only" going to be 70 degrees down there. He's also threatened to ostracize me if I do the PNW thing and wear socks with my sandals. Hmpf. Can't a hippie chick go anywhere these days?! If only he wasn't my free ticket to EPCOT... As it is, I've promised everyone fur-lined speedos.

And now, I don't normally post email schticks, but this one struck a chord in me. Plus, it's from my neighbor who probably heard me cursing when I got stuck the other day. She, who less than two weeks ago, on Christmas day said, "Oh, you only think you love snow. Just... you... wait...." Now I understand that nervous twitch she has. Without further ado:
December 8It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

December 9
We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the whole world? Moving here was the best idea I've ever had! Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life!

December 12
The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment! My neighbor tells me not to worry - we'll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man. I'm glad he's our neighbor.

December 14
Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn't huff and puff so.
December 1520 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that's silly. We aren't in Alaska, after all.
December 16Ice storm this morning. Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.
December 17Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her. I hate it when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.
December 20Electricity is back on, but had another 14 inches of the damn stuff last night. More shoveling! Took all day. The damn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey. I think they're lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he's lying.

December 22
Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it's so cold, it probably won't melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to piss. By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again. I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he's too busy. I think the asshole is lying.

December 23
Only 2 inches of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she, nuts?!! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she's lying.

December 24
6 inches - Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snow plow, I'll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the damn snowplow.

December 25
Merry f#%&ing Christmas! 20 more inches of the damn slop tonight - Snowed in the idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. I hate the snow! Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she's a fricking idiot. If I have to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26
Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.

December 27
Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28
Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. The BITCH is driving me crazy!!!

December 29
10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30
Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plow driver, and now he is suing me for a million dollars, not only for the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his ass. The wife went home to her mother. Nine more inches predicted.

December 31
I set fire to what's left of the house. No more shoveling.

January 8
Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

Monday, January 5, 2009



That's the sound that three feet of snow makes when it falls from the roof. It's also the sound I make when I finally get back to work after holidays and snow time off (all of which were compounded by ongoing computer issues), and see the utter chaos of my desk. Good grief, Charlie Brown! Talk about needing a plow.

I was out of touch again on Friday because my mountain got snowed on again, and followed with freezing rain. I tried to get out, really I did. Ended up not even getting half way up my street before (while in forward, mind you) I started sliding backward. I ended up wedged against a five foot tall snow bank that I had to shovel through and around in order to even think of getting the truck out. It was heavy, icy snow to shovel... boy howdy, what a workout! I used words that I'm sure my mother doesn't even want to know that I know. Sailors would be jealous of that caliber of cursing. Sam Jackson could take lessons from me.

I was still having trouble getting anywhere, although by this point I had already called in to work and said I wouldn't be there. Mostly, I just wanted to get the truck out of the street and home (all of 300 feet away). Thanks to another friendly stranger (gads, but I'm likin' these mountain folk!) named Doug, who was out walking his dog, I was soon back in the driveway, safe and sound. Of course, it didn't happen without me tossing out a sarcastic comment (a barb, if you will.) Hey, it was his fault (and Bill Engvall's!).

As he and the pup came up to the truck, he asked, "Y'stuck?"

...wait for it...

"Nope," came my cheeky reply. "I always park sideways across the street like this." And muttered ala Bill Engvall, "Here's your sign...."

Fortunately Doug overlooked my dark humor - probably because he was smart enough to realize that I was soaking wet, panting from the workout, and my truck bed was full of snow chunks (smart thinking on my part to help weight the truck). Obviously, I'd been at the task for quite a while. So, he helped get me back where I belonged.

Apropos of nothing else, I have to share a Scott-ism. He said I could. This was part of his (only somewhat inebriated) voice mail to me on New Year's Eve (from Phoenix):

"Life is tough. Enjoy the hot tub while you're in it, and don't fuss about the bubbles that fill your pants. Don't complain that there's a pool with sun only in half of it. Just be in the part of the pool where you want to be. It's all good."

Gotta love a guy who spouts wisdom like that. You know it... my new catch phrase (because I like to say obscure things that make folks wonder) is, "don't fuss about the bubbles that fill your pants."

Try it... right now... say it aloud. Guaranteed to keep you smilin' for hours.