Sunday, May 30, 2010

Matters of Great Importance

Earlier today I watched a brief biographical special on TCM about Gene Autry. One of those interviewed was his son, Alan Autry. Of his father, he said, "It mattered to him to be a good man - not a flawless man, but a good man." I thought, "Wow, is that ever high praise coming from a son. Hell, from anyone." The fact that he spoke of what mattered most to the man is what grabbed me. He didn't say "he tried to be," he didn't say, "he was." He said, "It mattered to him..."

It shook me, rattled my sensibility. I thought about the people in my life, the people who've made and who make a difference in my life. I realized, upon hearing Autry's statement, that the people I've valued most are those whom have key things that matter to them - things that have little to do with me. What matters to them is often what matters to me - water seeks its own, granted.

I've had the advantageous misfortune of being at a handful of deathbeds. The dying weren't concerned with their health, their death, their bank accounts, assets, etc. What mattered to them was their loved ones. Each of them whispered to me, "Please make sure my family is okay when I'm gone." That was it.

What matters. In the end, what matters is what counts. That's the footprint we leave behind, not what we did, but what mattered to us.

Here's what matters to me. It's an incomplete list and in no particular order, as such lists should be, but these are the fundamentals. If you know me at all, you'll understand why these things are on my list. If you don't understand, you may one day, or not.

What matters to me:

Love
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return."
~Eden Ahbez, Nature Boy


Art
"Without art, we are but monkeys with car keys."
~Anonymous


Kindness
"You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Passion
“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”
~Christian Friedrich Hebbel


Self-responsibility
“The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs.”
~Joan Didion


Self-expression
"There are thousands of causes for stress, and one antidote to stress is self-expression. That's what happens to me every day. My thoughts get off my chest, down my sleeves and onto my pad.”
~Garson Kanin


Gratitude
"To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it.”
Benjamin Franklin


Humor
"A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It's jolted by every pebble on the road.”
~Henry Ward Beecher


Integrity
"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.”
~Edward R. Murrow


Nature
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
~John Muir

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Heroes

My heroes
are people who
quietly
and fearlessly
stand in their own shoes.

My heroes
are people who
face the mirror
and like
what they see,
all the while
polishing.

My heroes
are people who
realize
love is enough
and unconditionally
surrender it,
and to it.

My heroes
are people who
change
the universe
by changing
my world with
their glowing footprints.
~BAB~

==^*^==^*^==^*^==^*^==^*^==^*^==^*^==^*^==

This weekend, while you're splashing in the pool or lake, cruising around in the boat, barbequing in the back yard, downing iced tea or beer, playing cards or frisbee or baseball... take a minute. Thank a hero. If they're long gone, don't be ashamed to raise a toast. If they're still alive, thank them personally.

To all who have served family, friend, community and country... to all who've made a difference that changed even one life for the better... Thank You!

Happy Memorial Weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sea Change

As with so many of my posts, I had other plans. I've been chewing on several ideas, but none of them feel quite right for the moment. Not to worry, they'll have their time... it just isn't now.

I am hurting for so many friends of mine, each going through differing stages that comprise what I refer to as Sea Life - flat calm seas that take you nowhere, rogue waves that knock you ass over tea kettle, constant chop that leaves you feeling shaken, wild storms that take the North right out of the compass. Point is, there's no smooth sailing for them, and there's little I can do but wish them buoyancy.

My friends, my friends... I wish I could show you the You that I see - the heartbreakingly beautiful amalgamation of all that your life has been and is. Please don't be ashamed of the self-portrait that you present, neither be afraid to show the world your dark, ugly moments. This is the thing called Life. Every life has a story and every story deserves to be told. How else are we to learn?

My mood today... I am feeling like the Mother of All. I want to enfold the world, and those in it, in my arms and keep it and everyone safe. I want the impossible. I want my love to make a difference. This is my beautiful burden. So, Alex, the question to the answer is, "How am I to?"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ah, Youth!

Last night I, as Black Ink Pad Designs, was a vendor at an arts and crafts show to benefit the arts at a local high school. The night included performances by several of the school’s music groups. As I looked around at the mystery species that is The High School Student, I realized that it has been 28 years since I darkened the doors of any high school - 1982, my younger brother’s graduation. I had an odd rush of emotion that I didn’t recognize right away. Then, after listening to the choir sing a tune that I remembered singing, I figured it out. The emotion was an unprecedented longing for my youth. Never before have I longed for my youth. In fact, I’ve done everything possible to distance myself from it. Yet, there it was.

I found myself identifying with the trio of girls who sang exuberantly, if slightly off key, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. I was one of those girls once. My heart went out to the heavy set, awkward looking boy who got off to a shaky start on his rendition of Old Man River, then slowly forgot the audience was there, and at the end, knocked it out of the park as he belted out at the top of his range, “I’m tired ‘o livin’, n’ skeered o’ dyin’… but ol’ man river… he keeps on rollin’… keeps on rollin’ along.” I knew that boy once upon a time, in fact, I may have gone to the homecoming dance with him. I nodded benevolently at the girl who has yet to understand that the ability to play a Chopin piece is somewhat nullified when there is a lack of grace in said playing. I smiled at the gusto with which the orchestral ensemble, looking like confused alien invaders in tuxes that were a size off in either direction, attacked (and I do mean attacked) the allegro movement from Handel’s Water Music.

The main attraction, a three man(cub) pop-rock band, had me wondering if I should laugh or cry. They were clearly the coolest boys in school, as evidenced by the screaming groupie girls whose thighs were skinnier than my arms. They had all the style of hip young gods, in their low slung jeans, worn t-shirts, and hair with enough hair product in it to easily withstand a magnitude five hurricane. Mancubs, they were indeed. Think Mowgli, only in jeans and with a bass guitar. They were too cool for school, fool. They were untouchable, man. My indecision between mirth and sorrow came when they rocked out their first tune. They were confident and energetic, and completely failed to realize that one really cannot supercede talent (or lack thereof) with youthful enthusiasm. I admired their chutzpah, but it was painful to watch... and tons of fun.

As students and their parents meandered around, I saw the same kids I went to school with over thirty years ago - geeks, nerds, jocks, popular girls, homely girls, the off-center fringe, space cadets, freaks - all the cruelty and kindness of that ubiquitous physical, mental, and emotional fusion that is found in the 14-18 year old species everywhere on the planet, and in every decade since dirt was invented.

There it was, the longing. I heard a timid voice inside me saying, “May I please have a do-over?” I wanted to go back to that time of semi-innocence when youthful passion ruled the day. I looked around and thought of all the might-have-beens, had I wandered through that time in my life as The Now Barb rather than The Then Barb. Where was my Inner Gypsy when I really needed an imaginary friend? No matter. After all, she did show up. It was just a case of better late than never.

But I think Henny Youngman said it best…
Youth is wasted on the young.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Catch a Wave

A few days ago, a friend lamented, "I don't know what I want, I only know that I want something other. Other than the life I'm living, where I'm living, what I'm doing. I want other." Those are the kind of people I love talking to. To me, it means they're "go for launch." About thirteen years ago, I wrote a poem called Vortex. It begins, "I did not expect this washed gray, unawake, emptied nothing." I was going through a horribly stagnant period in my life when I didn't know what I wanted, and it seemed that every time I blinked, I was missing something I was supposed to be seeing. It damned near drove me nuts. So, it was very satisfying to capture that feeling in a poem. However, once I finished writing it and read it over a few times, I thought, "That is the last time I'm going to have this feeling. I hereby refuse to feel that way."

I still didn't know where I was going, or what I wanted. I just knew I wanted other. Somehow I knew that by wanting it, it was there for me to claim. At the time, simply knowing that much was enough. It gave me the fighting attitude of, "I don't care if I fail. Don't care if I go down in flames. I'm not staying stuck. I will die trying if I have to. But no more vortex.... because this feels like death." Truthfully, nothing sucks like a vortex.

So, how does one go from the pulling swirl of The Vortex to riding The Yes Wave? (Thank you, Amy!) It doesn't happen all at once, and if you're a restless soul like I am, it can be frustrating. The hardest part, for me, was fighting myself. I've long since realized that the reason I can't stand complacency in others is because I despise it in myself. You've got to tear down the walls of apathy and replace them with passion. It can be a slow build, but once begun, the process and progress keep moving along almost as if on their own accord. All it takes is finding one thing that really, really jingles your bells.

For me, it was moving. That was the first step out of my vortex. I knew, living just outside of Washington, DC, that it wasn't at all where I wanted to be. I hated it. I knew that I wanted to be somewhere in the Northwest. So, without giving myself a whole lot of time to think, rethink, and talk myself out of it, I gave away most of my stuff, packed up, and lit out. It made all the difference. The forward motion had begun.

You can't change everything all at once. Trying to do so will only serve to drive you crazy. Think about The Yes Wave in terms of surfing. Do surfers stand on the edge of the beach to catch the big one? Of course not. They paddle wayyyyyy out to the waves. Some even take boats out to the really huge waves. Point is, it takes effort on their part to get out to the wave, to stand up, balance, and finally begin the ride. I don't surf, never have, but I've heard tell that it's the finest feeling in the world. To that, I can relate. I know the feeling of riding the wave... The Yes Wave.

Come on out... the water is fine.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Armchair Philosophy

Welcome to the newly redecorated Church of the Wayward Gypsy, where the bean is still (always) fresh. Come on in and get comfy.

Twice yesterday I made statements that took me aback. It’s not that I don’t expect to come up with profound wisdom every now and again, but these definitely left me feeling, “Whoa! Did I just say that?!” As I thought about both statements late last night, I realized that, although they’re not metaphorically compatible, they do kind of go together.

The first came as I was talking to a friend. We were discussing people who are still searching for the thing that is going to make them whole, the thing that is going to make them stand up and say, “This is me!” He mentioned that a certain friend of his is a good person but, “still trying to find her way.” To this I replied, “Some people are so busy hacking through the briers that they fail to see the path.

I can say this with certainty because I’ve been there. In my attempt to define who I am, I ran from everything I was - everything - only to discover, after years of struggle, that you can’t ignore the nature of the beast. Well, duh. The briers were there for a reason, they were trying to keep me on the path. But I was so pissed off at the prickles and scrapes that, in a blind rage, I charged into the thicket and began hacking away, completely losing sight (and thought) of the path, of ever having been on the path, and of where the path might be leading. In my mind, there was no path, only briars… and they grow back almost as fast as you can hack through them.

I’m happy to say that, these days, I pay no mind to the briers. Should one deign to cross my path and I don‘t notice in time to step around it, I accept the scratch and move on. You can’t fight your own path. It leads where it leads and, even if you ignore it, it will eventually find you. The journey is the thing.

Later, I stood at the stove, staring at a pot of potatoes that was taking it’s sweet time coming to a boil. I heard my mother’s voice in my head (why is good conscience so often my mother’s voice?!), saying, “A watched pot never boils.” I’ve always been stubborn when it comes to Mom’s advice, so I stayed the course. Finally, the water started to bubble. I had to laugh at myself as I muttered aloud, “See? A watched pot does boil. It’s just that I accomplished nothing while watching it.”

How often do we stand still on the path for no good reason? Rest is a good reason, and you know that’s not what I’m talking about! Maybe we’re hot and waiting for a breeze - rather than creating our own, or being thankful that we‘re not freezing; or it’s raining and we’re waiting for the sun - rather than appreciating the beauty of the rain and the melodic sound of it hitting the leaves; or we’re just staring at the damned boulder in the way thinking that maybe it will move on its own so we don’t have to clamber around it; or (worst of all, in my book) we‘re busy watching someone else on their path. We waste an awful lot of time simply standing still. There’s an old expression that goes, “Nothing hurts more than doing nothing.” Oy vey.

So, you see, as I pondered my statements while I drifted out to sea on my sleep boat, I realized that they are not mutually exclusive of each other. In between frenetic movement and immobility, there is the path. And the path requires forward motion.

Are you gonna wait for a sign? Your miracle?
Stand up and fight!
This is it, make no mistake where you are...

~Kenny Loggins, This Is It,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Extremely Satisfying

Hi Folks!

After passing the 500th post marker yesterday, I've decided to do a total revamp on my blog. When I originally picked the black background, I had no idea that I'd be writing as much as I have, nor posting as often as I do. The black background can be a little hard on the eyes (according to some). I've also been perusing other blogs and have noticed that the "spiffier" and more frequently visited ones often have a lighter background with dark lettering. So, I'm changing mine.

I know it'll take some getting used to for all of us. I also know I can't please all the people all of the time, but I think this will be a change for the good.

As always, all feedback is welcome, but give it a few hours... I'm still ironing out the kinks.

I'm also in the process of changing all of my old posts over to a readable color. So, please be patient with that as well.

Thanks!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fortunate 500

Tequila shots & cigars all around... today is my 500th post on this blog.


I never would have thought, 500 posts ago, that my little Gypsy Camp here on the web would mean so much to me. I never thought it would mean anything at all to anyone else. But here we are, huh? I remember the excitement of picking the colors, putting up the first picture of my artwork, and typing the first few lines, then seeing the whole thing up and running. "Nifty," I thought, and closely followed with the words from Do Re Mi, "But it doesn't mean anything!" "So we put in words...mmm... like this..."


From then on, I couldn't have stopped the words if I had wanted to. All those words saved me, they formed a rope that pulled me from the quicksand of my life. They made me feel alive, in an existential, "I'm writing, therefore I must be" sort of way. Since then, much like what Ken was talking about yesterday in his post at Mildly Creative, this blog has become the mortar that holds all my bricks and broken shards together. It's helped me rebuild into something wonderful. I couldn't have made it to where I am today without it, and my life will never be the same because of it.


Oddly enough, along the way, people have gathered to peer through the leaves into the Gypsy Camp. Slowly they've gotten comfortable enough to pull up a log and sit by the fire. They've laughed and cried right along with me as I've told my stories, ranted, cursed, sang, babbled, inspired, bantered, and what have you. They've made all the difference, because, as Brandi Carlile mentions in The Story, "...these stories don't mean anything, when you've got no one to tell them to..."


I didn't foresee that Black Ink Pad would become what it's become. I had no vision for it back in November 2007. I was merely a sad, lonely Gypsy who had stumbled off of - nay, been thrown from - the path, reaching out blindly for a rock to hold onto. I never thought, as I climbed my way over the treacherous cliffs and back to the path, that I would find this peaceful meadow, that I would make friends, that the friendships I had would deepen, that I'd find a home here - a place to rest the weary bones of my life.


So, thank you, my dear readers, for making this Gypsy's campfire a little brighter and a whole lot warmer. Without you, it would be just another piece of wilderness.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Anger Management

That it will never come again
is what makes life so sweet.

~Emily Dickinson


It’s not as if I needed it, but yesterday I was reminded again just how fragile life is. The 20 year old son of a dear friend of mine passed away this past Sunday. I feel such deep sorrow for his mother, my friend, that I don’t even know how to express it properly. Words seem ridiculous in the face of such tragedy: I’m sorry. Please know I care. I’m here for you. They all sound absurd to me. Because what I really want to do is stand on the balcony and shout at my loudest, “This is fucking unjust! There is no goddamned excuse for this!” Then I’d like to take a baseball bat and break something (inanimate!) until it’s pulverized, until it’s mere dust. After that, I think I’d like a good strong shot of something, and a good long nap.


I am angry about this - fuming, furious, incensed, enraged. I know people die. Duh. Like I’ve ever been given a chance to ignore that one. People die every second of every minute of every day, but this one is simply too cruel to accept. I’m tired of knowing the people who die, and knowing how young they are, and knowing how much potential they still had. I’m weary with it, so weary that I, uncharacteristically, want to kick the shit out of something. I feel like the sobbing little girl, both knees scraped, hair stuck to her sweaty face, and fists clenched as she stomps her foot and screams, “It’s… notFAIR!!!” I want to throw a temper tantrum. Yet, that whole screaming, weary, need for aggression gig leaves me feeling completely impotent. There’s no point to it. It won’t change or solve a thing. But, oh, I want it.


At the same time, my life is wonderful. In fact, I’d just finished saying how much I love my life before I found out about this horrible thing. It doesn’t at all change how I feel about my life. I do love it - I’m doing the work I love doing; I’m in a relationship that leaves me in wonder at my good fortune; I have all the material things, and more, that I could ever need. The guilty thought did flit through my mind, “Here I was crowing about how great it all is, and my friend is in tatters.” I silenced it immediately. That kind of guilt is utterly pointless.


So, I caught myself before I destroyed anything or went completely out of my mind with irreconcilable wrath. I took some time, took a walk. I looked myself in the eyes of my mirror and said, “You cannot change what happened. You cannot take away her grief. Honor both of them by living, by loving, and in gratitude for what you’ve got. Don’t deny yourself this feeling, neither should you deny yourself feeling good, but use them wisely. Make it constructive rather than destructive.” This is such a difference from how I used to handle things, back when my self-descriptive idiom was “fly off the handle.”


I did use my feelings well. I did what I’ve been doing a lot of lately. I made art. However, this time, I made sure it was messy - I got my fingers in the paint; I flung and I spattered it; I used wide swipes with the brush; and I push-smeared it. Creating chaos gave me just the right outlet and captured what I was feeling. There is no other way to say it, except to say that I felt great when I was finished, and boy howdy, exhausted.


I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge,
that myth is more potent than history,
that dreams are more powerful than facts,
that hope always triumphs over experience,
that laughter is the only cure for grief,
and I believe that love is stronger than death.

~Robert Fulghum


I, too, believe all of that, Mr. Fulghum, but I would add:
I believe that art, in any of its forms, assuages anger.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two If By Sea

Hooper: ...it doesn't make much sense for a guy who hates the water to live on an island...
Brody: It's only an island if you look at it from the water.
~Jaws


Last night, after an all too busy day, my mate and I settled in for some couch time and watched the movie Jaws. It's one of those movies that's kind of a guilty pleasure of mine - completely outlandish, but entirely satisfying. Besides, Roy Scheider (aka Chief Brody) rocks my boat. Pun intended. Watching the constantly changing sky in the film is distracting to me. Filming must have been a logistical nightmare. For example (and this happens consistently throughout the film), there's a shot of Brody - the camera is looking up at him as he bends over the chum bucket. Behind Brody, the sky is clear blue. The camera pans away to Hooper who is steering the boat. Behind Hooper the sky is gray and menacing.


Even so, it's one of those ridiculous films that I just have to love. I think that's partly because it was the first PG film I was allowed to see, and it's the only movie I ever saw in a theater with my Dad. He got such a kick out of me jumping every time something startling happened on the screen.


Dad. I was thinking of him right when Hooper and Brody spoke the lines above, and the combination damned near made my eyes mist up. For so long, my view of my Dad was almost purely one of an intimidating monster. It took some time for me to pull back far enough to see more. It took discovering water, the ebb and flow of personalities and how I perceive and deal with them. When it came to my Dad, I couldn't see the water for the island. I now know there was a deeper world in him, along with a beautifully acerbic sense of humor, fierce intelligence, and breathtaking artistic ability. 


Hooper: ...if we're looking for a shark we're not gonna find him on the land.
~Jaws


I wish I'd waded out into these waters long ago. Sure, they can be treacherous, but it's a whole other world and there's so much to discover.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How To Boil Water

One of my favorite principles is the one I seem to forget most. I’m talking about the K.I.S.S. principle, or Keep It Simple, Stupid. I preach it, but don’t always practice it. Whenever anyone tells me they can’t cook, my first question is, “Can you boil water?” Usually the answer is yes, to which I say, “Then you can cook. Boil some water, throw in some pasta. When it’s done, toss it with butter, salt, pepper, some crushed garlic, fresh basil if you have it, and Parmesan. Badda-boom, badda-bing… there, you just cooked. The great unwashed, hungering hoards will love you!” If your first attempt at cooking is hollandaise sauce and a soufflé (both overrated in my book), you’re probably going to end up frustrated and hating cooking. Take it slow and easy, and keep it simple.


I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
~Laura Ingalls Wilder


The other day I slaved over a card design - one of three that I was making in an attempt to lure a new client. It was intricate, lush with color, a thing of beauty to behold (*cough, choke, cough*). I made another that was about medium in terms of difficulty, and then I made a really easy, simple one. The color was all the same, tone on tone, and there wasn’t much in the way of adornment on it. I thought, “Well, they’ll look at that one and see how amazing the other is and go for that.” I’m an idiot. Instead, the client wrote back, choosing what I saw as the ugly duckling card and said, “I love this! It’s so simple and elegant!”


Life itself is the proper binge.
~Julia Child


We strive so hard in our lives. We make everything so complicated. In our attempt at bigger and better we so often lose sight of small and wondrous. I watched an art show the other day and the artist made the comment, to wit, “I try to let the material do all the talking. Sometimes it’s almost as if I’m just a bystander in the art I make.” I’ve heard much the same idea from sculptors before, that the stone or wood or clay tells them what it wants to be. I know a woman who creates beautiful water colors by slathering paint all over the paper, then inking in trees, or fish, or faces, or what have you, depending on what the blots and streaks dictate. I need to shut up and let my art talk do the talking.


The most glorious successes are but a reflection of an inner fire.
~Kenneth Hildebrand


My brother Tom is a very successful business man. He designs bicycle wheel rims out of lighter alloys. He started from the ground up, initially making them in his garage, then moving to a bigger building, then moving to an even bigger building, as he strove to meet the demands required for exporting them all over the world. A couple of years ago when we had a chance to meet up, I asked him, “So, did you expect to be this big of a hit when you started out all those years ago? Was a 10,000 square foot factory and warehouse in your dreams?” Tom answered with a shrug and a wry smile, “Nah… I just wanted to build a better wheel.”


K.I.S.S. Boil water. Be quiet. Listen. Build a better wheel.


We fritter our lives away with detail. Simplify, simplify.
H.D. Thoreau

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Welcome To My Nightmare

“It seems like everyone is always griping about something,” she complained. She was in the second row, next to the window. Her pinched face matched her squeaky voice. I was in a classroom full of people. The desks were too small, the chairs uncomfortable. A shadowy, cloaked figure stood at the blackboard, holding a piece of chalk in its bony hand, and wrote, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.


The figure turned and pointed at a sweaty, sneering man in the third row back, two over from the wall. The man blurted out angrily, “We should kill all the haters!” The figure turned back to the blackboard and wrote, “All you need is love. Love is all you need.”* There was a slight sound of chair legs scraping the floor as people squirmed and tried for comfort.


Again the figure turned and pointed at a yawning young man at the back of the classroom. He sat with one leg up over the desk and the other sprawled into the aisle. He rolled his eyes with indifference, yawned again, and mumbled, “Don’t look at me. I’m only here because I have to be here.” Once more the figure turned back to the blackboard and scrawled, “The bird does not sing because he has an answer. He sings because he has a song.”** There was a soft sound of people murmuring to each other, accented by a some polite coughing.


Finally, as I feared would happen, the figure turned and pointed toward me. I was prepared. I knew the words I was to speak. I had memorized them and had worked hard at getting just the right inflection in my voice for each word. I sat upright and alert in my disagreeable chair, at my too-small desk. I took a deep, but seemingly airless breath, and said, “All I can do is all I can do.” The figure whirled about and chalk screeched against the blackboard as it scribbled, “WRONG! You, Fine Student, are the worst of all of them because you know better!”


I burst into tears and tried to cover my face with my hands, but my suddenly leaden arms would not move. So, I sat sobbing in front of the entire class. I heard chairs scrape the floor again as people attempted to distance themselves from me. The figure turned, arms folded tight against it’s chest. Although I couldn’t see its eyes, I could feel them bearing down on me. I sniffled, “But… what I meant was…” At this the figure held up a hand, palm out, to silence me.


One last time the figure turned to the blackboard. It erased everything previously written. Then, in a beautifully artistic cursive hand, it wrote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”*** I sat, now more uncomfortable in my skin than in the unforgiving chair, mouth hanging open, tears still wet upon my cheeks. I stared at the words on the board as I tried to breathe. My heart banged in my chest as I watched the figure raise its hands to the hood covering its head. It grabbed the hood on either side and slowly slid it back, revealing my own face.


 Quotations used:
*John Lennon
**Joan Walsh Anglund
**Henry David Thoreau





Monday, May 17, 2010

Let Me In

You know me - I’m one of the least political people in the world. I think I was born under a huge “Make Love, Not War” banner. Okay, so I was born before that came about and my parents wouldn’t have been caught dead anywhere near such a thing (try to imagine Donna Reed and William Demerest at a peace rally), but the times they were a-changin’ and I stormed right into that gallimaufry. I don’t like conflict. Whenever there are signs of turbulence, I tend to disappear, and anything political has much the same effect.


However, I have a real problem with immigration laws. I know they’re necessary, at least some of them. I know that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and I know we need to do our best to keep out the riffraff. But there needs to be some kind of balance. This country was founded on people searching for a better life. I have a problem when I hear people say, “Why are we letting anyone in?!” Curiously, none of the people saying that are Native Americans. Savvy? Really, where would we be today if the Native Americans had said, “Get lost. This is our country. Go back where you came from. You don’t even speak our language!”


I would not be writing this today were it not for immigrants. Four or more generations ago, my dad’s family came from France, Ireland, and Wales. My mother’s parents both came from Hungary in the early 1920’s. They didn’t know each other at the time, so had they not both made their way to the states, they’d never have met. My grandfather came over somewhat illegally. There was a price out on his head (he was trying to get communism into Hungary at a time when it was absolutely unwelcome), so he assumed a different name and fled the country.


My grandmother, my hero, was a Hungarian peasant with, at best, a third grade education. She saw a chance at something better. She had a dream of life without constant dirt, toil, and little reward. She had nothing when she left Hungary. Somehow, she scraped up fare for the boat. She came here with about ten dollars, one change of clothing, my great grandmother’s shawl, a knife and fork, and a tin enamel cup. She was one of the many who came through Ellis Island. She once told me that she sobbed when she saw the Statue of Liberty.


Neither of my mother’s parents spoke English when they first arrived here, but they learned. They worked hard, probably harder than some. They did everything they could to establish that “better life.” The same holds true of my father’s family. For generations they were poor farmers in Pennsylvania, but they worked hard, constantly believing.


I am sure, generations ago in my dad’s family, and when my mom’s parents came over on the boat, they weren’t thinking down the road and thinking they’d be an antecedent to a woman named Barbara Ann. I don’t think they particularly considered what legacy they might be passing along to my generation. I’m thankful for those ancestors who worked their fingers to the bone, who didn’t take no for an answer, who withstood untold hardships, who, quite simply, wanted better.


I and my siblings, and my siblings’ children are that “better.” We are what they unsuspectingly fought for. We are why they came here. How could any of us not strive to be our very best? How could any of us deny any other person on earth the same opportunity that we were given, because it was first given to our forebears? Not me. I was not raised to be a hypocrite. I can’t say, it’s good enough for mine, but not for yours.


Emma Lazarus's poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty does not read:
Give me your rich, your pretty, your talented few.
It reads:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!



I have my Grandma’s cup, now at least 100 years old. It is my favorite possession. Whenever I’ve moved, it’s always been the first thing I’ve unpacked. It sits, well in view, on my desk. It is my daily reminder that someone took a chance and made a better life - a better life for herself, her children, her children’s children, and so on. I have a beautiful life. Who am I to deny anyone else possibility of the same?



Sunday, May 16, 2010

Seeds of Inspiration

The world is a rose; smell it and pass it to your friends.
~Persian Proverb


If we smell a rose, the fragrance is a thing of beauty that often leaves us with a wistful smile on our face. However, a rose really reaches perfection if, when we smell it, we say to a friend, "Wow! Get a snoot full of that!" The worthiness of that which touches us is compounded when we share it.


This is what's on my mind this morning. Within the past 24 hours I've had three people thank me for inspiring them. Me! It's difficult for me to say aloud, "Whozits just thanked me for inspiring her." Yet, its the one thing I most hope to do. I also had a total stranger (is there such a thing as a "sort of" stranger?) order some work from me. She's a friend of a friend of a friend. It makes me wonder what they were saying about me. Maybe it was, as I've often done, "You have to check out this person's work!" I don't know and it really isn't important.


Something big is coming. I can feel it. On the surface nothing has changed, but it's as if there's a life-tsunami brewing, and I've got a funny feeling I'm going to get drenched. I woke up this morning feeling like there was an electrical charge running just under my skin.


I am convinced that there are universal currents of Divine Thought vibrating the ether everywhere and that any who can feel these vibrations is inspired.
~Richard Wagner


But. Back to the Inspirees... One thanked me for inspiring her to write and to look for other creative outlets in her life. Another thanked me for inspiring her to rubber stamp and do all kinds of crafty things with it. The third thanked me for helping jump start her somewhat stagnant art life. I couldn't be more thrilled than to learn that I've played that kind of part in anyone's life. It makes what I do that much more worthwhile. It's a sign (at least to me) that I must be doing something right.


Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.
~Albert Einstein


The really cool thing? I'm inspired right back.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life In The Slow Lane

There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.
~Salvador Dalí


I realized something yesterday morning as I watched the local news. I've become the person I used to envy, the person sitting at home, getting ready to work at home, and clucking my tongue at all the poor fools stuck in traffic and heading to some banal job. I sat watching the news, wearing my bathrobe, sipping coffee and contemplating what I needed to get done with my day. I did all this slowly, without any stress.


Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.
~Konstantin Stanislavsky


I've finally gotten to the point where I realize that art is my passion. I am no longer ashamed of this. I no longer feel as though I'm just playing, nor do I feel a need to "get real." I am real and what I love doing is real. And I'm doing it!


To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage.
~Georgia O'Keefe


For me, the courage was in admitting not only that this is what I want to do, but that I'm fully capable of doing it. Self-doubt only serves to delay the best life has to offer us.


Only those who attempt the absurd...will achieve the impossible. I think...I think it's in my basement... Let me go upstairs and check.
~M.C. Escher


This is how I feel every time I head up to my studio. It's ironically funny to me that I go upstairs to work, but call it The Rabbit Hole.

I may be a late bloomer, but at least I've bloomed.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How Exciting!

There’s a word that doesn’t get used much any more, at least not in its truest form. The word is excite. Sure, you hear people say, “I’m excited!” But, it’s more of an anticipatory phrase than anything else. My word program’s onboard thesaurus lists the synonyms of excite as: stimulate, enthuse, motivate, enliven, and electrify.


Yesterday as I worked on a new project, using a new technique, I suddenly had offshoots of ideas for 10 other projects in my head. I thought, “Boy howdy… I’ve excited a riot in my brain! WooHOO!” That in turn got me thinking about the word excite, about what it means to me to be excited, and of course, about what excites me.


People often think of excitement in terms of something vociferous and blatant. For me true excitement comes in the quietest times. It comes in moments of introspection and reflection. It comes while watching birds swoop and glide against a clouded sky, or in noticing the asymmetry of cedars against the blue, or remarking the sound of water stumbling and kissing rocks as it makes its way down river. It comes on like a moon flower, inconspicuous and overlooked, until it unexpectedly bursts into bloom with a high-spirited, “Here I am!” Then, suddenly, excitement permeates me as my mind speeds along in overdrive, and I find myself stimulated, enthused, motivated, enlivened and electrified.


What excites you - truly excites you? Innuendo aside for a moment, please, what makes the very core of you vibrate in anticipation of what’s to come? What sends you flying down the alleyways of your imagination? Because, let me tell you friends and neighbors, excitement is the fuel cell of imagination.


For my more lascivious readers, and since we’re on the subject, when you excite your imagination, it spills over onto everything, yes, everything else. Sex is 80% cerebral and 20% physical. It stands to reason that if you find what triggers the g-spot in your mind, you’ll be exploring whole new galaxies. Trust me on that. I've yet to be able to paint without first seeing the vision during an orgasm.


Coming soon: An Interview With Passion & Desire: A Non-sexual Experience

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What Is The Question?

Friends have expressed concern over my blog posts of late. They're worried that I've been writing a little too much on the dark side lately. You're all very sweet, but I'm just fine. I'm really a very happy person, and I'm quite content with where I am in my life right now. Last night as I was pondering how to best respond to such concerns, I sat and watched some oceanography type special. It was mostly stuff I've seen before, so it left me with space to think. Then the woman who was hosting the show answered my question with a question, and gave me a glorious "Aha!" moment.


She queried, "If we don't explore, how will we know what questions to ask?"


When I write out darker, maybe even slightly morose thoughts, I'm exploring. And if I don't give myself over to that inner exploration, to my soul spelunking, how will I know which questions to ask myself?


I think everyone has deeper thoughts than they'd like to admit. Most people brush stuff like that off as just "being in a mood." I'm unwilling to do that. I think the difference between me and many others is that I'm not afraid to explore that dark side. I have no qualms about marching into those halls, walking right up to angels and demons both, and saying, "What are you doing here?"


I spend hours just thinking and asking myself questions. In my opinion, it's a gift to be able to do that. It's largely because of that gift that I have any concept at all of who I am and of my purpose, value and validity in this life.


It's not important to me whether I get an answer - I often do not. Intelligence is more about knowing which questions to ask than having all the answers. I'm happy enough just having the questions.


Barb: I'll take "Who Am I?" for $1000, Alex.
Alex: What is the worth of a gypsy soul in the grand scheme of things?
Barb: What is priceless?


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two-Faced

Knowing others is intelligence.
Knowing yourself is true wisdom.

~Lao Tzu


The face we present the world is very different from the face we see in the mirror. This is really a basic tenet, but I’ve noticed it more than usual lately. I’m talking about inner appearance, not outer. There are people whom I admire and look up to, yet when I hear them talk about themselves it’s always with a yearning for something better, a sort of emptiness in spite of everything they are. It’s as if they feel they are lacking in some way. Well, in some way we all are, but that doesn’t make us any less valuable. Granted, striving to be better people is something we should all be doing, but where is the dividing line? Where is the trip wire that catches us up and makes us say, upon looking in the mirror, “I’m not at all what they think they see.”


I often wonder, if we could look at ourselves through another’s eyes, would we be satisfied? Even a little?


This is one of those hellish imps that I’ve had to face down. I’ve done some real battle, and more often than not, I feel ill-equipped for such combat. People have said to me, “You’re so intelligent,” “You’re so artistic,” “You‘re so funny,” “You‘re such a wonderful person,” “You have such talent,” and worst of all, “I wish I could do things like you do, be like you.” And anytime I hear those things, I find it implausible that they’re being said about me. I’m not talking about humility or even a false sense of humility. It’s based more upon believability. I simply don’t see the person they see, and yet, it is that very person that I strive to present to the world. I want those things to be true even if I don’t see them. Crazy, isn‘t it? I know I‘m not alone, but the feeling has a way of keeping me feeling detached - even when I see solid evidence of it in others.


Even so, keeping all that in mind, I create art, I write, I play music, all in hopes that in the great silence surrounding it (of the me that remains unspoken), my voice might resound, screaming, “Please hear me!” I want my view of the world to be unique and accepted - it’s maddening. I want to be the special person that everyone seems to see. So, I keep pushing myself to do the things that they (the immense, ubiquitous “they”) seem to admire, all the while wondering if any of my vision is really getting across the invisible blurry line, much less being seen by understanding eyes. Because, at the end of the day, I still look in the mirror and say, “Who dat? What‘s she doing here?”


I am Gypsy. I am Artist. I am Lover. I am Writer. I am Wind. I am Musician. I am Water. I am Girl. I am Earth. I am Life. I am Death. I am Desire. I am Cook. I am Devourer.I am a God of a thousand names: why cannot one of them be Barb?


A friend gave me a copy of this poem almost fifteen years ago. It still gives me goosebumps every time I read it.


Woman Singing
by Catherine de Vinck


I am the woman dancing the world alive;
birds on my wrists
sun feathers in my hair
I leap through hoops of atoms:
under my steps
plants burst into bloom
birches tremble in their silver.


Can you not see the roundness of me:
curve of the earth
maternal arms of the sea
encircling you wetly as you swim?
I am the birthing woman
kneeling by the river
heaving, pushing forth a sacred body
not mud, not stone: flesh and blood.


Round, round the wind
spinning itself wild
drawing great circles of music
across the sky.
Round the gourd full of seeds
round the moon in its ripeness
round the door through which I come
stooping into your house.


I am a God of a thousand names:
why cannot one of them be
Woman Singing?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Devil In Disguise

We were discussing artists whose work we admire, but whose personal lives stray from any “normal” moral compass. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate a person’s work from the person. We’re loathe to think we may be admiring the devil in disguise. The question was brought up, no one can create divorced from their individual lives, their experience - can they? The answer is no. Maybe one can choose not to create, but one can’t create without familiarity with the subject, or the mood and feeling inherent. The advice given most often to young writers is, “write what you know.” Actors draw from personal experience in order to emote on cue.


We art what we are. Art truly does imitate life, and in some cases, that life can be rather bizarre or harsh. After all, where would the art world be if all of our experiences were puppies, flowers and cookies? I’ll tell you. It would be as bland as vanilla pudding. Would Beethoven have been able to create the doomed, thundering feeling in his Fifth Symphony without his tribulations? Doubtful. Could Van Gogh have painted Starry Night without the cry of his tormented soul? No. Would Dickens have penned Oliver Twist without his own tortured childhood to draw from? I think not.


But it's a sad man my friend
who's livin' in his own skin
And can't stand the company
~Better Days, Bruce Springsteen


All that being said, I also know that one can’t look at an artist’s body of work and presume to know the artist. Art may be where we pour out our deepest emotions, fears and dreams, but it is not necessarily how we live. When I was in my teens, all of my poems were dark and morbid. I recall writing a ghastly piece about a girl who stabs her father with a pitchfork. Would I have acted on that? Of course not. Never. But my mother saw the poem and made an issue out of it - I can understand why it frightened her. So I quit writing. When I tried to play other than classical music on the piano, I was accused of “banging” on it, of being too aggressive. So I quit trying to explore music. When I thought about some of the things in my head that I wanted to be able to draw or paint, I was the one who was frightened. Having some of those images swirling in my head was akin to a waking nightmare or a bout of insanity. I ran from that. I wasn’t about to create something that would affirm that I’m nuts!


Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening
To the hours and minutes tickin' away
Yeah just sittin' around waitin' for my life to begin
While it was all just slippin' away
~Better Days, Bruce Springsteen


Then one day I read a wonderful quote by Neil Gaiman, “The art isn’t the artist; the poem isn’t the poet; trust the tale, not the teller.” It freed me, and I realized what a contravention it was for me to hold back on any creative outlet. I’ve had a rich life and a variety of experiences - all the good, bad, ugly and beautiful. Not using those experiences when I’ve also been given a modicum of talent would be like sitting in the middle of a ripe orchard and complaining that there’s nothing to eat. No, I can’t divorce my art from my life. I wouldn’t want to. I’m who I am, but my art is so much more than the sum total of what I am.


In fishing it’s called catch and release. You hook the fish, reel it in, take a good look at it, and send it back into the world. We artists are only separate from the rest of the world in that we’re willing to take a deeper look at things before sending them back into the world. As slippery as a squirming bass, we can’t hang on to them if we try.


I'm tired of waitin' for tomorrow to come
Or that train to come roarin' 'round the bend...
...Tonight this fool's halfway to heaven
And just a mile outta hell
And I feel like I'm comin' home

~Better Days, Bruce Springsteen

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ex Communicators

Some days I wake up and can't think of a thing to post. Coming up with a topic seems to require scraping a putty knife across the dregs of my cranial matter. Other days I wake up with half a dozen topics in my head and the big issue is deciding which one to run with. Today is one of the latter sort of days. I've made note of the other ideas for those Empty Head (note: I did not say empty-headed) days.


A couple of days ago a friend on Facebook posed the question, to wit, "Why doesn't FB have a 'bummer' button for when you're sad about what someone posted?" I know my friend was being somewhat tongue in cheek, but as I posted my response, "Yeah, because it takes so much effort to type, I'm very sorry to hear that," I thought, egads... how far have we devolved? We've completely forgotten how to communicate except in soundbites and the staccato blips of text messages. Not only does most of our language get misused and abused, but now we don't even know how to form a complete sentence, much less spell it correctly. How very sad.


This past weekend I received a sizable envelope in the mail from my Mother. She's cleaning out her place in anticipation of moving to a "senior living" apartment (heaven forbid we call it an old age home). In the package were several letters that I'd written to Mom after I first moved to Washington, two letters that my nanny kids had written, and a card that all five of her children had signed and given to my Dad on his 46th birthday (36 plus years ago). My Mom saves stuff like that. She's old school when it comes to letters and it's one of the things I love most about her. No matter what the week is like, I can almost always count on a letter, hand-written no less, in the mailbox from Mom. It was fun to read my old letters, interesting to see where my head was 12 years ago. They weren't hand-written, but they were all at least two pages typed up. None of them contained anything particularly noteworthy. They were breezy, newsy letters about places I'd gone, things I'd seen. My Mom thought enough of them to save them.


I'm conflicted and clearly hypocritical. I love the internet. I love the speed with which I can drop everyone I know a line or two. It's given me the ability to connect with people I wouldn't otherwise keep in touch with or even know of. I hear from family members nearly every day, most of whom wouldn't write a letter and drop it in the mail box without it being a jaw-dropping event on my end. The reverse holds true as well. However, I'm dismayed that so much of communication out there consists of LOL, WTF, BRB, OMG and the like. That's not communicating, not really.


It also saddens me that those of us who truly do communicate over the internet will likely not keep any record of those communications. Although we might save messages in our inboxes for a while, I don't know anyone who prints them out and saves them for posterity. Given the frailty of computers and networks, emails are lost all the time, and once they're lost, without the benefits of a computer forensics specialist, they're gone for good. I'd love to go back and read some of the emails that I wrote when I first logged on in 1995.


I know of people who wouldn't communicate with the outside world at all for days if it wasn't for the internet. There again, there's a good side and a bad side. At least they are communicating, but they're not getting out and seeing faces. They're not getting the benefit of hearing real laughter or seeing a smile. I'll admit there have been days that I was one of those people... sitting in my bathrobe, drinking coffee, and waiting for someone, anyone, to "talk" to. The world has shrunk. We talk to more people than we ever have, but we know them less.


I can't imagine where I would be if it weren't for this blog. Would I have journaled? Maybe. But I don't think I would have kept up with it the way I have with this. For one thing, part of what has kept me going is the feedback I get. Part of it is knowing that somewhere out there, somehow, someone is hearing what I have to say. I've also pondered, many times in fact, what happens to all of this rambling if I fall off the face of the earth? It's not that I'm pompous enough to think that it's worthy of posterity, but I'd like to think that in 10 or 20 years, someone, if not I, could look back on this and have a smile and shed a tear.


Conundrums. *Sigh* Ain't they grand?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Roosters, Ponchos, & Tentacles... Oh My!

Yesterday was a good day. Thanks everyone for your kind and supportive words. Y'all are  definitely the shine after the storm!


Today, I'm feeling lazy. 'Fraid I couldn't motivate myself if VanGogh dropped by to offer me art classes. Whether I "deserve" it or not, I'm going with the flow and letting the day take me where it will. Knowing me, I'll be overcome with guilt at some point, spring into action, and actually get quite a bit accomplished.


I also thought I'd take the opportunity to bring some lightness in the form of silliness to this blog. Haven't we all had those moments when we walk in on a conversation, and are struck by the most obscure line? You enter a room where two people are talking and, without the benefit of the rest of the conversation, hear someone exclaim, "I swear! If I'd known, I wouldn't have gotten my hands anywhere near his pants!" Of course, the person who said that probably didn't mean anything near what you instantly interpreted, but that's what makes it so funny.


Facebook is fraught with moments like that. Sometimes, just to amuse myself, I go looking for such things. I decided to collect them and post them here. To any of my Facebook friends and readers who might recognize themselves in some of this, well... I make no apology. I only thank you for making my days more amusing. So, Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms in the crowd! And now, on to my favorite Facebook non-sequiturs of the week...


I'm gonna sell rain ponchos at the bar..
Wow... Sounds like a rough place to go drinkin'...



Wholly balls!
Entirely? That's something that should be treated with such reverence as to make them Holy.



Sally Smith (name has been changed) is selling roommate. $350.00
Man o' man. These really are tough times!



I no longer have a toilet in my living room!
Just don't look in the dining room...


If anyone actually gets the purple alien calf, let me know.
No worries. I'm pretty sure that's somethin' you'd hear me screamin' about. But what really gets me with this one is the use of the word actually. "If anyone actually gets..." I mean, are there people out there faking getting a purple alien calf? People gots no shame.



What's with this gently igniting stuff?
Indeed. Why aren't we all equipped with flamethrowers?!



I think my Ex is beautiful.
Listen closely, children. Drinking and divorcing do NOT mix!



They would not be licking their "tentacles."
I don't know what kind of octopus you've got for a pet, lady, but...



My aunt just canned her rooster.
Damn. It really is hard to find good help.



And my personal favorite...
Don't get in a hurry. It can take time to suck the life juices from things.
Indeed it can. Indeed it can...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It Took A Storm

Took a storm before
my love flowed for you
~C'est La Vie, Emerson, Lake & Palmer


Dear John,


Lately, one of your favorite phrases has been heavy on my mind, "Five years will go by anyway." It's been three years since you left this mortal coil, three years that have at once flown by and stood still. Three years have gone by anyway. I am in awe of the personal growth that I've been through in those three years - I never saw that coming in all of our "life after John" discussions.


One thing that has really impressed me lately is that I have so many friends who wouldn't be part of my life were it not for you. They are friends who, not only have stuck with me through the dark times, but whose friendship has grown deeper in these three years. Timothy is one of those friends. He is, without question, the greatest of those friends. I'm reasonably certain that without the loss of you, our friendship would not have become the shining gem that it is today. We came together in grief, but the tears and laughter we shared were the bond that sealed our friendship. His is such a beautiful, loving, and caring soul. He has more than lived up to his promise to you to be there for me.


I don't know if you made Timothy promise, as you did with me, to not only go on living, but to live well. Either way, he has. We were talking a couple of weeks ago. I said, "You know, Tim... this is going to sound strange... but John's death was the best thing that could have happened to us. His dying launched us. It galvanized us and made us realize that we had so much more living to do, and so much more to offer the world. We wouldn't have become who we are now if he was still around. The rat bastard pushed us!" At this, Tim laughed through his tears, held the phone away from his ear and hollered, "Yeah, J! You pushed us! You hear that?! Fucker!"


Yes, you definitely launched me. I am astounded that something so profoundly sad as your death could bring about so much quintessential good. But, I've learned that sometimes when life takes you through its worst, it's about to give you its best. So it has, because let me tell you, Darlin' Man, if it gets better than this I might just burst. Here's the tricky part, John. I think this will be my last letter to you for a long while, years maybe. I hope you understand. I think you would.


See, the thing is, I no longer use your death as a jumping off point. For a while I needed to, I needed that pivotal moment in time to say, "here is where I became aware of my strength, here is where I found my road." I needed something to remind me that if I got through that, I can get through anything. For quite a while, I measured time in, "that happened when John was still alive" or "that happened after John died." Today, I think I've evolved to the extent that I no longer need to wear that badge of courage. I've sort of become my own woman, and I'm no longer "the girl who survived the great loss." Does that make sense? I'm not sure I'm saying it well. It doesn't mean I miss you any less, and it doesn't at all make the importance of you in my life any less.


This brings me to Steve. Odd as it is, I feel it needs to be said. Maybe I'm the only one who needs that, but hey... it's my life, huh? It's a strange feeling, but I often wish that you and Steve had met somehow. He would have been such a wonderful friend for you to have, and I know he would have liked your spirit. You know... he waited for me for 14 years. He didn't know he was waiting for me, just that he was waiting for the right woman to come along. When you told me there was another out there for me, someone who would give me everything you couldn't, someone I needed to love, I didn't believe you. Hell, I didn't want to believe you! But you described Steve so precisely. I think that's why, when I met him, I felt that I was saying hello to someone I already knew. Ah, John... my heart is so full.


I've been putting all my effort into art. You were right. Rat Bastard... were you ever wrong?! There is so much more depth to my abilities than I allowed, or was even willing to see. It's another part of my life that has grown and blossomed, weed-like, in the past three years. I would have been lost without it.


These three years have been quite a banquet (as life should be), and though I often feel like a beggar at the feast, I enjoy it nonetheless. I know it's not what either of us planned on. It definitely isn't how I expected things to turn out when I first met you 12 years ago. For sure it isn't what I expected when I lost you three years ago. But as with any mélange, different flavors come out at different times. Some flavors linger, some don't. The ripe, piquant flavor of knowing you in my life is, and ever will be, tempered with the bittersweet of saying goodbye. The honor was mine. Thank you.


Always,
Barb



I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
~Douglas Adams


John P. Johnson
24 September 1960 - 7 May 2007


~C'est La Vie, Emerson, Lake & Palmer