Friday, November 18, 2011

Movie Madness - MELANCHOLIA

From the opening moments of Lars VonTrier's latest film MELANCHOLIA (2011), I was hooked.  The exquisite extreme slow motion movement is beautifully orchestrated by Wagner's Prelude to Tristan and Isolde.  We see a bride moving as roots tear at her feet, a mother clutching a child, a horse laying down all as two planets come hurtling toward one another to the inevitable end - the consumption of one planet by another.  It's only later that we learn the larger planet is Melancholia and it is headed toward Earth; because after this beautiful prologue we are thrust into the marriage of Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgard)*.  Justine and Michael are late for the very elaborate reception being hosted by Justine's sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her husband John (Kiefer Sutherland).  As the evening rolls on, it's clear that Claire is hanging on by the thinnest of threads and Claire and John are frustrated by her reluctance to put on a good show for everyone. 

When Justine becomes aware that there's clearly something wrong with this planet hurling through space, things do indeed unravel, but not as one might expect.  Justine seems relieved that things will be ending and her pain of living can be over as well.  Claire and John are willing to accept the predictions of science that Melancholia will just pass by Earth and it will be a terrifyingly beautiful happening.  The more likely the end appears, the more they unravel. To most, melancholy is a thing that passes briefly and fills one with gratitude that all the days are not thus. To those of us, and I count myself among those, who have experienced true melancholy know that it is the pain of trying to be free of it and act like everything is fine that is the most awful thing.  The struggle to be heard and seen and experienced, the need to have our special vision acknowledged and respected are more painful than the pain of being swallowed up. 

With VonTrier, one is always better off to let go of the reason why and give over to the experience of his films.  There's message here, to be sure.  But it is the beautiful way in which he presents the end of the world that gives the message its true impact.  MELANCHOLIA is a beautiful thing indeed.  A top notch cast lead with powerful performances from Dunst and Gainsbourg and stunning visuals make this melancholy a thing to be experienced. Brief appearances from John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgard and the wonderful comic relief of Udo Kier as the wedding planner make this a good solid film. Let go and let it wash over you.    
In theaters now - but also On Demand with major cable providers.  If you have a good home system, you can save yourself a few dollars. 
*in a tux...can I just say "Yummy."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I may have to move to Massachusetts

Elizabeth Warren

So remember how I was ranting about how everyone needs to do their part or this country isn't going to be better.  Elizabeth Warren, who was bashed in her Senate hearings and is now running to oust Scott Brown from his seat in Massachusetts, summed it up beautifully for me. 

My favorite part is "But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."  That's what I think this country has lost sight of.  It's a social contract that we agree to in how things will be done here.  The past few decades have been full of finger pointing and blame and not a lot of agreement.

I just don't think that things will get better until we all agree to - well - as I like to say...put on the big girl pants and get to work.  I may not like EVERY decision, but if I can see that your position is for the greater good of the country, I can agree to work for it.  The ME generation has to grow up now and realize that it's a WE that makes this place a great place to live and work and raise a family.  So let's work together.  And support more people like Elizabeth Warren who are willing to speak truth to power.  It's is the only hope we have.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fair and Balanced

I'm a Libra, you know, the lady with the scales.  I spend most of my time trying to find balance in my world.  I bend over backwards to be fair.  I try to see things from other perspectives and use reason and logic to present my arguments.  Lately, I seem to be living in a world where crazy is the norm and rabid emotional outburst is the voice.  I get it people.  Things are messed up and we need to find a better way to run things or there's going to be a pretty major revolution or repression.  Either way  - it doesn't look good.
I live in an apartment complex with 16 units.  In addition to our rent, we all pay a portion of the water bill.  In the summer, we pay a little more because the landscaping has automatic sprinklers. Now, I live alone.  I run my dishwasher once, maybe twice a week.  I shower every other day. I could claim that because I use less, I should pay less than the family two units over with 2 children who surely use more water than I do.  But I don't.  Why?  Because the system I agreed to when I moved in was that our water is not based on individual use, but on a communal use.  Right now, I use less.  At some time, I may use more than my share.  But I agreed to do my part.  And so I do.
I view my taxes in the same way.  I pay my part and I have an expectation that when I need the services my taxes pay for, they will be there for me.  My roads will be maintained.  Schools will be operational.  Courts and police will be there should I need them.  Fire services will be there if I need them.  I've been on food stamps once in my life, and it probably saved me from starving.  It was only for 2 months, but I needed those 2 months and when I didn't need them, I moved on, knowing that someone else might need them more than I did.  When I was in college, I had PELL grants and NDSL (National Direct Student Loans) to help me pay my way.  When I got a job, I paid the loans back.  As I approach my retirement years, I EXPECT to have some assistance from Social Security and Medicare. I've paid my fair share into these programs and I have an expectation of something back IF I need it.  Other programs for seniors, food programs, housing assistance, utility programs, I would hope they will be there.  But if they aren't because other, more urgent programs need the funding, then I will accept that as fair.
What I do not accept as fair is the notion that other people can avoid paying their share because they have more money than I do OR they don't agree to what the money is being used for. I don't agree that persons who make more money than I do get to decide who gets to benefit from this system.  I don't agree that any one party, religion, sect, ethnicity gets to decide what is best for everyone.  We are NOT a democracy, we are a republic of REPRESENTATIONAL government.  We elect our officials to WORK TOGETHER for the good of all.  Not just for the wealthy, not just for the corporations that lobby for their support.  LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.
There are plenty of programs I don't agree with, but it's the agreement I made with my government.  I will pay my FAIR share and in return, you will be there if/when I need your help with something I cannot do alone.  If I never need those services, fine and dandy.  But I agreed to be part of the system.  And I agreed that other people could be part of that system.  I agreed that their part of this system isn't their ability to pay, pray, marry, work in the same way I do.  I don't know why I work 8 hours and at the end of the day I still worry about paying my bills.  More than once in the past year or so, I've looked to the heavens and had to decide - do I eat, pay this bill, buy my prescription, or put gas in my car.  And I know that I'm doing pretty well by many, many people's standards.  But I never stop looking for a way to stretch my dollars - or get some extra by selling off things I no longer need.  I'm almost out of options, much like our nation.  I live pretty lean.  Sure, I can make some small cuts, razor thin slices in the whole picture. 
That's why I know that CUTS are not the way to fix what is happening in government.  It's part of it, sure.  There are some very minor, razor thin cuts that can be made.  But it will not have a big impact.  People who have gotten away with not paying their fair share, and I don't care if those "people" are individuals or corporations, need to step up and contribute for the good of all and not just for their own good. 
"The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations." Thomas Jefferson 
My friends, I think we are there. 
Yes I know there are those who abuse the blessing of this country, and in time we need to correct that.  But until our schools can properly educate and inform, until our manufacturing can produce goods AND jobs for those educated, until we can ensure that every man, woman and child can enjoy the fruits of their labors and share in the happiness of community, we gain nothing by taking from those who have nothing.
"The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors."Thomas Jefferson
We need Mr. Jefferson again.  We need those in government to remember who they work for.  We need government to return to the basic duty allowing us to live in safety and happiness.  And if they don't listen, we need to take their jobs away from them.  Because they aren't doing it.  And I really can't take it anymore. 


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Poetry Corner - Poems

I write poems on my lover's back.
When he folds me in his arms,
I let my fingers dance along his arms and slip behind his head.
His curls wrap 'round my fingertips as I go in for the kiss.
Clothes fall away and skin to skin we memorize each curve and sigh.
Then as he slips down at my side and drifts away to sleep,
I write across his back.
The words I wish that I could say.
The thoughts that keep me up at night.
The dreams that only lovers share.
I write poems on my lover's back.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mama Kitty

If you know me at all, you know that there is one person in the world for whom I would do anything, give anything, fight anyone anywhere anytime, my daughter Bridgete.  And you know that I live in Portland Oregon and she lives in Boston (well technically Quincy) Massachusetts. And you know that I hate it most of the time, but I accept that it is the way things have to be right now. Until something happens like last night.
My phone rings and I hear the strains of Van the Man Morrison singing Brown Eyed Girl - our song.  Bridgete and I have a informational urgency structure.  We need to communicate something, but an answer isn't necessary or at least not right away - email.  We need to communicate and an answer or response is needed, but not urgent - text message.  We need to communicate NOW - phone.  Lately, the phone has been good stuff.  I wanted to hear your voice or I needed to laugh with you or something really great has happened.  So I answered quickly. 
There is nothing more painful as a parent than to hear your child sobbing on the end of the phone.  And I didn't know what had happened, but I knew that this wasn't a car accident, heartbreak, sob.  This was serious.  Her apartment building was in flames and she didn't know where her cat was.  Marcelo was at work, so he was safe, but her precious Severus was in that building, scared and in danger.  She felt helpless and I felt even more so. 
She had another call coming in so she hung up on me and I fell to my knees in tears.  This is pure emotion here people.  There is no logic in what I have been thinking, feeling, doing for the past 14 hours or so.  I cannot do a damn thing to help here.  Nothing.  No resources I can throw at the problem.  No swooping in and finding the cat and being the best mom on the planet.  No hero.  And my mama kitty is mad and frustrated and pacing back and forth in fury.  I try to keep my head about me.  Try to think of anything I can do, any way I can raise money to help them out, any ideas I can offer.  But I got nothing. 
I miss my daughter more than you can possibly imagine.  I haven't seen her in 6 months and it may be another 6 months before I see her again.  I've never gone that long without hugging her in her entire life.  And right now that's all I want to do.  Hug her and tell her that I love her the most.  And then I love her more.

Monday, June 6, 2011

To Be or Not to Be

And so I find an entire month has passed since my last post.  It has been a very busy month with many frustrations and many reasons to rejoice.  So let us start with what has improved.

I have had opportunity to talk to the girls downstairs and they have gotten much better about the noise.  We have detente.

My money is what it is.  I have no real way of increasing my cash flow and so I simply have to become more selective about where I choose to spend it.  And if that means that I don't go out with my friends as often or have to skip the wine and settle for water, then that's what it means.  Long term, I want to see my daughter, I want to travel more, and I want to enjoy my life more.  So a little sacrifice now for greater fun later is okay with me. I'm not happy when I have to choose between NEEDS, but choosing between WANTS is okay.

My health is becoming a greater concern to me, not just because I am feeling unattractive but because I think it is contributing to my greater mental health.  I can't change the weather so I have to get off my ass and move it, rain or no rain.  Again, I am limited with the resources I can call upon to change this, but I do have some resources and I need to use them to improve my attitude, not reinforce the bad one.

Lastly, relationships.  This one has been very hard for me to face.  I think I've come to accept that everyone out there who wants me to "find someone" is well meaning.  They don't want me to be lonely, which I'm not.  They don't want me to miss out on love, which I don't feel I am.  They think I deserve to find a love who can reflect back to me all that I am and all that I can be.  Perhaps I do.  But the problem of meeting or finding them is simply not working out.

I tried a free communication weekend last weekend, worked on my profile, did all the tests, and....nothin'.  Not a wink or a nudge or whatever the hell this site used to start the communication process.  At first I was hurt and started the process of wondering what the hell I needed to change about myself.  And then I stopped and thought about it.  Thought about it hard.  And here's where I ended up.  I will never meet someone online because I cannot be summed up in a profile.  No one really can, but I am not able to be categorized in a way that really shows my strengths and will attract my "someone."   According to these profiles, I am a 51 year old divorcĂ©e with a few curves and wrinkles.  Gray hair and glasses.  I like to read and go to movies and watch TV and occasionally enjoy sporting events.  I like to go out with my friends and I like to stay in.  I like to travel to far away places, but I enjoy a day trip to the beach or the gorge, alone or with my friends.  I like flowers, but I like to plant them too. I like city living and I enjoy the country.  I stay current with events and I enjoy history.  My family is important to me and so is my independence.  My daughter is the most important and most influential person in my life and you are just going to have to deal with that.  I love to laugh and I am sentimental and weepy at times.   I'm a deeply romantic and passionate person who needs reassurance...and space to breath.

So you see what I'm getting at?  If I can't define all my must haves and would likes and can't abides in 120 words to my own satisfaction, then how can I possibly expect that someone can see through all that to the real me - the one that loves and laughs and cries and needs to be left alone and needs to be held and wants to walk through a bookstore and then walk through a park and eat a lovely dinner in a sweet neighborhood cafe and watch a movie curled up on the couch, or not. I'm not going to change for someone because then they wouldn't even know the real me.  Not going to color or not color my hair, cut it or not, wear a dress or not, sleep late or get up early, stop drinking or not, eat sugar or not, laugh or not, cry or not, live alone or not - for you, for anyone but me.

The time has to come to decide...to be...me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Where did I go wrong?

Fair warning, this is gonna be a long post about how I'm feeling the blues these days.  Feeling it bad.  I need to get this stuff off my chest, out of my head, out of my heart and see if I can't shift the energy around me.  So if you aren't in a place to listen to me bitch and whine and moan about poor, poor me, then go away.  I know I'm having a pity party - but if I can't party here - I'll just go home and have it there, all by myself.

Lately I'm feeling like nothing in my life is the way I would have it - and I don't know how or why it is and I have to find a way to either change it or accept it.  Probably a little bit of both.  I know the signs - my soul is uneasy, my eyes don't want to open in the morning, and the last place I want to be is with other people.  Never a good sign for a chronic depressive.

1) My job is really annoying me lately.  Everyone is feeling the pain of no wage increases for 3 years and yet everything from soup to nuts is costing more than it did 3 years ago.  And I'm starting to worry about things like retirement, health care, etc.  I can't even save 100.00 from paycheck to paycheck and I'm supposed to feel like I can even think about retirement in the next 15 years?  Not likely.  If things were going like I would have it, I'd have a nice cushion in savings - 10K or so - so that I could do some traveling before I get too much older, get those new glasses I really, really need, replace my couch, maybe even move to a place much more suited to me and my lifestyle.
Which brings me to
2) My apartment.  Maybe it's that now I have too many bad memories associated with it or that I just really need to be in a duplex/fourplex/with age appropriate, sound level appropriate, life appropriate neighbors.  Since moving 4 years ago, I've had a series of downstairs neighbors that have progressively become worse about living with others.  The lack of consideration, politeness, compassion gets worse with each neighbor.  First there were the boys who played video games with loud bombing sound effects at all hours.  Then Scott - I liked Scott.  He went to work at 6 AM too, so he was really quiet at night.  But he was only there for a few months and then he had to rescue his dog from his ex-wife and so he needed to move a place where he could have his dog.
Then there was the doctor/resident/student?  I never worked out what she did.  She had the oddest hours.  So I could never tell when she was going to be using the hot water.  She also liked to slam doors and leave the hallway doors open so that Sol would escape outside randomly.  And bugs and other critters could also get in.  And rain.  And cold.  And heat.  She was pretty annoying, but at least I could sleep most of the time.
After her, there was a lull.  2 or 3 months when the place was empty.  I really enjoyed that.  Then the young couple moved in - and they were pretty cool.  Odd hours and the occasional party.  They were in theater - so I kind of liked them too.  They didn't last long.  They broke up - or the summer stock was over - or something like that.  Then again the apartment stood vacant for several months.  I was beginning to think that it was going to stay empty until the new neighbors.  When I met them, I tried really hard not to judge.  Okay, they wore black, they had tattoos and piercings, but they were basically really nice young girls a few years younger than my daughter.  They asked me very nicely to move my car when they were moving in and were very appreciative when I did so.  I gave them a couple of weeks to settle in - there's always lots of moving around and hammering nails and stuff that isn't normal activity when you move in somewhere.  Then the weekly parties started.  Okay, you have friends and you want to spend time with them.  Are you girls now the only ones with a place that isn't mom and dads, so everyone gathers here?  Not cool.  Especially when the party doesn't even start until 10PM and you don't seem to differentiate between weekdays and weekends.  I don't think of myself as a crabby old lady, but I'm quickly becoming one.  Yesterday I went down IN MY PJs at 10:30...I have to sleep!  I'm sure I was real picture.  Boobs hanging down, hair all askew, my frustration and exhaustion all over my face.  They did turn the music down and the party either broke up or moved somewhere else.  But I don't think they will think to kindly of me anymore.  And that breaks my heart.
So - frustrated at work.  Frustrated at home.
3)Frustrated with my art.  How can I even start to edit my book when I can't have some peace and quiet in which to work on it?  And that just pisses me off even more.
4)Then there's my whole body - diet thing.  Don't even go there.  I've cocooned myself in this protective wall of fat - because I can't risk anyone getting close - not after the last time, and the time before that, and the time before that.  I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I'm ready to step out from behind this wall.  And I'm strong enough to know how to care for myself now.  And that I'm ready to risk my heart again.  And that it won't happen overnight - but I do know how to do this and I am ready to be pretty again.  I don't have to be afraid and I can be in charge of my heart.  But can I?  Won't I just get trampled all over again?
I watch my ex-husband find love (Bridgete don't read this...I don't want you to be upset with him...this is ME)
5)Anyway - I watch him turn himself inside out for this other woman and I don't understand why he couldn't do that for me?  Why does she get the wedding?  The house? The vacations?  The...whatever?  And it's not just him - it's Guy and David and every man I ever loved who can give and give and give to any woman but me.
So I don't have the job, the home, the art, the body, the love, the life I would have.  And I have to wonder why?  Where did I screw up so badly that god or whoever decided I should be punished?  What is the great sin that I committed?  And how do I atone?

That's the big question today.  How do I atone for my sin (or the sins of my forefathers and foremothers) ?  How do I make a change that will change my heart and mind and soul and body for the good?  I know better than to just ask for Change...that's the way to more pain for sure.  So I have to have a picture of what I'm asking for - an idea of the Change that I would seek - and a clear step to take.

But right now - I just wonder - where did I go wrong?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Beginnings - or is it starting over?

Almost immediately after I posted my last blog, my car broke down again.  I stepped on the clutch pedal and "SNAP", just like the last time.  Only this time, the pedal did not come back up.  It was stuck to the floor and I was unable to shift at all.  Fortunately, it happened right outside my apartment and the repair shop is at the gas station across the street.  So I pushed it in and called them the next day to tell them what happened. They called me a little later to tell me that this time was the clutch cable and not anything that they fixed in January.  So it wasn't covered by warranty and I would now have to pay another 130.00.
I set the thought aside because I was leaving for a weekend trip with friends to attend the wedding of two other friends.  Lori and BC have been together for a couple of years.  And they are so perfect together.  I knew Lori only briefly before she started dating BC, so I had nothing to compare it too.  But whenever I have seen them together, they are always respectful, loving and kind to each other.
Off I went for a weekend adventure.  I had a fabulous time, in spite of my worries about money - how would I pay for the car repairs?  I didn't think about how much I was eating or drinking.  I danced and sang and talked and walked.  I soaked up the sun and huddled under blankets to keep away the cold.
My phone had no service and so I had no email, Facebook, or text messages, until Sunday. It was rather freeing to be able to ignore the real world.
But now the real world is back with a bang.  And I'm not very happy here.  Money worked out okay.  I didn't have to over extend myself, which is a good thing.  But I am still too close to the edge!
Today is supposed to be that weird day in which you show appreciation to your admin at work.  Which is what I am.  And apparently I am not appreciated.  It's not enough that I have to motivate myself to do the drudgery that is my job, it really pisses me off when I find that all my efforts are wasted as no one really notices or cares what I do anyway.  Until I don't do it of course.   So I'm feeling a little abused and ignored.
As if that wasn't enough to depress me - I saw pictures of myself from the wedding. I am HUGE!  I can't keep up this way.  Something has to change now.  Clearly little steps are not making a difference here.  Time to get aggressive and get back into shape.  I have tried my whole adult life to avoid food issues and rating my self worth by my body image, but this time I have to be honest.  I am heavier than I have ever been in my life.  Heavier than I was at 9 months pregnant with my 8lb 15oz. Bridgete.  I have about 5 things in my closet I can still wear.
So I'm stopping the sugar, giving up the carbs, no more wine or any alcohol.  And every single day I will walk, stretch, yoga, Pilates, something to shed the pounds and find the body that I can feel good about.  Do I expect to be able to all this immediately?  No.  But I did go 40 days without wine....and almost 20 days without bread.  I ought to be able to start, one by one, taking on the toxic foods and behaviors that have led me here.  Wish me luck.  If you don't hear from me, you'll know I lost it and drank and ate everything in my home. And because my life loves irony, I'll probably choke on a peanut m&m. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lent is over - now what?

Sunday was the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week.  I had a lovely white Bordeaux last night with some extra sharp Cheddar cheese and it was quite lovely.  I made it through the 40 days and here I am.
Am I different?  Maybe.  I know that I am feeling the need to comment on certain things...things I usually close my mouth about and trust that people who know better than I do will do the right thing.
My country is in a mess.  Our government is divisive and would rather engage in pointing fingers at the other side than getting serious and really trying to fix things. People are so overwhelmed with information that they can't be sure who is telling the truth or what will help.  Every paycheck I have less and less discretionary money as the basics in my world are costing more and more. I work for a quasi government agency, so the general public thinks I'm overpaid and have better benefits than they do.  I may have better benefits, I will give them that.  But they aren't free.  I pay a portion of my premium.   My out of pocket has increased.  My co pay on prescriptions has increased and that's just my health care. I haven't had a raise, not even a COLA in 3 years.  Food is more expensive.  Gasoline is more expensive. Any day now, I expect my rent to go up - and then I'll have to move.  Because I just can't do more.
There are a lot of reasons for the current economic state.  You can look it all up.  The Mortgage bubble, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya, the Bush tax cuts, the Clinton tax increases, NAFTA, China, Medicare, Social Security, Boomers, children of boomers, Me generations, You generations...yours mine ours....So here's my take on it.
30 years ago, a man named Ronald Reagan was elected President.  He promised to bring a new morning to America. He built his economic policy based on the Chicago School of Economics and a guy named Milton Friedman.  It was called supply side economics. This was kind of how it was supposed to work.  Give people more control over their money.  Take less in taxes and people will use that surplus to buy more goods, but they will also contribute more to non-profit organizations that support the causes they care about.  The government wouldn't have to worry about better schools, better hospitals and health care, better assistance programs for the poor. Corporations would support their communities with the vast amounts of money they would now have - and jobs - well jobs would be everywhere!  And unions wouldn't be around anymore because those altruistic employers would take care of their employees - because at heart we all want to do the right thing. 
30 years later, I think it's safe to say that those policies have failed. Investment and job creation has not happened. Prosperity is still for a few and those few are even farther away from the rest of us.  The gap between the have and the have nots is as wide as I can ever remember it being.  And those at the top are so out of touch with the rest of us, they can't even imagine the things we have to cope with.
Just look at a few celebrity blogs like Gwyneth Paltrow.  She's out there telling young mom's it's possible to be just like her - all you need is a chef, a trainer, a nanny and good genes.  Does she honestly even hear herself when she says things like ‎"Pumpkin soup, grilled market vegetables. It’s good. I get my chef to cook it."


I know there are good people out there, people who do invest their time and their money in making a better world for all, not just for some or for those like them.  I know that times are tough for small businesses.  And I know that everyone is looking for a little relief.  But I think it's time to look at some hard facts.  
The poor DO pay takes and the rich DO NOT bear the burden.
No one lives tax free.  Even if you don't pay income tax because you simply don't earn more than $9350 ( 18,700 for married couples) - there are still taxes; alcohol tax, gas tax, sales tax, property tax, etc.  As for the wealthy, while the top 10 percent do pay a 38% tax rate, income tax is not the entire tax burden.  Social Security, Medicare and unemployment are mostly paid by the rest of us.  As for income tax, the wealthy have loopholes, tax shelters, and manage to look broke on paper - they actually pay little or no income tax.
Is it any surprise that since Reagan, the rich are the only ones who have gotten richer?  Since 1980, the average income in America has increased 1%.  Those at the top?  Their income has nearly doubled.
Corporations?  Well, they're people too.  Corporate profits are up, but thanks to loopholes and tax breaks, their taxes are down nearly 23% since 2000. And the tax breaks there have not created jobs.  In fact they have destroyed them.  Imagine you're a corporation.  You have a profit which you can reinvest in your company or you can hand it out in bonuses to your execs and dividends to your stockholders.  If you tax rate is 23% less than it was last year, then why would you try to reduce your profits by reinvesting?
Quite simply - our government has failed us.  They have failed to create a smarter tax system and failed to develop smarter spending policies.  The average America works longer hours and have fewer benefits for their work than most other countries.  While those countries arguable have higher tax rates than we do, they also get more from their taxes.  They have national health care systems.  Retirees are not unfairly burdened.  Education is low cost or free and does not drive the next generation into debt before they are even employed.
It's time to develop a system in this country that benefits the majority, reduces risk due to illness or job loss, and provides universal health care.
I want our government to stop debating about who or what caused it and get serious about fixing it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lent - Day 38

I can't believe my 40 days are nearly over.  My wine merchant is so glad to know I'll be back soon.  Actually, not too soon.  I have 6 beautiful wines that she has picked out for me just waiting to be sipped and savored. 
It's been a very interesting week.  After my family weekend, there has been a lot of family activity.  It all started because my oldest brother Jim wanted one of us girls to do a mtDNA test.  He and my sister Nancy have some notion that there is a Native American Indian somewhere in the family blood line.  They are a bit disappointed that I am only finding English and German ancestry.  So I have sent for a kit and will be testing.  I don't expect to find anything terribly surprising - but if there is one thing I've learned with my family history work it's that there are plenty of surprises.
Last week on NBC's WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?, Ashley Judd found out that she was related to one of the original Mayflower Pilgrims - William Brewster.  I was distracted during the program because I had the distinct feeling that I had seen that name in my own family history.  I knew that through my grandmother Allie Spooner, I had a connection to the early Americans, and to Plymouth Mass.  So I pulled up my family tree on my computer and searched for the name William Brewster.  There he was!  It turned out that his half-sister, Prudence married a man named Richard Peck, and their daughter Ann was married to John James Spooner.  They had two sons, William and Thomas who came over to Plymouth as indentured servants in 1638 - 18 years after the Mayflower.  I am descended from William's line - and it's very clear descent because it's all sons until my grandmother Allie. 
Also this week, I may have found a long lost cousin.  Actually, she's probably no longer living - she was a child of my Uncle Bob's first marriage and was always just a rumor until I stumbled on a name in a census and that led to a birth record.  I'm waiting to see if some of her living relatives can confirm this for me.  Or if she even knew who her real father was.  (My Uncle was an alcoholic and a bit of a rascal in his young years.  He was my father's oldest brother and all this happened long before my parents even met.) 
There is another, more recent discovery that still has me a bit stunned.  I'm not ready to share it quite yet.  I want to verify my line a bit.  I'm looking way back into my English line now - back to about 1312 to be exact.  If it proves to be true, it may be a bit of a shocker!  I'll keep you informed. ;-)
And we'll see who I think I am!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lent - Day 34


I know I’ve missed a few days – okay more than a few.  But I have a perfectly good reason.  My sisters were in town!  My sisters Judie and Nancy are 15 and 13 years older than I am, respectively.  Judie and I developed our relationship as adults because she had moved out to college, marriage, real life, by the time I was a person with thoughts and vocabulary.  Nancy was a surrogate mother to me.  I went on her dates with her and when she got married, I spent most of my school vacations and weekends with her and her family.  Her daughter Nancy is only 5 years younger than I am.  That’s a smaller gap than there is between myself and any of my siblings.
Anyway – Nancy drove up from Southern Oregon with her daughter Nikki and our brother’s daughter Maggie.  Judie drove in from McMinnville and we spent Thursday night and all of Friday together – eating, talking, laughing – lots of laughing. 
My niece Nikki has a great wit and a wonderful gift for story telling.  We think that they should develop a Bluetooth where Nikki can be in your ear, eavesdropping on your conversations and telling you what to say.  Her wit is quick and fabulous.  She always has the right answer for everything.
I could tell you some of the things she has done, but I want to save them for my own book, like the time she was trying to pay a traffic ticket…oops…there I go.
Judie went back home on Friday and Saturday morning, I spent with the other girls at Saturday Market.  Portland Saturday Market is at least 30 years old.  I moved here 30 years ago and it was happening then.  The market is a large area under the Burnside Bridge where artisans and crafts persons set up their booths and sell their things.  The food carts are what you usually find at these places, burritos, gyros, Vietnamese sandwiches and the always yummy elephant ears.  (large doughy goodies with cinnamon and sugar on them)
Needless to say, I failed to keep away from bread this weekend.  I am still wine free.  Bread is the staff of life apparently for us Watt girls.  Nikki has had to go gluten free and it has been very hard on her.  I do need to do a yeast fast – I will try to be good for the rest of Lent – which is down to the last two weeks now. 
Sunday, I took my step-daughter Jennifer out to dinner for her birthday.  April is a huge birthday month for me.  I have several friends with birthdays.  My father’s birthday was April 8 – the day we were all together.  We drank a coffee in his honor.  I love you Daddy.  Yesterday, April 11 was my beautiful daughter’s birthday.  My angel.  My pride and joy.  My best friend.  My brown-eyed Bridgete.  I love you too!  And today is Jennifer’s actual birthday.  She 10 years minus one day older than Bridgete.  Knowing what my sisters mean to me at this time in my life, I am overjoyed that Bridgete and Jennifer have built a friendship.  I know it will last them long after I am gone – but that is a long time from now!
So I have been blessed to spend the last several days in the presence of love and family that fills my heart with joy.  I know some fabulous ladies!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lent - Days 26 & 27

Yesterday was another fasting day for me.  This was a tougher one because I was more physically active yesterday than I am on the average work day.  First of all, when I was ready to go to work, the sun was up and the sky was light and it wasn't raining.  So for the first time in a long time, I walked the mile from my apartment to my workplace.  That felt great.  I miss my walks in the winter.  It's not that I'm a fair weather walker - but I have to cross Highway 99 on my walk to work.  And even with reflective wear, I've nearly been hit in the dark winter mornings.  So I have to settle for a bus ride.  I'm thrilled to know that spring may at last be pushing in and I can start walking again.
I was teaching yesterday - one of my favorite things at my job.  I wasn't hired to do this, but I developed this curriculum for the agency because bus drivers and mechanics and rail operators can't advance in the agency without some basic computer skills.  The classes are free to them and I cover basic office applications. I always have one or two people who are afraid to even touch a keyboard or a mouse and one or two manager/supervisor types just looking to get a refresher on their skills.   Yesterday morning was one of my favorites - PowerPoint.  I don't use it in my job, so it's my time to play.  And I enjoy seeing other people express their inner creativity.  Just getting to experiment with animations, sounds, and drawing tools gets them to relax and without realizing it, they've learned to mouse, to cut and paste, to format and to open, close and save files.
So I was on my feet all day and then I walked home.  Again, it wasn't raining and the sun was trying to shine!   By the time I got home, my feet hurt, my back hurt and my stomach was in an uproar!!   I downed about a quart of water, rested a bit and then I broke down and ate some strawberries that were about to go bad.
Semi successful fasting.   Today, I'm a little upset with myself that I couldn't hold out a few more hours.  And I'm more than a little cranky.  Not sure if I like this disquiet that is being stirred to life in me.  I'm trying to believe that it has purpose, that there is a greater lesson to be learned.  But right now, I feel like a huge failure - in just about every area of my life.  Strange how I can't let myself off the hook, how I can't have a wonderful day in which I helped about a dozen people feel better about who they are and what they can achieve, but I can't let myself have a small moment of pride about it. Why can't I embrace what is good in me and let the rest be?  Why do I always see where I fell short instead of where I succeeded beyond my own and others expectations?  Will I ever be able to celebrate who I am, who I was meant to be?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lent - Day 24 & 25

So I almost made it to Saturday morning.  Technically - I did make it.  But I was taking out the garbage on Friday evening and I had one very ripe banana left.  I had to choose - toss out the banana or eat it.  I ate it.  And it was the best tasting banana I've ever had!  It was sweet and wonderful and even though I felt very guilty - I knew God would understand.

Saturday morning's breakfast was terrific.  I love my Saturday group.  They are such a wonderful group of ladies and I always enjoy my time with them.  The food was so tasty and satisfying as well.  I didn't overeat and felt perfectly sated with the amount of food I had.

The rest of my weekend was kind of up and down.  My temper was pretty edgy, probably a hang on from being hungry.  It's rather difficult to be balanced emotionally when you're hungry.  And your brain doesn't work too well either.

So the upshot is, I spent a lot of time in reflection, both during and after my fast.  I'll be fasting again tomorrow.  I'm teaching tomorrow so it's an easy time to fast.  I usually don't have time to eat when I teach anyway.  And I'll focus on my liquids and then just spend tomorrow evening in meditation and reflection.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lent - Days 22 & 23

So I've been without food since Wednesday evening.  Last thing I ate was a Caesar Salad at Pub Quiz.  It's about 45 hours later and I can almost taste that salad.  I'm so hungry. 
Yesterday was much easier.  I drank tea and water and some juice last night, but I didn't really feel hungry until this morning.  I was actually a little uncomfortable this morning and my coffee made me a little sick.  So I switched to tea and that has been it.
I was smelling everyone's lunch today.  Usually I don't notice when other people are eating around me in cubeland.  But I was very aware today.  Even now, I can hear someone munching on cookies or chips or something - and I want to go steal one.
Has this been successful in a spiritual sense then?  I think so.  I'm very tuned in to myself right now - to how I'm feeling, what I'm hearing, smelling, seeing.  It's a very heightened experience. 
I wonder how this will feel tonight - when I'm at home and there is food around me, but I don't choose to eat it.  This is really tough.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lent - Day 21

I had a feeling that if I just committed to this path, then something would appear that would guide me to my next step.  Today, I read about this.Choosing to Fast.

And this is my next step.  For the remainder of Lent, I will fast 24-28 hours each week.  This is an offering to myself.  A chance to go a little deeper into my relationship to food and drink.  And perhaps to find a way out of my emotional eating addictions.

I know it's small - but in some way, I also hope that I am part of something bigger that moves our government into action that makes sense in this budget process.  I'm not going to get preachy here. But I do believe, along with Thomas Jefferson, that the essential role of government is to protect the powerless from the powerful - especially when they would abuse that power over them. Just think about it.  This applies to protection from enemies, foreign and domestic.  This applies to protecting the free flow of information.  This applies to basic human rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So I'll be fasting the rest of this week - from tomorrow morning until Saturday morning.  Check in with me to see how it's going. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lent - Day 19 & 20

Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing,
there is a field. I'l meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
RUMI

Someone sent me this today.  They had no idea where I was spiritually, what I've been trying to do these past weeks - and how here at the half way point I was ready to give up.   They just shared something with me that had been meaningful to them.  And suddenly I see what I am supposed to do now.
I am supposed to give up.  Not in the way I was thinking.  Not by forgetting my vows and commitment.  But rather by surrendering to the struggle and simply being with it.  By letting myself be vulnerable and sitting with my feelings of fear and loss. 
I am halfway through.  I am at the point on the path where I can no longer pretend that things are going to be okay. I have to keep going forward into my broken-heartedness.  I've reached the crossroads that says - "Go here.  Have courage.  Be present to your fears.  Be tender with yourself.  Be here." 

It's time to sit with my feelings and let them be.  Not try to understand them.  Not try to change them or shift them in anyway.  Just sit with them.  And really feel them.  Be vulnerable and sit where "the world is too full to talk about."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lent - Days 16, 17 & 18

This is my father.  Today is the 30th anniversary of the worst day of my life.  March 27, 1981, my father died, 10 days after suffering a fatal stroke.  He was 67 years old.  I was 21.  And my life was changed.  It's pointless to say what my life would have been had he not died.  I only know what was.
My father was a kind man.  He was generous, to a fault.  He was hard working and provided the best he could for his family.  And it was quite a family.  7 children, 4 boy and 3 girls.  I was the last.  All of us finished high school.  5 of us went on to college, 4 of us finished.  We had a big rambling house with 5 bedrooms.  We may not have had the best things, but we were warm and feed and loved.  
My father was born on the eve of the First World War.  He lived though the Great Depression and served in the Second World War, leaving behind a wife with 2 small children and one on the way.  After the war, he and my mother moved from Los Angeles to Grants Pass, Oregon where I was born and where he died.
Daddy was remarkably demonstrative for a man of his generation.  He didn't hold back on his love for his children and grandchildren.  He adored my mother and we all knew there was never another woman for him. 
We were his life.  I can't remember him ever saying he "didn't have time" for us or "later".  He worked 5 days a week and half days on Saturday.  Saturday afternoons he would go by the church and get things ready for Sunday morning Mass.
He loved sports of all kinds.  Television was a miracle to him.  He could watch sporting events from around the world and chores around the house were timed to make sure he saw football games, Indy car races and ABC's Wide World of Sports.
He believed in plain speaking. When I was about 11 or 12, we were watching a crime drama on TV (a genre which I watch and love to this day) and someone was being investigated for rape.  I asked my daddy what rape was.  A question I'm sure must have started him sweating.  But he quickly assessed my age and intelligence and simply said, "It's when a man forces a woman to have sex."  It was the simplest explanation and answered my question.  
He believed in right and wrong, God and the Golden Rule.  He treated everyone with respect and honor.  I never heard him say a bad thing about anyone, except maybe Richard Nixon.  He was appalled that anyone, let alone the President of the United States, thought themselves above the law. He paid his taxes without complaint.  He paid his mortgage and bills.   Health Insurance was something we didn't have until I was a young child.  He and my mother used to say that the only bills they would always have to pay were Sears and the Grants Pass Clinic.  (The Clinic was next door to our house and all the staff knew who we were.  Every scrape and bump was treated with kindness and some were probably not even charged for.)
I often wonder what my father would make of this world today.  How people are so often discarded as replaceable.  How basic care and comfort are not available for all citizens of the greatest country on the planet.  How his own wife had to rid herself of every material good of value in order to find a place where she would live out her last days. How his precious grandchildren have gone into debt gaining an education and means to make a living.  How his daughter has lived all these years without his unconditional love and support. 
My mother said he suffered from depression.  And I'm sure he felt that he was not doing everything possible for his family.  But he never let us feel it.  We saw his love.  His joy.  His laughter. His tears of pride.  His dedication.  
I love him now more than I did then.  I understand him more now.  I miss him more.  Now. 

Roger Merrill Watt  April 8, 1913- March 27, 1981.  Husband of Mildred.  Father of James, Judith, Nancy, Robert, Thomas, Nicholas and Katherine.  Grandfather of Andrew, James, Michael, Christopher, Peter, Nancy, Nicole, Natalie, Margaret, Jason, Sarah, Roger, Matthew, Dawn and Bridgete.  Mentor to many.  Friend to all. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lent - Days 14 & 15

This is getting really hard.  I know that something is happening because of the great disquiet I am feeling these days.
Such frustration though.  I'm feeling so good one moment - clear and focused and optimistic; so sure that good things are right there, just waiting for me.
Then almost out of nowhere - I careen into depths of sadness and tears and like my insides are being torn away.  I guess they are.  Not my physical insides of course, but my spiritual insides.  Old beliefs are fighting to stay active and my newer, better self is fighting them, wearing them down.  It's like there's a war going on 24/7 and all I can do is wait for the outcome - try to negotiate a peaceful surrender. 
The ego never goes quietly does it?
When am I going to stop being prey to ever wicked, nasty, horrible attack that comes looking for me?
When am I going to look at myself and know the real beauty that lives there; and stop hating myself, kicking myself, beating myself for every little wrong I have done?
When am I going to find peace with myself? And how do I even know what that looks and feels like?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lent - Days 13 & 14

I'm sneezing and sniffling again.  But this time I'm fairly certain it's allergies.  I moved to this apartment 4 years ago on April 1.  And every April since then, I have suffered mightily at this time of year.  So one of the trees that are starting to bud is most certainly the cause.  Time to break out the Zyrtec.
The allergies are also making sleep difficult.  Zyrtec should help that, too.  I hope.  Because I need to sleep!!
Other than the allergies, I'm doing fine.  My bread craving seems to have subsided. 
I wish I saw some change in my body, but I guess it's too much to ask after only 2 weeks.
I'm feeling a little creative spark returning.  I'm wanting to spend more time on my book.  It's a bit frustrating right now, but I hope to start carving out blocks of time for it.
Spring is definitely in the air.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lent - Days 11 & 12

I don't watch the news much.  It's not that I don't care, but rather that I find that most news broadcasters anymore tend to dwell on the sensational, the gruesome, the horrible, the fearful.  And I don't choose to live in fear. 
I try to live in hope, in possibility.  I try to stay informed so that my choices are well thought out and reasoned.
So today, I find myself in pain as war is erupting in another part of the world.  As nature exacts pain on another part.  As economies tumble and struggle to rebuild and tumble again.
So I'm going to focus on three things I know are true.
I know my daughter is the one person I would do anything for.
I know that even when I don't know the best thing for me, somehow I always stumble into goodness.
And I know that wine is the best use for a grape that could ever have been thought up.
I miss my wine.
And my bread.
But somehow this will all come out alright.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lent - Days 9 & 10

I woke up this morning to bright, beautiful sun streaming through the window.  Now the wet rooftops are releasing steam into the morning air as they dry out - attempt to shed the days of downpour and cold.  It is possible that spring will finally arrive.
And in my adventure of discovery, it is possible that spring will come. My little seed of faith that I have struggled to keep alive in the long dark days of winter may at last be finding roots.  And it is not surprising that these roots are my family - my family of birth and my family of choice.  Everyone that I have let in to my heart has blessed my life in ways I am only now beginning to understand..
Life is not a straight line.  It is, like Sir Paul said, a long and winding road. It doubles back upon itself and goes in circles.  We cross over our own path and sometimes we take the wrong turn and go back over road we have traveled before. We see things we missed the first (or second or third) time we walked this way.  And we avoid the potholes and paths that led us into danger.  So when we come to that crossroad again, we know enough to say - Yes, I go this way again and see what else I can discover - or - No. That way has only brought me pain and loss and I choose to go a different road now.
I think that I am near that crossroad again.  And when I come to that crossroad, I pray I will choose well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lent - Days 7 & 8

It's been a week now.  And I'm doing pretty good.  I really wanted a sandwich today - warm bread, melted cheese - comfort.  It's cold again.  Wet and windy and cold.  And I want warm comfort.
I finished the most beautiful book last night.  The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  It's about a 54 year old, lumpy, unseen, unknown, unheard, concierge of an apartment building in Paris where the apartments are huge and old and grand, handed down from generation to generation.  Renee is happy to be invisible because the people she works for could never comprehend the complex person she is.  And she sees beauty in delicate camellias, well made tea and cookies, Japanese art films, and Dutch masters. 
"Human longing.  We cannot cease desiring, and this is our glory, and our doom. Desire! It carries us and crucifies us, delivers us every new day to a battlefield, where, on the eve, the battle was lost;..."
Writing like this makes me desire to write and slays me on the battlefield because I don't know if I'll ever be able to write like that. But I cannot cease desiring. It is my glory, and my doom.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent - Day 6

Last night was miserable.  My neighbors were watching some action movie with a boom boom soundtrack until well after midnight.  Tonight is quiet.  I think the manager has finally spoken to them and gotten through to them that they have to adjust their habits to live with everyone else here.  Late night movies are fine - but not loud and booming!
I didn't get to sleep until well after 1:00 and had to be up at 6:00.  I was grouchy all day.  Well - until my sister Nancy called at lunchtime.  She'll be visiting with her daughter Nikki and our niece Maggie the first part of April.  I can't wait!  I'll get to hang with my sisters and nieces and laugh and cry and it will be so good.
Nancy and I talked about Mom and Dad, of course. And how tough this year has been for us so far.  But we are determined to shift and think positive and move forward. 
Toughen up and keep going.  That's what we do.  But it is nice to not feel alone in the process.
Well, it's only 9:30 now, but I have to make up for my bad night with a good one tonight.  I will be teaching tomorrow and have to be at my shiny best.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent - Day 5

I was watching Big Love today and suddenly found myself sobbing.  This year, they have had Nicki dealing with being a mom to her teen-age daughter - a daughter she had when she was herself a teenager as a product of a forced marriage.  Nicki has been unable to separate her feeling about what happened to her from what she wants her daughter's life to be.  And when she discovers that the girl has had a sexual relationship with her math tutor, she loses all ability to be reasonable. 
She sits on her daughter's bed and tells her that she is horrible, that no one will ever love her, that she is evil and unworthy of love.  Of course, Nicki is actually talking to herself - but the cost will be that her daughter is now shamed and lost and messed up.  The show wants us to believe that with enough love the girl will be fine.  But I know better.
While she may never have sat on my bed and told me in words that I was unworthy of love and shameful and obviously evidence of a sexual relationship between middle aged people who should have known better; my mother certainly left me feeling that no amount of love will ever remove the shame of who I am.
I've tried to love myself enough - to believe in myself enough - but right now - there will never be enough. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lent - Day 3 and 4

I missed posting last night.  I was pretty tired and my neighbors were being very noisy last night.  It made it very hard to concentrate.  I got to bed and as I was falling asleep, I realized I hadn't posted - but figured you would forgive me.

Today was a good day.  I had breakfast with my girls, Suzy, Jenn and Kat, which makes every Saturday a good day.  Then I did a little shopping and have spent the afternoon catching up on various things.

I'm still holding true to my Lenten commitments.  I've decided to share with you what it is I am "giving up."  Bread and wine.  This came about due to a discussion with a friend about systemic yeast infections and how she gave up sugar, bread, and alcohol for a couple months and is feeling more energy these days. It sounded like a good idea to me - but I love bread AND wine and I just wasn't sure I could do it.  Besides, it seemed a little pretentious to give up the things that symbolize Christ in the faith of my youth during a period in which I am supposed to be meditating on the importance of faith in my life.

But - I've been drinking more wine than I was comfortable with.  Not a lot, but more than I felt was good for me.  And bread, well, I considered all carbs, but that would be way too hard.  So I went with yeast breads, leavened breads, things that I love.  Bagels, toast, baguettes, English muffins.  Honestly, this has been harder than the wine.  Today in the grocery store, I stood in the bakery aisle and just inhaled deeply.  I felt like I was caught red handed with porn!

I just ate a nice little New York steak with a baked potato and I really wanted a glass of red wine to go along with it.  So tempting. 

I've been a little afraid of this weekend and actually then next two weeks or so.  You see, tomorrow, it will have been 30 years since I last spoke to my father.  It was on March 14, 1981, which I know is Monday, but on that Sunday afternoon, I called home to catch up with my parents.  I was in rehearsals for a new play that was going to be opening in April and so I wouldn't be going home for spring break that year.  I was 21.  I had lived on my own in Portland for 6 months.  I had a furnished studio with a Murphy bed and a tiny little kitchen. I had a sort of boyfriend.  I had my first featured role in a play.  Things were looking up! Everything I had dreamed about when I moved away was happening. 

When my dad answered the phone, I was so filled with hope and possibility, I just rattled on and on.  He listened patiently, asked me if my car was running good, if I needed money, all the usual dad things, then he gave the phone to my mom and I talked on to her for a bit.  Worried about the cost of a long distance call, we finally said good bye.  Three days later, my mother would call me and tell me that my dad was in the hospital after an apparent stroke.  It was bad.  And I should come home if at all possible. 

The stroke was in the brain stem and within a matter of hours, my father's brain activity had stopped.  He was dead; his body just didn't know it yet.  I managed to get home where my siblings helped me agree with my mother that unnecessary measures should not be taken.  I stood in that room where my father lay on a cooling blanket, because his body couldn't control its temperature, and I knew HE was no more.  But I didn't want to say goodbye. Yet I had to say goodbye.

I've lived 30 years with out my father.  I miss him every day. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent - Day 2

Well, as far as what I am forgoing for Lent, I did great today.  But it was sure tough.  Had a miserable day at work - one of those where I'm trying to track down errors and discrepancies and whenever I ask someone to explain something - I get the third degree.  If I'm there to track the budget and point out errors when mistakes are made is no reason to get upset.  Either you trust me or you don't.  And today I didn't feel a lot of love coming my way. 
Now that I'm home, I'm looking forward to giving myself the space to let go of the frustration and find that peace within myself.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent - Day One

All in all, a pretty good day.  I woke up late and really didn't have time to do a mini meditation to help me focus in on the day.  Still, I managed to focus on my goals and a do feel like there is a seed of something. 
Whether I am able to nurture the seed into something that flowers beautifully and fully is yet to be seen.  But today - I have hope.  And that is no small thing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Time in the Desert

Today is Mardi Gras, the last big day of celebration before the Catholic world goes into that period of Lent - 40 days until Palm Sunday and Holy Week.  It is meant to mark the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert before he entered Jerusalem and surrender to his death.
As a child, what I remember most about Lent was that we had to "give up" something that we really loved and offer it up to God.  My child always rebelled a little at this.  It felt like I was being punished for being Catholic.  Lots of my friends went to church, but they didn't have to give up chocolate or deserts or meat.  They didn't have to be extra nice to their siblings.  And they certainly didn't have to go to confession whenever they failed to do these things and accept more punishment.
As an adult, I realized that it was much more about using these 40 days as a way of growing closer to God.  It was less about giving up than it was about eliminating those earthly things that get in the way of our better self. 
I haven't observed Lent in several years.  And this year I feel the need to do it.  It's time for me to do a little desert work.  I'm not going to say specifically what I've chosen to "give up" because it's a very personal decision - between me and God.  But I do intend to chronicle my desert time, journal by way of this blog what these next 40 days will reveal to me. 
Now it's off to a little celebration before I head out into the wilderness, alone.  Just me.  And any of you who happen to follow along.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why is it so hard?

I've become addicted to Adele.  This young woman has a voice that just melts my heart.  I've had her new CD for 3 days now and I have my favorite tracks.  Oh wait, they are all my favorite.  :)

Seriously though, her voice and lyrics just rip into me in a way that I haven't experienced musically for many years now.  But there is a down side to this joy. 

"I often think about where I went wrong.  The more I do, the less I know."  This is from "Don't You Remember"  a song that wonders why a lost love seems to have completely wiped her from his mind.  I wish I could say that I have no idea what this feels like.  But of course there is that one who seems to have forgotten not only why he loved me, but that he ever loved me at. 

And so then I move on to Set Fire to the Rain - "There's a side to you that I never knew, never knew.  All the things you said, they were never true, never true.  And the games you played, you would always win, always win."   This is that phase where you just rage at the stupidity of yourself - falling for one who so clearly didn't love YOU - the real YOU - the you that you wish, just once, someone could see as you see yourself, the best of you and the worst of you and they love you anyway.

I've wanted this for as long as I can remember.  To know, with absolutely no doubt in my mind, as those arms wrapped around me and those words were spoken to me...that it was really me who was being loved.  Nobody's perfect.  But just once to feel perfectly loved. 

Eventually, you have to let go and let them take it all - everything you gave them and everything you wanted to give - take it all with my love.   I dare you to let me love you.  I dare you to give me the chance to prove how worthy I am.  I know it's not easy to love me.  If I've learned one thing in 52 years, it's that I am a rare sort of bird.  I feel deeply.  I weep easily.  I laugh easily too.  I am small and fearful and petty and silly.  But I am also strong and wise and true and faithful.  If you have my love, you have it always.  Whatever I say or do - I will always love you.

"I heard that you found a girl.  That you're married now and you're settled down.  Guess she gave you things I couldn't do...I had hoped you'd see my face and be reminded that for me...it isn't over."



Great!  Now I've managed to cry my mascara all over my eyes.  I think I need to eat something and walk away from the coffee.  I guess I'm just finally willing to feel the pain all the way through.  How I've failed to be what he wanted - what any of them wanted.  But I have found a way to be me.  And it hurts all the way down...to want to have that person loved completely.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

a tiny rocket: The Hong Kong Project

My dear friend Erika Sears is raising funds to help her go to Hong Kong for an artist residency.  Here' a link to her blog with info about it.

GO ERIKA!!

a tiny rocket: The Hong Kong Project: "I am so excited! I am launching a kickstarter project. I want to create my own artist residency in Hong Kong for two weeks and, at t..."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tribute

I called him Sol.  He was named for a character in my favorite TV Series DEADWOOD - Sol Starr.   I acquired Sol almost 6 years ago.  One of my daughter's housemates had found him and he needed a good safe home.  He was a Russian Blue, his fur a lovely shade of gray, and he was pretty beat up, his ears had been chewed on, he had patches of fur missing.  A check up at the vet found him covered with fleas, ear mites, and of course  worms.  He had several teeth missing, but overall, he was a healthy cat.
When I brought him home, he howled in the backseat of my car for about 40 miles - from Forest Grove to SE Portland, OR where my little apartment had everything but a cat.  That first night, I woke up to find him perched on the top of the door.  Being up high would always be his favorite thing.  Well, aside from poking me awake each morning.
Sol moved with me twice in the years we spent together.  First to a house that would come to be known as the squirrel house.  He liked to sun himself in the front yard and lure young girls over to pet and coo over him.  (He was a man whore - always showing off for the pretty girls)  And in the winter, he would sit and gaze out the big picture window and watch the world go by.  He was always waiting there when I got home from work.
The next time we moved, it was to a second story apartment.  While I wouldn't let Sol outside here, because of the traffic on the street, he didn't seem to mind.  He would sit in the front window and watch the squirrels and birds in the trees.  The squirrels would taunt him by getting as close as they could and chattering at him.  He always gave them the - "Oh if only I could get out of here" - look.  But he never tried very hard to get out.
It was always a game of sorts when I would have to make frequent trips in and out of the apartment - laundry room, garbage and recycling, groceries from the car - to see if he could slip out into the stairwell where I would chase him down and then back up the short flights of stairs.
About a year ago, Sol began to have trouble eating.  He would frequently vomit up his food shortly after eating - but he'd go back to his dish and dig back in.  His teeth had gradually fallen out until he only had one or two left, so I eliminated dry food from his diet and only gave him wet food that was well ground up.
Anyway, after a couple of months of cleaning up cat mess - no sign of hairballs or obstructions - we went to the vet.  He protested loudly, but when the doctor prescribed a diet of "unusual foods" and probiotics, he responded well and life went back to normal.
A normal day with Sol started out with him sitting next to my head on the pillow.  He would position himself between me and the alarm clock, and as soon as it went off, he'd begin to poke me with his soft paw.  Never any claws, just a little pat on my cheek to remind me that it was time to get up and feed him.  Once I was up and he was fed, he'd watch me get ready for work while he settled back into the warm covers for his morning nap.
When I would get home in the afternoon, he would want to be fed right away, but just a little bit, a snack of sorts.  Then he would insist I sit down on the couch and he would tell me all about his day.  Once he settled into my lap, it would be very difficult to do anything but pet him.  And if I headed toward the kitchen to fix dinner, well, let's just say that it had to meet with his approval.
With dinner out of the way, it was time for more lap time, allowing for the occasional bathroom break, water break, nibble from the bowl.
He had developed some peculiar drinking habits over time.  At first, he drank from a small decorative fountain that I had.  When the pump for the fountain died, I searched and searched for a substitute.  I tried several, but none met with his approval.  So when he was thirsty, he would go into the bathroom, meow, and wait for me to come turn on the faucet to a little drip.  He wouldn't get up and drink however, unless I stood there patting him on the back telling him what a good, handsome boy he was. 
Bedtime was my favorite part of the day with Sol.  I think it was his too.  Once I was settled in with my pillows and my book, Sol would jump up onto my chest and lay his head on my shoulder.  I would hold the book with one hand and pet him softly with the other.  Occasionally, I'd give him a little kiss on the cheek and he'd nuzzle back.  At lights out, he would climb down and settle himself in the crook of my knees.  Until it was time for the alarm to ring out once more.
Around the holidays, Sol started needing a lot more of my time.  And his food didn't seem to be agreeing with him anymore.  I attributed it to stress and the weather and just gave him as much nurturing as I could.  But despite my best efforts, he didn't seem to be getting better.  He began to lose weight.  He wasn't drinking much at all.  And he seemed to be developing breathing problems.
Last Friday night, Sol threw everything up.  Repeatedly.  And all over me.  Something he's never done before.  I finally got him calmed down and we went to bed, where he just repeated it.  I changed my bed and got him settled on the couch.
The next day, I went and got some baby food, hoping that might help calm him.  It worked.  For a day and a half.  It was clear that something was very wrong and food was no longer the issue.  Sol was in pain and starving to death.  Never a big cat - he topped out at 9 pounds - he was now almost skin and bones.  His belly was distended and making all sorts of noises.  He didn't wake me up in the morning.  He didn't follow me into the kitchen.  He just hunkered down under the blankets and lay there.
Finally, yesterday, I was able to get him to the vet.  Tuesday night I had held him close all night, telling him over and over that we were going to find a way to stop the pain.  When I came home to take him to the doctor Wednesday afternoon, he was ready.  Sitting in the sunlight streaming through the front window, he waited for me to give him his pats.  Then he walked onto the towel I had laid out for him and  lay down.  I bundled him up and set him in the backseat of the car.  He never made a sound.
First we weighed him and found that he was down almost half his body weight - just over 5 pounds. The vet fed him some more baby food and almost immediately, Sol became distressed and restless and vomited it up.  She palpated his abdomen and found a large mass.  His stool showed internal bleeding.  His breathing indicated that whatever it was had probably metastasized to his lungs.  His constant hunkering down indicated that he was suffering.
We could run tests and do ultrasounds and all that fancy stuff, but the truth was pretty clear.  It was time for Sol and I to say goodbye.  The vet left us alone.  He crawled up onto my lap, stretched himself up to my chest and looked into my eyes.  He purred his deep, lovely, throaty purr.  He nuzzled my cheek and as my tears fell on his fur, he wiped them away.  I kissed his little swollen cheeks and laid him down on the towel.  He reached his paw out to me - and finally gave a little meow.  I know he was saying "good-bye."
Sol was with me through some very hard times.  Through heartbreak and sickness and loss and pain.  He was also with me in some very good times.  He was a lovely, proud, happy, brave cat.  I miss him and I will miss him for a long time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

IN THE BALANCE

I seem to be on the verge of making a choice.  Problem is, I don't know what I'm choosing between.  Everything that I would like to see in my life seems just out of reach, and if I will just commit, then I can have...something.

I've been making small changes in various parts of my life; my health, my work, my creativity, my friendships and family; and while these small changes are making a difference, I feel that I have to commit, fully commit, to those that are the most important in order to actually attain my goals.

So what is more important to me?  Do I work on my novel and forgo time with my friends and family? Do I fully commit to changing my health and avoid situations where I will eat too much, drink too much and be far to inactive?  Do I decide that getting back to Paris at the earliest possible moment is the most important thing to me and get a second job so that I can pay off my debts, save for the trip I really want to take, and again, forgo time with my friends and family?  Or do I decide that who I am with is far more important than what I do creatively, what I eat and drink, and whether or not I can travel?

Why can't I have it all?  Are my wishes so far out of touch with reality? Why do others seem to have healthy lives, good paying jobs, creative outlets and lots of loving friends and family members who fill their days and nights with new exotic places and experiences; while I go forward slowly changing in tiny ways hoping for a major change.

I do believe in small changes.  Turn your path one degree from where you are headed and in a year or five or ten, you find yourself in a place you never imagined.  I have seen it to be true in my life.  And those changes are far more lasting and real than a temporal, transitory moment. 

I think I just made my decision.  Stay with my path.  Make my small, manageable changes and keep working for the things I truly want in my life.  I want a more healthy me, in body, in mind, in love, in life, in experiences.  I believe I can achieve it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Forever Friday

I stumbled on this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson - The Snow Storm.  I'm not going to post the whole thing, just the opening lines. 

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hill and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.

Part of me wishes, very much, that I was somewhere where the snow is falling today.  I've been very productive this week, and now today, I just want to lay about and doze and read and sip hot cocoa and write long letters to people I miss.

I don't write letters anymore.  I used to be very good about it.  I wrote my mother and friends that moved away.  I wrote love letters to old lovers.  I wrote apologies to people I wronged.  I wrote angry letters to people who harmed me.  I didn't always send these letters, but something about the act of putting pen to paper released me somehow.  Now I journal - which is still a good thing, but it's not as focused on a letter.  And I blog, but that is even more general.  I can't say here things that I wouldn't want revealed about me, things that I'm ashamed of or frightened of.  

Maybe I'll start writing letters instead of simple writing journal entries.  Focus my thoughts toward one person and say what I need to say, for myself and for them.  (You see, I'm a firm believer in the power of the mind.  And what needs to be communicated for the good of all does indeed find a way out.)

Well, anyway, I'm feeling terribly lazy today and wish I had a reason to lay about and let my mind wander. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Can I get an Amen?

So far, 2011 has sucked.  I mean really sucked.  I can see the end in sight and I'm encouraged by little indications that things are getting better.  I'm not going to let this get to me either.  Going boldly forward in faith and hope.

January is typically a tough month for me anyway.  I'm the budget coordinator for my division at work and our fiscal years run from July to June.  So January means I have to check where we are for the current year and start projecting for the coming year.  It take a couple of weeks and lots of spreadsheets for me to catch up with everyone, find out what's changed and what's coming down the pike.   The result of my work means that our CTO can make some informed decisions about spending for the current year and make solid predictions of where we need to invest. 

This year, to complicate matters, I came down with a terrible cold.  I'm still coughing a full 4 weeks later.  It's one of those awful coughs that settles right in your chest and you constantly feel like you need to swallow, but you can't because there's nothing there to swallow.  So you start coughing and it feels like your lungs are about to burst out of your body.   Between one thing and another, I missed a few days of work, but mostly I just worked my normal schedule and went home to fall asleep on the couch.  Sleep has been fitful - a few hours at a time with very few full nights of sleep.  I'm looking forward to a real good sleep.

Then there's my car.  I have a 1999 Nissan Sentra XE, black, 5-speed manual transmission.  It has just over 85,000 miles on it and I don't put more than a couple thousand miles on it a year.  I live near my job and walk or use transit most of the time.  On weekends, I run my errands around town.  Occasionally, I'll drive to the coast or out to visit my sister or just go for a drive.  Gas prices have limited my pleasure driving somewhat.  Anyway, my clutch has been making overtures of unhappiness for some time.  I was going to get it looked at as soon as I had gotten my tax refund. But the car had other ideas.  On a rainy Saturday two weeks ago, as I was out doing my errands and grocery shopping, the clutch just gave out.  I managed to baby it home.  I'm fortunate to live across the street from a AAA approved auto shop and I took it to them explaining my financial constraints and concerns.  The new clutch was 600.00.  Just about all the money I had.  The irony is that my registration is due at the end of the month...and I don't have the money to pay it.  So I'll be illegal for a couple of days until my next payday rolls around. 

Today my Facebook account got spammed with a virus.  All day long people have been calling, emailing, texting, letting me know that this has happened and I need to change my passwords right away.  Of course, I've already done that.  What I find frustrating is that anyone would really think the posting is from me.  There's a misspelling in it people!  I may be a little lazy in my grammar from time to time, but spelling??  No way.

But this year is about me taking small, thoughtful steps toward a happier me.  So I'm not letting the universe get me down.  I'm still here.  My friends still love me.  My work is still gratifying.  And my goals are clearer with each passing day. 

I'm going to be healthier, happier, more satisfied spiritually, more creative, more open to love and I'm going back to Paris.  Maybe not this year.  But soon.  And for a real long time.   And you can help me.  One of my goals is to write here at least once a week.  So if you don't hear from me by next Friday, feel free to send me a reminder.  2011, I'm here...and I'm staying. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sticks and Stones

For the past several days, since the tragic shooting in Arizona, that childhood taunt has been running through my mind.  "Sticks and stone may break my bones but names will never hurt me."  Even as I child I knew that wasn't true.  Names do hurt.  Words do have power to harm.  Ask anyone who has heard over and over from a parent, "You'll never amount to anything." "You're just like your (mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, etc.)"
In my home, calling someone stupid or retard was a sin.  My mother had a sister with Down's Syndrome and I had a cousin who was mentally retarded from birth.  Those words were never allowed, not even in anger.  
I once called someone a 'fruit'; I didn't even know what it meant, I had heard it on the playground at school.  The word flew out of my mouth and I was immediately summoned by my mother, "Katherine Cecelia, what did you say?"  She tried to explain to my 11 year old mind why the word might be offensive, but the message was clear.  Words can hurt.
The internet has given people the ability to share words with the speed of light.  You can tweet and IM, email and blog any old idea that you have and someone out there is listening.  Someone is going to take your words to heart and act on them.  As a writer and a reader, as a person who gives thought to her words and agonizes over what she wants to say, I have found the internet to be a marvelous place to share my ideas, my hopes and dreams.  I have met wonderful people who have enriched my life beyond measure. 
But I have also encountered people, ideas and words that strike fear into me.  It has been my practice to ignore those words and ideas, to dismiss them as extreme and not something that rational, thinking people would give any countenance.   Alas, I, along with many thousands of others, have been mistaken.  Words - hateful, angry, dark, incendiary words - have given license to a culture of violence that must be addressed. 
I'm not talking about laying blame or pointing to this or that individual.  I'm saying that the time has come for all of us - most especially those in positions of influence and power - to think before we speak.  To count to ten when we are angry.  To breath deeply and consider what we want our words to do.  If we are encouraging people to act, be very specific about the action we want them to take.  To understand that words are violent and they can kill.