Like a dog that begs for something sweet …

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The lyric/title of this one is relevant only because the song is in my head. That said, my dog does like cantaloupe more than I do, and cantaloupe is pretty sweet.

I have gotten exponentially better at this living-in-the-moment thing people tout, though  I realize it’s not a constant state of being. Perhaps if I meditated it would be, but I don’t. What a difference it makes for my moods and my happiness, and what an excellent lesson these past several months have been in that regard, when I’ve had no choice, really, but to do so.

The other day I mentioned some of the traits that the people I love share, and I’ve another one to add – the people (and dogs) with whom I have the deepest connections are the ones who help me to see the world through new eyes. This goes along with the lifelong evolution I strive for – the notion of always having new things to see, or notice. When we open our eyes, when we stop spending our travel time staring at our phones, when we look outside of our insular selves, we open our eyes to the world. Of course this means we run the risk of letting ugliness seep in, but I’d rather see and acknowledge the darkness than sacrifice the light of the new and beautiful. Or the relearned and beautiful. Lamenting the past and coveting memories keeps us from realizing the personal history we’re making in the present.

My lovely friend who came for dinner last week told me about a book called “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”. I haven’t looked into this book, but the title resonates. I’m breaking the habit, these days, of being my less-than-functional self, and I’m learning to be who I’ve always wanted to be – someone who’s calm, optimistic, empathic, kind, who doesn’t take everything quite so personally. And someone who cooks and cleans and doesn’t mind her alone time. When you’re not used to it, alone time is scary. It was for me when the Vanishing Man left and I realized I needed to be single for a while. I didn’t know how to, and it was hard, at first. I’d just come off of 12 years of being someone’s girlfriend. Friends told me then that I “should” (hate that word) take six months off from commitment; at the time that sounded like eternity. Now I realize how right they were, and how well I’ve gotten through the first two-thirds of that. Of course I’ve had “help” – I have wonderful friends – but I now cherish my solitude, even crave it at times.

That said, I still strongly believe, and I hope I always will, that I’m ultimately meant to be half of a whole. As I said in my toast (quoting someone else) at Jim and Zotica’s wedding, “Love may not make the world go ’round, but it sure makes the ride worthwhile.”

As do you, my friends.

Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies

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swear I had a post half-written that I was going to elaborate on but it seems to have disappeared. Maybe I dreamt it. Either way it was a really good one. Alas.

In any event.

Or, as my mum would say, “About which more later.”

I have upcoming events to look forward to: music, a couple of out-of-town excursions, dinner with an old friend, and this is so, so important to me. This sustains me, promise of the future. My horoscope from the other day advised me that I need to stop worrying about what I can’t control and stop living in the past, that today and tomorrow are what matter. This is very hard to do; as Eckhart Tolle says, clearing the chatter of past regret and future worry from our minds is the most human obstacle we face in modern, western times. I’ve not gotten round to meditating again and I probably “should”. I have started to acknowledge and practice the things that soothe me, such as making plans for the future, taking care of my health, creating new projects to work on. Busy is good. Bored is toxic.

I have a new subscriber to my blog – how very exciting and validating. For reals. Thank you, new reader – if you are so inclined, please let me know how you found me.

Cheech and I discussed on our way up to the Berkshires how much we loathe the concept of the “bucket list” – have I already written about this? I hope not. One of the many reasons I loathe this concept is that I do not want to be faced with the notion of my mortality any more than I already am by being wise and present in this lifetime. We discussed the idea of, rather than listing what we want to do, listing what we hope to be. This is so very different. It’s about evolution – and I don’t ever want to stop evolving. The people I am most drawn to, romantically, platonically, and everything-ly, are those who strive constantly for self-betterment, who realize that there is always more to see, feel, learn, and love. I can’t imagine what I’d do or be or think if I felt that I had done or learned or seen everything I was meant to. 

I plan to soak up the final bits of this summer as best I can. And I look forward to autumn, which is one of my most productive and prolific times of year. And yes, of course, I fear that by recording my optimism the malevolent higher power  I’ve referenced before will have its way with me. But really, I know, it’s up to me to become as strong and whole as I can so that I can best handle whatever the gods throw my way.

 

American woman, gonna mess your mind …

ImageThe photo above was actually taken in Budapest. “Hungarian woman, mama let me be …”

In my search through the annals of 1992 I found an issue of Cosmopolitan — no idea why I saved this particular one – from February. This was three months before I’d graduate from college. The cover features a massive-haired Claudia Schiffer, photographed by Francesco Scavullo, wearing a neon color-block lycra and sequined minidress. The back page is an ad for Virginia Slims, one of several cigarette ads in the magazine. And as with the letters I found yesterday, some of the writing in this issue deftly captures how the times they have a-changed:

  • From a male POV essay called, “Men’s Jobs – Women’s Jobs”: I heard a woman complain the other day that her boyfriend never helps her with the laundry and that he’d rather buy new dishes than wash dirty ones … I was really thinking, Hey, wait a second! … some things are simply your job … some are simply mine. When was the last time you took a whitewall-tire brush to the grill? Or changed the oil in the car? 
  • From “Ohmigod! My Blind Date Is Drop-dead Handsome!” (in which the author’s brother sets her up with a friend): I started discussing with my roommate the possibilities of my non-blind date’s appearance. He was too cool, Brian had said. That probably meant prep school, Polo Country, Docksiders with no socks. “Maybe one of those annoying little hoop earrings,” my roommate offered … I then retired to the bedroom to commit to an outfit. The sweater was good; the few sequins on it made it “New York” … I opened the door to Billy Baldwin’s even better looking clone. 
  • From “The (Surprising) Secrets of the Stud”: I hadn’t thought of Larry as a sexy man. late thirties, reasonably attractive. But he’s a little thick in the middle, and has thinning blond hair and a scraggly beard and mustache … When I finally hung up the phone, I was stunned. I’d just had phone sex for the first time in my life — and with Larry.
  • From “Boobs, Boys, and High Heels, or What You Should Know About Meeting Great Guys”: I am about to reveal to you guaranteed great guy (GG)-meeting methods. … Prop Till You Drop: Clothing accessories: long gloves, long chiffon scarves, sunglasses, ornate lipstick cases … Tootsie Pops (keep three in your purse at all times) … Walkman … Any small ethnic or antique objects (such as Greek worry beads, a priceless Faberge egg, a Day-Glo zodiac key ring). … Fake nails … Electronic gadgets that do something high-tech and useless. … Foreign magazine (French is best). 
  • Red Hot Right Now: Anthony LaPaglia
  • Breakfast: Jumbo Yumbo Bran Muffin

It must have been awfully difficult to wield those Faberge eggs without compromising one’s fake nails, but I’m sure it was worth it.

Wait a minute Mr. Postman …

ImageI have spent part of today searching through boxes of personal memorabilia in search of one specific photograph. These boxes have been in storage at my father’s company for decades, and though I haven’t found the photo, I have found some interesting souvenirs of days gone by. Apparently I was the news editor of my high school newspaper. (I do recall that I was on staff but I don’t recall editing any news.) I found the program from my elementary school’s singalong in 1978, when my sister was in sixth grade and I was in third. My class performed “California Kids” (“Well east coast kids are hip, I really dig the styles they we-ear…”). I remember what I wore. I was, in fact, part of the East Coast Kids group, so compared to the Midwest Farmer’s Children and all the rest, my costume was not terribly gimmicky. I wore a denim jacket, t-shirt and jeans and a pair of brown rain boots with black fake fur at the top. I loved those boots.

I also found many relics of the lost art of letter writing, a practice that played a major role in my life up until the bitter end of its reign. I loved writing letters from the time I was able to write. My granny and I wrote constantly, and she kept a carbon copy of each letter she typed on her sky blue Smith Corona, which now lives in my closet. It needs work. I’d like to get myself a refurbished portable typewriter; I’d been toying with the idea, forgot about it, and then read this essay. But before I purchase any heavy machinery I must purge some of the stuff that I’ve semi-hoarded over the years.

Reading through some of these letters has been like finding a time capsule from the late 80s/early 90s, when I was in college. I’ve come across gems like these:

  • There are a few people that you’ll be glad to hear that I didn’t keep in touch with, namely Evan and Randy. I didn’t call Randy even though he owed me 25 dollars for the Who tickett [sic]. That’s how much I didn’t want to talk to him.
  • Take care, hon, and find yourself a “nice boyfriend” – good luck and I hope to hear from again really soon.
  • I lost my proof so the bar scene has been even more interesting b/c every night I have to think of new scams to get in. I borrowed my housemate’s proof. The name on it was Mandy Fiddle …
  • I am going to the travel agent today to make some arrangements 4 spring break. Yeah! Jamaica!
  • Now don’t think I’m turning lesbo on you, but I thought the front of the card was rather appropriate. Your card to me was hysterical, talk about appropriate.
  • You should definately [sic] come home for a weekend we’ll be total townies. one night we’ll go to the “Aft” then to “Cooks” – another night we should go hang-out in the village. 
  • Actually you see, I think I fell in love in Spain. I met this Spanish guy in Marbella – he is older, 27 is my guess (I never bothered to ask) he is so lively and so crazey [sic]. He’s a real estate agent & a part owner of a bar/nite club & I have this feeling he might deal coke or something on the side. … he has really ruined my desire for Laurent … I’ve decided French guys are dull.

Good stuff. I miss writing letters. I don’t miss being 19 and 20.

Come in, come in to this wonderful life …

-Nick Cave

ImageI am grateful for today. I was in a very dark place when it began for the simple reason that I find myself in very dark places from time to time. Bothered, bewildered, not at all bewitched. I hid it over breakfast (I’m good like that) and resigned myself to the notion of a day best left behind. And then I went for a long(ish) walk/run in the mountain air and the light became brighter as the tunnel grew shorter. Sometimes metaphors remind us of their purpose; I saw the forest through the trees …

Image… and it was beautiful, and it reminded me of all that exists outside of the microcosm that one’s life can become when inertia sets in, when we cycle through the same worries and conflicts and challenges over and over and over again. Doesn’t matter that we might live in the greatest city in the world – our lives become small if we don’t force them not to be. Being alone with the woods and the silence felt far more expansive than most of Manhattan has in the past several months. God I needed this. I saw inchworms and earthworms and spiders and bugs, two giant crows and a tiny light blue bird that looked like it flew straight out of a dream. And I saw snakes – three of them ( or parts of three of them ) wizened and flattened on the dirt roads. Either they moved too slowly or the cars moved too fast. I tried to be zen about it but not-so-secretly prayed that I wouldn’t see live ones.

And this steered my mind toward singular memories of both of my grandmothers; once in the 70s my dad’s mom walked into the living room and glanced at what I was watching on tv – it was a nature show with a giant snake writhing on the ground. Once in the 80s my mom’s mom walked into the same living room and I was sitting in the same place on a different sofa watching a different tv on which a Def Leppard video was playing (Photograph). They wore matching looks of repulsion upon seeing the screen.

This afternoon we went to Williamstown to watch our friends’ theater company – The Debate Society – absurdly talented and impossible to describe given my current level of energy.

Dinner and mirth and then my dad, Michel and I sang songs from D’s youth – by the end we had nailed a couple of numbers and devised a plan to perform and record. Wine, you lovely beast … thank you for making us feel invincible tonight.

Now here I am. So much to write, so much to right, but it’s much later than I’d intended to start this and so I will draw to a close. 

When we share our art we run the risk of alienating the people we love, despite our greatest intentions. I imagine Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar suffered their share of awkward, steely evenings at the dinner table. “Bella – of course I know your eyes aren’t-” “Enough. Leave it alone.” 

The arc of today is why I will never abandon hope. I’m going to bed lightyears away from where I awoke. Goodnight, loves.

 

 

 

 

 

My sole intention is learning to fly …

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According to the internets I might have that lyric wrong, but the essence of the two versions is the same. Learning to fly, finding one’s bearings after being set adrift. It’s hard to do, and accepting this is the only recourse for beginning to heal a broken heart or beaten soul or combination of the two. The process is exhausting and there are regressions along the way, but if one has some semblance of determination, the powers-that-be will reverse what’s seemed like a spell of misdirected punishment and the world will be brighter.

Despite all my foibles and missteps and temper tantrums, I think the people who choose to stick around know that my love is boundless and my loyalty fierce. I do have a fair amount of people in my life, and this is because, for whatever crazy reason, excellent people have come my way. I’ve met plenty, plenty of toxic people along the way, some of whom have disguised themselves as knights in shining armor and all-weather friends, and as such I’ve had my spirit broken many times. But through it I’ve held onto a faith that comes from some mysterious source and I’ve not given up on the universe. I can’t. Otherwise, why am I here? I’ve accepted the fact that mine will be a hard-won happiness; I’ve walked through deluges and spent years in foxholes and I’ve raged and rebelled against a world that’s at times seemed hell-bent on watching me suffer through life. But I’ve gotten back up, licked my many wounds, and struck out again to make mistakes and continue to fight for light and love. Because, I think, you don’t get one without weathering the other. I guess I’d rather keep battling because the moments of beauty, tranquility, and bliss are brighter and more powerful than one thousand demons could ever be.

When I was a kid I thought the song “Torn Between Two Lovers” was “Torn Between Two Leopards”.

Third time’s a charm:

I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.

I do, and I mean that for all of you.

C’est le temps de l’amour

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It’s been a bit of an off week, to be sure. Tuesday I was a sloth, and sloth-like behavior, no matter how understandable, does not improve the mood. I think the grief I felt took me a bit by surprise; not that I didn’t know how important and amazing Lily was, but I don’t think I expected to be quite so derailed by her passing. But everyone who spoke at the service reiterated how full of life and up for adventure she was, and so hiding behind darkness and hibernating are not appropriate responses to this loss. 

I feel as though I need a respite from New York but I’m not sure what that means – a week, a month, a year – I’ll start with a week. I had dinner with a girlfriend last night who is contemplating taking a year to travel and find herself; I say, if it’s logistically feasible and appealing to you, DO IT! In all likelihood I won’t be following suit, but I am going to plan a vacation soon. 

I have been writing fiction in the past couple of days, something I’d stopped doing a while ago. I’m gearing up to get back into that damn novel of mine; this is where I think a break from the city would be helpful. Of course I can write here, but this is where my whole life is, and it’s hard to get into the writing headspace for any protracted length of time when life is all around you. 

I’d like to write more right now but there are people in front of my desk discussing the thermostat so I will bid adieu for now.

Adieu for now.