Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Thank-You Card for Michael and a Kindle Weighing Heavy on my Mind

Talk about mood swings.

About 15 minutes ago I signed in to my blog with the intent of posting an entry beating myself up for being shallow, needy and generally worthless.

I thought I had totally destroyed the value and purpose of my blog by being somewhat desolate for the past few days due to the fact that I had gotten used to comments and was finding none for my last post which my internal, somewhat biased, critic thought was not a bad piece of writing.

So, I therefore thought concluded that I finally knew why I had created this blog.  To be petted, stroked and praised.

I've never had those things in my life - except on very seldom and far-spaced special occasions.  I imagine that people cossetted as children can stand not being told "you done good" when they thought they "had done good," but I'm not one of those.

Anyway, there was Michael's thoughtful comment - and my world lit up.  One of those unexpected "you done good" moments which I will press in my memory book.  Thanks, Michael.

There is one hidden horror not mentioned in my post about Patti and Robert - one with which I'm trying to come to terms ..... I read "Just Kids" on a Kindle (oh my god - that looks more blasphemous in writing than it does when it's said aloud).

I have hated and railed against Kindles since they first arrived on the scene.  "They will destroy books."  "They will shut down book stores."  "How can a flat piece of machinery take the place of book with heft and smell and reality?"

There was no way, ever, that I would even consider using a Kindle.

Well, one of my closest friends (who knows how I feel about Kindles - tool of the Devil!) gave me one for Christmas.

She correctly anticipated my reaction and started right in with her rationale, which had merit.

When I went on my Alaska cruise last year I took about 10 books with me.  One of my greatest fears is being caught somewhere without something engrossing to read, so I always take more reading material than I will ever need (and generally buy some more along the way).

That was for a 7 day cruise - in June I'm doing a 14 day cruise and she said that she couldn't imagine how many books I would have to pack - probably need an extra suitcase.  She thought I could travel easier, and lighter, with one loaded Kindle.  (Plus I travel a lot for work and that also requires ensuring sufficient reading material for planes, airports and hotel rooms.)

So, I did not throw it back in her face.  I graciously accepted the foul thing, acknowledging that I would ONLY use it for travel purposes.

She, however, was in league with the Devil and the Kindle came with a book already loaded --- Stephen King's "Full Dark, No Stars."  King is one of my guilty pleasures.  I think he's highly underrated (although his books would all be improved if the length of each was cut by about 30%).  She knew that I would probably never even try the Kindle if I wasn't prodded a bit.

So, of course, I read the book and said to myself, "OK, now I know how it works and that's that."

Here's where the Devil got really smart.

Folks like me hear about interesting books on the radio, on TV, through conversations and through book reviews.  We jot down titles on scraps of paper, tear ads out and put them somewhere and then, if they are anything like me, totally blank out when in a bookstore.  We end up buying lots, but none of those we have written down on scraps of paper, matchbook covers or those covered in torn-our reviews and ads that are lost somewhere covered by other clutter on a table top or desk, or in a briefcase or other book.

I was curious as to how one goes about "buying" a Kindle book.  It's way TOO easy.  Google Amazon and, if you have an account (which I do), one minute later the book is loaded.

Frightening.  Hats off to you, clever Devil.

Currently, I have 10 books waiting for me on the flat little horror.

My house overflows with books - a few months ago I went through them all and ended up with 7 shopping bags full of those I could bear to give away.  Had to do it to make some room so that I could find what I was looking for when I went to my shelves.  Still have way too many but none that can go.

So, the Devil had another way to gain acceptance into my home.  It doesn't take up any shelf space. 

Okay, okay!  I know I'm starting to rationalize.  I am a Kindle user.  There I've said it.  I understand that it will make me a pariah and keep me out of heaven when the time comes, but it's the truth. 

Try not to hate me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Raise a glass to Patti and Robert .....

I just finished reading "Just Kids" and I'm missing Robert and Patti already.

The book has some drawbacks - page after page of seeming name dropping and apparently some events and/or circumstances that diligent researchers have said just couldn't have happened that way or at that time .... but overall it's a mesmerizing book for many reasons.

There is the nostalgia element - Max's Kansas City when it really was something special, the Chelsea, not quite in its heyday but with enough icons still checking in and out (literally and figuratively), as well as an overall gentler, kinder and more forgiving NYC.

Then there are two people of whom I knew so little about and each of whom I had carelessly pigeon-holed and filed away somewhere outside of things "that matter."

Patti Smith, a grung rocker who never appealed to me and whose music I did not know (and which I assumed I would not like).

Her love, compassion and admiration for Robert is unmistakable in a book where he almost outshines the author, where she bring him more to life than herself.  Hard to know if that was the plan or if it was just something she couldn't avoid doing.  Raising Robert up as an offering the world didn't even know it wanted, or needed.

Robert Mapplethorpe - a pornographic, blasphemous, self-centered "artist."  In my mind, he did not eveen really qualify as an artist (but as God-Daughter #3 will confirm, I am not one anyone should discuss art with - I'm still confused as to why Jackson Pollack is considered an artist --- and don't get me started about canvases painted black and titled "untitled") ....

And am I now ready to defend and claim a great understanding and admiration of his work?  Some, yes.  I've been googling like mad since I finished the book, looking at his work, at the portraits he did for Patti's album covers.  Some, I like and find compelling.  Others ... we'll, we're back to my artistically uneducated question of "Why and how is that art?"

But I digress ...

More than my simply not considering either Patti or Robert artists, neither was ever in my consiousness long enough for me to even consider them people ... they were controversial individuals to occasionally be read about in both pro and con articles and then forgotten.

I had a slight awareness at some point in my life that Patti co-wrote a song with Bruuuuuuce and that fact did get my musical attention for a while, but then it was only The Boss who I stuck with.

After reading this book, they are so very real to me.  I see them now through the lens of my young adulthood, my "just kids" phase and I regret so much that I did not have the kind of inner driving forces each had, regardless of the dark sides of many of those forces).

And the dedication.  The  passion!  That's what really gets to me.  The dedication they had for each other and for their drive to find their way.  The passion they had for living, loving, exploring, growing, learning, creating and just being.  It's the passion I envy the most and what will keep these two young, brightly burning (and in one case burning out too soon) individuals in my heart and mind so vividly.

How dare we criticize individuals so dedicated to each other, to themselves, to their dreams, to their visions and to the  moment?  They lived a more fully realized life in one day than most do in a lifetime.

It's hard to believe, but I was living in NYC at the same time they were.  How could I have not have known that, not have felt that, not have been called or driven to that?  What I wouldn't give to have been drawn into their world.  Like a moth to a flame. I would have circled and circled, yearning to really be "in" their world, but regrettably satisfied to at least be a hanger on, a vicarious voyeur..

The closest our paths may have crossed is that Patti recalls an apartment she had just a block away from the Kettle of Fish, the bar where I smoked my first joint.  Could it be possible that she was in the next stall in the ladies' room where I sat for quite a while wondering if I was high yet?  Or could I have brushed by Robert as he stood at the bar, digging through his pockets to determine if both he and Patti could have a beer or if one would have to do for both of them. 

I see no reason why I can't consider each of those scenarios a distinct possibility, and through enough wishful thinking turn them into reality over the coming years as I tell tales of my past.  Let the diligent researchers try to disprove it ... in a few years I'll even be able to tell you exactly what Robert was wearing and what song Patti was humming in the stall next to mine.

I will lift my next glass of wine to the children who found each other in a long-ago, fairy-tale, no-longer-existing NYC, who loved each other in ways most of us will never love, and who kept the dream burning for themselves and for each other.  Sometimes without understanding, but always supporting.

Here's to you, you two "just kids."  You did good.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Big girls don't cry ....

Well, at least not often, but look out when they do.

Spent a wonderful afternoon with God-daughter #3 - ran the gamut of emotions.  Laughed, cried and got angry at what I perceived to be some injustices done to her.  But the tears ultimately won the competion of emotions.

Tears held in, when unleashed, let forth a deluge.  My shrink once asked me why I tried so hard to never cry.  My response was that I was scared that once I started I would mever stop.  So, I've learned, for the most part, to hold them in.

Perhaps that's what the weight does - shore up a dam big enough to contain them all. 

Sobbed for about half an hour after she left.  Got myself under control.  Turned on the TV and watched An Officer and A Gentleman.  Well, that got the water works going again.  They've stopped for now, but it would take next to nothing to start me up again.

There's so much I've never cried for or about.

Didn't cry when word came at 3:00am some 50 yeas ago that my brother and his pregnant wife had been killed on the Autobahn just outside of Cologne.

Didn't cry when my father was found dead in his NY City apartment bed one Sunday morning with a half-finished Sunday NY Times lying on his chest.

Didn't cry when I signed away all rights to a daughter I would never know (or ever even see).

Didn't cry (let's change that to WASN'T ALLOWED to cry) when my grandmother passed away in the Brenner's Park Hotel in Baden-Baden, Germany.  12 years old, I got an early morning call in my room (have no idea from whom) saying "Your grandmother has died."  It took me forever to get dressed.  I didn't know what I was "supposed" to wear for such an event.  Finally, dressed (no doubt, inappropriately), I walked the long hallway - large purple flowers on the carpeting - to my grandparent's room, wondering how I was "supposed" to act.  Thinking that maybe it was a trick - they just wanted to see how I would react.  Wanted to know if I really loved her. 

Then finally getting to their room.  The door open, with me standing outside of it for what seemed like hours, wondering what I should do.  Just walk in?  Wait for somone to invite me in?  Knock?  Turn and run as quickly as possible away from that open door.

Somehow I was finally in the room.  My grandfather, he of perfect, rigid posture, slumped in an overstuffed corner chair, unseeing, unhearing, unmoving - dead, himself, for all intents and purposes.

There on the bed was my beautiful grandmother.  The first (and todate) only dead person I had ever seen.  Serene, beautiful and loving - but so still and unnatural.

It took a week or so to make arrangements to get her back to the states and we stayed with some uncle that I don't think I had ever met before.  A beautiful house somewhere in Germany, don't know where.  I remember so well an outside nine-pin bowling alley, covered on the top, open on both sides.  I didn't play - there was no one to play with and it wouldn't have been proper.

What was proper was for me to sit by myself on the porch of the lovely house, speaking only when spoken to - and that made for rare conversation.

I was told not to make a fuss, not be in the way and not bother the adults - those that were suffering.

I had lost the only person in my 12-year history that had shown, spoken and demonstrated love for me .. great, unconditional love.  But, don't make a fuss - DO NOT bother the adults.  They had important things to do and REAL loss to contend with.

So, it came to me early - the holding in of tears.

There was one very wonderful 12 year old moment in the whole horrible "sturm und drung" that horrible week.

My Uncle William (the oldest of my grandparents' four children) has flown to Germany to take charge - and I guess somewhere on his "to do" list was to make sure to bring Marianne home.  Not sure why, but I guess somewhere along the way when plans were being drawn up, my name came up.

Uncle William was one of the major important adults that had instructed me all week not to be a "bother."

His seat on the Pan Am flight back to the states was directly behind me.  Somewhere over the Atlantic, I turned around, putting my knees on my seat, to lean over to tell him that I thought I was going to be sick.  He gave me an angry look and told me not to be silly.  "Now, turn around and be still." 

I promptly vomited into his lap.

No memory of what happened after that but I'm sure there was little sympathy for me.  Somehow, I'm sure that the report home was that I had done it on purpose, such an unruly child.

So, maybe big girls shouldn't cry - they should just throw up.        .

There are no coincidences .....

I've been avoiding making a new entry - could probably spend pages and pages on trying to determine why, but nonetheless I've been staying away.

Finally decided that I should try and see what happened - would I post or not post.

Tried to sign in and things have changed and it took me about 20 minutes to finally get in .. and I was beginning to panic. Realized that I didn't want this blog to go away and was getting frantic about not being able to continue it.

So, once again I have learned something about myself.

One of the things that makes me happiest are sunflowers ... so I share them here with you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Size DOES matter .....

2nd severe snow storm of the year - at least 15" of new snow has fallen and most of it appears to be stacked up against my front door and on the pathway .... I pay $100 a month for things like snow removal and it is now 12:30pm and no one has yet appeared with a snow blower.  I don't know if the parking area and the areas around the garage have been plowed.  Right now it doesn't matter because I'm not going anywhere.

If I were "normal" sized, I'm sure I would have appropriate boots and other clothing that would allow me to start digging myself out ... but I have nothing of that nature.  So here I sit - captive.  It really sucks.  Usually I don't pay much attention to my size - it always demands acknowledgement in one way or another on a regular basis, but I can either ignore, pretend or simply deny ... but knowing that I cannot take care of myself in a snowstorm because the appropriate clothing and other gear are not available in my size bring it home in a way that can't be ignored or glossed over.  I don't know what kind of a reaction I have because I am so not in touch with any emotions .. but I think it breaks my heart.  It should make me angry - angry at myself, but I don't think it does.  I think sadness is the only emotion that I can discern.  I'm sure there are others, but I have done such a good job at burying them there's no way I can identify them.

"And if you were a color I think you'd be a fugitive one because you hide, dissappearing without much warning" is something Tilly (God child #3) said in a recent comment. I don't think I "disappear without much warning," I think I disappeared decades ago. First I disappeared by hiding myself behind a lot of what can only be called "bulk." Then I disappeared by not allowing myself to have real feelings and dealing with them or requiring them to be acknowledged.

I don't think I realized it until this very minute but what are we if not our feelings? If happiness, sadness, anger, jealousy, fear, insecurity, pain, indecision, confusion, shame, pride and a myriad of other legitimate emotions are not acknowledged when felt, how can you even be deemed to be alive?

Scared? Don't let anyone know because it will make you look weak in their eyes.

Happy? Don't give in to it because it will not last.

Angry? Don't let the anger out because you will alienate the person to whome the anger should be directed.

Jealous? How dare you be jealous of anyone when the reason you envy them is simply because you are too much of a disaster to either have what they ahve or be what they are.

Sad? In pain? Tough it out, work through it. Letting anyone know you are aching inside just makes you too needy.

As I sit here looking out my picture window at a pristine, white fluffy world - the trees decorated with white and ice more beautifully than any Christmas tree - I'm beginning to realize the enormous disservice I've done myself. If I ever had the guts to feel true hatred, I'm scared that the only one I could direct it to would be me.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm feeling so totally uncreative lately (especially after spending some time on the blog of my niece / god daughter (#3), Showing up for the Muse).

So, I'm pulling some past work that I don't hate just to convince myself that there is creativity in me and I just have to try to dig down and find it .... the following was written a while ago..

The Color Wheel

The day you left, I walked to the stream behind the barn.  I followed it for miles, hypnotized by color. 

Amber sparks becoming yellow as I passed by.  Floating crimson bits revealing themselves as pink in the shadows.  Green flickering tails, speckled with gold.  The black of midnight.  The grey of dawn.  Violet prisms.  A rainbow stream.  A floating orange leaf.  Shades of blue I cannot name.

4th grade art class.  Mrs. Rogers taught us colors.  Basic primary colors.  Mix two primaries to get a secondary. Color compliments on opposite sides of the wheel.  Unmixable.

If you had asked, I would have become secondary.

It just seemed to me that it should be printed in color.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Don't even have enough creativity right now to give this post a title .....

Hi, whoever's out there. 

Well, i learned two things about blogging this week.  First, you have to be in the mood and being back at work sorta took the wind out of me in terms of taking time for myself.  Second, blogging isn't like journaling as I first thought it would be.  In a private journal you can talk (write!) about specific people if you've got some venting to do ... but a blog isn't private, is it?  That's the whole point of a blog - to be public.  So much for my thinking I was finally journalling.

It's not that I have anything terrible to say about anyone, just some petty hurt feelings or things that I think someone could have handled a bit better.  But nothing severe enough to have to be shared in public. 

So, it's back to me.

Not much has happened - just getting my brain and body back into work mode. 

Oh, I guess one thing has sort of "happened."  I have booked and put down a deposit on a 14 day Alaskan cruise.  Outrageiously expensive.  For some reason I guess I expected it to be about the same as last summer's cruise.  Took me a while to realize that I have doubled the time frame (last year was a 7-day cruise) and so it makes sense that the price would be doubled, as well.  It's probably a bit irresponsible for me to spend so much, but we only go around once, right?  I loved last summer's cruise so much and fell so in love with Alaska (and my brain has a way of totally separating Alaska from Sarah Palin, thank God), that I knew I just had to go back.  Half of the trip will be repeats (Ketchican, Sitka, Juneau, etc.), but there will be about 5 new ports, most notably Kodiak.  It looks even more incredibly beautiful than the Alaska I discovered last year - plus it has Kodiak bears (that I will hopefully be able to get close up and personal with - well "safely" close up and personal).  Plus June is the tail end of whale migration and so I may finally get to see some Orca....the one whale that's been missing from my "bucket list."  And rookeries with thousands of puffin - last year I got to see one floating on the water as our expedition boat went by.

So I's excited about that - I leave for Seattle on June 9th and we sail on the 10th.

I said that I had an "I wonder" to write about - and I will, but not tonight.  I'm beat.  Got home from work about 5:30 (because of the snow, I left early) - continued working until about a half an hour ago.  It's amazing how work can fill my mind up to the point where I have nothing creative left.  That's probably why, even though I complain bitterly about it, I actually enjoy being taken over by work - it gives me an excuse not to be introspective, self-searching or creative, the things that scare me the most.

Will be back tomorrow, hopefully more in a blogging mood .... To paraphrase Stephen King, "Good night, gentle readers."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Here we are in 2011. Wonder where "here" is......

Well, so far, this year doesn't feel much different from the last.  My hibernation continues.  Haven't seen a soul, except for some checkout clerks at the grocery store, since the 31st of December.  Been reading, watching TV and being obsessed with de-cluttering the house.  Coldly throwing things away.  Rehanging numerous paintings and other wall "ornaments" --- the house is looking pretty good, if I do say so myself.

I'm fairly content and that's what bothers me the most.  I shouldn't be this content in such isolation, self-driven isolation at that.  I guess I shouldn't question it ... however I've got myself convinced I'm content, should be a good thing.  Would I rather be miserable?  In a way, I guess, yes --- because then perhaps I'd do something to make some changes.

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Started this yesterday morning - and now it is 4:30 on the 3rd of January, 2011.   Back to work tomorrow after being off since the 22nd of December .... 14 glorious days of no stress (at least no client-created stress).  That all comes to a crashing halt tomorrow.  And however well (or not so well) we ended 2010, this is not a clean slate and it starts all over again.  I exceeded my goal by quite a bit last year and that paid off nicely.  This year I have to start all over again to try to repeat that.  PLUS there's the added pressure of keeping my American Airlines Gold Status for another year ... that means 25,000 in the air.  So far all that I know of is Miami (conference), about 2500 miles, Seattle (Alaska trip), about 7,000 miles, and Arizona (Conference), about 5,000 miles.  That's 14,500 - 10,500 miles to generate.  That's a lot of client travel.  If I can work in a trip to France somewhere along the line, that would be another 7,000, leaving me only 3,500 for clients.  That's do-able but I don't know if France is do-able.

As much as I don't want to go back to the insanity that is my office, it's really good for me to have that structure, structured insanity, if you will.   As I think is evident from some of these posts, I don/'t do all that well when there isn't anything I HAVE to do.  Left to my own devices, I'd probably start growing moss within the first month or two.  One reason not to retire.  The other reason that I don't consider retiring is that I would have sufficient funds to survive but I wouldn't ever be able to leave the house - no dinners out, no travel, no over-buying (for self and others) --- basically, no fun.  So, work I will until they find me dead at my desk.  And on my gravestone simply put, "She always said this job would kill her; it took more than 25 years, but it finally did!"

Was going to write more tonight, but it's not coming.  So gonna sign off for now.  Next post's topic will be "I Wonder What It's Like to be 1st on Someone's List," the person who is the first person another person thinks about in good and bad times, when they want to share something, when they just want to reach out to someone.