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The shadows surround each parked car,
swallowing hoods and fenders,
lurking in front of darkened headlights,
stealing away as my eye
catches their evil.
and have a Mexican stand-off
in the middle of the street,
dashing off angrily in opposite directions
when I approach.
A dog barks deeply
the sound lingering
in my backyard,
spreading out thickly through the
cool, damp, air.
I do not have a dog.
It is snowing in May.
I tremble from exhaustion,
fumble with the light switches
curl up in a soft bed
and live inside my dreams.
MKL and Thunder Cat have a love/love relationship – even though MKL has never been a cat fan. Thunder Cat is such a fan of HIM, however, that he couldn’t resist her furry charms. Still, his skepticism lingers, and he often comments that if she gets hungry enough, she will kill and eat one of us, perhaps starting with the eyeballs.
Somehow or other, as we were falling asleep last night, our conversation turned into this:
Me: If we’re ever lost somewhere, and I starve to death, you can eat my eyeballs.
MKL: I wouldn’t do that.
Me: But I’d want you to. I love you and I’d want for you to go on.
MKL: I would not eat your eyeballs.
Me: Well then, what part of ME would you eat if I was dead? And you were starving?
MKL: I wouldn’t eat ANY of you if you were dead.
Me: That’s just silly. Why let me go to waste?
MKL: I’d find something else to eat.
Me: But if you’d been able to find something else to eat, then I wouldn’t be dead.
MKL: That’s my point.
And he fell asleep.
I don’t think his point made any sense at all. But I guess it’s nice that there’s one less thing I have to worry about. At least from him.
Dear Unknown Lady,
I don’t know who you are, but I know you’re an angel.
At the height of rush hour heading towards Denver, just past the Church Ranch exit, there was a beautiful dog in the road. I don’t know if he was your dog, but I know he was someone’s dog. He was silvery and fluffy and looked like he had some husky and maybe some shepherd in him. And he was trapped against the center median, with cars speeding by at 65 mph, no doubt missing him by only a hair or a miracle.
Other cars had stopped. But you did it. You pulled your truck over on the shoulder, and got out. You called to him with happiness and enthusiasm, in just such a way that he wouldn’t panic any more than he already no doubt was. The cars at the critical point decided that this dog’s life was more important than getting someplace two minutes sooner, and stopped, allowing him to gallop across the road to you. He looked absolutely joyful. And you clapped and encouraged and praised him and he leapt easily into your truck.
And he lived. Uninjured.
Maybe he had been in your truck and had jumped out somehow. Maybe he was left behind by someone. Maybe he was someone’s darling who got loose, like our Champ did once – he miraculously made it to the other side of the highway that time too, and another angel lady helped him. (Those husky mixes can really be escape artists.)
But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you took the time to save a beautiful dog. One beautiful soul rescuing another.
It made my day. I thank you. And your fuzzy buddy thanks you.
I have an unusual divorce. In many ways, it is good. Ex-Pat and I get along pretty well most of the time, as we are committed to our 15-year old daughter. The first year was tough – he was angry, I was sad, it was awful at times. But now, when it gets awful, I can leave, or hang up, or whatever. I don’t have to put up with being berated or belittled. And we do help each other out with things from time to time. We’re better unmarried than married.
He has not moved forward in his life. I have. He is very supportive of my relationship with MKL. He wants me to be happy. But he has done nothing in his life. He hasn’t learned anything from our divorce, hasn’t grown, pursued another relationship, devoted himself to a job or a dream. He has just bowled and spent money and alienated nearly every one of his friends. His support system – on which he calls rarely – consists of me and Kelsea. That’s not good.
He got a sore neck about 45 days ago. It became excruciating. He had horrible back pain. He could barely move. He was miserable, and miserable to be around. He went to the doctor at th VA twice, and they didn’t diagnose him, just gave him painkillers, which didn’t help much. I finally insisted he go to the doctor again, and that I go with him to advocate for him. I couldn’t stand how he was being around Kelsea and I was worried. He’d lost 15 pounds in a month, and reminded me of how my mother suddenly lost a lot of weight before her final cancer diagnosis.
So on Friday morning, we went to the VA. And while I’m glad it’s there to help veterans, it was about the most depressing place I’ve ever seen. To give you an idea of how poorly Ex-Pat was doing, a fellow veteran in the waiting room mistook him for a World War II veteran, which gave me quite a giggle.
The appointment with the doctor was okay. I insisted that he come clean about his excessive drinking, and the amount of over-the-counter painkillers he was taking.The doctors listened, looked at x-rays previously taken, and said he had some arthritis in his neck that might have just finally started causing the pain. Hmmm. I was suspicious, but the doctors agreed to get him to a primary care doctor for more visits, and to schedule an MRI to see if there is any soft-tissue issue.
But as we were wrapping things up, Ex-Pat got woozy. He thought he was going to faint. They took his blood pressure: 87 over 51. And off we went to the Emergency Room. That was Friday. They decided to keep him overnight because his blood pressure wasn’t coming up. They said he either wasn’t producing blood or he was bleeding “somewhere”. Overnight, he spiked a fever. They ruled out leukemia. On Saturday, his fever was down, but his blood pressure was way high. They kept him in another night. He had an MRI, which was fairly normal. But they discovered bacteria in his blood, so he went onto massive antibiotics. This morning when I talked to him, he said they were keeping him another day. Now I can’t remember why, but I think they’re trying to figure out if it’s related to his long-term mitral valve prolapse. He’s on fab painkillers, so he’s happier. But they still won’t let him go.
So I’m at his house, to tend to the animals. (Roscoe is back to his old self, by the way.) I can’t sleep in our old bed, because it’s covered with laundry. There’s no food in the house, and a counter full of dirty dishes. And I’m in tender shape. I help people who need help. It’s who I am and what I do But I feel like we are crossing boundaries that our divorce should have solidified. It is disturbing to me. It is disturbing to MKL, and I can understand that. I am still half owner of this house (that he has let fall into as much disrepair as he has let himself fall) and the animals, and Ex-Pat is still my daughter’s father. (She, by the way, is in the mountains with a friend for spring break.)
And it is upsetting. When they mentioned cancer during his exam, I got nauseated. Seeing him degenerate like this has brought back all those feelings about when my Mom got sick, and I cared for her, and she died. And when the Captain got sick, and I lost him. Which were both around the same time. I find myself holding back tears and saying out loud to myself, “You’re all right. You’re ok.” And this makes me feel stupid. None of this is happening to me. It’s happening to Ex-Pat. I am fine. Inconvenienced. Worried. But fine.
I guess I still have some work to do.
There are times in every person’s life that are transforming. They can be triggered by emotions, events, or age-related milestones – read, desperation, death of a loved one, or turning 18, for example. When these milestones appear in our lives – or we draw them to us – we have a lot of choices.
We can choose to cave in and cower. We can choose to run away. We can choose to adopt a victim mentality that may well define the rest of our lives. We can choose to make dramatic changes in our lives in terms of our location, relationships, and direction; sometimes those changes are well considered and sometimes they are knee-jerk reactions. I think regardless of how we approach those changes, they are essential to the process of completing whatever transformation we are undergoing.
Most of the time, we do not experience this transformation in some sort of isolation chamber. As we are struggling through it, and gasping for air, our inner panic (or lack of peace), and flailing through life will impact those around us. We may hurt people we love by whacking them with our wildly revolving selves. It’s not intentional, but yes, it happens.
And here’s where we can still have conscious choices, no matter where we are in the transformation process. When we hurt someone, they have every right to say something about it, even if they understand what we are going through. They may even say something that hurts us in return – not because they want to hurt us, because remember, they love us, but because they are speaking their pain. If we care for that person, we listen. We have a dialogue. We do not just turn and say, “How could you say that? Don’t ever speak to me again.” In short, we do not burn our bridges. That is, if we are seeking the path of wisdom, which I am. Which many of us are. We do not turn away from those who have long shown their humanness and devotion, from those who have shown themselves worthy of being a part of our lives, standing by us through thick and thin and all the meat-slicer settings in between.
As part of the path to wisdom, we apologize. We explain. We ask for patience. We take off our own blinders of pain and shame and guilt and anger at who-knows-what, and know that when we do so, our true friends will be right in front of us, arms extended, there for support, because we are not alone in this journey. Even though in some ways, we always are, and in other ways, we must be.
Again, it’s a choice. Leave the blinders on. Put the old life in a trunk, wrap it in chains, and send it to the bottom of the sea. Start over pretending you have a clean slate. I’ll wish you the best of luck, because you’ll need it. Or leave the doors open. Be gentle with yourself and others, because we’re all human. Take breaths and realize who is true to you and worth your spirit. Go back to the rules of kindergarten. I think one of those was “Don’t play with matches.” The adult version is, “For god’s sake, don’t set anything on fire.”
Transform, yes. But not by the light of the bridges you burn.
I’m not a morning person and I’m not a good sleeper. This is not news – no need to alert the media, unless we’d like for it to become an issue for the teabaggers - oops, I mean tea-partiers. But last night was unusually rough.
Yes, I know, I didn’t go to bed at an early hour, even though I worked 12 hours and was terribly tired. I got entranced with The Civil War after I got home (see yesterday’s post) and stayed up too late. I offer myself a Mea Culpa for that.
When I did go to bed, I turned off the light, like a good dog, and went straight to sleep. For about 3 hours. At which time, the coyotes who frequently roam the empty field by the Cottage struck a little too close to home. Like right beside my slightly cracked bedroom window. I don’t know what they were tussling with, but there were snarls and squeals and growls and excited paw movements that woke me suddenly, leaving me bolt upright and wide-eyed, staring at the black until they ran off towards the Big House.
Of course, that had my heart pumping. I remember once, when I was little, there was a dogfight outside my bedroom window in the middle of the night. I will never forget my terror at the idea of two huge fighting dogs plunging through the glass and into my bedroom. That didn’t happen, but the fear of the fantasy remains.
Since the house next door was broken into and robbed last week, I have been, I think understandably, a little edgy. I’m glad no one was hurt. But it brought into sharp focus how isolated I am in the Cottage. No one can hear me here. No one can see me here. So, in the middle of night, the hamster of thievery came to romp in my brain. And that’s just not a good sleep aid.
But I did not give up. I was still hopeful that Morpheus would come to cradle me until morning. I got up to get some water and noticed my forehead hurt. Odd. Blinding myself with the bathroom light, I faced the mirror. And there it was. True injustice to a woman experiencing sirocco-like hot flashes. A giant pimple erupting directly in the center of my forehead.
Sigh. What can you do? Curse. Go back to bed. Speculate on why it hurts like a broken skull. Imagine that, instead of a pimple, it is actually a horn about to emerge from the bones beneath my skin.
Don’t laugh. It happens. See?
And with that thought I drifted back to sleep for an hour.
Yes, it’s true. And I didn’t even throw up on the closing papers. I come close to doing that when I have to hand over large sums of money.
My realtor was amazing, and if anyone in Colorado needs to buy a house, Brad Klein is the guy to see. And the gag-me check that I had to give birth to and give away was even slightly smaller than I had anticipated. There was last-minute drama and delays with the closing, which was supposed to happen on Friday afternoon. But it all came together on Monday.
So, here I am. With one HUGE accomplishment under my belt – I have my own house. No one helped me. I did it all by myself. On my own. Just me. Brave little independent me.
Of course, an hour after I owned it, Brad called to tell me he’d dropped off the keys and that the hot water heater was leaking. Guess that means I really AM a homeowner.
My handyman is coming to purge the bathroom and replace the floor, the tub, the hot water heater and the sink on Saturday. The place is 111 years old and hasn’t been lived in for over a year. I’ve been inside the last few nights, just feeling the little house’s happy energy. It’s looking forward to being loved and transformed. I can do those things well.
I have two lamps from last weekend’s auction in my bedroom, and am playing with paint chips and feeling generally overwhelmed. But it’s all mine (well, and the bank’s, but they’re soulless, so we don’t count them.)
Uber-cool Will says it’s like a full-size playhouse. That’s because he lives in a newish sterile Rock Creek home.Still debating a name for the little place. Real Courage? True Grit? WADU?
Kelsea and I will discuss it. It’s a whole new life.
I awoke this morning after my usual complicated, half-frightening, half-supernatural, all-meaningful dreams, thinking about threes. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I finished Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons last night, with all its scientific/religious intersectional themes.
Aside from thinking about the classic Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (or ” the Holy Spigot”, as claimed by Rowen Atkinson in his short but sweet role in “Four Weddings and A Funeral”), I was thinking about the concept of love – true love – being something that is mind, body and soul.
Love can start in different ways. It can start as friendship. It can start as passion. It can start as a sense of partnership. It can start as a vibrant energetic connection. Or it can start as some combination of the above. In order for it to succeed and strengthen, the three core elements – mind, body and soul – must all be allowed to bloom. And not just between two people but within each of those two people.
If you are mentally compatible with someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you share the same level of intelligence or education. It does mean that you are eager to expand your thinking to consider ideas or ways of life or activities that you might not have considered before. You are willing to be open-minded and non-judgemental of how you – or your potential partner - experience life. And you are willing to involve your partner in your life and become involved with theirs.
If you are physically compatible, well, it’s an amazing thing. You can have a successful love relationship without intense physical passion – you can be perfectly fine with average physical passion and attraction. But when you do have the intense body connection, it can transcend the physical and touch the spiritual. Due to our nearly-inborn Christian conservatism which we all want to deny, we can think that having an intense physical relationship is ”bad”. We can place put on our shame-colored glasses and imagine that we should not be in such a relationship, because if it is that good, clearly that’s all there is to it, and that makes it wrong. Not so. An intense physical connection is just a part of the trinity, and something that should be nurtured, cherished and honored.
If you are spiritually compatible, you find yourself expanding in unexpected ways. Your life is full of minor epiphanies about yourself, about the universe, about each other. You each fuel the flame of spirit that burns within the other – and the result, while sometimes confusing, is ultimately most joyful. While I don’t think any element of the “Love Trinity” is more important than another, the spiritual element is the most rare and the most frightening. It takes courage and strength to confront yourself daily. When the cares of life are overwhelming, the unclouding of the soul can feel like it is simply too much to manage. It is easier to find a relationship where you can be less (or be the same) than stick with one that makes you grow. At least then you have the illusion of peace. Ah, but what you miss.
Back in college, I had a therapist who said that when you were choosing to be with someone, you needed to be sure that your head, your heart and your crotch were all aligned. I’ve never forgotten that. I’ve certainly gone with the “two out of three ain’t bad” approach once in a while. But for a life partner? Nope.
I will not compromise the mind-body-soul trinity again. And I feel sorry for those who do.
I know what can be. I know what I have to offer. And I know what I’m worth. I believe there’s a saying that good things come in threes. (I know there’s also a saying that disasters come in threes, but we’ll put that aside for the purposes of this post. I believe in the power of good.)
I am a good thing.
I first posted this back on January 27, 2009 – amazing how, two years later, I am feeling the same things for the same reason. I am not sure what this says about my life. But I think it’s worth re-posting a slightly edited version.
I need some help with being brave and so I dipped into Wikiquotes – and the following resonated with me. Perhaps I will be able to dip back into them from some strength.
You don’t get very far in life without having to be brave an awful lot. Because we all have our frightening moments and difficult trials and we don’t have much of a choice but to get through them, and it takes a lot of bravery to do that. The most important thing about bravery is this — It’s not about not being scared — it’s about being scared and doing it anyway — that’s bravery. – Ysabella Brave
Complete courage and absolute cowardice are extremes that very few men fall into. The vast middle space contains all the intermediate kinds and degrees of courage; and these differ as much from one another as men’s faces or their humors do. – Francois de la Rochefoucauld
It requires courage not to surrender oneself to the ingenious or compassionate counsels of despair that would induce a man to eliminate himself from the ranks of the living; but it does not follow from this that every huckster who is fattened and nourished in self-confidence has more courage than the man who yielded to despair. – Soren Kierkegaard
Courage charms us, because it indicates that a man loves an idea better than all things in the world, that he is thinking neither of his bed, nor his dinner, nor his money, but will venture all to put in act the invisible thought of his mind. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Either life entails courage, or it ceases to be life – E.M. Forster
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. – Harper Lee
Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men … have lived. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures—and that is the basis of all human morality…. In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience—the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men—each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient—they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul. – John F. Kennedy
Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- Ray Bradbury
Every great work, every big accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement. – Florence Scovel Shinn
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu
Courage is being scared to death— and saddling up anyway.- John Wayne
Courage is the price life exacts for peace.- Amelia Earhart
Few things are more attractive than courage, cheerfulness and optimism. But they take on an extra dimension when you realize that they are not a lucky assembly of character traits, but the result of an act of will—a deliberate attempt to tackle an unkind destiny with strength of purpose and good humor. – Jane Shilling
Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak, and at last some crisis shows us what we have become. – Brooke Foss Westcott
I am old enough to know that victory is often a thing deferred, and rarely at the summit of courage. What is at the summit of courage, I think, is freedom. The freedom that comes with the knowledge that no earthly thing can break you. – Paula Giddings
If you let fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, then your life will be safe, expedient and thin. – Katherine Butler Hathaway
In times of stress, be bold and valiant. - Horace
It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.- Emiliano Zapata
Love makes us human, courage makes us extraordinary.- Faryal Khan Kharal
Many of our fears are tissue-paper thin, and a single courageous step would carry us through them. – Brendan Francis
Often I have found that the one thing that can save is the thing which appears most to threaten … one has to go down into what one most fears and that process … comes a saving flicker of light and energy that, even if it does not produce the courage of a hero, at any rate enables a trembling mortal to take one step further. – Laurens Van Der Post
Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think. – Benjamin Disraeli
Strength and courage aren’t always measured in medals and victories. They are measured in the struggles they overcome. The strongest people aren’t always the people who win, but the people who don’t give up when they lose – Asheley Hodgeson
Those who risk nothing risk being nothing. – Leonoid Sukhorukof
To have courage for whatever comes in life— everything lies in that. – Mother Theresa
To see what is right and not to do it is cowardice. – Confucious (K’ung-Fu-tzu)
What you are afraid to do is a clear indicator of the next thing you need to do. – Anonymous
Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt
One of my greatest fears, one of those few things that keeps me awake at night and troubles my dreams, is that, when the moment of truth comes, I will fail. This is surpassed only by the fear that when that moment arrives, I will not fail, but will lack the courage to try. – Jonah West
You only really discover the strength of your spine when your back is against the wall. – James Geary
Courage = Love + Hope + Fear. – Shomam
Not as metaphysical as the title sounds. I’ve been watching (on and off today) the Twilight Zone marathon on the SciFi Channel. (And can anyone tell me why they changed it to the SyFy Channel?) I remember almost all of these episodes from when I was little. While the show only ran from 1959-1964, and I know we didn’t get a TV until around 1967, they must have been big in reruns on one of the three channels our TV got, back when I was very small.
How do I know this? Because many of my childhood fears were stimulated by the scenarios in the Twilight Zone. I didn’t realize this until today, and it’s been an interesting trip down Repressed Memory Lane.
The one Kelsea and I just watched was “The After Hours” about a department store mannequin who becomes human for a month and then has to return to mannequin status. Those of you in my age group may recall that store mannequins back then were made to look human. So different from what we see today, where mannequins are abstract, headless, wire, almost anything BUT human. I personally believe retailers instituted this change because it was less expensive to manufacture generic mannequins, and because the humanity of the mannequin distracted shoppers from envisioning the clothing modelled by the mannequin on themselves.
But this TZ episode caused me to have a weird relationship with mannequins as a child. I felt very sorry for the mannequin-turned-human-turned-back-to-mannequin on the show, empathetic child that I was, and it made me feel very compassionate towards mannequins in the department store. To the extent that I used to like to put my trusting little hand in each mannequin’s, just to ensure that each knew that there was someone who cared – and who perhaps guessed at their secret humanity.
I was broken of this affectionate gesture when I mistook a live woman who, for whatever reason, was standing very still, for a mannequin. I slipped my hand in hers, and she turned to look down at me, and you can imagine the results. I was shocked, surprised, terrified and embarrassed. She was very nice about it, but my poor Mother had to deal with me burying my face in her skirts for the rest of the abbreviated shopping trip. Between that episode and my pathological fear of the cage elevator in said department store, she had enough of our outing.
There are other episodes that burn dimly in my brain like a flickering light in the darkness that shines on something you don’t want to look at too closely. It was a show that played on people’s psychology better than almost any other I’ve ever seen even to this day, and it was unafraid to have political overtones, which I now appreciate. I think as a child, I learned a lot from The TZ – it made me ask questions.
But it left me with some pretty strange answers.