Here’s my avatar (designed by the wonderful Beth Sobel). She’s amazing…
Shout out to the League of Extraordinary Penpals founders, Julie Trévily-Pigeon and Denise Hotze. They are amazing and are truly kind, wonderful, dedicated people who understand the Art of Snail Mail.
I have found my people…
Here’s my avatar (designed by the wonderful Beth Sobel). She’s amazing…
Well, it happened again. It was an event that could easily be explained away by logical means–it was cold and dark and I inadvertently didn’t push the key all the way in the lock. This has happened before. Only this time, the key broke, half of it wedged inside. I glared at it, in disbelief; they key glinting, a flash of mockery. In that moment, my thoughts were ignited in a conflagration of simmering thoughts passing at lightning speed:
Omigawsh, the key’s stuck in there. Can you get it out? No, no you have no tools out here. It’s freezing out here. There’s snow on the ground. Oh why didn’t I dress warmer? What did the weatherman say? COLDEST DAY OF THE YEAR?! Yes, that’s what they warned. Of course I’d be locked out of my own house on a day like today–of course! Dammit! Who can help? Landlord’s away…
On and on it went as I used my beloved smartphone to call for reinforcements. The trouble was, I only had two people I could call and only one was of any use. Neither one picked up and I ran through all of the alternatives in my mind. There weren’t many.
Had to go someplace warm…
En route to my corner store, the person who I needed called me back. They said the same thing: go someplace warm. But, they would be unavailable for another hour or so. Damn.
The corner store glowed like a beacon as I walked towards it.
“Yes, yes of course. I understand. I’ll wait.” But even as I said the words, my voice weakened.
The attendant, a robust Dominican man, sat behind the counter as has always has. He never knows how to address me as I often go there requesting some product he doesn’t carry, or order he can’t fill. As usual, I walked in complaining.
“What is it?” he asks in his jovial manner, in English although he doesn’t speak it fluently.
“I’m locked out, can you believe it? On the coldest night ever and half of my key is STUCK IN THE LOCK!”
I showed him the broken piece that hung on the end of my keychain.
“Well, why you no call the number there, sweetie?”
“There is a number there. Why you no call?”
And right on the stupid key piece was a phone number. Plain as day…
So I went outside to get better reception on my phone and as I was negotiating the most exorbitant rate for getting access to my apartment, I saw my neighbor. We’ll call her, Juana.
I met Juana one particularly cold winter day in 2012. It seems that cold winter days are the only ones I see her. Juana is handicapped and needs to walk with a cane. On a good day, she can navigate the steep decline in the sidewalk rather nimbly, but on snowy days or days when there is a sheet of ice on the ground, she struggles. It seems like I hadn’t seen her in an age and she explained that she’d been away.
As I carefully walked Juana to her house, she filled me in on the highlights of her trip and how she was so grateful that I was outside when I was.
“On days like this, I ask God for help because it’s so hard walking in the snow,” she said, “and there you were!”
I left her off at her doorstep and returned to my residence to find the locksmith in the driveway. He made short order of the key and sprayed some WD40 in the lock.
Oddly enough, I also had my groceries delivered at the same time because I’m ridiculous like that.
“How long did your friend say they’d be? ”
I phoned my friend who said it’d be about 20 minutes.
“Oh good,” the locksmith said, “you can wait in the truck so you don’t freeze.”
The truck was warm and enveloping me like the belly of a giant whale. The locksmith after a few minutes became a captain about to tell me the tallest of tales…
It was a juicy tale filled with self-imposed villainous acts. It turns out he was a recovered addict, a man who had sunk down the murkiest depths of the cavernous belly of a bottle. His debauchery knew no limits as he searched the world for meaning. Lost at sea, when he’d lost all hope of being rescued, he landed into the annals of a church. The denomination didn’t matter, nor did the route. His course from then on would be straight as an arrow and led him to wonders and riches he’d never expected. The tale told, my friend arrived–not a moment too soon.
Past the threshold of my own front door and into the safety of my own home, I pondered the mysteries of my own journey here.
But there are oh so many shores left to sail…so many doors left to unlock and so so many many keys!
The fall is almost officially over and the cold winter is starting to show itself more readily. I look out of my windows and see the brilliant reds and golds turning the world gray and brown: the colors of death. I am reminded once again of the two lives I lost two years ago. But time indeed heals all of those old wounds and I find myself completely at peace about it. It doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally feel that twinge of sadness, rather, the underlying understanding of why these events happened and the far-reaching extended arms of the love that was produced provides a roundness to my life. I’ve become aware that the length of a human life does not constitute the depth nor the breadth of it.
This is my birthday week which also brings about a new understanding that I am no longer a young chippy. Just the other day, I actually hurt my back from a workout that was not all that rigorous. I can feel the creak in my bones, the jiggle flab of hanging skin and the tautness in the once maleable–the plump beginning to mature, succumbing to gravity. I welcome it; the changes to a body that must naturally change.
I’m also working with the difference in my needs. I have been reigning in the socializing and getting rid of unnecessary, fruitless relationships so that I could identify and develop what I really want and need in my life. Out with the childishness of blame and lack of ownership and in with acceptance of true responsibility and love for myself will all help me in the long run.
The tree is up because one day I just wanted it to be. I decorated it by myself (as I did last year) and got it ready just in time for Thanksgiving. I must admit that this year’s hosting of Turkey Day didn’t turn out quite as favorable as I’d hoped. There were a few snafus and it just made me realize that I didn’t enjoy hosting this year. So I made a bold statement to my family that I would no longer “host” any celebrations. No Thanksgiving, no Christmas, no New Year’s. It was a hard decision to make because by proclaiming this, I was doing away with our family’s traditions. But I know that this is best for me.
The steps I have to take, although seemingly icy and treacherous, will be the best for me.
I used to be skeptical of others who retreated from “busy” lives and who rejected social media. But I now know that these distractions are very problematic and can invite some negative elements into a peaceful life. In fact, for many years I gave to others thinking that somehow I was enriching their lives when I was really just enabling them. I also wrongfully believed that giving more than I could stand to give (typical martyrdom) was somehow more beneficial to me. I thought I was somehow more evolved or better than others as this self-sacrifice was proof. Wrong! All it did was make me needlessly suffer and again it would go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Creating as a form of therapy:
I continue to engage in what I’ve always enjoyed. While my letterwriting isn’t all that meaty, the artwork makes up for it. I keep on creating envelopes (envies) that fit designs, ideas and concepts that I wish to pursue. Creatively, I do need to make more of a quiet space to expand my thoughts because some ideas are brimming to the surface but not quite realized.
I am blessed to have another year in which to continue pursuing all that makes me happy. With Grace, Peace and Love.
I’ve been enjoying my time offline…or, at least a version of what I think is “offline” (but not really ’cause I still check my Facebook status about a bazillion times a day). Let’s just say that while I admit that I’m addicted, I am getting more and more comfortable with being unplugged for minutes at a time–which is at least something. Yeah, can you believe it? MINUTES!!
But even with that, I couldn’t escape the Meme monster that is Kim Kardashian. I mean, this post has already mentioned her like twice already, but I refrain saying her name another time because I’m superstitious and hey, I watched Beetlejuice the movie so y’know something totally bad would happen if I did…so…nah.
So what have I been up to? Well, a lot actually. Just nothing really in the raise-your-hand-’cause-I-wish-to-share-every-little-detail kind of stuff. I’ve been contemplating autumn leaves for example. I’ve taken up reading again (albeit slooooooowly) and still am taking obsessive notes on everything I see and hear and think. That’s been interesting. But even with all of this, I’ve come to realize just how lucky I really am.
What I will share with you is that I’ve been interviewing my mom which is both insightful and hilarious. If anyone knows my mom, they know she’s just adorable. I mean the woman has this chipmunk face and can match the strangest colors in a wardrobe that would put Audrey Hepburn to shame! Recently, she even shared some old photo albums with me that were eye-opening. If it weren’t for my mom dressing me, for example, I probably would’ve been made fun of all throughout high school only because my mom’s taste in clothes surpasses anything I could come up with. Does anyone remember me in the 80s wearing different color shoes on my left and right feet? Yep. Totally my doing.
It was interesting to listen to my mom’s point-of-view for the first time. Events that were so significant to me fell off of my mom’s radar and some that seemed benign were really telling. I was able to hear her side of the story and to record them for posterity but also I realized that they were all just stories and histories which were flawed and skewed. That’s the trouble with memory…it isn’t as precise as one would hope. Even if it were, it still is and always will be a moment in time. It isn’t always consistent and it isn’t always easy to pin down or define. That’s because we are human beings. We are forever in flux. We are infinite, ever changing.
What I once thought was the coolest thing in the universe falls away and becomes a fad or a temporary obsession. But, what doesn’t change is the root interest in mystery, wonder, magic, fantasy, love and love and love. That’s our truest nature. Compassionate, free, loving, honest, kind, peaceful. My sister sums it up best (as she is always wont to do) when she says that there are only two natural states: Peace & Joy. Enveloped in the preceding list above are all aspects of these natural states of being.
But I’ve also discovered that it involves more living in the present moment which is stolen from us every time we select a link that brings us to some cool article about something we’ll forget over time. The real staying power behind every great thought is the ability to break from those chains (digital or otherwise) and take the time to absorb what is readily available all around us.
The fact is that the internet is already broken. It is a mosaic of people’s thoughts, ideas, innovations, efforts, trials, concepts, experiences. But it isn’t the same had these not been enjoyed first. How can you do that? Well, stop watching/reading/commenting. Just live. There’s plenty of time to sort out the details later and to assess and encapsulate the moments. Well, actually, there’s not enough time but don’t worry about taking a selfie or a video. Some things just can’t be described.
Not even Kim’s butt…whoops!
Until next time, folks!
The world loves a storybook romance, a Prince and Princess tale that always ends with a happy ending. Every blockbuster success has always followed this formula and women everywhere (myself included) have flocked to films, products, media posts, articles, books, magazines, fashion to purchase symbolic relics of that myth of a magical union.
Hey, I Bought the Twilight Books Too:
I can’t say that I wasn’t aware of this. I definitely was not an innocent bystander. I genuinely enjoy the concept but not in a traditional way. I am a woman who believes strongly in Women’s Rights, Feminism, and Equality. I’m also an artist. Put those together and you get a very perplexed, pensive, concentrated woman itching to get to the bottom of why I do the things I do and make the choices I make. Plus, I am prone to naturally analyze everything, so I was shocked that just about everything I liked had these archetypes in them.
Why I Enjoy A Happy Ending:
I’ve watched some sad movies and read sad books where the endings weren’t easy to discern and there were many shades of gray. It’s not that I reject these completely, it’s that it’s not as satisfying. Documentaries that “make you think” and full-length indie films that challenge the viewer with downright unlikeable characters or characters that you cannot relate to at all are okay in small doses. I’ve come to realize that my personal response to Cameron Diaz dancing around a table with Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and Jude Law gives me the warm fuzzies.
It all boils down to hope. I want to believe that the fantasy of a perfect relationship can actually exist. I want to believe that everything (no matter how sordid or twisted the plot-line) will eventually work out in the end. Maybe there’ll even be a wedding or a kiss at the end. Then, I can sigh and pretend and wish and dream and then move on with my life. It’s like taking a breath after being submerged in water. Because, let’s face it–we live in uncertain times. Every day I see a news article about the terrorist group ISIS, or see another darn commercial about saving a life (the two and four-legged kind) and have to endure a heap-load of reality before lunch that would turn anybody’s stomach. Too much makes me feel like the walking dead.
So I like to be able to go to the supermarket magazine rack and pretend to know what the future King and Queen of England are planning. I like to watch Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt finally walk down the aisle and see their children’s doodles on her veil. I like to believe that all’s well somewhere on some remote plane and that my access to it is just a movie ticket away.
I. Get. It. I’ve been indoctrinate since birth. I will always respond to “heartfelt” sentiments on Valentine’s Day, the big, warm sweater-hug from a cup a cocoa during the Christmas season, and will always cave to buy a ticket to the latest Titanic-Avatar-Harry Potter-Twilight-epic-blockbuster-of-the-year. I can’t help it. I even want to buy into the mythology extending these moments with rides at some theme park, super-expensive passes to fan conventions, and the occasional purchase of marketed products and gimmicks for a more visceral experience.
But then it happens…
Regret. I mean, it’s not so much that I didn’t enjoy myself immensely as I participated in these novelties; it’s the fact that afterwards, I create my own backlash.
The price of purchasing the Prince and Princess products (alliteration, yay!) is that you are literally giving yourself the same type of temporary high you would if you were shopping for a sweater and end up with a cart full of “impulse” purchases. We all do it. But, why do women who truly are loving every minute of it returning to Debbie Downer mode once the craze is over? In addition, when we continue to “buy into” the marketing for whatever it is, why do we feel so dang ashamed for coming full circle and behaving the way we have been regimented to behave? Why the self-loathing? Why the guilt? Why the yard sales?
Wouldn’t it be a much stronger position to accept ourselves just as we are? Why can’t I say unabashedly that yeah, I dressed up in fantasy clothes like Bella from Twilight because I liked it? *gasp!*
*hushed voices from the peanut gallery*
Isn’t it more empowering to shamelessly say, “Yes, I bought this lipstick shade because Beyonce Knowles wore it at the MTV Video Music Awards.” Or to charge a heap-load of cash for a scaled model of the Starship Enterprise? I mean, who cares, right?!
The fact is that I live in a free country where I have the ability to enjoy these things. Images and celebrity can be a lot of fun as long as you’re not stalking anyone, stealing anyone’s identity, or turning your home into a hoarder’s paradise.
It’s just an escape that can be held onto long after the lights have come back on and you’re heading to your cars before another work week. And what the heck is wrong with that?
When I first moved to this apartment, I found out that my backyard hosted a lot of birds. I asked my landlady about seeing these diverse birds and she informed me that our rear garden was part of an avian migratory path.
The first year was such a treat: I saw blackbirds, a Blue Jay, cardinals, and other beautiful birds that I cannot name. I marveled at the variety and noted their colors and bird calls. As time went on, every time I saw my landlady and we got to the subject of birds, she’d mention the mockingbird and always asked whether or not I’d heard it. I’d always say, ‘No’ and go on about my business wondering, what’s the big deal about hearing a bird anyway? But then I’d see my landlady and she’d ask me, “Did you hear the Mockingbird yet?” and I’d admit, “Well, I may have but I really wouldn’t know what to listen for.” She’d clarify, “The reason they call it a mockingbird is because it mimics (or mocks) the songs of other birds.”
I was certain that I was way too in-observant to even notice something as subtle as a singular bird that mocks other birds. So I filed the topic in my mental Rolodex called, “Other Random Memory Bank” and forgot all about it.
Oddly enough, I didn’t have long to wait…
Early in the morning on a particularly bright and sunny Saturday, I heard a successive rapid-fire series of tweets, whistles and chirps that were too quick to be coming from different birds. It was a pleasant surprise and a deeply resonant realization that I was an aware person highly sensitive to my environment and most specifically to SOUND. It was beautiful. It was lovely. It was the greatest sound I’d ever heard…EVER.
But there were other lessons in that moment. It wasn’t just that I had confirmed my ability to perceive such a fleeting thing, dispelling the myth I told myself that I was not a competent observer of my world; it was the fact that I got to experience this in my own way. It was the profound awareness of the difference between having someone tell you about something and then experiencing that something for yourself in your own time and at your own speed. Some things defy verbal definitions and methods of expression.
It is the same with letter-writing for me. For who else could view ideas, and thoughts scribbled in my own hand, sentiments which are saved, innovations stored, jotted down and reserved for the solitary independent artist setting it down. The written word is its own miracle–a marriage between the mind and the body coming together to create something, capturing a moment in time, a feeling, an expression that was important enough to mark. It is pen to paper. It is paint to canvas. It is an impression in ink which cannot be recreated and is attached always to The Source–be it God, our Creator, the Architect, the Almighty Spirit, the Hub, the Jellyfish, the Is-and-always-will-be eternal blob, the Great Googly Moogly…
I am, at this moment, feeling expansive
There is no time for self-doubt.
I am GREAT.
Repeat it as a mantra…
Until you are ready to HEAR IT!
*Feel free to comment and post your own wonderful moments that defy explanation. I’m looking forward to hearing what others are hearing, seeing, doing. And for those who are unwilling to publicly share on a blog, you can always send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Join: The League of Extraordinary PenPals
As always, Thanks for Reading!
This morning, I awoke to the sound of a mockingbird making a horrible racket. The series of loud chirps, tweets and whistles could not be stopped and made one heck of an alarm clock sound. You see, the woodland creatures have come up with clever ways of startling me and my peaceful states. The birds enjoy chirping early in the morning on weekends (don’t they know it’s Sunday?!) or just get restless on their perches in branches just a stone’s throw away from my eardrums. Mind you, I do not mind relative daily chirping if, of course it’s kept to a minimum. But just as I thought no other creature could disturb me, alas, I was wrong. The photographic proof is here. On two occasions (on the same day no less) both a Squirrel and Creepy Cat were on two separate parts of my roof (the West and North sides respectively). You’ll note in the photo just how Creepy this cat is…staring at you and lurking in the bushes. As for the squirrel, well let’s just say he’s stealthy and sneaky…besides, he is from the rodent family so…yeah.
But how can one stop the overall attack on all sides? Birds from the air, cats and squirrels on the ground from blocking my only exits from the building! I guess I’ll just have to wait things out and hope that these were isolated incidents…at least until next time…mwahahahahaha!