A Thought From Louise Bogan

"...in a time lacking in truth and uncertainty and filled with anquish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart." Louise Bogan, American poet (1897-1970)

Monday, July 12, 2010

UH OH Wrong blog

I've moved my blogging to Pentriloquist .  

For some reason, some of the comments I leave at other sites link to this blog - which is obviously the child I've abandoned in exchange for one that I just like better.  Can't do that with real kids.  You go to jail (or hell, perhaps) for that.  just sayin'...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why the Stones and not the Beatles

I should start this by saying, I have nothing against the Beatles. I love the Beatles. I know what their #1 song was the year I was born. I Want To Hold Your Hand. I especially liked Ringo when I was younger, then that changed to George Harrison. Paul was always the one I considered to have the most talent, and to tell you the truth... I just never really connected with John.

Recently someone asked who I'd rather be, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Most of those asked had selected The Beatles. I picked the Stones. They've been together for 42 years - longer than most marriages - and they are still alive... I'm all for being alive. (I almost said staying alive, but that brings the Bee Gees to mind, and we just can't go there in this topic.) A follow up conversation went something like this.

"Yeah, but which would you rather BE? The Beatles, who were awesome, or The Stones who were ... eh....?"

"I don't think the Stones were 'Eh'!"

Later that evening we attended a very small, intimate concert that opened with a skinny young musician with truly unruly hair, performing his own material. I just googled him and found that he's younger than I thought, which makes me feel older than I felt. As we stood (new concert attending trend - even when it isn't rock your bones and make it impossible to sit still music - which is incredibly distracting if you wear shoes that kill your back), I found myself crying through a good portion of his performance. Not because it was incredibly touching music, because it wasn't. But because I looked around at the crowd and found that there were a few women my age there... and I realized... I was also THEIR age.

While I look out through the same eyes I've always had, the face that others look back at is not. There is a confidence I used to have when I was in a public place. While I am by no means a beautiful woman, I'm attractive to some people. I've managed to snag 2 husbands, though the second one saw my ass before my face... so I used to have a nice one of those as well, 'back in the day'. Now I weigh 15-20 pounds more than I want to. I don't stand up as straight as I used to - laziness, core muscle tone, different weight distribution, bad shoes, heavy purses... who's to say why. Finding clothes that make me feel attractive is near impossible. Jeans, yes... shirts... ugh... big breasts and 5'7" in height work against me finding a shirt that flatters OR fits! If it looks good in the store, it washes once and THWUP... sucks up into a shirt for a b cup woman about 5'3" tall. This is why most women my size end up in sweat shirts or t-shirts. Flattering - no... but at least they fit the curves and are long enough that your underwear aren't flashed to the viewing public if you move a teensy bit off of upright.

Apparently this is the long version.... the Reader's Digest abridged version is unavailable at this time.

Last night, I was obviously old, middle aged, less fresh faced... whatever you wish to call it.. it was suddenly and overwhelmingly painful. My life, which is rich in family and relationships and love, felt as dry and barren as a desert. I stood in that dark room and my life was 46 years worth of... ??? I've done many things I've wanted to do... and last night, my consistent thought was, "I've done nothing. My life has been nothing. I am nothing. These young people have every dream possible in front of them, and mine are old and stale and unfulfilled."

This morning I took a glance at my thighs... no good news there. I got my Ipod, ironed my t-shirt, which has been in the dryer since yesterday, put on my tennis shoes and went for a walk. A good 2 1/2 - 3 mile walk. Ironically... I hit the Stones about 1/3 of the way into the walk... with... "Mother's Little Helper" (What a drag it is getting old....) "Ruby Tuesday" (There's no time to lose, I heard her say. Catch your dreams before they slip away. dying all the time, lose your dreams and you will lose your mind. Ain't life unkind?) ... and followed that up with "Sympathy For The Devil", and then "Under My Thumb" (The girl who once pushed me around, is under my thumb...).

Even if I never mentioned "Can't Get No Satisfaction" or "Beast of Burden" or "19th Nervous Breakdown" or "You Can't Always Get What You Want"... I gotta go with the Stones. There is something real in their music... for ME.

That last song I mentioned reminded me of something. The 'someone' that asked me to make a choice between the Beatles and the Stones was my daughter. When she was a young teenager, and even before that and since, when she and her sisters were denied something, and I was enlightened with their "But I want to....." my reply was a bit of that song (sung off-key, at best)... "you can't always get what you want... no you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find.. you get what you NEED."

I take responsibility for her "... eh ..." Perhaps it has nothing to do with it.. but the way we connect music to every visceral emotion and mood in both of us - I think it has made an impression on her subconscious.

So, thank you to The Rolling Stones. Today was better than last night. Perhaps my pity party is past. (say that 3 times really, really fast). I will pray that they are not still alive due to a pact with the devil - and that maybe they have just pickled themselves and will remain forever preserved for future generations of mid-life crises.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Scavenger Hunt

Sometimes you know exactly what you want to do with your life. You go to college or trade school, or get a job in the field you want to pursue... or perhaps you get married, perhaps you start a family. Perhaps you have a burning desire to join the Peace Corps or the Air Force. You start on your path, with the end goal firmly in your mind's eye and your path becomes a trail, then a dirt road, and finally you are gliding down the freeway of your life's plan. You don't take many detours, but of course there will be bumps and perhaps a delay or so. Maybe you'll come upon a construction site, and you'll entertain yourself for a bit by checking out the flagman.

My journey doesn't follow a road in that way. Mine has more in common with a very large scavenger hunt. There are many stops along the way - and each one is important, because without one item on your scavenger hunt list... you've failed. So, I started out raising beautiful daughters, but saw an opportunity to edit my first book while they played in the yard. The scavenger hunter must be on the lookout for list items at all times.

I've obtained a compass to use for the present course of my hunt. It's called The Creativity Book. Filled with assignments and exploring creativity in many different ways, I'm finding that career objectives and grocery lists may have a focus and direction to exclude other choices or prevent me from wandering around in the grocery store for hours on end because I haven't a clue what I'm out of at home.... but learning to indulge a creative sense involves a lot of meandering.

Week 7, Exercise 8

A. I am a creative person. I would like to set the following goals for the upcoming year... (write a paragraph) so, mine are more like lists..

I will produce a book of nonfiction short stories. I will become sensitive to the voice inside me and from that sensitivity - I will find a stronger writing voice. I'll design and complete quilts for Luke, Gracie & myself. I'll put to memory 5 full songs on the piano. I'll design the patio, completing it no later than next summer.

B. In support of these things, the tiny things I will do over the next few days are... (write a paragraph)

I'll go outside with the dogs first thing each morning to enjoy nature, fresh air, and a fresh look at my day. I'll write three stories from my childhood experiences and relationships. I'll clean my keyboard so I can work on my new piano course downstairs, and work on part two of New York State of Mind. I'll get my sewing room ready for work (i.e. finally move the last Christmas decorations to the attic). I will significantly reduce the amount of time I spend on the telephone.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is there a road here, or am I going cross country?

I have taken so many turns, I'm not sure which road I'm on. I've quilted, painted, taken piano lessons, written an unpublished novel, written political commentary, sold newspaper advertisements, worked in a window factory, been a secretary/receptionist/admin. assistant. I've held Bible studies in my home, bought a German shepherd I planned to compete with and breed - but did neither... just loved her to bits and pieces, and trained her. I've planted flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs - planning to make an elaborate and beautiful showplace garden at my new home, but I'm not there yet, and I'm not so sure I want to do that now. I've canned and baked, and taken meals to single neighbors. I've crafted in a myriad of ways. I've been an entrepreneur in several ventures - none of which made much money, but that's not to say I've never been profitable. I've sold nutritional supplements, custom blended cosmetics, Rainbow sweepers, cemetery property, and for a time I was an online bookseller. I've run a dating service, produced personalized books for children - both through a business sponsorship program for head start kids as well as individuals, and offered an advertising service to Realtors. I have three grown daughters, and soon my sixth grandchild will arrive. I've researched our genealogy. I love Irish history, the ocean, the mountains, and farmland... I don't love the desert. I've had faith in God from the age of 10, but endured a season of spiritual deadness in my late 30's... I'm past that now, thank God. I feel embarrassed that God shows up so late in this rant.

I'm an all or nothing kind of person. I just haven't found what I could give my ALL to on a lifelong basis except loving my husband and family. Everything else is in spurts - including spiritual growth. I believe if you really want something - there is evidence of movement in that direction - so if I haven't done a Bible study, then I feel I'm not wanting God enough. If I haven't practiced piano, or there are unfinished quilting projects - there is guilt attached that I'm spending time playing a video game or reading, or writing this piece - when I could produce something that others can see. There are a million things I've wanted to do or try, and that's exciting and yet I fear that from the outside it is probably bordering on ridiculous, scattered, frenzied, schizophrenic. I'm not so certain that it doesn't look that way from the inside as well!

My husband has a job he hates. I would be embarrassed to live a life that is filled with self indulgence while he works to provide all our needs and wants, so I try to have a practical side to my activities. Maybe not playing the piano...

I'm a jack of all trades and master of none, and yet I feel in order to take on a new hobby, craft, project - I must know it thoroughly and not do a slop job of things. I believe in research. If politicians put as much effort into understanding the results of their work as I did to understand the ins and outs of fabric cuts, patterns, color, and durability when learning to quilt - the world would be a better place.

My mother never offered to help me paint the inside of my new house because I'm a perfectionist. I don't call myself a perfectionist - I call myself careful.

I love to use words - to talk, discuss, dissect and opine. Writing is a natural use for this love... but I can't figure out its purpose. I can't cover up my grandkids with a well written article, or play it at the senior citizens center, or hang it on the wall, or feed it to my family.

I want to raise a summer's worth of chickens... just because. They would be better food on the table and the grandchildren would get a kick out of it. I want a goat. I'd love to have more animals, but only if my husband and I spent much time together taking care of them - he's not so interested and it loses its appeal if I'm to do it alone.

I bought tickets to see Billy Joel & Elton John. It was an indulgent expense for my pure pleasure. The concert was postponed, I had time to think, and an opportunity to get my money back - so I returned the tickets. Spending too much money feels immoral to me, yet I look around and see little purchases that I've made and not made good use of - like that skin care stuff I bought at a Mary Kay party. I'd love to be a pretty, well put together woman... but not enough to stick with it every day, week, month, year. Which reminds me... I really need to start taking my vitamins again, and working out, and eating healthy, and... and... and..

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hair Dye, Smelly Dogs & Tornado Warnings

Dump one bottle of smelly ingredients into the other bottle of smelly ingredients. Don the stylish gloves and shake shake shake shake shake. Squirt and drip and make a mess of your towel and a few surprising spots on the counter and floor to be discovered at a later time. The sun is shining, the skies are blue, and grays are disappearing - how much better could this day get!?

Loosely pile the short, smelly locks on top of your head. Let’s be honest here. If it were loosely piled, it’d be hanging over your ears and forehead and making a mess of things. Smathered, slathered, and stuck to your scalp is how we mostly look when we’re dying our own hair, be honest.

A phone call comes in and I maneuver the telephone so as to avoid depositing splotches of unseen hair dye that could later be found smeared across my ear or better yet, my face. The news is... there’s a tornado warning for an area about 30 miles away.

I look out my kitchen window to see my dog in an anxious state. Seems he has caught himself around a tree and cannot get back into his house. For crying out loud… I haven’t a clue why he insists on behaving in such a moronic manner about trees and other immovable objects. He just refuses to acknowledge that if he goes round and round he will NOT win a contest of wills by simply looking pathetic and refusing to go back around said object. The wind is picking up and he’s looking quite disturbed by his predicament.

“Damn”, I breath out. Here comes some hail to further exacerbate the situation. I throw on my shoes and grab the umbrella. Out the front door I go, clutching at the umbrella stem to keep my “loosely piled” and disgustingly permanently staining hair from touching the umbrella, AND to keep the umbrella from being blown from my hands. I don’t know exactly how much time out in the hail/rain it takes to make hair dye run down my face, but I’m not taking chances.

“Come on Mac. This way.” I untangle him from the tree, but now his desires have changed. His house is a substandard arrangement. He wants to go with me. Next door to him is the big baby of our canine family. She hates storms and wind and gun shots. Now she is running laps in her kennel, believing Mommy has come to save her and take her into the house. “Damn!” What if the tornado comes this way? I feel cruel leaving them out here. I unclasp Mac’s lead from the kennel and head over to Molly’s. She’s loose inside, so I simply open the door and out she bursts. 89 pounds of tenacious ferocity when running down an animal. 89 pounds of yellow-bellied cowardice when a strong wind announces a weather change.

At this point, my hands are being distorted, twisted and crushed by Mac’s cable winding around my fingers. I drop the lead and hope he heads to the house. They both do. I struggle along behind them with my unwieldy umbrella. They await me outside our basement Bilco door. I open it and 150 pounds of smelly canines about kill me rushing into the enclosure. The umbrella does nothing to improve the situation.

At this point, I’m remembering that the inside door to the upstairs is open and I’m not sure where my cats are. Molly would happily find and terrify them for me, but I pass on that thought and squeeze past the two excited dogs to get through the basement door alone. Tossing the umbrella aside, I run up the steps to close the door to the kitchen, only to be met with 2 felines frantically trying to go down the stairs because they are freaking out about the howling wind as well.

Think fast! OK, now I need a lead for Molly to maintain order and prevent an expensive and inconvenient emergency veterinarian visit. I scramble around the upstairs looking for a leash. Got it! Back down the stairs.. Cardiovascular workout for the day - Check! I block the door with my foot, leg, all of my body weight while I stick two hands through the opening to secure Molly. Got her! I grab Mac’s collar and follow it to his lead. Got him! They're finally in, but I need to hang onto them while I struggle back up the steps to close the bilco doors.

Whew. Storm is outside. Dogs are under some sort of control and are inside. Cats are quietly cursing me somewhere in the basement.

Hmmm. My hair is going to need rinsed, which means taking both dogs upstairs with me. Their feet are soaked and muddy, so we walk all around the basement trying to dry them and get them somewhat clean before taking them up the unfinished wood steps and across my pale carpet to one of the bathrooms. I opt for the smaller bathroom.

Being the graceful beasts that they are, the three of us barely make it up the steps without one or all of us going off the side. I haven’t a clue where the cats are, but if one shows itself at this point, I’ll kill it myself! We’ve made it to the kitchen, back the hall, and now 2 incredibly smelly dogs are in my bathroom. I give each of them a towel to lay on and drop about 20 feet of leash & lead onto the floor, imagining the worst entanglement to deal with later. One ignores HER towel and messes up the other one. I resmooth them and we try again. They each lay down on command. I reach for the door handle - they get back up. I squeeze through the door while telling them to “stay”, which they are ignoring as they try to squeeze their noses through with me. I escape and run to the other end of the house to collect my watch, the lovely latex gloves, the extra thick creamy conditioner, and another towel.

It’s only been 20 minutes. I need to make it to 40 minutes for the maximum gray coverage. I sit here telling this story with those stubborn grays peeking through, and it’s only been a couple weeks, so you know I didn’t make it. At the 30 minute mark, I’m back in the small bathroom pondering whether doggy smell or permanent hair dye is stronger, and how long the interesting combination of fragrances will last once this ordeal is over.

OK, on my knees by the tub. Dogs are respectfully NOT smelling my butt, for which I say a small thank you. Rinse, rinse, rinse some more. Until the water runs clear, right? Do you really rinse that long? I never make it. Weak tea water and that’s clear enough for me. On goes the extra thick conditioner. Again, I wonder why they don’t sell that stuff in bottles. It’s amazing stuff! Rinse again - no I didn’t make the 2 minutes that you're supposed to let it "condition". It was on and then off. Ta Da! Wrapped in a towel that I hoped not to ruin with my haphazard attention to clear running water, and surrounded by dogs that I no longer could smell, I sit on the toilet lid and take a breath.

Being the spoiled natural dogs that they are, I figure the blow dryer isn’t going to make me any friends here. I squeeze back past the insistent and persistent noses into the hallway and make my way to the other bathroom to dry my temporarily ungray roots and otherwise light ash brown hair. (Light in this context means - this isn’t black, so it’s “light” ash brown.)

Newly dried and silky and shiny and not as smelly from the hair dye, I look out the window to notice that the sky is blue, the hail has stopped, the sun is shining, and no tornado has ripped away those dog kennels at the back of my yard. Figures!

Now to put the dogs out and look for those surprise little hair dye spots around my bathroom before I walk through them with my slippers and polka dot my carpeting. One couldn't make up the frenzied multitude of activites I survive during my day.