Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Up in the air!

So a couple years ago I was visiting some friends up in the Arrowhead, on the shore of the Great Lake, one of whom is a native of the band that lives on the reservation there, and the other of whom is a member by marriage. One of the stories they shared with me and my traveling companion was that of a partly-deaf elder who, because of his impaired hearing, was under the impression that, when the metaphorical ball dropped to mark the passage of the old year into the new, everyone present was shouting "up in the air!" in celebration of the occasion...which is pretty hilarious and also strangely appropriate, for a night like tonight.  Up in the air, all...up in the air!!

(Come to think of it, it may have been that he was not hard-of-hearing, but hard-of-English. Either way...)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I got one, a Christmas gift from somebody-or-another that I probably could have done without.

No chills, fortunately, except the one in the air. I'm told it's below zero here, and it feels like it.

Look, you know, just because I'm cranky as hell and couldn't be less excited about attempting to celebrate another whole year of my insignificant life being plunged down the toilet of time doesn't mean I don't understand how good my life is, in this cozy house (aka my home) and this fair city and this abundant state and this dominant country (I 'merican and cognizant of it), in my well-fed body in the company of my loving family and my exceptional friends, and all the amazing life and matter on this singular planet, somewhere in this vast and mysterious universe... 

I do. I really do.

But what difference does that make?

Monday, December 29, 2014

So long

2014: Year of the Let Down. 

The end--and the beginning--draws nigh...  

Frankly, this year has been, for me, mostly one big disappointment.  It's been less fulfilling, less hopeful, less purposeful, less productive, less creative, less inspired, less joyful, less meaningful, less exciting, less relaxing, less fun and less rewarding than any other year in recent memory.  I have arrived at the end of it a less loving, less trusting, less articulate, less informed, less active, less aware, less engaged, less vital, less confident, less funny, less musical, less smart and also somewhat fatter person than I started out.  All told, it was one of the most depressing and lonesome years of my life, on record.

But I got through it, actually pretty well by most accounts, and I learned a few things.

I learned to let go. Not of everything, but of a lot of things, including maybe some things that I shouldn't have, but I only have so much room here, and anything that doesn't make life better or easier just isn't worth holding onto for too long. That includes some material things, but mostly ideas and feelings and beliefs and thoughts, as well as some hopes and expectations and desires. If they don't serve you well, then, well, how do they serve you, if at all?

I learned that I have given a great deal more, and less, than I'd thought--and received much the same, in turn. It all balances out, I suppose, although it can be as misguided to place too much importance on your intentions, as it is to try to comprehend the consequences of your actions, or those of others. That's just energy wasted, and goodness knows we need to learn how to manage our energy resources better if we hope to survive.

I learned that my self-esteem is a rather intimate situation that I have not been handling with great care or respect. I honestly thought we were getting along just fine until I noticed that I wasn't laughing at my own jokes anymore, and I was avoiding sleeping on my side of the bed. But Love is a two-way street; you have to be willing to give in order to receive--and vice versa. (It's also a good idea to stick with driving on one side of that road, unless you're playing chicken, in which case you'll just want to make sure you've got the toughest vehicle.)

I learned that one way to guarantee a really shitty year is not to spend enough time outside doing things you love, with people you love.

I learned that money can buy happiness, up to a point, as evidenced by all the people who were apparently more than happy to take my money, and also by the hot tub.

I learned that having a good hairstylist might not be as good as having a boyfriend, but there is only one of those I can't live without.

I learned that it's really best to sleep when you're tired.

I learned that some of the people who love me the most are the people I see the least, and that may not be the best arrangement for any of us, but it's a whole lot better than not seeing each other at all.

I learned that honesty is not a policy. It's a way of living and being, it's a practice and a promise, and it's one I need to make to myself, and keep, every day. Everything else will come naturally.

I learned that there is little sweeter in this world than being someone's favorite--or second favorite--aunt, because I am one (and I'm a niece, too). It's important to be important to someone, and know you make them happy.

These mostly seem like things I should have already known, and possibly did know already, but learning isn't a one-time event. Imagine, for example, learning to shoot a bow by doing so only once. So much for improving your form, or fine-tuning your technique, much less hitting your target... 

Aim to learn the things you love. There's no sense in knowing anything else by heart.

I learned how to do a butterfly roll, how to recover myself and my vessel safely, and to help recover others.

I learned how many loads of shit it takes to make a garden.


I'm glad this year is over, and I won't miss it any more than I already have.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My love will grow old like a knarled tree stump

Happy cheddar bearshiness--I mean Christmas--everyone!

Much love...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oh heck, it's up to my neck

Goodness! I'm late this morning. I slept like a log last night, albeit one that was floating downstream on a mighty river... night before last, I dreamt of the big lake, or the ocean perhaps, perfectly quiet, shrouded in mist, and still as glass... last night, a walk through a wide river-bottom had me follow a rocky red path through deepening waters, until I was met rather suddenly by a rushing, rolling river like I have never seen.  My destination was around a large bend and further up the bank, but there was no passage.  Even turning around was almost an impossibility, as the waters behind me had quickly closed in to the point that I could not see a way, and even if I could... I would surely be swept away. Fortunately someone pulled up in some kind of truck-boat at that very moment, and drove me to a ramshackle place up the road where there were a bunch of peculiar dogs with ears big as bats, and fur as soft as...whatever is softer than bat fur.  The woman and her entourage there seemed to be up to something shady, at this roadside attraction, but since my hero turned out to be Kevin Nealon, I decided it was time to wake up and get on with my day. 

Those waters were powerful. Suit of cups comes to mind...

Thank goodness, for sleeping hard, and for the light inch of snow that fell here overnight. 

Now off to the rug laundry, and to work...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Small wonders

So, at this fab party I went to this past weekend, it just so happened that one of the guests was a woman who used to hang out at the house where I lived my first few years, a place which we (all of us who ever knew it) all affectionately still call by its street name (and in fact one of the sometime residents of the upstairs apartment actually named her son after that street), and this woman, of whom I had no memory at all, remembered me as a baby, a toddler, a tiny girl of two. There was a story about my name that went along with it, involving children and dogs, of course. She was a vibrant woman, happily married to a handsome man, and I do wish I remembered her name...There were a lot of "those kind" of people there that night--successful, healthy, good-looking, seemingly sane and intelligent, amiable, a bit weird, etc.--and, being younger than most of them, it was nice to meet a few positive role models. Quite refreshing.

Oh yes, I remember now...

For some reason I looked back at some old writing today, and found something kind of wonderful that I had completely forgotten. Actually, that's not unusual, and is maybe the biggest reason that I continue to write here, of even the most mundane things, in the least eloquent ways... I find, when I revisit those old words, that they weave a tapestry of memory which is frequently far more beautiful, and more complex, than anything I am able to recall, in the dusty recesses of my mind (to steal a phrase). Words of my own, from years ago, are a time capsule of sorts, a message in a bottle to my future self, a love letter sent to someone I will never meet... 

Among the surprises today was a comment from someone who I do not know, but whose fine praise lifted my flagging spirit, all these many years later:  
Your writing is beautiful, stunning, and luminous. My god. I don't have [time] at the moment to read all your posts but rest assured I will.
Serendipitously perhaps, this stranger had arrived here in search of a certain variety of corn that I had been excited to grow.  Little do we know, sometimes, little do we know.

I'm still excited to grow. Sometimes I forget that the past isn't something we leave behind, it's something we carry forward.

With gratitude.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nothing of importance whatsoever

Please pardon, if you will, yesterday's post.  I let a rotten mood get the better of me.

Fortunately it was turned on its head by an evening out with my favorite aunt and her husband, who introduced me to a crowd of interesting and congenial folks at a welcoming and unusually inspiring space, in the form of a renovated Masonic temple.  Great live music in the old great hall, with much dancing and revelry, made for a fun night. It's been a while since I've been a very social animal, and it was good to be out for a bit, in an unfamiliar place, enjoying the company of strangers.

I gave myself license to sleep in for as long as I wished this morning, which I've been sorely needing to do. Sleep has eluded me the past couple weeks, save a night here or there, and it was starting to show... I was a little surprised to notice upon waking this morning that I looked quite a bit younger than I had the day before, and today proceeded to be a pretty relaxing day, for the most part... I'm sure I could have accomplished more, but for some reason I just couldn't get the "to-do" list to boot up in my central processor today, and I can't say I'm very sorry about that.  Most of the time it seems I've got a running list of what I need to do or should be doing or should be thinking about doing, etc., so I'm okay letting this be a day of rest, and reflection.

It was in the mid-fifties here today, grey and damp, a bit dreary and vaguely depressing. The snow is all but gone now, after the unseasonable warmth of the past few days, and any prospect of skiing or winter activities is looking pretty slim at this point.  A white Christmas seems highly unlikely.  The weather is what it is, as they say, but what it is kinda sucks, in my opinion. I miss the cold, I miss snow, I miss skiing, and I don't like not having Winter, when it should be here.

If you were looking for a few pointless thoughts for today, there you have them.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Eat It

Shit sandwich, with a side of cold crap, a fresh roll of bs, and a tall glass of disregard to wash it all down.  Now doesn't that just hit the spot?  Mmm-hm...

Friday, December 12, 2014

The city spectacular

Stabbing, throwing knives.
It's good to see each other, after all that 
time, to cry and talk, and
then we fight, lay into each other
like nobody's business.

I pierced the box on purpose,
last night, not really out of anger,
but today I lost it, threw it hard
against the range. We carried on,
continued cleaning.

This isn't a fucking poem.
I forgot my boots and had to come
all the way back here, for them,
but the traffic was better and so was the music,
the second time around.
 I love old country.
I made a good run, once or twice missed
my lens, while quick billows of pink rose high
above the cool blue shadows, the light
as yellow as something I once knew
as home. On the way back I decided
to take the new bridge, and cross
where I could look upstream
at the setting sun, and every breath of it
was more beautiful than my on fire,
the city spectacular, my heart still
pounding, we are more beautiful than we know,
and let us never speak of this again.


It's the little things

On Friendship
Kahlil Gibran

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I always had this idea I would be good at something

Quote of the day, from the esteemed John Cleese:

“And then I began to see that the world is such a mess, as I think you guys know…It’s such a complete cock-up, and it’s never going to be rational place because all the people in charge are the people who seek power, who are almost by definition assholes, who only the use the power for their own purposes, not to make things better—there’s a few exceptions, but not many—and you realize there’s no chance, and people…there’s a guy at Cornell, where I’m a phony professor, called David Dunning, and he’s discovered—I love this—that in order to know how good you are at something requires the same skills or aptitudes as it does to be good at that thing. So the corollary is hilarious, which is that if you’re no good something, you lack exactly the skills that you need to know you’re no good. Now that’s hilarious but it explains so much...There’s so many people out there who think they know what they’re talking about and they’re not intelligent enough to know that they don’t.”


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remind me again why this is a good idea

A couple weeks ago, sort of out of the blue, I decided to sign up for QuitPlan. It's not that I wanted to quit smoking, or that I had been trying to quit and failing, but I'd come to realize that I was--or am--seriously addicted to nicotine. That, and I had over the course of the past four or five months developed an unpleasant, unhealthy and persistent cough, which was a pretty good indication to me that I'd had enough.

I've never been a "serious" smoker.  Smoking a pack a day, much less two or three, is practically unimaginable to me. But in recent years I'd come to know and depend on nicotine in ways I never thought I would. It's a fascinating and powerful drug, and despite smoking's many (non-smoking and often vociferous) critics, there are some pretty great things about both smoking and nicotine. I would go so far as to say that, under certain circumstances both internal and external, cigarettes can not only be pleasurable, but also beneficial. This obviously isn't a popular opinion, and it's a hard one to defend in some contexts, but as a lifelong aficionado of sociology, psychology, herbalism, dreamtime, riff-raff, fire, stories, spirituality and ritual, I can say that I've learned a quite a lot from the genus Nicotiana (as well as from the entire Solanaceae family, but that's another story, or several), and I have a degree of respect and gratitude for that knowledge and experience.

Nonetheless, the time has come to call it quits. The truth is that I would rather not quit altogether--I find nicotine to be a powerful ally and a pleasant companion, from time to time--but I just can't seem to moderate my use of it, or perhaps I had afforded it too prominent a position in my day-to-day existence. This habit seemed to be occupying an important space that should be filled by something, or someone, else--even if that was "only" me...

I'm not sure what prompted me to visit the QuitPlan website on that particular day, or why I signed up for the program. I'm not much of a "joiner", and it wasn't something I did with great intent or expectation, it was just a side note on an otherwise hum-drum day, or so it seemed. Oddly enough, after signing up, I told a couple people that I had done so, as if to announce my intentions, but without really feeling any, if that makes any sense... I've done this enough times, and my attitude about it has evolved to the point that it doesn't seem like a huge deal, and it doesn't really matter to me if I change my mind, or relapse or whatever they like to call it. As long as I'm not destroying my health and a slave to habits I don't really control, I'm okay with having a smoke now and then, and I likely will. 

Anyway, on the day I actually did "quit" (or at least my first day without a cigarette in quite a few months, if not a year or more), I got a call from a number I didn't recognize, which turned out to be the QuitPlan folks. I hadn't set a quit date, so it was just a coincidence that they decided to call that day, but the timing was serendipitous.

I've been smokeless for five days now.  On the whole this has been tremendously easier than past attempts, without the obliterating emotional meltdowns, for the most part, and without the absurd and futile ransacking of house and home for cigarettes that are not there, or the nail-biting or the paranoia or many of the rest of the very long list of seriously bothersome and challenging withdrawal symptoms. Even so, I've had many moments, including right about now, that I find my mind wandering toward the back steps, to stand under the stars for a moment, and take a few deep breaths... 

And all these words were mainly just to say that it's actually been incredibly helpful to have someone, however anonymous and remote, offering me some support during these past few days. I wouldn't have guessed that an automated text or an unanswered phone call (from an actual human being) would make any difference, but it really has. It's been truly helpful, at just the right times, and even though I'm used to doing somewhat difficult things on my own, I've needed and appreciated the encouragement for this one. So thanks for that, whoever you are, even if you're just doing your job. It helps.