Ahoy!

 

Pirate

 

It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day, mateys! What does that mean to you? Nothing. But it sure is fun to throw some pirate lingo around once in a while.

 

I’m just sayin’.

Half In The Dark

 

Just a quick catch-up… Sorry. Sometimes I find I have John Oliver on the brain. (If that makes no sense, too bad for you.)

 

Aretha Franklin. For a while now, I’ve been drunk on her version of “Somewhere” from West Side Story. Now it seems more poignant. More important. And I adore it.

 

Because I love, love, love Kate Bush, the gods gave me this video of Big Boi, referencing her work. Right to the end, it is everything I love about music and how it can (and should) be universal.

 

I’m stuck on repeat of a playlist of mostly ’80s songs and it’s fortifying my soul. I will never apologize nor regret it. Same for a playlist of slow jams. Both lists go damn well with a glass by my side.

 

I recently finished a first draft of – something. Maybe it’s a book, maybe not. Today, I just don’t know. I’m just giving it some breathing room and trying to love me for getting it out at all.

 

I’ve started writing songs again. (Well – I’ve started writing a song – singular.) That’s a big freaking deal. Honestly – I love me for that, too.

 

Looking over this list, I see a lot of love present. Hmm. The world can jack me up sometimes. So I hide. Okay. But I can’t hide from me.

 

It’s good to be back, even if I’m still half in the dark.

 

Hallelujah.

 

Shadows

Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette”

 

The other night I watched “Nanette” on Netflix. It’s billed as a stand-up special from Australian Comic Hannah Gadsby. I had heard she tied art history into her routine and I was intrigued. I like art. I like history. I like comedy. Win-win-win.

 

When I tell people to seek out “The Babadook” because it’s a deep, philosophical take on traditional horror films, I’m not wrong. But to suggest it is merely a deep, philosophical take is bullshit on my part. It’s scary. It’s supposed to be, granted, but my underselling that aspect is still bullshit. I’m telling you this because for anyone to tell you “Nanette” is merely a stand-up special is also bullshit. It’s funny, yes. But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s only funny. Because it isn’t.

 

And I’m wrenched by that. I knew while I was watching “Nanette” that I was bearing witness to something daring. Something smart and moving. And yes, something funny. Gadsby’s humor is intelligent and biting. And I loved that part of this special. But I also loved how honest and real “Nanette” is. It broke me. It actually left me sobbing, friends. Gadsby somehow touched on all the colors of my soul, the lights and the darks. Honestly – I can’t remember any comic ever moving me the way Hannah Gadsby did with her “Nanette.”

 

When I finished watching, I turned to Mister and said, “That may have been the best TED talk I’ve seen in recent memory.” And it was. It is. I’m telling you this, not to discourage you from watching, but precisely because I think you should watch “Nanette.” I just want you to know that if you do, you’re in for so much more than comedy. Your funny bone will be tickled. But don’t be surprised if your heart cracks open a bit, too. That’s nothing to fear. It’s just the ache of making room for more love.

 

How I wish everyone could feel that ache.

Living With an OCD Ghost

 

I’ve been open about the fact (fact!) that Mister and I live with a ghost. Miss Harmon is mostly laid-back, but once in a while she becomes a wee bit assertive. When that happens, we I do my best to acknowledge her and send some attention her way. It mostly works, and peace is generally kept.

 

With Miss Harmon, it’s easy. With other ghosts, not so much. In working through the nut-job bullshit that makes up my life, I very often forget just how many ghosts are floating around in my psyche, futzing about and causing a general ruckus. Sometimes the ruckus is anything but general, and I lose whatever weak grip I have on my sanity and only when I remember the root causes of my thinking/feeling/hurting, am I able to cease wobbling and find some semblance of balance. Ghosts. They’re little assholes sometimes.

 

But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today I want to share a recent Miss Harmon experience, as that broad can be a little persnickety. Case in point – when an orchid plant in the house reached the time of dropping its blossoms, logic would have seen said blossoms falling randomly to the floor. But when Mister and I found the withered blooms, they had been arranged in a perfect arc. I don’t have any idea why that was necessary, but I don’t have to know. That’s Miss Harmon’s business. I just have to clean up her messes. Like I said – little asshole.

 

Living With a Very Particular Ghost

It’s Not a Perfect System

 

Actual Quote From George W. Bush

 

So many people have reached out, asking about my goings-on, my well-being, that I feel a response is due on my part. And that’s not easy for me. On the one hand, absolutely nothing is going on. On the other hand…

 

Mikki and an Art Show

 

While trying to create new art, I was also recently one of the featured artists in a local show. It was good for me to participate in the event, to interact with friends and strangers alike. It’s also good for me to tackle new works. I’m elbow-deep in a painting now that is so Mikki. It requires hours of taping, layers of planning and is a logistical quagmire. For some reason, that appeals to me and brings me contentment.

 

Art Show

 

I’ve also figured out how to build floating frames for my work and that has been incredibly fulfilling. I learned quite a bit at a framing class, but the logistics of floating frames wasn’t covered, so I had to rely on my own ingenuity and mechanical mind to suss the sitch. I don’t mind telling you – I nailed it.

 

Physical Therapy

 

While trying to wrap my head around my body’s aging, I’m also undergoing physical therapy for an injury. I’d love to tell you I hurt myself playing footie (World Cup fever abounds in our home), or while throwing down in a late-night dance battle on the streets of Los Angeles, but the truth is much more boring: I hurt my shoulder while shoveling rocks. It’s true. Rocks. The repetition and the weight were more than my body could bear. And so now I’m dealing with a humerus that doesn’t seat itself correctly in its joint, which is anything but humorous. The pain is sometimes enough to make me cry. And for now, I just have to ride it out. I’m not on pain meds, but I am on ice packs. And booze. Those things help a bit. I’ll take what help I can get.

 

Vonnegut

 

When not wringing my hands over how terrifying “The Handmaid’s Tale” is in relation to our fucked-up world, I’m re-reading an old Kurt Vonnegut book, Cat’s Cradle. I saw it on the shelf and was drawn to it. I don’t often re-read books, but I think following my gut on this one is a good choice.

 

Mikki and a Blurry Tony Bourdain

 

Depression is heavily at play for me these days. The injury, the sorry state of my country… Some days are almost too much to handle. When the world adds another log to the desperate fire of my soul, I struggle more than I can say. The recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain was one such weight. I didn’t know the man or anything, but I did appreciate the hell out of him. Watching the final two episodes of “Parts Unknown” was heartbreaking. I don’t know why, but I believe I’ve not yet shed my last tear for Mr. Bourdain. I can’t explain why his death has hit me so hard. It just has.

 

Panda Cake

 

Sometimes I’m able to avoid the news. Sometimes. I was able to distract myself with a young cousin’s first birthday party. And that was a gift. Watching the little guy eat his panda cake was a reminder that not everything is bad. Remembering that simple fact can lead to noticing other good things in the world.

 

Mikki in Pretty Shoes

 

Like wearing pretty shoes.

 

Mikki At JPL

 

Or spending an afternoon with science-loving geeks at JPL.

 

Strawberry Moon

 

Or gazing up at a Strawberry moon, with Saturn’s glow nearby.

 

Families Belong Together Rally

 

And yesterday I attended a local “Families Belong Together” rally. The crowd had full hearts and positive energy. Even though I was quietly crying through most of it, I was reminded of hope.

 

Families Belong Together Rally - Migration is Beautiful

 

There is good in the world. The hate-filled, ignorant, fearful masses can’t do a damn thing to change that. They can’t eliminate beauty. Or hope. Or love. On good days, I simply feel sorry for them, the haters. (They really are a pitiful group of pathetic souls.) On other days…

 

I struggle. I’m trying, but I don’t always prevail in my attempts. Truth is, I’m upside down right now. The shadows and weight can be downright awful. If I had no inkling of how sublime life can be, I might not know how far down I’ve gotten. But I have walked in the light. I do know the pleasure of joy. And this ain’t it.

 

These are some of the reasons I’m out of touch. Why I’m in mostly silent mode. Trying to practice self-care is taking more from me than I can sometimes spare. And so I pull back from the world. I try to preserve precious energy. To protect my fragile heart. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best I can do right now. And for the record, I am doing. I know me. I’ll keep doing, keep going. Not for you or for anyone else, but for me. Yes.

 

Highgate Cemetery - Fallen Angel copy

So Long, Mr. Dorough

Bob Dorough – the man responsible for some of the music of my childhood – has died.

 

If you grew up watching classic School House Rock cartoons, you know the work of Mr. Dorough. Here’s a list compiled by Jen Chaney at Vulture. It’s a swell stroll down memory lane.

 

Later in life, I came to know the jazz music of Bob Dorough and each time I heard one of those songs, I smiled. Here’s a tune he did with Miles Davis. It comes up on my personal playlist most every year. “Old Devil Moon” bent to Dorough’s will and can’t be unheard, once visited. Take that any way you want, but know that I intend it with a loving smile.

 

I’m so grateful I had the benefit of knowing Bob Dorough’s work. I probably wouldn’t have memorized the preamble without him, and to this day, when I count by 3s, it’s his voice I hear. I say “3 is a magic number” all the danged time. And I have Bob Dorough to thank for that.

 

Here’s hoping Dorough, Blossom Dearie and Miles Davis are making great music together, in infinity.

Lost In a Living Dance

 

Spring has sprung, people. It’s hit near 90 degrees already and since 80 is the new 70, I expect to be getting the vapors any minute now. Such is life in La-La Land.

 

OMD at The Wiltern

 

Anyhoo – I’ve got music on the brain! And here are the 3 creatives holding my attention of late…

 

OMD – This one is easy, because Mister and I just saw them live. I had seen them back in the ’80s, but this was Mister’s first OMD concert. They did not disappoint, y’all, and I think they were just as good as when I saw them – gulp – over 30 years ago. So giving to their audience, so appreciative of being able to do what they clearly love, such camaraderie on that stage. It was a real treat to see them.

 

Janelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel – This one is easy, too, because Janelle Monae is so friggin’ awesome, I can hardly stand it. I’ve been listening to this song on a loop and I’m still not over it. Now before anyone says something about her trying to emulate Prince, know that this is a song honoring His Purple Highness, and Prince was a mentor of sorts to Ms. Monae. Rumors abound that Prince was even involved with this track before his death. Whatever the truth may be on that one, I do believe Prince would have been proud of this song and of Janelle Monae. I love the song. I love her. Mean it.

 

Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland – Copland, as creator of this beautiful music, may very well be my favorite composer. (Like colors, my mind changes on this fave from whim to whim and today Mr. Copland is tops.) This suite of music has moved me from curiosity to joy to blubbering, on more than one occasion. When I listen to it, I usually find myself seeking solitude at some point, so that I can cry in isolation. It is that perfect. Since the calendar rolled over to this new season, I haven’t yet allowed myself the privilege of hearing it anew. That time has come.

 

It will probably take a while for me to get Janelle Monae out of my system. And then I’ll surely return to it from time to time, just as I do the works of OMD and Copland’s masterpiece. That’s one of the great pleasures of music – renewal. It comes around in our lives and even though we’ve known each note for years, it feels and sounds fresh. Alive. New. Pretty much like spring itself. I am lost in a living dance…

 

Spring in Los Angeles

Glennon Doyle

 

 

I just received a beautiful video from Glennon Doyle. I don’t know her or anything, but I do follow her and the work she does.

 

The video is about the students who are leading the way toward sanity in our gun-crazed country. It’s truth. It’s sad. It’s inspiring. It’s real.

Soul Sparks

 

Joy

 

This month. Hmm.

 

I was going to start this post with dark thoughts. Thoughts about all but giving up on my country. Thoughts about being ashamed of people who’ve chosen to forfeit their moral compasses. Thoughts about the fear of where America is headed. But then I switched gears and read some things on the interwebz, watched a few videos and chose a different mood for myself.

 

Erica Buist had this to say on her insta-account: “Why not just ban guns and when people are upset about it, just send them thoughts and prayers? If ‘thoughts and prayers’ are good enough for people who’ve lost their families then it’s good enough for people who’ve lost their guns.” Ms. Buist has spoken truth to power here. She is also a bad-ass.

 

Scott-Dani Pappalardo posted a video of himself destroying an AR-15 rifle. Not only is Mr. Pappalardo a registered gun owner and proponent of the 2nd amendment, he is also someone possessing decency and common sense.

 

And then there are the kids. God bless the kids! Too many children in this country have been lost to gun violence. Too many survivors have witnessed it up-close. Thank all the gods, the kids are now making their voices heard. On March 24th, there will be an organized show of common-sense, can’t-wait-another-moment support for gun control. The “March For Our Lives” is planned to take place in Washington DC and in cities across the country. (I’ve even read about marches around the globe. Fingers crossed and thanks to those who haven’t given up on us here in the US! We need your support!) As many have pointed out, these young people may be mere teenagers now, but a lot of them will be old enough to vote in 2020. (I’m counting on these kids to register to vote and then to actually do it!) Every single politician who has accepted dirty NRA contributions should be scared as hell. If you look at this single issue, it’s incredibly easy to discern which elected officials are with us and which are against us. At the rate we’re being murdered in this country, there is no time to be wasted when it comes to gun control. And any politician who tries to talk his way out of this one doesn’t deserve another chance.

 

So. This month. I’m hanging in there. I’m trying to grab on to hope, where I can, when I can. It ain’t easy. And I don’t always win my personal battles. Some days I feel nearly broken and struggle to find even a shred of joy. But I still believe there are more decent folks than not. And the spark in my soul is still glimmering. Every little bit of positive momentum helps. Every time someone chooses to be an honorable human, I find myself exhaling into love.

 

We’ve lost a lot here in the States. There may be more pain ahead. More struggle. But I’m not giving up. Nor should you. Those of us who’ve held on to our decency will continue to show up for one another. Personally, I’m looking forward to celebrating my birthday with the “March For Our Lives.” Supporting others whose soul sparks continue to glimmer is going to be an honor. Hope I see you out there.

My Own Personal Hell

 

Construction

 

Have you ever had one of those days (weeks, months) where you’re just trying to get shit done, but your whole house is shaking because of the construction going on next door, and you keep having to move things from counter and shelf edges to keep them from falling to the floor and breaking, and the noise is so freaking loud that you suddenly realize your heart is racing and you’re starting to feel physically unwell, but those rat-bastards are gonna keep at it until it’s dark, only to start again the next morning – probably earlier than allowed by law, and it’s been going on for so long (a couple of years) that you’re starting to think you may actually have died and are now doing time in hell, and this is your life now, for all eternity?

 

No? Oh. This is clearly my own personal hell then. Be grateful it isn’t yours.