L.A.

 

 

Yesterday it rained. For reals. And now we’re expecting a heatwave. That’s L.A., folks. It makes no sense.

 

When I woke yesterday morning, it was from a dream. In the dream, I was swimming. I knew the pool’s water was too cold, but I was swimming anyway. And I loved it. At some point (in the dream), I wondered if I could simply stay in the pool forever…

 

The rain, the dream – I’m sure it all ties together somehow. Maybe the impending heat, too. But I don’t need to figure it out. It doesn’t matter.

 

Sometimes living here gets to be too much. Generally, I handle it okay. This may simply be one of those times. All that means is that I’ll ride out whatever it is I’m feeling and hopefully get back to me soon. Hopefully.

 

In the meantime, it is what it is. And what it is, is L.A., folks. It makes  no sense.

Terrible Patient

 

 

So. I thought it was a summer cold. I was sure, in fact. And then, well, it wasn’t.

 

The fever was the first clue. Then came the aches. On Saturday, my entire body hurt so much, I winced each time I moved. The fever persisted, low-grade though it was, and it wasn’t much fun either. Except for the weird dreams. There were snakes and “The Love Boat,” though not in the same dream. (Come on. That would be ridiculous.) And I’m not even going into the stuffed-up head, the sore throat, loss of appetite, the sneezing or the coughing.

 

I don’t make a very good patient. (Mister’s eye-rolls can confirm this.) I mean, I knew not to work out over the weekend or anything, but there did come a time when I thought I could handle a few simple tasks. Things like, oh, re-drilling a hole in the door for a new lock. I mean, that would only require me to stand still and operate a drill, right? Well it about knocked me out. There I was, standing still, operating the drill, and getting woozy. Now friends – you do not want to be operating power tools while woozy. You just don’t. But if you are woozy while putting a hole in a door to your home, you need to buck up and get that shit right, lest you find yourself having to buy an entirely new door. (That did not happen, by the way, but the scary thought did occur to me and I was downright nervous about the possibility.) You can bet your sweet, healthy ass I was super-focused on getting that door hole just right. After that little job, I took a shower, washed the sawdust and some of the germs off me, then parked it on the couch for the rest of the day. Sad, but true.

 

I thought it was a summer cold. It turned out to be some sort of flu. And it has sucked. I’m not quite through it yet, but I’m hoping to be wrapped by the coming weekend. Heaven knows this last weekend was no picnic. But the aches seem to have passed and the fever has broken (finally). I’ve even gotten my appetite back (yippee!). The stuffy head is a nuisance, but not much more than that. I can deal with a cold. The flu? Not so much. Really – I’m a terrible patient.

Ago

 

 

The other day I got an email from someone I’ve not seen in ages. And it couldn’t have stirred sweeter memories.

 

Back in 2001, Mister’s Mama and I went to cooking school in Italy. The horrors of September 11th were only one week behind us, so the whole trip felt shaky. The whole world felt that way really. We didn’t know that until we arrived in Italy and wonderful strangers started telling us how sorry they were for what had happened to America. But I digress… At cooking school, our hostess turned out to be a California gal who had moved her family to Tuscany for her business. She, her husband and their young daughter had upended their world to try something new. Maybe something crazy. They committed fully and went for it.

 

A few years after that, Mister and I were in Italy and we visited the same cooking school for a couple of days. I caught up with the California gal and we had a great time. At one point, the young daughter wanted to hear me sing. I obliged her and then she graced us with a song she’d made up. It was creative, hilarious and smiley. And Mister and I have never forgotten that moment.

 

Cut to a few days ago and that aforementioned email. It was from the California gal, the proprietor of the cooking school in Tuscany. She wrote to tell me her daughter – practically grown now – was writing her own songs, recording and studying the arts. She gave me a link to some of the young lady’s works and I was blown away. She really is a talent to be reckoned with.

 

The other night I was at dinner with a group of talented, strong, brilliant women. At one point we were discussing having an impact on the world. I said that when we set out to do good in life, there’s no telling how we’ll affect others. That sometimes the very thing we think will cause the most ripples turns out to not even be a drop in the pond. And how something small, something trivial, may end up causing the most wonderful waves.

 

Let me be clear here. I in no way take credit for the above-mentioned young Tuscan girl’s dreams and aspirations. (And I certainly have nothing to do with her talent.) But it does make me very happy to know that I got to spend a little time with her, ages ago, sharing music. The fact that her mother reached out to me to mention that musical memory, well, it warms my heart.

 

And to think – that small, trivial moment from all those years ago may have helped to form a ripple or two. Time will tell if waves will follow…

Hidden Meaning

 

 

When I was a kid, I had a few recurring dreams. There was one about a witch, a thermometer with a rising temperature and a house on fire. I had it a lot around the age of 5 or 6 and it used to scare the bejeezus out of me. I didn’t understand it as a child, for sure. That dream came back in adulthood, once or twice, and I didn’t get it then, either.

 

There were also dreams about snakes. Those started around the same age as the witch dream and I always took their meaning to be quite literal. Snakes used to scare the crap out of me. What’s more, they tended to pop up in my waking life on a semi-regular basis. Snakes seemed to be everywhere in the South. In the yard where I played. On the carport by the back door. In the creek where I swam. Crossing the road. As I aged and changed, the snakes stayed the same. I remember being about 10 or 11 and climbing down a ladder from the top of a shed and there was a snake – waiting for me at the ladder’s base. Never mind I had just climbed up the danged ladder a few minutes before. That snake had gotten there and was poised. Don’t believe me? It was looking up at me and coiled, ready to strike. So I did the only thing I could. I waited for the little bastard to leave, which it eventually did. As I recall, I never did go up on that shed again.

 

Anyhoo… The snake dreams – like the witch dreams – were fairly consistent. I would be going about my business, doing whatever I was doing in my dream, and there would be random snakes spread about. If I was walking through a town, snakes would be on the sidewalk. If I was in a house (familiar or not), snakes would be outside the door, every few feet. Combine the creepy dreams with real-live snakes in my little world, and I was one scared-of-snakes kid.

 

Over this past weekend I had a snake dream. The scenery was new (I was walking around Boston), but the snakes were the same. And they still gave me the heebies. When I woke, I wondered why that dream had returned, after so many years. So I did some online digging. Most sites repeat the same thoughts: fear of something in reality; unresolved issues; people who are threatening. Those same sites also tend to mention the possibility of shedding skin and some sort of personal growth. While I super-like that last meaning, I don’t necessarily think it applies in the case of my recent snake dream. I’m fairly certain snakes showed up in my dream because of ugliness in reality. I don’t like it, but it happens.

 

I plan to do some more digging today and hope to come to a better understanding of my snake dream. I’ll share what I find in tomorrow’s post. In the meantime, I doubt I’ll find any explanations for the dream I had last night. It was unsettling and odd, and featured characters from the current season of “House of Cards.” It’s probably fair to blame binge-watching for that dream. Dang.

Dream Time

 

 

 

The other night I dreamed that Mister and I went to McDonalds (which we never do). As we stood waiting for our order, Mister handed me the receipt. I glanced down at it and saw a line that read “Customer.” Beside the word, the clerk had written “Old People.” Beneath that, there was a line that read “Attitude.” Next to that, the kid had written “Fairly Cool.” I said to myself, “I am totally going to blog about this.” And then, at some point or another, I woke and couldn’t remember anything more from the dream.

 

Later that day, I was telling Mister about my Old People dream and before I could even finish, he told me I should blog about it. That guy surely knows me.

Old Soul

 

 

I told you about how one of my little donated paintings sold at last week’s secret art show. What I didn’t tell you is that the painting shown above was pretty much ignored.

 

I share this because I want to be honest. Not everything we do is a hit. Some things are flops. Some things – no matter how dear we may find them – simply don’t resonate with others. That’s okay, friends. It really is. It’s all about attitude. I like the little tree painting I donated to the secret art show’s cause. I also know it’s nothing special. So its not selling is no big deal. And no, I don’t have any comments regarding someone describing it as a “sad little Charlie Brown painting.” Really – no comment at all.

 

Anyhoo – I called this little nugget “Old Soul” and it’s based on a photo of a 300-year-old oak tree in South Carolina. Thinking about that tree and all it’s seen was quite moving. That’s why I painted it. That and I happen to love trees.

 

Now even though I’m okay with the piece not selling, and because I’ve said I want to be honest, I must also share this… The night after the secret art show, I had about a zillion dreams of wandering around an art show. And though the dream continually evolved and varied, there was one constant: at the end of a particular row, there was always a shelf holding the same tree painting. Over and over again. It never sold.

 

Go figure.

If That’s All There Is…

 

 

A while back, Mister and I watched “Love is Strange,” a movie starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a married gay couple who are discriminated against and must deal with the consequences. At some point during the film (which is amazingly quiet and deep), I got to thinking about how some people – no matter how big their dreams – simply live out, well, meager lives. And how those big-dreaming people can be the most awesome souls on the planet. And how they can positively influence other souls in the world, and actually make a real difference. And how, as wonderful as those big-dreaming people may be, they may never, ever see their big dreams come to fruition.

 

As I was watching “Love is Strange” and having these thoughts, I began crying. For it was at that moment that it occurred to me that being a good person may have to be enough for me in this lifetime. (Please don’t challenge my assumption that I actually am a good person. Thank you.) And y’all – I am such a big dreamer. The thought that being good may have to be its own reward took me by surprise. And I sort of lost it. I won’t lie. I’m still processing that idea.

 

“Cal’s trying to find himself,” said Lee. I guess this personal hide-and-seek

is not unusual. And some people are ‘it’ all their lives – hopelessly ‘it.’”

spoken by “Lee”

in East of Eden by John Steinbeck

 

And then when I finally finished reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, I encountered the above quote near the end and it did its part to floor me. I was shaken and stirred, if you must know. And there was nary a martini in sight.

 

After reading the lines spoken by Steinbeck’s character, “Lee,” I was so affected. And it occurred to me that I may very well be one of those souls who is eternally “it” – forever looking for me. It was a profound thought and as I’ve been living it all my life, it turns out I am far too acquainted with the idea. I know Steinbeck was a genius and all, but damn! How did he nail me so well? I’m guessing he nailed a lot of us with that one. I’m still processing that idea, too.

 

“Is that all there is? Is that all there is?

If that’s all there is my friends

then let’s keep dancing.”

written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller 

 

While wallowing in this intellectual soul stew, I thought of Peggy Lee singing “Is That All There Is” and couldn’t shake it. I’ve always loved the song, but I’ve never felt myself drowning in it the way I have recently. I mean, if I’m to accept being good as my life’s purpose, and if I’m to accept an eternal search for my true self as my life’s work, how do I  handle it? How do I stifle the big dreamer in me without letting go of the me in me? Is that what “Is That All There Is” is?

 

At about that point in this particular existential pseudo-crisis, Mister and I watched “Six by Sondheim.” This fantastic documentary gives a lovely overview of our greatest living stage musical songwriter (just my opinion, thank-you-very-much), while delving into six of his brilliant compositions. I loved the movie and it was quite moving. Mister was aware of my soul searching, so after watching it he suggested that perhaps I could shift my focus from self-doubt to self-acceptance. He pointed out the lyrics to one of Sondheim’s masterpieces…

 

“I’ve run the gamut, A to Z.

Three cheers and dammit, C’est la vie.

I got through all of last year, and I’m here.

Lord knows, at least I was there, and I’m here.

Look who’s here, I’m still here.”

“I’m Still Here” From “Follies”

written by Stephen Sondheim

 

I’m working on it.

And So It Begins. Again.

 

 

 

It started again, just as it has since 2010.

 

A couple of weeks before Rock Camp, I begin having odd dreams. Dreams that find me feeling inadequate, with little or nothing to offer. For example, the other night I dreamt I was in a war-torn country, unable to speak the language, desperate to flee. In an effort to escape the dangers around me, I found a wonderful group of women. Though I could not communicate with them, they sheltered me and endeavored to save me. I trusted them – blindly – and followed their lead. Then I woke, unsure if the dream-me ever managed to find safety.

 

This is the sort of dream I’m having each night. No matter the stage or setting, I find myself feeling lost. I also find myself surrounded by competent women. I can’t claim I feel envy or jealousy during these dreams, but I do feel small. Self-doubt creeps in, too. It’s hard to shake those feelings during the day. And I don’t care for that. I truly don’t.

 

This will be my 6th year volunteering at Rock Camp. And you’d think I’d have learned by now to chill the hell out. As much as my daily demeanor says I have learned, my dreams indicate otherwise. I am as scared now as I was back in 2010.

 

I wonder if I’m the only volunteer who goes through this sort of fraidy-cat, self-doubt thing. Hmm…

Dreams

 

 

When I was a kid growing up in Zebulon, GA, the closest thing to actual southern grace in architecture that I ever witnessed was in Griffin, Ga, just down the road a bit. I don’t remember clearly, but I think the houses I loved so much were on Hill Street. Then again, my memory’s a bit muddled on that front. Anyhoo, I loved those stately old homes. I often wondered what they looked like on the insides, and hoped to some day be invited into one. Like a lot of hopes and dreams, that one never came to pass.

 

One thing I romanticized about the south was Magnolia Trees. I don’t remember fully knowing what they were, but I knew of them. As an adult, I finally became familiar with them and can now spot one at 50 paces. My romantic notions are probably what led me to get overly-excited about the 3 Magnolia Trees growing here at the New Pad. And I do love these 3 trees. They’re evergreens, so they’re beautiful year-round. And when they’re blooming, the flowers smell amazing.

 

But here’s what I didn’t know about Magnolia Trees: they shed worse than a Maine Coon Kitty. And each year (that we’ve lived with these trees), I forget the shedding is coming. I understand it. I truly do. I get that new leaves want to be born and that room must be made. It’s basic. But damn! For the short spell when those leaves are dropping, clean-up is a be-yotch.

 

 

So we muddle through. And we sweep the deck. Over and over again. And just when I think I may be inching toward hating those trees, I look up and see a beautiful flower. And a breeze brings its perfume my way and I drift back to childhood. I’m riding in the backseat, dreaming about the lovely old homes of Griffin as they slide out of view of the car’s window. And I still wonder what lies behind those stately, historic doors…

Never Too Late

 

 

Yesterday I came across an excerpt from a new book, Getting There: A Book of Mentors. The piece was written by Matthew Weiner, creator of the fab show “Mad Men.” (Here’s the link to the piece.)

 

I loved this bit of advice from Mr. Weiner. I’m no spring chicken, friends. And while I don’t feel limited in what I can accomplish in life, no matter what my age may be, I do occasionally come across a peer who feels as if her options are limited – based solely on her age. With very few exceptions, that sort of thinking is bullshit. I mean, sure, a gal of a certain age certainly cannot become Miss Teen USA. I’ll grant you that one. But come on! Do we really need to shut down our own dreams and aspirations, just because of trips around the sun?

 

Anyhoo, I plan to get the aforementioned book. The Matthew Weiner piece is good enough to get me to read the whole danged thang. Right now – I’m just enjoying the glow from the excerpt.