Pop-Up Art in Los Angeles

 

There’s a pop-up art show going on near downtown Los Angeles, installed by “The Art Department,” an anonymous art collective working in and around L.A. I went today, but be warned: the show will only be open 2 more days (Saturday and Sunday). A link to the show’s info is here. And if you’re planning to attend and want to be surprised, stop reading this post, dammit!

 

Dandelions: One Dandelion Per Person

 

Actually, I’m not sure if this is an art show or not. I think it may be something altogether different. It may be performance. It may be magic. Or maybe my experience was atypical. It certainly got off on the right foot…

 

I was driving (to the address I’d received in an email) when my phone rang. It was my sweet friend Cate Graves, who’s now living in Nashville. She was just checking in, but talking with Cate is never just anything. She’s a freaking light in the world and I adore her. Our conversation meandered, insights were shared, spiritual guidance was gifted. By the time we said our good-byes, I was in the designated parking lot and ready to get my art on. I’m telling you this bit because I want you to understand my frame of mind at that time. I was in a warm, gooey joy bubble after talking with my friend. And because I speak openly with her, I was a wee bit vulnerable. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just, well, it’s just where I was.

 

Anyhoo – “The Art Department” had provided certain guidelines for their pop-up, so I checked in with the folks tasked with readying visitors and was given a ticket…

 

Dandelions: Magic Ticket

 

Well that was intriguing! After a few minutes, our group was instructed to walk the short distance to the installation. I was still going over thoughts and ideas my friend had sprinkled around me, so I didn’t really talk to anyone in the group. But my head wasn’t down, either. I was terribly moved by a fence of bougainvillea I passed along the way. It was worth slowing down to really see it…

 

Dandelions: On The Walk to The Experience

 

Once we’d arrived at the installation site – a live electrical substation-  some last-minute instructions were given. I listened and walked toward the building. I realized I was tightly gripping the ticket I’d received only a few minutes before.

 

Dandelions: Outside the Electrical Substation Building

 

I knew the word Dandelions was associated with this pop-up. I did not know anything beyond that. So when I climbed the external stairs to enter the building, I had no idea what waited behind the wooden door…

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden

 

The indoor garden took me by surprise and took me to joy. I started smiling and slowly walking through the living greenery, stopping here and there to study the scene.

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden - So Many Wishes

 

The space wasn’t pretending to be anything other than itself, but it didn’t need to pretend. It was beautiful. It was engaging. It was alive.

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden and Electric Substation Beyond

 

By the time I reached the end of the path, I really thought that might have been the whole she-bang. I had no idea how trippy-cool my experience was about to become.

 

I sat down with a uniformed gentleman who looked at me and asked, “Do you have your wish ready?” Y’all – I hadn’t prepared anything! But in that instant, I knew I did have a wish. And I was ready. So I answered in the affirmative and the gentleman drew something and asked if my wish resembled the drawing. I told him the truth, “I’ve never thought about how my wish might appear on paper. I suppose that’s as good an interpretation as any.” He asked if I was certain and I said I was. He then instructed me to go to the next station: The Wish-Tek 2000.

 

Dandelions: Wish-Tek 2000

 

The retro-cool of the moment wasn’t lost on me. The questions, though simple, made me really think about my wish. I continued to smile as I entered answers for each question. I may have laughed a few times, too. Once I’d completed my run-through of the program, I was instructed to go to the next station. There I found another uniformed  person, asking to see my hand stamp and ticket. After the lady processed my entry, I was sent into a room with a large map of L.A. County. There was also a printer there, continuously spitting out lines of prose.

 

Dandelions: It Was the City That Held You

 

The uniformed gentleman in that room handed me a small clipboard and instructed me to write my wish. He told me to then use a pin to attach my wish to the map, anywhere I wanted. I wrote the wish and after a moment of serious consideration, I chose a specific place to pin my wish. I moved on.

 

Dandelions: Wishes on the L.A. County Map

 

The next stop was really the culmination of the journey: setting my wish upon the air. The uniformed lady in that small space carefully chose a dandelion from a wall that contained about a jillion of the billowy orbs. She gave it to me and pointed to a wall, telling me to choose where my wish best fit…

 

Dandelions: Qualifying One's Wish

 

After blowing the dandelion seeds away and into the universe, I passed a window and looked through to the two-story high space occupying the same building. There were so many dandelion seeds moving through the air, it was magical. All I could think was how beautiful it was to see all those wishes floating about. All those dreams.

 

Dandelions: Wishes in the Air

 

I knew it was time for my experience to come to a close, so I walked toward the Seed Sorting Department…

 

Dandelions: Seed Sorting Department

 

I was astounded by the tremendous piles of seeds, practically filling the whole room. I took a few photos but realized the best pic was the one showing the seed sorter at work…

 

Dandelions: Seed Sorter at Work

 

I walked down a flight of stairs and made my way outside. I wasn’t caught off-guard by my constant smile. In the right frame of mind, I’m a pretty smiley chick. But I was surprised at the way I seemed to cry throughout the experience. I think the first tear fell when I entered the living garden and honestly, I didn’t stop crying until I was back in my car. That’s okay. Tears of joy are a gift. Having an unexpected artful experience is a gift. Living is a gift.

 

If you’re in L.A. and looking for something to do this weekend, consider going to the Dandelions installation. It’s quirky, it’s cool, it’s performance, it’s art. I don’t know how or why I was sent information about this pop-up. But I’m grateful to have seen it. And that wish I made? I’ll never tell…

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden - One Final Glance

Her Story Began…

 

G is For Girl

 

Once upon a time there was a gal who loved living. She loved the world. She loved seeing what might happen next.

 

She also felt things quite deeply. Sometimes she felt too much. At her best, she was able to process her feelings and all the resulting colors that filled her soul. At her best.

 

Other times, the world was too much for her. And she swayed beneath the weight. During those times, she drew inside her skin and tried to keep the darkness to herself. Whether or not this was a good idea never crossed her mind. The girl simply didn’t want that part of her to be shared.

 

There came a day when the girl realized she needed help. She needed her friends, yes, but she also needed to reach out beyond her circle for guidance. For better or worse (for better, surely), the girl recognized she could no longer muddle through her darkness. Her friends looked her in the eye and were there for her. Her doctor hugged her and said he would help. And she said thank you to each and every one of them.

 

She knew finding her footing would be work. She knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back to fitting in her skin. She knew the road would be long and that she would sometimes be traveling in darkness. She also knew she was strong. She knew she would eventually find the light. She knew her soul was worth saving.

 

And so her story began…

Bubye 2018

 

Bubye 2018

 

Most people I know are ready to toss 2018 into the wood chipper. Here in the States, among people with a modicum of integrity, the past year is viewed for the poo-show it was. Good riddance.

 

But there were glimmers of vitality and joy. Just the other night I danced my ass off and that was definitely a highlight. Not only that, but when I sat and watched other party-goers tear up the dance floor, I felt a joy bubble burst in my brain hole and just about smiled myself to death.

 

Rodin at the Norton Simon Museum

 

I saw amazing art, locally…

 

4th Day_Hyde Park_Christo and a Queens Swan

 

and abroad.

 

Sunset in December

 

The Los Angeles sunsets brought ridiculous awe and wonder to my front door. Thank you smog!

 

Bentley My Lover Dog

 

I got to visit with a dog I adore. Only this time he decided to show his love for me by going to town on my leg. As this is very uncommon for this well-behaved soul, I think his affection may be due to a past-life experience. Maybe Bentley and I were lovers in another time. I do hail from white trash, so maybe there’s some dog in my lineage. Whatever the reason, it was unexpected and not cool, dog.

 

Desert Respite

 

Mister and I had a desert respite. It was fun and restful and beautiful and we got to see dear friends. Win-win, y’all.

 

Blindfold Puzzle

 

While in the desert, I witnessed my friend SJ assemble a puzzle while blindfolded. Yep. She discerned which side of each piece was up while blindfolded. She separated side and interior pieces while blindfolded. Then she put the mutha together and it didn’t take very long. I love this gal for a lot of reasons. And now I love her even more.

 

Beer Advent Finished

 

Mister and I finished our Beer Advent Calendar, and we had a blast doing it. All those German beers were a treat. And the cans look so amazing on the mantel. As we don’t live in a frat house, they’ll be coming down today, however. That’s alright. We enjoyed them while they lasted.

 

I got through the first draft of part two of the book I’m writing, and as my goal was to get it out of my head before the year’s end, I’m feeling pretty good about that. Miles to go, of course, but still. Sometimes baby steps are incredibly fulfilling.

 

Mikki and Lorinda 2003

 

I also reconnected with someone I love more than butter. If you know a soul who seems to be part of the fiber of your being, then you can appreciate how I feel about this chick. She’s woven into me. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. Gratitude abounds.

 

2018 was a janky year, I won’t deny. But there were moments that stood out, moments that made a difference. And I want to do all I can to make even more stand-out moments come to life this year. It won’t be easy, y’all. My country is still being slowly destroyed by the worst president in history. Jackasses around the globe are discriminating against human souls in more ways than I can comprehend. Our environment seems to be dying. And don’t get me started on gender issues. Honestly – it’s enough to break a person. I know a few folks who have fallen so deeply into depression that they may not make it back. I’m not kidding. That’s heartbreaking.

 

But! I’m not ready to give up. In fact, I’m just getting started. You want a piece of me, 2019? Bring it on. I’m your worst nightmare – a Club 50, optimistic, brave, excited creator. And I’m about to make this year my bitch. Here we go…

 

Happy New Year!

 

Party Favors

 

I was at a holiday party and first, I have to tell you how much I love being invited to this chick’s home. It’s a textured, visual masterpiece. Art abounds. Play prevails. Sensuality surrounds. I love her home. It is a beautiful manifestation of the woman herself.

 

Anyhoo – upon leaving, guests encountered this box…

 

Holiday Party Favor

 

I took one of the wrapped pieces and headed out to catch a ride home. When I got there, I opened the package to find this…

 

Holiday Party Favor 2

 

My friend is pretty cool. And yes – I have placed this in my car. Right on and Happy Christmas.

This Beautiful Ride Called Living

 

Christmas Cheer!

 

How the hell did it get to be December already?

 

I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just surprised. And honestly, I enjoyed November so much I wasn’t quite ready to see it go. I didn’t enjoy all of it. The fires were terribly awful. And then there was that one crazy thing that happened, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Mostly, it was a pretty good month.

 

The Broad Mikki Outside

 

A couple of weeks ago, Mister and I spent an afternoon at The Broad and it was aces. For some reason, I thought there was a new Ed Ruscha exhibit and I was all hopped up about it. Only we got to the museum and I was hopping for no reason. There were a few new-to-me pieces on view, and those pieces were awesome, but my expectations were not met. Not by Ruscha. But then we wandered into an installation of Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors and I no longer wanted to hop, as I was floating. If you’re in L.A. and get the chance, please go. I cried through a smile so big, my cheeks still ache.

 

Ed Ruscha Works at The Broad

 

After the museum visit, we walked toward the train and found this young man on the sidewalk…

 

The Broad Poems for Sale

 

I immediately started digging in my pockets for cash, as there was no way I was gonna pass by a guy with a typewriter, selling poems, and not make a purchase. I didn’t get the feeling Jacob was one for talking too much, so our interaction was mostly limited to transaction…

 

The Broad I Bought a Poem

 

The very next day, I walked from DTLA…

 

DTLA_11.17.2018

 

 

to Santa Monica.

 

Wendy and Mikki at Sunset

 

Because I can. And because why the hell not? And because I had two friends along and one of them is a freaking light in the universe and the other was celebrating her actual birthday.

 

Route 66 Wendy and Amy

 

Hey – there’s nothing like a 17-mile stroll to make you feel young. This was my 3rd time participating in The Great L.A. Walk (GLAW) and I have to say – it was my personal best. No blisters or crazy soreness after. I felt pretty damned good, in fact. It was a beautiful day, the walk was smooth and the company couldn’t be beat. There was also that moment when we crossed paths with Bono (for reals). This is L.A. Shit like that happens.

 

The Broad - Metro Station

 

Before I tell you this next part, I’d like you to remember that I am fine and safe. I mean – I’m typing this and all is well. Um-kay? Okay. After the walk and subsequent GLAW celebrations had ended, when I took the train home from Santa Monica, there was … an incident. A young woman on the train was being harassed by a dude and it was one of those moments when you have to decide if you’re gonna be a stand-up person or not and all I could hope was that if I had to stand up for the woman that others would stand with me. The train was crowded and a whole lot of us were all too aware of the situation and again, I just hoped decency would prevail.

 

This particular young woman was seated directly in front of me, as our seats were in an L-shaped arrangement. Next to her was a young dude who, for whatever reason, decided to lean against and talk to the young woman. Never mind the fact that she was wearing gi-normous headphones and clearly not interested in talking to him. She tried pointing at the headphones, as if to indicate she couldn’t hear him. He was not deterred. After leaning against her for a bit, the dude stood up and – no shit – took off his shirt. Like that was in any way attractive. Or normal. Then he began leaning against her again.

 

Someone seated next to me moved and the young woman immediately asked if she could sit beside me. I nodded and she moved to my side. I leaned slightly toward her and removed one side of my headphones. She removed one side of hers. I said, “I’ve got your back.” She said, “Thank you.” We put our headphones in place and tried to act as if nothing was going on, all the while keeping watch on the dude three feet in front of us.

 

He began shuffling things around in the bags he had brought on the train, and that’s when he pulled out a knife. He held it in his hands and looked it over, turning it to admire the blade. That blade appeared to be around 8 to 10 inches. The dude just held it, studying it, and the young woman turned to me, terror on her face and I said to her, “Okay. You go.” She moved between people, ending up somewhere behind me on the train. I had already looked for the car’s emergency call switch and located it – behind the dude with the knife. That was out, as it would have put me in direct contact with him. I was holding my phone and as the train was still above ground and I had service, I called 911. I cupped my hand over the phone, to try and make myself audible over the train’s noise. I smiled and laughed a bit while talking with the emergency operator, trying to appear as if all was right in my little world. I gave as much information as I could and was told police would be boarding at the next stop. I told myself to breathe deeply.

 

The next stop came and went, y’all. No police. The dude was still one seat away. I thought maybe the next stop would bring help. Or the next one. Or the next. When the train moved beneath the city, I knew I could no longer call anyone for help as my phone service had ended. I was the closest person to the dude now and I was just trying to keep it together, hoping we’d pull into that last station without something going terribly wrong. All I could do was wait. That was all any of us could do.

 

When we reached the final stop, passengers were hustling to get the hell out of there. I stood calmly, picked up my pack and walked to the exit. Once I stepped off the train, I saw around 15 uniformed officers. I made eye contact with one and pointed toward the dude. About 3 of the officers nodded and headed into the train car.

 

Now – I needed to transfer to a different line to get home, but fear had caused me to just about pee myself. So I walked upstairs to a fabulous, familiar restaurant. The first person I saw was a busboy. I walked up to him, in my sweaty walking clothes and said, “I’m not here to order anything. I have been here many times and I love this place. But I just had a terrifying moment on a train and I really need to calm down in your ladies room.” That guy sweetly smiled and said, “Sure! Right this way…” and he walked me back to the loos. I think I peed for twenty minutes, then splashed some water on my face. I headed back downstairs to catch my train.

 

As I was walking down the escalator, my phone rang. It was one of the on-scene officers. He asked me some follow-up questions and I answered. I told him I was coming back to board a train and could talk in-person if he wanted. He acknowledged seeing me and suggested we keep it on the phone, so that I wouldn’t be identified during the arrest taking place nearby. I didn’t argue. I told the officer I had seen the dude place the knife in one particular bag. He said, “Oh – we found the knife and everything else.” Da fuh? Our conversation ended and I got on the next train headed my way.

 

I can’t tell you how fast my brain was processing everything around me that night. Where were my exits? Where was the emergency call button? What was the train car ID number? The upcoming stop? Why the fuck was this happening at all? And why was it happening after I’d walked 18 miles and needed some friggin’ sleep? But my brain did process. And I somehow stayed calm. I wasn’t called upon to fight anyone or to put out a fire or to be a hero. I was simply being a human in this city. My city. I did my part.

 

I didn’t see the young woman again, the one who’d been subjected to harassment and terror. I hoped she would be okay. As for me, I rode that second train to my stop, where Mister was waiting to pick me up and drive me home. I was safe. Tired and frazzled, too, but definitely safe.

 

Some of you reading this will admonish me for ever taking the train at all. Some of you will tell me to avoid crowded places, to shelter and hide from the dangers of the world. I get where you’re coming from. I do. But I’m not ready to give up this beautiful ride called Living. Not yet. I’m not ready to miss out on unexpected art. Or an introverted poet on the street. Or Bono, for cry-eye. I’m also not ready to give up being there for someone who’s decided to accomplish something on her birthday. Or someone who needs a stranger to have her back. Or Bono, for cry-eye. I mean – come on.

 

The world can be crazy. And parts of it have gone bat-shit mad, I admit. But in my city, the good still outweighs the bad. And I intend to do all I can to maintain that balance. That includes Living my Life. For as long as I’m able. God knows, I love being alive.

 

Yes.

 

Love

Summer in the Rear View

 

Mikki in a Mirror

 

Another summer has passed and I’m not sure I’ve anything to show for it. It wasn’t wasted, mind you, but I can’t claim to have bettered myself. Honestly – if I weren’t writing this post, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. But when you take an assessment, details – or the lack thereof – become apparent.

 

Happy Birthday, Gwendlyn!

 

On one fine summer day, my friend Gwendelyn persuaded me to go register voters with her, south of L.A. She does this on a regular basis, because she’s a giver. But me? Not so much. It takes a lot of energy for me to interact with strangers and as I’ve been dealing with a fair level of anxiety for the past few years, I’m reluctant to engage with people I don’t know. But Gwendelyn is persistent. And she’s one of my very favorite souls, so I agreed to accompany her. In a very red part of the state. (I’m a proud liberal, don’t you know.) So there we were, trying to get people to give a damn, and Gwendelyn was dealing with more than her share of push-back from people who didn’t seem too thrilled with her Obama t-shirt. I was wearing one, too, but for some reason, the flack seemed reserved for my friend. And then it was my turn. I asked some passersby if they were registered to vote and a lady looked my way and said, “You’re on the wrong team!” I don’t know what possessed me, but without skipping a beat I responded, “Oh – as Americans, I thought we were all on the same team.” The lady stopped walking, looked at me, stammered a bit, and when she was unable to come up with a reply, she turned and walked away. That was the worst of it. Otherwise, it was a fine way to spend a Wednesday. And you’ll never catch me complaining about being with my friend. She really is that awesome.

 

Gwendelyn Cake Topper

 

Speaking of Gwendelyn, that girl went and got hitched to a swell guy this summer. As she’s an amazingly creative person, she wanted something a little different for her wedding cake. So she and her fella got themselves duplicated and then she and I built a mighty fine cake topper. I think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to make. And I think she and her Mister really liked it.

 

Pool Rules

 

There were more pool days than I can remember. A lot of them ran together, though, as Mister and I took it upon ourselves to scrape the tiles surrounding the top of the pool. All 1500+ of them. I don’t know how many years of mineral build-up there was, but we addressed all of it – by hand. We finished the task just as the summer was ending and the water temperature was dropping to an unsavory level, making it too cold to swim. It was a lot of work, but I’m glad it’s done.

 

You're Never Too Old...

 

Physical Therapy was a constant for me all summer, due to some tearing in my shoulder. My range of motion has definitely improved, and that’s a very good thing. The cringe-worthy pain has finally gone – thank all the gods. A little remains, however, and I still can’t move my shoulder as fully as I’d like, but I’m working on it. This particular injury has forced me to acknowledge my age in a way I hadn’t previously. Healing is so much slower now. And that sucks, friends. No doubt about it. But I’ll tell ya – I’ve seen some folks in PT that aren’t doing so well, so I’ll take what I can get. Really.

 

London Concert Day - Happy Anniversary - Photo by Mister

 

Mister and I had a big, fat anniversary along the way and we celebrated in London and Edinburgh. I’ll work on sharing some of that in a later post, as some of the sights, sounds and experiences seem worthy. But for now, you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you it was an awesome trip.

 

Mikki Dancing

 

This is definitely an abridged version of my summer. Some of that’s because I don’t keep a damn calendar for all of damned time, like a damned freak (ahem, dammit). Some of it’s due to my knowing that most of my summer was of interest to exactly one person – me. And even then, sometimes, not so much. But you know what? I still had fun here and there. I can honestly say that there were a few times I laughed so much, I cried. It’s been a while, y’all. Joy has been a bit of a stranger in my little world. To have her visit, and to assert herself, well, it was a gift. I’m hoping for more of that. Always hoping, at least…

 

Dancers Hearts

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Christmas in Hollywood

 

I have never understood why “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music is considered a holiday song. The mere mention of snowflakes hardly seems reason enough to qualify, but the song is about to be all over the danged place, now that it’s December, so I am obviously wrong in my thinking.

 

Anyhoo – I thought I’d share a few of my own favorite things to kick off the last month of the year. Bear in mind that if you ask me next week, my list will probably change. But this is today. And these are some of the things I’m digging on…

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Squares

 

Squares. I’ve been crocheting all kinds of 9-inch squares to be made into blankets for women undergoing serious treatments at a local hospital. I don’t know how to knit, so I crochet. I don’t really know how to properly crochet either, so the squares turn out a little janky sometimes. That’s okay. It’s all done with good intentions and love, and I like to think those sentiments outweigh my lack of skill. I will likely never meet any of the recipients of the assembled blankets, and that’s okay, too. Doing something for others without accolades is ridiculously fulfilling. I highly recommend it.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Pearls

 

Pearls. I don’t own real pearls, but I do have a few strands of fake beauties. I wear them all the time and someone always comments about how they wish they’d thought to wear their own pearls. The large plastic baubles seen here are especially dear to me. I got them when I was 15 years old. I was at a thrift store in Griffin, GA, and when I spotted these, I knew they were destined to be mine. I can’t remember the price, but they were either fifteen or thirty-five cents. Either way, it was a bargain and I’m still smitten.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Sunsets

 

Sunsets. We’ve been having some real doozies lately and I’m loving them. I take as many photos as I can, for painting references. The thing about sunsets is they’re so spectacular, if I were to paint them, no one would believe it. They’re beyond anything I could come up with on a canvas, and yet I desperately wish I could capture some of what I see in the sky. I try, anyway. And I fail. And then I try again.

 

Mister! Mister!

 

Mister. He pretty much makes the list, no matter when. But it’s still nice to actually like the guy. And for some strange reason, he continues to come home every day. To me. I’m no picnic, y’all, and I know that he could change his mind about this whole till-death-do-us-part business and decide to mosey elsewhere in life. (It could happen.) So I appreciate whatever time I get with the fella. It counts. A lot.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - First Christmas Card of the Season

 

The first Christmas Card of the Year. I always marvel that we continue to receive cards each December! Some of that awe comes from the fact that we occasionally don’t send squat, and reciprocity would dictate not receiving anything in return. But come December, that first card arrives and I start grinning. This year’s first-of-the-season greeting was from our mail carrier. She wanted to let us know that she was retiring.  I’ve liked that gal and she’ll be missed. But life keeps going (if we’re lucky and a cheet-o in a slumpy suit doesn’t get us all killed). So I wish our now former mail carrier the best as she embarks on the next part of her journey.

 

Happy Birthday, Gwendlyn!

 

Friends. The Social Season is in full-swing and I’m already tired. Grateful, but tired. Maybe it’s age, but I am in the throes of deep appreciation for my friends. I, like a lot of folks, know scads of people. But friends, well, that’s another matter. Having friends in one’s life – people we can call on in emergencies or times of need – is a blessing. I don’t get to see these friends nearly enough. But when I do, I catch myself smiling more than usual. I’d say that’s a pretty good sign of how much I care for them there folk. What a gift.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Christmas CDs

 

Christmas Music. Even though I don’t get the song referenced in this post’s title being a Christmas song, I still really like when all that great music rolls around. Mister and I have drawers full of Christmas CDs, and will likely add another to the mix this year. It takes a near Herculean effort just to get through them during the month of December. And that is why, Mister, we’ll start listening to them today. I really can’t believe I have to explain my reasons for this year after year, but since you seem to forget from one December to the next, Mister, consider this a written explanation. But I digress… Some songs are loved more than others, naturally, and I’m pretty excited to hear them. Yeah, sure – I may still be wearing flip-flops throughout the month, but a gal can dream. And my dreams are currently taking place in a winter wonderland. Where the soundtrack rules.

 

We’ve got 31 days left in this year, friends. Let’s make it count. I intend to live those days with some of my favorite things keeping me company. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to put on my fake pearls, load the car with a few good Christmas CDs, drop off some crocheting to be donated, visit with friends and pick up a Christmas tree with Mister and get home before sunset to start decorating the tree and stringing up the holiday card display. I may throw some Barb’s Boozy Eggnog into the mix. Why not? I’ve got to shake a tail feather though, as those flip-flops don’t do much in the way of keeping my feet warm after the sun goes down.

 

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

 

 

For years now, Mister has been telling me each time he eats a hard-cooked egg with double yolks. He eats only the whites, but they’re part of his breakfast most every day, so he’s going through a lot of eggs. And each time he tells me, I remind him that I’ve never – not once – even seen a double-yolk egg. And I’m always a little jealous. True.

 

Several weeks ago, we were visiting dear friends and sweet Susan offered to make breakfast. We were standing around, talking, and Susan cracked the first egg into a bowl. It was a double yolk! And I was there to see it! Sweet Susan cracked the next egg, and the next, and the next… A whole dozen eggs were floating in that bowl and each one had two yolks. It was a Christmas miracle! In July! Beautiful, I tell ya.

 

Today I have a bit of surgery on the schedule. I don’t want to go into it, but it’s for the best and if all goes as planned, my health will be top-notch after today (and subsequent recovery). I’m thinking of this bowl of lucky eggs in hopes of smooth proceedings. I’ll take all the luck I can get. Good thoughts are appreciated, too.

Happy Bricks

 

 

I had heard it before. But I had never really listened.

 

It was March 1980. Kim Cox was having a birthday party at the Holiday Inn in Griffin, GA. Her step-daddy, Lee, was the manager of the hotel (or was it a motel?) and so Kim got to have her party in one of the conference rooms. It wasn’t a large space and it wasn’t a large gathering. But for poor kids like me, it was a big deal. The Griffin Holiday Inn was the nicest hotel/motel for miles, and I had been invited to a popular girl’s party! There were several varieties of co-colas and several snacks. And there was music. Rock music of the day. Good music, too. In particular, I remember hearing Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him” and loving it. Kids that we were, there wasn’t much dancing going on. The girls mostly hugged one wall while the boys mostly hugged another. It was innocent. And it was fun.

 

And then it wasn’t fun. Apparently, in a nearby conference room, there was a meeting of men from a local Baptist church. A Southern Baptist church, to boot. (A church that I and most others at the party did not belong to, by the way.) Southern Baptists don’t take kindly to dancing. And the more pompous among them don’t care much for secular music. I guess some asshole from that meeting heard our music from behind a closed door, so he walked right in and went over to the hi-fi and Turned. It. Off. He then threw a brief hissy fit and lectured us kids on how we were sinners and should be ashamed of ourselves for being there in the middle of such corruption. He looked pretty full of himself and was about to head out when Kim’s mama burst into the room.

 

To say Judy was a petite woman is ambitious generosity on my part. She was always impeccably dressed and her hair and make-up were just so. She was lovely, strong and I liked her a lot. Whenever I saw her with her kids, she seemed like a real good mother. She was also a firecracker and woe be unto him who thought he could stand up to that little gal. When Judy came in to find some yahoo trying to shut down her daughter’s birthday party, I actually felt sorry for the guy. She marched over to the stereo, seething, “Turn that music back on!” She then smiled at all us kids, told us to get back to the party and have a good time, and dragged that Southern Baptist S-O-B into the hall. Even over the strains of the music, we could hear Judy yelling from the other side of the door. She told that church guy, in no uncertain terms, that he had crossed a line and that he had better cut out before she really gave him what for. That her daughter’s party was none of his business. I don’t think she swore, as Judy wasn’t like that. And I don’t remember that jerk saying a single word in response. I’m guessing he knew he was in trouble and had best get the hell out of there before Judy switched from verbal to physical attack mode. That guy had upset her daughter and Judy was pissed. After giving a much-deserved lashing in the hall, Judy came back in to make sure the party had again picked up. She was all smiles and if you hadn’t heard her tearing the stuffing out of that church jerk, you’d never have known she’d been riled at all. She was in control and she was grand.

 

But I digress. This post isn’t about the memory of that long-ago party. It’s about the song that was playing when the disruption took place: Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in The Wall (Part 2)”. When I hear that song now, I am immediately transported to the Griffin, GA Holiday Inn’s conference room – the place where the song’s lyrics first penetrated my brain and took hold. After that night, I couldn’t escape the song. Didn’t want to. I wanted more. I needed to know what was going on in those lyrics and what they meant. At some point, I saved enough lunch money to get the whole record. On cassette. I started studying the compositions, each song, and trying to decipher depth and meaning. I didn’t get far, truth be told, but I also didn’t let go. There was something there, just out of reach.

 

A couple of years later, I was given some clarity when “Pink Floyd – The Wall” was released in theaters. The movie was a freak show and it was fabulous. By the time of its release, I was a pretty messed-up kid. Sucky home life and depression were bearing down. Decent adults weren’t able to help, and there were very few of them in my life anyway. The ones that did reach out (Mrs. Woods at Pike County High School, thank you), well, their good intentions were lost on me. I had been failed by my parents and didn’t trust adults. More than once, so-called grown-ups had proven themselves dangerous and harmful. So when a good person tried to give me a hand, I lumped them in with the others and backed away. I didn’t have the tools to discern decency. And I didn’t have faith in those older than me and my peers.

 

But I did trust music and art. So when the opportunity to go to Atlanta and see “Pink Floyd – The Wall” at the old Fox Theatre presented itself, I took advantage. My small group of friends – all of us searching for something – went to the big city and settled in. The movie was amazing. (Still is.) The music became even more real for me and the accompanying visuals brought new meaning to the lyrics I’d been holding on to since that Holiday Inn party. As much as I wanted to “tear down the wall,” I decided instead that, at that time, I’d be better served by building a wall. And so I began.

 

The bricks I used were ugly. There were lies and deception, greed and manipulation. And those materials were supplied only by my parents. Time brought more darkness and more bricks. By the time I was a young woman, I had mastered a false smile and a fake aura of happiness. Having been depressed since, well, all my life, I had gotten really good at hiding it. Whenever I felt let-down by anyone – even by myself – I added that brick to my wall. I really didn’t know how else to live.

 

But there was more to me than that. Deep inside, I held out hope. Hope that “happy” was real. Hope that joyful people weren’t faking it, that some people in the world really did love their lives and, at least on occasion, felt good. I never talked about it. I never told anyone how distraught I was, or how long I’d been in that lowly state. I didn’t know how to talk about it. But it was getting worse. I was getting worse. I was somewhere in my late twenties and each day weighed a bit more than the last. Something had to give.

 

It was my brain. I had a bit of a nervous breakdown. I can still see the room and the light coming in the window. I remember the phone ringing. And for some reason I answered. I had to crawl to the phone, because I didn’t have the strength to get there otherwise. Thank god I did, as that phone call from a distant friend served as a helping hand. And for the first time in almost thirty years, I trusted the grown-up on the other side of that conversation. I began to tear down the wall.

 

I sought therapy. I worked hard. Some parts of me that weren’t quite right had to be broken down before they could be rebuilt. Others had to be constructed from scratch. So many basic behaviors were unknown to me. I had never been taught how to deal with confrontation or disagreement. (I had been taught, by my parents, that I wasn’t allowed to confront them or to even be angry with them. Swear to god.) There was a lot to learn. A lot to do. And every time I gained the slightest understanding, another brick was removed. Over time, I tore down my wall. I not only gained a greater view and relationship with the world, I also gained a relationship with myself. And I was pretty damned pleased to meet me. Flawed, happy me.

 

So that’s how I moved through life for the last couple of decades. There have been amazing ups and terrifying downs. Through it all, my goal has been to remain honest with myself first, so that I could be honest with those in my little world. And it’s worked. Or at least it did. Right up until this past November, when I fell into a not-unfamiliar dark hole.

 

Before my country was suckered into supporting hate, I hadn’t been depressed for decades. (There’s a difference, for me, between being down and being full-on depressed.) I thought I was just down. I thought I was stronger than my blues. I thought I could ride it out. But sometimes we don’t see ourselves clearly. Maybe we don’t want to. Maybe we’re wearing blinders and don’t know it. Whatever the reason, I didn’t see that I had become clinically depressed. Again. I didn’t see that I was in real trouble and needed outside help.

 

This time, the hand of kindness came in the form of a lovely woman, Robin. Even though we’ve only known each other a short while, she listened to me when I opened up and told her what I was going through. She looked in my eyes, and actually heard me. I told her I had worked so hard to tear down my wall and now I was too exposed, too vulnerable. That’s when Robin gazed into my soul and said that maybe I should rebuild my wall, only this time perhaps I should use Happy Bricks.

 

I don’t know how those words affect you. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t care. I only know that when Robin suggested I use Happy Bricks to build a self-preserving, self-caring wall, I was thunderstruck. Yes! Of course! Happy Bricks! Why hadn’t I thought of that?

 

Walls aren’t the enemy. Some are certainly downright hurtful and harmful, but that’s no reason to cast all walls in a sour light. Walls hold up my roof. Walls provide privacy and sanctuary in my backyard. Walls hold art and windows, views to life and the world. Walls keep me safe. Good walls always have.

 

And so I find myself mixing mortar, gathering Happy Bricks to build a new wall. 35 people participated in the Womens March in Zebulon, GA (my hometown) – that’s a Happy Brick. A complete stranger saw me crocheting squares for blankets to be donated to local chemo patients and she asked how she could knit to help – that’s a Happy Brick. The Netherlands stepped up to provide healthcare for women around the globe after our government chose to withdraw women’s healthcare support as punishment  for having dared to march en masse – that’s a Happy Brick. It’s true – I’ve lost a lot these past few months. People I once respected are choosing willful ignorance. Relationships have ended or have been damaged. The injury to my country, though only just begun, deepens each day. It’s sad, heartbreaking, and for some, it will no doubt prove deadly. But I can’t give all my energy to those truths. Some of my strength has to go toward pulling myself up from the muck, toward taking those beautiful hands that reach down to lift me skyward. Toward adding another Happy Brick to my wall.

 

Working through this new depression won’t be easy. Working for decency and good won’t be easy, either. But that work will still be right, and must be done. I’m up for it. I’ve pulled myself toward happiness once before. I’ve witnesseed Kim Cox’s mama, Judy, standing up to a bully nearly twice her size and I’ve never forgotten seeing that. I’m no Judy. But I’m a mighty fine version of Mikki. And self-righteous yahoos would be wise to steer clear. I’ve got mortar, a sharp trowel and a load of Happy Bricks on my back. And I damn sure know how to use them.

Friday Pick-Me-Up

 

 

I’m writing this post for me, as I sorely need it.

 

The petite gal shown in the photo above is Margene. She lives with my friend Betro. Margene and her sister (Roxy) are hilarious. And kind. And loving. And about a jillion other things pets are known for. When I visit Margene, she gets all excited and playful and her enthusiasm really perks me up. It would be easy to take her joy as something personal, but she doesn’t remember me from visit to visit. I know this. But Margene still manages to make me feel welcome and, I daresay, loved.

 

I’m sometimes jealous of my friends with pets. They receive unconditional love and devotion each and every day, no matter what’s going on in their lives or in the world. Pets don’t care about our screw-ups. They just care about us. When I think about that, I often wish I had it in my own home.

 

And then there are the other times. The times when I don’t have to arrange a pet-sitter, or when I don’t have to spend several thousand dollars to preserve a beloved pet’s health. Those times leave me feeling pretty free and easy. And I like that. A lot.

 

Six of one, half a dozen of another, I guess. When our yard gets fenced in (I’m praying to the garden gods), we may very well get a dog. We may very well not. I’m not sure. Either way, I get to visit Margene once in a while. I’ll take it.