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.

Flower Power

A while back I told y’all I was crocheting squares for blankets, blankets that would be donated to women going through critical treatment at a local hospital. I said something or other about the beauty of doing something for others, knowing there would never be any acknowledgement from said others. That the giving was the reward. I was content with those thoughts and figured I’d pass on the squares and the rest would be out of my line of sight.

 

Turns out, it was going to be a bit of a hurdle to get those squares to someone who might turn them into the needed blankets. Instead of fretting or waiting, I decided to just take care of it myself. I hadn’t imagined my squares being used together, for if I had, I wouldn’t have embellished so many of them. (I’m a girl. I embellish and bedazzle.) But embellished they were, and I worked with what I had on hand.

 

As I connected the crocheted squares, I did see flaws and janky stitches. I saw mistakes and even added a few more. And through it all, I prayed that the piece be imbued with love. Just love. And an interesting thing happened. I was filled with love. While I worked on the piece, I was calm and content. And when it was finished, I knew it would appeal to some quirky, spirited individual. And that she would love it. I call it Flower Power…

 

Flower Power Blanket

The End of An Era

 

 

Seventeen years ago I needed a car. I had an old beater, and it had served me well. Its hatchback had also fallen on my head a few times and jacked up my neck. There are a lot of things up with which I can put, but bodily harm ain’t one of ‘em. So the beater had to go.

 

 

I was out walking one day and I passed a couple of old ladies sitting on a bench. As I moved by them, I overheard one of the ladies saying she needed to sell her recently deceased friend’s car, as that was the last item to settle in the deceased’s estate. I stopped in my tracks and actually backed up. I looked at the ladies and said, “I need a car.” Conversation ensued and we set an appointment for me to test drive the vehicle.

 

 

When I  showed up, I knew I was in trouble, as I instantly fell in love with the car. After a very quick negotiation, we shook on the price and the deal was done. That’s how I became the caretaker of a 1966 Volvo 122 S.

 

 

I have loved that car more than you know. The adventures we’ve shared – some good, some not-so-good – are etched in my memory. I once drove her through a flooded intersection and the water was so high, it knocked out the engine. Momentum got me to the side of the road, where I had to wait for the old gal to dry out before she’d start again. I had to learn to use a choke with this car. When she was cold, I’d ride the choke like nobody’s business, until she warmed up a bit. I got real good at it, too. And I remember this one time, I was driving her in downtown L.A. Mister and his buddy Jack Daniels were in the back seat and my friend Gillian was in the front. As I took a hard left turn, at speed, Gillian’s passenger side door started to swing open. I reached across, real quick-like, and grabbed the door before she fell out. Also, whenever the front windshield fogged over, I used a throw pillow to wipe it clean so that I could see. I’ve kept a couple of leopard-printed throw pillows in there for the front passengers (myself included). The seat webbing has sagged and I can’t see over the dash without the boost of a pillow. These are just a few of the memories I’ve stored involving the old Volvo. Truth be told, there are too many to recount.

 

 

But now, well, it’s the end of an era. The old gal has been sold to someone else. I imagine he’s gonna hot-rod the shit out of it and make it into something altogether different. That’s okay. She belongs to him now and he gets to do as he pleases. I don’t begrudge him that. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s supposed to be. He’s gonna tweak and tinker and come up with something that makes his heart melt. Honestly, I kind of knew he was in trouble the first time he came to see her. It looked to me like he fell in love with her, instantly.

 

 

Nothing lasts forever, friends. The car’s original owner, Gertrude, had the old Volvo from 1966 (when it was brand-spanking-new) until her death in 2000. Sammie, the gal who sold the car to me, well, she passed away last year. And now the old Volvo is off to other parts of the world, and to new adventures with her new owner. If he’s lucky, she’s got another 100,000 miles in her. Volvos are weird that way. Only time will tell.

 

 

The day before I watched her drive away for the last time, I took her for a spin. I don’t know what possessed me, but I reached over to the old radio. It’s been broken for years, so I’ve always just driven around with my own thoughts providing the soundtrack for my travels. But there I was, reaching for that knob, as if it was something I’d done every day. And I swear, the radio came on. And so I listened to “The Sound,” a radio station that’s about to be gone forever, as its new owners plan to switch the format from Classic Rock to Christian Pop. (I would call that an oxymoron, but it’s simply moronic.) I started laughing and crying, and it wasn’t lost on me that the old gal was giving me the gift of a little goodbye music. That she was playing herself off the stage. That she was giving me one last memory.

 

 

And memories I have. Along with more photos than most people might find sensible. I don’t know what to tell you. I loved the old gal. She got me around. In style. She came along just when I needed her and she helped me be true to myself. That one’s too deep to go into, so you’ll just have to trust me.

 

 

I wish the new owner well. I hope he and the old Volvo have spectacular adventures and that they make memories he can file away for himself. Memories that bring a smile to his face someday, when he’s well into middle-age and remembering.

 

 

We should all be so lucky as to have fond memories. Of life, of love, of cars. I can almost hear the old gal humming, and she’s beautiful.

 

Get Out of Your Mind

 

 

The other night I was painting at the studio and chatting with my buddy, Nicole. One of the topics covered was the importance of liking our nearest and dearest. And we weren’t merely talking about our romantic partners, either. Liking friends is pretty danged important, too.

 

When we fall in love with someone, we tend to be temporarily blinded to faults and less-than-perfect behavior. He pops his knuckles? That’s so cute! She wears socks to bed? How darling! Some of the things we don’t see at the beginning of a relationship can really drag a person down, five years in. But this is how we’re designed. Our biological imperative is to mate and to insure the survival of our species. That in-the-beginning blindness is our DNA’s way of trying to get knocked up.

 

It isn’t that different when friendships are formed. We become smitten with someone and think they’re the bee’s knees. We overlook the amount of energy required to simply carry on a conversation with a dude. Or we think her petty comments about our hair aren’t petty at all, and maybe she’s on to something and a style change is called for. Only after time has worn away the new relationship fog do we begin to truly see. And once we’ve seen how much effort it takes to entertain that dude, or how that chick’s comments are really veiled insults, only then do we begin to understand how unsuitable that person may be for a lasting friendship.

 

So yes. Liking someone is important. And it’s a two-way street. But I digress.

 

Back to the other night… As the conversation with my buddy progressed, both of us spoke of the value of time apart from our loved ones, no matter how much we like them. She said something about how lovely it is to miss a person. And how important it is to be able to feel that for someone. I agreed. As a gal in a long-friggin’-term marriage, I know what a gift it is to get someone out of our minds once in a while. When I said as much, another thought occurred to me: it is just as important to get away from oneself every now and then.

 

That really got me thinking. I mean – how do I get away from myself, and give me some space? Meditation is one answer. And if you’re a practitioner, you surely know the grace granted from that discipline. Personally, I’ve never been very good at solitary meditation. I tend to benefit more from a class, or from a guided situation. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced meditative bliss. Painting is meditative. So is gardening. Any practice that engages my mind to the point of absorption and single-minded focus is meditative for me. And it is during those moments that I am able to get out of my own mind and, as a result, get a break from myself.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love me. I do. And most of the time I actually like myself! In fact, I’m quite partial to my own company and truly enjoy my Mikki time. (If you’re lucky, you feel the same way about time with yourself.) It’s beautiful to appreciate one’s company. Beautiful and fabulous. And yet – I occasionally need a break from me. Meditative practices give me those breaks and allow me to miss me.

 

When I realized all this, after talking with my buddy, I knew I had figured out a small part of my relationship with myself. And it made me happy. Not only that, it made me appreciate me even more. As my own best friend and most trusted advocate, that appreciation is a blessing.

 

We’re about to enter that phase of the year when the parties and family get-togethers seem endless. Some of the faces we’ll see will have been missed dearly. Some – not so much. But see them we shall. So let’s try and administer a bit of self-care during these last few months of the year. Let’s engage our minds in meditative activities as often as possible. Let’s give ourselves some love and some space. After all – all those social commitments are temporary. Those relationships, be they family or friend, will never be as intimate as the one we practice with ourselves.

 

Love yourself. Please. You deserve it. I swear to beans.

Hump Day

 

 

I don’t always think about Wednesdays as being the middle of the work week. But once in a while, the thought crosses my mind. And on those occasions, I understand why some folks need to get through and over Hump Day.

 

Depending on one’s life and schedule, weekends can be a blessing. For me, the weekend means hanging out with Mister. Which I love. The weekend also means cooking (and eating) good food. Maybe seeing loved ones. Maybe just chilling the hell out.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that weekends may be a curse for some folks. Maybe there’s ugliness in a relationship and the weekend brings too much time with someone. Or maybe there’s a double-shift on Saturday and the very thought of punching that clock is draining. If you’ve never felt the dread that accompanies painful situations – be they professional or personal – consider yourself blessed. We are not all on the same schedule, nor are we all wearing the same shoes. A whole lot of souls do not look forward to certain days of the week.

 

Today, in the middle of the work week, I happen to feel blessed. I’m healthy and loved. I have work to occupy my hands and creative endeavors to occupy my spirit. Today I will tick this Hump Day off the calendar, moving me 24 hours closer to Friday and to whatever the weekend provides. I’m already excited.

Celebrating Love

 

 

Today is the birthday of the love of my life. And I get to celebrate it. Him. Love.

 

I’d like to say Mister and I are still in the first half of our lives, but the truth is – we can’t know. We may be, sure. But maybe not. And because I am aware of that (which I certainly wasn’t when I was younger), I appreciate each birthday, each anniversary, each celebration. And heaven knows – I appreciate Mister.

 

So today I wish him a happy birthday and I send him love. I know I’ll be celebrating with him, but I still wish good things for him. Now, and always.

The Parts I Hate

 

 

I just read this lovely post by Elizabeth Gilbert. I won’t go into its particulars, as she covers the territory so beautifully and sweetly and funnily that I needn’t add a thing.

 

But can I just say a little something about timing? I happened upon this post yesterday morning. And I had just been going over some thoughts and feelings about myself that were, well, less than love-filled. And while I am constantly in awe of the way the universe brings hope my way (this time in the form of the Gilbert post), I am not surprised. Not anymore. Because once I started paying attention to the magic of this world, it began appearing more regularly. Or maybe it was always there, only I wasn’t. There, I mean.

 

Today I am present. In my skin and in my mind. And thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert, I get to see myself and the parts I ordinarily hate a little differently. With love.

 

I’ll take it.

One Day

 

 

Today is Valentine’s. And if you get all googly-eyed over it, good on ya. Celebrate away, my friend. Knock yourself out. Really – enjoy!

 

Over the last couple of days, I’ve smiled each time I’ve seen a dude juggling flowers and whatever else it is that dudes carry while getting out of cars and unlocking doors. Some of the guys looked as if they were terrified of somehow hurting the flowers. And though I’m sure chicks have been going through their Valentines preparations, I’ve not seen any of them. Only dudes. It’s been sweet.

 

For me, today is just another day of the week. We don’t have out-of-the-ordinary dinner plans and there will be no flowers or chocolates exchanged in our home. Instead, Mister and I will have Sunday Supper together and maybe catch up on some telly. We will be considerate and kind to one another. We will love each other and we’ll appreciate and respect one another. I can’t tell you what a gift it is to share that with someone every day of the year. We don’t need one day. We get all of them.

 

So when someone asks me about my Valentine’s Day rituals and then feels sorry for me when they hear I don’t have any, well, don’t worry. My rituals are so full of love, most folks wouldn’t believe it. (And we even received a perfect-for-us card, shown above. So fun!)

 

I am truly blessed. And I know it.

Sentimental Lady

 

 

I’ve never had a garage or yard sale. Not because those things are beneath me, mind you. Oh no. I’ve attended many a garage sale and still look to a good yard sale for this or that. I’ve never conducted a garage sale because I don’t want to do the work. And that’s the truth. I know how I am, and if I were to host a yard sale, I’d want everything to be just so and presented in this way and priced/labeled and orderly and I’m already making myself crazy, just thinking about it!

 

As it happens, I do end up with things – good things, not trash – that need to leave my home. And those things are relegated to what I call “The Goodwill Pile.” I usually have a large bag of clothes going, and I add to it until it’s filled. Small appliances or housewares go to the designated area, too. Once there’s a decent amount (or the area is just too danged full), I call the fine folks at the Vietnam Veterans of America and they come pick it all up. It’s a win-win situation as far as I’m concerned.

 

Recently I came across a “Habitat Restore” and checked it out. For those who don’t know, the Restore is part of Habitat for Humanity and its efforts to provide homes for folks who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have their own houses. Some of what’s for sale in the Restores comes from demo jobs done by Habitat volunteers. One can find kitchen and bathroom cabinets there. I saw various moulding and trim pieces. There were pallets of bricks and tile, as well as appliances and HVAC units. Those are bigger things and the money saved from buying from a Restore can be mucho. But I also saw things donated by regular folks. Things like furniture and decorative objects. And the pieces I eyed were super-well-priced.

 

Anyhoo – I had a few items to donate that weren’t the sorts of things I usually give to the Vets. In particular, I had 2 lovely silk lamp shades and a coffee table. They were good pieces and I wanted them to go to a worthy cause, so I loaded up the old Volvo and dropped them off at a Habitat Restore. As a young dude was helping to take the coffee table out of my car, he started asking about the table and saying how good it looked. I told him I had refinished that piece myself and that we had loved it for a long, long time. He thought it was in too good of shape to be very old, and asked just how long. I thought for a second, then told him how we had lived and loved around that table for 22 years. He was impressed and took the table and lamp shades into the store to be priced.

 

And that’s when it hit me. Thoughts of when we’d gotten that table and how we’d moved it around with us danced through my mind. I remembered working on it in the driveway of a former abode and how happy I was with how it had turned out. Food and drink had been spilled on that table, and feet had been propped up there as well. Bills had been spread out on its surface and our only pet, Moby Joe Fish, had lived his all-too-short life there.

 

After thinking about the old table, I felt a flood of gratitude. And I thought about how I hope someone else will find it in the Restore, take a shine to its antique nail head trim and decide to carry it home. And then they can live and love around its gleaming wood surface as well. Maybe make their own memories. Who knows? Maybe the love already witnessed by that table will somehow emanate from it into its new home. That wouldn’t be too shabby now, would it?

 

I am a sentimental lady, I know. That’s not a bad thing, friends. And when sweet, sweet memories cross my mind, I am grateful. Grateful to be a gal who is sentimental, and grateful to have a life full of touching recollections. We should all be so lucky.