21 September 2008

My Bucket List

Things I had always wanted to do before I die (all without a tour group)...
Visit Alcatraz
Visit Ellis Island and look up my great-grandparents' names
Climb Lady Liberty - all the way to the torch
Take the American Orient Express (I've never been on a train)
Fly first class to Europe (I've never flown first class anywhere)
Visit England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, etc...
Sail on the 35 day cruise ship to Easter Island and other destinations
See Victoria Falls first-hand
Visit Prince Edward Island - home of Anne of Green Gables
Videotape a UFO for my mom's play-zure :o)
Learn to fly
Learn at least three other languages
Sail around the continent in a yacht
Swim among wild dolphins
Snorkel and scuba much, much more
.
...and more, but that's a starter
.
In Joy & Enjoy

18 September 2008

Rae Turnbull

It's hard when your child
Is very small,
And needs your constant care.
.
You try to keep her
From slipping on stairs
When she's learning to walk.
You try to keep her warm
When she's cold.
And cool when it's hot.
You try to keep her happy,
And, above all, keep her safe.
.
But it's harder still
When she no longer needs
Or wants
Your constant vigilance.
.
And you can't be there
When she trips and falls
And makes her own mistakes.
Or when friends she's made
Turn her away.
.
And with every hard lesson
She has to learn,
Your own heart breaks.

15 September 2008

Carl's Bad Caverns and other dead mammals

A few years ago, I took my mother, my aunt and my two youngest daughters to New Mexico on a road trip. Our first stop was in Roswell, New Mexico where we visited an exhibition of my mother’s favorite topic ever – Aliens and UFOs.

The International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell, NM.

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11159

- Where we were privileged to sit in on an alien autopsy. Dead aliens, how freaky is that? We spent hours (and hours) looking over their exhibits (my mom in her own special alien heaven - would that be Mars or Venus?). So much time, in fact, I was beginning to become apathetic toward them. How many wrecked silver discs, little green men and alternative theories can you take in one day, anyway? We spent the night in Roswell, with the plan to drive to Carlsbad the very next day.
It turned out, the 'freakiest' thing about Roswell had nothing to do with little green men, however. That particular moniker was saved for a medium-sized 'blue' man in the early morning hours.
As we were driving out of town, I noticed a taped-off partition in front of a local back with “Do not cross” police yellow ribbon. At the center of this cordoned off area was a mannequin-esque male figure on his back with his arms and feet in the air - knees bent – the position one would take when crawling, but strangely inverted.
(We discovered later an indigent vagabond had frozen to death during the night.)
I remember his left foot was without shoe. And the sock he wore upon it shone a bright white in the rising sun.

Talk about a surreal experience. When you think about people finding bodies, or people seeing death – you don’t think of something as unusual as a body in the front yard of a local bank, frozen stiff and solid with riggormortis, with his legs and arms in the air, and police officers just milling around talking, ignoring the corpse in their presence.
Thank God the girls didn’t see him.

Dead Aliens in a museum have nothing in the freaky-factor compared to a dead man in a bank yard.

The girls and I had talked in length about the Carlsbad Caverns – its origins and explanations - the entire road trip there.

http://www.nps.gov/cave/

I assumed the Jack & Jo (7 & 9 at the time) kinda knew what to expect in this adventure. I was sure they were as excited as I to see bats escape their caves en masse, stalagmites desperately reaching for the heavens, and stalactites searching for the entrance to hell.

We paid the National Parks fee and followed the signs to the entrance of the caverns… and I heard Marci whisper in sheer wonderment:

“WOW! And, I thought this was gonna be boring…”

It made the whole trip worthwhile, dead man and all.

And you thought life was going to be boring… "Fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride."
.
Enjoy & In Joy

13 September 2008

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in
silence. As far as possible, without
surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and
listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.
.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
the are vexatious to the spirit. If you
compare yourself with others, you may
become vain or bitter, for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.
.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your
plans. Keep interested in your own career,
however humble; it is a real possession in the
changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution
in your business affairs, for the world is full
of trickery. But let this not blind you to what
virtue there is; many persons strive for high
ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
,
Be yourself. Especially do not feign
affection. Neither be cynical about love; for
in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in
sudden misfortune. But do not distress
yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears
are born of fatigue and loneliness.
.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle
with yourself. You are a child of the Universe
no less than the trees and stars; you have
a right to be here. And whether or not it is
clear to you, no doubt the Universe is
unfolding as it should.
.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever
you conceive Him to be. And whatever your
labors and aspirations, in the noisy
confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken
dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful. Strive to be happy.
.
~ Max Ehrmann

11 September 2008

Heinz 57

The English language is such a diverse and wonderful thing. It can distract you, confuse you and bring you to tears with laughter when arranged in one way or another. That’s why I think I love it so… and hate it so.

For instance, take the word WIND: it stands for storm, blustery weather, breeze and also coil, twist, curl and wrap around… but, wait, I’m not done yet – it can mean snake, meander, bend and curve (among others). So, if I was to say: ‘Wind the wind,’ would you take it to mean I want you to ‘twist the breeze’, or ‘storm the snake? – as you know, snake can mean reptile or curve… How confusing is that? And only I know for sure, don’t I? You can guess what I mean by that, but until I tell you what I mean - flat out or in other ways – you’ll never truly know. You can only speculate.

I love that I can write a book and each person who reads it puts a little of themselves into it. Daddy's Boots and Mama's Boots are fine examples. The main character in these picture books are non-gender specific, yet everyone who's read them, without exception, has pictured the main character as a boy if their child is a boy, or as a girl if their child is a girl. That’s the magic – the wonderment of the written word; the written story.
It can also be a detriment to a story - from any storyteller, seasoned or raw. I mean something completely innocent in writing: “He aggressively spackled his way to the end of the crowded hall.” But if you don’t really know what ‘spackled’ means, you could come up with maybe three or four actions he may be taking as he would wind (meander) down the crowded hall. (You probably do know what ‘spackled’ means now the HGTV is such a hit, along with other do-it-yourself programs… but I digress.)

I could write a story about a boy named Russy, who takes a balloon to the top of an old, gutted-out barn to release it into the breeze in the hopes that someone in Denmark will find it, and connect with him in some magical way… and you would inevitably remember yourself in a similar situation as a child (as close as you can get, anyway) and would attach the appropriate-to-you feelings associated to my words of danger, hope, expectations and wonder. But, what if someone you loved fell off a barn roof as a child and died? Would my innocent words then cause fear and anxiety, loss, anguish and discomfort? I believe they would. And, the closer you were to the accident or the deceased, the stronger those feelings would be, dontcha think? And, what if you grew up in a big city where barns are scarce? Would you picture a big, red monstrosity, or a small, rectangular horse shack? It makes a difference to the story, doesn’t it? I mean, if he climbed ten feet in the air to release a balloon, well that’s not nearly as scary as if he had to climb up the ladder, shimmy onto the broadside and make his way up a slight, but ever-so-dangerous pitch of the barn roof fifty feet from death – all with a balloon grasped tightly in his sweaty, cramping hand – he’s been holding on to that string so tightly. He doesn’t want to release it until he can attach the paper holding his identity. Which is in his… Did he remember to grab it off the table as he rushed out the door? Did he put it in his pocket?...

What feelings emit from thinking he may have gotten nearly all the way to the top of that barn roof, only to discover he’d forgotten his name? (See how I did that? He didn’t really forget his name – only the piece of paper holding his name – but still, in essence, his name.) Don’t you hate that feeling? Getting somewhere very important, like a business meeting, just at the nick-of-time, not a moment to spare, and, OOPS! Forgot the main presentation!

Did the words put those feelings into your mind/memory or did your associations to those words do the trick? If you walk into a bakery, would the counter girl with the pimply face and braces who’s handing you your biscuit remind you of your grandma’s cooking, or would the hot, melty aroma bring your memories smack dab back into the warmth of her kitchen and heart? But, what if your grandma was a meanie-boobaleenie and ate the biscuits in front of you and wouldn't share, even though the cupboards were bare? Yeah, you wouldn't be so happy in the bakery then, would you?

The same words can mean very many different things to humans – whether spoken or written. We place our assumptions and beliefs as to what we think is going on inside the mind of a storyteller. It happens all the time in books, magazine articles and in presidential speeches. Did Barack mean for his words to imply Sarah Palin is a pig in lipstick… I hope not. I doubt it, really – what I do think happened is he stumbled up to that path unawares and opened the gate before he knew what he was doing, then thought, “What the heck, I’m already here.” and ran right over the “Stay out” sign, instead of just closing the gate and leaving that unsaid. Everyone in his audience placed their perceptions of what they believed he meant by that – you could tell by their reactions, they all believed it to be a slight on Sarah. Was it? Only Barack knows for sure.

We will never know if he meant it or not, or what he really meant it to mean. Because once them-that-know got a hold of it, it went hog-wild-crazy. Mouths started screaming, words started spewing and

Everyone
Stopped
Hearing.

For every written word, probably at least five meanings can be attached. For every sentence - probably 57 ways to interpret it. For every feeling the author tries to capture and relay back to you in the written word, you attach your history, your feelings, your upbringing, your desires, your dreams, your disappointments, humiliations, fear, anger…and your feelings about the author as a person. If you pick up a book by Stephen King, you already know you're gonna get the $hit scared out of you, and more than likely are disappointed when you find out it's a romance novel - but still at every turn of the page you keep expecting the monster to come lurking from the shadows. If you feel the author is writing through hate and destruction, you feel it in the words and take it to your heart – the doors and windows of your soul slam shut. But, if you start to read with no preconceived notions about whence the author comes, the windows fling wide and the doors sweep open, allowing you the full pleasure of the taste of each and every word. In many ways, I guess, a writer is like a Chef – putting together a masterpiece for you to devour, and always hoping you take something away from the table you enjoyed and will savor until the next course.

Bon App├ętit.

10 September 2008

Get over it!

I find it strange humans say “you need to get over it” when someone they care about (or don’t) is hurting - for whatever reason.

Get over it.
Really?!? Wow! Is that all I need to do? Thanks for the advice. I’ll get right on that pony!

I can tell you it’s easier said than done. As my mom is wont to say, “It looks better on paper.” Is there a specific time-line one has to follow in order to “get over it?” Does one get an hour, or a day, or a few years? Do you get a different ‘over it’ schedule depending on the varying degrees of pain inflicted on your soul?

For instance, just how much time is one allotted to get over the death of a loved one? How about the malicious, vindictive, dishonest words of a virtual stranger (or cousin, for that matter), or the harsh betrayal or abuse from friends/family? How about the infidelity and mendacity of a spouse, or the ruthless and inexcusably heartless treatment by health care professionals, police officers and other public servants in your hour of need?

You can call me cynical and jaded all you like – and you’re most likely correct. But, I know from experience - it takes as long as it takes. And the funny thing is, until you’re over it, you don’t have a clue as to when you’ll be over it. One minute you’re not, and then something happens… enough time has passed maybe, or your heart gets a case of Alzheimer’s, or you just stop caring, and then *BAM*, you’re over it. Just like that. Yesterday you had no idea you’d feel differently about your situation today.

Or, you think you’re over it and then something happens, - like an a$$wipe yarns yet another confabulation about you and *WHAM* back to the front of the line! Over it yet? Nope, not so much anymore.

Have you ever been in the situation where your heart was broken by your first serious boyfriend (ever) and a couple of years have passed… and you think you’re over it, finally? You haven’t seen him in years – and you barely remember anything about him, and then he walks into the room… and your knees buckle, your hands begin to shake, and your heart takes up temporary residence in your throat??? Yeah, not so much over it now, are you?

I tell you what else you never really get over: The smell of your newborn’s breath when the nurse brings her bedside to breastfeed; the sound of your baby’s first uncontrollable belly-laugh; the apprehension you feel with your toddler’s first few tentative steps; the look of wonder on your child’s face when she discovers new things; new worlds; new ideas. The feeling consuming your heart the first time your child tells you she loves you – or says you’re the best Momma ever (and I think you’re the best Sophe ever).

And the warm, comfortable all-consuming feeling of your love’s embrace, his tender kiss and unconditional love - and then you realize you finally understand. You’re home and nothing else matters.

When it just doesn’t matter anymore - that’s when your heart truly starts to heal and you know eventually you’ll “get over it” no matter how cynical or jaded you may have become. There’s hope on the horizon.

You don’t agree? Well, get over it! I’ll give you exactly two seconds.

Enjoy & In Joy

pass the popcorn, please!