Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Heart and Soles

Jessica Simpson may be a complete no talent hack and the Queen of all Bimbos, but she sure as hell knows how to make a kick ass shoe. These are my most recent splurge and I love them. Love them! They create the illusion that my size 8 1/2 ski is almost dainty, and they are amazingly comfortable for a heel that keeps my foot at an almost 180 degree angle. Cracka-lackin'!

And, ladies...there's nothing quite like a four inch heel to make your legs look, well...four inches longer. Sure your husband loves those ballet flats on you, (right....) but he probably wouldn't kick you to the curb if you showed up in these.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pater Familias

Because my Mother’s Day post was a wee bit glum, I decided not to wait for Father’s Day to post the poem I wrote about my father. I’ll let Mr. Right bask in the glory that is his on Father’s Day. That is as it should be.

I’ve just returned home from spending a few days in Oklahoma where I grew up. I stayed with my sister and attended my niece’s high school graduation which I’ll maybe write about later, but right now my brain is in low gear and can’t seem to get up any speed.

The last day at my sister’s house was spent sitting on the back porch drinking, talking, laughing and occasionally letting a tear or two escape our eyes. We brushed off a lot of old memories and turned them over and gave them a look see to see if they were worth keeping. I reminded her of childhood things she’d long forgotten and she shared some of her memories of our grandparents that she’d made in her adult life of which I’d not been a part. Sitting on her back porch that day, my sister and I wove together a rag tag Quilt of Remembrance.

Being children who grew up quite often feeling as though we’d lost the Parent Lottery, the subject of our mother and father made it into the conversation with some frequency. We discussed how we lived a large part of our lives learning how to avoid our father’s fury, which basically, boiled down to avoiding him altogether.

In previous posts, I’ve introduced you a bit to my mother. Allow me to introduce my father.

The Cowboy

In the distance he stands, thumb hooked inside the pocket of faded Levis, hip cocked.

His head is tilted under an expensive but weathered Stetson, and his neck, native red,
shows above the collar of his long sleeved western shirt.

His eyes are squinted against the scorching sun and he seems
oblivious to the heat. The rope is held in his free hand, hanging by his side naturally, as if it were an extension of his own arm.

He possesses the soul of a cowboy, the heart of a horse,
and the patience of a rattlesnake.

Weathered and worn, occasionally beaten,
but always fighting, and never admitting defeat.

He is proud to a fault, quick to judge, and sparing with compliments.

In his eyes there is admiration for the horses he loves and controls.
For his children, his eyes are flashes of lightening threatening to strike;
his boots like thunder on the sidewalk, warning of the coming storm.

I know this man, this man’s man, a charmer of horses and women.
A part of him lives in me.

I can sometimes hear the thunder roll and the hair raises on my neck waiting for the lightening to strike.

I have felt the force of his powerful hands and have lived through storms that left me wounded and afraid.

I know him.
I love him.
He is my father.

This was written in June of 1999 when I was thirty years old. At the time, my father was serving the tenth year of a fourteen year prison sentence. I had three children, none of whom he'd ever met and I was in therapy, attempting to save myself and a failing marriage. I was also still in regular contact with my father via collect calls from the prison and handwritten letters back and forth.

Today, ten years later, my children have still not met their grandfather. My marriage was not saved, but I was, and I no longer have contact with my father.

What I feel for him is something akin to the feelings one might have when seeing an animal alongside the road that has been hit by a car but is still alive and suffering. It's not love, but rather a desire to not see another living thing exist in misery. Or, maybe it is love but my mind can't acknowledge it because my body and my heart are still too scarred from his hands and words to comprehend that I might still be capable of such feelings for him.

I'm not sure what it is, but I am sure of this: I never knew my father and I never will. The loss has been overwhelmingly great at times and I have sorrowfully mourned what never was. I also know that it will never be and I have come to accept that. Life is good and full and I have filled it with family that is partially DNA and partially just Love. The father sized hole in me no longer exists. The scars he left, I carefully tend and treat with the gentleness they deserve.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Greeks and Lizards and Love, Oh My! (An Exercise in Finding Clarity)

A recent photo of me, sunning on the back porch.

Befuddled and with muddled brains in my box is what I've been the past few days. I hear it's going around. Such a nasty little virus it is. No clarity of thought, no focus. Nada, zilch, the big fat zero.

My only thought right now is that I should sit and begin writing. I've done this before and it helps. (It helps me, not you. You get the choice of saying, "What a load of crap this is!" and moving along to the next blog to find one worthy of your time and attention. But, me...well...I'm stuck with this fogged up piece of gray gelatin now aren't I?)

So, in an attempt at untangling my little ball of brains, here we go.

*The Greeks have four words for love. Did you know this? Eros, Storge, Philia and Agape. They break it down so there's no mistaking what it means when someone says, "I love you." Now how bleeding helpful would THAT be when you're a single trout and trying to land yourself a proper fish?! I'm seriously digging the fact that the Greeks can tell you whether or not they merely feel some sort of affection for you and desire that you not be plowed under by an 18-wheeler, or if they feel so affectionate towards you that they want to throw you to the ground and do unspeakable things to you in the name of romantic passion. They also have a word for the type of love that family members often share. (Possibly not some Arkansas or West Virginia families who name their children Billy Bob and Jethro and mate with their cousins, but you know...normal families.)

I began thinking about this because the word "love" gets thrown around in the most wretched way and it kind of depresses me a bit. My very least favorite is when someone whom I know hasn't acquainted themselves with me well enough to have even formed an opinion of whether or not they like me, tells me that they love me. It's often in the context of them feeling for some reason, an obligation to tell me. Another thing that irritates me is when someone so overuses the phrase that it becomes meaningless. If you "love" everyone and everything, then tell me that you love me, I feel that I can only conclude I am on the same par with your diamond ring, the bread you bought at the bakery this morning, your new red coat, the movie you saw at the theater last night and very probably the new face cream you just purchased because it makes your look so very young and firm-ish.

We need more words. We need to barge in and pillage some more vocabulary words from those lovely people who really know how to make killer souvlaki and who know how to properly say those precious three little words.

*The area of Arizona in which I live (the barren desert part) was not meant for human habitation. This I firmly and fervently believe and to which I will testify. Bring me before a judge and I'll place my hand on the Good Book (You know the one..."101 Things You Can Make With Vodka?") and swear on my life to the fact that where there is no naturally occurring water, there is no naturally occurring human life.

I have dehydrated bits and pieces on my personage that I didn't know could dehydrate. The inside of my nostrils have chronic sores. My head has begun to break out in dry patches, forcing me to purchase and use shampoo that costs $15 a bottle. Holy shit. My hair is dry, my lips are dry, my skin is dry. There is no need here to buy such things as dehydrated fruit. Want a tasty little banana chip? Slice one up and throw it on a plate and wait a couple of days. Bam! Banana chips. When we moved in to our new home, we purchased the Mega Super Duper Kick Ass Water Softener and Filtration Thingy. I cannot in my wildest imaginations, comprehend what I would look like without soft water coming out of the faucets, because with two thousand dollars worth of softened and filtered water tumbling over my body every day, I resemble a human sized lizard. I'm going through gallons of lotion. Stock tip: Invest heavily in Johnson & Johnson. Their stock should be going up....

*It just occurred to me that I've told some of you that I love you. Let me clarify. I Philia you. Sounds cool, huh? Kind of like the American version of "I feel ya, "meaning, "Hey, man. I totally get where you're comin' from, Bro and...I like you, dig it?" (Shut up. I know I have no street cred.) The American, "I feel ya" (or "you" if you're super Caucasian) actually comes close to conveying the sentiment of the Greek, philia, which is a brotherly type of love. Not brotherly as in your actual brother, but in a brotherhood of mankind sort of way. It means you feel a sort of kinship with someone. That's how I feel about my Bloggy Friends. Kinship. Philia.

*I have not been the person I wish myself to be and have not been true to Self. I have not used my voice at times because feared I would damage already fragile bonds and tenuous relationships. I have not been Me in certain situations because by the very nature of being Me, I thought that acceptance might not come from certain people. Recently, I had the occasion to be Me. To express how I feel and what I believe. The circumstance arose by being confronted with an issue I very strongly disagreed with and I had a choice to stay silent or speak up. As I rolled the choice around in my head, I heard a voice and it was saying very confidently, "Be courageous!" So, I was. Some might not think it was a very big deal and of little importance. Some might, and have already, blown it up into proportions far greater than it deserved.

I realize you have no idea what I'm talking about and maybe I'll tell you sometime. The point of telling you what I have, is that this Land of Blog has taken me places I never dreamed I'd go. That voice inside my head was one of a woman I've never heard speak, but with whom I communicate regularly via our blogs and e-mail. She tells me she loves me and that she is my friend and I believe her. She teaches children English and many other things, most certainly not the least of which, is to "Be Courageous!"

It's amazing what can happen when you reach out into the universe and become willing to touch and be touched by people who think differently, speak differently, eat differently, love differently and pray differently than that which is familiar to you. So much can be learned when you're willing to listen and when you truly try to understand.

To my dear Bloggy Friend who taught me from across the ocean to not be afraid to use my voice and to practice courage, I truly do love you.

And to the rest of you, if you've made it this far, as always...many, many thanks. Getting to know you through the comments you leave and the blogs you write has been, and continues to be a great pleasure. In other words, "I feel ya."

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Disappearance of Grace

Where she went or exactly how she came to leave us is a mystery. One minute she was there. Kind, friendly and thoughtful...Miss Social Grace. Seemingly in the next minute an obvious and conspicuous void remained where her presence once dwelt.

There are some theories surrounding her disappearance and I must admit, I believe a few of them are on to something, but regardless of how she came to be missing, I mourn her loss.

Friday, I went to my favorite nail salon to treat myself to a long overdue pedicure. Across the aisle from my chair sat an abundantly fed woman whom I would guess to be in her late 50's and who was talking on her cell phone. She looked at me as I sat down and I smiled and settled into my chair.

I absolutely don't mind if a person speaks on their phone in public so long as they keep their conversation brief and their voice at a level which would indicate that they are indeed on a private call. This woman did neither. As I sat reading my magazine and occasionally making polite conversation with my technician, Ms. Well Fed sat with her plump paws being preened, making phone call after phone call and speaking loudly enough for everyone in a twelve foot radius to determine that she was planning a congratulatory trip to Disneyland for her grandson. In the process thereof she placed calls to her daughter, her grandson, her travel agent, her husband and a friend or two with whom she just wanted to chat.

Occasionally I would glance in her direction to see if I could catch her eye. I planned on giving her my best, "Looky here! You're in a public place and you're behaving shamefully" look. It never happened though. Ms. Well Fed was utterly oblivious to the fact that she was occupying space in a public place. She was in her own little world, happily taking care of her personal business for all to hear.

At one point, I heard her make a noise indicating displeasure. I looked up to see what was causing this lovely woman's dismay and saw her looking in shocked disgust at her phone. She called the owner of the salon over and this is what she said: "Dear...I'm SO sorry to have to ask, but my phone has just died. Could I borrow yours for just a moment?"

You could have pushed me out of my chair with your pinkie. I'm quite sure my mouth was hanging slack in wonderment at this point and my eyes had doubled in size in sheer amazement at the gall of this woman.

I watched the scene play out. The salon owner begrudgingly made a choice between her own personal cell and her business phone. She asked Ms. Well Fed if the call would be short and being assured that it would, opted for surrendering her cordless business phone. Ms. Well Fed gushingly said, "Oh thank you dear, thank you! I'll be sure to make it short, I swear."

Place your bets now for what happened next. Go ahead. I'll wait.

For those of you who bet on Ms. Well Fed living up to her word, you lose. For those of you who counted on that puffed up self important and amazingly rude bird to sit on the phone for 12 minutes, tying up a business line while making an ever so important call to her daughter to tell her how very proud she was of her little grandson for graduating from kindergarten...yes, kindergarten, (and who exactly can't accomplish that?!) congratulations!

After bidding a fond and three minute adieu to her daughter, she handed the phone back to the owner and asked, "How long until my nails are done? I have an appointment I must get to across town and this is taking so long!"

No, Dear Friends. I'm not yanking your chain, blowing smoke up your knickers or f*****g kidding you.

I looked around and sure enough. Miss Social Grace was nowhere to be found.

These situations and so many more are ones I witness every day. Human beings lacking in even the basic social etiquette and behaving rudely towards one another. Not a sincere "thank you" to be heard, a door to be held, nor an offer of a helping hand. And in this brilliant age of technology, for which I am grateful mind you, we as a species seem to have taken an even greater leap away from Grace.

You see, Miss Social Grace is who kept us all connected. She encouraged us to smile as we passed each other, hold doors open, lend a hand when one was needed, say "thank-you" for even the smallest of deeds and to use basic common courtesy when sharing space with others. She made us feel good about our fellow man by her presence because she allowed us to see that there was innate goodness in each of us.

A great many of us live in neighborhoods where neighborliness is a thing of the past. We live in a time when technology has trumped manners and we find ourselves holding conversations with people who are texting someone else or replying to people we think are speaking to us but are actually conversing with someone to whom they have plugged into the little blinking blue light in their ear. (This has caused me embarrassment more than once, I assure you! Tall Handsome guy in Target, looking straight at me: "Hi!" Me: "Hi!" Tall Handsome guy gives me quizzical look and as he passes by me, I see the blinking blue light in his ear. Oy. Immediate thought: I'm an idiot. Second thought: I want to kick Tall Handsome guy's ass for causing me to feel like an idiot.)

Have you ever heard the quote by Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see in the world?" If I'm not mistaken, it was the mantra of Miss Social Grace and it's one of mine as well. (Another one is "Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown" but that doesn't really apply here.)

If you happen to see a lovely well dressed lady walking by with a sad and wistful smile on her face, it just may be Miss Social Grace. Do me a favor will you? Please tell her that I remember her fondly and... "thank you."