At last!

Yes I DO feel this exuberant about the First Day of Spring this year. Winter was long, cold, gray, and wet, and will likely not turn loose simply at the command of the calendar, but I can’t remember ever being more ready for exactly that…

Balcony days, with doors and windows open, pots and baskets overflowing with greenery and blossoms. Sunshine, pool time, cooking outside. Farmers’ Market, summer sounds, bicycles, books, accidental naps. Feeling infinitely more alive, but in slow motion, all the better for savoring the finite moments.

The sunshine pouring through my windows this morning is a reminder that spring does come again, that it does get better, the mood doesn’t stay gray unless you’re a curmudgeon who refuses to lighten up, the grass does get green again and flowers bloom.

The world keeps turning in spite of our doubts – or our certainties that it’s all for nothing, life can’t possibly shine again and bring joy to our hearts. And here I sit, happy as if I had good sense, signing on for a stretch of whatever’s next, because what else?

Happy Spring, friends, we’ve survived another hibernation, we should celebrate. Do you have traditions to share?

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Wake-up calls…

Pitch dark and someone’s pounding on our heavy outer door. “Wake up! Fire Department! Everybody out! Wake up!” That’s what Kim heard. I heard “Sweetie, you have to get up, the fire department’s here, you have to get dressed, we have to get out,” all with a calm urgency in voice and hands. Mass confusion in my brain, which way is up, what’s happening, will we have to go outside in the cold, what clothes do I grab, I can smell an electrical fire, just put something on, what time is it? Kim says it’s 4:20. Seriously? Is this my life?

Within seconds I’ve managed to cover myself with pieces of clothing from head to toe and we’re out in the acrid stench of the hallway and headed to the atrium three floors down, past firemen with axes and hoses and other equipment always eerily reminiscent of 9/11, somberly focused on the challenge at hand, which isn’t yet fully known.

The outside air is good for breathing and also for waking up, and my next thought, of course, is how good my first sip of coffee is going to be this morning… followed immediately by how glad I am that I’m on day six of the flu instead of day two. There’s always at least one upside, right? And that whatever day of the week this is will likely only get better from here.

Maybe not more exciting, but better. It was indeed an electrical fire in the loft/condo two doors south of us on our floor, whose owners are rarely here, which blackened a wall and revealed a failure in the system. For a couple of predawn hours, there were firetrucks, lights blazing, on every side of our five-story building, and firemen in full gear crawling all over it, so we felt nothing if not safe. (In my case, of course, Kim is my first line of security as my “ears.”)

And now I’m sitting here putting it all together in my head and feeling thankful it wasn’t a big to-do to get a fire abatement company here at the soul-crushing hour of 3:30am, which is what time it all began. Due to a small compromise within the condo, the main ear-splitting fire alarm in our mixed-use steel, concrete, glass and brick building didn’t go off, but the individual unit itself notified our city fire department and in turn our building manager. No one had to call the condo owners in another state to okay payment to a private company, because the commercial entities on the first two floors and all the owner/occupants on the top three have a social contract along with all the other residents of the city, with the city fire department. It’s simple unadorned socialism – we pool our taxes and help each other out with these things, which strikes me as a fabulous arrangement at 3:30 or 4:20 in the frigid dark when nearly all my material goods, which aren’t that many, but especially my nice warm bed, are four floors above my head and I’m not asking for a lot else. If it ain’t broke, what’s to fix?

But guess who’s probably taking a nap this afternoon?

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Yikes, busted…

This moment of self-awareness smacked me in the face as if from the fog outside my windows just now. It’s such a deliciously sneaky little phrase… “Joy of missing out.” It represents a guilty pleasure… because, you know, I could have gone, I could have seen it all firsthand, I could have lived to tell about it, brought the stories back… Instead, known only to me was the joy of comfort: my environment, my simple pleasures, my chosen company, not in rejection of anything, rather in full-hearted embrace of the best of the best for this time. The deep lovely joy of missing out.

For legit reasons, I do opt for comfort a lot, but because I’m still so damnably fascinated by everything there’s no disconnect between me and the world, may that ever be true. Bless my mom and her hungry intellect, and her determination that her kids not be deprived of knowledge simply for the fact of living in the middle of legendary NoWhere. And bless technology for the way it helps to level the playing field in every direction – economically, regionally, generationally, on and on. No one has to bow out of the conversation unless they choose to for their own reasons – the decision to miss out for the unique joy of it, for the sake of the alternative that’s offered.

Kim calls it knowing how to be satisfied, a mantra that has kept us arm-in-arm for fifteen years and counting. But who’s counting? 💙

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Of seasons, surprises & sass..

What a season of life this is. While I own up front to having been keenly honed in on the political landscape since at least Obama, a lot of heavy-duty things have gone right on happening on a personal level that have required all the strength, stamina, patience, and fire-proof humor I could throw at them.

This past year alone has been full of opportunities for natural growth. Kim shattered his wrist and went through months of healing and therapy, the PT part of which is ongoing via his guitar playing, which the accident could have ended but didn’t. It’s sweet when I can neatly tie up all the loose ends like that – it so rarely happens in real life.

I found out about a friend’s suicide – heard it from a stranger at Christmas time, and that’s exactly what I mean about loose ends. I’m still dealing with it, but I am dealing because I know from experience that when you don’t it gets all kinds of worse. Natural growth.

People we love dissolved their relationship, something we were not only the last to see coming, we never saw it at all. We’re either a) true believers, b) gullible, c) out of touch with the world, or d) all of the above. I’m guessing it’s d) and I don’t care, for all the right reasons – mine.

Other people we love retired and moved several states away. We’re deliriously happy for them, but tears have been and will be shed. Lots of great stories already, though, so on we roll.

A few people exasperated me this year with their strange need for me to think like they do or justify why not, so I changed my whole approach to social media and it’s been like a benediction – such sweet peace. Now I can in some ways, for some few moments at a time, order my immediate world the way I like it. And in seasons of life such as we find ourselves currently experiencing, that matters.

Namasté, friends. 🙏

If you could see inside my head, it might look something like this…

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It always comes back to love.

I didn’t say anything about LOVE on the 14th because it’s been done to death, and there are people who rightly dread hearing about it (those people can thank me later, preferably with salted caramel something). Kim and I made a pact to forego the hearts & flowers hoo-ha altogether and it was perfect – love, peace, and happiness rolled down like waters, and all was well. No big deal. Another good day, all in what you make of it.

We can talk about all kinds of love, not just the romantic kind that we always think we want and then sometimes don’t know quite what to do with after we get it, amirite? Now that I’ve gotten used to some of the realities, I do love getting older, for the reasons Ms. Erickson mentions. Accepting the facts doesn’t necessarily mean loving them, though – my favorite memory from childhood is that my back didn’t hurt.

A deepening understanding has been the sweetest gift of the passing years and the events they’ve held. I’ve been in the middle of more than one critical incident, positive or negative, and had a swash of clarity engulf me and leave me changed. I live for those times.

In order to weave stories, it’s VITAL to see how things connect, to understand something of how life really works, and that requires time and perspective. Integrating the lessons…applying them…the weaver designs the tapestry…and each person reads according to his or her heart, because beauty does indeed “reveal itself in thousands of forms.”

I write ’em, I don’t explain ’em, and I stopped apologizing a few years ago. You probably should, too.

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Into the confessional…

This must be some kind of record, even for me. Six weeks into the new year and I’ve cemented my status as (oxymoron alert) a genuine phony. Did I burst onto the scene January One, fresh as a daisy, determined to slay the dragon of procrastination once and for all? Obviously not. In fact, things aren’t going well at all in that regard so you’re looking at part of a conscious decision to “do better.” Can ya’ stand it.

It’s wonky and off that this is my first post of 2019, and it’s important that you know I haven’t neglected you, my Faithful Reader, out of any malice aforethought, far from it. I say honestly, with no hint of whine in my voice, that it’s been an existentially tough winter, and the times I’ve wandered or marched into this space with intent to say what’s in my heart the words haven’t happened. Nothing personal, I promise, and everyone’s probably lucky the werding stayed dammed up until I could filter and tame it a little.

As of last week, I’m introducing my being to the wonders of Tai Chi and can already see its residual benefits starting to make themselves known. There has to be a starting place – I’ve tried several disciplines, always with hope – keep a good thought for me with this one, as it seems to hold promise.

One more thing for now: My piano – I’ve played it only once since New Year’s Day. Please help me hold myself accountable to turn it into a habit (again). I promise not to throw anything at you for nagging me. Bonus, my aim is truly awful.

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Catharsis is good…

Here we are in the doldrums, the no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year’s. Nobody ever knows what to do with it – do we have our employees work? (Mom & Pop shops) How many hours CAN we crank out of our employees? (NOT Mom & Pop shops). It’s clearly a dilemma for all concerned, and for me personally it just feels weird. The world outside my windows looks gray and listless, like everything’s shut down, but maybe that’s only because it’s 13º out there, all things considered, and I’m a drama queen. I’m sure I can find bright shiny things to get me through until December 31st, I’ve managed every year until now, and as soon as the KIMN8R gets home from the gym it’s all good anyway – he brings the party with him, yes it is that way, that’s why we got married, to spend all of our best minutes together.

Just for grins, I could get an early start on the resolutions I will knowingly break in 2019. I’ll fail to measure up in various categories throughout the year, but with these I’ll squirm when it happens, having named them publicly. Sooo, off the top, and in no particular order…

  • Stop letting email pile up in folders. You are NOT going to retroactively deal with a fraction of it.
  • Stop procrastinating. Do it now. It’s not like you have carte blanche on the future, so face reality NOW.
  • Stop NOT playing your piano. PLAY it. Like every DAY play it.

I see three stop signs I put up there that are really GO signs, so for starters, today will be about (the process of) dumping several thousand emails (again, yes) and also taking the cover off my beautiful little concert grand. It’s a story inside a story inside yet another story, but for now I just need to sit down and play it because since I first learned how to make a melody happen, that’s been my truest form of catharsis.

Whatever makes you feel better and frees your heart to hold more happiness, start doing more of that and less of whatever doesn’t make you feel that way. So simple, and it has nothing to do with failing or succeeding. Whatever’s ahead for all of us is on its way, and it’s good.

We’re going with that until further notice, tribe.

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Peace …

Best wishes for peace and joy to you and all you love throughout the holiday season and the new year…

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A disclaimer?

Something you discover when you start scooping sand into boxes as raw material for sand castles, aka readable pieces of writing, is that if you’re writing for yourself the content can get rough for others to wade through at times. Therapy is rarely pretty or pleasant, but instead of locking the door and writing alone in the dark I leave the choice to my readers who’ve signed on – stay or go, read or skip, understand or drop by the wayside – because it helps me to think I’m bouncing those thoughts and feelings off someone who might be persuaded to care.

I know it’s been increasingly dicey here on Playing for Time over the past couple of years as I’ve clawed my way through a mountain of shock and disbelief at the changes in the country I’ve always called home and tried to reconcile what I know with what I see happening out there. I’ve undoubtedly stepped on toes and caused offense, as haven’t we all, in trying to feel our way through a labyrinth we don’t recognize as familiar territory anymore. In a gene pool rife with bipolarism I’ve experienced for the first (or maybe worst) time the heavy hand of actual depression, not to the point of requiring extra meds, but a far streak past The Blues. 

That glow out there on the horizon this week – I want to think that’s end-of-the-tunnel-quality light, but I’ve finally earned my Cynic’s stripes so I’m not holding my breath. I do think democracy is going to win this one and that we’re eventually going to heal. I believe important things will have been won – and a few crucial ones will have been lost – by the time the smoke clears. We have risked much in being so willing to square off and choose sides – things we may miss as a semblance of normalcy returns – but we’ll survive this, I believe that now; whereas, there’ve been moments when I was none too sure.

If you’ve been here since early on, that’s cool and I thank you. If you’re a newbie, that’s cool too. If you take a quick romp back through the archives you’ll see that I’ve written about the most eclectic of subjects, so I could hit yours eventually. 

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Brother Bear…

How will I ever write this…how many tries will it take to get it right?

The holiday season always seems to bring the unexpected into our lives in some way. We went to an Open House in a friend’s newly-redecorated loft next to ours one evening last week, and I found myself in a free-range conversation with a woman who was helping to host. We eventually landed on the subject of pain and I was telling her about my gifted shaman friend, Ken, who had helped me so much through his knowledge of massage and the human lymph system. She asked me his last name and when I told her she said “Oh. He died. A couple of months ago, I think. He killed himself. Oh, I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”

We said our goodnights soon after and I’ve been trying to process the reality of her bombshell since. Cold shock gradually gave way to “Damn you, Ken, that’s so unfair. We were friends, you owed me one more conversation.” During my last session with him, which was less than three weeks before he died as it turns out, he told me he was getting ready to make some big changes in his life and pursue things that would be about his own peace and happiness for once. He sounded hopeful and resolved, and I affirmed him in his plans, telling him what a beautiful human being he was and that he deserved to be loved and appreciated and happy. He sat next to me on the massage table, his bare toes on the floor – he was 6’5″ – and went over *breathing lessons* with me again, the thing that ultimately keeps me healthy. He said “What if I’m not around sometime? You have to remember how to do this. You can never forget.” Did he know then? Was that the resolve? Or did he not yet have an escape hatch in mind in case things didn’t pan out… ?

How could he take himself away? His supremely gentle spirit. His soothing voice. His gifted touch. His knowledge, beautifully spooky in its intuitiveness. This isn’t my first rodeo with suicide and once again it’s like being yanked out of my skinsuit with no warning and left standing here raw and wondering what to do. I would have helped him in a heartbeat, and I can hardly bear the knowledge that I can’t bring him back to tell him that and a million other things. We hugged when I left that day, and I said I’d book another session soon. That was August…now it’s December…and what with various minor crises of our own I never did. 

Ken knew I was working on a novel and he asked if there was a bit part in it for a shaman called Bear. If I finally nurse it over its hurdles and finish it at some point…or if I don’t…he’s in there. And I have to believe that Brother Bear is still out there somewhere on his journey, encountering new hurdles to overcome. He was an inexpressibly exquisite creature in this life.

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The Pollyanna girl…

I like it when people care how other people feel.

I like it when they don’t save up things to hurt other people with, or to zing them for a personal win.

I like it when they care. It makes them easier to trust. 

There’s so much now to make us leery of people, and when we do put our real selves out there and get smacked in the face it’s always a shock. It is for me because I never learn – I’m that Pollyanna girl who thinks friends mean what they say and they wouldn’t be hurtful on purpose, so my reactions aren’t 100% honest because I’m never ready. I find myself trying to cover the awkwardness instead of asking “How long have you been saving that to catch me off-guard with? And does it make you as happy as you sound, knowing that other people are unhappy because of what you just told me? It feels kind of mean.” 

I’m a dreamer. I just want everybody to be happy and have a good life – is that so much to ask? I know that my squishy bleeding heart is a sitting duck for abuse but I can’t worry about that and I can’t stop caring in order to forestall pain, so I end up isolating myself more and more, which is no kind of answer either, except that it works for me. Silence is an old friend and I’m not at all afraid of my own thoughts. It’s the willingness of the world out there to inflict pain that bothers me. 

Tell me – based on personal experience, is friendship with skin on overrated?

 

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Winter in the wings…

And like that it’s December, dawning for us cold and rainy, gray all day. It’s so easy to slide through these days, doing nothing much … having nothing much to show for them. Being retired means being exempt from old rules like productivity and list-crossing-off, so we read and play music and watch Netflix in the middle of the day. Easy. And winter isn’t even officially here yet. We’re bound to slack off at some point when we go into true hibernation. 💤 Wishing you a cozy winter – I’m trying not to be a dropout.

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Happy Day…

Wishing all of my blogging community a lovely Thanksgiving with nothing but love, good food, and rest in your spirits. And maybe you’ll get to help someone else along the way…

 

parish-thanksgiving-day-dinner-saint-episcopal-church-latest-news-turkey-table-settings

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Just BE

DptVeyvWwAAReLT

 

I don’t worry about being *right* all the time.

I just try to BE.

And that feels right.

Benjamin Dover@quaker4change

 

Benjamin Dover shared this on Twitter and I know you’ll respect that it all belongs to him, thanx. The truth of it resonated soundly with me and halted me in my tracks so fast I had to sort a few things back into their slots and shoeboxes after the sudden stop.

Here’s why: I’m pretty sure some people interpret things I write as proselytizing – selling it – when what I’m really doing is letting you watch the wheels turn while I figure things out for myself. I don’t need YOU to be right according to me, I just need you to let me work out what’s right for ME and then let me BE that. And I don’t want to have to justify it to you after I’ve spent the energy to find my right answer – I want you to do your own work. Don’t come at me without that, and really, just don’t come at me – I’m over here BEING, because I did the work – MINE – that got me to HERE, the place where I can BE. I’m not moving, so if the word WORK is a problem, you’re just gonna have to … DEAL … another way.

I love this – it’s one of the best, in the sense of helpful, enlightening, encouraging, hand-on-a-shoulder things I’ve encountered in a while, which is why I officially plan to stalk Benjamin Dover via Twitter. It’s entirely possible he knows other prime stuff that he puts right out in public, thinking people will possess the integrity to keep hands off…

{I did ask, he just hasn’t responded yet… }

 

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Studies in human nature…

Solitude_IAC

 

“I vant to be alone.” ~ Greta Garbo

Except, according to Ms. Garbo, “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”

There is all the difference.

You can’t do much writing, unless you’re journaling about one of the dustier sciences, without becoming a student of human nature, an endlessly intriguing and confusing subject. Who could ever comprehend humans? And having somehow done so, how would we ever live with what we’d learned about each other?

Once in a while the undercurrent of low-grade depression that accompanies my existence gets to be a bit much and I’m forced to acknowledge its existence to the point of taking a break from whatever seems to be the main problem. This time, Facebook was clearly leaving me in a state, so a Fall Sabbatical was an easy decision, and I’d no sooner closed the door than my normal sunny personality started breaking through again. Full disclosure, I also activated my sleepy Twitter account around that same time and started finding *inner healing* through shooting my mouth off.  To each her own poison.

Yesterday iMessage, which I can get to on my desktop now only through Facebook (I need a teenager, STAT), contained an odd and off-putting message that still has me in a mood. It was a clip of a skit enacted by young black students, male & female, dressed in scrubs, shooting police officers with automatic weapons, along with a personal message that said in part: “I have felt that you lean towards only seeing one side. I know you have taken a recess from FB and I just wanted you to see this. Are the youth in our schools being given permission to have such disregard for authority? This will only lead to more serious problems.”

Why now? Why purposely back me into a corner when I’ve said I need the exact opposite of that for a while?  I can wish mightily that I had answers, but I don’t. I’m tired. My head is tired, my heart is tired, I just need to go in a different direction for a few weeks and let some of the nastiness of recent battles filter out a little. I’m angry. Angrier than I’ve ever been in my life that lizardy old men think it’s just fine that other men assault and take advantage of young girls like I once was, and they laugh about it and celebrate it and elevate each other to the highest offices in the land. So angry. For the first time in my life there are people I hate.

It would have been an excellent time to let me alone. I asked nicely, after all, like any good little American girl would do. And we see, over and over and over again, how that works out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Previous Older Entries

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It Takes Two.

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Creative humour, satire and other bad ideas by Ross Murray, an author living in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Is it truth or fiction? Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

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