Monday, November 22, 2010

That's a Tune of a Different Color

I'll need to wear my boots to get through the molassis my Mom had delivered. She said it was good for the lawn. I have my doubts.

But we rarely argue except when we do. And then look out!

But I hear what you're saying and if I understand your point of view you are saying this thing, but I don't agree with it. I'm just blowing hot air by parroting you and saying I understand so I don't sound like such an asshole when I present my idea as the better one. It's not that I don't disagree with you.

So, with that in mind, I'm going to get a rake and a raft so that I can find the hose and get rid of all this sticky shit. You can sit there on your papasan chair and complain about stomach cramps all day long, if that's what you plan to do with your life. I can't be bothered by your gaseous anomolies. If a body can't be driven to take a tums every now in then, there's nothing I can do about it.

So cherrio and all that rot. I'm off to save the world.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Lone School Marm Speaks

A continuation of The Lone School Marm submitted for Icaras' Flight To Perfection

Of all nights that I had to trespass into the world of darkness it was this night. I had grown up in this frontier where the law was iffy at best. But Pa raised me to know right from wrong and we’d been able to hold our own against the various bands of criminals that passed through, sometimes enforcing the law ourselves.

But it had never been this serious, this personal. I returned to the school house to free my hostage students. I had the government money I had worked so hard to obtain and I was about to hand it over to a bunch of thugs to free them. I was prepared for a fight. I was prepared to kill. I was ready to die to save my kids, if I had to. I had also hedged my bets by asking Doc Shaw to form a posse to hang back in the woods to capture Dirty Dan and his gang of idiots as they made their escape. We had to protect the kids, especially the Hailey girls. Dirty Dan was very clear about his perverted plans for them.

When I opened the door to the school house, I was overwhelmed by the carnage I saw. Most of the children were left for dead and there was no sign of the Dirty Boys gang or the Hailey twins. I dropped the satchel and my gun and screamed for Doc Shaw. When I saw him and the rest of the posse tear out of the woods, I turned and ran into the school house to see if anyone was still alive.

Part of the posse went in pursuit of Dirty Dan and the Hailey Twins while the rest of us worked for hours tending the wounds of the injured and preparing the bodies for burial. The Preacher was among the posse, thank God, and was able to comfort the mothers who came for their children. It was well past suppertime by the time we had buried the dead and made sure the wounded got home.

I stood in the twilight and listened to the stillness. It was strange to stand in the empty school yard in this weird light. I felt tired, bereft, yet powerful. I knew that what had happened here made this school ground sacred and holy, the blood of children having been spilled here. I felt the cries of my students; the survivors and the perished propel me to act.

But, Doc’s parting words hung in my ears.

“Now, Suzanna,” he fathered, “Don’t you go gettin’ any crazy ideas about revenge. Your Pa didn’t raise you that way and we need you here.”

I remember nodding at him and seeing relief and a flash of skepticism cross his gray brows. I meant to follow his advice. I really did.

But once I was alone in between night and day, I knew what I had to do. It was written in blood on my apron, on my heart. I would find them with their guard down and kill them one by one. With the matter settled once and for all, I picked up my bag of cash, turned on my heel and headed home to prepare for war.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why I'm Uniquely Suited To A "Bipolar Marriage"

I am beginning to learn what Doc and I are facing. And it's been revealed a little bit at a time, lest it totally overwhelm us. Either that or we can only see a little bit at a time because it is HUGE.


My earliest thoughts were rueful but truthful: God only gives us what we can handle. And I was like, "Gee, thanks, God!" And sent Him out the door with a here's Your hat, what's Your hurry."

I'm still not ready to invite Him over for Thanksgiving or anything. But there have been several moments where I'm getting VERY CLEAR messages from the universe from a diverse group of sources, like:

  • Samantha the Witch and My Therapist: the former knowing nothing about me and the latter knowing a great deal about me, who have both said: You've got to stop carrying the world around on your shoulders/You're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders
  • Pandora: It seems I'm hearing the right music at the right time, including the video above, which caused me a bit of a breakthrough this morning
I'm also taking this time as Doc recovers and we move to a new house to re-evaluate myself and who I think I am. I've realized that over the years, I've let go of things I thought were essential to who I was...the very top item on this list is music and being a musician. I can recall recently walking up the stairs of the new house and saying to myself, "I am a musician," and how wonderful and right that felt to say. I plan on doing more of this...figuring out who I am, what I value and sticking to it. This will be a source of strength.

Another thing about me: It is impossible for me to hold a grudge or be very mad for very long. I can store up hurts and slights, but eventually, if given opportunity to let them flood out of me onto a caring person's shoulder, I'm over it.

And how do I set the world down and stop dragging it around? I ask for help, that's how. And I've done that. My parents have been great, and I have now asked the kids for help. Recently, we've had trouble with bed time. And I happened upon an article about why it's hard for grade schoolers to settle down for bed. The article suggested coming up with a bedtime contract together with the kids, which we did and they took to like ducks to water. And would you believe it? They love it and want to stick to it religiously! And I told you this story to tell you another...

One of the things in our routine is to spend some time talking about our day. This was suggested in the article because grade schoolers have a lot going on in their days and talking about it could relieve some stress, allowing them to quit worrying and settle down for a good night's sleep. Night #1: Riley finally opened up to me and told me everything that was worrying her. She said she felt so much better afterwards and we didn't get a fight at bed time. Night #2: I asked for their help keeping the house clean. And I felt much better. So two big items (Riley's anxiety and my feeling of overwhelming responsibility) were lightened.

Keeping an open heart and mind (which I have vowed to do and am doing) + Listening to the Universe and letting in the messages through music + a deft ability to build a bridge and get over it = A person who can handle rough patches that crop up suddenly and without reason.

Maybe I'm naive, but if so, that's a good thing. I'd rather not be jaded right now. And my unfailing optimism and our strong family bonds and friendships will pull us through. Not to mention all the hard work that Doc is doing, dispite his grave injury. He's practically single-handedly moved us into the new place.

I don't know if this makes sense...I feel like I'm rambling. But something is brewing in my head and heart and it's a good thing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Phone Is Broke

It may be time to switch providers. I'm currently with AT&'s the most expensive provider out there from what I could tell from the 10 minutes of research I did.

I'll probably go to Revol.

I just thought you ought to know.

They seem to have the coolest new phones with the latest technology, like touch tone dialing. And great weight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Do You Mean I Went 2 Days Without Posting?

I simply don't remember not posting to my blog. I'm sure I did it on Friday and now it's Monday. And I challenge you to prove to me the alleged "weekend" was an actual two solid days.

It wasn't.

First of all, I was in motion all weekend. So, it may have looked like two days worth of activity from where you were sitting. But for me, time bended in such a way that my perception of it was that it was not two days, but rather about four hours.

And Since perception is nine tenths of the law, I am of course correct.

The weekend was only four hours, which does not equal a whole day. It's only a sixth of a day. And you got a sixth of a day's worth of posting from me on Facebook, plus some Disco Empire updates and some "Which Harry Potter Character Are You" results from my children.

As far as I'm concerned, I haven't missed any days and am in compliance with NaBloPoMo.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Piano Jams

Last night I started teaching Riley how to play the piano. Let's just say, I got off on totally the wrong foot. I forgot lesson number one for training:

If you're going to teach locksmithing, don't start out by teaching people the history of locks; show 'em how to pick a lock.

I started out trying to show Riley how to read music. And that's about as interesting as the history of locks. Plus, she wasn't getting it. And she's a bright kid. She got instantly frustrated and buried herself in the sofa after about 5 minutes into it.

"I never accomplish anything like this!!!" she wailed.

I realized I had failed. Granted, Riley has a very short stack of patience when it comes to learning something new and often gives up quickly if she's not a natural at it.  But I was very concerned that I was turning her off to making music for life (like I have turned her off to riding bikes forever and ever amen).

"Listen," I reasoned. "This is not about your inability to accomplish something; it's my fault. I should have started with something fun."

Eventually, I struck on a good reason for her to try again and we sat together at the piano. I put the piano primer aside and we played a good round of Chop Sticks. Then, I showed her the song you can play using a fist and the black keys. Then, I played the rhythm for Heart and Soul and I had her improvise a melody.

It was much better. And we even sounded good. I'd change up the tempo or synchopate it and she'd adjust to the mood. We had a blast. And I was able to work in some nuts and bolts: She can identify "C" on the piano and she knows that the musical alphabet goes from a to g and then starts over again.

I think that's a good start. She can be creative and hands on and I'll sneak in some technique as we go along.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pictures My Kids Drew

My kids have been having a good time with Paint lately. Enjoy!

"How Beautiful! How Wonderful!"

I do not get the joke

Ding Dong the witch is--Oh sorry!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Celebrities Who Have Appeared In My Dreams: Genn6

I'm in New York City for work. I'm wandering around in the pre-dawn hours with my co-workers trying to find a prostitute...we needed to ask her some questions. We went into a bar, but it was fairly empty. We stepped outside and I realized I was close to Genn6's apartment. So, I told my co-worker that we should stop by and see if Genn6 wanted to get something to eat with us.

We walked up a couple of floors and entered her apartment. It was three dark gray rooms and the main room had a black futon. My co-workers gathered around and decided to play Sorry! with Doc and Lucy. Genn6 and I agreed to go out and get food to bring back to the apartment. One co-worker was delighted to see the board and that it was the abbreviated version of Sorry!. He said, "There are a ton of different ways to play this game!"

We left them to it and hit the road. When we got to the street, it was gray but starting to lighten up. Then it started to rain. It was glorious and refreshing. We both looked up, raised our hands and started to dance. We eventually sought cover in a store that sold candles. They had a large collection of Beatrix Potter stuff, but none of the candles smelled like anything but candles.

They had a vintage clothing section in the store and Genn6 found a retro teal and gold tweed suit. It had a long jacket and a skirt. The shop ladies kept saying, "It'll never fit you..." But when she tried the jacket on it fit perfectly. The skirt had some problems; someone had tried to turn it into shorts. I thought I could probably fix the skirt for her and recommended that she buy it.

And then I woke up.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Adventure Set List

So here's a list of the good stuff that's coming around the corner for us:

  • November 25th: I'll be hosting Thanksgiving for my side of the family, something I haven't been able to do because my last house did not have a dining room or really enough room to have more than a couple of people over.
  • November 27th: It's off to my sister-in-law's place for Thanksgiving, Part 2
  • December 30th: We're off to Miami by way of Savanna, GA. Once in Miami on the 31st, we'll be waiting for my cousin Wendi and our dear friend Carol to finish their 10,000 plus mile walk around the perimiter of the US.
  • January 1st - 3rd: Disney World!
  • January 5th: Pal around with Dr. Monkey and Sparky in their neck of the woods
  • February 2011: Carol will be staying with us 2-3 days a week so that she can write her book and I can help her. Actually, I'll be helping her and so will Riley. I'll be editing and Riley will be proofing.
  • April: The girls' birthday parties (JoAnn Fabrics party for Riley, Chuck E. Cheese for Lucy...oy).
  • May: My birthday
  • And summer returns...
Not a bad agenda, if I do say so myself. Plus I'll be starting my official mental health regimen tomorrow with good old Dr. P.

We've got a lot of demons to fight off. And I was telling Doc last night, there is so much against us right now and probalby for the duration, so we need to be vigilant and optimistic.

Also, I've learned that that 90% divorce rate applies to those bipolar marriages where no treatment is happening. When treatment is in place, the divorce rate is the same as it for couples who do not have a bi-polar marriage.

So, we've got a 50/50 chance just like you do. I'll take those odds.

Monday, November 08, 2010

My Poem From the Other Day

I'm having a really hard time. It's been very busy at work...busier than I've ever been at work. In fact, I did not have a day off in October. Also: We moved. This leaves me with very little time for reflection or thought. I feel like Scarlett O'Hara in that I find myself saying, "I'll think about that another day." And the "that" in that sentence covers a host of items.

Now that things have slowed down a bit, those big items I've postponed thinking about have swum back up to the surface and want my attention. One of these things manifested itself in the form of the poem I wrote the other day that ended with:

On rainy days, when things get tough
When you forget the milk or
I offend your mother
We'll think of this trip
And recall how beautiful we looked with
Moondust in our hair.

This idea of making memories for the purpose of protecting yourself in the future is new to me. I've never been one for the past and I never saw the need for memory. This has changed a bit since Doc and I are trying to adjust to this new thing called bi-polar disorder that has entered our lives. Listen, yo, the statistics are against us. Ninety percent...that's NINE ZERO percent of marriages where one person is diagnosed with bi-polar disorder end in divorce. And that doesn't count the marriages that end when the spouse with bi-polar disorder commits suicide.

Sobering, isn't it? And the stakes are high. Especially when you consider that married people tend to have a lower risk for suicide. When I put two and two together, I get this: People with bi-polar disorder have a better chance of surviving when they are married. And bi-polar marriages have a 10% success rate. So it seems that our work is cut out for us and it is a matter of life or death.

But among those kinds of statistics, I stumbled upon this piece of advice:
Take vacations to help your bipolar marriage survive. One way to help save a bipolar marriage is to take time away from the day to day tasks of everyday life, including the stress of a bipolar marriage. Take trips away together and also mini trips away from each other.

This seems sound and it feels right because it was also an idea that came to me organically when it appeared in that poem. My instincts are: We need to be making some good memories together. We need to be apart to miss each other. So that we're not all, "You don't get me!" and "You never listen!" when things go wrong. We need to put some mutual good will in the bank and maintain our fondness for each other so that we can proceed with a minimum of pain and heartbreak.

I know this isn't a cure-all. But it is one prescription I can get behind. Afterall, we're only here for a short time, why not adventure? And it doesn't have to be as grand as a trip to the moon. But it does need to leave a sparkle behind.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Kids

The girls are loving our new place. They just met some nice kids from the neighborhood today and got to play with them or a couple of hours.

As you know, my kids have their own unique sense of humor. For example, yesterday, they found gummi worms and spent a goodly amount of time ripping them in half, licking the ends and sticking them to their hands and arms. Then they ran up to us and yelled, "OH MY GOD I'VE GOT LEECHES!!!"

I pulled them off and gave them back and my stomach turned as they popped the "leeches" into their mouths.

And for some reason, Lucy has decided to start layering: First a pair of underwear, then some jammie bottoms, then another pair of underwear. It's quite a look. I think she's doing this because her newest pair of fleece pants are a little big for her and the second pair of underware helps to hold them up. She's a belt-and-suspenders type of girl.

Anyway, they are the best and I look forward to their wackiness everyday.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Movin' In

I spent most of today making the new place look like we've always lived here. Plus I cleaned my fingers to the bones. It reminds me of a little poem my Mom used to say when she ironed:

I'm Girty Schmertz
I iron shirts
I iron shirts
'Til my fingers hurts

I'm not sure where she picked that little ditty up, maybe from my Grandma. Today is Grandma's birthday and i thought about her on and off all day. She was a cleaner and she loved to help people clean. I dusted, did the windows, scrubbed the floors and vacuumed. I cleaned the bathroom and got stuff put away. I did leave to go to the store and when I came back in the house, it smelled like Grandma had been here. And she was, kind of.

So, the house looks beautiful and I feel like I don't miss her so much. And now that the Cap'n and Spooky are here, I'm going to have a nice evening of snacks, puzzles and movies. And maybe some Yatzee.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Fly Me To The Moon

This poem is inspired by the song of the same name and by Wallace and Grommit's "A Grand Day Out"

Let us gather our gear and build a rocket
So that we can take a trip
Through the atmosphere
Stratosphere and blogosphere

We'll make sure we bring
Important things
Like our camera and some drinks
Magazines and a deck of cards

You take the wheel and fly
While I backseat drive
And read you the billboards

When that gets old we'll pop in
Audio books like Dune or Huckelberry Finn
At some point, I'll need to use the john and
You'll be annoyed

We'll land and disembark
To a lonely lunar park
Where Moon Men will find us and start a conversation
About the how much they are misunderstood.

Eventually we'll tire of their hospitality
And say our goodbyes after the requisite formalities
On our moonwalk back to the rocket
We'll put our hands in our pockets

We'll look up and our breath will be stolen
By the earth up in heaven
And the stars around us
And the glitter below us
We'll see each other again in a new light
Reflected from the ground
Upside down

Let's go, we'll say
And turn into the windless night
Back to the rocket and home again

On rainy days, when things get tough
When you forget the milk or
I offend your mother
We'll think of this trip
And recall how beautiful we looked with
Moondust in our hair.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Fortune Cookie Fail

So yesterday, I had a fortune cookie with this message: "You will move to a wonderful new home by the end of the year." Which is either really old news at this point or the universe has a strange sense of humor.

As you may or may not know, we hired a lawyer to start the bankruptcy process in August. This was after many angst-ridden discussions between me and Doc and my parents. The clincher was when my Dad said to me: If you want to stay in the house, we'll figure out how to do that. If you don't give a shit about the house, then we'll give it back to the bank and find something else.

It was at that point that I realized, hey...I don't give a shit about this house. It was liberating really. It allowed me to move forward and start to get us out of our financial prison.

What ended up happening is this: My parents wanted to invest in real estate while it's still cheap. We needed a place to rent. So they bought a house not far from ours that we all worked together to fix up and now Doc, the girls, the cat and I rent it and live there. You can see a picture of our fireplace in the banner for this blog. It turned out to be a good deal for all involved.

So we've spent the last couple of months moving and Tuesday, I had to move my desk at work. So you can imagine the chagrin with which I received the above fortune on Wednesday. I hope to God I don't have to move again this year.

I know fortune cookies do not have the insight of, say, a Mama Witch. But still...wouldn't that just be a kick in the teeth if I had to move again in 2010? And that would be the sort of irony and bad luck I've experienced this whole year. So many mistakes, miscommunications, and missteps. I'd just have to sit back and laugh. Then I'd put on my tin foil hat and find a nice warm bridge to live under.

Yeah, that'd teach the universe something.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Remember Screen Beans?

They were really cool, weren't they? Of course, now, if you try to use them in a PowerPoint, you'll be mocked, perhaps openly. I'd prefer to be mocked behind my back, so I don't use them.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why I Fell In Love With Glee

When I was a kid, I needed music. I wanted to play music. I would listen to certain songs over and over again just to absorb the sounds. When I moved into adolescence, it was more about the lyrics. I defined myself with music, what I played, what I listened to spoke to who I was.

In high school, I was in the jazz band, the concert band, marching band, and small ensembles. Lyrics faded to the back and the vocals represented another instrument. I wasn't so much interested in what people were singing about, but rather the landscapes they painted with sound.

In college, I started out as a music major and quickly learned that I didn't want to study music. There wasn't any joy in the music department. It seemed like all the wacky and fun people I went through band with in high school went somewhere else and I was left with the humorless and the pale oblates that spent all their time alone in practice rooms.

I ended up leaving the music department and joining a much more joyous group of people in the Classical and Medieval Studies program, many of whom were fine musicians in their own right and all of them were ravenous music consumers. I joined the choir to keep involved in music. I did figure out somewhere along the line that I could use my voice to sing. Painful shyness in childhood always prevented me from trying. I grew out of that, though, thanks to the help of alcohol and a need to spread my wings.

Somewhere along the way between college and here, I forgot what music was all about. I've been in choirs here and there. I've done karaoke. I've played Rock Band and Sing Star. But music didn't have the same effect on me and I let it go.

It started to come back to me when American Idol burst onto the scene. I started to remember what it was all about. But then there was Glee. Here was a show that took music I was familiar with and integrated it into the story. And I began to hear the words again, which always escaped me in the past. I would listen to a song and could repeat the melody or even the guitar solo note for note. But ask me what the words are? No dice. Which is ironic since my work is words and I consider myself a writer.

I know how hard you struggle when you write lyrics or poems or even essays. And then to mesh it into music, it's quite an effort. But I couldn't get invested in lyrics at all. But with that first episode of Glee and the first few notes of "Don't Stop Believing," some hard shell cracked around my heart and I got it: The music and the lyrics. And I was moved hard.

It's still difficult for me to hear the words, especially if they are very emotional or manipulative. But if they are on Glee, I get it. It's a gift from the artists on that show. And because they cover songs from many different eras, I am often reintroduced to an old friend of a song that I never knew was so rich and wonderful. I am also open to new songs, their meanings made apparent by the gifted singers on the show.

I get that it's not everyone's cup of tea. But It's the way I take mine. And now you know why.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Quoth the Cap'n

"When a witch offers you advice on Halloween, you probably ought to take it."

So, here we go with NaBloPoMo. I have committed to posting once a day every day for the month of November. And it is fitting that this inaugural blog post is inspired by the Cap'n because he got me started in this blog business in the first place, way back in 2004. I promise to post daily in November and I intend to make it meaningful.

Yesterday was Halloween and it is also known as Samhain (pronounced Saw-win by those in the know). It is a day when the veil between the living and the dead thins and we're supposed to be able to feel the presence of the dearly departed around us better at this time. It was an emotional day for me. I was singing in the choir at church and we were performing All Souls Night by Lorena Mckennitt. It's a really cool song and kind of ambitious for our choir of three. But we were joined by our pianist, a violin player, a flute player and a fourth singer with a very powerful voice.

The service was led by a Wiccan who took us through a focused meditation and also had us share sentimental items that we had that belonged to someone we loved who had passed. As you know, I've lost my Grandma this year and it was quite a painful experience and continues to ache. I tried to be open to contacting her spirit during the meditation, but I couldn't get there. I've done meditation before, but always laying down in the dark by myself, not sitting in a chair in a well-lit room full of people.

I became very emotional when I placed a photo of her and my Grandpa on the altar and tried to share the minimum (who are they and something about them) with the congregation. I got very choked up and I don't think anyone could understand what I said.

But we got to sing at the end and, really, music is my spirituality. When I sing or play music, I feel connected to life, the universe and everything. I opened my hands and closed my eyes and sang my heart out.

After the service, I was standing around with Spooky and the Captain and, I really have no better way to describe her, this old witch named Samantha (I'm not kidding) walked up to us and said, "I have a message for you...and you," pointing to Spooky then me.

"Your mother," she said to Spooky, "loves you and wants you to start taking care of yourself now. Stop worrying so much about others."

"And you," she said to me, "you need to stop being so stubborn. You're always going here and there, working and working. You need to have some fun, lighten up."

"Oh, ok," I said.

"Is your name 'Atlas'?" she asked.

"No," I said.

"Then stop trying to carry the world around on your back."

She then turned to the Cap'n and said, "And your halo's being held up by horns. You're quite the trixster...but not lately. You'd better get out there and start having fun too."

Then she hugged and kissed each of us and left the building. We stood there in wonder for a moment and The Cap'n concluded "When a witch offers you advice on Halloween, you probably ought to take it."

We smiled and then they drifted away into the post-church crowd and the sun began to blaze through the windows. It was a bit magical and I stepped outside to see the old mama witch pull away in her burgundy sedan. I stood there in the glory that is bright sunshine on an autumn morning. Heavy clouds hovered over the horizon. A breeze blew my hair around while the sun warmed my face and neck.

I felt loved and part of a spiritual family that means as much to me as my biological family. It includes my friends, old and new, who sing with me and challenge me to think about things differently. It also includes the memories I have of Grandma Jean, Grandpa, Aunt Gail. And now an old woman who mothered me out of nowhere and blessed me with her insights and kindness.

And when my friends found me out front, I was so glad to see them again. And I thought: Maybe this was what heaven was like.

I hope so.