happy new year

 

 

We all have mixed emotions regarding New Year’s Eve–of both the celebration and expectation. I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve parties nor of the new year countdown. I prefer to be surprised, to turn to my watch or the clock on the wall and suddenly realize, “Well, la te da. It’s a new year.” And I’m also not a fan of resolutions, the false promises we make to ourselves to change, to do and be better. Intentions aside, resolutions are meaningless (akin to the “change quotes” that I slammed in my courage post), hovering clouds of humiliating failure, causing more angst than good. I do, however, like the changing of the calendar, the significance of a fresh start, the hope of and for something new. Lordy knows we will need a shitload of hope in 2017.

But if you are inclined to make resolutions, if resolutions have served you in the past or if you are of the mindset that change will come if you deem it so on this date, consider this definition of resolve:

 

  • [ no obj. ] (of something seen at a distance) turn into a different form when seen more clearly: the orange glow resolved itself into four lanterns.

 

Turn into a different form when seen more clearly. Take a good look at yourself; be kind, be honest, be patient, be alone if you can—for how can you see yourself clearly when entangled in the lives of family, friends and others? And how can you change into something different if you are not fully aware of who you are right now?

Resolve to bring your life into focus; name your needs and wants, try to understand your motivations, learn to examine and love and enjoy yourself. The clarity may surprise you. You may find that you’re not even a candidate for change, that you’re perfectly okay just the way you are. Imagine that, Bridget.

 

photo credit: mercure hotels

 

 

architects and engineers

 

 

I live on the second floor
Of an old row house down in Baltimore
Watching all the colors and the shapes
Standing tall up here
My face against the window
My face against the window

These moments, they can never last
Like a sad old man with his photographs
Keeps wishing for the things he cannot change
Standing tall up here
My face against the window
My face against the window

So the architects and the engineers
Build their monuments, make their souvenirs
We are occupants
It’s a trap, this town
We are burning up
We are fading out
We are shooting stars – Guster

 

photo credit: unknown

 

christmas 2016

 

Image result for christmas on an island

 

I am alone this Christmas and pining just a bit—not because of any sentimentality attached to the day, but because people are getting together and I’m not there. Pining or pity? Christmas, the most recognized holiday of any calendar, the most celebrated, the most marketed, is for me, all about the gathering. There’s a party down the lane and I wasn’t invited, a party in Maryland that I will not make because I’m in Florida, a child celebrating the holidays with his in-laws. But it could be Thanksgiving, my grandson’s first birthday, any birthday, a wedding, a funeral—the gathering is the essence of it all—and Christmas is just another such gathering.

I will miss many gatherings, and I will attend gatherings and speak fondly of those who are missing. It is the way of our expanded and complicated world—and when I accept that, the pining, and the pity, lessen. Be peaceful, be thankful. There is joy in every single day, and joy in every single person. Merry Christmas, my friends.

 

photo credit: sadly unknown, a beautiful illustration

 

for harriet

 

 

Whenever it’s Project Runway season, I think about clothes and I think about Harriet. Harriet is fashion forward—and Harriet can sew, which elevates her to rock star status, in my mind. Sadly, this PR season offers little inspiration in the design department, but coupled with the show, and thus doubling my thoughts on clothing, are my two part time jobs. In the home decor shop, I work with another associate who is trying to launch her clothing line, much of which she wears and is quite beautiful. My other job is in a high-end women’s boutique, a wearable art boutique, where everything is one-of-a-kind, handmade (very Harriet), and very pricey. I have a pitiful key west wardrobe and am a bit intimidated by this clothing niche I’m in, but I’m learning quite a bit about fashion—and playing dress up.

There was a hand woven jacket at the boutique that was perfection, and yes, I’m proud to say, was perfection on me. A perfect periwinkle blue, a light weave with a subtle pattern, with a stand up, black collar and black cuffs, a cropped cut made to match my proportions, while matching my hair, my eyes and my style. Did not match my budget, however—$950.00. Damn. And I get half price, $475.00, but still no go and I could accept that. One can dream.

And then Martin came into the store. I guessed that he was 88ish (I learned later he is 93), also about 88 pounds, with cleaner-pressed jeans, belted and hiked up rather high, and a Ralph Lauren, striped, long sleeve shirt tucked deep within the pants. He was perfectly articulate and charming. He told us he was a widower and wanted something for his granddaughter. My associate picked out a tye-dyed tunic and he loved it. And then he wanted something for his sister-in-law, “she’s about your size,” he said to me. I got the periwinkle jacket and put it on for him and he smiled and charmed us and asked if we would please gift wrap it all, not once inquiring about the price. He must really like his sister-in-law. Turns out Martin is “old” key west, a long time, family-owned-and-operated contractor, a gentleman who built a big chunk of the island, a businessman held in high regard, as we discovered in googling his press. I felt as if I had let my baby go to a good home.

I will get there, I will work my way into beautiful garments, but for now, can only live vicariously in Martin’s sister-in-law’s good fortune. Hats off to you, Harriet, to the Project Runway motley crew, to all of you who sew, design, to the fashionistas, to the fashionista wanna-be’s. Style is wonderfully fun, uplifting and sexy—and, I hear, thank goodness, available at Marshall’s.

 

photo credit: unknown

 

courage, courage, courage

An elaboration on my previous post, The Thing I Hate Most in this World

 

quotestack

 

 

 

 

(please check photo credit)

 

 

We all think about change at some point, we all understand the potential behind it. We certainly know what desperation feels like, when change marches front and center—when your best, fucking, black slacks won’t zip up anymore, when you get into bed and your sleep-time mantra is “not one more day with this man,” or “not one more day in this job.” We’ve all read the “change quotes” on facebook and sighed “if only,” and I suppose there have been instances where the quote has inspired someone to action, where the words delivered the punch needed. But lasting and meaningful change is not one-dimensional, and does not come from words pasted onto a picture of a sunrise. The cutesy quote that prompted you to throw out all the ice cream will most likely be a distant memory as you stand in the holiday buffet line. The quote you read, the resolution you made to better yourself, your life, is probably sitting at the very bottom of the facebook feed, along with a dozen such messages meant to inspire.

So, what is it, what turns desperation in action, what do we tap into for lasting and meaningful change? Courage. Courage from the gut, not from Maya Angelou or Erica Jong, or from any other facebook heroine. Courage, courage, courage. And not courage in the sense of overcoming fear; forget fear, take it out of the change equation. It’s not about overcoming anything—it’s about bringing to the surface that which already lies within. The courage to begin, to imagine, to explore, to move, and the courage to continue, especially when all hope and strength seem to have disappeared. It’s about putting on your wonder woman suit every fucking day. Suiting up not just to battle your demons, but to also hold those demons at bay. Suiting up when you don’t want to, suiting up to remind yourself of your mighty strength and awesome purpose.

All efforts towards enacting change are positive and admirable, and whatever it is that prompts you to move is valuable. But when desperation and pain scream at you do something real and lasting, don’t count on the words of someone famous. Change comes from courage, and that comes from no one but you.

 

pinterest

 

photo credit: 1st photo, the most offensive change quote I could find, came from quotestack / 2nd photo, lynda carter, came from pinterest

 

 

the thing I hate most in this world

 

And it’s not donald trump or people who hurt animals.

It’s STUFF like THIS on FACEBOOK, posted by women who, best I can figure out, have not changed an iota in the last twenty years:

 

quotes-ideas

 

It makes me mental. These postings only make one pine for change, they do not lead to action. What leads to action is another story for another time. What crap.

 

photo credit: Quotes Ideas

 

 

on poignancy

 

polyvore

 

I walk 7 blocks to work; a fifteen minute walk normally, twenty minutes if I walk at a slower pace. It’s a beautiful walk, down and back, on 2 of the loveliest streets in town. The past couple of mornings I’ve smoked pot before my walk to work, including this morning, where I walked at the slower pace in a light but steady rain. And these morning high walks, and especially the one I took today, have been evocative, contemplative, and extremely poignant; poignant not as in sad or regretful, but as the state of mixed emotions. It is a delicate and highly personal, tiny place in time.

I pass a dress shop on this walk to work, half a block from my house, where I applied for, but did not get, a job. The blond, young European woman who spoke with me, and with whom I shared my leap-of-faith story, came out on the street a few weeks ago, and asked me how was I doing, was I transitioning well, did I like it here? And now she waves to me every time I walk by—and if I am feeling particularly poignant, vulnerable, open, her hand’s hello comes with a swell of affection, tinged perhaps, with just a hint of sadness or longing, of other hands waving goodbye. There is a white, feather wreath on a garden gate that I pass every day, not a terribly uncommon or unexpected wreath, but a wreath that makes me think of the child’s Christmas story, The Littlest Angel; the story I cannot read aloud because a quick-to-rise shuddering mass will appear in my throat and prevent me from speaking. And when I passed the wreath this morning, it’s evocative purity pulled me into deep thought about love and self and children and life, and all the mixed emotions you could possibly imagine kept tumbling in my little plastic cup of a brain, finally spilling out and forming the question—How on earth did I get here, this unknown street, this unknown town? This question was not regretful or sad, but it was probing, pertinent, curious and emotional. You say, “Why you were high, of course. This is just pot-head, mumble-jumble spinning thru your brain, bringing you to tears!” And while that may in part be true, I have also had these experiences when I was not high, and frankly, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy pot—because I want to get to that place of deep thinking and examination—I want to feel and understand and articulate upon the poignant moments.

There is a paper published in 2008 by the National Institute of Health, entitled, Poignancy: Mixed Emotional Experience in the Face of Meaningful Endings. It is a long piece with chemistry included, but the initial text is interesting and worth reading. In the Abstract it states:

“The experience of mixed emotions increases with age. Socioemotional selectivity theory suggests that mixed emotions are associated with shifting time horizons. Theoretically, perceived constraints on future time increase appreciation for life, which, in turn, elicits positive emotions such as happiness. Yet, the very same temporal constraints heighten awareness that these positive experiences come to an end, thus yielding mixed emotional states……….Findings suggest that poignancy is an emotional experience associated with meaningful endings.”

Much of the paper is focused on the theory above: that mixed emotions (poignancy) are linked to one’s perception/awareness of endings (i.e. mortality, “last times”). While I don’t think I’m pondering my time left here on Earth, I am looking at the end of much of my previous life. But the paper also states that as we age, it is typical to shed the pursuit of the material for that of the meaningful—and meaningful, for me, is the gateway to mixed emotions. But also the gateway to creativity and passion.

 

photo credit: polyvore

 

 

 

 

radio show 3

If you are not familiar with this series, please start at

radio show 1

radio show 2

 

pinterest

 

Marlene would never deny that she was eavesdropping, participating in nosey neighbor behavior, the by-product of tight living and too little to do—and Marlene certainly had little else to do. Because she wouldn’t smoke in the house (or rarely smoke in the house), cigarettes on the deck became the routine as well as a way to pass the time, and eavesdropping became entertainment. And it was not just the Frank and Honey show; there was a deck on the other side of her house as well, other privacies to violate. There was the ancient, little, brown mouse Catherine and her lady companion (Sissy or Missy, Marlene could never quite make it out), both of whom spoke in near whispers, Marlene pulling words like “trust,” “dinner,” “Sunday,” “money,” and filling in the blanks to create her own story. There was Martin, the sailor who house-sat on the other side of the lane, who simultaneously cursed and roared with drunken laughter at sit-coms, Miami football, and the blaring, bright-white news he watched every night. So many voices.

But then there was her own voice; her voice on the phone with her children, girlfriends, her husband, her voice from a dark deck lit only by cigarette. Marlene tried to imagine what her voice sounded like when she talked with her husband—was it anger, resignation, the voice of a friend or foe? Was the girlfriend/children voice tearful, happy, unsure? And then there was her voice when she talked with her lover, the voice that was reserved for him alone; the kittenish, seductive notes of desire and need, the need for touch when there was not another body present. He was a master of arousal by word and tone, by provocative, graphic sentences with breathy pauses that underlined the lust, revealed intentions, that would give way to urgency. Unlike Wendy who screamed during the day, Marlene screamed in the night. She screamed from atop her pillow top bed, she screamed through the sheets and the walls and through the windows and trees and fences and through all the boundaries of neighboring homes. She screamed in ecstasy, with abandon and sated pleasure. She screamed as if no one were listening. And she would hang up the phone and lie still after the screaming and wonder if the brown mouse next door, if Honey or the sailor had heard her, if her neighbors listened to the radio show that she broadcast several times a week. She wondered if they created a story around her.

 

photo credit: pinterest