Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You Couldn't Pay Me Enough

I experienced enough anxiety and stress when I was a teenager, reliving it through my stepdaughters is killing me.

There is no way to prepare them for what they are facing. No way to tell them that no matter how sure they think they are; they do not know better. In fact what they know is much much worse.

My parents for sure didn't get in the middle of my life. Unless it affected my well being.
I am struggling to find the bright side again.  Just when I look up, the sky falls again.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Not Exactly Leprechauns...

This is my St. Patrick's Day present! A lovely gnome couple tea light holder from Yankee Candle.

I have loved gnomes since I was a kid. The Gnomes book was my bible. Forest beings living lives that I could not see was fascinating to me. I had gnome books, gnome statues, and gnome cross stitched wall hangings.

When I saw the gnome themed display in the Yankee Candle shop at the mall I gasped... and my husband groaned. He HATES the candle store. You are never going to believe why.

My husband can pinpoint the exact moment that his hatred of smelly candles began. He was five. His class was given the opportunity to color with scented crayons. It was the 1970's! We had smelly everything from stickers, to markers, to dolls. Apparently these scented crayons were wonderful smelling. So wonderful in fact that my husband was compelled to eat them.

He ate almost an entire box of scented crayons. By the time anyone noticed it was too late and they were already making him sick. You can imagine what scented wax would taste, feel and smell like in your stomach.

The sense memory of scented wax is enough to put him off the candle store forever.

But they were gnomes!!!!

So I struck a brilliant bargain. The large Yankee Candle with the gnome on the label is $24.99. A very expensive candle I admit; even if it does last for 5 years or however long the say. But the lovely tea light holder was less than half that amount!! So I was able to convince him that the candle holder was a better buy (and it really was). The most remarkable part of the deal was that he admitted that he liked the smell of the Honeysuckle tea lights...

Done.  Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Knight of Cups

I started this blog a year ago. I wrote 34 posts during the last 365 days...

It surprises me that I averaged one post per week. I am a horrible horrible journal-ist. I have at least 3 empty journals in my bedroom; 2 of which are the kind that have questions that you are supposed to answer.

I may be writing into a void here, but there is some satisfaction in creating a post. I like having the ability to craft how it looks on the computer screen and illustrate it however I choose. I especially like having feedback from friends and family who are reading along. Sometimes writing it here is a way to express something that I have a hard time saying out loud.

Taking stock of the year I can look back now and see through different eyes what was happening.
Sarah was in the hospital with a migraine that wouldn't quit.
John was really beginning to build his writing credentials.
I had quit one job and started working at the theatre more and more.
Loreena was becoming a social butterfly.
We got Stella from a family who was moving to California.
We moved to Winston Salem. Back to for John... Back to within one mile from the exact spot that we met.

The precise moment that brought us to the place we are now happened in the Spring of 1988. I was 17. I was invited by my friends family to ride along on a trip to North Carolina and visit her at the School of the Arts. I spent the weekend with her; in the dorms, at parties, in apartments... It was a weekend that opened my eyes in ways I could not have imagined then.

I met my first cross dresser. I drank my first bottle of Amaretto. I met my husband.

I do not know the day, or the time. I do know that it was night and that we were not supposed to be in the Boys Dorm. Someone left the door ajar and we went upstairs to "find her friend who reads tarot cards" My memory is exceptionally vague about the whole event except that he was asleep in his bed and that we woke him up. He did read my cards. There is only one that I remember; The Knight of Cups.

The tarot cards are tools that have been used for centuries. They show archetypal people and situations that can relate to a question or problem and help to illuminate the situation in different light.

The Knight of Cups is most definitely John. I did not know that about him at the time.  The Knight almost always carries a cup; he carries emotions, baggage and mood swings. The Knight is usually next to or in the water, a sea of emotions; sometimes it swirls around him, sometimes off in the distance, sometimes threatening to overcome him and sweep him out to sea. The Knight is like Romeo; he objectifies his love and works to manifest his vision at any cost. He is an artist and an idealist who rides from wave to wave throughout his life reaching for his perfect vision.

Looking back... I could have seen it all coming. I could have seen the years of conflict, the bad mistakes, the hopes and dreams dashed onto the rocks of harsh reality. I could also have seen the moments of stunning perfection when that idealistic dream manifests into reality. That is the way archetypes work. That is why they are in fact archetypes. They illustrate a universal experience; painfully typical and totally inevitable.

The journey that took us from that night in his dorm room to living in our own home just a mile from there is seems like an enormous vast sea behind.  In front of me too now that you mention it...

So many changes under our belts this last. I told myself last year that I would give blogging a year. If I couldn't stay with it I would give it up; but I wrote once a week on average and I started a new one about food. So I guess I am going to keep on blogging. There are more changes and waves to ride in this year too. Luckily I have an expert wave-rider with me.

Knight of Cups Shadowscapes Tarot

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In Defense of the Arts

To Whom It May Concern:

We didn't just sit down one day and decide to be musicians, actors, painters, dancers, designers, writers, singers, directors, or even stage hands. Trust me. In fact most of us have fought it for as long as we were cognizant of what a "salary with benefits" was.

We did not become artists so that we could be a drain on society. I'm tired of hearing about how stimulus money was wasted on theatre projects, symphonies, and art installations. The reality is that if the stimulus money hadn't gone to those artists; your tax money would have in the form of unemployment benefits, food stamps and power bill subsidies.

For the record, most of us have a formal education in a non-art related field for the very reason that we knew what the future would be like in the Arts. We knew damn well what we could expect; budget cuts, justifications and critics (the media AND our neighbors). Those whose formal education is actually in the Arts usually have as many or more classroom hours in their chosen area than most Doctors or Lawyers. Classical musicians and ballet dancers in particular began their formal arts education in early grade school, practicing every day and taking private lessons at least once a week through their college years and beyond. You do the math.

Giving your children an education that includes the Arts will not turn them into Artists. Not unless they have no other choice but to be artists because that is what they do. Not only do they have to love it, but it must also be what they are good at. If they aren't (and I know some of you are silently sitting at home and praying that your child will never be able to draw anything better than a 2 dimensional house or play anything at all by Beethoven), an education that includes the Arts will enhance their concentration skills, their math skills and their ability to work a project through to the end. They will be leaders, team players, visionaries, builders of buildings and mathematicians. To make that possible, there have to be some artists who choose to provide that educational experience for those children. Without it they will spend their days doing worksheets and looking at textbooks that have no pictures.

Karl Paulnack, Director of Music at the Boston Conservatory wrote this welcome address to the parents of the incoming freshman class in September of 2004. Please follow this link and read the speech in it's entirety. Especially if you have ever hoped that your child would just be a doctor.

We do not become artists because we are lazy, or because we are not intelligent enough to do anything else. We become artists because we believe that we can save the world.

Photo: August Wilson Center Dance Ensembles "moving mural" project Moving the Lives of Kids Community. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Stranger at the End of the Bed

It seems that my friend had left our hometown to move to the Big City and attend a progressive performing arts high school only to fall in with an... interesting crowd.

Left to their own open minded devices they were experimenting. Developing the power of their minds as they developed their creativity in an anything goes environment. I don't know the details, I was not there; but at the time she told me about someone called "the traveler". It seems it was the traveler that came and stood next to my bed after being told to go and "see" me.

Astral travel or an out of body experience can be induced from a deep state of meditation. There are any number of vehicles or tools that you can use to get out of your body; hypnotism, meditation, trance inducing music. In this case he was a scrying. Using a mirror to effectively turn on the psychic awareness we all have, but comes easier to some more than others.

I imagine it was scary and unnerving to have someone describe a room and a person she knew so well. My feeling is that this was the disturbance I felt from her. If you are of my generation you probably understand when I say that "I felt a disturbance in the Force". She and I are connected. Through time and space it seems. We still have these moments of inter-connectivity living on opposite coasts and in very different lives.

It's weird. After all of these years, every time it happens that is the first thing I think. Wow, that's weird.

This traveler in my bedroom had brought us back together again and started a chain reaction of events that continues to this day in both of our lives. I just realized as I am typing this that when I actually met this mystical traveler in the flesh, our positions would be reversed and it would be me standing over him asleep in his bed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Long and Winding Road

Like all gothic novels, my story wouldn't be complete or even half as interesting without my alter ego. My foil. The strange character that you never really quite figure out if they are real... or another manifestation of the protagonists mind... The Tyler Durden character.

I met mine when we were very young children. Our roles were established almost from day one. She was the risk taker and the extrovert. I covered for her and egged her on. We were the same age, same stature, same artistically dramatic flair. Many times over the years we successfully posed as sisters to the unknowing. We may decide to do it again sometime.

Our relationship was tumultuous from the beginning as our mothers were close friends. I was compared to her, she felt like she was competing with me.

The crux of this story happens during our teenage years. At some point between 9th and 10th grades we had a falling out. My interpretation is that our competitive natures and teenage girl hormones got the best of us. We stopped talking almost entirely which left a staggering void in my life. We had been nearly inseparable.

She was accepted into a High School of the Performing Arts in a Southern city I had never heard of and went to live there and finish out high school. I was frankly glad that she was gone. I imagine that most people don't know what it's like to live life with a living alter ego... the competition was brutal.

I continued a blissfully singular life on my own after that. I got reports through the Mother-vine that she was living the life she'd been dreaming about; performing and experimenting and partying.

I had an odd experience while sleeping one night. I "dreamed" that I woke up and was frozen in place, unable to move. At that time I didn't know much about lucid dreaming, but now I know that must have been the state I was in. I was firmly in my body, but unable to move. Standing at the foot of my bed was a large dark shadowy figure. Not moving or speaking; just standing. I could not see his features or what he was wearing. He was literally a shadow figure.

I wasn't afraid until I realized that I could not move. Then I panicked and "woke up".

It was around this time that I got a stereotypical sense of foreboding. Specifically about her. It was unnerving because I was very glad to be rid of her at the time. I talked to my Mom about the feeling and she encouraged me to write her a letter explaining that I was worrying about her...

I did indeed write that letter. It began "It's me. Don't be too surprised." I put it in the mail on a Friday afternoon.

On Monday I was coming home from school with my dear friend Sara who is endlessly silly and sweet. I mentioned that I had sent the letter and expressed some regret and worry that it wouldn't be well received on the other end. I walked into my house and into the dining room where I met my mother with an odd look on her face holding out an envelope.

It had come from her to me. Sent on the same day. The same opening line, written in her crazy handwriting... "Don't be too surprised it's me!!"

To be continued in The Stranger At the Foot of My Bed...

(photograph by Richard X. Thripp)

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Man on the Train

Inspired by Shift Your Spirits I am going to try and put some of my more interesting experiences into a series of posts...

I was in New York City in the Spring 1989. I do not know who I was with or why I ended up there but I was on a subway train.

At the moment our train stopped in a station that I do not remember the name of the train doors opened and across the platform, in another train with their train doors open was a man. He was young. Approximately my age or a few years older; early twenties. He wore a trench coat and sat on a bench mirroring my position on my own bench.

We locked gazes and I had a stunning jolt of recognition.

The trains doors shut and my life resumed. I spent the entire next week searching for him in crowds. I looked into the faces of every person I passed on the street. That search is almost the only thing I remember about that trip to New York. Searching and searching for that man that I just knew that I knew.

That memory of the phantom man on the train has persisted... One of the odd things about myself that most people don't know about me. I often wondered if he was indeed a real person, a ghost... an angel? Was I supposed to see him? Or was it an accident? I don't believe in accidents... 

I know that at the time I thought perhaps it was John who I had met the summer before for only 15 minutes but had been exchanging letters with and felt a deep spiritual connection to. 13 years later John and I would get married...

(the photograph is London's Barking Cross station from a Wapedia article about cross platform interchange)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What Do You Give Up For Lent?

Lent, the somber season between Ash Wednesday and Easter is the time to reflect on Christ's sacrifice and our own sacrifices that ultimately make us better people. Catholic's all over the world celebrate Shrove Tuesday, the last day before Lent as their last big indulgence before entering the Lenten season and giving something up as their own personal sacrifice.

Growing up it meant that all my friends gave up something like, chocolate, soda, or candy for Lent. In our house my Mom tried to get us to into the habit of not eating meat on Fridays. Best of all went to Saint Al's for fish fry's...

This year I'm trying to find something to give up that is actually do-able. It will be hard but it has to something that is actually in the realm of possibility because I will feel terrible if I pledge to give up something and then am totally unable to follow through....

Any ideas?? I have a week....

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ghostie Ghostie

One o'clock the ghost aint here...

Ghostie Ghostie
We had a neighborhood full of kids when I was growing up. I was the littlest. If I was really lucky the older kids would allow me to join in on their games. It may have actually been called Ghost in the Graveyard, but I was a lot littler and Ghostie Ghostie is how my brain processed it between the ages of 5 and 10.

The Justins lived directly across the street and the Conways lived next to them. Both families had about 6 kids each so they dominated the game decisions.

Ghostie Ghostie was played at or in the hour surrounding dusk using the Conways front porch as "base".

From the front steps we chanted "one o'clock the ghost aint here..." and on and on building the tension until we got to Midnight and "the ghost IS here!".

A that point we would shriek as loudly as we could and then try to run all the way around the house and make it back to base without the "ghost" (the person who was It) tagging us.

I absolutely loved this game and was terrified of it at the same time.

I liked it much better than Kick The Can because no one ever got hurt and for some reason when our neighborhood played the can game; someone got hurt. Much like the Pom Pom game that the big kids played at the ice skating pond, I avoided Kick the Can.

I love the memories I have of sitting on the porch steps with the big kids and being allowed to be part of the action. I wonder if they remember that they ever let me play... because it's permanently etched into the mythology of my childhood.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don't Dream It... Be It

This year I am enjoying the fabulous city that I live in much more than I did last year!

This year I am reading my To Be Read pile.

This year I am lighting a theatrical fire under as many kids as I can.

This year I am a good friend and wife.

This year I am prosperous, comfortable, healthy and at peace.

These are not goals or resolutions. These are things that I am. Somebody said to me "if you do it than that is what you are". Well okay then.