Life Moves On

I have friend, she landed in Paris this morning. I have another who is burying her dad today. One friend facing probably one of the worst days of her life, and the other experiencing immense happiness. The world never stops. Sunday I went to a concert, but as we drove there I thought about the friend of mine who just that morning had lost her dad. I was reminded of when my mother died. I remember thinking about how in a single moment my life was changed forever, yet for the rest of the world outside my family life was continuing on as normal. I remember thinking, “How can this be? Shouldn’t everyone know that a beautiful person had just left this earth?”, but here I was on the way to a concert, my friend’s world changed forever, mine continuing on. It’s a strange place to be. You know your life will never be the same, but the people who see you on the street have no idea of the profound loss you’ve just experienced. For the friend that is burying her dad, actually her step-dad (you know those unsung heroes that step into a family and make all the difference in the world?), I am sure she is in a similar place to where I was. I think I have posted this poem before, or at the very least mentioned it. I heard it in the movie Four Weddings and A Funeral and it stuck with me since:

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It’s been seven years since I lost my mom. When my friend sent a text to let me know her dad had passed I cried. I cried for her loss, but also for my own. Reopening a wound a little. I still wonder about the world that continues on without my mom. I still ache to her voice, to wrap my arms around her, to give her one more kiss. Monday was a little cold here. I grabbed a scarf from my drawer, it was my mother’s. It still smelled of smoke, hairspray, and of her perfume. I haven’t washed it in all the time I’ve had it, and I never will. It carries traces of her and if that is all I can have I will treasure it forever.

To my friend in Paris. I love Paris, I hope you will love it as much as I did. Treasure that you are there with someone you love, I hope you have thousands of beautiful memories.

To my friend who is burying her dad. I think I’ve told you more than once, my mom knew how much I loved her. In some small way that helps. Your dad knew you loved him. He knows you are a fine and good woman. Dark skies ahead, but time truly helps, focus on the good stuff, the love, the laughter, even the stuff that annoyed the heck out of you. It’s life, it’s moving on, it will continue to move on, it will be a little emptier, but he will live on in your heart and mind. He has left this world with the gift of your love and the love of your family, and in return has left some love of his own. Prayers are with you all today.

 

Before I end this post a word about stepfathers. My husband is one, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. Like my friends dad he made sure that my daughter knew he loved her. Most stepfathers love all of their children, not just the ones that are “blood” relatives. Stepfathers usually end up in the movies as creepy guys who are up to no good, when in everyday life they are men made of something special. It isn’t easy to step into a family, and when your stepchild loves you immensely it means you have done something really right. When your stepchild refers to you as “Dad” it means you have crossed the boundary of blood lines and brought something wonderful into the life of someone else. I’m not forgetting the step-moms either. My daughter has a really terrific one named Valerie, who is one of the finest women I know, and my very dear friend. I couldn’t have asked for a better influence in Jessica’s life.

Life will move on. Stop breathe, appreciate, offer gratitude, and most of all love. I never want someone I know to leave this earth not knowing what they mean to me.

She Speaks

After a year of blogging every single day, and then a couple of times a week, it might seem like I am running out of things to say. That isn’t true of course, although I am much less of a “talker” than most. I am comfortable in my own silence (and even more comfortable in the silence of some others…) The truth is that things haven’t changed. Our life is still on hold as we try to sell our home. At the risk of offending some very dear friends (who happen to be decent human beings and realtors), I will say that we are beginning to feel a bit like shark bait for the local realtors. We continue to have people contact us about our home, always starting out as if they have a possible buyer, ask lots of questions and then go for the kill. When I explained to a caller the other day that I had a realtor in line, a best friend in line for the sale of our home should we decide to go that route, she began to badger me on the whys and hows of why in her opinion, “That just doesn’t work.” I explained that my dear friend is away for family medical reasons. I explained that I had already made the promise to my friend that the listing would be hers. I explained about a bad realtor experience back in Chicago that made me wary. None of that mattered. She simply ignored everything I said and told me that I needed to have an “open mind” when her boss came to preview my property. I was losing my temper (which is never, ever a good thing for the person on the other end of it), I was trying to be as pleasant as possible, but I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. If this particular caller had her way I would be greeting my returning friend with, “Sorry your family member was gravely ill, by the way our friendship of nine years means nothing, and I’m giving someone else my house to list.” I actually thanked this person for her professionalism (which she wasn’t), but I find myself in a very awkward position. I want to tell these people exactly what I think of them and their “ethics”, but if I do that I risk alienating them even farther. I just don’t understand. Why is my need to sell my own house such a bad thing? We are offering compensation to the buyer’s realtor. We don’t expect these people to work for nothing, but not a single realtor in the area has brought a client to our home. One realtor went as far as telling us that we weren’t worth his time. Since when is a paycheck of nearly ten thousand dollars not worth someones time? We aren’t against someone earning a living, but we are people who had very little income for sixteen months and need to keep as much of our money as we can for ourselves. I’m angry and frustrated. I want and need to move ahead with our life, but I am also as stubborn as they come. So I will sit in my beautiful home with my heels dug in and wait for the buyer to find us without any help from anyone else, because ten thousand dollars is definitely worth my time.

Breathe….now I feel better.

Art! There hasn’t been a piece every day. There have been fairies and other things. I will share the photo from my altered art piece from my daughter’s birthday. (She may kill me for it, but if you don’t think she was one of the cutest toddlers ever…) This was the cover on one of thirty gifts I sent her. A small cigar box that contained a little tiny set of pages where I wrote out the story of her birth. One thing that the last year and a half has taught me is that “things” don’t matter. People matter, memories matter, spirituality matters. The things that mean the most are the things that cannot be held in our hands, but only in our hearts and minds. Happy Birthday Jessica.

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An Update From The World Of Uncertainty

It’s been one week since I pledged to start another year-long art project. You may be wondering where all the art is. Some of it is in a box, actually boxes, on their merry way to New York in time (hopefully) for my daughter’s birthday on Tuesday. It’s a big one for her, and for me as well. She is turning thirty. (Sorry Jessica, I know you look seventeen, I’m letting the cat out of the bag.) It has only been a week since I turned fifty-five. It honestly didn’t bother me a bit. What does horrify me is the fact that I am about to be the mother of a thirty year old, because I’m not that old! It will also be a first for us. Jessica and her husband, John, moved to New York in June. It will be the first time in thirty years that I won’t be with my daughter for her birthday. That’s a tough one, so I did what any completely insane mother would do…I sent her thirty presents. Some are homemade (the previously mentioned art), some are silly, some are meant to share with John. I was broke when his birthday came around in August, so I wanted to wish him a little belated birthday. I can’t share and ruin the surprise, so….Tuesday.

I am also at the beginning of the holiday show season. You know what that means, if you come in my house you are guaranteed to leave looking like you’ve just left Tinkerbell’s house. Glitter, glitter everywhere! Which brings me to another subject, my house. We had our fifth week of open house. I am attempting to keep the glitter at bay by working outside, but glitter is the infectious disease of craft supplies. It spreads despite all containment efforts. Every time I walked in the house today there was a sparkly dusting in my wake. There isn’t too much I can do, I need to work, I have a show next week. As for the house…it’s still ours. We actually thought that we had some people interested yesterday, but it failed to materialize. I find myself waffling between being happy that I’m not leaving my house yet, and anxious to move on. It feels like our life is on hold for the moment. I keep waiting for things to get better, or at least different. Believe me I know there are so many people who are far worse off, I am grateful for what we have, but I am a bit of a control freak. We are now into seventeen months of drastic life changing circumstances, I think any normal human being would begin to become a bit frustrated. I long for normalcy, or whatever “normal” will turn out to be once the dust has settled.

As for tonight, I am tired, discouraged, impatient, and a little anxious. I am also hopeful. I had a moment a few days ago when a feeling that everything would be OK came over me. I have no explanation, I only know it changed my mood and mindset tremendously, and for that I am particularly grateful.

It rained Friday and for a bit on Saturday. We need it here in Southern California, but it gave us much more than water, we had incredible clouds yesterday, and spectacular color. Of course I had to capture some of it. I have no paintings or drawings to share yet, but a little bit of God’s handiwork instead. Plenty of inspiration for painting, and more than enough beauty to make me happy just to be alive.911 crop

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A Different Dialog

I’m not going to write today about my house. Sometimes things happen that resonate in my brain, and reorders my perspective about what is important in life. I went to the pharmacy today to pick up a prescription. An ordinary errand on an ordinary day. The woman behind the counter is not Caucasian, she is Middle Eastern. I’m not sure where she hails from, I will presume, although I do not know, that it isn’t from the U.S., she has just the hint of an accent. I have a hint of an accent myself, it’s a Midwestern twang with a touch of the Brogue, depending on which words stuck with me from my very Irish upbringing. None of that matters. She is a lovely woman, pleasant and nice. She always has a smile, and through the many years that I have been patronizing the pharmacy we have developed an easy rapport with one another. Today she seemed tired, and I thought I heard a trace of illness. I asked if she were coming down with something, and then she began to cry. Her nephew was killed in a motorcycle accident only two days ago. She told me he was only twenty five, she had so much pain in her eyes that I began to cry as well. I reached for her hand and held it just for a second, and for a moment she seemed surprised, and then pulled away. I told her I was sorry, I told her there were no answers. She lives amongst elderly relatives, some are sickly, but they are alive. She is at a loss, she doesn’t understand why this young man was taken when she has people in her life ready to move on. We stood for a few moments and talked about her nephew and my mother. I told her the one thing that I believe, that he will always live on in their hearts. I told her I talk to my mom all the time in my laundry room. With that I realized there was another customer behind me, a woman.  I wished the pharmacy tech well and stepped aside, and then the other woman looked at me and said, “I talk to my mother in the garden.”

I wrote about this incident because in that singular moment I wished that the world at large could share that human connection. I talked about the pharmacy tech’s heritage not because she was different, but because we are all the same. Her pain was my pain, the hole in my heart caused by my mother’s death is the same as the hole in her heart, and of the heart of the woman behind me. I am tired of reading, and so much more exhausted seeing the effort that is put into pointing out all of our differences. Bill Maher had a show on in which he and a guest were in essence laying a blanket definition of who Muslims are are what they believe. It wasn’t pretty. Ben Affleck was on the program and was challenging their statements. I’m with Ben. I’m a Catholic. Not really a practicing Catholic, but it is the foundation of who I am, and in how I choose to live my life. There are particular programs on these days where the hosts are “Christians”. There is nothing remotely “Christ-like” in how they portray the issues of today. One of the most spectacular qualities that we as humans have is our differences. God given differences. By that I don’t mean the stuff that interferes with leading a good, and God-like existence. Things like racism, ignorance, intolerance, violence…the list goes on and on. I mean the differences in each and everyone of us that makes us unique. It’s the reason that you can’t “blanket” any religion. I have three sisters, we all live our various levels of faith in our own manner. Does that make one of us a “good” Catholic, or another a “bad” Catholic? No it doesn’t, because according to what we believe it is not for us to judge. Would I be comfortable if because of the current pedophilia problem every priest was labeled a pedophile? Or by default that I am somehow responsible for what a number of sick individuals did? No I wouldn’t. I happen to have a dear friend who is a priest. He is a good and honorable man. I’m tired of everyone sitting in judgement of everyone else. What would it take to understand that because you worship differently than me you aren’t wrong? You are different in the magnificent way that God created you. We all hurt, we all bleed, we are all devastated by the loss of loved ones. We all love our children, we all want to be happy, we all want love. Here’s the other really great thing that God did. We’re all the same too. Let’s stop looking at the differences in the wrong way. Let’s celebrate our individuality, the many traditions of worship, the many expressions of love in whatever form they may take, the many colors of our skin (even for those of us that have no color in our skin), the way that each of us are different from the person next to us. Then let’s embrace what is the same. Let us comfort those who have lost, cheer for those who succeed, wrap ourselves in the connection we all have, the human experience. Finally, let’s begin to turn a deaf ear to those who would divide us, who would abuse the name of God, of Allah, of Jesus, or whomever one prays to, by turning them into weapons of divisiveness, or of judgement. Of turning our backs on what I believe everyone’s God teaches, and that is love.

When I Grow Up

When my son Brian was just short of his sixth birthday he came to me with a very earnest look on his face. “Mommy”, he said, “When I grow up should I be a taxi driver or a science test?” I told him that I wanted him to be a “science test”. He is now studying to be a sommelier. The memory of that conversation came to me in the middle of another sleepless night. I really believed for a very long time now that I never figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. There were of course flashes of interest, in the sixth grade it was archeology. I read everything I could get my hands on to do with ancient Rome and Greece. I knew Greek Mythology by heart. Then there was the realization that it might just involve science, somewhat doable, but in a round about way it might also involve (cue the dramatic music of dread)…math…Done! No math, no how! Then there was of course (as any good Catholic girl will tell you) the call to God. I thought for a very, very, very short time about becoming a nun. (Didn’t we all?) Trust me as a romanticizing, day dreaming, fourteen year old, the idea of becoming a “Bride of Christ” sounds wonderful and mysterious. You find yourself praying a lot and feeling very pious. I think a very short reflection on some of the bitter and angry nuns I had dealt with in my academic career brought that idea to a screeching halt. Don’t get me wrong. I have had the immense pleasure of being educated by some lovely human beings, who also happen to have been nuns, but in my young mind the bitter and angry ones far outweighed the nice ones. For a while I thought I might want to be a teacher. I think I would have been a good one, but in the summer that I was fifteen I taught art in a Chicago Park District program to children four through eight years old. I was bitten, kicked, and had my glasses broken by an obnoxious five-year old who thought that while flying high on the swing set it might be fun to hit my face with his feet. I was done yet again. The honest truth was I never really thought about an artistic career. Since I had no training I had no idea of the endless possibilities that were available to me. I did always have a flair for design. I think I may have mentioned here before that I didn’t like playing with Barbie dolls as much as I enjoyed decorating their house. In my sleeplessness last night I did a lot of thinking. I had a complete meltdown right before bed (which robbed my dear husband of some much-needed sleep, sorry Honey). I was bemoaning my fate as a lost human being wandering the earth with no focus, no plan, no home. (OK, so it wasn’t quite that dramatic) It’s just that I, like so many other women, are our families. We lost ourselves somewhere along the way of countless hours of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, laundry, homework, bedtime rituals, etc., we are made up of the pieces that address our family needs, and forget our own. I was feeling angry and frustrated last night. Last year when I started this blog and art project it was the first time in my adult life that I was solely focused on something for myself. Then fate stepped in, appearing in the form of unemployment, it laughed in my face, and it filled my mind with fear and worry and not so much with creativity. So many times over the course of the year I found myself pushing the project to the back burner because guilt wouldn’t allow me to put myself first. I wouldn’t let myself be first. Now Dan has a new job, Jessica has moved away, I am moving away from Brian, and I am also moving away from Gabby and Kingston, the motherless children I care for and have grown to love. The only thing I have been in thirty years is a wife and mother. I dabbled at my art, but I never fully committed myself to me. It all came to a head last night. As I sat here all night (quite frankly despicably full of self-pity) I remembered what Brian had said. In the last few weeks as I have been packing up our lives, I came across my diary. It’s the one I mentioned here before. Along with it were pages from other older, younger diaries. Amongst the writing on those pages were some dreams for the future. First and foremost was my goal of becoming Mrs. Robert Redford (Don’t worry. Dan is well aware of my love for “Bob”), but there was also an entry that while it has the day and month, it does not have the year. My Aunt Bernie had just given birth to my cousin Michael. In my little girl penmanship I wrote about what a beautiful baby he was, and that I wanted to be a mom when I grew up. So maybe I did know all along. I think I was pretty good at it. I’d like to think I’m still good at it, trying my best to not interfere, but to gently guide and suggest. I’m sure that many people would chalk this up to “empty nest syndrome”.  Sure, some of that might be true, but with me there has always been this feeling of unfulfilled promise. God-given talents that are sorely untapped. Dan got angry with me last night, and that isn’t something that happens often, but he was right. He said that I keep throwing up roadblocks for myself. He also said that I won’t let myself be first, and that he is my biggest supporter. All of that is true. It really is time to figure things out. I know I can’t blame anyone but myself, and I know only I can change me. Time to grow up, time for a new dream, and since Bob and I are both already married to other people, that ship has sailed. (Oh come on, Dan knows he is the love of my life.)

After my meltdown and sleepless night I sat on the couch this morning with my coffee and watched last night’s Project Runway. I love the show. I love to see the creativity and imagination at work. I also envy the amazing sewing talent. One of the lovelier nuns I have run across is Sr. Janelle. She was my sophomore year sewing teacher. Try as she might, as kind and patient as she was, I wasn’t very good. I have amazing talent in these hands as long as there isn’t an iota of math involved. Sewing can be very mathematical. On a commercial break in the show came an ad for AARP. (We are not members. It’s honestly a little upsetting when you get your first invite to join. You find yourself feeling angry and insulted that they would presume to think you are that “old”. I know there are many benefits, but my brain just doesn’t want to go there. I am after all, only 54!) The ad featured Tim Gunn, and it couldn’t have been more appropriate. He talks about reinventing yourself, rolling the dice and taking a chance. He was a teacher for twenty-nine years, and he was fifty when Project Runway came along. It was just what I needed to hear. Maybe my former fiancée (God) is trying to send me a message. Now if He could just send me some movers….

Regaining Control

I’m usually pretty good at coming up with a title for a post. They come to me quickly, and I usually never second guess my choice. Today is a little different. I wasn’t sure whether to title this one as I did, “Regaining Control”, or my other thought which was  “Misconceptions.” What I need to get off my chest has a little to do with both. As I’ve pointed out before, this blog began as a way to force myself to work on my art. The unfortunate situation that we found ourselves in changed that. I still plan to return to my work, but there isn’t much time for creativity these days unless it is in the form of packing boxes. This blog instead has become a catharsis for my emotional well-being in a time of struggle. Pent up emotions do no one any good. I am a very “in your face” kind of person. I don’t believe in hiding the truth, I feel better when I am honest with people. That doesn’t mean that I go around insulting people by telling them something negative about themselves, some things are best left unsaid, but when I am upset with someone I don’t let it fester. When you don’t release your emotions I think little things tend to build into great big things, and then all kinds of unnecessary drama can ensue. I don’t know most of the people who read what I write, and that works for me. It just feels good to let it out, and if by chance someone else relates and it helps them in some way, that is amazing. I also don’t write looking for pity, which believe it or not I kind of think some people who I do know believe that I am. I’m a writer as well as an artist, so I am doing what a writer does, I write. I started keeping a journal at twelve, of course back then we didn’t have fancy names like “journal”, it was a diary. You know the kind where you talk about which boy is cute and how you hate your parents that day? I actually kept that diary for almost seven years. I’ve written a lot over the years. I’ve never attempted to have anything published, that lovely “you are good enough” voice that resides in my brain held me back. Short stories, poetry, and a few children’s books are all in a box. Someday I may let them out, but for now I write here. So with that rather long introduction I will begin.

I’ve had several people tell me to focus on the good in my life. Things such as, “Count your blessings.”,  “Look at all the love and kindness you’ve received.”,  “Stop focusing on the negative.” …and so on. The implication of course being that I spend my life in a complete state of “woe is me.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I guess I’ll address misconceptions first. I am grateful, I do count my blessings, I don’t always focus on the negative, and so on… This blog became a way to vent emotion. My lovely husband was struggling in his own way with his identity as the man of the house, the bread-winner, the guy who took care of everything. Did he need to be burdened with my worry wart ways? The answer is of course not. Venting here allowed me to blow off some worry as well as steam. Not that Dan didn’t always know what I was feeling, but this took the edge off. When I said that I felt my prayers weren’t being answered it didn’t mean that I suddenly stopped being Catholic. Trust me when I say I sometimes envy the faith that some people have. Mine is just a little shaky at the moment. I also believe something my sister said about God giving us free will. God does help them who help themselves, it’s just tough to get it going when no one will give you a chance, because guess what? The multitudes of people who turned Dan down for a job have free will too, the free will to not give him the job. I also in my beliefs think that God is a little busy right now with Gaza, the Ebola virus, the current crisis in Iraq, and the millions of poor starving babies in the world to be worried about whether or not I get to keep my 3000 square foot home. I wouldn’t expect that kind of attention. This is where the regaining control part comes in. I’m a self admitted control freak, and my life was way out of my control, that means I turn into a “basket-case”.  This was never about losing my big house, it was about worrying that I would have no house at all. This was about watching what the situation did to the person that I love, admire, and respect most in the world, Dan. It was about being scared. Loss of control is a big issue for me. It’s why I’m claustrophobic, I need the keys. The house will be on the market within a week. I’m exhausted, as is Dan, but (dare I say) we are also beginning to feel a little excited about the future. We went out last weekend to investigate potential places to move to, and quite frankly we fell in love. I won’t go into detail as of yet, but I am feeling hopeful, and just a little bit more in control. Now that there is a plan of sorts, it means that all is almost well in my world. We are helping ourselves and letting God take care of those who can’t and need Him way more than us.

Finally on this lovely Sunday morning a few words of wisdom from me.March 13 2010 079

 

The Home Stretch

Perhaps I should have titled this post “The Loss Of Home Stretch”. That’s where we are. I had sorely underestimated what needed to be done around here. We are both overworked, overtired, and feeling sad. I’ve given up hope, given up prayer, and am just waiting for it to all be behind us. I need to move on, I need some answers. For those of you who I know will feel the need to address my giving up prayer, don’t bother. I have prayed, I have prayed every single day for more than a year. I’m tired. I don’t have enough time to take a much needed soak in the tub, much-less wait for divine intervention. I have been, and I have waited just long enough to be at risk of being homeless. Dan and I need to take care of our own destiny, whatever that may be. We have had a lot of advice, loving, well-intended advice, but the bottom line is that we can only depend on ourselves. As you have probably guessed by now, today is not a good day. It is another day where I find tears streaming down my face at their own will. I know what is important in this life. The most important part is upstairs right now trying his best to apply for everything and anything. I have also made mention of my “Stuff”. The thing is, it isn’t just stuff, it’s the pieces of a life that has ceased to exist. It is memories of birthdays, and Mother’s days and Christmas. It is deciding to let go of some trivial little thing that represents a happier day. It is packing up our life into boxes that have no place to go. The other day I got the mail, and then the thought struck me that I will need to stop the mail in the (hopefully) very near future. I have no new address to forward it to. To say this is hard is vastly understating the situation. Dan apologized to me this morning. Why? Because he feels he has let me down. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He is my life’s saving grace. He is responsible for nothing more than making me a better person, and loving me far beyond what I sometimes feel I deserve. I’m off to continue working. I needed to take the pressure off my breaking heart for a moment. It helps to talk, even if it is only to this page.

 

I wrote the above post ten days ago. I didn’t publish it because quite frankly it depressed me. Things are moving ahead here. I can actually see the finish line. On a more positive note it seems that there may be some hope on the job front for Dan. I hate to say that I’m afraid to even write these words. I’m afraid that something will get in the way yet again. I’m afraid to hope. We should know some time in the next day or two. In case you care, I haven’t given up praying, but I think that I understand the meaning of  “Doubting Thomas”. I am second guessing myself on every front including my ability to communicate with the Man upstairs. I’ll keep you posted…

The “Right” Kind

I’m back. For a moment at least. Banged up, exhausted, and in a not so great state of mind, but there is something else. Something that got under my skin today, something that bugged me so much that I stopped focusing on my situation. I tend to obsess…a lot. I told Dan I felt a “rant” coming on….well, here goes…I was outside trimming trees, and bushes, and improving the “curb appeal” of my home. Dirty, tired, and with hands that are covered in bandages from blisters that developed, and then tore open in the same day. Not in an either bad or good frame of mind, but lost in thought, and to a certain extent content in the moment. I love the garden. I love the physical aspect of gardening. I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing my efforts bloom, to feel the earth in my hands. A neighbor approached. She is new to the street, she has been here for only a few months. We had taken the time to introduce ourselves to both this woman and her husband, but other than that nothing more than a quick hello, and friendly wave. She announced that she was nosy. She had been observing us in the last few weeks as we moved boxes to a nearby storage locker, noticed us cleaning up the garden, and the arrival of a dumpster on Monday. “I assume you are moving. I had to know. We will miss you.” To begin with, miss me? You don’t know me. Second, I’m not nosy. I really don’t care what my neighbors are up to. I told her that yes, we were indeed moving. At this point I will admit I am already annoyed. I don’t like being disturbed, and particularly when someone wants to gain information that is none of their business. Except this woman apparently has a vested interest in the sale of my home. She informed me that she knew people who might want to buy my home. Great, right? No, because that was followed by comments concerning the “right” kind of people. Because we need to be careful who we allow to buy our home. I’ve run into this type before. I may have even mentioned it here. The colorless people such as myself who believe that since we share the same pasty complexion, we must also share the same ignorant, racist, discriminatory sensibilities. Not the case. I happen to believe that we are all the same, well maybe not, because some of us are so ignorant as to believe that the color of skin makes us different. We aren’t. Just in case I was mistaken I decided to visit the woman who lives next door to her. We have been friendly on and off for several years, gone to lunch, been at each others homes for parties, etc., she is Persian. She was born in Iran, but raised in the East here in the U.S., she is Muslim, but she is so much more than what she may look like, or how she chooses to worship. She is a funny, interesting woman, a good wife and mother, with two very beautiful daughters. She also does a killer job of decorating her house for Christmas. I went over to tell her in person that I am moving, and promised to keep in touch. We talked about the new neighbor. I told my friend I was curious if they had met. They had. My friend had brought doughnuts to welcome the new people, because that is the kind of lovely woman she is. Since then the husband has spoken to her, but not the wife. I guess my friend isn’t the “right” kind. It’s sad to me. If the new neighbor would take the time to get to know the woman next door she might discover that us moms are pretty much alike, that this woman is a friend that can be counted on, that she is generous and thoughtful, that because of the world we live in sometimes people aren’t nice to her, and she turns her other cheek. Sounds like something someone else I’ve heard of would do. He wasn’t pasty white either. I guess I’d better not sell him my house.

My Rant: More to come

I’m back. So soon? Yes, I realized over the last few days that expressing myself on these pages is cathartic for me. I am feeling frustrated and weighted down by our current situation, writing helps me work through my feelings. I’ve always enjoyed writing, in fact I kept a diary for nearly seven years when I was younger. I’ve spent years starting and not finishing short stories, and have multitudes of paper scraps with single lines written on them. A thought or idea pops into my head and I grab whatever happens to be handy to capture the idea before I forget. Sometimes these elusive thoughts have come and gone before I have a chance to do anything with them. Many of them have languished for years in a file folder in my studio, and some have gone on to be parts of poems. I digress…

The point of tonight was to finish what I started last night. When I reread what I wrote I forgot to point out one thing about myself, and that is that I love to work. I derive a great deal of self-satisfaction from physical labor, and the accomplishment of a task. I hadn’t intended to add to last night, but this morning something happened that fueled my displeasure with those that would imply that I might think a job is beneath me. We have hardwood floors throughout our home. Unfortunately two of them sustained damage by bed frames that bore holes and scratches in them. We called in a floor professional who took a look, realized it wasn’t a huge job, and told Dan he could save us money by passing the job onto his “guy”. The implication that somehow the price would be less by cutting out the middleman. Then we got the call with the price…$625.  Six Hundred Twenty Five Dollars! To replace what came down to replacing about eight pieces of hardwood, which by the way we would be supplying. He claimed that the flooring in the guest room would take a day. Dan told him we couldn’t afford it, he said he would see what he could do and call us back. That was yesterday. This morning when Dan went for a walk, I did what I do, I did it myself. Me, still in my nightgown, sitting on the floor of the guest room (I can work as long as I’m sitting), with a hammer, two chisels, and a small screwdriver. Forty five minutes later Dan came home to find the “all day job” more than half done. I got up and brought him in to see what I had done. His response? “That’s my girl”. I am not one of those women who gets an idea, and then proceeds to make her husband do all the work. I think it’s my Parent’s influence. They were both hard workers, and always did their best.  If it’s my idea, I try my hardest to accomplish it. If I need help I will (sometimes) ask. I believe that it is one of the best parts of who I am, it never occurs to me that I can’t accomplish what I want. There is one exception, that unfortunately is my art. If I could master that confidence and apply it to my art, there would be no stopping me.

Another photo tonight. I promise not to make this a habit (not sure you want to see all my appendages), but sometimes when I get an idea in my head and just go at it there are consequences. Consequences like this…

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This is what happens when you don’t wear a glove and smack your hand with a hammer. Did it stop me? No it didn’t, in fact I did it three times, and this is only my left hand, I am sparing you the photo of the blister that covers the entire tip of my right index finger, or the tear in my right knuckle, or the cut left by the sliver of wood that went in my right hand. All day? Six Hundred Twenty Five Dollars, yeah right, I don’t think so, not when there’s a hard-working woman in the house.

One more thought as I look at my no longer colorless hand. People of the world, particularly in Gaza, give peace a chance. I say that my parents influenced my work ethic, but they also taught me that we are all the same. Respect each other, and honor the individual right to worship God, any God, your God, their God, in whatever way they see fit. Love each other, and stop killing in God’s name. As my very wise eighty-one year old father says, “Here’s how I look at religion. It’s like soccer, as long as you’re in the game it doesn’t matter what color jersey you are wearing.” Like I said, a very wise man.

The Journey

These days I find myself writing posts that I do not publish. This blog has become my personal diary, and at times I just need to let off steam, so I ramble on about my life. I may at some point publish them, many of them might go under the heading “Woe Is Me”. Maybe I should do just that, a series of posts, “Woe Is Me #1”, “Woe is me #2”, I think you know where this is going. There are other times when I am sick of myself and this entire situation, and then I have to ask myself, “Do you want to read that?”, and the answer is, “NO! Get over it already.”

Here’s the good news, I think I’m getting over it. Not that I’m not still a little mad at the world, or sad that I’m losing my home, but I think I’ve moved on to the next phase of the grieving process. As we move through this house neutralizing the decor (Damn you HGTV real estate shows!!!), my house is no longer looking like my home, it is looking like my house. The distinction you ask? It is losing its warmth. My deep rusty-red wall of 22 feet in the front foyer is now a mellow cream. Yuk! Not that I don’t like cream, it is after all on the rest of the walls in the foyer, living room, up the stairs, in the loft, and soon to be in the kitchen. (One color throughout because, “That’s what buyers want to see.” I say, “Get an imagination and some vision”.) I am depersonalizing, no family photos, or treasured vintage pieces on the walls, because, let’s say it in unison, “Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in the space.” Really? If you can’t buy a house because my kid’s framed photo is on the dresser then there is something wrong with you. Not that I believe everyone watches HGTV, or feels that way, but I know realtors do. Enough of that rant…

Things are not going well in the fund-raising for the bookstore/bistro. We also looked at a space and realized that we may not have enough to do it the way we want. I was devastated, shed a few, well more than a few, tears. But then…plan B! What? There was no plan B, but there is now. I’m not exactly ready to give up on plan A, so B will have to wait patiently in the wings, but I’m relieved B is there., what’s even better is the possibility of a plan C. I have taken a very important step in opening the door a crack for plan C. My Irish passport. Yes, it seems that thanks to my lovely parents and ancestors I am an Irish citizen. I filled in all the papers, and took what is possibly the worst passport photo in the history of passport photos (Really, ask Dan, he agrees. It doesn’t even look like me, unless of course they took it after removing all of my wisdom teeth), I’m sure I will get to Ireland and they (hopefully) will say, “This isn’t you. It couldn’t possibly be you.” I will then have to take out my lovely California driver’s license photo and say, “It really is me, the photographer was awful, the lighting was bad, I was storing nuts in my cheeks for the winter.” Either way, Ireland, or Europe could be part of plan C. Not a bad plan I might add. I might also mention that there could be a plan D, I was born in Canada after all…What’s that? E? We are considering a different less costly business. See? My brain is so busy it has very little time to be sad. Dare I say it, there is a glimmer of hope somewhere down deep in my soul. I think I might have even cracked a smile.

Two things tell me that I am beginning to surface from the depths of despair, one is art. I actually created a piece yesterday, a birthday gift for a friend. I’m not posting it, I didn’t even photograph it, it was from the heart, no publicity needed. I also have at least ten ideas dancing around in my head as well. I just don’t have a minute to work on any of them. The second is the desire to cook. I am as talented with a fry pan as I am with a brush. This morning I felt a renewed sense of hope, which leads to creating in the kitchen. An Eggs Benedict of sorts. Day old mini croissants, toasted under the broiler with a little bit of shredded basil Asiago cheese (thank you Theresa for that!), topped with prosciutto, a poached egg, and some lemon rosemary hollandaise. That’s how I bring a smile to Dan’s face.

7/22

I wrote the above post a few days ago, but as so often happens these days moods come in waves. I was on the top of the crest when I wrote that, but as the day wore on, my good mood crashed on the shore. I’m OK, just momentary setbacks. We are still frantically trying to pack this place. We are both sore and exhausted, but we are also focused on the other side of this. I told Dan last night that I don’t want to try to figure out the future right now. I am content to pack up my old life, and with it hopefully some of the profound sense of loss I am feeling. I want to sell the house, and then I want to see where we are financially. Without knowing what we will walk away with it is difficult to imagine anything. Closing day is breathing day, I want to come back and say goodbye to this home, it really was a home, and also say goodbye to what is in the past. Then I want to sit with my beloved husband, have a glass of wine, and talk about our future.

I also wanted to make sure that I posted something today because it is a day of great significance in my life. I lost my mother seven years ago today. A life that I think ended far too soon. My mother was only twenty-two years older than I. With God’s good grace there’s still time for me to have a second, or even third act. I owe it to my mom to keep going.

 

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This is my mom, Mary. A nineteen year old Irish girl who got on a plane to Canada to marry her boyfriend. She took a chance on a different and better life. There were times when she and my dad had less than I do now, but they struggled on, and I can too. Thanks Mom for giving me the strength to keep going. Love you.