Still I Rise

October 29th, 2014

I’m on the board of SISTAWorks – an organization that helps students with high school costs in Ghana. We’re hosting our second annual fundraising gala in November and the theme is a musical tribute to Maya Angelou. I have always loved her poem, her spirit and her ability to reconfigure herself in iconic ways throughout her life. What a role model – geez Louise, stand aside Wonder Woman, Maya is all that.

So it is with interest that yesterday I received a notice from an old lover/friend that they would prefer to not have any more contact. I took it with some pain, but decided okay, if that’s what you need, I can do that. I went to walk Stella and we ran into my friend who was outside of her house, with a jar of mineral spirits, trying to get the tag off her car. Someone had written their name across her hood and we both were rubbing on it – as she spoke to her dad, whose girlfriend has moved out, and I waved to people who went by in trucks and cars and on foot – one had lost her husband to cancer, one had lost her boyfriend to an open relationship, and one had recently found a new love. Life goes on. There we were rubbing the indelible letters off the hood of her SUV with John Waite singing “I ain’t missing you” playing our theme song.

I rose this morning, to a new light, to a new day, and I stopped in the lighting store to get a few bulbs and met someone. Funny how life is, huh. I left with a new reading lamp and his phone number.

My Bohemian Rhapsody

October 28th, 2014

QUEEN
Bohemian Rhapsody Lyrics
(Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality;
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see)

I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I’m (easy come, easy go
Little high, little low)
Anyway the wind blows, (doesn’t really matter to me),
to me

Mama, just killed a man
Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead
Mama, life had just begun
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away
Mama, oo-o-o-o-oo
Didn’t mean to make you cry
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow
Carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters

Too late, my time has come
Sending shivers down my spine
Body’s aching all the time
Goodbye everybody – I’ve got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, oo-o-o–oo – (anyway the wind blows)
I don’t want to die
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all…

INSTRUMENTAL BRIDGE

I see a little silhouetto of a man
(Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning – very very frightening me)
Gallileo, (Gallileo),
Gallileo, (Gallileo),
Gallileo Figaro – (magnifico-o-o-o-o)
I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me
(He’s just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity)

Easy come easy go – will you let me go
Bismillah! No – we will not let you go – let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go – let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go
Will not let you go – let me go-o-o-o-o
No, no, no, no, no, no, no no no-no-
Oh mama mia, mama mia, (mama mia let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside
for me
for me
for) ME!

INSTRUMENTAL BREAK

So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye
So you think you can love me and leave me to die
Oh baby – can’t do this to me baby
I just gotta get out – just gotta get right outta here

INSTRUMENTAL BRIDGE

Ooh yeah, ooh yeah, ooh…

INSTRUMENTAL BREAK

Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters – nothing really matters…
to-o meeee………..(Anyway the wind blows)………

copyright http://elyrics.net

The Moose

October 28th, 2014

Things to Think

Think in ways you’ve never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.

When someone knocks on the door,
Think that he’s about
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time,
Or that it’s been decided that if you lie down no one will die.

~ Robert Bly ~

Idle time

October 27th, 2014

My days are packed, my nights are short, because I do not have time to while away the hours. Besides running two companies, I work as an investigative reporter for two other companies, and am the parent of a young child. I am on the board of an active organization involved in girl’s education. I volunteer at my son’s school. I have a puppy.

I’m here to say it is exhausting this life of mine. I saw this blue glider on Broad Street at an antique store, but it was sold before I could even blink. Mind you, I have a back yard filled with rockers and adirondacks and a lounge chair so I don’t really need a glider. I need to schedule gliding into my daily life.

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The Dream Factory

October 27th, 2014

I spent yesterday at a seminar about everything dreams. We heard a presentation about how dreams are a gift, and that we should receive them without judgment. A couple spoke who do dream work and they said that dreams give space to locked battles and old hurts. I did a writing workshop using the bridge dream that shook me up so much a few summers ago in Spain and inserted a character I had made up on the fly – a mature man, spiritual healer, age 50ish, salt and pepper curly hair is the one having my dream – now that was fun! We heard a panel discuss what dreams are for, with Rodger Kamenetz riffing off of a NYT article that Michael Chabon wrote called “Why I Hate Dreams” – and we also heard from a person who believes that there are other beings here on this planet that are chaos and we are light – I wish I could have had the chance to explain to him that we are all chaos AND light. It seems like someone already did – as he was sporting a black eye.

I also had a one on one with a dream worker about a dream that has reoccured many times in my life. It began during my marriage and continues today, but one of the latest was so richly detailed that I couldn’t shake it. I told her about the dream that turned into another dream, and she turned it around on me – I became the person who is indifferent, who I was dreaming about was the one who is hurt, I am the “ex”, and the quiet man observing is not unimportant. I was listening to her and then it all sort of hit me, the way I’ve narrated the story to myself and others, and it took on a different direction, which made me suddenly start crying.

Even in my dream remembering, I still assign the same roles, cast the same characters, assign the same blame, and end up wanting. We’re told our dreams are a gift, they are a full-fledged play performed for an audience of one – ourselves. We need to be open to what we receive from our dreams because they peel back our layers, they tell our stories, they develop our characters or as Rodger said, they educate our intuition.

A woman said her husband doesn’t want to hear about her dreams – they’re nonsense he says – so she doesn’t tell him the dream, but she does use what she learns about herself in relation to him. He may not want to hear her dream, he may assign dreams to the same place that miracles and divine grace go for some, but he can’t not be active in her dream work.

As a creative – a writer – the process that guides our dreams is similar to the one that guides our art. We think sometimes it comes out of the ether, but it actually bubbles up from the wellspring inside of us. Why not plunge deeper into its meaning and learn what is being said? Why not allow one more cue to our existence, one more layer of meaning, one more chance to revisit the stories we tell ourselves? None of us want to keep getting it wrong.

And yet there is no right. Rule #1 of dream work, there are no rules.

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I Got Paid Today

October 25th, 2014

Today, I was at the Ogden Museum for Southern Art and we were there particularly to see the Prospect 3 exhibit and while in one of the galleries a woman approached and said my name and told me she reads my blog. She introduced me to her S.O. and we all shook hands.

I’ve met a few people who have followed my blog over the years – strangers not friends, well that is until we met in cyberspace and became friends. One is Alice in Salt Lake City, who has been a supporter of mine. Another is Mudd in Canada who has been a kindred spirit as well. I’ve spoken with few people who read my blog. But every now and then I meet someone in real life flesh and blood who I’ve never met before and it has been remarkable.

I was at a friend’s party once and a woman came up who lives in New Orleans and said she knew me from my blog. A few years later, I was at another party and was speaking to that same woman and another woman I had just met and the first turned and said, “You need to read her blog, it’s worth it.” Twice this person – Leslie – paid me a compliment that she didn’t even begin to know the ramifications of – at both junctures I was ready to give up, and both times I ran into her and she told me this and it gave me faith.

I met another woman who is married to a college friend of mine – she told me that after the 2005 Federal Flood she was at home with a newborn and PTSD like all of us had and her husband told her to read my blog and she did and she said it was helpful. She didn’t know – Megan – that her words encouraged me to keep writing.

At the museum, when this woman approached while I was gazing at works by artists I admire, and told me she, a woman who lives in Santa Fe via New York, follows my writing, well, I have to say I was flattered – I don’t get paid for my writing with a million commentators like some have on their sites, I don’t get paid with posts going viral, my currency is that someone, somewhere found value in what I wrote.

Thank you, woman I will not name from Santa Fe – you made my day.

A Creative Soul

October 25th, 2014

Today, while at the Ogden Museum visiting the Basquiat on the Bayou exhibit, Tin had his pen and pad (because he was still in Tin Tin costume minus the orange hair from the night before) and he was drawing. A woman asked him if he was an artist, and I said he’s a creative. Which means he is talented enough to create his own world, something I have been striving for my whole life.

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When Tin was a baby, an artist friend gave him a book called Life Doesn’t Frighten Me At All – verse by Maya Angelou and paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat. It’s been one of our favorites, so today we went to see Basquiat on the Bayou, part of the Prospect 3 exhibits all over town for the next couple of months – lucky us!

Every now and then when someone has seen Tin drawing, they’ve said, “he’s going to be the next Basquiat” like they used to say when they saw him with a trumpet in his mouth: “the next Louis Armstrong” – but the truth is that even though Tin can do a mean imitation of Tin Tin and Satchmo, I wish for my son to be himself because that in and of itself is the ultimate goal.

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I sat in the backyard with a friend today while our kids played on the trampoline and our sibling dogs caroused the yard and said that I wished for my son a radical education rather than the one that is here for him – but a few nods and shakes of our head and we both yielded to the reality that he is happy enough with what he’s got – it’s literally me, who wants to shake things up.

A creative soul = someone who destroys to create and creates to destroy.

Let It Go

October 19th, 2014

I am not talking about the song from Frozen, I’m talking about what I said to Flower the other day on the phone when I said that while the world was falling down all around me, I held on with a death grip to every pillar, person and place I knew. And what I should have been doing is letting it go.

This is such a hard concept for all of us who were taught to build rather than destroy.

And now I’m thinking of another myth I have told myself, the one where I need to be in a partnership or married or in a relationship. I worried that I would be like my mother or the countless other women who after 50 never married again.

But having a temporary roommate has helped me see the light – I was wrong – they were right. Living alone, being single, has more benefits than living with a partner.

Here are my reasons:

1) I have an active career that requires me to juggle many different schedules. Not having a partner means that if I have to devote a day to any one of these projects, it’s totally fine.

2) I love to go to sleep early and wake up early. I don’t have to dicker around with a partner who is a night owl whose comings and goings after I’ve turned off the light keep me from going into my deep REM sleep.

3) I’m clean and tidy and I like it that way. Most people are not clean or tidy or they are clean and tidy in different ways and it’s aggravating.

4) I have an active social life that never needs to be compromised by someone else’s agenda.

5) I spend the holidays with MY FAMILY or MY FRIENDS and don’t have to endure another’s holiday drama or bad food or tired traditions.

6) I have space and time to myself without having to worry about it being invaded.

7) I can travel to places I want to go and not have to compromise my dream journeys.

I really could go on, but are you starting to get my drift? This is new to me – I’ve been married three times, lived with lovers, and only now do I understand that living alone is the greatest gift in the world – to MYSELF.

Well, it turns out I’m a cliché once again, because Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist, spent seven years conducting interviews that reveal a startling change that he documents in his book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.

“People who live alone,” writes Klinenberg in Going Solo, are now “more common than the nuclear family, the multigenerational family, and the roommate or group home.” As a society, however, we seem to be in denial of this new reality: While some ignore it, others deplore it, branding it a symptom of social fragmentation or individual narcissism.

I get misty

October 19th, 2014

I traveled to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to do something I’ve been doing for almost two decades – go to a reporter’s conference. Some parts of it are old and tired (sitting in a hotel conference room with no view to the outside, eating bad food, not getting enough sleep, not even really getting to know the place you are visiting), some parts of it are familiar and new (meeting new people, deepening older relationships, and learning some new facets of my work).

It did remind me of the ever spiraling rungs of life that I’ve been writing about for – hey – nearly a decade. I took advantage of the hour and a half break not to walk through the beautiful campus but to lie on my bed instead and relax. There was a cold circling around the group, and I felt paranoid about getting it, so I opted for rest rather than to keep pushing on.

While I was staring at the ceiling it occurred to me that I’ve been on this continuous reinvention tour of myself and I don’t give myself time to appreciate it. A long-time colleague had said, “Rachel, every time I see you, you are living a new iteration of you.” I paused, because I always wonder if letting a little moss grow on me, might be a good thing. [read: no pun for the street I lived on called Moss Street.]

As a matter of fact, I was telling a friend about feng shui the other day and how you needed to have one good solid wall and your back to it and position yourself furthest away from the entrance. A friend was standing with me who knew me over the last decade; when I said, “The LaLa did not have one solid wall in it – it was all windows and doorways,” this friend turned and said, “That is a metaphor for that house – and why you had no power in it.”

While I was in Bethlehem, I learned about predictive analysis, the Bayes’ theorem, and that Nordstrom’s Employee Handbook has only three words in it – “Use Good Judgment” – all interesting and applicable. I thought about this on the plane ride home. At the end of the conference, a long-time colleague came up to me and said she has always admired me and thinks I’m more beautiful now than ever. She said this as she and I both welled up – “I don’t know why I’m getting all misty,” she said and I said I don’t know why I am either.

But I do know why because I’m a sentimental fool myself. She was looking at me and knowing just how profound my metamorphosis has been, and she was looking from eyes that had also journeyed thousand upon thousands of miles as well. We’ve been at any given time – different. And here we were standing together in a hermetically-sealed conference room in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania having journeyed separated and together through any one of those miles. Perhaps it does make you misty to think of it all – the whole enchilada – the fact that you can embody so much life experience inside one human being.

What’s interesting to me about people who are in my line of work is how eccentric they are – they all have very large outside lives from their workaday ones. They come from so many backgrounds, so many different places, and are all compelled into this work by the same trigger – intellectual curiosity.

At the end of the day, I came home, I unpacked, and I sat with all of this only to return to this present moment of awareness – all of it could vanish in a moment.

Running towards not from

October 13th, 2014

My daily meditation is sometimes eclipsed by daily life. And so it is. Namaste.

I’m getting on a plane this week and I don’t even know where I’m going, if that indicates the pulse of my life at this moment. I’m caught in a spate of abundance – investigative work that is overflowing, my Transracial Parenting work that is on the ascend, motherhood that is without end. I wrote my friend and said I’d like to be somewhere between ensuring Tin does not chew with his mouth open and being able to laugh at his silliness despite it interfering with my agenda. I’m nowhere near where I need to be on motherhood. I have no earthly idea if I will ever get to the point of just being in the moment, enjoying his spirit for who he is, without the overarching need I feel to educate, discipline and guide him.

Stella is incontinent. How did we get here? A puppy never made any sense, but then she came along and she fit so perfectly into my heart. There she was and there it was and there was no turning back. And now I wipe up the puddles of pee everywhere in this house and try to figure out how we got here, and I marvel at how opening your heart is messy and ridiculous and makes no LOGICAL sense whatsoever.

I have no time is my mantra. No time for what? For everything. I have no time for “everything” to be included in my life. I need to prioritize but what gets thrown out and what gets to stay in? These are questions I don’t have time to answer as I juggle and hustle my way through my fifties. A mother told me the other night as we were at a Shakshuka dinner demonstration at the synagogue, “How am I? I’m 43 with a two year old and a two and a half month old.” I cocked my eye at her, “I’m 55 with a five year old and an incontinent 8 month old puppy.” “You win,” she said effortlessly. She knows a WINNER when she sees one.

The Sunday New York Times has not been cracked. The meditation reminders have been deleted. The trip is this week and I don’t know where I’m headed but it’s business or so I think. Tin got bathed last night despite a full day of pancakes in the rabbi’s sukkah, Sunday school, naked sandpile diving with his friend, and Shakshuka dinner. He got a bath! I marvel at that because at 8PM, way passed his bedtime, I was running a warm bubble bath and he said, “I don’t want a bath.” And I said, “God, I do!” A warm, bubble bath run for me by someone who loves me and despite being dog-tired is thinking of my needs, not theirs. This my dears, must be a fantasy.

I want a life that I’m not running away from, only running towards. I think sometimes I have cultivated just that very thing, and poof, it can get lopsided when I’m over scheduled, under loved, and dog tired.

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