The Loom

toomuchworldtosave2

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
-Emily Dickinson
Monday, June 20, 2016 6:13 AM
Thousand Oaks, California

 

It isn’t that I haven’t been writing, because I have been.

It’s just that I haven’t been writing and posting my thoughts here, on thislifetomake, as I have been for nearly two months now.

First the surgery on my hand made it physically impossible.

Then, the world stepped in and upped the ante, as the world often does, with the horrifying mass murder in Orlando, Florida last Sunday.

And I simply had nothing to say beyond the sadness, rage and fear I expressed in Not What, Why? 5 Questions and A Prayer. I asked my daughters if they would post their eloquent and heartfelt sentiments and I am very thankful to La Belle and The Badass Bunny for doing so. (You Cannot Take Away Our Love – Perspective on the Orlando Shooting from The Badass Bunny and Be You. Be Loud. Be Proud – Perspective on the Orlando Shooting from La Belle). And then, The Dude, the girls and I were all current with one another and joined the rest of the country and the world in quietly and respectfully mourning the dancing, singing, joyous 49 who were lost and the 53 and innumerable others forever damaged by the brutality, and incomprehensible violence, hatred and intolerance of 1.

It isn’t that I am no longer sad, mad or afraid. Because I very much am.

But there are not enough words to calm, soothe or assure myself, or anybody else.

There is too much world to save.

I can only think of two things to do today.

The first is to stand up and stand with both those who can and cannot today, helping to create space for their dignity in feeling however they choose to feel.

The second is to offer hope to those who want hope and to hold the hope for those who cannot bear to carry one more thing.

Hope that it won’t always be this way. Today’s feelings and emotions will evolve into tomorrow’s. And tomorrow’s will evolve into the next day’s, then the day after that.

Just like the sun will set on today, Monday, and rise on tomorrow, Tuesday. In between, there will be a moon and stars and my mad, sad and scared.

Things will evolve. Slowly. Like the days of the week, like the mad and the sad and the scared.

Anyone who has ever told me differently has just had a different experience. Not wrong, not bad. Just different.

Over time, mad and sad and scared have become threads I’ve had to work into the story of my life, alongside the threads of happiness, sorrow, joy, bittersweet, hilarity, wisdom, regret and every single other feeling and emotion that is part of the human experience.

I did this by sitting down ( or, sometimes, by lying down on the couch in my pajamas), at the loom and spinning them into the fabric of this life I had to make. It happened as the sun went up and down, as I saw all the hours of the night, as the weeks, months and years passed.

The Crazy Quilt that is the story of my life so far was put together not piece by piece, but thread by thread and it was stitched together by me.

And I didn’t even know it.

I am at my loom this morning, at the ass-crack of dawn, like I ususally am. Coffee, smokes, pen to paper (still so painful, but it hurts more not to, so we are at “The Juice is Worth the Squeeze” part. But just barely.)

And you are at your loom too.

Even if you don’t know it.

And from me at my loom to you at yours, I am hoping, wishing, praying, and offering you love, friendship, courage, strength, wisdom and grace.

 

 

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10 Ways To Hump It Through An Angry Day

eight ball

“I can’t find any qoute that shows how much mad I am now” -Anonymous

Wednesday  June 1, 2016  5:13 am
Thousand Oaks, California

There’s a name for girls like me and that name is “serial killer”.

And I’ll tell you why.

Because I woke up feeling so angry, so pissed-off, so irritable, so overwhelmed, out-of-sorts, anxious, jittery, restless, discontented and HOWLING MAD I really wanted to kill somebody.

Nothing’s right. And I mean not one single thing.

Case in point: it’s the ass crack of dawn, 5: 45 a.m. and it’s already light out.

What the fucking fuck?

Who messed with my lighting?

Coffee in my Harley-Davidson mug? Checkmark. Smokes? Checkmark. Pen and paper, birds quietly twittering, sleeping universe…check, check and check.

What’s with the sky?

WHO FUCKED WITH MY DARK?

Mon. Dieu. It’s going to be a long-ass day.

And there’s only one thing to do.

Live through it.

And if I’ve learned one thing in my 24 years of recovery from…every god damn thing…it’s that there’s really not much I can do to get out from behind the Angry Eight Ball.

Except move it the hell out of the way.

So I can get to the bathroom and pee.

Actually. That’s not true. I’m just in a bad mood.

So…from my grumpy, I-just-want-to-bitch-slap-someone, blah, blah, blogging and recovering heart, a list:

10 Ways To Hump It Through An Angry Day So Everyone Makes It Out Alive. Including You.

  1. Pray for Courage, Strength, Wisdom and Grace. Yours and that of the motherfucker who pissed you off as well.
  2. Feelings are Not Facts. They’re Farts. They Pass. I’ve never died from being angry. Even though there have been times I was sure that I would. I’ve also never committed a felony because of it either. Even though I was sure that I wanted to.
  3. This Too Shall Pass. Alternate version: “Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day”. Whatever. Pick your platitude. Point being: you won’t always be angry.
  4.  It’s Stupid Time. I’ve made some of the worst , if not THE worst, mistakes, on days when I was angry. Problems can have puppies. And the gestation period is approximately the blink of an eye. I’ve learned to use restraint in what I say and do in spite of (and despite) feeling angry.
  5.  Get Buzzed. In a good way. I’ve never found any other way to effectively expend the negative energy created by anger than by doing something positive. This is a magical thing. So find your rabbit and yank it out of it’s hat.
  6. You’re Not Ok and It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok. This only took me 51 fucking years to figure out.
  7. Don’t. Press. Send. Just. Don’t. Not today. (This applies to all forms of unpleasant  communication; digital, verbal and non-verbal. You can’t unring a bell. You just cannot. No matter how many times you say “I’m sorry”. Trust me on this one.)
  8. It’s Going To Be Ok. It always has been. It always will be. Remember the last time you were spitting mad?
  9. Promise. It passed. You’re still here.
  10. Yes. I’m Sure. And I’ll tell you why. Because I am too.

Happy Trails

happytrails1

“Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home. 
-John Howard Payne
Saturday, May 21, 2016 5:56 am
Thousand Oaks, California

Disclaimer: I’m not complaining.

(Although Schwink says when you say you’re not about to do something, you’re going to do exactly the thing you say you’re not about to do. I’m about to prove Schwink wrong. Which isn’t, I’ve learned in 100+17 years of friendship, an easy thing to do. This time, however, I shall prevail ).

Some people get to take vacations and some people get to stay home and meticulously adhere to three pages of single-spaced, typed instructions on how to care for their cat.

Guess whose the former and whose the latter this morning.

And I don’t even like cats.

I do, however, like home.

A lot.

That is Reason Number One I am not complaining.

As I write this, my friend GordoDarls and The Mrs. are being Roadrunnered to LAX for a flight that will wing them on a vacation to New York City (Schwink’s favorite destination, her Darling City). The Dude and I will be on above mentioned Cat Beat for the next 10 days. I must say, this particular 17 year old honey colored feline, Bandit, is lovely. As far as cats go. Not that I would necessarily know a lovely cat from an unlovely cat. As I said, not a cat person. Or any kind of animal person really. Not counting my love of The Bunny, which is that and only that; a love of The Bunny. In a Bunny Appreciation kind of way. I would never own one. I wouldn’t want to own any living thing that respirates. I feel fairly sure that my days in the care, feeding and disposal of fecal matter of other living things have come to an end. Not bitter. Not jaded. Just…done. (Since The Badass Bunny isn’t likely to have any, La Belle and Beau’s children, I’ve decided, will be the exception to this rule. But don’t think a blood test for veracity won’t be required. Because it will. And once said grandchild’s authenticity is verified, it’s a limited time offer sort of thing. Two, three months max. Four at the absolute most. And that’s only in the case of conscription or overseas employment. Or if La Belle asks.)

Reason Number Two that I’m not complaining is that having traveled both domestically and internationally, I’ve seen all the pretty places. And I loved it. Every single second. I’m a fearless traveler and the thought of experiencing the wonder and excitement of new and different vistas, sights, sounds and experiences calls to me. I have an epic, grand and insatiable wanderlust.

Just not now.

Reason Number Three I am not complaining is that I am, by choice, a Graceful Recluse. (More about this later. More about everything later). (Promise). I leave the house under duress. These happy days, going to the mailbox constitutes an outing. A trip to the library with The Dude? That’s a calendared event. This sometimes worries La Belle and The Bunny, but I assure them that all is well. There’s very little out there that’s not in here and if you spent an afternoon here on the terrace with me, you’d understand why I’m such a happy little Pearl in her clam.

Reason Number Four has to do with Reason Number Three.

It also requires a Metaphor Alert.

A good part of the reason I’m happy at home is because The Fateful Eight is a vacation I’m still unpacking from.

Where I’ve been the last eight years wasn’t exactly a restful, rejuvenating sojourn, but it was definitely a motherfucking trip. Not all vacations are about having “a blue drink on the white sand” (that’s another fine “Mad Men” quote right there. Season Six, Episode One. John Slattery in his role as “Roger Sterling” said that and I think we can all agree he pretty much got the best lines in that gorgeous series. This is a fine example. In fact, that’s why this happened:  http://www.vulture.com/2013/04/mad-men-complete-quips-of-roger-sterling.html).

I digressed. That will happen on certain subjects, “Mad Men” being chief among them. And books. And how much I love “Vanity Fair” magazine.  And also do not get me going on Harley-Davidsons, New Orleans’ Cafe du Monde and how feminist rhetoric over the past 45 years has, ironically, more than any other single factor, contributed to the devaluation of women and the breakdown of the family structure in America.

“Happy” and “Home” are still two words, individually and when put together, that are still relatively new to me in my recovery from The Empty Nest Syndrome. This life I have to make feels very much like a wonderful vacation to me after the past eight years and all the unhappy places I visited, the unpleasant things I saw, the bitter pills I tasted, the awful experiences I, and as a result, those I traveled with, experienced.

And while it’s true that I’m still unpacking, I can finally see the bottom of the suitcase.

I’m fine with my terrace and my mailbox and the occasional outing to the library or Whole Foods Market.

And I love when my family and friends travel and I get to hear about their adventures. Recently some friends sent me photographs from a very solitary and quiet vacation they’re taking at a desert casita in Arizona. Breathtaking, they were. My friend George shared in his email that there were colors in a sunset he and his wife saw one evening that they’d never even seen, shades and hues of pinks, purples and oranges that they never even knew existed.

I think that’s what I love most about travel. Discovery. That feeling of awe and wonder and expansion that comes when you get to experience something new. You just feel a little…bigger…in what you know about the world. Then you did the moment before.

I feel that way here, at home, on my terrace. That there is so much more I get to discover and know, right here, in this life I have to make.

Fifth and Final Reason I’m not complaining? Bandit the cat is very soft and fluffy.

 

Dear Anderson Cooper

dearandersoncooper

“Forward is the direction of real life”

-Cheryl Strayed

Brave Enough

Thursday, May 19, 2016  6:40 am

Thousand Oaks, California

That Anderson Cooper.

No wonder he’s Anderson Cooper.

I may just write a swoony love letter and sign it “Love Forever, Pearl.”

Or put his picture in a silver (Tiffany) frame and gaze dreamily upon his square-jawed, polished and aristocratic handsomeness.

I wonder what The Dude would have to say about that?

Knowing The Dude, who tends to be a little on the Absent Minded Professor-ish side of life, it would probably take him a good two to three months to even notice. And when he did, I would not be one bit surprised if he joined me in my sophomoric sapioromance as one of the many things The Dude and I share is Smarts Appreciation.

And Anderson Cooper is one lit bulb.

This is not an unknown fact.

Not only is he a standout in his chosen profession of journalism, Anderson Cooper is also a best-selling author, actor and model who looks so good doing all of this he’s made not only national best-dressed lists, but international ones as well. And won nine Emmy awards. And was People Magazine’s 2005 Sexiest Man Alive.

Who’s your daddy NOW?

Anderson Cooper is also a kick-ass son. He just co-authored the New York Times nombre une best-seller  The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss  with his 91 year old mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. Schwink bought me a copy last weekend in San Luis Obispo (knowing me for 100+17 years, she knew it was the quickest and most efficient way to get me out of Barnes and Noble. I can literally spend days without food, water or relieving myself when in a bookstore or a library. It’s called Dromedary Mode and I go there when I smell a lot of books. It’s instinctual. I can’t help it.) (More on this later. More on everything later.) (Promise). Anyways, it’s a lovely read-historical, touching, inspiring and funny. I’m nearly at the end so I am savoring each and every clearly and authentically heartfelt word shared between Anderson Cooper and his mother. And I’m so happy and I’m so glad, just as I was when I saw their simple, elegant and deeply moving documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid”, that both of these filthy rich and priviliged individuals didn’t miss the yacht on the mother-son relationship.

So to speak.

I’m being very serious here. Because money can’t buy everything. If it could, Mr. Anderson Cooper 360 and/or his mother, Ms. Gloria Vanderbilt, would have sent the butler out for an open, honest, close and loving relationship years ago. But they didn’t. They worked on it, together, over their lifetime as mother and son. And, before the opportunity passed to capture what only comes along only once for both of them, they did just that.

And…now I’ve got myself all choked up on Happy Tears.

In an earlier blog (Dia de los Muertos ) I wrote about a life-altering pearl of wisdom I received from Anderson Cooper. It had to do with sharks and how they have to keep swimming forward, filling their gills with water, in order to stay alive.

The pearl of the pearl being the word “forward”.

I got to share this newfound bit of wisdom with The Badass Bunny last night in a phone conversation we had. And, as a recovering wife and mother who is stringing together a strand of pearls of her own, there is nothing more wonderful, I got to learn, than sharing one with your daughter.

For such a long, long-ass time during The Fateful Eight (the years I spent struck and stuck by The Empty Nest Syndrome) I had no idea how to move forward. I moved around a lot. I just didn’t really go anywhere. I created a tremendous amount of chaos, havoc and mess. And basically stayed stuck. Which is a paradox, moving around and staying stuck, if ever there was one.

I’m not proud to say this and I’m really glad it’s over, but I’m pretty sure that I just spent eight years of my life being The Mother of All Paradoxes.

Yay. For. Me.

It wasn’t until I began to move forward, like my new friend the shark, that this life I have to make began to be made. That “The Fateful Eight” Volume ended, found its place in the Encyclopedia Britannica of my life and I began a new Volume, the one I’m now writing (literally, figuratively, metaphorically and in every other gee-dee way).

I’m very full of thankfulness this morning to be moving forward at last.

And to Anderson Cooper for his bit of shark wisdom, which has not only become a pearl on my strand, but has proven to become my very badly needed compass as well.

A strand of pearls and a compass that points in the direction of forward. Not a bad start in this life I have to make. Not a bad start at all.

For a girl who not so very long ago, who weighed 98 pounds and was mostly dead from sad.

So I guess it’s not really a love letter I’d write to Anderson Cooper, so much as it is a thank-you note.

But I’d still sign it “Love Forever, Pearl.”

No Fresh Hell

nofreshhell

Wednesday, May 18, 2016  5:13 am

Thousand Oaks California

Sometimes, for me, recovery happens in a moment.

The moment, when you’ve put the downstairs to bed and come upstairs, knowing what comes next-reading in bed with The Dude, goodnight kisses, lights out and sleep-and that actually happens.

The moment, in your softly lit bedroom, night settling quietly and peacefully around you, when you realize-nothing happened again today.

And the moment your still “not-looking-for-trouble-but-expecting-it-heart” okays the thought of how great that is. And then moment that follows that moment, when you breathe, gratefully, and think: no fresh hell today.

No upsetting phone call, voicemail, email, text, post, Tweet, Dribble  or otherwise one-sided, impulsive, digitized sharing of thoughts. No disturbing news. Not a single bell rung, no “you-might-not-want-to-look-at-this-one” clip from the unpleasant highlight reel of your past. No terse words, defensive stances or tense moments. Not once did you find yourself at an indecisive crossroads or did an unfortunate past decision throw up an unexpected consequence. A day free of regret and remorse. A whole 24 hours without a moment’s unhappiness, not a single tear shed. It wasn’t your fault, today. Not even once did an “I’m sorry” leave your lips.

No. Fresh. Hell.

Or.

Perhaps there was.

Maybe there was a toad in the road.

A toad in the road is a lot like a bump in the road. Only it’s a toad. I don’t know why. It’s just what I call life’s unexpected, unforeseen obstacles. The upsetting news, the flashback that rings a bell, the tough decision to make, a difficult moment or a challenge to rise to. Perhaps you had a moment’s unhappiness. Perhaps you had an hour. Maybe you Ugly Cried.

Either way, fresh hell or none, it’s a win.

Because you did it, before, during and after, differently than you would have before you stepped onto your path of recovery.

These are the moments I keep to myself, moments that I realize that my recovering as a wife and mother is paying off. When the cumulative effect of day after day after week after week after month after month after year after year of first discovering, then remembering and now living this newfound wisdom, post full-time wife and motherhood, is becoming the life I am making.

When I feel like I am finally getting somewhere.

Where I say no thank you to drama and so there is no chaos. Where peace prevails over anxiety, and calm  soothes frantic all the way away. Freedom isn’t just about nothing left to loose, but about everything to gain and choices present in bright, sunny rooms that were previously shut tight; their doors gently swing open, waiting for me to step in and discover.

Where “perfect” and words like it have outlived their uselessness and I’ll take a word like “better” instead, please and thank you.

Because I’ve learned a very important thing, in this life I have to make, and that is this: better is better…for better or worse.

Given my illustrious (albeit voluminous and dubious) marital history, I would say that, wouldn’t I?