Thank You for Religious Revelations and the Scientific Minds of Children

•March 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

When I was in fourth grade I had not been exposed to much religion yet. A little girl on the playground told me “Jesus takes care of little children”. Her name was Carla Phillips and she was evidently practicing to marry a minister, or be one, or was being raised by one. I can’t know. But she told me about praying and how prayers would come true.

Her statement hit me like I had just discovered gold.

I was the oldest of four and I believed that I was the one who had to take care of my little brothers in a very challenging home environment with a sick mother and an absent father. So this news was quite a relief. I was excited to get home and test the theory.

I walked through the door and gathered my three little brothers around (my mother was typically sleeping during most days).

“Hey you guys, guess what? You’re not gonna believe this, but Carla Phillips says there’s a guy named Jesus who will take care of us if we pray, and she showed me how to do it!”

They had some questions that I couldn’t answer, but reluctantly, they followed my instructions about the praying part— just in case.

So we all got down on our knees, just like Carla Phillips had said we should. I lined us up in a row next the radiator that heated our living room.

I kept Mikey next to me so he wouldn’t squirm and scare Jesus away (He was only three).

There we were, four kids ages 3, 6, 7, and 8, with our hands clasped together, faces near the floor, and butts in the air, next to the radiator like it was the holy mecca of magically appearing people we had never heard of.

I prayed out loud so my brothers would know what we were supposed to be praying for.

I had explained beforehand that we had to believe in the guy because this magic had something to do with “faith”.

“Dear Jesus”, I guess I thought praying was like writing a letter to a stranger, “If you are really there, and Carla Phillips is telling the truth, please make a loaf of bread appear on top of the heater when we open our eyes.” I waited for a moment and added, “Thank you if this is true.”

We stayed there, with our butts in the air, and our eyes squeezed shut, for a few more seconds to give the Jesus guy time to sneak the loaf of bread onto the top of the radiator.

Then I opened my eyes, looked on top of the radiator, and nudged the boys into getting off the floor.

“Never mind you guys, Carla Phillips lied”, I said matter of factly, “There ain’t no guy named Jesus, and there ain’t no loaf of bread on the heater.”

I tested the Carla Phillip’s theory a few times later, when my brothers were not present, but always the same result.

Thank you, Carla Phillips, for trying to give me some faith.

I found my own version decades later.

Yesterday, I was helping some friends, Linda and Dave, in the garden. Rye grass seed was being scattered by one of them, and a few of the seeds landed on the deck. I made a joke about them magically sprouting into a loaf of rye bread overnight.

This morning, I was sitting on the patio and the same friend who scattered the rye grass seed, put a loaf of rye bread on the table.

I burst into tears and laughter simultaneously.

Maybe a loaf of bread can appear from seedling prayers. Jesus took a while, and he looked a lot like my friend, Dave, but I  know now, that manifestation of one’s destiny is a journey of faith. And faith can come when you least expect it—with a sense of humor.

Thank you for “The Path”

•December 17, 2014 • 3 Comments

There is a line in the center of your hand that runs from your wrist toward your fingers—it’s called the Path of Destiny (if you adhere to the palmistry sort of thing or happen to know Chiero.)

In my twenties, I frequently pondered my “Path of Destiny”.

I studied all manner of mystic divination, scientific explanations, philosophical perspectives, and folk lore to help me plan a well informed journey down this path.

In my thirties, the path began to narrow. I found myself walking down the center of the path, focused on the end of the road like it was the ultimate goal.

Presently, the path is covered with dried leaves that have fallen from the tree of opportunity and I am shuffling through in a zigzag pattern, making a lot of rustling noises while I look for fertile soil under the mulch.

Some folks choose their path, some inherit it from their parents or their culture, some just  come upon their path via a wrong turn or a right turn.

The great poet, Robert Frost, hung out on some farmer’s path. He is probably still sitting there, watching the woods fill up with snow while his horse gets confused. That’s what happens when you take the road less traveled, you end up in the woods on a snowy evening.

For some of us (the lucky ones) there are a lot of metaphoric paths to choose from in this life.

Some of them are not so much a choice as an inevitability due to our innate temperaments and fated birth environments but none the less, we like to explore them anyway.

GARDEN PATH: For the idealistic sort of person

NEURON PATH: For one who is easily over stimulated

BEATEN PATH: For those who fall from the grace of the garden path

SOCIO PATH:   For wannabe social beings that don’t play well with others

BIKE PATH:     For peddlers of work out videos

MISSILE PATH: For those who are direct and frequently miss the point

PATH OLOGY: For students and obsessive observers of their own path

NATURO PATH: These folks generally end up in Oregon growing cannabis and crazy mushrooms

PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE: Martial artists and couch potatoes prefer this one

Thank you for Freedumb

•November 20, 2014 • 2 Comments

 The credit for this made up word goes to Mr. E. Riley who was a most clever wordsmith and delightfully creative poet for his life of almost twenty one years.

I have been pondering the word freedom for almost four days, seeking the common usage, the appropriate referent, the true definition by finding it’s antitheses, and trying to use it in a sentence that captures the essence of it’s meaning.   The imagery that the word freedom conjures for me does not come in red, white, and blue. Freedom does not look like the wings of a bird that is compelled by nature to fly. Nor does it seem to be a choice in the fork of the proverbial road.  Freedom is not a liberation from a prison, an exile, foot binding, hand cuffs, poverty, oppression, or a dictator.

 One does not become free by merely being liberated.

There are those that would say Knowledge is freedom. There are those that say Democracy is freedom. Some find “freedom” in the “right” to worship invisible entities or promulgate religious concepts. I don’t think freedom is always right, nor is it a right.

I do believe it may be an innate power that is difficult to comprehend without attempting to guide or direct it. And once that attempt is applied, freedom dissipates. I believe a freedom can be usurped by another freedom when it is limited or misinterpreted.

I think maybe freedom is the cry that babies make fresh out of the womb. I think maybe freedom is the soft, dark cloak of death opening to release us to the unknown, or a complete lack of fear when facing one’s self in others. Maybe freedom is unknowable until it is gone and peered at in retrospect.

For all the uses of the word freedom, for all the misuses of the word freedom, and all the justifications applied to the word freedom in our culture, I thank Mr. E. Riley in his attempt to define our limited perspective on the subject.

 

Thank You for Bourgeois Banality with Proletariat Personae

•October 6, 2014 • 1 Comment

Those folks who talk about relating to the struggle of others whom they have never met, let alone hung out with, seem to need a haven of acceptance among those they consider less fortunate than themselves.

Perhaps this is some guilt alleviating mechanism for over indulgence.

Or maybe it is an exercise to activate gratitude for having so much.

Or perhaps they have no reason to be creative so they are relegated to observation (and even imitation) of those who are forced to create.

I can’t know.

Slumming it, has some kind of attraction to folks who know they can go home when they are done participating in an uncomfortable environment from which others may not have the option to escape.

Historically, many of the most creative people among us have lived in conditions which forced them to be resourceful and creative.

Jazz musicians, artists, poets, and most recently, urban hip hop artists,

have used their internal creativity to communicate harsh external realities in their surroundings.

Perhaps, like Plato said “…the true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.”

Creativity does seem to rise out of necessity or struggle.

Does that mean that those who have no obvious struggles are incapable of creativity?

Again, I can’t know.

But there seems to be a social need to struggle to justify one’s existence.

We do all manner of things to prove we can struggle.

We invent trials for ourselves, mountains to climb, conflicts to resolve.

We challenge ourselves to conquer adversity—even if we have to invent the adversity.

Evidently, struggling has value in defining our selves.

Romantic notions about struggling artists, or those rising above deemed unfavorable stations, generates something within us that wants to relate.

Struggling is heroic.

It is ironic that those who struggle try to become one of the non struggling.

The struggling dream of winning the lottery or getting rich so they can be one of the folks who don’t have to be creative anymore.

The Proletariat wishes to be included in the Bourgeois.

While the Bourgeois seem to be thrilled to be included in the Proletariat’s inspiration to create.

socialism

Image: From a previous Post

Thank You for Sacrifices You Never See

•July 12, 2014 • 4 Comments

When I was in Nepal I went to a religious festival in the Himalayas. It was a combination of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other rituals that were unfamiliar to me.

There were lines of people stretching up a winding road all the way to the altar where animals were sacrificed to Siva (or Kali, I can’t remember). These animals had been groomed all year for this occasion and people  (most living in poverty) only brought the best of their live stock. I saw roosters, rabbits, goats, and other animals, all perfectly quiet, being lead and carried to the altar to be slaughtered and then handed to the “untouchables” to be prepared for the feast by the side of the dirt road.

I took many photos but not one single picture of the actual sacrifice of an animal showed up on my film. Every photo of the alter where the throats of animals were cut turned out blank. I found this mysterious.

rooster-to-offer

Today I am inspired to think of all the sacrifices people make that we never see or hear about, sacrifices that do not show up on the film.

How many mothers have gone without something so a child can have something special?

How many people have left secret gifts for others without claiming credit?

How many strangers have done the right thing in a given moment where nobody noticed and then went on their way?

I have had friends sneak money into my purse when I went through hard times. I have watched people give away things they needed to someone who needed them more.

I have experienced generosity and unrequited kindness in so many ways and I am thankful for all the people and the acts of sacrifice that never showed up in the pictures.

Thank You for Common Language

•May 25, 2014 • 3 Comments

I met a refuge from the Ukraine once in San Francisco. His name was Mehrab. He learned to speak perfect English by singing Billy Joel songs for years while he was a brain surgeon back in his homeland.

Here, in the land of opportunity, he worked as a security guard for a department store.

Mehrab was a lovely, polite person with impeccable manners. I met him on the bus on his way to work.

We chatted the whole ride and decided to have coffee the next day. After coffee we wandered to the Presidio where he sang some of his perfect impersonations of Billy Joel and chatted about being a refuge.

Merhab said he had a friend with 2 children that was desperately in need of work. The man (also from the Ukraine) was a cabinet maker who did not speak English but his 8 year old daughter was a great translator.

I met the man and his precious daughter, Marianna, a week later after asking my landlord to give him a job in the building where I lived with my struggling, brilliant designer boyfriend.

Marianna spoke for her father and translated every question we asked with enthusiasm.  “Oh yes!! We do any work job!”

Finally after about twenty minutes, the Father seemed uncomfortable with Marianna doing all the talking and spoke in broken English to the child, “Marianna, you …sit… little.”

She sat down and listened carefully as her father continued in Ukrainian with instructions. Then Marianna turned to us with a giant smile and said. “Show job. Show tools. Will be done “.

The man did amazing work while Marianna sat with her hands in her lap like a word angel waiting for someone to ask a question in English so she could be of assistance.

I never saw Mehrab again but the cabinet maker’s family invited me to dinner in appreciation for the job referral.

A friend, Margaret, came with me.

It was a wonderful dinner in a tiny, immaculate apartment where we were greeted by Marianna and her 5 year old sister with a cookbook that had recipes in English and Russian.

While the cabinet maker’s wife finished making dinner (including pie), Margaret and I sat with the girls, giggling at funny words in the cook book.

After the splendid dinner and much nodding and smiling in the only mutual language we all under stood (appreciation), my friend, Margaret attempted to say thank you in their language.

The cabinet maker’s wife was placing the pie on the table with little plates and forks when Margaret attempted the foreign language.

Margaret was as sincere as she could be and wondered why everyone looked so confused at her genuine attempt at “Thank You”.

After a minute of befuddled looks, Marianna burst out laughing.

“Why you say good bye? You not eat  pie yet!”

By the way, if someone serves you dessert in another language, you may want to say one of these phrases instead of Good bye

Terima kasih
Grazie
Arigato
Salamat
Ahsante
Gratiam habeo
Danke
Merci
Toa chie
Ahéhee’
Mercé
Thuchi che
Khawp khun kha
Go raibh maith agaibh
Néá’eshe

Thank you for noticing…

•April 26, 2014 • 5 Comments

 

History DOES repeat itself. And it gets LOUDER each time.

Complacency is a common place and harm can find it’s way to that place while we think we are only watching it on television.

If we keep believing we are separated by borders, colors, races, religions, and economics, we will be conquered one at a time until the last “isolated incident” occurs and the last shred of denial is sown into the fabric of our history to be repeated over and over again in some other common place…

IGNORANCE IS BLITZ !

I know, I know, you have to go to work. You have bills to pay. You have obligations to meet. You are very busy participating in being a working class hero.

Besides, “IT” can’t happen to you. You are protected by laws that never change, rights that cannot be diminished, leaders you can trust, and of course, a God who is absolutely the only thing on this planet that is responsible for it all. Turn on the T.V. and have a drink.

Everything will be alright.

Gotta go. I’m late for church.

 

Thank You for Fear

•April 25, 2014 • 1 Comment

Fear can scream at you, it can paralyze you, it can take possession of you, or it can whisper to you with an intuitive little nudge that is designed to make you walk away from a situation at an expedient pace.

This was useful to humans when we could allegedly be devoured by dinosaurs.

I have been in a few precarious situations in my life wherein fear has kept me from harm. I have been in some situations where I did not adhere to the intuitive nudges of fear and found myself having to repair damage to my psyche. I have also been in situations where fear had no business in keeping me safe, it just lingered around like a nuisance, telling me to run when there was nothing to run from—fear gone bad, out of context, stuck on replay from some other time when I was supposed to run from dinosaurs and did not listen.

Sometimes this “out of context” fear sneaks up on me in layers, like an onion with an invisible core. It requests that I examine the source of it’s appearance and unfolding. It whispers “Remember when this happened?” or “Don’t trust that because…”. This “stuck on replay” fear says “You will fail.” or “This person will hurt you if you love them.”

This kind of fear can keep me looking backwards at dead dinosaurs and prevent me from exploring a safe jungle of orchids and bird songs.

Fear in itself is not a bad thing—like I said, it has it’s place and it can keep us alive.

I am thankful for that aspect of fear.

But fear that is self generated from associations, distorted memories, or lack of information can harm us more than that from which fear was designed to protect us.

Fear that is generated by authorities or others who wish to control us on some level is the worst kind of fear. This can destroy whole cultures with invisible dinosaurs.

It is insidious and we must walk away from IT at an expedient pace.

Thank you for the ability to recognize fear.

Thank you for Metamorphosis, Mutation, and Transformation

•April 22, 2014 • 3 Comments

Sometimes change is just an illusion, not quite integrated, a visual veneer that doesn’t make it into the real fabric.
It’s kind of like a mean, unhappy person with an expensive face lift. The face lift is not a true transformation, but the surface change may contribute to a metamorphosis of the person by creating different responses from others around that person.

“When you smile the whole world smiles with you.”

This can induce a gradual change into a happy-almost adjusted-only-needed-a-little-validation-and-acceptance-person. It can also just confuse the hell out of everybody.
For a genuine transformation, there has to be more going on than verbal proclamations or painting over a dilapidated building.
Real metamorphosis must go all the way in, penetrate the chrysalis, mutate the conceptual genes of the transformee.
Authentic change is not like a corporation that can out source it’s labor pool, exploit the environment, and still appear economically stable and friendly in it’s home town. It’s not a nation that can legislate behavior to force it’s populace to be “nice” to each other, without being “nice” to it’s populace.
Real transformation has to penetrate the complete picture, the whole person, all the parts of the entity.
Sometimes we think we have changed or that someone we love has changed or that times have changed.

Have we? Have they?
Is life Mutable? I think it might be.
I want to mutate into the best human I can be to contribute to a transformation in the whole of which I am a miniscule part. It is the only way I know to instigate a metamorphosis—start with one gene at a time.

This is not so easy, but I am attempting to adapt without resistance.

 

Thank You for The Ship of Fools

•April 1, 2014 • 1 Comment

So much has been written and artistically depicted in regard to the allegory attributed to The Ship of Fools; A boat of crazy people without a pilot, without direction or guidance, oblivious to their own journey.

These days it seems we may all have been aboard this allegorical ship, economically and ecologically pirated without being piloted.

Perhaps there is a new mooring in our future.

Perhaps it is time for the fools to take back the helm from the pirates who have sprung a leak in our boat?

Today is the day of fools. We are all in this boat together. Let’s think about it, yes?

A German Woodcut from Narrenschiff 1549:

narrenschiff_1549

Thank You for the Ta-Da Nick of Time

•March 28, 2014 • 3 Comments

Remember Rocky the squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose?

Remember how Bullwinkle would get into a crazy situation and Rocky would zoom in and save the day in the ta-da nick of time?

I am Bullwinkle and life is Rocky.

Read that last sentence twice.

Life can be rocky but it seems that no matter how precarious things may look, or how far I get stretched to physical and metaphoric limits, something amazing happens in the ta-da nick of time to bring my life back into balance.

It seems magical sometimes. It seems like I may be the luckiest person on Earth sometimes.

It seems like the Universe just pulls a rabbit out of the hat sometimes.

Maybe all of us are this lucky and some of us just don’t recognize the synchronistic elements that guide us.

On occasion I forget to notice these moments, and take for granted this wonderful life of cyclic ups and downs.

But this morning I am so thankful for the many Rocky moments that make this journey fascinating and mystifying. I have too many examples to list.

Thank you for the TA DA! Nick of time.

Thank You for Specific Standard Time

•March 20, 2014 • 3 Comments

I live in an exceptionally well maintained building.

My apartment managers and the maintenance department are really good at what they do and they are really frequent in doing it.

I get a lot of benefit from their frequent 48 hour notices to enter.

I get a brand new water heater, new batteries in my smoke detector, pest prevention, maintenance and repair inspections, quality control of my environment, code maintenance of every law that was ever written in regard to landlord-tenant rights…

And a whole lot of company at undetermined times within the day of notice.

You know, kinda like the cable guy that tells you We’ll be there sometime within a 12 hour period so just sit on the edge of your toilette seat and wait for us to knock on the door.

The 48 hour notice is a bit vague for me. I got control issues, ya know.

I like specifics in regard to the very second someone may walk through my door and catch me in a compromised position, speaking with the KGB or naked, standing on a chair, changing a light bulb or entertaining guests from the local circus.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than to be caught on a trapeze in a small apartment with two clowns hanging from your teeth and an elephant on your desk with an open umbrella.

Just so you know, I adore the folks who manage and take care of my building.

They are thoughtful, kind people and treat their tenants with respect and, in some cases, more patience than most baby sitters would offer unruly children waving leases like swords and throwing around whiney complaints like confetti.

The main management contact is a young woman with super hero patience and the fortitude of a rock wrapped in a calm demeanor.

She spends a lot of time nodding and smiling at frequent interruptions to her overwhelming workload by folks who claim emergency status for such random statements and questions as;

“Am I allowed to burn candles in my clothes closet?”

“The dog(s) ate my rent money—Oh, I’m not allowed to have three Rottwiellers in my studio apartment? Can I keep the Saint Bernard? No? How ‘bout the Yorkie? Oh never mind…Uh Oh. Hey, have you seen my Yorkie?”

“Wah Wah my neighbor peed in the laundry room!”

“Pardon me, got a minute? I’d like to hold you, my apartment manager, hostage with my stories about how I came to be a serial whiner because my drunk mother never listened to me.”

“Is it all right for me to sublet my apartment to 23 Vietnamese immigrants? They’ll only be here while I’m away at Re-Hab.”

Yes, The apartment manager is truly a Saint.

She keeps smiling and nodding and actually responds to some of the absurdities tenants toss at her.

So, I do not want you to think I am in any way negating the efforts of the team who maintains my lovely abode, I’m just sayin’… What time will you be here? I’ll have coffee ready— and put some clothes on, and get rid of my company.

circus

Thank You for The Soul Survivor

•March 11, 2014 • 3 Comments

The term Survivor Guilt was established in the 60’s to describe a reaction by those who witnessed terrible events where others were traumatized or killed.

Sole survivors of disasters, mass suffering, and terrible events, can be so effected by the suffering and loss of others that they find their own survival unbearable and develop anxiety and depression symptoms.

Survivor Guilt lost recognition as a bona fide mental disorder when the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) was published.

The term was usurped by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

As human beings, we are effected by the suffering of others—unless we are one of the unfortunate broken people who experience no empathy.

It is in our nature as a species.

But unlike the myth of the Lemmings, who are believed to commit mass suicide when their territories become over populated, we do not follow our fellow humans into death or suffering.

That is not in our nature.

We are wired to survive by whatever means is required.

By the way, so are Lemmings.

They are actually trying to swim to survival when they reach cliffs and jump into the water.

They are compelled to do this for survival, not mass suicide.

The myths, folk lore, and metaphors have omitted some of the details of Lemming behavior.

lemmings

Like Lemmings, humans are compelled to survive.

The only exception is when our wiring gets tangled up, either by external stimuli, mythological heroics, or distorted internal dialogue.

So what can we do with all those complex feelings we experience when we see so many people around us suffering?

You know, that feeling when your coworkers are getting laid off and you get to keep your job?

That discomfort when someone loses a loved one and your family is in tact and healthy?

That awful feeling in your stomach when you read about genocides, famines, disasters, and tragedies that happen to other human beings?

What do we do about the shame of having so much when so many have so little?

We are constantly confronted with the suffering of others these days.  From the homeless pan handler on our way to work, to the tear jerking photos on the television imploring us to Save the Children, the suffering of others permeates our lives.

I think that feeling powerless contributes to survivor guilt.

I think if we look deep into ourselves, to the Soul of who we are and realize that we are lemmings, (in the true sense) compelled to survive, that we are not powerless, just wired by nature to avoid suffering, we can also recognize the opportunities to alleviate some of the suffering of our fellow humans.

One of the ways that people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Survival Guilt cope with their circumstance is to assist others in getting through their own traumas.

That is one way to put a soul into survivor.

Thank you for Whistling

•February 28, 2014 • 2 Comments

Have you ever heard an unhappy person whistle? I can’t even imagine what that would sound like.

It’s been said that only one in six women can whistle. (That could be an obsolete statistic.)

Whistling was one of the first musical instruments—long before the electric guitar. I whistle for my friends when I’m lost in a department store, I whistle when I enter my friend, Karma’s house and she whistles back.

When my friend, Paglietti calls he has a special whistle to let me know it’s him. I have not heard my friend, Linda whistle–she’s from the South and whistling was probably not allowed by curly haired little girls in patent leather shoes, but her laughter is just as contagious as any whistle.

I love the sound of a wolf whistle when I walk past a work crew (this happens rarely anymore and I don’t know if that’s because I am older or because of the threat that an unsuspecting whistler will be harangued by a lawyer and sent to flirter’s prison). I really respect those folks who can whistle for a taxi from 2 blocks away.

The Seven Dwarves would probably not be so cute if they didn’t whistle while they worked.

It is said that sailors on old ships had a different whistle for each sail so they knew which line to pull when it was time to raise the sails.

I have taught a couple folks how to whistle in my life.

I learned when I was nine, from my friend Emma, who lived on a horse ranch.

Teaching someone to whistle is like giving them free music on their ipod.

Listening to a person whistle makes one feel like all is right with the world and something good is happening.

Whistling is cheeky soul music.

Thanks for whistling.

pan-whistling-at-a-blackbird-1863

 

Pan (Faun) Whistling at a Blackbird –Arnold Böcklin 1863

Thank You For Being a Good Sex Driver

•February 26, 2014 • 2 Comments

A healthy Libido has a good drive but not always a good sense of direction.

It is unfortunate that a libido does not come with a GPS locator and a steering wheel.

There are a lot of traffic hazards and collision incidents that could be avoided if a libido had better maneuverability.

Some folks are sporting dents from bumping into other libidos while trying to pull out of various parking spaces and charging onto entrance ramps without forethought and observation skills.

Some folks, the ones who practice sex driving without insurance, have  their own  issues—many named after their grandparents.

Some libido owners start sex driving before they get their learner’s permit.

This may result in careening libidos, out of control—without a steering wheel or a GPS, one must acquire a feel for the road before moving ahead.

Some folks exercise poor judgment as sex drivers.

This may be influenced by vodka and orange juice—you know, Screwdrivers.

Screwdrivers do not benefit sex drivers in anyway.

They instigate chase scenes and tailgating.

Screwdrivers also cause sex drivers to misinterpret oncoming traffic as coming on to them.

A good sex driver has read and practiced the manual before getting on the freeway.

Here’s some important tips in the sex driver’s manual:

Residential parking is preferred to street parking.

Do not toot your horn unless it is required by law.

Prior to starting engine, place gear shift in neutral.

Know when to release the clutch.

Do not fill the gas tank prior to driving

Drive at a reduced speed until signs indicate otherwise.

Stopping abruptly may cause stalls.

The most important one:

Get the big picture.

Look around, know what’s behind you, in front of you, and in your peripheral vision.

Stay awake.

A good sex driver has a hand book to refer to when the libido is temporarily parked.

Thank You For Good Smart Friends

•February 3, 2014 • 3 Comments

Smart people are funny, convenient, easy to be around, and a good source of fiber.

The one thing most of my friends have in common is that they are smart.

I surround myself with smart people. I do this, not only because they are funny and know cool stuff, but because they compensate for the spliced smart gene that was not implanted in my mother’s womb when said womb was occupied with me.

Don’t get me wrong, my ass is smart, but the rest of me… not so much.

I mean, I got creativity pouring out of my follicles and pores. I got social intelligence and adaptable survival skills to die for, intuition like an owl in the dark, and maybe a smidgeon of wisdom just from livin’ long enough without bonkin’ my head on something.

But Smart,  I ain’t got.

So I cultivate friendships with smart folks, hoping they don’t notice all the questions I ask them.

I follow them around, stalking them, calling them on the phone with inquiries about writing resumes and language usage and the exact decimal point location of pi.

My smart friends, they don’t seem to feel stalked.

They respond to my questions with cheerful assistance and guide me through all manner of linguistic, algebraic, and philosophical crisis with compassion for my absent gene splice.

These friends are all very different from each other and they sometimes don’t hang out with one another but the thing they all have in common, aside from being smart, is me, the needer of smart friends.

I once had a party in San Francisco with a lot of guests who seemed to have nothing in common with one another;

a rock musician, a computer programmer, an exotic dancer, an International Relations Specialist, a recent Irish immigrant,  a couple struggling  artists, a Polish Cab Driver, a Stanford University student from India, a bald transvestite wearing a beautiful lace dress I gave him, a graphic designer, a renowned poet, a real estate agent, a night club manager, a homeless guy from down the block who was glad the food was free, an elementary school teacher, a masseuse, an Egyptian travel writer, an Italian woman with a sultry voice who said Frank Sinatra tried to kiss her once, a Swiss photographer, and a partridge in a pear tree who looked a lot like a cop in sunglasses with break away pants and a boom box.

All these people looked different on the outside but as I scanned the room at one point, I noticed they all had that eye sparklin’ smart that I like so much.

These are the kind of people that would make a great think tank, a research team, a focus group to explore all the stuff I really want to know.

Thank you for good smart friends!

Thank You for “Here For You” and “There For You”

•January 19, 2014 • 2 Comments

Some people say  “I’m here for you.”

Others say “I’m there for you.”

Neither of these responses makes a better friend, they just cultivate different expectations, in regard to available support.

Well intentioned people are there for you.

Truly committed people are here for you.

“There” has the connotation of effort on your part, you have to go there.

“Here” seems readily available, more accessible, you already are here.

If you are telling a friend about a goal you have, an idea, a plan, or an event in your life, the friend may say I’m there for you.

That means they’ll be around later, once you’ve put things into action.

Or maybe they’ll be there after you did the work and they will cheer you on at the finish line.

That same friend may say I’m here for you.

That means they are willing to actually participate in your process or put some effort into helping you get to the finish line.

Sometimes it’s more comforting to have someone be there for me.

I can take the steps I need to take, and feel good knowing someone will be there for feedback when I get finished.

Sometimes—when I get overwhelmed, I need someone to be here for me.

You know, someone to tangibly help me with the process, or teach me something, or work with me on the little steps to there.

I am, sometimes, here and there with my friends.

But no one can be Here,There, and Everywhere at the same time.

No one can be in all places or be all things at all times for anyone else.

That can over extend and dilute one’s support capacity.

It can end up going Nowhere.

Thank You for The Blind Needing The Blind

•January 14, 2014 • 6 Comments

I have a Perkins Braille Machine and an old Royal typewriter.

I used to have them juxtaposed at my art studio for art critics to write down their opinions while sitting amidst the art.

The Typewriter was for the positive critics, the Braille machine was for those who did not like the paintings.

Recently, I decided to reorganize and transform objects that take up space, into money that pays for space I take up, here on Planet Earth.

A friend said he knew a blind man that could use the braille machine.

I immediately said

“If there is a blind person that will use this machine, then he should just have it for free.”

Another friend intervened “Lea, why do you give everything away when you need money—this Brailler is worth seven hundred bucks?”

For a moment, I got confused.

For a moment, I thought about what “giving everything away” means.

For a moment, I thought about what “need” means.

For three moments, I reevaluated and reestablished my personal philosophy toward material things and my attitude toward trusting that life will always provide us with an opportunity to meet our own “needs”.

I have never gone hungry (as an adult).

I have never had a genuine need that could not be met, either through an opportunity to work for it, barter for it, or a blessing from some generous act of kindness by another.

My life has been one of fortunate, although sometimes at the last minute, blessings that have allowed me to do what I do.

Sometimes I do not know how I will survive into the next chapter of my life experiences.

Sometimes I am blind to the unknowable future of my own existence.

Life can be like that.

Even those who believe they have a fool proof consistent lifestyle, an insurance policy that everything will work out, a secure future, a retirement plan, they get caught off guard and sometimes have to adapt to changes they did not see in the vision of their lives.

I can not know how my feast or famine lifestyle of the artist will always turn out.

And although I sometimes have difficulty trusting individuals to do the right thing every time, I have no problem trusting life—and myself to create opportunities to meet my needs.

I am also aware of the synchronistic coincidences and unanticipated turns that can influence one’s life.

My life has been greatly enhanced by creating meaning of those “magical” events.

For all I know, the blind man, that I am giving this Perkins Brailler to, will use it to write a book, a vision of his life, that will be read in the future and change the life of another who will bless the life of another, who I will meet on the street to receive insight that will change my own life…

or…

Maybe I will die and be buried in a pauper’s grave next to Mozart because I did not turn a Braille machine into cash.

But, somehow, I do not see that happening.

braille

Thank you for merged cross cultural religious holiday concepts

•December 18, 2013 • 2 Comments

 

I was told by a friend about an ironic holiday window display in Japan.

The traditional manger scene depicted The Seven Dwarfs as the Wise Men.

In the background hung a crucifix with one minor change.

There, on the cross that we have all come to recognize, was not the revered suffering Christ but, instead, it was Santa Claus hanging in all his glory, paying for the sins of Humanity.

Apparently there has been a global misunderstanding in regard to our intentions when celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus.

Perhaps it was not a misunderstanding at all.

I mean, Jesus is just all right with me but Saint Nick, on the other hand, really exacerbates my Seasonal Affect Disorder.

All I wanted was a set of warm, comfy sheets.

So it was with trepidation that I braved the crowded parking lot of one local franchise. They promised the lowest prices ever found outside a third world country— where most of the merchandise is manufactured.

The place was a shambles.

There were large people stepping over clothing, perfume gift sets, and unnecessary baubles and trinkets to reach racks where things were hanging in disarray. They rifled through them with savage gift-getting intentions.

These people were scary. I felt my stomach tighten as I noticed four lines of humans holding stuff that reached from the cash registers to the back of the store.

My instinct was to run away, forget the sheets, —anything to escape the chaos.

I looked for a cart to push my way through the crowd. They were all in use, bearing the weight of hopeful presents and Fa La Las that would be returned to this exact location on December 26th.

Without a cart to protect me, I squeezed down the ever-shrinking aisles to the linen department to forage for sheets.

My friend, who believes in Christmas because she has children, was off to the area of picture frames, books and journals.

She drove to this place so that I could remain calm in the parking lot but abandoned me when the true battlefield became obvious.

I found a set of lavender sheets that had been torn open by some ravaging feminine hand—probably a texture freak that needed to know what they would feel like before she bought them.

I checked to make sure the whole set was in tact while thinking about how I would wash them so they’d be soft and smell good as I drifted to sleep without the nuisance of sugarplum dreams.

With my sheets tucked under my arm, I bumped back down the  aisles searching for my friend, distracted all the way by things I would never need and hypnotized by clearance racks.

After locating my friend with a special whistle that only she could recognize, we headed to the front of the store to get in a line,  then inched backward to take our proper waiting place.

It was a 40-minute wait, standing with countless others in an eternal moment, observing  merchandise that had previously been a blur when we focused solely on what we came to buy.

In our standing still, this consumer-enticing world became a myriad of possible purchases.

There was fondled, discarded merchandise in bins at the front where people had changed their minds before reaching the cashier.

There were shelves of Christmas propaganda in the form of lovely decorations. Rows of red and green items, glittery candles, wallets for Dad, special lotions for Grandma’s paper thin skin, glass beaded jewelry for Sissy and a miniature telescope for Bubba—all pulling at me.

Even though I know of no Sissies or Bubbas in my reality, these things forced me to pick them up and ask my friend “Do we need this?”

She’s a patient woman having had kids and all. “No,” she gently repeated eleven times as I intermittently held up the future land fill fodder.

I continued looking around, shifting from one foot to the other so my back wouldn’t give out under the weight of the wait.

Suddenly, I had an epiphany which I kept to myself considering I was surrounded by frustrated gift givers and desperately exhausted Shop-because-you-have to-or-nobody-will-love-you-because-you’re-selfish-at-Christmas consumers.

This epiphany was reflected to me through the eyes of a Santa Claus statue with arms outstretched on a lower shelf next to an aluminum pine tree.

I realized the Japanese were on to something with the Santa Crucifixion. It was a prophetic vision of the American need to practice our true religion.

Santa Claus really does exemplify our sins. He truly is the bearer of our spiritually vacant pain. Santa is the personification of our material indulgences.

So I say crucify the fat bastard with his little alcoholic red nose and his rosascia from high blood pressure due to eating cookies and dairy. I say Santa is a Bacchanalian pervert, always shouting out for whores three at a time, “Ho, Ho, Ho!”

I say nail his little black boots to the cross and his sooty little mittens too. Let him die without a sip of milk so that we all may live and be free of our consumer sin.

Crucified_Santa

Thank You for 1000 dollars from a Child

•November 27, 2013 • 6 Comments

Ben (not his real name) was eight years old.

He came to the residential treatment center from an abusive home with a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome.

Generally, when a new child arrived, we took his personal belongings and put them away while providing new clothes, shoes, and other necessities.

This policy kept the peer playing field even for all the children.

Somehow Ben kept a secret item in his position without being noticed by counselors or staff members.

He kept the item hidden for eight months, while he participated in a program designed to facilitate emotional stability, and find a foster home that could accommodate his special needs.

The foster home was found.

Ben completed his goals in the program and demonstrated a positive response to treatment.

The day before he left he asked if he could talk to me alone.

He stood in the counselor’s office with his hand in pocket, fidgeting a little bit and looking a bit awkward.

I started out the conversation with accolades about how well he had done in the program, and that I was very happy for him and proud of him for being able to follow the rules and graduate into a foster home.

He looked down and continued fidgeting a little.

“I didn’t follow all the rules.”

“What do you mean?”

“ I came here with a thousand dollars.

I didn’t tell anybody because I wanted to keep it just in case I needed to run away.

I thought I could buy a house and take care of myself —if this place was bad.”

I was quiet and continued smiling at him.

“ I’m sorry I broke the rule, but I was kinda scared.”

“I understand.”

“Now I know this place ain’t bad and that you really help people and you are my friend.”

“I’m glad you feel that way, and it was very brave of you to tell me about the thousand dollars even though you didn’t have to.”

“Well… I’m telling you because I want to give you my thousand dollars because then you can help other kids and because I don’t need it anymore and…you really are my friend.”

Ben pulled his closed fist out of his pocket and took my hand to place his secret life line, his thousand dollars, his safety net, his back up plan, into my palm.

My first reaction was to give it back to him, to tell him what it really was, to explain how he didn’t have to give it to me, that it belonged to him.

I  got tears in my eyes.

“This is a very generous gift, Ben. Are you sure you want to give it away?”

“Yeah, I don’t need it anymore and besides, I want to give you something big because you helped me a lot .”

I still have his 1000 dollars.

I keep it with my precious belongings, but I would like to share it with you now.

I read that the old Pesos are not worth anything anymore.

I’m here to tell you… That is a lie.


Thank You for Wild Abandon and Tame Abandonment

•November 19, 2013 • 2 Comments

I am not one to let people go from my life merely because they are a nuisance or they have some kind of nervous tic that interrupts a good conversation now and again.

I have discovered much quality in some of the most challenging of folks.

But I do understand that there is only so much time in one’s life and we need to spread it around accordingly.

I enter into friendships with a bit of discretion bordering on trepidation but once I’m in, I love with wild abandon.

Not all friends are life long friends but many of mine have been—I am very lucky.

In my life long friendships there have been ups and downs, miscommunications, and other factors that require sorting, balancing  perspectives, self generated agenda evaluations, and reflecting on the give and take dynamic.

Friendships are like books.

Some are educational, some fictional, and some are real page turners in the unfolding of a life.

I think that it takes at least a year of reading to transform an acquaintance into a friend.

It takes decades to prove the transformation worked.

If you abandon the the process for any reason, you can never be quite sure that the book did not have a surprise twist at the end.

Some folks just don’t have the time to read through the slow chapters or the fortitude to keep reading after the climax.

Others have literary tastes and opinions that prevent them from reading anything that does not fit neatly on their shelves.

Some folks would rather wait for the movie to come out.

And some folks never get beyond the cover of the book.

I am thankful for those who continue to read a book even if it has words that are hard to pronounce.

I am also thankful that those who need to abandon a book can do so without burning it.

burned

Thank You for White Rainbows

•November 19, 2013 • 3 Comments

Some people think white is the absence of color.

Actually, white reflects all colors— just add light.

I once stood on an ocean cliff in Bodega Bay, California and watched the spray hit the rocks.

The mist created an arc in the sunlight that fragmented into a rainbow.

I stepped to look at the rainbow from a different angle and the whole thing turned into a white arc of ocean spray.

The rainbow was still there, I just didn’t see it from the other angle.

Sometimes I forget to move into a position where I can see the rainbow again, that all I need is a different angle.

This is me, tilting my head and stepping out of my own way today.

Look! Can you see it too?

Rainbow

Thank You for Drawing the Line

•November 18, 2013 • 1 Comment

 

Faces that don’t have at least one or two laugh lines are eerie.

There’s no map to follow. There’s no emotional punctuation in the visual conversation.

If you have moved from point A to point B in your life experiences, you must have at least one line on your face to prove it.

If your face is wrinkle free, I won’t assume you have stocks in Oil of Olay or that you are some exceptional genetic celebrity with magical skin properties.

I’ll just assume you’ve never been outdoors, laughed, thought about anything, or did anything since the day you were born—and I’ll walk away from your mannequin mug in a hummingbird heartbeat, in a state of visual interpersonal ennui.

Talking to people that don’t have lines on their face is a set up to get lost in the middle of a sentence, pondering unnatural chemicals, Botox, scalpels, lasers, and tragedies of skin graphic proportions. It’s very distracting.

A smooth face is like a room without any furniture.

There’s no place to get comfortable with a person.

* None of this counts if you are under the age of 30.

But after that, you might want to draw a line so people will take you seriously when you talk about some philosophical concept or try to boss someone around.

Otherwise, ya just don’t have any credibility as a living organism.

And…

It’s  a lot more interesting to listen to a story when one can read between the lines.

Thank You for Finding What You’re Looking For and Getting What You Want

•November 13, 2013 • 4 Comments

I like that saying; If you want to know what you really want, look at what you have.

 

I also like the saying; You will find what you’re looking for.

Sometimes life is like a great art gallery, with thousands of objects to focus on—some beautiful, some not so much.

Perceptions are subjective but reality is what it is, whether you see it or not.

And the reality is that you do have a choice about the objects you walk up to and explore.

Of course, we must take innate temperaments and environmental influences into consideration when we look at the choices we make, but beyond those things, we do exercise our own will to see what we want to see.

There are folks that find beauty wherever they go.

There are others who primarily ponder the flaws in the fabric of life.

These folks can come across a magnificent painting and be completely absorbed by a crooked letter in the signature of the artist, never getting to the value of the art.

They want to see what’s wrong about something for various reasons that a psychological professional can specify better than I can.

But I think it may have something to do with the need to be right or superior to those around them.

I can’t know.

There are also people who blame their limitations and deficiencies on things external to themselves.

They can’t seem to get what they want out of life.

I contend that these people do have exactly what they *want.

*Something to complain about so they can be justified in their status of blamelessness and lack of personal responsibility.

 

It’s a stretch to get beyond our emotionally subjective perspectives to include a broader view of ourselves and the world around us.

But if you go lookin’ for beauty, you will find it.

If you decide that you can live your life with joy and that others will happily support you, you will and they will.

You may not be able to control reality but you have the absolute power to control where you point your magnifying glass while you’re looking for what you want to see.

Thank you for All the People who Only Live in my Computer

•November 8, 2013 • 2 Comments

If all my internet “friends” popped out of my computer into my living room, I would not only be traumatized by the fact that I only had enough coffee for ten of them, but I would probably be just a little bit embarrassed by the abrupt unveiling of my real self to a couple hundred other “real “ selves.

I can just imagine their confusion as they suddenly found themselves crammed into a studio with a terrified cat and a pajama clad redhead with acrylic paint on her her slippers running around looking for extra coffee cups.

I think they might become disillusioned and not want to be my “friend” anymore.

I think they might be as embarrassed as me.

I think that if I could see them in their pajamas, look into their eyes, try to hug them, or actually smell them, the shine of “friendship” might need some brass polish.

Some of my internet friends have made a great impression on me.

I like reading their writing, looking at their art, and hearing about select parts of their lives without having to share my coffee or my cat with them.

I like not having to admit they haven’t the faintest idea who I really am even though they send lovely e-mails, comment on my blog, and share personal thoughts with me.

I like that I don’t have to invite them to my sixth wedding and their feelings won’t be hurt.

I like that they live solely in my computer and they only come into my home when I am not in the shower.

I like the enhancement to my social life without the obligations of introducing them to my real friends.

I like that they know enough about me to think I’m really cool but not enough to know that I am not.

But seriously, I do have some trepidation about overdoing the “friend” thing.

I recently deleted over 200 friends from Facebook— then I just decided to leave it alone.

Scientists have done research and concluded that a human being cannot maintain more than 150 friendships.

Wow.

I don’t think I could even maintain 30 and keep everybody happy without risking social implosion. But I put a lot into a real friendship.

Not so much with the social networking friendship.

I think maybe that it is just an ego addiction for me.

I mean, it’s absurd to think that I could become addicted to accumulating “friends” and subscribers to respond to my every thought about what I ate last night, where I went to the bathroom in a foreign country, or my moody broody statements on the rest of the world’s activities, right?

Right?

Do you agree with me?

Please, agree with me.

C’mon, hit the Like button so I can get on with my life!

Tweet me!

Share me!

Tag me!

Do it!

Please hurry. I’ve got an appointment at Friend Addiction Rehab and I have to eat another blue pill before I leave.

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