April 26, 2011
Gold, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 17
Many times, most times, always; I have felt the overwhelming desire to change some one thing just so I know I’m still alive and in the game. I’ve felt restless, unfulfilled, without insightful direction. My current emotional twister has looped me back around to what on the surface seems like the same point I started out on four plus years ago. Still, it’s a little different: like a recurring dream with slight detail blurs. Some new clues catch my imagination, some old clues are clearer.
Two decades ago I had a firm list of achievements. A gold record was my pinnacle. The implication of reaching a pinnacle – the highest point of decoration – implies conclusion, fulfillment; nothing more to seek, to strive towards, or to yearn for. Then I earned one.
To quote Maya Angelou, “Achievement brings its own anticlimax.” Much along the line of other climaxes in our lives, accomplishments drive new perspectives. With near immediacy, we wonder what happens next. How soon we can do it again? How can we make it more spectacular? We hungrily plot to ride the pleasure wave longer. My logical succession was fairly easy, fairly fast: official name-in-ink album credits, scaling a double platinum summit, creating a viable production company. Each successful tick off my list sent me on the next goal. I neither appeased nor eased the lust.
It seems to me a common miss-notion that death is a glorious, streets-of-gold, end-all achievement. Merriam’s Dictionary defines achievement as: the act of achieving, accomplishment, a result gained by effort, a great heroic deed. In these terms, it becomes clear that our arrival at Heaven’s destination cannot be considered achievement. In gaining access, we are not required to make an effort or perform great heroic deeds. That was done for us. We are simply required to believe, which settles last week’s question. For myself, I redefine: Death is simply dying. Passing is eternal living. No measure of gold measures up to that.
April 19, 2011
17, ME Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 16
There are 17 unopened sympathy cards unsympathetically taking up space on my coffee table.
Staring them down over my bowl of supper, I realize it must be a sort of denial. I wish I could put a more solid explanation to it, but it’s rather vague to me still: I think I was finally coming out of my grief. I think I was finally getting to a point where I’d begun to lift my eyes and look around me.
It’s so much easier for me to be and remain introspective, but there is a world out there and I was thinking I wanted to be part of it. And then the cards started coming, precipitated by my mother’s death. Even as my pen finishes that last harsh word, I’m split-second analyzing it. Here’s what I decide: death differs from passing. They are not wholly interchangeable. But that’s a thesis for some other day.
Now I can say that there were 17 unopened sympathy cards. There are now 34 pieces: torn envelopes in one pile, flutter winged cards in another. Countless tears have run down my face. There are tears in my lap, tears on the back of my hand.
So close to the summit, I was looking forward to laying down my baggage. The bitter backhand of loss caught up with me and viciously slapped me down. Not quite all the way to the bottom, though not nearly half up the well-traveled stairclimb, either. Griefcase still firmly in hand, balanced on my stunned and motionless lap, I’m sure I’ll start to climb again. But not today. It’s just too soon.
April 13, 2011
Bubble, Part 2, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 15
I pick up two still semi-connected parts of the wreckage and take one step forward. The back swings around, sliding another propped piece into the bookcase. It’s like time has suddenly decided to go in slow motion for a very agonizing five seconds. “No, No!” I yell. The furniture bits don’t listen. They topple whole heartedly into the bookcase which predictably lurches 10 degrees, bobbles back and then falls with a slam. Again. Either I truly have no neighbor below, or I am just blessed that she is at out at the moment. I viciously rip apart the two remain cheap slabs and move them away from the rubble.
Starting at the top of the pile, I move the other two broken boards against the wall. I raise the book case, and prop that up, as well. The printer seems to be fine, at first. Then I notice the missing panel. Of course it’s the one with the on-off button. And of course, it doesn’t seem to want to go back on. I get it sort of situated and just for fun, decide to hit the on button. The printer comes to life, and that’s a good sign. I struggle for a few minutes with various ways to reattach the board. It’s just not working. I’ll have to take off a piece of the housing. Then I notice a small little latch. Hmmm – hooray! The panel slides open, the electronic board slides back in, and reassembly is complete. I push the on button again, and nothing happens. So, I push it again and it sounds like the printer is shutting down. I push it again, because I’m ridiculous, I know… It turns on! I turn it back off with a self promise to check that it actually works later. I decide a break is in order. I switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer, and then sit down on the couch. It occurs to me this tale might be useful. I could devote an entire chapter to it in that book I want to write. You, know the one? The Young Widow’s Guide to Unusual Circumstances. I think I’ll call this chapter “Undo It Yourself Decorating.”
From my reporting position on the couch I notice the top of the standing pole reading lamp is listing oddly toward the center of the room. The base remains straight. I re-torture myself with a back-flash eyes still open mind movie of the incident. Yep, the book case is the culprit, but it seems the lamp saved the wall from having a huge hole smashed in it. There’s just a gentle gouge behind where I plan to place the bookcase. I slug a consoling cup of iced coffee back, and notice that Miss Fred is curled up against my seated leg. Aw, she looks so cute and sweet, but I’m about to be a meanie and disturb us both by returning to the surreal scene. I gotta see this through. In a perfect world, I’d be done by the time the dryer buzzer goes off. Then I could fold laundry, make dinner, and get back in my happy, dented bubble. Oh, shoot. There’s goes the dryer buzzer. The chicken’s still semi-frozen. I’m simultaneously hyped up on coffee and semi-fried. Guess I’d better get back at it if I plan to finish this escapade by nightfall.
Saturday, 6:38 pm.
I’ve just carried 4 slabs of sort-of wood down 12 steps. 4 times down, 4 times up. Finally, I can see the payoffs of tread milling. Been to the community dumpster and back. That was its own side-experience. I arrived at the same time as an SUV. A younger man emerged with a cigarette dangling lazily from his lips. He threw open the rear gate and began unloading milk crates full of wine bottles. The empties caught my attention in two ways. Once was because I had to carry my wreckage refuse around them. I did a double take trying to determine if there was any one particular type of wine, thinking maybe it was really good and I should try some. I carried another piece of laminated trash around the crates again. In a thick Russian accent, around his cigarette, the fella announced to me, “They’re not all from one weekend, you know!” He misinterpreted my alcoholic interest as judgment. “Too bad,” I thought. He looked like he might be a fun guy to party with. But, instead of saying that, I just laughed and replied, “Good to know, good to know.”
So, time’s flying and not in such a good way. However, chicken’s out of the oven, steak is out of the pan. Rice and veggies have been nuked. Dinner and work lunches for next week have been assembled or packed up. Laundry’s folded and mostly put away. Crisis contained. Thanks to my wonderful friends who keep reading my stories. Without you, I might not ever get anything done.
April 05, 2011
Bubble, Part 1, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 14
Saturday: 2:45 pm
Time’s flying and not in such a good way either. I know I’m not really aware of what’s going on around me. I guess I’ve reactivated my protective bubble. It’s a little cloudy from the barrage of hard-shell deflective pinging lately. It’s hard to accomplish anything from in here. Bubbles don’t maneuver well and don’t facilitate projects. I jump out once in a while to do laundry, or cook, or clean the bathroom. But the moment I focus on my huge list of domino effect projects, I want to crawl back in. Today, I’m doing, laundry and cooking. I’ve done some five-minute sweeps, and I’ve made a brilliant small decision.
Today is the day I will swap the position of the office table and the office bookcase. Small decision = domino task. In order to move the table, I have to move everything under it. Then I have to move the other part of the table – the nested L-shaped part. Then I need to pull out the bookcase, which means finishing emptying it. Once that’s out, and my office is in complete disarray, I will slide the tall table down two feet, slide the L back into place, and replace the stored items. After that, I get to move the bookcase about four feet, and finally, I will replace those shelved items, as well. Sigh. It seems to me that as I feared this mini-task, has now turned monumental plan. However, since I intend to share this information in an upcoming newsletter, I feel impelled to accomplish it. Off I go. Unenthusiastically.
Saturday: 3:40 pm.
Well, that didn’t go as planned. Well, it did, up until about 10 minutes in when everything went disastrous. Really, how hard is it to move a few things and rearrange them? If you’re me, and you’re unenthusiastic, this is how it goes…
Stored stuff – moved. Book case – emptied, moved. Lift up on the big table to begin the 1 foot slide and “crack.” What was that? Oh, no. The ten year old chip-wood assemble-it-yourself desk table has lost its stability bar. Ok, then. Instead of trying to slide both tables at once, I’ll just pull out the smaller one. No big deal. I’m in progress and then “kabloom!” The other side of the stability bar drops. At least now I know for sure that the banging neighbor is no longer living below me. That’s good news for her, too. Because if she had wailed on the walls, I might have been tempted to wail back on her.
So, there I was, holding up the middle of the table because at the start of this mayhem I didn’t feel that the one-foot slide would require me to move everything off it. With no intention of loosening my grip, I shimmy down a foot or two. I logically decide to let go of the desk top and grab the printer. I figure the desk is a goner anyway, and I don’t really want to buy another printer anytime soon. The table actually remains standing. Quite a marvel. I gingerly place the printer on the top of the three shelf do-it-yourself book case. I realize it’s not a very stable piece either seeing as it’s sitting in the middle of the room now. However, I consider the next step and redesign my earlier plans. The printer will be fine for the minute or two it takes me to move the damaged pieces of the desk out of the way. Then I will be able to quickly slide the shorter leg against the wall, and easily transfer the printer.
To be continued….