May 31, 2011
Gall, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 22
I suppose the best way to characterize my present mood would be agitated; angry, galled, if you will.
After four years of not making any plans, I might have gone a little overboard. I’ve almost over booked myself, but thought my well thought out plan would be manageable: NY, NJ, CT one week in July, Ireland in September, and then Hawaii in October.
However, it appears my gallbladder has some traveling plans of its own. I’ve been having some serious trouble eating since about mid-April. In true hind sight, it appears to have been starting to act up in November. On Thanksgiving, to be exact – it appeared that I’d over eaten. Nowadays, a yogurt consumed over the course of an hour or more has the same painful result.
The thing that really makes me mad is that I have been fine tuning the machine that is my body for four years now. I have beaten Diabetes with diet and exercise, for now. Someday, I’m sure the need for medication will arise. My cholesterols, both of them, are well within goal range. Even though I didn’t indulge regularly, I gave up drive-through fast food for lent. I still haven’t stopped for a value meal since. I don’t miss bread as much as I thought I would. I had the urge for a toasted bagel with cream cheese about a month ago, and was sadly disappointed with the experience. It didn’t taste that great and it caused a great deal of pain.
So, when will I fit this little detour in? June would be perfect, but I’m not even scheduled to see the surgeon until June 9th. I was told not to “tough it out” and to take myself to the emergency room if I got much worse. But I think I’d rather go with a solid referral than take whomever happens to be on-call. So, perhaps August? Might make my July trip less fun. The truth of the matter is that will succumb to whatever date is available. It’ll suck up about two weeks of my vacation time, so maybe this isn’t the year for Hawaii even though that is a mostly free trip.
So, the situation galls me, chafes my heart, riles my stomach, and puts an even deeper damper on my way low vitamin D attitude. Of course, I’ll trudge through to the responsible outcome. Of course, I’m gonna try not to compromise any of my commitments. Of course, I’ll let you know how this all works out.
May 24, 2011
Do/Don't, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4 Issue 21
Sometimes, the best compliments come from people who you don’t think really know you.
Sometimes, they’re the one that see you most clearly and are ready to best define you in a short sentence or two.
These sort of compliments can be ugly, though. It has to do with things you don’t think people see. For the most part, I think I make a pretty good actress. Then someone shoots that down with an errant, bulls-eye accurate comment. That’s what I think scares me the most. I tend to take it for granted that people won’t see through me. I also tend to release those who can. I don’t want that, or do I?
Of course I want to go back, but that’s not an option, is it? Going forward isn’t an actual choice, either. I’m just doing what needs to be done and what has to be done. I thought I could help push this along a little, but it feels wrong. I can’t force it by leaps and bounds. The good news I can see what I think I want. And I think it’s going to disappoint a lot of people.
I said it out loud about two months ago. At a funeral of all places, someone turned to me and said, “Your mother really hoped you’d meet someone.” “Really,” I asked. “She wanted me to go through all THIS again?” See, it’s those things you say without thinking that are the most revealing. Of course the response was “You don’t mean that.” I do, or don’t I?
It’s difficult to have and to hold specific expectations, and even more difficult to expect nothing. Where’s the drive for dreaming? Long gone. I off loaded that baggage a while ago, in Kentucky, I think, on the road home to Michigan. Bills to pay, work to be done, projects to be finished so no one else has to do them for me, or clean up after me. Everyday chores and obligations have been enough to fill my day, and my night, and all my time because no one else does. Another weekend of driving and a random grab for a bunch of cd’s before I left home gave me something to consider. I stumbled across a lyrical truth courtesy of Lifehouse. I’ve listened to this song and sung along hundreds of times and saw no pertinence to me or my life, until now.
“Every time I reach for you there’s no one there to hold on to,
nothing left for me to miss. I’m letting go of this.
I want to breathe in a new beginning, with someone who
will wrap their arms around what’s left of me.”
I don’t wish I could feel this way. I just wish I could admit that I do.
May 18, 2011
Salt Water, Grey
silver, shades I love
so why should
land on me so heavily
cloak me in sunless shadows
shower me in concrete hues
afraid to be cemented
to this place and time
comfortable in the
thin protective shell
in my heart I know
with the right touch
it will dissolve like
salt in water like
the composition of my tears -
toxic and needed
May 17, 2011
Gun Shy, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 20
Sometimes it’s just nice to know you still got it. Take last Saturday for example. Can’t remember the last time I sighted a shot. Maybe 1974, or possibly 1975. But the gun felt good in my hands, familiar on my shoulder, and it seemed like it was just yesterday. 10 Yards to the tin can - pegged it on the first shot. “That’s good for me. I’m done!” I announced handing the rifle off to my brother. The boys went back to shooting off, aiming for the day’s record. Best of rounds target was a 4” diameter pole 15 yards out. A few rotations and 4 sets of hands later, I found my old Daisy BB Gun in my hands again. It took me 5 tries before the ping-tone announced that I nicked it, and then I called it quits again. It’s true; it was the gun I won a competition with, but the story, like most everything in my life holds a hidden twist.
I have a newsprint picture of my father coaching me at a shooting match. It wasn’t easy to get me into that contest. Brookfield Gun Club wasn’t keen on letting a girl in. But, my Dad stood up for me and there I was at my first meet. Nervous, I failed to hit the target at least half the time. When the first round elimination came up, I got the boot. As we walked away from the competition line, my father turned to me and said “You embarrassed me.” His disappointment in my performance and the announcement of how it reflected poorly on him was devastating. It was probably the first time I ever realized how my actions affected others’ opinions of my family. I hadn’t practiced enough. I hadn’t taken the time to sight. I was slow on reload and cocking.
For some reason I didn’t give up. I kept practicing and another event came around. I wanted to compete again. This time there was a girls’ class. It’s true I won, but I only had to beat two other competitors for that title, and they were as bad as I was the first year. I shot well, scored high, took in my father’s reserved nod of praise, and never competed again.
I’ve carried that picture around with me for a long, long time. I’ve had 38 years worth of occasionally looking at it; recalling the pain of failure and being the cause of my father’s embarrassment. I obviously never forgot those words, but in the long run they seem to have had a somewhat positive effect. I never start anything I don’t intend to see through. If I can say I did it, and did it well, I’m satisfied. I don’t always succeed on the first try, but I make damn sure I do on the second effort. And then I quit while I’m still ahead.
Thinking about it now, I guess I’ve applied that notion to my love life, too. That explains my current non-relationship status. History says - I did that twice. The first time I really lost. The second, I won big-time. There’s no guarantee that the next match will find me a winner, or that I’ll even hit a target. On the other hand, maybe it could be like picking up a gun again: familiar and fun. Have I reawakened the inner strength that always rises to challenge? I think so. Am I going to keep moving forward? I think so. After all, I've never been gun shy.
May 10, 2011
Model, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 19
I used to be quite fond of Dale Earnhardt. He’s not exactly a nemesis now, but after two weekends of free-time loss due to re-inventorying collectibles, I’ve started to wonder. I came in on the tail end of Earnhardt’s NASCAR reign. I went to my first NASCAR race in 1998 courtesy of Pepsi. I still didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. But that was the weekend before I met my husband.
Not once or twice, but three times now, I’ve taken great care to catalog the collection currently in my possession. Spanning 15 years of deliberate and deliberated purchases, I’ve recorded pertinent details. I’ve logged information on small cars, larger cars, huge cars, mini cars, trading cards, playing cards, mugs, notebooks, note cards, pencils, yo-yo’s, dinner wear, phones, radios, walkie talkies, games, books, china plates, ceramic figurines, Coca Cola machine covers, full bottles and cans of Coca Cola, candy and dolls. (Oops on the “doll” word – please substitute “Action Figures.”) Hundreds of items later, I am more familiar with the slight differences between the 1998 and 1999 #3 Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo stock cars The Intimidator drove.
With the bulk of items accounted for, I’ve started on previously unaccounted for territory: posters, prints, lithographs and autographed photos. I’ve residually memorized the many angles and details of his face. I’ve silently self-remarked on his stoicism, and taken an extra-long look at the rare smiling photos.
Scattered on my floor is a multi-media, uniform portrayal of a man who really may only have existed on race day. By most photographic accounts the man was a fierce focused warrior. By most written accounts his heart was the size of every capacity filled speedway he ever drove. Therein lies some marketing genius.
Most of us work the opposite way. Happy, love filled in public; angry, sullen warriors within. We certainly sell our package, portraying ourselves in the best possible light of how we want to be. The problem is that we can’t market ourselves to GOD that way. There are no such things as hidden feelings. Maybe Jeff understood that about Mr. Earnhardt, the man he admired. I know he loved and embraced Earnhardt’s principle of quiet charity – doing for others without tax receipts or expecting kudos. I know he respected everyone’s right to privacy, and insisted on his own, but never once believed he was entitled to privacy from GOD.
No matter who someone is, or how close they can be to you, they will never see the complete picture of you the way GOD does. The corners where dark thoughts lurk, the pockets of envy, the cancerous growth of memories, compounded hurt: despicable, unspeakable things we never mention. If there were darker sides to Jeff, he never shared them with me. I don’t doubt that they were there, everyone has them. Perhaps his were just immature, or ill-formed, incomplete. Maybe that explains his fascination with the works of Stephen King – perhaps he truly had no dark corners and needed someone else’s to understand. Perhaps his corners were so deep, he found comfort there. I never asked him about the significance of the King library, so I’ll never know.
Jeff’s version of the history of his life was 99% positive, with an occasional rare disappointment casually thrown in, and quickly glossed over. Every good thing in his life was an unexpected treat, every bad thing just another temporary circumstance to weather until another good thing came along. I’ve come to realize I found my model for faith by following Jeff. Not through rigorous religious study, not through sermons or spiritual self-help books; I’ve done those things, too. Everything I’ve learned always leads me back to Jeff and the basic way he lived his life; un-intimidated by his GOD that knew him well inside and out – heart full-throttle, wide-open, just like Earnhardt in public on race day, and in private with GOD every day.
May 02, 2011
Patriotism, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 18
The significance and the impact of the news hit me straight in the heart, just as it did nearly 10 years ago, on September 11, 2001.
From the fall of the World Trade Center towers to current events: Osama Bin Laden is dead.
Surely, I am not the only one whose thoughts drove straight to “retaliation?”
Surely, there are followers of the madman who hold the same quest – and in the name of their GOD believe they are justified in their actions.
The Times Square celebration has left me sad, and disappointed. This wasn’t a football game, or akin to winning the lottery in any sense. Jubilation is just not appropriate.
In the name of my GOD, I profess I will always consider myself a New Yorker at heart. The city enthralled me in my youth, called me back as a young adult, served me into adulthood, and became much of the basis for who I am today. I looked at those pictures carefully and thought of Bin Laden’s supporters dancing in the street when the towers fell, when planes crashed, when lives were lost. I’d much rather we accepted the news with quiet dignity instead of gloating arrogance.
Yes, it had to be done. Yes, it was justified. Yes, I am extremely proud and humbled by the military personnel in our country who have worked for years towards this achievement. I pray that peace has come to the families and loved one of the victims of September 11th. A heinous criminal is no longer in a position to continue the terror.
Patriotism lies in supporting your country, it’s objectives, it’s employees. It should not be about demanding “an eye for an eye” but should rather be grounded in preventing the potential loss of any other eye.
Perhaps if these words had been passed on fliers to the gathered celebrants; perhaps if these words had floated above the crowd on super large screens and tickers;
“I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Martin Luther King
Perhaps the demonstration would have been redirected towards respectful recognition of a mission accomplished; perhaps the world could have seen One Nation, Under GOD, intent on ensuring peace. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…