February 27, 2012
Whitney, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 9
Whitney could have been saved! Whitney’s lonely last few days! Whitney’s final binge!
A plethora of stupid headlines assault me. As I stand in the market line, contemplating with narrowed eyes, zoned in on the blame game, I begin to see something more than lead-lines. I see insulting insinuations, posed by strangers further away from the center of Whitney’s reality than the sun is from us – feeling absolutely no need to pay it any daily attention, and only willing to jump into the fray once brightest sun burned out.
Where were Whitney Houston’s family and friends? I’ll answer that searing question from a personal perspective – certainly of my own conjecture, but real to me nonetheless.
Where were Whitney Houston’s family and friends while she was struggling?
Same place mine: at arms' length, believing my bold message flash rotation:
“I’ll be fine, I always am.”
“I’ve got this covered.”
“I’ve got nothing to complain about, to talk about.”
After 5 years of carrying on about achieved normalcy, 5 years of simply carrying on, who wouldn’t have believed it?
I believed if I said it all often enough and loud enough, over and over, it would have to be true.
Only one true part ever snuck through: “nothing”: with qualifiers attached, easily glossed over.
Repeated, repeated when I had nothing else to say that would change the situation or help me handle the upcoming. The more I believed, the more I struggled. The more embarrassed and desperate I became.
I stopped talking: to everyone. Except myself in the sternest of voices, “Now is not the time.” “Hold on until this storm clears.” “Just one more day, it will be better.”
How do you slink away and still show up every day?
Very carefully: cultivating space, disengaging, purposefully moving an arm’s length distance from anyone who might glimpse the pitted façade and suspect it in danger of crumbling.
If it were a recording, I’d have a Grammy. If it were a movie, I’d have an Oscar.
Instead, it’s real life, no more remarkable than any other, with only words to explain myself similarly.
It’s safe to say the worst is over now.
This is where the hardest chapter begins.
February 21, 2012
Avoiding, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 8
My Ireland trip continued with more amazing, interesting, joyful (and some sadder) moments. I could string you along for another two months with tales of places and people, but that would be avoiding. And, as it turns out, I’ve been avoiding for a very long time. It’s time to deal with undercurrents and slip-stream tows.
We are approaching the final chapter of four years of sorting through what, where, when, why and how. It’s assembling nicely into a book of unusual form: a nice, neat, complete, completely wrapped up package of journeyed thoughts. Like the brown string on bakery packages pulling in from all sides, they must be wrapped, and twisted a very certain way to create a secure enclosure. Much like a bakery box, over-securing makes it harder to get to what’s inside. Sometimes the only way to get in is to destroy the security. Sometimes, you can take the scraps and rearrange them into another, not as strong, multi-knotted make-shift hold. Sometimes, you can’t, and have to go in search of a new type of stronghold.
Even when this chapter is told, the newsletters won’t end as long as you want them to continue. Occasionally, I jump on a current message, but mostly what you are reading is a four month lag. I’m still searching but have no idea what I’m aiming for, if I have an aim, or if I even need one anymore. No matter what, it’s still a ride, and I’m still driven to share it with you.
February 14, 2012
Music Eve 1, Short, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 7
Outside, beneath an umbrella in a light Irish drizzle, a wide variety of women trade versions of “no regrets,” holding these truisms in high regard:
Life’s too short for bad wine.
Life is too short for stale bread.
I quote my mother’s favorite: Life is short –eat dessert first!
And a final offering before we venture back inside trailing scents of smoke and fresh rain:
“When you’re dying,” she says, “You will never ever say, ‘I regret not spending more time at work’.”
On the now familiar wander back to the green room, a merchandise volunteer approaches me with a young man on her arm. He desperately wants access, and she asks if he can be my “boyfriend” for a few moments. I look him over and he seems harmless enough. His friend vouches for him, and I remember times long ago when all I needed was a quick in and drop - to make my presence known. Therefore, he is now my boyfriend, extending his arm in the gallant escort worthy manner. Walking arm in arm, we exchange names. In an extension of courtesy, he reaches for the door, opens it and steps back for me to pass through for me, and I begin to feel very… old. It’s a little disconcerting to be a safe, old American broad with a staff badge. As soon as we’re in, I pat his arm and release him. “Have fun,” I say. He thanks me with a wide grin and makes a beeline towards a small group of fashionably dressed young women.
We ladies continue to talk and observe and suddenly the young man is back, red-faced and agitated. Since we’d just decided to move on to the hotel pub, he leaves with us, and we soon learn that the woman he wished to impress looked down her nose at him. Like a gaggle of hens we tell him it’s better to find out early, and she’s not worth it. He doesn’t follow us into the now limited attendance bar. It’s closed to the public by now, only hotel guests and those remaining inside are allowed. No newcomers. A long time standing at the counter, leaves us time to talk. The bartender ignores us. I wonder if it’s because I’m only looking for a cola, again. “Is it that?” I ask, “Or is it because we’re unescorted women?” It seems the men are being attended to first, and the same thing happened earlier. My companion tells me it’s not and that they just take their time as they please.
Somehow, fueled by our lack of fuel-ish energy and a glass of wine or two, we wind down a little and end up in a place of joint confession. She has lost four people in five years; I have lost five in eight. We leak tears of compassion, understanding, and shared sorrow. Finally we are served, and even though I am put out at by the long wait, I leave a tip. It’s grabbed back quickly for me, and I am told there is no bartender tipping in Ireland. And that explains that – no need to hustle if it’s not worth more than your wage, right?
Somewhere around 2:00 AM, I become aware that I am only vaguely aware; I have closed my eyes to listen to as instruments are passed around, songs and partial riffs erupt, impromptu duets are formed, jokes and strains of laughter float by, and I must acknowledge that I am straining to stay upright, scared of sitting down, and thinking more and more about the merits of sleep. Radio press assembly begins at 6:00 AM tomorrow morning. As an event realist, I am counting on set-up, technical, and artist delays, and accordingly set my alarm for 6:15 and planning to make an appearance by 6:40 at the latest.
It’s been a long day one, and a longer first evening, all of which bring me around to coming a long way to come a long way; facing everything with some measure of aloneness, and coming away with reinforcement of what I’ve already figured out. This was a necessary excursion, everyone has a story to tell, music makes me happy, sleep is over-rated, and I will never, ever regret having not spent more time at work, especially not the relatively short time I have spent here.
February 09, 2012
Breathe Like Vader
5:10 PM: I actually had a pretty mellow day at work. Kept to myself, stayed out of trouble: I was pleased.
Stopped to get the mail on the way home. That’s when the fun began…
I dropped my utility bill and spun to catch it horrified to see that it had bulls-eye aim on the only puddle for miles. In my rush to retrieve it, I somehow ended up stepping on it. For some reason that stymied me – you know – big disaster, no problem, small one? Melt down! I took one of those deep relaxing breaths I learned in the "How to Relax by Exercising at Your Desk" stress-reduction work seminar this morning. I felt better.
I lifted my toes off the soaked envelope and then almost got rear-ended. Literally. As I’m bent over grabbing the what was sure to be offensive electric bill, a compact blue car with a cracked and rusty bumper almost bumped me off. Literally. Scared the pants off me. Not literally, thank goodness. I imagine that would have landed me in a bit more trouble, or given the driver a heart-attack. He stopped and looked sheepish. I couldn’t muster up a squinty-eyed glare since my eyes were still wide-round astonished that I was still standing. Nothing like viewing the world rushing up from behind you from between your legs.
Said legs were a little shaky, but the speed limit is only 15 mph, so I managed to drive the rest of the way home and park appropriately. I gave myself bravos and kudos for not bursting into tears. My two sweet kitties were there to meet me at the door. Harley Blu gives love and Fred just bumps and runs. Still, it’s a ritual, just as surveying the living room each evening for monster damage is. Nice. No damage! I suppose you could count the slightly mangled magazine cover of the sexiest man alive as damage, but that was yesterday’s damage and sometimes I get tired of putting the magazines back on the coffee table. Especially when I know they’ll end up back on the floor within minutes.
Off I went to get ready to really relax. In the middle of offing the work clothes and on-ing the casual clothes,I hear a thud, some ceramic tinkling and a crash. I fear I already know what has happened, but still, I’m hoping for the best. My antique chicken canisters, a wedding gift from a friend’s father, are on the counter bar that surrounds the kitchen. Until yesterday my littlest fiend had not yet discovered the kitchen counter. I discovered he’d discovered it when I watched him jump from the couch to the counter. Ok, that was the only safe surface left in the house. Anything I didn’t want him to get into was there. So, last early evening, I spent some time putting things away and made one of those preventative parental-type moves. I moved the couch about two more inches away from the feline landing pad. Blu tried it once more, and missed entirely.
I thought that would cure him of his dare devil ways. And as I mentioned earlier, nothing was amiss when I arrived home, so I thought my simple plan worked well.I’m now theorizing that the four-legged brat must have been trying to make the leap all day. He waited for me to get home to come within grasping millimeters and flailing, managed to paw-clear the counter as he fell just a whisker short. Nothing broke, unbelievably! Good thing I learned about the Darth Vader relaxer breaths.
My next challenge was to assemble and operate my new food processor – a new necessity since I won’t have any chewing surfaces available in my mouth until May. I plan to pulverize my proteins. Anyway, I read the manual (yes, I am a girl.) I assembled and prepped and pushed the required buttons in the required order (which I knew because I read the manual) and … nothing. No clicking, no whirring, not even a hint that it might kick into gear. Assuming user error (because I am a girl) I disassembled, reassembled, and… nothing. This time the ferocity of my Darth Vader breathing kind freaked Freddie out. She took off. Blu still sat there hoping I’d drop something. So, I disassembled, repacked, tucked my receipt into the lid and set the whole box of nothing by the door.
It’s now about 6:00 PM and I am in need of food to keep my sugar from dropping as my stress is rising. My planned dinner remained unprocessed so I went for the emergency can of tuna. Opened and creatively mixed with hummus and a little greek yogurt, I found I needed a cool down before I ate. The best way I know how to do that is to try and find the humor in situations and then relay them humorously to friends.
I went to find my phone, texted and giggled, got over myself and turned into the galley kitchen only to find a fur face had found a way onto the counter and was already halfway through contents of my bowl. How could I forget that the counter was now fair game? I pushed him off and growled as best I could. Harley Blu took off into the laundry room making a beeline for behind the washer. I closed the door to the room, and went in search of my 'fraidy cat Miss Freddie. I gave her the rest of the tuna sort-of-salad. I grabbed a protein shake from the pantry, sat down at the dining room table and practiced my Darth Vader huffing.
Eventually Blu pushed his way out from behind the bifold and came to sit lovingly and longingly by my feet. I growled again. I think he got the message that the chalky no-other-option protein shake was mine, and I wasn’t planning on sharing. For a moment I thought a nice warm bath might be a good idea. However, I decided I’d best not tempt fate. The new plan is me and a book on the couch. I should be safe for the rest of the night. Should be. Good evening. Over and out and done. God Bless. Deep Vader Breaths... 6:30 PM
February 05, 2012
Music Eve 1, Between, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 6
In the brief space between the evening’s performers, two of us – alone – felt the need to share. Starting with a smile and a common love of music makes mingling easier, especially in between rows. No matter how brief the space between, it becomes an awkward stretch of recognition as others realize you are obviously one. One row ahead, two chairs left, a solo, tweedy gentleman makes a slight right turn in his seat. His smile earns a smile in return, and a filler conversation begins. “Lovely night, isn’t it?” he asks. “Absolutely,” I reply, “Couldn’t ask for a better one so far.” My accent immediately gives me away, and we chat about America and Michigan and an oversimplified version of how I came to be here… a friend and an invitation. And I leave it at that.
The second set begins, and I can’t help but observe his observation; a fan enjoying a fan enjoying the show. The next interlude turns him around in his seat. There is more milling about, and conversation going on around us this time as folks head for the restroom and the merchandise tables. It’s a loud and a little difficult to hear his soft-spoken lilt of a voice, so I tuck my leg up under my opposite knee to get comfortable leaning forward. My new friend introduces himself as “Oilwyn” pronounced “Owen”. He tells me he drove an hour and a bit from outside Dublin for the evening He’s alone tonight because tomorrow is a work day, but he’ll be back along tomorrow evening with a special friend. I gather he means a lady friend as he goes on to explain about wanting to make sure he knew the way and had a plan.
The third set begins and I’m lost in my own thoughts, a bit outside the ballroom. I think about how sweetly nervous he seems about his upcoming role of escort. A little throwback to traditionalism, although for him, I’m sure it’s not a throwback, at all. He’s looking for a second chance, a second time around, and I reiterate to myself a thought I’ve shared before. Maybe in another twenty years, when I am Oilwnyn’s age, and my generation begins to lose spouses, maybe then, I’ll have a chance.
The house lights come up, and Oilwyn tells me it’s a long drive back, late at night to Dublin. He fancies a cup of coffee at the Arms lounge and would I care to join him? I do, it’ll be a while before the ballroom clears and the famous festival after-sessions begin. I learn he’s worked in concrete his whole life, plans to retire soon and has two sons abroad. He raises sheepdogs in his spare time and has a small flock for hobby and local wool sales. We finish our coffee and head out toward the lobby planning to say good night there I’m sure. George Harper however, is headed in. We greet each other as familiar-face acquaintances and I see Oilwyn’s eyes light up in recognition. I introduce the pair and ask George if he wouldn’t mind a picture. He obliges without hesitation and the two place their balded heads together as George quips about the possible glare of the photo flash. Oilwyn doesn’t have an email for me to send the picture to, but his “friend” does and we plan to meet up again tomorrow night so I can get the address.
I leave him at the door with a wave and wander back through the crowding lobby as musicians and fans grab couches and chairs and the tuning of various instruments begin. I head toward the green room and meet up with the office ladies, and a few others from the previous evening. We take a peek in, decide it’s too crowded at the moment and find our way to the outside “café” smoking area. Under umbrellas and a light misty rain, we begin to talk…