November 26, 2012
Bridges, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 48
“I’m gonna it give about a week before I try it out... just to see if it holds.”
I was completely serious, and my friend was completely laughing.
“I’m serious,” I said. “I know you are,” she said, “That’s just so…. You!
I was referring to the newly re-opened Stadium Bridge. I have an inherent distrust of projects that finish on time with no serious issues. Nothing can be that easy, especially not something as important as a bridge that people trust with their lives. So, I’m just the kind to wait and see.
I don’t doubt the integrity of the architects, or the experience of the builders. I don’t doubt the workers who showed up daily to do their jobs. I don’t doubt the inspectors, approvers, or the very happy it’s time-to-open the bridge announcers.
I don’t individually doubt any of them. As a collective though… so many people, so many things can go wrong. I tend to stand back on any bridges – obscurely defined as a time, place, or means of connection or transition. Despite the fact that I am a situational bull-dozer when I have the correct solution and prefer not to waste time, I do not prefer to lead.
I tend to stand back and see if whatever it is holds, regardless of the circumstances. Dinner entrees – I feel out the table and tend to order along the same vein. Movie choices – I feel out the mood, listen closely to the choices, and defer to someone else’s decision.
It’s only backfired on me once, in the spring of 1995. Back in NYC for label meeting, a Broadway show was on the docket. Three attendees wanted to see CATS – a long running musical which strangely, I had never seen while I lived there. The other two were headed for Damn Yankees. It was a tough choice; having heard for years how wonderful CATS was and weighing the chance that I would ever get to see Jerry Lewis on Broadway again. I would have preferred to see Jerry, but I was friendlier with the traveling contingent headed for the feline classic. So, when they asked me to come along, that is where I went.
I have to say I was confused. I sat through the first half, being introduced to various cats, their unique personalities, and listening to familiar songs. During intermission, I consulted my peers. I had yet to discover the plot. Was I missing something? No, I wasn’t. Nobody else had any idea what the plot was either. We laughed and joked about being over-educated, and assured ourselves that it would reveal itself in the second half. When it didn’t, I was supremely disappointed. I had never been to a theatre production with no plot. I kicked myself along the city sidewalks on the stroll back to our hotel, muttering and grumbling not so good-naturedly. I heard Damn Yankees was fabulous. To this day, I can still see us, sitting there on crushed red velvet seats, turning to each other blinking blankly, and asking, “What was that about?” I have fond memories of the laughter and the long-term same-boat camaraderie that developed from that experience.
Does this tendency to go bridge myself, to go along with the flow so as not to interrupt it, make me a wimp? No, it just makes me a person who truly likes to make other people happy. Though, I’d prefer that you don’t hold me to it, won't let you take advantage of it, and will emphatically deny it if you tell anyone.
November 19, 2012
Choosing, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 47
I had half a thought to follow along the Facebook trend with my own 30 Days of Thanks, but truly couldn’t think of anything other than super simple non-exciting, rather lame things. Like being glad it’s November and not freezing because it keeps the heating bill lower. That’s good for my budget.
I suppose I am thankful I still have a roof over my head even though I am running in the red, and will be until January when the flex spending deductions cease. Glad I did the implant thing last year while I could still get tax break on the $5,000.00 max I contributed. There ya go…something else to be thankful for. Hey, I’ve got a streak of two reasons goin’ here.
Seems everything I am thankful for is colored by or drawn from a misery or miserable circumstance. Don’t think that’s what the exercise is about. Do you remember those 3-3-30 booklets I handed out when the midweek encouragement was young? It wasn’t an easy task then, either. Three things you are thankful for, three things you did well, for thirty days. I searched mine out. A lot of mundane stuff made my list. Thankful for: my alarm went off, coffee, the van pool. Did: laundry, had the gumption to go through the mail, and tread-milled. Yeah, it was equally as hard then. And I didn’t exactly make all thirty days. Now, I’m watching posts and wondering if I am the only one struggling. I want to be thankful, but apparently not enough.
I wish I had the kind of wonderment thankfulness of my 8 year old niece who when told she could wear whatever she wanted on her birthday, shrieked in delight, "I can wear anything I want - from my entire closet!” "I’m trying to imagine myself, 6:30 am on Monday, excitedly entering my walk-in closet and happily declaring, “I can wear anything I want -in this entire closet!" I normally buy into that visualization thing – the one that’s seen me through more than a few tough spots. If I can imagine it, I can do it. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine it.
So, I now know what’s missing in my world of thankfulness; everything, and every chance to be amazed by every choice in every moment. Choosing which cup to coffee, choosing which coat climb into, choosing chores of my own free will.
Yeah, that’s a good start. Choosing to be thankful I am able choose.
November 13, 2012
Clambering, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 46
Now that the election is over, I’m gonna clamber up on my patiently waiting, caution sign bright-orange soapbox. With both feet firmly set, arms crossed in impatience, let me repeat the obvious again: The election is over. What are you going to do about it? Gloat? Cry? Continue to bash your “friends” and their opinions? Why continue to post propaganda?
I guess I’m just infuriated by the lack of – yes I’m gonna say it again – common sense. For example, I’m writing this on Veteran’s Day. Throughout the day, I’ve seen a good number of posts reminding veterans that they are entitled to special privileges at restaurants. And all of the sudden, there’s an uproar. Why do veterans get food? Why aren’t these restaurants feeding the homeless? My first reaction was a disbelieving “What? Are these people serious?” Are these the same idiots who believe if you can’t do something nice for everyone – don’t do anything nice for anyone? Who are you to say who should be tended to or who I can tend to within my means? And, by the way, just who the hell are you tending to?
I just kept scrolling for some more good news. Still, that ridiculousness festered in my head. I have a no antagonization policy when it comes to Facebook. I don’t encourage it and I don’t respond to it, at least not directly. I do sometimes write about it, though. I’ve got a special place for things I want to say but never will solely for the purpose of self-preservation.
But, then, there came another post that steamed me up, got my blood pressure pounding, and threw me over the edge of tolerant silence. In a blue-background logo’d post, assuredly designed to capture and give an impression of authenticity , attack and recruitment were simultaneously announced.
“These restaurants are cutting back on employees and employee hours to avoid paying for healthcare – Olive Garden, Applebee’s, Red Lobster, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Burger King and Papa John’s. Boycott them!”
Now I’m not a certified economist, but here goes my college educated micro and macro opinion.
Let’s see, our country is in the midst of a manufacturing unemployment crisis. Probably means people aren’t eating out as much. Probably means that in order to save employee’s jobs and their businesses, businesses are cutting back on hours and benefits. You certainly don’t believe that these are the only restaurants engaged in this activity? For that matter, are you unaware that your grocery store, gas station, doctor’s office, electric company, coffee shop, are playing this game, too?
The answer, isn't boycotting… unless you'd like the restaurants, electric companies, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. to go out of business. Creating even more unemployment? That just doesn't seem like a sound economic plan to me. Unless we can get the government to make our businesses offer benefits! Oh, but wait... we don't want the government to control us or our businesses or our benefits, so I guess that's out. Sigh.
There are only a few routes left as far as I can tell. The first is complete, independent, self-sufficiency. That’d be a tough road for most people. Grow your own food, create your own fuel, make your own clothes – without buying the seed, supplies, or the fabric to do so. Because, chances are, those things are coming from companies who must also cut benefits to retain jobs.
The second is to become a more biblical nation. Yep, I’m going there. Do unto others, lend hands and hearts and shelter and provisions and make donations to those in need, be responsible for our brothers and sisters, quit complaining and give thanks for what we have, pray and never cease praying. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t believe GOD is going to turn his hand into changing our economy with a thunderclap just because enough of us pray simultaneously. I’m very much hoping though, as we pray our hearts will show us what needs to be done. Maybe our God-given minds will equip us with God-given answers, although I truly believe our God-given souls already know exactly what needs to happen.
November 05, 2012
The Voice, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 45
Allow me to state the obvious: I’ve been at war with myself and my situations for some time now. I pray and pray and try to decide – should I move to back to TN or NY. Or maybe Boston or Atlanta. Should I ditch the career path, head back to music, be more zealous in my writing? I ended up overwhelmed this week. Between the disappointment, the loss, and the moving on, the emotional roller coaster started with a jerk and jerked to a stop. Still I hesitated: stay here and risk another ride, jump off and bolt? I’ve been silently asking for what seems like forever now, almost constantly.
Tears don’t come easy to me. They never have. They’re a waste of time that I know could be put to better use. Still, though, sometimes they just need to be freed, and not always on my time table. Blu startled me into a forward topple making it necessary to reach out for recovery. Thankfully, my hand connected with the mirror resting on the cabinet and steadied myself. When I took my hand away, it toppled into my nose, made me see stars. I slapped it back into place and then a little further. So, there I was on Friday night, trying to figure out how to retrieve the mirror from behind the cabinet attached to the wall. In order to reach it, I would have to remove the molly bolts, move it out and re-anchor it. Only I knew from experience that it is a two person job, and I was just one person.
That was my straw that toppled my week. In a highly unusual moment, I threw up my hands, stomped my feet and through garbled sniffles half-yelled to GOD, at GOD, for GOD in one short angry not-so-much prayer. “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?”
So there it was – something I had never done before. I finally asked aloud. And something strange happened. For the first time in my life, I didn’t hear my heart cry “Go.” I heard a voice, a true voice; not in my head, not outside my head. An everywhere, encompassing, surrounding, strong and strongly modulated voice that to my amazement wrapped around me and breathed “Stay.” It was startling and absolute, not questionable. I cried harder and whimpered back, “No,” to the overlapping follow-up of “Be still.” Despite my unhappiness at not having received a real direction in which to go, and an even greater unhappiness that this is where I am supposed to be, despite that fact that I’ve always felt that staying requires more courage than I possess, I can’t say in that moment, I gave it to GOD. I can say that he took it away from, and calmed me, peacefully. Instantly.
In one long week of having to let go of a dream, realizing I had not made any memories of Ireland, and being set free from a therapy I changed. My foolishness, my stubbornness and the real reason for my most recent tears didn’t come from this anniversary week. In that light, none of those reasons matter, anyway. So little does. I am suddenly here, desiring to be no place else. I am in this moment and the last and accept them both. I have been searching for the right place to wrap up this story, or at least this part of it. This seems like a good one.