health, humor, love, marriage, music, pets, philosophy, psychology, relationships, sex, tv

life, singular

 

The single life. one, long, nocturnal highway punctuated by a series of sort of happy zen moments, mostly spent, understood and eventually, at the end of the day, savoured alone. a long rebuilding and recollecting of the self-same parts gone missing, redistributed amongst friends and the short-lived lovers who would not, could not pass muster. being single is like constantly advertising the “me” product when it’s still in upgrades while also having to sell insurance on it. “Hey ‚Äď look, if you don’t buy this ever-developing thing and protect your investment, it could end up broken/ruined/dead. and no one wants that to happen.”

Some people are never better, never more attractive, self-contained and complete than when they are single. still others are needy, greedy vacuous, emotional suckholes of doom, spinning out like a constant slow-motion car wreck that you can’t help but turn away from. or watch intently. They hang on the next lover or emotional contact like their last meal ‚Äď slathering on the butter and scraping up the crumbs even after the bread and the baker has up and fled. lust-dealers. killers. short-term serial monogamists who poach at any small game instead of waiting for great hunt and the big (right) catch.

Still, for me, the single life was a strange and glorious one marked with self-discovery and self-satisfaction and the time to write it all down and reflect. and i write this now, not to scare anyone into thinking i miss being single because, in oh-so-many-ways, i don’t. also, i do not intend to make mean or light of what single people, especially women endure to find a suitable lifelong love and all the tiresome expectations and pressures that go along with it. i write it now more as an epitaph to the life I¬†led before and left life, singular, for life, coupled.

The coupled life finds its satisfying breath, its reflective homage basking in the light of the other person, and thus, like a mirror, in the best reflection of the self. “hey baby, you make me not only feel good, but look good too. in fact ‚Äď i like the way i love because i love you and i love me too.”

Both exercises in singularity and coupledom allow for the same Narcissus to bloom, and the Echo of the self to end. There is within all of us, simultaneous urges: we want desperately to be noticed and needed and also, not be too conspicuous and to be left the hell alone. As one, you can find peace and stillness but, i’ve discovered, you can find it also as two and it’s a lot more meaningful and fun when you can turn to the other person and exclaim, “wow, did you SEE that shit?” suddenly, all those universal signs you look for, all the hidden text and life’s directional maps are no longer for one to decode. the synchronous workings of a gorgeous love affair and the cosmic stamps of approval come trickling at first. they begin in days long conversation where you discover all the uncanny similarities in taste and preoccupations and decide you’ve been separated for too long and are just now making up for lost time. then the fullness of it comes flooding in under the guise of divine and perfect love making and you find yourself practicing and partaking of each other until you fuse together. it’s a blissful time of unraveling.

When you’re wrapped up in your oneness, it seems like everyone knows your business, while in duplicity, like a twin-secret, only the other knows. or whomever you tell. having everyone know your business makes for good storytelling, though. every nite of your life is being courted at a costume ball of strangers on Halloween. which makes dating rather like trick-or-treating. and you think you’ve arrived because the band knows your name and they play your song when you make an appearance and the bartender knows your drink and you find yourself eating candy necklaces off the roving necks of a gaggle of girls in a bachelorette party, hoisting blow up dolls named Ramone over your head, drinking free champagne and sent drinks, guessing the weight of a lobster and winning dinner, ghost-chasing, line-dancing, boardwalking, tripping over the sidewalk and losing your glass flip-flop and the Prince Charming purported to return that missing shoe turns out instead to be your slightly annoyed neighbor who heard your giggly drunk ass cry wee wee wee all the way home and now stands on your doorstep, waking you from your mean hangover if only to be satisfied to see your face, swollen with sleep now just as disturbed as his was. and that’s just one Saturday nite at the bar. oh dear. how very common.

All wild nites not-withstanding, i worried for a time that i was, as i am fond of saying, slowly “cultivating my crazy cat-lady mystique.” luckily one of the qualifiers is four or more cats, so having only one, i was down a few felines. i never feared i might not be taking myself seriously and having too much fun ‚Äď i feared that i would take myself TOO seriously, and dive headlong into a career of sorts and dry up inside, reverting instead to buying my own chunk of real estate and feathering my nest, collecting things and blocking out every chance a man would walk willingly into my life or personal lair of accomplishment and acquisitions. i kept my life wide open in hopes that i would be more malleable and mutable when i did find love.

This philosphy of life and my adherence to it developed partially after visiting the home of Madison. My friend Marcy was house sitting for “Madison,” who lives in this sort of, as best as i can describe, Victorian home in Annapolis just a few blocks from where i used to live. Here’s the picture: a fine array of authentic, extremely antiquated French Provinical furniture including wing back chairs, burgundy crush velvet couches and throw pillows that have undoubtedly housed and fed generations of dust mites since 1865 which now sit cool and still like taxidermied trophies. i kept imaging all the smallish bodies that have swooned at their bindings and draped themselves across the chairs and sofas and wondered if it’s me, despite my narrow frame, that would make the legs finally give and render one of them no longer sitworthy.

The bathroom boasted plates from old nature books of flowers, the walls and tables displayed photos of ancestors that may or may not have been hers. vellum lamps with scenes of indeterminable French countrysides and waltzing partners lit the rooms with the dim yellow of sallow skin. vanity tables with wash basins & pitchers sat dusty, unused and waiting, as did perfectly displayed bone china tea sets and house plants that looked like they’ve spent some time traveling and growing in many many windows. even the dishes that sat behind the glass cabinets like ladies in waiting in the only modern room, the newly remodeled kitchen, were in contrast, quite old.

Although warm looking in texture and color, the house was more at museum and mausoleum than a collection of sitting rooms. at any time, i expected Abraham Lincoln or Elizabeth Barrett Browning or some long dead ghost to traipse through the room, straighten their suit jacket or skirt, sit down with a swan-like flourish and engage me in parlour talk. After all, mourning and preparation for burial of the deceased were occasions for such a place, the parlour which we now call the “living” room. Being there amongst all the antiquities was a transporting feeling, time out of mind, but NOT in that way that a room textured in burlap and velvet and heavy silk and gold framed photos and plants should. it’s more like you have just crossed the forbidden velvet rope in a historical period museum display and sat down in your dusty blue jeans and wiped your funnel cake and ice cream coated hands on the drapes and marveled at how dainty and formal everything was.

It felt sacrilege to have the tiny tv on in the room, which i think might’ve been black and white, but perhaps i am embellishing here. It was tuned (poorly and perhaps not by cable) to CSI, but Marcy insisted on finishing the episode about the triple homicide, which also made my mind wander to who may have been killed around this furniture and if black lights would reveal blood or cat piss or bone fragments or . . . so i suggested we turn off the tv after and listen to the new Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine which worked well for atmosphere what with its galloping calliope sounds and carnivalesque piano and spare strings and bell-like instrumentations.

Lyrics came pointedly,

If you don’t have a date,
Celebrate,
Go out and sit on the lawn
And do nothing.
‘Cause it’s just what you must do
And nobody does it anymore . . .

While the music played, i made do with the tea to enhance the mood and we thumbed through magazines and books and sat quietly listening.

Madison has two cats – Lili, a squat, rotund, grey, black and white tabby with bright, gold eyes like doubloons and a very timid voice. Meow comes out a squeaky, whispered “meert.” Then there’s Henry. A lion lord, red, furry fuck of a cat. Henry decided we were great friends and so Marcy observed and laughed (thankful it was not her this time) as he climbed the back of the couch, sat behind my head, purred directly in my ear, then began to “groom” me. He would grab a mouthful of my hair and bite at it, like a little monkey, then pull it through his teeth and gnash a bit. And he’s strong – so my head went back some with his tugs. Really amusing, a little unsettling, and oddly relaxing too.

i hope Marcy is not offended that i should offer up her long-single and very successful, well-educated, well-read and well-traveled friend to the chopping block as an example of the woman i was most afraid of becoming. Because re-reading the above sentence, most of the qualifiers seem pretty desirable and difficult to attain ideals, but concentrate on the introductory statement ‚Äď “long-single.” something went just a little horribly wrong there. Madison, upon meeting was not so much the graceful, distinguished lady at court in her home as she was the shrewd and tense rabbit, quick on her heels and ready to bite, with little provocation. i wondered had she been married? had she any children? i mean, she didn’t need to have any historical evidence of men in her life, was she instead just a closeted or outed lesbian? was she just unhappy or happy being alone? how did she afford all this strangely lavish but lovely nonsense that padded her home? did she actually sit at that vanity table and comb her hair 300 strokes until it was a groomed horse tail or 500 strokes later, a fine, fox pelt ?

i padded out the door that nite into a light and thought-provoking drizzle and thought about old things, like writing letters to send to friends the old-fashioned way. i even purchased a wax seal with a golden bumblebee and some silver sealing wax.

i actually like sending letters and cards covered in stickers and random doodles or decorations. sometimes it is artwork or pasted text of my own or words cut out from places. the recipients always enjoy it and it’s a nice labor of love to send something homemade to friends. the art of letter writing is not dead, it is just somewhat supplanted by email and phonecalls, so i like the exercise of making a compact hello and keeping it light and cheery with a little bit of news, anecdote, story, mention of old, good times and promise of new ones. and always . . . always love at the end.

i have these friends who we tell each other that we love one another at the closing of letters and phonecalls, not just when we do something nice that pleases us. i’m always so happy when i reach the point where we can express that with people we aren’t actually tethered to sexually and mean love not as salve and bandage or frosting and fluff or wax seal of official business and stature of the relationship that when forgotten to be said or non-exchangeable or refundable becomes grounds for hurt feelings. there is proper etiquette for courting, but it’s all long since vanished so we should all just shrug and give into loving with abandon.

it’s easy to stay frozen in time, to accumulate goodness and sameness, to work on a theme, to breed familiarity and then forget to stay in touch with the current. it’s much harder to start over and reinvent and reinterpret and rework and redecorate. well, unless you consider Madison’s house, then yes – that place could use some new, infused love. unconditional, wildly colorful, moist, biker leathered and Victorian laced, ginger-flavored, spicy, whip-cream, lathered love.

Because damn, if you don’t use it, the source of the well runs dry, sister. and people start dredging up the old names, and tossing them out of the bucket, even for a modern single woman: Spinster, Old Maid, Crazy Cat Lady, Witch. i certainly didn’t want to find myself walking along and suddenly hear a tinkling, clattering sound as my shriveled up cooter dropped out and skittered along the pavement like a wheat penny. “This belong, to you madam?” “Why yes, it did, but i’ve forgotten all about it dear sir! thank you ever so much for reminding me.”

And if you get to that point, honey, close enough to need whetting, they’ll be no more fucking around – it’s time that you had a ravishing laid upon in the manner of a mongol horde. And if you’re wondering how the mongolians do it, they don’t barbeque you before they screw you, it’s done in big groups, with horses. just like some of the freakier Victorians did as a backlash to all that propriety.

But it’s ok ‚Äď i’m no stranger to odd voices and old muses. i should explain sometime about how i see (channel) writing and how i have a few special guest stars who visit and stand in and they have very distinct voices. one muse who occasionally enters the vessel is a familiar – she’s that sloppy, silly little tart who has no regard for punctuation and lays in bed and eats chocolate covered shortbread cookies and gives me pimples from all the sugar and likes the smell of lavender and of rose water because it reminds her of Victorian times and flush, pinched cheeks and corsets and outrageous shoes defying height and comfort and daisies and lace doilies and hard candy in crystal dishes and salt water taffy from trips to the boardwalk and somehow, she does always come back around to sugar and scent and will stay up to watch the sunrise to prove a point. once she told me to write:

“i like watching a sunrise as it goes from a bruised black-blue purple, to cranberry red, to a smoky salmon color, and then onto a misty yellow, like the inside of a lemon rind with patches of high white, then transitioning back to pale blue. It’s like peeling back the layers of a foreign fruit or pushing something inside out until it yields the thing you know it has tucked away and want to see. Sky surgery. Post-mortem of a long, dark, tangled enchanted night.”

And since i met Joe, he’s been my twin half sharing many long, enchanted evenings. some to include firesides and brandy and all the finery and a spot of world travel and a good amount of wine and a multiple spots of tea. i haven’t written in so long, yet ‚Äď so much life has happened. and over the series of a few installments, so your eyes don’t hurt and my topic doesn’t wander off course, i’m about to tell you . . . as a newly reformed single-minded but deliciously happy Spindle Maid at the loom.

death, dreams, health, language, myth, nature, philosophy, psychology, technology

Exquisite Cognomen or “How to Name Our Pain”

i am not politically inclined to comment.
i am not so easily terrified by ‘terror.’
i avoid most news to maximize joy.

but i have some thoughts on these things,
in grand universal brush strokes . . .

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Exquisite Cognomen or “How to Name Our Pain”

In the world, there is forever fever:
We read the signs,
blazing in historic orange.
We straddle our majestic fates,
ride our caution horses up to the edge,
and prepare ourselves to be known,
We drop our weapons in the dust,
and unveil with the other prairie dogs‚ÄĒa global disrobal.

We read too much tar for no pleasure,
while we patch ourselves up with nicotine band-aids.
We let the talking heads scare us into the show,
We become cancerous clowns in the tumor circus.
We cannot duck and cover in the Alcoholocaust.
We cannot stay dry in the headswim of worry
and forward motion.

Compartmentalization leads to:
rubix cubicles,
paralyzed prizes,
spastic plastic,
and Tupperware death,

All the ever meanwhile,
Howling sweet exultations
and consuming quietly our consummations
so that we may die pure
and be saved by our cleverly patented,
widely acknowledged,
billions served,
guaranteed
one-hundred thousand mile drive chain
Luxury Christ.

When we hunker down
And cast our last breath under the elective curtain,
when they unearth our sterile bones,
will they say they truly understood what fine
encyclopedic creatures we were ?
Will we leave bones?
Bones for wolves to make soup,
for women to make breastplates,
and for men to make cages to keep their wolves
and women warriors in.

They may see the hinted drop stitchwork,
the soft, green loop to crochet the new world from,
but will they want such a pattern to follow?
We who all succumbed to communal self-butchery and burnings.
With the burden of our knowledge,
clinging to our near-death faces
though we wake in the night,
suffering insomniacs,
bloated and blue,
‚ÄĒinformation gorge syndrome‚ÄĒ
well coax the current thickening lump and swallow,
and fall back against another chainlink, razorwire
skinless sleep.

Well, for now, caustic dreamers
of blameless, paranoid, age-defying landscapes,
let us multi-task our spiritual trash,
complicate the workable and fertile into fiscal orgasms,
and reduce our grand and beautiful ideas to slogans and acronyms
that suggest other equally unplugged words.

Let us muck around in newfound dark,
continue our acid intercourse,
bring our weary and our winded before our glittering
revolutionary hearth.
But we ask that you ask your loved ones to cover their nettles,
so we cannot trace the frightening highway back to the ocean,
or the forest,
or the desert,
so we do not name the extraneous scar across the trellis of a thousand nations,
so we will not offend our impressionable guests
at dinner date death,
so we cannot recognize our very same,
unrefined pain.

How do we not weep when we know our name is like a dirge,
strangled from threadbare angels.
The earth groans under our weight,
impregnated again and again with a stifling humanity,
eggs rolling off the edge of the earthen table
set by Columbus‚ÄĒ
tiny, hopeful, rudiment vessels,
unpacking the cargo of the daunting future
while crushing the orange partitions of the past.

dreams, family, friends, gardening, health, love, nature, pets, photography, psychology, travel

Lust globally, make love locally

Listening to: Let It Die – Feist

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I’m tired of screwin’ up, tired of goin’ down,
Tired of myself, tired of this town.
Oh my, my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress.
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come, cause I can’t stay long . . .

Last Dance With Mary Jane ~ Tom Petty

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My first act of 2006, at the stroke of midnite,¬†I¬†chased my birth control pill with a glass of red wine. I¬†sure hope that is some funky premonition for love, protection and celebration. 2 weeks into the New Year, I¬†saw a Friday the 13th followed by a Full Moon Saturday – what a witchy week! And no winter white in sight.¬†It’s been strange weather in the high 50s to 60s some days, rainy with a thin veil of fog and this strange wind coiling, whispering around the boat masts, whipping the lines to into clanging night bells, making the canvas into flapping voices. Then this wicked cold moved in, more high winds and sleet, but NO snow. Global Warming anyone?

Seriously, we just don’t have winters like we used to, but the Farmer’s Almanac claims it’s coming . . .

The nitelife here in my “home-for-now-town” is, umm – interesting. I¬†am living in (as the locals paste on t-shirts) a drinking town with a sailing problem. Midshipmen on the wander, plus drunken, bloated congressional types and supposed professionals making laughable passes at me, wearing striped shirts and power ties, riding power boats, power mowers and eating power lunches while I¬†try to escape and go take a power nap.

But there is an artist conclave here ‚Äď some of them are advertising successfully, playing music, photographing, sculpting, painting, recombining, pack-ratting, twisting and forming new shapes. Some of them have already slept with everyone of the same ilk, hacking the local six degrees of separation down to a fearsome three or two.

Then there are people like me, or what I¬†imagine to be the way i am perceived by the way I¬†project myself. Living in Maryland eight years, a few interesting jobs, a little bit of recognition in the photo department via contests and small tea house for sale hangings.¬†I¬†garnered a good collection of friends and acquaintances, spurned a few, stalled a few others, gave more still gigantic berth and avoidance and still, I¬†don’t feel like a townie‚ÄĒlike I¬†belong here utterly. my sense of here and now and then owing only to the people I¬†love and who love me in return. When I¬†wander down the street, we familiars nod to each other. We may not have broken bread or put down a bottle of wine or shared a secret, but we know each other’s faces.

I¬†know I’ve been less involved, but as I’ve sort of stated prior, my real life outside of my online community involvement has been so full, full of changes, and engaging.

changes and growing bring in new things while simultaneously initiating a whole exodus of others. also, i have come to realize, though it has pained me to be so upset, that i have had to go inside and question myself about all of it ‚Äď particularly the recent issues i’ve seem to run up against with personalities and people whom i’ve previously counted as friends. i have concluded that it is largely THEIR problem and not mine. all the little insults i’ve been experiencing in my life recently, the little setbacks, i now view as some sort of cosmic insistence nudging me to get out of my brain, to finish my journey within and start implementing the change without. That is to say, recognize the things i have been and gone without and the necessary psychic changes i need to achieve balance again: such as a job where i feel appreciated, friends who i respect and who love me as i love them, the places and people with which i conduct business and pleasure. some of these things have changed or evaporated or fallen away or have demanded my immediate attention over the last 6 months since my life imploded last June. oddly enough, most of this inspirational need for balance arrived as a sort of vision as i lay in shivasana, or corpse pose, after a very hot and strenuous yoga practice. during meditation, the instructor encouraged us to find and practice strength and balance both on the mat (in here) and off the mat (out there) and to remember to breathe deeply through the difficult places and painful times.

i have allowed myself the time to heal, to adjust, to date, to make a mess of things and to make sense of others, to get my head screwed on straight and the new self-focus has been challenging, but re-defining in a good way. it has been mind-blowing at times, mind-bending at others, and still mind-numbing further on. it has been terrifically magical. it has been terribly lonely. it has been encouraging. it has been disheartening. it has been more living than i have done in quite some time and i am grateful for whatever force took my little snowglobe world into their hands and shook the unholy fuck out of it to see how i would deal with the fallout. it has snowed powerful weather down on me. it has grown still. i have begun digging out and winter isn’t nearly over. i don’t want to be cold when i stand up. i don’t want to have to lay down and curl inside to feel warm. i am weary of turning on my side, of laying between two pillows like an infant with bumper pads in my crib bed to prevent me from hurting myself or in my case, to feel like no matter which way i roll over, there is always someone there. i fall asleep clasping my own hand in front of me like a prayer to myself, like a pleading gesture to the world. i find myself waking in tree poses, with one leg drawn in and knee cocked out forming a triangle, a branch to crawl up on. i’m tired of sleeping just so i can dream.

i am not utterly disenchanted with my beloved Maryland, but lately, i have toyed with the idea of moving far far away from here and wiping everything clean to get that needed change. and why not just change everything? i don’t have a mortgage, i don’t have children or a mate. i have no real ties. i can travel, i can make a plan, i can set up shop and re-invent life anywhere. i can succeed so long as i define success by tangible, meaningful terms.

Hope explained to me once that black flies, those things that are dark and draining are attracted to the light. i have always tried to maintain my childlike approach to things, to live lightly and to be a beacon of positive energy for myself and for others, to truly believe that i lead a charmed life no matter how high or low i exist, and to understand that all things come to me and through me when they are needed, even minor and major tragedies are blessings and have reasons. this is so much easier and sweeter than spitting in the face of fate and choosing to NOT imbue my life with meaning. people who don’t appreciate my honesty, my kindness, my bluntness, what i consider my lucky charm, my good fortune, my powers of gentle persuasion and genuine openness, my willingness to accept, to forgive and also – my occasional quick-snap judgment when i remove someone from my life because they cause me grief or harm me – i do this now to protect myself. like a mantra i have to tell myself i am not a bad person. i do not need to be punished. i am good and worthy and deserve more for myself and i expect others to treat themselves the same way. anyone who chooses to be a victim, to victimize themselves, to victimize ME and to make anyone in their surroundings miserable as a result needs to get the hell out of my way and off the path i’m cutting.

I¬†have no need to take on broken people as pet projects, as I¬†am my own work in progress. I¬†studied psychology to understand human behavior, to avoid the pitfalls of lower thinking and feeling and to learn to be more human, more flexible and better adjusted, and how to recognize when someone is NOT and to escape those trappings. Though I¬†often attract friends and lovers who need fixing by some general impetus that drives me to help and to heal, I¬†still prefer people who can swing with it and be happy in themselves, and NOT blame me for their own social/emotional shortcomings when things don’t work out for them.

People are generally uncomfortable with bearing their emotions and being honest with others, especially themselves. There are, however, exceptions to the rule . . . there is a website that updates every Sunday called Post Secret. Frank Warren, the man who created the interactive art project began by printing 3,000 postcards with a message that invited their finders to write a personal, anonymous secret on the blank side and mail it back to him. He left the postcards in art galleries, restaurants, between pages of library books and on subway seats. And as the postcards started trickling back to his mailbox, he began posting a few of them each week at what has become one of the web’s most popular blogs. (Ranked 55th among BlogPulse’s top 10,000 blogs.)

Even after they 3,000 were in, they still kept coming. They arrived from all over the world in many languages ‚Äď even in Braille type. The project combines art, poetry and psychological candor in ways that few other endeavors have, and that’s what makes it so fascinating to Warren, a self-described “accidental artist.” (Some secrets on the blog, where about 20 new cards are posted each week: “By the time you read this, I’ll be drunk again.” “I’ve been giving oral sex to a pastor for the past 5 years. He’s married. I don’t believe in God.” “I am a breast cancer survivor. Sometimes I wish the cancer had killed me.” And on a New Yorker subscription card: “I think it makes me look smart to subscribe. But I only like to read the cartoons!”).

He still collects them, and continues to invite people “to anonymously contribute ‚Ķ secrets. Each secret can be a regret, hope, funny experience, unseen kindness, fantasy, belief, fear, betrayal, erotic desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything – as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before..”

Instructions are to “Create your 4-by-6-inch postcards out of any mailable material. If you want to share two or more secrets, use multiple postcards. Put your complete secret and image on one side of the postcard.

Please consider mailing in a follow-up email describing the effect, if any, the experience had on your life.

Tips

Be brief – the fewer words used the better.
Be legible
– use big, clear and bold lettering.
Be creative
– let the postcard be your canvas.”

Post Secret Exhibit

I go to the PostSecret website every Sunday like a newfound religion. Recently, the cards were assembled into a book: PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives and then put on display as an exhibit in Washington DC.

Getting into Georgetown on any given evening around happy hour to park and entertain oneself is always a logistical nitemare. And the nite was already a carpool all over town posse, picking up friends who had other commitments for dinner and nonsense later in the evening. But I¬†rolled up and got rockstar front row parking, then we looked at the 2 block long queue stretching around the building. The two women I¬†was with who lived 30 mins away in Annapolis balked at the fact we’d probably wait over an hour to get in and move through the exhibit. I¬†frowned and said, “right, well, I’ll take you all home and come back myself.” I¬†was dead serious.¬†This was my mission now.

This mission had a hitch when I realized I was low on fuel and got a little twisted around on the way back (DC will disorient you). I coasted into a station on fumes, got back on track and continued my necessary & epic journey. I tore ass through the neighborhoods, made rolling deliveries of my stunned friends who were muttering soft apologies as i waved my hand away and dumped them at their doors. Then I high-tailed it back for the last hour of the exhibit and by then, the line had become manageable.

It was a moving exhibit beginning with cards posted 3 deep and many across on two stretches of wall, then hanging on clothesline, snaking around like dirty laundry left out to dry in the open air, some of them were printed big as billboards, 4×6′ canvases hung in adjacent cubbyhole-like rooms, shouting at you along the way. in these rooms people sat at a line of tables under the big canvasses and wrote down thoughts and talked together. this opened up to a squared off area where the secret postcards hung four or five high on string and several deep, twisting in the air as people walked in between them, turning the cards to read them, looking up at them, into them like a dark rainy sky full of questions and answers. Finally there was a wall crowded with all the envelopes the secrets had arrived in to protect the artistically done post cards. There were two tables nearby with flipboxes full of post cards that people sat at, looking through them like recipes from their grandmother’s kitchen.

Near the exit, there was translucent mailbox created by Washington DC artist Mark Jenkins where people could hand deliver a personal secret. And at the last long table, a book where you could leave thoughts and reactions to the exhibit just as fascinating as the display itself. Frank Warren himself sat there. It was the last day and the last hour of the exhibit and i don’t think anyone recognized him as who he was. I¬†wandered over, said hello and he struck up a conversation with me about the bag I¬†was carrying.

I¬†have a black and red tote bag bearing the picture of a little girl yelling “F*CK F*CK F*CK!” He asked why I¬†had an angry bag and “where are all the joy bags?” so I¬†explained myself.

My sister, Racheal had sent me the tote after after Brooks broke up with me. Inside was a card she had sent that reminded me how we all carry baggage but should do so lightly and instructed me to “Carry your anger inside the F*CK bag. Leave your shit in there, not inside.” ¬†I carry a regular purse most other places, but¬†I¬†take the anger bag to Yoga with me, where I¬†unload the little daily insults, bad thoughts, pains, pressures & residual griefs and so I¬†thought it would be appropriate to take it with me to the PostSecret exhibit where I¬†could air out and relate my emotions to some of these brave, beautiful and creative people.

Frank Warren inscribed my book for me. It reads:

To Andrea,

Sometimes art and healing are the same thing.

Be Well,

Frank

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Creativity and sharing love with people is what makes life purposeful for me. Through a friend, Andreas, I¬†had the rare opportunity to go see Bono speak on Friday, February 3rd at the Washington Hilton & Towers as part of the 2005-2006 Nation’s Capital Distinguished Speakers Series. His theme was The Future in Front of Us: Living a More Involved Life.. He shared the cover of TIME magazine with Bill & Melinda Gates as Persons Of the Year. He didn’t sing, but instead took the stage to talk. the blurb i read about it on the informal side stated, “His topic is quite simply the future of the planet. This is nothing new for the U2 lead singer. He regularly consorts with the Pope, the President of the United States and other dignitaries. He is that rarest of rock stars, one who can change things in the real world too. Bono’s activism is directed against the AIDS epidemic and reducing the debt burdens of the poorest countries. Like a rock and roll Robin Hood, Bono doesn’t take money from the rich and give it to the poor. Instead, he tries to assist the rich in changing their world view so that they realize that to help the poor is, in fact, to help themselves. Join him at the Hilton where he will talk about how one can have more of an impact by living a purposeful life.

He said he had come to talk about three things rarely in balance with each other: “music, politics and business.” And also of “tragedy, opportunity and adventure.” He described the “kafka-esque labyrinth of NOs” that we run into everyday of our lives an what we can do to turns those walls and boundaries into YESes. he talked about the situation of starvation, poverty, AIDS and death in Africa, likening it to the Holocaust and how we can choose to effect change on such issues. He was very specific to differentiate that it is not a “cause” but an “emergency” he is discussing and advocating. he said that all the attention of the death toll in the recent tsunami happens every month in Africa ‚Äď one tsunami a month worth of deaths and it goes uncovered in the news. he was funny, serious, compassionate, told anecdotes about Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Michael Gorbachev and snickered, saying that when sitting between President Bush and several priests, monks and holy figures he ordered a Bloody Mary. he talked about Ireland, about his love for America not just as a country, but as an idea, about ways we can make ourselves shine again in the world community.

At the end of his speech, there was a short question and answer session as taken from a box left out front of the venue. He was very delicate about religion and politics being in the nation’s capital, made jokes about lobbyists and when asked what the role of god and religion took in his music and activism he said he didn’t trust anyone who talked about god too much, that it is a private matter and that he wasn’t particularly the poster child or advertisement for such things. “what if i were snapped crawling out of a club my hand and knees, I¬†am after all a rockstar.” his comments were met with loud applause and laughter.

A question came from a 14-year old girl who asked what young people can do to bring awareness to AIDS, poverty, Africa free market trade, and debt forgiveness of poorer nations. Bono asked her to come up onto the stage, he kneeled, kissed her hand, hugged her to her great surprise and told her and the rest of us about The One Campaign. whether or not you agree with Bono, his vision, his politics, his movement to help, whether you see him as a saint or an annoyance, a rockstar with a big mouth or a person who is using his position to inspire goodness and action, indeed, he is leading an exhaustive and purposeful life.

I¬†bought tickets to go see Feist on Wednesday, February 8th at a club in DC called The Black Cat. I¬†also won tickets from my local radio station, WRNR to see her as part of their Emerging Artist Showcase. it’s an afternoon, pre-show private performance before the concert that evening. Feist’s big song is called “Mushaboom,” and she’s also played with Broken Social Scene.

lately i’ve been dreaming of kissing strangers, of sitting on the curb while i watch my house and all the things in it burn in leaping, licking, gorgeous, garrulous red flames; i’ve seen myself changing faces by pulling them out of white porcelain basin, a bowl of water. clearly ‚Äď something needs to move in my life. something is requesting to push through. something is asking to be destroyed and to be set anew.

Odin in the Ivy

I started with my houseplants. I cut a few back pretty hard and they responded with new, bright growth. The space around my desk looks like a little jungle now. Even Odin leaps out from around the pots and green plants, stalking like the wild thing he was and still is, somewhere in there.

me and the orchid

I¬†also bought a beautiful orchid. it’s an Oncidium Intergeneric called “Pacific Sun Spots.” brick red, deep orange and butter yellow.

Oncidium Branch

Pacific Sun Spots

like a California sunset . . .

. . . which brings me to my trip to Los Angeles February 17th-21st to see my sister, Racheal. I’ve never seen the Salton Sea or a Joshua Tree in real life. It’s time I¬†took some of my own photos.¬†I’ve never taken a wine country tour as an adult, and this time,¬†Ithink we will go not to Napa, but some place small and eclectic‚ÄĒto Santa Barbara. Nothing sounds finer to me in the midst of a cold winter month than to take in some breathtaking visions of desert sand, sea foam, waving palms and sun glinting off all things while¬†I¬†sip wine and release the shutter, both on my self and my camera.

health, love, myth, psychology, sex

tapioca

lap at pudding
and self-beauty
because sometimes,
hero-worship is healthy
and you can paint yourself
in new, glorious colours
like bruise-purple
and green
and concrete, statuesque
white.
make certain to be
an audible soul.
take great strides to be pure
and god-like,
exalt in your pleasure precision
use your fingers as eyes . . .
throw back your
silk-lined neck
with the laughter of nymphs.
. . . be sure to taste like tapioca.

~Andrea E. Janda

health, relationships

Driving While Under The Influenza

HO-lee-SHIT!

Apparently, the sickness that attacked during my last Wedding shoot was only ACT I. That was merely a prelude, the opening gig, the goddamned trailer. What followed last Wednesday was a sore throat and then … Thursday arrived with the full-blown flu. let me assure you – you DO NOT want this creature! i have never BEEN so sick. i woke up today feeling like lukewarm death, the 5-day monstrous headache persists, but is not as angry.

And the headache is due to the extreme dehydration and . . .

The sinuses – no amount of blowing or spraying or heat or cold or Vick’s or mint or menthol or hot sauce or weeping into the pillow or any other form of action short of drilling a small hole into my face has really worked. Perhaps we call it an infection now. Dunno. Fucking doctor is out ’til Thursday. She has it too.

The throat – small, but contained fire being constantly inflamed by the sinus drainage. Gingerale, while good for the belly acts a bit like gasoline in its carbonation, so best to let it go flat before drinking.

The ears, tongue – can’t hear can’t taste. Most of it tastes ‘wet’ and either ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ or ‘squishy’ or a combination thereof. my voice and all surrounding noises have been echoing out of the theatre that is my cranium for 5 days now. it is a concert of racket i never desire to attend again.

Then there’s the dry, hacking cough, the nausea, vomiting, EXTREME fatigue, and the complete non-desire to drink anymore Gatorade or water or eat popsicles for fear of technicolor vomit, though i desperately need the fluids.

Spring is arriving late this year, and so apparently, is the Flu season. And this one is what we call a “mother fucker.” That’s the technical term.

“Last time i had the flu, i was pissed,” Brooks said to me as he patted my head and brought me tomato soup. That about summed it up. Helpless, weary, sick, and pissed off.

“Honey, i either need soup, or a shotgun,” i whined. “Well – we have both here.” he mused. How very practical.

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In other, slightly more useful news . . . i am getting a new car. It is not really the time for me to attempt to afford a new car, but it is in fact, only new to me. i currently drive a Mercedes 300D Turbo Diesel. Made in 1983, Metallic Blue. The car i am getting is a 1985, same make and model but better transmission, and i know that the mechanic (my father-in-law) has had his hands on it for most of its life and a good $10,000 worth of work into restoring it. New paint included. Which brings me to its color. A pretty Champagne metallic. The guy just wants to downsize his fleet of cars for tax purposes, he bought an BMW and has another Mercedes. This was his occasional car for himself and his kids if they needed to go somewhere. The grocery getter, if you will.

It is merely a great opportunity to get the same car, in better condition, in the event that say, my transmission goes (which is soft & sloppy right now and may go when it feels like it) – it would cost about as much as $3000 to fix it and this is what i am paying for the whole car. As it is, my current car sports a few minor irritations: vaccuum switch leaks in the door locks, clear kote and paint are kinda tired, probably need new tires again soon, and whatever major next fix it will require.

i wasn’t really ready to retire this car, and will probably sell it waaaaay cheap for someone who wants a project car – to do a bio-diesel conversion to it for a little over $1000. i mean, 384,000 miles and it still runs fine, but mileage is no way to gauge these cars. it still has the sticker on it from a trip to Disney World, when Brooks and his friend Dave, (now an Annapolis policeman and soon to be married) drove it down for Spring Break). Dave used to drive it and it had a slow oil leak that turned catastrophic – he blew the engine and i watched as a new one was rebuilt and put back in, fired back into life and there was my new car at the time to replace a dead Ford Escort ūüôĄ A mighty improvement.

And here . . . yet another.

Champagne toasts everyone. But i need the Vitamin C – so make mine a mimosa!

health

3 strange days

it started with a scratchy throat and then some wild bouts of sneezing, and well, it’s moved down into my chest, wheezing and coughing, & this damn runny nose . . . i ache everywhere – even my fingernails hurt.

i have surfaced from my Nyquil haze  . . .

it’s official.
i’m sick.

i don’t get sick very often, but when i do, i do it up nicely. i do love sleep, however and i am doing plenty of that, filling the pages of my dream journal as i wake. (must be the Nyquil)

i think i’m going to attempt a shower now.

will someone come make me some tea and bring me soup and popsicles?

books, health, nature, photography, writing

Curioser Still . . .

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“Maybe there really are girls the size of pinkies
with hair the color of the darkest red oleander blossoms
and skin like the greenish-white underbellies of calla lilies….”

from I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block

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i have spent a lot of time in diminutive states this Summer. i have been smallish and pale and worried and heartbroken and dragged through frightening dreams.

i have been “burning branches of synaptic fire, surf(ed) the serotonin swells, while the dark heart is dawning, and cuts the wound that nothing quells” as one of my favorite songs goes . . .

i have begun things and ended them and reconsidered them and rebuilt them after tearing them down hair and skin and nail and bone. i took some teeth from them too because they scratched at the blades of my back, looking for the places where the wings protrude.

my delicate green luna caterpillars caught some strange withering illness and died before they slept in their own blankets. still – i have several coccoons from the others. strange, tattered, dark scraps of curled leaf and fur and silk. not much for photographing. not until they hatch in May.

i am coming around again. i have recovered something and have begun writing and taking pictures again.

but i’ve been down the rabbit hole and into the pool of tears, you see.

and i have also, been taking advice from caterpillars, as the story goes . . .

“Who are YOU?” said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

“What do you mean by that? ” said the Caterpillar sternly.“Explain yourself!”

“I can’t explain MYSELF, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see.”

“I don’t see,” said the Caterpillar.

“I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,” Alice replied very politely, “for I can’t understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.”

“It isn’t,” said the Caterpillar.

“Well, perhaps you haven’t found it so yet,” said Alice; “but when you have to turn into a chrysalis–you will some day, you know–and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a little queer, won’t you?”

“Not a bit,” said the Caterpillar.

“Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,” said Alice; “all I know is, it would feel very queer to ME.”

“What size do you want to be?” it asked.

“Oh, I’m not particular as to size,” Alice hastily replied; “only one doesn’t like changing so often, you know.”

“I don’t know,” said the Caterpillar.

Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper.

“Are you content now?” said the Caterpillar.

“Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir, if you wouldn’t mind,” said Alice: “three inches is such a wretched height to be.”

“It is a very good height indeed!” said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).

“But I’m not used to it!” pleaded poor Alice in a piteous tone. And she thought of herself, `I wish the creatures wouldn’t be so easily offended!’

“You’ll get used to it in time,” said the Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its mouth and began smoking again.

death, family, health

soon, i promise . . .

my dear deviants
of sweet repore . . .
forgive me for
my tardy thank yous
i have read you all
and have been trying to
keep it light.
this week has been awful ūüôĀ
we lost a four-year old
member of my family
under suspicious circumstances.

i dislike my journals
to bleed personal
difficult information
but there is something
so very very wrong
about a tiny coffin.

i believe in life
of all things
especially
the small
and defenseless.

health, myth, nature

darkness

light elvin things
often retreat to dark places.
damp caves and mossy quiet.
seems i am exploring that side just now.

because i cannot see
a breadth of light
i am submerging instead
so i will better appreciate it.

i hope i come out
with some thoughtful gifts.

death, family, health, travel

falling stars

my grandmother died.
i am in Detroit trying to soothe my mother
and i am charged with the writing
and delivering of the eulogy.

they wanted me to sing,
but i’m not certain i would perform anything
other than shudders and the choking back of tears.
best that i speak of light things
and celebrate her life.

if any of you have any advice
or well-wishing or thoughts on eulogies
and funerals, please share them with me.

my grandmother was Protestant,
but never really attended church
she believed in a higher power – god per se
but did not want to be buried with a rosary
or delivered into a church before burial,
so i will be speaking of her at a funeral home.
we bury her on Wednesday.
she was 81.

when people lose someone older in their family
sometimes, the thoughts and emotions are disconnected
— they forget that the person was ever young.
my grandmother was a tough woman, sometimes cruel
but it was also in her home i spent the first 9 months of my life
she saw me even before my own father who was at sea
and in her hallway was a long mirror i always loved
and would push myself against to stand.
i left fingerprints there as an infant
and when my mother and i left to our first home
my grandmother refused to wash those prints off the mirror
for nearly a year.
Irene Paull is her name, and she was a good woman
strong with a deep capacity for memory and tenderness.