Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Letter of Inquiry

Dear Mr. Life,
So talk to me, dude?   Exactly what is your purpose?  According to the Baltimore Catechism Number Two , Lesson One, Question Three,  the purpose of human life is to show forth God's goodness and to share with Him in the everlasting happiness of heaven.  In order to attain that everlasting happiness in heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.  Explain, please.
Waiting for wisdom, I remain your curious student,

Dear Queenie,
You always go to a source don't you?  You don't appear to trust your own self with an answer.  You don't have much confidence in your own ability to answer the tough questions.  Why don't you ask yourself what you want the purpose to be?
Waiting for your wisdom to arrive, I remain curious,
Mr. Life

Good day, again, Mr. Life,
Thank you for your prompt reply.  However, you didn't get me very far along the road here, dude.  I can ask myself all I want but who am I to know the answers?  I am just a tiny speck, a drop in the ocean, a moon around a distant planet in a distant galaxy.  You have answers and I demand that you share.  So there.
Getting impatient, I remain willing to learn,

Dear Q,
My, my, my - getting a bit uppity now, are we?  But, you know, I like that in a person.  I like that you are asking questions and insisting on answers.  Okay, let's start with the Baltimore Catechism.  When did that become the end all and the be all?  Since when have YOU bought into those words?  Probably the last time was when you in elementary school but, you must admit, that even though you won that Catechism Bee in 8th grade, you were good at memorizing but clueless about what the words meant.  You had a sharp brain capable of memorizing anything but you also knew that none of  this made sense to you.  There was some kind of comfort in the rituals, and sometimes in the English translations of the Latin text (very poetical and that appealed to even the 10 year old you).  You even resonated with some of the music, especially the music where the words were in Latin and the chant was meditative (Orate pro nobis....) .  Now you regurgitate that back to me and expect it to make sense.
So put that battered blue and white copy aside and go for another angle.
How about the purpose of life is to be present in the moment and get the most out of your life?  How about leaving the world a better place because you were here?  How about learning and teaching?  How about loving yourself and loving others? How about there is no purpose, just life as it is?  Why so many questions and what difference does it make?
Wondering why you care, I remain your confidante and companion,

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I am breaking, breaking into a million shards. There are tiny fragments  and there are big boulders.  The tiny pieces are sparkly and precious stones.  The boulders are hot lava remnants.  They are all the responsibilities that I have carried.  The shiny precious shards are the tiny pieces of love, the connections , the web of hearts that I have known.  The shiny pieces are my art work and my writing and the fragility that marks my life. They are also sharp - like needles.  They cut me , they inject me, they hurt me.  I need protection from the shards.
The boulders are heavy and black and grey and maroon.  They hurt my feet because I climb all over them. They crowd my life.  They hurt my shoulders because they are incredibly heavy.  I carry them everywhere and I can't tolerate them anymore. They are not pretty.  They bring their own pain
I want to reassemble the pieces but I don't' think it is possible.  I am too broken, too shattered, too far away to ever do this.   I'm not sure that I can ever be reassembled.  Nor am I sure I want to be reassembled


And there is an a sheen of red on the ground, thick, shiny red.  It is going to dry to an M and M thick candy shell and the cover is shell to crack again.  The shards will be obvious.  The web will be there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lost in Life

     Ms Melancholy has that bag that she carries around.  I've been thinking about that bag and how heavy it is.  It's old and battered but it is very valuable to her.  I have the sense that something of mine is in that bag, something I have lost but I can't think of what it might be. Among the things I've lost in life are the following items:

baby teeth and wisdom teeth
that  bracelet that Grandpa and Auntie Anne gave me when I was 6 years old
my father
a kidney stone
my long hair
internet privacy
innocence / naivete
belief in and respect for the Catholic religious hierarchy
my youth
the red sweater that I left in San Francisco
my temper (repeatedly)
my patience (repeatedly)
my confidence (lost and regained repeatedly)
my self
the kid I used to be (maybe that is the same as my self)
the truth
my optimism (most of the time)
my grandparents (all of them)
childhood/adolescent friendships
knees that don't hurt
belief in the future
that check I wrote last week
my first passport

Could any of these things be in the bag?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ms. Melancholy

    Well, well, well, Ms. Melancholy has returned.  She seems to favor dark and gloomy days.  The sunshine and blue sky days make her stay in bed but the gloomy days give her boundless energy.  The funny thing is that she is dark and heavy and yet she can tiptoe through the day at any hour and no matter who else might be here.  She wears heavy black shoes - those old fashioned ones that Mrs. Downen used to wear - with, I guess, it is support hose.  Today she has one of those flowered dresses on but the flowers are not pretty colors.  They are shades of blue and grey and she does not have a very functional bra on (maybe she has no bra on - quite possible).  The dress kinda hangs down around her knees and has some snags on it. It looks as if she left a bit of this morning's oatmeal on the front too.  It's as if she wears the dress all the time (perhaps because it is comfortable?) and no one is going to make her change.

    Ms Melancholy (oddly enough her first name is Gladys) heaves a lot of sighs.  She likes to hover around me and just gets in my way.  She is, as I mentioned earlier,  very heavy and I sometimes ask her to please go sit somewhere else but she doesn't usually respond to niceties. I have been known to try to push her away but she refuses to leave until she is damn well ready.   About the only thing that can get her to take a hike is a funny movie, the sunshine, the presence of a good friend, a nap, or a productive and pleasant day at work.

     Ms Melancholy has been around my life for a long time.  I think I first remember meeting her when I was in high school.  She often came to the library with me during my first period study hall.  She would park herself at the table and act like she owned the place.  In fact, she acted as if she owned me.  She was unfamiliar to me and I didn't know what to make of her.  I had met her sister, Ms Sadness, and occasionally encountered her big brother Mr Angry but I understood them.  I seemed to intuitively connect with those two characters but not so with Ms Melancholy.

     Anyhow, I just realized that the silly Ms Melancholy often visits me at night and has been a frequent guest in my house on Sunday afternoon/evening.  At those times, she likes to settle in no matter what the weather.  She doesn't care what we are having for dinner or even if we are home for dinner.  Admittedly, she is usually out of town on Sundays in the summer time but she makes up for that by faithfully and resolutely being present pretty much every day during the first couple of weeks of the school year.

      Back to evenings, Gladys ( I think I can all her that since she is so damn familiar with me) sometimes likes to sit next to me on the couch in the evening.  She likes it when I start beating myself up about whatever transgression I may have committed.  She is in seventh heaven when I start ruminating on failures and the future.  And I just realized this:  sometimes she gets out dancing shoes at that time, as if she has been successful in reaching her goal!  She likes it when I start connecting with a friend and start commiserating one way or another (texting or email).  She has power over me at those times and she loves that.  She is one power hungry woman and I am a pathetic wimp in her presence. WTF??????

     I also just remembered that Gladys often brings a bag with her - one of those old ratty carpet bag things.  It is also flowered but these flowers are dingy green and musty pink.  The bag appears as if it has  never been laundered and it is unraveling near the edges.  The wooden handles are very strong though and she can haul that thing anywhere.  Once when she was taking a nap (yes, occasionally she doesn't really leave but just naps off for a bit) I broke the unspoken rules and tried to look into the bag.  It appeared empty but it was still very heavy as if it contained something I couldn't see.  I could feel its presence but I couldn't see it.  It reminded me of losing something and I wondered if what I had lost was in the bag.

     Well, well, well, Ms Melancholy.  You think you are hot stuff, don't you? You think your glumness is attractive, don't you?  Guess what?  Not so much.  Your presence invades my strength and takes over my smiles.  How am I going to deal with you?  I could make friends with you.  I could embrace you when you come around and paint you and play with you.  I could take you for a walk or tell you that you need to go shopping.  I could stand up and say, "Get out of my house."  Let me think about this for awhile....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Back to Breathing

"Listen--are you breathing just a little,  and calling it a life?"
— Mary Oliver

       Ugh.  Why does this speak so loudly to me?  In fact, it seems to be all I can hear at the moment.  A best friend suggested recently to me that I could live big.  Live big?  I am almost 5'4" (lacking a quarter of an inch) and that's as tall as I am going to get.  How can I live big?  I think these notions reflect the same idea.  Breathing just a little is barely living.  Living small means being hidden from life and , in fact, hiding from life.  How do you hide from life?  Stay small and don't make waves. Breathe too big and  you might make a mess.  You might break your heart, or your bones, or your life.  But at least you will know you are alive.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Doing AND Being

Road trip!
Let's go!
Bridges, buildings, urban trees
and lots of asphalt.
Fog horns, rain on the rooftop,
and wailing voices
pitched to impress.
Do we have to?
Fear of getting lost.
Fear of Ms Melancholy
 riding shotgun.
Twisting in the driver's seat,
 tired of sitting.
Distracting the mind with stale crackers
and warm water for dessert.

Night turns to morning and
concrete trails open
to reveal forest hikes
and rivers gathering
rain drops.
Bicycles ride by
and smiles fall off the seats.
New friends
and good times.

Blues, greens,  pink
ocean mist tries to capture
and wine warms
the solitary evening.
Why road trips?
Breathing time.
New visions.
Family ribbons  tied again.

Road trip
and life as a
river tripping to the sea
meandering, sweeping
in brilliant blue
to the open ocean
and home.
Home again.