Category Archives: Life’s honest moments

Beach Philosophy

On the beach with my brother, talking in social debate as we do, he posed a series of questions concerning how much of a person has to remain for love to continue. A debilitating accident–do you still love him? Of course. No arms, no legs? Don’t be silly. More debilitating events–being mauled by a bear and such, and now he’s just a head, kept talking and feeling and thinking by science–do you still? Yes, absolutely. More misfortune; he’s just a brain, hooked up to a computer that lets him communicate and think and love. My answer is the same–yes, yes, yes.

Okay, my brother says, now the brain has deteriorated, and the entire essence of the man I love is put onto a flash-drive. He can still communicate with me. I can carry him around, plug him into this device or that, and we can talk, reminisce, experience, love. Do I still love him? Yes! But, he asks, do you love the flash drive?

I pause. Good question. I answer with a hesitant but definite, yes. He poses his final question–The flash drive is corrupted. You can no longer communicate. The essence is still in there, but no longer accessible to you. Now do you love the flash drive?

No, I had to admit. I don’t love the flash drive. I said it better on the beach, and wish I could remember my words, but the essence was: Once the vessel no longer services the being, the vessel becomes obsolete. I don’t love the flash drive that no longer houses my love.

This is what I love about conversations with my little brother; we rarely agree, but we always find some common ground (though he’s stubborn and doesn’t think I see his point of view. I always do. Seeing his point and agreeing with it are entirely different things.) Because we don’t agree, I think about the things we discuss long after we’ve parted ways. I pondered this conversation, on and off, the rest of the day. While still on the beach, my brother sleeping in the sun about ten feet to my left, I texted him the above words about the vessel and the being. “Thoughts are forming. I’m going to write something about this.”

After losing arms and legs and body, in bear attacks and horrendous events, the basic question, for me, was this–do I love the physical vessel once it is no longer servicing the person I love. Husband, parent, child, sibling, friend? No. I don’t. How could I bury a husband? Cremate a son? If I still held attachment to the vessel that once housed them. But do I love them still? Every minute of every day.

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what my brother was getting at. It was more rhetorical, about how much of a person can one lose and still remain “in love” with that person. But, like I said, conversations with him always make me think, and this conversation was like a firecracker under my chair.

As all things do, these days, it comes back to Chris. His vessel was no longer serving him. It became obsolete. It was never the physical son I loved, but the being he is. The essence he will always be, no matter what form that essence takes. I will forever mourn the loss of his smile, his hugs, all the things he never got to do, that life was so hard for him. So painful. These are the physical things that matter for such a short time in the span of forever. I know that. I’ve always known. But this conversation with my brother brought it into sharper focus. It made me cry in every way there is to cry, right there on the beach.

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The things you learn

Reading through my feed on Facebook, I’m always struck by how angry people get over EVERYTHING. Yesterday, I had this thought (because I think in Buddah-esque quotes.)

The surest way to close a mind is to assume it can’t be open.

downloadHappy Thursday, all.

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Two Years

I have no words for this. I tried to find them, to set them down, to find some meaning, some emotion, some anything. And I can’t. Not about this. I live it every day. It’s not like there’s anything new this day of days. The significance is surprisingly small, in the scheme of things.

Two years. Only two. So many more to come, just like these.

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Weezer, of all things…

I had an earworm last week, a song that kept playing through my head, but not the actual lyrics, just the dah-dah-dah, dah-dot-dah-da-da-da bit from what turns out to be Weezer’s, Feels Like SummerOver and over, the dah-dah-dah… For days. And why the hell was it making my heart all twingy? I waited for it to come on the radio during our driving about, but it didn’t, so I took the chance and googled the dah-dah-dah and found it.

(Pertinent bits italicized.)

“Feels Like Summer”
Climbing up the tower
Just a boy and his computer
I’m still in my bathrobe
Hiding in the shadows
I’m not used to losing
Bye, bye, sugar blue eyes
Go home with the angels
Thank you for being so kind

I’m holding on and I don’t want to let you go

Yeah it feels like summer
Yeah it feels like summer to me
Yeah it feels like summer
Yeah it feels like summer to me
And she was a lover to me, to me, to me, to me

Which way is the graveyard?
I’m an iceberg with a warm heart
I’m spiritual, not religious
I’m a Libra, if it matters
Shattered by an email
Your words will fade away
Castle built in the sand
Will only last one day

I’m holding on and I don’t want to let you go

Yeah it feels like summer
Yeah it feels like summer to me
Yeah it feels like summer
Yeah it feels like summer
Yeah it feels like summer to me
Yeah it feels like summer
And she was a lover to me

June bride, shine so bright
Flowers in her hair, but it just ain’t right
June bride, shine so bright
Flowers in her hair, we look good together, oh yeah
We look good together, oh yeah

Yeah it feels like summer
Yeah it feels like summer to me
Yeah it feels like summer
And she was a lover to me
Let me see the smile, stay with me awhile
I cried for you, you were the song in my life
Let me see the smile, stay with me awhile
I cry for you, you were the song in my life.

Obviously, this is a song of loss, but of a lover. Still, those other bits and pieces apparently stuck with my subconscious. Once I looked it up and read the lyrics, I got it. Earworm went away, but I’ll never hear this song again that I don’t consciously KNOW why it got stuck in my head and made me all emotional, despite the song being Weezer’s.

It’s June. That month of months. The countdown to the end. Thanks for listening.

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Roaring Girl

There are “always” we dolls do in Virginia Beach: a Sunday gathering to set goals for the week; a superhero movie and dinner out on Wednesday; dollbaby chocolate cake; craft Thursday; share something of our work on Friday.

We also do a reading of our Medicine Cards early in the week. It gives us something to reflect upon, whether in our lives or within our writing. A useful focusing tool, for anyone. This year seemed to be the year of various tarot decks. Besides the above-mentioned Medicine Cards, another doll bought a deck of Kuan Yin Oracle Cards. Absolutely gorgeous. Another great focusing tool. I recommend the method to anyone, whether you believe in the mysticism aspect of it or not. Pull a card, read what it has to say to you, and it will spark thoughts you’d not have otherwise had. The whole storyline for Heroically Lost was sparked by a tarot card

This craft-Thursday, we created cards for our own personal tarot. It’s was really fun, and informative. It relies on both the conscious and subconscious mind to create them. Simply, find images that speak to you, whether printed out from online or cut from magazines. Each card needs a background, and a focal point. You can add other elements, but overdoing it confuses the focus. The background and image get glued onto cardstock, whatever size you wish. Once you have done that, there are a series of questions you must answer without thinking too hard about it.

I am __?__. I am __?__. I am __?__. My purpose is__?__. I want you to know__?_. My name is __?__.

This is one of the two I made: Roaring Girl screaminggirl

She said, “I am wild. I am powerful. I am full of light. My purpose is to speak. I want you to know you are not invisible. My name is Tee.”

I had a dream last night. Someone (don’t remember who) pummeled me with disparaging remarks about my pink hair, my general appearance, my everything. A surge of confidence welled instantly up in me. Not even a second of pain or humiliation. I said, to the best of my recollection: “I am practically perfect in every way. I’m beautiful, intelligent, talented–very talented–and nothing you say can change that.”
It wasn’t the words so much as it was the feeling that welled up and radiated out of me. It was like my roaring girl, all those colors shooting out of her, the sparkle uncontained. She didn’t wilt, even for a second. She burst.
I consider myself a confident woman. I believe those things my dream self said. I really do. (See the name of this blog, if you doubt.) But creating this card showed me there still exists that little girl in black and white, roaring silently from my past, lingering in places, unexpected, but loved.
I love her, that little girl. I love her so much. She didn’t know what to do with all the brilliance inside her. The world didn’t want it, didn’t know what to do with it. But I do, and I’ll hold her hand while she roars.
Peace.

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Quoting from the Moleskine

“The world is a rushing river, and I’m a rock in the middle of it.” Christofer DeFino

I am in Virginia Beach with beloved friends. This is the fifteenth year I’ve been following the need to connect with like birds south. Some of the faces have changed over the years, but most remain consistent. The dollbabies feed my writer-soul the way nothing else does, or ever can.

On this trek south, a 12 hour drive I look forward to every year, I sat on the ferry between Cape May, NJ, and Lewes, DE, reading through an ancient moleskine notebook I keep in my purse. Because I now write myself notes on my cell phone, I don’t use it much anymore; keeping it on me is habit. Of course, there are many notes from years past, among them the one above.

I’m not sure if I remember correctly, but I believe Chris and I were in the car, on the way to one doctor’s office or another. He said those words to me, during the course of conversation (I really miss those deep conversations, during the captive-audience car rides over the years) and they broke my heart a little. That’s how he felt, on so many levels. The world rushed around him, passing him by. It also exemplified how it felt to be trapped in thoughts most can’t grasp. He was always just a little outside of any group he was in, even when he hung out with his professors, who actually could understand those things he was so passionate about, because he was always so much younger than they.

Such thoughts he had; I don’t think there are many who could truly understand them.  After he died, the university Bio/Chem department had a memorial in his honor. Professor after professor got up and talked about how, though they knew they were in for hours of discussion they couldn’t spare in their busy days, they’d put away what they were doing to talk when they saw him coming. Chris made them remember what they loved about their chosen field. He made them remember what it was like to be that young and passionate. And every one of them said how HE showed them new things, new ways to see chemistry, because he never bogged down in what was supposed to be, but what could be.

He thought in abstracts and concretes, in chemical compounds like a synesthete thinks in colors. He could see the structure of a compound, just by thinking them. He could link this compound to another, seeing the ways they would combine, become something new. I, honestly, could never understand most of what he talked about; mine is not a scientific mind. I guess it’s the way I see story as building blocks, and can move them from place to place and see the whole it will make.

I didn’t just lose my son; the world lost a great mind. One that could have made a difference, actually did make a difference in ways he’ll never be remembered for. I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering what would have made a difference, what would have been that thing that pulled him out of his fate, and into a better one. I’ll never find that answer. Never.

One thing I do know is that Chris had a lot to give that he never got the chance to. Few were few willing to accept what it was he had to give them, let alone give him back in equal measures. His love was boundless, and demanded the same in return. His mind was infinite, and sought someone, anyone who could exchange thought for thought. He could make you his world, and begged for you to make him yours. Demanded it, sometimes. Most times. Maybe it wasn’t possible. Maybe people just don’t have as much to give, don’t feel comfortable about demanding the huge quantities he asked for. Everything about him was big, and overwhelming, I will admit.

I sit here, in this beach house, the sound of waves crashing on the beach, and Sara’s mixer whirring downstairs, and the silence of women writing all around me, and I realize I have what my son wished for, not just here but in my life as a whole. I, too, am a stone in the middle of a rushing river, but I have other stones nearby to stem the flow, to keep the water from wearing me down.

Peace.

 

 

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This Terribly Beautiful World

I’ve been watching Origins, on NatGeo. If you get the chance, watch it. Fascinating. It does an amazing job of showing both the beauty and horror of humankind. We are amazingly beautiful creatures, innovative, brilliant, kind, determined, courageous, selfless. We are also every opposite.

It has made me wonder how there can be so much beauty existing alongside equal parts horror. Some children are happy, healthy, thriving, while others are abused, hungry, angry or already defeated. There are police officers who put themselves in harm’s way to save a stranger, or a kitten. There are police officers who strangle-hold an unruly child, because the law is on their side. There are soldiers who go into battle to keep the homeland safe, and others who shoot at strays, just to while away some down time. There are politicians who truly want to serve the people, and those who only want to serve themselves. (Though I fear the ratio on this last one is kinda skewed.)

Narrow it down and narrow it down, and we all have the same horror/beauty in our personal lives. I wonder how I can be so happy, thriving professionally and personally, when I never get through a day without seeing what I saw, living what I lived. Looking at the big picture, knowing this is simply the way of things, actually helps. Some people’s personal horror is small, and others, big. It doesn’t matter. Our horrors are our own, and real, and painful.

It’s all a cosmic balancing act, really. Origins has helped me truly see that the horrors of war and pollution and corruption have actually BETTERED humanity as a whole, even if it was terrible for the individuals involved. It’s not pretty, but it’s reality.

Life is beautiful, and brutal. Accepting it goes a long way in being able to process it all rationally, if not emotionally.

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Morning Thoughts

My head tends to be a bit crowded in the morning, when I first wake up. I made the note in my little “line a day” journal this morning, that it’s no wonder I write. If I didn’t, where would all those thoughts go?

This morning, the thoughts in my head wandered to a story I’m excited to get to, tentatively titled The Empty Spaces. Briefly:

Bonnie-Jane dashes out of the woods behind the farmhouse where she grew up, sweating and out of breath and knowing two things: One, she’s late and mama’s going to be mad; and two, she has to get there before her baby wakes up from her nap. When she gets home, the baby is thirteen, her mother has died, and Bonnie-Jane has been missing for eleven years. 

I know where she’s been, and I know the whimsical why and how that came about, but the hard facts of what happened to cause the initial vanishing have eluded me. It came to me this morning, in a round-about way. The story isn’t what happened, it’s about what happens next.

Since Chris died, there is a definite theme in my writing–the Unanswered Question. A Thousand Different Ways, Entangled, Heroically Lost, and next The Empty Spaces all have that element to some degree. By the end of the book/s, the unanswered question is still unanswered. You have plenty of information to decide for yourself; that’s where I leave it. And I didn’t consciously realize this, and the connection to Christofer’s death, until this morning.

Life is full of unanswered questions, things we have to decide for ourselves to the best of our ability, and let go. We can see with our eyes, know in our hearts, but hard and definite answers are still elusive. Perspectives differ. Memories are more about the person remembering than the actual facts. Heartfelt, gut instinct is rife with the trap doors of our pasts. Comparatively, there are few absolutes, and we are left with our best guesses.

I think I’m good with the Unanswered Questions. At least, I know better than to bang my head too hard against that wall. There comes a time when you have to make your best guess, accept that there’s no way to 100% know and be okay with it.

Maybe I’m getting there. Maybe I’m still trying. And I’m okay with that.

head_full_of_ideas_by_welescarlett-d83ix0a

 

 

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A Little Clarification

About that headshot…

Please understand, it’s not that I don’t like how I look; it’s that I don’t look like me in (most) photos. I hate posed. I’m an animated sort of person, and posing just feels fake. As does dolling up or otherwise glitzing (sparkles are completely acceptable though.) I don’t wear make-up of any kind. Ever. Ok, once in a while I’ll put on some mascara. The thought of this posed picture puts in mind all those things I, personally, can’t stand. It’s creating an illusion of who I am when I am perfectly happy, in fact, ridiculously content, with who I am. It took me a long time to get here. It’s not a position I’ll give up willingly.

In many pictures, even the candid ones, I often lamented that I look either angry or drunk. I’m rarely the former, and never the latter. It’s very rare someone takes a pic of me that I truly love, that I feel absolutely me in. I adore the pic of me I use on Facebook, and the sketch that sprang from it, above. It captures ME. Mischievous gleam, messy hair, no make-up, tiara. ME. I don’t want to put a fake me out into the world. It’s not that I don’t feel fabulous enough; it’s that I feel completely fabulous as I am. I can’t stress that enough, especially for my girls who are convinced I think I’m a hideous monster who eschews the light of day.

A posed pic of me, made up, hair coiffed? Not gonna happen. It’s not an opportunity for me to have some fun, but a step backwards into a me I don’t want to be. Ever. Maybe that seems a bit militant, even silly. What’s the big deal, right? For me, it is.

If I had my way, there would be no pictorial evidence of me whatsoever. I truly feel, and call it hubris (because it pretty much is,) a photo cannot capture me in all my glory. Without going into a long, sad story of how I got to this point, suffice it to say I got here via a road I don’t want to tread again.

So I’ll go and get the headshots done MY way, maybe even try to get a “more acceptable” recreation of the pic I love. If I can’t get a pic I’m as happy with as the one my friend (Sharon) snapped of me that day at lunch, many months ago, I’m going to push for using it because it’s MY image, and I have every right to say what that image is. Right?

*Disclaimer~I have no issue whatsoever with anyone who loves to glam it up, wear make-up, pose for the perfect pic, etc. If that’s your thing, THAT’S YOUR THING. And good for you! It’s just not mine. Savvy?

Pics of me I love.

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Up, down, touch the ground

Remember that ditty from Winnie the Pooh? That’s how I felt this morning (though it didn’t put me in the mood for food.) I woke to an email from beloved agent Janna, a screen shot of the Publisher’s Weekly announcement for A Thousand Different Ways. Very, very nice way to be greeted into the day.

And then I got a phone call.

I need to backtrack a little…

While chatting with a friend on Wednesday night, I told her I was actually looking forward to summer this year. Really looking forward to it. It felt strange, because I hate summer. Though last summer was sad, being a whole year missing Chris, and also the first summer of Scott living across the country, there was a peace to it. Melancholy, but comforting. Then there was free float Wednesdays with friends; sitting by the pool or on the porch those balmy nights, playing a dice game with my Frankie D. Of course, there was Stranger Things. Pool days with my grandbabies, too. William and I fought the Demogorgon countless times with water noodles. I was sad to see summer go–another surprise, but not so much so as looking forward to this one. And that’s when I got punched in the face.

I didn’t hate summer. I hated what always happened in the summer. Years and years of it being constant crisis with Chris. We never knew if he was bi-polar, or if it was substance-induced, but whatever it was, Chris cycled, and summer was always when he was at his worst. It was neverending days of fear, anger, and abject desperation on all our parts. Summer would end, he’d pull out of his tailspin, and the cycle continued.

Even that last summer of his chemistry-dreaming when he and a friend were outside to all hours of the night, experimenting. Garbage pail science, I think it’s called. He had started using marijuana (medically advised) in place of the ridiculous amount of anti-anxiety drugs he’d been prescribed. But there was always an edge to Chris, like he was on that precipice, clinging to the scuttling rocks with his toes…and one set of toes didn’t even work. And we were ever on that precipice with him.

Anyway, that’s why I hated summer. And realizing that’s why I hated summer punched me in the face with the fact that I can love it now, because he’s gone.

Yes. That harsh. I just started crying all over again, because it hurts so much to know this. I can’t unknow it. I, who spend my life creating fiction, can’t pretend. I can love summer again, because my chaotic son is dead. If this were an old Batman episode, I’d have a big KABLAM spattering over my head.

That’s where I still was, though mellowed, when I woke this morning to the email from Janna. Everything happening with A Thousand Different Ways is the stuff writers dream of. Day after day brings something new, something exciting. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve been around the block before, but this is a new block. A whole new experience even if it feels familiar. “Roll with the punches,” was one of my mom’s favorite taglines when we were kids. And I always have. Better than most, I’d say.  So I roll with the punches, the good ones and the bad, doing my best keep my balance.

Which brings me back to that phone call–from the parole office, concerning the young man who’s been in prison for selling my son the drugs that killed him. He was sentenced to four years. He’s been in for a bit more than a year and a half. I wrote to him a while back, because…for many reasons. That’s not what this is about. I needed to. We’ll leave that there. His response to me was not what I’d hoped for. He takes no responsibility. He blames others. Despite the evidence I saw with my own eyes, in my son’s cell phone when I cleaned it out, despite the fact that I was THERE that night when he delivered the drugs and called out, “Bye, Mom!” as he left, my son already on his way to oblivion up in his bedroom. I was still willing to forgive him, even hope that he would learn enough from this to become a better person.

That’s not going to happen. I accept that this positive I’d hoped to pull out of so horrendous a negative isn’t going to happen. That comes with its own set of sorrows, but again not what this is about. The parole office wants to know if I want to attend the hearing, if I have a statement to make, or if I’d like to learn the outcome.

For those of you who really know me, you understand how much it costs me to say–I don’t care. I don’t care what happens to this person. I don’t want to know. I want no ill to befall him, but I don’t want ANYTHING at all for him either. If he can’t accept the role he played in my son’s death, his friend, then I haven’t any fucks left to give him.

Up, down, touch the ground.

We will be in Europe during the hearing. I have no statement to make but this–I don’t want to see him. Ever. I don’t want him showing up at my house as if I believed his vows of innocence. Because he would, and he needs to know that he can’t.

Now I go make that phone call. Then I write. Next week, I’m off to Europe with my parents, my brothers and their spouses, and my beloved Frankie D. When I get home, edits for A Thousand Different Ways begin. Up, up, up. In between, there will be downs, but they’re not going to hold me there. No fucking way.

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