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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Another Beach Week, Another Mother’s Day

VAB

Dollbaby Week is always the first week in May. It has been so for fifteen years. Fifteen years. It’s hard to believe that first trip to Bald Head Island was in 2002. There are ten of us now, sometimes eleven. Only two of us from that original week still head to the beach every year, and two more from year two. Some dolls have only been coming a couple of years. Some five, six, seven…it doesn’t matter. Once a doll, always a doll.

The week is sublime, restorative, and full. We count the days down starting the minute we leave the beach (347 days as I write this,) and yet we’re ready to go home when it’s over. Being together is all the more cherished because our time is brief.

2015 was the first time I went to Virginia Beach in many, many years that I didn’t go with my heart in my throat. Things were all-around good. We’d survived addiction’s turmoil as a family, and had come out a bit scarred but definitely on the other side. Chris was out on his own, working a job he loved, doing well, it seemed. The cycle of chaos that typically poised to spiral out of control every spring wasn’t hanging over my head. I went to Virginia Beach secure in the knowledge no doom would fall while I was gone.

I was wrong. Only I didn’t know it.

It had been building, but Mother’s Day 2015 started Christofer’s last downward spiral that ended–finally, completely–on Father’s Day. These “holidays” will never pass without that knowledge, those thoughts. I came home from Virginia Beach this year, last year, facing Mother’s Day, and the countdown to my son’s last days. I hope, in time, it isn’t as raw; I know it will never be blissfully, bittersweetly overlooked.

I have never been a huge fan of Mother’s Day. I’m a mother. I have a mother. My daughter is a mother. How does one celebrate Mother’s Day without disappointing someone, right? Forgoing the day was not a huge sacrifice for me to begin with. Now, I’m glad to ignore it completely. It doesn’t change the bookended countdown, or the knowledge of it, but it does remove some of the emphasis. My kids celebrate me every day, with phone calls and texts and messages on Facebook. I don’t need a day to know I’m loved.

Now I sit here at my desk, absorbing Dollbaby Week in my mind, my heart, while trying to be at peace with the rest that comes at me this time of year. Leaving it all here on this page helps me do that, even while it makes it seem as if I need consoling, or a Xanax. I don’t. Honest. It’s because I have a place to put it all that I don’t. It makes me wonder how people who don’t write (or paint or make music…) manage to uncrowd their heads, unburden their hearts.

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties,
we build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story,
we fashion an empire’s glory.
One man, with a dream, at pleasure
shall go forth and conquer a crown.
And three, with a new song’s measure
can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying,
in the buried past of the Earth,
built Nineveh with our sighing
and Babel itself with our mirth.
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
to the old of the New World’s worth.
For each age is a dream that is dying,
or one that is coming to birth.

~Arthur O’Shaughnessy

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Refrigerator Tiles in Virginia Beach

I burn strange and silent words,

free of the memory manacle

certain to expose that holy rhythm,

the electric dance

imagined by my ghost.

Between dream end and story seed,

I howl genius,

whisper a precious curse

of truth bleeding time

from mind and bone and sleep.

TLD

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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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It’s not that I think I could have saved you;

I’m not that much of a fool, or an

Optimist. Saving you was up to you, and

you fought really hard, but failed.

Or maybe death was your final success, in

freeing yourself of all the chains

binding you, holding you down, holding you back.

My failure isn’t not saving your twenty-five year old self

My failure happened ten years before, when you were

too young to know how wrong things could go;

when you depended upon me to make the right choices,

to know the right things, to

set the horror right. I tried. I was the one who was supposed to know

everything. And I didn’t.

**

If I could go back in time (I’ve thought of this a lot. Fool that I am)

I’d go back to that day, ten years prior, when I got to the school

and found you on the ground (the irony doesn’t escape me)

One leg a full half-foot shorter than the other. I leaned over you,

I smiled and stroked your face. “It’s going to be fine, sweetheart.”

The ambulance was on its way. It was a dislocation,

so much better than a break, right?

But it wasn’t, and it wasn’t. It was so much worse.

Too many hours lost. Too much damage done. Two percent chance of saving

that leg. That damned leg.

This what I’d change–I’d tell them to take it off.

What they left caused it all. I’m ninety-eight percent convinced.

It would have been done. Over. And only the rebuilding.

A new life you would have made without the constant drag

of all that pain,

that became pain-killers that didn’t work,

that fed all the sorrow of losing who you’d been,

that became so much anxiety,

that became a speeding train always barreling down,

that became “please someone save me!” That became

heroin.

This is what I’d change, if I could. But I can’t. Maybe,

in some postulated, parallel reality, I told them,

“Take the leg.” Not in this reality.

I lost you then, and didn’t even know, I, who was supposed to know

everything.

 

 

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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 Surprise Visit

I used to dream of my late husband, Brian, on a regular basis, like a standing date kept. It always happened in the same setting–Goffle Brook Park in Hawthorne, NJ. We’d sit at a picnic table there, and catch up. He’d ask about the kids, about me, the family. Chit-chat, always pleasant.

Three years of dreaming him back into my world; and then I met Frank. I still dreamed him, but less often. Still the same, pleasant visit. Every time. And then I became pregnant with Christofer.

We met in Goffle Brook Park that last time, as always. I felt, more than saw, someone standing behind him. Brian was slightly uncomfortable. He looked at me, a little sheepish, and said, “Are you good now?”

“I am.” I remember smiling, and taking his hand across the table. “What about you?” I asked. “Are you good?”

He nodded and, one hand holding mine, he reached out the other and brought forth a young lady. All I remember about her was she had long, dark hair. Like his mom’s. Like Jamie’s. Whoever she was, she brought him happiness, and peace.

download

Memory is a funny thing. Unreliable, but absolute. This dream is as clear to me now as it was years and years ago, but who’s to say how accurate, how many embellishments or subtractions have been made over time? It’s what I remember. At the end of it all, it’s the content, not the detail, that matters most. He came to me, made sure I was finally okay, and moved on.

I miss him every. Single. Day.

I am not one for Heaven and Hell. Though I’m not arrogant enough to state any absolutes concerning what there is, or isn’t, after Death, I’m not a believer in one Almighty Being. Death is as big a mystery as Life, and I don’t have the mental capacity to unravel that mystery. I know what I know. I feel what I feel. And whether Brian used to visit me in some ethereal form or it was my brain pulling him back to that picnic table in Hawthorne, I felt him. He was there.

It has been 28 years since the last time I dreamed that so-real presence of him. Though I’m not 100% sold on any form of Afterlife, my leanings bend towards that karmic notion of learning lessons, moving on, coming back to learn those lessons still left. And now I have a new ghost visiting me in dreams. So imagine how surprised I was to find myself sitting across the table from Brian again, the other night, in a dream still so clear I can see his smile.

It wasn’t Goffle Brook Park this time, but the Train Station in New Milford, where I have held book signings, birthday parties, and baby showers. He flopped into the chair opposite me, slightly out of breath.

“What are you doing here?” I hugged him across the table. The happiness, it fills me even now.

I don’t remember his response, but it led to me saying, “Wow, I thought you were already back. It’s been so long. I’ve looked for you.”

“Nah,” Brian said. “I’m just not ready yet.”

There are dreams, and then there are visitations. There’s no denying which one is which. Not all dreams of Brian were visits from him, just like all dreams of Chris aren’t. But when they are there–conjured from my brain or in some ethereal form–they are THERE. Brian was with me, the other night, and knowing he is where Chris is makes me happy in ways I can’t quite articulate.

I had to immortalize my dream, here on this page, though I don’t imagine I’ll forget it any more than I’ve forgotten that one 28 years ago. Maybe, when I’m old and memories jumble, I’ll remember these dream-memories as awake-events. They’ll wend and weave around one another, bringing together those who could not have otherwise met. I like that idea, quite a lot, actually. All my beloved-beyonds are stored in the same place, why not let them dance?

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My House Smells Amazing

Mmmmm…my whole house smells like the best meal you’ve every had at your Nonnie’s house. Some friends are coming over for dinner tonight, and I’m making macaroni and gravy. Not pasta and sauce, mind you. That’s an entirely different thing.

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macaroni and gravy

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pasta and sauce

See the difference?

In my Southern Italian, Northern NJ world, macaroni was macaroni. There was no “pasta” when I was growing up. I’ve since come to define the difference as such: macaroni is the dried product, while pasta is the thing you find in the refrigerator case, or make fresh. The internet disagrees with me. It says pasta is the dough, and what you make out of it comes in many shapes and sizes, and they’re all called pasta. It also tells me that macaroni is a particular shape–the elbow kind usually found in macaroni and cheese. Tell this to my Grandma Grace, or my Nonnie. They’d look at you like you had spaghetti growing out of your ears, hit you with the wooden spoon, and tell you to put the water on. As it is, they can only roll over in their graves.

In my Southern Italian, Northern NJ world, gravy has meat in it. It cooks for hours and hours and hours. Low and slow. You use regular olive oil, canned tomatoes, and dried herbs (oregano, basil, garlic) because fresh would never hold up. You need the kind that will lovingly, languidly give up all those essential oils. Fresh herbs would lose all their flavor long before the meat became fall-apart tender. Garlic can go bitter. After letting it barely simmer for three, four hours, you add a bit of red wine, a knot or two of butter, let it simmer another fifteen minutes and take it off the heat to spend the next couple of hours melding all that deliciousness into the zesty, hearty, unbutton your pants because you’re definitely having seconds dinner later on.

In my Southern Italian, Northern NJ world, sauce* is typically made with all fresh ingredients, because you’re not cooking it for more than half an hour. Sauce is lighter, more delicate, and loves to slather itself all over clams, shrimp, scallops. It likes vermouth or white wine better than red, and extra virgin olive oil better than the regular kind, or butter. Though, lets be honest, there’s really nothing on the planet butter can’t make better. In this kind of sauce, you can add a little lemon to impart that acidic zing, a zing you’d never notice in gravy’s ponderous deliciousness.

Sauce is far more versatile. It’s a better vehicle for creativity. It allows other ingredients to shine, while keeping the starring role. “Oh, wow,” you’ll hear. “Are those capers? Do I taste fennel?”

Gravy is a powerhouse. It shares the limelight with no one. It’s that thing you long for on cold winter nights, or after a long day doing yard work. No one is going to remark on all the layers of flavor, or your subtle use of thyme. There will be a lot of grunting, plate licking, and bread dipping, though.

I’m aware that my Southern Italian, Northern NJ versions of gravy and sauce aren’t everyone’s, but I am curious to know what yours is, if you care to share.

*Sauce doesn’t have to be tomato based, but this is the one I’m talking about. 

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