My Life

I should Have Known

So, the internet reminds me how old I am getting. I am a disgrace to my generation when it comes to technology. Of course, life got the best and worst of me the last few months, soooo the blog faced neglect. How does the world of blogging punish the blog neglectors? The powers that be, make changes, so when you return, you must once again, learn to navigate the whole blogging atmosphere.

How do I know I’m getting old? In a word, Change. changes are often the one thing that make me grumpy and want to detroy the world. LOL!! OK, maybe not that extreme. Maybe  I don’t mind  changes so much, but I do mind how they come out of the blue and soak up my time in lessons of re-learning over and over again.

So the semester was insanly intense. No, seriously, intense. I’m pretty sure I learned 500 new words in three months. In the middle of all that, my dog developed cancer. So, I’ve been dealing with a case of impromtu doggy hospice. I’ll save all the thoughts about that for another post. Of course, there was the whole issue of the surviving the Hoildays. Thankfully, I’m just numb to them now.

So this post boils down to this, something I did over the holidays, I watched a movie called the Loved One. I checked it out from my local library. You can find the trailer on Youtube, but I don’t think the official trailer really represents the movie so I’m posting a clip of the movie. The movie is a satire about the funeral business. Liberace plays a funeral director, that should pretty much put  things in perspective about the movie. I like the beginning of the movie, by  the end I’m ready for it to be over, but it’s still worth watching. There are a number of performances that are incredible. Mr. Joyboy is the performance of a lifetime. Love him, but soooo glad I don’t have to ever really know him. 😉

That’s all my rusty blogging fingers can output today. Enjoy the clip, check out the movie.

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Priorities of a Brainless Flower

These are the last blooms of the year from my small garden. Each flower pictured has been   extremely tenacious. Two grew from seedlings, one has an expensive pedigree,  one re-homed to me, and one has changed its color entirely to survive, me. Sometimes I look at the flower that changed its color and I’m a little annoyed it’s no longer the color I wanted, but then I think I can’t really say anything because I pretty much forced it to change color. Can plants throw a protest? Maybe.

I used to love my garden; In the last few years, not so much. Despite my neglect, there are plants that have refused to die.  I have pushed some of them to their limits more than once,  they still made a cheerful come back. Sometimes I have looked at these flowers and wondered, are they  stronger than me? Do they understand life better than me?  Are they motivated by death and/or life? I’m always amazed  how they  insist it’s very important they bloom before they fade away. Maybe we should all be so tenacious about blooming?

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The Applause Around the World

It’s funny, I went to a Death Cafe a few weeks ago and many people seemed frustrated  speaking about death seemed taboo in most social circumstances. I went to dinner with a friend and we ended up talking a lot  about death. After our dinner, I realized, maybe we talked about it too much for her taste? I started thinking, maybe I just talk about death too much. Of course, then I thought, so why the hell have a blog that talks about death so much? What’s the point of writing about something no one really wants to read  or cares about?

Sometimes the internet feels like a massive return to high school, one HUGE massive popularity contest. If you’re not popular, you just don’t exist.  It’s annoying. I don’t mind not being popular. Oh sure, it would be nice to be popular, to be loved, adored, but what if you can’t, or don’t’ want to be a popular person? Oprah always said she wished everyone knew what it was like to walk into a room and the entire place stood up and clapped for you. For most people, if that happened once in a lifetime, it would be great. I’m sure many would say she deserves those claps of affection, yes, yes, yes, I know. However, 3/4 of the rest of the ordinary world deserves a round of applause too; Moms, dads, grandparents, friends, kids, teachers, garbage men, hospice workers and on and on.

I was standing in front of my refrigerator and out of the blue I was struck with this notion it was important to keep taking and writing about death. It was like I was looking into a black hole, but it wasn’t scary, it was very comforting and confident. I’d even say it felt like a relief?

Later in the day I thought to myself, what would be the danger, or problem with talking about death openly and often? Seems silly to ask, what if we all felt conformable enough with death to talk about it openly and randomly? DOn’t we do it sometimes? Like when you warn a child, “you’ll be sorry, one day I’ll be gone!” What if it wasn’t  something that struck our hearts like a knife when we had to talk about it seriously?  What if death didn’t make us cry instantaneously? Depress the crap out of us? Clear a room in a single word? Would we live and love better? Would we take life for granted more or less than we already do? What’s the danger in feeling comfortable and accepting of death?

So I decided, for a year, I am going to think about aspects of death and  see what it does to my life. Obviously, not the hardest thing to do considering I am studying many aspects of death, but I wonder, if becoming more comfortable with death will make me live differently? Better or Worse?

This one is for anyone who hits play.

 

I Don’t Know, Maybe That’s Good?

Dirt and Paint: What Is That?

Something that just doesn’t make sense. Sculpted paint on a desert floor miles from civilization. Only a few ever saw it.

I had dinner with a friend last night and she mentioned her father-in-law is dying. She mentioned the family will be taking a trip to visit him with the very big possibility this will be the last time they see him.

This morning I wanted to write her husband a note, tell him something, but what? It’s one of those times when we fumble, we don’t know what to say, and anything we think to say seems, cheesy, wrong, or ridiculous.

My heart goes out to my friends who will soon be dealing with one of life’s most difficult events. Four different people, different genders, different relationships, different stages in life. Where do we find the models to cope with a final visit of a loved one? How do you know that last, “I love you” has enough power to last a lifetime? What if we don’t feel love? How long do you hug a person before you feel it’s ok to let them go forever? What if you don’t want to touch them?  How do you inventory your brain’s memory of that person and feel confident you have enough memories to last a lifetime? Maybe you don’t want your memories? What about the sneaky little regrets that suddenly pop up? That unique anxiety that suddenly searches your brain to fix a regret in 5 seconds. Can there be models for this? Should there be? What are the words I can give  a friend in such a complex situation?

Helplessness . . . is so tough. We are constantly taught to make things better, and then there is death, the process of death. Sometimes it comes with warning and it’s a slow agonizing road. So many lives keep moving, have to keep moving around someone who is dying. The world doesn’t stop for a birth, why would it stop for a death? Bills gotta get paid. My friends have two days . . . and then what? Go home back across the country and live until a phone call? I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it is how it is in their case. I guess, what I find so difficult,  walking away from a significant person, like a parent, who is so close to dying. I’m not sure where I get this idea everyone should have the right to stay if they want or need to.

My grandmother’s death was barreling straight at me like a jetliner. Who could miss that, right? In many ways, I did, I didn’t see the jetliner,  even when I was straight out told, “she is dying”.  I was right beside her, but not with her. In some ways we were both dying and slowly being resurrected. The last day I saw her, at least the one I remember as her last day, was so simple it almost went right over my head. It was so deep in feelings, intensity, and denial,  it didn’t seem real.  The brain and the heart really duked it out on that day. I am thankful my brain and my heart, as disastrous and protective as they were, found the wisdom to collect the memories and the words I needed for both of us on her last day. I’m glad when I  walked away from her my head and my heart wouldn’t allow me to comprehend just how large those steps were.

I love the process of death because it challenges the hardest of hearts to feel. Death is relentless. The strength to journey through death is an important strength. The lessons of death are difficult but beautiful if allowed to be learned. I often think the strength we find in the final hours of a loved ones life is the largest example of who we should be in our daily lives, just on a less intense level of course.  It is the strength to arrive and tell those we love they matter, their life matters in whatever form it has taken; good or bad.

So my friends, with all their brave hearts,  will make their journey to their loved one, and I will wish them all that life  and death can offer them during this difficult time. I wish them lots of complexity, simplicity, laughter, crying, anger, sadness, resolution and all the colors that come when life meets death. I will wish them love.  (more…)

The Deadliest Food on Earth

I’m taking a break from my academic hell of memorization. Feeling a little stressed out, the concept of comfort food  popped into my mind; Ahhh, comfort. Oooy, gooey, bad to the bone comfort food.

So, I did a small search on comfort foods, seemed innocent enough, right? However, I quickly realized most comfort foods seem more like feel like crap foods. How is feeling like crap a comfort? I can’t remember  a time after 20 when eating fried chicken, or mac and cheese made me feel good. How are these cheesy, fried, and sugary foods suppose to be a comfort during a loss? And when did tortilla soup become a comfort food?

Does a food become a comfort because it has a history?  A Tradition?  Or because a loving person made the dish?  Is it just because they’re what’s available or received? How do these foods, that ordinarily make us feel like crap, guilty, and fat, suddenly make us feel loved and secure during a time of loss?

I tried to think of what I ate during the loss of my grandmother, I couldn’t remember a single flavor. I thought it was odd, because I associate a lot of foods with the memory of my grandmother, her life, and my time with her. I eat things specifically in her memory to this day. Thanks to her, I am that crazy lady looking for whipped unsalted butter much to the horror of other shoppers. The real irony, as a kid I hated she wouldn’t buy margarine like everyone else did and you can bet I let her know it. Now I laugh and think what a spoiled brat I was. Hopefully she’s in a better place  waving her butter knife telling everyone, “I told her so.”

So why all the take you closer to death comfort foods? Maybe we like them because they remind us we are alive?  Maybe they help feed the small parts of denial or numbness we might need to cope with grief? Maybe they just remind us there will be another tomorrow because in the morning WE WILL NEED TO WORKOUT? Comfort food, A dangerous way to know you’re loved and life will go on?

I saw this recipe a number of years ago. I’ve never made it, I’ve only dreamed and been astonished by it. You’ll see why. 😉

 

Food for Thought, or Worms

Beginnings are easy. They arrive so easily . . . “I could do that!” 

Then, the middle. I need a this, I need that. What!?! That’s not suppose to happen!  Wtf!!!  Then the, What was I thinking?!? I think I’m going to cry, I’m crying. . .  then the LOL’s. Then madness. The mess.  The clean up, or the walk away.

We rarely see the middle of life.  That picture is too big?  Why? Too close to see? Too slow? Isn’t this where life is lived? Where love is Loving? In the middle?

Who has time for that? skip to the end already!!! ARE WE THERE YET?!!!? Give me the answer to the story. Give me the success or the Failure.

Endings . . . happy, surprise, unwanted, or unjust.

Funerals, I could do that.

I’m posting a video of something I will never say, “I could do that.”

This week, as usual, has been about success and failure. The notion of the human body has been on my mind; does a corpse matter? At least once I week I hear this,  “It’s just a body, throw it away, feed it to the worms.”

My heart slips, my brow tightens, and a small thread of grief threads through my flesh; sadness and and a paper cut somewhere inside a place I never see blood.

Why? Usually I don’t know the person, but somehow the sudden rush to the end of a body, a life, this “toss”  feels a like burning a book that no one ever read or took of the shelf.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which I think about my body, what I do, or don’t do with it.  As a person educated in the arts, I instantly think of how do I use my body to communicate? Uh Ohhhh  . . . I can instantly see how a person learns to throw their body away; I do it.  I never use my body as my primary tool of communication, my body isn’t even on my list for consideration. I use my body to help me use other tools to communicate, for example, my fingers use this computer to type. However,  I never use my body, or give my body the opportunity to express my unique human experience, or any of my feelings the way I might use other tools I use to communicate with. I use my face, or hands, but they are usually speaking for my brain or my heart, but not for my body. I ‘m sure my body hasn’t publicly spoken since I was  8 years old.  If I really think at about it, my body has been on lockdown, and told to shut-up for a long time.

For the majority of us, our bodies are work horses, they are practical necessities, they are workhorses. What happens to a workhorse when it can’t pull the wagon anymore?

We rarely stop to thank our bodies, marvel at our bodies for all the hard work they  do for us. These workhorses, these bodies,  often endure  vicious internal voices of endless scrutiny. As a culture of science, who knows exactly what it takes to move a muscle, how can any body be imperfect? How can we toss so much away?

I adore the sweetness of watching my cat stretch. What happens if we never marvel at the beauty of the movement of someone we love? Even if it’s just how they pick up a cup? What if we don’t marvel at the elegance of holding a scarf in the wind, or playfully handing over a flower?  It makes me wonder what part of humanity are we starving to death and throwing away? How easily we give ourselves to the worms from ignorance and silence?

I saw this video and I love it. This expression of love, of being this human and connected to body and environment, to voice. The voice of this human body is not silenced unlike mine.  I admire this voice, I hope I’ll stumble upon it one day in a setting much like this beach.  What if we heard about rouge dancers at the airport delaying flights  because of an over abundance to life, not take it? That’s crazy I could live with. I say, fight crazy with crazy. I like my crazy. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give the gift of good luck

Sometimes I think we underthink the possibilities of a caring action-
Hugs
Kisses
Thank yous
Flowers
Chocolates
Notes

What about just giving someone a bit of good luck? A break in their favor? Some good energy?

The last two times I’ve parked in this parking lot I’ve received too very small tokens of unexpected good luck that made my day in very large ways.

last week, I drove up to the parking permit machine and a guy stopped me and asked me if I wanted his parking permit for the day?

Wow! Yes!!!

Smile, smile, smile!!

Today, I got to the Parking permit machine and what’s waiting for me in the receipt slot? A parking permit for today. Again!!! Wow!

Smile, smile, smile!!! Grin!!

Two little moments of good luck two people gave. We can all give the gift of good luck.

Thank you thoughtful unknown strangers wherever you are!

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Cellular Death

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I’m posting this from my phone. I am AMAZED at how much I use this phone for. I check the weather, get directions, it guides me where I go, lets me chat with people, helps me document things, remembers and reminds me of to do’s and to gets, finds information for me, helps me cook, helps me study, entertains me, helps me meditate and on and on and on. It’s crazy how much I use this thing for. Now I use it to blog! How did I live before this phone?

I started to wonder, What will death be like without a cell phone? Could I handle that? Is the afterlife cell phone free? I can’t imagine. However, if I go to the next level and Steve Jobs is standing there in his black turtleneck and jeans pointing the way to the Genius Bar, I think I might become a lost soul. The only way I could be happy to see a genius . . . If they were genius enough to invent something update and “agreement” free; THAT would be heaven!

Despite all the things I find and do on my phone, I needed the organization and simplification of a book to learn some chemistry. I went to the library and ended up with the book pictured above. You’d think the librarian might be a little curious when someone checks out a chemistry book and a book about Lenin’s embalmers. Nope. Personally, I think I would have thought, serial killer, but that’s just me.

I picked this book because I’m curious how it all happened and what the embalmers were thinking. Hopefully I’ll find some time without my cell phone to actually read it. I wonder if my hands remember how to hold a book. I’m worried they only know how to hold this phone and a cup of Starbucks at this point. I wonder if Lenin would have had a cell phone, would they have put the phone in his hands? Can you imagine? Lenin in his tomb with a cell phone? I bet his cell phone case would be red.

🙂