Friday, October 31, 2008

Superman's Song (Crash Test Dummies)

Happy Halloween!

I'm posting this a few strokes after midnight on the morning of Trick or Treat Day... as, by the time any of you read this, I'll be jetting my way to Atlanta (8 a.m. flight) for the long weekend - while we were on vacation this past August, I got word from a friend that Dar Williams (no explanation necessary if you're a Constant Reader of my musings) would be playing at Eddie's Attic November 1. We found out that it's general admission, but tables for 4 could be reserved - can you say no-brainer? It will be my mom, my sister, her 12-year-old daughter (all of whom live in the Atlanta area) and me - it's another opportunity to make memories, and we most certainly plan to do just that. I've gotten word to Dar (through one of her managers) to request The One Who Knows, dedicated to mom from "her girls" - buy stock in Kleenex now... :-)

The pile on my dining room table grows, as I continue to add items I wish to bring: Halloween Pez dispensers bought weeks ago for Julia, a beach book for mom, a flip-flops towel for Mari, bunny ears for me and devil horns for Mari to wear as we're passing out candy (since Julia won't let us walk around with her), my book to read on the plane, a jacket (as lows will be in the high 30's/low 40's), etc. I'm beyond excited - I'll return with stories, stories to tell...

Can't remember where I read it, but recently there was a discussion about superheroes (or she-ras, in the feminine) - if you could possess just one extra-sensory-power, what would it be? I recall thinking that x-ray vision would be nice (for those Harrison Ford moments)... or flying could come in handy (when the post office is getting ready to close)... or clairvoyance (when I can tell my husband is thinking something other than what he's saying) - however, what I'd really wish to be able to do is stop time... for everyone else... but not myself... temporarily (like in Sleeping Beauty). I swear that if I could have a week to get caught up with/ahead of my life, while everyone else was in suspended animation, I'd never allow myself to fall behind again - anyway, in keeping with today's theme... please share your superhero power fantasies...

P.S. I submitted another entry to Star Maker Machine yesterday - I think I'm addicted (just hit a vein, baby!)... and thanks again to Boyhowdy for being my enabler... :-)

SONG: Superman's Song by Crash Test Dummies

The Psychology of Superheroes: An Unauthorized Exploration by Robin Rosenberg (editor)

POEM: Warnings by David Allen Sullivan

A can of self-defense pepper spray says it may
irritate the eyes, while a bathroom heater says it's
not to be used in bathrooms. I collect warnings
the way I used to collect philosophy quotes.

Wittgenstein's There's no such thing
as clear milk rubs shoulders with a box
of rat poison which has been found
to cause cancer in laboratory mice.

Levinas' Language is a battering ram—
a sign that says the very fact of saying,
is as inscrutable as the laser pointer's advice:
Do not look into laser with remaining eye.

Last week I boxed up the solemn row
of philosophy tomes and carted them down
to the used bookstore. The dolly read:
Not to be used to transport humans.

Did lawyers insist that the 13-inch wheel
on the wheelbarrow proclaim it's
not intended for highway use? Or that the
Curling iron is for external use only?

Abram says that realists render material
to give the reader the illusion of the ordinary.
What would he make of Shin pads cannot protect
any part of the body they do not cover?

I load boxes of books onto the counter. Flip
to a yellow-highlighted passage in Aristotle:
Whiteness which lasts for a long time is no whiter
than whiteness which lasts only a day.

A.A.'ers talk about the blinding glare
of the obvious: Objects in the mirror
are actually behind you, Electric cattle prod
only to be used on animals, Warning: Knives are sharp.

What would I have done without: Remove infant
before folding for storage, Do not use hair dryer
while sleeping, Eating pet rocks may lead to broken
teeth, Do not use deodorant intimately?

Goodbye to all those sentences that sought
to puncture the illusory world - like the warning
on the polyester Halloween outfit for my son:
Batman costume will not enable you to fly.

QUOTE: How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! ~ Maya Angelou

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Place in the World (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

What do you get when two Leo women delay their Instant Gratification selves and *finally* come together for a co-celebratory birthday lunch? - a 3 1/2 hour yak-, sob- and empa-thon, fueled by multiple glasses of wine, more than a few heartaches/breaks and stories, stories to tell!

I appreciate M for so many reasons... but especially for being a "forever friend" - we experienced our first clicks in March 1997... and have run parallel, perpendicular, intersected and tangential throughout the last 11 years, remaining committed to the choice of staying connected, even when we drift.

Yesterday we conversed non-stop about our children, our partners, our mothers' health, our own physical/emotional/spiritual well-being, our jobs (or lack of, in my case), her cat's passing, my dog's old age, ancient history and present times - it was refreshing, it was empowering, it was much-needed and long-overdue... :-)

Thanks, M, for the perfect card, the gorgeous windchimes and for always being there - I cherish the fact you are a sounding-board, a touchstone and a foundation in my life... <3

A Place in the World by Mary Chapin Carpenter

BOOK: The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

POEM: Logos by Mary Oliver

Why wonder about the loaves and the fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into the many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don't worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it was all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

QUOTE: "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." ~ Thornton Wilder

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fire! Fire! Fire! by Eric Schwartz and Eliza Jane Schneider

We now interrupt this Pity Party for some creative, inspirational and well-timed political song YouTube videos, 3 of the 4 composed by friends of mine - nine more days, people (VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!).

Fire! Fire! Fire! by Eric Schwartz and Eliza Jane Schneider

50 Reasons to Vote Obama by Gregg Cagno

They Lost My Vote by Ellen Bukstel and Nancy Wuerzburger

Talkin' Right Wing Politician Blues by Chris Dingman & TR Hunt

Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It) by William Poundstone

POEM: Pledge by Elizabeth Powell

Republic, your cool hands
On my schoolgirl shoulders.
Not sure what allegiances meant
Until the vows were held by heart,
By memory, by rote, by benign betrothal.
Republic, you were mine, I knew
Because of Mother's religious pamphlets:
Lindsay for Mayor.
McGovern for President.
How to Register Voters.
I didn't ever want to go to school
On Saturdays. The baby-sitter said
If Nixon won, I'd have to go. Me,
Your most cherished child bride.
I wanted a white communion dress
Like the ones the Catholic girls wore.
Republic, you know I wanted to play
Cards with Mother. Mother smoking
Marlboros, watching Watergate all week.
Citizen Mother all consumed at that confessional.
I liked the name Betsy Ross.
I liked the idea of sewing flags.
I liked the tattered textbook about the colonies.
So tender, so tender. My Republic,
I am pledged by my childish troth
So strangely to you.

QUOTE: "A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation." ~ James Freeman Clarke

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cover Me (Robin Batteau)

When last we left our She-ra, a job termination had just gone into effect - cue music for emotions ranging from shock to sorrow to numb... to relief. I allowed myself a good wallow yesterday, we had a family dinner last night (I was feeling too fragile to attend my book club meeting) during which we circled the wagons and I made a wry reference (although the topic is certainly serious) to the fact I'd just read an article that more middle-aged white women were committing suicide these days...

After a good night's sleep... today I had a long-overdue haircut, got the dog to the groomers and am closer to negotiating resolution of our plumbing issues - to quote Dorothy Parker: might as well live :-)

Although it's raining outside, shining prevails - thanks to my dear friends for phone calls, e-mails and blog comments. My support system overfloweth and I am humbled - my husband and I have talked and, at this point, I'll be using November and December to prioritize projects in the house (plus we always take a week around the holidays to visit relatives in Georgia and South Carolina). January I'll begin searching... and I can honestly say I am usually in the right place at the right time - in the meantime, we'll find ways to sacrifice without deprivation.

I also have to share that, in the midst of my stress and worries, I received some perfectly-timed validation... from the Blogosphere, of all places... in the form of an invitation to write a guest post on another blog... music-related (imagine that!) - thanks to Boyhowdy for the opportunity to re-focus my energies for a while, as well as engage in a larger community with similar interests... :-)

SONG: Cover Me by Robin Batteau (I can't find the lyrics but a song sample can be found here - scroll down to Track 7 on Disc 2)

BOOK: Cover to Cover by D.M. Brown

POEM: Resume' by Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp;
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

QUOTE: "God has no power over the past except to cover it with oblivion." ~ Pliny the Elder

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid (John McCutcheon)

Hey, I have the day off tomorrow! - actually... I have many days ahead of me. I was laid off from my office assistant job today - what a shock (major understatement)...

The economy was given as the reason... and I have no cause to doubt - I was also paid until the end of the month but cleaned out my desk and turned over my key this afternoon when the news was delivered. I'm okay - really...

I sent the following e-mail to my bosses/co-workers, shortly after I got home today:

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 7:20 PM
Subject: thanks to all...

Hey, B, E and V -

Just wanted to drop a note to thank you all for the opportunity to have worked at _______ for the last 19 months - it was a challenge... and a learning experience... and a pleasure...

I most certainly understand the ripple-effect repercussions of an economic recession - let's hope this election turns things back around to hope and change...

You all know I've been trying to cut back my hours to part-time since last March - Pollyanna that I am, I'm trying to look at this as a blessing in disguise, to free myself up: to deal with many ongoing home projects, to regain focus of my own exercise and nutrition regimen and to finally get these f*cking plumbing issues resolved... :-)

V, it was wonderful getting to know you... and E, I appreciated the chance to know you *better* - B, you will remain one of the special people in my life...

Thanks again to all - take care and stay in touch... <3

Today's song, as you will see when you click the lyrics link below, is inspired by Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow - synchronstically (or... as usual, in my case), I bought the book over a year ago and it's been waiting on my nightstand to be read. If that's not a sign from something greater than myself, I don't know what is - I will begin the novel, among so many other things, tomorrow... <3

SONG: It's the Economy, Stupid by John McCutcheon

BOOK: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

POEM: Not the loss alone by Gregory Orr

Not the loss alone,
But what comes after.
If it ended completely
At loss, the rest
Wouldn't matter.

But you go on.
And the world also.

And words, words
In a poem or song:
Aren't they a stream
On which your feelings float?

Aren't they also
The banks of that stream
And you yourself the flowing?

QUOTE: "The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time." ~ Abraham Lincoln

Monday, October 20, 2008

Inside Your Painting (Patty Larkin)

[ Plumbing update: As promised, my husband is now home dealing with the situation - LDG (Leak Detection Guy/Kenny) has already come and determined the leak is now to the *left* of where originally determined (closer to the shower, as opposed to under the vanity). Al (not Joe)the plumber should be coming out later to re-evaluate the two options (see post of a few days ago), at which point we'll determine which route to take - long story short: sounds as if I'll be getting a new bathroom out of this, whether we or homeowners insurance pay. Relate, relax, release - more tomorrow... ]

I don't consider myself an artist per se (yeah, I make a h*lla mix tape/CD... and amazing soups... and inventive collages, oh my!), but I do seem to be surrounded by those who are... and take delight in recognizing their gifts and paying them forward - today's blog post is dedicated, with sincere gratitude, to all those friends (old and new) who open my eyes, color my world and provide the soundtrack to my rich and delicious life... <3

Daily Om
October 15, 2008
Sharing Your Genius
Your Special Gift

Each of us is born with a specific genius that was bestowed upon us so we can do our part to make this world a better place. All of us have a role that we’re uniquely suited for. Imagine our planet without trees, oceans, or clouds. In this same way, when one of us doesn’t develop or use our special gift, a cosmic void takes place.

This unique talent or ability may be hidden from your own sight like a golden treasure buried under shifting sands. Often, we spend so much time dazzled by the talents of others that we can overlook our own gifts. It may even be that our unique ability is something we view negatively. Perhaps we find it difficult concentrating on any one subject for long; meanwhile, others are thrilled by our ability to weave various ideas throughout our conversations. Or, you might think of yourself as “frivolous,” when it’s likely your charming approach to life casts a light of inspiration that others can’t help but follow. It’s important for all of us to try to find our special gift and discover how we can best express it. Ask others to name what they think is your most overlooked talent or character trait. Their answers may change your life.

Explore these riches that are yours to express, and you may find yourself helping others discover and develop their own blessings. Acknowledge and appreciate the gifts you see in those around you. Tell your neighbor that loves to garden how much her green thumb enlivens the whole block. Thank your coworker for always greeting your days together with a smile. Tell your close friends that their ability to listen makes your world a better place. Our unique gifts are like golden rays of expression that can encircle the world with light.

SONG: Inside Your Painting by Patty Larkin

BOOK: Learning to Love You More by Harrell Fletcher, Miranda July

POEM: Instructions to Painters & Poets by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I asked a hundred painters and a hundred poets
how to paint sunlight
on the face of life
Their answers were ambiguous and ingenuous
as if they were all guarding trade secrets
Whereas it seems to me
all you have to do
is conceive of the whole world
and all humanity
as a kind of art work
a site-specific art work
an art project of the god of light
the whole earth and all that's in it
to be painted with light

And the first thing you have to do
is paint out postmodern painting
And the next thing is to paint yourself
in your true colors
in primary colors
as you seem them
(without whitewash)
paint yourself as you see yourself
without make-up
without masks
Then paint your favorite people and animals
with your brush loaded with light
And be sure you get the perspective right
and don't fake it
because one false line leads to another

And then paint the high hills
when the sun first strikes them
on an autumn morning
With your palette knife
lay it onthe cadmium yellow leaves
the ochre leaves
the vermillion leaves
of a New England autumn
And paint the ghost light of summer nights
and the light of the midnight sun
which is moon light
And don't paint out the shadows made by light

for without chiaroscuro you'll have shallow pictures
So paint all the dark corners too
everywhere in the world
all the hidden places and minds and hearts
which light never reaches
all the caves of ignorance and fear
the pits of despair
the sloughs of despond
and write plain upon them
"Abandon all despair, ye who enter here"

And don't forget to paint
all those who lived their lives
as bearers of light
Paint their eyes
and the eyes of every animal
and the eyes of beautiful women
known best for the perfection of their breasts
and the eyes of men and women
known only for the light of their minds
Paint the light of their eyes
the light of sunlit laughter
the song of eyes
the song of birds in flight

And remember that the light is within
if it is anywhere
and you must paint from the inside
Start with purity
with pure white
the pure white of gesso
the pure white of cadmium white
the pure white of flake white
the pure virgin canvas
the pure life we all begin with

Turner painted sunlight
with egg tempera
(which proved unstable)
and Van Gogh did it with madness
and the blood of his ear
(also unstable)
and the Impressionists did itby never using black
and the Abstract Expressionists did it
with white house paint
But you can do it with the pure pigment
(if you can figure out the formula)
of your own true light
But before you strike the first blow
on the virgin canvas
remember its fragility
life's extreme fragility
and remember its innocence
its original innocence
before you strike the first blow

Or perhaps never strike it
And let the light come through
the inner light of the canvas
the inner light of the models posed
in the life study
the inner light of everyone
Let it all come through
like a pentimento
the light that's been painted over
the life that's been painted over
so many times
Let it all surge to the surface
the painted-over image
of primal life on earth

And when you've finished your painting
stand back astonished
stand back and observe
the life on earth that you've created
the lighted life on earth
that you've created
a new brave world

QUOTE: "To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist." ~ Robert Schumann

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Come Darkness, Come Light (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

My horoscope for yesterday:

Bureaucracy and paperwork are your worst enemies today, but that doesn't mean you should avoid them! Just try to make sure you don't get stuck within the system for long -- or you might crack.

and today's:

It's hard to figure out what to do next -- there are so many options to choose from! Try not to worry about it too much, because things should be a lot clearer for you in a few more days.

I'm thinking that three plumbing posts are already two too many... but figured I'd give an update before I moved on - Al did indeed show up yesterday morning... and, after taking out the toilet in the master bathroom, jackhammered exactly where the Leak Detector Guy said the leak was... and... nothing. Al now thinks the leak is a bit to the right... which would mean under the vanity, requiring more demolition... but he really can't do anything until the LDG comes back out to re-survey - I of course called the LDG (Kenny) to see if that could be yesterday afternoon.

Heard back from him a few hours later that he was at his father's funeral (you just can't make this sh*t up) - after sincerely telling him he was in my thoughts and prayers, I gave it up for the weekend, knowing we will resume Monday morning. Yes, I have metaphorically passed the plumbing problem baton on to my was-on-a-business-trip-last-week-to-Mexico husband - he got home late last night, saw the sheer exhaustion and frustration in my face and body language (even after I'd soaked in the jacuzzi last night)... and suggested we check into a hotel for the weekend. Loved the idea... but, of course with all this going on, my immune system seems to be down and I've caught a cold... so it felt like a waste of money - I made it clear I'd love to take a raincheck... :-)

However, I had a few obligations on the calendar that I have since erased, making it an event-free weekend (take a picture!) - I do not plan to go anywhere for 48 hours. When the going gets tough, the tough make soup... a sh*tpot, as we call it in the South (me having grown up and lived in the Atlanta area, until I moved to South Florida 16 years ago) - I spent the last few hours in my kitchen, chopping up all varieties of my food co-op organic vegetables for inclusion in a chicken broth stock: green beans, carrots, zucchini, corn off the cob, onions... and adding brown rice and sauteed chicken and the right amount/type of spices. I am sitting here at the keyboard with a steaming cup, stopping every few sentences to take a spoonful, inhale the aroma and appreciate the fresh taste, feeling my sinuses open and my cold symptoms dissipate - I already feel better... but I'm still not leaving the house!

Of course, the first item on the Soup-Making To Do List is which CD to put on to accompany - I bought Mary Chapin Carpenter's new holiday CD, Come Darkness, Come Light a few weeks ago on the September 30 release date and have listened to it in my car quite a few times. It's absolutely stunning, very mellow and instrospective, a good balance of originals and not, but even the covers are obscure - this recording may end up tied with The Roches' We Three Kings as my favorite for the season.

More from MCC's website here (make sure you click Next to read all 4 pages)...

SONG(S): Come Darkness, Come Light by Mary Chapin Carpenter (lyrics as yet unavailable, but song samples can be heard here)...

Times Three by Christine Kane (for Catherine: I watched back-to-back-to-back episodes of What Not to Wear last night - does that count?... :-)

BOOK: Peace Soup : The Recipe for a Peaceful Life in the New Millennium by Chef Jerry Bartholow

POEM: The Way In by Linda Hogan

Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding,
and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food.

QUOTE: "Soup and fish explain half the emotions of human life." ~ Sydney Smith

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon)

I almost used Eve of Destruction as the title of this blog post... but Paul Simon's tune is so much more snappy and upbeat - plus... the plumber just left after having given me the estimate, and I am continuing to think positive.

At this point, we have two options: jackhammer the bathroom floor tiles, and possibly remove the toilet, in the area of the leak - I have asked, and they agreed, to keep the extent of the damage as small as possible, although whatever needs to be done will be done. I actually found a box of extra floor tiles in the attic and maybe, just maybe, those broken up can be replaced - as I've said before, I am open to the idea of re-doing the entire floor (I just prefer not to!).

Second option: re-routing the pipe from the hot water heater through the attic down the wall to the bathroom, at which point there would still have to be tiles torn up - this procedure would require two people (so the price would double)... plus materials.

Call me crazy... but I can't imagine choosing Option #2 when #1 sounds so straightforward and simple, not to mention less expensive - I don't want to operate on fear (the same pipe will break in another location), so I'm choosing to believe in isolating the problem, feeling sure that direct and minimal will do the trick.

My plumber's name is Al... not Joe (thanks, Catherine, for the hysterical comment in my previous post) - for the record, no one in this equation makes $250,000 a year or more... :-)

BOOK: Flushed: How the Plumber Saved Civilization by W. Hodding Carter

POEM: Elegy for Alfred Hubbard by Tony Connor

Hubbard is dead, the old plumber:
who will mend our burst pipes now,
the tap that has dripped all the summer,
testing the sink's overflow?

No other like him. Young men with knowledge
of new techniques and theories from books
may better his work, straight from college,
but who will challenge his squint-eyed looks

in kitchen, bathroom, under floorboards,
rules of thumb which were often wrong;
seek as erringly stopcocks in cupboards,
or make a job last half as long?

He was a man who knew the ginnels
alleyways, streets — the whole district:
family secrets, minor annals,
time-honoured fictions fused to fact.

Seventy years of gossip muttered
under his cap, his tufty thatch,
so that his talk was slow and clotted,
hard to follow, and too much.

As though nothing fell, none vanished,
and time were the maze of Cheetham Hill,
in which the dead — with jobs unfinished
waited to hear him ring the bell.

For much he never got round to doing,
but meant to, when weather bucked up,
or worsened, or when his pipe was drawing,
or when he'd finished this cup.

I thought time, he forgot so often,
had forgotten him; but here's Death's pomp
over his house, and by the coffin
the son who will inherit his blowlamp,

tools, workshop, cart, and cornet
(pride of Cheetham Prize Brass Band),
and there's his mourning widow, Janet,
stood at the gate he'd promised to mend.

Soon he will make his final journey:
shaved and silent, strangely trim,
with never a pause to talk to any-
body: how arrow-like, for him!

In St Mark's Church, whose dismal tower
he pointed and painted when a lad,
they will sing his praises amidst flowers
while, somewhere, a cellar starts to flood,

and the housewife banging his front-door knocker
is not surprised to find him gone,
and runs for Thwaite, who's a better worker,
and sticks at a job until it's done.

QUOTE: "Modern cynics and skeptics... see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing." ~ John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Can't Complain (Todd Snider)

So... two blogger friends posted yesterday about worrying... and I commented to each... among other things suggesting using The Serenity Prayer as a benchmark (serenely accepting, courageously changing, wisely differentiating) - today, I will struggle to take my own advice... :-)

See yesterday's post regarding my home leak - see potential panic and dollar signs in my eyes. The leak detector guy came this morning, surveyed the whole house (headphones and sonar equipment and beeping, oh my!) for the routing of the pipes... and determined the leak is in our master bathroom under the floor - it appears the toilet will have to come up, as well as the gorgeous cobalt blue tile that was one of the features attracting me to the house 16 years ago...

The plumbing company is coming *back* tomorrow to give me an estimate on exactly how much this is all going to cost - there is bad and good news: it is unlikely my homeowner's insurance will pay for this since there is no visible damage and the pipe is under the house, therefore no threat to structural integrity. The other good news is that, since this is in the *hot* water system, I am keeping the hot water off, but we still have water throughout the house (to flush toilets, make tea, wash hands, etc.) - when I want to shower, I can turn the hot water back on long enough to accomplish... and then back off again (a pain... but nowhere near as inconvenient as it *could* be).

Trying trying trying to keep my wits (ha!) until I *know* what I am facing - received an e-mail from my husband traveling on business to Mexico, stating: I am okay. Thinking of you. All my love. Part of me would love to respond: I am not okay. Wishing you were here to help deal with this mess. Don't ever leave me alone again. (He doesn't have a clue yet as to all this stuff - I'm waiting until I know "the big picture" before I share details.) Then I remember how much he traveled in the past, and I know I'm lucky to have him around as much as I do these days - I pat myself on my back (tight with tension knots) that I am strong, capable and a good decision-maker.

The money will come from somewhere... that particular pipe will not bother us again for a while... and maybe it's time for a tile choice that reflects me and not the previous owners - how's that for sugarcoating?... :-)

Plus... thankyoujesus tonight is water aerobics class (I've been going twice a week for the last two months), I've been eating much healthier (loving the fruits and vegetables from the food co-op), my mom's health seems to have stabilized a bit, two of my three kids are doing well (and I'm handling the other with equal amounts love and boundaries), I know I'm voting for Barack Obama and will be volunteering at their headquarters over the next few weeks, I'm reading an old Ann Patchett and listening to a new Todd Snider.... and last night's jacuzzi soak was under a full moon - still thinking positive thoughts (and urging those around me to continue as well)... but I didn't cause this problem and I have the wherewithall to fix it.

As my friend sharon is fond of quoting her dad: "if a problem can be fixed with money, it's not a problem" - so true, so true...

For my previous posts on Worry, click here...

Real Simple, December 2002/January 2003

Think Constructively
Worrywarts tend to automatically assume the worst will happen in any situation. You can head off the cascade of negative thoughts by challenging them with logic, says psychiatrist Edward Hallowell. Ask yourself questions like How do I know the situation is bad? What are other possible outcomes? Is there a more positive way to see the situation? Say you have a falling-out with your fiancé. Instead of spending the rest of the day in a panic, convinced your relationship is doomed, remind yourself that the two of you have fought many times before, that your fiancé loves you, and that fights are a normal part of all relationships.

Make a Plan
Action is a powerful antidote to anxiety. After that argument with your fiance, make a list of what went wrong and how you could deal with it better the next time, or call a friend to discuss the spat. Likewise, you'll have less fodder for worry if you start addressing the situations that cause you stress. Hallowell suggests you come up with three specific changes you want to make that address specific worries, such as making a will if you're concerned about your estate, seeing your dentist if you fear gum disease, or cleaning out the attic if you're afraid it has become a fire hazard. Next to each item write down how and when you are going to tackle it. Once these are done, give yourself three more tasks.

Get Organized
Many everyday worries grow out of disorganization. Every bit of structure you add can reduce the time spent in useless worry. For example, get in the habit of making lists or keeping a daily schedule, or set a basket by the door to hold your keys so you can avoid that frantic morning search.

Distract Yourself
If you can't shake a worrisome thought, take a brisk walk or play a game with your kids, pull a few weeds or read the paper. Anything that requires some concentration is helpful, says psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema. A 10-minute break is all it takes to shut off the negative cycle of rumination. Another trick: Wear a rubber band around your wrist and when the train of "what ifs" starts gathering steam, snap the band hard and tell yourself to stop. The experts say such thought-stopping techniques really work.

Schedule Your Worries
Set aside a time and place — not the bedroom or anywhere else you like to relax — where you can spend 10 to 30 minutes every day worrying. That's right, just worrying. During that time, let all your worst fears rip. For the rest of the day, if a concern pops up, tell yourself to set it aside until your worry time. "When you worry without resistance, it tends to lose its power," says Wilson. Over time you'll find those troubling thoughts are less intrusive.You can also postpone worrying into the future. If you're nervous about giving a presentation that you've been preparing for days, tell yourself to set those fears on the back burner for 20 minutes to two hours. When that time comes, either let yourself worry about it or postpone it again. This technique will help keep you more relaxed and in the moment.

Write Your Worries Away
Keep a pad by your bed to jot down that vexing problem that jolts you awake at 2 A.M. You'll be able to get back to sleep knowing you won't forget about it. A worry journal can also help, though be sure to use it as a dumping ground and not a place to endlessly recycle the same concerns. You can also use a journal to work out answers to troubling problems.

Worry with a Friend
Nothing brings your troubles down to size more quickly than sharing your concerns with someone else. Along with sympathy, you'll get a clearer perspective and help in brainstorming possible solutions.

Tame Your Tension
As psychologist Beverly Potter points out in The Worrywart's Companion, tension and worrying go hand in hand, but if you can relax your body, your mind will follow. Try deep breathing to unwind and root yourself in the present. (Your abdomen should go out when you breathe in, and in when you breathe out.) Or practice tightening and then releasing your muscles from head to toe to teach yourself the difference between feeling tense and feeling relaxed. Seek calm through prayer, meditation, or yoga.

Treat Yourself Well
You know the drill — a good night's sleep, a warm bath, regular exercise, healthy eating, limited caffeine. Add them all up and your anxiety decreases.Although some of these techniques may feel awkward or artificial, stick with them and you'll find they work. Just ask psychological researcher Evelyn Behar. When she was writing her master's thesis, she found herself up night after night, consumed with worry: How would she finish on time? Would her professors think she had done a good job? She knew she needed to get an adequate amount of sleep, so she gave herself a scheduled time and place to worry. Every night at eight, she gave herself 20 minutes of "worry time" on the living-room sofa. "I finally forced myself," she recalls, "and it saved a lot of time during the day, time I would have spent worrying. Overall, my anxiety level went down."

Let Go
Easier said than done. However, many people who make a habit of worrying often become convinced their vigilance is keeping bad things at bay — like the white-knuckle flyer who is certain her anxiety is keeping the plane aloft. The truth is, we don't have control over many situations in our lives — whether it's the safety of the airplane we're riding in our ability to have children. Hallowell suggests you try turning your worry over to God, or to fate if you don't believe in God. Accept that your worries won't make the world any different; they will only make you more unhappy. How? Try praying; try writing the worry down and putting it in a box; try anything that helps you let the worry go.

POEM: Against Pleasure by Robin Becker

Worry stole the kayaks and soured the milk.
Now, it’s jellyfish for the rest of the summer
and the ozone layer full of holes.
Worry beats me to the phone.
Worry beats me to the kitchen,
and all the food is sorry. Worry calcifies
my ears against music; it stoppers my nose
against barbecue. All films end badly.
Paintings taunt with their smug convictions.
In the dark, Worry wraps her long legs
around me, promises to be mine forever.

Thugs hijacked all the good parking spaces.
There’s never a good time for lunch.
And why, my mother asks, must you track
beach sand into the apartment?
No, don’t bother with books,
not reading much these days.
And who wants to walk the boardwalk anyway,
with scam artists who steal your home and savings?
Watch out for talk that sounds too good to be true.
, she says pointing at me,
don’t worry so much.

QUOTE: "We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it." ~ John Newton

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Flood (Annie Gallup)

When I got home from work last night about 7 p.m. (after stopping by the food co-op to pick up my order), as soon as I walked in the door I heard the sound of water rushing (almost like a running toilet) - I went around the house, trying to isolate the noise, but couldn't (meaning it was either under the house or behind the walls). Fortunately, I know how to turn off the water to the house, which I did, and the sound stopped - unfortunately, my husband's out of town (something major... appliance/car/home... always breaks when he's gone!).

I called the plumber at 7 this morning, and they made me first appointment of the day (somewhere between 8:30 and 9 a.m.) - he showed up right on time, and isolated the problem to be in the hot water system. He turned off the hot water heater, so at least we can use the water now (as opposed to last night when I had to turn everything off) - they can't do anything to fix it until they know exactly where the leak is... so he recommended a leak detection company.

I called and they can come out tomorrow (Wednesday) between 10 and noon - once they locate the leak, it gets turned back over to the plumber and they will have to go in through the walls or under the floor to repair or reroute the pipes.

I am sick to my stomach over the potential extent and expense of the problem - all I can visualize is jackhammers demolishing my floors/walls!

Think positive thoughts, please - in the meantime, I'll be showering in the pool or the jacuzzi... :-)

BOOK: The Plumber's Troubleshooting Guide by R. Dodge Woodson

POEM: blessing the boats by Lucille Clifton

(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

QUOTE: "You could write the story of man's growth in terms of his epic concerns with water." ~ Bernard Frank

Monday, October 13, 2008

Worst President Ever (Jack Hardy)

I believe today's theme is self-explanatory... :-)

SONG: Worst President Ever by Jack Hardy

BOOK: Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America by Molly Ivins, Lou Dubose

POEM: Dear George Bush by Kristin Prevallet

I am writing this letter just to inform you that the tide is turning.
It is a fickle tide,
one that has the presence of mind
to alter its course.
You may remember how just a year ago
many believed you to be illegitimate
(you still are).
Those were the days when your
slips of the tongue
were circulated as comic relief
when in reality
they weren't very funny.
After all, they revealed
your true feelings
like the clown with the innocent face
who sneers under his smile
while handing out glasses of water
laced with arsenic.
You're a prophet, George Bush, every dangling modifier
and stumbling qualification
were just your way of telling the truth,
like how you accidentally predicted on
Dec. 18, 2000, during your first trip to Washington, DC as President-Elect:

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier. . .
just as long as I'm the dictator. . ."

I understand why the majority of Americans
think any mocking of your character is unpatriotic,
and I understand the importance of patriotism
when there is a need to rally a country
into a nationalist collective identity
that forcibly sends a message to the rest of the world
(including our allies)
that nobody messes with the U.S.A.,
a war cry that echoes out and incites
all the two-Lexus SUV families
and those who believe they too will someday own one
(in other words, not all of us)
to shout in the spirit of the moment:
"Bin Laden: nowhere to run, nowhere to hide!"
and "Red, White and Blue: these colors will not run!"
Great slogans, actually.

They've worked.

I've overheard some astute political commentary
just listening to people on the street.
"They should execute him publicly
and live on TV just like they do over in those countries,"
and "Look around the world. You see
that there are only two choices: Capitalism or corruption."
From my standpoint, there are some logical problems
with these heartfelt opinions
(the former makes the ranter into the thing he most hates,
and the latter obviously did not lose his life savings when
Enron executives pocketed over a billion dollars
before the stock tumbled).

I am one of many who does not believe that these good people,
and they are good people,
represent the viewpoints of the citizens of the U.S.A.
I know you hate that word, citizen.
And that this is not a new thing.
The principals of democracy are threatened by the big game
you're playing with those energy corporations:
they contribute to your campaign,
you put them on your cabinet
to set environmental policy--
did you really think we wouldn't care?

Of course I know that the 1st amendment was being threatened
long before you took office
and long before this current discussion of "homeland security"
terrified the people,
putting the country into a state of siege,
making it easier for you to control.

I remember the Republican National Convention
in Philadelphia, July 2000.
The police raided a warehouse
where protesters were making puppets
because the materials
chicken wire and cardboard
could have been used
to make bombs.
They destroyed the puppets
and put all of the protesters in jail
initially charging them
with the intent to incite riots
when in fact they were intending
to inspire people to participate in democracy.

I remember being corralled like cattle
at anti-globalization protests
and marching along wondering
what happened to freedom of assembly?

I remember racial profiling,
and how all of these other constitutional violations
have been used for centuries,
especially against the African-American community,
and that minority citizens and immigrants
have been subject to some of the grossest
infringements of civil liberties--
the two words that uphold the very power of democracy--
for a very long time.

And you hate that I know these things.
That I know about Unocal's
plan for a pipeline through Afghanistan
to reap oil from the yet untapped reserves in the Caspian Sea.
That I know about your family's immense profits
from doing business with the Bin Laden family,
which preserves the Saudi court.
That I know about how you hindered the FBI
from investigating the Bin Laden family's connections to terrorism
before the September attacks.
That I know about how between 1988 and 1999
Dick Cheney's company, Halliburton,
oversaw $23.8 million of business contracts
for the sale of oil-industry equipment and services to Iraq,
greatly helping Hussein maintain his grip on power.

Seems as if conflict of interest
is just a reality
that I'll have to learn to live with,
but you can be sure
that I'll never stop
looking for the big picture
and the larger context
because these days there is always
more going on than can be reported
on Fox News Channel upbeat
sound-bite news reports.

I know that in the U.S.A. Patriot Act
there are some implications
that good citizens should just keep their mouths shut,
and you think we will sit by
while gray-suited vigilantes
from your new private army
stop us on the street
and let you see our ID,
making the whole country
into one gigantic Palm Beach
where non-white citizens had to carry ID to prove that they
were indeed non-white citizens.
This practice was eventually made illegal in 1985,
but I can't help but see a connection
between this and the fact that in this same county
a phony list of felons
prohibited 45,000 people
(54% of whom were African-American)
from voting in the 2000 presidential election.

This makes me think
that your idea of security
will only be imposed
upon anyone who is either not white,
or, if white, not dressed in America's mandatory
Banana-Republic-Gap-Old-Navy individuality uniforms.

And I know that really
I don't know anything
about what is really
going on.
After all, I'm just an ordinary citizen.

I am telling you these things
because I want you to know
that I participate in democracy,
that I have conversations about politics
and get my sources from the independent press.
And I know that it is America
that grants me that freedom,
and so, yes, I defend what is good about America.
And you?

If telling you these things is unpatriotic,
then poetry is unpatriotic,
and did I mention that I am a poet
paying attention to those winds,
those tides,
and all those other clichés that poets and statesmen use
to move the people to embrace one cause or another.
I am a writer of propaganda,
and here are some lines of my poetry:
Beware, the images of the future are crouching
in the shadows of grief,
welcome to the next century,
the tide is turning,
you are not the elected sovereign of the world,
you are not the king of freedom,
we will defend our rights to be citizens of the world,
you can't take that away,
you can't take that away.
Oh, no.
You can't take
that away
from me.

Kirstin Prevallet

for Debunker Mentality,
for Boog City and
the 17th annual New Year's Day Marathon Reading, 2002
St. Mark's Church
2nd Avenue
New York City

QUOTE: "Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; lick it once and you'll suck forever." ~ Brian Wilson

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tightrope (Leon Russell)


More here... and here...

SONG: Tightrope by Leon Russell

BOOK: To Reach the Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers by Philippe Petit

POEM: Aerialist by Victoria Hallerman

Her life is the wire—she can never come down.
Sometimes she stops and sits on it to eat,
even sleeps there, her whole body stretched
as the wire is stretched. In sleep
she keeps her balance,
feet curled like a monkey’s
the habit of grasping:

she has never fallen.
She never will, not entirely.
Once in a while a slip
causes her to hang for a moment by her hands.
It isn’t the danger of falling that slices through her dreams
but the wire itself, drawing
a line through her body,
leaving a mark on the soles of her feet,

her buttocks, her back.
If she were to cut the wire (she dreams of this)
the sky would break like a mirror into the sea
and nothing would be whole again.
Virgin of the Apocalypse standing on a crescent moon,
she is keeping
Heaven and Earth apart.

QUOTE: "Situated in some nebulous distance I do what I do so that the universal balance of which I am a part may remain a balance." ~ Antonio Porchia

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Angel Dream No. 4 (Tom Petty)

From today's Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of Vietnamese monk, writer, and activist Thich Nhat Hanh, born in 1926 in Tha Tien, Vietnam. He became a Buddhist monk when he was 16 years old. During the Vietnam War, he decided that monks shouldn't just stay in monasteries and meditate all day long while a war was going on. So he founded an organization that helped rebuild bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, and organize agricultural cooperatives. He traveled to the United States to urge the American government to withdraw its troops, and he persuaded Martin Luther King Jr. to publicly oppose the Vietnam War. But both the non-Communist and Communist governments banned him from Vietnam in 1966, and it was just a few years ago, in 2005, that he was finally allowed to return for a visit. Since he was banned from Vietnam, he set up a monastic community in southern France, called Plum Village.

Thich Nhat Hanh has published more than 100 books, books of poetry and Buddhist thought. About 40 of them are in English, and many of those have been best-sellers, including Peace Is Every Step (1991), Call Me by My True Names (1993), and Living Buddha, Living Christ (1995).

P.S. Thanks to Sam Pacetti for the inspiration, and dedication, of today's song... <3

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.

My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

QUOTE: "My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh