Friday, July 31, 2009

Talking About Breasts Today

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Talking About Breasts Today

It would appear that the next issue of W magazine is going to feature a cover shot by Brad Pitt of Angelina Jolie breastfeeding one of their twins. It is, as you can see, a gorgeous picture of a tired but radiant-looking new mother. I remember that feeling of being completely overwhelmed and exhausted (and I had my babes one at a time) and yet at the same time, feeling as if I was doing the exact one thing I had been put on earth to do, which was to nurture the baby with the same body which had produced it.

We are, after all, mammals, which means we have mammary glands to produce milk for our young. We don't have to go out and catch bugs to feed them or regurgitate partly digested fish into their beaks. We simply put them to our breasts and with a little instinct on both the part of the mother and the baby and a little learned-skill and some initial pain, milk flows, the baby drinks, all is well.

You can even read while you breastfeed, which for me meant the best of all possible worlds, and probably why I nursed my children for eons.

When a woman nurses, her body produces a hormone called oxytocin, which is a sort of natural bliss-producing drug. You can see its effects on Angelina's face. It was more than brilliant of Mother Nature to develop this system because if there's anything harder than being a new mother I don't know what it is. Especially if you have other children to tend to.

Of course there are a myriad of other reasons to breastfeed our young. And yet, even today, when we know all of the benefits of breastfeeding it's something that many women do as surreptitiously as possible because they never know, no matter how discrete they are trying to be, if some ignorant flight attendant or restaurant server is going to ask her to cover up.

I myself was once told by a mall security guard that nursing my baby in public was indecent exposure. Since my daughter's entire body was under my voluminous shirt at the time I have no idea how he made this deduction but it was completely disconcerting and disturbing and I'll never forget it.

So I love seeing pictures of celebrities breastfeeding their babies. It may be a ridiculous notion on my part but I believe that these images give credence to the fundamental right of mothers and babies to nurse when and wherever babies need to nurse. These pictures say that even famous, extremely busy women know the value and beauty of nursing their babies.

One of my favorite celebrity mother and nursing child images is an Annie Leibovitz portrait of Jerry Hall, former supermodel, former wife of Mick Jagger, nursing her son, Gabriel.

It's a stunning image and strikes me as being, well, ridiculously humorous and at the same time, incredibly powerful.
It shows a beautiful woman, a completely gorgeous woman, dressed to the nines, holding her naked fine, fat cherub of a son to her breast, studying the camera with a powerful, almost cruel gaze. It would appear that in this woman there is at least as much testosterone coursing its way through her veins as oxytocin.
What was she thinking when this picture was taken? Was she thinking about her dinner reservations? Her husband's latest peccadillo? It would not appear that she is worrying overmuch about her child or the damage he may be doing to her fabulous breasts. He is simply there, doing what breastfeeding children do, amusing himself by playing with the neckline of his mother's shirt, nestled into her lap with his foot in her hand. He doesn't know that his father is one of the world's most famous rock stars or that his mother has some of the longest, most celebrated legs in the universe. He doesn't care. He is simply a son, nursing his mother's breast. And she is, along with everything else she is, simply a woman doing what women do, which is to nurse her child.


The image of madonna and child is one of the most rendered works in art and yet, somehow in our culture, the sight of a woman with a baby at her breast is considered a great deal less than sacred and it has taken actual laws to ensure that women can nurse their babies whenever and wherever they deem fit.

I was actually told to go nurse my baby in the mall restroom if I needed to nurse at the mall which just points to the fact that to this young security guard, my nursing was more of an excrement issue than a nutritional one. Let's leave the sacred out of it entirely. And I was the mother of a very young child and I wasn't dressed to the nines but in a very baggy t-shirt and skirt, and I wasn't famous and I was no doubt sleep-deprived and despite the fact that I had already nursed three children and believed to my bones in my right to do so, I was not only taken aback by this stupid guard but I was shamed.

My initial reaction was to feel shame.

And that's so ridiculous.

How I wish I had seen that picture of Jerry Hall before that day. I might have knocked that uniformed and badged yokel to his knees with my powerful, disdainful gaze. I might have whipped out the other breast and squirted him in the eye with a shot of breastmilk.

Or, perhaps, if I had seen that picture of Angelina, I would merely have smiled at him with a blissed-out gaze and told him that surely, he was mistaken and now please, little man, run away because he was disturbing a very sacred moment and was harshing my oxytocin mellow.

I hope that young nursing mothers see these images of celebrities breastfeeding and take them to heart. Give them the courage and spunk to do what they know is right. To not feel shame if some ignorant fool tells them to cover up and go to a stinky public bathroom to nurse her baby.
Because dammit, breastfeeding is our right as mammals, it is our right as mothers, it is as sacred to nurse any infant in the world as it was for Jesus' mother to nurse him.

In my opinion, all nursing mothers are madonna and child, whether they're hanging on the wall of an art museum or sitting at McDonald's and we need to grow up and realize that. That breasts are here for a reason which has nothing to do with titillation. Great word, huh?

And if someone notices a woman nursing her baby in public, he or she has every right to avert his or her eyes if they don't want to see it. In fact, that would be the polite thing to do. Or, they could fall to their knees and worship at her feet.

I think Jerry Hall would have liked that. I think she would have liked it a lot. And Jesus? He would appreciate it too.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cuttin' Out The Middle Man

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cuttin' Out The Middle Man

Last night we had rehearsal in the rec hall of the Monticello Episcopal Church because the Opera House was hosting another event for the bicyclers. Because we've been under various flood warnings and tornado watches for the past week or so and because the rains and lightening and thunder we've been getting have been truly amazing, I thought it would be funny to announce, as I walked into the room, "Well, I hope god doesn't strike this building down because I'm in it."

Now let me set the scene here:
In the play I'm currently in, two of the actors are ministers, one is a minister's wife, one a devout Christian of some sort and our director is about the sweetest, nicest Episcopalian in the world who claims that Episcopalian's welcome all sinners and will offer to buy you a drink.

And me?

The only reason I don't claim to be an atheist is because I don't know everything and I do try to keep an open mind but really, I do not have the god gene. I was raised in a Community Church and I don't know quite what they believe but we did sing the Old Rugged Cross and the Doxology and we said the Lord's Prayer and there was preaching involved although hell was not emphasized.

I tried to go through a religious phase as girl of about nine or ten when I was being sexually abused and that did not work out well. I read the entire Bible by the age of twelve. Every word. Every begat and smiting. And let me tell you- there is some twisted stuff in the Bible and we could talk about that for days, but let's not.

Anyway, the abuse continued and I never heard god's voice or saw any evidence he'd been listening and I figured out for myself that hell can be right here on earth and then I got into music and realized that heaven can be too. I did LSD (so sue me- it was about a million years ago) and that particular drug wrapped itself around my brain stem and shook it and showed me a few things about the connection of every atom in this universe and well, that was it for me.
I lost my religion, whatever it was I might have had but I became what I can only describe as spiritual.

So anyway, last night when I said that thing about the church being struck down, I felt comfortable saying it because my cast mates are loving people who know me and know I am, for the most part, a good person with an open heart and that I try. They also know I'm not a believer in what they believe and that seems to be okay but one of the ministers, who is more of a traditionally southern Christian than the others said, "Well, Mary. Why do you think you said that?"

And I was taken aback.

"Well, because it was a joke," I said.
I really don't think that god is going to strike down a church rec room because I'm in it. I did Weight Watchers meetings in a church in Thomasville, Georgia for years and that church is still standing, every one of its red bricks firmly in place.

"Maybe you said it because you know you should go to church," said my very Christian cast mate.

"Uh. No." I said. And was reminded once again that although it is quite accepted for a person of religious belief to go off on a non-believer, even in a sweet, Christian way, it is totally NOT all right for a heathen to go off on a believer. It would not be appropriate at all for me to say what I was thinking which was that I have heard the message his church no doubt proclaims my entire life and I am in no way open to the idea that I have to believe in a Magical Being to make my way through life in a meaningful, moral way, nor do I believe that believing in that Magical Being is going to send me up to heaven when I die.

Now see, I have a deep affection for this man. He's a firm believer in Jesus Christ, his savior, and he lives that way. I respect that. And I think he respects me, even though I'm sure he prays for me and would love to get me to give my life over to his Jesus.

So what he said didn't so much offend me or make me angry as just a little bit indignant and he knew it and said, "I love you, Mary. In Christ."

"I love you, too, B.," I answered. "I'm just cutting out the middle man."

And isn't that it?
I mean I get up and I look around me some days and I see beauty that makes me swoon. Sometimes just the sight of the way the light cuts through the trees and casts gold upon them makes me cry. And I've been this way since I was a child. I think we are all born with this great capacity to respond to nature and music and the love of those we love and goodness and mercy and great literature and art with such appreciation and awe that it opens us up inside and we recognize holiness when we see it. I mean, if you can see a baby get born and not see holiness, there is something dead inside of you. If you can hold someone's hand when they are dying and not recognize holiness then I feel sorry for you. If you can can walk through spring and not have to stop over and over again to be grateful for the holiness of the renewal of life then truly, I don't understand.

But why and how does Jesus get involved? Why do we need to believe that he was born and died and was resurrected to get the fact that all of this is a fucking miracle?

The creationists, those folks who don't believe in evolution and who prefer to think that their god sat up there in heaven and painted the stripes on the zebra and the petals on the camellia and the colors on the sky for sunrise always ask how we could have gotten to this place in this perfect world without the intervention of a perfect god?

And the response of course is that this perfection is here because it's the only way it all could have evolved in this particular set of circumstances, this briny soup of dust and water, comet breath and sunlight. Oh man. When you think about it, when you really think about the vast amount of life here before us and its sweetness and its, well, glory, it's too much for the puny mind of us all to grasp, and yet, not really.

We can grasp it. We can even worship it.

But why do we have to humble ourselves before a creator? Why do we have to bring Jesus into it?

Oh. There's so much I could say here. The discrepancies in the Bible. The huge number of religions which have come and gone and stayed and gone again. The unloving and prejudiced things people say and claim that their god proclaimed them to be true, meanwhile shutting themselves off from the true miracles of differences and the beauty those differences bring to our lives. The condemnation of those differences, the hatred of "the sin" while the "sinner" is embraced.
The way children suffer and die even if prayers are offered endlessly. The way we haven't, even after eons of religions coming and going, figured out that killing people in the name of god or country doesn't solve a damn thing.
Not to mention diseases, natural disasters and plain old stupidity.

But that's not what I want to say today.

What I want to say is that I don't want my soul to be limited to a belief. I want my soul and my heart to be open to every leaf, every drop of sweet water or salt, to every baby born, to every bird's song, to the frenzy of spring's mating frogs, their passionate desire to froth the puddles and ponds left by the rains with their need to join together and make more frogs.

I don't want to have to go back and check and make sure this is all okayed by Jesus and his big daddy. I don't want to have to filter my love, my passions, my angers and my fears through a set of religious rules and beliefs.

I just want to be who I am, here on this earth in this universe with its good and its bad, its evil and its miracles, its holiness and its horror. I don't want to have to figure out why a loving god would allow this but not that. I want my actions to come from my heart and from love and what I observe around me, based on trying to be the best me I can possibly manage.

Is that so wrong?

Of course not.

So why is it so hard to say these things to a believer?

I don't know.

But I'm going to start trying. Not to defend myself against religion, but to offer what I feel, in my very own heart, instead of meekly bowing my head and letting someone try to make me feel like I'm a sinner because I don't buy their brand.

Why not?

Because I DO believe. I believe in a lot of things. And just because I don't want to go to a church where they speak of the father, the son and the holy ghost (and what the HELL is the holy ghost?) as the holy trinity, doesn't mean I don't believe in holy trinities.

I believe in the mother, the father, and the child.
I believe in the light, the love and the yearning for them both.
I believe in fire and water and air.
I believe in the seed, the dirt and the rain.
I believe in the guitar, the bass, the drums.
I believe in the hips, the breasts, the feet.
I believe in the bone, the blood, the breath.
I believe in the pen, the ink, the paper.
I believe in the chicken, the egg and the question.

I believe that breast milk is sacred although I do not think the communion wine is.
I believe that home made bread can feed your soul but I do not believe the host is the body of Christ.
I believe the vagina can should be worshiped because it delivers life but I do not believe the cross should be because it represents the cruelty of man.

I believe in this day, this heart, this mind, these hands and these words.

I believe in love. And not just the love between a man and a woman or the love a parent has for a child or a person has for his or her god. I believe in love in all its forms and that it is sacred wherever it is found and is true.

That's what I need to tell people who want me to go to church. With love. In love. My own. Not Christ's. I'm cutting out the middle man. I'm going it alone. With all these miracles and loves and leaves and light and music and words by my side.

And that's what I have to say today.
This gorgeous rain-washed day that fills me up with its light and its song and its green lizards and its soft air and its life, bursting forth renewed and ancient, all at the same time.
This day which has given me another opportunity to be who I am, the miracle of evolution, the daughter of all the mothers, the mother of all the daughters and sons, and as I go about this day with joy (because I am filled with joy today) I am going to think about all of these things and how dinosaurs had feathers and I will wonder what it would have been like to look at one of those mighty creatures, three-fingered and shimmering in the light of early days on earth in colors I can't imagine.

Because I don't know everything.

But I do know I don't need to go to church to hear about Jesus.

The wind carries me all the message I need, through the branches of the trees, from the blue waters of the Gulf, from the breath of the universe as it inhales and exhales its life to my sacred body, my profane and joyful heart.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sour Lass

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sour Lass

So I went to get new glasses today. I have been wearing corrective lenses since the Lion's Club came to my school when I was in the third grade to test our vision and it was discovered that I could not see the largest E on the chart.
"Which way is the biggest E pointing?" asked the Lions Club Guy.
"What E?" I asked.
"Oh my," they said. "You might need glasses."
Well, in the third grade, I thought glasses were the coolest things in the world. Especially when I got some (blue plastic frames, quite stylish in 1963) and could see the individual leaves on the trees! Wowzer!
Of course in high school I got contact lenses, the better to be beautiful, and I put up with all that saline solution shit for many years, but eventually decided that I was lazier than I was vain, and went back to glasses. Having children had a lot to do with that decision. Mainly the fact that when the opportunity for a quick nap arose, I did not want to have to get up and go take my contacts out, wash them and put them in saline in their clever little holder. Etc.
So anyway, today's new glasses were the latest in a long, long line of new glasses experience for me and I think they're going to work out. It's not a new prescription. I didn't think I was going to get new glasses, just my old ones fixed, but when I went to the optical place (which I shall not name), they said that I could just get a whole new pair! Again- Wowzer! I could have fixed the glasses myself with a spot of super glue, but offered brand new ones, I felt I should take them. I never liked the broken ones that much anyway. And getting them had been a major hassle. Between doctor prescription mistakes and optical technician mistakes, it took me about three weeks and over half a dozen visits to get things straighted out to where I could actually see.
Now, my eyes are old. I have nearsightedness I have farsightedness and I have an astigmatism. So I can see why things might go awry in the glasses-making process. And go awry they did. Over and over and over.
Which would have been fine if the people at the optical place had apologized or taken responsibility for their mistakes.
But no. They did not.
I kept having to deal with this one chick. And maybe it's just our chemistry or something, but she and I were like oil and water. No, that's way too tame. We were like fire and gasoline. Yeah, that's more like it. She evoked an anger in me that was more powerful than the burning surface of the sun. She kept insinuating that there was nothing at all wrong with the way the lenses were being made, but that it was my particularly picky attitude about my vision that was at fault.
"It's hard to get used to progressive lenses," she kept saying. "You have to give it time."
"But it's been a week," I said, "And besides, this is like my third pair of glasses with progressive lenses."
"Hmmph," she'd say, flicking her blonde hair over her skeletal shoulder. This is a chick who (and there is no doubt about this) aspires to be Paris Hilton's twin. She does pretty well at that, too. Except she is about half as fat as Paris and does not have Paris's winning smile or so obvious charm.
And it goes without saying that I got my first pair of bifocals when Paris Lite was still learning that pee goes in the potty.
Anyway, after much struggle and a whole lot of restraint on my part, I got glasses that finally were okay. Not great, but I just could not face going back in that place again. I got used to them.
And I had remembered the difficulties that I went through, getting those glasses, but I had completely forgotten (blocked?) all about the girl who had raised my ire to the point of spontaneous combustion.
Until I went back in today and dealt with her again for about forty seconds.
This optical place has more than one branch and the one I'd gone into for the repair has nice people. Very nice people. And they were the ones who looked up my records and told me I could just pick out a new pair of frames if I wanted and get a whole new pair of glasses. For free! Now they didn't have any frames in the brand that I needed that I liked, so I went to the other branch. Which is where the Sour Lass works. And of course, she was the one who waited on me.
"Name?" she asked, sitting at the computer. I gave her the pertinent information and told her what they'd said at the nice location and she said, "Hmmph," and flipped her blond hair over her skeletal shoulder. "Let me call my manager."
Which she did. And kept saying "Well, she's here wanting a brand new pair of glasses." As if I had come in and demanded a brand new pair of glasses when all I thought I was asking for originally was a spot of glue or something. I mean, those people at the other location were the ones who offered the glasses to me! I kept trying to tell Paris Lite this while she was talking to her manager and she kept giving me the "Hmmph" look.
The manager okayed the new glasses, which I personally think pissed off P.L. "If you take them," she said, "You will be forfeiting any more repairs on this contract."
"When does the contract end?" I asked.
"September," she said.
Since it's August, I didn't think that was such a bad thing. What the hell?
So I picked out new frames and she kept asking if I was sure I liked them and reminded me that it's hard to get used to progressives and just generally annoyed me so damn much that I wanted to pop her head off. This is exactly what I was seeing in my mind's eye. Me popping her head off.
I also wanted to say to her, "Why in God's name would I listen to what you're saying about my vision when you obviously are so dense that you think people can't see where your real lip line is?"
But I didn't say this and I didn't pop her head off. I swear though, I came way too close for comfort. I had two of my daughters with me and by the time our exchange was over, they were cringing and people were starting to stare. And I'm not usually like this. I don't send food back in restaurants, I don't take things back to stores for ridiculous reasons, and I generally try to be as polite and gracious a human being as is possible.
But this girl...
It's weird to feel that sort of self-righteous indignation to the point where it's almost enjoyable. It makes me feel powerful in a twisted sort of way. I can feel myself getting to the point where I am going to start screaming. Doing what I've never done in my life- creating a real scene.
I really didn't know I had it in me until I met this one girl with very blond hair wearing a black pantsuit and pink lipstick that went way past her lips.
And I don't really have a point here. Just...wowzer.
And I'd say "Bless her heart," but frankly, for once, I just don't have it in me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Birthday

Hey there. I'm sneaking in a freshly written post. Well, okay. I'm writing it on July 20th and scheduling it to be published (PUBLISHED- HAHA!) on my birthday. I'm here, in Lloyd, but when you read this, if all goes as planned, I will be in Cozumel.
Time travel. Sort of.
And that picture is from a trip we took to Cozumel in 2003. So that was me, six years ago and I hope that today, my birthday, I have a similar evening. Sitting on a balcony, watching the sun set over the Caribbean sea, and being so incredibly happy and delighted with the colors and the drama of the sky as the sun sinks into the horizon that I am beyond words, my Virgin of Guadalupe candle beside me, the swallows darting around my balcony, and the smells of meat and garlic grilling wafting up from a kitchen, my husband within arms' reach. I hope that we have a plan for dinner and that I get up from the balcony when the sun has set and go in and braid my hair up and put on a dress and sparkly mermaid-colored eye shadow and my silver bracelets and we go out into the soft evening air to town and have something so delicious for supper that my eyes roll in pleasure and perhaps tequila will be involved.
Guacamole will be, most definitely.

Mr. Moon asked me the other day what I want for my birthday this year and I said, "For me to wake up on the day and not even know what day it is."
He knew exactly what I meant- that we would be so content with each moment of each day that we completely lose track of time. We have done that before on Cozumel, believe me. Our first trip there, we got to the airport an entire DAY late. Yes, we did.
And one time, I discovered that instead of us having two days left, we only had one and I didn't quit crying until days after we got home.

I am not making this up.

So that's what I hope for today (eight days from when I am writing this now, in Lloyd as the frogs croak and the night embraces my house, my trees, my world). That I wake up and don't even know it's my birthday. That perhaps as we are having breakfast of fruit and eggs and maybe even BACON, that I remember.

"Oh," I will say, as I take another sip of coffee, "I think it might be my birthday."
"Hmmm...." Mr. Moon will say. "What do you want to do today?"
And I will smile and say, "This."

And we will look out over the ocean and we will see people walking by with bags of limes and fish strung on palm frond stems and I will be so glad to be where I am on this, my fifty-fifth birthday with the sea in front of me and my love beside me and an entire day to dance through and a sunset to watch and a supper to eat, wearing silver bracelets, silver earrings and smiling with all my heart.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Here and There, Both Perfect

Friday, November 2, 2007

Here and There, Both Perfect

Some days are just so damn beautiful that they'll break your heart. Today has been one of those. One of those perfect fall days with cool air and sunlight pouring out of a blue sky to paint all the leaves in silver.
Ah. It's enough to just be alive today.
And as my son pointed out in his most recent blog Thursday's Child Has Far To Go at , changes in the weather can throw us into deep nostalgia for places we've been, things we've done. Fall especially, I think, has a natural tendency to do that. It's a time when we start to draw into ourselves more, to think and to feel.
My son thinks of Atlanta when the weather turns cool but I think of Cozumel, Mexico. Sometimes, the brush of cool air, the way it smells on these early fall mornings, throws me completely back to that small island in the Caribbean where my husband and I have spent so many anniversaries. Our first trip there was in 1987 and since then, we've probably been back eight times. More or less. Mas o menos. I can close my eyes and see the little town of San Miguel, smell the garlic grilling as supper time approaches, feel the sidewalk under my feet, hear the sounds of mopeds, the waves hitting the shore, the bread man banging a metal pipe to announce his wares as he pedals his cart along the street, see the way the sea goes from green to blue to violet, all of it crystal clear, like a fabulous jewel, and I can taste the Ixnepech, the ubiquitous fresh salsa that tastes perfect on everything from the morning's eggs to the evening's fresh snapper. Most of all, I can see the Mayan people, small and brown and always smiling, ever-patient and gentle, always eager to talk about their island and their families, always curious about where we live, always eager to help in any way.
Cozumel is my magic place. It is the place in the world that besides my own home, I feel safest and most in love with my husband. Every one of our trips there has been a honeymoon. There isn't a whole lot to do beyond snorkle and explore and watch the sunset. And it's such a small island- thirty three miles long, eight and a half miles wide. It was sacred to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, who was the goddess of childbirth, the sea, the moon, seashells and weaving. Mayan women were expected to make a pilgrimage there during their lifetime and I guess I've made enough trips there for several lifetimes, but somehow, it's never enough.
I have to admit that the over the course of twenty years, the island has changed considerably, mostly due to the fact that it's become a port of call for cruise ships. Don't get me started on that subject. Just...don'
When we first visited, it was still a sleepy place, a diver's destination, "discovered" by Jacques Cousteau. It was, and still is, a place where actual families lived, where people worked and lived and raised their children. And oh, what beautiful, so-obviously loved children!
But since the cruise ships have taken over, so much of the island seems geared to catch the folks vomited off those monstrous boats as they take their six hour shore leaves and sell them jewelry, cheap trinkets, Kahlua, and T-shirts, and send them back drunk on bad tequila. The cruisers love to eat at places they know so Ruby Tuesdays and Margaritaville do booming businesses while the restaurants that families own and which have served delicious meals to thousands for decades stand empty.
Oh yeah. I got started.
I'm sorry. That's not what I meant to write about. What I meant to write about is how this time of year, my heart yearns to go back there, cruisers or not, to feel that soft air blow over my body, to walk down the seafront and say "Buenos tardes" to the people we pass in the evening and to hear them say it back to me. I want to go to the Zocalo on Sunday night and watch the families dressed in their best, walk around the square and dance and eat and I want to hear their voices. I want to stand on a balcony with a drink of rum in my hand and my husband by my side to watch the sun go down. I want to hear the liquid notes of the Mexican blackbirds as they gather at dusk and call their contentment with the day. I want to watch the lights come on across the water at Playa del Carmen. I want to see images of the Virgin of Guadalupe everywhere and hear the street musicians play the Cozumel song.
I guess I want to make another pilgrimage and I know it won't happen this year.
But I know it's still there. I know that time and even cruise ships can't destroy all that magic.
But I yearn, oh how I yearn! Even as I am content to be exactly where I am, there is a part of me that is there, right now, this very second. That part is wearing a dress and silver earrings and she is discussing with her husband where they should eat their supper. She is smiling. Oh, how she is smiling! And she is happy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dearly Beloved

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dearly Beloved

Have you gotten your computerized call asking if you'd like to sign a petition to get a state constitutional amendment declaring that marriage is something that can only be entered into between a man and a woman in order to protect the sanctity of marriage?

I have.

Scary shit there.

I've never understood why a marriage between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman threatens my own marriage. I mean, no matter how hard I try, I just can't see any correlation between gay marriage and the downfall of straight marriage. I guess that if two married gay guys moved in next door and they looked like they were having so much fun that my husband decided to divorce me and find a man of his own, it might threaten me, but I don't think it would really be the fault of the guys next door.

Frankly, it would seem to me that straight people are doing a fine job of screwing up the sacred sacrament of marriage all on their own.

Another one of the arguments these nimrods use against gay marriage is that God created marriage between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation. But we all know plenty of straight couples who enter into marriage with no intention whatsoever of having children. Are we going to tell that darling 84-year old gent and his 80-year old sweetheart who met in the nursing home that they can't be married because they can't have children? What about the couple who just knows in their hearts that they don't want kids? On the other hand, there are plenty of gay couples who desperately want children and who will (and do) make terrific parents, no matter how the babies come their way. So that argument surely doesn't work for me.

Another reason cited frequently for denying gay marriage is that if we let gay people marry each other, then the next thing you know, polygamy will be legal and then, oh, I don't know, so will marrying sheep or your cousin or your brother or something on that order. One thing will lead to another, as we know.

Which all sounds a bit daunting, at first thought, but then the more I think about it, the less I care who marries whom. Frankly, if all parties are consenting adults (and I do mean consenting and I DO mean adults) then why should I care? If some lucky guy can find eight women who want to marry him and he can be an adequate husband and father to the women and all the children he produces, who am I to stand in his way?
And although it sounds...icky...and on a really deep emotional level...wrong, if a brother and a sister want to be married, and if they get genetic counseling before they breed, again- why should I care?

Now as to the sheep thing- I don't think a sheep can be consenting nor can a German Shepherd or a chimpanzee, no matter how intelligent. So forget the whole animal thing.


So yeah, if legalizing gay marriage leads to other alternative types of marriage, I guess I don't really care. Again, I don't think it's going to affect my own marriage.
I've had people ask me to officiate at weddings and I have always been honored to do so. I have married maybe a dozen couples, some straight and therefore legally, some gay and therefore illegally, but my criteria has always been more about love than the law. I respect anyone who chooses to get up in front of friends and family and vow to make a life together out of love. It's such a universally human desire to be married and I think it's a human right. I don't know if I'd perform a marriage for a man and his sister or a woman and two men, but maybe, if I knew the folks and they seemed sincerely in love and sincerely dedicated to each other, I might.

Yeah, I'm weird.

But God's honest truth is, is that my marriage is not like yours, even if you are a woman married to a man. Every marriage is as different as the people in it and every couple (or whatever) finds their own way to share their hearts and their lives together. How your marriage works is none of my business and how mine works is none of yours. That marriage works at all is a miracle and I don't think the gender of the participants is a huge factor.

So, no, I don't care to sign that petition. But thanks for asking.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

When There Are No Words

I went to see Lynn today. I knew it was going to be tough. Christmas- hell, she loved Christmas. She never had much money to buy presents but she'd find that one perfect thing to give, maybe tiny, but perfect. She loved the lights, the things she'd collected over the years to decorate with. She loved the cards and the songs and the colors and the tastes and the joy.

I remember the year her disease really started taking hold in a cruel way. She was still living in her house and a friend had brought her a tree and she got out all her decorations and then....
she couldn't figure out how to put the lights on or how to put her baubles and ornaments on. When I got to her house, she was crying. "How did I forget?" she wailed.

So I knew, between my own fragile state and the whole situation, it was going to be hard.

I went inside and she was parked in that spot all by herself in the hallway, next to the pay phone. I'd brought her some strawberry ice cream and I wheeled her outside to sit under the tree and I started feeding her the pink goop. She's sort of like a baby now - if you touch her lips, she opens her mouth. I fed her some and we sat and let the breeze blow over us and she was agitated. She kept trying to get out of the chair that she was tied to. I usually say something like, "Where are you going, girl? It's okay. Now settle down."

Today all I could do was pat her. It's not okay and I wasn't in the mood to lie about it or try to make it any better than it is.

There's a guy who works there named Lee Roy, who likes to come and talk to me and he came out to change a light bulb that blew in the rain last night. We got to talking, as usual, and then he asked me, "Did you know her before she was like this?"

That was all it took. The dam broke. I started sobbing.

"Oh yeah," I said. And then I tried to tell him what Lynn used to be like. I used words like "Hardest working woman you ever met," and "Oh, my, she loved to dance," and "She loved music so much."

"We can't understand these things," he said. "Only the man upstairs. As we get older, all will be revealed."

I listened politely while I fed my friend like a baby, one spoonful of cold, sweet, pink ice cream after another, but I was mad. Mad at God, mad at whatever evilness had caused my friend to get sick. Eventually, I said, "Yeah, well, all that works better if you believe in the man upstairs." I wouldn't normally say anything like that, but I did today. Lee Roy had tried to make me feel better and it did nothing for me. Not one damn thing. If there is a God, then what the hell is he thinking? There's so much suffering going on in this world that I can't even begin to fathom it. I can't even fathom what Lynn suffers and I'm sitting right there watching it.

He knew how I was feeling and soon took off to go do another chore and I sat with Lynn some more. "I'm sorry, baby," I said to her. "All I have in me is to sit with you some today." I held her hand while I cried, and although usually I don't even think she knows where her hand is, today she pulled my hand to her mouth and kissed it.

I broke down again and when she grew more agitated, I took her back inside to see if I could find a nurse to give her the medication to calm her down.

I kissed her to tell her good-bye when I was leaving and she kissed me back, which she hasn't done in forever, which caused me to cry even harder. The nurse, seeing my distress, asked me several times if I was all right.

I said I was, although that was a lie. She said she'd give her her meds and there was another employee there who really seems to care a lot for Lynn and he said he'd take care of her and so I left.

On my way out, I looked out for Lee Roy, hoping to see him to tell him that I appreciated the fact that he'd tried to make me feel better. His wanting to make me feel better had helped, even if his words hadn't.

But I didn't see him and there was nothing for it but to get in my car and drive away.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not A Poser

Friday, November 14, 2008

Not A Poser

I was in yoga class this morning in child's pose, which is one of my favorite poses because it's a resting pose and damn, who doesn't love a resting pose?

I was sleeveless today as it's gotten quite warm here again and I was enjoying the way everything in yoga felt, as if all my body parts were crying out, Yes, Yes, Yes! Thank you for paying us some attention here. Thank you for stretching, thank you for reaching, thank you for breathing! and I was happy. The rain was pouring down outside and we could hear it and see it from the cozy room we were in and we've been so dry here lately and it all just felt like a blessing, being there, doing what my body wanted, listening to the rain.

And then I made the mistake of turning my head in child's pose and catching a glimpse of my arm.

Oh my god. Oh dear. Oh shit. What the fuck???!!

The inside part of my upper arm was, well, I don't really know how to describe this. And let me insert right here that I do have muscles in my arms. They're not completely flabby or wing-like. But. Oh dear. But.
The flesh, how shall I say this? Was hanging in wrinkles and the meat of my arm was in something like blobs within that hanging, wrinkly flesh.

Now let me tell you that if I had seen this vision of body-aging just five years ago, or perhaps even five months ago, I would have shot up from child's pose into adult's horror pose and started screaming.

As it was, and as it is, I did nothing except to take note of the further degeneration of the flesh and continue on with what I was doing. I am not exactly inured to such horrifying (and seemingly sudden) changes in my body, but I am no longer as shocked as I used to be.

I feel certain that I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: When I was young(er), I would look at older women and the way that gravity had fought and won with their flesh and I would think Thank God that will never happen to me. Now why I thought that, I have no idea. Did I really believe that I, and I alone, would escape the ravages of aging? Or did I think I would be one of those who died young and left a gorgeous corpse?

I don't know. But either way, it was faulty thinking.

But here's the kicker: Inside, in my mind, and even in my body, I feel hardly different than I did twenty years ago back when my flesh was firm and unwrinkled. I am more flexible now than I was then and in some ways, stronger. I eat better, I exercise more, I am leaner. And so it's easy to forget (especially if I only look at my face in the mirror with my glasses off) that I am indeed aging and looking like it too.

So when I catch the flesh doing something decidedly old-womanly or I see a picture of myself wherein my neck is doing that thing, that wrinkly thing, I am kicked rudely out of denial and must face the facts.

The facts being that it's only going to get worse.


Well, they always say you're only as old as you feel, which in my case is about thirty-four. Until, that is, I am given a visual reminder of the truth. And then I feel like Nora Ephron who wrote that book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, because I do. I almost feel as if I must apologize.

Sorry, y'all. I meant to wear my real face and body but for some reason, I can't locate them. I've looked everywhere! Please forgive me. I'm sure I'll find them soon.

But I won't. I will never find them because they are not here any more. They are gone and gone forever. I can no more aspire to be this:

Than I can to be this:

But I can aspire to be this:

Which is not that bad. In fact, it's pretty wonderful.

And I do. I aspire to be that.

That strong, that beautiful, and apologizing to no one.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Memory, Tagged

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Memory, Tagged (click on the pictures to make them big)

Jon, over at Website De La Illiteratei, has been tagged in one of those bloggie games and in this one, you go to where you keep your photos on your computer, open the fourth album or folder, then open the fourth picture in it.
Simply because it piqued my curiosity, I went to my iPhoto's, opened the fourth album and opened the fourth picture. It brought back so many memories I wanted to post it.

The name of the album it came from is Cozumel 2003. And I remember the day we got on our rented scooter and drove down to where this picture was taken but I couldn't remember the name of the beach or the bar or the sweet, sweet fellow we met that day so I got out my old journal from that trip and I opened it up.
Here's part of an entry from from that day, 10/27/03:

We went to Palencar beach and a guy named Fernando talked to us, Glen mostly, about fishing and he showed us a crocodile and also birds behind a fence and in cages. Parrots, parakeets, turkeys, chickens, peacocks. We ate some shrimp quesadillas and guacamole.
The water was beautiful.

And it was. Here's a picture of that:

And the crocodile:

I remembered that we went back a few days later and Glen dove with Fernando. I don't scuba so I laid on the beach and swung in a hammock and read and dozed and when the fellas came back off the water, we ate lunch and there were pictures taken then, too.
Here's Fernando, playing with one of the parrots:

How beautiful is that man? Well, boy. But still. The Maya on Cozumel (and I cannot speak for the Maya everywhere) are the most peaceful and kind folks I think I have ever met as a group. In all of my many trips, I've never seen the slightest act of violence or even discord among them, either the children or adults, although I am not under the delusion that it does not happen.
But still, I've never seen it.
During my times on the island I've seen plenty of weird and violent behavior but always from the tourists and inevitably the American ones. But the Maya display an almost saintly attitude towards the tens of thousands of tourists disgorged upon their shores, even the cruisers who have five or six hours to shop at the cruise line approved stores, eat at the cruise line approved restaurants and drink at the cruise line approved bars.
Believe me, there is vomiting involved. And bad behavior. And ugly behavior. There is an art to bargaining. Most Americans do not have it.

But no matter how many times we go back, and how many changes we see on the island, the one thing that seems to remain the same is the people and their gentle, humorous spirits. They will stop to help you if you appear to need help. They will volunteer to show you things on their island they are proud of. They beam when you compliment their children. They will remember what you drink, what you put in your coffee and if you go back often enough, they will remember your name and your story.

And I remember them.

Here's a picture of me and Fernando from that first day we met him:

And how could you forget a smile like that? A profile like the one in the picture of him with the parrot? The first time I ever went to Cozumel I felt as if I had been dropped into a living version of the National Geographic Magazine with noses and profiles and eyes all around me just like the ones on the pages National Geographic that I had studied all my life; the pictures of the paintings on the walls of the ancient ruins of the Maya. These people never disappeared. They live on and have babies and fish and love and smile. They share their stories, they share their knowledge and their skills and their jokes. They are living their lives.

Here's another entry from that journal. It's a poem and not a good one, but here it is:

The water is flat tonight
But the wake from the dive boats
Who are speeding across
In and out
Leave wakes which slap the shore
The breast of Cozumel Island.
These Maya are as comfortable on the water
As in their mama's laps.
We met a boy named Fernando Conrado Silviera
Whose mother told him that
He was born
On a boat
With his mask and fins on
And a regulator in his mouth.
She's probably right.
The water, the water, the water
The sky
Blue, blue, blue and green.
The only way I can give this up
Is knowing
That it will be here
When I return
And that the Maya
Will be here too.
Speeding across the water
And living beside the water
Under their Caribbean
Mayan sky.

The next day I wrote a better poem. The picture I have to go with it we did not take but the place it was taken is a place we did visit, which was Chichen Itza where we hired a guide, a man half MY size who was so serious about what his people (and that's how he referred to them- my people) had accomplished, had created and who had so much to tell us and show us that he was impatient with Mr. Moon who kept wanting to stop and take pictures.

Anyway, here is my poem and here is a picture of Chac Mool, the Mayan deity whose hands hold a bowl in which the beating hearts of sacrificial victims were placed:

Chac Mool might as well be holding his hands out
For my heart.
Here, you crazy God, you bloody boy.
Just go ahead and receive it.
It's yours.

These memories. They are so sweet. And because I have the journal out and because it's a beautiful day here in Lloyd but my heart has been thrown back in time to that island, here's one more thing I wrote during that trip while I was on the beach in a coconut grove while Mr. Moon dove beneath those blue, blue, blue green waters with Fernando:

I wish I could cut my hair, get Ixchel tattoed on one shoulder, the map of Cozumel on the other, go home changed physically because I am changed inside.

And then on the last night, at sunset, I wrote this:

Why do the tiny swallows cry out
Except to say
I am alive again
And there is food in the air?

There is food in the air of that island for me. It has filled my heart to bursting so many times.
Thanks, Jon, for giving me a reason, no matter how unintended, to go back in my mind to revisit the place that has always filled my heart, my soul.


Here We Go

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All right then, y'all. I'm packed. Except for my pillow (which goes with me everywhere) and my make-up (I'm going to put on make-up to make the journey!) and my toothbrush and shampoo and conditioner, I am packed.
I think.
It's been a beautiful day. A woman I used to take care of as a child called me today. I haven't talked to her in over twenty years. And she told me that she has taken me wherever she has gone, all these years- to the Everglades, to France, and now back to North Georgia- and that I have had an influence on her entire life.
Well now THERE's a paycheck.
I am reveling in those words.

Okay, so listen- my kids (if you are new to me) write. Oh yeah, they write. They write like demons and angels. Here are their sites:

Mr. Hank at
Miss Maybelle at
And Miss Jessie at http://findingthosedulcettones.

My other daughter, Lily, is busying working, buying a house and creating a baby within her own personal uterus.

But the kids have told me that they might blog about what it's like to be at Mama's house when she's gone. And believe me- it'll be worth reading. So put them in your reader, become one of their followers, check out their words. Because they are amazing. And I ain't just saying that because I'm their mama. Visit them, decide for yourself.

And oh yes- maybe they'll talk about the chickens.

I am going to miss all of you so damn much I can hardly bear it.
But I have been offered a special mission (which I have so very gratefully accepted) to step and shimmy and shiver and shake and walk like an Egyptian (or maybe a Mayan) down the streets and beaches of Cozumel with my husband.

Twelve hours from right now we'll be taking off for Atlanta where we'll catch the plane to paradise.

I've painted my fingernails red. I've packed the books and prunes and skirts and t-shirts and white linen dreses and silver bracelets.

And did you see our president tonight? Damn.

Bless us all.

Love...Ms. Moon

You Know I Had To Say Something

Charlie Crist, Florida's preternaturally tanned and preternaturally married governor desperately wants to be the next Republican candidate for president.

In that spirit, he is fighting the right of gay parents in Florida to adopt. Florida has the only outright ban on gay parents adopting in the nation, by the way. And also, by the way, gay folks can be foster parents and are even recruited for such by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

And of course, there is a, uh, rumor, that the Gov himself may be personally acquainted with the "gay lifestyle" as it were, although there is that wife- whom he married in a big fat hurry during the days when he was on McCain's short list of possible VP candidates. Of course, Sarah Palin got that nod and we all saw how well that little clusterfuck worked for McCain.

Anyway, back to Crist- not only is he fighting gay adoption, he's against the nomination of Sotomayor. I'm not sure how that's going to serve him in a state with a HUGE Hispanic population but he's not worried so much about Florida voters as he is being a gung-ho Republican at the moment.

And all I have to say is- Charlie- Cowboy up, Cupcake. Do the right things.

Oh but wait- that would mean he'd have to prove he has some balls.
And it would also mean that he wasn't a very good politician, not to mention a very good Republican. Hmmm...truth and honesty and doing what's right for our children and our nation, OR, staking out a place in the very middle of that really vast Republican tent.

He's got his camp stool and there he sits, just waiting for the country to ring his phone, call him to a higher purpose and wondering where in the White House he'd have that tanning bed installed.

I hate politics. I truly do.

What I Am Leaving

Crappy stupid phone pictures but still, there you have it.
My babies. And one of the babies with a baby.
We went to lunch yesterday after HoneyLuna's appointment with the knee doctor who talked mostly about his basketball career. "I coulda been a contenda!" he might as well have said, "But I went to medical school instead."
Well. Good for you, Doc. Good for you. Now do you really know how to operate on knees because this is MY baby and HER knee and she needs it for a lifetime.

Please dear Mother-Of-Us-All, please dear Light-And-Love, take care of my babies while I'm gone. I have to say that, even if they're all old enough to take care of themselves because in leaving them, I am leaving my heart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Different Day, Different Way

See that? That was the temperature here on my little kitchen porch at seven thirty this morning. Sixty-five degrees? On July 21? No-fucking-way.
And yet, there you are.
I slept with the window open last night and the AC off. On July 21st. This is craziness! And it's so beautiful. The humidity can't be above fifty per cent which is like the Sahara for us. Unbelievable.
And this cool dry air is undoing the little tropical wave that was forming and perhaps heading to the Caribbean and so I don't have to worry (for this moment) about a hurricane hitting Cozumel about the same time we do.
If we create our own realities, I'm doing a heckofa job, Brownie!

We leave day after tomorrow. Am I ready? No-fucking-way.
I've got a list a mile long for today. I'm meeting up with Jessie to take her to the orthopedic doctor to see what's up with that knee. I need to buy chicken feed. I need to get my antidepressant refilled. I need books. I NEED BOOKS! And I need to go to the library to take books back. I need cat food and camera batteries and wasp spray. Boy. Do I need wasp spray.

Instead of dreaming last night that I was in a dumpy motel in Vegas, I dreamed I was at a high school reunion. Yeah. I know. Should have been a nightmare. My last actual one was. Well, at least the part where that really strange geeky guy from our class started trying to feel up all the girls he'd never even had the guts to ask out and Mr. Moon was suddenly seven-foot-ten instead of his usual six-foot-ten and was going to take the guy outside by the ears and kick his ass. "Don't do it!" I pleaded. "It's not worth it!"
He didn't but it was scary there for a minute.
Anyway, the dream I had last night was sweet. And in a way, I was the perpetrator of unrequited passion. Well, it was a mutual thing- I was kissing all the boys I'd never kissed in high school. Sweetly and innocently. I swear. The cute, quiet boys whose smiles I still must have tucked in my pocket somewhere. And someone had left a baby (there's always a baby) and she was cold and I dressed her warmly and held her to me while the reunion was going on. And then she was fine.

So this morning I feel cool and calm and excited to go on my trip with my sweet husband whom I shall kiss tens of thousands of times. Sometimes sweetly and innocently and sometimes, well, not so innocently. And we'll hold hands! We'll be the sweet old couple who holds hands! I love to hold hands, even though when I hold Mr. Moon's hand I sort of look like a child with her daddy. So what?

And last night I prescheduled a bunch of old posts to magically appear while I'm gone. There is no rhyme or reason to them. Some are funny, some are not. I was going to get the kids to guest blog but it seemed to be weighing heavily on them and I don't want to distract them from taking care of my chickens while I'm gone. So you get the summer reruns. Hell, if it's good enough for TV, it's good enough for blessourhearts.

And there you have it.

Oh- here's a poem I got today off the Prairie Home poetry e-mail I get daily. I think it's advice we can all take:

Advice to Young Poets

by Martin Espada

The Republic of Poetry) --

Never pretend
to be a unicorn
by sticking a plunger on your head

And here's a picture of one of my lady banana spiders and her little man. Isn't she lovely?

She'll be a lot bigger when I get home. And her husband may or may not be there depending just how bad her PMS gets.
All will be revealed.

Love....Ms. Moon

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Love This Man

Click on the picture for article.

She's Home

And Buster is mighty glad.
(So's her mama and daddy.)

Trying To Imagine. Trying So Hard.

And then today, I wake up and I've had that dream. No. Not the flying off the bridge in a car dream. Not the sleeping behind the wheel dream. Not the losing my baby dream.
The dream where my husband doesn't love me. Doesn't care a thing about me. Oh. It was horrible. We were on vacation- Las Vegas. In the dumpiest, dirtiest hotel in the world and it wasn't romantic and it was awful because I had wanted it to be a vacation of joy but he didn't care.

And Frank McCourt has died, you know. I refused to read Angela's Ashes for years (who wants to read about one dead baby after another?) and then I got 'Tis on tape and he was the narrator and I was hooked. I listened to Angela's Ashes and Teacher Man and his voice was so strong, so sure and he told his stories of such pathos with tenderness and even humor. How? How can the human spirit be that strong?

I am just going through pre-vacation anxiety. I still have so much to do and we leave in three days and here I am, drowned in a bad dream and its left-over sorrow. Jessie is home, she is home! and safe and I'll see her today, most likely and I need to start packing today. See what I can take and what I should leave. Try to imagine myself walking and swimming and snorkling and being happy. Try to imagine myself being happy. It's so hard for me even to go to town- how do I imagine getting on an airplane flying away so far from my porch, my chickens, my babies? How do I imagine being romantic and beautiful when the thought of where to pack my shampoo and what sort of carry-on to take and even what to wear on the plane makes me crazy and inert?
And don't tell me it's crazy to worry about those things- I KNOW IT!

Hank and May came out yesterday and I showed them where all the chicken feed is and how to deal with the birds and the garden and the porch plants. But yellow jackets have taken up residence in the dirt of my front porch plants and you can't even go out there, much less water them without being stung by those damn aggressive things. They boil out of the dirt like angry demons and they find you and they sting you and they follow you as you curse and run, flinging your hair this way and that, flinging your arms and being stung. It feels like tiny needles of electric shock when they hit you with their stingers and then you swell up and itch. And hurt.
Another thing I'll leave behind for someone else to deal with. Or not deal with.

Mr. Moon finished up some of the nesting boxes for the chickens and we even decorated the hen house. We are insane. We strung Christmas lights. They have a sound system.
My chickens live in a better house than many third-world children. Lucille, one of the smaller chickens, got into the big pen yesterday. She jumped out while Mr. Moon was cutting a board and my hens (my sweet, sweet hens) attacked her. Mr. Moon saved her and those hens were only doing what they're supposed to which is to protect their living quarters, but it does not bode well for the mixing of the flocks.
Another thing to leave behind.

We went out last night to see them roosting and they are so passive when they roost. We held them and stroked them and Red and Mable were even roosting up on the tilted tin roof coverings over the nesting boxes which Mr. Moon had put up so they wouldn't poop in the boxes.

I fried fresh bream and I made hushpuppies. I cut up cucumbers and I made stewed tomatoes.
Sometimes I think my routines are the only things keeping me from flying off the planet.

I am about to fly off, if not the planet, then at least the ground. And what will keep me from flying apart? Why does my brain work this crazy way? Why do have I have dreams like that when my husband builds nesting boxes and puts the straw in them and makes them cozy for our chickens, our chickens? and he works so hard to make it possible for Lily and Jason and their baby to have a nest of their own and he shows me in every way that he loves me, he loves this life of ours?

I curse this crazy brain sometimes. As if it were not me, but some entity, entirely separate from "me" whoever that is. Why does it insist on telling me the sky is falling, the sky is falling as if I were some chicken thinking that a falling leaf is part of the sky and that I need to run for cover when really, everything is fine, is lovely, is all the best and better than I ever could have dreamed it? Ever? Why does it take my blessings and twist them into fears?

I don't know. But it does and that's who I am and I just have to pack and get on the plane and imagine flying over the blue sea and then, there it is- the Yucatan, all jungle and hidden pyramids and then the island, there, it rises out of the Caribbean, that blue and green clear water and that tiny island, growing bigger and bigger, waiting to welcome me.
Which me will it welcome?
Whichever me walks off that plane. With my husband who does love me and reminds me to love myself as I love him.

Cozumel has been named The Island of Peace - the first ever island designated as such. My little island.
I hope my heart will be at peace there. This crazy heart, this crazy, crazy old lady heart and today I'll figure out (I will!) what to take and what to leave. Michelle says "if if doesn't serve you, let it go," and craziness- it does not serve me.
I pray, I hope, I want to leave it behind.

Frank McCourt was proof that humans can bend and bend and bend under the weight of unbearable sorrows and can still stand, can even stretch so far that the world hears your voice.

I try to imagine that and it helps.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Kitchen Door Toad (Please click the pictures to appreciate his full beauty.)

Grover's Corners

Last night Herb and Kathleen picked me up and we drove through the quiet early evening past mansions on hills and sharecropper cabins and pine trees and fields of corn and cotton and swamps and woods and when we got to Thomasville we ate a delicious supper and then went downtown to see a production of Our Town, which is a play by Thornton Wilder, which was published in 1957.

Here's what Mr. Wilder wrote about his play:

"It is an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life. I have made the claim as preposterous as possible for I have set the village against the largest dimensions of time and place."

I was excited to see the play, having been in a production of it myself back in oh? 1971 or so, I suppose. I played Emily, the girl whose life is most closely followed in the three acts. And as the lights went down and the Stage Manager came on to tell about life in Grover's Corners, the small New Hampshire town where the play is set, I settled down in my seat to listen and watch and try to remember the person I'd been when I was in that play. It's such a gentle play. There are no props beyond several chairs, two ladders, two tables. It's timeless and quiet. There are no loud passions until the end, and then they are merely the longings of a woman who has died for the ordinary things of "clocks ticking...Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths....and sleeping and waking up. Oh earth," Emily says, "You're too wonderful for anybody to realize you."

She looks at the Stage Manager and says, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? - every, every minute?"

The Stage Manager says, "No." He pauses. "The saints and poets, maybe- they do some."

And it hit me that My God! I have spent my entire life trying to find Grover's Corners. I have spent my entire life trying to be one of those saints or poets who tries to realize life every minute I live it. That philosophy is so very much like the one Garrison Keillor talked about when he said that he realized that he was to live an ordinary life, as most of us do, and that, THAT is enough.

And isn't that what this blog is? Isn't that what I write about here? The very things that Emily talked about in the play? Gardens and coffee and baths, love and marriage, and going to sleep and waking up? I don't have a man who delivers milk in the morning but my children call their daddy Papa sometimes. They know, like Emily knew, how much their Papa loves them. How much their Mama loves them.

And I thought about the irony of me playing that role- that of a young girl, falling in love, having a family who loves and cherishes her while I was living such a different life. Oh yes, I was falling in love, but my family- well, it is very telling that one night after we finished the play I was so happy and so in love with life and the boy I was with and I was expecting to go home to an empty house but found that my stepfather had unexpectedly come home early- a man I feared and loathed with all my heart, soul, bones and blood- and my moment of happiness turned into a night of something just this side of terror, knowing he was beyond my door which did not lock.
Back in May, I wrote about that night here.

And now, after seeing the play again last night, I feel quite certain that I would not be the person I am today, would not have the very life I have today, if I had not played Emily in high school. The words I said in that play may not have meant to me what they mean to me now, but I had an inkling already. I had an inkling that the life I was living then, the house I was living in then, the family I had then, was not the way it was supposed to be but that there was hope that I could find (create?) that life if I wanted to. That small human life where the simple pleasure of going to sleep and waking up was not overshadowed and ruined with terror.

And so I have. This small, ordinary life where a cup of coffee is a celebration, where going to sleep is a daily joy, where food is so important, where I know that life is too precious for most of us to understand but that I try. I try to acknowledge and even write about those small daily joys that are more than we humans can know.

It took me a long time to get to this life I lead now. So many struggles and false paths and ego battles and healings and breaking aparts and coming back together again within my self, my life. I had to reknit the very bones of my being before I could settle into this Grover's Corners existence I live. And I am sure that reknitting will never be done, but it is work I love, just as I love this life I lead.

The play ends when the Stage Manager says, "There are the stars- doing their old, old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven't settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings up there. Just chalk...or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. The strain's so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest. Hm...Eleven o'clock in Grover's Corners. - You get a good rest, too. Good night."

The dead sit in their graves pondering the stars and letting loose of the lives they lived, and the living lie down to rest.

And here I am, in the Grover's Corners of my little world, and it's so beautiful today. It's cool and the sun is out and everything is growing and green and I can hear chickens clucking and there's a cup of coffee at hand and I am not a saint and I am not a poet, but I played Emily once and what I said as her so many years ago I have discovered is part of the most important dialogue I speak daily.

You never know. You just never know.

But I know this- playing Emily thirty-seven years ago might have saved my life.
I wish Thornton Wilder was still alive so I could tell him that. I was good in that play. Very good. And I think it's because even though I was only seventeen and didn't really yet know how very precious the smallest things are, I knew that they should be and with all the yearning in my heart for a life that was not filled with terror and fear and complications of the sort that can shrivel a soul I said those words of Emily's and because of that, I said them well.

I am so grateful that those words found themselves into my mouth to repeat over and over again as we rehearsed, as we performed. Enough for me to internalize them, even as I thought I had forgotten them. Which has led to this. This small, ordinary, precious life I have.

Which is so far more than enough I can't begin to tell you.