Sunday, September 30, 2012

Be More Real

     What's up with Real, anyway?  The word keeps coming back to me and I am trying to get a grip on what it means.

      It's confusing for me because it's tough to sort out what is Real and what is being civil and decent.  I am proud of the fact that I learned early in life how to behave.  I learned when to talk and when to be silent.  I learned when laughter was appropriate and for what occasions tears were appropriate.  I learned how to be respectful and aware of the feelings of others.  I learned how one should  appear in public and how to comport oneself in the privacy of one's own home.  I learned that behavior is important no matter where you are.

      I am proud that I am a dependable, hard working, conscientious employee.  No slacker there.  I am a responsible parent who did all those things you are supposed to do when raising children.  I read nightly to them, I cuddled them, I listened to them, I disciplined them, I took them to the doctor and the dentist and all that stuff.  I stay married to their dad.  I have always been a person who attempted to be cheerful and kind in every encounter.  I didn't always succeed but I gave it my finest effort.

   All of these qualities make for a cordial, respectful, decent human being, right?  But now I am listening to those who know these things and I am hearing:  Be Real.  Somehow and in some situations that seems to contradict civility?  Question mark intended.

   They are saying that masks happen when Real goes away.  But aren't masks then necessary for the overall good of the community?  Isn't it essential that you put a lid on some of what you are thinking and saying lest the community be damaged?  And what about being a bitch?  I have a couple of coworkers with whom it is very difficult to get along.  One woman is cranky pretty much 24/7.  One guy is so self centered and moody that I cringe when I see him coming my way.  Both of these people might be Real but really?  Really they are royal pains and I do not like working with them.  I don't ever want to be like that.

  Even in my home life, I want to be cordial and I want to be treated with civility.  That does not mean there cannot be disagreements but it does mean that words are chosen carefully and consequences of words and actions are considered.  I don't know.  It is so confusing to me.  I know how I was raised and it seems to have paid off in professional success and in abundant friendships.  But something appears to be backfiring and I am being asked to consider making my own rules.  I am being asked to be more Real.  How do you be more Real?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hello, Fall

           I live in an part of Northern California that is celebrated for wonderful bike riding.  We have hills and flats, towns and the ocean, small country roads and bike paths.  Bicycling can be treacherous, however, so I generally save long recreational bike rides for Sunday mornings when there is very little traffic.  I do not like riding in the foggy damp weather and we have had a long stretch of such early morning weather.  Finally, last Sunday was the first Sunday morning in a long time  when it was NOT foggy at dawn.  My camera and I set out for what I figured would be a relatively short ride - maybe an hour - but I got pulled in by Fall's appearance and stopped often for photos.

       I guess Fall is tiptoeing in.  He is making his presence known but not entirely blasting us yet.

He has started his fall leaf magic.
Brilliant painter, isn't he?

Are the leaves doing a folk dance or

standing like soldiers?

I wonder if the dead notice the changing earth?

I don't remember every seeing these berry-like things before.

They were so vivd sitting on the fence along the road.

How cool to look closely at this leaf!

Amazing sun shining through!

What colors!

This has got to be quintessential fall, waiting for winter.


Lately I hear myself muttering the word stupid a lot.

Sounds like this:

ssstupid hair cut
ssstupid culture
ssstudid shoes
ssstupid headache
ssstupid WWF game
ssstupid  work
ssstupid  life
ssstupid  dinner
ssstupid people
sstupid dogs
ssstupid fog
ssstupid laundry

You get it.
I got to wondering:  Why is everything ssstupid?

Of course, I looked up the definitions of stupid.  Perhaps the two that fit the best in this context are stupid as annoying and stupid as pointless.  Oh, but then there is stupid as tediously dull.  Hmmm, I like that.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On the Bench

      So, there's this bench near my place.  I think it's a bus stop but I never see the bus stop there.  Until recently, the bench would remain empty all day but then, late in the day, three women would show up and sit together on the bench.  One was always dressed in flannel sort of pj pants and she often wore a hoodie.  Flip flops completed her ensemble.  I thought of her as Chillin' because she clearly was.  Not many words but not a bone of uptight in her.  To her right was the woman I thought of as Cool.  Clearly she was how cool?  Uber cool.  Always dressed comfortably and just kinda rocking out, willing to take on whatever came her way.  To Chillin's left was the one I thought of as Ms Sociability.  OMG!  That woman had the sparkliest eyes. She engaged every person who walked by, she was so open and, clearly, so much fun!  I LOVED watching and listening to her.  

     These three women all shared the bench and a bottle (or maybe two) of Pinot Noir.  I imagine they had places to go, things to do earlier in the day but later in the day?  Later in the day it was time to enjoy their friendship and their evening rest on the bus bench.  I always retired for the evening before they left the bus bench so I don't really know how their evening ended.  I just know they weren't there in the morning.

   One evening a week or so ago, I noticed that the bus bench occupants had changed.   Now there are only two women there.  Irritability is big and fat and she spills over and takes up a good part of the bench.  She wears shirtwaist dresses, with big blue/grey/ brown floral prints.  She reminds me a lot of someone I know from long ago.  Maybe you have read of my friend Ms. Melancholy?  I think they shop at the same thrift store but Irritability is a larger, sloppier woman.  She is grumpy and sour and her mood and her general demeanor repulse me.  Her partner on the bench is Sadness.  Sadness is thinner and grayer and also doesn't talk much. She is dressed in drab, baggy cords and usually has a long sleeved blue/gray button up shirt.  She wears Birkenstocks and socks on her feet, for god's sakes!. These two sit there every evening now.  They will not make room for Levity or Creativity (long ago guys on the bench who still come around once in a while).  They don't bring anything to the bench - no Pinot, no gin, no weed, no chocolate, no nothing.  

   The relaxed, lively, cool crew must have either gotten on a bus eventually or, at the very least, they found another place to hang out.  Oh no!  Could they have died?  

   I am just going to have to watch these two newcomers.  Why do you think they are sitting on the bench at the (phantom) bus stop?  


Monday, September 17, 2012

How Am I Doing?

        Back on January 1st, I wrote a piece entitled Fifty Ways to Lose Your Lover.  It wasn't about losing any lovers but the title got your attention, yes?  It was actually about fifty things to do in the new year. Much less sexy, heh?  I checked back in March and again in June to see what kind of success I was having with the new year.  It's time to look again.

     The original fifty things were all over the place.  At the check-ins in March and June, I considered three things I was doing towards those fifty things and three things to which  I could apply more focus. I want to do that again.

Pauline (mom) in blue; Lolita in Pink
       So what are three things that I am doing?  One that I am happy to be doing is spending more time with my mom.  Since she has moved closer to me, it is easier for me to get up there. I still don't get there as often as I might like but in the summer I visited about every third week.  Now that work has started, I am more limited but I already have planned an excursion there for early October.  Over the summer, I found myself reliving my days as a teenager when my mom and I would go to the store or something.  It was weird, in a good way weird.  For many years, my parents lived in a very isolated place.  I like that she is now in a small town and we can go on errands together.  There is something to do while we are together and that makes it more playful.  I will add that the drive to her house is beautiful.  The highway is not congested and the views are of vineyards and rolling hills.  I can put in music or an audio book and just cruise. Very relaxing.

      A little thing that I am managing to do is to drink more water.  Sounds kinda hokey but hey, we have to take success where we can find it, no?  I don't really know if it matters but I am doing it.  I have this purple Camelbak that I can easily flood with ice cubes and water and it follows me to work, around the house, out in the yard.  Wherever.  Again, don't know if it matters but "they" tell me it is a good thing to drink water so I am doing that.  Whatever.

     Write, write, and write some more.  Okay, so I already claimed this as a success in March, but I want to claim it again.  I am enjoying writing even though sometimes even I don't get what I am trying to say.  That right brain takes over and, even if it doesn't make sense, I like it.  It's the same way with my painting.  Item #2 on the January list was to make time for weekly painting and, for the most part, I have done that.  I don't know where those paintings come from.  Most of them I like; a few are unattractive to me.  But the right brain takes over and the left is along for the ride.  Nice!

       Where can I set my focus now?  The one that immediately springs to mind is to take Ellie on more walks after work.  This is NOT for Ellie, mind you. No, no, no.  This is for me.  Taking Ellie on a walk after work means I get to breathe for a half hour, I get to see the leaves changing color, I can allow the day to sift through my consciousness and drift away.  I always like to do this but so often I get home and just fold.  What would make this more feasible is if I were to force myself to walk away from my office by 4:00.  If I get home too late, then I just don't want to go.  Although the kids leave school at 2:45, my after- kids-leave time is jammed full with all the things that can't be done when there are kids around.  Grrrrrrrr!  Time, you frustrate me!

      I can put #33 and #42 in one wish:  I can notice more color and detail in the world and I can take more photographs. I am attracted to design, color, detail.  What I really need to do is organize my on line photo library.  When posting on the blog, I very seldom turn to photos other than those I've taken myself.  I would like to expand my collection and look for that which I have yet to really see.  It's fun.

    A third thing that I haven't done yet this year but would still like to do is to take a solitary road trip.  There is something so cool about being out there on the road where no one really knows who you are and no on who knows you knows where you are.  It's a way of being lost, I suppose.  Since I often feel lost anyway, I might as well make an adventure out of it.  Realistically, it's not likely to happen but I don't give up easily.

       Mid-September..... But I don't have to get everything done before December 31.  In fact, when I look at the items I originally listed, I see lots that are really life long ambitions.  They are goals that will not be satisfied in one year.  And some of them are vague and immeasurable.  Maybe those are the best ones?

Saturday, September 15, 2012


      Several days ago I posted a blog piece in which I posed a question.  On that day and in that place, I thought it was both a thought proving and possible action invoking question.  Now I think it was a foolish question.

   Let's think about fools.  I realize that the standard definition of a fool is a stupid or silly person, a person who lacks judgment or common sense.  You can also be said to be a fool (a dancing fool?) when you are very enthusiastic about something.  Somewhere I have seen a fool defined as a weak minded or idiotic person.  I don't think I am any of those but I do think that I am cynical and jaded.  My cynicism hides behind one of a thousand masks I wear and that day?  That morning when I felt that piece and then wrote that piece?  That morning I was playing the fool.  I didn't decide that I was playing the fool until the evening when I recognized the song that would NOT leave my head all day:

Day after day, alone on a hill,
The man with a foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he`s just a fool,
And he never gives an answer.
But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.

Well on the way, head in a cloud,
The man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud
But nobody ever hears him
Or the sound he appears to make
And he never seems to notice
But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.

And nobody seems to like him
They can tell what he wants to do
And he never shows his feelings
But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.

He never listens to them
He knows that they`re the fools.
They don`t like him
The fool on the hill sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head see the world spinning round. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Taking the Tough Out

     Ever the thinker, I have decided to think about how I can make some things better.  For instance, I work hard during the day and when I get home around 5:00, I find ways to take the tough out of the day.  I want to explore alternative ways of taking the tough out of the day.  Without getting into details and possibly creating a bias among my readers, I am curious about what other people do to take the tough out of the day.

     What are your strategies for winding up hard work?  How do you go from the issues of whatever your current work in life may be to a place of relaxation, contentment, ease.  I'm not saying you have to be flying high.  I'm just wondering what other people do to feel well at night.

     All strategies are welcome.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How About This?

How about this?

How about I wake up some morning and I know,
 I just know, that I am doing the best that I can?

How about I take life one moment at a time,
knowing that most people are doing the best that they can?

How about I make a place for irritability, for kindness,
for creativity, and for anger?

How about I watch my dreams and feel the mystery
around me?

How about if I welcome a little fear, take her hand, and let her walk with me?

How about I tell the fool that she is invited to stay for the party too?

How about I let life unfold as it will?
How about looking at time with curiosity?

How about I open up to life?
How about I spill all that craziness in my head
on the ground and in the sky above me?

How about I love the messiness of crazy, the craziness of life
the messiness of life?
What colors and brightness that would create!

Monday, September 3, 2012

No More Walls

“Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” 
 Ana├»s Nin, Incest: From a Journal of Love

      Doesn't that sound cool? If only I could make it be true.  On some level, reality does not impress me but it is the stuff of life.  I don't know how I can ignore it. 

      I like the notion that intoxication is the best.  I wish ecstasy were my middle name.  And ordinary life? He is my guard for sure.  It's too scary, or maybe too complicated, to do anything else.   I have always been a person who was schooled in the rules.  And, really?  I suppose they have served me well.

    What the hell is wrong with being complacent?  With being ordinary? In my head, the world is not ordinary.  But that world is walled in and must stay that way.  Because reality is safe.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Do one thing everyday that scares you.

          Eleanor Roosevelt.

        It's a popular quote these days.  I see it on coffee mugs and magnets, calendars and cards.  But is it real?  Or is it just something that catches the eye and the heart?  What scares you?  One could be philosophical and say that going out the door is enough to scare you because who knows  what danger is lurking.  And, of course there is the argument that your house could be hit by a wheel from a passing airplane and you could die instantly without ever venturing out into the world.

     So what are these things we are supposed to do that scare us?  And what's the value in being scared?  Most of my days are methodical, predictable, and ordinary.  I don't consciously see myself challenging any fears.  I wrote about one challenge here .  This example is uncommon, obvious, real, and valuable.

    There are professional moments that are challenging but I don't think of them as fearful: dealing with an irate parent, being the decision maker regarding a medical issue on campus, being present with a 13 year old who is talking suicide.   Those are challenging times but that's not fear.

    Painting can be full of fear for me but not really -- hard to explain.  I say things in paint that are scary but no one knows it except me.  So does that count?  I say no, it doesn't count  because my fear is  not exposed.  No one knows the fear is there and so I can cover it up and hide myself.  Make sense?

     Revealing yourself is scary.  Revealing yourself to others and revealing yourself to yourself.  Facing truths and considering them - scary.  It is so much easier to put on a mask or pretend, isn't it?  So what is the value in revealing yourself?  I suppose revelations can transfer into a life well lived.  At least that's what I like to think.