turning cartwheels, turning memory

It’s not every day you get to see this.

Even when the weather’s a fine spring evening perfect for … well, I get ahead of myself.

Setting; A sidewalk in downtown Prescott. A block south of the real heart of Whiskey Row.

I go to my car to retrieve my laptop to blog at the alehouse. Two adults stand on the quiet sidewalk conversing.

Meanwhile, nearby, gray legs spin around the hub of a hot-pink and brown-striped T-shirt. A girl approximately  8 spinning cartwheels up and down a narrow stretch of sidewalk while the grown-ups — yawn — talk.

Shoots off cartwheels of an amateur one after another without pause, scolding or a care. No budding Nadia Comaneci from my observation, true. But no parental reprimands, glares or punishments either..

She’s just a girl in gray leggings and a  pink-and-brown striped T-shift spinning cartwheels to pass the time while the grown-ups talk — boooooooring!

I see the young girl in me and I in her.

My natural gymnast who tumbled at community center classes, in gym classes  along with balance beam and horse routines. All innate. Free of force of parental dictates or internal demands.

It’s who I was. And would be again at that age.

“Chicken legs” the teacher called me.

‘Tis true yet perfect legs they were for on this short petite frame designed to move, tumble, spin, climb, above all else MOBILITY. Oh how I’d climb trees to their VERY top, monkey bars, spin on playground equipment — before allowing schoolkids to do so became a LITIGIOUS risk from inane parents complaining their little Johnny suffered a bruised knee AND IT’S THE SCHOOl’S FAULT and next thing you know, litigious I mean greedy parents have been awarded a million bucks for their “suffering” their bruised-up kid got on the school playground.

My childhood “monkey” nickname — back to happier themes — was well deserved!

That girl in the gray leggings and striped shirt who cartwheeled so effortlessly and comfortably is a delight to witness. Especially on this side of life — at 60, nearer to death than arrival.

I remembered the extreme flexibility of my youth. Think Gumby. My natural athleticism, which btw is still in pretty damn good shape for my age!

While I don’t have the remarkable limberness and flexibility of that girl on the sidewalk, I’m no rigid immobile pile of bones. Not yet.

(And if that day ever comes, give me a shot of morphine and set me free.)

This Perfect Moment reveals:

I see life as a 60-year-old woman, closer to death than birth. And my body concurs.

Yet in that girl, I saw myself, young, vibrant, spinning cartwheels with abandon — anywhere.

I can’t go back to childhood. I can only remember what was. Who I was.

I miss her. The young spirited full-of-life TRUSTING-in-life BELIEVING-in-self girl.

In today’s  moment, in that spirit of mortality that is each of us, I smile remembering my youthful elastic-y vibrancy — a cartwheeling girl without a care.

There’s a hearth (sort of) but no home

It could be the solidly springtime weather.

The fine day for a drive and daytrip on roads less crowded than usual, thank you Easter

Could be the stroll around the old Western mining town.

Or surprising discovery of a tiny new art gallery that sells coffee.

Or it could be the two pints of excellent craft beer savored at the out-of-town brewery — unusually quiet, again thank you Easter.

Or it could even be that the evening’s hourlong windy drive home through the mountain was free of incident — notably collisions with deer.

That happened once in Colorado. Deer, obscured by dark dusk, sprang out of nowhere. Put my car in the shop for 5 weeks **while I was on a road trip a thousand miles from my residence!**

Short of that tale is: Those creatures are terrible unpredictable dangerous menaces. When I see deer, I see dinner.

Or it could be the opportunity to leisurely hang out at a cool brewery with two beers and create in my art therapy journal.

Any of these — and no doubt more if I stopped to think about it — easily qualify for today’s perfect moment.

Yet I didn’t choose them.

Instead, I choose a comparatively mundane moment:
The warmth on the left side of my neck — heat emitted from a gas fire in a cafe’s small fireplace built into a large brick wall.

I choose this because I haven’t a home (except for my Subaru).

Yes, I sleep in a small bedroom that I rent in someone else’s home. I bathe there, very rarely eat there, sometimes brew my morning coffee there.  I clean the entire rather large house for no reduction in rent.

And I have one roommate, a dude whom I predict I’ll like better when we’re no longer roommates.

Due to issues, I avoid home except to sleep. That’s A LOTTA hours spent every day in avoidance, in escapism, in despair, in continuous wishes to live alone. (Which requires foremost a good job and far better income than the 10-hours-a-week pizza job delivers.)

In short:

Home is not nourishing.
Is not warm.
Is not comforting.
Is not happy.
Is not even especially safe.

The touch of warmth on my neck from a fireplace is magnificent. It is warmth I do not have in my life or home.

It is comfort that I yearn for, desire, need. A brush of heat can mean so much to a girl starved for kindness, caring, respect and goodness in a home.

For all things wonderful today, it is “unremarkable” cafe low fire that provides today’s perfect moment, a hearth (sort of) but no hone.

You never know from whence old loves bound

It’s my place of comfort. And they’re my friends.

It’s: the library. And they’re: books.

The day’s perfect moment occurs in the local library, my place of worship.

I’ve scoured the shelves for a story I’ve been yearning to reread. One of my childhood whose character is my first “bookly” love, twin flame, companion and girlfriend: Pippi Longstocking.

None’s to be found.

I’ve checked the library’s computer. There are copies but it’ll take several days for transfers from other branches.

I “compromise” with another book altogether.

Still. Like trying to satisfy a craving for ice cream with frozen yogurt. Doesn’t work. You may TRICK yourself into believing otherwise.

But the heart wants what it wants. Needs what it needs.

I need Pippi for a reason. The rest of the story in a moment.

“Compromise” book in hand, I keep searching for Pippi — just in case it got misshelved.

“Can I help you find something?” A lady librarian in the young reader’s section queries.

“I can’t believe you don’t have any copies of Pippi Longstocking!” I respond with unedited incredulousness.

She checks. Confirms.

Then coincidences roll in.

Paraphrasing:

“Funny you mention it,” she says kindly.

“We just checked out our one copy today. We have three other copies that just today we removed from circulation. They’re to be replaced due to wear. The spines are cracking for their popularity.”

“How long will that take?”

“A few weeks.”

“Oh no, that won’t do.”

She steps to the rolling cart full of books behind the desk. Pulls forth a hardcover — love me some hardcovers! — edition of Pippi Longstocking — one with the cracking spine that’s earmarked for replacement

Instructs her coworker to alter its status “available for checkout” in the computer. And she hands me the book.

Such joy! I behold in my hands the golden scepter. I’m touched. Moved. Happy. Hugged.

Just then, I confide a secret to the kind lady librarian. Which is the rest of the story for you readers.

“I’ve just lost my mother.”

Grief is its own force. The most discombobulating disruptive disorienting power that life will give you. Give any human being.

It’s the other side of life. How could it be anything less?

“So,” I share with the librarian, “in my grief, I’ve rediscovered my love of the library and of books. Specifically ones I read in childhood.

{waves hello to the beloved Pippi Longstocking}

“They are my comfort.”

My soul – and sole – comfort.

The kind lady librarian listens. Doesn’t really grasp about grief, its power, the things it makes you need and not need, want and not want. The way grief gives the simplest things great meaning and makes intolerable the noise, the clutter, the stupidities of people and life.

Her time will come. As will yours if it hasn’t already. The loss of one parent, then the second, those losses change you in ways you can’t possibly imagine or predict or prepare for. No matter what your mind tells you.

“I’ll take great care of the book.” I assure the librarian, holding it tenderly as if it were a little animal, a kitten. She knows; she can see.

I thank her profusely for the book and we part ways for today.

The day’s perfect moment, you see, is about more than perfection. It’s about synchronicity.

PippiAs well as the enthusiastic and eccentric Pippi, who bounds now into my life as she did way back then, effervescently, eternally.

Frock You! Frock Me!

Reports of my death are premature.

Unless referring to my blogging life. There are causes for my total absence.

End of preface.


Have long been a fan of the blog “Today’s Perfect Moment.” Anthony’s a competent and descriptive writer. And though admittedly it takes disciplined biting of the tongue to not kindly mention errors (nothing mars otherwise skillful writing like errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling; in the writing craft, the devil’s in the details), I enjoy the stories immensely.

So much so the enjoyment that many a time have I been inspired to follow suit in a “Today’s Perfect Moment” theme. Which has led nowhere, as evidenced by this blog.

Still, I think about it — as a moment this evening bespeaks.

Setting: Starbucks.

Me: On the laptop. Not blogging (sadly).

At a nearby table: Two men, one middle-aged, the other somewhat younger. The third man has taken leave to a spot nearby to talk quietly on his phone.

All three were wearing black frocks.

The two sharing a small round table were deep in conversation. From barest snippets I catch, the older seems to be mentoring or addressing concerns of the younger.

None of the rabbis — so they appeared to these extraordinarily religious-illiterate eyes — wore head covering; each, however, wore long beaded necklaces over their frocks.

It was the long brown beard of the young gentleman that suggested Judaism.

It was the pair’s manner of conversing that struck me. Quiet. Earnest. Solemn.

It contrasted sharply against the usual public loud chatter, streaming diarrhea of the bombastic mouths and, most offensive, cell-phone dialogues broadcast for all the world to hear: whether or not we want it.

Wouldn’t you know it. Just as I pulled out my phone to discreetly snap a photo for this post, the two (presumed) rabbis gathered up themselves, their devotions and prayers and exited with their sidelined fellow, who of the three had the “eldest” air.

The sighting reads like “Today’s Perfect Moment.”

The garb: an uncommon sight in this smallish conservative white town in Arizona.

Their interaction: private, serious, as if matters of import and sincerity — dare I say godliness — were under discussion.

It harkened back to glory days (of my youth) of public decorum, manners and consideration of others. The era before cell phones (themselves not a bad invention) and, more precisely, their gross and ubiquitous misuse by loud assholes, jerks, uncouth brats and narcissists. Pick your people poison.

The three were probably Jewish. Yet their religious alliance is moot.

What I acknowledge and give thanks for is their gentlemanliness and their dignity.

A refreshing change from the usual public cacophony/crapola. An appreciated change. A perfect moment, today.

So frock you. Frock me.

Most of all, frock every rude self-involved blabbermouth polluting our public spheres.

Let today’s frocked men be a model.

Contemplation: is good.

Consideration of others in public: is possibly better.

Privacy: is next to godliness.

Thus in the best of ways: frock you!

The Jerk. No relation to the film.

As if moving’s not stressful enough.

In the Top 5 List of Life’s Stressors, they say.

Not so much for this Moving Queen, she says poised for the next move in two days. Move #56? Dunno, lost count. But if practice makes perfect, then the perfect mover am I! Got it down to a science and an art.

 

Even so, moving’s still a major stressor.

Made all the more so by people. Certain individuals.

Meet Jodi.

Some months back she posted a craigslist ad seeking a roommate. Unbeknownst to me, it’s present-time Jodi.

I replied, emphasizing that I’m a neat freak as the ad highlighted it as a desired trait.

No response.

I emailed again. Nothing. Again. Zero.

Persistence paying off? Not so much.

Then interest in the room morphed into annoyance at the lack of response, the lack of courtesy and manner.

Call me old-fashioned but I believe that every respondent to any ad deserves an acknowledgement as a courtesy. Even dreadful auto-replies are better than stone-cold silence.

I communicated this distress. Never heard back. Of course not. Only choice was to let go and move on — and find another place to live.

Fast-forward 3 months.

Same ad appears. Coincidentally, at a time when I’m ah-gain looking to move. I live in a perpetual state of looking to move but that’s another issue.

I respond again – again featuring my neat-freak qualities (and other things) since in this Round Two that’s again a stated preference in the ad.

Lo and behold, I hear back!

I pick my jaw up from the floor and go meet her. Jodi.

We hit it off more or less. I mean, how well can you know someone in an hour’s chat?

A green light to proceed far as I’m concerned. Jodi too.

Only one thing left to do: Meet the other roommate. A dude from India. No problem-o. So it seems.

Then a text from Jodi.

“I changed my mind. The roommate asked that since he is Indian and his family visits {ed. note: briefly like once a year}  that the new roommate be male to reduce cultural conflict.”

Wow! That’s a new one to this seasoned mover / roommate!

“I am sorry I got your hopes up.”

Jodi and I text fond farewells and I keep looking for new digs. Two months looking, one week before I’m to be out, Jodi drops the ball and I’m empty-handed trying not to freak out!

No other choice but to keep looking.

A new possibility emerges in the 11th hour. I pursue.

Then I hear from Jodi.

“I changed my mind. Can you come over to meet the Indian roommate?”

“Sure. When?”

“5 or 6 after work.”

“Can’t. I work evenings. How about I go meet him at his job like during a break?”

“You can’t. Have to meet him here at the house.”

“OK. How about Friday (yesterday). I have that day off.”

“I’ll ask him and get back to you.”

“OK.”

I wait. Wait. Wait. While the Moving Clock ticks ticks ticks.

Never hear back.

I text. “What’s the skinny on meeting the Indian roommate tonight?”

“Sorry. He’s already gone to Phoenix for the weekend. Maybe next week.”

No More Maybes.

“I wouldn’t count on this,” Jodi adds.

You don’t say!

Both rounds Jodi’s dropped the ball: (1) first time when she never responded to my shows of interest in the room then (2) when we met and talked — rather, she yammered, I listened — and advanced toward Go only to have her throw the curveball of cultural distress. Then rescind it.

When she texted: “I wouldn’t count on this,” I could only say:

“I’m out”

“OK. Good luck” she says.

“Goodbye” is all I could say — and needed to say.

Here’s a woman who not once but twice ignored me, jerked me around by offering her home, then taking it away, then essentially offering it again after meeting the roommate.

Every step of the way I accommodated Jodi.

At every turn she dropped the ball.

Either she didn’t respond … or did respond but sporadically and unreliably … or did respond all-in.

Like the three faces of Eve. Which Jodi would appear this day?

Her actions / inactions would’ve left me homeless had another door not opened at the very last minute. Whew!

In the end, I dodged a bullet.

Hence I write:

As if moving’s not stressful enough … it’s people, certain individuals, who make it 1,000 times more stressful.

People like Jodi. Who jerked me ’round not once but twice and for the last time. Jodi the Jerker. Jodi the Jerk.

Heave-ho to old habits! Hello Rooster!

I’ve developed a habit.

A bad habit.

A habit of not writing stories in a colorful and never-a-dull-moment life.

I know the roots of why, mostly.

As unhealthy / painful / traumatic as the whys are, still I continue.

Takes 40 days of a different / better behavior to loosen the grip of a habit, they say.

Could be. I rarely give myself time to find out. Another bad habit developed over time: giving up too easily. Throwing in the towel — with expletives along the lines of “fuck it, doesn’t matter, the world’s shitty, I’m worthless, just ask my mother.”

A tired old refrain that regardless I continue to chant.

Ugh. Why? Habit. Bad habit.

So here’s what I’m thinkin’ today.

Tomorrow’s a new moon.

Moreover, it’s the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Rooster. The Fire Rooster.

I’m a Rooster. Even better, a Fire Rooster!

If ever there was a year for me to Let The Past Go and Begin Anew, Initiate, Get Back on the Horse and Gallop Onward, 2017 is it!

Recognize the old habits when they pop up. And pop up they do and shall — persistently, repetitively. Like a broken record that just won’t give up.

Recognize that it is an old habit bellowing that same ol’ song.

Lift the needle off the vinyl — I’m a vinyl fan from way back, long before CDs existed — and flip the record.

What’s on the B side? Dunno. Whatever, it’s time to find out. To kick these lingering old bad habits to the curb.

Sorry, guys, you’ve had your 15 minutes — and then some! Time to love you, forgive you and let you go.

The Fire Rooster’s crowing in my ear. However unmelodic, out of tune or dissonant its song may be, it’s gotta be better than the broken record of same ol’ same ol’.

So sing Fire Rooster! Sing loudly! Sing freely!

I welcome your proud bold Spirit back into my life!

Fire Rooster Symbol of 2017 New Year

Fire Rooster 2017 Chinese New Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Indian bedspread. Cheaper than drywall.

Well, that’s a hoot ‘n’ a holler!

Two months ago, when I started searching for new digs, I responded to a guy’s craigslist ad seeking a roommate. Despite repeated tries, never heard back so moved on.

Never heard back ’til yesterday. An outta-the-blue email. “You ever find a room?”

Uhhhh, actually, yes. We’re to formalize the deal tomorrow.

Still enough time to back out if a better deal appears but we gotta move quickly. Like meet today.

Then he tells me about the sitch.

A 2-bedroom apartment. His roommate’s a gal from his ad back in November.

This dude’s a hackysacker, artist and traveler. He’s gone a lot. Apparently he and the roommate are feeling the burden of splitting the rent.

Hence the appeal of a third roommate.

In a 2-bedroom apartment?

Hackysacker Dude’s got a fix.

“My roommate keeps her room. You’d take my room since I travel a lot.”

And Hacksacker’s bedroom when he’s back?

Bemused by his creative cleverness, he chuckles: “An Indian spread hung from the ceiling in the living room.”

{flashback to my Berkeley college days}

I laugh. A creative solution, I give ‘I’m that.

“Sounds crazy, huh. You probably wouldn’t be interested. Sounds crazy to me too, I’m 42.”

“Nah, not crazy. Hey, I’ve got a hippie past. Been there did that in my 20s. I’m not there anymore.”

I didn’t tell him I turn 60 in two months.

A friendly engaging chat … but a third sometimes-roommate making his bedroom of the living room courtesy of an India bedspread … not my bag at this age … though, as I tell him, I’d consider it if I were desperate. And I’m not.

Our chat ‘n’ his sitch got me thinking.

Like Hackysacker Dude perhaps, I’m a traveler. Not financially independent. What would I do in his situation? How would I maintain a rented space to return to while also easing the burden of rent on myself and roommate(s) when away?

The Indian bedspread – 1,001 uses. Who here hasn’t used one or seen it used once in your lifetime? “It can do everything but fix your car.” Okay, exaggeration. Still. Why, just to scratch the surface, a spread:

  • covers up damaged or ugly walls
  • protects couches ‘n’ furniture from pet hair
  • stands in as a ground spread at picnics and beaches
  • helps tote objects
  • drapes over more windows than we can count
  • ditto tables and bicycles, motorcycles and things stored in an attic
  • and, naturally, divides more rooms than we’ll ever know

I feel for Hackysacker Dude’s pickle.

And though at 59 I’m not interested in revisiting my Berkeley-university era, my inner hippie is still alive and appreciates Hackysacker’s efforts. In fact, in his sandals, I might well be hitting Cost Plus for a giant fabric print.

Had I gotten his address — to a place I’ll never live — why, I’d even gift Hackysacker Dude a ‘spread for happy living, happier trails, happiest hackysacking. Perhaps this one, elephants symbolizing good luck ‘n’ prosperity in India …

elephantspread

The mighty elephant, kin of the beloved Ganesha