Trench Coats, Party Girls, Southern Comfort, and Such

The fact of the matter is this, we have options in life. We always have options. We, ironically, are in charge of ALL thoughts that enter our brains, and we can choose to NOT accept all of them. Thoughts can be snakes in the grass, bats in the attic, sparrows in the puddle, guinea pigs in a huddle, but we don’t have to encourage the critters we don’t enjoy, want, or need. Focus on the positive, or at least the neutral beasts that occupy our brains. Then practice breathing. Yes. Breathing in and out, slowly and deliberately visualizing not our thoughts, but concepts and ideas that are of a universal truth and nature that tend towards love, compassion, and forgiveness. Wrap the best of the thoughts in lovely bow, or attire them in practical trench coats, and just take a deep breath.
Tonight as I should have been doing my nightly meditation, I had a very bad trip down a very creepy pathway of very unproductive thoughts about a betrayal by a friend several years ago. It was, unintentionally on my part,  a mutual betrayal in the end.  What started out in my mind as a lovely close relationship was in actuality a miscalculation of personalities, places in the stream  of life, jealousies, and adolescent left over karma/dharma as it were. When I first returned to the classroom after fifteen years of stay at home mom and part time college instructor status, I was paired with a “co-teacher” who was new to the district and from a small town due south east of the locale of my school. The small town appellation ending in “burrow” should have alerted me to what small minded gossip and manipulations were to follow, but I was blithely unaware of others’ motives and still married at the time to my ex and trying pseudo-successfully to raise two girls in the midst of crazy pre-teen and teenage hormoal insanity. I had in various ways been forced into a close working relationship with a woman I did not know or comprehend, and  my admittedly “a practicing devotee of niave conduct in life” at that juncture, and not that proud to say I was “naive” with purpose and intent in many ways; I unfortuantely trusted her too quickly with information about my oldest daughter and the then head coach’s youngest child who was my  daughter’s running buddy at the time.  I was niave. Doe eyed. Silly.  My daugther was on a wild tear through her Junior year, and I, the doe eyed  mom who remained sympathetic to my own rules of drama, set up nicely and with gusto by my daughter’s just need for revenge, and my ex-friend’s need for righteous indignation–then later quid pro quo.
My ex-friend was the acerbic type, sarcasitc and Don Rickles type of insulting humor was her game. It felt familar to me, like my severely dysfunctional family of origin. I would later find out her father was a raging alcolholic, and she the happless victim of his rage after her mother died when she was only nine years old.  A sad story, and one that I felt completely attune with since my mother’s issues in her years of raising me. I  thought I understood the woman, and I thought I had her complete confidence and trust. What I didn’t count on was her “small town” ways of dealing with drama, with friendship, with that southern thing of “backing up your girl” in a fight. I did not comprehend that her not being a mom would color her opinion of my mothering, and her opinion of what choice to make if I spoke to her about my life as the mom of a teen.  If I had known then what I know now, I would have kept my mouth firmly shut, and possibly lost out on another good yet painful lesson. The lesson is always the same lesson, and I, as usual, got to choose if I learned with pain or joy. This one was painful. As usual, I chose the hard road.
After almost a half year of conversations and co-teaching a class, my friend was in my room one day when I arrived at school devastated by my oldest’s rabble rousing ways and drunken behavior with the head coach’s daughter the weekend before. My ex had been hiding and would continue to hide a lot of my oldest’s forays into the party circuit thinking he was protecting us both from a bad gig—a fight in the aisle so to speak. The lie he told, protected, extended for the first semester of that year of several partying girls’ antics which ended up hurting not just me, my friendship, and my job relationships further down the road, but also my daughter later on due to blatant neglect of some fairly obvious parenting principles. I must take responsibility for my continued niave outlook as a major contributor in this debacle. That morning, shaken to the core of my niave mommy soul,  I confided in my co-teacher that morning, and after purging myself of the hurt and anger at both my daughter for partying and risking her life, the other parents’ seemingly condoing this behavior, and my ex to whom I was still married at the time. I calmed down, and an hour later told my co-teacher as she returned to our classroom to not talk to any one about it.  Unfortunately, she had already involved ALL the parents of ALL the teens involved via a veerrry southern tradition of  tattle tale phone tag… rather like playing “rumor” on the adult scale.
In the interium, my oldest had banded together her friends and planned a counter attack, a devastating one that would hurt my ex-friend for the short run, and humiliate the adults involved who “told” as well as drive the stake in the heart of whatever friendship existed between this woman and myself. My daugher told a bold faced lie, and was backed completely by the other teens in the lie, and the “phone tag” tattle tale started by my friend was in the dirt before the umpire could call foul ball.  My co-teacher ended the year in hot water with her second job of dance squad sponsor, and the parents and girls ostracized her to the point she resigned for the next fall. The other parents were livid at me, the co-teacher, and thought the girls were just precious victims of needless drama. The coach’s daughter was protected, and I was made out to be the gossip and liar— that I didn’t even see coming— by my simply by confiding in a woman who was out to gain power and assauge her painful childhood memories by punishing willful teens.  I was completely unaware of all the mascinations going on until at least two years later. It was, at the time, a huge mess, and the lesson here?  Teenage girls will, without a doubt, complete royally for the title of “Lady MacBeth” in any confrontation, and southern girls from small towns who had raging alcoholic daddies are nearly as deadly as pit vipers when engaged  appropriately with good ole southern Protestant righteous indignation.
So, wrap up that niave outlook in life—that everyone else is to blame— in a big red bow, and take those negative drama producing thoughts, memories, or ideas and drape them in trench coat like the perverted creeps they are, and let go of them all.  Boot those puppies to the curb.   All I had to do to prevent that “painful” lesson was to choose differently. I could have confided in someone I had known longer, or simply kept my mouth shut. I could have taken responsibility for my daughter’s actions and not involved the other girl’s actions or her parents. All were guilty, but that is not for public consumption or a series of tattle tale phone calls, initiated in righteous indignation, perhaps, but nevertheless, useless unnecesary hurtful information. Who cares?  Kids will be kids, and lies will be told by those who want to manipulate the situation.  It in the long run,  the lies and the anger only hurt me the worst; the girls got off scott free. The co-teacher got her revenge on me later politically, and not one, not even one of the gulity, were “punished” for the “drama” and the illegal “partying”  in the way it should have gone down.   So, would I now choose differently? Yes. Can I forgive the girls for lying? Yes. They were kids. Children. Can I forgive my co-teacher for the drama? Of course, because I have to take fair responsibility for creating it as well. Do I recognize I created my own  comedy of errors that played out over the next several years? Yes. Do I forgive my ex for hiding the truth, but of course. I must. Each of the involved did what he or she thought best at the time, even if it was a STUPID best.
There is only one lesson. The lesson can be learned with pain or with joy.  Most of the time, I feel I have chosen the path that included pain.  So now, I gaurd my thoughts, and I see the critters coming in the trench coats, most nights, and I desire to choose love. Not fear, Not drama. Not gossip. Not disgust. Not anger. No, I desire now to choose love.

53

Two more years to go before I become the age of my mother when she committed suicide in 1988.  She was a mere 55. I was a mere 27 years old. I felt about 16 the day I was told she was dead. Today I turned 53, and see myself more as like her in the brilliant ways she was on her good days, than not, now a days. I don’t have the impregnable depression that she suffered from, nor the fits of cleanliness that accompanied some of her “manic”‘ states. I, alas, am more of a  sunny to partly cloudy  to rain shower mood rider, like a hang glider on a wicked wind some days, with fewer thrills.  I left my mother when I was 15, just. She had become unhinged yet again, and I had not the fortitude to stand in front of her raging one more time, after many times in my childhood, and espcially not at a mercurial age 15.  I went to my dad’s home. He had just moved into a rent house behind the hospital in which he worked, almost in anticipation of my move, and subsequently my brother’s very traumatic departure a few months later.  But, I digress. Today I am a contented 53.  I am happily past the angst of 15 most days, sans the days of hormonal swings that bring back the teenager within as I traverse the next phase of my life here on planet earth, the big “M” for women. I will be in a bit of a tangle of sorts this coming year, as I sort out the last of the negative fall out from a botched divorce, but I am certain I will and can become the person my spirit is leading me to be. She–this new person within me— is a person who values those intangibles in life, who can’t be found worrying about a scratch on a car, or on a computer lap top cover, or a lost earring. Things are completely and easily replaced. Love, wisdom, laughter, life itself simply to be cherish, to be enjoyed fully and completely, now, I journey.  The stuff and nonsense that I see society at large worshiping at this point in time, cars, houses, power, money, things—these are so ephemeral, so temporary.  I don’t understand even my latent fixation on such things at times.

Mom would be proud now of my journey, and I do  feel that she is around somewhere beyond the grave looking in on me in silent tacit approval of my choices these past years, and my girls, ages 21 and 25 as of this next year, are also making her very proud. They are my soul sisters, my butterflies, my perfect babies grown into less than perfect but more than wise young women, almost Shamans, in their interactions with me. I am blessed. So I feel that it is my turn to share the blessings of my experiences.  All things, in life, work toward one goal, and that goal is chosen in each moment of life.  I know that the choices I have are pretty simple, love or fear. There is no ownership of a material world, but there is manifestation of love or fear that seems to exist in what is called the physical or material world.   Can I choose love? Sure. Can I regress and choose fear? But of course!  Which will I choose?  I am not sure I always choose love, but I do see the results when I do choose it.  So, at the tender age of 53, I look back amazed and I can look forward with joy.

I know that my mother, and my father, both did the best that they knew how to do in life.  I wish Mom had been able to stay longer than her 55 brief years, but she couldn’t live in the pain she felt. I understand that. I get that.  I wish my dad had been healthier, and had been able to stick around for a while longer–he passed in 2004, and is sorely missed by many; selfishly, I wish he had stayed for me, to see my girls grow up, but it wasn’t in his DNA, not in his life style choices, to do so. I so understand him and Mom now so much better. It is like a book opens a little more each year that I am alive, and in that book is perspective, wisdom, love, and acceptance.  Only if I choose to read the book upsidedown or backwards does this change to fear.  53, reversed is 35. Would I be 35 again? Yes, and no. I would love to see my babies again so small, and have the energy and stanima of my 35 year old self, but I don’t miss my ignorance, my judgemental ways, my self imposed drama. So, 53 is a good age, a sacred age, as all ages are sacred.  I don’t wish for a younger life, but I do wish for a continued life, a long life, a life beyond my mother’s all too short 55 years, and my father’s all too short 73 years. I desire at least 100 years, maybe 110 years? I value each moment. I see the potential for joy now in silly things like losing my car keys or misplacing my cell phone. It is a choice. To laugh. To sing, To dance. To live. To love. Choose those I will. And, for now, 53 is the key to my happiness. Now.

Adult Male: Not a Serial Killer, Looking for Love

Here is the counterpoint… I am very sure jet planes are metal angels sent to rescue us all at times. However, there is a part of me that does not trust flying in planes though I really enjoy the takeoff and the landing as the best part of any flight. Call me crazy, but I am a thrill seeker by nature. I am now out of the phase that I need the “thrill seeker stage” of my life to have true contentment.  That being said, most men I have found in my life can be categorized into three or four at most succinct categories, all of which have moments of the thrill for the thrill seeker.  Category number one:  The Serial Dater/ Heart Killer–This man takes his lady to the best places, shows her the finest times, and then about six months into what she believes to be her true love in the flesh–her soulmate—her prince in Gap clothing or Biker garb, he dumps her with a line like, ” I never ever meant in any way to hurt you, and you are wonderful, really.  I just am not in a good place right now to “be serious” with anyone, especially someone as awesome as you are.”  End of dating. Heart murdered in the third act of a five-act play. Category number two: The Broken Man/ Rescue A Pound Puppy— this man is known for his good looks, his acumen in all areas of romance, but needs a place to stay, a supper, a nice shower, and a mom figure to nurture him back to his real life.  He comes over in a quandary of wanting to be the “real man” but can’t afford a date out, other than breakfast at three in the morning after his garage band plays yet another great cover song gig at the local dive bar. Or, the long lost father of a former student, down on his luck, not able to work his trade due to a downswing in the economy, but able to seek a woman’s money and aid to live in the lifestyle he had been accustomed to in his former marriages. Both of these types of “category number two” men have their attributes, but neither really care for the woman, rather her resources for them. The heart again slaughtered for the sake of supporting the man.  Category number three and number four can be combined: This group of men are seeking that replacement woman, not a true love, rather a partner for a purpose, and after the allotted number of prerequisite dates, amount of time passing, and the appropriate actions of a woman  pleasing to a man of “their status” and “ranking” among men, either as an heir apparent or as a self-made millionaire, the woman must acquiesce to the needs or desires to be an ornament or simply an accessory on their arms proffered at an event. All of these men are the type that would never “kill a woman” in real time, but the mere slotting of the woman is in itself a type of murder.  She loses herself in his life, his dream, his sketch of her –a painting behind the curtain, “His Last Duchess” so to speak.

I rather take a few more thrill-seeking rides on planes or motorbikes.

Nonlinear Navigations: Poetry and Prose

I’m a complex person, but
here goes
nothing.
I promise
I’m not a serial killer.
I’m an introspective social
chameleon. I love
the good life. The screeching roar
of jet engines makes me
indescribably
giddy. I’m happier
than I’ve ever been. I’m ravenous
for life and have razor-sharp teeth
pointed
at the plate. I am an open
book with sticky pages
and a good
read. I’m 99 pounds
of pure
dynamite. Adult
male.

This is a found text poem using the first lines from men’s online dating profiles. The line breaks are mine, the text is copied directly from the profiles.

 

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The Drum Dance

When I gifted myself with a drum this past year, I had little idea of the effect or importance  of my gift. I have been visiting East Glacier Park Village for the past 8 years, attending a traditional Blackfeet sweat lodge, multiple pow wows. And this journeying to my holy ground of northern Montana began the most radical and most needed leg of my spiritual quest to find myself. I had spent decades avoiding my inner landscape, and yet, through the beauty of  nature’s seasonally changing attire on the Blackfeet Nation’s glorious rolling high prairie and majestic mountains  — introduced to  me by my life long friend, and adopted Blackfeet tribe member, Anna Rainingnight. There is not a good description of Anna other than an incredible friend, strong, generous, mindful of others, an intellectual superior. always present, always the teacher in my life.

The sky of Montana seduces, completely. The wind — the sun- the stars– the northern lights in June and July– all beckon like a Lover’s  kisses on my needy brow. I see my travels there as my sojourn to myself, my acceptance of my mortality and my spirit. I travel there as often as possible, regardless of price, regardless of time spent there- I must see the prairie and the mountains.

This past summer, I left  my holy ground unexpectedly soon, and in a hurry this time, returning with Anna to attend to her father as he passed over to the Spirit World — July 2013 when Mandela began his same journey.  The last night I spent in East Jesus – a.k.a. East Glacier- allowing Anna again to teach me about mindful generosity as she took me to Two Medicine Lake at dusk before we packed to drive a marathon back to Arkansas -1698miles -as quickly as possible.  The drum I purchased earlier that spring awaited me — hanging on my bedroom’s wall, to be drummed when Howard passed — after I heard his soul greet me with laughter only hours after he had passed, a mere six hours after Anna and I arrived back to her family home here in Arkansas. So, tonight after the first Christmas without Howard, without Anna’s annual  sojourn home in December  but  Anna still present with gifts.. With the lesson, Anna gives me every year- compassion and generosity– I see the Montana Sky in my mind. I feel that Kiss of Montana, and tonight I will play my drum in honor of Howard, Anna, Valentina, Betty, Star, Autumn and Em, Annie and Allen… The kiss of my Spirit. The Drum Dance of my return to my soul.

The Kiss

BY ROBERT GRAVES
Are you shaken, are you stirred
    By a whisper of love,
Spellbound to a word
    Does Time cease to move,
Till her calm grey eye
    Expands to a sky
And the clouds of her hair
    Like storms go by?
Then the lips that you have kissed
    Turn to frost and fire,
And a white-steaming mist
    Obscures desire:
So back to their birth
    Fade water, air, earth,
And the First Power moves
    Over void and dearth.
Is that Love? no, but Death,
    A passion, a shout,
The deep in-breath,
    The breath roaring out,
And once that is flown,
    You must lie alone,
Without hope, without life,
    Poor flesh, sad bone.