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Holding Pattern

This is about my 7 hours in jail on christmas last year.

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Notes:

You and me, we are powerful. I saw it, when you saw me and I saw you, on that dark day in that bright room. She was laying down before she came in, her broken face on the shelf along with a body she had long since forgotten. I danced to keep focus, smiled and sang to keep aim. If they took my sweater plié I knew I might lose it. My socks were fanciful, a reminder of my humanity. Humans had expensive socks that they bought on sale, and loved. They took hers pirouette she was losing it. I spun on my toes, kept form with a body I had long since forgotten. She said, I wish I had your perspective. The words came out between her sores, begetting her youth. My heart was broken before I came in, she couldn’t see my sores beyond her own, only my beauty.

I tried to see only my beauty, feel only my beauty in these cold confines of hell, tried to keep far beyond my cable-knit sweater and jail-issue pants so large I wrapped them around my waist and folded them over like thai fishing pants. What kind of safety was this to me now? I know about fashion and dance and people! Two people in uniforms watched, impressed that my hair wasn’t real was plain in their eyes. My sweeping gestures were on purpose, which is to say as dramatic and as beautiful as possible, I unclipped one long hair extension after another into a plastic bin at my feet, clink.

Hey, I am smart! I am a mother! I could feel the licks of total degradation at my heels.

Punctuated by another threatening to kill herself, over and over, she cried a sickening, bitter confession that she was back here and back here she had been! She was certain she couldn’t make it this time, couldn’t take it this time. This time would be it! I couldn’t prop myself up enough to avoid dying right beside the one on the shelf. Without a word, she told me she had died before and so would I. She wasn’t worried, she just really really really wanted help this time. This time, someone lasting. Someone to tell her what to do, is what she said, I do good when someone tells me what to do. (I believe her, why don’t we?) She faded out trembling. She tried so hard to hold herself and failed, falling through her own fingers.

I pounded the broken phone and pushed the button on the wall. Do not push the button on the wall the uniforms said. The button on the wall is to notify the people with carts to collect the dead as the uniforms defined it. Is anyone dead here? There was no effort to define it. The uniforms did not check. I pushed all the buttons until one lead to a voice who sounded willing to let me out, maybe. Did I have a credit card? Did I have someone that could vouch for me? Yes, and decidedly No. Later in morning they might help, they had to come in anyway, they would allow me to do something to repay such grace later.

There is no time in jail, no change. I waited, sat on my fear, danced on my fear; I lobbied for toilet paper. I almost forgot I Am Human, I could feel it slipping through my fingers. How? I could reach deep and grab it back but I didn’t know each time that I reached, that I would be able to. What if I was the girl on the bench trembling, already? Grasping at thin air, holding onto the nothing that everyone saw? Well, I wasn’t yet, and yet and yet.

Release from jail isn’t soon enough and comes too soon. The Lyft drivers aren’t really available so I sit on a boulder near the water in a sequins miniskirt and cable-knit sweater and eye anyone. I left my hair, socks and thai style jail-issue pants behind. The residual concern for my own appearance (10AM in sequins is for prostitutes… in the 90s… and only the cheap ones) is overshadowed by something bigger: Criminals aren’t born, they’re made. I see I am eyeing harder than anyone is eyeing me, maybe one or two people are out. The Ego is awake. I know the strangers in vicinity at once like the back of my hand, better than the back of my hand. In this moment I am alive and my aliveness pulses throughs me, a righteousness of such death/non-death I glow one thousand times greater than my great sequins mini skirt on a boulder by the bay.

The Lyft driver I get is in crisis with his gal, and he tells me all about it. The 45 minutes home. It would be shocking, the fine details he reveals about himself, if I hadn’t just gotten out of jail. He treats this ride like a walk in the park with a best friend! I would be astonished if I hadn’t just gotten out of jail. A ride home on a unicorn at this point wouldn’t impress me. I know him better than the back of my hand and he knows zip about me. I thank him for the ride just before I get out of the car. While I am thinking about not being able to make it into the house with all the grief welling inside me like, the heavy hot lava of a novice volcano unpredictability, he thanks me and asks: Are you a therapist? This question provides a break in my own insanity, one that I know I will be able to use to float on into the house. I wish I could laugh. Instead I let out a hum and a version of ‘No… maybe I ought to be’. He feels good at that. He feels he helped me. He did, sort of. Mostly he hurt my ear hairs, and I felt taken for a ride.

I got in the house and tried to shower off what I couldn’t. I began crying then, really crying. That was the end of one life and the beginning of another.

That was a year ago, today.

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Philosophy, Random

Payment

In hindsight, I ought not to have paid him upfront.

This lesson could have cost me a lot more. Larry, thank you for showing me who you are. I do think you sell yourself too short but who am I to quip with you not meeting your word? The fact stands. You blame the designer but he can’t help with your integrity problem either. He met his word and struggles beyond that. We all have struggles–you haven’t the slightest idea of mine and you have attempted to impose on my graces. What you can hope for when you operate this way is limited to the extent of your illusions. I pray they last because at this rate, you won’t.

I could have made it myself for what I paid you to do it, while I worked elsewhere to pay you, while you didn’t do the work. Have you ever done such a thing? Do you know what it is like to pay for a deliverable only to receive long-winded excuses, a sling of insults, an ache in the head and an extreme pain in the ass? I will tell you: I am surprised and not in a good way.

So while you have my money and I don’t have the deliverable, you have my attention here. When something seems wrong like this does, it gets lodged in my craw and then I feel all the responsibility in the world to right it. I don’t know who died and made me keeper of the justice but I wish they would rise again and relieve me.

While I breathe until something else happens, here is my best advice: Fuss around with the shit you have been given and produce what you can. Words are cheap. Make something you are proud to put your name on, Larry! I thought $$$ would be motivating because to name my price for a job and get paid for it out of the gate like you did would motivate the shit out of me! What else can I say? I was wrong. This isn’t working out. I want my money back.

People put energy into feedback like this for others when they care. Most people wouldn’t waste the keystrokes, like throwing oxygen after the dead is only good for the bugs eating the carcass, feedback for someone you don’t care about getting any better is besides the point.

I am asking for now what I asked for then–provide something valuable, something positive to credit you for, something to promote, something to add to your repertoire of talent, something that makes us a team to make something more. I saw this project as an opportunity when I presented it. You agreed then. You appear to be taking it as a victim now. I implore you to take responsibility for the project you signed-up to do, not make it a loss.

This reminds me, we have a choice. We wake each morning and to some extent, regardless of our circumstances, we get to decide: Do I want to be a decent human being today or a piece of shit liar, for instance. I think it is that ignorance of choice in the first place that gets a lot of us screwed-up.

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*I will still pay people upfront, just not Larry.

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The rest of the story…

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So much goes untold. From here on out I will tell the juicy parts. The parts that drip off the table, I will allow to land here, in addition to the party invites and reviews. Why not? I find myself astute and observing. To keep my musings to myself in the fashion of burying them in a notebook until the pages choke with my scrawls or shredding them of context to fit facebook is really throwing away a thing I am good at. Writing. It could be the thing. To repress myself is not humility, it is self-hatred. Enough of that.

I write to find out what I think. This is true for me and is so for Stephen King, even before he said it. There. I may walk and talk to find out what I think too but that is a longer road. I often take a friend at that so I don’t get lost. I repeat myself when I walk and talk. Not so in writing. Writing gets me out of my head. That makes no sense but it is no less true.

These posts will be tagged Uncategorized. Feels blasphemous to write it. Previewed the post to see that it worked. I didn’t get kicked-out or have my writing fingers fall off so that’s good, I will continue.

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“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” -Anne Lamott

 

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Public, Random

When You Quit, Really Take Them To Lunch

When you quit a job and your co-workers confront you with a send-off lunch and it is so spectacular that you continue the lunch monthly for a year.  As many as twelve people attended, I dinned alone only once. What made it stick was two questions, set in advance of the lunch, that we went around the table taking turns answering. It was so simple, we didn’t expect it to be so raw and satisfying. In 30 mins upwards of an hour, we connected more than each of us had in the larger part of a year working in that office neck and neck together. It was remarkable although we never remarked on it, we just kept showing up.

In case you were wondering… I quit because the team needed a chief happiness officer and the director wouldn’t allow me to be it there so I had to be it someplace else.

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Random

Retirement Party

This retirement is about a new, highly anticipated beginning. Hosted backyard party, a lovely backdrop to an array of friends, family, and surprise guests. Socializing in the sun and shade, ample yard games, takeout, and surround sound take the regular office send-off to a new, more fruitful launch pad for all. We dare say, more retirements like this!

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Openings: Entrances done right

My excitement rose exactly with the ascension of a narrow indoor staircase, and then extended with that of a jaunty outdoor catwalk, finally opening to the rooftop deck of my dreams! The sound was incredible, so perfect that I hardly noticed my stiletto heels fitting perfectly between the slats of the deck floor.

Last night, I attended the Monkey Loft, a performance venue.  While a bit confusing to figure out where to go to get to the rooftop deck, eventually a nice person conceded to play Host, telling all about the place and how to get to the roof.

Dancing on my toes, with my eyes closed occasionally, and in good company entirely… well, it was as fine a night out as ever could be. What ends well, often starts me thinking about how the event experience began, at the entrance.

To go from a small space to an expansive one, makes sense when you arrive. Conversely, to go from an expansive space to small one, makes sense when you leave.  This is a common rule in design, and you will see it all over the place.  When the opposite is true, you will feel a bit odd, if you are paying attention at all.  There are exceptions, and those interest me too.

I have spent years toying around with decor and experience design, mapping routes about places for particular parties, and mulling over ways to get around walls that I couldn’t move. What I discovered were solutions to design problems.  I think this is a big deal because design problems create conflict, and life is too short to suffer conflicts you don’t have to. Furthermore: great design can inspire people to live, create, and connect in ways that didn’t seem possible before.  Great design creates opportunities!

Decorations are fun if they make a positive difference.  I tend to identify items that stand on their on or that I love despite the context.  Those tend to be the best decoration items, your style standards. Where to place them for maximum impact depends on the skeleton of the place you are fixing.  For instance, if you’ve got the opposite: an expansive entrance leading into a small place–like I do–use the decorations outside, and keep a clean/empty entry inside, to mimic a space that satisfies the rule naturally.  It’s surprisingly effective!

Breaking the rules can also be effective and pleasurable, but I cannot think of an example for this design scenario. You?

Be well (dance!)

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Row with your muse

It is shocking.

I decided long ago that I would use my energy to love, to understand, to build collective consciousness, and none of it to fight. I learned much later that I could also let go of what I loved, understood, and helped build, that in fact it would be taken away from me regardless and eventually. Also, if I found my energy to be alone in the endeavor, it was likely I was persuaded by Ego missives to stay in that limiting place. One’s calling is beyond the furling captivation of Ego and so to take a leap quiet from it makes sense. I came to believe that if I could soar to greater heights in love and understanding, then the whole world could, too. Where at once it is all about me, and not about me at all.

My goal in any relationship (i.e. professional, familial, romantic) is to maintain a mutuality of holding one another up to the light, from within a shelter from the storm. A relationship where even one person busts things up within the shelter, is not a relationship for me. I have walked through the fire many times to learn these lessons. There will be other fires to walk through, and I am not afraid. When I keep aligned with my purpose, I am never lost or alone. I have given up hope of a better past, and therein lies forgiveness. Once the seal of resistance is broken, forgiveness flows like a mighty river. It’s a process to keep the flow going. This is work.

All the best with your work today.
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Surprises & Bikinis Are Not Swimsuits

How to throw a surprise party for someone who detests surprises:

  1. Anticipate the needs of the person the surprise is honoring, and make those a priority.
  2. Inform guests of the schedule (and verify their knowledge) so they may be the best co-conspirators on the face of the planet.
  3.  Allow a graduation of events.  Expect something to exhaust itself and be ready with the next order.

How it started

My 2nd baby just turned a year old, I was still nursing, and I was particularly tired at the moment that planning ought to have started for my 30th. My husband wistfully reminded me of my favorite restaurant on the island, and the capacity he and my brother had together, to take me to it. That minimal effort on my part, would produce the maximum reward. I nodded Yes. The promise of getting ready for anything gave me hope, and I liked to encourage people to go places and take people along, even the sullen; creating occasions, even if there were none prior. Yes.

What I wore (Act I)

Monochrome palette of cremes with gold accents. Long gauzy skirt; linen tank tuck-in tight; double string of oversized pearls wrapped in fine netting, with a tired satin bow in front and to the side; four-inch stack heels, thick and strappy. I felt like an angel that had been flying too long, worn on the edges and beautiful for the effort.

Details

On cue, I floated to the back table at Hitchcock and around the bend, there sat all of my girlfriends. All of the good ones anyway. I was overwhelmed and so I ignored them. When the males remained standing with the baby, and handed a gift card to the nearest girlfriend “for the drinks” I realized the company I had arrived with would be abandoning me to this newfound crowd, and I had either to assimilate or to run.  I kept run in my back pocket.

They sat side-saddle looking at me expectantly, their faces especially dolled-up for an island party, their perfumes wafting, the whole of them sumptuous and embarrassing. I did what I could do at least, which is to shrug my shoulders at each pair of sweet inquiry eyes until something else happened. I don’t like surprises but I soon forgot this and settled-in like a regular surprise go-getter, chatty mcChatster.

The food courses came and went, as did the jokes we played off one another. We laughed and laughed.  My face was sore, presumably for all the smiling and not for all the eating when one of my friends remarked that the night had only begun and I was not going home.

Momentarily, I was cross. Already my shoulders were getting cold and this didn’t bode well for the rest of me, should I be subject to the rest of the night out. What had happen to me? Had I become a lame-ass ninny a mere 30 years in?! I decided that if I had, I may be young enough still to outrun it. Also, I blamed hormones, which are transitory in their effects and may be powered over and through by a willing-enough subject.

What happens with hormones is, your baby needs you (food) so your cave (feeding space) becomes desirous over anything, even the stuff you once thought entirely pleasurable. It’s like a depression only you don’t feel depressed, you feel focused, and right. I tried to be quiet about it, least something like I love my cave, leave me alone! burst out, a statement I could very well not pass without fanfare in this company, for they would pull me into explaining, and well, I might kill them. It was paranoia without the fear; sort of amazing.

I digress. What ensued felt like a movie.

We carpooled through the winding roads in the woods, on the darkest of nights. Screaming as we hit bumps in the road and turned onto dead-ends that we had only to back our way out of. We spooked ourselves into a delirium like the grown women that we were.  I loved everyone a bit more for it. The friend driving could see well out of only one eye. I was thankful she had the one eye.

Eventually set before us was a compound of sorts, a lovely estate on the water, complete with a pool house that rivaled the main house for old-world class and sophistication.  I fell in love again.  I decided to be a lover of surprises from there on out.

What I wore (Act II)

My moment was crushed by the idea that the presence of the pool would require my presence in a swimsuit. I was sure I didn’t own a swimsuit.  My husband packed a bag.  Of course he packed a bikini I thought I had thrown out when I turned 19. Of course I hadn’t shaved in this millennia, and my breasts look like something someone going into the porn industry may very well like to try on for size before they commit to the surgery because they were so large.  

I wanted a solid, sleek, racing swimsuit that cut right up to my neck, with a slight turtle, a zipper in the back, and high-cut leg holes so I could scissor kick fast or swim like a frog without any chaffing or slippage. Assholes made bikinis and even bigger assholes wore them, I was convinced.

In my master suite on the bed, my dear friend had so carefully laid out a razor all tied up with a bow, and I cried at the site of it.  It was a 5 blade thing, I could do anything now, even wear a bikini.  Certainly, I had the best friends in the world.

Note: Never underestimate the power of anticipating needs.  The smallest acts of kindness can make the all difference.  There is always something you can do in a moment to connect with another person; it’s one of the gifts of being alive. If the best gifts could talk, they would say “Me, too.”

Candles, food and drinks, hot tub and pool, jaunty photo from the 60’s or 70’s of people in this very place having a hay day, stuck in the mirror of the changing room just like I was. And here we were, making another hay day! Was I dreaming? How long could I stay in the changing room stuck in the mirror with the picture?

It occurred to me that to socialize would require that I show off my crazy big nursing boobs in asshole swimsuit. It felt like a fair trade after a few glasses of wine. I was the birthday girl after all.

The rest

After kibitzing in the pools with my friends and forgetting about my breasts, the lot of us padded-out onto the lawn that rolled into the Puget Sound out back.

We took turns making wishes and lighting lanterns to hold them together until they summoned enough heat to rise into the air.  We watch them rise and reflect on the water, dancing with the moon twice.

Eventually we shuffled into hot showers and slipped into pajamas. One friend unrolled a poem she had written for me and read it aloud. We clapped. She went on the write a book. Another woke from sleep crying and begged forgiveness for missing her family. We consoled her. She went home. I fell in love many times over that night, rolling into the morn.

Thank you

I never met the woman that owned the estate, Mrs. Webster. She lived there in the main house, on the night of the party, too. I imagined her discrete, understanding, and to think bikinis assholes, although not one to use that language, but the kind to share a knowing smile.

To give of one’s place is a giving of one’s self–for a fete in my honor at the ask of a dear friend–what a gift!  I learned today that Mrs. Webster died a few weeks ago. This article is dedicated to her, and to all of her dear friends.

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“Are you ready?” Klaus asked finally.
“No,” Sunny answered.
“Me neither,” Violet said, “but if we wait until we’re ready we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives, Let’s go.” ― Lemony Snicket
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