11.23.2006

Thank you for (not necessarily in any order but for sure)

coffee
chocolate
King Tut
rain
USA
sunshine
Charles my beloved
tattoos
my family
red-headed nephews
my friends

women who want to save the world

men who agree the world is worth saving

beauty (beheld)

art (eye o eye)

style (vogue baby vogue a la mode)

diversity (=coexist=)

color (infinite spectrum)

soul (infinite spectrum its worth saying twice)

men with grace
women with will

both with strength and love.

to the rest of the world i say thank you for your forbearance while we work out how to do this thing.

egb

8.02.2006

Tearless in Tampa

As usual, 'willing' oneself to 'sleep' is somewhat mutually exclusive, so I gave up and got up. It's not even really that late as I start this, but it's been a long grueling day and another ahead tomorrow, but my mind just won't shut up so I'll spill it here and then go stretch and hope for sleep.

In spite of my fear and loathing of all things avionic, I am still going to get on that flight tomorrow and fly to TN for a weekend of family and ancient Egyptian artifacts at the Frist Museum. I got up thinking I might go ahead and pack but a few moments in front of the open suitcase and a pile of clothes was just more organizational wherewithal than I have at the moment. Besides, C's asleep and I don't want to rustle around the house when at least one of us is able to get to sleep.

I miss Pappy this evening. Mama gave me a photo of him from perhaps the mid '60's when he was art director at Opryland. It's black and white; he's sitting in his studio, a small statue of Napoleon on the bookshelf behind him. He's looking off into the middle distance, every inch the art director- opinionated, creative, observant.

It's just shy of a year since he left and tonight there's a waxing moon spilling into the bedroom reminding me that it was two days waning when he passed last year. I was watching "National Treasure" on pay per view the night he died and my cousin S called me from the death watch and gave me updates. I felt entirely disconnected from it at the time, and then even more surreal when I went out to breakfast with C's family the next morning because they wanted to take me out for my birthday. Not that I felt like celebrating being born that day, but sometimes you don't have much say in these things and you suck it up like a well-raised daughter.

To my complete non-surprise, I started menstruating almost the moment I arrived in Nashville and then bled like I was going to die myself for days on end. Every female in my family did the same for the next five days. Biology is freaky. So I drank a lot of Jack Daniels to compensate.

The night I arrived, my brother drank himself from obnoxious bravado into silent sobbing on the front porch, while my cousin S held his shoulders. The house was too full of mourning family, so we younger generation and the smokers sought refuge on the front porch and yard. I could not cry that night, did not really cry that much the whole time. Tensions snapped back and forth between mothers and daughters, cousins, brothers and sisters, inlaws, and I could feel tangibly the threads snapping between us all and knew that Pappy would be distressed to know this.

I got lost in my rental car everywhere I went in Nashville that week. My mother needed me most of all and I was not there for her - 'her father's daughter', she let my brother know when I had let her down somewhere in that nasty grieving week, and my brother let me know. Ouch. Sometimes even a quarter of a century afterwards, divorce wounds rip their ugly little scars open to remind me of the vulnerable needy kid I once was wanting to get away from the venom of motherly spite known to be borne out of disappointment and grief but still just wanting to be away from it and her - and into the calm but ineffectual compassion of fatherly silence.

My husband was a rock. He didn't get lost, even though he had only been to Nashville a handful of times. He got us to the church on time, got us to the wake on time, got us to the graveside on time - or just after, where they were all waiting for us in the hot morning sun, single red roses for each of us to leave with him in the grave. A small heavy metal urn was his coffin, his tall able frame reduced to a box of ashes to be buried in the August sunshine.

Perhaps Pappy is watching from that side, pulling those snapped threads back together; we've woven ourselves into new configurations over the last year. Or perhaps he really is gone, obliterated except for our memories of him. I don't care to speculate- coming from a long line of doubting Thomases, I prefer to rely on what I can put my hands on and through. Pappy would understand, I'm fairly certain.

I have not shed many tears even since then. I don't know why this is - I miss him terribly and feel the empty spot where just knowing he was alive is now gone but tears, though hot and big, are not frequent, lengthy or noisy. There is a part of me that hopes and wishes he is looking out for me as a guardian angel but the larger part of me suspects that when he left he took it all with him and would expect that we are to look after ourselves in his absence.

Right now, I'm just going to aim for that same mindset I see in his photo - opinionated, creative, observant.


7.16.2006

Catching up

I jogged in mom's posh neighborhood today in my ratty running shoes and cut off gymwear and no deodorant, after having coffee and English muffins with the ladies of my family at a ridiculously early hour on a Sunday morning. The run about did me in - I'm used to flat Florida and these North Carolina hills are NO JOKE. Burn, thighs, Burn!

They all went out antiquing again today; without me, thank you very much. Couldn't do it two days in a row, I just don't have that female stamina for shopping. My Aunt B called me a shopping wimp. Hah. Instead, I read a fashion magazine from cover to cover and napped on the sun porch. It was delightful. Quiet house, at least for now. They'll be back before long and then my aunt Anne will be here to add to the female squadron that is my family. There will be trout for dinner and lemon-drop martinis and velvet hammer conversation.

I just want more Pirates. Yo ho.

7.14.2006

From the Smoky Mountains with love

I seem to have found my voice again.

I know the last post might seem a little corny. I care not. After all the years with C, I never had the words to fit what was in my heart but last week they came to me in a complete spill over the course of three days. I was preparing to fly to North Carolina to visit Mom for her birthday and was utterly convinced that my plane would go down in flames over Georgia, so I showed it to him last night before I shut my computer down so that he would know that I after 15 years was finally able to write a love poem that did him justice. And I posted it today after my flight landed safely - for all the world to know in case my return flight is the one that goes down in flames. Or even in case it doesn't and we really do end up old folk together so the world will know that it really is possible to have a love like that. Rock solid, fierce and real.

Have spent the day with Mom, Nanny and Aunt B. Lovely in every way. Wine and gourmet lunch after we arrived; a visit to Mom's renovation project and garden; coffee and espresso beans and dishing over fashion at Port City Java and now at M's house listening to old school Linda Rondstadt.

Keep the faith. It's an ugly world but still the beauty shines through. We are all but pilgrims on our way to higher ground.

For My Beloved Charles:

I heard my soulmate before I saw him.

Summer 1991

His voice rumbled like iron and velvet through my skin and into my spirit

And then I saw his face his eyes like deep water his mouth an impertinent invitation

he stood and walked that long legged walk and I was aflame

with the knowledge that I would be his to toy with and he mine

Not too so many days later I stood next to him in a borrowed kitchen on KP duty soapy

hands grabbing his shirt and sticking my face in his and leaning him hard into the refrigerator while

my tongue asked him and he answered yes to my delight while

just on the other side of the wall sat a room full of people watching Monty Python and The Holy Grail

And after many years

tears

throes

scratches and laughter

bruises and banter

and love like nothing else matters

making us strong his voice still rumbles like iron and velvet in my heart.

I love you Charles always

12.08.2005

Whistling in the Graveyard

I haven’t had a damn thing to say lately.

I went to my grandfather’s wake on my 35th birthday. We buried his ashes in Lebanon Tennessee two days later on a sunny Wednesday. We ate leftovers at my aunt’s house afterwards and I watched my nephew Sam play in the sprinklers on a hot August afternoon, while my husband good-naturedly tolerated the ribbing of my aunts and grandmother.

There are days when I feel as if a hat that’s been on my head for a long time has suddenly blown off and I’m in the wind. Days when I forget to whistle.

My grandmother gave me one of his paintings, taken from a photo on their trip to Greece. A small herd of sheep, a tree next to them, a low white stone wall behind it, and beyond lies a field of orange wildflowers.

He once said to me while we sat on the beach together listening to the surf, “Listen to that, that’s the heartbeat of the earth.”

He once said to me, long after most of his eyesight was gone, while we sat at the little round glass table in the kitchen, “Anyone can look, but an artist really sees.”

He also worried that the blacks and the ignorant immigrants were taking over the country. He thought the only answer to terrorism was to ‘kill every last one’ of the Arabs. He put a boycott France bumper sticker on the van during all THAT brouhaha. This, after many highly praised trips to Paris with my grandmother. Fox news got into his blood toward the end as badly as the cancer that killed him. He would watch it – or rather listen to it – while lying on his bed in his converted room on the first floor, set up for him because he could no longer get up and down the stairs.

Even while the cancer ravaged his body, and the chemo poisoned him, that fucking channel ravaged his keen mind, like a splinter too far dug in for a needle to extract it. He’d emerge from his little room, shuffle out and sit at the table asking his Ruthie – my Nanny - for a cup of coffee, then spend what was left of his energy spitting venom sucked from O’Reilly and Hannity. But only a few days before he died, he asked my uncle Paco to remove the bumper sticker. “I’m over it,” he said.

Katrina roared through the Gulf coast at the end of that week and the world turned on its axis. I flew home the night she pounded New Orleans, feeling the outer edges of her fury at 35,000 feet. Too high for that, I know, but try telling that to my white-knuckled, panicked self while sitting in the exit row willing myself not to scream at the top of my lungs, repeating under my breath Hail Marys hard-fucking-wired into my Catholic-school raised brain as if She might intervene on my behalf and save me from death by hurtling airplane into the sea. Perhaps She did because I’m here to write about it now. I don’t care to speculate.

Pappy taught me how to whistle. I thanked him for that when I put a single rose in his grave. His painting is propped against a vase on our china cabinet, right next to the empty Mexican candle of the Virgin which burned every day and night after I returned to Florida.

Years ago, Pappy painted a portrait of me, taken from a photograph made of me in London at a swank salon, right after I’d had a great new haircut. The portrait is unfinished and I have no face. The photograph is taped next to the painting, a reminder of high school daze, where the look on my face reflects the fact that I knew it all. I think I shall leave the painting unfinished.

Her of the blank face I know.

7.27.2005

Monkeywrench

Been away recently.

Not easy sometimes spilling thoughts into electronica.

Especially when they seem irrelevant or just damn conspiratorial or just fucking contrary.

I wonder if Cassandra felt that way? Poor Troy.

Several things, just pick the most recent:

Twin Towers felled. Pentagon penetrated.

Color codes installed.

Iraq invaded.

Icecaps melting.

London bombed. Then London almost bombed again. Then trigger happy deputy shoots Brazilian who oops ended up being not a terrorist. Our sister city cracked open from below to reveal her angry hurt heart.

Egypt bombed. My ancient soul home that I've never laid these eyes on ripped open by hatred and fear.

Truck bombs daily in Baghdad. Truck bombs daily in civilization womb.

Toxins in our mamaearth, in our mamawater, in our childrenbodies.

What we wrought? We = all, not W, not Rush, not Rove, not queers, not breeders, not vegetarians, not ___fill in blank with insult of your choice. We = all. I been a liar and a cheat too, so I throw no stones.

What we wrought?

To bring what?

Politics NOT= solution.

Solution = elsewhere.
Hope yet:

Yoda said: Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.

bullshit:
Democrat or Republican,
Liberal or Conservative,
Terrorism or Anti-Terrorism,
Abortion or ProLife,
Family Values or Gay,
US or Them,
either/or; all a/k/a: Newspeak

Real = soul center. Real = heart speak.

false dichotomies = fallacy
fallacy = misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning

:( fallacy that WORKS.
WORKS: steers dialogue with power.

Monkeywrench:

Lets be real.
Life is in the center.
Not on the edges.
Edge-thinking leads to desparate thinking.
Desparate thinking leads to bad decisions.
Bad decisions lead to bad shit happening.

From center all views possible.
Free will in action.

Yoda said: Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Don't wring your hands over things out of your control.
Don't whine about things in your control.
Don't cry.
Just be.
Just do what you must to make your soul whole.

To make their souls whole, good Catholics confess. I admire confession for its cleansing power. Mortal sins are sins for very good reasons. They also lead to bad decisions and bad shit happening either to yourself or to others or both.

Mortal sins = Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth

Been guilty of every last one.

Confession in the Catholic catechism isn't just about spilling your guts with all the gory details of the bad shit you've done or thought. Confession is about admitting the sin itself and then going forward with prayerful meditation and a firm resolve not to repeat the sin.

Lest you think I count myself a good Catholic (I admire many tenets of Catholicism but will not insult truly good Catholics by calling my existential pagan self one), I only use the sacrament of confession that as a specific example because I grew up and am intimately familiar with Catholic rituals and teachings. Bhuddists and Hindus and Moslems and the rest all have ways of making the soul whole. Do yours. I just did mine.

Yoda said: Do. Or do not. There is no try.

May the Force be with you.

6.22.2005

Monday in Amarna

And yet more time goes by. Does it ever seem like it goes faster the older you get?

On Monday this week, physically I sat in the Hillsborough County Courthouse awaiting to fulfill my civic duty as a juror. The room was too cold, the seats uncomfortable, but I was happy to bear the burden of my duties as a citizen- it really is one of the finest and yet remaining cornerstones of our government, more so, I begin to believe, than even voting or writing letters to our congresspersons and senators.

But before I go off on a rant because I just cracked that door open- the corruption, lack of foresight, lack of sound judgment, greed of our elected representatives and the corporate media, etc etc ad nauseum...I can see it through the crack, I recognize it, and it repulses me no end. Others have expounded on this far more eloquently than I could (thanks Andi), and so I will slam that door and say only that on Monday, I did my part, even if it was only to warm a seat for 7.5 hours and then be sent home without deciding any of my peers' fates.

But really, I must be honest here and say that altough my pinstripe-skirted bottom sat in an institutional chair, my heart mind and soul were across the globe and a few thousand years distant in Akhenaten and Nefertiti's city.

The Saturday before Jury Duty, I discovered the Old Tampa Book Company, a little gem of a used/rare/out-of-print bookstore in downtown. I dug through the stacks, feeling quite at home, delighting at the smell of old books. There is really no smell quite like it- comfortable and just the slightest bit musty, the smell of a collection of minds upon dusty shelves. And upon one of these shelves, I found a book by the irrepressible Mary Chubb called Nefertiti Lived Here.

Come Monday, I escaped the drudgery of jury duty along with the Miss Mary. The book itself, its physical dimensions, typeset, paper, are charming. A hardback, it is small enough to read in bed, and lightweight. Its cover is a delightful recreation of a painting of ibis among lotus plants taken from an Amarna pavement painting. As I read, I delighted not just in Miss Mary's retelling of her experience, but also in the wide margins, old fashioned typeset (1954), and pen/ink illustrations that are charmingly reminiscent of St Expery's The Little Prince. Best of all, the paper itself has some sort of sparkle in it so that when the light shines on the paper, it glows.

Page 75 has an upside-down 'j' in the word 'just'. I am well over half-way through the book now, and so far, that upside-down letter has been the only mistake. The book once belonged to a John Morris of 57 Blake Court, South St. Gosport, his inscription tight and unobtrusive under the jacket cover on the outer left corner of the front cover.

Nefertiti Lived Here is a memoir of Miss Chubb's time at an archaeological expedition to Amarna in 1930. Her memoir opens after a year of secretaryship at the Bloomsbury Egyptological Society; she is bored beyond compare and dreads yet another day in the dreary offices of the Victorian restored house trying to make sense of the archaeologists' field reports and accounting records. In the basement on a rainy Tuesday in February, she discovers a tile from Amarna that likely hasn't been touched since it was brought back from Egypt.

That one little tile, as it spills Egyptian sand through her fingers, suddenly clears the clouds in her mind and she is completely hooked. As she writes:

"I don't suppose any one of them [archaeologists] would have said, 'I saw a beautiful thing made by an ancient Egyptian, and that was enough for me to decide on this for a profession.' but something, some accidental chance even, had once set that self-same nerve thrumming, so that there was nothing for him to do but go back in space and time and search patiently for the truth."

I almost wept as I read that line.

She finagles her way into accompanying the next expedition to Amarna as the field secretary, and the rest of the book is a lighthearted, highly readable but intellecually luminous recounting of her adventures as part of the dig to uncover the mystery of the Heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten and his lovely Queen Nefertiti.

And here's the amazing part: I bought this out-of-print edition for $6.50. I did an amazon.com search for it, and the out-of-print version was listed for $99- and one not in as good a condition as mine. Holy Heiroglyphs Batman, what a steal! It's a priceless little gem I am proud to have added to my new and growing Egypt library (what Charles has taken to calling my "book binge". HAH. If only he'd looked at my amazon.com Wish List, he'd know what a real book binge looks like).