Saturday, December 23, 2006


I wasn't expecting him. My hair was hanging in wet strings, water drizzling down my chest and back. I was wearing my at-home ensemble, the fetching one in celebratory once-black - cotton knit shirt so thin with age you could blow a hole in it, pants that instantly grow huge knee pouches the minute you sit down. And, come to think of it, although I don't get this view, probably a rear pouch as well. Fuzzy 50s housewife sitcom slippers.

"Thanks for the warning," I say.

"I tried to call you, but I had this new quarter and it wouldn't work in the pay phone and I had to get this to you and I wrapped it myself and it's really, really bad because I did it on the counter at the store...
Maybe you should just leave it in the bag and open it without looking."

When he's taken his coat off and we're sitting at the kitchen table, I pull the huge box out of its plastic bag. Yep. Yep. It's a pretty keen assessment of his wrapping skills all right. Looks a bit like it's been done up by a troop of pawless monkeys who've been into the Christmas punch.

"A friend of mine came along and helped me," he said. It's almost impossible to think anyone could screw up wrapping a box shape that badly but obviously two grown men can botch that up even better than one. The folds are puffing out like the box is about to explode. The ends have layers of paper at impossible angles. And scotch tape, so much scotch tape, was apparently the last ditch try at getting paper to stay around box. I can't stop laughing.

"We didn't have scissors," he says.

And I'm teasing him, but it's a wonderful gift - the thought of this near 200 pound man in a fight to the death with Christmas wrapping. I loved the gift, but really, the box could've been empty and I'd still have loved it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Solstice!

It's just less than one hour to Solstice - and it's a new Moon! I am about to shower and change, light every candle I own and send gratitude out into the universe for how lucky I am to know you all, to have friends, loved ones in my life. I will be asking a blessing for each and every one of you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Walking with an archetype

Borrowing from famous paintings and found photographs... John Collier's "Lilith" in the top right. Central figure (repeating & altered) Edvard Munch's "Madonna. Bottom left, a statue of Kali.

I never know what I'm going for until I finish (which is like not knowing what I think until I write it down). Visual art is not an intellectual process for me. Other elements: the globe, a bare tree, a superimposed photograph of vines and tropical leaves. Blend well and add parts of a poem by the same title.

Only afterwards, do I think about the fact that the Munch's particular Madonna is the most Lilith-like image I could find - which makes sense when you consider patriarchial religions managed to restrain a powerful and sexual image of a female diety by converting it into the tamer and more manageable image of a virgin mother.

I associate the mythological Lilith with spirituality grounded and informed by the earth and natural cycles and she represents, also, the banishment of female power by the patriarchy. That banishment and subsequent disconnection, the ages-old rule of conquerers, is depleting both the human spirit and the earth we depend on for survival. It's a paradigm that has to change. And it is my personal feeling that the spirit represented by Lilith is awakening. Kali sits below on the left and Lilith, the most brightly lit figure, shines into the darkness.

And it was interesting to me to note that the two line quote in the entry below, "He said, he said"...and this piece both are indicators of what I listen to.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Accidental Shopper

I am trying to write
on the card that goes with the present.

What do you say to a man who loves many people deeply
but finds the concept suspect?
Who has a fear of words?

And what of the gift itself?

I am bad at buying gifts.
I am impatient or dull and practical
because I can't purchase
the kind of gifts I'm really good at
making him laugh.

I started to think about gifts in general –
how one man could give me roses
when a can opener from another man
would mean as much
or more

and how sometimes the right gift
is just to tell the truth
when someone least wants to hear it
and most needs to know.

How giving up a seat on the bus is a gift
or making fun of tragedy
until you can laugh a friend
past their personal
scary graveyard.

Not pumping words into every silence
is a gift. Not always mine, of course.

And awkwardness -
mine, someone else’s
right there in front
of god and everyone,
the miraculous slapstick attempt of humans
to fit into their own skins,
the failed attempts at dignity,
the lurch and stumble into vulnerability.
When we wince in empathy
instead of laughing
that is the best gift of all.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Relationship challenged

When I am confused, I go to ground. I may call the kind of friend who doesn't mind me sobbing snottily into the phone and blubbering the awful admission that I am a disasterous mess on several major counts. Or the kind of friend who, if I start the litany of self-abuse, goes me one or two slags better until, by the end of the call, we have declared me to be worthless dirt - but hysterically funny dirt. Mostly though, I pace from room to room, waiting for clarity. Clarity, like my muse, usually doesn't know what day it is.

Theoretically, I am a grown woman. There are people, here and there who may have time to time thought I possessed some small wisdom. Occasionally, while in the grips of dangerous attacks of ego, I might even lay claim to that sort of virtue.

Clarity suddenly remembers what day it is and visits immediately when that happens.

And there is no area in my life more muddled, less wise or more confusing than the area of relationships with men.

Recently, I tried an internet dating site. The object of my affection being, as usual, a mostly unavailable man, I thought it would be wise to try to move on. It did not deter me that my feelings were entirely unchanged for this man and that I had, really, no interest in seeing anyone else. My large left brain began talking down my right brain. Look here, it reasoned (for that is what it does) do you really want to face years more of being alone this much? Would you not like to have an actual date now and then? Actually spend Christmas with a man? My right brain is easily intimidated, and even though it's trying to stand up to the logic monster, it can't do anything better than But...but...I like this man. And the left brain groans in disgust.

I write an honest ad. My banner line? "I'm not her." (The right brain is sneaky like that. It will do what it's told, but it's passive-aggressive.) I try a little harder in the body of the ad. Very little.

Yet, people answer me. Desperate widowers, nice men who would like to have sex or a wife or any combination of those, 22 year olds who suggest that we could have sex once and then be friends. Angry men write. Misogynists write. Most of them write badly. Few of them can spell.

Worst of all, a nice, intelligent, interesting man writes - and I write back. I am drawn into hours of genuinely engaging conversation and end up making a date for just before Christmas.

I tell my current love-interest and he is heroically selfless about the whole thing. He thinks that maybe he should step out of my life and out of my way. He thinks that if he doesn't, I'll never really try, never really make the effort and that I deserve more.

And then it occurs to me. I never tried with him. It hasn't been smooth or painless, but it has been effortless. You can't try to make an attraction anymore than you can try to like a song that has one jarring note.

And even if my friend decides to be honorable, to leave so that I can find the "more" he is sure is out there for me, relationship is not something you can pick up during a stroll down some internet shopping aisle.

Better alone than trying, Clarity says. And much as I wish she'd get her feet off the coffee table and stop feeling so entirely, obnoxiously at home here, I know she's right.

Friday, December 01, 2006

"This call may be recorded for quality control"

Font has disappeared from my "compose" mode, so this may be in Times New Roman font size 8. I can't help it.

December 1st. I spend a productive day learning how to paste a simple tag into blogger from Photobucket. See the idiot post below. I reduce someone's bill for a lost book from $420.00 to $59.60, thereby becoming, for a nice change, his hero. Nevermind that much of the charge was a conversion error from the old system to the new. I have not looked down my Librarian spectacles and declared him bankrupt and banned from borrowing. It's the end of term. I am God herself.

The man in (and out of) my life phones in busy for the weekend. He's rushing off to do a talk on violence. Christmas decorations are happening over the weekend in his home. And yesterday or the day before, it was the meeting with the Neo-Nazi father and son. I leave him voice mail as he's trying one more time to reach me. He leaves me voice mail as I am returning the call. Finally, by some miracle, we connect and I offer hugs and kisses have a good weekend and relax. We'll see each other next week. I hang up and feel blue for 10 seconds and then consider that I have an ENTIRE weekend to do my own work and watch movies. This cheers me considerably. Which is the really huge benefit of being my age, I think. It reduces moping to a short interval. Hell, I could drop dead anytime. I don't have time to mope.

I come home and find a letter addressed to me - and to my former married self. Both names, neatly typed on a letter. In the letter are three calling cards from my phone company. The nice lady who offered to correct the endlessly looping mistake in my name information (the one I PAID THEM to correct to my maiden name), had offered new calling cards. What the hell, I thought. And today they arrived. Three of them. All bearing both names.

I endure the phone menu. I press 1 for English and 2 for Residential service and 3 for "any other inquiries" and finally, Steve answers. I explain, not without considerable theatrics, that Bell Aliant is an ass and that I would really, really like calling cards in my one and only legal name. Steve says, "You know, we live in a pretty great country. And when you think about the wars and all the awful stuff that's going on, if our only problem is two names on a calling card is..."

And yes, I cut him off.

"Steve," I say,"The problem IS that we have to go through 18 friggin phone menus and recorded announcements to get a human being and in spite of the fact that we have done this for roughly five years, only to find the same mistake popping up over and over, only to find that years after we are divorced and move and inform our phone company that our bill is still under our husband's name...and even though we have PAID for a name change, our married name is STILL in the phone book...the problem IS that it's all such a huge stupid bureacracy out there that nothing ever works, nothing is ever corrected..." I take a breath. "And you're right about the other thing."

"I spent my lunch hour with student loans," Steve says.

"Oh you poor guy."

"Yeah. And then I have to come back here and listen to people being mad. And what does it really matter if you have two names on the card. It's just the PIN that counts."



"Steve, have you ever crossed the border with ID bearing two different names?"

"No. But I doubt they'll ask for your Aliant card."



"Have you ever been hassled at the border?"

"No. I don't want to cross the border."

"Uh-huh. So you'll fix that, huh?"

"Yes. And you'll probably get your new cards in 2010."

Good boy. Let's hope for your sake they weren't recording this one.