Archive for July, 2011

July 8, 2011

That Perfect Moment

I heard a new song yesterday. Trailer Park Boneyard, by The Coathangers. I’m not even sure how I found it. I think YouTube just threw it at me randomly after I watched something else. I checked it out. It hit me like a ton of bricks. This song is raw and inspired, and has one of the best guitar hooks I’ve heard in the longest time. I think I’ve listened to it about ten times since last night. I can’t stop. It’s stirring up something old and familiar in me that I recognize from back in the day.

These Atlanta girls scare and delight me. They don’t give a rat’s ass about being nice. Ha! I’m pretty sure in some folks eyes they are going straight to hell. This song, Hurricane is so eerily hot and sexy, I almost feel like I’m sinning just watching the video. When was the last time you let yourself go all out like this?

I remember this feeling. It’s powerful, anarchic, the kind of thing that could distract me from regular responsibilities and make me do very bad things. I thought it was the coffee I drank last night that made me so excited (been trying to quit, had a slip last night, might need an intervention), but I put Trailer Park Boneyard on again this morning and it made me cry. Remember the Sex Pistols? The Ramones? Blondie? The Slits? Remember 1979, 1980 when London and NYC were exploding with this new music that told the rest of the world where to go? These were not necessarily productive times. People got about as fucked up as they could on whatever they could find. Things got destroyed, broken, and many boundaries were shattered. Some stuff got rebuilt, some did not.

But you know… matter & energy – they might transform, but they do not go away. I may not be clubbing like I used to, and if coffee is my worst drug, well that should tell you what you need to know there… but I know these girls. Like I know myself. I still have these feelings, and they’re not all locked away. Now I watch my 8-yr-old son fling his body around the house when he hears music he likes, and yeah, he’s playing the drums a bit. And I like it.

Photo ripped from this review on

July 7, 2011

On the subway yesterday evening, on the way home from meeting a new friend…

In my writing, I choose not to focus primarily on my grief, although I know it influences my perspective on everything. Sure, I have lots of stories I could tell, and anyone who knows me well also knows that I have been through a lot of shit in my life. For instance, as of the death of my grandmother in 2001, as the eldest of three sisters, I became the matriarch of my family… a fact which has me feeling like a child wearing an adult’s shoes. And yet, I am often so joyful. It’s hard to explain.

There’s this transition in one song I’m listening to on my i-pod, when the percussion kicks in with a really nice syncopation, and the keyboard starts in with its riffing, and when I hear it I just feel about as happy as a balloon about to burst.

I notice these two cute young people standing close together who look to me like lesbians, and a man sitting not far from them. I feel tenderly towards them, yet at the same time, concerned. The couple are touching each other in ways that overtly suggest their intimacy. The man appears to be glaring at them. When they step off the train, I realize that one of them is a young male with a ponytail. Maybe the guy looking at them was just an angry man. I look back at him. Maybe he was just tired, cuz his eyes are closed now, and he’s nodding off.

What the hell do I know? Really, anything could be anything – we sort of have no idea. There is so little we really know for sure. And yet, so many people are willing to argue to the death about things they disagree about. There are far too many arguments in world that will never be resolved. Far too many for my taste.

One thing I know is that my truth resonates for me in ways that are unmistakable. I feel some things deeply, but they are private and personal. I may choose to share some aspects of my truth through stories, a conversation with this person or that. I may look for support or reassurance, and agreement is always nice, but if I don’t get it, it’s not the end of the world.

A beautiful child is wheeled into the train in a stroller. She can’t be more than a year and a half old. Her mother is busy reading a bible. The little girl has the most wide open dark brown eyes I’ve seen in a while. I keep looking around to see if anyone notices her. No one else is looking at her but me. She is calmly regarding her surroundings with all of her spirit. Not needing anything, just being there, looking around, and watching. She is a miracle of purity and serenity – receptive to all the joys and pain the world has in store for her.

Life, this ever shifting kaleidoscope of good and bad, difficult and easy, sweeps us along, and we can either ride the wave of our days, or rigidly try to force things to be how we want them to be. I have my beliefs, my passions, and my ideas. While my feelings seem quite urgent to me, I am learning to work with them in a way that doesn’t require me to force any external changes in order to validate them. So you can relax. I will not try to convince you of anything.

Dedicated to @jjunebrown

July 4, 2011

How my tag sale taught me an important life lesson

I had a tag sale on Saturday. It was, how shall we say… a bit emotional.

I’m not saying that having a tag sale is up there on my list of all-time worst things to have to deal with (death of loved ones, chronic illness, major surgery, foreclosure and moving), but it definitely brings up some, shall we say, “issues.”

To put it plainly, it really freaked me out to have to go through a major accumulation of stuff in my house that had all sorts of emotional ties to persons living and dead. In classic style, fueled by the preceding couple of extra busy weeks, I ended up saving all of the preparation for the night before. I made a bunch of signs, and then my son and I drove around the neighborhood to our local supermarkets (great community bulletin boards) and to our handful of favorite establishments (pizzeria, barbecue place, gourmet grocery store) where they know us, and would not hesitate to post a sign in the window. However, it was so emotional that I bought prepared food at two of the three places we visited (stuffed tilapia, lasagna), so one could say that I actually started the sale $16 in the hole. (sigh)

This produced an additional, terribly negative layer of self-criticism that I would rather have done without. Something that sounded a bit like this:
Nobody saves all the prep for their tag sale to the night before. You’re going to have people showing up at your house, and you’re not even ready, you’re not taking this seriously, your neighborhood telephone pole signs are not even up, you are disorganized, unprofessional, stuck in an utterly destructive procrastination loop, and you don’t even have any TAGS!!

Then I pretty much cried myself to sleep.

Fortunately, I was joined first thing in the morning by some intrepid cousins and later a few additional friends who helped me carry the heavy stuff out of the house. I’ve lately been plagued by low back pain, so there’s no way I could have done this thing without the labor of others. Even though I was still feeling kind of shaky when they arrived, I expressed my conscious decision to simply go with the flow of the day, and see what it would bring. I figured it would all just fall into place if I could relax enough to let it unfold naturally.

I scheduled this thing to start at noon, so we were able to slowly roll into action. I put some signs up on telephone poles in the blocks immediately surrounding my house, and felt a little cheered up. The first man to show up had seen my sign at the supermarket! He asked if I had any paintings. I hadn’t planned on selling any artwork, but I remembered that back in the bowels of my garage (aka floor to ceiling storage space) I had some old framed things from when I was a kid. I found a set of three drawings of animals that he purchased for $15. My first sale!

And so the day slowly unfolded. I met two sets of neighbors who lived on my block and we had never seen each other before! People bought things and chatted with us. Friends came by and my son had a few successive waves of playmates join him for some running around and TV watching. Later on, a small group of us barbecued into the evening and hung out in the cool night air up on the porch until the wee hours.

One visitor told us about a weekly church flea market where we can rent an inexpensive spot and will no doubt be able to make some money on selling my son’s HUGE Transformer collection (the majority of which was not sold). That will be our next Saturday project! I’ll have to donate the rest of the stuff, and it will probably take at least two carloads to cover everything, but my friend manages a thrift shop where they support a community soup kitchen and financial support for neighborhood folks who need medical care for their pets, so I have my destination all picked out.

So yes, we took in a little over $100, and I was reminded of the blessing of family and friends, but most importantly, I saw in action the concept of saying “yes” in the face of my doubts and fears. Even though I had no idea how it was going to turn out when we started, I gave myself over completely to the rhythm of the day, and it flowed as naturally and effortlessly as I could imagine, bringing with it a myriad of pleasurable moments with new friends, and a lot of nice surprises along the way.

Here’s a coda to this story:
I’m in the process of developing a workable budget designed to help me transition out of a tremendously challenging financial situation. It involves deep cuts in personal spending that will necessitate drastic changes in my daily habits. My friend who is helping me out wanted to review the numbers yesterday so I could start making some debt payments this week.

Of course, I couldn’t find the final sheet of numbers we had done earlier in the week, and I had to refer to an older, slightly outdated version. I was very tempted to do the old, “Deb, what is wrong with you, why are you so disorganized, you’re avoiding, etc.” He just said, it’s OK, get a fresh sheet of paper and let’s do it again, it will be a good thing. What he basically said was, “Let’s find the YES in this.”

I realized it was the same thing as a conversation my improv teacher friend Kim Schultz was saying the other night to my colleague Alexandra Moga, who is a yoga instructor, and invited me along to listen in on her interview with Kim for her own blog (coming soon, will keep you posted). They have been discussing this same concept as it appears in both improv and yoga. It was also the same thing I had done when I was tempted to go down a negative path on the morning of my anxiety-provoking tag sale.

So I had a triple revelation, that this concept exists in all of these three places: yoga, improv and in regular life, particularly when dealing with a difficult task that you seem to be “failing” at (having a tag sale, creating a budget, etc.). Right at that moment before self-judgement, self-denigration… there’s a real opportunity to invoke faith and just go for it, and see what happens.

It turned out that by doing the numbers again, I gained a whole different level of insight as to my whole financial picture, and we discussed a new way of me keeping the info handy so that I could keep the concepts alive in my daily behavior (not binging on take-out food when we have food at home, cuz it’s just not in the budget, for instance)… It WAS a good thing!

By chance, I found the perfect link with which to close this post, courtesy of the good folks at who had posted it on tumblr. It’s Amy Poehler giving the commencement speech at Harvard: The whole thing is really funny and smart, but a little past 8 minutes into it, she starts getting at the heart of this lesson from the world of improv that applies to life in such a far reaching way. Don’t be so afraid that you don’t move forward.


Photo courtesty of MoonSoleil

July 4, 2011

Things that really bother me, and in less stable moments, kinda freak me out.

A pimple on my face that is forming just under my skin, and I can’t see it yet, but it really hurts, so I know it is coming. No matter what.

The fact that my body is not symmetrical.

A twitch in my eyebrow.

Head cheese.

The words, “head cheese.”

Uncooked chicken, masquerading as cooked chicken.

When you break a bone by accident.

When you put in the DVD of Mad Men from Netflix you’ve been waiting to watch all week, and you’re midway through the third and final episode on the disc and it freezes. Seriously, I may kill someone over this one.

An itch that moves every time you scratch it.

When you temporarily forget some essential, positive feeling that you have most of the time as it seemingly disappears for a day or even a week or two. Like the feeling of being in love, or knowing that you are good at something, or having faith in the general goodness of mankind.

The fear that the aforementioned feeling will never return.

The fact that mind-melding really does only happen on Star Trek. Lord knows, I’ve tried.

Low back pain.

Asteroids. They caused the ice age, for crying out loud.

When a giant spider strings a web in a spot that you have to walk through at night in order to get into your house, and you don’t see it there, but you feel it crawl on your face when you walk into it.

The seeds in rasberries.

Dry feet.

Thinning hair. Mine.

When someone thinks I’m making fun of them and I’m not.

Seeing someone sitting alone in a restaurant eating, and watching them chew. Slays me every time.

Miscommunications that lead to hurt feelings… or worse.

When bad things happen in private, and you just know that if the right people knew all about it, they would put an end to it.

This picture kinda freaks me out a little, too.

Photo courtesy of  Lorri37