Looks like an open dragon mouth, in a way it is. Follies House is begging for a brace. The horrors and hahas of owning a 137-year-old home. We’ve had twenty-two years of sustainable wood, but this year is the end of luck. A dear and wise friend once told me this, ” Don’t love what doesn’t love you back.” As a woman of insatiable imagination and impracticability, I do love her. So I spent a few weeks interviewing masonry contractors. The first four said this, ” I wouldn’t park your car under there.” “What? The carport is going to collapse?” “It could.” ” And that costs? ” Fifteen thousand at minimum.” ” What about a temporary fix.” ” Too much liability. Sorry, mam.”
Five interviews later talking to a man whose been in the business thirty years, ” I cannot restore the entire job, is there a temporary fix?” “Well, we could bring in a platform plank to hold it up.” ” How much would that cost?” “Twenty-five hundred tops. You should really let us remove the foundation above it, that’s rotted and sinking. Is there a room above it?” “Yes, a bedroom in my unit. How much would that cost?” ” Between ten thousand and fifteen. We have to get in there and see how much water damage.” ” No, I can’t do that, no impossible.” ” I understand. I’ll do the temporary fix, the house is so gorgeous, and I’ve seen them all.” ” Thank you, I have tenants and have to be responsible for their safety.” ” Would you like to see the bedroom?” ” I’m in a rush.” I smiled a lot and walked up the stairs and opened the front door so he could see. “Wow, this is incredible.” Once he was in the house he was in love and granted me a discount of five hundred dollars. Do you know why? He said he’d love to be a part of her history after he’s gone. Historic homes are leaving our country, replaced by what he called tinderboxes that only last thirty years.
Thirty degrees doesn’t feel like it did last year. Adventures in livingness in the village, where I am walking, eating, going to the Post Office, stopping into to chat rap with Blossom, and withholding the urge to step into an antique shop. The thing is, I hadn’t planned on living here a year, so when plans are hijacked, we have to adapt. It feels like maturity has surfaced.
Thinking slips into different chambers; health reminders that I am not forty, finances have been a struggle since I left home, appearance, brown spots on my legs and these cancer sprouts, comfort, to be adaptable to any circumstances that manifest. Once you adapt to the unpleasantries, I think it becomes easier. Then it is possible to empty the closet of youthful memories and replace them with whatever gives you peace of mind.
Jim Marshall- credit. I didn’t sell this one, one of five favorites.
How to describe the sense of protection and security that frees the mind to create and celebrate new challenges, so different now. How short-sided to not know when I had it. Sometimes it feels like my brain is rattling, under siege by these opposing forces, one wants to dance and be in a crowded club, the other wants to make chicken soup, write, recheck my immediate business and watch Butterfield 8. I wish these two characters would merge into one!
This stranger to me, trying to be practical, prudent, safe, and boring is my opposite. We all have some duality. Subtle flips in habitat, the way I would wake early and feel eager to meet the new vacation renters or gallery clients. Sleeping past seven wasn’t of interest to me, I was an early riser because I had so much to accomplish. I do not expose myself verbally or physically in public (LOL) do not forget to turn off the burners, candles, or lock the doors. Do talk to strangers because they may know something I need to hear. Do not sneer at what advantages others have, in envy. I could go on but it’s time to prepare dinner. Sunday dinner, even alone is my time to cook as if it’s for two. What is more crucial to our happiness, than the turntable of our moods…we control the needle.
People here seem to be a bit suspicious, or maybe just curious why I never married and had children, everyone my age has grandchildren. When I was forty, I said I’m not ready, at fifty, they didn’t ask much, then in the sixties, they ask. Not always verbally, I see it the expression, a slightly raised brow, a lip twitch. How I answer now is,’ its a long story.’ Then, if I’m asked to tell the story I start talking as if I’d known them years. I lose them after the last few year’s misadventures. It doesn’t disturb me because I completely understand. I used to be judgmental about people who lost their track, who ended up broke, who had severe misfortune. Shamefully, I didn’t think it could happen to me. Lying seems to be very hip and acceptable these days. Maybe I’ll fictionize the whole last three years.
Now for the first time, this last year, I’ve noticed the bed crushed in pillows and wooly throws feel way to peaceful to leave. As soon as I am dressed the work begins, and just this week I’ve completed the list I’d made when I was in Los Angeles a year and a half ago, honest. The last entry is crossed off.
The new list, all transformative channels; I’m selling my grand Victorian here in Ballston Spa. I’ve owned her for twenty years. I haven’t lived here since 2004, and my last visit was in 2012. She needs a facelift and botox. Once she sells, my suitcases and boxes will need a new address. This channel is snow, like on the television when its blinked out. Where that address will be is unknown. A troubling disturbance that nudges me all day and night. I search the internet, best cities to retire, best beaches, then I end up in Dublin one night reading an expatriate’s travel log online. Without a lover, best friend, husband, male, I am pandemonium, distracted, and insanely unnerving with my sense of direction. When he says ‘everything will be all right’ I calm down from whatever adventure lopsided.
The sale of Follies House will mean more than selling, it will force me to carve out a new vocation because my rentals were my income. Browsing job websites is an alarming epiphany. I don’t understand the qualifications, unknown coded programs, and applications. Even art galleries use social media formats to sell online. How can you buy a photograph or painting in virtual reality? Being self-employed for so many years doesn’t qualify.
Writing is not like running water anymore. I’m second-guessing, straining for clarity and topics that matter to my followers and new readers. Peace of mind squelches insecurity and self-doubt, at least in my adventures in livingness.
Today, the street view of stark-naked trees and branches seemed to happen overnight. Buckets of fallen autumn leaves paint the lawns and while all the neighbors are fastidiously blowing, raking and wrapping up for the city to pick up. The day I set out to rake and sweep the sun was tucked into a ravishing blue sky, almost like Santa Fe. Ten minutes into my amateur leaf raking skills the wind picked up and blew the leaves air-borne. Preparing for the unexpected is the staple that glues sanity here.
Finer details are the urns and pots of mums on every porch. If feels almost obligatory, so I joined in and placed mums in my planters. Now, a week later, snow is smothering the lawns, neighbors’ chimneys spew smoke, and the village is sparsely populated. It’s redundant to even talk about the temperature when you’re in a conversation, it is relevant to talk about the snow, and how many inches are forecast. I refrain from checking the weather so the first morning I woke to powdered sugar-coated trees and streets, it was a cinematic surprise.
This year, I am adjusted to the weather, how to dress, and to create an indoor sanctuary so there is enough art, books, food, and music to accessorize the glim grey skies. Adventures in livingness in a northeastern village in upstate New York reckons with my city upbring in LA. I live amongst blue-collar workers, resilient, tolerant, unpretentious. No movie stars here. Hard cored tough New Yorkers. No BS in Ballston Spa.
Earlier today, I stopped into bring Blossom a gift, recently renamed from Christine as she reminds me of a flower. Her curly braided brown hair, pink lipstick, birch brown eyes, and flowing printed dress, just formed that image of a bouquet. She was leaning on the glass display of her boutique, (Amazing Finds, in the village of Ballston Spa) eyes wide and bonded to the glass
( Downtown Ballston Spa, settled in 1771)
An instant greeting of, “How’d it go? You look happy. Was it painful?’
My bandaged nose, from surgery last week to remove cancer concerned her, as her flowery eyes turned into studied binoculars. Our conversation drifted into a dialogue about attitude. In the eight months, I’ve lived here and stopped to chat, like four times a week, Blossom has not once displayed melancholy or agitation. Instead, she draws me out of my moody anxiousness (I’m that way. Too emotional) and into laughter and joviality.
” You’re always so positive. How do you do it?” I asked.
” Here’s what I do, I will tell you. Every morning I wake up and write down whatever comes to mind– don’t even think about it, just listen to your thoughts. Write down five thoughts, then go back and cross off the negative ones.”
” Interesting. I journal.”
” That’s different– this works. I wake up grateful, no matter what shit is going on in my life.”
” I’m not that way. I’m too emotional about what happens in my life.”
” Wish I knew, I guess I’m a reactionary. I wish you knew me when I was really happy, content with my life.”
” Forget the past, you gotta let that go. You have it inside you now. I see it, even though you have a lot of obstacles, I know you’re a good person, and you got legs!
” Wish I had your breasts!
“Hah-hah! Listen I want you to do what I said, wake up with what you have and not what you don’t have. Love the purse too by the way.” We hugged and I trotted off, a bit of a dance to my step and a smile on my face. She touched my emotional gear, gave it a push, and into the night. Instead of arguing with myself that I should go out and meet people, mingle, laugh, my evening was music and film, emotions like floating musical notes until midnight.
Three days later, Dorian strikes and my head turned outward, the images on television seemed staged, the aerial footage presented an island of trash floating in dump water. How do they rebuild those miles of destruction? The emotions we have monitored from the comfort of our homes or wherever you happen to be are as one. News anchors drop bashing in the tidepool of politics, and sordid revolting details about Jeffrey Epstein, or the latest protest. I imagine every one of you is horrified, maybe slightly in shock to grasp the velocity of Mother Nature. Floridians are locked up like school children. My friends in Miami cling to one another, as the warnings are now so intensified, the fear detonated functioning life. I’ve never lived through a hurricane; a few tornadoes and my nerves were wiggling from those events. Life, when we come together in emotions is the hope that we can do it when we are not threatened.
Sitting on the porch of Follies House in the wooded hillsides of Saratoga County, NY sealed in verdant shades, tickled by a tap of breeze, only enough to cause the slightest of tones, much like what I am listening to Little Girl Blue by Oscar Petersen. Anais wrote extensively about jazz writing when she lived in New York and frequented all the jazz clubs. So, with my emotions, the music, the serenity of East High Street on a Saturday, white butterflies and cotton ball clouds granulate into daydreaming, and neutrality.
I tried Blossom’s idea and surprised to find that the negatives are not life-threatening, painful, or disastrous in any way. The positives are it is September in New York, my windows are newly cleaned, so I can see the leaves sprout into golden shades, nothing broke in the house this week, and my refrigerator is full. The essentials of livingness, a partner to warn me from misadventures, a working laptop and printer, friends phone call and texts, oh, and money for perfume and lipstick.
Yesterday I stopped in to see Blossom. ” Pick something out, I love your present. … here try this shawl. It looks like you.”
I‘am stalked by a sensation of revolution; the upheaval of a crusted and molded foundation erupts and the contents spill into chaos. The spillage of this eruption is sparing political leaders. Everyday they appear more childish and temperamental.Your referee whistle is blowing, and spinning your diatribe into tongue twisting hollow promises.
The annoyance of conflicting orders robs me of my Aladdin (magic moments), and the mental sweep to clear out my conscience. I feel like time is stained with stop signs, alerts, and too many laws. What happens is subtle, but when so much time is placed in soulless activities, life looses it’s Aladdin. Even if you’re sitting at the local bistro and dining al fresco with perfectly agreeable friends, and chanting; our souls ache for reprieve.
[contact-form subject='[SMILEY%26#039;S DICE’][contact-field label="Name" type="name" required="1"/][contact-field label="Email" type="email" required="1"/][contact-field label="Website" type="url"/][contact-field label="Comment" type="textarea" required="1"/][/contact-form] I’m a creative nonfiction short story writer, and a columnist on arts and lifestyle. I have never said one word about politics; I am not a debater, academic, or political science major.
Do to an act of nature, lightening, I lost Cable for a month. This was when Syria broke. No one talked about it here, and I felt the communities disillusionment. When my service was repaired, I turned on the news. I felt more insulted than the time a young boy told me my legs were hairy. Who did you think you are kidding? You want us to watch both sides fisting each other like a street gang! Please someone tell them, the Press, chill out a bit and stop turning the news into a talk show. You talk to us as we were mutes. The Government has evolved as false as who we see in the mirror. If you are plain you see beautiful, if you are beautiful you see plain. I see you government, and I am ashamed.
I haven’t read the papers since June. This Thursday I went to the bank to make a deposit to cover my negative, and I looked at the newspapers on the customer coffee table., My eyes shut after two headlines. How much more can we take? I really have lost track of priorities.
Should I get a job because my writing remains unrecognized. I need a retirement guidance counselor. I don’t like the title of financial advisor; they sound too rigid. Should I respond to the dreadful vacillation of American Policy. How much more debating can they do? It’s like when I worked in corporate real estate. The meetings I attended and had to present were progress reports on whether I was an effective employee. I don’t know how I lasted as long as I did; my act was good, and I impressed some of the boys, but communication was too formal to bring out honesty. Maybe that’s what has evaporated in our
government, or am I seeing it differently because I’ve aged into it slowly. I think it started when the cool shit act came about. Some artists have it, Musicians, yea they got it, gangsta’s got it, but they always had it. Those of us who feigned cool acts, became feigned. Rambling now. Got to sweep fall leaves and
start editing 350 columns.
I’m listing to Nessun Dorma, and oil treating my hair. I was thinking how much I detest all this multitasking. I can now handle five projects at once; write, sweep mop the floor, water plants, contemplate resolutions to my finances, all the while feeling my nerves tighten, and even though I stretch four times a day; this crushing operatic play in life is overstrung. I watch those Sandals vacation commercials and practically cry because how many of us haven’t had a vacation in years, or a chance to
play a round or golf or read More Magazine all the way through?
Big spenders, rich or poor, are learning like me, that spending more than you have, like the US Government, follows you until your legs break over the debt line. I used to spend everything, before the check even arrived. Now, I am stimulated by resisting my fav delicacies, the extra beauty clutter, the wrapped $6.00 soaps, luxury bath salts and body creams, and the RLauren sales. I love to walk into a shop and leave with the one essential item. As I’ve moved into a 300 square foot no-kitchen casita and rented out the house, there’s no room for new stuff. I live with art, music, a few books, and a bulky 32″ television. There is a mini frig that suits two bottles, three condiments, pre-washed lettuce, and sliced cold cuts. Love the condensible lifestyle–so far.
I rolled the dice this morning; got seven. This always lifts me UN-proportionately to
the triumph. What is a seven going to do? Nothing. The dice don’t do it; what happens Is
I believe it’s a lucky day; like the wind won’t knock down my outdoor writing arrangement,
and I’ll be able to write for hours, and not be interrupted by registered letters, construction noise coming
from the new Drury Hotel, or tenant complaints.
What we all treasure and wish we could stack up in a treasure chest is piles of peace from whatever our lives do to make us nervous, edgy, and cuffed. Or we stop the behavior which I think is more difficult.
If you’re a middle class, middle-aged person who expected to be retired in Costa Rica by now with a book and a bottle, then you have to rearrange the internal map.
I ‘ll never retire from writing; I hope one day I can live in my home again.
Co-owner Chris Nieratko reports two of the shop’s four stores have electricity and have been stocked with power strips to allow residents to charge their phones and “pretend things were normal if only for a while.” But many are ill-equipped to handle the incoming storm, he writes, and are already struggling: “Seeing your children cold and hungry is a feeling I never want any of you to experience.”
Nieratko is asking for shipments of any winter clothing to the store’s New Brunswick location, from which they will distribute to people in need:
I have no TV so I don’t know what you’re hearing on the news, but let me tell you, it’s bad. Very bad..we’ve opened to the door to anyone with children. For days we ran generators sparingly because there was no gas…
There’s another storm coming. Temperatures are dropping. Things are getting colder and even scarier. I am writing to you to ask for your help in clothing the displaced, homeless, under-dressed skaters in our community and their families…If you have anything warm (socks, sweatshirts, jackets, beanies, gloves, shoes, tees, ANYTHING) doesn’t matter if it’s 5 seasons ago…there are many in need from very young to very big XXL. Anything you can spare to help people stay warm will be appreciated.
Please send whatever you’re able to (and there’s no box too small) to our New Brunswick shop:
Harold Jamison will make it to the Tanger Outlet center this afternoon to see Ben Affleck’s “Argo.””That movie is so good, I have to see it. I’m not missing it. It’s about the 1979 Iran conflict and there is old TV video clips and everything,” Jamison said.
But first, he was living his own 1970s-style flashback, a nearly three-hour wait to get gas in Deer Park in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Jamison was in line to get gas at the Deer Park Express station on the corner of Deer Park and Long Island avenues. He was still idling around the corner on Lake Avenue and E. 4th Street. In 90 minutes, he had moved two blocks.
WASHINGTON — Before hitting the campaign trail for his final swing before the election, President Barack Obama on Saturday stopped by the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington for a briefing on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
“We still have a long way to go to make sure that the people of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and some of the surrounding areas get their basic needs taken care of and we get back to normalcy,” Obama said, adding that the situation continues to be his “number one priority.”
The president emphasized five components of recovery: getting power back on as quickly as possible, pumping water out of flooded areas, making sure people’s basic needs are taken care of, debris removal and getting transportation systems up and running again.
“Our hearts continue to go out to those families who have been affected, who have actually lost loved ones,” Obama said. “That’s obviously heartbreaking. But I’m confident that we will continue to make progress as long as state and local and federal officials stay focused.”/blockquote>
There’s no question that an event like Sandy will have insurers adjusting their actuarial tables. Estimates on the amount of damages in the wake of this week’s storm vary, but all are well into the tens of millions. …
Whatever the ultimate value, climate science suggests in broad terms that a warming planet will likely produce more muscular storms, as well as increased heat waves, droughts, higher-precipitation in some areas, and other weather events that have clear implications for the long-term viability of the insurance industry.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, listen, I just completed not only a meeting with our team here at FEMA and all of our Cabinet officers who are involved in the recovery process along the East Coast, but we also had a conference call with the governors of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, as well as many of the municipalities who have been directly affected by this crisis and this tragedy.
We still have a long way to go to make sure that the people of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and some of the surrounding areas get their basic needs taken care of and that we start moving back to normalcy.
A couple of things that we’ve emphasized: Number one, that it is critical for us to get power back on as quickly as possible. And just to give people an example of the kind of work we’re doing — the military, DOD, thanks to the work of Leon and others, have been able to get military transport facilities to move cherry-pickers and personnel from as far away as California to get that equipment into the area so we can start getting some of the power back on as quickly as possible. It is a painstaking process, but we’re making progress.
Number two, we’re getting assets in to pump as much water out as possible. Lower Manhattan obviously is a particularly acute example, but there are problems with flooding that are affecting substations throughout the region. That’s going to continue to be a top priority.
Number three, making sure that people’s basic needs are taken care of. As we start seeing the weather get a little bit colder, people can’t be without power for long periods of time, without heat for long periods of time. And so what we’re doing is starting to shift to identify where we can have temporary housing outside of shelters so people can get some sense of normalcy. They can have a hot meal; they can have the capacity to take care of their families as their homes are being dealt with.
Number four, debris removal still important. Number five, making sure that the National Guard and other federal assets are in place to help with getting the transportation systems back up and running — that’s going to be critical.
What I told the governors and the mayors is what I’ve been saying to my team since the start of this event, and that is we don’t have any patience for bureaucracy, we don’t have any patience for red tape, and we want to make sure that we are figuring out a way to get to yes, as opposed to no, when it comes to these problems.
The other thing I emphasized, though, is that it is much easier for us to respond if we know what these problems are out in these areas, so if everybody can help publicize the number 800-621-FEMA — 800-621-FEMA — then individuals can register with FEMA and immediately get the assistance that they need.
And so the more that folks in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut understand that there are a lot of resources available for them, not just with respect to housing, but also with respect to childcare, medicine, a whole range of support, then we want to make sure that they contact us as soon as possible if they’re in distress because help is available.
Let me just close by saying this: Obviously we’ve now seen that after the initial search and rescue, the recovery process is difficult and it’s painful. But the governors at the local level — Governors Christie, Cuomo, and Malloy — they are working around the clock, their teams are working around the clock. We are incredibly grateful to the heroism and hard work of our first responders, many of whom themselves have had their homes flooded out. Our hearts continue to go out to those families who have been affected and who have actually lost loved ones — that’s obviously heartbreaking.
But I’m confident that we can continue to make progress as long as state, local and federal officials stay focused. And I can assure you everybody on this team, everybody sitting around the table has made this a number-one priority and this continues to be my number-one priority.
There’s nothing more important than us getting this right. And we’re going to spend as much time, effort and energy as necessary to make sure that all the people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut know that the entire country is behind them in this difficult recovery effort. We are going to put not just 100 percent, but 120 percent behind making sure that they get the resources they need to rebuild and recover.
FlightStats.com has issued a report stating that from October 27th to November 1st in North America alone, 20,254 flights were canceled due to Hurricane Sandy. Roughly 9,978 flights were canceled at New York area airports alone.
United stands as the airline with the most cancellations by Sandy (2,149), followed by JetBlue (1,469), US Airways (1,454), Southwest (1,436), Delta (1,293) and American (759). In an examination of weather events over the past seven years, Sandy comes in second in terms of total number of cancelled flights, behind the North American Blizzard of February 2010 (22,441 flights).
Information, in advance of storms and to aid relief after, plays a critical role. That is why both NOAA and FEMA must have the resources they need to protect families.
As Gov. Chris Christie mentioned in remarks this week, the loss of life could have been much worse. No one took Sandy lightly, as early warning and real time information derived from NOAA’s satellites and forecasts saved lives.
This is a perfect example of the dangers of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) budget proposal. That short-sighted scheme would cut $250 million from the NOAA’s satellite program, crippling our weather prediction capability. NOAA ran an analysis in 2011 that found without data from the satellite closest to the end of its shelf life, the accuracy of its forecasts for major storms like blizzards and hurricanes would decrease by approximately 50 percent.
That’s the difference between knowing the storm will bring heavy rain or cause a flash flood and would place lives at risk.
At 3 p.m. on the Friday after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, the St. Jacobi church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, was overflowing with boxes of water bottles, piles of clothes and volunteers baking bread pudding. The mood was busy and hopeful as 350 people helped sort donations from across Brooklyn to be sent out to neighborhoods like Staten Island and Far Rockaway that were devastated by the storm.
But one key element was missing: gasoline.
“We have a lot of everything right now,” said Diana Aguinaga, a dental hygienist who was volunteering at the donation hub, a joint effort of 350.org and Occupy Wall Street. “What we really need is a car with gas.” Outside the church, there were about 15 parked drivers loading and unloading supplies, though not all of them had enough gas in their tank to go as far as was needed.
On Thursday afternoon, firemen set up a few grills near an intersection here and cooked burgers for hungry residents in this beach community devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
On Friday afternoon, the grills were gone. The firemen were now training a hose on a row of businesses and homes around the corner that had burned down at the height of the storm. The only lunch option for those in need was a small pile of packaged goods dumped in a unappetizing heap on the dirty ground near a crowded mobile phone charging station set up by police. The nearest hot meal was more than a mile away, past the smoldering ruins, at an intersection where Ajay Singh and three other Sikh men from Queens had come of their own initiative to dole out steaming bowls of rice and beans and toasted bread made in their church kitchen.
Waiting in a 45-minute line Friday morning at a Hess gas station in Center Moriches, Long Island, to fill up a portable fuel tank, Chip Daniel noticed sudden a flurry of police cars surrounding the station. He heard shouts and stomping, and the groaning of drivers in the packed crowd of cars in what is becoming an increasingly familiar scene at New York and New Jersey gas stations in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
“There was some jackass trying to cut the line and they called the cops. Four police cars came up to him and he began arguing with the police,” said Daniels, 44. “It took them some time, but finally he went back to his own spot.”
In my home there is one large staircase window that faces east. Each morning before I descend the stairs I stop at the landing, to watch the day begin. The sun must rise past an assortment of tree limbs and trunks, and up over the hillside of the mountains. By the time I’ve had my coffee, the sun has risen above the obstructions. I am now jerked awake, like a slight nudge a parent might give you, ‘Come on–wake up! You have school.” The sunlight guides me through the morning, and argues with my disagreement of the days activity.
The moment the café took effect, I want to begin writing, but shameless sunlight in my eyes and the dance of the birds are tempting me to step outdoors. When you live in seasonal climate, days and nights lure you outside, like old lovers that you must see again. The gradual awakening unfolds layers of thoughts, beginning with the anxiety of the times. The impending hardship oozes out like a bad smell. Some mornings I cannot look at the newspaper, the headlines read like promotional movie advertisements, banks bankrupt, homes foreclosing, woman commits suicide, the shocking prick of national disasters is a surgical awakening.
There is no time to waste, no money to squander, it is a time of reduction and refusal. How can I not spend money today.
This is what brings me to the sunrise of prosperity, I have to keep studying the illumination of light, and I’ll move forward, and diffuse the chaos.
As the interruption of minor mishaps knock on my door, my head turns away from it. I’ve learned to erase the panic, and do what I have to do, and that is write.
Last week, while I was upstairs, prone on the sofa, figuring out a transition between two men, whom I love, someone came to the door, knocking, ringing the bell fiercely, oh what is that. I open the door,
“ Are you all right? I’m from the security company, your alarm isn’t connected. We came to check on you.”
I stood there with a dumber than dumb expression, and assured him I wasn’t held captive or about to throw myself out the window. When I returned to the desk, I kept seeing his expression, he really didn’t believe me. I turned the alarm off when Rudy left for San Diego. Real estate agents our showing our house because it’s up for lease. My mind is a closet of mafia memoir notes, and I can’t remember to close the refrigerator door.
Later in the day, if I haven’t ventured outdoors, I take a walk around the plaza, and muse over the herds of tourists, and search their expressions for interior moods. I don’t see panic and anxiety, I see relief; couples are rigid from ice and chill, and they shuffle in boots, directionless, gaping at the churches and adobe arches, they shoot photographs, standing in the middle of the street. Vacation is bliss in the middle of discontent.
When I return to my desk, it is time to print the days work. This is always a ritual of great expectation, filled with disappointments, surprise, and sometimes a whiff of elation. The sun has made it’s journey to the other side of the house, the back porch is like starched light, it burns the eyes and flesh, like hardship, the immediate effect is callous. There I sit and review the pages. The transition worked; the crawl from uncertainty to confidence broke through. Now is the time to slouch in the chair, close my eyes, and rewind a few scenes back.
Hardship is like the sun, unmerciful when it is met face to face, and transforming when we are protected. That translates to less spending and more creating.
While I am lounging in this beautifully historic old home, one track of time keeps appearing in my images. It is a time when space was limited, finances on a string as long as my finger, and uncertainty a nightmare that became a lullaby. It is that time again, nothing at all unfamiliar With the same resources I had then, all is well, the sunset can go down, and I can laugh because the adventure has risen above the circumstances.
“It has been a time of writing for me. The doctors have all decided that my crippled leg must be amputated. They cannot do it right away because the hospitals are so full. So, in the nights of glare I just cuss out the doctors for making me wait, and cuss out my leg for hurting. I have read Sarah Bernhardt and her superb gallantry and courage have comforted me.” From “Illumination & Night Glare” by Carson McCullers.
More on the adventure in expectations.
I wonder how all of us really accept this incongruity of life. If we experience continuous disappointment, our inner oars, the ones that carry us over the tidal waves, must be accessible so we can bash back at the unsettling news, the absence of truth, the winter storms, the lagging economy, the pain of puttering, and expectations unrealized.
At a window table of Il Piatto, a favorite Italian bistro in Santa Fe, my friend Baron, (www.fotobaron.com) John (no website) and I fervently discussed the state of the people. What we observe, think, fear, and ruminate over at home when the lights are out, the street silent as a meadow, and shadows from winds through the winter branches play like puppets on the walls.
“Baron, if something doesn’t break soon—I’m going to need anti-depressants, or heroin.”
“Have you ever tried it?”
“Heroin? No, never. I tried Prozac for a few weeks years ago. It was ineffective.”
“Look, things are tough everywhere; the shops are closing, and the restaurants empty– look around. This is weird. And where’s the god damn snow?”
“It’s in New York. Rudy was there for a few days.”
“What the hell for?”
“Court. And guess what? He flies across country on Monday, appears in court the next morning, and is asked, ‘Why are you here?’ So you can see Rudy standing there in a cotton zip-up jacket, his face flushed with snow and wind. The judge informs Rudy he didn’t have to come to court.”
“How’s business for you?” I asked.
“Terrible! I keep inventing new prints, new sizes, new shows, a book, you just gotta keep it going, LouLou.”
“I keep it going; but it is beginning to feel like neat little circles.”
John tipped his head, the tip of understanding between two writers whose fingers are bleeding, amongst a country of bloggers, Twitters, and Facebook fetish writing. We wait, as all writers and artists, and in these times, everyone must wait, until our soil is fertile, and the illumination returns.
“Any bites on the script?”
“Yes, we get them, and then you wait, you may wait two or three months to hear anything.”
“Let me explain,” John interjected. “ It’s because ninety-nine percent of the scripts submitted are passed on, and the reason for that is the executive of creative development puts his job on the line when he green lights a script, so it had better be good!”
“In the interim, I repurpose the house as a vacation rental.”
“Then where will you go?”
“I don’t know.”
We talked about Egypt, Fox News, CNN, Tunisia, mobsters, photographers, business strategy, and the next Gallery LouLou event, a work in progress. There is visceral nourishment when you congregate over the same obdurate situations. The singular frustration festering inside is softened when commingled. We lingered over coffee, still unloading the burdens of a questionable wintry month.
That night John and I rushed through the front door, seeking warmth. I was on my way upstairs when I noticed a man with long black hair seated at my porch table. I could see his whole upper body through the drapeless French windows. His hand seemed as close to the door knob as my fingers are to this laptop.
“JOHNNNNNNNNNNN, there’s a man on the porch!”
Five “hurry up’s” later, John came running into the living room.
He opened the front door and announced in his radio deep broadcast voice, “We’re closed.” John nodded several times, and closed the door.
“What were they doing?”
“Attempting to light your kerosene lamp.”
“They thought the porch was charming.”
A few days later, another man appeared on the porch, this one wandering back and forth. After all the times a wanderer has been loose on the porch, in the garden, at the front door asking where someone lived (they do that in Santa Fe), and then the night someone climbed on the porch and ripped off the Stratocaster guitar from the hook on the eaves (a rock n roll prop), I had to apply more caution than negligence. If someone wanted to assault me, my defense would be worthless. When all the girls started learning self-defense, and carrying tear gas in their purses, I started locking the doors. Though I am not expecting intruders and assaults, it feels like it is time to take responsibility for myself. The fear of being alone is more tormenting than loneliness.
“I brought the shot-gun. Are you ready to learn?”
TO BE CONTINUED
The throw of the dice this week falls on the sunrise of hardship, for all of us.
In my home there is one staircase window that faces east. Each morning before I descend the stairs I stop at the landing, to watch the day begin. The sun must rise above an assortment of tree limbs and trunks, and up over the mountains. By the time I’ve had my coffee, the sun has risen above these obstructions. I am now jerked awake, like a slight nudge a parent might give you, ‘Come on–wake up! You have school.”
I begin writing, but that shameless sunlight in my eyes and the dance of the birds are tempting me to step outdoors. When you live in seasonal climate, summer days and nights lure you out of your wits; why stay inside when there’s moonlight, a sage brush breeze, and merriment across the street.
The gradual awakening unfolds layers of thoughts, beginning with the anxiety of the times. The impending hardship of thousands, my friends, and neighbors, oozes out like a bad smell. Everyone seems to be slanting in new directions; some are going home where they came from, others take on another job, or moving out and leasing their homes.
Some mornings I can’t even look at the newspaper. The headlines read like Sunday’s promotional movie advertisements: BANKRUPT, FORECLOSURE, and SUICIDE. The shocking prick of national disaster is a surgical awakening of a disease untreated. There’s no time to waste, no money to squander, it is a time of reduction and refusal.
As minor calamities knock on my door, and creditors calling from India, I turn my head to the sunlight and resume what I have to do, and that is write. If you know me, then you know I’ve vanished. It’s the only way I can work, and I’m standing on my head happy that I have the solitude to do it.
Last week while I was upstairs, prone on the sofa figuring out a transition between two scenes, someone knocked at the door. Then they fiercely rang the bell. Oh what it is now I thought.
“Yes,” I asked the man standing outside. He stared at me while twirling a toothpick in his mouth.
“Are you all right? I’m from Safeguard Security we haven’t had any signal on your alarm. We came to check on you.”
I stood there expressionless. I assured him I wasn’t held captive or about to throw myself out the window, but he didn’t seem convinced, he lingered and kept looking over my shoulder. I hastily sent him on his way, and returned to the desk. I’d been rude; I didn’t even thank the guy. This is some kind of message, next time he’ll slam the door in my face.
Later in the day, if I haven’t ventured outdoors yet, I take a walk around the Plaza, and muse over the herds of tourists. I look for revealing expressions and conversations. I didn’t see panic and anxiety, I observed relief. Couples shuffled together, maybe holding hands, dragging shopping bags, and aiming directionless for a new snapshot. They stand gaping at the churches and shoot photographs while standing in the middle of the street. Vacation is bliss in the middle of discontent.
When I return to my desk, it is time to print the days work. This is always a ritual of great expectation, filled with disappointments, surprise, and sometimes a whiff of elation.
By now the sun has made its journey to the other side of the house. The back porch is like starched light, it burns the eyes and flesh, the immediate effect is callous. Now is the time to slouch in the chair, close my eyes, and rewind a few scenes back.
Hardship is like the sun, unmerciful when it is met face to face, and transforming when we are protected. The sunlight is absorbed into our bodies; the effect is invigorating when taken in increments. The light changes the color of the world, we see things differently, and so it is with hardship, we feel intensely, our senses are sharpened, and we appreciate the treats more so than in times of prosperity.
It all translates into less spending and more creating.
While I lounge in this old house, one track of time keeps re-appearing. It was when my living space was limited to one tiny room, finances on a string as long as my finger and uncertainty a nightmare that turned into a lullaby. It is that time again; and what we all must do is keep the adventures above the circumstances. Any dice to throw: