WINTER, WAYS, AND CHANGE


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.

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Bob and Baez-JIM MARSHALL

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.

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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.

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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.20190930_185032

 

 

HOPSCOTCHING THE TRUTH TWO


Three days later: The door is locked now, it will pop open now and then, in my interior rearview mirror. My secret can only be revealed after mounds of trust have been sifted and sealed. The former LouLou trusted, effortlessly, so the truth is I cannot behave that way anymore. Or can I?
It is the most destabilizing force of emotion to accept I trusted someone who betrayed our thirty-five year “Huckleberry Friend” song. I don’t know how anyone else adapts to this. I’m kinda staring out the window, like a cat staring at an unreachable mouse. When I’m in this mood I listen to Bobby Darin and Tony Bennett, I’m a bleeding nostalgic.  Photo Credit Philip Townsend. ” London in the Swinging Sixties.”

A CAT CAREGIVER


Today I am working on my next book, based on a true story, about 423 pages so far. I want it to end, but art imitates life so it goes on.

One excerpt: JUNE 10, 2017. Santa Fe, NM


The sun seemed to say, ” Ok, it’s summer, let’s go outdoors.’ I listened. With my badass worker’s gloves, I lifted that rod iron antique chaise with a broken wheel to my patio. Then I washed the cushion with bleach and soap and let it dry. A few hours later I looked outside, CatRockette is curled up on the chaise, we are listening to Opera. Tiny drops of beauty I am beginning to see again.
Carrying hatred is like wearing a coat of repellent against the world. Its aroma may be masked by Chanel but I am certain the whiff of my malcontent is apparent. All the advice and counseling from lawyers, legal-aid, and foreclosure specialists feels bloated. I’m switching from outside counsel to instinct. I’m learning to be more like Rockette. God must have sent him, he is indifferent to the diesel engines, steel ramps crashing on the pavement, racing cars, construction, and my irascible moods. His cat habitat is to sleep during the day, eat tiny meals every few hours, cry every few hours and wait for me to cry back. Around midnight he goes out hunting, returns at three in the morning, and I have to feed him. Then I’m awake so I’m drinking coffee and watching movies. It’s taken three weeks for me to gracefully and tenderly allow him to cry and wake me up. Without him is unbearable. We all need to take care of someone.

DON’T DO IT ALONE


ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS FALL ON… moving without a new address. This is the pinnacle of the If Girl, an identify that suits me.  I’ve met dozens of men and women who are transitioning from one local to another, one partner to another, one pet to another, the if is the true arch of our character.  If we reach to high we may end up with  a knock on the head, if we reach to low  we disappoint ourselves.  If you are not moving internally, well, I guess you are happy where you are. I’ve never known that.  Maybe its the writer in me, without conflict what to write about?

Direction is a choice; move back home, move near your children, move for a job, but in my case I move because my act in Santa Fe has closed. I’m like a space between two paragraphs; a blank slate sounds romantic, no commitments or tangible responsibilities my home is rented and so like a nomad, I’m searching for a new beginning. Some say its an adventure, some say the answer will come in time,  as I lay my head down on a hotel pillow, the interim is asking me to be peaceful, as my belongings are reduced to a partial wardrobe,  my cat, three books, and my coffee maker.

Its like when I went off to college,  a liberating extension of those early days when belonging to things didn’t matter, life mattered.  If you are single and without children this is the knife that we  must slice into a piece we accept, or no peace at all.  hopscotch-bristol-1050x700

COMING OF AGE AT SIXTY-SOMETHING


I  don’t know at what age reasoning and understanding took over daydreaming, was it in my thirties?  No, fifties. No sixties, no; this week.  The time of change without my someone to guide me, map out the course, and hold my hand when I take the wrong turn is here.

In a few weeks, I’m leaving Santa Fe, heading west, to Los Angeles, my home that hasn’t been home for twenty five years. This leap of change came about after I decided to leave Santa Fe, where to go was easy, back home for a refresher course in metropolitan living. Some time soon I’ll write about Santa Fe, the land of entrapment.  I looked it up on google, its not a tin-pan myth, the force of gravity here is like a wave you can’t swim at your own pace. Nature in New Mexico is the ruler, mankind just passes through. To describe it should be left a mystery. If you feel the draw to Santa Fe, do it, there is a reason.

I wonder if I left a mark. If  someone years from now will remember Gallery LouLou, or the Wild West Vacation Home, or just where Rudy and Loulou live. It doesn’t matter does it? I remember.

Packing is also unpacking; everything I did, bought, wrote, or wore is in the house, so as I pack up what to take, I leave behind the collapsed friendships, fortunes of moments inked in my head, like letters that play the past.  Four years ago I was ready to leave,  maybe longer, a force much more powerful than I, said, no, not yet. Just  as the dice lined up, the tables turned against me. I thought I’d lose everything.  A year and a half later I’m a few days away from the road trip to Westwood, where I was raised.

When I arrived in Santa Fe in 2007, I felt powerful, focused and determined. Now as I close the door, I feel humbled, like a wild animal whose been fed just enough to keep going.  That has not been one of my strongest points as I am constantly pulling out new canvases to caress, and forget to say, thank you for the meal.

The door to relocation propelled me to trade in my car for a convertible coup, sell or give away and now I’m taping up the boxes of Santa Fe memories to take with me to the next adventure in livingness. To be continued.

YOU’RE INVITED


 

PUBLICATION PARTY FOR LOCAL AUTHOR’S MEMOIR-CRADLE OF CRIME

                                                                     by Luellen Smiley

 

La Posada Resort & Spa- 330 East Palace Avenue Santa Fe. NM 

Sunday – February 12, 2017

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM MST

CELEBRATE WITH LOCAL AUTHOR LUELLEN SMILEY

Complimentary Wine, Champagne & Appetizers

Book signing & Q & A

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RSVP

loulousmiley@yahoo.com

This eye-opening memoir, twenty years in the making chronicles Luellen’s journey into her father’s criminal past, beginning ten years after his death in 1982. Luellen is the daughter of Allen Smiley – Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s best friend and business partner for ten years. Allen was seated next to Bugsy the night he was murdered. Luellen discounted her father’s Mafia association until she was forty years old. Awakened by an identity crisis, she cut through her silence and used government surveillance records, newspaper articles, and FBI files to discover her father’s legacy.

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La Posada de Santa Fe, a Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa

330 East Palace Avenue

Santa Fe, NM 87501

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THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER IS…


 

SEASONAL AND SENSUAL OVERTURE TO REVERIE.

SUMMER is not a memory yet; my skin too sensitive, and my heart still attached to the moments.  I’ve misplaced my journals and so I have to read my to-do list to recall the events.  Let’s go back to June; well my head was bent like a candle wick in this memoir. By then I was into the first rewrite, the worst of the next ten. That first one is deceivingly promising, the chapters line up, the suspense tickled, and it was five-hundred pages.  The first draft was actually two books, as I dared to try and run the 100 meter in two different directions.

I must have had some standout memories, but I don’ recall June being amusing.  Writing about my deceased parents was not summer reading.  A year had already passed since I began, and I was now at the last stretch.  My sense of completion was annoying.  I began to hate the word focus. My body ached for water, in any form, a pool, a river, and the ocean.  June was also the month when rejection letters arrived.  For a moment, I’d forgotten. Whoa! Stay away from LouLou, her nerves are visible! On the flip, it was also acceptance of those letters.  I had to prove to myself that I could take it, and continue writing.

Outside my window, Palace Avenue raised to motorcycles, skateboarders, conversational bicycle riders, and families out for a walk. My concentration was beguiled.  So I turned on the fan, the loud kind that screens the room in a hum.  I tried to imagine as waves just after they have capitulated into bubbles.

Memorial weekend was gemstone sunlit of color and clarity.  I’d decided to break and go to a party at La Posada.  Yes, that was my first grasp of summer, the sudden appearance of flowers, greenness of the landscape, flowers, and light. I think it was warm enough to sit outdoors all night.  We were not yet ready to kick and scream, it was more of a real memorial kind of party.  For our troops who finally are reaching us through the news, the films, and the books.

Most every evening I’d walk across the street to La Posada, have a glass of wine while listening to the chattering guests, age-out themselves by immobilizing a very liberated and young spirit. It’s a beautiful sight. Most people in my experience, come to Santa Fe and strip fullsizerenderdown to vulnerable. They invite conversation and are genuinely interested. I am asked, ‘What’s it like living in Santa Fe?’  To be continued.

IT’S UNLIKE ANY OTHER CITY I’VE EXPERIENCE.D  It’s called the city different, it is also the city difficult.  She ( I see Santa Fe in the feminine gender)  has to be treated gently. Her  weather patterns resemble a menopausal woman,her stature demands respect, and she can be congenial and patient.

You can walk this city as if it were a neighborhood. If you do that consistently you’ll meet people, and get to know them. Unless you’re like me, a standoffish fast walker dazed by the outdoors.

If you’re dazed and illusional you can master this city very well, as the drowsy pace and cordiality allow freakish  freedom.  I ‘ve seen the liberating soul of Santa Fe,  teenagers racing down the middle of a commercial street one foot on the skateboard, bad-ass bikers talking with bad-ass cops, women with parrots on their shoulder, dogs in baby carriages, cats in a bag, and women on horseback galloping up Palace Avenue.

At night you’ll see raging midnight ramblers dancing on the sidewalk, and all of this is appealing to an LA transplant.  I have driven in my robe, danced in the street and broken the heels on most of my shoes because of the pot-holes. They are always working on a street, but never the sidewalks. I ‘ve been bounced out of the locals night-howl El Farol for accidently pushing  a dancer, who knew the manager, who came running after me and took down my license plate.

So many of us are loners, the serious kind, that have to be rigged out of our nests.  Luckily I live on a commercial street and have no choice but to be commercially friendly. After nine years, my seasonal behavior is obvious: sprite in summer, blissful in fall, giddy in spring, and withdrawan in winter. I’ve learned patience, understanding, and adopted a mixture of cultural traditions. I’m close to fifty percent certain I’ll miss Santa Fe terribly when I do leave.

Has living in Santa Fe  given me more than I’ve given back?  Yes, it has and that’s why when I’m asked what’s it like living in Santa Fe, I try to reveal the blessings here and not the bullshit. 025