Today when I was waiting for my dad to finish cardio therapy a lady turned to me and asked "how old are you?" i answered her truthfully without thinking how weird it was that she would ask. she went on to say that she thought I was beautiful and had a "glow from within."
damn, that sure made my day! wack that she might have been...
something pretty important happened to me last night.
the 3rd saturday of each month is drum circle at pathways. this circle is always different. sometimes 4 people, sometimes 20. sometimes almost complete silence, other times talking long into the evening. sometimes it's sweet, occasionally profound, sometimes church-like (you know, "i didn't get much out of that, but somehow i feel better for going.") oh well, not everything can always be earth-shaking. anyway, this circle has been ongoing for over 20 years, with various people showing up and dropping out along the way, and i have been a part of it for over 4 years now. i started going when i was about halfway through chemo.
part of the time is spent in journeying- people are to remember their entrance into a scene from nature, and ask their spirit guides to give them wisdom or insights for themselves or for someone else in the circle who's asked for healing. myself, since to be honest that's not so much a part of my spirituality, i usually spend the time in meditation or just plain blessed quiet. sometimes i seem to have a definite thought about someone's question. usually, just calm. after awhile, we're to announce if we have messages for anyone in the circle.
in the "request" portion, before the journey, i'd decided to speak up- lately, i've been having a mild case of PTSD. all the time i was in the hospital and going through 2 yrs of chemo, i was a rock- on the conveyor belt, no problem, just do it, get 'er done. NOW i'm 5 years cancer free-- thank You-- and the last 3 times i've gone to a doctor, i've had huge anxiety reactions- shaking, sweating, dizzy to the point of almost passing out. this happened even when i went to my PCP to see if i needed antibiotics for my bronchial flu! when the nurse tookmy BP, it was 190/110, for goddess' sake! (after exam- 120/70, which is fine, but no WONDER i'd been dizzy, my bod thought it was stroking out!)
so i decided i'd ask for insights and practical suggestions.
timothy, the circle's leader, told me that he'd like to do a Soul Retrieval for me. according to shamanic tradition, when a person goes through trauma, parts of her soul are taken from her, and must physically be brought back. in tim's journey, he'd seen a girl in a white dress standing outside of the circle. he asked her who she was, and she'd replied, "i am nan's vulnerability."
well, that made me get weepy, since...vulnerability? oh HELL no. not only in my personal life ("you think you can hurt me, asshole? no fucking way") but during my medical crisis- i HAD to just get on that bus and ride forward, because if i let myself think of how truly terrifying it all was, i would have run away and just kept on running.
and that, of course- pushing the RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! feelings that any person has when faced by a slobbering tiger, leads to PTSD.
so. with my permission, he came over to me and said he was going to "blow" the missing piece back into me through my Upper Heart chakra, and then again through the top of my head, so i'd really "get it." he made a cone of his hands and blew his breath hard, twice. by that time, tears were running down my cheeks big-time.
13 yr old girl standing on the sidelines? that's my young self..and about the last time i was truly idealistic and thought there really could be love in my life. vulnerable? me? not even a little bit. maybe it culminated in the early 90s when online chat brought a handful of profound, miserable, married men into my life who promised, one quote i'll never forget, that we would "always be in love, always be friends, never be alone." uh huh. one gave me an engagement ring (oh the humanity) and made a wedding date..by then the kids would be grown and he could, oh yeah, THAT little thing, get divorced. yuck.what a sap i was. and don't even get me STARTED talking about my Ex. really. don't.
silly girl, long ago. no longer- but i'd also shut down a large part of me- the healthy part that still hopes, even expects, that new possibilities can also (gasp) be good things.
but vulnerability? ok. now how the hell do i deal with that and not turn into a victim?
well, grasshopper..perhaps by actually being a grown-up...knowing i can be vulnerable, because that's really the only way new adventures happen, that i CAN still be hopeful- for myself, for love, for my healthy future, for music, for my own good work- but not be a an idiot and a SAP. being vulnerable does NOT mean BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF, nor does it mean suspending responsible judgment. it was essential to not be terrified and freaked out every time i went into chemo- sometimes ya just gotta get stuff done. and i have to deal with the physical manifestations of that now. but i DON'T have to allow myself to volunteer for situations that are dead in the water before they even start. vulnerability is NOT interchangeable with VICTIM mentality or pure IDIOCY.
i can acknowledge reality and STILL be vulnerable. i don't need to shut off myself, my friends, my family, or other possibilities that might arise in my still-to-be-discovered young-nan-life. i just don't have to be so black-and-white, either/or. some things ARE scary. it's OK to be scared. i CAN go into uncharted territory. but i can also rely on myself, my spirituality, my friends, my teachers and my Own Good Brain and spirit to give me strength when i need it, and that it will be All Right.
thank you, timothy. what a gift.
my sister told me i have rewritten a story in my akashic records, whatever they actually are.
dream: i dreamt i was chased through hallways, up and down blocks, in and out of rooms and houses, by nazis. opening one door, seeing a nazi face, turning the opposite way...getting to the end of a hallway, feeling a moment of relief..then a door opens... yeah, regular 1940 style nazis.
note: this is in no way a part of my or my family's heritage.
after awhile, i met a woman who, in the dream, kept morphing back and forth between two women i consider to be the epitome of grace and loveliness, my departed friend marion and my current friend betsy. she/they said, you know, you can rewind this entire tape, and see that the events aren't scary at all, and that there never were nazis, it was all an adventure."
then it reversed super-fast (like rewind on an old VCR video, it all went backwards (running backwards etc...until i was at the beginning. and the same chase began- in and out doors, in and out of houses, up and down blocks...but this time i was playing, having FUN and i was shrieking- not from fear, but from joy and excitement, the way happy kids do. the same scenes, the same doors and windows- sans nazis.
patty said, "you've re-written YOUR STORY. you've actually rewritten the story of your past."
and you know what? they might NEVER have been there.
she said, 'wow...if you'd asked me a few years ago what kind of music you'd have on your first CD, i NEVER would have expected that..."
love it when i can still summon up the unexpected :-D
1) moment of coolness: i mentioned to my sister something along the lines of that i thought i was psychologically 'stuck' on my time in the hospital 5 years ago. she responded: "yeah, look at you now, 6000 photos later." it's true. my Flickr page just went above 6000 photos i have shot, edited, categorized and labeled. and i consider that something i do on a merely casual basis.
2) i have half a bottle of good vodka, and i will finish it over the course of the next few weeks. i usually don't keep booze in my house- or junk food. tendency towards the Extreme...i mean, i AM the only person i know who opened a sheet music account at schmitt music and charged two steinways.
3) i am the only person of my age i know who still squabbles with their siblings. i've been so sweet (read: wimpy) for so long, that standing up to anyone in that family causes seismic ruptures.
4) for me, familiarity does NOT breed contempt. it breeds, and nurtures, and brings to maturity, security.
5) i am starting a new "arm" of my teaching biz. more on that later.
why SO OFTEN do i need to end a conversation by thinking "shit...i shouldn't have been so honest/direct/intense." why do i ALWAYS feel that i need to 'dial it back', that i have somehow, once again, overstepped my boundaries (i hate that word- it's too present and too glib, and why do YOUR boundaries suddenly turn into MY boundaries, and why are YOU always the one who sets them, and why do i then turn into the proverbial bull in the china shop? why can't i have what *I* think is a pleasant conversation about IDEAS and suddenly find that the other person has taken it personally and feels totally threatened? am i THAT damn threatening? i LIVE for people to give me new insights- i LOVE when i go "oh really? i've never heard about THAT before..."
why am i constantly made to feel like a fricken FREAK when i talk about MUSIC, when people CONSTANTLY seem to feel they can blab for HOURS about things *I* don't give a crap about (sports, 99% of their kids' activities)
damn. i've just landed back in high school...didn't i have journal entries like this when i was 16?
last weekend, a minor miracle, and this isn't a phrase i use lightly.
friday, i lost my grandmother's wedding ring. taking rings off at night, like i always do, 1, 2, 3......what? THREE??? where's 4??? search, think, rewind, call, fret, rinse, repeat. i always take my rings off and put them in their place. i cleaned, searched, lifted, swept, patted. if you would have asked me to swear on penalty of imprisonment that it was GONE, i would have.
next morning: sit down, get the rest of my jewelry from its cup. there, literally right in front of my face, on the counter- grandma's wedding ring. sitting right there by itself.
i live alone. and there is literally NO possibility it was there when i'd left the room and gone to bed at 2 AM. but at 10:30 AM, it was.
guess my house ghost was back at work. it's the only explanation that works.
suddenly, he pulled up along side of me and rolled his window down. i rolled mine down too (stupid) thinking maybe there was an emergency- car on fire, heart attack?
his face totally contorted with hatred, he SHRIEKED at me: 'OBAMA IS A FUCKING SOCIALIST! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!" and sped away.
BECAUSE I HAD AN OBAMA BUMPER STICKER ON MY CAR FROM THE LAST ELECTION.
unbelievable. if you wanted to be pissed at obama, there are real reasons- he promised to end the war, and then sent 30,000 more troops- and what about the 'stimulus' that didn't stimulate anything i can think of? i have NEVER had such terrifying hatred leveled against me IN MY LIFE. and this was a basic, 30-something guy- could have been any of my students' dads.
i truly do not understand.
incident 2: the woman who coordinates the piano festival i send my students to yearly called me. oh, she was so surprised to find out that the Studio had bankrupted- (she used the Studio facilities for a judging site)..did i know anywhere else she might use? also, her business in another suburb wasn't going well, ::could i give her some ideas on how to attract new students to her business?::
oh DOCTOR, could you please take out my appendix? free and at my convenience? oh lawyer, couldn't you just write up my will in your spare time? oh, and is there a plumber in the house? i think the main drain in my house could use a good roto-rooter-ing.
ummm..i think not.
now, about my photography. if i decide to give you a photo because you're my friend? i'm honored you want to hang it. if you're out of town? i'll probably just charge you cost and postage. but IF I DON'T KNOW YOU AND YOU WANT TO USE IT TO MAKE MONEY?? cross my palm, dammit..or at least don't ASSUME i will "give" you my work. any clue what the guy who takes your kid's graduation pictures charges, even in this day of digital editing? any clue what an ad firm would charge for designing your publicity campaign?? and, oh, by the way, will you please bring your trio and play for my cousin's wedding reception? free? ummmmm i didn't think so.
about the woman asking for business advice..hello? you want me to design an advertising, internet, publicity campaign for you? sure..i'll only charge you, oh, $500 up front for my time and, oh, 3% of any new business my work generates. would that be OK with you? no? why not? oh, and i'll just tear up that NINE HUNDRED DOLLAR CHECK i just mailed to YOU, for 30 students x$30, which pays for their judging and their little trophies they get for their participation. after all, we're all here BECAUSE WE LOVE THE CHILDREN, right?
if we are friends, we have made 'deposits' in the bank accounts of one another, psychologically. you help me, i help you. sometimes, the balance is unequal- i help you more, you help me more. but it evens out over time.
if we're NOT friends and you've never done ANYTHING for me? please treat me like you would treat your therapist, hairdresser, dentist, massage therapist, house cleaner- if you want my services and intend to do nothing for me in return, then KNOW you are ASKING FOR A PROFESSIONAL SERVICE and ASK me about it. i might give you a discount or even VOLUNTEER to do it gratis- i'm sorta like that- but Do. Not. Assume. the cliche' about ass-u-me? it's true.
AND they had this amazing group of women singing/chanting/improvising, and afterwards i went up to the main one and said "i want to be a Goddess too!" (the call themselves the Idisi, which is the Nordic version of Valkyrie)..her response? "well, you're already a Goddess, but can you SING!?"
brilliant. so i went to their rehearsal on sunday night. this is a truly amazing bunch. this woman who leads it, who was dressed in purple velvet palazzo pants, a yellow mini-skirt tied around her waist, and a striped t-shirt, and who had to be 6'2" and 450 lbs- this amazing amazon female- is a TALENTED jazz choral director. she teaches 3 and 4 part songs by rote- just goes over parts til people get them, and then encourages people to go off on their own harmonies. she had us improvising, toning, listening..it was amazing, fun, exhausting, spiritual, bonding, and energizing. and 3 hrs without a break! they practice 2x a month, on the 2nd friday and the 3rd sunday, both of which i can do.
NEW. PEOPLE. AND. ACTIVITIES. IN. MY. LIFE. i've been wanting this for AGES.
party on, excellent! :-D
one family made a summer home. They built one large
house with two bedrooms, a picnic house jutting out over
the cliff, a guest house, and a caretaker's house. These houses
were made from wood and stone, but their souls were made of magic.
The four buildings stand on a promontory between two pebble
beaches. When a storm comes, the force of the waves scours them
down to bedrock, drags them out to sea, and then hurls the rocks back into the cliffs.
this has happened for thousands of years before houses were ever dreamt of, and
each nor'easter has sculpted the cliffs anew like the hand of God creating Eden.
Even in the house, the floor vibrates slightly with each wave.
Turning off the main highway, an uninitiated traveler might think the path
could plunge directly into the Lake. Only trees are visible- the houses
nestle at discrete distances behind the protecting pines. Lake House, the
largest of the homes, is a comfortable frame structure. Thirty feet of
windows overlook the Lake. An immense stone fireplace made from round stones
as large as loaves of bread guards the great room. The ceilings are
beamed and low. Windows are everywhere, and every wall not supporting a
window has large, circular mirrors built into it. Every angled view
shows Lake or Tree.
Now, generations after the original owners' vision, it is named "Halcyon Harbor."
anyone with courage and a credit card can stay for as long as want.
The magic of Halcyon lies in its talent for distilling the truest
personality of every resident. Over the years, I brought almost
everyone important to me to my Lake House, and knew that each person
who entered would be a slightly different one by the time he left.
Some of these visits were warm, nurturing, dear. Sometime they terrified-
a few were profoundly sad. Always, even in the most casual of moments,
they were honest.
five of us first came there as a "piano family:" our college teacher and four
ex-students. nervous about traveling together and giggling about
morning hair, pajamas, (or lacks thereof), it was the first time any of us
would spend extended social time with PF. we whispered about calling
him by his given name rather than academic title; we wondered if we'd be
uncomfortable in the absence of a scheduled, more formal event.
we joked about him showing up, taking one look around, getting twitchy,
saying "Too quiet!" and speeding back to civilization in his aging Peugeot.
over the next years, we five visited Halcyon many times.
Once, on the last morning we were there, all of us gathered at the breakfast
table. The sunlight danced on the Lake, the air blew cleanly through the
pines and we were all reluctant to leave. We could feel the city
drawing us back to itself. Someone put an old Maggie Teyte recording on-
beautiful, melancholosexual Duparc songs. We all fell silent. The
sharing of the House and the beauty of the music suddenly gathered
all of our disparate Lives and created a single, glistening moment
poised forever like a tear at the corner of a lover's eye. After
an eternity, the singing ended.
We sat motionless as the water calmed itself. After a few minutes,
PF abruptly stood up, retreating to his room, his eyes red. He'd
been moved to tears- we weren't to acknowledge it. He returned
with his suitcase in hand, ready to leave, practical. We avoided
eye contact by watching the Lake. Nobody spoke. Standing quietly behind
me for a few second, he bent down and kissed the top of my head.
"All right now, see you back in town." he said. He
hesitated a bit more. Silence. None of us had spoken.
The door closed quietly, and we heard the Peugot starting, outside.
our time together had ended with the song.
once, when winter was at its most unforgiving, in the slow ice-time of january, we all went to Halcyon. we would plan elaborate dinners, work at crossword puzzles, drink enough to be sentimental (for that was still hard for some), listen to schubert, and be silent. When we wanted companionship, we would sit by the fire- when we wanted to be alone with our thoughts, we watched the Lake. some years, even in winter, the Lake would refuse to freeze over- its surface would lie still and adamant as my mother's expression on a crisp morning, set and grim and holding icy depths never known and, thankfully, never spoken. some nights, the fire would burn low and we'd watch the Lake in darkness, the only thing visible the occasional light from a passing sea-going vessel. frozen or not, Superior always held our secrets without comment.
yet there would be warmth with us, the five, brought together through music, the teacher and his no-longer students who were now close friends. there would be silence filled with schubert; there would be scrabble games rife with conquest and defeat that somehow gathered more significance than double-word-score, Q and Z. there would be meals carefully prepared, discrete turnings away, microscopic leanings-toward, companionable smiles, thoughts unvoiced but tacitly understood.
we were five and we were one, bound together with silken cords of schubert and faure'. there were songs of strauss, sonatas of beethoven, nocturnes of chopin, all accompanied by shots of good vodka or akvavit. we would stay up late to make the days last longer and then retire securely to separate sleeps.
one night, two were drowsing by the fire, two were staring into the dark (the Lake was out there, listening for our words.) one sat at the table, alone, a reading lamp describing a small circle on the table where an unread book had rested for hours. there might have been brahms.
"you". he said, breaking the silence. he indicated us four, together, separate, quiet, full. "you are the people i want with me when i am dying."
the Lake heard, considered, hissed, nodded. two looked away, fearful. i drew strength and word from Lake and answered for us all: "we will be there. i promise."
a million waves later, a thousand sleeps later, a handful of winters later, promise became event.
of the four of us, one left- his refusal to care was his mind's refuge.
another stayed, but her own complexities demanded most of her time, and he understood.
i stayed, but was wary- i had promised, but i was afraid it would be too sad to bear.
the last one stayed to fight his own demons, and took on his shoulders the demons of the one who was leaving.
that long-ago night, the Lake lie in wait, listening for our decision. somewhere in the background, music still played, but the sudden chill made it feel more distant.
in the Great Room, the fire, once so cheerful, once so inviting, once so easily tended, had gone out. it was time to go Home.
postscript: 6 years later, summer: one, watching the Lake alone...
and the warm breeze hummed shyly, with ever so subtle a motion, against the lake's clean surface, like the first note of a nocturne, like the first exploratory touch of an experienced lover's hand. the water's surface slowly became attuned to the motion- nothing so monumental as a tide nor so final as a wave, but a gentle, singing, undulating, sighing voicelet, moving with the wind as a field of wheat moves when touched by the breath of god. and these minute vibrations sang the the lake alive, and the lake sang the girl alive, and the wind and the water and the girl were one; and they spoke and listened to one another, and knew one another, and comforted each other, and as the lake's voice thrummed in the waning light, she remembered her friends with love, and she was no longer afraid.
since i did a real update..don't really know if this will be one or not. today a strange thing happened..a yellow ball of light..in the sky..and the sky itself..a strange color...blue...seriously tho. it seems like it's been weeks since we had an honestly blue sky. it was lovely- i could feel my shoulders and my anxiety level dropping. photos of fresh snow were taken. life is good.
i'm head over heels in love with the beethoven _waldstein_ sonata. i'm proceeding with caution, and going at it from the end forward.
i'm participating in my very first semi-public (invited guests) reading a on the 20th- this is huge for me. i'm used to performing music- and there's always beethoven first and foremost- we're always together in being in awe of the music. in my own writing? ouch- this is My Life, my words, my..insides. it'll be interesting. chances are nobody else will make a huge deal out of it, being concerned about their OWN heart/minds being exposed. all righty then.
did i tell you i saw jeremy denk perform the schumann _davidsbundler_ and the bach GOLDBERG variations? i've never SEEN anyone perform the goldbergs-- repeats included-- from memory, in public. awe-inspiring pianism, absolute conviction and *rightness* of playing. wonderful.
and my sweet dad gets more dear by the week. sometimes i just think of his gentle smile and i get totally verklempt. he's the only man who's ever been there for me unconditionally.
and, with perfect timing, the heater in my CAR went out on sunday night, mid-blizzard. the COLD i could've lived with a bit..but not being able to SEE was a trial. i drove it back to my folks' and borrowed dad's car for 2 days. sun, mon, tues each seemed like their own WEEKS. i've HAD it w/winter. i want out!!
so. tell me about you :-D