Sunday, December 30, 2007

End of Another Year. Or Age.

“God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
Our pain,
I'll say it again,
God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
Our pain… “
(John Lennon - “God”)

So, we’re back at the inevitable end, eh? Well, not “the” same end, but, like a spiral, the end of another year … This year surely kicked my butt in more ways than one… I don’t believe I had ever contemplated death as much as I have this year. Death and birth both. As Bono says: “the two biggest events of our lives that we have absolutely no control over”.
I feel at least 10 years older now that on December 30, 2006. And judging by my gray hair, you would say the same thing too…My sister hates my gray hair. Not because she hates the color. She hates being reminded that time passes and we grow old. I love it, though, and I told her: embrace it! Embrace the wisdom you’ve gained in living! And this year, more than any other, this really holds true for me!
I have been taught so many lessons in loving, living, dying and hope this year that I don’t believe I learned all my 32 years put together…
If I feel anything at the end of 2007, is … tired … Tired but not wasted. Just tired and melancholy. Not bitter, surprisingly enough. Maybe even sweeter and calmer. I have always been the never-ending, absolute control freak … till this year – when I realized God laughs so hard at us control freaks! And He shows us who the boss really is every once in a while, JUST to set us straight!
God is so great. So awesome and unbelievably, overwhelmingly all powerful! – I have found …
I have learned how strong humans can be, and just how much pain one human body can take at one time. And how much morphine really doesn’t help on some wounds. I have learned the strength I can muster when I put my heart and mind into something. I have found the depths of my love and giving are bottomless indeed! And I am grateful I was born that way! I have learned that no one dies on my watch. At least if I can help it!
I have found out that maybe long distance romances can work, if true love and truthfulness are involved. After all, I have fallen in love with my folks all over again as an adult, and I have been 5000 miles away from them for 10 years now. But I still don’t believe in the soul mate stuff.
I have found out how picky I truly am about humans. I love them all, for letting me get to know … humans… but I am indifferent of them all, for my own self-preservation. At least thus far.
I have learned that it takes time but mostly patience and open-minded-ness to make a good friendship and just a fleeting whim and/or moment to break it. I have also learned life’s too short for some people to be worth the bother of making friends! I have also learned I am expendable to others. So much the better: I am glad they beat me to the punch of “breaking up” with them. :-)
I have found new friends, rediscovered old ones I thought lost and lost others. I have no regrets! After all, that’s my religion: to live with no regrets, right?!
I have found new music, new books, new art to enrich my imagination and feed my writing voice and world, in general. I have a new found confidence in my writing voice, for which I thank God every night.
I have found a new home and after cooking a few meals in it and putting up a Christmas tree in it, I really feel that it suits me and it’s my abode! Not some other’s … And I am now eagerly waiting to share it with the world, and with friends and family and a new life, too …
I have found out how much I can really love my kin! And how much I didn’t know about them. How much I took for granted and how many lessons I owe them, in love, and acceptance!
I have really understood the truly deep meaning of this: “Life is what happens when we’re too busy making plans”. So true! And that’s why I got no plans for the new year. Other than to stay open and be ready to soak up LIFE. I was way busy this year, making plans! HHmm… yeah …
I have learned that age is irrelevant in dating. You can be 40 and still in diapers, you can be 27 and have lived your life and be ready to die at Christmas time.
My brother in law taught me to hope and be grateful. Be grateful for love, one another and health. He also taught me he and everyone else is a yin-yang kinda being. We all have bright spots and dark ones, and it all makes up a beautiful, unique whole. And we all should be blinded by the bright spots, and love, and appreciate and value those, and never ever waste time even noticing the dark ones. And for that I will be forever grateful to him.
Some of my friends taught me patience (although I need another 2 decades of work there) and others taught me love. I’ll promise I’ll continue the research religiously on both and will deepen my understanding of the two.
My sister taught me love and the unconditional kind, too…AGAIN! God bless her; she is my true guardian angel! Always taking care of my soul!
A stranger taught me about death on Christmas, when we celebrate the most glorified Births of them all! And he taught me that all is relative, here on Earth! One day, you love, live and build your dreams, and another one, you’re lying cold in the morgue of a foreign country in an unknown hospital, 5000 miles away from home. “The trouble is we think we have time” – we really don’t!!!
Happiness, I found, is what you can find in one day that’s worth not crying sad tears for. The non-pain of every day should be good enough sometimes, if not most. If not all times. And if anything, that’s what I am wishing myself and all for the new year: more happiness, whatever our understanding of it is!
It’s been a sad, gloomy and tense year – if I have to put a label on it. I wish for an easier one, but like birth and death, I feel we have little control over it …I’ve lived enough to know that after terrible lows, we get magnificent highs, and I am hopeful! At the threshold between the years, I am hopeful…
At least now, I know I have the strength to pull through whatever the year might bring…Really?! I don’t even believe that statement…’Cause, trust me, the year can bring a crapload of stuff you’re not ready for!! We’ll see…
And I am happy that I am here, writing this, with heart full of hope…
Happy New Year, all! And thanks!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Family for Christmas

It's the first time in 5 years since I could be with "some" member of my family again, for Christmas ... It's surreal and I wish I could devise a plan, or a way to bottle up these moments and keep this magic going all year long, when I am alone... Every time I see my baby sister, I am amazed at how much I can love... Me, the perpetual selfish A., the never-ending self-centered, feminist bitch... - is capable of such love and such depth in my giving and forgiving and generosity and patience! Yes, even patience! Unbelievable how much goodness she can dig out of me!... She renders me breathless with love and overprotected-ness when I am around her.

This year, I am spending this wonderful time of year with her in her "grown-up" home for the first time ...
We cooked all our family holiday foods together for days on end, we bickered about who dad or mom loved best (I am sure they both loved us immensely just the same), and because she is 4 months pregnant, we fought over how a child should be raised. At the end of the day, we go to bed together, and we re-live our childhood when we shared the same bed till I was 21. We kiss each other good night and I always have a “good night” thought to give her before I hug her into her deep sleep.
It's a magical time indeed. I feel SO loved, so safe, so ... calm and peaceful. I can speak dirty, and bare my soul in front of this one person, I can be clumsy, and unguarded, and I can always guarantee you she will smile and kiss me and love me whole, the way I love her, with no restrictions... There is so much I am sure I take for granted, but THIS, this love and acceptance, I will make sure I won't ...
She's always been my “baby” sister in the true sense of that word, and every bit as helpless, quirky, unguided and just … basically, lost ... But now, pregnant, and overwhelmed by Christmas preparations, she is ten times as helpless and overwhelmed... And I am 10 times more in love with her! She is cute and ten times as small ... It's such a treat. Such a love feeling... Coming in at the most perfect time!
I have found peace and family once again and this is no small gift! I am trying to give and not to take much. I am trying to help without being in the way. I am trying to re-create "home" for both of us, away from the family we both miss, the language, the home, the “true” foods … And we both somehow managed to re-create that lost universe we left back years ago, in the black depth of
Eastern Europe. We even relived memories of teachers we shared and we shared movies and books we both loved back as teens and young adults. Such a sense of togetherness and common life, such a sense ... of family and soul-mate-ness...

All we’re missing is a couple of kick-a$$ parents who drive us nuts and a small, furry Dolly cat to purr in our ear at night … But we both have big hearts and they all live in there – always … Merry Christmas, all. And rest assured: love truly lives in the hearts. No mater how many continents or years they travel, it’s always there. Untouched.

For pictures of Canada weather and love, click here...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Random Airport Thoughts

Note: ... and I really do mean "random"... so, don't look for coherence here ... (much)

- 6:23 AM - Greensboro Airport, December 22. Going to Montreal...My baby sister's pregnant with her first one: almost 4 months... Excited and numb. Growing old's no fun ...
- Still very sleepy, since I went to bed at 12.30 last night ... Missing my cats, but excited about the trip. Hope it won't snow, so they get fed. First trip during winter...Should be a lesson. Any trip always is...
The plane is delayed (surprise?! hardly!) "because the crew is asleep, ma'am! They got in late last night and they have to sleep so many hours!" - "Oh, by all means, I would NOT want to fly with an asleep crew, Sir! So let them sleep! I can surely wait!"
- How do they know how many of those 'so many hours' are real sleep, and how many are sex with the flight attendant, or ... insomnia?!" - I wanna ask, but ... I refrain!
That gives me time for a bagel, coffee and The O'Reilly Factor. And, as always, for eavesdropping on other future passengers. There is a family of four, all overweight people, but I decide to leave my judgmental streak at home, so I'll stop there... Only one comment: sweat pants! I am the first one to vote for comfort over style, but sweat pants... are ... a sure sign you have given up on being a human! You can watch tv in them, and even step out of the shower in them ... but going on a plane on them: sorry. It' your abdication from ever having a life of any amount of humanity! So, yeah, I have an aesthetic issue with watching your rags falls off your fat butt and showing off your "pretend" knees! Yuck!
Other than fat people in sweat pants, I once again feel so at home in the airport. I think, for me, the airport is the closest to life: always moving; always changing; always in transition; always at home ...
I love airport coffee: it's weak and flavorful. Drinkable, too... Not the Starbucks or Brueggers crap, that you have to chew...
- Finally on the plane. I notice that the aisles in First Class (and the seats too) are twice as wide as the ones in Economy. Why?!- I wonder. Do you require to have wider hips in First Class?!; it feels like the Airline is telling us: "Nope, all you narrow-hippers, go to the back!; the ones with 'wider hips for breeding' ", as one of my friends would say about women, in general, "are allowed only in the front of the plane".
- Why do parents of toddlers who have their face covered with crumbs and leathered with jelly don't clean their faces up?! Even long after they have finished their eating, their face disgusting and goopy, the parents let them roam out in the world all dirty and sticky. Why?! I guess you must be a parent to get it ... I mean, why would you want your kid to look either sick or retarded... when they're not?! Beats me!
- I will NEVER make fun or criticize the over sized carry-ons! Never. I have learned that some folks don't bring checked luggage; smart people and if anything, I am jealous! If I didn't have half of WalMart to haul to Canada or Romania every time I go back "home", I would do the very same thing! So jealous ...
- In a (calendar) time of "Thanks", I am amazed once more at how ... un-thankful Americans are for what they have over here! This Indiana 30 some year old coming back from "a job in Cambodia" is shocked beyond belief that I personally chose America as my home because I think that it is the most amazing country in the world. She can't believe it, and from her shock and her story I gather she can't be convinced , either. So, I don't try. I never try. You have to come to it yourself to actually get it and make it matter ...
Americans still don't understand what it truly means to be able to have even a low paying job like cleaning the tables at MacDonald's, after hours, and after that affording to walk up the street and be able to afford a meal for less that you make an hour, definitely, less than in one full day. To be able to eat 3 meals a day. To just have them... available! Warm, filling meals that you don't have to hunt for, or cook yourself. That alone demands "thanks" every minute of every day... But oh, well, don't we always set out on the big journey in the world, only to find out the Holy Grail sits tucked in back at home?! (maybe this "Interviews with Bono" book I am reading is getting to me...); so I stop the judging once more ...
- You know the airlines are full of shit, when you see at least 2 flights from the same airline scheduled to leave at exactly the same time: 8:53 - both one flight to Chicago and one to Atlanta! Anyone who's ever flown has been on at least one wait on he runaway, when you can't leave the place because other planes are taking off.... Yep... Full of shit! But yet, the computer does not "budge" the schedule by even one minute!
- No more pretzels or peanuts on planes ... No, Sir nor Ma'am! Just drinks. At least in Economy. Pretzels for First Class only ... Economy used to get pretzels or peanuts "before" the Industry went to crap ... But no more... The First-classers need to keep growing those hips, for their wide aisles and seats! So, feed THEM the carbs!
So, what's next, I wonder?! No drinks for Economy, just for First Class, and then?! ...then what?! No more perks. Just requirements of "large hips" with no perks... Pretty sad. And pretty much the "American way" in the skies anymore ...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

‘Twas the nightS before Christmas …

So, it’s THAT time of the year! Yes, you got it. That time when we all get a lobotomy and we forget common courtesy, how to drive, how to say thanks and please and hello, and we see only one light at the end of the tunnel: the one that’s at the only open cash register in the store!
It’s running against time, to make it to that deadline of December 24th, 11:59 PM with ALL gifts under the trees and the biggest, juiciest ham in the fridge. Or the fattest car in town in the garage, or … whatever The Joneses have this year!
It’s INSANE time, people!! Every year I tell myself I won’t be on the roads, and I won’t fight the crowds, and I won’t … etc… but I got “obligations” too… And I love to see my friends smile just as much as every other Scrooge out there! So, I shop! But … I lose my patience online, waiting for my pages to upload and I am never happy paying $20 for shipping, handling and self-pleasuring charges per item, either! SO, the store it is!
It’s a whirlwind in Garden Ridge. Oh, my Gosh, have you seen that store on Sundays around this time of the year???? It’s a tornado!!!!! If you find WHAT you’re looking for in there, I will throw a Christmas party for you for FREE! No, you find (and fill up your basket with) 1000 other items you are NOT looking for, and you most likely don’t need, but you cannot find, say … stocking hooks! Impossible! You have to stand in lines JUST to get in an aisle!!
The most accurate barometer of how crazy it is are the faces of little kids, caught in between carts colliding, little fingers clutching, big eyes bulging, and mute with despair when yet another cart is coming their way, head-level! They must feel like in those “Matrix”-type movies (bear with me, I am not a movie buff!!) where cars are flying out of control over people’s heads in the narrow streets of a 2222 Manhattan! They’re fretting, but standing still, since there is NO safe way to go!
And the Dollar Tree??? Oh, God! You would think the Dollar Tree has THE best deal of all, and now they’re actually giving stuff away for free, because again, you wanna stand in line to just get in! The cashier calls his manager in and demands that he’ll be replaced, because “he MUST use the restroom. No, Sir, this one CANNOT wait. I must go now”… - he says in a very loud, and very convincing voice! Hhmm… There are 20 people in his line, and we’re ALL shouting in one huge choir voice: “GO!!!!!”. Nope, we don’t mind the wait!
And the driving??? Holy crap! People have one thing in mind and that is their destination! They will brush off, drive over, shove aside, disregard anything, anybody, and massive body that stands in their way to get there! Nope, they’re oblivious at one way signs, “no U turns”, red lights, yield signs … The only light they see is Wal-Mart, and that’s across that big wide road, called Wendover!
I finally found out why crap-for-brains blonde women, soccer moms, or high maintenance single chicks have SUV’s! No, it’s not for the drooling toddler who is mostly absent in all and weighs 2 lbs anyway! No! It’s for flying over the speed bumps at Friendly Shops while looking at the Ann Taylor window without whacking their fancy cars off of alignment! That’s why! How else could they speed in a 10 MPH zone with bumps as high as my knee?!?
‘Tis that time again, of car crashes just because and rubberneckers… That time of looking at the balance on your credit card and telling yourself: “Oh, well, there’s that trip to Madrid I’ve been wanting to take for 10 years! Gotta get that grill and those shoes for the brother in law. Oh shit!(insert sigh and eye roll here)”.
They say Christmas brings the best out in us… Really?! It’s the opposite that I see…
My favorite story this year?! This little girl is lost in a huge department store. Frantic, and well… lost … she gets pulled over by a stranger who’s trying to find her mommy.
Honey, what’s your mommy’s name?”Silence and sighs…
You gotta tell me your mommy’s name, so we can find her, hon’!”.
Her name is Mommy!”. :-)
Oh, humanity!!! Now go smack your kid when they call you Mary, and John, and Ann, and Bill!
Oh, headaches! And fast heart rhythm! Nothing an Excedrin, a tenormin and a huge glass of eggnog, 10% Bacardi would not fix! Quite a cocktail, I know!
Happy shopping, everyone! Umm… I meant … Holidays! :-)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

My musical dad's heritage ...

“Everytime I stop drinking, can’t stop
Thinking ‘bout what I took for granted
And I thought I’d never lose
So I put down the booze and I pick up the blues”
(Steep Canyon Rangers – “Pick Up The Blues”)

“ When you let the instruments tell the story you would otherwise tell with your words, and it all makes sense, that’s when you know you have good music and a good band” – my dad’s words.
With that prerogative in mind, I very much felt like I was listening to a great band, tonight, at the Steep Canyon Rangers gig at the Church of the Covenant.
As luck would have it, the number one vocalist of the band, Woody, “had the laryngitis” – which reminded me of June Carter in Walk the Line:” Bieell, I can’t sang tonight! I got the laryngitis”. Poor thing. Can you imagine being robbed of your instrument and being pushed on the stage in front of the crowd: PERFORM!!! ?!
Of course, we missed his voice, but he and every single member of this band is such a virtuoso of their instrument that … well, they let the other instruments (voice missing at most times) play and boy did they come through!
You needed the sound of a trickling stream in the mountains? A swishing wind in the trees? A crying baby, or a mother in pain?! Even a speeding car on the race car track?! You got it! The fiddle, and banjo, and mandolin, and bass and guitar were there to give them to you and deliver the story…
I was amazed at how well they all conversed with each other. Dad and I used to listen to rock’n’roll bands, like Cream, and Gary Moore’s, and he always made me close my eyes and listen to the “dialogue” the instruments carry on. And “if you feel like the instruments carry on a successful dialogue, with no additional questions, unanswered, at the end, you’ve got great music”…
There is so much to great music: great playing is half of it, and then there is the dialogue with each other, but also the unique sound, that no other bluegrass band will come with, and also showing your roots, the forefathers of what you create today! We all have genes, and so does the music. Also, to me great art is when you make it look like pleasure, and not pain!
And I can tell you, The Rangers have all that, and then some, down pat! They play their instruments mistake-lessly, and they let them "talk" to each other like people who have been married for 50+ years. They don’t miss each other’s beat! And also, what’s my favorite: you can trace them WAY back through the Deep South, all the way back to Irish music. The sound is clear as a crystal bell, and the stories, like all the good bluegrass stories, are every day and common, and special to every mortal soul because of that!
And they all make it look sooo…easy! You know what you look like and sound like and act like when you talk with your best pal?! Well, that’s what they look like and sound like when they play their music! So relaxed, and matter-of-fact! You feel like what they have through their blood veins is bluegrass and that's what their eyes are spitting out too...
Another line from dad’s arsenal of music education came to mind also: “how can 5 people make SO MUCH NOISE???” – that was, he said, his first reaction to hearing The Beatles (well … 4 people there…). It’s amazing what kind of emotional, artistic, and spiritual “damage” 5 people can make, when they know their stuff… They can make a statement and leave you quiet and in awe. You're in a "presence" and you're not sure how to qualify it, but you know it's not commonplace.
It was the perfect way to end a quiet, unwinding, very colorful, and mostly sick weekend!
Very enlightening, and of course, it’s always a blessing to add another page to my musical memory album!
I’ll be shopping for Rangers music now. Started tonight…
And in moments like these, of great musical pleasure, when I always thank him for opening up my musical pores, I wish dad were close, to share them with me!
Love you, dad! Always, and more each day!!