Tuesday, December 9, 2014

White Light



I look to the tree line
and see a pale grey cloud
being crushed by a dark grey cloud
holding back the chilling
white light of a Winter sky which threatens
to pierce my bones
should I not scurry from its sight
fast enough
©


Looking through some old papers, I found this little poem that I wrote about 10 years ago  --  Winter seems still to hold its sacred and threatening power

Monday, May 5, 2014

Such a little thing

                                                                    

I wasn't going to write about this, it's such a little thing.  But it's the little things that matter most sometimes.

I giggled on Sunday. 

All my life I have envied people who could giggle.  I love that melodious trill of laughter like water over stones that erupts so effortlessly from some people.  No body would probably ever notice this about me but my laugh isn't mine.  I have had ptsd (I don't like to put it in caps) and bipolar disorder since I was very, very young.  Very young.  And when that happens you don't develop your own true personality.  You don't understand how the world works except through your unique prism - a complex prism of viewing the world.  So you imitate.  You watch other people do the common ordinary things of life, laughing and talking, working and loving and really, just living.  You try to pick the ones who seem to be doing it well and you imitate them. But it's never quite real - and you know it - and they don't.  Except sometimes someone with exceptional vision comes along and they get what's going on, but that's rare. 

So I've done all the usual things that people normally do in life, worked, married, divorced, been a mother, an artist, ...etc. etc. and I've pulled it off pretty well.  And when I couldn't I've hidden away so that no one would know how tough it can get when you can't even imitate anymore and you are simply lost.  And through it all I've cried - a tremendous amount.  And laughed too, quite a bit.  But I never could get that just right.  My laugh was always very breathy and low and often didn't even have sound.  Just my mouth opening and the force of air being push from my lungs.  I've been embarrassed by it at times and worked really hard to make it sound right, because I can feel deep inside, the joy, the hilarity of life, but I can't quite get it out.  And to giggle?  Never.

So now, after years and years and years of not understanding why life works so awkwardly for me, so often painfully and disconnected, I've finally found a doctor who got it, got it.  She's about 12....not really, but lately it seems every medical professional I meet is bound to be a least a decade or two or even three younger than me.  Her name is Jennifer and she is a pyschiatric nurse practioner and she knows her stuff.  Finally!

Jennifer got me in the first twenty minutes - and in this 23 years long search of mine for someone who could figure this out, that is nothing short of a miracle.  I now take the itsyist, bitsyist tiny little pill that replaces in my amygdala that certain little something that has always been missing.  Not that it fixes it.  There's no fix.  But this is as good as it gets in terms of replacing what can never be replaced.

The changes are, frankly, inexplicable.  It's like waking up from a long, long sleep ( I say that kindly, what I really want to say is nightmare).  And this one little change that has happened, is that I giggled , really and for real....giggled.  It just erupted from my throat on Sunday morning while watching a program about Kevin Spacey - whom I adore a bit - and who is actually a very, very funny man.  I had that reaction that you have when you are engrossed in something and you suddenly think you hear a bell ringing, is that the phone?  the doorbell? a sound that nudges you......and it was me !  It was a genuine, authentic trill of laughter - water running over the stones - and I think I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.

Much, much credit goes to my own darling Elizabeth, my daughter who never gave up on believing that life could be more for me than the little corner I was locked in.  And another Elizabeth , whose own search for a better life for her daughter gave me more courage to fight my fight than she will probably ever know.

Isn't life an incredible thing?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A CRUSHING BEAUTY



She was slow to rise from the table. I wanted to tell her something so I paced my movements to match. The others, a small group of eight, moved determinedly, gathering notebooks and purses, heading out quickly to all the things they had left undone in order to be there. I had worked my way around the end of the long oval table and reached her just as she turned her back to finally move toward the door. I felt clumsy and a bit afraid, but propelled by the heavy hand at my back, the “better” voice in me, I pushed the words out - “I wanted to tell you something” I said. They were the only words I could find. But she was the first person I had ever found who had more shame than me. It was compelling.

She turned immediately, as if she had been waiting for something, something else to happen that night. Her slight body eagerly sank back to her chair and she leaned her face towards me with unmistakable anticipation. A face that made me think of that “American” purity of beauty that women like Sissy Spacek possess, but ravaged by the relentless plight of fear and shame and despair. Each wrinkle, deep or shallow, carrying a night or day or hour of terror. Her pale blue eyes somehow still bright and alive above the soft pouches of a lifetime of tears.

In that second before I spoke again, like an unexpected wind that hits your face when you round the bend from a sheltered path, I was struck by the beauty of pain. How it chips away at us. How it seemingly diminishes us as it scars us, robs of us faith and joy. How it brings the enormity of life down to within a fearful inch in front of us, crushing us with it's relentless pressure. But when you look closely enough, through a refocused lens, you can see it. You can see the result of that crushing pressure. You can see a different spectrum of light. One not within the sphere of our usual vision, but like a new species of diamond it takes your breath for an instant.

I wanted to hold her, to kiss her soft weathered cheek. I wanted to brush it all away for her as we who suffer are wont to do when we find our kin. I wanted to renew the lost years and return her to the place where she began so that the story could be different. But instead, I leaned my own tired face towards hers and I said “I never thought I deserved anything but pain. I thought I was put here to suffer, to be punished.” I said those words because they are true and because I could see they were true for her too. She gasped and smiled and in a conspiritorial whisper said “Me too! Only pain!” Like two little girls in the corner of the playground, confessing the secret darkness of their lives. And then I whispered back, “But it gets better. I'm learning a new way. I've found help and things are starting to change.” As if with a hand reaching into my pocket, I opened a tattered cloth to reveal this treasure to her. She began to pull back, to shutter the little light in her eyes. It is so hard to believe, when your life has known this kind of pain from it's very beginning, that there is a way out. You shelter yourself from this truth as if it were a lie that can hurt you even more. She turned her face to the side and said, with the tiny bit of air left in her lungs, “ Yes, something, I have to do something.” And she rose and left the room.

I'll be there next week. And in truth, because I want the door to open more for me. I want to be warm. I'm ready and I'm walking in this direction no matter how familiar the “other” voice. I have finally given so much of me away, I am emptied to an echo. The only action left to me is to be filled with something else. It took a lifetime. All of my 63 years. She - is almost empty. So yes, I'll be there, on the other side of the table – across from her pale blue eyes. 

 ©

Monday, March 17, 2014

Danny Boy an Irish Song



From Valentine's Day to Saint Patrick's Day.....where does time go?
Another performance from the dynamic duo of Marco and Eva ..."The Ruby's"
This is a little star in the making folks, enjoy!  And Happy St. Patrick's to you!



Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine Song - Fade Into You (Mazzy Star cover)

These Sweethearts are my dear friends from Moscow  -  An expat living in Moscow with the love of his life, his daughter......Enjoy!
 He writes my most favorite blog   impressions of an expat




Happy, Happy Valentine's Day.
Love, Liv

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I've been thinking

Don't know where I got this, don't know who she is, but she looks like she's lost in her thoughts too.

I took about a year off from here.  There was so much to do in my life.  Some crisis, some joy, some just the everyday in and out of life.  What I was really trying to do was learn.  Figure out what it was that was keeping me in so much pain and confusion.  I would work my ass off to get it right : be kind, be honest, no hypocrisy or manipulation and still it felt that I was constantly getting slammed to the ground when I least expected it.  I was beyond naive, I always have been.  Gullible was - and probably still is - an adjective a lot of people used with me.  And then , of course, if you read me before (that year when I did post) you remember the tales of abuse - in my childhood, adolescence and beyond.  But at a certain point - your life just isn't about that anymore.  You've worked it out , intellectually at least.  You've cut the offenders to shreds in your mind or in therapy and then forgiven them and then cut them up again - if you've been at it long enough.  I've finally wound up someplace between compassion - empathy - and I just want to move on-ness.

That means - I don't trust people so much anymore.  I don't need them to like me quite as much.  And I don't take the blame for everything anymore.  If you've fucked up, you better own it.  I can work with that.  Otherwise, I may not cut you off, but I'm walking way over here.    These changes, and I think they are good changes, came because I had, finally, found a therapist that was trustworthy enough to help me understand that I knew more than I thought I did and it would be ok to put it to use.  In other words, the whole victim thing, just wasn't working anymore.  And by the way, people don't choose to be victims.....they are VICTIMISED.  And once that happens it's probably going to happen again and again until it becomes a way of life.  And when it's a way of life, it's just that - your life - you don't know anything different.  With a lot of help from a lot of people this last year, I know something different.  And the amazing thing is that they have all been people who know what I'm talking about because they've been there or are there, still struggling to unravel it and they are good, they are good people.  It will always be one of the saddest things for me to comprehend in life - that people who haven't suffered don't generally know how to help people who are suffering.  Of course there are exceptions, I know that, I've just never encountered many of them in my life.

So anyway, I feel I've learned enough to come back here, but it's still kind of hard.  I don't know why it should be, because everybody I read is just like me.  Wanting to be loved, accepted.  Sharing what's in their hearts - which is actually a lot of pain, doubt, angst and anger (if you read with an open heart) mixed with the joy and small triumphs that keep them going (keep us all going).  And actually, I find just as much inspiration and motivation for my own life from the kind sharing of the harder parts of your life as I do from the fun stuff.  And that does not exclude the many decorating blogs that I read by any means.  Those people, talented and industrious as they are, reveal more pain and need between the lines than they know.....

But I struggle still, and I'd probably better get used to it. Because it seems that most of us are in doubt as to whether or not we are accepted, loved, heard.  And this is the core of what I struggle with  - so bear with me as I relate this short little tale :

When I was in about, oh, fourth grade, I guess - so that would make me about 9 or 10 - there was this really, really popular girl, Cecelia, who was rich and pretty to boot.  Cecelia, or Cea as she was called (because all popular girls get cool nicknames...) sent out invitations for her birthday party.  Skinny, little poor me (and we were poor, dirt poor) with her stringy hair and scaly, red rimmed eyes ( I had conjunctivitis - I was so stressed already!) wanted in the worst way to be invited like all the other girls.  When that invitation didn't show up in my desk, I wrote a note to Cea, saying that I would please love to be invited to her party (wouldn't ya' know I'd do that?) That afternoon, as I came out to the playground for recess, there was Cecelia - standing at the incinerator with a ring of laughing girls around her, tearing into small bits, that fluttered down into the smoldering ashes, that heartfelt note from that lonely little girl.  She looked up at me, that securely popular, pretty girl and smiled.  The biggest most confident smile you can imagine.  She's changed.  I know she has because over the years I've encountered her a few times, in the grocery store and once in the mall and she was kind - in that overly, gracious way that reveals repent without actually saying the words.  So I forgive her.  I mean, my gosh, we were kids, all is forgiven.  And I think life has probably dealt her a few, so that she sees life through a different filter now, or at least it felt like that when I saw her.  But for me it's still there.  That small rejection has been in my pocket all the rest of my life, like a tiny sharp edged stone.  I have moved boulders of anger and despair over far greater crimes committed against me, yet still, that little rock remains.

I think no matter what I do, it may always remain.  So I accept it.  I accept that I will always worry about whether I am accepted, loved, heard.  Maybe we all do.  Maybe we all carry little rocks in our pockets and in spite of them we just get on with life.  That's what I intend to do, rocks and all.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snow day and an art project

It is snowing here.  Well, not right this second, but it has been for the last couple of days and it will be again in a few seconds.  It also happens to be Liz's 41st birthday.  We had a dinner out planned for tonight at a very special little restaurant that serves her very favorite fried chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and greens.  It is very popular here and even on this bitterly cold night with about 6" of snow we know that there will be a line at the door at least a 1/2 hr. before opening so we opted for breakfast out instead.  Neither of us wants to wait in blowing freezing snow to eat dinner with frozen toes.  We'll save it for later in the week when the snow has melted.

A nice warm breakfast at our neighborhood place was good and fun and Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac were playing as we reminisced about our lives and when these particular sounds backdropped them.  It is an amazing thing when your daughter becomes your friend.  It is a loose thing too, the mother/daughter relationship.  Falling in and out of leading and following and teaching and learning is the norm for both of us these days, but I can truthfully say that we are friends more than not - and we've earned it - so that makes it even more special.


                                                                      

 Just look at those pies.  Liz picked blackberry/raspberry.  Our neighborhood cozy spot - Loretta Jean's - they serve a lot of pie here, everything handmade.  That little sign to the left of the photo on the wall says :  " Smoke Weed - Listen to Neil Young - Split Wood " .  The best kind of place to have a cozy breakfast on a snowy morning. 

I put out bread and and snatched red berries from the funny little bush in my back yard for the birds.

It really worries me - where do they go?  How do they stay warm?  They couldn't reach the branches of the bush anymore, they'd eaten all the berries off the lower ones, but they're not humming birds so they can't hover to pick the ones up high.  Oh my god, humming birds.  Where do they go??



 The birthday day girl has now gone down to "Tom's" (she has 4 wheel drive) to meet  Tony.  Tom's is another neighborhood spot, they have pool tables and the best Gyros in town (they're Greek, so you know it's good stuff).  Liz has been going there since she was a teenage and had her own money and time and power to do as she pleased.  They all know her and love her there.  She made a new friend recently when she was on a late night "Tom's run".  They kind of thing you do when the world has not been particularly nice to you and something warm served by people who are happy to see your face, just hits the spot.  This older Italian man came up to her and said " I see you here a lot.  Everybody like you.  You pretty.  You wanna play pool?"........ my imitation of a thick Italian accent, sorry.   So of course, my daughter, who just happens to be a damn hot pool player, said "Yeah, sure." and beat him 3 out of  4 games.  He now respects her, not only for her pool prowess, but also because they crack each other up (have I told you she is hysterical) and calls once in awhile to say "You wanna play?"  So, it's her birthday, she goes to play and that is fine with me.

Tony just happens to live a couple of blocks from us.  He's a long time immigrant, hence the accent, but made a good life for himself, his wife and his 3 kids here in Ptown for the last 40 years.  He wife has passed away a few years ago so now he gets lonely and thinks that Liz is the best thing to happen to him in a long time.  He is 72 and I think he likes Liz better than his own kids.  And no, I'm not naive.  There really is nothing more than a pals thing there and I am so glad for Liz that she has always been able to make friends like this.  Just happy times and lots of laughs.  She really is amazing, in so many ways.

Me, I've been playing with artzy-fartzy stuff.  I collect all these odds and ends of stuff and then put them together to make other stuff.....just what the world needs. 

  In France in the 1800's there used to be craftspeople who made fanciful bouquets out of metal for the wealthy so that they could have flowers in their homes all year round.  This po' girl likes that kind of crazy stuff, but since the antique ones that have survived  are only within reach of very moneyfied decorators and their buddies, I decided to make a pair for my self out of all the goofy little metal flower pieces that I find at thrift stores and such.  This pair is made out of an old copper heating pipe and a '70's sculpture thing that was not very important on it's own and other little branchy thing a ma jigs.  The flowers at the top are actually enameled lavender, but my cheap camera can not pick that up.  But they were fun to do and I love the way they look kind of crazy/funny up there on the mantel, as if they are struggling to find the light - aren't we all?  My daughter likes them too, which is very unusual as she is a minimalist.....but maybe I'm rubbing off on her. Not a chance!  But still, it pleases me that she enjoys them.

So anyway, that's what's been going on around here.  Hope you all are warm and cozy wherever you are tonight.

Love, Liv

Sunday, February 2, 2014

HA ! The Best of Both Worlds

That being sweet and salty --- this would have been the only way you could have gotten me to watch the Super Bowl ---


                                                                          


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

MS. BASS NAILED IT

A busy day today.  The kind of day that is filled with errands that take me away from the house.  A sunny and cold day, but at least I was comforted by the brightness when my toes and fingers were complaining.

A trip to the mechanic.  Less expensive than I thought so I was pleased that there were dollars left and thought the treat of breakfast a fair and reasonable end to the errand.  My favorite little breakfast spot with the chocolaty coffee and the smokey bacon closed a couple of months ago.  She said she got an offer she couldn't refuse.  A young mother with two toddlers, so I'm glad for her that she has more time for them but I miss my coffee and bacon.  I finally settled on the new French bakery.  Lovely things.  Buttery, rummy and sweet things and the coffee is good.  And there she was, the young mother who didn't refuse, being waited on, sipping coffee someone else had made.  I said hello and told her I missed her place.  For all my years of going there I really don't know her except to say hi and thank you and talk about the usual things that people talk about when they really don't know each other but are regularly sharing this exchange of food and dollars.
She asked for my name and phone number.  Said she is opening a new little place.  Emphasis on "little".  Coffee and just a few things - really no food, she said.  But would I be interested in showing some of my paintings?  She knows I paint, but she has no idea what I paint.  So the kindness and the implication of faith was sweet and kind and I am thrilled and nervous at the same time.....but I gave her my number.

Home then to find that the furnace would not come on no matter what magic I tried to work.  A trip to the hardware store and filters and new drain screens for the sinks and tub while I'm at it and then a stop at the Poetry Post. (remember, from a long ago time when I showed you the poetry post?)  I love that thing.  Someday I want a poetry post, but for now I am charmed to pull the car over and get out to read -


If You Knew

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line’s crease.
When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.
A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They’d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.
How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

by Ellen Bass

Lovely.  I try to live that sentiment.  See each moment as the last and act accordingly.  But I fail A LOT!  a lot.   Still, it's there in my heart, at the core and Ms. Bass nailed it.

Finally, the warm air pumping out of my ancient furnace and a minute to sit and check my phone.  The little blue light blinking- yes, it's just a phone, not an i phone - just the "old fashioned" kind with the insistent little blue light and I don't even text.   (I am soooo far behind, but I secretly like it)  I return the call, same call I got yesterday and couldn't return because the message was fuzzy.  It was "Amy" from the doctor's office.
They want me to come back in.... another x-ray.  Seems they've found a lump.  I've been through this before, survived it.   I'm not going to die.  I'm sure of it.  At least not from this.  I've got paintings to do.  And I love that poem.

Thinking of you, Liv