Sunday, September 18, 2016

Maybe my mind is way too visual

I don't know.  I've been thinking of writing this post for a long time, but I've always been too scared.  I guess I thought people will think I am a "goody two-shoes" (funnny saying). Or maybe that I am preaching or pointing fingers or simply being critical...oh, self righteous comes to mind.  But I'm pretty sure I'm not, I just want to express what I think - and I think a lot.  My daughter says that's not such a good thing. And lord, I just wrote a post that ended with the thought that we don't need to apologize for, nor edit what we think. That applies to me and everyone else that I am abstractly indicating here.

I have a very visual mind.  I've always been that way.  When I was little I could see intense images when someone told a story, to the point of getting a chill, physically, when there was a story about cold or rain. Or having to shield my eyes or blink when there was talk of a hot summer day that someone remembered. It's weird. I don't always like it, but sometimes I do, very much. And I can get pretty agitated with images when there is a mention of violence.   Although I like to watch Kung Fu gheez, go figure.  Don't think I haven't been told I'm contradictory.

So anyway, lately, well, a long lately, I've been bothered by two words. Two words commonly used so it's hard to get away from them.

Douche  (bag)

They're used as expressions of anger, violence, disgust, condemnation, frustration, to humiliate or maybe to express in an abstract way something that the sayer just can't find other words to describe. And I suppose maybe even in humor, oddly.

I see very intensely someone fucking a mother. Your mother, my mother, their mother...mothers.  I can understand a man saying that who hates women in general or, tragically, his own mother.  But mothers are sacred. Is that fact suspended? Is it negated in the moment, is it forgotten or is it simply not believed at all?  I wasn't especially close to my mother, we suffered a lot in our relationship. I can not say that I hated her,  (and I'm not delusional enough to think that I don't hate, I do hate somethings)  but no, I would not want that to happen to her, in violence or anger and certainly not to humiliate her. I'm not sure why women say it.

And douche, douche bag.  Once again, it's about women.  This is something private, very private that women do to take care of their bodies.  Especially in terms of menstruation, a sacred thing in my opinion, and maybe necessary after birthing and then there's sex.  It is private, something that I think should not be discussed with any motivation of anger or disgust or whatever else that is negative and seeks to dishonor women.

I see them, the mothers, the women, when I hear those words.  I see it happening to them, a violent sexual act. I feel their pain, physically.  I feel a woman's embarrassment when such a private activity of cleansing is exposed.  My body actually gets hot with the implied shame.  I feel intensely the vehement disrespect when a man uses them, well yeah, even sometimes when women do (who I think are maybe not even thinking of women)  Whatever...  All I'm saying is that it stops me. Stops my thinking for a moment and replaces it with feeling. A feeling I don't like.

Everybody has a right to say whatever they want in whatever meaning or intention.  I'm not arguing that. And I certainly use the word fuck, it's part of my everyday language, but I'm getting a little tired of that too.  And my daughter never uses it, astounding to me given the fact that she's heard it all her life.

Women seem to be using them a lot now, like I said, I'm not sure why.  I'm not sure of the intention behind it when it comes from a woman.  These words have obviously become a part, even a casual part, of our vernacular.

I don't know, maybe I'm a prude (what exactly does that word mean..?).  Maybe I'm just not with the times. I adore some people who use it and I am frightened by some who do.  Perhaps I am too sensitive, that's probably the most used description of me.

I know those words are not going to disappear from common use.  I'm not trying to change that, although I would like it to change.  But I also know I can't stop being such a visual person and sometimes it's a real fucking drag. So these two words make me very sad.
Just sayin'.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Brilliance Lost

It's very difficult to do a blog post about someone you Love and have lost.  Especially if they are someone you never really met, never really knew, because how much do we truly know and Love  each other in this blog world? I think we'd be surprised.

This is Ellie, Eleanor Anne O'Connell Decret.  Ellie died on August 30th, 2016.  She died almost to the hour that princess Diana died (US time to Paris time) - and she would have fucking loved that.

Ellie was from Santa Barbara and had been living for many years in Paris, with her French husband, David Decret and her sweet (really) daughter Grace.

I came to know her, again - love/know - feelings in this medium sometimes feel more real, more concrete and certainly more meaningful than some in our tactile world - through her brutal (read that as gut punch brutal) and funny, generous, thoughtful and deeply appreciative writing.  She was a decorator and antique dealer (Cira, her Malibu antique shop), and had the most cutting eye for great design and a zeal for bringing it to the forefront so that others could learn and appreciate. Even through this devastating disease, she kept an online antiques shop and was dedicated to it.  She loved beautiful things and made no apologies.  She wasn't afraid to say the material world enchanted her. Ellie came from what most of us would consider a very posh background and had many connected friends. Not only did she have her shop in Malibu but she also had worked for Assouline (luxury book company) and 1st Dibs.

And Ellie had ALS.

I could speak volumes about her struggle to try to beat this unbeatable disease. About the way she kept her extraordinary sense of humor, truly it was legendary, to the very, very end. Throughout her illness,she was rude and acerbic, impatient and humbled. She sought Gods guidance and strength and she was pissed off when she couldn't get it, which happened way more often than not.  She was fierce in her determination to fight this devil of a disease and relentless in her research and experimentation with diet (she was a junk food aficionado, so that's not easy!)  and meditation and, again, that gob-smacking sense of humor. You could probably hear the laughter ringing around the world (she had over 3,000 readers) every time she got out there and wrote to us.  Everyone fights for something in their life, but not many fight to bloody fingers trying to climb out of darkness, and that's what ALS can bring, because the minute you get it you know you are going to die and it isn't going to be pretty.

ALS moves quick, in six years Ellie was completely paralyzed and barely able to speak.  There where many times when she could not even swallow (a feeding tube was necessary) and towards the end, could not breathe at all without a breathing tube. When she could whisper, she would dictate her blog post. She was relentless in her drive to give to and take something from this world, to connect and express herself. And still she could crack us up with her attitude about all of it.
Ellie had been letting us all know for quite some time that she wanted to go.  And she wanted to go on her own terms. Everyone had had enough, her family, her friends, her readers, and most especially, Ellie. Enough of the fear, the pain, the anger and the bloody battle. She came home from Paris to die and within a month she did... on her own terms, with all those who loved her surrounding her - and the thousands of cards and letters from the people who loved her through her blog (that would include me) because they meant the world to her, I think they kept her going for awhile.

If you've made it to the end of this knowing that just because you receive beauty and wealth,  prestige and power in this life,  it doesn't mean that you are not entitled to the same empathy and tenderness and embrace as anyone who is not in that position, as many of us are not and will never be, then you have learned one of the most precious lessons in life - that we are all the same, we are one, and no matter what, the fear and sorrow of leaving this world is exactly the same. And the hard won understanding that nothing in this world, no matter the price nor the beauty, is of any value except the giving and receiving of Love. Ellie knew this, I think it had been an underlying value all her life.

In her last blog post, she ended with an enticement, as she so often did.....Hold on, I have so much more to tell you.

That's what she taught me, that's why I loved her. Tell it. Don't worry about how it sounds, don't worry about how they will take it. Just be who you are, no apologizing, no editing. This is who she was, this was her legacy.  And Love, she left behind a whole fucking lot of Love.
If we're lucky we can learn from her life.       So tell me. Tell me more, I want to know.

With Love for my friend, Ellie O'Connell Decret, rest in peace.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Where can you possibly go after LA

At the end of the fourth chapter of the trip to India, (you'd have to scroll down to read them, and if you did/do, god bless you) you remember that I got deposited in a bit of a plop in the also magical city of LA.
But the wheel keeps turning and you've go to move on when your head and your feet are both pulling you forward....and pretty much you have no other choice.

I was seeing another boy (yes, I was pretty much the slut my mother always liked to tell me I was) who's family lived in Beverly Hills, so odd, because that is my mother's name and for a year I stopped thinking of her and, thank you God, the connection didn't ever click for me
His parents wouldn't let us stay in the house, dirty crazy hippies, but he was able to convince them to let us and another couple - I can't even see their faces - camp in the two car garage. Mattresses on the floor, ubiquitous tapestry spreads on the beds and a little cleared out space for eating (street stand) food. Pot smoking is portable, sitting-standing-laying, choose your comfort.

His name was Jim with the curly blond hair, a sparse goatee and blue eyes that come with being a California native. His father was a dentist to the stars and just wanted us to get the fuck out of there. So where can you go, but the other California. The big island of Hawaii.  Jim had money and friends there and I can only assume that he paid for me because I sure as hell didn't. We arrived on separate planes and for some reason he wasn't there to pick me. It's dusk in a different paradise and paradise-or-not, swirly panic can blot out all that beauty.

A "we're-all-one" couple picked up on that and zip, I was in a jeep headed up a steep, foot-deep- pot-holed road, to a tiny A-framed guest house with enough room for my sleeping bag, two bananas and two avocados in a metal pot and another to pee in. I swear to god I never left that hut for 48 hrs. except to lean out and dump the pee pot, I was like a yogi on a mountain top. I was stuck there for those two days and only had company in the form of an ox (I guess that's what it was because it had horns) that kept wandering under the hut-on-stilts to scratch his back on the underside. At first I thought it was an earthquake.  A peek under the floor and two sets of eyeballs assessing each other and we were silent but wary cohabitants until I could get the hell out of there.

I finally got down that pot holed road to the little grocery store in Kealakekua, found Jim, who I swear, swear, swear had just walked up there to buy something (this kind of thing was such a common experience in those days, that you came to think of it as the norm) and down we go to Napoopoo Road (NO, I am not shitting you! cue the Beach Boys...)  to where we wound up living for awhile with some friends of his and their mini-hippie baby. She was the happiest little girl as we all were, indulging in the liquor of sunshine and freedom and the euphoria that comes with that when it is all free.  We were squatters on an overgrown, abandoned coffee plantation, with still intact workers huts dotted in a little enclave connected by bare footed paths. Workers huts only had three sides and waking up to an ocean only seemed right. This was the view when you sat up in bed in the morning.  Not bad.

Jim made a lean-to off an old tree and that's where I lived in gloriousness for the next three months. He stayed on there for years and finally moved to Bali. One lucky boy.
                                 Our home. Probably about 7' x 9'. It was so sweet there at
                                  night with a little oil lamp and books and stories.
This was hysterical! It's the little kitchen that only two silly, goofballs could conjure up. You'll notice it's on a slant....there is a piece of corrugated tin there on the right in the first photo, to stop the avocados from rolling down the hill.  We would walk up the hill in the evening to pick avocados and then down the hill in the morning to pick mangoes and guava and papayas. The red bag hanging there is for the avocados and fruit that had to be hung so that the rats wouldn't get into them. California Boy always said that all the snakes in Hawaii had been killed out and what it did was allow the vermin population to over grow.  I never saw one, but there were still, sometimes, nibbles even when things were hung.
The boy, his long curls tied back. He was sweet and fun and cared about me so much more than I ever realized. 
Trying to make a garden in the jungle. I'm dressed in his clothes to mosquito proof myself, didn't work, you just have to get used to them.  I look so naive, so young, so needing to be loved and not believing it was possible, in fact it took me about 3 more decades to actually believe that I was indeed lovable.
I cannot understand how I had as many pleasant relationships as I did, except that I never wore a bra...

Bob and Leisha lived down the hill in a very posh workers shack. It had two room and a loft and a tiny little kitchen, way, way better than ours so a lot of meals were consumed down there. Actually, truly cooked meals...see the hanging frying pan.
Bob and Leisha also had some other friendly visitors, spiders.  I don't know what they were called but they were like very big tarantulas, (about the size of a large teacup) but that's not what they were - at least I don't think so.  You would be sitting around chatting and all of a sudden you realized that one was crawling up your arm and then up on to your shoulder and over your head.  They would eventually make it to the wall and up onto beams on the ceiling and just camp. You could see where they had shed their skin from the last year and then moved on to another spot. I learned to get used to it after the first freakout, because they were actually harmless. Eventually their legs skittering up your arm would feel velvety. It was nice to know that you could live in harmony with a creature that in any other circumstances you would find horrifying.

Note the ubiquitous tapestry clothing. It's what everyone wore, except when naked and that was often how hot, sunny days were lived.  You could escape the mosquitoes if you were in wide open spaces and some of the people there had very large open decks. Maybe boss-mans shack?

It was such an idyll that there aren't that many memories other than just glorious days and long conversations where we came to think we finally understood the world and the purpose of it all. And lots and lots of love and kindness and sharing, because that's the way life was supposed to be.

I do remember coming very close to drowning a couple of times, actually being swept out to sea while sitting in a tide pool and then swept right back in, it was a mix of terror and euphoria all at once. (I cannot swim, although I've been thrown into pools, the ocean and even once, a dam!)   Also, visiting Kilauea - at that time you could walk right up to the edge of the crater and amazingly look down into a churning cauldron of bubbling and erupting red lava. It was astonishing.  You could never do that now.  I have a picture of that too, but I don't feel like hauling it out...ha.

 Oh yes, we also stumbled upon the abandoned house of what must have been the plantation owner. It was like something out of a movie. The main room had a bed in it, one of those rope beds that could have easily held 6 people. Why would 6 people sleep in the same bed?  There was all kinds of imported furniture from marble topped mahogany shaving stands to beautiful hand painted wardrobes.  All china and glassware was intact as well as canned food.  It was like everyone had just walked out of it about 50 years ago and nothing had been touched. I remember taking a few small items, a plate and some egg cups.  Oh come on, you know you would have!  I have no idea what happened to them, but then, there are a lot of things in my life that have slipped away when I wasn't watching, many years of not watching.

I'm so happy I had these memories, of India, of LA and the paradise of Hawaii. It was the luckiest time of my life and sometimes remembering it all erases, for a bit, some of the other times of my life. So yes, I am indeed a lucky girl.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

One fucking strong woman!

SIX MONTHS.  Did you hear that?  Six fucking months! Finding the fountain of youth, winning the lottery, curing cancer, becoming the second woman president of the world, being the first woman to build a house on the moon??  Nah, they don't even come close.

Six months is IT.  It's the motherload diamond that you thought you'd never find, and it belongs to her, after 25 years sifting the sands of the Sahara.

She is the smartest (yes she is!) woman in the world. She is smarter than you by a mile, (so say I with my chin thrust in the air) she wooshes  past me like Usain Bolt (2016 and ever) - I look like a stroller on Sunday.

She is funnnnnny, shit, she is fucking funnnnny! She makes people laugh even when they think they are tough or lost or refuse to, she can crack 'em. She cracks me to wide-open-mouth laughter everyday (and even a lot back then). Although my stupid antics made her fall off the couch once and I didn't even care what crazy thing I'd done, it was just so wonderful to see her laugh till she almost thew up (we all know that's where you want them to go). She can do it to you, easy.

And beautiful?                                                    
Well, what can I say?  5'10" of woman.  She loves babies and dogs and if you're lucky, you.

And she's made it six months. That's really the best mark. A year, two, even 5? Six months is magical.  Because it's the first. The first milestone in a journey you'd almost given up on. It's that eyes wide open! first celebration that will have more meaning than all the rest.

She slept till noon, peaceful, well earned, without burdens (well, that one anyway, the others don't get light today).  And we're going to dinner and she'll eat whatever she wants and I will too. No tight pants tonight!

Do I sound proud? Well it's not just that. She is the kind of example we're all looking for, someone who carried a burden, while saddled with others and clawed and screamed her way out of it. She never lost who she really is. So when you think you can't do it, when you are afraid of anything, when you think you'll lose yourself, when you are ashamed of whatever your burden is, when you think you just fucking don't have the strength, when you   are   just   fucking   ashamed   of   yourself, remember this woman.  Because she thought all of those things of herself. She did not believe until the very last moment when she sucked in her breath, that shamed breath, and swallowed it all the  way deep down into her gut and picked up one foot, just one foot and stepped into that unknown place, that place that scares the mother loving fuck right out of all of us and saw a speck of light. Remember this woman because she is you, she is me, the kind of woman I want to be. And we are all trying to get free.

So that's what we're celebrating tonight, not the light, it was always there, we're celebrating that one step.

Bring on the cake!

PS: Yes, this is my daughter!!

Friday, September 2, 2016

who is that?

I like this, I did everything wrong with the camera, like I usually do, and somehow I come out looking like the person I think I am instead of the person I am. And somehow in doing that a miracle happened and all my wrinkles went away!  Maybe it's a good thing that I never learn to use the camera correctly.

I wish my whole life was like this, a blur. Something that came out the way I thought it should be instead of the way it really is.

Look Deep

                             THE PERSON WHO TRULY LOVES YOU IS SOMEONE WHO
                              SEE'S THE PAIN IN YOUR EYES, WHILE EVERYONE ELSE
                              BELIEVES IN THE SMILE ON YOUR FACE.

                              SEE ME?   I'M SMILING.