Comparing physical belongings with inner emotions. Cleansing is healthy.

I’m currently visiting my wonderful son, Billy, in Durham, NC. Before I left LA I had been on a juice cleanse to clean up my inner physical body. I suppose this was a good prep for my trip.

It’s been a very good visit even though we haven’t been out much. What? No visits to Duke university or their famous gardens? Naw, not this trip. Spending quality time with my adult kid has included my being present while he organizes his living space and life. Heaven knows, and probably those who know me or follow my blog, I have spent the past year and a half, sorting, storing, pitching, selling and donating possessions and organizing my new life. I guess one might assume I’m now an expert in the field, and while this might be partially correct, I am still far from my ideal.

When I first met my sweet (now dearly departed) Max, his apartment was in great disarray. It was I who attempted to help put his stuff in order. Who did I think I was? The queen of anal retentiveness? No. The mistress of organization? Not really. What was I thinking? Hmmm. Good question. Frankly, I just figured it was easier to help him sort and pitch than to do it myself. Besides. It was also not my place…It was his apartment, after all. I loved the man and hated his mess. I had to do something if only on the inside to keep me from running away.

While observing Maxie’s clutter I would further contemplate why we collect stuff. We had friends and family around us who were drowning in their belongings either financially by paying exorbitant storage fees to keep their crap safe while they avoided dealing with it or wading through stacks of expensive shoes, clothing and housewares, along with books, magazines and heaven knows what else. Max’s stuff seemed minor by comparison, but major when it came to our life together and I had to deal with it on a daily basis.

Consider how deceptive the whole disease of consumption really is. No longer the malaise of generations past when it meant any sort of human wasting disease such as tuberculosis, our current consumptive disease is one of massive consumerism, another sort of wasting disease in and of itself. We have been using up our resources both economic and environmental in order to amass what? Happiness? Hey, even the Beatles sang “Money Can’t Buy Me Love”. Didn’t we learn everything? And we wonder why we have so much debt? But again, I digress.

I have maintained that while Max and I were dating my own household was pretty organized. And. I really liked him, a lot, and figured our budding relationship was putting my emotional life further in order, so I just gave him incentives to get his possessions together… The pleasures of our company (X-rated), reminders that he could find stuff he had previously spent days searching, and a neater, cleaner living space. He had been a Rainbow vacuum cleaner salesman so he did know the benefits of a tidy home, at least in theory.

When Max would scratch his head and look befuddled whilst sorting through his junk, I’d offer encouragement in the form of a big juicy kiss (or more), trash bags and the shredder. Through our years together I learned when to back off and let him ponder the vastness of his pile o’crap and when to keep my cool when he chose to not clean up. I did my best to monitor my own possessions, shed them periodically, ie. to at least walk my talk for myself. But unfortunately for me, Max never really dealt with his penchant for collecting.

When Max passed away I was the one to sort through the many belongings he left behind (but in front of me), which was a mind boggling and daunting task – it really was huge! It was doubly hard because removing his stuff was also charged with the energy of my years of pent up frustrations about his manner of not dealing with it. I realized I had stored many of my emotions about the way Max stored his junk. He had left me with a task he was unwilling to do himself and that pissed me off, left me sad and guilty all while missing the crap out of him, the guy I loved dearly.

This week has been great, because my visit helped Billy clean up his physical stuff and encouraged me further to clear my emotional garbage bag regarding Max, and his garbage. Even more I have had the quality time, devoid of work and home distractions to spend with my son for whom I deeply care.

Resolving my conflicting emotions has been a metaphor for my understanding the urge to collect physical stuff rather than keep only what I really require. Like, how many shirts, shoes, pants, socks, underwear, DVDs, cables, books, furniture, and so much more, do I really need to make my life happy, fulfilling, and worth living.

I suppose I have become an expert in organization, just by plunging into the trash receptacle of my own feelings, figuring out what I might glean from the contents, therefore discovering ways to responsibly dispose of or compost what I no longer require. This sort of cleansing. The inner emotional one is even better than the juicing I did before I left home. I’m looking now at the physical, the energetic and emotional aspects of living in my world with a sense of ease. Life is good. And I am grateful.

Thankfulness or the Small Stuff Ain’t important

Where am I? Somewhere above Arizona or New Mexico, I think. I’m flying east to Raleigh on board an American Airlines jet that should’ve taken off a few hours ago except there was this teensy wire that came undone and the pilot thought it might be a good idea to reattach it. I concur. And I am thankful they found it. 20140501-100639.jpg. Before boarding this flight I moved into a short line, thanks to my priority boarding status. Frequent flying has its perks, that is except when some one who doesn’t have the same “perks” calls you a “cheater”. That happened to me today, a woman directed her ire at me, because she didn’t want anyone cutting in front of her in line to board. She was pissed. And I got to be in her line of fire. Actually ahead of her, but who’s picky? It wasn’t pleasant but, given my “don’t sweat the small shit” attitude I merely smiled and put my attention elsewhere. Only I’m thinking about her now, so obviously my attention has been shifted back to the fire-spitting lady for a reason, though it has not caused me to sweat a drop. Instead I am using this little event to remind me of how thankful I am for both the exceptional and the mundane events in my life.

Today for example I am thankful I woke up and in time to have a shower, get dressed, hug and kiss my dogs, remember all the stuff I intended on packing and getting it all out onto the street in time for the shuttle to take me to the airport. I am also immensely thankful for the fellow travelers in the bus, for their being pleasant, the driver capable, the traffic ultra light, security a breeze, except I had to remove my shoes because they have boingy springs in the heels (the bounce in my step is accelerated ever so lightly), and that the pilot found the problem before we were up in the air. More thanks to my seat mates who are snoozing or watching Stallone and De Niro in the Grudge Match. I am thankful the expletive spewing woman is seated rows back and not in my line of sight, the toilet facilities are available when I’ve got the urge and that the ride is smooth and easy, thus eliminating any need for the barf bag. Even though I could go on, ad nauseum.

That is enough of my list of thanks, one might think I’m on stage at the Oscars (hey it might happen someday) and we all may require those little bags I just mentioned. Or a shovel? My inner cynic often jumps in to quell my hyper-gratitude, but she is easily convinced that the alternative she suggests is much worse in the long run.

Getting irritated at my outer world is a downward slope on which to hitch a ride and lacks the fun. The powerlessness of grief can make the most sane person a nutter, quickly. I know, I’ve been there. Which is why I’ve daily been doing the laundry list of things for which I am thankful.

Funny enough, my thanks (and meditation) have lowered my blood pressure , slowed the incessant crying and woe is me-ing I managed to do for a year and a half while processing the departure of my beloved Max and my renewed independence and heightened creativity. One might not think the latter two could cause inner turmoil yet there is no question about the former…grief sucks.

There is a method to My Thank You Madness. My gratitude has made me live more gracefully, embrace the changes as if they were my friends rather than enemies and know that wanting things to be as they were ain’t never gonna happen, to say nothing about f’g frustrating and a miserable way to live.

I realize now that every time I get cut off by someone on the freeway or in a line at the store that they may have their own sort of “priority pass” of which I am unaware. I’ll just remind myself how thankful I am and keep on with my sense of abundance and gratitude so I won’t sweat the small stuff and get on with my life.

I can see for miles! Seeing clearly is vital to me.

My week of thrice daily acupuncture sessions for a mild cataract is at its end. There I was, lying on the table with needles stuck in my body thinking, ”Here’s another fine mess I’ve got myself into! Thank the gods of oriental medicine I am almost done with this week!” I may sound like a weenie, but sometimes those needles, when they first go in, hurt like they ain’t the teensy little bits of wire they actually are. But don’t let that dissuade you. To those of you who are reticent to try acupuncture, the discomfort lasts for the most part only milliseconds. And compared to the alternative…actually the conventional, of having my eyes sliced open for the cataract cure, the needles are my preference. It is all relative, after all. Thanks to Dr. Gail Brent whose abilities are primo and aim good there was no lasting resulting injury and odds are excellent I am reaping the benefits of the treatments as I write and you read.20140430-081144.jpg
Lying down as a target for Ms. Brent’s dartboard accuracy, on and off (and on and off and on and off) for five days gave me the opportunity to reflect on what my sight truly means to me. A lot. Mucho. A humongous glob of “the Eyes have it!” Yes. I’m a visual person, among the other vital senses, some of which I have been honing and fine tuning of late. Sight is, after all, not just through the eyes. For me especially. I use my physical eyes to see my physical world and my “Other” eyes, or for those less woo woo than I, insight, to view my energetic and internal world. Sight is a VERY big deal to me. I use both sets of my eyes to create my art and my life. I interact with my world in a way that requires me to see above, below, around and through every situation I experience. I can only imagine how others perceive their world…yet l am only a continuing education student of my own and so my awareness is heightened when it comes to seeing, This is because my world is the most important for me – I can only encourage others to do similarly for themselves.

And so my sight, vision, perception, is a Really big deal. It represents more than a visit to LensCrafters for a new style of glasses or placing binoculars up to my eyes to see the face of Nureyev on stage when I foolishly bought the cheap seats years ago. I now pop the extra bucks for the orchestra seats to SEE faces clearly. I am interested, and you get what you pay for, after all.

What do I SEE? Certainly not all there is, otherwise my head would be on a lazy susan and there are some things I would prefer not to see at all. Still I might look if only to understand more of my world. I can see sometimes what is very private and I will look away out of respect, unless of course I’ve been asked, more like begged to see in someone, what they cannot yet see in themselves, and still even to them I might not reveal all I have seen, as it is not my place. I am no fortune teller, though I have seen the future (not so much mine) but events to come. I do my best not to project my fears or even my hopes. My emotions mostly keep me from seeing clearly, so I have learned to be present, step back and ask myself what is true for me in that moment. When I SEE something exemplary, a gift to mankind, a treasure in the offing, I might offer a hint, or two.

Sometimes I think I see through the words someone speaks, as if the sentence is a game of emotional Scrabble, the air the board on which I delve to SEE what is really being said. When I write I wait to see my words until they are before me, on paper or screen, so I am able to view clearly the information I impart. Often I am surprised at how clearly I am able to understand situations and systems, because of the manner in which I view these. It has not always been so, but that is another story and would now deviate from the subject of my conscious sight.

When I make art I become finely tuned to color, shape, texture, light and dark and yet another unnamed sense is heightened, interconnecting my internal and external vision. I see what is there before pen or brush touch the canvas, before the clay has been removed from the bag, as if somehow I have seen it before I have done it at all. I see in that way, this used to scare me, but it no longer does.

I have a great respect for my eyes. I wash my face daily with water, and little else, save perhaps mild pure soap. I take my glasses off and do mild exercises to strengthen the muscles. I get up from the computer, iPad, or TV screen and walk around in nature at least several times during the course of my day. I wear sunglasses outside. I have mostly stopped wearing eye makeup out of respect for these fine tools and when I do it is for as little time as possible. Why poison the waters of my eyes if only to bat my lashes for a momentary flirt? I find it immensely amusing that when I was but a wee lass I convinced my parents I needed glasses so that I would be like them and my sister, so desperate to feel part of their tribe, even though I really saw my physical world quite clearly, my emotions at the time were blinded by my interpretation of acceptance.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but is it actually in the eye? Obviously not. One’s ability to see beauty is deeply imbedded in the confines of cellular memory, our history has taught us how and what to see. Not everyone thinks the Mona Lisa or Angelina Jolie is a beauty. I find the subject of seeing beauty to be directly related to one’s exposure or lack thereof to popular culture, ie. the media. For me, beauty is what seeps through the pores of a person not the makeup they have airbrushed onto the surface of their skin. When I look “at” a person I am blessed to be able to see through the surface, and view the essence of who they really are. People really are beautiful as is most everything I our physical universe, when we really look.

Yes. Some people guard themselves well and I for one will do nothing to penetrate their armor; they have put it there for protection and I respect their sovereignty, even if I believe vulnerability is a good thing.

Seeing is believing. These words keep coming up in my head so let’s explore.
I am reminded of a story I read about the indigenous people looking at the ocean and not seeing the explorers landing with their ships upon the shore. The view before them was not within the parameters of their experience and therefore could not truly see what was before them. I am further reminded of the many victims of domestic violence who could not “see” the warning signs and yet, once educated how to view their world differently were then able to recognize the signs….and say “Oops!” I love it when people say, “if I had only known how to see the signs of this or that…” We make choices how and what to see…as I said, early, based on our history, or lack thereof.

Which brings me to… Can I really believe what I SEE? Since history, emotions, and distractions can get in the way of seeing anything clearly? Recently our eyes, thanks to the media, which also tells us how to consider beauty, have been made to focus on the subject of race, sports, gender and economic power. And yet these particular subjects have been before us for a gazillion years in some form or another, even before we had words for them. Why have we not seen them? What were we busy looking at that we did not see these? When Hitler was murdering Jews, gypsies and gays (and countless others) why were we unable to SEE or do anything about this until millions had already perished? Will we now look carefully at these issues and actually do what is best for all concerned? And will we all begin to SEE the results of our individual actions upon our environment in which our dear lives depend?

I used to be overly concerned at how others saw me. My vision has changed, primarily because my inner focus is much improved. I must SEE myself clearly, with love for who I am, what I do, feel and say. My self respect has given me the ability to see others in my world with compassion and respect. Yes, I spent a week of being impaled with needles to begin to remove a cataract and improve my vision. I know that when I see clearly I will be better able to shine the light for others to begin to see too. And that’s a good thing.

It’s all Greek to Me…and I am smiling!

I’m lying in my air conditioned villa…okay, apartment at the Kaloni Village near Skala Kaloni. It’s been a warm morning of exploration, grocery shopping and deciphering signs and labels. The saying, “it’s all Greek to me!” could never be more true, here in the south of this island that has its history of being so close to turkey, it could actually be part of it. There are many stories of the island changing nations many times – wake up in the morning speaking Greek, go to sleep speaking Turkish, and vice versa… And here they coexist quite beautifully. Regardless of language, a smile is still a smile; there are oodles of smiles here, it is quite infectious.

20130825-050054.jpgMy roommate Meike and I walked through winding streets, past cafes with older men watching us pass by, those Greek men smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee (too early for ouzo) some deep in unintelligible (to us) conversation. We passed shops laden with clothing, or foodstuffs, electronics, etc., sporting signs occasionally and sparingly in english, looking in only briefly. After all, we only went into town for groceries, not to shop per se, and that is a good thing since nothing we’ve seen so far looks worth buying. Except, that is, for the delicious cappuccinos at the Cafe Dream, located in a treed island in the crossroads of the town which is where we took a break from sightseeing before heading to the supermarket for staples. Taxis are cheap, especially split 4 ways, and that’s a good thing since the place we are staying is far out…and I don’t mean 60’s slang.

It is funny how one can assume to understand what another person is saying…combine that with different languages and things can get really complicated! I don’t speak Greek as yet, my German, though I m traveling with many here, is schlecht (bad), and my American English puns abound (for those who know me-no big surprise), words will and do get lost in translation, and still I smile, abundantly. Especially as now I am learning more and more how my smiles are the best language I can communicate with myself and the beings in my world. My smile changes my inner vibration; as I become connected to the cells in my body, they respond joyfully, healing any dis-ease, imprinting and influencing, in a good way (the best influenza) every drop of blood, every organ, bone, ligament, muscle… To support me fully as I experience being here in my body now.

Yes, I have experienced deep, profound and all-encompassing grief, and it is good. Daily, I am embracing the sacred change Max of which spoke so often, even before he embraced it himself – indeed I am his best student…or maybe I am my own. I have been healed of serious dis-ease thanks to a combination of homeopathy, nutrition, meditation, creative expression, divine intervention, conscious language, and most of all LOVE (the former modalities are all an expression of this one). I have said “YES!” To love and “NO” to fear, and my body continues to respond, even my ouchy tailbone is healing as I speak with my smile inside and outside.
***
It is now hours later, the wee morning ones. Last night I danced in a Greek circle, yelling “Opa!” Until my belly ached. Still teetering in the bardo between LA and Greek time I shall now will myself to sleep again. And still I smile. Talk with y’all tomorrow.

On the Road to better Vision

Riding the Rails to Better Vision or Urban Rail, Uber and Uncomfortable Needles.
APRIL 24, 2014 BY JANETBERNSON

Its Earthday Week. Instead of driving, I hopped a train heading south on Sunday down to San Diego. No, it wasn’t a freight train silly. I got on a business class car (I don’t rough it any more) at union station downtown Los Angeles around noon and got off at 3 in downtown SD. It was an easy trek. Uneventful. I didn’t plan my trip around the train per se. This mode of transport was my environmentally friendly answer to troubles with my eleven year old Jaguar having engine issues – didn’t want to take the chance of possibly breaking downs either and since my main reason for heading to San Diego, to treat with micro-acupuncture the cataract that has been slowly developing in my right eye, I also considered it a safer choice to ride and not drive.

Some of you may be aware of my passion for complementary health practices and my disdain for conventional medicine, so my journey will come as little surprise. “Oh Janet. She never takes the normal route when it comes to health.” True. I met Gail Brent, L.Ac. of http://www.healthandvision.com about eight years ago at a conference on Pranic Healing. At the time I was intrigued about the possibility of reversing the ravages of macular degeneration and other eye challenges for other people….I recorded her contact info in my address book for clients I might refer; little did I think then I might be a candidate for her work in the future. Then, about six months ago, whilst having difficulty driving at night I quickly made the choice to get an eye exam. My eye doc advised me of the cause…a cataract, developing in my right eye, for which I “should immediately get surgery”. In my imagination my inner alarm blasted repeatedly, “No f’g way and Call Gail Brent, Call Gail Brent…” And so I did, and here I am, between my thrice daily sessions of hokey pokey needles into my feet, legs, arms, hands and face. No needles in my eyes, quit wincing you woosies!

This program can be very effective for those seeking alternatives to cut, insert fake lens and patch. I’m planning on it working well for me. I’m a bit ahead of the game. Ms. Brent’s program includes eye exercises, relaxation techniques (I already practice this) dietary recommendations (ditto this) micro-current treatments, the Reconnection, positive affirmations and some energy work. My “normal” healthy diet/exercise/meditation regime she tells me, is better than others, though this is not exactly relevant since the proof will be when the whole thing works, which I’m trusting, is doing so as I write. I’m not exactly sure what’s happening so far, but I’m getting lots of snooze time on the table, especially after she stops putting the needles in my feet (those suckers hurt).

Tuesday, after my second session of the day I hiked down to mission bay, making quick steps to the hilton resort and spa where I was snubbed because I wasn’t a guest – they forbade me from lunching poolside; the audacity. “Phooey on you, dumb Hilton, I herewith relinquish my Honors card and curse you a thousand times!” I exclaimed as I boarded an uber back to the office for yet another vision improvement session. Yes, I could’ve walked back but my tootsies were so sore from walking miles and their recent voyage into Needleland – there was no way I’d be able to do my third session for the day if I didn’t get a lift. Later, post session number 3, I hobbled into yet another über piloted by Tamid who deftly brought me to Tender Greens where I ordered and semi-consciously consumed a salad and mint lemonade, then foolishly trekked 12 long, city blocks back to my hotel, soaked my weary feet in the tub, dragged my ass into bed and passed out til 3am when I inadvertently broke my glasses. Fortunately I’d brought along a second pair.
But I’m still taking it as a sign.

Did I mention this week of fifteen sessions is in someways akin to my idea of a relaxing vacation? No? Good because it isn’t exactly that. And here I thought I’d sleep in, catch a few more winks than I do when I’m at home and walking my dear doggies at 7am, yawn. No, I’m up early, grabbing breakfast, my purse and an uber, then off to better vision land where I breathe, get poked with teensy needles and slip off into a temporary acupuncture coma, then get awakened to repeat twice more over the next few hours. Holiday it ain’t. Yesterday, I think was Wednesday, I went to lunch at Fashion Island, that rambling mall that looks much like anywhere upper middle class USA and where some people think a holiday is parting with their hard-earned cash for shit they’ll put on Ebay or in storage in the not too distant future. There, I wandered past stores and kiosks into the food court where, once I saw the selection of fast food, I immediately turned around and headed to Nordstrom’s cafe where I told them to hold everything on the pear, blue cheese, cranberry, honeyed pecans and field greens salad except the pear and greens. My vegan diet makes me fussy even without acupuncture, what can I say?

I digress, I know. I began to tell y’all about trains, taxis and torture, so let me get back to that…Where was I? It’s Thursday. I’m heading via Uber to acupuncture sessions 12-15. I’m noticing I can see. But then I could before, with glasses. I’m doing my eye exercises. I’m not holding my breath about the outcome of my adventure, because I am doing the prescribed breathing exercises.

Wish me luck.

I Got Stood Up By a Ghost aka My Adventure with The Big Can o’Max

Yeah, I know. Its been months since I last wrote. Where does time go?
Actually, I’ve been writing elsewhere (though much has been in my head and not on paper- virtual or otherwise). So where was I when last I began this missive?

The first week of March. On the road..to Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort with a big ole Can o’Max. 20140312-134607.jpg. After two days of mind-numbing grief, filling basketfuls of tears and spewing rip-snorting rage at whoever came within meters of my proximity, I wondered, “what the “F” has been happening to me? Is this some sort of exorcizing the demons of mourning for eighteen months? Yes. And. Yuck.”

I thought long and hard. “God it better stop soon. Let it be done before every friend or family member who has been in my line of ire these past days/weeks months either disowns, disavows or dis’es me permanently. This trip will, I hope, help.

We, son Billy and me, headed up to SLO in a Hertz convertible, a big red shiny Mustang. Maxie would’ve liked the ride, I mused. The sun was shining. My hair was whipping around in the wind, at least the tendrils that weren’t covered by my colorful hat. The day, to those of you in weather colder than Global Climate Change Deniers-can-deny-land, was f’g awesome, and I promised to the frozen multitudes I would share, if only I could, the glorious sunshine I was experiencing as we cruised north on the 101.

I asked my kids to join me on this adventure- daughter Julia, son in law Christian, grandson Levi and of course, son Billy, to scatter the contents of the big ole can at a place Max loved and where he said we should go….just a few months prior. You ask me “What? Max died in 2012. Did you have a seance? Did he visit you in a dream? Are you talking to dead people?” No, Max sent me a text. At least that’s what happened back in November 2013 whilst I was sending a note to my friend Genie, a text popped up where I was supposed to write…take a peek.

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What can I say? There was no space for me to write…it had been filled in by someone/thing …I asked myself, “Self, am I hallucinating? No. Did I write that? No. Where/when/how the fuck did that happen?” I scratched my head. I cried. I then made a promise to go to San Luis… And so as you can read here, I did, but months later. Why not immediately? Let’s just say I was conflicted, so I’ll explain.

The message affected me in several ways. It freaked me out. It excited me. It gave me something to dread and look forward to. Dread? Yes. For the past year and eight months I’d been riding the waves of mourning, often falling off my magical “healing surf board” and sinking deeply into the seas of helpless depression. The “Let’s Go” message interrupted my very long and good ride of “I’m doing so much better” and landed me with a big “kerplunck!” into a whirlpool of those not so fun feelings I had been saving for some ungodly reason, avoidance being the primary culprit.. As to my excitement. Yes I wanted to go to SLO, nice place and all that it is, but really I wanted to see Max…have a good heart to heart…maybe even some touchy fee-ly stuff…what can I say, I saw “Ghost”, and I believe in magic. I also had a deep desire to move through the unbearable heaviness of mourning like a buzz-saw and blast into the land of lightheartedness and joy and yes, some out of this world magic! This grief stuff ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Just in case you were wondering.

When I first saw that out of this world message I was preparing to travel to Austin for the holidays and no way able to first hop in the car for a solo trip to SLO. Yes, I admit to the world right here and now, yes, I was scared. I kept asking myself. “What will I say if he actually shows up? Hey babe how’s the afterlife? Did you miss me? Can you see me all the time? And Why….now after my hair has definitely gone more grey, my eyes have taken on a permanent state of puffy and I have a monthly delivery of tissues from Seventh Generation did you decide to write for a rendezvous?” Okay that last bit is slightly exaggerated, but you catch my drift.

I figured my fear was the reason I had turned into a total B-I-T-C-H on wheels the weeks prior to the convertible journey up the coast. And I was correct in my assumption. Letting go of the ashes had somehow taken on a double meaning. ‘Let go of ashes =Let go of Max.’ That was freaky. Irrational. Still freaky.

There we were, with that big can o’ Max… Me and Billy…Billy deftly handling both wild red Mustang and his grief crazed Momma coming down from a week of holy mother of god outbursts. Not pretty. We were meeting the others at the resort. I kept a sort of mantra going over in my head as if it were on a continuous loop. “This is good. Dump the ashes. See Max. Go home. Be happy. Repeat.” And for the most part, it worked.

It was good. We ate. We laughed. We soaked in the hot tub. We went to bed. No, I didn’t dream or see, feel or make mad passionate love with Max or hear the birds whisper his name. There was neither hide nor hair of the guy, which was fitting…and a continuation of sad. Thusly my sadness, fear, anger, and disappointment rolled themselves into a big ball of “Fuck you Max, you stood me up. I’m moving forward.” The next morning, we surreptitiously and only slightly ceremoniously dumped the ashes from the big can o’Max over a bridge into a creek, each of us bidding adieu with thanks and love. We then went out to breakfast and drove back to LA. That, was that.

That was almost two months ago and I’ve gained some perspective and I’m on the mend. I’m no longer raging and rarely whimpering.
Time moves us all forward and we can either embrace the changes it provides or fight it. Change is what I’m embracing. Have a good one yourself,

Will you still need me….when I’m 64?

Yeah, i know, I probably already mentioned…Max and I had a 1984 magnum of champagne we were saving to celebrate a special occasion. We figured it would be a movie role or a script sale for him, a book deal for me, or our combined 64th birthdays. Things change. Max died. The bottle got drunk by some louts who thought their theft of it in celebration of their pathetic lives on New Years eve was more important. And I’m still writing the book. My 64th is coming ,tomorrow to be precise and I’m carefully pondering the manner in which I might observe the occasion.

This year, as last year will be without Max by my side. Will he still need me? No. But he never needed me anyway. Will he still feed me? No, and he rarely cooked or fed me. And besides, he’s not here to celebrate with me. But barring an unplanned demise of yours truly, i will be 64. That’s really okay, since the Beatles song didn’t quite apply to me, a nice Jewish girl from Encino or Max, a handsome goy from harlan, kentucky.

I thought the virile, younger man (he was seven months younger) Max was, would keep up with me, maybe live longer than me, at least make a run with me into at least our eighties. It didn’t happen. I also thought when he died I’d get over the pain easily, which i didn’t, haven’t, wonder when the fuck this crappy feeling will dissipate. It has somewhat. Oh sure, I imagined I’d grieve, but after perhaps a Year or so, I’d be ready to date, or at least get horny or contemplate meeting someone. It hasn’t happened, yet, though I got a hunch it will, one of these days.

The past week I’ve been preparing my home for my kids and grandson to arrive. In the midst of this I discovered yet another box of mementos. “Oh shit, just what I need….” I exclaimed to anyone within earshot. Baby pix of Max, more growing up stuff, like report cards, diplomas, those I never saw before or knew existed. My find opened up the emotional floodgates and I wailed the entire day as if he had been there and hadn’t told me…leaving a frustrating trail that was impossible for me to follow. And still I read the birthday cards and newspaper clippings, the letter from his teacher saying how proud she was of his ability to write so succinctly, the letter from the family doctor apologizing for not giving the eulogy at his dad’s funeral, the card he sent his mother for valentines day when he was seven. Sweet. Max and I had eight years together but this big box of stuff gave me more years to be with him. Max Middleton….The gift to my world, who keeps on giving even now as he resides amongst the stars. (and I don’t mean those in the Hollywood he had once aspired.)

In some ways I know and love Max better now that he is gone off to explore the Great Beyond than I did when he was here living with me. Bittersweet. Touching every cell of my being, this whole damn grief thing is. I’m ready to scan the contents, make books to send to his brother and keep one for myself. Just think, a lifetime in one book. Come to think of it some folks leave nothing behind except bills or dirty laundry. I bet they’re glad you can’t, as we know, take it with you.

In just a few short hours I will reach my Beatles milestone. My manner of celebration will be to wake and give thanks, walk my dogs and give thanks, feed my dogs and give thanks…and so on. Each moment of every day, from this one forward, I commit to be thankful and purposeful. To embrace every second with patience and understanding…especially when change is imminent and to let go of all that encumbers me, contradicts or attempts to control my heart/spirit/being. I agree to release doubt and embrace the change before me with arms wide open.

When I first heard the Beatles sing “when I’m 64” back in the sixties, the thought did not cross my mind that I would be facing my 64th, with no party or partner. Life. Who knew? And now its almost midnight, appearing before me an ancient and mythical uncorked bottle of champagne flowing into glasses in some part of the cosmos celebrating my life. … I lift my imaginary glass and make a toast, to life. See y’all in the AM.

(Old) Groupies Night Out

Okay I’m not a groupie, that is, not any more. But I was, (use your imagination, many years ago), as they say, back in the day. These days? I am only gaga over my seven month old grandson Levi my four doggies, and yes still, my beloved Max, who art in heaven…but that being said, I’m here on a Thursday night, in Agoura Hills @ the Canyon Club to hear music, hopefully shake my bootie and work up a sweat in the process. I have no plans or desire to go home with anyone other than my friend Marcy with whom I came.20140220-195130.jpgAnd yes, I am standing in the standing room only area waiting to see BB King. (I was too cheap to buy seats and i figured I’d wanna dance, but that’s beside the point.) Marcy is standing next to me. My feet are probably going to hurt like a sick dog by the end of the evening but my ears are going to be fine since I remembered to bring earplugs! Thank you American Airlines. No, that was not an intentional plug for the company, simply an appreciative nod for their gifting me with the little foam ear goodies the last time I flew First Class. Definitely a good deal.

Instead of dining on overpriced club food in comfy seats Marcy and I dined at Sushi Su, the raw fish dive across the parking lot, then we took the “plunge” into a pastry shop for decadent desserts and coffee pre-show. It was a good choice, though perhaps not for my gluten free waistline. Funny how the things that concern me today are nothing like what concerned me in the days of sex drugs and rock n roll.

20140220-200306.jpg See the pix above? That’s the opening act. I think her name is Faith Sabrina but I’m not too sure. Even through these nifty ear saving devices I can however detect she’s got quite a voice – combination of Janice (Joplin) and Tina (Turner), though in my opinion she oughta vary her songs and give her belting, throat scraping technique a rest once in a while. Oh well. I’m feeling a bit old and critical at the moment… I never worried about hearing loss when I was too young to think about hearing loss.

I have now, again, reinserted the foam goodies. Any temporary thoughts of putting them back in the plastic Baggie have been quickly dispelled by the lead guitarist twanging and trilling and Faith continuing her yell-warbling. My ears will thank me later tonite and undoubtedly in the morning when they don’t ring like a distant constant fire alarm. Come to think of it, my feet may be my problem then. I guess I will deal with it by going for a massage tomorrow.

I’ve taken a few moments to check out the room. Mostly baby boomers. Gawd I wonder if I knew any of these people back when we were young enough to go home with each other for one night stands and not worry about HIV or Viagra. Giggle. Where was I ?

Standing room only…it is becoming quite apparent… The ole King is on his way. The place is abuzz with excitement. Hold on I gotta find out how old he is … 88 I believe. Shheeit!!! Wonder how he’s gonna do…. Let me see if I can video any of this..try this….http://youtu.be/2vhwwg8hsl8
Its over now, some 2 hours later. Okay, to sum up the show? BB King? He’s an old blues legend. He rambles on about beautiful ladies and men, he’s forgetful, and he sits for the entire show on a throne-like chair, but he’s still damn good when he sings and plays his guitar. Throughout the evening i suppose you’ve surmised, I found myself thinking about the old days when I’d hang out with my girlfriends in clubs meeting the greats of rock and roll… I am Sooo glad most of those people are too old to remember who I am.

And now I’m gonna hop in the car, go home, make a nice cup of herbal tea, change into my pj’s, crawl into bed with my dogs and count my blessings I can still shake my tail feather. G’nite.

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Cleaning House, or…remembering what’s really important.

Did I tell you? I’m on a cleaning, sorting, trashing, selling,donating and organizing streak. Lookout ebay and Amazon, I’m on a roll!

After those recent ingrate jolts (refer to previous post), my desire to purge with great abandon is, well, great! How’s that for becoming gratefully energetic in the face of adversity? Why just today I managed to post 2 dozen books on amazon, 6 items on ebay, 3 on Craigslist, pack and ship 3 videos, 2 books, a horse collar and one model train set. All that in addition to walking my dogs, cooking breakfast for the 5 of us (4 dogs and me), running errands, one load of laundry, juicing vegetables (interior cleansing), bookkeeping, more meal prep for dogs, dishes….there’s more but recalling it is making me more tired, so use your imagination.

And here I sit now, writing and wondering why the hell I am so bent on becoming an organizing whirlwind. Funny I should ask. Is it because I hate clutter? Yes, and no. I will be the first person to admit to messiness. Then again I don’t mind my own clutter per se. But I have lived in my home for a whole lotta years…thirty-one to be close enough to count, and that is a whole lotta stuff to possibly accumulate. Fortunately I have, over the years, been pretty good about donating and pitching, or I’d be doing some serious drinking (good thing I don’t drink).

Did I mention my sweet Maxie hated to throw stuff out or that he had a small but continuous case of project-fever? I guess I should’ve recognized it when we first met, but I was too smitten to have let it bother me. And now he’s in the Great Beyond and though I donated truckloads of stuff after the infamous and unrewarding Max Middleton Memorial garage sale, there is still more of the stuff I’m catapulting from this old house. It’s almost as if the stuff is regenerating like the fucking cancer cells that took over my sweet big guy’s body. I sit in amazement as I sift through another box of books or photos, thinking, “Didn’t I just scan these pictures, throw these business cards/resumes, give the VHS tapes away?” Yes, but apparently not all of them.

I can see clearly now…do I like what I see?

20140125-070727.jpgFirst and foremost, let me say, I have not ever been a “drinker”. Oh? I tried. When I say the purpose of my story today is not about alcohol per se you may think, “Really?” My response will be, “Oh no, it reaches far more deeply into the ticking of my inner clock.” And with this I shall begin.

When I was about eleven or twelve I attempted to raid my parent’s liquor cabinet…I had watched my grandmother get schnocked, act very silly and pass out on the sofa after “organizing” the bottles and in my youthful inquisitiveness, wondered what it was all about. I climbed the step stool, being the short young person i was (and still am), opened the doors of said cabinet, selected bottles with the most interesting labels, opened them, had a couple tiny sips of perhaps seven or eight, capped the bottles, replaced them where i thought they had been, closed the cabinet, ran to the guest bathroom, puked the contents of my alcohol laden stomach into the toilet, lay down on the carpet in a drunken moan and didn’t touch the stuff ’til I was about eighteen. At that age, I was in Scotland on a tour of the woolen mills, where I sampled warm beer (blah…yuck) and one hundred year old Scotch (puke…then snore) at the distillery.

In Paris I fared no better. “Imagine all that glorious French wine!” people told me. Since I was to be visiting the couturiers during fashion week (I was on a tour of Europe because I was designing clothes back here in LA) I should be sure to try some fruit of the vine. At our tour sponsored hotel and after a day of lectures and shows, my sister fashionistas and I procured liters of cheap red wine and took them back to our rooms where we promptly commenced to imbibe. I had a glass or two, vomited, then held the heads of my friends as they did the same only for longer since they had consumed far more than I. The balance of my trip was a dry one, at least for me. Of course some of you enologists out there are probably muttering, ” You drank cheap wine, what did you expect?” Of course I drank cheap wine, I was eighteen and knew no better. I still threw up and it left a deep impression on my psyche.

Throughout the years I have dabbled in tasting alcoholic beverages with little fanfare. Frankly the taste has been interesting but I realized early on that my imagination and inhibitions have always been mildly alcoholic in nature, i.e. I have little inhibition and my imagination is so “out there”. So why bother adding something that will upset my stomach and make me fall down and want to go to sleep! Needless to say my bar tab has always been low and I have been known as a cheap date.

I have reserved my few forays into the world of alcohol to Passover where I might have a sip where called for by the Haggadah, New Year’s Eve toasts and special occasions. Alas this is where I shall finally get to the true purpose of writing this here post.

When my sweet Maxie passed away in August of 2012 (shit it’s been almost a year and a half) I became inundated with people offering to help and conversely, but not too surprising, given my career as The Healing Artist, those wanting my help.

Its a big deal to open one’s home to people in need, especially when one is in mourning. The situation elicits all sorts of questions from all sorts of true friends and relatives. Do YOU need all those people in your home? Can you trust him, her, them? Are they paying you rent? How long will they stay? I could go on, but what would be the point? Anything anyone might’ve said during those horrendous months of moaning, crying and wondering what day it was, let alone who was living in my home, didn’t register deep enough in my consciousness to have made a difference. But that is all hindsight. I am now, through seemingly small but quite effective series of jolts, awakened from my grieving slumber.

Jolt #1 – Max’s jeep. I knew I needed to sell it, but it couldn’t bring me the money I required to pay off our bills, so I chose to fix it up enough to sell it and hopefully provide me with some cash to repay debts. In September 2012, Chris, car guy “friend” of Max offered to “fix” the car, but by July 2013 he had fixed the car so much it needed a new engine. He also ate me out of house and home, left the house, yard and garage a greasy mess and me scratching my head wondering what the hell I was thinking…and I should throw the guy out. Fortunately, Dan, actual friend came to the rescue…finally today the jeep is restored and I’m putting it on ebay as we speak. Wish me luck getting it sold…for a profit.

Jolt#2 – The juicer. I bought a super duper juicer right before Max got diagnosed with cancer. Funny how I had the impulse to purchase the item not knowing we would use it as much as we did. Anyway, that’s irrelevant now, an entirely different subject and I have put the machine to use with some regularity since his demise. I HAD great plans to put it to heavy use upon my return from Austin, after my gluttony there. I arrived home late Saturday evening, threw my clothes in the wash, grabbed a glass of water and toddled off to bed, though not before I caught a foul smell emanating from somewhere in the kitchen. I mused, “probably the compost” and went to bed without looking for the cause of the odor.

In the morning, I returned to the kitchen, on my way out to walk my four love-hounds. It was there my senses were abruptly awakened to a rotten stench. I headed out the door, dogs in tow with the thought, ” I’ll deal with whatever it is when I get back.” My dogs wouldn’t have allowed further sleuthing at that point; I knew it would’ve been pointless to have tried arguing with them.

An hour later, with tired dogs, I returned. I checked the compost bucket. No real stink, but I emptied and scrubbed it anyway. The smell persisted. I checked the fridge, the trash, the oven, the toaster oven, the washing machine, under and in the cabinets….and finally the juicer. When I flipped open the lid I gagged. Not a gentle gag, but one big giant gag like I imagine a bulimic might make when all fingers are coaxing up the last remnants of a binge, or when I drank all that cheap French wine. Yech!

I discovered the person who had left the rotting juicer was none other than Carlos, the brother of my housemate, who I had allowed to stay in one of my rooms while he “got on his feet”. My big mistake. The scoundrel is an alcoholic in the wasteland of denial. No, i am not exaggerating. I pondered whether I should name him here, but decided that if he chanced to read this during a sober moment perhaps shame might be indeed a good thing for him, because you see the juicer was not his only transgression against me and my home, and if he is not sober and reading this he will be too messed up to care. The rule in my home, as he had been reminded countless times…no drinking…not my booze, not his, not anyone’s.

Jolt#3 – The Magnum. My dearly departed to the Great Beyond, Max, had bought a magnum of Pierre Jouett champagne in 1983. It sat in his refrigerator for decades, the reason for which …he was keeping it for a very special occasion – landing a lead in a feature film, selling a screenplay or hitting age 64. When we met in 2004 and he moved in subsequently thereafter, the magnum moved with him, and I shared his vision to celebrate with that humongous beautiful bottle. And throughout our wonderful years together, then Max’s bout with cancer and even up until New Year’s Eve December 31, 2013, the bottle remained in the refrigerator, untouched, waiting.

Max didn’t land a lead in a film, nor sell his screenplay and he didn’t live long enough to see his 64th birthday, but my intention to celebrate him this coming March will be without that very special bottle he had coveted for so many years. No, Carlos and his alcoholic brother Johnny, made sure of that. They buzzed through the coveted $500 magnum, several very expensive bottles of sake, tequila, scotch and god knows what else in the course of New Years celebrations, then replaced the bottles, carefully back from where they had stolen them. As if I might never notice. But I did.

It was a week after I returned when I ventured out to the garage where I keep a second refrigerator with the booze and the dog food. Yes, I know, that’s an interesting combination. Anyway. That’s when I noticed the uncorked magnum and the empties of sake sitting there next to the bag of carrots and sweet potatoes on the shelf, chilling. Too bad, I had already thrown Carlos out of the house because of the juicer. He packed up his stuff like the rat he is and hightailed it over to an elderly relative who will clearly enable him until hopefully she has the sense to call the cops and have his ass dragged into rehab or jail wherever the gods of karma deem right.
Had I known about the theft and the myriad of glassware that had been broken during Carlos and Johnny’s drunken celebration before I had thrown him out, heaven knows what I might’ve done, besides hunt for shotgun shells or ring his neck with my bare hands. (Wow, really?…maybe…no, but it sounds good in my sober but creative imagination).

Thankfully I am now fully awake and quite sober about having thankless houseguests. Its also a week since my discovery of the assault on my home. I have made peace with myself about celebrating my 64th in March. I can see clearly and now that I am free of freeloaders and liars and I like what I see.