Talking (about) Trash – It’s in our hands, stupid.

Yeah, yeah, some of you may know about my work, transforming trash into art, http://www.janetbernson.com (plug) but perhaps you are unaware of the real reason I make my art? I’ll explain as best I can.

I am a died in the organic, sustainably raised, sheared by hand, wool environmental activist nut-job, at least that’s what someone called me once – the “nut-job” part that is.

I was, until recently a vegetarian/mostly vegan because I love animals and think they needlessly die when we can get what we need from plants…until I got real sick from some crazy ass Epstein Barr virus that keeps me from eating treenuts (I can now no longer even be considered a “nut-job), dairy (bye bye delicious Brie), gluten (so long croissants), or chocolate – give me dark chocolate or give me death doesn’t even figure in here anymore. To make myself feel emotionally better I am currently creating altars to the animal gods for the sacrifices they are making to feed lil ole me. Anyway where was I?

Oh yeah, environmentalist, trash, art. Okay I’m here again, thinking that you don’t know why I do what I do, art-wise. Well, after the oh so many years of tie-dye, sprouts and knowing, even before it was somewhat tragic-hip, that we are basically committing global harikari (that’s suicide in case you don’t know), and after my dearly departed soulmate, Max Middleton, passed into the Great Beyond, I knew I had to do something to heal myself and hopefully raise the, excuse the woo-woo, vibration of the masses of people who have been lulled into consuming vast quantities of corporate palm-sugar-laced carbon dioxide water mostly stolen from tribal lands and becoming brainwashed by Fox and Breitbart. And what better way to transform our world than take the trash I find on the street and make it something pretty or useful or thought-provoking or, you get the picture.

Frankly, it is often I shake my head in dismay at the masses of folk who believe we are not facing disaster, that Donald Trump is a good guy, that its okay to hurt people you’re afraid of, that LGBTQ people are sinners and that men who rape children or women should get off with a head shake and an insincere scolding. I mean reallly! Who the fuck didn’t raise them? Oops, they are products of our own disregard and our own naivety that all people are as intelligent as we.

Now, once again I may have swayed from my talk about my art and trash and our sooner than we’d rather think about it, potential and quite definitely quicker than we’d like, doom. But then again, maybe not, since i sincerely believe in my progressive, anti-Vaxer (don’t get me started on that subject) eco-warrior, never shy enough for my own good, yet loving puppies, kittens, baby goats and all life in general with few exception, self that maybe people will wake the fuck up, smell the dead whales on our beaches, rotten fish floating in our streams, taste the chemicals in our food and DO SOMETHING NOW!

Face it, we don’t have til 2025 to eliminate plastic bags or bottles, stop utilizing fossil fuels that are polluting our damn drinking water, outlaw and militantly prevent the use of harmful pesticides which are poisoning our pollinators (bees, butterflies, birds) our food supply, quit cutting down trees to make our dwellings, and so much more- you get the picture.

My latest collection of art on which I am working is about our oceans.

For a long time (30+ years) I have been acutely aware of the oil, pesticide and plastic pollution in our precious waters. When faced with the probability we are killing the seas and therefore ultimately you, me and everyone we love (or hate for that matter) I knew I had to do something in my attempt to trigger the necessary “aha moment”.

I am posting with this piece one of my works, “Lunch at the Pacific Garbage Patch”. If it makes you hungry, ok, if it makes you write letters to the stores you frequent/alleged representatives/corporations, pick up some trash in front of you, use less plastic, drive less, use natural, biodegradable soaps, etc then my work is doing that which I intended.

And if you think this is all bullshit, I can unabashedly say “shame on your worthless souls.” I’m probably old enough to be at least your mother or grandmother and you need to listen/take heed and get off your asses. Your future depends on it.

Sincerely,

Me

Can o’Max #4 – The Tour Continues

Once again, I find myself sitting in a hotel room, typing on my trusty iPad, reaching into the cosmos for the words to make sense of this weekend’s journey.

In celebration of my beloved sweetheart, Max Middleton’s 63rd birthday on October 31, Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day, I am here to sit in hot mineral water, swim laps and work out the kinks of my new life, hopefully to embrace further the sacred change of which he taught. On Sunday, I will travel to Landers for a further ceremony at the teenage and wonderful Integratron.

I invited several girlfriends to join me on this “Can o’Max#4” journey even though I had originally planned to do it solo….then while the others opted out, my dear friend Marcy chose to grace me with her presence. This is good, my weekend being a continuation of my infamous, if only in my mind, “Can o’Max Tour”.

For those of you who have yet to read my previous posts, I will illuminate. My oh-so-more-than-divine and loving/loved/lover partner of eight truly great years passed over into the Great Beyond, due to the treachery of Cancer, fate and possibly the ills of our thought forms in August 2012. As we, Max and I, enjoyed our travels together on the highways and byways of our great world, I have, this year, taken as my goal and focus, to, when I take car, train, plane or boat, bring with me a small can of his ashes to ceremoniously deposit along the way. There will be no dumping of 25-30 pounds of Max-ash at one time for me, no siree, I am allowing my travels to dictate how much and how often I will continue to send him on his merry way.

You might ask, as one of my friends did, if I am prolonging my agony of letting him go. My answer, as if I actually need to provide you or anyone else with one, is “No” and the following:

I consider my time here as a present, a Gift from the Divine Presence, to do as I will, provided I, as that wizard of healing, Hippocrates, once stated, ” First, do no harm.” Therefore, as I am doing no harm, I am going to travel, deposit a bit of the man I loved more dearly than I ever thought I could, leaving further trace, if only to me, that he existed, that we traveled together, and that our love continues even if he is no longer of the body. Shit, that’s profound and romantic! Excuse me while I take a few secs to wipe the tears off the screen.

And here I sit, now at the table in the Kafe of the Aqua Soleil Inn and Spa, having consumed decaf coffee with almond milk and half a chocolate muffin…and though I wish it were, gluten free it ain’t….more like Costco or Smart n final which is nothing, zip, nada to send in to Gourmet Magazine, I can assure you. 20131102-093552.jpgHad I been a carnivore, as was my dearly departed, I’d have convinced Marcy we should make the breakfast journey down the highway to the cafe that specializes in chicken fried steak (blech!). Thankfully I am not, Marcy too is vegetarian and after our massages we will have REAL nourishment in Palm Springs at a cafe that specializes in organic, vegan food.

Why the hell am I emphasizing food on this, my “Can o’Max #4” journey? Because I am determined to stay the healthy course on the gifted journey I call my life. In patient reflection of my time with Maxie I now realize I had allowed his dietary desires to govern my own better sense. Now he is eating the ambrosia of the Gods and Goddesses and I am pondering the choices between sustainable, organic and cage free. Is there Budweiser in Heaven? Only Max knows for sure. Hopefully he’s happy chugging back a few without me shaking my head as I did on more than one occasion.

It is now an hour later; I have released toxins and tears after a patient and loving aromatherapy session by former Moscow native, Nina; her deft hands intuitively discovered the emotional knots within my physical ones. I sniffled, she rubbed, I wept softly, she rubbed harder, I sobbed, she moved the vestiges of sorrow out of my body like squeezing the last stubborn remnants of toothpaste out of the tube. I’m not sure if I’m done with the crying or if I will ever be – I had thought my grief had run its course in Germany. I was wrong. Funny I use the metaphor of toothpaste to acknowledge my grief. Such is life, death and toothpaste ? Go figure it out yourself while I get ready to have something to eat that came more directly from the earth than the chemo-muffin I ate earlier.

And it’s off to forage for healthy food.20131102-124351.jpgWe are at the Palm Greens in Palm Springs. I am staring up at the ceiling, hence the pix, as we wait for our organically grown vegetable matter in the form of salad for me and a vegan Reuben for Marcy. It became quickly apparent that Desert Hot Springs is an actual desert when it comes to organic or green.

On the way we drove past Kirk Douglas Way I strove to understand better the reasons the rich and famous came out here to get away from Hollywood … Was it the mineral water? The dry, hot, hot, hot air? Who in their right mind would want to live here except the rich and crazy or gay? Okay, that’s harsh. But hell, this is Gay Pride Week and the place is crawling with people who wanna get married and not procreate. Not that I blame any of them for either being gay or wanting to profess their love for their beloved, but here in Hot, Fucking (which is a good thing) Palm Springs… why would anybody do it here? Ya gotta love the constant whir of air conditioning, which I for one, do not.

Gone are the days of Fun in the Sun candies and spotting Bobby Darin walking down Indian Canyon with Sandra Dee. Oh the old days. I sound like an old fart. And I do have gas from all the organic green stuff I consumed earlier.

Max and I passed through here a couple years ago on our way out of Dodge, post Fukishima. We stopped long enough to have burgers at Tyler’s (decent joint for you carnivorous peeps), gas up and continue on our way. We didn’t get married. We weren’t gay either, at least I don’t think we were…but we were pretty damn happy. Anybody out there remember that the word gay once meant happy and not homosexual? I’ve got a make-believe souvenir from our trip which reads… “Max and Janet went to Palm Springs….all she got was this tee shirt.”

Yawn. In the late morning tomorrow we head to the Integratron in Landers to ceremoniously scatter the ashes. Our buddy Dennis is making the trek from Murrieta Hot Springs to join us, he’s another guy who doesn’t mind the heat. I’m glad to have some of Maxie’s friends with me. Max loved the place…the Integratron, that is, he was fascinated by the story of the place, how it was George Van Tassel’s interaction with aliens that compelled him to build this alleged vehicle for time travel. You can read about it the Integratron. In the meanwhile I’m gonna catch some shut eye. Sweet dreams to you too.

I slept, kind of. It’s fall back weekend. So much for daylight savings. Yawn. I’ve mapped our quest to Landers and the sound bath. Time to get dressed and find breakfast. Hope this posts. Follow me, if it pleases you.

Can o’Max #4 – my journey continues

Once again, I find myself sitting in a hotel room, typing on my trusty iPad, reaching into the cosmos for the words to make sense of this weekend’s journey.

In celebration of my beloved sweetheart, Max Middleton’s 63rd birthday on October 31, Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day, I am here to sit in hot mineral water, swim laps and work out the kinks of my new life, hopefully to embrace further the sacred change of which he taught. On Sunday, I will travel to Landers for a further ceremony at the teenage and wonderful Integratron.

I invited several girlfriends to join me on this “Can o’Max#4” journey even though I had originally planned to do it solo….then while the others opted out, my dear friend Marcy chose to grace me with her presence. This is good, my weekend being a continuation of my infamous, if only in my mind, “Can o’Max Tour”.

For those of you who have yet to read my previous posts, I will illuminate. My oh-so-more-than-divine and loving/loved/lover partner of eight truly great years passed over into the Great Beyond, due to the treachery of Cancer, fate and possibly the ills of our thought forms in August 2012. As we, Max and I, enjoyed our travels together on the highways and byways of our great world, I have, this year, taken as my goal and focus, to, when I take car, train, plane or boat, bring with me a small can of his ashes to ceremoniously deposit along the way. There will be no dumping of 25-30 pounds of Max-ash at one time for me, no siree, I am allowing my travels to dictate how much and how often I will continue to send him on his merry way.

You might ask, as one of my friends did, if I am prolonging my agony of letting him go. My answer, as if I actually need to provide you or anyone else with one, is “No” and the following:

I consider my time here as a present, a Gift from the Divine Presence, to do as I will, provided I, as that wizard of healing, Hippocrates, once stated, ” First, do no harm.” Therefore, as I am doing no harm, I am going to travel, deposit a bit of the man I loved more dearly than I ever thought I could, leaving further trace, if only to me, that he existed, that we traveled together, and that our love continues even if he is no longer of the body. Shit, that’s profound and romantic! Excuse me while I take a few secs to wipe the tears off the screen.

And here I sit, now at the table in the Kafe of the Aqua Soleil Inn and Spa, having consumed decaf coffee with almond milk and half a chocolate muffin…and though I wish it were, gluten free it ain’t….more like Costco or Smart n final which is nothing, zip, nada to send in to Gourmet Magazine, I can assure you. 20131102-093552.jpgHad I been a carnivore, as was my dearly departed, I’d have convinced Marcy we should make the breakfast journey down the highway to the cafe that specializes in chicken fried steak (blech!). Thankfully I am not, Marcy too is vegetarian and after our massages we will have REAL nourishment in Palm Springs at a cafe that specializes in organic, vegan food.

Why the hell am I emphasizing food on this, my “Can o’Max #4” journey? Because I am determined to stay the healthy course on the gifted journey I call my life. In patient reflection of my time with Maxie I now realize I had allowed his dietary desires to govern my own better sense. Now he is eating the ambrosia of the Gods and Goddesses and I am pondering the choices between sustainable, organic and cage free. Is there Budweiser in Heaven? Only Max knows for sure. Hopefully he’s happy chugging back a few without me shaking my head as I did on more than one occasion.

It is now an hour later; I have released toxins and tears after a patient and loving aromatherapy session by former Moscow native, Nina; her deft hands intuitively discovered the emotional knots within my physical ones. I sniffled, she rubbed, I wept softly, she rubbed harder, I sobbed, she moved the vestiges of sorrow out of my body like squeezing the last stubborn remnants of toothpaste out of the tube. I’m not sure if I’m done with the crying or if I will ever be – I had thought my grief had run its course in Germany. I was wrong. Funny I use the metaphor of toothpaste to acknowledge my grief. Such is life, death and toothpaste ? Go figure it out yourself while I get ready to have something to eat that came more directly from the earth than the chemo-muffin I ate earlier.

And it’s off to forage for healthy food.20131102-124351.jpgWe are at the Palm Greens in Palm Springs. I am staring up at the ceiling, hence the pix, as we wait for our organically grown vegetable matter in the form of salad for me and a vegan Reuben for Marcy. It became quickly apparent that Desert Hot Springs is an actual desert when it comes to organic or green.

On the way we drove past Kirk Douglas Way I strove to understand better the reasons the rich and famous came out here to get away from Hollywood … Was it the mineral water? The dry, hot, hot, hot air? Who in their right mind would want to live here except the rich and crazy or gay? Okay, that’s harsh. But hell, this is Gay Pride Week and the place is crawling with people who wanna get married and not procreate. Not that I blame any of them for either being gay or wanting to profess their love for their beloved, but here in Hot, Fucking (which is a good thing) Palm Springs… why would anybody do it here? Ya gotta love the constant whir of air conditioning, which I for one, do not.

Gone are the days of Fun in the Sun candies and spotting Bobby Darin walking down Indian Canyon with Sandra Dee. Oh the old days. I sound like an old fart. And I do have gas from all the organic green stuff I consumed earlier.

Max and I passed through here a couple years ago on our way out of Dodge, post Fukishima. We stopped long enough to have burgers at Tyler’s (decent joint for you carnivorous peeps), gas up and continue on our way. We didn’t get married. We weren’t gay either, at least I don’t think we were…but we were pretty damn happy. Anybody out there remember that the word gay once meant happy and not homosexual? I’ve got a make-believe souvenir from our trip which reads… “Max and Janet went to Palm Springs….all she got was this tee shirt.”

Yawn. In the late morning tomorrow we head to the Integratron in Landers to ceremoniously scatter the ashes. Our buddy Dennis is making the trek from Murrieta Hot Springs to join us, he’s another guy who doesn’t mind the heat. I’m glad to have some of Maxie’s friends with me. Max loved the place…the Integratron, that is, he was fascinated by the story of the place as much as the place itself. You can read about it the Integratron. In the meanwhile I’m gonna catch some shut eye. Sweet dreams to you too.

I slept, kind of. It’s fall back weekend. So much for daylight savings. I’ve mapped our quest to Landers. Time to get dressed and find breakfast. Hope this posts. Follow me, if it pleases you.

Fear of the Deep

Today, I am afraid to bare myself. To take a dip in the deep blue sea before me. Is it but a metaphor for going deeper into what makes me tick, tock, tick? Is this a familiar pattern of how I have lived my life? Need I ask you to read, to validate my reason for being here? Maybe. I feel so very alone in this moment.

I stand here by the edge of the water, sandals on, purse over shoulder, can of ashes within.20130904-011613.jpg True confession. I am such a chicken – fearful of what is before me, represented by the breadth and depth of this huge, foreboding body of water. I see others wading into its depths. They are smiling. They are brave, or stupid, take your pick. Currently, in my state of mind, no other options are available.

Do I allow my fear to fool me into false complacency, thinking it is better to stupidly feel the nasty quiver running up and down my spine than be brave to dive headlong into the 9.9 quakes of grief, those paralyzing temblors, heaping buckets of tears, which have, in the past, now currently, threaten to drown me. They didn’t before. Can I breathe, touch, stay and feel aka dive my way into the abyss of this pain which has once again reminded me of how much Max, my partner (whom I thought was for life and actually was, only his was shorter than mine) is no longer here beside me (at least not physically so). And if he is not “here” what have I been believing/thinking/feeling anyway? Can I back up, in fact, what i have been experiencing since he’s been out of body? Why him, not me? Does he really talk to me? What have I been hearing anyway? Ad nauseum.

What could possibly hurt me more? If I dip just one toe into the big blue wetness would I then be swallowed whole? What would be so bad about that? I might not even care, except that I actually do love my life and except perhaps that teensy bit of sad which, when i feel it ain’t so small and is not the aspect of my life, I would say I love so very much. So many exceptions. I contradict myself, which is so damn confusing.

I remember when he left, the look of awe on his face as he took his last breaths. Was that merely the expression of his physical body telling his spirit, ” I give up, here’s the door, let’s use it, now!? ” His wonderful, loving spirit must’ve jumped through that heavenly opening (can’t you see the big blue sky with hints of iridescent golds, pinks and purples and those fantastic puffy clouds) with wide abandon, so very done with that useless, diseased and exhausted body, once rugged, handsome and oh so cuddly.

It happened before I could say, ” Please, wait a minute, don’t go, I haven’t said everything I needed to tell you. I didn’t feel enough of your kisses, or hugs or pats on the back. I only remember some of your stories, wise words and jokes. Tell them to me again. We’re not finished here…at least I’m not and that’s all that matters.” I sometimes feel so guilty for feeling that way, I mean wanting him to stay when it was really his time to go.

In my strange imagination, I picture Max beginning to float above us, singing as if he were Groucho Marx, ala movie Animal Crackers, but definitely being the Max I remember who sang so well, making me swoon.
“Hello, I must be going. I cannot stay, I came to say I must be going. I’m glad I came, but just the same, I must be going.”

And there I, in perfect musical fantasy style, plead:
“For my sake you must stay, for if you go away, you’ll spoil this party, I am throwing.”

Here I stand by water’s edge, selfish co-dependent bitch that I am, was, maybe I am still, one year later, with second “Can o’Max” ashes ready to be scattered, this time in the Mediterranean Sea, except, I am too much, as i said previously, a chicken. And, in reality, if any of this life as-we-think-we-know-it is actually real, I put the still-full can back into my purse. Not yet. I am not ready. The first can was easier, I think.

Then, in a moment of emotional amnesia, I begin to take off my sandals, ignore the stones, the pieces of wood and shell mixed with the red volcanic sand and just feel the water. Its awfully cool for such a warm day. I briefly wade in just above my ankles. Not bad. Dare I go further? We’ll see. I breathe deeply the sea air and regard the swimmers, sunbathers, strolling sightseers. They are neither stupid nor brave now. Did they change or did I? God, I can be so judgmental. I really ought to be more patient.

Further in I go….not too far…no need for another freak-out. Oh dear, another wave of sadness. Why is that the case when the ocean is so fucking calm? Isn’t this my metaphor, why can’t it fit the way I want it to?

And,….Why is it so tough for me to open this can and empty it’s contents? You don’t care, you’re dead, you bastard! Oh shit, now I’m angry?!? If I let go this pound of bone and burnt-up-flesh that once was you (and seems really gross if I ponder it too long), you won’t care… So why should I?
Because I remain here to put the pieces of our life in order, to make sense of what is no longer and what is now. Each day I agree to learn more about who I am. Honestly, I need not know more of who you are/were. Do I? That’s done…the past is just that, isn’t it ? My attempt at simplicity is messing with this rationale, as if time were indeed linear, but it seems not to be the case. I’ve checked, even Scientific American and countless physicists are still scratching their heads about what time is. And except for those who require time to be a straight-ass line, it isn’t. Thusly, most of my attempts at making sense of my grieving, letting go, moving on might be thwarted by this logic. Could we be meeting again on some other plane of existence? I’m not holding my breath.

Well, tomorrow is another day to let go of can #2. When I do, I will also be releasing our shared, unfulfilled hopes and dreams and begin to create new ones of my own, for and by myself..if you choose to show up in dreams or talk to me as I write, I will pay some attention..but I am so very sorry to tell you, you no longer will have a very big say. Your leaving made me look at my life in a new way. Change does that. You taught me to embrace it. Here I am following your lead.

The fear abates. I can do this. I can bear the act of baring my soul. The depth of my feelings is not as scary as first I thought. And being alone? Is anyone really alone? If you’re reading this you are proof, I’m not alone and neither are you. Surprisingly, I am quite thankful to be able to feel, to express myself, to acknowledge to myself I have so much love inside me. And now, saying that, I’m going to bed.

And here WE are… I’m talking to YOU!

“Okay. Okay…okay already, I will Write down every word you say. I promise not to edit or care if people think I’m nuts (even if some may think so before they read this). If at least you’ll first let me have breakfast. Hell, I’m not even sure if the voice I’m getting is you or some distorted memory of our words together.” I said. His reply… “Baby, baby, this isn’t your imagination. It’s me. I’m here. You’re here. Though I’m here and there, kind of everyplace at once, for now. You’ll understand in time.”20130829-032705.jpgPictured is “stardust” where Max said in a “dream” he’d gone back to when he left his body on August 15, 2012. This “dream” occurred a few days before October 1 when I promised I’d return to make art in my studio.

The dialogue above the picture is what happened yesterday late morning, just after I’d had a tossing-turning early morning sleep, which was after my writing earlier and I’d gone back to catch a few winks. I’d cried my eyes out after I hit “publish”. Max, as you may have read, was fresh on my mind and apparently, I was on his, since he showed up, again, and I felt that warm, hot flashy feeling I’ve begun to recognize as his presence… And here I thought and the doctors told me, I had sudden high blood pressure! There was a lot more of which he spoke and I wrote, just not for immediate publication.

No, I’m not trying to go all Sylvia Browne, or Medium, or even John Edwards on you. My dearly departed to the great beyond visits me and I’m just getting used to the fact he does. Can I tell you it’s a friggin trip? It is. You see, my guy Max, in life as we know it, and some of you actually did know him, was a big presence..all barrel chested, 225 pounds, Habanero poppin, nearly 6 foot, booming voice, of him. So, him not exactly being physical, but showing up anyway, vis a vis through heat (must be those damn peppers), pressure, and tingling, to dictate words, is, shall I say, more than a bit strange, and in a weird way, very comforting at the same time.

As you may know, or have read in previous posts, we were close, really close. So I suppose the natural, or in this case supernatural, order of things was for us to continue our close relationship with me here and him here, though with our “here”, being, as he said, just a bit different. Okay, so you’re maybe asking if I actually “see” him. Not yet, but if things keep on the way they are, that’s coming, at least this has been implied. Wow. I’ve said it, on the net… Please don’t send the guys with nets. I may be nuts in other ways like the fact I grow organic foods, or make art out of trash, practice homeopathy or have 4 dogs…I’ve gotta be nuts with 4 dogs, but this communication thingie with my sweetheart from another plane of existence is really happening, and frankly, to me, though its a wild ride, is also totally cool.

Did I plan on this “I talk to a dead guy” confession? Nope. I’m not exactly sure why I’ve announced this on my blog, but here i am doing it. Does he tell me what’s going to happen in a week, or months ahead, know anything about the polar ice caps or whether the next iPhone is going to have cloning capabilities? I don’t really know. If its gonna, it hasn’t happened yet. And maybe the information I get is for no one else but me but I’m determined to find out ’cause now I’m really paying attention.

Yeah, right now I’m the one who is talking/writing…I’ll let you know when he’s got something to say.
That’s one thing about our relationship, we gave/give each other space to express ourselves. It is/was one of great mutual respect and affection for which I continue to give thanks. Is this going to keep me from moving forward in my life? Nope. I’m willing to discover my/our next steps. I’ve got a feeling they are going to be quite good.

In the meantime, don’t be surprised if my next post is from the two of us. Until then, enjoy your day.
And, by the way, write if you’ve got questions … Or comments. I’m open to hearing what you’ve got to say.

Is anybody out there?

Hi again. It’s me calling out from this island in the Aegean Sea. Are you there? Are you reading my words? Do you care? WTF? What is so important you can’t respond? Are you so busy with your iPhone, checking Facebook, googling Syria-GMOs-radiation leaking from Fukishima, wondering when you can might get your nails done, walking the dogs, sitting on the freeway, yelping gluten free pizza, paying bills, selling on ebay, occasionally seeing clients, making your art from trash and crying about your dearly departed sweetheart…you can’t even take a moment to hear what I have to say? />20130828-052036.jpg

Oh shit, that was me, just weeks ago. Well, sort of. What can I say? I was very busy at once living my life and ignoring my self, even though I thought I was paying such good attention to my inner being. Oh. Yeah, maybe I was. Actually, I was doing the best I could do at the time. I suppose it takes removing ourselves from the familiar, or having the familiar removed from us, as in the case of having your partner leave, as happened to me, to give us the opportunity to “see” what has been in front of us all the time.

When Max moved from here (life as I thought I knew it) to there (death/the great beyond/heaven/the planet why?) I was, for months-maybe a year, in a sort of stupor. “Wait a minute,” I asked, to no apparent being, “where did he go? Where is this man, you know, Max Middleton, the one who says he loves me, who is fighting the good fight, who talks his 125%, promising he’ll stick around… Where’s he now? How do I live now he’s not here to hold my hand when we go to bed at night, who wakes in the morning and thanks me and I him, for being here. I can’t see him. Really, where the fuck did he go?”

Max and I were lucky. We spent almost every day of eight years together and really liked each other. The love thing? It was natural, almost eerily so, as if we had known one another for years, maybe previous lives…even though we met, through match.com, on a whim… when we were both over fifty. He’d thought he wanted to just “play”… I knew better. Oh, sure we did play, but exclusively with each other, after he finally got over the fact he didn’t need to hide his feelings, those were safe with me. “Life is good” he’d remark to friends when asked how he was doing, and he meant it. Those same friends would tell me later, in confidence, they’d never seen him happier. And me? I was at peace in a way I’d never felt before. I was finally in a relationship with a man who loved and honored me, himself and others, who loved dogs – we had 4, and my kids, my friends, my home- all now ours, and he loved travel, gardening, the theatre, movies… we could talk easily with one another about everything, even what we were actually feeling! The only occasional argument was over in seconds, with one of us offering the other a hand, a kiss, a look, maybe even one word to say, “I love you, no matter what.” Magic was with us.

Sounds like a dream…and now it seems as if it were only that, a dream… except I’ve got pictures, and a little scroll in a bottle he had made especially for me one valentines day, which remind me “I love you.” I’m thankful for that, and other stuff too. Like the habaneros he planted in the garden two years ago which still produce bushels of “god-they’re fucking hot” (understatement) golfball-sized peppers, which might only get removed, should i ever decide to re-landscape, with a permit from the city’s hazmat department. I believe Max is still tending them from whatever plane he is on, since I swear they are the biggest habaneros I’ve ever seen, and they weren’t that size when he was alive! Can he eat them in heaven without crying? Has he reincarnated? Does it matter?

Yes, there are a few things I’ve thought I could’ve done without, like his 1984 jeep cj7 and 1984 Honda magna motorcycle – these I’ve attempted to restore, to sell, to pay our bills. I thought it would be an easy thing, restoring the jeep, that is, but it’s still sitting in my driveway awaiting our angels (and my willingness to finally quit waiting for Max to show up and give me a big hug) to help complete the project. The bike is ready to sell when I return. I’m not rushing now. It’ll happen…selling them and other stuff I need to shed from our life together.

My grief is finally transforming into another word which begins with “Gr” and it’s not my “gritting” my teeth, or “growling” at people or things who piss me off, or even “grinding” my teeth at night as I attempt to hold back my tears. Nor is it “grasping” at more stuff to keep me busy so i don’t have to feel sad, or angry, or even slaphappy. I’m sure those things will still happen from time to time well beyond today.

My transformation is my entering my own sense of divine Grace. Somehow, someway, through angelic intervention, or a trick of the cosmos, I have been given the chance and choice to now be here for me. I can be here, alive, on planet earth…with Max, wherever he is. I’m learning to love someone else now… Me. I let you know how it goes. I promise to keep in touch.

Mother – Nature, knows best.

I’m in recovery from last night’s and this past morning’s wedding celebrations…you may have read a bit about this in my previous missive. I actually drank a half a glass of Ouzo…to help me sleep which worked to make me crave licorice sticks but did nothing to make me snooze. For those of you who know me well, well I don’t, as a rule, drink anything other than tea, chocolate, water or smoothies. Hell, I was determined to sleep. What can I say? Like most times when I try to disturb the natural order of my body’s desire to sleep, the ouzo, did nada.

20130827-051916.jpgMy roomie, Meike and I dragged ourselves out of our respective beds, gulped tea (she) and cocoa (me) and headed via taxi to Molyvos or, as it is also know as Mithymna …where the head of Orpheus is said to have been washed ashore after his dismemberment of the Thracian women. Another mythical citizen of Mithymna was the lyric poet and musician Arion – Word has it he was saved (from what?) by the music-loving dolphin….gotta see one. Anyway, we climbed into Dymitri’s taxi and wound our way over the mountains, past countless olive trees (the island’s known for it) and quite a few empty homes for sale from Kalloni to Molyvos.

Yes, Greece has had a tough time steadying their legs from the seasick economy – where are the dolphins when we need them? I am amazed at the resilience of these wonderful people…it does my heart good to witness their smiles, to be given such authentic hugs, even when I understand they have been through very rough economic seas… And I do hope the tide has changed for the better, since the Greeks are one helluva inspiration for anyone who has experienced the phone call from a collection agency … like swimming with hungry sharks. I’m rich with metaphor today, having been a bit dinghy from the previous nights. O’henry where art thou?

Financial economy aside, In the warmth of my new friends here, the riches abound. Their spirits, as mine sing with the healing sounds of birds and cicadas, morning and night. This morning I looked up into the eaves outside our room to watch tiny birds dive bombing wasps and larvae out of the nests housed above me …And to think I thought of asking the hotel staff to destroy these same nests…the balance of nature is delicate…Why do humans (myself included) want to fuck it up?

And here, again, I am reminded of our messing with the all-encompassing natural order of things. The birth, life and decay of all things living both fascinate and terrify us. Our reactions to the cycle of life range from the sublime – our “oohs and aahs” when a baby is born – to the ridiculous – “Hand me the hair-dye” freak out at aging. Its silly aint it? How we inject drugs to slow down our disease and decay, later to embalm our dead bodies, burying ourselves in airtight coffins, rather than let nature take its course. You may disagree about the drugs. Whatever.

So much of the bizarre occurs within the cycle of life, with we “civilized” humans attempting to continue to control the outcome. Our usual MO is to point the finger when we have messed up, rather than take responsibility and rectify the situation. Here I am sorely reminded of the harm of genetic modification, pesticides, herbicides, predatory lending and even prescription drugs…yes, you read that right, all drugs mess with nature. Food IS our best medicine and yet spray it with shit/chemicals that kills us? That’s messed up.

The distortion of our need to control our personal and collective destiny is far beyond my own hippie, eco-warrior cause of the day; it extends to the great fears that motivate us to listen to and believe our corporate and political dictators blasting contradictory directives over our newly purchased Androids and iPads. These fears can compel us to overdraw our bank accounts, purchasing crap we then must buy storage space to put it in, placing us further in debt, only to sell on Ebay for far less than it was worth when we originally vowed to use it regularly, or worse we can purchase homes we know deep down are completely unaffordable. We, in our attempt to stave our fears by consuming, may be decaying from our own modern day consumption and this ain’t a pretty possibility.

However, Conscious Language master, Bob Stevens says, “our greatest weakness can become our greatest strength.” Perhaps our desire for fulfillment can now be recognized as a means to discover what will truly nourish us. Maybe we have had to lose our “debt filled houses” to discover the importance of building sustainable loving homes. To lose our “dead-end, low pay jobs” to discover our true livelihood. To lose our health insurance, and become well beings.

In the process of all this morass of fear, it is “easy” to point fingers at everyone else- the media, doctors, corporations, politicians…but is that truly helpful? Heck, it ain’t even productive. And waiting for dolphins (or anyone else) to rescue us may take longer than we may hope.

The state of the Greek people and economy is a wonderful time for us to look carefully, taking steady and deep breaths, into our own lives and habits. We are all (smiling and unsmiling Greeks included) being given a sort of golden opportunity to look inward at what truly motivates us, to embrace change and chart our own course. As my sweet Max Middleton said and hopefully with his permission, I shall paraphrase, “Change is inevitable. Embrace it as a sacred and natural act.” One has only to look at the tiny birds with the wasp nest in the eaves above to see, nature does indeed know best.