April 14, 2014
To my surprise I was met with less than enthusiastic interest from my writing pals. I had wrongly assumed that writers, more than any other group of people, would be eager in making sure their life stories were accurate and interesting and, yes, a good read. But then I guess I forgot that even thinking about one's own death is as much fun as getting your teeth pulled, or doing your tax return, or cleaning toilets. Maybe my writer friends were thinking there were many more subjects they planned to write about before composing a final chapter about their life for the daily newspaper. I took my unwelcome writing obit article home and stashed it away.
Who doesn't make bad choices? All I have to do is remember some of the men I've dated, or that shiny disco outfit I wore in 1977 with the neon yellow stripes, and cringe. Okay I know those choices only hurt me, but still, shouldn't there be some mercy toward the deceased? Writing your own obituary would be insurance against revengeful family members.
This doesn't mean I've actually written my own obituary. I don't have a favorite coffee cup, and I can't remember my first kiss. I'm just like my writer friends. I would rather write about other subjects. In fact, I like this article even better.
Now that would be an obituary.
March 27, 2014
The desert is a fragile yet tough place, like a wide, burly football player who cries at sappy romance movies. Those who don't know the desert well might assume it is unchanging. In the Spring, when there has been plenty of rain, it alters and flourishes with color. Alas, not this year as you can see from photo above. It's been so dry my car windshield wipers forgot how to work.
While hiking this week on a familiar trail outside of Phoenix a few days ago, I thought the desert, and the drought here in the southwest, is a metaphor for my own creative life. The lack of rain similar to the lack of time and attention I've been giving to my writing.
I don't know about you, but I get busy busy, like a bee building a hive, with tasks, appointments, family obligations, work, and life. Oh it's not that I'm complaining. I enjoy so much about life, my family and friends, but just like the flowers missing from the desert this year, the color creativity gives to my life is absent. Sure I feel productive when I check off something on my weekly to do list, tell someone how much I accomplished that day. Sometimes it's as if I'm trying to prove I'm worthy to be on this earth. Look how much I can do in a day! Aren't I amazing.
I finished my hike and I realized I had looked mostly down on the ground during my walk. Well, it is important to look out for snakes and other things that bite. I stopped and, beneath the hot sun, gazed at the sky. It looked like thousands of angel wing's stitched together. As I write this now, I think oh that sounds dumb. There's that inner critic again, the enemy of creativity.
I write the sentence anyway.
The desert isn't ashamed because it it lacks Spring flowers this year. It isn't beating itself up because it is in a drought.
I made a promise to write even if the time I have, and the work I do, feels as insignificant as that one yellow poppy. Our creative lives do matter, if only to us.
February 27, 2014
I don't care if you are the most together, confident, hip, oh so wealthy and successful, person in the world all of us at one time or another will, or have, looked into the mirror and think who replaced me with that old woman, or man. We might ask how I can face people who knew me when I was bright and shiny and so full of promise?
My high school, James B. Conant, in Hoffman Estates, Illinois is planning to have our high school reunion this summer. I've gone to all my reunions, and this one has made me feel the most old for some reason. Possibly because I am old.
I never thought when I went to my first one, my ten year reunion, I would someday be planning to attend my 40th. I guess I never expected to live this long. There were times when I did some stupid things, involving motorcycles and men, and almost didn't. But those stories are for another day.
Above is a photo with me and my two friends, Debbie and Katie, at our twenty year high school reunion. We all wore black. I guess we were in mourning for our twenties. I was only 30 something year's old. I should have worn bright pink!!! Also, I had an unfortunate perm right before the reunion which is why my hair looks like a hay bale set on top of my head. was living in Phoenix and teaching English to adult refugees, making very little money. I think I got this dress at a thrift shop.
The twenty year high school reunion was less attended as the tenth year reunion. By that time you're not so sure you really need to see these people who knew you when you were a pom pom girl. The poms poms are frayed, and who cares anyway. Maybe that wonderful marriage turned into a divorce, and your job might be a grind, and was this how life was suppose to turn out? Or we were so happy, why even look back.
Still, even those of us who had fallen on hard times, were still optimistic because there was plenty of time to recover from that bankruptcy or have that baby, or move to our dream city. We were only in our 30s!
Then came the thirty year high school reunion. I wore blue. I found the outfit at the last minute. I had searched for weeks and nothing made me look young or thin or pretty enough, worthy to exist in the world. I'm not sure who two of the people in this photo are.
That's what happens as we age. We forget people. I was still living in Arizona, and free lance writing now.
I danced a lot, and drank quite a few glasses of wine, and by the end of the night my hair was stuck to my head. I laughed so much at the reunion I could have used a package of Depends. At this point, at a forty year high school reunion,the crowd has gotten smaller. Kids are growing up. Parents are aging. People are looking at their lives with an eye on the clock. Our knees or back hurt, and we are familiar with disappointments and loss. We also know joy and peace and how silly it is to think we can predict the future. It's a mixed bag. Being grown up takes a lot of work.
Everything we thought we were so sure and clear about life at our ten year reunion looks a lot more uncertain and opaque. I had to use that word opaque. I just love it.
All this thinking about appearance, and worry about how to impress people with all that I have accomplished in my life at my upcoming reunion, was interrupted today when I thought of my high school friend Patti. She's on the far right. We were on our way to our Senior Breakfast. Debbie is trying to get into the photo on the far left. She's such a ham though she is a vegan now and would never eat ham.
I noticed it was Patty's birthday today and one of our classmates had wished her a Happy Birthday on Facebook. Patti died last summer and she won't even have the choice of whether or not to attend our high school reunion. So when I start obsessing about if I will look fat, or wrinkled, or my life will sound like one big mess, I will think about Patti. What really matters is truly invisible to the eye. I will remind myself how blessed I am to be able to hug people who knew me when I was young, and remind me that I was actually was young. I'm grown up but it sure is nice to remember being a kid again. Sometimes it's hard to believe that.
February 11, 2014
As years passed, I admired her ability to be true to herself, not caring if people criticized her appearance. She writes and sings and plays instruments, and is still going strong in her late 60s. She has worked hard, and is less an angel to me now and more of a self made woman who did what it takes to achieve her goals. She inspires me.
So that was going to be my blog, but then I went to see the Chippendale's perform last Saturday night.
The Chippendales have never been on my bucket list. In fact, I didn't even ask for the night off to go see them. A friend just called at the last minute and said she and some other women were going and there was an extra ticket. The restaurant gods were on my side, and I got off work early on Saturday night. So there I was sitting in a showroom surrounded by women screaming and shouting. At first I was thinking how dumb it all was. Why were all these adult women acting like teenagers? Women of all shapes and sizes and ages, too.
Then the men came on stage. I found myself cheering. Loudly. There's something about a man with tight abs, tight pants and big, let's just say smile, that makes women downright giddy and a little crazy, too.
These grinning women look as if they just opened up box with a Tiffany's diamond necklace inside. It's just a guy without a shirt. Okay. I admit I was grinning and clapping, too. As the men swiveled on stage, dropped their pants and ripped off their shirts, I wondered why I wasn't getting bored. The men do basically the same thing over and over again. But they do it so well and look so darn good.
How do they get their shirts to rip so easily? While sipping cocktails after the show, my friends and I had a long discussion about this perplexing matter. We decided those couldn't be cotton shirts. We couldn't figure out what material is used. Then we discussed how often they must work out to stay in such great shape, and then we pondered other important matters such as if they have girlfriends, if they even like girls, and other intellectual matters that can only be solved while drinking cocktails.
Life is a mixture of expectations and surprises. We all have bucket lists which seem to become even more important to complete as time passes. It's common to make a list and check stuff off, but how about embracing the unknown? Saying yes to something even if it wasn't in your plan, like watching a group of physically fit men who have no problem getting naked in public dance around a stage.
That way if I ever write a memoir, as Dolly did, I will be able to include both the goals I achieved as well as all the beautiful, wacky, risky and fun detours along the road of life. I think Dolly would agree.