Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Don't Be A Bob

Years ago I was helping the Secret Keeper (my ex) paint the ramshackle apartment that his aging grandmother and her husband Bob lived in. The apartment was tiny and Bob a heavy smoker. The once white walls were dingy gray yellow from years of nicotine, cooking and as a result of living on a busy street.

Annie was about 5 feet high, a bit rotund, with a perfect Santa Claus nose that often had a few hairs growing out of the top. She has a lovely twinkle in her eyes that showed her years on this planet with deep folds and wrinkles. Not too long after we finished painting, Annie ended up in a convalescent hospital where she would spend her remaining 8 years. Bob, finding himself alone for first time in 50 years, shot himself in the head, while sitting in his favorite recliner. He was not a very likeable guy and I do not believe that there was one person on this planet who was sad to see him go, which is one the biggest tragedies I can think of. The Secret Keeper and his dad had to go into that apartment afterward to remove any family items that remained. It was a pretty horrible experience for him but his dad, typical with his nature, took it like everything else in his life, with a tremendous disconnect.

A young friend of mine died a number of years back and he had touched so many lives that they had to rent out a local theater to accommodate everyone that wanted to pay their respects. It is my desire to touch lives and have my essence remain....I don't want to be a Bob.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Seriously Dude...I Mean F@#KIN' Dude!

My Boy Scout tends bar in a seafood restaurant. It has it's regulars....REAL regular. This is about one of them.

Keith is about 40ish and is a painter by trade. He is a little world worn and the lack of care given to him by a now dead alcoholic mother and a long dead heroin addict father shows even now. He usually looks as if a good shower and shave would do him well, as well as a trip to the dentist. He is sweet and loyal and loving (the more drinks, the more loving he gets) and his favorite words are most definitely DUDE and FUCK. On the occasions when he has consumed a little too much, the restaurant workers have to ask him to quiet his dude and fuck's down just a bit as it is a nice little restaurant and not a dive bar where nobody notices when colorful language gets thrown around. Unmarried, he has travelled and lived here and there but now is back in his small hometown where he knows everyone and everyone knows him and he is well liked. 

I like him too, which is unusual because I usually keep my distance from heavy drinkers. I like that I have knocked down that protective wall just a bit. He's a good guy who drinks not just "a drinker". It also helps that when I am with Keith, the Boy Scout is right there tending bar, so that if I felt any discomfort I could look to him for help. Drunks still scare me.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Nose Knows

“Elsa sits in granny’s wardrobe. It smells of granny. The whole house smells of Granny. There something special about a Granny’s house, even if ten or twenty or thirty years go by you never forget how it smells “. From My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She' Sorry

My girl and I had a sweet conversation one day. She was laying in bed and feeling the warmth of the sun on her skin when she texted me about how much it reminded her of being at grandmas house. Gigi has a great memory. My mom got sick when Gigi was pretty young but before that they spent a ton of time together as my mom had been her caregiver for her first few years. They played and shopped and watched Dharma and Gregg together. It was wonderful bonding time.

Gigi and I spoke later of the day of my moms death. We shared my moms last breaths with many loved ones. It was a privilege but it was heartbreaking. I was lost...I couldn't breathe right. Afterwards, I knew I couldn’t go home right away. Gigi and I stopped at Walmart on the way home and shopped for Christmas presents and I bought her one of the huge tins of different flavored popcorn and finally went home. 

It often strikes me as funny that we lose our rocks, our tethers to the planet, and the world just goes on without even a bump. Luckily, we can share our beautiful feelings of love and tenderness with others who know exactly what it means to lose their person, their loves. 

There was a certain smell and every once in awhile I catch it somewhere and it makes me stop, check in with my soul and feel her arms holding me once more.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

I'm On A Mission

California was originally inhabited by what we now call Native Americans. In 1542 the Spaniard Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (Ka-bree-o) landed in the bay of San Diego. He christened the area Alta California.

In 1769 Spanish Father Junipero Sierra established what would be the first of 21 missions heading up the coast of California with the objective of evangelizing the natives. In their earnest attempt to impart their religious beliefs on another people, they tried to strip them of their culture and "civilize" them. Many natives died from disease and poor living conditions. Treatment could be very harsh.
Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá- 1st 
Our children learn about the mission system in 4th grade. It was always my favorite year of the kids schooling because each child learns state history and does a report or a replica of the mission of their choice. We would pack up the family and go to see a few and let them pick which would be their focus. The surviving missions are the oldest structures in the state.
Mission San Buenaventura-#6 Located in my city of Ventura

Some of the missions, like the one in Santa Barbara, are in full splendor while others need a lot of work. I suppose it has to do with the community that surrounds them; their wealth and historical societies.
Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad-#13 of 21
While most of the mission docent tours have given good historical background from the church's point of view, only in more recent times are they giving in depth accounts of the sometimes brutal treatment of the indigenous people or of their attempts to get out from under the thumb of the church.

I love the missions but I think that the lessons should be complete in detailing the good and the bad.

In my view, we are only going to succeed when we hear the voices of the people who are voiceless. We only able learn from the past if we are brave and caring enough to look for the forgotten or the marginalized.

 click here for a quick look at all 21.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Parenting....It's Not For Sissies

My son was about 15 and having some trouble in school when I got a lecture from him about my techniques in child rearing and discipline. This son, he researches everything, which made him a junior expert about a lot of little things. His unique ability to remember much of what he reads and his incredible curiosity often makes him a formidable adversary in debate or argument.

This conversation I am speaking of took place almost 10 years ago and about six years before my eyes were opened by Al-Anon. The fact of the matter was that he was right. I was disciplining and punishing in the way I had learned from my mother who learned from her mother who learned from her mother. It was second nature but it didn't make it right. I am sure that I shamed him during that conversation, telling him he didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. He actually kind of did. There are better ways to discipline than what I learned. Being punitive without allowing accountability and learning is not the way to go.

I regret all that but I have made my amends to him and my other three kids the best of my ability and I try to take a different route now, one that requires more patience and understanding. It’s quite foreign to me so I have to work hard. I no longer have young children around me so I don't get the practice I would like but I use the techniques I have learned in other ways.

I am going to make a great grandmother someday :)

Aware that most of us are past this stage of life but they still resonate so....on a lighter note:

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Out Of My Range

I live on the coast of Southern California in a smallish city called Ventura. Today I’m driving the 30 some miles up the coast to Santa Barbara. It’s a beautiful city and has much to be desired. Santa Barbara is lovely, has great restaurants and good shopping but it’s a bit more elegant than I prefer, I like things pretty casual and Ventura is nothing if not casual. In addition to that, the median home price in Santa Barbara is.....wait for it......$1,165,000. while Ventura is $594,000. Additionally, SB butts up against the stunning city of Montecito (think Oprah, Ellen, Jeff Bridges, etc.) with a median home price of $3,205,000.  So, OBVIOUSLY, another reason why I live in Ventura rather than SB.

A meeting in Santa Barbara allows me to take a beautiful drive up a small portion of the Historic El Camino Real or better known as The 101.  The hillsides are dry and brown right now. I would blame that on the fire that ravaged this area at Christmas time which, up until yesterday, was the biggest fire in the history of the state of California. But the truth of the matter is the hillsides are a stunning green for about three months out of the year, then we have a few weeks of beautiful mustard and sage, followed by dry and brown again. After all, we live in a Mediterranean climate with very little rainfall.

Santa Barbara pier and coastline

If you ever have a chance to visit, it is well worth the travel as long as you are not expecting "big city". It has art and culture but the population is just a little over 90,000. Small city packed with good stuff. My drive is quite lovely and I am enjoying every minute of it.

Monday, August 6, 2018

My Gigi

I still smell your perfume, as if in the next room, even though you are not here. Your essence remains. So dear to my heart are you who was the most unexpected gift.

How angry I was when I first knew of you. So selfish this soul of mine can be. But God or nature or Mother Earth knew far better than me of your true value.  Your tender, empathetic heart, so rare in this day and age.

Complex yet loving, our relationship enriches and confuses me but we are bonded by our mutual love for the incredible woman you called grandma and I called my tether to this planet, the three precious jewels who call you Macky, Bobo or sister, the big guy who takes up a lot of space and the broken man who needs our love more than breath.

I am grateful for you today. Grateful you eat the leftovers in the fridge, leave the bathroom light on all night and that you call my "guest" room yours for a little while longer.