Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween Head

With everyone lamenting the final farewell of summer, I welcome autumn with open arms.  Don’t get me wrong, I love summer and all its deliciously warm, sunny days and starry nights but there is something so magical about autumn; it stirs me from within. 

Sure, it’s a precursor to the looming winter but let’s not think about that right now.  Let’s just enjoy the crisp weather, sharp scents of spice with a twinge of burnt leaves, Halloween and carving pumpkins, and who could deny the spectacular colored leaves that Mother Nature displays for us every year? 

But, for me, there’s something more to this season.  Not just Halloween which is fun for the kids and grownups who are still kids at heart, but there’s something in the air this time of year that gets me thinking about the mystifying and supernatural.  Maybe it’s the newfound chill in the air that gets my blood pumping, but I’ve always thought of fall as the time when the unusual occurs – the whisper in the wind that makes you turn to look behind you, the flickering light across the street that beckons you to stare into its glow, the eerie creak on the stairs that you’d never noticed before.

I call it Halloween Head.  Yes, stolen from the song by Ryan Adams (who was not talking about Halloween, but a much darker subject), the term fits perfectly with my state of mind in October.  Not that I want to have the bejesus scared out of me… but maybe I do, because there’s something so exciting about the unknown and inexplicable.  All that said, what happened last night was both terrifying and exciting and I’m still not sure which one wins. Maybe you should decide.

Thomas and I arrived at the A Room Studio, where he often has jam sessions with his friends.  Matt and Tony had not arrived yet so we were waiting by his car in the dark, lonely parking lot.   While I felt very safe next to Thomas, I couldn’t help but feel a little distracted by the solitary light over the studio sign and overall abandoned feeling of the parking lot and surrounding warehouses. Tony and Matt pull up, and we get ready to haul the instruments inside when Tony realizes he doesn’t have the keys to the studio (aces, TJ, aces). He manages to have another guy who works there bring a spare pair down, but it was going to take a while for Paul to arrive.  So, we’re hanging out by the door of the studio and I find myself staring at the window and the closed blinds.  Perhaps it was just some lingering creepiness I felt from before, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the blinds.  Next thing I know, I see two of the blinds part to reveal the blackness of the studio lobby inside.  I don’t see any fingers, any face, just parted blinds.  Naturally, I scream.  Well, it was more of a yell-scream, and I collect myself enough to ask the guys if anyone is inside.  No, it’s pitch black and there’s no one in there.  No one alive, anyway.

I tell the boys what I just saw (well, not tell so much as babble it out with wide-eyed fear) and the only one who seems to immediately believe me is Matt (he doesn’t want to believe it, but I can tell that he does).  Thomas seems to be having too much fun with it, and TJ would rather not believe it simply because he is employed there and is responsible for locking up.  I describe to them exactly where I saw the blinds open, and of course the initial reaction is that it must have just been shadows playing on the window from the overhead light.  OK, reasonable enough except I know the difference between a horizontal shadow and actually seeing two blinds being lifted apart!

After much speculation, we are all electrified by the experience and Paul has finally arrived with the keys. There was a lot of hesitation on my behalf before I actually walked inside, and I had to have Thomas accompany me, er, everywhere. Tony thought maybe we could catch something on the video monitors so we look at the TV that would display the appropriate footage and oddly, as far back as TJ rewound, it was static.  All the other cameras are doing their jobs, displaying the empty studio rooms they’re recording, but not this camera. This one is producing only static. The hairs on my neck officially rise.

After setting up the equipment and listening to the guys do their thing, I settle in and don’t feel as scared anymore.  I guess I just assume that ghosts or other supernatural creatures won’t make too much fuss when there’s  loud music playing.  But as we leave, I am once again filled with that giddy mix of fear and adrenaline, and as we drive away from the studio, I couldn’t help but feel immense relief to leave that place.  And yet, I can’t wait to go back.

“Here comes that shit again, I’ve got a Halloween Head. 
Head full of tricks and treats, it leads me through the nighttime streets” – Ryan Adams


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

For Nicole

We face our own mortality every day and most days turn our heads in ignorance of the fragility of our lives.  Today we stop and listen.

People will say “it was too soon.” Others believe that God takes us when it is our time, and we are never to know why.  To me, it’s both.  God has taken Nicole to be with Him, surrounded by comfort, love and eternal peace, but for us the time was achingly wrong.

To each of us, Nicole meant something wonderfully different, but we are unified in our grief. 

I have learned that grieving ultimately gives way to reflection and eventually brings new perspective to life - or perhaps a little bit of “lost and found” – a chance to reflect on our own lives and worries.  Maybe we even gain a little humility, humbled by the way life can be seized without warning. 

Maybe today, Nicole’s day, will also be the day we decide to dismiss the anger, forget the frustration and inconveniences of our daily lives and just stop.  Notice the beauty that surrounds you, the love right next to you, and embrace the uncertainty of our futures but also the endless possibilities.

Grieve, but also live.  For Nicole. 

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

- e.e. cummings

Monday, September 19, 2011

In ________ We Trust

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. 

We all know this and other malapropisms from the lovable Yogi Berra.  But maybe he’s onto something with this one.  If you’ve been reading my sporadic blogs, then you know that I’ve been wandering down long, twisting paths over the last few years, perhaps even walking in complete circles.  (NOTE: This isn’t going to be an entry where I sit and complain – because to be honest, I’m really sick of that side of me.) When you are faced with a fork in the road, what guides you? Faith? Logic? Intuition? Hopefully, all three.

We make hundreds of decisions every day, from the little banalities of our daily routine (“I’ll have turkey and swiss on wheat bread”) to the more important choices we face at work or at home.  But what about the other ones – the impulse to take a different route to work, or to strike up a conversation with a friendly face behind the counter?  The impact may not be felt, but who knows if it may resonate elsewhere? For me, thinking about this is like gazing up at the stars – if you look too closely, you run the risk of being overwhelmed. Having recently finished reading The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder, there is a quote that seems appropriate right here. "Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan. Some say that we shall never know and that to the gods we are like the flies that boys kill on a summer day, and some say, on the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God."

As if that isn’t enough to swallow, what about the monumental decisions with which we must occasionally grapple? How do you handle it?  Are you a list-maker or chart-creator? Do you talk it out with your loved ones,, have a heartfelt conversation with God, or do you wrestle with all possible outcomes inside your own head? Maybe you are none of these, maybe you just logically weigh the pros and cons and your answer is wrapped up in a neat little package.  If that’s you, then I am highly suspicious and supremely jealous of your overly logical nature. ;)

In all honesty, I am at this weird, delicate point in my life where past decisions have had pretty awful outcomes and forgiving myself for making the mistakes is easier than believing I won’t make another one.   Think of a situation when your trust in someone falters and the only way back is to slowly rebuild it over time. What if that someone breaks your trust repeatedly and it’s irrevocably damaged? And the weirdest question of all, what if the person who broke your trust is… well, you?

You can see the stickiness of the situation, when the person you need to learn to believe in again is yourself.  I may soon be faced with a job offer that seems promising.  While it is not everything I’d dreamed it would be, there are certainly more pros than cons, and I’ve been out of work for almost six months.  My instinct says “TAKE THE JOB, DUMMY!” but there is also a nagging voice deep within that is making me feel otherwise. I’m unclear as to why.  I want to know more about the nebulous doubts within me.  But I guess that sums up how most of us feel about this complex, amazing, scary game we play every day. And just like the daily interactions and split-second choices we make, we may never quite know why we made them or who may be affected, but the best we can do is learn to trust our own feet as we walk along.

"Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement." –Golda Meir

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – Bilbo Baggins

Monday, September 12, 2011

In Repair

It’s been longer than I care to admit.  

Quite often, the ultimate inspiration for a brooding writer is a good tragedy (or at least, a tragedy in their mind), but sometimes when life deals a low hand, a so-called writer loses all motivation.  Let’s just say I fall into the latter category.  No more.  After weeks of attempting to get this started again, I’ve finally had enough of my own procrastination (thank you Tara for being a force that blows open my window, lets in a good gust of truth, and ignites the fire once again).

A lot has changed since May of 2010 when I posted my last entry.  Why sugarcoat it?  I got divorced, I lost my job, I moved back home with my parents, and I found that things actually CAN get worse just when you think you’ve hit bottom.  But guess what?  They can also get a lot better too.  2010-2011 has been a year of introspection and humility.  For the most part, I’ve forgiven myself for the mistakes I’ve made, but I’ve lost some of the courage of my convictions.  I’m a writer, why won’t I write? I look, but fail to leap. I love, but what am I afraid of?

I think everyone has a shadow of a dream when they are young, a glimpse at what they hope to achieve in life, and for the lucky few, these dreams are wholly realized.  The majority, maybe they’re lucky enough to grasp parts of that dream and be content.  I am in a state of restlessness, slow transition and lately, impatience.   On my worst days, I feel like I am “waiting in line for something I’m never going to get” (original quote by Janice Searles in good ol’ college) and on my more optimistic days, I still feel like there are so many paths my life can take, that my fate is not sealed, so to speak. It’s a constant battle inside - positive vs. negative - and I’m tired of the fight. I just want the good guys to win.

Here’s to inspiration… to write, to stop being afraid of failure, to remember how to take the plunge.  I mean, isn’t everything in life that’s worth having, also worth the risk of losing?

To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily.  To not dare is to lose oneself.  ~ Soren Kierkegaard

I’m in repair / I’m not together but I’m getting there ~ John Mayer

Monday, May 17, 2010

Let It Be

Not only am I listening to that classic Beatles song right now, but it’s also clearly been the “theme” for my blog over the last 2 months… I haven’t written a damn THING.  So much for being a prolific blogger.

Deep down, I’m just your standard tortured writer.  I’m only truly moved to put pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard) when I’m mad, sad or wallowing in some sort of angst or turmoil.

Today, it’s kind of a crazy mix of all of the above.  You might as well stop here if you’re not in the mood for another installment of “why ME?!” because that’s the bumpy road I’m trudging down today.  Let me preface by saying that I know I’m blessed.  I know I am blessed with family, friends, health, and much more, but I just wish my current circumstances were different.  It’s getting really, really hard to handle the persistent creep of my mid-thirties while there are many things hanging in limbo on my “To Do” list of life.  I’m not talking about a Bucket List filled with pipe dreams such as “take a 3-week cruise to the Galapagos”  or “lasso wild horses in New Mexico” but definitely more along the lines of a “Sooooo, How Are Those Lifelong Career/Family/Home Goals Workin’ Out For Ya?!” kind of list.   I don’t even feel like I’m at a stand-still anymore, I feel like I’ve actually started to move BACKWARDS. 

I’m in a new division at work; I’m now the National Account Executive for our IT Consulting Division and there’s a pretty big learning curve.  I don’t mind that so much, in fact, it’s good to challenge your mind and learn new things so I’m ok with that.  But, in case you haven’t been living on PLANET EARTH for the last 2 years, the economy is still not in any shape to be spending money willy nilly, so of course, business is challenging to put it mildly.  A lot of people are in this boat and I know I’m not alone, but I keep hearing about the staffing heyday (a mere 5 years ago) when  commissions were sky-high and companies were much more open to using an outside firm to support their hiring needs. Now it’s a challenge just to get an appointment to MEET a potential client. Guess you could say that once again, my timing was just perfect (where’s that sarcasm font when ya need it?!) I think I can actually recall our great country’s financial collapse coincide precisely with the moment I changed my Outlook auto-signature to “Account Executive" back in 2008.

This too shall pass, right?  I know.  I really do.  But it often requires a great deal of strength just to wake up and be optimistic about the day ahead, unless that day is Saturday or Sunday.  Is it too much to ask to really love what you do for a living - what you spend a sickeningly large part of your LIFE doing??  I was telling Dan just today – most of the people I know who truly love their jobs are teachers.  You really HAVE to love being a teacher to put up with 15-20 of other people’s kids. 

There’s fire in my belly; I have a passion in there but it hasn’t been tapped and it’s in danger of sputtering out.  I want to feel like I’m REALLY GOOD at something, not just getting by to pay the bills and eek my way through life (thanks, Lloyd Christmas a la Dumb & Dumber inspirational monologue).

Newsflash - I also want a family.  Sometimes I want it so badly it hurts, other times I still genuinely appreciate and cherish my sweet freedom. But more often than not, I long for a little child to love and nurture and marvel at.   And it is not a decision to take lightly, to throw caution to the wind and say “oh well we’re broke and can barely manage our own lives but SO WHAT?!  We’ll find a way.”  That is too scary for me.   At the very least, I need a solid home (whether we own it or not, personally, is of little importance to me. I just want a HOME to call my OWN!) and a little nest stashed away for those 3AM doctor visits and family trips to Lake George.  I’m not high maintenance.  I don’t require a $50,000 SUV or crown moulding.  I just don’t want to feel like I’m doing the doggie paddle in the middle of a stormy ocean.

Thank you for letting me vent.  I actually feel a little better. I guess I’ll just keep plugging along, praying to God for guidance and reflecting on this:

“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, LET IT BE.”
  - The Beatles

Sunset over the Sierra Madre mountains,  Mexico 2007

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Have you ever…

…hung up on someone for being completely obnoxious, even if it’s allegedly your job to take their bullshit?

…laughed hysterically out loud at the use of the word “vagina” as if you were a 13-year old boy?

…completely tuned someone out and just stared absently in the general vicinity of their face?

…rocked out to ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” at your desk, regardless of who’s watching?

…picked a wedgie on a crowded train during rush hour?

…wished with all your might to re-live a certain time in your life?

…decided that you’re done working, despite there being 2 solid hours left in your day?

…cried unabashedly over nothing in particular yet everything all at once?

…read a fantastic book, then mourn the ending like a death simply because it’s over?

…given a stranger the stink eye just because you’re in a bad mood and they happen to bump into you on the subway?

…loved someone so completely that your heart literally HURT?

…looked deep into the eyes of your 6-year old nephew and told him to never change?

…had the bright spot of your day be a TV show (ahem, Lost)?

…known you’re destined for greater than where you are in life right now, but are not quite sure of your path?

…woken up on an early spring morning, giddy with anticipation of what lies ahead?

…been assured you made the right decision, just by a single word?

…really stopped and thanked God for the life you live, obstacles and all?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just one of those years?

Today (and yesterday and the day before) has been one of those days where just about anything can completely undo me.  When it first started happening, I chalked it up to a bad day.  Then it started happening every day, so I couldn’t really rationalize it the same way each time.  Now I’m hoping it’s seasonal.  I really don’t want to wait another 2+ months to find out if I’m right or wrong though.  :)

It’s hard to feel, day after day, like you’re not living the life you’d dreamt of when you were growing up and making those plans in your daydreams.  I’ve always trusted that life would just work out; that God has a plan for me.  I still believe this, but at some point you have to realize that you are responsible for your actions, and you’re the one making your own decisions – nobody else.  You can’t blame your unhappiness on your job, your financial situation, your “stuck-in-a-rut-ness” without accepting that you’re the one at the helm.

Life is like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books from our youth (I’m sure most of you reading this know what I’m talking about - my fave by far was Vampire Express) – YOU’RE the one deciding which page to turn to. The only difference is, it’s not as easy to turn back and start a new adventure.

So, this is where my currently fragile state is stemming from – the feeling that I’ve made some bad decisions along the way and cannot undo them. (Classic questions in my daily rotation include: Why didn’t I save instead of spend? Why am I not the writer that I always thought I’d become?!)  Deep down, I know it’s not too late.  I’m 32, my ship has NOT sailed.  But at the same time, there is this tick-tocking that persists in the back of my mind and my heart when I think about the life I’ve always dreamed of and the less attractive parallel universe, aka REAL LIFE.

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to rally and tell you that I know I can still be the person I’ve always wanted to be. I can still have that house in Northport with my loving husband and 2 healthy kids AND a job I don’t dread, but the truth is that lately, I feel like these dreams are becoming more and more just that – DREAMS.  Reality is much less technicolor and the light at the end of the tunnel is shrinking. The tunnel is getting longer and longer.

I know, I know - optimism can go a long way.  I’ve been told to read The Secret, which is all about the power of positive thinking.  And yes, I do believe this, and how long can I host this pity party of one, but positivity is not going to get my bills paid and get me out of my mother-in-law’s basement any sooner.  Is it?

I feel like I’m losing, but it doesn’t mean I’m lost (thank you, Coldplay) and I am not afraid to admit I need help. I have plenty of reminders of my blessings – from the extra cuddles from my nieces and nephews to inspiring conversations with old friends, to a loving glance from my parents to a gentle, knowing kiss from Dan – I have not forgotten my blessings.  In fact, it’s those little reminders that nudge me out of bed in the morning on my worst days, and keep me laughing and smiling on my better days.

Here’s to more laughter. 


Proverbs 3:5-6 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.