OneWord: Junkyard, Ivy, Cowboy, Duck

Junkyard: “Look at that dog, Honey. I looks like it came straight from a junkyard,” I said as we drove past a natural foods store. The dog was small with matted fur, perky ears, and eyes as big and bright as the summer sky on a perfect day in July.

Ivy: Those ivy hands. I want to say ice cold and plain, but not so. Not so. Not so. They sit in the window behind the ten-foot tall pane of glass keeping me from her and not her from me. Because she’s there. Still. Silent.

Cowboy: That cowboy spirit inside takes over. Sweat beads slip down my brow. My heart pounds inside my chest. And then the gavel falls. “Guilty,” thuds from the judge’s mouth.

Duck: The duck sat on the end of dock watching the other ducks float up and down in the small waves on the 4th of July. Of course, the duck didn’t know it was the 4th of July. It just knew the waves were small.

Dinner With Dad

I sat across from my dad in an armless, white, wooden chair with loose joints that creaked and rocked each time I shifted my weight from one butt cheek to the other. His chair was the same.

While eating leftover meatloaf and waiting for mom/wife and sister/daughter to come home to give us something to talk about, we started laughing at the noises emanating from below.

It got to the point where we co-ordinated our weight transfer such that the chairs would groan in unison under the weight of our not-so-fat asses. Then, as one of us should have anticipated, the predictable happened, and the front right leg of my chair shattered at the joint where, only moments prior, it met the seat portion of my chair, and, now, was ninety degrees away from where it should be. I fell hard and I fell fast until my butt met the floor, the back of my head hit the shoulder of the chair, and my chin slammed against the edge of the kitchen table.

This was an instance where the outcome was greater than the literal summation of the individual parts. Sure, my tailbone, cranium, and chin hurt on their own, but the combustion of pain synapses firing simultaneously caused the blood vessels in my eyes to burst.

I laugh when in pain, and was now alternating between giggling uncontrollably and yelling at the chair while looking like the Virgin Mary crying blood on the eve of a miracle.

Looking back, I have no recollection of what my dad did in the moment after my collapse. I have a hunch that, prior to lurching in my direction, he took one last bite of ketchup-covered meatloaf because it was excellent.

Written from 9:05 pm to 9:35 pm on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at home in Traverse City, Michigan.

Bookends: Terror and Hope

Did 9-11 (2001) cause market crash, real estate crash, etc. If not immediately, did it change the approach/attitude of enough Americans one way or another, such that the collective “american dream” changed – perhaps to a focus on the short-term. E.g., I’m going to live now; spend now. (Creditor-side error was in allowing to help people live this out.)

Interesting tie-in to Obama’s campaign theme of “HOPE.” Really, it was hope that got us into the mess we are in now. What should have been the focus is fundamental values, contraction, living within means (as a country and as citizens), etc.

OneWord: Adapt, Helping, Certain, Materials, Market

Adapt: I’ve tried, many times, to adapt to what’s around me. And the only thing I have learned is that I should worry less about adapting to the world and worry more about adapting the world to myself. I’m here for a blink. I’ve gotta breath my air and fill my space.

Helping: The helping hand swept down from the vacant blue sky and wrapped its mile-long fingers ’round the dusty earth and squeezed it until rivers fell and mountains grew.

Certain: To be certain of something is, at once, to lock one’s mind in jail and toss away the key…

Materials: The materials with which I a forced to work are nothing more than a steel hammer, dinged and dented from 22 years of pounding, and a solid oak workbench that was given to me at the death of my grandfather.

Market: My dog and I walked north along Union to the Farmer’s Market last Saturday. It bright, crisp, and fresh outside. The streets were filled with …

In the Absence

I am sitting it church like the good young man (I never was). The pew beneath me is padded and covered with fabric of a course texture. It is twill-like, designed, I presume, to keep the young and old, alike, from slipping onto the floor during the lackluster sermons that bridge the seasons of our many different lives. In the absence of miracle or tragedy, there is simply existence, friendship, the smile of the nearby aging, the antics of the far-away youth, and the faint smell of Potluck wafting from the bowels of God’s station.

I look across from my balcony on the right side of the dimly lit sanctuary, which flows with dark, blood-red carpets, to see a man so fat that, if the raven behind him were to sneeze, he would tumble forward over the polished brass railings, installed to keep the problem children from playing and the tired husbands from resting, and smash the birds below.

I can’t help to think that church is for the old. The lonely. The single. The abandoned. The desolate. They congregate beneath me. Their comb-overs and permanents swept and teased, respectively, into positions marginally acceptable for social presentation. I wonder, when I look across at the fat man and down at the crippled birds, where they look for the hour we sit together and listen to the choir sing and the preacher preach. Who fills the choir? And where do they look? Where does the preacher go when away from here? And where does he look?

I grasp the collection dish and pass it along. The change slipping through the envelopes and checks jangles against the side of the brass bowl. It’s too heavy for a small child or elderly woman. It’s too heavy for me as I pass it quickly without thought.

The sermon begins and I listen for a message, but my mind drifts to a place I cannot name – cannot identify – cannot connect with. This un-namable nothing moves me to tears that I keep in the bucket of my eyes and, in the absence, I hear, but do not comprehend, the stationary chaos. I feel as though I am seeing myself in a multi-generational mirror for the first time. And to see both my beginning and expiration frozen around me (or am I frozen within them?) is, on most Sunday mornings, too much to keep within my own earthly body.

Written from 12:08 pm to 12:28 pm on Saturday, November 13, 2010 at home in Traverse City, Michigan.

Bridesmaid Dresses!

Today, Christy, Katy, Robbi, my mom and I went bridesmaid dress shopping. I had a ton of fun watching the girls play dress up!  It was great having 2 of the 4 girls together, and the moms, although we wish Alex and Elke could have been there too!

I had scoped some dresses out, and we ended up finding some really cute and unique dresses at Ella’s in downtown TC. I am so excited! I love the dresses and so did Christy and Katy which is the best part.

Until next time…..Lindsey

The Holiday Season

I’m finding that time flies when you’re engaged. It seems like just yesterday that I was waiting impatiently for the engagement ring to be finished so that I could pop the question to Lindsey. Now, it has been nearly two months since and we’re heading into our first holiday season together. Together-together.

Not only is fun to share the excitement of the onset of winter, the construction of Christmas charm, and the last-minute shopping, but we’re also blessed to have loving families nearby with whom we both enjoy spending time. Rarely does a week pass that we don’t play cards or have dinner with one or the other. That’s pretty cool, to me, and what I hoped for when we started dating.

A few of the things I’m most looking forward to during the next couple months:

  • Getting to wear my Christmas pants again (Link to photo),
  • Sharing my “I’m Thankful For” napkin tradition with Lindsey over Thanksgiving,
  • Learning about her traditions and
  • Making new traditions of our own for years to come!

Lindsey, we’ve got to find you a matching skirt!

The Mighty Shake

When he stands, it is as a mighty lion stands – a deliberate struggle of a beast battered by carnivorous dreams. Restless and cold, he shifts through the monochrome darkness of night. With each step his paw lands with the thrust of an uncalibrated pile driver trying to beat down the house in which he lives. His good master does not wake; not so for the neighbor girl tumbling beyond the pale green drywall.

He reaches his mirage and begins his inarticulate laps from the cool stainless steel bowl. Water splashes on the wall and the floor and his crusty black nose. When the struggle is over, strands of sinewy slobber drape his mug. The “mighty shake” is coming. The walls recoil in terror. The picture frames fall flat. The clean – the spotless – the untouched – they all post their guard – ready and waiting. His great brute box head turns violently and sets in motion a furious chain reaction of jowl to drool to mid-air acrobats of gelatin-like mouth droppings seeking out the clean – the spotless – the untouched.

Written from 11:05 pm to 11:25 pm on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at home in Traverse City, Michigan.

Death and Taxes

The saying used to go, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” That is not the case this year. As 2010 nears an end, there is still little indication as to what will happen with the Federal estate tax. In 2009, the exemption was $3.5M and anything over that was taxed at 45%. In 2010, the Federal estate tax was repealed. (Good year, if any, to die if you have a sizable estate!) In 2011, the exemption will revert to $1M and anything over that will be taxed at 55% percent. Get used to saying, “Nothing is certain by death and (insert snarky comment re: Federal government decision making here).”

Note: The Future of the Federal Estate Tax blog is an easy way to keep up with the latest news on the topic.

OneWord: Fangs, Stage, Elixir, Feud, Kit

OneWord.com gives you a random word and 60 seconds to write. Following are my submissions for the past week.

Fangs: The husky’s fangs were exposed as it panted cool grey breath into the mid-fall air. They looked sharp and hungry, as if she were in her element and ready to hunt. Then she sat next to me, and put her paw up to be scratched.

Stage: She set the stage with her wonderful grin. I saw it from the back of the natural theater in which we were set free to roam, discover and explore the magnificent wilderness.

Elixir: The elixir of life – the body – fully woven, yet muted beneath the dark suppression of my chores, responsibilities, and commitments – struggles to burn through the layers and succeed a short success. Let me be.

Feud: We rarely feud, and when we do, we feud a little then make some breakfast or go for a walk or laugh it off. There’s never much to our feuds and, so far as I can tall, they’ve never grown into fights.

Kit: The tool kit in the corner of my work shed is old. The blue-coated metal is rusting and creaks when the lid is opened. The wooden-handled tools are cracked and dry and, the metal there, rusty, too.

The Invitation

Oriah – Mountain Dreamer, Native American Elder, May 1994:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with JOY, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being a human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon “YES!”

It doesn’t interest me in knowing where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you are, how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else fades away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.