Sunday, December 28, 2008

dazed and confused

Maybe it is just me.

I've noticed a certain growing sense of uncertainty about the future that is leading us all to bask in a certain nostalgia. I used that uncertain/certain comparison on purpose. I know people actually moving back to childhood homes. This Facebook thing has taken me on a month long high school reunion experience I could never have predicted a few years ago. I've spent hours looking forward to reading what people I haven't seen for twenty-five years have written. I am distinctly not so interested in most people in my present circle -- a few, but not many.

The comfort of revisiting the morals of the people I grew up with, to see if we're all still on the same page, is really addictive. The relief of talking to people who grew up in an interracial community (Park Hill, Denver, CO - circa 1970s), who have now traveled to and lived in other places that were not like that is sustaining in a way that even the election of Obama is not.

I mean when I say, well yeah, I danced with black boys, and sang with black girls when I was quite young, has turned out to be inconceivable to even my dearest love. It has made me feel like I'm lying or something, questioning my own memories...and then Facebook! Sigh. I feel redeemed.

There are only a few people I'm still looking for...people I worked with in Los Angeles who I miss. Isn't it weird that I should feel attached to people who I only knew 12 years ago, and for only a decade? But, then that's about how long I knew the people I grew up with. Who needs reincarnation? We in our lifetimes live so many complete lives, that are separate and unique that we have many opportunities to improve our game right now. The decisions we made twenty-five years ago have ramifications for life, after life. Then suddenly, we're given the opportunity to rectify!

It actually makes me feel like the world is ending. That we're being given the chance to revisit our entire lives via the Internet, is sort of like that thing they say happens when you die -- your whole life flashing before your eyes. The choices we made come forward and we see easily where we misfired and what we might have done differently. This is recapitulation on a grand scale. Can it be only me experiencing this strangeness?

Is the future so uncomfortable that we're unwilling to look at it anymore?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Human Light

Yesterday was "Human Light Day," the agnostic answer to the crazed holiday season. It seems kind of silly to me. I mean isn't the point of being agnostic or atheistic to get out of crazy holiday seasons? What I like about "Human Light Day" is that their carole is "Imagine" by John Lennon. That is appealing to me.

Also, the fact is that I'm in this crazy attempt to acknowledge all of the holidays that have gathered around the Winter Solstice. I work for a Jewish organization, and so now I know more about Hanukkah (including the many spelling choices) than I ever learned from my Jewish grandparents. There's the Christmas hooplah that I grew up with and perpetrated on my children. The most meaningful celebration for me is the Winter Solstice celebration at my Co-Masonic Lodge, and this year our leader opened the Lodge for the children to experience the ritual, and it was just exactly what we all needed. There were many little giggles, big beaming smiles, and wide eyes to what was coming next.

Nevertheless, I do think, that imagining the world at peace, with no religious walls, and a celebration of our humanity is in order. Many happy wishes for a better new year!

Monday, November 3, 2008

different visions of growing up

I am both a child and a parent. Caught in the cross-hairs of the concept of "growing up," I wonder what it can really mean. After all, I am in my mid-forties and I'm fairly sure that my parents still believe that I should "grow up". The truth is though that it is their perception of me that has remained frozen.

It is an unfortunate thing to be an adult who needs charity and help, to pass through a time of need. What that time of need creates more than anything is the feeling of being dependent on the kindness of others. Seemingly, this is the very definition of being a child. In particular when one is forced to turn to one's family of origin for assistance the feelings it brings up are exactly those of parent-to-child. The repercussions of returning to the dependent-provider relationship, no matter for how long, can have lasting effects on the relationship between adults.

The value of the external and material outweighs the inner light of the people involved, and the provider becomes once again all powerful and the dependent becomes weak. The temptation to abuse power by dictating the choices of the less powerful is hard to resist. The giving and withdrawal of assistance defines the politics in the relationship. Indeed it is a rare person who can give without expectation or conditions. Equally, it is a rare person who can receive without adjusting his behavior to be less than one is in truth.

I imagine it is likely that this crush of values is going to come up more and more through the coming financial melt down. Parents who've lost their retirement may be forced to ask for assistance from children who are still working. Children who have lost their homes may need to move back in with their parents, their own children in tow. It becomes necessary then to redefine adulthood from financial independence to something else, or the crush of untamed passions and emotions about the solidity of a life will squeeze the life out of hope.

I'd like to suggest that there may be twelve year olds who are more grown up than 50 year olds. Judgments aside, what might be the qualities of a grown up, if not financial independence?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

bizarre vigil

Are any of us really free of abuse? I can't imagine. I was trying to remember a time when I was free of feeling abused or victimized, as I do now for the most part. It seems like all of my life there have been these incidences where I was in the wrong place at the wrong time somehow. Does that happen to everyone? Am I making too big of a deal out of something that happens to everyone? Certainly, there are those who have had it worse than me.

I've been keeping a bizarre vigil for about six months. I continue to check the news on Google for stories about the women of the FLDS, about Elizabeth Fritzl, and of Brooke Bennett. I'm amazed for one thing about how those sensational stories were published and put in front of people for only about two weeks. That's all the masses have an attention span for horror, I guess. These terrible things happened and now unless you are keeping a bizarre vigil those stories are no longer important. Yet, I feel it's important for someone, me, to continue to witness the stories as they unfold. Should I tell you what's been happening?

The FDLS women are raising money by selling the clothes that they make and wear around their homes. They hope that people are actually taking up those uptight fashions, but my guess is that these will largely be for Halloween costumes, and sales are likely to dry up after Friday. I've discovered a shelter that helps the runaway boys of the FDLS, but it has lost its license to allow the boys to live there, and will soon be closing. There is only one girl who has been taken away from her mother somewhat permanently, and she's been trying to fire her lawyer and get back to her family and "husband" Warren Jeffs, but she's only 14.

Then Joseph Fritzl has been declared sane enough to stand trial for keeping Elizabeth and three of their children prisoner for 24 years. He claims he was "born to rape" and could have been much worse, that he limited the terror he could have let loose on the world, by raping his daughter 3x a week instead. Doesn't that make you feel better? Elizabeth meanwhile has changed her name, kicked her lame mother out of her life, and has had a little bit of romance in her life since her daughter Kirsten woke up from the coma she'd been in. Kirsten has revealed that she was suicidal essentially from never having a life at all.

Brooke Bennett's death as a 12 year old girl in small town Vermont has gotten the state of Vermont to re-look at the way it handles sex offenders. It's been revealed that her Uncle Michael had raped another 13 year old girl, but that it was expunged from his record, making it possible for him to begin raping a 9-year old girl, and eventually to rape, torture, drug and kill his niece, Brooke. The depravity of the whole story is just horrifying to me.

Then there have been other stories to remind me that women can be as horrible as men. There is the mother in Maryland who killed two adopted daughters and stored their bodies in the basement freezer since February, and then tortured her youngest adopted daughter until that girl, at age 7, jumped from a 2nd story window to escape. There's the two mothers in Czech who caged and tortured their 7 and 9 year old sons in obedience to their sect's direction. There are the two women in Los Angeles who starved and tortured one of the women's sons with lit cigarettes and putting his hand on a lit stove burner. There are the two old women who befriended down-on-their-luck homeless men convinced them to buy life insurance policies and then ran them over. Women are as horrible as men are sometimes.

My life has been easy. I don't live in Afghanistan wearing a burka, knowing that if I did live there I'd be stoned to death twenty times over for having lived my life as I have. What I'm really unable to reconcile is how I got to this place, and what I can possibly do to improve the situation of the souls who live here.

I think of telling my story. A spy in the normal house. I think that maybe if I could just show that it is possible to make terrible mistakes and rise out of them, then maybe that would give others in similar trials some hope. Then I think my story is kind of boring compared to the ones that make it into the newspaper. That maybe the appetite for the shocking and horrific is like a fast food addiction, and that the reading public is so saturated with the meaningless that there is no way to bring them back to the fact that there are people behind these stories, and that the people are still making choices around those stories, and that improvement is very incremental and not so much a dramatic and quantum a shift as we would like to believe.

Then I consider making up a fiction that is the combination of all of these stories that has this one theme: terrible things happen in life and we have to still be of service, do our duty and shine the light. I think of how I could simplify it, make it real enough and true enough to stay to my premise. I think of writing the stories for my kids. I think about my kids and how they understand the world now. They already know the world is more complicated than a Disney picture, and yet they still remain largely innocent and dependent on me to interpret right and wrong for them. They still don't know how bad things can get even though to my mind they have to deal with things they shouldn't have to deal with at all.

My sweet man told me that at the same age as my son, he was staying with an uncle in Jamaica and happened to spy on a fight between two men in a sugar cane field. The men argued and fought and eventually macheteed each other to death right before his eyes. His comment was that how can we expect everyone to be able to deal with being "equal" or "alike" in this world when our children have such radically different experiences and have to somehow fold those experiences in to a "normal" existence?

How can a girl who was raped from the time she was 9 relate to my daughter who simply watched her mother being told she was worthless? Did my standing up for myself finally happen to late or too early to make my daughter stronger? Can the raped girl ever recover, or will she be like me, sort of hobbled and dizzied by the facts? Will my daughter have to be abused in order to stand up for herself, or will she be an abuser in order to maintain control over an existence we cannot control? What good comes from any terrible experience except the opportunity to stand up and realize that the conditions and the experiences are not the soul?

Friday, October 3, 2008

I actually cried over the bailout

Maybe I am a cry baby. That's entirely possible. When I heard the members of the House of Representatives explaining on the floor why they had voted "No" on Monday and were now voting, "Yes" today on this $700 Billion bailout, I cried. My heart broke completely.

I am a liberal, liberal Democrat, but I am also a terribly patriotic flag waver. This vote is totally distressing. I don't even propose we ought to be putting that $700 billion into the hands of the poor. Though I do believe that I am my brother's keeper, the way I do that might not agree with many so-called liberals. I know that we're just in a pickle of enormous proportions. The Pickle that ate Wall Street and Main Street.

My feelings always link back to personal experience. What I go to is the times when I forgave, hoping it would change behavior, and it didn't. That's what I feel like we're doing as a country. We're forgiving everyone for living in a fantasy world and giving them a reason to keep on living in that fantasy world.

Does a woman being beaten have any reason to believe that staying with her abuser will end the abuse? Of course not in reality, and yet thousands of women like me go back to their abusers with forgiveness and hope. Eventually, the only thing to do is give up on it, the relationship, and move on. However, it often takes being seriously hurt, and sometimes nearly dead before we learn that we've just been extending the rope by which we ourselves are hanging with our forgiveness.

So, what am I saying? How can we give up and move on from our own country? That's why I cried, I think. How can we give up? We can't apparently, and we have to keep on feeding the beast in hopes that it will feed us a little in return.

It's not to say there weren't good times. There were, and that's why it is so hard to move on from the "dream".

Yet, the very fact that we call it a "dream" ought to tell you something. Hello? Wake up! We cannot use 25% of the world's fossil fuels, producing only 3% and expect equity. We cannot blow up the prices of real estate to unbelievable amounts, beyond any one's ability to pay for them, especially when there is NO middle class left, and expect those houses and offices and retail spaces to fill up endlessly. We can't bankrupt the majority of society and keep the cash in the hands of a few people and expect that there is any FLOW of real money that has real value. Economy is based on faith, and when there is no reality to base our faith on then we are out on a very tiny branch called FANTASY. Those tiny branches can't hold up a whole society.

So, now we've just built like a skimpy scaffolding around the tiny branch of fantasy that we're all perched on. How's that going to work?

We're going to have to make do, but this is not a country prepared to make do. I have been doing it for almost a decade now, and it is really hard. I feel this weird sensation of being ahead of the curve on this experience, and I'm finding myself wondering if there is something I can share, something that might help people wake up for the work ahead. It is work coming out of a fantasy that is destructively comfortable. I predict the country will feel quite ill, almost hungover in the next few years.

The thing that saved me was ultimately accepting that I am normal, regular, not special and that I had to put one foot in front of the other. Can a whole nation that believes in destiny and specialness face the fact that we're part of the world? Do we have the right leader? I don't see that leader. I wish I did.

Monday, September 29, 2008

sometimes being a maverick is counterproductive

Leading is about so much more than doing something different to get attention.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

is the only way to win becoming negative?

Honestly. Barrack! What happened to "Yes we can!"?

Why is he letting the Democratic leadership tell him what to say? Someone set this man free! Don't let the great orator become canned.

Where's your sense of humor, Barrack? Hire some joke writers.

See, I think this is why Clinton, Bill, broke through the Republican, "We're okay, folks."

Yes, it wouldn't hurt you to say, "It's the economy, stupid." Because, it is.

It wouldn't hurt you to point out that while Sen. McCain is getting his melanomas frozen off, Palin is going to be the one prancing around the White House saying stupid things like "We like to win." Can you imagine she said this on the day Lehman Brothers failed, and half of Texas is under five feet of water?

It wouldn't hurt you to laugh and cry for this country. It wouldn't hurt for you to stop talking for an hour and just work with people digging out their livestock from the mud.

Don't let the powers that be lead you aground. Paddle hard back out to the sea of viability. Just keep saying, "Yes we can!" (I'll probably sing, "Bob the Builder...") afterward but I don't mind.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

what would my grandmother say?

I've been itching to write about this political season, but in what context could it be seen that would make any sense at all? I watched both conventions. I saw who captured the imagination of the audience and who did not. I saw what translated on screen as the team that maybe is most like me.

I may as well admit here and now, that I am one of the Hillary women.

I had high hopes for her Presidency. I saw her flaws and yet I believed she could have led this country into a future I could have swallowed.

I don't really have the same feeling about Obama even now. But, now that you know that, I want to take the conversation someplace else.

I watched the 1972 Watergate hearings with my grandparents. I remember sitting in their tenth floor apartment appreciating the air conditioning, doodling on paper, and watching them watch John Dean and Spiro Agnew and the whole cadre of governmental criminals paraded daily on their big color television. I don't know why I spent so many days there. Probably my parents were working. There was no question, though, that we were going to focus on entertaining me. We were watching Watergate, and slip in some Olympics and some tennis matches along the way. So, it was Olga Korbet and Nixon in the summer of 1972.

While I dreamt of the perfect back-walkover, the grown-ups droned on and on about the dreams of a nation to resolve conflict through intelligent dialogue, instead of criminal acts, cheating and lying.

What I remember more than the specifics is my grandparents' attitude of shock and horror that the leaders of our country were cheats and no better than robbers. It seemed to shake their very foundational beliefs about what our government was all about. We went, in that summer, from being the good guys to being the bad guys by virtue of our poor leadership.

My grandmother cried about it. She cried. She apologized to me that the country was such a disappointment and shook her head, and finally she shrugged. Then she sent me down to the basement pool room to get a cream soda from the vending machine. By the time I got back, having walked down and up ten flights of stairs to get some of my energy taken care of, she had collected herself and was giggling like a girl again. Thank goodness for Doonsberry.

She would have been 100 in 2009. What would she have said about the next President and Vice President, I wonder?

It is my belief that this political season is the legacy of that fateful summer in more ways than one. This is the sad thing: I don't believe in either one of the political tickets being able to resurrect this country to its foundation from the halls of Washington, D.C.. We are so far off the foundation that I sometimes think the country must be a tear down. I find it ironic that Obama has chosen the theme song of Bob the Builder, "Yes, we can!" when he has become increasingly canned and cynical in the way he talks to average Americans. I feel like he speaks to us as if we were toddlers watching a TV show beyond our cad. There is something different in his spirit when he talks since he became the anointed one. I don't believe he really wants it anymore.

I liked Tina Fey, ur, I mean Sarah Palin, in her first speech to the country. I felt her love of this country and just knew exactly who she was in that moment. She's my age. She went to high school when I was in high school (as did Obama). Her conservativism is ignorant and folksy and harkens to complete amnesia of the summer of 1972. I doubt very much she watched the Watergate hearings with her parents. She was probably out hunting her first moose. Still her ignorance of that fall from grace gives her the ability to sell the story she sells. My grandmother might have said something like this about Sarah Palin, "Well, pretty is as pretty does..." Somehow it goes with Palin's favorite joke about being a pit bull.

Obama would have been the boy I had a crush on, two years ahead, and unattainable not only because of his age, but because of the color of his skin. I would have flirted mercilessly with him, and I would have believed that that's all it was because he's black and he's a snoot.

Are we just flirting with the future?

My grandmother might have said something more complex, backwards hopeful about Obama. She was present when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the Montview Presbyterian Church across the street from the Library, and was very proud of it, but there was no doubt that the potential of "colored" people was a question mark for her. To her experience, the colored people she actually interacted with were her mother's seamstress, the man who sold fruit out of a cart in the alleys of her childhood who had met Abraham Lincoln himself, or the nursing home attendant who wiped her butt late in life. I think she would have had the same kind of blank feeling about Obama that she had about Jesus Christ. A lot of people believe in Jesus Christ as a savior, but to her he was always a "Nice man who got into a mess."

Perhaps it is just what I believe. I think Obama and Palin are both in over their heads. I see the coming war in the Balkans, the economic fall out of the Fanny and Freddie debacle, and the everlasting Middle East problem, and cannot see either of these peers of mine having any real influence at all over the unraveling world. I don't believe the political process is honest because then those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling would have mattered for more than a great speech at the convention. I believe that I have to seek clarity out of what they can have influence over in reality.

That's why I'm voting for Obama-Biden. It's really the Supreme Court. That's what it comes down to for me. There are three potential seats opening up, and I want the Obama-Biden ticket in charge of selecting the next judges. I want to prevent court legislation from the Right (though they deny putting governmental hands on women's bodies is legislation...har). I want a ticket in the White House that isn't appealing to our lowest nature of "No one helped me out, so why should I reach out and help anyone else?" but instead is at least saying, "Yes, we can!"

Biden has sponsored some of the most important legislation of our time for women's lives. He oversees the committee that determines who will be on the Federal and Supreme Courts of this land, and so he knows something about that and international policy. He's not afraid to get in the face of a criminal leader like Milosevic, and tell him he's a murderer. In the past two presidencies the vice president has been more and more important to the point where a vice president can shoot someone and they will apologize for getting in the way of the bullet. Biden is not that man. He is not wealthy though he's been in a position of power for thirty years. He's the one I can get behind.

What scares me is that Palin is the person that my conservative counterparts can get behind. Are there more of them or more of me?

It only matters to the character of this country. Yes, I like Palin's "can do" attitude, but what she can do and what Obama-Biden can do are very, very different outcomes in our nation's potential personality. Will either ticket do very different things around energy policies? I don't really have that impression. Will they do very different things around the Middle East? Really? I don't think so. Will they do very different things around the Balkans? Nope. So, go to what is going to be different and make a decision.

I'm voting for the ticket who I believe watched the Watergate hearings some.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

kosmicegg one part three

The story goes that the day I was born my mother went shopping. She left the hospital with me and dropped me off with my grandmother so she could go shopping for girl's clothes because all she had were boy clothes. She was sure I would be a boy named James Truck Morris.

So the first day of my life, August 24, 1964, was spent in the arms of my grandmother, from here on referred to as Mamaw, and her best friend from high school, Muriel Tartarsky. Is it any wonder then, that I was thoroughly bonded to Mamaw in ways that even I do not understand? I don't know if Mamaw knew on this day that her own daughter, Betsy, had only four more mostly miserable years to live. I think so, but I don't know.

My first real memory of Mamaw is of shoe shopping at a children's boutique in Cherry Creek. I remember standing in front of her and walking up and down in front of the shoes. I remember they were white lace ups. I remember I wanted the pretty black patent leather Mary Janes and that she told me that someday I would have pretty shoes like that.

I remember the roundness of her voice and the sweetness of her smell. I remember holding hands with her in a hot parking lot. She had no fingernail on her left middle finger. It gave me the creeps, but I later learned that it was a symbol of love for her.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Why is it exhausting to recall the story of my grandmother? I know there is not enough of the her I knew intimately in there yet. Hmmmmmm.

kosmicegg one, continued

Before I begin, I just have to make a note that granite counter tops have been linked with a cancer risk...

So, I know virtually nothing about the adult life of my grandmother before I was born, nothing particularly personal. She was the mother of three. She liked dachshunds. She had a Japanese-American housekeeper and gardener for many, many years -- the Iwagoshis. She objected to her children coming home from Sunday school at their Congregation Emanuel, waving Israeli flags. She was a social democrat. Her husband liked to hang out with the ladies in the kitchen. Um, and she once had a party when they were remodeling a bathroom where everyone got to put graffiti on the wall, and a mistake was made in letting people do this with lipstick.

I do know based on a hand-written note that Robert wrote to her that they once had a serious falling out where she left Robert. He said, "Don't ever leave me again, Mrs. Morris. Don't you ever do it again." What was that about? I can only imagine.

During this period I know more about Robert. He was an architect designing multiple homes over the years for the family, and big buildings like the Samsonite factory and offices, and the Denver JCC. He also was a great athlete, and was asked to join the professional tour of golfers of the time, and declined.

From this I can assume that Babette spent a lot of time at the country club, Green Gables. She may not have been the wealthiest member, but I guarantee she was one of the most sophisticated and stylish people there. She had a very dry wit, and had that ability to hit the mark with her words and descriptions. She must have been on the top of the world to some extent. The few photos that survive this period recall the style of Kathryn Hepburn, high-waisted pants, cigarettes, coifed hair-dos swept to the side, deep red lipstick.

She was particularly sweet on her son Tom, though he was out of step with everyone and she often referred to him as a salmon swimming upstream. Her son Robert was a very conforming, sweethearted boy who attached himself to Robert's brother, Earl, fondly referred to as "Nanny." Where Tom could barely tuck his shirt in, Robert was tidy and predictable. Where Robert remembers participating at Congregation Emanuel, Tom has no memory of it. Meanwhile Betsy and father Robert were both the athletes and artists.

Things seemed to go along without trauma except for running over a beloved dachshund when it leaped out of a window after a cat. She always hated cats.

Then the kids went off to school. Betsy wasn't too scholarly and went to the Arts and Crafts College in Oakland, California. Robert had some trouble at the University of Colorado and transferred to Brigham Young University and focused on Audio Design in Architecture. Tom plugged along at the University of Colorado and followed the family business -- architecture.

Robert married a nice Jewish girl from Walnut Creek, California. Tom fell in love and married a gentile Southern Belle from east Texas. Betsy had an abortion. For a Jewish woman, even one who had somewhat rejected it all due to the advent of Israel's reality, it must have seemed like things were going slightly arry. She had a strong memory of slapping Betsy for her decision to abort her baby.

Then the worst tragedy of her life came with the diagnosis of Betsy's Multiple Sclerosis. Over the course of less than 10 years Betsy's health declined, her athletic prowess left her, and her sight, and her hearing, and her mind until she was little more than a vegetable in a nursing home. Babette and Robert never recovered from the experience of it. Not only did they lose their strong, tomboy girl, they went bankrupt because she had no health insurance.

More to come...

Friday, July 25, 2008

kosmicegg one

She really could touch the tip of her nose with the tip of her tongue, and she could make the perfect cow face by rolling her eyes up and over to one side while letting her tongue wag to the other.

Babette suffered a lot and joked a lot and often put these together in pithy descriptions like, "Amanda, I'm just a butterfly in a rainstorm." I could see it perfectly, and I knew exactly what she meant somehow though I was a young child when she said it the first time. Always metaphors, never similes.

She was born in November of 1909, the late age child of her parents who already had a ten year old son, whose name I think was Burt. Her mother was not pretty, a kind of ship's masthead of a woman with broad shoulders and a don't-cross-me look on her face. Her father, however, was a pretty man with a bright smile that looked somehow starved in the faded old photos. Henry had curly hair, parted in the middle and light eyes.

Pictures of her childhood show she was clearly the apple of everyone's eyes with Mary Pickford hair curls and fancy dresses and coats, but tragedy struck her young and kept on striking for much of her life. Her father died when she was a child, maybe six years old, suddenly. Her brother, sixteen, gave his mother trouble by repeating his senior year in high school something like four times in order to stay on the football team. Tilly, Babette's mother, then kept afloat somehow on perhaps a pension. She raised chickens in the backyard in what would have been the eastern hinterlands of Denver, Colorado, beyond the end of the streetcar line.

Soon it was just mother and daughter when the brother disappeared never to be seen again by his sister, Babette, though she looked him up in every telephone book she ever saw. Babette was shy by now, and didn't like to make waves. She won best attendance in her Sunday school, and probably was learning some bit of Hebrew for her Bat Mitzvah when her mother caught the flu. It was 1922, and Babette was 13 years old. Her mother died and she had to go and live with her cousins.

What she remembered about her cousins was that they were pretty snotty but not very pretty. She often mentioned that one of them wore "pinchnese" glasses and she would wrinkle her nose to imitate this poor girl trying to keep her glasses on. Her uncle's only sign of affection was giving Babette the paper ring off of his cigars. They didn't tell her that she had money of her own, and she spent the rest of her growing up years believing she was a charity case, exacerbating her shyness.

Somewhere in childhood, perhaps, from the start at their local congregation, Babette met Robert who would later become her husband. Where she was shy, he was outgoing and rakish. He had athletic prowess, and seemingly endless creativity and ability to learn new things. She became a librarian after graduating from high school and attending a few semesters of college in Boulder.

They waited to get married until 1934, the year Prohibition was lifted. The Depression prevented Robert from getting work, and Babette felt she had to keep her librarian position. In those days they didn't allow married women to work. Her lifelong love of books and knowledge must have taken root in those years. It seems as if perhaps Robert's mother didn't approve of their union either because as soon as she died, they got married.

Their wedding was December 31, 1934. She wore an olive green cocktail dress with an orange collar and said she looked like a martini olive. This was fitting because they loved martinis and received nothing but liquor decanters and highballs and double old-fashion and champagne glasses for gifts. The judge told them that he was very grateful to be marrying them because he'd been marrying drunks all day, and he could tell that they really loved each other and would stick to their vows as couples should.

The first thing that happened was that Babette discovered she had a small fortune that she inherited upon marrying, and a house full of old-fashioned leather furniture from Robert's mother, who it seems to me more and more didn't approve of her. So, of course, she gave all the furniture away and bought ultra modern furniture for the big old house west of City Park. Robert's older brother, Earl, had no place to go and so he lived with them for many years.

Two years later Babette had her first son, Robert, then two years later a second son, Tom, and two years beyond that her daughter, Babette, fondly called Betsy. It was the end of the Depression, and the beginning of America's involvement with the war by the time Betsy was born. Her husband Robert was a full-fledged architect by then and things seemed to fall together pretty well for a long time.

More to come...

aesthetics and specialness

I am of the last year of the baby boomer generation. 1964. In a month I turn 44, and I have to say I feel hardly related to my so-called generation. I am more inclined to feel disenfranchised and left-behind like the Generation Xers. Like somehow I just missed the boat that the rest of my class got on.

This is not all bad. I once got "lost" in Disneyland and it turned out to be an enlightening experience. My friends got ahead of me, and I was left behind, wandering the theme park alone, free to observe and witness its wonders. I suppose the fact that I like Disneyland makes me a boomer, but the way I like it makes me an Xer. Does that make sense? Hmmmm. I am not frantic to ride the ride. I'm more inclined to find the place that doesn't have a line and check it out. I like the Tiki Room.

So what does this have to do with aesthetics? There is a conversation that I've heard for the last 15 or so years about tile or granite counter tops. I may have mentioned it before. I've heard it over and over and over again. I think it is the quintessential conversation of my peers. Do you like tiles? Hand-made or stone does not matter. Do you like granite or even marble? I actually have an opinion. My favorite counter top is thick, thick butcher block, oiled and hardly otherwise treated. I like it to be marked with knife scrapes and dinged with dropped pots. Are you getting my point? I saw it once in a crazy old house in South Central LA off Washington Blvd. It had real substance.

I am an architect's daughter, grand-daughter, great-grand-daughter. My mother is a fine artist. I can't help using my eyes. I do a lot around the way things look. I worked for a huge corporation just qualifying things based on the way things looked. What I do now for a small, non-profit is all about the way things look.

I used to be a long, long time ago very focused on the way I looked and I spoke to impress and I said things that were silly and accidentally profound. Apparently, I had a reputation for being cool, and I find that amusing and disturbing. I'm sure it is what got me in so much trouble to begin with, caring about appearances. I just told my boss the other day that I was tragically hip and I was. It was a tragedy because I was merely avoiding the idea that perhaps I was not special. I did not want to be a statistic ever.

When I first started writing these blogs I wrote about specialness and my argument with it. I was trying so hard to learn how to be a regular person with regular needs and regular goals. I have been immersed now for nearly a year in being pretty regular. I've concentrated on working and on sharing what I know without expressing a belief that I am destined to write something great or to create something substantial. I've accepted that perhaps I'm a torch passer rather than a torch bearer. This is the only place I've been writing publicly.

I have to apologize. I've gone back and re-read some of it, and I feel really boring. The same thing over and over again. Me. Me. Me. I can't seem to get away from myself. It occurred to me just now that mayhaps I shall write about something else for a while. What if I wrote about other people I've known or am meeting? Would that be interesting? Would you like to hear what other people look like through my aesthetic? That's about as far as I can get from myself. Har. Maybe I'll write a dozen a practice and a relief from endless me.

The me generation is part of me. I can't help it, but as I'm just hanging onto that boat with my fingernails, maybe I'll discipline myself and let go. Maybe I can turn my eyes away from the mirror and learn something from my observations of others...Maybe I can see the specialness in other people. I wonder...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Space and Time and the Kosmicegg

This morning I was walking my dog, Lucille. It was a perfect summer morning. Not too hot yet. The sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky. A soft breeze blew through the trees that have done with their pollination and have started bearing fruit. There was a guy hauling a para sail up the mountain that I later watched circle down in a white swirl. In the shade of the pricey neighborhood just South of my public housing compound, my heart swelled with an appreciation for being in this place at this moment.

It always seems to happen for me this way: I really settle into a place and figure out how it works and learn to feel I like it, and then it is time to move.

I've moved about 20 times in 25 years. Maybe even more. I moved five times year before last year alone. I thought of starting a packing business called 20x.

So, on my walk I was thinking about how I've grown to accept and even like my neighborhood of late. I've imagined someday being able to buy a house in the pricey neighborhood south of my public housing compound. I have liked the way the gardens grow over there, and the trees are mature, more or less for Colorado, and there are places with sidewalks, and a little reservoir of water to walk around, and trails that are pretty gentle to walk Lucille on, and the god parks, I mean dog parks. I have enjoyed walking to the three or four decent coffee houses within just 20 minutes walk at the most.

Now, I'm moving away, really away from this place. I am so glad to get beyond public housing. I am moving into a place with the man I love and with the children at least half time. The place I'm moving to is just as different from this place as it can be. It may be funky to have chosen such a starkly different place, but truth be told the place I am moving to really feels relaxing to me. It's a future I dreamed of often when I was roaming and moving five times in that year after the divorce.

It's just funny to me now because it isn't the place I dreamed of from here. So I'm beginning to see how slow the law of attraction can be, how slow and purposeful. Because instead of being this completely vast improvement in my life from homelessness to having this great place, it is a medium or incremental step from a simple home to a little bit more.

That got me thinking about trajectory, how little shifts in intention lead us through life. We dream in a very limited way and the Universe lines it up for us fast enough to feel like something has happened but slow enough so that we don't implode from the change.

I started to feel sad on my beautiful walk when I thought, "Well, there's the root of disappointment!" I figured out that this constant companion of mine, called regret, really comes from space and time limitations. Because not everything I dream up is possible within the confines of space and time, within the limitations of the Kosmicegg that is this life alone.

It is only when the dream aligns with the people in my life that the incremental and lasting changes finally happen. Then some things necessarily fall away because they don't harmonize with the person who I'm dreaming the failed marriage happened because my dream and my ex-husband's dream fell apart sometime like seven years ago. It took until nearly three years ago for it to become so apparent that it couldn't be ignored, and still another six months before it could be acted upon. And, only now seven years later, am I feeling like I'm making the kind of sustainable, reasonable progress that I dreamt of shortly after 9/11. What felt like a sudden change, really took at least seven years to finally manifest -- perhaps, largely because of my resistance.

Then the progress my new love and I have made to harmonize our lives is really remarkable. It has taken a mere three years to come to a near perfect agreement since I first laid eyes on him. Still there is more that we're planning together, and some of it is still vague enough to be a mystery. And the gracious part of it is that he doesn't expect it to be a fast and sudden road to change, and I'm beginning to understand the virtue of patience! And, yes, I met this man at precisely the time that lack of harmony in my marriage had become perfectly apparent, though, I had no clue that this man I picked up at the airport for a workshop and barely spoke to would one day be my man.

I can say that right away I loved his laugh. At the time I met this man I longed for real, hearty laughter that had no cruelty in it. A little incremental shift in my perception of what I wanted in my life. It was really that simple. Isn't the Kosmicegg amazing?

Friday, June 27, 2008


Sometimes change comes so fast that it leaves you breathless.

I generally avoid changes like these because they're so uncomfortable. Even a breathless change takes a few months to fully bloom. Thank God for time. Thank You for time to unfold change. What would we do without it?

A few months from now I know that my life will have a new feel to it. I know it without a doubt because I've been through these changes before even though I've tried to avoid them. I know this change is simply a change and that the point is to stay neutral no matter what, but I have to say I'm pretty excited.

Why do we get excited about change? Do we imagine that the external change will change us inside? Of course, it never does and then we have to deal with ourselves in a new environment or set of circumstances. The problems that get resolved by a change morph into a new set of problems for our egos to crack open over time. This is what makes storytelling great -- when one set of problems gets exchanged for a new set of problems. This is what makes the Bible such a great book. Never ending change, never ending problems to deal with and it is relentless.

And, yet we still believe in improvement and progress. We're so funny.

Today I am happy. I am in a committed relationship that I'm so proud of it brings tears to my eyes just to think of it. This man has come to me and met me where I am and loves me in spite of everything that I've done and keep on doing in spite of my best intentions to be changed! He says luck has nothing to do with it, but I don't know how to express how I feel about it other than to say, "I feel very lucky."

He's moving here as early as next week because he has been offered a good job, better than the one he has now. The rest of the summer will be about deciding how we live. Will we move in together? Will we stay separate for a while longer? What is the best thing for our financial well-being? What is the best thing for our hearts? What is the best thing for the children? They say they want to live together, but do they really? Are they ready to have a black man in their lives for the rest of their lives, just because Mom is ready? Should I even be concerned about that? Is there anyway to live my life if I only think of their lives?

My son said, "I will be the only kid in my class with a black step-father. I will be the most different of everyone." He also said, "I hope you marry him, Mom."

My daughter is all wrapped up in the trappings of the wedding -- though we may decide eloping is the wisest option. In fact, this is a moral question as well. Do I believe we should be married before we live together? Am I that old-fashioned? In a way I am, not so much for me but for my kids. Again, I find it difficult to make a decision about any of this without considering how it impacts them.

My hope is that we'll live together because I believe that the stability card will trump the fear card. I feel like it is a deep shift, deeper than I know, and so even though I hope one thing, I will take as much of a breath as I can take during this breathless change. I must find patience in my large bag of tricks and let the petals of this change unfold with a neutral point of view. Do you think I can do it?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Encore Bride

Apparently, "encore bride" is what I am to become. It is horrifying to me that I am a cliche before I even get going on my new life. It's a title that gives me pause, and frankly, scares me. What is an encore but begging for more?

This is all about me and not about the man I love. I realize that. I made such a huge mistake in my first marriage and I'm not wholly over it, and yet there is a man who loves me in spite of my fear and errors. I can hardly get over it. I am as fascinated by observing this change, this new life unfolding, as I am in love with it. I can't get over that I was so willing to accept anything less. What was wrong with me? I feel like I've just been cured of an incurable disease. And, I don't know exactly how to take this second lease on love.

He, this man of mine, is doing everything right that my first husband did wrong. He is at once strong and capable and tender and unsure, and also willing for me to be strong and capable and tender and unsure. He knows himself, and he knows what is right and what is wrong. He knows what he's capable of and he has self-discipline. He's wise without having to be right. His moral center guides him in every decision he makes. He doesn't do anything he doesn't want to do, and still he helps me and supports me and does just about everything I ask. He is not afflicted with the "good boy" syndrome. He doesn't need my approval for anything. Yet, he approves of everything about me.

It makes me unfathomably sad for that first guy who is simply a child in some strange way, unequipped to meet a woman like me. Isn't that stupid that I feel sad for my ex-husband who abused my love of him? It's like everything I wished for from that boy was impossible and out of his range and it's heartbreaking for him.

I really think "encore" is the wrong word. It implies an attachment to something that has passed somehow, "do it again!" No. I never want to do it again the way I did it the first time. Sure, I did some things right. I have two beautiful children to prove that I loved deeply, but I don't want to be foolish with my love ever again. It is the elixir of life, my love is, and it was pearls before swine the first time around. This time, this time I want to give my love to the person who appreciates the pearl of my life, that I have turned these abrasions into something of value and beauty.

This man of mine came to sit with me when I had pneumonia, leaving a job site early. He sat with my son when he had pneumonia, too, because I couldn't while I was recovering myself. This man of mine sends roses and chocolates unexpectedly. He's taken on learning tango and it's not an easy dance. He's looking for work in my state, and leaving a life that he has been building since 1990 in Atlanta. All of these little things stack in his favor and work on my fear and errors until I begin to believe that they really don't matter anymore.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Love, trials and abuse

I've had pneumonia since the end of April. It has given me good reason to appreciate simple things like breath, like being able to walk and take care of day-to-day things. It has also been an opportunity to be in love with the man who stopped work to fly in and take care of me...even without the basic tools to do so.

The strange thing about this illness is that I believe it was brought on by the continued post-traumatic stress I experience from the demise of my 20 year relationship with emotional and physical abuse. It is just plainly a confusing, confusing experience. There is nothing clear-cut about it. Nothing. It would seem from the outside that I could not possibly still love the man who hit me over the years and made me believe everything that went wrong was my fault. Yet, as our 20th anniversary day, for our wedding, approached I got sicker and sicker because I missed the comforts of a "stable" relationship. I missed having my children in my home every morning. I missed knowing that I would be inevitably disappointed by the celebration of my endurance, disappointed in whatever paltry offering was given to me to show some sort of appreciation for years of service. I missed having the purpose of endurance, of doing it because I loved him and believed in his goodness even after all of the counter-evidence.

I also missed his actual goodness. There is that. He is not a simple monster. He is a man with failings. I know he loved me as he could, and that it wasn't enough for me, which then makes me feel like the failure, like the uncompromising person. Why couldn't I have given him one more opportunity to evolve? Why did I decide two years ago that he'd used up his chances? The fact that he is having more financial success now, that he's traveling with his girlfriend, and seems to be inserting himself in the parent groups at school more successfully than I am, makes me feel wrong and makes me second-guess myself. Maybe I am the wrong one, the one who made life miserable? I'm sure that is what he "shows" everyone, because he is a reconstructionist if nothing else. Here I am, continuing to endure his abuse silently and without defenses. It feels neverending.

There is the story of the Buddhist Nun from Tibet who was tortured by Chinese guards before escaping and building a life again. She, years later, sees one of the guards and after she speaks to a crowd, he approaches her and apologizes. She asks him what kind of life he's built for himself now, and he tells her it is a good life, with family and financial success, and she says she forgives him not for what he did to her, but because he's built a decent life and become a force of good.

I wonder if I'll ever get to the point where I can be that magnanimous. I resent the goodness I see in my ex-husband's life. I wonder why he couldn't muster that for me? I feel like he does good things as a competition with me rather than for good itself. Especially, when he won't pay for our son's antibiotics refill when he's spilled the medicine and won't accept responsibility for it. Especially, when he withdraws paying for our daughter's therapy, and complains that he doesn't have enough money for them because he has to pay child support (less than $200 a month) and won't give me a copy of his taxes so I can find out if he should be paying more. That isn't very compassionate of me, is it? I feel petulant. I feel it is not fair. I don't know if I'll ever make it to enlightenment from here. I feel much less enlightened on the outside of abuse, than I did in the midst of it. Isn't that strange?

The strangest expression of my post-trauma is my obsession with the abuse of women in general around the world. I cannot skip any article on google that illustrates how little women are valued. The Fritzl case, the FLDS case, the fact that Hillary gets picked on for everything that comes out of her mouth as being "shrill" and her experience and steadiness and feistiness is largely ignored by the press, for instance, have become my obsessions. I know reading this stuff is not improving my outlook and yet I cannot stop myself. I have written letters to the women of the FLDS, and to Elisabeth Fritzl to encourage them to break free. In my 102F fevered delerium, I lay on a hospital bed sending mental prayers to Elisabeth Fritzl to know that she was not alone, even if what she experienced was extreme, and that somehow she'll recover. Was it not that I was sending that prayer to myself?

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Weasley's House Versus The Desperate Housewive's House

I live in a very modest public housing 3-bedroom duplex. Thankfully, it is new so everything works fairly well. I've had trouble making it feel like home because my ex-husband took most of the furniture for public spaces -- the Italian leather sofa I bought, for instance. At first I thought, "Why do I need a sofa?" There is only one reason for a sofa -- cuddling. That's what I found out.

So, one of the very wise people that is in my world suggested that I think about how my choices in 1994 and 2001 were playing out now, and to realize that I am also making choices today that will play out when I am 56. That was very upsetting because in 1994 I had a clear choice to leave my marriage before we had children. I even turned to someone for help, and he did not help me but "turned me in" to my husband as now a "cheating" spouse. It was a defining moment in my life. If I had not caved and apologized for even trying to get away in that year, I would not have had my particular children, but also I might be further along in creating a substantial life. I made a decision to stay and try to work on the marriage for another 12 years. 12 years is a long stretch of life.

Then again in 2001, after I had both of my children and my husband had been laid off right after 911, I became afraid again and chose to drive across the country instead of flying. That took us on a 9-week road trip which sapped the few resources we had while my husband tried to figure out what he was going to do with his life. There is no doubt in my mind that had we flew to Denver for the visit with the children, that he would have found more work in Portland, and maybe would have stayed on anti-depressants and there may have been a chance for us to get help.

Now I'm looking at my life again and I'm envisioning where I might like to land in my mid-fifties. Yesterday I created a very clean vision based upon the idea that I would like to be a successful writer, have a beautiful home, have good relationships with my kids, have a respectful and loving relationship. That all sounds great doesn't it? But, it didn't feel right. It felt like a Desperate Housewives scenario. The plan would take me perhaps towards financial well-being, but it felt cold and lonely and frankly exhausting. In order to rebuild my life from this modest 3-bedroom public housing duplex, to a mini-mansion estate would require that I give up tango and co-masonry in order to write my little heart out. The balance of my children's childhood would be dealing with a mother who was working all the time as I am now to stay afloat. It left me wondering if I can afford to be in love with a man who travels for work, or if our desire to have a child could fit into the goal.

My mother, to put this in context, traveled all of her 40s and early 50s with a wealthy, but demanding man. When she was in her mid-fifties he literally "fired" her as his companion -- via fax. So, she was left without a stable income, without a home to call her own, and she's been paying for that ever since. I want to have stability and to have my career, whatever it may be, peaking in my mid-fifties. However, what does that really mean in light of the fact that my priorities are truly raising happy, interesting kids who feel free in my home to be themselves?

I realized late, late last night that the reason this plan of mine did not feel right is because I'm more of a Weasley-type of person. I want to have a magical household that is full of love and connection. I want to be free to make my weird choice to love first and worry about how it will all work out second. I want to be courageous in my choice to bring another child into the world because this soul speaks to me -- and whether I end up adopting or creating this baby with my love, I do not know. If though all of that comes to pass then necessarily things get to be more messy, less of a straight line to least material stability.

When I would find the time to write a novel, or four, in the next twelve years is beyond me. I like my job at the Boulder JCC. I love to serve the greater good. I love teaching others how to write. I am never happier than when I tango. My devotional work is more important than any of this, and yet all of this prevents me from making that pristine future, where I can pay all of my bills easily, happen.

I spend hours on the phone with my lover rather than writing. Am I doing this because I am afraid of success? I used to kick myself about these kinds of choices, but now I am beginning to see that I have to let go of the television ideal of what life should look like if you're being a reasonable person...and embrace more of the Weasley model for happiness.

I would much rather know I had people around me who could depend on each other in a scrap. I want to have an open-door policy for life. Whatever my kids or my lover needs, I want to give. If I end my life with a bunch of half-finished pieces of work, well maybe someone can cobble them together and see a full life, lived with love.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

polygamists in Texas

The strange thing is I find myself totally obsessed with stories like the 400 plus women and children found in the compound of Fundamentalist LDS Church in Texas. I wondered why until I started reading stories about how these women cover up the truth of their situation, and I realize that I was not so very different from them in my ability to create subterfuge and denial. And, further more I felt I was doing it as an expression of my faith.

So, I've mentioned I have to keep fairly good and peaceful relationship tactics going with my former husband because the courts have split our children down the middle in spite of the fact that he admitted that he hit me to a court appointed psychologist. Of course, he told him that I provoked my punishment. I get to talk to him multiple times a week still, and I am aware that he still takes no responsibility for it, nor perhaps does he remember the violence and anger in our lives for twenty-two years. I know this because just this week he seemed to be asking me for an apology for disrupting his life plan. "You started it," said he, "I would have stayed until the bitter end."

I really wanted to say, "Fuck you," or at least, "Who wants bitter endings?" but instead I was stung and I laughed and said something deflective. He seems to think that my ambivalence means that I really want to reunite, when in fact, I'm just struggling not to start a fight, not to set him off on some tangent that will lead us back into a custody battle. It is an old tactic of mine -- ambivalence.

Which brings me back to the women of the polygamist cults. After 20 years or a lifetime in an abusive situation, you learn to believe that you've only got your wits to rely on and that NO BODY WILL HELP. The ability to apologize for the worlds' ills, to take responsibility for one's self becomes one's only source of pride. I can apologize for anything and totally believe it is my responsibility -- rather than be confronting or threatening. I am absolutely sure that amongst those women there are those who believe that the women who want to leave the situation are weaker because of it. Their pride in staying, in keeping whatever vows they made has become the thread upon which they survive in terms of a sense of self no matter how warped. They cannot understand a 16 year old girl who crumbles under the same pressure they've made themselves endure. They probably believe somewhere inside that she deserves the punishment because they believe they deserve the punishment because they've taken responsibility for their abusers infractions.

Yes, I know this is insane, but having done it for years myself, I can only send those beautiful mothers who are trying scrape together some kind of happiness, all of my compassion. They're wrong. I was wrong. I hope they do get out, and get more help than I got because they're in the headlines because they have the more acute situation. I am praying for them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Paris in the springtime

Doesn't that sound just fabulous? Paris in the springtime sounded like a dream to me ten years ago. I had a one-year old daughter, and hadn't spent as much time mothering her as I had dreamed of doing, and I had been working on a weekly STAR TREK magazine for over a year and a half without a break. Even when I had my daughter, after 36 hours of labor at home, I was working on that damned magazine 12 hours later. It was a relentless job of constant maintenance. When I took it on I hadn't realized that there would never ever be a break, but I was well-compensated, and my husband had the opportunity to do some commercial directing work for the owners of the magazine. All he had to do was put together a credible script and budget...

So, we planned our trip based on the idea that the money from his directing would pay for the trip since we had to go to London to meet with them. Then as long as we were in London, why not also go to Paris since I had a magazine client to meet with there as well. And, since we were both going to have to work, why not take my mother along to help with our daughter? This all seemed like such a good plan at the time. It would be partially written off for business, and finally I'd get to see the left bank for real!

Of course, the husband completely misread the bosses and created a Hollywood-style budget to beat the band with every bell and whistle included. The commercial was merely $260K over the budget they had envisioned, and they canned him. Our tickets were already paid for though, and I had meetings set up in London with Paramount folks, and in Paris with magazine folks, and so we went on my dime. Couldn't pay taxes now, but what could be done. Husband promised he'd find a way to repay me.

Those were the days when you could bring lots of wrapped items onto carry on, so in the weeks preceding our trip I prepared for traveling with a 14-month old by buying umpteen little gifts for her to unwrap all the way to London. I can't imagine how people travel with young ones today. We sat four across the middle of the plane. Our little girl was so well-behaved and cheerful people got off the plane telling us that we'd changed their minds about having children. I nursed her through the take-offs and landings so her little ears wouldn't hurt her, and we landed in London in the middle of the afternoon to snow falling over the city.

We stayed in a flat in Bellsize, and it was really perfect with a washer/dryer and things we needed like TV to help divert her when I was on the phone working. I worked and met and worked and met, and my mother, my daughter and my husband toured London, my favorite city. I had been there four years earlier and gave them a good list of things to do. I did manage a trip to Covent Gardens, and the bosses took us to Portabello Road, and then also had us out to their country house near Oxford for High Tea. It was beautiful, brisk springtime with lots of green, and that's all I remember about it because I was either nursing or I was working.

So, then we took the Chunnel to Paris which was really cool. We got to our flat in the Mareille, and it was every bit the artist's garret that's been described in every book about being a starving artist in Paris. The husband, my daughter and I slept on a fold out futon that sloped to one side, and my mother slept in the bedroom. I got not a wink of sleep for a week, and subsisted on coffee and pan au chocolat. Of course, this is what my little girl subsisted on too as I was nursing her. So you can imagine how restful it was.

I had my meetings with publishers, and then my husband and my mother decided we had to visit museums in order to experience Paris. So in my exhaustion we went to the Louvre, the museums of Rodin and his lover Camille, the Sacre-Cour (sp?) and on and on, walking and walking. There was dog poop everywhere so my daughter had to be carried and it was just when she wanted to walk. All I wanted to do was go to little book shops and sit and drink coffee and smoke cigarettes in outdoor cafes. I was so tired! I was really on the verge of collapse when my mother finally decided to take Be for the evening while the husband and I went out. Of course, we had to go on the most expensive cruise up the Rhine (is that the river there?), and of course, I paid. We have a photo of us that my daughter keeps in which we look so happy. Well I drank a lot. Still my mother and husband were furious and united against me that I was a sour-puss and didn't want to have fun, and they abused my good will completely to the point where I was considering getting on a plane with Beatrix myself and leaving them to enjoy the stupid museums.

The husband's solution to my exhaustion was to have us meet some professor friends of his parents and then he decided we should take them up on their offer to stay at their country house in the mountains south of Lyons for an extra week away. Which I paid for. I was the FedEx commercial of the little truck finding us at the edge of society, as we stayed at "Les Iris" with me working on the STAR TREK magazine while he went for hikes in the mountains. My mother moped at being away from "culture". My daughter played amongst the irises when it was warm enough. I read endless STAR TREK galleys.

My favorite place on that trip was Annecy. What a beautiful, clean place, where my now 15-month old said her first word -- nur -- for nursing. The canals, the mountain, the lake! We stayed only a day there, in a modern hotel, but it seemed like such a relief for some reason. Perhaps it was the weekend and I had no FedEx's left, and I finally could have a day to sight see and my mother and my husband had never been there before and didn't feel they had to boss me around.

Someday I want to go back to Europe and just see it and have my own way with the place.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jewish...but not

On Easter, I always find it most confusing to be half-Jewish. It is the least believable of all the Christ tales, and of course the most significant to being able to call oneself, "Christian". I really love that TV movie, "Jesus of Nazareth." I believe it totally, as much as I believe in Mary Poppins and the Wicked Witch of the West and the love of Rhett and Scarlet. I love the music of "Godspell" and "Jesus Christ Superstar." These depictions move me to utter belief in that reality.

As I've matured though, and explored the deeply held faiths of other cultures, and even delved haphazardly in the Jewish faith of my own family, I slam into the inner skeptic. I find myself making excuses for a belief held in Christianity that seems really now much more like a flimsy remake of some good original material. I read of Mithra, and Serapes Bay, and even of Amenhotep, and I have to wonder. I read of the Goddesses Ishtar, Inana, and Ashara and wonder how Eostar, the birth of the star, the fertility rights of Spring Equinox got so confused.

It begins to feel like Christianity is no more than a crazy game of "grapevine," where we've whispered secrets so long that the original message is lost and garbled into a funny story that should make us all laugh. That we've crusaded, crushed kingdoms, burned women over it, of course, removes the laughter quite completely.

Still I love the music, "Oh happy day! Oh Haaaappy Daaa-ay! When Jesus washed my sins away! Oh Happy Day!"

The simple beauty of a man, revealed as the true nature of God, dying in a terrible injustice and rising from this death to declare his eternal love for humanity humbles the storyteller in me. I really love that this man's story tells us that he's Jewish, deeply enmeshed in the lineage of his Jewishness, the sons of David, a Prince and Ruler in Israel.

I can relate to that "Jewish, but not..." aspect so personally. I come from a proud disenfranchised, barely-believing Jewish family. Lately, I've become aware of how much I missed out on because I was never taught much about my Jewishness other than the food, a few words in Yiddish, and some local glory in Denver's past. I have found myself wondering and wondering about why my grandparents walked away, why they never taught me anything. Was it because they no longer believed, really? That's the claim. I wonder though if they didn't teach me because to them I wasn't really Jewish, since my mother is a Christian.

My grandmother, who I called, "Mamaw" used to say to me, "I'm sure that Jesus was a very nice man." That phrase probably has influenced my faith more than any other statement that was ever uttered to me. Did she know? Did she know that I would never ever be able to invest myself in the "Godliness" of Jesus the man? She, the girl who never missed a Sunday school Hebrew lesson growing up? She was no dummy.

Neither was my "Papaw" who took us for a picnic on the holiest day of the Jewish year -- Yom Kippur. I find myself wondering, Why that day? Why a picnic? Why always a painting and a walk in the woods? Was it really about irreverence? Thumbing his nose at the Rabbi's, who'd demanded he, the son of the Temple's founders, come up with the money for a pew, for the High Holidays, or not come at all during the height of the Depression? Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, of at-one-ment, my only Jewish holiday, expressed in such a backwards, strange way. Yet, no day of the year was more important to me during my childhood, not Christmas, not Easter. There was no day that felt MORE reverent than the day I got out of school to spend time with my family in the woods.

I mourn my confusion only because I have done such a piss poor job at creating moments of quiet reverence, or phrases of truth for my children. They are materialistic and hate anything that smacks of ritual. My daughter's skeptic is huge, much huger than mine, and I can see she rejects my wonder and hopes that she see through the easy explanations, and my son just doubts a lot. I have given them too much information, if anything, instead of too little.

What happened to Christ the Jew? It wasn't until 300 years after his death that Christianity was anything other than a sect of Judaism. Was he God? No, not to to me, anymore at least than I am God. That's another blog. He was a Jew. He was an adept, highly studied and educated, perhaps beyond the bounds of his Jewishness. Perhaps, he traveled and learned of the Hindi, the Zoroastrians, the Buddhists and brought new ideas into Judaism. Perhaps, he did die and live again, but all in all, I'm sure what it boils down to is this, "I'm sure he was a very nice man." That is as far as I can go. Happy Spring Equinox!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

what's most important

The point is that for years the most important thing to me was to be married and prove that anyone could love anyone. I believed with all my heart that my ex-husband would one day appreciate, cherish and love me. He said he loved me, but the proof for me had to be acceptance and non-violence. It's not that I am the easiest person in the world always, but I believed that love could find a way to accept me basically as I am without having to define me, label me, or make me behave differently. My ex-husband used to call me, "My ever-changing Amanda." That was the moment I felt he loved me the most, that was the closest he came to accepting that I am what I am. I wonder if I am somehow insufficient myself because I could not love him when he would not stop pushing me around and calling me names and always having to have everything his way. I mean we see movies all the time where there is this acceptance of abuse as part of the relationship. I couldn't love it.

Yet, I still suffer so much because I love many other parts of him. I love him wrongly though. I love him more as a mother loves a son than as a woman loves a man. That has always been true I suppose. I never could see him as a true partner because he just never was. I know this is true because I'm now experiencing what it is like to have someone who loves me as a man loves a woman, and how it is to love as a woman loves a man, and I can say that this was not the experience of my marriage. Acceptance is the biggest part of this. There is no need for apology because mistakes are part of the bargain.

It was suggested by my daily astrology somewhere today that I should list out what is most important to me so that I wouldn't be distracted by task-givers. I thought I might record those things here because it gets down to the real point. I get really distracted by enjoyables and things to do, I find, and it takes me a while to get to the real point.

What is most important:
  • My kids' well-being (food and shelter, emotional and psychological and physical health)
  • My own well-being (ditto)
  • Expressing my true gifts (as a writer and teacher, dancer of life)
  • Doing my duty, working (in service of humanity)
  • Kindness and love (true relationships)
  • Being competent (fulfilling my promises, establishing stability)
  • Continued faith in goodness (in spite of outward appearances)
  • Beauty (natural and hand-made)
  • Studying the Masters (gaining wisdom)
  • Peace (within and without)

I'm not sure how to bring all of this to bear in my life sometimes because I spend so much mental energy grappling with how much off base I was in my former existence. It is truly crossing the abyss on a thread of hope.

Monday, March 17, 2008

nervous exhaustion

I may finally be succumbing to nervous exhaustion. I haven't slept well in over two weeks. Horrors. When I think of what people around the world -- in Darfur, in Iraq, in Israel and Palestine, in Sudan and in Tibet have to put up with, I think I'm a pretty sorry excuse for evolvement. Nevertheless, I can't seem to sleep more than a few hours. My head hurts a lot of the time, and I'm finding it hard to be with people.

I know intellectually it seems like a good time to go to a Doctor, but I'm uninsured and have just spent all of my extra money proving to my kids that they're loved and that they will have nice things on their birthdays and that life is not all so bad. Har. A few points here are a stretch for me right now. I feel dishonest about the stuff, the experience of their birthday celebrations. They looked pretty pumped up but I couldn't have done it without the help of my lover.

Why can't I be small? Why can't I be a streamers and balloons taped to the wall kind of mother? I simply cannot make do with less and thus am driven to work three jobs to pay for things like birthdays they'll remember. I asked my son if he'd remember this birthday, his seventh, and he actually laughed, and said, "Yeah, right mom. I'll be like 100 years old and think, 'I remember that sleepover I had at my Dad's with Ariel, (his friend) and who were those other people, I wonder.'" God he's brilliant. I could have cried. I just about killed myself, my lover, and 12 little kids to make this birthday a bash for him, and he's so brilliant, already. Can I please remember this next year? Please, please, please...

The problem is that I remember my 7th birthday, my 6th, my 5th, etc. I have this memory that won't let go of anything. I'm like a safety deposit box. Put in memory, and it stays forever. I have to REMEMBER that not everyone, not most people, remember things like I do.

This is one thing that saved me during my marriage, however, because my ex-husband is such a revisionist. He simply doesn't remember hurting me that badly, and paints a convincing picture that my perception was wrong. Though because I remember everything with such detail, it never sent me into complete oblivion.

He got this talent from his mother who doesn't remember, now, for instance, that she was so frightened by her son's anger she was prepared to call the police if he ever came over to her house again. She was able to completely revise that memory so that it never happened and she now believes he is an angel. This would make someone with an average memory feel loony, but for me it just illustrated what a bunch of liars was his family.

Now, to write this in such a public forum actually makes me feel guilty and panicked about being discovered, but that's another blog for another night.

Well, I'm sleepy. Let's see if I can make it through 6 hours tonight....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

facing demons

But I don't believe in demons! Now after a week of restlessness, I have to admit that maybe I must incrementally, at least, open the door to the fact that I have demons and they need to be turned into angels.

My lover says it is different for everyone, facing demons. He says that every demon demands attention until there is no ignoring them. Some demons resolve themselves overnight, and others may take months or years.

I have to admit also that seeing my erupting feelings about the state of my life as demons feels very visceral. I kind of confuse the mental image of these demons with the little statues that protect churches -- gargoyles? My anthropomorphizing of too big emotions may be a way to belittle them again. If I don't have to take the image of the demon very seriously then I don't have to take the feelings very seriously...hmmmm.

My demons have been waking me up lately at 3 in the morning. They've been squeezing my chest so tightly that I can scarcely breath sometimes. They pull on my legs as if I'm on a rack, or make me feel that my brain is actually filthy and wouldn't it be nice if I could run cool water through my head until it runs clear again. No amount of stretching or breathing seems to slow down my heart rate once it gets going, and I think I'm actually having panic attacks in my sleep.

It's probably post-traumatic stress syndrome, but what are you going to do about that? I mean my adrenals were shot years ago. I used to see an acupuncturist who could not account for my shot adrenals, and we would wonder over this amazing phenom as if I was this perfectly normal person who happened to have shot adrenals. Do you think it was maybe because I lived in a state of flight or fight? Hmmmm.

The biggest demon is probably the one called "Justice". I really don't get this one and it is Justice that turns me into a weeping fool, a two-year old wanting what I want, and he ignores me completely. Another one is "Survival" and she holds hands with Justice and winks. Then there is "Must" who bosses me around endlessly. There's "Shame" who acts like an iron anchor sinking into a cold and endless ocean of emotion. There's "Can't," and she pronounces her name with a distinctive southern accent from somewhere in my primordial ancestry. "Grief" is a puppy, nippy and yappy and peeing and pooping all over everything I care about. Those are all that I can face tonight.

It's the best I can do, so please let me sleep.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Geez, what an idiot

It is challenging to read the previous post without thinking, "Geez, I must be the biggest idiot."

Yes, I stayed in a cycle of domestic violence well past the expiration date. I understand I should never have married the man based on the fact that he choked me over a bathroom sink even before we were engaged. I get that, I really do. So, what compelled me to stay after he slammed me to the ground on a camping trip in Dinosaur National Monument, leaving a handprint on my face that he asked me to explain as a hives break out? How could I have loved such a villain?

Simply put: hubris. It's an old-fashioned word. It means excessive pride or arrogance. I loved him, but it isn't as simple as loving him and believing he would change from that. It is a complicated mixture of believing I could conquer the monster in him and bring out the lover, and believing that it didn't matter who I married so much as it mattered that I commit myself 100% to the success of the marriage, and believing that I was so special that I could actually bring peace to our violent relationship and thus be a true drop of success in the cesspool of our world's habitual commitment to agression. I mean I read books on Non-violence and brought them home. I was my own experiment in learning "grace". I was not always successful in rising to the demands a non-violent response required of me, but it was my intention.

Why did I love him? I loved his humanity. I loved his cock-eyed enthusiasm, and his lack of rhythm and his disjointed meaningless, though oddly meaningful poetry. He told my parents the first time he met them that he intended to take care of me, and so I loved his intentions as much as I loved my own intentions. In many ways he did his best, I believe, as did I but we were not a match in temperment, in ways of being and no amount of praying for relief could really make up for that fact. He longed to climb mountains and go to dangerous places. I longed to be on the stage singing in musicals. He longed for fame as a director. I longed to produce the great work that would be an artistic legacy. He would have been so happy had I just written one commercial script that was basic and scary. I would have been so happy if he could have just stopped moving the camera so much. We couldn't do any of this for each other.

We lived in 12 homes in the 20 years we were together, moving more than once every two years. It wasn't like he or I was in the army. We just couldn't get comfortable anywhere. I kept moving with the thought that in this house the violence would finally end. There were periods of seeming stability. Moments when I was sure we'd turned the corner. That's why after 11 years together I decided it would be all right to bring a child into our mess. I got pregnant at a time when I was able to support us with ease. I made $15K a month sometimes and we spent every penny of it on what I have no idea. We bought a better house, a house that I thought would be the violence free house, but wasn't, and rather than help me with daily chores while I worked and nursed around the clock, I had to pay for a housekeeper, a nanny, and a gardener. It was really as if I was alone anyway. He spent his time installing two-way television phones and producing and directing short films and working occassionally for me.

After the children joined us it became a mission to end the violence and to stick it out in the marriage because I remembered the disjointed feeling of my own parents' divorce. I had discovered shortly before I got pregnant the first time, that psychologists were no help at all and often detrimental to my good health. The therapist I had gone to for help decided even though he was 70, that I must really think he was a hot number and that I wanted his body. I really felt completely alone.

The longer I stayed in the marriage the more unbelievable I felt my story would be to those who attested to care for me. They would feel betrayed. They would see how I lied to them. I would be the most untrustworthy person on earth.

There were clear moments when I could have should have would have left because of some other atrocious behavior -- like his untimely confession to my clients in London that they were paying him for absolutely nothing at all except the use of our house. Or when he decided that we should declare bankruptcy and move out of the city where I had found good friends and our children were happy and into a farm town on the Front Range into a house that his mother had picked out, bought and paid for a block away from her eventual home. Those were obvious times to leave. Yet, I loved him and still I believed that if I believed in him as his parents so obviously didn't, if I showed him that he could in fact save himself, if I just shrunk up a little bit more, that all would be well.

So, my mission of invisibility began in earnest when we left Los Angeles, and ended when I told him to leave our home in Boulder 8 years later. I actually had figured that if I just went limp that maybe he would fill the void and not be such a scared little boy. I folded up my wings, my ambitions and determined to do only the smallest things, to only support his endeavors, to focus my energy on the kids, and to let him have the rest of the world. If things came to easily to me, I stepped back from them in the hopes that he wouldn't notice I had stepped out of the unspoken bounds.

I had a friend who finally pointed out that maybe I was thinking too much. That maybe all of my scheming and thinking had so eclipsed my feelings that I no longer knew them. Believe it or not, this was my revelation. Feeling my way through my life became not only possible but my life line. It was only reconnecting to my feelings that allowed me to climb out of my strategy.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Secrets and Rationalizations

When I was a young woman, I married a man who I loved, a man who had already started out our relationship rationalizing that if he hit me with an open-hand it wasn’t as bad as if he hit me with a fist. I married this man, who asked me to keep his rationalization a secret, and with no understanding that this secret formed our intimate connection.

No one in their right mind would have looked at me and thought this is the picture of a statistic, an abused woman, caught in a cycle of domestic violence. Practically the only person who knew that I was abused was my abuser. It took me 20 years to acknowledge the very basics of the relationship I was in. It took me 20 years to look at the limitations this relationship demanded of me and break out of that container.

I want to explore those limitations as a belief system I had, and really as an integral part of what I believe now. Without that abusive cycle, I would not be the woman that I am today. I am not grateful for the abuse, but I am grateful that I survived and became strong enough in myself to leave it behind. What being abused forced in me was a deep exploration of faith and peace. To understand that at first I fought back, and in the middle I surrendered in prayer, and in the end I walked away, is to see the evolution of my soul.

Certainly, I had a choice year after year, but until I left, I was not ready to leave. What must be understood is that physical abuse was only part of the abuse. The cycle of violence was the true abuse. It must have been an addiction of sorts to go through periods of relative happiness and peace, to experience the stress of a build up to the inevitable aggression and then to be the victim of some atrocious behavior, like having my head slammed repeatedly on the floor, and then almost immediately returning to a state of calm.

I believed for many years that I could change the man I loved by changing myself, by accommodating his choices, by becoming invisible, by viewing the abuse as a challenge to evolve. I believed that I could become so peaceful that he would lose interest in abusing me. But, of course, my happiness triggered his anger as much as my distress because it really had nothing to do with me at all.

It was only when I realized that his behavior had no relationship to me that I recognized that no progress in my life could be permanent or whole if I stayed. I would be abused whether I behaved like a two year old, or whether I was an angel in our relationship. I also realized that staying with him was preventing him from taking responsibility for his own behavior. If I consistently let him behave poorly and he suffered no consequence except my distress, and that consequence didn’t seem to register as important to him, then how could he learn that he was being criminal in the way he treated me?

I, of course, resisted this realization for as long as I could because we have two children, because I was in a habit of being in the relationship. Because I survived for so long, I supposed that this was all I could expect of my life. It finally took becoming aware of my own pain, and the pain of my children to find the courage to leave. I can only explain it this way – as long as I was invested in the layers of rationalization, I could only experience the pain in a feeling of resentment and anger. That allowed me to stay for 20 years, but when I really felt the pain, when I allowed myself to really feel the shock of being slammed against the wall, of being called hideous names, of being told who and what I was by someone who abused me, only then was I able to know that this behavior was wrong and there was no rational excuse for it. I couldn’t live with it anymore and I left. Now, I only have this vague shadow of abuse when I have to arrange parenting time or cross paths with mutual acquaintances in the town in which we both live.

I believe violence in the world is a macrocosm of this domestic violence microcosm. We, the abusers, rationalize our behavior. We, the abused, fight back, or believe we can stop being a target if only we can become invisible enough, or we pray for deliverance. We live with cycles of peace, stress, aggression, peace and we disallow our pain and suffering and replace them with anger and desire for revenge, or acceptance that being picked on is our lot in life, all in order to retain the status quo. As long as we remain comfortable with the secret of our true pain, the cycle will continue. Eventually, though, we’ll allow ourselves to see how we’ve hurt another and we’ll have to reconcile ourselves with our role. Eventually, we’ll allow ourselves to lick our wounds and turn our backs on our abuser. The walls will stand for a long time. The consequences will be met out.

Forgiveness is the only hope left to us when the violence has played out. It is harder work, perhaps, and that is why we avoid it. To forgive myself for allowing these things to go on for so many years is my hardest task right now. Forgiving the man I loved for something he still cannot acknowledge is still easier for me. I realize it is self-abuse not to forgive myself, but that reconciliation is my challenge of the moment. A wise friend told me that forgiveness keeps the heart alive. We must forgive, but we must never forget. I must never forget my own self-betrayal, though I must forgive it.

This I believe…that a life is a container within which is held the Universe. This is the kosmicegg that the Greeks thought was the alphabet. It is the article through which all can be expressed. We fight against being limited by our lives, but that limitation is exactly what creates the challenges and opportunities we need to evolve, to progress.

Friday, February 22, 2008

It's Okay. I'm Okay.

What a horrible thing it was when "It's okay," became a part of the human lexicon. It doesn't actually mean anything. We think it means that whatever is going on is copescetic, but if you really pay attention you'll notice that you use this phrase when everything is not quite right and you don't know how to respond properly. "It's okay" or "I'm okay" is like a signal to me that I am out of sync, out of time, feeling rushed to express an opinion.

How are you? I'm okay. Okay. Not great. Not bad. Not anything describable and so I refuse to share even a spec of truth about myself.

Most of the time these days I am so not okay that I find myself saying "I'm okay," almost all the time. It is a deflective comment to make the question go away, and I can see it is unsatisfactory, and some people don't get the hint and insist on pressing further. "No really, I'm okay."

It's not anything I can speak to if I say, "I'm okay." I know that I'm being slippery. I know in a sense I'm lying.

I mean I am doing well on many levels. Last year I was living out of my suitcase in the spare room at my Dad's house with both of my kids, and driving through the worst winter I can remember to get them 30 miles away to school. I was working freelance and thinking that surely it would get better, but it got much much worst until it got better. So, now I can say I am better than I was a year ago. I have a home, and I'm making almost enough money regularly to pay for my very most basic needs. I have a dog. I have my kids half of the time.

Last year I had a weird boyfriend, who was so sweet, but then would just not show up until he finally called me and said, "Darling, I don't want my problems to become your problems." and then completely disappeared. Completely. This year I have a boyfriend who lives 1/4 of a world away, who I can count on absolutely to show up when he says he will show up, but who can only show up every month or six weeks and the rest of the time is only reachable by phone or email, and not even that reliably. I have hopes for this one, but I refuse to sink into the fantasy that our lives will finally come together...until they finally come together.

This year I am a work-aholic. I am so afraid not to work hard that I cannot even take three hours, when I'm not sleeping, from email, from my responsibilities. I don't dance much. I am not experiencing much beyond the overwhelming sense that I am responsible for turning my life around, taking care of my kids, taking care of the long-term prospects for my parents, taking care of creating a real, stable and secure existence once and for all. I cannot see anything else. I have tunnel vision about these topics. I don't see tango dancing as an option anymore.

Yet, I have to say I know that without tango dancing I'm a less wonderful person. I enjoy my life less. I have less hope for some relief from the pressing questions about my okayness. If I were tango dancing, I could say firmly, "I'm still dancing."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

This is my new dog, Lucille. She is a princess of light, just as her name so aptly declares. She fooled me at the shelter into thinking she was a mellow pooch, but it turned out she had a really bad case of kennel cough. Now, that she's feeling much better it seems she is but a mischievious, lively puppy who is eager to get her mistress moving a lot more than her mistress had planned. Ah well. She'll have benefits for me that I hadn't predicted...
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Sunday, January 13, 2008

you're in or you're out of ... the bubble

I'm not talking about the Real Estate bubble that burst. I'm so out of that bubble it wasn't until I saw the word "bubble" that I realized most people would probably associate the bubble with some kind of financial boon. The tech bubble, the real estate bubble, these are not what I am about in any way shape or form. Nope. I'm talking about the tango bubble.

The surge of tango in my life could be likened to a bubble. I found it after I separated from my husband of 18 years, and in this bubble was a magic substance that seemed for a time to fill me with such joy and satisfaction that I was sure it would never end. I was fairly obsessed, though less so than others I've met on the tango path. I only own one pair of tango shoes, because that is all I could afford. I've only taken a few private lessons. I've only ever danced maybe as many as four nights a week, but more often I danced two nights, or a night and an afternoon practica (a practice dance). The bubble lasted a year and a few months.

There were moments when I was very insecure about my dancing, and there were moments when I knew I had the makings of a great milonguera (social dancer). I could feel the dance in my body, taking over every movement, allowing me to sink into something other than the trauma of going through a custody battle, and recovering from an abusive relationship, of being homeless and jobless. Tango may have saved my life. It allowed me to say, "I tango," when others asked me how I kept my courage up.

So, why did it end? It did end, a slow peter out sort of way, but there was a moment when I stepped outside of the bubble of tango. I find it fascinating to recall because I still don't really understand how it shifted so completely internally, but it boils down to this: Love killed tango. How could that be? Isn't tango the most romantic dance in the world? Welllllllll. That's the rub.

Tango, I once heard someone say, is all about unrequited love. The heartache of not having someone you desperately want to have, and only being able to offer this dance, this tanda. It is a secret passion, a love affair in plain sight.

So, I am an utterly satisfied woman in love, and now I have no patience for the world of tango. I didn't even know it was happening until last night.

I have a good friend, God bless him, that I tango with every few weeks, and he increasingly has become the only man I enjoy tangoing with anymore. He is nearly the only man in the scene who knows my lover, who knows where I stand in relationship, and it is a different experience to dance with him because we have fun. Is it unrequited love? No, not exactly. It's fun! It's more about our mutual love for tango than about our feelings for one another. Our affair is with tango itself, and that makes it wonderful. So, last night I went to a dance, a milonga, with him, and we had some great tandas.

But not another man asked me to dance all evening. It was a round rejection by a room full of men who dance the dance I love. I had to wonder as I sat outside the bubble looking in, why I wasn't attracting dances or even friendly conversation for the most part.

I am not an easy wall flower. I like to be out there in the action, but I could not bring myself to accomodate the scene. I realized this has been happening more and more lately. I go to dances and I find I can't play the cabaceo thing, a complicated Latin-style flirtation to attract dances. I feel uncomfortable, as if I'm leading someone on, and can't complete anything with them because I don't even potentially have the capacity to fall in love with them for a dance. Suddenly, I could understand why some of my friends don't want to tango!

Not only that, I can't turn off my own style during a dance anymore. I find I want to express MYSELF not the Lead's request. I know just enough tango to be dangerous to a unsure Lead who can't handle that expression from a Follow. Perhaps in that bubble-time, I didn't have any dreams or desires of my own and that's why it was so good to tango. I don't know. These are all questions I'm pondering nowadays as my life is getting rebuilt around a stronger axis.

The man I love is learning how to tango for me. It is a slow and painful process that could really take years to gel because he travels for work so much, and can't really practice. He also likes to be alone with me, and I with him and so getting out to tango doesn't always rise to the top of our priorities. He knows I love this dance, and submits himself to the horrors of relearning how to walk, and think like a four-legged animal. I want to share the dance with him, but now it gives me pause. Unrequited love is definitely not what we're about.

Last night as I watched couples spin around the floor, feeling miffed about not being included, I thought that they looked like exotic fish in an aquarium. And, though I once had gills, they seem to have turned into lungs. I was outside of their bubble, longing on some level to return, and on another level eager to see where my lungs might take me.