Friday, October 28, 2011

It's just emotion taking me over

Last weekend, I went to see a great movie called 50/50. I loved it, but I went through  a whole package of pocket-sized tissue.   I know I wasn't the only person in the theater who was crying, but I think I was the only person you could actually HEAR crying. Yes, embarrassing.

This movie tells the story of a young guy who finds out he has cancer and everything he goes through after his diagnoses. It's an exploration of not only what the medical experience is like, but also the social and psychological experiences. We watch what this young man goes through during his cancer treatment--some of it is funny, some serious, some sad. 

I don't know WHY I even go see movies like this because I know I will be transformed into a blubbering fool. Then my eyes get all puffy and my nose gets all stuffy. When I leave the theater,  I have to hold my head down in order not to catch anyone's eye, lest they think something horrible has just happened to me or wonder if I am psychotic and dangerous. 

Well, I admit it's not just these kinds of movies that make me cry. It's commercials and t.v. shows and well, anything with ANY amount of emotion. Stories about animals, children, death, and love especially. I guess that covers most everything. I take it on. Within myself. I absorb it and FEEL it as if I whatever is happening, is happening to me.

This is why I could never become a therapist.

I've been this way my whole life.  When I was little and the family would gather to watch t.v., the theme song for Lassie would start me to weeping.  The minute the song came on, I'd tear up in anticipation of the drama and emotion that was ABOUT to happen.  I'd see Lassie running and I'd start sobbing.

My family said I was "too emotional."  I knew it was upsetting to them when I'd give over to my emotions, but I didn't know how to control them.  I felt bad for being this way.  Like something was wrong with me.

My mom said I was very easy to discipline because all she had to do was give me a disapproving look, and I'd start to cry.

It took a long time to accept this part of myself, but now as an adult, I realize it is not bad or good  to have strong feelings. It's just who I am. We are all different and that's a good thing.  I am a sensitive woman with strong emotions.

But, I've also had to learn how to control those emotions and not let them get the best of me.

I've recently learned that sensitivity and strong feelings of empathy such as mine, are common traits in people who gravitate towards the arts. Which makes total sense. You must strongly identify with others and the world around you to be able to create. 

Scientists are actually studying empathy and people who are "extreme empaths" to determine what makes them so. Turns out it's all about DNA, neurons and brain activity, and the area of the brain that controls this behavior    The study of this area of the brain helps us to understand why some people have more compassion and empathy than others. It also helps to explain why some people have LESS and how this can lead to violent and criminal behavior.

So, I learned that I am unlikely to become a serial killer. This is good information.

Yes, it's tough being a woman of strong emotions. But honestly, now that I'm comfortable in my own skin, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

They paved paradise...

...and put up a parking lot.  One of my favorite songs by Joni Mitchell. What a great excuse I have to feature that video today!

But today they did the opposite.

Today is Park(ing) Day, a day for artists across the world to transform parking spaces into public art.  The movement was started in 2005 in San Francisco, when staff from a local art and design studio decided to create a temporary park within the space of a few parking spaces downtown.  The idea has since grown into an international event.

The theme this year was interactive art based on the question, "How do you create a design that responds to the needs of the people?" The artists used recycled materials of all types--cardboard, paper cups, bicycle parts, tree branches, even old record albums.  Many of the displays reflected the purpose of the stores they were put in front of. Paper coffee cups were used in front of a coffee shop, cardboard dress forms in front of a clothing store, and the record albums in front of the music store.  We could walk through the displays, touch them and even sit on the "furniture" that was surprisingly sturdy.

I read about it in our local newspaper and thought it would be fun to go check it out. My son went with me and we really enjoyed it.  Here are some photos so you can experience it too.

Friday, October 21, 2011

And how!!!

By Cracky! I've won another blogger award!

I had to use that expression because it's been in my brain ALL week.  I posted a recipe on The Big Green Bowl for  these delicious By Cracky Bars, and ever since, I can't get that saying out of my mind. Ack!

Speaking of sayings, my friend Laura from Catharsis was  getting all riled up about the saying "And how!"  It really distresses her and she is ready to cause some serious bodily harm to the next person who says it or writes it.  I know, that would be ME. Yes, I'm watching my back and looking over my shoulder as I type this. But for the sake of humor (and a great segue from "By Cracky") I took the risk. I think she likes me enough not to retaliate.  After all, she gave me this award.

Check out what Laura has to say about "And how!" and many other topics on her blog Catharsis.  Laura is a funny, clever and witty writer who has a lot to say about pretty much everything. And she will tell it like it is, holding nothing back.  I always enjoy her blog and I know you will too.

So the rules of this award are to share a few things (seven to be exact) about yourself, and then to pass the award along to ten other blogs.

Some things about me:

1) I am very flexible. Like a rubber band. Although with age, it's getting a little harder to do the splits. Ok,  I can't do it at all anymore.

2) I can't stand Salmon Patties and I'm sure my mother made them when I was younger, just to torture me. Oh, but Salmon is my favorite fish.  I know ???

3) My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz and my favorite performer of all time is Judy Garland. I used to think I was her reincarnation because I can sing and dance and wanted to be in the movies just like her.

4) I am deeply disturbed by the existence of cock roaches.

5) I am an expert dishwasher loader. Just when you think not one more dish can fit in, I will reorganize the whole thing and find room for six more plates, 10 glasses and 50 pieces of silverware.

6) My favorite color is purple. I know, that's not very interesting.

7) I have six tattoos and a pierced nose. And how!

Passing the Torch to.....

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oh What a Night!

It's a Friday night in 1975.  I'm in 6th grade and my friends and I are getting ready for a fun night at the roller rink. Choosing our outfits, putting on some perfume, sneaking a little eyeshadow.... wondering what boys will be there tonight and which songs they will play. 

When it's time to leave, we all pile in my dad's car with my brother and his friends. Us younger  girls trying to act cool in front of the older guys.  No seat belts were required back then so we squished in, all six of us in a small sedan. Young bodies touching, boys and girls, thrilling and terrifying at the same time.

The excitement builds during the half hour drive out of town. We giggle and fidget in anticipation. Dreams and fantasies of what might happen tonight....what adventures await.

We finally arrive! We all scramble out of the car, straighten our clothes, and rush inside, hearts racing.  We have to pay and rent our skates, and oh it took so long to get those skates on.  Hurry so we can get out there! The loud music beckons us onto the skate floor. 

Clap for the Wolfman
is playing as we enter the rink, going with the flow of traffic, picking up speed, around and around the wooden oval shaped floor.  The sound of metal wheels on wood synchronizes with the beat of the music. My friends and I hold hands in a chain, trying not to break apart as we round the corners.

Then I see him....and my heart flies up in my chest.  It's him, Mark Northridge, the love of my young girl life. My brother's best friend's brother. Our families are friends. I've had my heart set on him since the moment I first saw him  in the elementary school hallway. His shoulder length blonde hair that hung over one eye, his flashing blue eyes and his lopsided grin stole my heart almost immediately. 

I'd had a crush on him for years. We were friends but did he feel more for me than that? He was so quiet and shy, I couldn't be sure of anything.  He was always kind to me and seemed to enjoy my company.... I always held out hope.

I catch his eye and he shyly waves. I smile and I'm sure I add a little more flair and style to my skating form as I continue around the rink.  Eric Clapton is singing  "I shot the sheriff...." as my friends and I talk and giggle as we skate. My eyes never lose sight of Mark.

The night flows on.  Races, games and couples skate have come and gone as the DJ has kept us entertained.  We take a few soda and snack breaks, sitting in the dark watching the other skaters and averting our eyes to the older teenage couples making out in dark corners.

It's almost time to go and my heart is feeling heavy as my dream of skating the couples dance with Mark did not come to pass.

Then it's the last song of the night and it's girls' choice. Girls' choice?  My heart starts racing as I wonder, "Should I ask him? What if he says 'No?' Do I possibly have the nerve?"  And then I hear Frankie Vallie crooning "Oh what a night... late December back in '63..." and it's my most favorite song in the whole world and I feel my body get up off the bench, and I am floating over to Mark where he is sitting, and I hear myself asking him if he would like to skate with me, and then I hear him say "Yes" and we are on the skating floor and then.....he smiles at me and takes my hand in his.....and it's not just a friendly hand holding...he slowly and deliberately  intertwines his fingers with mine!    And I swear my little heart is going to pop right out of my chest at that very moment.  I can hardly breathe as we skate slowly together, hand-in-hand. And I never want that song to end.

To this day, whenever I hear any of those songs from that long ago year of Friday nights at the roller rink, all those pre-teen memories and feelings come flooding back and I am transported back in time -- to a time of innocence and coming of age.  And that song by The Four Seasons will always hold a special place in my heart.  A reminder of  that one magical evening when I was Mark's special girl for three minutes at the skating rink. "I remember, what a night..."

Is there a special night in your memory?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Zen and the Art of Laundry

Lace and Laundry by Carol Apple

So I've been wanting to blog about laundry.

I kept putting it off because well, laundry might not be as thrilling to you as it is to me. I wasn't sure I could express my feelings properly. The ideas weren't flowing.

Then I saw this drawing on my friend Carol's Face Book page, and it totally inspired me.  It embodies everything I feel and want to say about hanging clothes on the line. The wistful look on the girl's face, the beautiful sky and the clothes swaying in the breeze....

It's perfect.  I love this drawing. I love Carol's art.  I want to be the girls in her drawings. There is something about them....

Carol is a writer who "doodles." At least that is what she calls it. But so many
of us have told her this is real ART, that I think she finally got the message. She recently launched her blog Scribbleflowers, where she shows us some of her drawings and chit chats about art, in layman's terms. She brings art to a level we can all understand and maybe believe we can do it too. Or at least try our hand at it and enjoy the process. I hope you will take a minute to go visit her over at Scribbleflowers when you are done here!

So back to laundry. I don't have anything profound to say about it really. The actually process of washing--loading the dirty clothes into the hamper, filling the washer with water and soap, putting the clothes's all very mundane. But somehow satisfying. It's the only chore that sort of does itself while you can go do something else. All you have to do is start it up. Then the washer does the rest. Aren't we lucky we no longer have to use one of THESE?

Okay you say, but you still have to dry and fold. Yea, I know. But if you have a dryer, that's still a machine doing the work for you. And all that folding can be done by those other people who live in your house and need more chores to do.

Back to my original thought...... the clothesline! Do you have one? I know, this sounds like work and we were just talking about letting machines do all the work. But this is a chore I never mind doing. Hanging your wash on the line takes laundry to a whole new level. Instead of a chore, it becomes an act of meditation.

There is something about taking my basket of laundry outside, being in the fresh air, and one by one, pinning each article of clothing up on the line. Clothespins are  just so old fashioned, and I love that. They are so simple and they do the job just the way they are meant to. If they break, you just grab another. No need to send it to a repair shop.

Now, I don't dry all my clothes on the line. In fact, the only ones I do are things that won't wrinkle or get so stiff that you can't wear them. Most of my sons' clothes fall into this category. And bed sheets. Those are my favorite to hang on the line. They dry very quickly, and you just can't beat the wonderful scent of sun and fresh air that lingers on them when you bring them inside. I don't know how sunshine has a scent, but it does.

And if that isn't incentive enough, for those of you who are "green," this is the ultimate way to be good to the environment. Only wind and solar energy required. Good for the environment and good for your pocketbook. It's a win/win situation.

That's all I have to say about laundry. Oh, except if you are going to hang your clothes on the line, make sure it isn't going to rain that day. I have forgotten this rule on several occasions.

The song I leave you with has nothing to do with laundry. I know the obvious song would be "Dirty Laundry" by Don Henley, but honestly, I can't stand that song. And this one by the totally awesome band, The Hollies is actually the song that has been in my head while writing this. Things are not always logical up there. In fact, they rarely are. "The Air That I Breathe" makes perfect sense to me...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Life is no fairy tale....

....and either are most novels.

That is the title of my blog today, but it's not here! Today, I am the guest of my friend Samantha, over at her blog, The Blooming Late Journal. I hope you will hop on over there to read it.

Samantha is a fellow writer and friend that I met on SheWrites, an on-line group for women writers. She has a lot to say about starting a writing career in her, um, "late blooming" years. Samantha is also the pioneer of a group called "Blooming Late" for women writers "of a certain age." That wouldn't be ME of course! I'm just there to hang out. :) Ahemm.....

See you over there!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Corner of Picasso and Renoir

Our neighborhood is called the "Artists Colony," but not for the reason you might think. Although many people who live here may indeed be artists, it's really called that because the streets are all named after famous painters. Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse,  and Monet live on, here in our little corner of the world.

Our development was built in the late 1970s, and back then, I'm sure the houses were very state-of-the art. In typical 70s style (at least in California), the structure of the homes is very linear, with few windows and very small yards. The front yards have low fences and a little swinging gate, that seem to say "stay out" and "welcome"  at the same time. The 70s were a confusing time, so this juxtaposition shouldn't be surprising.

There are about six different models  in our development, but they are all similar in that the insides are very dark and cave-like, with many walls to divide up the living space. I joke that our house is a maze, as you can easily lose your way if you've never been inside before.   I can picture it the way it might have been decorated once,  with green shag carpet and mood lighting.

I know this description doesn't sound very charming! That's what I thought at first too.  At the time we moved in, the neighborhood was in flux and many of the homes were in disrepair. The price was right though, so people were buying them up, with plans to remodel and improve.

That is what we have done too, and now I really like our little house. We've painted walls and doors and cabinets and added new fixtures, so now it's much lighter and cozier. The outside got a face-lift too. New paint, with trim added to the windows, new plantings in the yard, and that ugly fence and gate were torn down.

Our  whole  neighborhood looks so much better now, it's easy to forget its humble beginnings. It has become a little haven of cottages within the sea of newer homes that surround us.

One thing that makes our city special, is our wonderful greenbelt.  Back in the 70s (yes, THAT decade again) some enterprising citizens came up with the idea to have a path that you could walk or ride your bike on, that would take you through the entire city without having to share the road with cars. They made it happen and we are all reaping the benefits. It's fantastic really.

Throughout our neighborhood, we have a good portion of greenbelt, with the path meandering around homes, parks, beautiful plantings, and open spaces. I walk these paths almost every day.   I love that time to myself,  to ease the tensions of the day and clear the cobwebs from my head. 

The other day when I was walking,  I realized that street signs had been put up along the greenbelt to inform travelers which cross street was nearby.  Isn't that thoughtful? Then I was struck by the irony of  it all....the beauty of the greenbelt itself, the beauty of nature all around, and the creative upgrades of the homes surrounding me.  Art is all around us.  Cezanne and Michelangelo would approve.

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