Life is Short…

This year has been a helluva experience – a lot of good, a lot of bad, a lot of suprises, a lot of lot of… And Jesus Christ, it ain’t over yet. I’m wondering if I have enough St. John’s Wort to last me. Probably not.

Life can turn on a dime, to coin a phrase (pun intended) and you never think any of that crappy stuff is going to hit your door and muck up your plans – but it does. And usually just when you think things are looking pretty okay.

I don’t particularly want to ruminate or lament about things – but I do want to say that life is short, sometimes much shorter than you think it’s going to be – so my friends, don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy everything there is to enjoy in your lives while it’s here – while you have it.

If you’ve had a fight, make up with them, forgive them or get them to forgive you. A flat tire is just a flat tire. You can buy a new one pretty much anywhere. Blog stats, comments mean nothing if someone you love is in trouble. Give your dog an extra doggie treat, play with your kids, hug your mom, tell everyone you love that you love them. Go on the big roller coaster, drive too fast, let the wind mess up your hair, eat the chocolate or the fresh baked bread, the hell with the calories. Write with your heart, read with passion, appreciate the efforts of others. Be there for your friends, be there for yourself. Grab it all while the grabbing is good.

I love you all and thank you for being here, I’m here for you too, only an email away.

Is Virtual Reality – Reality?

I know this is somewhat of a cliché question – we all write about it. The differences between ‘real’ life and virtual life. How people can pretend to be anything or anyone that they want on the Internet essentially with impunity and get away with the most outrageous things sometimes. And of course I am not talking about spamming people’s email boxes with viagra ads. I’m talking about some pretty serious and nasty stuff. Child porn, abductions, identity theft and so on and so forth ad nauseum. But I want to take a little further spin around this block beyond the usual path that is traveled with this line of thinking.

I want to talk about love. LOL – gee that sounds like the beginning of disco song or something. Now before you start getting glazed eyes at the prospect of my doing a post about EHarmony or something hear me out for minute.

Long before there were computers, the internet, television, radio, telephones and any immediate type of communication medium, there were letters. As was the custom many moons ago, people wrote letters to one another, long letters, meaningful letters, letters that told of their secrets, their dreams, their hearts and sometimes the farming news and the condition of Aunt Marion’s bunions. It was also often the case that men and women fell in love through the medium of letters – Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning are a well known and famous example of such a love affair. During their 20 month courtship they exchanged nearly 600 letters. And if you have ever had the pleasure and joy of reading any of these letters you will discover that in fact it is possible to first find your way to love through words. And if you have not read any of these letters, do yourself a favor and read some of them. It will restore your belief in the human heart and in love.

So, tracking up the 21st century – or whatever century we’re in because last I heard there was some debate about it and I can’t be too bothered with it – the letter, has been replaced with the email (essentially). Though often emails are more like grocery lists and jotted scribbles across kitchen pads and are used as a quick efficient modern shorthand to get some basic ideas across, they too are letters. I don’t know about you but I have been known to write some very long emails and had some very long emails returned to me. I have had what I can only describe as a ‘saga’ between myself and some others where the exchange of emails numbered up to 100 over the course of a week. So strong and intense was the need to deliver and receive the ideas and concepts being discussed. For me, communication is communication. The fact that someone cannot see me nor hear my voice does not mean nor make my communication false or insincere. Or that of anyone else.

Bloggers may in particular understand this because eventually you become a part of a sort neighborhood, where you find like minded individuals who share interests, worries, troubles and joys in common through the mutual reading of the blogs. This often begins friendships and emails, chats and sometimes even phone calls ensue. In my case I can say that I have found two lifelong friends all because of the internet and email and online activities. But they are actually more than friends, I truly think of them as family. How this began and how it continued and why it even came about I guess is irrelevent but these two people are no less unbelievably and undeniably loved friends than they would be if we had grown up next door to each other. Phone calls, gifts, birthday cards, care packages, emails all have been exchanged and frequently and regularly and they are part of the paradigm of my life. I honestly cannot imagine my life without them in it. And one of them lives on the other side of the world, literally.

So the question then is how does this happen? How can you come to love someone you have never met as though they were your family? As though you grew up in the same house with them or worked at the desk next to them for the last twenty years. I’m not sure I know the answer but I will give a guess. I think that as human beings regardless of the environment we find ourselves in we give off clues of who we are, what we think, what we like, dislike, are afraid of, hope for and that can actually be perceived by another human if the connection is strong enough and the desire exists.

I have to laugh when I hear people say (write) that they are nothing like they seem on their blogs or on the internet, etc. etc. because of course they must be because they created whatever presence they are in that medium, whether they write about diaper bargains or heartfelt memoirs. A piece of them is there for anyone who has an eye to see it. Not all of them of course, but certainly some part, I don’t see how it could possibly be otherwise.

And it is also human nature to be drawn to anything kindred, in whatever form a person finds it. That they find it online, thanks to some whacky exchange of energy and wavelengths seems to me, irrelevent. Things do happen for a reason. People do cross paths for a reason – the how and where I think is secondary to the reason. So, while there are one million and one reasons to be cautious about meeting people online, becoming friends or even perhaps more – and rightfully so – there are also reasons to remember that the written word has been the medium for companionship, friendship and even love for longer than any of us have been on this earth and so to stay open to the possibility of that I think is worth the risk of being tricked, disappointed or just flat out wrong. You never know, you could end up with two lifelong friends and maybe more.

Miracles Do Happen!


Some of you may know that this past May, a very close friend of mine was in a really bad car accident. So bad in fact, that I wasn’t sure she was going to live. To say this turned my world upside down puts it mildly, the last time I was this grief stricken was the day my father died, if that puts it in perspective. Kelly is one of those really special people who lights up a room whenever she enters. She is kind, caring, funny and will do anything for anybody.

Not long after the accident, I flew to Seattle to help in whatever way I could and to join the literally hundreds of other people who knew and loved Kelly in a massive prayer chain to bring her through this catastrophe and give her back to us. It was a very rough week for me and I was in no way prepared to see what had happened to her and to realize how very little I could do for her. Much of the time I spent just trying not to cry and to keep her gorgeous girls occupied. Really, it was in God’s hands and all we could do was pray and send her our love and hope for the best. There wasn’t much sleeping or laughing going on but there was a lot of love and a sort of instant kindredness among all us. Lots of hugs and tears and smiles and hand squeezes. We all wanted the same thing – for our Kelly to get well and weather the storm.

The day I returned to L.A. from Seattle I discovered Kelly said her first words. And fittingly they were to her mother, Charlene. She said, ‘thank you’ when she saw Charlene straightening up her hospital room. Somewhat startled Charlene went to Kelly’s bedside and and looked closely at her daughter and said, “Do you know who I am?”

Kelly said, “yes.”

Charlene asked. “Who am I?”

Kelly said, “Mom.”

And that was the beginning of the miracle. Not only had she lived through a 60 mph impact into her standing still car, she spoke and she remembered her mother. Over the ensuing weeks, I read her brother’s email updates on her progress and it was amazing, lesser men would have died. But Kelly with the spirit of a team of Clydesdales pushed through to each next level with flying colors. Still, I have to admit, I was worried and wondered how much of her memory she had lost. If she had sustained any serious or long term brain damage. If she would be Kelly again. I knew while I was there she didn’t know me. In fact, I’m not sure she has any memory of that week at all. I worried (selfishly) that maybe she would never remember me and we would have to find our way to friendship in a new chapter.

I worried too about her young daughters, her brothers, her parents, her husband – if they too would get their Kelly back.

Today, my prayers were answered. I called her mother to get an update and to see where I could send cards and such to Kelly (since she’s been constantly been transferring to new facilities) and Charlene told me that Kelly now has a cell phone that she is talking to friends on. Charlene gave me the number and of course I called it immediately. Unfortunately, I got the voice mail and left a message.

For hours afterwards, every time the phone rang, I jumped and grabbed it, hoping to hear her voice. When I finally gave up the hope that I’d hear from her, she called. When she said my name I started to cry from pure joy. It was my Kelly. It was really her. The relief and gratitude I felt I simply can’t describe. We talked on the phone for nearly an hour and it was just as though nothing had happened. I have my friend back. I didn’t lose her after all. And I’m so glad because I just couldn’t have imagined life without her.

So thank you, a million times to all of you who prayed for her, hoped for her and her family. Who sent out your love to a stranger, only because I asked you to. Your prayers have worked and have helped to create this wonderful miracle.

Tourist

I am the ghost at your bedside

hovering closely to hear

your whispers

I am the anchor that tethers

your spirit to this world

giving you plenty of line

though not release.

I am the voice that sounds

in your aching head and lies

to you for your own good

So you will get well.

I am the fretter select

who clucks and tends

a poor substitute

but…a willing one.

I am the city you left for love

but remain a fan of its lights

now returning to you

as a weary and devoted tourist.

Purple Socks

I put on purple socks today
which made me think of you
I walked them out into the day
and wished the sky to blue

I bought a box of chocolates
and ate them in your stead
I called up God and placed my bets
then uttered prayers in bed

I forced myself to belly laugh
and make it very loud
and gathered lillies along the path
to chase away your clouds

I tried to do the many things
that inform the world of you
in deepest hope that angel’s wings
will fly us back to true

copyright 2008

Please Pray for my Friend

This morning I woke up to find an email in my inbox that sent me reeling. A very close friend of mine, Kelly, was in a very bad car accident yesterday afternoon. She is currently in the ICU and has brain damage. Some of you may know her as KellyToo, as she visited some of your blogs in the past.

She has two young children who really need her and a great husband and family.

She’s a wonderful mom, friend and person. She has a great laugh and is someone so full of life it is hard to imagine her not running around filling the air with laughter and fun.

The details of what happened to her are still a bit sketchy, but it doesn’t sound good. I will likely being going up there, possibly today. I am waiting to hear back from her husband.

I may not be around for a bit. But I ask you to please pray for my friend and her family. They need every prayer they can get.

Annie

When I’m 64

[ HT to my buddy Jenny 😉 ]

Two old ladies, Maude & Mabel, are outside their nursing home, having a drink and a smoke. When it starts to rain, Mabel pulls out a condom, cuts off the end, fits it over her cigarette, and continues smoking.

Maude: What in the hell is that?

Mabel: A condom. This way my cigarette doesn’t get wet.

Maude: Where in the hell did you get it?

Mabel: You can get them at any drugstore.

The next day, Maude hobbles herself into the local drugstore and announces to the pharmacist that she wants a box of condoms.

The pharmacist, obviously surprised since Maude is quite ancient, but it is not his place to judge.

Pharmacist: Is there any particular brand that you prefer, Madame?

Maude: Doesn’t matter Sonny, as long as it fits on a Camel.

At which point, the pharmacist promptly fainted.

Where There’s Smoke…

Now, isn’t this a lovely picture. It’s almost one of those doorways back in time, don’t you think? This is Zelda’s livingroom (yes, see there really is a Zelda – all this time you were probably thinking I was making her up). As you can see, Zelda has style, panache – her home is filled with lovely Deco antiques and replicas. Our designer friend, Margarita has spent an enormous amount of time helping Zelda to get things just right, just the way she wanted them, in her home. And a fine job it was/is.

But see there’s a problem…Zelda actually lives there. Don’t get me wrong, I love Zelda, in fact, she’s probably the best friend I’ve ever had but this girl has a talent. A rare and even enviable talent. A talent of having shit happen.

Have I mentioned she was once trapped beneath a giant trash can at 9 o’clock on a Sunday night? The moral to that story was, be careful how much wet sand you put into one giant trash can and watch those bumps as you’re rolling it to the curb. But…I digress.

Zelda is anti-heat. She just doesn’t like it. No if ands or buts, the heat is a baaad thing. Therefore, she has an air conditioner in every room in her house or one of those Sharper Image fancy-schmancy fan thingies. Anyway, last week I think it got up to about 75 degrees and Zelda was sweltering. Now this is really bad because apparently, Zelda has no sweat glands at all. She informed me early in our friendship that she does not sweat. (I wonder if she can get one of those handicap stickers for her car? Do you think it’s an official disease? We must look into that…)

Anyway, okay,  the girl doesn’t sweat, hates the heat, needs air conditioners wherever she goes. The other night, it was hot and she turned on the air conditioner in her livingroom. Well, as you can see, she has these lovely drapes and so forth and lovely as they are, apparently they block the air flow. So the solution, obviously, is to take the lovely drape and stuff it in the lovely lamp (pictured). And so she did.

The phone rang and as Zelda is wont to do, she started chatting it up with a chum. Well, as the time passed and evening started to come upon her, she turned on the lamp. And chatting away she went. After the call she got hungry and went to the kitchen to forage in the fridge. She did this and that, occasionally getting a whiff of something. “Hmmm, ” she thought, “what is that weird smell?” Then she saw a squirrel through the kitchen window and her mind went with it. When she was through watching the squirrel and feeding the pets and foraging in the fridge, her mind returned to that smell. Sniff, sniff, what could it be?

She shrugged and carried her samich and glass of milk to the livingroom, with the intent of settling down in front of the big-screen tv and vegging out for the night. She settled on the sofa and again the smell invaded her senses. It was stronger now. What could it be? She looked left, she looked right, she looked down then…she looked up.

Yikes, the curtain was on fire. I guess some bulbs burn more brightly than others. “Oh shit,” I think were her exact words.

The samich and milk were soon forgotten as she fought to save her drapes. Luckily that particular fabric enjoys a slow burn so there was no need for a fire extinguisher. A mere unstuffing of the drape from the lamp and Zelda blowing on the smolder seemed to do the trick.

The  house was saved but the curtain wasn’t quite so lucky.

I asked her what she was going to do and she said she’d just cut it. I can’t quite figure how cutting it is going to solve the problem or how it will look, but Zelda assures me no one will be the wiser.

Gotta go, time to go shopping with Zelda – she needs some Restoration Hardware tie-backs for the drapes. Now how the heck did we forget to get those? Must have been on the page of the catalogue that the dogs ate.  😉

WC

What Would the World Be Like Without You?

 

As I’ve said probably too many times – I love the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Because I love the premise – What would the world be like without you? To me, that is a fascinating concept.

I mean, think about it – how many lives do you touch during the course of your life? How many times have you intervened without giving it a second thought – and possibly saved someone’s life? Stopped someone from doing another harm. Made someone laugh and change their mind about taking some dark course. Encouraged someone so much that they went on to succeed at something they might not have ever tried?

Like the lady I saw looking at peanut butter at the grocery store. I didn’t know her, I’d never seen her before in my life. Yet, I was compelled to say ‘make sure that isn’t one of those brands they found with semonila  (sp) in it.’ Now why did I say that? Was there some perception on my part that the food would hurt  her? Did I instinctively know she shouldn’t eat the dang peanut butter? As it turned out, she didn’t buy it and thanked me for saying that.

Or the kid I chased down the street to give a sandwich to because I knew he was living on the street and was hungry. Maybe he didn’t try to steal money from an old lady later that day because he didn’t need to. I don’t know and I’m not trying to make myself out as some sort of hero – not at all. I’m just an average person who tries to live as a decent human being, despite my rants and the things that aggravate me. I try to help people. To encourage people. It’s so much easier to give love than to withhold it. To help than to harm.

I don’t know what the world would be like if I weren’t in it. I don’t know if anyone would notice that something was missing. Maybe so. Maybe not. But I wish I could be like George Bailey and get a 24 hour period where I could see my life without me in it. I suspect it would make me much more grateful than I am, for all the many things in my life that I take for granted. And perhaps there’d be a few surprises that would make me feel differently about me.

I guess my point is that we all (too often) feel small and powerless in the world. And maybe even feel as though our efforts don’t matter in the greater scheme of things. But I think they do. I think that the aggregate of our small acts of kindness, love, help and awareness are part of the greater scheme of things. And without them, the world is a smaller place. We are all special and important in some way, to those we know, those we encounter and even those we don’t know.

So, what about it? What do you think the world would be like without you? I really want to know.

WC

A Lovely Day In The Neighborhood

 

Okay, so I’m having breffy with Zelda the other day and we’re talking about her dogs…truth be told we’re always talking about her dogs or her cats or her plants. She’s really into the animal kingdom.

Anyway, she decided to take them for a walk the other night which was naturally a bit of a funny disaster. The big dawg (huggy) got away from her to play with a little chihuahua that her Korean neighbors were walking. Apparently there were a few seconds where little chi-chi was flying like a trout on the leash but that’s another story.  So, while big dawg was doing that Lexy (beagle number 1) was just running – anywhere. I guess she ran til she got tired and Zelda found her panting by the side of the road.

Then there is beagle number 2 – a chubby little tri-color who is really a real life version of Deputy Dog. You gotta love him. But he won’t walk. He is afraid of the outside. Literally – no kidding. So Zelda carried him – all 35 lbs of him. You got the picture? Big dawg flailing and going after little chichi like a piece of bait, first beagle just running and Zelda trotting behind carrying second beagle.

So, solution? Dog trainer? Nope? Walk the dogs separately? Nope? Dog Whisperer? Nope. You ready???? She’s getting beagle number 2 a stroller.

Oh yeah, they make strollers for dogs. I can’t wait to see it and I promise I’ll post a picture as soon as I do. Talk about your gullible boomer. Zelda! What are you thinking? 😉

WC