Ode to a Fiddlehead

There’s something so pleasing about the feel

of a fiddlehead fern on a tongue,

so satisfyingly round and with a squelchy sound

when bitten open and savored,

one can imagine dancing a jig,

or chasing a pig,

maybe laughing a lot

if eating while hot

and the cares of the world are forgot!

Frost..

Halfway between a breath and a death

I met you again.

Out of line with the north star

Facing east

but travelling south

unmoored, undone

each sky still dusk

and dawn only a desire not a song.IMG_0670

I was waiting.

Letting Go When There Is No Rope Left

Letting Go When There’s No Rope Left

I have a friend who is trying to get divorced. This has been going on for two years. The marriage was a good length, (ten years), and a good part of it was not unhappy but the divorce has turned into a nightmare of hatred, accusations, bitterness, anger, paranoia and deep despair on the part of both parties.

There were no children involved, several properties purchased together, and a long stream of expenses for their life paid for by my friend who gave his partner free rein to do what she wanted in terms of the household accounts. By the time he realized most of his money was gone it was too late for reason or recompense: his life had become unbearable as daily verbal abuse had escalated to the point of physical pain. There was no surviving the atmosphere in the house, no love left between the two marital participants, and so my friend left.

His partner filed for divorce immediately and thus began the long history of demands for money, property, shares in imagined earnings, financial reports, tax returns, and appearances in court, depositions and more depositions. Interestingly enough, at this point in time my friend’s net worth had diminished to one tenth that of his wife’s yet she continued to threaten, hire new lawyers, fire old accountants, make new lists about what she wanted, hide possessions from my friend, and make her life’s goal destroying her husband.

Now I ask myself “Why?” If I were in the same position would I behave in the same way? Of course not. I am a reasonable person who likes to work things out and find reasonable solutions to problems. I like to have situations that are emotionally complicated solved as smoothly and expediently as possible as drawing them out only serves to upset one’s health and make oneself look like a fool in the community. People that continually fight over nothing and act in irrational ways are usually ostracized by others and find them alone and unloved in their lives. Who would actively make a choice to live like this?

Why am I writing about this today? I think it’s a really good lesson to all of us about how to destroy your life and your Karma. Holding anger, retribution and bitterness inside yourself is a good mechanism to destroy your own life. I think it does more damage than smoking. Imagine inhaling all that rage each day with every breath and then imagine not being able to release it. Imagine getting into arguments with everyone that surrounds you and then not having any real friends left. Imagine acting in a way that is dangerous to you and to others. Then take a breath and wonder why.

I think people get so caught up in their battles they forget why they began them in the first place. Much like all the needless wars we have been involved with we often can’t remember why we started to hate each other. We forget our compassion towards others and towards ourselves. We exist on our own fear and we can’t even see how it is destroying our lives. We lose all reason and all awareness of our own behavior and become fearful individuals who are living solitary lives as it becomes too risky to trust anyone else.

How many stories out there are like that of my friend? How many people hold on to old stuff as its familiar: pain is familiar. It may not be pleasant but sometimes fear makes us choose the familiar rather than the new as the new cannot be predicted.

I am no angel. Believe me I know that and I am aware of my own failings just as others are. I am writing this to make sense of the situation to me as well as to you as it seems so insane. The only thing I do know to be absolutely true is that operating from a fear based self will ultimately ruin your life and leave you with no friends or family to support you. In the end as they say we die alone but I hope when I die there are people who love me all around who can send me on my way to a new plane with love and joy. After all, there is really nothing else worthwhile in life but love.

 

Heart

Subject: heart
I was waliking in San
Francisco and I felt a sudden jump in my chest: a kindove a flip flopping or a fist turning or maybe more like something foreign inside me that was trying to get out. I kept on walking as that’s what I do. I was the master of my heart.

Other times in my life my heart had tried to get the better of me and I had prevailed. Sometimes, cruelly I thought, it was at night just when I was going off to sleep. I had to remind it rather sternly that I was tired and had no time to play jumping games. Just a small cough or a walk to the bathroom was usually enough to discipline it back into shape. Until this time, that is.

I had a doctor’s appointment up the hill and I was right on time which I usually am so I kept on walking. The hill seemed steeper than usual and I, more breathless than usual, but onward and upward I went.

My heart kept jumping.

I found my new doctors office, checked in, filled out the forms, chatted with his receptionist, all the while noting my new internal enemy. I commented to myself how calm and controlled I was during the examination of my nose, throat and ears. I commented to myself how impressed the doctor would be if I had a heart attack right in front of his very eyes without a word of complaint! I think I was kidding here.

Finally, at the end of my visit, I asked the receptionist if my internists office was on the floor we were on now and she said yes. I found my way there, sat down in the waiting room, and told Serena my heart was out of control. She looked at me with concern, brought me in the back room and had the doc come in.

Apparently my heart was stuck in arythmia and I needed to go immediately to the Cardiac Lab for an EKG and so I did. Except I wasn’t allowed to walk on my own and was taken by a very nice medical student who was there to observe what happened in the course of a typical day in a doctors office.

The cardiac lab seemed weirdly abandoned which I quickly learned was true as it was lunch time. The tech assigned to me was from Egypt and efficiently attached wires to my chest all the while commenting on the fact that it was lunch time. Once she got the EKG machine up and running her tune changed and she exclaimed to the medical student to take a look at my heart! Of course this was unprofessional and very alarming, needless to say, but she did it anyway. The two of them stood looking at the monitor for a good five minutes all the while commenting and exclaiming. I was in deep conversation with my heart asking it to just stop this behavior.

Clearly my heart was enjoying all the attention as it kept right on with its really weird rhythm. At this point I as fluctuating between total terror and a nice and calm feeling of detachment. I’ll take detachment any day given a choice.

Later, while sitting with my brand new cardiologist, I was shown the places in the EKG where I had been able to disrupt the heart rhythm all on my own. All I felt was frustration that I wasn’t able to stop it completely.

Its disconcerting to lose control of your heart as you feel frightened about the next time .You know there will be a next time. It’s as if your heart has been working up to this for long time. Though I now have a bottle of pills in my purse that may or may not stop the arythmia I don’t feel safe. I feel anxious but also more peaceful. Its hard to explain.

I have learned that this is a very common condition and that this condition can cause a stroke which can kill you. I really don’t like that idea. I don’t like the idea of drooling, l don’t like the idea of losing control of a part of my body, and I really don’t like the idea of dying.Aparently this condition is hereditary. My father died of a stroke. I am not sure he had arythmia but I would bet on it. He had everything!

Now I need more tests to see why the upper and lower chamber of my heart are not getting along. There are things called “rogue cells” that disrupt heart rhythm and the cure is extermination of these cells through a process called “ablation”. Sounds like a skin procedure or a religious event. I wonder if I will be purified or remain in the underworld. I also wonder how long I have.

Remembering something you thought you wouldn’t again

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Remembering Something You Thought You Wouldn’t Again

I believe in love and second chances. I believe in the power of memory. I love to reflect on whom I might have married or where I might have lived. I love nothing more than a glance from an attractive man in a public place which says to me “I am interested.”

What I love most of all, however, is the return of a flirtation you thought you had lost and the possibility of an old passion being rekindled.

There is nothing better in life than friendship begun at age four which continues to flourish. Nothing finer than an old designer piece which you wore at 30 still cupping your shoulders with certainly and still making you feel great.

I prefer the old to the new. I prefer the childhood memories to many new memories. I find the thought of an erotic encounter which took place at 24 infinitely more erotic in my mind today than any new ones I might have, except with one single man!

The art of writing romantic letters is seemingly lost today but I have been experiencing it recently with the greatest of pleasure. Imagine before going to sleep that you receive an email from someone you thought you had lost many years ago and that email was filled with love and remembrances of your past together, even painting a bit of what might be in future?

Imagine how that feels? How happy it makes you to think someone else many miles away is having the same thoughts you are having. Isn’t life grand? The really amazing thing is if you have no attachment to the outcome and only feel the joy of love, you can enjoy it even more.

Each little sound bite being sent electronically over IPAD’s  day to day add to the wonderful building and waxing and waning tension of this feeling of love and desire yet there may be no consummation. I think I have learned one lesson in life after all these years: don’t live in a fantasy state particularly when starting out in a relationship or the hope of a relationship. It’s a bad idea.  Really looking and listening and understanding what the other person is about is a good thing. Feeling giddy is a really good thing. Having hope is an even better thing. Holding hands is the best thing in the whole world even when it is done electronically.

Losing a friend you thought was already lost

Cover of "Gone with the Wind"
Cover of Gone with the Wind

I read the obituaries every morning as many people do. I have no idea why we do this. I look for reasons why people died, how old they were when they died, who survived them, etc. The other morning I saw that my childhood friend had died in February of a long term illness. There was a lovely picture of her taken when she was about 20 I would guess. I have no way of knowing as I last saw her in ninth grade at the graduation of Greenwich Country Day School. She was no longer my best friend having abandoned me for Phyllis and Priscilla and so we barely spoke on that day. I do remember feeling sad I was no longer friends with her and wondering what I had done for her to have lost interest in our friendship.

Betsey befriended me in fifth grade and whatever she told me to do I would do. I went to her house when she still had one (her father later left her mother) and spent the night many times. Her mother had a raspy voice, chain smoked L and M’s, and seemed sharp and unfriendly but stayed out of our way. She had two older sisters who were very glamorous and kind to me. I liked going to Betsey’s house as there was little supervision and we did whatever we wanted. Once in a while we would go bowling, something I never did with my own family.

Betsey told me in fifth grade I needed a bra: not because I was very developed but just because” every fifth grader needed one”. She took one from her sister’s drawer and told me to try it on which I did in the privacy of her bathroom. It was made of a harsh type of cotton and had straps with lengths sticking out which you pinned into place with small gold safety pins. When I wore the bra I felt incredibly sophisticated and old but nervous. What if someone touched my back and felt the strap and knew I was wearing a bra! What a terrifying thought!

In order to wear the bra I had to hide it in my drawer at night and then pack it in my school briefcase, carry it to school, and change into it in the girl’s room under Betsey’s supervision. The whole process seemed so time consuming but worth the excitement and the attention I seemed to get from Betsey for my obedience to her rules.

Betsey also taught me swear words which I did not know at that time. Today this seems startling but in the 60’s it was not surprising. I learned the three swear words that Betsy said were important to learn.  “Shit” “fuck” and “dick”.

I found the words very difficult to define and kept returning to Betsy’s side asking her to let me know once again what they meant. I didn’t dare say them out loud and neither did she but writing them was also out of the question. I remember running back and forth most of that school day so I could remember the words, define them, and someday use them.

Once, about five years later out of the blue, Betsy called me and asked if I wanted to sneak out of my house and meet up with her. She said there would be a boy who could drive. I was really torn by this invitation as I never did anything wrong. It simply wasn’t worth the repercussions but Betsey’s invitation seemed irresistible as the “boy” was incredibly cute. I had seen him around town, he was a bit older than we were, and was considered   really cool and very bad. Having never been in a car driven by anyone under the age of 40, I couldn’t resist.

As it turned out, my parents were out of town and our house was “loosely supervised” when this was the case. We had a nanny but she put my youngest sister to bed and then went to sleep herself by 9. At 9:10 I was downstairs trying to open the door without making a sound convinced I would be caught. I had no idea what I thought would happen but it wouldn’t be good. I finally opened the door and slipped out into the warm night air. It was very dark and I had no flashlight but I could see some outlines of the drive and the road behind it. I walked slowly past the night shrouded house of the Toby’s thinking of Button tucked safely in her bed and thinking to myself I must be really a wild child.

Waiting in the dark at the end of Meadowcroft Lane for Betsy and her crew was endless and by the time their car arrived I was a wreck. For some reason which I will never understand Betsy got out of the car and wanted me to sit next to Peter, the bad boy who was driving. In this position I felt as if I had been kidnapped by a scary witch on one side and an irresistible prince on the other. Hot and cold, yin and yang, good and bad, god knows what was happening but one side felt really good! Peter’s thigh was about as exciting to me as seeing Rhet Butler carry Vivien Leigh up the stairs in ”Gone With The Wind”. I could barely speak I found it so intoxicating. At one point the bad boy took his foot off the accelerator and moved my leg closer telling me to steer and use the gas pedal which of course I did.

Looking back on that night I see how important it was to me in my life of mostly dreams and few actual adventures. Sneaking out of my house at night, being driven by a bad boy around town, feeling the arousal a teenage boy could create, in me: it was an amazing memory for me to take out from time to time and smile over. Nothing happened. No one was hurt. No one even missed me, but it was magic.

So there was an obituary for me to read about my friend who created the memory but was lost to me for the rest of her life. As it turned out, she lived for many years less than five blocks from where I lived with my young family yet I never knew it. She worked cleaning houses for years and had her own small company. She never married or had children and died with her sister and a friend. by her side. I felt sad reading Betsy’s obituary as her life didn’t seem as large as her spirit and I was sorry. I will always be grateful to her for my night of magic.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH BALENCIAGA!

Balenciaga & Gainsbourg
Image by SWANclothing via Flickr

 

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh Balenciaga!

I write about the romantic in life because that is what uplifts me. If that is what uplifts you as well then take a trip to the de Young Museum and see the Balenciaga exhibit.  It will be well worth your while as there are many visions to dream on.  I think I will go back a second time as I didn’t have the time to look at all the details of the gowns nor the names of the women who had worn them.

I am particularly fond of reading the names of the owners of the gowns. It allows one to imagine the life of Mrs. Eleanor deGuigne and to wonder how she ever squeezed herself into that tiny, wasp waisted gown. Did she never eat at all or perhaps not one bite for a period before having herself zipped up into this creation? And what did she think when she went out in the evening? Did she look into the mirror and say to herself how absolutely fabulous she looked? I wonder.

I wonder about that generation of exquisitely groomed ladies who spent a fortune on their wardrobe and lived such apparently glamorous lives. Were they conscious of how they were living or did they just live?

In the attic in our house in Connecticut there was a walk through closet which lead to my brother’s train room. My brother had polio when he was 7 or 8 and my parents bought him a full train set and put it all together on top of a specially made table in the attic. There were two bright red stools which sat at the head of the table where the controls were. I don’t really remember being able to get the trains to work  often as by the time I could access the stools on my own, my brother was out of the house. The room was not on our permitted places list but we didn’t really care about that. I do remember sitting on one of the stools lost in my own train town world believing the train was taking all these families to interesting places and the families were laughing and enjoying the ride. The train always stopped obediently at the crossings marked with large black X’s and proceeded with caution when directed. The train world was a secret I kept from the rest of the household. Everyone seemed to have forgotten the train room just as the walk through closet was not a place often visited by other family members.

The walk through closet held the only remnants of our mother’s past life: a life we could only imagine as our world focused on my father’s family morning, noon and night. My mother appeared to have been born to parents who simply disappeared and reappeared only once or twice a year. In the walk through closet there were several dresses I loved to pull out and examine looking for clues as to who my mother was. My favorite of these dresses was an incredibly heavy and complicated Mexican wedding dress my mother had bought on her honeymoon in Acapulco. The dress was long and red and had many many tiny hooks in back which had to be hooked up one by one. God Forbid that you started incorrectly or you would have to begin all over again. From the age of 7 I would drag the wedding dress into the hallway and try it on. Initially I couldn’t button one hook but I shrugged into the puffy sleeves with their ridges of hard lace and held the skirt in my hands twirling it back and forth always slightly terrified someone would catch me dressing in a sacrament.

There was one more dress in the walk through closet that appeared in 1961 and it was a very lovely silk dress with an embroidered flower pattern and a small shrug made to be worn over the dress. This dress was history in the eyes of my mother. She had worn it to the White House and had danced with President Kennedy while wearing it. I tried this dress on as well. I tried it on and moved around within it feeling clumsy and bulky and that I wasn’t worthy of a dress that had gone to the White House.

Years later when I was organizing a coming out party for my daughter a large box arrived in the mail from Connecticut. When I opened it I found the White House dress with a note from my mother stating she hoped I would wear the dress to my daughter’s party. I was almost speechless and reverently removed the dress from the box exclaiming over the beauty of it. Later when I was trying it on I realized it would have to be altered in order for it to work for me as the dress was a little too short and a little too tight. Luckily I had a wonderful dressmaker who redesigned the dress and added a bit more color making it appropriate for 1988. I wore the dress to the party and danced all night and my parents were there to see my daughter become an elegant debutante.

Years passed and just before my parents sold the old house in Connecticut I went back to visit and climbed the stairs to the walk through closet now empty except for a few bent old wire coat hangers on the floor and some rick rack ribbon falling off the side of the shelf. I knelt on the floor and felt all the old feelings of awe and sadness and wonder and depression that fluctuated around my family in our childhood. I remembered the magic the closet had brought me and I remembered my mother’s comment years later about my redesign of her White House dress I was so proud of. “You ruined the dress! Just ruined it!

So back to Balenciaga…it’s worth a visit for those of us who lurked in closets as children as these clothes will never be made again. The skills and talents and materials do not exist. Gone like a puff of smoke from my train town village or the soft click of a closet door closing.