Saturday, November 27, 2021

Hard 29

Since my last post a lot has happened! Not a lot that I will write specifically about (I bet I do...wait for it!) but something happened on August 21st and I'm coming out the other side of the 3 month emotional bender feeling pretty confident and unscathed. I was in this princess play that was amazingly fun and rewarding to do. It made me realize how much I love being on stage. Originally I signed up just to be an extra or a stagehand but ended up with a spotlight solo as apparantly I am a very good performer, and better yet, a good song interpreter on the fly. 

We had our first performance in July and our second one on August 21st. I had just gotten back from a super fun road trip to NM and wasn't really looking forward to the second performance but put on a ton of make-up and fancy clothes and dragged myself to this place really far down south and had a really great time. Afterwards I felt engergized by the performance and decided to go see a band of old freinds that was at a club that I'd never been too as it's so far south. That is where the Big Event happened. Six weeks of delerious and tortuous passion. Twelve pounds lost. Many cigarettes smoked. Emotional sobriety challenged and then tipped over into obsession. I had prayed for this. Be careful what you ask for! 

Something split inside of me and the protective steel wall was down and I let love in...let it in too raw and unguarded but I dove in head first as I hadn't pressed up against anything like this in many, many years. I was sunk. I was hooked. He might as well have been a tall gorgeous crackpipe. The good news is I've been single and serene (relatively) for so long that I can only handle emotional upset for a very short time before I take action. The action was a full withdrawel, a boatload of unexected grieving and tears, and a stretching of my emotional landscape. So many good things happened: I learned that I am still sexy and desirable and when I wear bright red lipstick I might as well take a giant dogcather for all the boys that come after me. It was thrilling and fun. Plus I got back into the live music groove and saw lots of incredible bands and met lots of really cool people. I was around a lot of drinking, a lot of drunks, but my sobriety was never compromised. My sanity was shaken, but I'm back almost 100% I think. 

Somewhere in there I got a 29 year sobriety coin. November 1st, 1992 is my sobriety date and I'm starting to see that that is not a small thing. My Spo keeps telling me I have a lot to offer and to say so I went to a giant packed auditorium last night and was the first person to talk and I had the group in when I heard that first laugh I was off to the races with the joking..the next 50 people that shared were heartfelt and choked up. I felt strange and separate - why do I never tear up in meetings? Well I did it and then second guessed myself for the next 2 hours whether I was a real memeber or not. C'est la vie... 

I had also gone to Taos for my painting workshop and because it was shortly after a particularly fabulous hang with Aug. 21st man I was obsessed the whole trip and somewhat miserable. I wasn't laughing...had no buddy until I met this awesome 25 year old kid who became my bud and we went to the local bar and had a blast the last night in Taos and I FLEW back to Austin (in my car) to hope to run into le person. County work started back up so I had full days of laughs and companions to talk about this ridiculously OTT crush with. They put up with me. They laughed and joshed around with me. And by mid Nov they were letting my bawl on their shoulders. Man I have a huge support network here that never ceases to amaze me. I love my work and my co-workers, I love my handful of freinds, and I love my live music scene. Covid made me appreciate this stuff even more as I wasn't able to travel for two years. I've been to NYC now 3 times since covid begain and always always love it. 

I saw Hamilton on my 61st birthday...I am still swooning after the play and have a ticket for the show here in a few weeks. During the grieving I was doing over This Thing I Really Wanted That Didn't Happen, I had some beautiful moments: really listening to songs I never listen to and hearing the lyrics on a level I never listened to music to before. I would hear a song about heartbreak and sob and feel that this person had to have gone through the exact same thing to be able to write this song. I listened to stuff in a whole new way. I had a hard time reading as nothing I would read was as interesting as what I was going through. And I was terrified of going back to my old life. 

I was terrfied to go back to the spinster biddyhood of knitting and binge watching in sweatpants. The crush showed me that. I'm still out there, in the game, willing get my heart bruised, willing to risk being a fool. I have 5 planets in Scorpio: it's how I'm made. I love risk and drama and dreams and destruction and anything that makes a good story. And this is a story that I think I should have many chapters of in my story bank but something was different about this one and I haven't quite put my finger on what it was. The depth of feeling and the richness of the emotional intimacy was brand fucking new. I cannot ever remember having a connection like this with a person. Ever. And that is a good thing. To know that I can still feel this way about a person. So what I am going to take with me is some new things to do - go out more, stay home less. Drag myself out even when I dont want to go - because how many more years am I going to be able to go out and dance like a fool much less get in the "pit" like I did last week! 

I will get beyond this. I bounce back faster than the average bear. Resilient as hell an old friend used to tell me about how quickly I moved on. And I atill have myself, my dignity intact - I didn't give away the one thing that used to be the first thing I would give away. I was honest, I showed up but didn't chase, I kept my cool and when he appeared to bail, I bailed. I fell in love with the fantasy of a life I wanted that seemed beautiful and romantic and better than the one I was living. The one I am living feels okay right now...I have some new dreams...and they are very exciting to ponder!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

West Texas (I also went to Santa Fe)

art installation in the desert

my beloved Antelope Lodge


Marfa, TX

the coolest store ever!

Haven't been our here in around 15 years and it has been a terrific couple of days
 - that old West Texas spell has been woven into my bones again...pre-Antarctica, this was the place I fantasized about moving to the most...and lots of Austin ex-pats have moved here. I could easily afford a house out here. And it feels different coming out here with more amenities and stuff to do, and with more money being poured into the area by rich folks coming in with fancy shops and re-habbing old buildings.

I went to Santa Fe first but that deserves it's own posting...or maybe not...I was with friends there so had a very different experience than when I'm on my own like I usually am when I'm out here. This is my first solo trip without Fergus...I spent more time out doing stuff than I would if he were in the car...but not that much more would have been difficult as it's not cool enough to have the windows up and it rained so much I couldn't have left the car windows open. 

What feels really different this time is that there is no urgency to moving out here...I know that when the times comes (if it does)...then I can relaxedly move out here and do my artwork and watch beautiful sunsets. But will I like that? What I've loved most on the trip is the driving...getting from point A to point B in a luxury car and really enjoying the drives...I like the intensity of these road really suits me. I notice that I like to be interacting with people a lot in shops and during transactions...I probably over-visited with 4 shopkeepers today, but I did buy something in every shop so I guess they were okay with it. There is just so much to talk about as I've been coming here so long and watch the changes.

And on this trip I've been dreaming a lot...sleeping deeply and dreaming a lot..a certain kind of dream that I haven't been having before...dreams with the same theme: of really wanting to connect deeply with someone in an intimate way...since things have opened up and we were maskless for a a few months my life was really ramping up in the going out and meeting men area. I was having a lot of really good intimate connections with people and feeling like something could happen. There was one particularly good night where the flirtations was strong and intense, but he said he wasn't "really single" so no numbers were exchanged but I ran into him a few other times at shows and meh. Then I met this tall tattooed German guy who was striking and intense, and we really bonded over some deep intimate talk of what it's like to be OLD and single. I dunno - I don't know what I want..or maybe I just haven't imagined it yet...maybe I just haven't opened myself up to the possibility that there is someone out there who wants me exactly like I am...someone easy and fun and laid back and loves to laugh. Someone Texan and goofy but hip and darling too...and most of all, someone who treats me like the one he's been waiting for all his life. The beloved. Now I read a lot of Rumi and Hafiz and do all the spiritual practices that tell me that the one I am waiting for and the beloved are MYSELF, and sometimes I really feel that. Sometimes when I'm "on the beam" I really feel at one with the universe. I feel on the beam on this road trip. I get to perform again this weekend. I get to do fun stuff and travel. I get to love the people I love. I get to drive to Alpine (via Lubbock, Santa Fe, Cloudcroft NM) and it's an easy trip...very very easy. And I relaxedly get to decide if I'd like to buy a home here. It could be really nice! But 3 hours to the airport! Oh well, that would be another road trip!


Tuesday, December 08, 2020


first mad dash
first MoMA visit in 30 years

Happy Birthday to Me!

It was a difficult decision, to decide whether to go to NYC for my birthday. I have been going the last 6 years or so and it had become a tradition that I treasured. I was really worried about traveling during covid, not worried about getting it or doing anything I wouldn't usually do, but worried about being checked up on and forced to quarantine in my hotel. I went on a huge driving trip during the big summer surge and was met with nothing but smiles and open arms everywhere...across many states. I decided at the last minute to take a chance and go...when I made the decision I was ecstatic! I was not going to have a sad 60th birthday in Austin where I can't have a gathering...I was going to do what I always do (minus seeing a play) and was going to do all the things the ny website asked me to do (except stay in my hotel room for 4 days). I took a test before I boarded the airplane and was ecstatic to be doing the airport thing again. I LOVE airports and just going anywhere really on a plane. The airport was empty, the planes were empty, and LaGuardia was pretty much empty too...I was whisked to my hotel quickly and dropped my bad and did my usual mad dash around the Murray Hill neighborhood that has started to feel like my vacation spot. I grabbed a veggie slice and then hoofed it around Grand Central, Bryant Park, Times Square and then through Rockefeller Center on the way back to my hotel.

It was different, but still wonderful. Some things were so much better: no lines at the museums or bagel shops. I had a blissful day at the MoMa where it was dotted with visitors but not the usual giant lines I see every time I walk by it. Bryant Park was bustling with skaters and open air shops and restaurants so I would sit there in the evenings and have a hot chocolate and watch the skaters (i.e.: resting my dogs). I grabbed food to go mostly except for the day Kate came into the city, where we dined at several outdoor venues...our favorite bars were closed (where she has a cocktail and I have a fizzy water and just enjoy the ambiance). We stayed on the lower east side and it was abuzz with young rowdy folks. I had gone to the Strand one evening and had a delightful time there, but when Kate and I decided to go there on a Saturday evening there was a line around the block. There was a line to get into Uniqlo when it opened, but for some reason I have no desire to shop for clothes anymore. But I was looking for something special for my birthday, as I usually buy a play ticket or something nice for myself.

On my last day my flight wasn't until 5:00pm so I had plenty of time to do stuff. I walked  up to 5th avenue and took a right and thought about going to the Park (which I never go to) as I was just trying to vary my routine. I walked in front of Trump Tower and always glance over at the heavily armed guards..and then saw some men in bright blue scarves standing in front of some construction scaffolding letting people know that the Tiffany's store was open even though it had some construction going on around it. (For the past several years it seems like every other building has scaffolding and construction going on around it). I have never gone into that store as I feel I look too scruffy for them but I saw this touristy couple go in and I just followed them in. I was gleefully escorted to the floor of items that I said I could afford (just the silver please!) and these lovely ladies fluttered around me as I looked at all the nicely made and reasonably priced pieces. I had a hard time picking something but decided to go small and got a charm that was inexpensive and small but is in their traditional design with  a modern twist to it. I hung it on the charm holder necklace I was wearing and after paying they asked if I wanted a box but I said I would take a bag. The blue bag! I skipped out of the store with the bag on my arm and felt that I had given myself the best 60th birthday present I could have ever had...and not just the bauble from Tiffany's.

There was a time when I couldn't imagine that I would ever be able to afford to fly to NYC and stay in a decent hotel and just do what I want for 5 days. I mostly just walk around, but if I want to spend money and eat out every day and see play I do it. If I want to buy myself treats I do that as well...but these short trips to ny are a symbol of something big for me in my life: they are a symbol of my having agency over my own life, of me doing exactly what I want to do and psychically and psychologically freeing myself from the scarcity and stinginess that is in my lineage. Why is it any better to have money sitting in a bank rather than to spend it on small things that improve the quality of my life SO MUCH and make my mental health and self esteem plumper.

When I lived in ny I would often look at all the apartments and wonder how someone was able to afford to live there...wonder if there was something wrong with me - and I found out there wasn't. I just had to work hard for a really long time and make this a priority in my life. 

This is 60 for me- this is better than I thought it would be...


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

5009 Miles

I prepared for a few days after worrying for a week or so wether I should go on this trip at all...was concerned about covid, people's reactions to me traveling, how safe it was out there, etc...but I knew I would not be able to keep myself from blazing across the country to Oregon once I gave myself the go ahead...I needed to be with these sweet mountain people who loved me dearly...

I got up at 6:00am on July 29th and drove to Amarillo and spent the night...drove out to the Cadillac Ranch and took some photos...the next day was a long drive to Flagstaff and after checking into my hotel did a quick jaunt down town to walk around...wasn't much going on so pretty much stayed in hotel room and ate noodle bowls I brought with me...knew I'd be getting up early and the next day's drive to Atascadero was super long and stressful, but I had a friend there that I've know for over 20 years and it was so great to see her and have a nice meal outdoors on a cool patio with her and her husband. I decided to stay an extra day there and not we had a super fun day driving around the central coast and visiting all the little towns. And I stayed in this lovely downtown boutique hotel and just loved every minute of being away from Austin. The next day I drove to Rocklin (outside Sacramento) and stayed with my friend Steve and had a wonderful day where I felt just so taken care of and such a warm sensation of being with someone that I've known and loved for a really long time (I always tell people he was my best boyfriend ever). Steve has a big heart and presence and takes care of those around him well. I hung out at his wonderful comfortable home with his dog and sweet 4 year old son Jasper. At first I thought I wouldn't be able to handle staying at someone's house, especially on a couch in the living room, but as soon as that warm family glow spread all over me I knew I would stay at Steve's. I slept like a baby and awoke to his sweet doggie sleeping with me and drove to Bend, OR to break up the drive. I could have driven straight to Welches but didn't want to arrive at my hosts house too early and had heard great things about Bend. It was a mistake to stay there - Bend is a shithole and my cheap hotel's wifi went out around 7:00pm and I had kind of a meltdown which turned into a grieving session that lasted in me bawling for hours. At first it was just frustration about not having internet and really being sucked into Hell on Wheels again, but then I was forced to confront those juicy old deeply crusted over wounds/desires that seem to only emerge with a 5 day 80mph road trip. It's happened to me on every road trip: I spend most the day in euphoria/raptor like focus on the road...followed by a gradual falling apart and vulnerable period where I feel sad and weepy. All ancient grievances are re-hashed, and only when I park and get into the hotel am I relieved and hunker down for deep sleep. What happened in Bend was some familiar stuff I've been dealing with for a few years with therapists in Austin; also a love jones that had me spinning in Austin and took 5000 miles to forget about. But then something very familiar happens at the end when I think all of my unhappiness is a particular person's fault: I unconsciously open my computer and look at the McMurdo webcams and go into a zone of what it is I am really grieving - missing the place that gave me everything...gave my life 24/7 badass meaning and purpose and joy every day. Before McMurdo I dated big tattooed guys/bikers to feel badass...then I got to become that badass I tried to get on the outside...she lived in me and just needed a place to manifest...this is hard, this time of year as people start to deploy, as I see pics of people in Christchurch getting ready for that C-17 ride to the Ice runway...something I got to do 7 times (1 time was by boat)...a situation that still rips my heart out every time I think about it because I miss it so much. I have a job now that almost gives me that much satisfaction, but it barely rates in comparison. It's a familiar patten when I start to feel sad: let the feelings overtake and dive deep into grieving, cry long enough to realize I miss my home. I still apply every year for positions, but have fallen out of the loop and much younger people deploy...and I keep trying to make my life here feel like the one I had there...and I have a very good life here, but it is hard for me to accept that the best is behind me...I can't even imagine there could be something that could be that fulfilling to my being, but maybe I should start trying to believe that there is.

But wait, I was writing about my road trip, which was one of the best trips I have every I get to Welches at about 10:00am and my host is playing golf and his wife is gardening. I have a lovely little room in their beautiful home on the river. I am euphoric driving over to the RV park I lived in and just traveling that familiar little road in the beautiful forest...I was so unhappy there most of the time but I love going back...what I didn't realize when I moved there was that I would form this community of people that I love - that I feel so close to - that can't wait to see me and welcome me like a beloved relative. I spent 10 days at my host's home and it was delightful...I saw so many friends and went to Portland and then when I left I had another exciting road trip with some wonderful discoveries: Helper Utah and Canon City, CO...two fantastic little towns that need to be visited again. The joy of the trip has evaporated with some realities of being back in Austin. I am happy to be in my apartment and be free for a few weeks, and then back to work for this insane presidential election.

I was so happy for the 3 weeks I did this trip. It could not have been time I just need to make it longer...I had been planning to do this ever since I got the gently used Lexus as a gift. She performed beautifully. I had a mission, a goal, a destination, and all of it was wonderful...I just feel so loved by that mountain. I just can't live there full time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Nineteen Eighty Four - Rego Park, Queens

It's fall of 1984 and I'm living in a basement apartment in Rego Park Queens. I found it by looking in a newspaper, finding an agent and giving my parameter of $500/month rent max. I still remember this unusual guy and he said "I have a PALACE for's an enormous PALACE! He drove me to this kind of ugly 3 story newish building in the heart of Archie Bunker style Queens houses. He took me to the basement, and it was indeed, enormous - enormous and fully furnished with a vintage 50's stereo cabinet. There was a little window over the bed that let in light from the backyard and he sold me on the value per square foot. Also it was close enough to a subway stop to get me to my job at 61st/Madison so I signed a years lease. Without going in the stürm and drang of my first few months in the city, here's the cliff notes: I moved to NYC upon graduation from UT in late summer of 1983. I stayed on the Upper East Side with G for a few months and decided I needed to live on my own. I had mailed out tons of resumes to film companies and got a few letters back, and some calls (pre cell phone and internet days kiddies!). I ended up getting a job with a high end watch wholesaler who had been handed my resume because it said I spoke French, and the company was based in Paris. My boss was a chain smoking, smolderingly handsome Portuguese man named Carlos. This was my first non fast food, first big girl job, AND it was in NYC and I was excited/nervous. I wanted to be perfect and was terrified of authority and of making mistakes. A condition that would haunt my work life for many years.

For six months I went to work 9-5 every day in stomach clinching fear, mostly hungover, and not knowing how to do my job very well (and not knowing that I needed help or how to ask for it). I had only an electric typewriter, and my boss would yell at me constantly and was always on the phone schmoozing to people in French or Portuguese, wrapped in a cloud of cigarette smoke. He was trying to get his watches in all the high end retailers in the city and I was writing the letters to the head buyers. He said they looked like crap and made me redo them. I sensed that he liked me and was trying to have a jokey and fun time with me but I couldn't go there. I was a highly boundaried (not in a good way) employee who felt I was so below a boss, and deathly afraid of making mistakes. I can't even really remember why I was so scared but I think I had to do a lot of accounting stuff with an adding machine (10 key by touch!)...and I am not confident with my math abilities so when I didn't know what to do instead of asking a question I would just get scared and hide what I had done. Carlos would eventually find a mistake and blow up at a me. After he blew up he'd be over it and ready to joke and laugh...whereas I would be completely traumatized and would not be able to recover until I plunged into the Irish bar across the street from my office every evening. (The antics at this bar I could write a book about - I had to stop going because of how much trouble I got in).

It was unfortunate that it took a very long time (my last boss I was terrified of was from 2000-2003), but I no longer cower with bosses. I have several male bosses now and I get up in their faces and bare fangs if they overstep. I say NO a lot. And it works. They respect me. O the suffering I could have avoided if I'd learned this lesson as a wee one. Punch back at the bully. But to continue...

I hated going to the office and just got sicker and sicker fantasizing on how I could escape or quit. It never occurred to me that I could just quit - I was so obedient and conditioned to focus on a powerful and scary person's needs and to squash my own that that was how I was at work. Outside of work I had boyfriends, lovers, friends come stay with me from out of town, wild debauched early 80's new yorky stuff (white) all around me and had what I thought was fun at the time, but looking back I think I was pretty lost and just didn't know it because I was so busy feeling like a trapped animal by day and going wild at night. I recently told a friend who knew me at this time (he was in grad school at NYU) what I was doing on my weekends and his mouth was hanging open in shock. He got serious about his studies after we hung out my first few months and I was off onto the dark after hours underbelly at night.

I am finally getting to point of this long (yet endlessly interesting to me) and rambling post: one Sunday about six or seven months into this job I decided I was going to call in sick on Monday. I had never called in sick to work (and now, 36  years later, can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I have called in sick, and most of those times I was not actually "sick"). Something in me just said fuck it I need a break from this relentless cycle of hell of this confusing job world. I was nervous all day planning how I was going to do it and what I was going to say, and early Monday morning I left a message on the office answering machine that I was feeling ill and wouldn't be in. Then I unplugged my phone.

I had noticed one of those old art deco single screen movie theaters in my neighborhood and that was where I was going to spend my day. I decided I would go to the afternoon feature no matter what the film was. I was a terrible film snob at the time and did not see current Hollywood fare but told myself I was gonna go no matter what was showing. I walked to the theater and bought a ticket for "Footloose". I remember how cheesy and goofy the film was and how silly the music but I didn't care. I had decided I gave no fucks for Carlos and his stupid watches and this Monday was my own and he didn't own me. I wish I could remember more about the day but what I do remember is going back to my basement apt. and seeing the red light on my answering machine blinking a bunch. I had about 14-30 messages from Carlos. He had been compulsively calling me all day, utterly dependent on me and my cheap labor (I had looked at the file of applicants when I applied for the job and they had all asked for twice to three times as much money as I had). His calls were ridiculous and creepy...acting like he wanted me to call and talk about what I was doing (so weird to me), but he was scared I wasn't coming back. He needed me. And I had flipped him off by being not contactable.

I did not call back, and don't remember exactly what happened when I went back but shortly thereafter I got the euphoric news that the company was being sued and they were high tailing it to LA in 6 weeks. I had an out! Carlos begged me to move to LA and offered to buy me a car and partly subsidize an apt. I said no, but that I would go out to set up the office for two weeks. It was a hideous/hilarious two weeks of me staying with some friend of his (and her kids) in Beverly Hills, walking to work dressed in all black, having to hide in the home as there was some ex driving by threatening to shoot everyone in the house. I hated LA and knew that I would. My last day of working for Carlos ended with me treating my hostess to dinner, and while at this fancy restaurant she was telling me a story about a recent date she'd had (I had just drained a giant smoothie from a glass-this is important), she was describing his physical appearance saying he had a "lump" and I said where was the lump? And she said no, what is the word for it (English was not her first language) and she stood up and pantomimed a person with a bum leg. And I said do you mean a "limp?" And she said YES, A "LIMP!" We started laughing so hard that I started gagging...I still had smoothie in my throat when I started laughing and the gagging turned into I was going to throw up...she looked at me in alarm and held the empty smoothie glass under my mouth for me to hurl into. I filled up the glass to the brim. Goodbye LA! Never heard from Carlos again.

Yesterday when I was thinking about this memory before my writing class I started googling stuff in Rego Park, and I think I found the little theater I went to. Just like before I moved where I am right now, I have getting very very sentimental about a place I have lived before...looking at the house I lived in on google maps and seeing my subway stop. I don't know why this memory is so compelling to me but this is the 3rd time I have written it out in several feels like time again to jettison the cobwebbed Austin life of the known and move across country again. And why not? I never lose anything when I do this -.  I just seem to gain, and I must be wired so differently than most people as they say they cannot imagine "uprooting" and moving somewhere and leaving all their friends. This is my soul's magic place...gleefulling getting rid of my stuff, packing my car and moving across county. If I have ONE friend there I am good - I will start forming a tribe or life pretty quickly...the clan I left behind in Oregon are some of the dearest people to me on earth. Six years in Oregon - only fond memories (though my diaries from that time show a screeching internal hellscape).

As a solo movie goer for my entire adult life, and as a daughter of a mother weaned and raised by solo theater outings (she has told me she went to the movies every day after school) it was (and still is) a solo act that has seems to have a high feminist and self care component - it's an act of courage for people who say they could never go by themself, and in these times especially, a few hours that one is utterly unavailable.


Some other things that happened at that first NYC job: I was sent on missions to interesting places all over the city for various errands. I slinked around inside what felt like the walls of Grand Central Station to find this ancient darling man in an ancient dusty office repairing and tinkering with old timepieces. I was sent to Hell's Kitchen (early 80's, scary) with a suede briefcase filled with expensive watches handcuffed to my wrist up a rickety walk up next to an abandoned building to meet "some guy" who wanted to buy "some watches." I was sent to luxurious high rise offices with views of the city that made me swoon. Carlos' famous finance (main model on the Price is Right!) came to the office and Carlos called to tell me to hide his condoms and cigarettes in his desk. Janice glided in and threw her mink into my arms. These are the things that stick with was all good - the horrible and the beautiful. I almost miss being that naive and young and being so besotted with a place that I would put up with anything to be there.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Twenty Seven

This is kind of a goofy picture of my face but I couldn't really see the screen very well on my phone as it was leaning on a tire outside my improv studio. I get excited about Halloween and cold weather and autumn (and going to NYC next week!) that I decided to get dressed and do my annual birthday photo. I'm fatter this year, but don't really care, as why the hell should I? I went to my 40 year high school reunion and saw my demographic: I look pretty good for the mileage.

I got gut punched pretty hard seeing people deploying to McMurdo but sucked it up. My cabin has sold, I have exciting travel on the horizon (though I've been everywhere I want to go so am revisiting some favorites), have loads of work and some super fun creative outlets. I want a dog so bad it hurts - but the intoxicating freedom I am experiencing not having one overrides that desire.

I feel kind of self conscious writing this as I know someone is actually reading it now...when I go back and read some of these postings I cannot believe I wrote them as I don't remember writing them and they seem better written than I remember. I have been going to this writing class at a Zen Center  that is in a part of Austin that I lived in while in college and I can feel the ghosts of that time when I walk around this area. I am having such a nostalgic trip here in Austin and it has been 3 years now that I've been back. The writing we do is prompt style, where we go in cold, get a  prompt, and write for 30 minutes, then sit in a circle and read it to each other. I write so fast and furiously that I can barely get everything out that I want to say...then there is a lull around the 20 minute time...then a burst of blissful coming together of the piece. The best part is when we get to read aloud. It's exactly the same stuff I write on here but I am reading it to strangers. Something happens when I read this stuff to people who don't know me (and one person there knows me fairly well)...I notice that what I've written takes on a life of it's own and changes as my voice rounds out the words...sometimes I edit as I'm reading, and my voice gets much more powerful (and doesn't quite sound like "mine" anymore) as I get to the end. When I'm done reading I feel like I've climbed a mountain...and I see the faces of my peers and everything is different. What I have written has changed in the reading of it, and more importantly, in the landing of it upon the ears of the others. I can see, or rather sense in a rather strong way that what I have written has had an effect; it has had impact. And the impact seems more ephemeral or dare I say, "spiritual" than some sort of concrete impact. I'm not explaining it well, but when I start to read what I've written aloud I feel some sort of cosmic shift in some sort of internal/collective universe. The meaning, the loadedness, the shock value, the trauma and tragedy of what I've written recedes into the background and there is a stillness that I guess can only be said to be the present moment. What I've written is no longer me or mine, or necessarily a true document of a past event, but more like a smoke signal sent up into the air to intermingle with the millions of other words people are writing down everyday...I feel a peacefulness and relief that I am not unique  and my stories are not hard facts...they are just a part of the big cosmic swirl.

I just finished driving a giant cargo van for 3 weeks during early voting and Election day, and am now pulling out the sites. I went through a major meltdown about having to drive the van in Austin traffic but I did it and felt a huge surge of pride each day that I parked at the county and successfully rocked my shift and unloaded my van. I spend a lot of time doing very unusual and unique things in this job - like going into tons of elementary and middle schools and churches all over the county and smelling the smells of an old school and feeling a warmth for the young children. Today I barged into a church and people were huddled together fretfully praying and in another room people were making lunches for meals on wheels and me and my co-worker were strapping down tables onto a giant metal box and making a lot of noise. Knowing that this job will have lots of work for 2020 would be the main reason that I would stay in Austin another year...this job is almost over for a couple of months, the weather is gorgeous (40's and rainy), my improv class is really fun, and recently a man told me with the utmost sincerity that I was an "incredibly beautiful woman." I immediately made a face like "gross no I'm not" and then caught myself and really let myself take it in that it might be true. I was feeling close to him and then I pushed him away. I feel the lyrics of the song "Desperado" imprinting on my soul and my heart seems to be incased in a block of ice : you better let somebody love you before it's too late. I used to so easily be able to melt into the arms of another person, and now it feels like something I need to go to college to learn how to do again (and is it even possible for me to do again, and more important: is it something I actually even want to do again.) I've been single so long that I've gotten really good at I could teach a masterclass in it. What would it be called...How to Date Yourself...How to Do Everything Yourself...How to Travel the World by Yourself and not feel utterly awkward at tables full of couples...blah blah blah.. the list goes on...onward!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Thirty Five Years Love Affair

Healy Pass
Black Sheep

Slea Head

Just finished an 11 day journey around Ireland with a small group tour company and it was incredible! I was the only solo traveller and by the end we all felt like one big happy family who'd gone through this amazing experience together. I live alone and spend a lot of time alone so spending 16 hours a day with people I had just met was  something I feared might be too much for me, but it ended up really being great. Just jam packed, on and off the bus all the time and super luxe accommodations.

This was my fifth trip to Ireland. My first was in 1984, then '92, 2000, 2009 and 2019. I will be back. I love this country. I actually fell in love with it before I ever came here - was just infatuated with it for some reason and don't remember what started it - but it started around college time. I talked my two girlfriends into coming here when we flew to London in '84, when we were all 23 years old. We were backpacking and had very little money, but traveling was pretty cheap back then. We had no plans, no reservations, and spent our first night (after taking the sea ferry from Holyhead to Dublin) in Dublin at a very grotty hostel downtown (when Temple Bar was still a slum!). We got up the next morning and asked some locals where we should go and without even having to think of it they said "The Dingle Peninsula". So we went to the train station and took the train to Tralee, and rode the bus to Dingle, til we walked around and found a B&B we could afford. We hit the pubs and drank Guinness with locals for weeks...there weren't too many Americans around at that time and Dingle was still only slightly touristed (now it almost feels like Disneyland). Me and one of my friends immediately fell in love with two Irish boys and spent a week with them before we tore ourselves away to tour the rest of the country. I stayed in the Republic while my two girlfriends with North with a plan to meet at the train station on a certain date. I hitchhiked around by myself and had some boring and weird experiences, and finally went to the train station where my friend did not show up (today, we could have just texted!). When she didn't show up I felt despair and decided to hitchhike back to Dublin and go home early. I was hitching to Dublin and a guy picked me up and I ended up in Galway after riding around for a couple of days with him. He dropped me off in a park and said he'd pick me back up at 5:00pm to take me to Dublin and he never showed up. Just writing this makes me feel sort of sad for my 23 year old self - that I was so gullible and did not take agency over my own life - but how could I have known any better? I think of how utterly different I am now, 35 years later, where I can afford to travel exactly how I wish and don't cut corners and deeply, deeply take care of myself. Just writing that makes me see how far I've come. Being sober is a huge part of that. Anyway, back to the story (that I was not intending to write!), I made another Dublin sign and spent all day hitching and no one showed. I went to a phone booth and called the restaurant in Dingle where the boy I had fallen for worked and he begged me to come back. I did not know he felt that way so I got back to Dingle somehow and we reunited in romantic bliss for the next few weeks. We even blew off our plane tickets (my girlfriend had come back to be with her man also), and I think I remember us crying together on the ferry back to London as we said goodbye to this country that we had fallen in love with and in. I flew back to NYC where I was living (rather dreadfully to tell the truth) and she flew back to Houston. We talked on the phone every day from our jobs and obsessed over going back to Ireland. I moved back to Austin in January of 85 and she moved back to Nebraska (her home). My Dingle boy came to the US (I have a stack of a year's worth of beautiful love letters) and we met up the next summer of '85 in NYC and had a nice reunion, but my feelings had changed, and when a few months later (after working in NY for a bit) he wanted to come to Texas to see me and I said I was involved with someone else. That was the LAST time I spoke to him before two weeks ago. I had spent the last 35 years hoping for some sort of reunion or meeting of some kind, and to apologize if I'd hurt him in any way (and to be honest, hoping that there might still be a spark). On my second day in Dublin, which was a Monday, I knew that was my chance to go find him. He had not responded to my Facebook messages and I thought maybe he wanted nothing to do with me or was just too busy to be bothered with some 58 year old lady who is enraptured with sentimentality about this time in her life (talking about myself in third person now: interesting). I had looked up where his doctor's office was (surprisingly close to my hotel) and made a plan to just drop by at some point that day. I got up early and rode the hop on/hop off bus around Dublin (those always sound like fun but usually suck; this one was particularly bad) and got off around Temple Bar area and nervously made my way the two miles or so to his office. I stopped off for a bite to eat and then used a hotel bathroom to freshen up and make sure there was no food in my teeth, and then marched to the Georgian townhouse where he performs surgeries. I got there and balked. I paced around and walked up and down the street thinking this was a really bad idea...but then I just sucked it up and said to myself What is the worst that can happen? fully knowing that no matter how horrible the outcome could be that I would KICK myself for not being brave enough to do this. I walked up and rang the doorbell. My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. I am never that nervous so shaking hands is a very surprising thing for me to have. I tall man answered the door and I said real fast that I was an old friend of the doctors and could I just leave a message I don't want to bother him. And the man said I'll see if he's available! And I go sit in the waiting room and I hear this familiar voice say "Marsha Kendall!" and bounding down the stairs is that tall & handsome man I met 35 years ago. He was delighted to see me. We went and had a lunch around the corner and tried as much as possible to catch up on our lives. He had somewhere to be so we only had about an hour together. I walked back to my hotel and don't know if I even tried to process it...I had to  get up early the next day to go on my tour so I don't think I wrote much about it - maybe to my NYC friend who gets my TOMES(!!!). All I know is that when the trip started I felt a bleakness that was raw and hollowed out and I off. I was tired, I wanted to go home, and I'd only been in Ireland for 72 hours with THREE WEEKS to go! I think a part of me felt like I'd done what I came here to forward to today, where I only have one week left and am on my break in Dublin between tours. The trip was wonderful beyond words (the bleak feeling dissipated quickly) and there were such beautiful, tender moments of connection with the country and it's citizens. We all really bonded on the bus and everyone was kind and gracious. I surrendered to the tour and had a great time. 

The two days in Dingle were a deep dive in the layers of limbic memories where this 1984 love story still lived. I felt like I inhabited my body in a way that I hardly do anymore: younger, sexual, full of future short: being a young woman. A girl. There is nothing like entering the crone period of one's life to truly, truly appreciate what it was like to be young and to not have realized at all what you had. I just thought of myself as an edgy party girl, and that guys liked me because I was funny. But they liked me because I was cute. Cute...and Young. And now my deep limbic love feelings get stirred when I interact with babies or children. I could not be more delighted that this has happened. I spent the shorter of my overseas flights next to a boisterous baby who I played peek-a-boo with for two hours and his mom was so happy that I helped keep her baby entertained. I say what I always say...that this was an absolute treat for me as I don't get to be around babies very much. But back to Dingle, my body was obsessed with tracking the route from my Hotel past the B&B we first stayed in, down to O'Flaherty's Pub, up past Dick Mack's and back to Benner's. It was my own Ulysses. I walked it over and over again in the two eyes hungrily taking in every molecule of those streets, as if somehow I could relive those days once again by just following this crazy circle. I made myself hang out in both pubs, as awkward as that can be as a non-drinker. I ordered my sparkling water everywhere so I'd have a glass with something in it, but it never felt the same. It was ancient, it was mind could tell me that buy my bones and my soul ACHED to feel that sense of freedom again. Yet I have even more freedom now, so memory is an interesting character.

Wow. What a rambling, all over the map post this has become! I was going to write about this tour but ended up writing mostly about the 1984 trip and ended up with how much I love having the grandma gene. I suppose what is really interesting to me is how aging changes what one loves, or what one thinks is the source of what will bring one love...for most of my life I thought only romantic love could save/cure/rescue me. I had felt so love starved in my youth that that hunger drove me for has only subsided in the last 7 years (with lots of help and work), and what a blessing that has been...all the other forms of juicy love that are available have rolled gently into my sphere the fill the space vacated by romantic yearning. Interacting with babies and toddlers everywhere when I catch their eyes, giving food to homeless men at a shelter and feeling the oneness with them...getting to inhabit my own body and feel all my edges and practice the incredibly hard job of actually trying to love myself, and the riches that that has brought. When I think about how many hours a week I spent focussing my attention on romantic drama it amazes me that I figured out how to break free of it (or that I needed to). I was stuck in a pattern that I did not create and did not even know what it was until very recently. Without going into the amazing insights I now have about that part of my life, I am making a new map into an unknown place that I am traveling as I am overhauling it. It is truly a journey into the unknown and filled with lots of sharp points that I have to stop and bandage. I am making new neural pathways in my nervous system...ones that flourishes on safety, security, and kindness...(I just looked at that last sentence and cannot believe it came from my fingers), and not on drama, lack, and chronic abandonment reenactment.

I won't write about the details of my lunch with the Dublin doc I met in Dingle, but something about it felt like we had just been hanging out the day before. It was so comfortable and fun...and the details of his life were surprising enough to me to realize that no, I hadn't sabotaged love for myself, I had created something so beautiful and wonderful as to have it's own life and beauty and to be the inspiration for this blog's inception. I hadn't sabotaged love, I had held out for the greatest love of all: the carving out of my own beautiful life, of which romantic love is a really sweet piece, but just a piece...not the whole pie. My relationship with this country and the romance with the Irish boy now has an ending. And it was a really, really great story that I got to tell everyone on my tour van!