Tiny Miracles and Holy Shit

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Finally.

It is True Fall over here.
A blanket of yellow and red quivers on a bed of peridot grass. The air – slightly colder than my body would like it to be – drops frosty kisses on my plants and windows.
Here in California, rarely do we get to experience a season in true form. Usually it’s this hybrid creature – a mixture of all the seasons, in no particular order, splattered like paint on the months leading up to the close of the year.

I can no longer leave the house without coming back with an arm full of color-confused leaves. On especially lucky days, I also come home with a pinecone or two in my clutches. I scatter them throughout the house, mystifying a husband who does not see art and architecture in their unique form, but a sappy mess.

Oddly enough, as those of us in the state celebrate Thanksgiving, I am no more grateful today and I am on every other day. Relentless gratitude behooves a life of chronic illness. Being ill means I’m prone to anger, bitterness, and discontent. Gratitude keeps me soft, pliable. It keeps me aware of all the tiny miracles and holy shit whirring about my life like a beautiful tornado. Without gratitude, I would break and tear and wither like the trees outside my window.

Today, my goal is to further investigate the GIVING part of Thanksgiving.
We are called not only to be thankful, but to react to that thankfulness with generosity and kindness and Love. To be a fragrant offering.

So, today, may all who come near you be met with the decadence of gardenias.

Happy Thanksgiving, sisters and brothers.

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San Francisco – Raw and Uncut

icon 10 years

Last May I paused for reflection. Reflecting is something I immensely enjoy once I’m doing it, but don’t do often enough because I tell myself too much is happening right this very moment to spend even a few moments thinking actively about the past. We live in fear of falling behind or missing out, and so we go, go, go until something happens to bring us to our knees, and it’s in that position we are finally inert long enough to notice where we’ve been. The peaks, the valleys, the plateaus. Some of it’s black and brittle, scorched by pain and charred with brokenness, but there, just beyond and up a little ways, is growth, healing. The past is no place to buy a home and raise a family, but it is a great place to drive by once in a while, especially during milestones.

When I consider some of the things that can be achieved over the course of a decade — graduating from the fourth grade, a decent bottle of Cabernet, hundreds of books read, the sheer number of toilet-paper squares and Q-tips — I’m more than a little awed by the fact that, in that time, Michael and I have never spent a night apart. Not a single one. But the substantially better reflection-worthy truth is that every single day for roughly three thousand, six hundred and fifty days, we have said Yes to each other.

Sometimes saying yes is easy, like for example when someone asks, “Would you like another piece of cake?” Yes, the answer is always yes.

And sometimes saying yes is incredibly difficult and makes your sphincter clench. “Can I borrow your (brand spanking new, never been opened) copy of Outlander?” . . .  yes; but which child will you be offering as collateral?

A great many of us are blessed and so fortunate to live in this part of the world that is constantly providing for us. Our haves largely outnumber our have nots. But it gets tricky where Love is concerned. The world gently thumps us on the back the way a mother coaxes a burp from her engorged infant, encouraging attitudes such as Mine, Me First, I Need. We look around – through windows, in magazines, at each other – and see that in order to be happy, we must always be acquiring the newest look or thing. Change is glamorized. Options are healthy. But what I’m noticing, in myself most of all, is that we are being taught to despise boredom. To fear it, even. If we are bored, if we are anything less than fully entertained, then it must be time for something new. Cut your hair, get a tattoo, buy a new outfit, purchase a new phone, renovate your kitchen, move to another state, fall in love with someone other than the one you’re dating/married to. I am guilty of all of these except two.

Once you decide to make another human being your forever person, saying Yes to them becomes a little harder to do each day. Their needs – which used to be a delight and honor to fill – become a nuisance, a bother, a bore. We struggle and we strain, because right over there is something fresh and green and affordable. I wonder it feels like, tastes like?

We do not have a perfect score. Our marriage is blotted and blemished with many Nos. There have been and are still times when I choose my comfort over Michael’s need. At night, when he is craving intimacy, and I am craving my body pillow and a book. Michael has put his shyness and dislike of confrontation before the protection of my heart. There is no such thing as the perfect marriage. But a happy one looks like saying Yes to each other when the world offers up alternative arrangements.

So, my darling, Michael, I dedicate this post to you, to our ten years, and to a thousand upon thousand more yeses.

 

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Sunday Played Her Best

Tossing and turning isn’t so good unless you’re a pancake or a sunflower.

And even church is subject to a schedule. So with that

a change of plans was in order, because I wasn’t about to let time get away with another easy cantrip.

Foggy ears and ringing eyes, I would see twice as well, hear sounds amusing and unsung.

It took a moment or seventeen, but I first caught her tune on the whir of the washing machine.

Ah-rhum-rhum-rhum Ah-rhum-ahrum-ahrum Ah-rhum-rhum-rhum.

Vibrations danced on my bones, turning them a way I hadn’t thought of in a while but should have.

They remembered

the highlights, but had forgotten the whole story, whittled it down to something gauzy and fair, and just a little smug.

A break in the motion brought my heart up fast: LhulRooKlunk.

A tremor, a tremble, a trombone — that’s where I felt her next: in the mustache

of the man playing brass crowns, and Little Walter’s sensational cup. Play, Walter, play

and take me on a journey of blues and jazz, and all that punchy pizazz. I could never be as cool as you, but my toes don’t know that, so we won’t tell ’em.

I smiled at them; them like children who haven’t any idea their clothes are on inside out.

And backward.

The telephone rang: R-rwaaring-R-rwaaring-R-rawaaring.

. . . . . and I really was surprised to find her there. She sang for a little while

until she finally tired of being ignored. Then she talked to that Voice, but I stopped listening after that because she had already hung up.

I couldn’t blame her.

Swish, swish, swish–plink! He stood over that club, determined as beets

to make air soar and grass stick. Air was in some mood today and rerouted his plans; to Tibet, I think.

He smiled about it.

And of all the sounds I heard, all of Sunday’s finest playing in my ear,

it was your smile, sweet dear, majestic man, that I longed most to hear.

Marvel and Wonder

The other day, while driving to the gym, I noticed something ahead of me, a ways off in the distance. It was only a peek of something, white, and perhaps round in shape, but mostly surmounted by a jagged line of glorious purple mountains. I was mostly focused on those mountains. It had been one of those typical Orange County days; you know, warm, clear, and perfect — the kind that makes everyone else not living in Southern California weep with covetous despondency. Yeah, we pay for it, though.

It was twilight about now and the sky was preparing for bed, trading its pretty blue dress for slate pajamas. While minding the other vehicles, I continued to flick my gaze toward that white something, but my eyes wouldn’t have it. It was simply too far and too small. Likely a water-tank, I told myself, and left it at that. A few minutes later I approached a bend in the freeway, not even a 20 degree shift, and there it was: not a water-tank.

I couldn’t help myself, I actually cried out “MOON!!” Then my eyes filled with tears.

And here’s why.

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