Friday, March 30, 2007

checking in.

the days get away from me now. i move, in a somewhat haze, but try to be checked in. though as i told my ny best friend,
the present sucks.

what about this moment sucks?
she replied.

i couldn't think of one thing. good food (she feeds me well), good friends (for my daughter and i), and good company (the kind that talks about stuff that matters, not the weather. oh how i love to talk about the weather!).

it's not the present that sucks, it's all the thinking you're doing.

and she was right. but it's hard to shut off the mind. i told my sister today,
i keep trying to change my life, but my life won't change. what is up with that?

seems like i keep finding the same beds and crawling in to them. making the same choices. but marion woodman says,
if you look carefully, you'll see you have come farther. you are not at the same place on the mountain as the last time you came around.

i'll have to take her word for it, because the scenery looks shockingly, starkly, depressingly familiar.

so what do i do?

came home and made a cosmopolitan for starters, and technically it's not drinking alone if you're on the phone with your sister, thank you very much.

marion woodman, again, would say,
we want spirit, so we concretize it in alcohol. we want comfort, so we concretize it in food.

she would know. i am opting not to know. just to ease myself through the present which seems to suck. but it is just my thinking that is making it suck, isn't it?

so how to change that?

not sure. this is why the great army of friends. they advise me on the way i should go. they objectively look in to my life and say,
suz, try this.
and i do. sometimes i find it not for me. but other times, most times, they were right on.

i'm pretty lost right now. not sure when that will change. but my monumental battle is to be checked in. though there are many times i simply want to check out.

words have even lost their appeal and that is a first for me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

folding chairs and deep squats

so i'm in tai chi tonight, finally feeling brave enough to take the front row. i can't really see in the back row, and we run out of space when we do backward movement. so i braved the front. that is a sure fire guarantee you'll be all wobbly. as i was. i felt rickety. like my legs in that deep squat could only tremble. a couple times i had to stand upright to ease the burn. but squat i did. certain any moment i'd go over like a cheap folding chair in a heap on the floor.

at belly dancing yesterday we did figure eights. there are two directions for everything (at least that many), the vertical plane and the horizontal plane. when i realized we were doing horizontal figure eights, thrusting our right hip forward and drawing it back, alternately thrusting the left hip forward then circling back. to get this rhythm down, i had to close my eyes and see the eight i was weaving back and forth.

the music was lovely, we did figure eights for a while and my whole body was into it. then she added the arms. circling the arms from a starting position above the head, while doing a figure eight, circling hands move down to frame the figure eighting hips. talk about confusing. i had to shut my eyes and concentrate. but finally got it. like patting your belly and rubbing your tummy in a circle. once you get the hang of it, it comes relatively easy. i would, on occasion lose the rhythm, and have to break it down and start from scratch. arms above head in the pose, hips carving out a figure eight.

she's teaching us really hard stuff. she says if we get the hard stuff down, the easy stuff will be no problem. which makes some sense.

colonel sanders has brought a comfortable folding chair and joins us each week. i try not to think of him. or look at him. it still creeps me out that he is there. but whatever, he's an old guy, who am i to deny him his perverse pleasure.

the women's bodies are all different. one lady is 60 percent leg, and a little blocky trunk. she has trouble. i want to help her, but i'm not the teacher. i guess i could help her, but i stick to the back of the class.

other women are more evenly proportioned, or hide their disproportion well. many are showing up in full blown belly dancing costumes. the way we sweat, i can't imagine wearing all that clothing for practice. i'm still donning the bikini top and baggy pants.

it's amazing how standing in a deep squat and moving your arms around can make you profusely sweat. about thirty minutes in to tai chi, the instructor said,
you should be sweating now.

i start dripping immediately. i don't know what it is about that exercise, that meditation but it takes everything i've got. physically, mentally, everything. plus the room is hot, very hot.

if it's not the crazy breathing. the deep breaths alone are enough to make me wonder why i breathe so shallow, but the positioning of the hands, palms upright. at one point we did this snake pose, get this:

legs spread apart, feet parallel, deep squat, left arm postioned like a striking snake (curled, talk about carpal tunnel crampage waiting to happen), right arm extended palm up, sink in to squat and extend the arm while shifting weight from left to right leg.

it's been over a month we've been doing this, but she keeps adding new stuff. though i'm finding some of the moves coming easily, it's the transitions. the standing on one leg and balancing. a crane stand is bent left leg, right leg comes up and poses above left knee, arms are moving up while you are raising your legs, and to release arms move down and you drop leg, i can't remember where. probably by the door. it's crazy. but wonderful. i'm enjoying it immensely.

my grief is assuaged in these times of activity. my body releasing heartache. i am moving forward. making myself step out in to the future that is and has always been so bright.

Friday, March 16, 2007

best friends calling

it is such a curious thing to suffer a loss and have the phone ring as soon as i walk in the front door.

i just had to call.

my best friend who never calls said.

it's a miracle.
i sobbed. because i needed her. and she heard me.

wednesday night, another best friend (i have many, incase you hadn't noticed) called.

it's been a while, what's the matter?

without missing a beat and after hearing only my hello.

just hung up with a dear friend who said,
you're going to be all right. i'm going to make sure you're all right.

the morning after the blow, my dear shiny new best friend said (though she had been up all night with a sick child),
let me just be here with you, you don't have to say anything.

there are many others who are holding me through emails and prayers. i'm finding my way, though the darkness is long.

i've not found poetry yet, but i'm dipping my toes in the editing again. the dear friend who rescued me from self-doubt with his book project and belief in me, has commissioned me for another job at just the time i needed it. only i did not know then, i needed it.

that is how it is, i guess.

we walk blindly, and trust. our friends come along side, take our hand and lead us through shadow. to hope. by their warm acceptance of all our flaws. of our inability to be anyone other than ourselves (they applaud us when we are most ourselves). by these i am bound up. in warmth and love. in life.

we are not strangers here. people do not come in to our lives for no reason. each one plays a part. the key is, knowing when you're needed. when your time to speak is at hand. when your time to be silent and wait has come.

and sometimes, beauty finds us. breathes on us. and reminds us, life finds a way. even when it hurts. goodness prevails and life finds a way. love abounds. and i believe the more we love, though the hurt sear like a red hot poker to the eye, it is worth it. even to love blindly. even to love briefly. love is worth it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


is the title of my journal for this season. a book i'm reading talks about the chrysalis of a butterfly and how something in the caterpillar knows when it is time to chrysalize. (i don't know if that is the right word and i really don't care.)

one can be thrust into this cocooning experience by a sudden change, the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship. or all of the above.

i'm not sure what to do right now. how to be. who i am. where i go from here. i just know what i have told myself every time something rocky hit in the past, do the next thing. just the next thing.

i'm not sure how it will turn out. if things will make sense some day. i am guessing hindsight will be helpful, but for now, it is all uncertainty. and pain. and i must sit with it and experience it afresh. see what lessons i have yet to learn from this dread companion. i had not thought this would be happening now. it never crossed my conscious mind, but something in me knew. i heard myself speak and my friend whom i can be most honest with heard it, too. she even pointed it out to me at times when i'd say stuff.

did you hear what you just said?


sheepishly i'd reply, because i am wise inside even when i pretend not to know. and so are you. wise inside, that is. we know things in our knower.

so tonight at belly dancing class, the instructor walked over to me. mind you, she has not instructed me at all, one on one. she comes over and stands behind me as we're doing hipdrops from hell. she says to the class,
look at her technique. it is better than mine.

and she had all the ladies watch me hipdrop.

you're taken classes before.

no, just watched some videos.
i did do a workshop once back a number of years ago, but moving my body in these ways comes easily to me. though now we're doing rib isolations and those are tough for everyone. making one's ribcage move independent of the hips is not easy. it is not natural. it takes work. practice. and i need to wear myself out physically to get through my grief.

i took my daughter to a creek, or she took me, actually. and i sat by a babbling brook and wept. wrote in my journal, and just sat there for a while today. because i need to let myself grieve. i want my daughter to know how to grieve when her time comes.

so i cannot keep my tears bottled up. i cannot feign a smile at every turn. there are some times when i have to let the tears flow.

and so i will.

emergence does not come without sacrifice. the book i'm reading today instructed me. i wondered why i was laboring through, couldn't make myself read on even though i loved the book. but the pages i read today, just before i found out my dear friend had passed were about death. about embracing frailty. coping with mortality. living with suffering.

it was not time for me to read those pages. they would not have made the impact on me they did today. and i needed them today.

the one lady who dances beside me in class, walked with me when the class was over and i told her what had happened. she hugged me.
do something kind for yourself. be gentle with your heart.
she even shed a tear for me.

i have a poem that is coming forth, but i'll let it ride. i won't ask much of my artistic child now. she is fragile. i am fragile. we are all fragile.

no, right now, it's time for nurture. to let myself be caught in the loving arms of friends. to not demand too much of myself, and remember to let myself grieve.

grief means someone has truly lived, and someone has truly loved.

come grief, and welcome.

losing love

it is not every day i wear my colors, but i had them on yesterday as some piss ant was trying to get to me. but that is another story.

bedecked with binty bells, the small silver belly dancing bells, i used to make a tiny jingly sound. but now, i make a larger sound. strange how the library is silent and i'm the one making noise.

last night was an open mic which was attended by souls i am very comfortable with, which makes my life easier. especially because i was hit with some heavy news of a personal sort and i had to stuff it and press forward. that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger, so they say. but i'm not so sure.

my first poem, bloodlust, i broke into tears at the end. another poet cried with me. and said,
that is a powerful poem if it makes other people cry.
my eyes so full of tears, the words had to come from memory because i could not see. my hair draped about my face, i could not abide being seen. but there i was. fighting on. a good soldier.

the reporter showed up after i collected myself, which i was grateful for. small mercies, these. but i'll take whatever mercy i can get.

a poet whom i respect said,
your work is so vulnerable, but so powerful. like an emerging goddess.

it pleases me to hear, that when i am most frail. most broken. most weak, others see some strength. for truly, it is not mine. if i had any strength it is used in the times when i have to pull myself together and make breakfast for my child.

but this is the task of any who grieve. and my black veil arrived in the mail. a three foot long chiffon veil with silver coins on it. only, it was not black. it is blue. a curious confusion but one i welcome. i will not drape myself in shadow, though that is what i long to do. i will step forward in to the light. and grow from this. rise from this. live.

it is hard when your greatest champion falls. when the one who held you up lies down for the last time. and his final words to me came in the form of a poem. what strength it must have taken to weave those words together from dying breaths. from last gasps.

to have lived and loved, to have lost and rise from it. that is my herculean task now. there is beauty everywhere if i don't blind my eyes to it. there is life tiptoeing on the edge of winter's icy grasp (that doesn't really make sense, does it?), if i can just receive it.

i have lost a love, but not all love. it will be well. it will be well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

hush now girls.

tonight helen and i hosted our inter parish council meeting. aside from our talking, my rocking chairs to put my feet up (i love to have my feet up), and our general noisemaking, it went well.

we can't help it, apparently, that we are noisy. we just are. she's much like a sister to me. the kind that knows me and is unafraid to reach out her hand and touch me. for that i'm grateful. we've become friends. and i will miss her.

that's the thing about moving, leaving those i've come to love. leaving those i've come to find comfort in. setting out fresh, even in old familiar haunts, it is some time before a routine is re-established. and things are never the same.

going back is not something i've wanted to do. it seems, backward movement, to be contrary to my purpose at this point in life, but i will do what i can to serve my family in whatever small way i can. that means moving. whenever it happens.

keeping myself disengaged from the emotions of a potential move is perhaps the hardest part. i'm inclined to grieve. something in me understands this mode of emoting and i take to it easily. but let me rather enjoy those friends i have come to know and love. the denomination which has made a place for me. the parishoners who have lent me their understanding and made me feel not so alone in this world.

i'm ready for whatever comes. i would rather i get some of the things i hope for, but even if i do not, i will move forward and live. there is much to do. it has only just begun. and i'm getting published again in a secular journal called LIPS.

helen would giggle with me about this like a sister and some matronly soul would remind us to be quiet and listen. as is the right thing to do.

but i so enjoy giggling. helen brings it out in me.
and it has been a while since i laughed.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

another night, another open mic

i know, i know. i am always at these things, but they are where i gain strength. truly. i've been longing for this night for a while. i drive about forty minutes, to read one poem, sometimes two. but it is so worth it. it is, i can't sleep after, worth it.

i met the editor of another literary journal tonight. and connected with a journal editor i have known for a bit now. the face with the name really helps. sometimes as i listen to poets who have a bio the length of my right leg, i am yawning and wondering HOW they got that long bio. but it is also encouraging to me because if some big deal poet who's been at it forever and a day can't draw a huge crowd, i don't have to get too down if there aren't many souls at my shindigs (and there haven't been. see, it's all a matter of perspective).

but meeting the poets i now know locally, spending even five or ten minutes with them connecting (i guess this is what people call networking, but i don't think of it that way. networking to me has always been used car salesman in bad polyester suits telling loud obnoxious jokes and chain smoking). maybe not, but that is how it is in my mind. kind of like evangelism. but i digress.

open mics are just the places we poets go to hear one another. no networking, just sharing digits with those we respect. it is a great honor to have a heavy duty poet say,
that was powerful!
a great honor to have an editor say,
send me that poem.

all the fruit of a short drive. but i do have to bring damn good poems. you get one shot at these things. some guy read tonight and i was off in la la land. not everyone can hold your attention. if a poem can't compel the audience to listen, forget about it. stay home. or come and be challenged to do better (YES! that is an excellent option).

it's a fine line between being shy and not thinking your stuff is good enough and sucking and not knowing it. it's not hard to read a room though. if people are more interested in picking at their fingers or thumbing through a book than looking right in to your eyes (or better yet, eyes closed), you've got a problem.

but when they lock in and listen. when that pindrop silence happens and a poem comes alive. that, baby, is what it's all about.

i call my sister on my ride home and i'm sounding like parnelli jones veering in and out of cars trying not to miss roads. someone please, fire the new jersey sign man. he sucks!