12 June 2016

Last Sunday before Deployment

Spending the last Sunday with Jason before he deploys.  In some ways, I'm glad that the time is about upon us because the sooner he leaves then the sooner he can get back.  But in others, like looking down that long road of experiences and holidays between now and next March, I'm very much not looking forward to it at all.  And I guess that's to be expected.  I try to hold it as proof that I've chosen well and correct, that it could be so danged boring without him.  Even when I'm doing something fun it feels like I'm just filling the time waiting his return.  I guess there is no consolation and there is nothing to do but lean into the experience and try my best.

Sometimes I feel un-entitled to feel this way.  When I think of the women I know who have weathered years and years, and multiple deployments with children in tow, I feel like somehow I dont have the right to feel this way.  That I would need to experience more before I could rightly claim my place among the ladies and men, too, who - dare I say - Soldier on while their mate is away on a long absence.  But I also know I would never say that to someone else - that they have no right to feel loss or apprehension.  I would never tell them that they need to be silent, stoic, strong because they havent earned it.  I know grief is not earned, its simply experienced.  Having that kind of grace with myself its it's own struggle.

I'm trying to be more vulnerable and open myself up to the possibility of joy which means being willing to experience failure and disappointment, too.  Not something I'm great at.  But worthwhile, I think.  I'm not ready to write about it yet but I invite you to begin talking to yourself like you would talk to a friend.  When you think about doing that, perhaps you will understand what I'm working with here.

02 June 2016

Reason Informs Outcome

I heard a really interesting snip-it today. The same was reason will inform the outcome. It reminded me that sometimes I do things with an outcome in mind. It reminded me that I should just live in the moment. And it reminded me that I need to commit and be fierce in filling my time for no other reason than to LIVE. 
Life in the new apartment is moving along.  While there is not a lot of wind wooshing in the trees, there are actually more song birds here; I hear mockingbirds here from time to time and it always makes me smile.  The other day, there was even a fat robin hopping around upon the grass, cocking his head from side to side in a valiant effort to hear an earthworm or two.   When it rains, the rain is louder than I thought it would be.  Also, the complex is exceedingly dog friendly, to include 7(?) border patrol K9 units.  The dogs they run are amazingly beautiful creatures.  The other dogs on site run the gambit - all mostly friendly and wildly untrained.

So, life goes on.  Things missed.  New things to enjoy.

Jason is somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 days - give or take - before he leaves on his 9 month deployment.  I am not looking forward to that.  I'm sure most people dont, but it's more than just the missing.  When Jason is away, life just seems on hold.  I spend the entire time with this vague underlying feeling that I'm waiting for him to get back.  Like a barn-sour horse, I have the tendency to stay home and avoid leaving.

For the sake of living a brave and full life, I am making the commitment to work against these tendencies as much as possible.  So what if the activities are not as fun by myself.  I am going to do them anyway.  I am going to do them and just have a terrible time - if that's the case - but I am going to do them.

1. I need to buy a bathing suit.  Dear Body, I'm sorry I let you get so fat but we are getting a bathing suit anyway because, guess what?  You are going to go swimming at Balmorhea.  The Chihuahua desert may have used to have been a big ocean but now it's a desert.  And there, just at the foot of the mountains in the middle of it, is a spectacular natural pool that has been developed into a pool.  You love the desert sky.  You love burning your body to a crisp on accident.  You love fishes.  You are going to get into that suit and swim at Balmorhea.  Plus, there is that Bruce Robison song, "Lights of Loving County." that says Balmorhea soooo... live out the song dear one.

2. Already planned the first of many more trips to Alpine.

3. You must get to a show at the Liberty in Roswell.

4. You really should see the Trinity site and stop at White Sands.

5. Maybe other swimming in Central texas.

6. Trips to plan, the only limitation is vacation time.  Montana.  Florida.  Scott Valley.  Dear life, slow down!

While we are discussing it, work really gets in the way of my travel plans.  I should put some of my time to devote to developing multiple income sources.  Things like my website business, dog sitting, real estate.  and more.

Well.  There is my stream of conciousness for today.

31 January 2016

Wind in the Trees

Last night I went to bed early. Because of that, I woke up very early this morning: about 4:30 if we are being honest. I was laying on my stomach trying to go back to sleep when I gradually became aware that I could hear the wind in the trees outside. Somewhere a neighbor's wind chime jingled in random dis-resonance.  

I realized that in about a month we would be moving into an apartment and there are no trees anywhere around.  This was rather depressing but rather than dwell on it, I took a deep breath and buried myself in the soft wooshing outside my window. 

Nature is hard enough to find in the city and its hard enough for man to find his connection there. It's easy to lose oneself in the false connections of possession   and position with a healthy dose of alcohol or other drug to bookend your week of toil with an alternate consciousness. None of it can take the place of grass beneath your feet or dark chilly water slipping past your body.

The apartment is a smart choice and I feel that it is the right choice. But there is no part of me that doesn't already mourn the breathy voice of the wind, whispering her past and future In The arms de los arboles at 430 in the morning. 

Violent Collision of Awesome - Transition to Allowing

Toying with the idea today that too often we try to over-architect a situation in order to try and build it and in the interim, we miss out on enjoyment of life and often dont feel like we have ended up with success.  In trying so hard to define success, we feel like a failure.

We want to know what the end answer is in order to choose the correct path to it.  For example, if we want money, we want to know what outcome will give us that money so that we can work steadily towards that when that particular outcome may not actually be what we want at all.  Or, if we do not know how to get there or cant think of an outcome that will net the result, we feel like a failure.  

My own struggle is, "Where will we live."  I try and try to define a location, a city, an ultimate answer so that I can begin building the path that will ultimately lead to there.  So that I can feel secure knowing a certain timeline.  So that I can feel reassured that it WILL happen.  It's like trying to extract information from an alligator.  I wrestle this aligator in the muddy pit of need and determination but it always ends in a draw.  I'm never able to tussle that alligator into divulging the information I so desperately need to put my mind at ease.

But who ever heard of getting advice from an alligator?

Enter the new idea, that is that I should be focussing a little less specifically on an absolute answer of where and concentrate more on the what - what does that place give me, do for me, what is available to me there, what will make it enjoyable.  And in focussing on that, that life will put me on a path to recieve exactly what I want and need.

It feels a bit irresponsible, chancy, belly-button-contemplative which everyone around me has always said is useless.  But here I am 42 with this insane drive to know the ending and it makes me feel like a failure that I cant get there from here.  So, what good is that advice doing me?  Absolutely nothing good.

I'm going to endeavor to be open to life's timeline for me and trust that what I need is on it's own path to me and, at some point, we cant help but colide in a violent and impressive explosion of complete awesomeness.  With or without alligators.

24 January 2016

Making Your Own Meme

I havent always been the most confident person, but when the most recent Facebook Meme ap surfaced, I coudnt resist rejecting the canned selections for something a bit more personal.  That Facebook gent's got nothing on me! 

Be like you.

26 December 2015

Of Jerky and Bear Skin Coats: The Knowing

I've almost finished reading two Louis LAmour books in as many weeks (Dont hack on me, I've read two Hemingway, two Jane Austen, Two Charles Portis - among others - and am trying to hack through George Eliot's Silas Marner off and on). Then, last night, I watched the move The Revenant

All of my side imagination thoughts are filled with flying arrows, my fingers are cold, and I have the overwhelming urge to lay in an outrageous cache of jerky.  I also may or may not be shopping for a bear skin coat.  Where does a person go to find year end bear fur coats on sale?  

I dont know why the stories and movies of the west so thoroughly capture my imagination.  When I was only six weeks old, my parents rode with a man who packed them into the mountains on horseback for a camping trip.  I rode along.  This is not every six week old child's experience but I'm sure it was quite enjoyable for me.  I was swaddled tightly and rode in a sling tightly secured to Mom and rocked to sleep by the quiet, even sway of the horse's movements.  

During the trip, my parents both relate that they would lay me on my back and I would stare up at the treetops swaying in the gentle summer breeze, and the light filtering through the branches.  Well, it's not like I could play gin-rummy, y'all, but still I think some of that early imprinting must have stayed with me.  Laying there, with the breeze making it's quiet whoosh like the vacuum of air, seeing the rhythmic too and fro of the branches.  Well, I must have been the most relaxed child on earth!

I dont miss the mountains like I thought I would when I moved away.  I dont ache for their towing heights around me.  Yes, they are undoubtedly beautiful and I relish my time spent there, but here is something intoxicating about the openness of the sky stretching from end to end of reality above you that only wide open spaces can provide.  But when I find myself back in their , there is an immediate recognition.  A sense of rightness.  It's like I'm amongst friends again.  I look around and watch the light change.  I know you, I say to them.  And I think they know me.

Some days I feel like a wanderer.  In a painful exodus, I ripped my roots from the earth where they were planted and I moved a lifetime away.  I had never planned to stay away but life happens as it will.  Way leads upon way, as the poem goes.  If I were a tree, then it's like i fell into the river and it has carried me to the sea, and the sea to another shore, and then someone made me into a boat and I just keep on moving.  

Those stories and movies ground me, though.  I recognize a piece of myself in them.  Not the grubbing,  or the fighting amongst men or the never taking a bath parts.  It's not the activities of the characters but the recognition of something more ancient.  It's like the face of an ancestor.  Mother Nature is my homegirl.  The city will shine lights and try to distract you with its tinsel brightness but there is only one place of stillness and of knowing.  That's the piece of me that gets stirred by those stories.

The end.  Lets get some Jerky.  

24 November 2015

Ryan Bingham Concert

Monday night we had the opportunity to attend a Ryan Bingham concert downtown.  Red Dirt and Texas Country music dont make it to El Paso very often, so even though it was a Monday night we decided to go.  From the outset I will admit that I made the primary mistake of the music lover: a patent lack of enthusiasm and a conviction that I already I knew what his music was about.

Since I am 100% honest with you and would never tell you a lie, I will admit I had the impression that Mr. Bingham's music was slow and mournful.  Yes, I have heard Bread and Water on the radio and I'm sure a couple of others, but the only thing I could think of were songs like Junky Star and The Weary Kind.  While I recognize those songs as truly creative achievements on their own (oh, just an  Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Critics' Choice Award for “Best Song” in 2010, the Americana Music Association Artist of the Year 2010, oh and a Grammy Award for "Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media" in 2011) , I could think of nothing less inviting than a late school night watching a doleful troubadour pick a guitar in one mournful soliloquy after another.  Honestly, I would have rather been sleeping.

Wow.  OK - Even I hear how that sounds.  Give me time RB Super Fans, it gets better.

The band took the stage and I was surprised to see more than just Mr. Bingham, but in surveying them, I did not feel buoyed.  Both the guitar and bass player appeared oblivious (high) and the fiddle player, a  short stopped man with tight, curly grey hair showing from the bottom of his plain dark felt Oktoberfest hat, did not look promising.  The drummer looked able, but infinitely bored.  The only person I approved of was the stage guy wearing the wool button-up sweater and baseball cap.  "You gotta love a man in a button up wool sweater and baseball cap." I said to my husband, who gave me that "Whatchou talkin' bout, Willis?!" out of the corner of his eye.

Come on.  You know you love a man in a button-up wool sweater and a baseball cap.  Hang in there, I said it would get better.

All things considered, this was the only thing I had gotten right up until now (Come on,  you KNOW you love a man in a button-up wool sweater and a baseball cap!) and after such admissions, I'm fairly certain the state of New Mexico is in the process of drafting a writ of non-entry emblazoned my likeness and a dedicated group of citizens is on their way to my house to dispatch me in a hale of green chilies and turkey feathers.  Not a bad way to go.

But let me tell you this my brothers and sisters - let me now confess.  There, just over the border into Texas and upon the doorstep of Juarez, a new Ryan Bingham fan was born.  In a dark corner of that 101 year old theater in El Paso,  I proceeded to watch, enraptured, what I can only describe as the best rock and roll performance I have ever had the privilege of being present at.  (Sorry Five Finger Death Punch and U2)

OK, so they are not a rock band in the same sense, but their live show with all band members present was anything but a doleful troubadour selling sadness.  Maybe it was the new mexico caballeros standing next to us, their hats and fists in the air, all heads bobbing in time.  Or maybe it was the guitar and bass player hitting those licks like a hammer, or maybe it was the man with the tight curly grey hair and Oktoberfest hat fiddling so hard and fast I thought his instrument would burst into a torch of sound and madness at any moment.  Their show absolutely rocked and had a sound that I feel sure would have broad appeal.

Not only did it sound great, but it was mesmerizing to watch.  Out from the stage would roll a raucous wall of sound that was returned by the clapping and cat calls of all the true Bingham Believers.  The result was a wave of energy that rolled from the stage, to the crowd, and back to the stage, in a sort of infinite ebb and flow; First it was high then low, then ecstatic, then bright-eyed expectant waiting again.  With the gospel of his guitar, I witnessed Mr. Bingham raise his fans into a worshipful frenzy of whoops and foot-stomps that put any 808 drum or Oklahoman to shame.

Hearing him on the radio, one cant help but note Mr. Bingham's raspy voice.  In person, his tall and lean appearance only cements the vocal impression that he is a stovepipe filled with creosote, or a caliche riverbed, long dry in some southwest arroyo.  If that be the case, then this show was a chimney fire, hot and bright and burning down the house.  This performance was desert flood, raging waters tearing rocks from the earth and carrying away anything in it's path.  This show was a force of nature.

His concert was what I call a Green Flash performance. Green flashes are optical phenomena that sometimes occur right after sunset or right before sunrise. The green appearance usually lasts for no more than a second or two.  Green flashes occur because the atmosphere can cause the light from the sun to separate out into different colors.  And just like a green flash, I was blinded by a prism of sound, and then it was midnight on Monday and the show was over.

Now, here I sit.  For three days, somewhat bereft, I have played the part of Deep-Track-Dougie on YouTube.  I have read articles and listened to several surreal stories about travels and cowboys and indians.  I have developed a rather strong crush on Mr Bingham's dog, Boo. I have leanred of the esteemed careers of the band members, including the fiddling man in the oktoberfest hat, and the man in the wool sweater.  These and  a whole host of other facts!  I have researched record players and I have an alarm set to try and buy an autographed copy of Mr. Bingham's Mescalito album when it goes on sale on Monday.

Perhaps most notable, is that when I listen to some of the more slow songs, I no longer hear them as doleful or sad.  Instead, I am transported back to sounds of stomping feet and see a bemused smile beneath a black hat.  The good feelings from that night envelop me wherever I am listening. In that moment, I am suffused with the pride of those New Mexicans as they watch and hear their native son come home to play for them here in the great desert Southwest.  As the saying goes, the desert is alive, and that is certainly true of the talent and future of Mr. Bingham's career - something the Grammy folks managed to figure out long before I did.

I can only hope my admissions will suffice a sort of apology to the kind residents of New Mexico, the band, the ever faithful Boo, Mrs and Baby Bingham, and Mr Bingham himself.  But if not, perhaps we can find time enough to enjoy a beer or two  before they proceed to dispatch me unto my heavenly (or hellish) rewards.  If my time should come I can only hope they play Hallelujah and hoist another round while my new vinyl spins.

Boo and Bingham signing Monday's purchase.

15 November 2015

Let the Music Play

This morning, I sat in traffic while tears streamed down my cheeks.  The woman in the car next to mine made eye contact with me, briefly, then looked away.  I turned my eyes back through the front windshield and wondered what she might be thinking just then.

What she didn't know, what she couldn't know, was no sadness or tragedy that had befallen me.  No lovers quarrel or death of a family member.  I had not just had to put my beloved dog to sleep.  It was all quite the opposite, actually.  What she was seeing was the indescribable joy that only a music lover knows; The spontaneous welling of celebratory emotion when the music is THAT good.

I don't mind admitting that it always makes me feel more than a little bit like that sweet blonde girl in the viral dating video that, "just loves cats so much." but for me, the insane addiction is to the music.

It is a feeling that is hard to describe it.  It's immediate and sharp, like biting into tin foil, but entirely more pleasant.  I am the glass that shatters when the tune and the tone team up in a vibrating wall of sound. It hits me like a freight train. My eyes well up and tears spill over.  It comes from the heart and when my heart runs out of room, I suppose it just finds another way out.

For a moment there in traffic, I thought about rolling down my window and reassuring the sweet woman that it was all ok.  This isnt what it looks like. It's actually a celebration. Let's call in sick and get a beer!

But the light turned green just then.Her car pulled away from mine as if she was in a hurry to escape the sight of my tears.    I wiped my cheek and reached down.  With the light touch of a finger I pressed the replay button and did it all again.