Because all experiences are valuable.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Last Comedian

Someone said I write of trees.
I am sure the last marksman in the woods is glad of my coverage,
for the news is untrustworthy
and days are dark.
No scandal lurks under the bark,
save a beetle avoiding my wrath
since he chewed a path directly through the center of my strawberry.
The resident genius here says it smacks of pioneer living,
reaping the fruit of the land, swilling it down, seeds be damned.
Tall as a tree himself,
the last comedian in the woods
is amply supplied with marshmallows...and sticks,
wanting only for his company of fellows,
to start the show.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Superman, or, How to Save a Life

I have a story to tell you tonight...
Most times I think, well, people will think I'm nuts.
But then most times people tell me that they have had very similar experiences,
so I'm going to tell you this story because something tells me that I should...

It so happens that The Fray is one of my very favorite bands. The song that everyone remembers is probably their biggest hit, "How to Save a Life," which is about the efforts to save a troubled teenager, though it is open to a lot of interpretation. It's a song of hindsight being 20/20. I'm generally very good with cliches and metaphors and such, being a language person/guru. Wink. But I remember hearing "hindsight is 20/20" when I was a kid, and I remember being at least 12 before I understood what it meant, though I knew what 20/20 meant, being rather extremely nearsighted!

So much of our understanding comes in hindsight. A scary amount. All the reading and talking and listening we do goes a really long way, but then it is the experience itself that leads us to look back and say, "Oh...I knew that before, but now I understand." Knowing and understanding are not the same thing at all, it turns out.

If I tell you that I don't really know how this all relates to the story, and yet I know that it does, I hope you will believe me. I think my understanding will come later..in hindsight of course.

Yesterday I went with Rob Clements and his two gorgeous and high-spirited daughters to Six Flags. Funny that I was just talking about Six Flags and how it smells. I can report that it still smells. I mentioned that I had worked there. Turns out Rob had worked there, too, in a much more responsible position. that was interesting because he knew weird things about the park that I didn't. Performers in the shows arrived late and left early, and pretty much stuck to our own group. Doing four shows a day in the heat was actually hard, but it didn't really mean much to the regular employees...most of whom never even saw any of the shows.

So when they asked me to go...I was going to say no at first. I knew it was going to be awful hot...I always have stuff to do...my knee is still hurting from the little rock accident at Amicolola Falls and all the working out I've been doing this week. But more than anything there was a resounding voice in my head, almost a panic, telling me not to go.
You all know I tell you the plain truth in this blog, especially my emotional truth if I can. You can hardly read my poetry and not know what I feel, who I love, and where my sufferings and joys lie.

So I thought hard about why I had that sense of panic. I listen to my inner voice very carefully.  I thought of my blood sugar issues, and the fact that I've given up sugar again right now. The only sugar I'm eating is in my hot tea, and peanut butter in the morning. (It is bizarre how much sugar is in everything!!!). Usually if my sugar plunges, I drink coke, but I really didn't want to be forced to do that. But that didn't seem panic worthy. Six Flags has no shortage of sugar if necessary. Then I thought of my foot, the breakage at last year's DragonCon that cost me a year of school. I cannot have anything happen to me again. That felt like I was on the right track...and the more I explored that, the more the panic was telling me that something bad was going to happen if I went.

I didn't tell Rob about this feeling. I didn't tell MJL about this feeling, though I certainly would have had he been home in the States. And he would have told me not to go if I felt that way. I couldn't tell if I felt something was going to happen to me, or to Rob at the park. I decided that if Rob took the girls alone, and he got hurt, it would be better for me to be there. I decided to be very cautious...to pay attention to my surroundings...just to be smart about everything. There were no problems for hours. Elsa fell and scraped her elbow, so we headed to First Aid and made sure that was taken care of and cleaned. Rob is a really good father. I'm always impressed with the devotion he shows those girls, and he watches them like a hawk...which is good because Elsa can tend to feel perfectly safe wandering off anywhere, and Esha is a major attention getter with the teenage boys.

Elsa is more squeamish about the big scary roller coasters, but as Esha and Rob hadn't ever been on Superman, and I think the Superman coaster is one of the best anywhere, we decided to brave the line. Let me tell you that there is no such thing as waiting in the Superman line less than an hour. Ever. I don't get it. Can't explain it. It just is. I've waited as much a two hours to ride it in the past. There is no shade. 95% of the line is in the broiling sun. It sucks really bad, actually. We all do it anyway, it's just that cool. By the time we reached the front of the line, Rob and I both felt nauseated from the extreme heat. It was about 93 degrees, but that is hotter in the direct sun in an asphalt and concrete park full of hot people packed together. Felt like about 98 degrees. I normally do not sweat a lot. I was soaked, and getting dehydrated. Just setting the scene for you...

As we approached the end of the line, one of the workers called for three more people to get on the ride that round. (We were three because Elsa wasn't going to ride Superman.) We skirted around a couple of foursomes, and there was something very odd about the whole thing. The staff didn't seem to know what they were doing. The row they put us in had four seats, and then they called for another threesome and put them in a row of four seats...when we had just gone around several foursomes. You sit in the chair with your legs dangling, then they lock you in. A large padded neck brace/ headrest comes over your shoulders, and your feet are also locked in at the ankles. I didn't see who came to lock in Rob, because my leg was actually caught and being pinched and I had to sharply cry out for the guy to stop cramming down on the bar until my leg was free. The male worker was being trained by a short female. It was clearly his first day. She made sure that Esha's headrest thing was clicked in, and then she turned the shiny gold key that locked her in. Then she handed it to the guy for him to do mine. I watched him do it, and knew that he hadn't turned the key, merely inserted it and then removed it! I said to the girl, "Are you sure he did that right??" The only answer I got was a withering stare. Then they both turned and walked off the ride part of the platform. I felt the panic rise...

I was jiggling my headrest/lapbar thing. It was moving up and down. It seemed "clicked," but not locked. Esha's wouldn't budge. Hers was correctly fastened. A different, taller, girl came to check Rob's, but only visually. I had been calling across to Rob that I REALLY didn't think mine was done right. The taller girl made to move away to the next chairs (they do all this very quickly, you know). Rob stopped her. He kind of shouted at her, but not at all rudely. "Could you PLEASE check hers again, it doesn't seem right."

She stopped. She checked mine, she actually looked at me for a minute in surprise. I can't forget that look... actually it wasn't surprise, it was more like a look of how-can-any-employee-be-so-incompetent.
It wasn't locked.

She fixed mine, checked Esha's, started to move off, then stopped and checked Rob's. His was worse than mine. Neither properly clicked in nor locked.

Within seconds we were off. If you're not familiar, the seats tilt forward so you are flying under the railing of the coaster. You do loops on your back, and see the ground the whole way around. It's incredible. I love that ride. We survived...and Esha declared that one more scary than Batman.

The girls played in the water park, we rode a few more things...I felt hot and rather ill for a bit and lay on my back on the rock wall by the carousel, but all in all we had a really fun day! I'm honored to be a special "Aunt" to Rob's precious girls.

But I can't let the happy outcome fool me.
I am well aware that theme parks as a whole are very safe. Hundreds of thousands go each year and very few get killed. I'm not saying this is an unsafe ride. I've ridden it many times. Non fatal injuries are actually much higher than you might think at theme parks, but driving a car isn't all that safe, either.

But Superman isn't an ordinary coaster, where you have a seat. You are only, and I mean only, held in by the lapbar/headrest.

that picture isn't even in the fully tilted position. It goes more horizontal yet.

The proportion of the disaster that might have occurred is kind of staggering. I was not locked in. Rob was in an even worse position. You like to think that engineers build in failsafes...I'd like to think that it would have been okay...but, I just know that it would not have.
The ride is designed to be safe if you are locked in. You're supposed to be practically immobilized. The gravitational forces are carefully balanced. You aren't supposed to be able to flop like a ragdoll. Your harness is not supposed to withstand the strain of the forces while unlocked, leaving you with the potential to fly off the ride...

How would things have been different had I not been there, had I not gone with them? Maybe they wouldn't have ridden Superman at all. Or maybe they would have and Rob would have suffered something dreadful. I don't know. I can't know. But here is what I do know...

Something put an unusual fear in me about that trip to Six Flags, odd for a former employee and long time season pass holder. Something told me to go even though I was worried. But I didn't save anyone.
Rob saved me. It was he who insisted she check my harness. He didn't ask her to check his at all.
He asked her to check mine.
Luckily she checked his as well.

There are things you just know. You have no doubt about them. I know a tragedy was averted yesterday.
Why did it have to happen just as it did? I don't have the answer. I hope as Rob thinks about it...maybe he will know the answer for him. Maybe something from the past has just been erased, or fixed. Maybe some Karma from ancient life is healed. My sister, who was married to Rob, believed that Rob was our Grandfather reincarnated. I always rolled my eyes at that, honestly...but Rob's birthday is the exact same day our Grandfather died in WWII (day, not year.) Who am I to say? I think I know what my beloved Dr. Libby would say...

It doesn't matter at all. I know that Rob saved my life yesterday.
I thank you. I'm sure my sons thank you. I'm glad you were safe, too.

One last strange thing...That song, How to Save a Life, was released in 2006, and was nominated for song of the year, I think. I fell in love with the Fray and am still a big fan, though their popularity has waned. MJL thinks all their songs sound the same. Maybe I'll see if I can bring him around! But the first time I heard the song, it reminded me of a huge hit from a few years earlier, by Five for Fighting. If you listen to the refrains of both songs, you can hear a very similar note progression. It happens a lot in rock music...and have you ever seen that comedian who does the hilarious bit about Pachabel's Canon?? You'll probably recognize the song now...it's called Superman.
I had it attached by youtube removed it. Oh well. It's a great song anyway.

Monday, June 11, 2012

On Reasoning

I long for the days when people stopped to understand the meaning of the words they use. Are most people even aware anymore of the difference between the denotation and the connotation of a word? Our language as it is used is becoming so imprecise that I'm finding it more and more difficult to interpret what anyone says to me.

Casual conversations go on all the time, and I recognize that many conversations do not have to be parsed or any underlying meaning looked for, but important conversations consisting of important thoughts and emotions should have a precision to their words. If one's thoughts are significant enough that they need to be understood...or in the vernacular, if you "really want someone to know where you are coming from", why would one not use the most apt and applicable words? To that end, then, why don't people know the meaning and the possible implied meanings of what they are saying????

It's just a thought process I'm going through as I ponder the fact that "a reason" and "a defense" are not at all the same thing. You can have a valid reason that you did something, or made some decision, that is completely indefensible. (Or at least mostly indefensible.) You can provide a reason that is unreasonable!

Sir, why did you kill your wife?
Because I thought her fake eyelashes were gross.

Well, he certainly provided a reason for killing his wife. But he did not provide any sort of defense.
I am also pondering the fact that many people become what most term "defensive," when asked to provide a "reason."
To be asked to explain or elucidate one's reason for any action or decision is not the same as being challenged.
Inquiring as to someone's reasoning is not inherently an "offense."
Do you see what that means? People constantly go on the defense when they are questioned...at all.
By taking the defensive position they are saying, "You have offended me with your question about my reason, or my reasoning."
There is an underlying jump made that the person asking for the reason is passing judgement, or is about to pass judgement, or that it is a judgement in itself just to be asked what your reasoning was.

To understand each other as human beings, we must be able to understand each others' reasons and reasoning. For someone to ask you for your reasons or reasoning is the branch they are handing you, whether it is a slim twig or a beautiful extended olive branch. It is your opportunity to help them understand you. Is that not what we all want? To be understood??

Someone tell me how this horrible American cultural trait of (as I see it) extreme defensiveness can possibly foster understanding between anyone?
I believe that it is most often not the questioner who is being "offensive." It is the answerer's defensiveness that is actually offensive, and usually escalates the issue into a conflict.
There is a lot to be said about "tone of voice." I know that. It's a big issue. But that issue is layered on top of the issue I am discussing. When someone asks you to explain your reason for something, they are seeking to understand something. They are seeking to understand you...in a direct and personal manner...at the core.

I'm hoping people will think about this, as I am. Pondering how we got this way?? Wild West type stuff- "Bold American spirit" brooks no questions? Is it too much testosterone as in a macho attitude? Is it not even American, as I suggest? Is it poor parenting?

I suggest a link to parenting styles for several reasons. One possible thought is that parents who do not explain their reasoning to their children (as in "because I said so") rob their children of the chance to see adult thought processes in action (hopefully good ones.) Guy lead to me listen to "Outliers," by Malcolm Gladwell on CD, and Gladwell speaks of a kind of parenting that leads to success. This style involves parents who lead their children to confidence and mature interactions by questioning their child's reasoning as a teaching opportunity, and also by prepping them before social interaction with their peers or adults in a kind of rehearsal. I'm reminded of Dr. Seuss' "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street." The whole premise of that book is that the father asks the son to come home and describe for him what he saw on his trip from school. The boy imagines all sorts of fantastical things because he wants to impress his father. I remember vividly being questioned by my father, having logical and ethical dilemmas proposed which my sisters and I were expected to reason out or debate. My mom would join in with her reasoning. This is what we did on long car trips, or out to get pizza on Friday night.

In our house when Guy and Reid were growing up, we liked to play "Apples to Apples." It's a school age game that can be played by all ages. In the proper way to play it, there is a category card that the "chooser" for that round holds. Others have cards with various nouns, pop culture things, names, movie titles, concepts. Everyone chooses a card they think best matches the category. The chooser then looks through the pile of cards, not knowing which card was selected by whom, and picks a winner for that round, who then keeps that category card. That was just not satisfying enough for us. We changed the play so that the chooser would narrow down the field to two or three cards, then ask who submitted them, and give them a chance to defend their card. Everyone was playing from a pledge to show no favoritism, only the arguments held sway. Then the chooser would also explain their reasoning for choosing the card they did. Many of these tiny mock debates were hilarious, and they began to also take on an element of applying what you knew about that chooser for the round and what arguments or reasoning might sway them to choose your argument. After our style of play, none of us can sit and play the game the regular way...just too dull. My point is, it was all about how you thought and what you could reasonably explain to someone else. I think this is sorely lacking in household interaction in America.

Maybe it really is  just linked to our loss of the nuances of our language...when no one really thinks about these things any longer....
I choose to view any question asked of me as a chance to elucidate my point of view. If I don't like the tone of voice, I will likely comment on it, but still answer to the best of my ability.

Just don't ask me questions in the movies or at the theatre. Hahahahha. There I'm likely to whip out the can of snotty "hush yo' mouth." If you aren't sure what that is, just ask!! 

Black Cherry

Where I came from
we called the West wind,
called it by name.
It blew when we sang,
It ceased when we whispered.
Our fires rose in delicate, hungry sheets
and silenced themselves to cherry-pitted coals,
for nothing defied us.

Even the light bent my way,
muted, tangled...rustic,
though nothing tasted much,
but the wine and herbs-
it was enough.

My green eyes may turn blue-black,
making love in complete darkness,
fulfilling shocks of silence
witness no ravages,
save these few
I bear with pride.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Meeting for Coffee

Ashton lost her nerve in the instant that boy looked at her.
Coffee spills precisely at the wrong moment, every time...
Her jimmies were rustled, and no speech would come to her
with a mouth dry like a deadly spoonful of cinnamon.

He was talking politics and persuasion,
taller than tall really needed to be,
whiter, too, but he sounded black for some odd reason,
every few words or so...but what a vocabulary.
He looked like an angel; he looked like a slacker.
He looked dedicated and faithful; he looked a bit spoiled,
His smile was enchanting, his speech was disarming,
She handed over his coffee.
It was just what he ordered, 
One last look and she turned away, done and dusted,

But his was a wistful look at her back,
and hers was a wistful look at his, too...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Poppies to Prayers

Today I bought myself some flowers, because...well...yeah.

Cost?  $6.98   value- a lot more than that.

This Waterford vase is nearing 5 years old. It came with an arrangement from my Mother's funeral, so 
it brings me a warm feeling every time I use it. 

Maybe people would be happier if they gave up the extra 12 pack of soda in their cart and bought themselves some flowers instead...just a thought.

Fraction of Poppies

Once I was sure where the decimal point should be placed,
casually jotted among the roses, or to make a bold point in the delphinium,
but in any instance, the dividing mark between dollars and cents,
fractions and wholes,
was vividly and persuasively expressed; the register counted clean at the end of the shift,
and everything was accounted for.

Now I find I lose a dollar here and there,
pennies rolling this way and that, falling into cracked peppercorn plants,
to blossom copper-colored in the fall with the Autumn Joy sedum, 
and I am not sure if I am half-way there or if indeed I have lost a quarter,
My stride across the pasture lengthens with the sunset, for 
I must cross this field before the ratio of poppies to prayers
outstrips me.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


I wish we could remember learning things for the first time
like what to call an apple and how to remember the taste as
unlike anything else, what gets confusing is all the moments that feel 
the same
but they are not.
Go back and start again, yet like I cannot remember where this path 
began, it's been so long and 
I have known what an apple is for as long as I have known myself,
how now
to decide, to relearn
that an apple is a pear after all, 
that even fallen fruit makes wine, and
where the strength comes from to wait through heavy hushed summer
until this is ripe.

Georgia Renaissance Fest Pics

I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since we went to the Ren Fest. And now I'm back from New Orleans for Memorial Day holiday weekend...and Monday will be full moon in Sagittarius, my sign!

My last landlord is suing me/or I'm suing her/or I'm not completely sure...but she is suing the management company that she hired, (which is her sister)- who never caused me one problem...so I will be a party to that suit on the side of the management company. This is a big ole mess hanging over my head.

Things in my new place are fine, though. The owner got the power outlets and the doorbell fixed. Now I can plug things in on the counter finally. So, Ren Fest....

It was really warm this year. Not ridiculously hot like New Orleans, but it was hot. The black wings absorbed a surprising amount of heat, and transmitted to my person. So if you think I was a hot fairy...hahhahaha, you are correct. Grace looked ethereal, as expected. She positively glowed, evincing the perfect fairy mien.

There were, sadly, not many fairies in attendance. Just a trifle few, and a couple of tiny fairies in training. Here is a group shot. My dilemma as to what sort of fairy I was continues...nothing certain emerged...but based on this picture, I'd have to say "Fairy Barbie." Not what I was going for! I need to work on that. The later pictures that Guy took for me are much better. The Lord Mayor counted and tagged Grace as a woodland fairy. I noticed one of his categories was butterfly fairy. Based upon the shape of my wings, I may be a butterfly fairy and only becoming self-actualized now. Giggle

Guy's special gift for Grace was this custom made bow and arrows. Every part was hand crafted by Guy. I can't even describe the workmanship or effort, but seriously, his workmanship on the bow and on his chain maille garnered far more attention than did Grace and I!! (note to self...don't invite Guy next year) hahahha

I should have gotten some closeups of the bow, which he made of Red Oak. Several serious craftsmen stopped him to have detailed conversations about how he crafted it. It was the first one he ever made, and there was some jealously I must say, that he could make something so finely done on his first try.

You would just have to know Guy for this to make sense. There isn't a lot he cannot make.

I know where I'm going if there is an apocalypse.
Actually, between Guy and Reid (adding in his physics and quick grasp of things like mechanics and thermodynamics) they are sort of like the Professor on Gilligan's Island. I think they could make a coconut water treatment facility and pumping station....

more pictures, you say??

Ok, but now...see how it is...he gives her a beautiful bow, and what does she do with it?

Uh-oh!!!!!  I'm thinking she is going to catch him!!

I was right. I'm not sure which one is getting the better deal here. Equally matched!!

I have tried multiple ways to make this picture turn the right way, and none work. I think it is a blogger problem today. It has happened before, and later I was able to resolve.

Sadly, Barbie Butterfly fairy does not have a bow for catching the unsuspecting...but fairies have always had their ways, have they not?  

 Seriously, watch out for the fairies....

However, a more pleasant fate might be hard to find.