Wednesday, December 31, 2008
It is the last day of the year...moments ticking away as any other day, but the last of this precise slice of time. I want it over with, and yet, I cling to it with the other had like a child. Not a bad year...nothing like that. Balancing the scale of judgement, it slips between my fingers, spilling everything. And the blood still pounds relentlessly in my ears as a mad drummer in a padded cell...unheard by anyone.
I torment myself and I do it well. Wishing myself awash in canvas and paint, carving out pieces of recognizable dreams from clay chaos. Instead...
I'm choking on words, banging the letters of a keyboard until my fingers bleed. The atmosphere is cloying like a bowl of long dead flowers floating in skum. Funerary in spirit and attitude, we carve the seconds off the old years carcass, pretending it savory instead of sour.
Mourning jewelry has always becomed me.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I didn't want to go to work.
Walking into the office this morning, I checked the tape back-up and walked to the breakroom and poured myself a cup of coffee. Sitting down at my desk, I opened my company e-mail and found a cute snowman Christmas wish from one of the gals in Corporate in sunny Southern California.
It was the usual cartoony snowmen, kisses, singing, snow people hugging, having snowball fightes and wishing you good things like phone calls from someone far away. It was nice and cute. I passed it on to a couple other people I know. A couple hours passed.
I decided I had a moment to open my personal e-mail and check it. In my in-box was a name from high school...a long-lost, best girlfriend. Time and stupidity, I let her go...and then always wonder what the hell happened and why.
In my case, it had been stupidity. Petty squabbles and heartbreak made me act like an ass towards someone who had been there through some pretty rough stuff...high school. If you say you didn't get a few scars from it, you're either lying or were too stoned to notice.
She and I had a lot of great times together...water balloons tossed down lover's lane, listening to space music in the middle of the night while camping at Strawberry Reservoir, cow pie tossing, outhouse tipping, fishing, sleep overs, sneaking beers and cigerettes, hanging out around town and walking no particular place. I had wondered about her a lot and the rest of the old gang...Nancy, Joe, Terri and Kerri (the twins), Mary, Tammy, Terry S (god! where was he?!).....what had they done with their lives after high school...were they happy...were they ok?
The stupid ending to our friendship came to my mind often. There were a lot of times I really wanted to tell her that I was sorry for being such a bitch. It haunted me throughout the years, as did the memories of all the good times.
When an e-mail came to my box last summer from Reunion.com., I thought, yeah, right! I entered my info anyway, put in a search and thought...What the heck!
This morning, she answered. She was happy and married and had children. She'd travelled. She had wondered about me, too!
I read her tentative sounding e-mail and immediately answered her back. It was the exhileration and excitement of getting something so special...that present you don't really think you'll get, but you tell Santa anyway and sort of cross your fingers hoping really hard it happens.
I poured myself into an e-mail that, of course, got really long and sent it off. A couple hours later at lunch, there was an answer.
We're both blown away at what a wonderful present we got. In my return reply, memories flowed through my mind...summers, winters, times we'd scared the literal crap out of each other with ghost stories and spooky houses. God! It had been 33 years since we had last talked, had coffee in Sambo's, and laughed. Somehow I was transformed in a moment to a girl of 17, and so was she. It was so marvelous! It is so marvelous!
I don't get mushy, mushy, but I cried. This was like "A Christmas Story" and "Stand By Me" all rolled into one! Even better, I got a chance to say I was sorry and she forgave me and still wants to be friends.
I thought about the year in retrospect...My son remarried this year. I have grandchildren now that my husband and I adore. Another friend, Artos has come back into my life after loosing touch with him for 6 years. I wrote earlier about the changes within myself that I was making...things I was allowing myself to do and feel again...taking chances. I really believe that when you open up, something wonderful happens. In my blog of yesterday, "Sincerly", I spoke of anticipation and the ones I love and miss. I had no idea this was coming. What a wonderful Christmas gift!
Now, once again, I want to say, sincerly, thank you for your present, and your forgiveness, and I love you more than words can say!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Goddess Hecate, hear my plea...
Bring the snow here to me!
I've been reciting it looking at the mountains during my daily walk. Yule is nice with snow, but water during the year is much better.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
.....was in another lifetime.
In the in the last week or so, Paris has being making itself known.
It has surfaced in the books I've been reading, researching art techniques, and popping up in movies on the television. French jewelry, dancing in Paris, eating at certain cafes, dresses, perfumes, dogs....all Parisian...faint and fleeting colors of chalk washing away in the rain.
Yesterday, I sat in my dining room working in polymer clay. The photos I had chosen as the focal points were mostly small reproductions of Mucha posters or cropped bits from Sargeant paintings. I was turning them into Christmas ornaments for friends.
Gold and copper leaf was worked into the translucent clay, marbling and breaking away in pretty patterns with each turn of the press. Flattening the clay and cutting through it to create the frame work, I cut swirls and worked the clay into Art Nouveau twists and curls. Each frame was different...no two are alike due to the coloring, size, and cut of the piece itself. Baked and cured, I glazed the photos and then added loose pearls and vintage rhinestones from the 20's and 30's. Gold thread was attached to the wire hangers and knotted. Ten ornaments in all.
I should have been satisfied with my work. Instead, I was anxous. I have been for weeks now.
Moving about the house, pacing in lion steps...soft and steady. A hot bath and hot milk with allspice, mace and Irish whiskey did nothing for me. I picked up "Isadora" by Fredricka Blair and was inundated with emotions as she made her trek to Paris and then eventually to Berlin and began her romance with Edward Gordon Craig. Teddy.
Slamming the book shut, I thought "Enough of THIS!" Agitation, restlessness and something unnamed. Crawling under the down covers, I sat in bed and wrote in my journal until I began to fall asleep. My pen strokes began to scribble themselves down the page as sleep set in.
Midnight and I had been dreaming of working on ornaments...there was a stress there within the dream...something was making an otherwise enjoyable time feel pushed, pinched, and miserable. I woke feeling stressed and thirsty. I reached for my journal again and wrote of the bits of dream I remembered.
Fooling around with thoughts on paper...self-analysis and unhappiness with things. I push them away from me because I love them too much and can loose myself in them.
It is as if I am on a sea cliff with oceans of things I love...who I really am...what is important to me, lying below.
It would be so easy to open my arms.
Breathing them in, I have embraced this feeling before.
I could open my arms to it...
allowing myself to fall into these things
and back into who I am.
I could...am about to... but am so very afraid that it will change me...
but change me how?
I will find out.
Monday, November 24, 2008
We got up relatively early for a Saturday and left the house, heading to the madness of Christmas shopping. During the year I had picked up a few things here and there. This trip was for our grandchildren. We went to World Market for stocking stuffers. I picked up licorice and black current humbugs, salted black licorice herrings, chocolate santas, jelly belly's and crisp ginger snaps. Toys were found, choices were made. I shopped for the ofice gift and also for my boss's present. We broke for lunch at a favorite Chinese restaurant. The tea was perfect and mellow with just a hint of flowery-ness. I watched the guys eat and sipped tea between General chicken and butter dinner shrimp. The moment felt wonderful. I realized that the three of us had not sat down like this in quite a while.
After lunch, we drove my son to a friends house and the weekend was ours. I began my hunt for art supplies...gum arabic, brushes, clay, embossing powders and two art kits for the grandkids. The last stop was the bookstores. Nothing at Borders...so on to Barnes and Noble. We found the book...a special volume edition, too. Gilt edge and leather bound it was the perfect gift. I looked for art books...I looked for technique books...I looked for a creative blog magazine and they were sold out. I settled for the Vampire Armand by Anne Rice and we bought Frappachinos to end our day.
Walking through the front door we were greeted by 3 of our cats, all seemingly complaining about being left alone during a weekend. The dogs were worse. Upon letting them in, they proceeded to sit in front of us and voice their opinions of the day in the garage. It wasn't pretty. We were being scolded for our thoughtlessness. A chuck of roast turkey and everybody seemed to be in a more forgiving mood.
The wrapping can wait. The goodies were stashed and I have only for my son, my hubby and the dogs to buy for. All three are painless and easy. No malls or crowds..only the season left to bake, wrap, and enjoy. A couple of batches of different cookies and candies to do this year. It isn't the season without the delectible smells of baking bread, gingerbread cookies, cinnamon and nutmeg. I love it when it is like this. Wrapped in an afghan on the sofa, a book, cocoa or a bottle of Newcastle...I drowse listening to the Colts game that my husband is watching. Now that's the way to spend the upcoming holiday evenings!
Sunday was house cleaning, ball games and fixing a few broken Yule ornaments that I didn't get to last year. I had made a couple dozen salt dough stars and have about 15 of them left ready to be gilded and bejeweled. This next weekend we will put up the tree with all the old fashioned toy type ornaments that I have picked up or made over the years...Snoopy and Charlie Brown...the black sheep, snowmen. rocking horses, skiers, and gnomes. Gotta have the gnomes...they drive my daughter crazy...she says they're evil and come alive at night. My daughter is 22. Ok, honey.
Gotta have gnomes!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
My grandmother would bundle me up and away we would go downtown to Mission and 5th Street. Disembarking from the No. 14, we wandered west on 5th, past the Old Mint Building and it's cherub fountains, past the bakery crossed 5th at the J.C. Pennies building that stood on the southeast corner of Market. We would wind up at my version of heaven...the Woolworth's that used to be housed on the corner of Market and Powell in the Flood Building.
From the second that you entered you were assailed by the smells of fried chicken, stationary, syrupy coke-a-cola and burgers form the luncheon bars on both sides of the building. There was the huge cosmetics aisles holding everything you could think of at even the most thrifty price range. I remember small, heart- shaped bottles of perfumed with light blue, pointed caps for 50 cents and shrimp pink frosted Cutex nail polish for about the same price. Jewelry was in glass cases or hung from displays. The bargain bins were filled with things you could get for anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar...nice jewelry, too.
The record section was in back of the jewelry/cosmetic area. I would linger there for awhile, hoping that someday I would look as beautiful as Nancy Sinatra, Lulu or Dusty Springfield. I bought Supremes A-Go-Go there back in '68. Next to the record section to the right was the stationary and school supplies. This was my haven. The smells of freshly milled paper, binders, pencils, erasers and paints...oh, yeah. You could buy all sorts of glues, spider shaped pencil sharpeners and office supplies. I still have a box of watercolor pigments in tubes, now dried up, bought during one of our excursions downtown.
Woolworth's was where I fell in love with the basic tools of the artist's trade.
My real love of art came from the many trips my father would take me on to the De Young Museum. That was the second incarnation, not the new building there now. Sometimes we would sit in one room and Dad would have me focus on my favorite piece of art work. I would get as close as I could and look at the way the light would cast shadows on the brush strokes. I noticed how thick or thin the paint was. My Dad had pointed out all these things to me before I could even understand really what he was trying to teach me.
Occasionally, later when we could afford it, my Grandmother and I would ride out to the Palace of the Legion of Honor. We would pack a lunch and spend the day out there, wandering the gallery or looking at the statuary. I was first introduced to Rodin there. The Thinker still sits in his spot in the gallery entry. I always wondered what it was he was brooding over. Why would someone be so serious? He always seemed like he was some terribly, wise person with a vast knowledge of all the secrets of the world. The Thinker impressed me, but not enough to want to be a sculptor.
In school I grabbed art lessons as I could get them. I loved the hour of daily art class and lived for it. In Junior High at West Portal, we began working with different media...plaster, pen and ink, fabric collage, and drawing perspectives. No more crayons and filling in pre-printed pages. It was here that I won a first place ribbon for a pastel chalk drawing of my little half-brother Andrew. The pastels had been bought at, of course, Woolworth's.
High School was my introduction into serious watercolor study with Mr. Larsen. I took jewelry making, sculpture, and tried a different type of art, drama. I began to see how the arts interwove themselves into each other. Music had always been important throughout my life. My father had introduced me to Puccini, Beethoven, Mozart and Bach on 78 records. We would dance around the diningroom, I standing on the tops of his feet. We visited the San Francisco Opera House where I saw Madame Butterfly and The Merry Widow. Music now became incorporated into the times I was writing, drawing or painting.
College was where I really blossumed. I enrolled in Technical College and took Graphic Arts. Here I learned to commercial art and graphic design. Freeform, photography, stripping, paste-up, camera ready art. I loved the smell of developers and acid etch. There was the huge light tables and pots of India Black Ink in the Drafting Room.
I let hormones get in the way, throwing a road block in my path with a baby and a husband. Both required all my time and little for art. Though my desire for art never disappeared. I began drawing and playing with my old fishing tackle box full of tools. I did "Crafty" things. I detested that term and still do. I was an Artist.
After the divorce in 1987, I was more driven and determined than ever to regain my Artist Self. I began venturing out, something my ex-husband had not encouraged. My dress became extravagent and colorful. I wore full, long-flowing dresses and wraps, laces and boots. I wrote short stories and poetry and got published. I went to museums and saw many of the other sculptures and drawings of Rodin, the dreamy paintings of Maxfield Parrish, the posters of Mucha.
My cousin, Jan and I would talk for hours of painting and sculpture. I sat for her. She sculpted me as an angel with Celtic dress and again as the angel with the lion and lamb. We would go out to the clubs and sip wine and dance until dawn with other artists and musicians. We lived, breathed and ate art...there was nothing else.
Pain came in the form of cancer. As in all things, we drown ourselves in the emotions, throwing ourselves into the colors of the most excruciating torments. When I lost my cousin to it, I lost a piece of my soul. I surrendered myself to cocaine and alcohol, depriving myself of food, sleep, and friends. Then my lover left me for another. I was devastated, becoming suicidal. I didn't care. I functioned enough to go to work in the morning, eating nothing until noon...maybe one meal a day. Nothing mattered.
One night I sat out under the stars, beneath the oaks on the huge patio area of our apartment complex. It was a bad neighborhood and you were nuts to be out after dark, alone, unless you were going to your car. It was silent that evening, and the warmth of summer made the oak leaves smell sweet. Small bats were diving through the driveway lights and I felt the eyes of an old friend watching from his window from the apartment above. The evening sky that night was the richest blue, velveteen and impossible in hue. My friend came down and spread out a blanket by the pool. We laid down and watched for ufo's until two.
I was hearing bits of poetry running through my head....blending with the shadows and pinpoints of starlight. Pieces of music floated in an out of memory. The night swallowed me whole. The artist was still there...a silent revelation.
We see things in colors, rich and deep. Emotions bleed out of everything onto everywhere. We play in light and darkness and gray scales in between and never come away prestine and unscathed. The butterfly gently flexes her wings and the storm begins. Life being the ultra dominatrix intermixes pain and pleasure. We would have it no other way.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The beach was closed. It was a weekday and I had transferred onto the No. 18 Sloat, passing my junior high. I rode it out to La Playa and was the only passenger stepping off at the end of the line. The black bus driver stared at the girl in the lilac suede boots and crushed velvet maxi coat stepping off the bus. He had to wonder what I was doing at a closed amusement park, knowing I had ditched school. The driver got off the bus behind me, lit a cigerette and headed across the street to the cafe. I was alone.
...suede boots darkening on the edges of the soles where the puddles I so carefully avoided were seeping in...seeping in thick and sticky, sliding down into the chinks and crevices inside my mind. It moved so slowly below the icy feeling in my toes that I was unaware of the progress that it was making; shifting and changing me in ways I didn't realize. The salt air mixed with wind and fog and crystalized with tiny grains of sand. It clung to everything it touched...grimming the windows in an almost hopeless coat of grit that would need to be scrapped away before even trying to wash it. My finger traced patterns in it on the funhouse window...mocking Laughing Sal...daring her to make me stop. She just stood there... silent, freckle faced and gap toothed, head cracked at the neck as if she had been mugged. Stood there next to the odd, bug-eyed, beany capped creepy dwarf that was her window companion. The balancing clown around the corner, looked away. The walking charlies, frozen andriveted on their geared windmill posts...moved ever so slightly in the freezing salt winds blowing across the Great Highway.
My finger circled larger, clearing the window of the greasy sand. It was dark behind Sal. Moving up the sloping walkway and under the eaves, I climbed rather clumsily over the turnstile, pressed my hands to the glass on the door and peeked. The door creaked as I leaned on it. Looking down, I found the chains hadn't been secured and I was fighting the urge to transpass and see if I could get inside. Looking behind me toward the bus stop, I saw that the bus and it's driver had gone. No one in any direction.
Like an idiot, I found myself knocking on the glass. No foot falls. No noises from within. The wind was howling and it began to rain. What the hell! I grasped the red painted door and pulled. Slowly it opened. It was heavier than I had imagined it to be. I slipped quietly inside on tiptoe so my heels wouldn't alarm anyone inside to my presence. The wind had shifted, slanting the rain and making it tap on the windows. It poured off the old roof in streams. The sound of wind and rain roared and rushed, sending a shiver racing down my spine that I had never gotten in the place before. Then again, I had never been in there alone and in the dark.
Edging past the entrance to the gingerbread dowling of the mirror maze, I realized I would have to move quickly in case someone spotted me from the outside. Could I remember my way through it in the dark? Everything looked so different. I fought a momentary grip of panic in my stomach. Closing my eyes I felt the rush of exhileration at having the place to myself, to explore as I liked without detection...hopefully. I dashed through, right-left-right-right, and then left. I found myself before the huge rollers. Normally, they were rotating in colorful swirls, polka dots and zig zag's on their over-stuffed bodies. I had to fight my way through them, more difficult now because they weren't moving. Struggling over the last of the three layers of rollers, I finally freed my purse and myself and walked, boot heels clicking, into the darkened main hall. My footsteps echoed on the old wooden floors. Nothing moved. The Funhouse operator's booth was unmanned. No one was here.
I wondered if I shouldn't have barred the front door somehow to make sure I would be safe....but then, if somone had been here...?
Don't think about it. You'll freak out.
The thought of being locked in this of all buildings...with someone else I didn't know... inside...with me...don't think about it.
But...what if I do get locked in?
The stepplechase horses looked sad and forlorn. Looking to my right, I could see the two, tall, skinny, crazy staircases that normally slid either to and fro or side to side. The red one was tilted sideways at an insane angle, disappearing into the darkened gallery above. I didn't like that one even on the days the place was running. I used to have nightmares of falling from it. Best to save the climb for later when I was through exploring down here.
Instead, I walked the wavy boards of the uneven floors, for once not getting hit with the random shots of air coming up through the deliberate holes in the floor. They shifted under my weight crashing and creaking. I stood looking out the window now, behind Sal and saw the the rain was coming down in torrents. Headlights from a couple of passing cars bounced crazily through the old fashioned glass windows...accenting the bubbles and swirls in the glass on the floor in a weird witch's brew. The reflection made Sal look like she was crying, but no tears dripped from her face onto her faded blue coat. I moved away.
Walking over to the operator's booth, I peeked in at all the levers and lights on the control board. The mystery was gone of all the shooting air, noises, bells and whistles was gone. Hmmmph.
I skipped through the barrel, which had always made me sort of sick when I had been in it. The giant spiral-painted inside walls made me think of a huge, striped soda straw lying on it's side. I remember my friend, Tammy standing with her hands plastered against its walls as it turned her upside down in a stationary cartwheel. Across from the barrel was the disc, we had called it the record player. It sat still and empty of riders.
Suddenly, I felt sort of weird...watched. Looking out ahead of me and turning behind me, I saw no one, but the feeling of being watched was still there. Quickly, I dashed to the side of the large wooden slide and pressed myself up against a corner wall, peeking out. Quiet, listen. Nothing out there...no sounds but the wind and creaking of the building. Could someone be in the shadows upstairs? Surely, I would have heard them!
Moving back out from my hidey-hole, I cautiously looked up to the second floor, almost directly above me was one of the huge hanging blocks, part of the funhouse decor. There were three total, suspended by a corner edge of the block from the ceiling. On each side was a clown face. The clown faces were mechanical so they could move their mouths, blink, and roll their eyes. They were creepy when the place was lit up and you were surrounded by people. Now, they were hideous in the gloomy light, the disembodied white face leering down at me in a silent, open mounthed scream. I was both relieved and now frightened. What the hell was I thinking? No one knew where I was. Grandma had surely gotten a phone call by now from Mrs. Smullens in the Principal's office.
Hey, you're here now...look around. You are probably not going to get in anymore trouble than you're already in. I grabbed a potato sack, pulled off my boots and climbed the stairway to the top of the slide. It got darker as I climbed...the top in total darkness. I could here the rain beating on the wall beside me...and something else...a scratching coming from the wall as well. No, in front of me...the top of the stairs. God! Rats! Gotta be a rat, right?! Jesus! A huge, big freakin' rat from the sound of the scratching.
I turned and ran as quickly as I could down the stairway, flinging the potato sack, I grabbed my boots and sat on the bottom step of one of the crazy stairs. One boot clutched by the top in my fist, I could bash whatever it was with my boot and then, hopefully, get the hell out of there. I waited. Nothing. No rat. No boogie man. God, I am feeling so stupid!
Ok, my imagination was getting the best of me. I put my boots back on and decided to climb the staircase up to the gallery. I flung my purse around my neck and with both hands on the railings, I decended. I hated heights and still do. I had to force myself not to panic halfway up and look down. Making it to the top, I stepped over to the long bank of windows. Above the funhouse mirrors and rows of box illusions, were windows. Oddly, the second floor gave the illusion of being darker when you looked up from downstairs. It wasn't. I could see the runnels of window grime mixing with bits of gravel and debris floating with the rain from the roof down to the pavement below. It was after all, November.
Moving to the walking charlie's, past a frozen Maggie, a rolling pin raised in her left hand, ready to strike her smart-assed, macho-mouthed husband, Gigs, in their mechanical display kitchen. I pushed the button and waited for them to move. They didn't. I guess I hadn't really been expecting it.
I stood beind the Walking Charlie's now. I couldn't clearly see the Cliffhouse. Dimly, the outline of Seal Rocks could be made out, shrouded in fog and ocean waves. The waves were really high, crashing against the sea wall, where we had hung in the summer. The foam and spray flew up at least five feet in the air above the wall. I was hypntosed by the weather outside. The rain slanting down against the large blue, yellow, and red stacked-box looking decor of the cafe and penny arcade across the street. I could see the Mad Mine beyond and the weird op-art painted "Tilt" next to it. The dark, diving bell stood on it's perch above its water tank. The only lights I could see were from the street lamps, the cafe where I bought soft-serve cones, and the distant Cliffhouse. Somewhere beyond Lincoln Park, the sound of the fog horns by the Golden Gate Bridge blaired their warning to the ships entering the bay. I couldn't image being out there on a ship in this weather. I remembered suddenly where I was and that I wasn't supposed to be here, either.
I turned and came face to face with a figure, tall and hideously out of proportion. It loomed up, intimately close to me and I shrieked. It was another funhouse mirror...a couple of them, actually. I hadn't remembered them being here in this spot the last time I had come. I guess thay moved them since then. Either way, I had almost peed my pants, I was so scared. My heart was racing and pounding. No, I had to leave. Exploration time was over. I needed to face the music.
I made my way to the front door and noticed the padlock for the chains lying on a ledge next to the exit door. Perhaps the operator had forgotten it there in his haste to get home the night before. I grabbed the open lock and pushed my way through the revolving bars. I was outside and getting completely drenched. Running up the ramp to the front door, I pulled the chain together and clicked the old Master lock shut. No one would be the wiser. Turning around, I ran into a chubby, middle-aged guy wearing a water-darkened, grey raincoat. His cigar was feebly trying to stay lit in all the wind and rain. His pork pie hat was drenched and flopped down, water-logged, on both sides of his balding head. he looked like a reject version of Rocky's brother, paulie.
"Hey kid, what the hell ya doin' up there?"
Smiling to myself. Hey! He hadn't seen me! "Just looking, mister" I said.
"Yeah, well shouldn't you be in school? It's fuckin' rainin! You crazy? Get outta here."
He was fishing in his pocket. I could her keys rattling and jingling.
I ran down the ramp and across the alley to the cafe. Bustling through the door and plopping myself down on the bar stool, I got stared at, wide-eyed, by the waitress with orange lipstick and matching hair. I was the only customer there. The waitress asked if I wanted anything. I said I wanted the fish and chips plate and a coffee.
I hadn't eaten school food in months and saved my money for such excursions... when I could get them. I loved the fish and chips here. I never remembered the name of the place, but it was right next door to the Merry-Go-Round, facing the Great Highway. It had a wonderful dining bar with red, marblized upholstered stools that were bolted down to the floor. A bank of windows lined the west wall so you could watch peple and cars go by. On the outside around the roof line, the cafe was decorated by a facade of little, tiny cottages, each one different from the other.
The wiatress brought my coffee and a small little pot of real cream. Honest! Real, thick sweet cream! I emptied it and dumped two teaspoons of suger in my coffee. The steam felt wonderful in my face as did the heat of the mug on my hands. I love coffee, but days like this made it extra special. I laughed, again attracting another stare from the waitress. She came over, leaned on the counter....
"Ok, what's your story?" she blew a small, cracking bubble from between her orange lips.
I told her I'd skipped school and that I had thought it was really funny to eat my last meal here before going home and getting killed by my grandmother. She grinned and said she's done about the same a few times. I didn't mention my escapade in the funhouse. She turned to the fry cook station behind her and grabbed the plate holding my lunch. I remember the taste of that meal to this day, the odor of the fries and the crispy-light, buttery flavor of the breading on the fish. The tartar sauce was thick with pickles and absolutely perfect. From that time since, I have loved a squeeze of fresh lemon on my fish.
I could go on about the trip home on the No. 18 Sloat bus, transferring to the No. 28 at 19th and Sloat, with the final transfer to the No. 14 at Mission and Geneva to the top of the hill. There isn't really any point, except to say that it was dark and rained the whole way, dulling my former excitement with dread of what I would find awaiting me at home.
When I finally walked down the hill on San Barbara Avenue and up the stairs to our cottage in the back of the Knight's House, I noticed that it was dark inside. Grandma commented that I was home a little late, then said the power had been out all day.
She said Mrs. Knight had come home from West Portal Lutheran (coincidentally the same school I attended) about 11:30. She had picked up her son, Chris. She had told my Grandma that the power had been out at the school for hours. They finally let the kids out at 11. It was now 1:30 in the afternoon. The bus trip usually took about an hour from school to the top of the hill.
It dawned on me then..... Grandma didn't know. They had never called her for some reason. Back then, a blackout still left you with telephone service. I guess they had their hands full with keeping the kids in line...all Kindergarten through 9th Grades!
That year, 1969, we had watched from our cottage, houses slide down the hills in Broadmore due to the extensive rain. The rain had undermined all sorts of places within and outside of the Bay area. The City was a mess.
It turned out that I had played hookey the first day of series of big Holiday storms we were going to have that year. Cars and buses had gotten stranded. Flooded streets backed up with debris and choked with rainwater. In some spots the sewers had backed up. Parents were warned not to let their little darlings stomp around in their galloshes out in the gutters and puddles. In the worst cases, like Broadmore, people watched their cliffside houses slip into the ocean.
I had been really lucky. I never gotten caught either playing hookey or trespassing that day. I have to admit that I felt bad about trespassing. I didn't vandalize or steal anything, other than some really great memories I took away with me. I had just wanted to look, unmolested at a place that even at that time, I knew was a museum piece...a fading part of Americana.
The old funhouse is gone, torn down with the rest of Playland-at-the-Beach in September of 1972, but I will never forget my couple of hours alone in the funhouse and the ghosts of Walking Charlies and Laughing Sal.
Monday, November 10, 2008
It's the quiet you experience when you're in a cave alone and can hear water dripping ever so slowly...echoing off the walls, bouncing back at you from a thousand different directions. It's noticing every little nook and cranny in that cave, the smell, feel of the rock and grit under your nails and on your hands, straining to see and experience, wondering what is around the next corner or down the cravasse. It's no longer worring if your rope will hold or the batteries of your flashlight are fresh, or even if you will find your way out.
I realised I have embraced my crone. With her I embraced the dark part of myself that is well acquainted with the things that go bump in the night. In the dark, I have stretched out my hands and run my fingers over their craggy faces. Blindly, I read their boney edges and gapping sockets finding them beautiful and exquisite in form.
This afternoon I am drinking Earl Grey tea from a china cup over a black lace tablecloth. It's grey and cloudy outside. I can feel the subtle press of the oncoming storm thrumming on my skin and in my head. It suits the moment and the mood.
Tumbling through the pages of an altered book I've been working on for a few years, I began noticing a pattern to the unplanned art. It is my "Lydia" side...the black and white side I write from, my nom de plume. Photos were pasted, bits of found objects, faux jewels and very red ink scratched against the paper bleeding over and across the pages. My thoughts were as smoke.
There was a soundless, silent grieving that I was engaged in....trapped in the love of tradition and religious ritual of childhood. Confessions and belief... I had left that standing alone, discarded, in the pews and under stained glass. The plaster saints casting down sorrowful disapproving eyes. I laughed and skipped down the aisle, swearing under my breath a vow to never return. And yet, I mourn for things nameless. Things distant and brittle catching words in my throat as a spider's web. What I cannot write, cannot share. So difficult to express.
There is a story here among the scattered pieces.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
That same autumn, I took some of the leaves home and sat at the dining room table with old newspapers and a bottle of metallic gold model enamel. Carefully, I would dip my brush in and lay the tip gently on the ribs of it's fragile back. After the ribs were done, I gently traced the outside edges and then left them to dry. My grandmother used them to decorate the house that year.
When we moved to Utah in 1972, I remember the first autumn leaves that I saw come at the mid-point of August. One morning I looked up at Wasatch Mountain from our old house on 5th West in Provo, now long gone. On the top of the mountain was a patch of brilliant, scarlet blazing out as if it had been recently painted there. I asked our neighbor about it. He said it was the scrub oak turning color. Having been a San Francisco kid, I had never experienced the change of seasons, and had never seen the colors that accompanied it. Within two weeks the entire mountain range had turned red as if it were bleeding. Then the aspens joined in, patchworking the range with brilliant hues of orange and yellows mellowing into soft golds and russets.
The accompanying smells of the over ripe unpicked and fallen apples on the ground in the neighbors orchard, blended with the crisping leaves of the cottonwoods and dead tall grass. In the late afternoon heat, the fragrence was hypnotic. The neighbor next door had neglected his apple orchard for quite awhile. The trees got watered, but that was about it. I would slowly walk down the long drive, passing the rose garden and the pumpkins and squash on my way to the old out buildings. There I would cross through the sagging, wooden gate to the irrigation ditch. It was little more than a lazy running creek. I'd hop the ditch and sit under the low hanging, untended apple tree closest to me, finding an apple or two that hadn't gotten wormy and I'd munch. Even warm, they were juicy and sweet. It was cool in this spot due to so much branch overhang. The grass was tall, dusty, yellow and soft. It was easy to bend over and make a comfy hide-y hole to sit and think, read, and write. A couple of times, I dozed off and found myself in the dark, awakened by the chill of the evening coming on. Finding my way home in the dark was a little tricky at that point, but I only got wet a couple of times. After that I learned to take a flashlight with me, just in case.
In college, we were still in Provo, but I was living in a different part of town. Every morning on my way to class, I would pass by the old BYU Academy Building on University Avenue. There the large Horse Chestnuts would be dropping their leaves and fruits. The trees fascinated me as did the spicky husks of the nuts. I would collect pockets of them and put them on the window sill of my room with other little stones and bits of bric-a-brac I had discovered on previous walks. The trees added to the in general spookiness of the old Academy building. It had fallen into a state of disrepair at that time and was no longer being used. I have since learned that the building has been restored, but sadly all of the beautiful horse chestnuts and other trees that had graced it's grounds have been removed. Such a pity.
Whether it is raining and I'm mashing the leaves under my feet on my way to somewhere, or crunching them in heated afternoon of Indian Summer, I still love the autumn leaves.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Those four things were all I needed today (and yesterday) to get by.
I wore black. It's a daily staple for me. The only fashion addition to my black hair, black jeans and black sweatshirt was blood red, frosted nail polish on my fingernails.
Rummaging through the bathroom drawers, I found a bottle of OPI Rock-a-pulco Red polish. I decided that I had to paint my toenails....next my fingernails. It was an impulse...boarding on a sudden obsession.
Oh, yeah...I don't need the full moon to go full on howling and get furry.
Yesterday afternoon, the migraine tried to emerge. Caffiene...a warm Coke and 2 Excedrin did the job. The migraine abated a little, back to it's little cave. A hot cup of coffee (TRUE Nectar of the gods! despite what the alkies will tell you.) and two sinus tabs kicked it the rest of the way. It's the only way I survive the hormone headaches during the periods my doctor is suprised I'm still having. Believe me, Doc, if it were in my power to shut'er down...don't ya think I would have?! Trust me...this is no joy ride for me or anyone around me during these episodes
Chocolate...even the crappiest type right about now could be the invisability cloke that hides you from the by the big, bad she-wolf. Held out or just thrown on my desk from a distance like a hunk of meat at the zoo, chocolate could be the destraction to momentarily occupy me enough not to completely notice the other crap you could possibly be pulling around my desk that would normally get you killed very quickly.
In this office golf game, you're getting a momentary gimme.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
sailing away on your soul
to pull away
Don the mask
and you are what
you have always longed for
biting the bottom
of your lip
to keep it in
but you can't
of the whip
in the knowing
What was not cool came in the form of a walk through the printroom to get my morning...oh, GAWD!!!! What the hell is that?! Jesus! It smells like rotting mackrel! I mean the funk was overpowering....breathtaking!
Walking further into the foggy ooze, I made my way back to the lab and the breakroom, where Lo! and Behold! Our lab manager is sitting eating egg rolls.
I'm carrying on like a demented woman at the top of my lungs (the considereable sized ones they are) about the stench. I assume it's coming from his breakfast.
The morning goes on....and so does...
It now has a name and is taking on a life all it's own. It prowls the bowels of the lab and the back offices, weaving itself through the clean air spaces and fumes of berry scented Lysol. It waits for the unsuspecting victim to enter the breakroom.
One of the dirt lab guys wanders in and places his mug in the microwave. He presses the button. It happens. The FUNK has just come back to life and is moving rapidly once again throughout the office, gagging everything in it's path.
We have just discovered the lair of the Funk.
The door opens and with it every dark, grey-green, noxious cartoon cloud you ever saw on Saturday morning. The Ghostbusters Weinie monster has nothing on this. Seriously. It has attitude, strength, and the ability to make even a former forensic photographer puke.
The lab manager wades bravely into the cesspool of decomposing mackrel stench to find...exploded rodent.
Yes, sad as it is to say, some poor little mouse had crawled into the back of the microwave and played "Pop Goes the Weasel."
The microwave, carmelizing mouse and all, now sits forlornly on the floor, unplugged, and away from offended noses and unwitting button pushers. It is being moved to its new home...outside the back lab door to the dumpster...where, hopefully, it will stay until it's burial at the Lockwood Landfill. Taps is gently playing...somewhere in the land of the mouse king.
Wouldn't you just love to be a fly on the wall when the unlucky dumpster diver plugs this bad boy in?!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I am a mother of two grown sons. When they were children and fell or got made fun of the last thing that I did was coddle them. Sure I would pat them on the back and wipe away tears, but I also turned them around and told them to get up and deal with their situations...whatever they were at that time. I gave them advice. I didn't shield them. I didn't protect them from the blows they were inevitably going to get as kids. I wanted my boys to be able to go out there and tackle anything that would and will come there way as children and now as adults. They've done well.
Mrs. Young, the absolute last thing that your son needs right now is "Momma Coming to the Rescue." Do you have any idea exactly how bad you have made your son look? If he can't handle criticism, you just threw the gates of hell open for him and told the public to eat him alive.
If he has psychological problems he needs to get help....you need to be supportive, BUT from a distance. Let him fight his own battles as a Man. All that a mother or wife does at this point when she speaks to the media is to embarass her son/husband. That could also have gone to Kurt Warner's wife a couple of years ago.
You should also be very thankful that he has Jeff Fisher as his coach and not Bill Parcells. If he pulled any of this with Parcells he may very well never play another down for the team, let alone see the lights of a football field again.
Mother to Mother...Mrs Young you need to SHUT IT!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
I chose a hotel in my old stomping grounds of South San Francisco. It is close to both my great-grandparents niches at Olivet Cemetery and to my father's burial place in Golden Gate National Cemetery. Going to see my father is always a bittersweet thing for me. I lost him when I was 9. Everytime I go back, I find a part of me...the little girl part of me that I so carefully bury away...coming to the surface and remembering the day we buried him there. 42 years ago and that memory is still so fresh..the sight and smells of fog and rain on wet pavement, and the loud crack of the rifles as they saluted my father. I cried then and I cry now everytime I go. This time I am taking him a cup of hot coffee and a mounds bar (two of his favorite things) as well as the red roses I always take when I go.
Going to see granny is different. There is a sense of unbelievable warmth and love where she is with my great-grandfathers, Jacob and George. It is very light there, as well. I have always loved Olivet's Columbarium. The warm dusty sunlight and smell of flowers lifts my spirits immeasurably. I go to see Granny after I have visited Dad. I always take my camera and take photos of the unusual urns and tombstones that add to the beauty of the Colma Cemeteries. I will go to the now unmarked graves in what the cemetery is now calling Potter's Field. This is where two of my grandmother's still born children were buried in the 30's. There had been small, round, cement markers with numbers on them placed at each gravesite, but they have long since disappeared since the time of my childhood.
I go to the statue of the Drowned Seamen next and place flowers there as well, as many of my ancestors were sailors on both sides of my family. On the way out we stop by the mausoleum of the lady whose ghost I saw when I was 4 or 5. I always hope that Margarite will show herself again back in Potter's Field as she did that foggy, wet morning in the early 1960's. Dark huge Cypress trees that siloutte themselves against the brilliant emerald of the grasses and the white of the headstones. That is how I remember Olivet...like something from an old episode of Dark Shadows. It is very much like that for me and still is. There is a sensing of many things.
That will be our first stop on our trip around "the City." I want the blessings of my ancestors and their guardian influences. San Francisco has become a city of the dead for me in many ways...not just Colma.
There are mysteries there that still linger for me...like my obcession with Sutro Baths and Land's End, Ocean Beach. All are places that I am drawn to in daydreams and memories.
There is anticipation along with the bittersweetness of the visits. Places of my childhood that are still there and relativly unchanged. The wharf is one of those places and the Chopinno at Nick's #5. The smells of crab boiling on the wharf is like perfume to me. Shops selling seashells, postcards and buddhas. We're going to visit the wave organ this time and walk up to Coit Tower, which I haven't done since I was 6. We'll eat lunch (a cheeseburger) at Louis' over by the Sutro Ruins. I want to take a picture of the house Janis Joplin once lived at and my greatgrandmother's house on Geary and 16th.
I guess I want to walk where Granny did. I have photos of her at the Cliffhouse when the Ohioan ran ashore, and when she had walked around Golden Gate Park and Sutro Heights. I want her to guide me around and whisper her secrets in my ear. Yes, she can be my tourguide.
My granny was wild and ahead of her time for coming to San Francisco in 1900. She was her own woman and knew what she wanted and didn't. She could scold you with a mere look. She sailed to Alaska with her second husband, Jacob, who was an Alaska Packer on the Star of Alaska (now the Balclutha). I have a photo of her standing on the beach in Seward, Alaska aiming a Winchester rifle. She was all of 4 feet 11.
Before coming to America, she had an illegitimate child in the old country. My grandmother never knew about her half-sister until she was about 57. When Granny had enough of her first husbands philandering in the Washington State lumber camps, she left him. She opened a boarding house in Crescent City, which was washed away after the tidal waves from the Alaska earthquake in 1964. She met Jacob there and they moved on down to San Francisco where she opened yet another boardinghouse in the Avenues.
I was never really sure if Granny divorced George Orkey. There are no records that I have ever been able to find. But she took the last name of Carlson, Jacob's last name. Granny must have still had a hold on George, though, as he also moved to San Francisco, following her. He stayed in San Francisco where he passed on in 1959. Yep! Granny must have been really something in her day. She did when I was two, but I remember her clearly and the wonderful old boarding house she had. She had boarders living htere until she passed away. She specialized in taking on boarders from other countries that other "respectable" boarding houses would turn away at that time...folks from India, Fiji, and other places.
I want her to take my hand and guide me. She can point at places she knew and loved or where they once were; places that were important to her. Tell me the history I long to know and will never read in a book.
My husband has gotten used to all of this. He realises I think that there are unresolved pieces and bits in my past and te past of my family...I guess as there is in most families. Tony likes hearing the stories and seeing the place through my eyes. I don't know that my children really care about their history. It's ok. I want to try and write down as much as I can so that if they have the chance they can someday perhaps explore it from my descriptions and memories in my journals and photos.
So, for the time being, I am cleaning house and getting ready for the trip on Monday. I want to look up a few places and write down the addresses so I can take photos to add to the history I am trying to write. Yeah. I'm going home.
Monday, July 14, 2008
the winds and
the waters of the sea
always gentle in the moment
tea and thunder
and the rain
always the scent
of wet pavement in a Windsor summer
powerless against the tide of flooding memories
half forgotten bits
of torn photographs
carried on the waves from the sand
smells of dust and diesel
wisteria and fallen leaves tangle
in the ocean tang
roar and boom
the gulls call
fallen angels against the fading phantoms
of yesterday's amusements
strings of smoke blow
from a lovers cave
hidden in the rocks
rimmed edge of ruins
laid tretcherous on the wind and rising tide
black with the waves and dark grey against
the fog horns blare
leaving me alone
hopeful in the wind and the rain
and always the waters
and that you
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Thoughts of the wind and the rain and the water. Always the rain and the green grey sky of a September afternoon from years ago. Wind howling and the lightening scattering like cat scratches across the dark and troubled sky. You remember...
remember it like it was yesterday...moments ago and the thoughts pour down just like the rain did that dry day...we hadn't had rain for months and were praying for it....
Ocean waves, the muted green silk frothed with water lace rippling on the rocks at the back of the Sutro cave rippling as my skin in the cold of the fog splintering my nerves on tiny skewers. The shell, pink and white and oh, so fragile, lay in your hand as you thought in the dry, white heat of the desert....you couldn't say a word...not to anyone...but I knew....
knew like the lines that cross my palm or the hunger at the end of the day...hunger coming in waves...the heat of the day rising in mirage from the asphalt...making you think...
why the spirit dances in the dead of night when no one but the stars see...whirling under the branches to the scent of roses and leaves crisping in the summer heat...you are a voyeur, aren't you ...I've said that before , but it's true...like it or not.....yards of cloth sway in breezes and body movements that leave you drunk with desire and longing to touch...you won't...won't allow yourself to do that...and she knows...can feel your breath on her neck down her arms...the breath that is the wind carrying her in the dance...your heartbeat marking the tune as her feet glide and she twirls leaf-like in your heart...is alone and will be so through time...so close you can feel her, smell her scent but never touch her...make her yours...she pulls off the veil to reveal your own face looking back at you and you flinch and then realize she is a mirror and you are the mask...forever hiding from yourself and from her....and you believe in your safety and you believe you are untouched by your desire.....alone in a confessional the little panel slides back to reveal...what?
...staring at the screen only shadows beyond and you still won't reveal it...won't tell you the truth until finally the desperation drives you dizzily down the wire and YOU tell her what you have longed for...what you wish and what you fear...and there is silence greeting you...is she listening...eavesdropping to what is said between the lines...and she softly tells you to light a candle for her soul and say 3 Hail Marys..because surely you are driving her to a hell of your...her own creation clawing at the bedsheets and howling into the dark...unheard
what is this thing that makes you think
you are so civilized?
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Breezes turn to blasting winds, pulling up the grains of sand and wearing everything smooth and hazy in my soul. Cycles of wind and rain and brutal sun paint my days in canyon colors. Wearing down the harshness and wild insolance of my youth to a deep, mellow humour.
Something in the dark of the cave beckoned me, and yet I was frightened. I couldn't go yet; couldn't plunge into the cool depths escaping the blazing sun of late spring. Going below ground is a sacred thing for a Druid. You are travelling to the land of the Underworld and all the blessed dead. It is a trip not taken lightly, for if you emerge you are returned to the living world forever changed.
It wasn't what was in the cave that struck me with fear. It was myself and the doubts ... unworthiness. I have learned wisdom and abused power all in the name of love and passions that drove me nearly mad. Power is returning now and I am afraid of not it, but myself. Barren of it by choice for so many years, I come back to the world of true magick and find myself more a novice than the sorceress I was.
Be careful what you wish for...holding crystal to the moon...I realise my time has come. There is no death only cycles moving into the next phases of our eternal lives. Childlike, I will take my offerings and enter the cave.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Tony and I took the truck out in search of Soda Lakes. They are two small, younger volcanoes that are filled with water (currently...with all our seismic activity...who knows?!) We arrived around 1 and were greeted by a variety of desert flowers, bees and horseflies. The view from the rim is intersting as you can see that you are standing above a caldera. We collected basalt bombs and also found some small chips of agate. Some of the basalt bombs from this area are said to contain olivine and magantite (lodestone). We did find some of the bombs had crystals in the sides. I found a really large bomb about the size of a cantaloupe. It is going in a special spot in the rock garden.
Aferwards, we made out way out past Grimes Point and over to the old, Lake Lahontan dry shores. Out there we found wonderstone and quartz, as well as lava and tufa. We also found a very large patch of agate.
It was fun to watch the fence lizards and horny toads. There were some interesting small birds out there, too. I would have loved to have had a field guide to find out what they were. We stayed out there until 6 and lazily made our way home.
There were a few people staying at the Petrogylphs. We passed by the Hidden Caves, but didn't stop. That will be for another trip. You can see them from the road. The large one has an almost ominous look to it, but that could well be due to the stories of it being haunted. When we do go, I'll make sure I leave some sage and cedar bundles for the Indian spirits, maybe some beads, too.
Today we will unload the rocks from the truck and see what we have. I'll probably sit out with a scrub brush and water and clean off many of them. There is a serenity in rockhounding that I love, even if it is a little insecty sometimes. I am always amazed at the beauty Mother Nature creates...now that's one artistic palette!
Next weekend I am planning on buying a couple of plants to start the garden. A little at a time is how I will build it.
I'll post the photos of the rocks later today.
Monday, May 05, 2008
At 50, I find myself walking in the wind. My hair is uncurled, undone. My face is devoid of make-up, showing the wrinkles and lines of far too much (and also too little). I look at past lives, lovers, and find them angels and demons...but never both. They whisper past me in the wind....tiny wails of the names, places and dates....warm winds in the middle of the night when I walked a garden and tended my roses. They haunt me on these desolate shores, floating and diving about as illusive as incense smoke. No ocean, but a lakeshore...water all the same. Water that calls me back as the mother and lover. I leave them behind me with the sand and the cry of the crow and loons. I can smile at these ghosts. I am comfortable in this body, despite the ravages of age and abuse. It's finally an old friend.
This is not being lonely or sad. This is where I am now....reflecting and gaining warmth in the afternoon sun.
Ah, Dragon, good to see you again. We've always had that knack of coming back from our battles and picking up in the same old way. We've done this for centuries...almost two millenium. I felt you in my head this morning like sunshine on my back after a long winter. It made me glad and wish we were closer...although, I suppose, we never really were apart.
Again, I vow, to write more often. I've no reason not to, I suppose. Notes on tumbleweeds.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Fences are put up between the stories, the fantasies and the realities. Time becomes more of an illusion than ever. Lost in a memory or in the writing, I emerge to my "day job" feeling disoriented.
No. I don't have Alzheimer's. I have always been credited with being imaginative. Gram said I was highly imaginative...too much for my own good...that last according to my mother.
Can one really travel back in time? During these moments, I feel that I can...that I have. This life and past lives traveling through all at once...intact but fragmented all at the same time.