It’s 05:00 now. I’ve set the sprinklers (for damn near the first time in four years). I’m drinking coffee too wound-up to sleep another moment. This place is filled with memories of Callista and my marriage. The emptying rooms echo, which is good for singing and prayer but not for being alone and remembering the dead. By the time the sun sets, however, my tenure in this place of death will be done.
Most of my drum-circle will be here in about three hours to finish, nine people altogether. They will be stumbling over themselves looking for things to do. I won’t be able to keep them all busy, but I don’t think that’s the point anymore. They are here to provide me with a sense of encouraging strength and loving support as I move through the last motions of deconstructing this version of myself. Many of them feel the same urgency and can sense we are near the finish, that the chapter and book are nearly complete, that the chrysalis is about to open. They want this for themselves every bit as much as they want it for me, for in so many ways they have been here with me the whole time.
I can hardly express how much I appreciate them with a deep, heart-felt and genuine love that is so strong it makes my throat swell to write of it. Those who will be here today: Mom, Keli, Doyle, Aisha, Curtis, Ceilidh, John, Dave, and Mike—and those elsewhere but who send their spirits in a way every bit as strong and vital to my wellbeing as those here: Lexie, Renee, Randy, and Vicki; ALL have surrounded me, and their songs of outrage, sorrow, sympathy, guard, protection, encouragement and love humbles me and makes we weep thankful tears. Of all blessings, they are the greatest, most soul-deep and comforting, far, far outshining the shadows of things lost.
“All my relations!”
I stand at the center of the universe.
Nothing lasts long, only the mountains;
Nothing lasts long, only the sky.
Only the rocks and trees are forever;
Nothings lasts long, what is old must die.
I am ready to go.
Thanksgiving…usually a time of great blessing for me. The trial of moving has put a strain on it, however. Hosting it was probably not the best idea, but it gave us a goal of having the house unpacked enough to have guests.
My mother came over the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and we prepared apples and dough for pies together. I had hoped it would be a transition into a more relaxed holiday mode, but this was not to be. The next day was devoted to getting her to and from the hospital for her biopsy and keeping an eye on her a bit. Time wise, it really amounted to little impact, but the emotions and concerns it stirred were consuming. Wednesday was filled with shopping and cooking, trying to find things that were still packed or packed away, and trying to get a final head-count of who has coming and who was not.
Thursday morning started out slow, but soon ramped up to full blown stress mode as my wife and I mis-communicated on our definitions of a “clean house.” When the day was finally over, I was glad we had hosted Thanksgiving, but it did not have the satisfying afterglow it has had in the past. Circumstances and miscommunications conspired against it.
Writing? Are you kidding me? Well…some…very little…but some.
Black Friday—of all the days in the year, I hate this one the most…with a passion, I say. In the United States we have few holidays that are uniquely American….something that stirs a sense of admiration in our international cousins and pride in ourselves. We have the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. In my opinion Thanksgiving is being conscripted by capitalistic concerns as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It was one thing to claim Black Friday, but now major business are opening their doors as early as Thanksgiving morning in an effort to claim the cash. It utterly and completely disgusts me. Another sign of the times.
Autumn is sacred time to me and as far as I’m concerned, Black Friday is a black eye on America’s cultural landscape. Some love it—more power to ‘em. They can have it.
Marirose and I are both creative, she a song writer and musician and I a literati and piobair–piper. In addition to several other obsessions, we both suffer—endure, entertain or indulge, take your pick—an irresistible need for artistic fulfillment. Thus, in addition to service oriented jobs that are extremely demanding, she as a nurse administrator and I as a teacher, on any given day are both off pursuing our particular muse wherever they might lead us. This might include my wife heading to an out of town practice with various band members, partaking in an online “Go-Girl’s” musical support group chat, or scoping out a new venue. For me an early morning writing session, an online bagpipe lesson with my piping-mentor or brainstorming session with sticky-notes and colored pencils would not be unusual. The point is, we are “a-blowin’ and a-goin’” at Iona Céin. Time for slowing down is as much at a premium as it is sacred. Unfortunately we don’t find that time often enough.
The odd thing is that with two such creative people living together, one might think we’d give each other time to be creative without interruption. This is most definitely not the case, but rather than wade into that morass of volatile tar here and now, I’m going to save it for a future post.
Winter and Christmas are coming. I dread that holiday most of all. Probably because of how its more contemplative bent has been bent all out of sorts and reformed into one huge season’s long commercial. Yesterday was the staff party. As usual I did not go. The emails of “if you are going send your money…” really turn me off. This weekend is the Student Council party…I can hardly stand that: “Remember, don’t spend more than $15.00 on the gift exchange…”
Why not, “…we’re getting together to play games, build gingerbread houses and watch “Home Alone”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas” or “A Christmas Carol” while we stuff ourselves with homemade goodies. Wanna bring a dish and partake?” No frackin’ gift exchange. No frackin’ entry-fee. No frackin’ money required. You wanna exchange somethin’? Make a homemade card and actually write something thoughtful on it for a change! God, I hate Christmas.
If you can’t tell, I’m sick. As in ill. Maybe the other way too. Almost very year I get sick with a heavy cold right around Thanksgiving. Last year was an exception. This year the bug waited a few days until after I was back in school to strike. Monday after vacation, mid-morning, I got that itchy feeling in the back of my throat that got steadily worse throughout the day. I have no clue how long it will hang on. It steadily gets worse and worse and then, typically, after a week or so, begins to lighten up. I can usually feel it gradually releasing its death-grip on my throat as it leaves. Today is but day four. The croups are yet to come.
Needless to say writing creatively is not something I find myself particularly inspired to do. I’d rather sleep. I will, however, soldier on. Even if it means but a paragraph a day. I will write.
In the end, it was Craigslist that did it. Yesterday a big hearted lady of the highest caliber, a Dog-Lady, responded to my post: “I have your dog…”. Music, simply music.
As soon as I saw the email, I phoned my wife from work and within half an hour Bella, the sneaky bitch, was home no worse for wear. Marirose relates that the dog seemed to take it all in stride with a “Hi, mom; where ya been?” sort of attitude. Callista, on the other hand, was thrilled to see her “sister” safely home and greeted the wayward canine-escape-artist with joyous sprints and jumps—no mean feat for a 100+ lbs three legged dog.
After arriving home and spending some time with the little minx, my wife and I went to celebratory de-stress dinner. On the way home, we removed the lamp-post flyers I’d put up and discussed how lucky we were to recover our mutt.
She had ranged about a mile from the house. Her savior related to my wife that Bella came to her attention barking at her front door.
“I’m not sure why she came here, but she certainly came to the right place,” she told my wife. “…not sure why,” indeed!
“…fools and little children” it is said. I think dogs can be safely added to that list. At least this one.
Let’s see how much damage I can do today with two meetings and a full slate of classes to teach on the schedule. I’m pretty deep in the pack, but with a little dedication and a few very good writing sessions cranked out over the up-and-coming three-day weekend and the following Thanksgiving-Day holiday week after next, I think I can at least get my nose even with the rest of the horde. We’ll see.
Since last Saturday, I’ve been sick. I almost know the exact time I felt my cold/sinus infection make itself known. I had taken my mom out to an hour at the book store and then some lunch. We were on our way back to my house for a cup of coffee and some conversation, when I felt the tell-tale itch in the back of my throat that signals the onset of post-nasal drip and a serious bout of cold.
I’ve found the older I get, the longer it takes a cold to run its course and for me to recover. This has been no exception. It’s Saturday, a week later, and I’m still not fully recovered. Part of that has to do with having to work for two days. Lecturing on Monday damn near killed my voice. I’m so happy we had Thanksgiving on Wednesday. Without the momentum of working Monday and Tuesday, I’m not sure I could have made it had there been a Wednesday lull before a Thursday Turkey Day.
As it turned out, we got all our entertaining finished on Wednesday and for the last two days I’ve been able to convalesce here at home while Marirose works. I got up on both Thursday and Friday and give myself permission to be sick. I tried to do some writing, but just didn’t feel creative enough to sustain the effort through all the coughing and sniffling. I played Oblivion for an hour instead, took a nap for two to three, got up, ate, played Oblivion again, took another nap in the afternoon for two or thee hours, woke up and visited with my wife for a bit. She’d crash about 22:00 at the latest. I’d hang out for a bit and then crashed myself about an hour later. Both days were like that: lots of sleep and mindless monster slaying. Yesterday night, I started feeling “worried” about reaching my NaNoWriMo goal and knew I was getting better.
Thus, today, here I am, dropping a note into the Void to say, “I’m on it.” It’s going to take some serious sprinting over the next five days, but I’m pretty confident I can make it. I’ve got over $400.00 in pledges on my fund-raising page and I don’t want to disappoint. What a great crew. They know they probably won’t see a copy of Scions for years if at all, but they have faith in me enough to throw some cash at OLL. I don’t plan on letting them down.
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.
Walking into the Avalon theatre was like entering a darker version of “The Labyrinth.” Had David Bowie dressed up as his Jareth, the Goblin King character walked past, I would not have been much surprised. The Avalon is one of those old style art deco and earlier theatres. Red velvets, golden brocades flashing from sofa, wall and rug, terracotta scroll-work soaring into the lofty darkness above, mirrored walls and padded doors, plaster faces tinted with gold peering from the shadows, dimly lit salons tucked here and there that looked to be right out of “The Shining.” The denizens themselves came in ever shape and size: leather and gossamer, silk and brocade, tiny hats and elbow length gloves, tuxedoes of every hue and color, stockings and scarves, ruby cuff-links and flashing tiaras, ball gowns with feathered head pieces, satin sheaths accented with diamonds and dark mascara, robes from Africa, pencil skirts and black stilettos from Sax, Soviet style uniforms sprouting from thigh-high Dom-boots, cowboys with brown leather vests and faces sporting guitars over their shoulders like rifles, metal heads over six feet tall hair wild eyes aglow with whiskey fume burn, dark suited security guards complete with mirror shades and ear in coil.
Marirose, as one of the performers at the 21st Los Angeles Music Awards, was given the royal treatment. There was a red carpet and an army of paparazzi…just like in the movies about—well, about events like this. LOL! When she was on that red carpet with Sandra, the bulbs were flashing like stars and the photographers jostling each other like hounds for position. It was an amazing feeding frenzy. As each new celebrity or would-be celebrity hit the carpet the calling and snapping, maneuvering and subtle, and not so subtle, shoving would begin again. Under the bright lights and in the wave after wave of camera flashes, I hardly recognized my wife, she was glowing like the sun, her black dress and sparkling heels the uniform of another world. She was then whisked off by Kong Radio personality Buddaman for and interview. I look forward to hearing it on the internet. I was standing outside a crowd of about 200 people trying to get a glimpse of her and see how she was doing. It was an amazing moment of disconcert and an epiphany. Ah, A metaphor, so powerful, about how the world changes. Would anyone but a writer understand it?
We entered the theatre and settled in after a few false starts into the VIP lounge with posh couches and low tables for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Marirose and her Gypsies weren’t scheduled to perform, but she was up and down visiting people, making the most of a magical evening. I cared the bag of shoes and change of clothes she would need just before she went on.
I myself was dressed in my Bell family tartan and kilt with a charcoal gray Argyle jacket, black shirt and kilt-hose and thought it looked nice next to her dress.
We ate and drank watched both the performances and the giving of awards, as well as the amazing parade of people, as they drifted past our area and out onto the floor of the theatre where the next tier on the celebrity ladder, actors and actresses, former Miss this-or-thats, Jame’s Brown’s wife, the late Michael Jaskson’s bassist, athletes and politicians, if not out right cutting edge celebrities then definitely part of the “A” leagues. I noticed that most of the artists, how were there to see if they’d won an award or were there to perform, did not have places down on the that floor. They were in the bars or in the lounges socializing talking shop and making connections. Another metaphor?
Eventually it was Marirose’s turn to perform. She had exchanged her black dress for a sapphire blue one with sequins and beads: awesome. As they were performing their single selection, a guy from the floor who’d had too much to drink got up on stage and started dancing, the guy had to be escorted from the stage, but he was a pretty peaceful guy telling the security, “…I was just feelin’ it, man…feelin’ the music…” Marirose thought it was funny, and the crowd certainly did, but Marirose’s drummer was not too happy about it. In the end though, he saw that it might just have been for the best in terms of good feelings and positive publicity.
Things got a little rushed at the end as some of those honored with “Achievement Awards” were a bit drunk and had no business being responsible for such a heavy part of the ceremony. I won’t go beyond that, but I must admit to being rather embarrassed for the promoter and organizer who I know works so hard to put on the Awards. He was not well served by his heavy-hitter celebrities.
Marirose was nominated for three awards: Best Female Vocalist; Best Americana Blue, Roots Single “Hiding Me” and Hot Adult Contemporary Album Under My Skin. I am proud and nearly full to bursting to announce that she received the Vocalist and Album awards! We were all walking on clouds, from her bass player—he was so excited—to her mother-in-law, to the band photographer, to the support crew. We out of our minds with happy for her and proud of her. I can hardly recall it without choking up. To have worked so hard, to have sacrificed so much and put so much of herself out there—three albums, material in the works for a fourth, the Gallo Arts Center show, opening for Michael MacDonald, hundreds of practices and gigs, song writing sessions, hours at the key board, years and years of effort—to finally receive some of the recognition due her…it was so overwhelming.
I am so proud of my wife, so happy for her. She is such an inspiration to me. I hope that this is for her but another step on the way to reaching her dreams of musical success. I know many people never make it this far, but I am not surprised my girl has. She is just that kind of focused and driven individual. She’s got a seriously cool single that the band believes has a lot of potential. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lay down some rough tracks in but a few days.
What a wild ride these last few days have been. Now if I can just get my own creative demons under some semblance of control, maybe I can get a few things done, like finish this month’s manuscript!
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.
I am so behind when it comes to my word count. Why is this story kicking my ass so hard? Why won’t the debris, the fog, the miasma clear and let me see the story path? These three girls are challenging me on every side. Do I not have a handle on them? I know November is the month from hell with the L.A. Music Awards this week and Thanksgiving planned for Wednesday rather than the traditional Thursday week after next, but there have been some breaks as a few things have been cancelled: Rock-a-thon for one (May His name forever be exhaulted!) and we’ve put off grading the Fall Writing Assessment until December. HOL profs have extended homework deadlines; hell, one of them is even a writing buddy. Still this story is really making me work for satisfaction and I am getting little.
As I was cranking out my lesson plans for tomorrow, what nails me right between the eyes…er, in the eye? A Migraine! WTF! As soon as the aura hit and I started seeing the scintillating scotoma over my right gaze, I knew the anxiety of the last few days was the result of the podrome. Stress, what a bastard! I was at school and so figured I would have to go to my daughter’s house to wait the aura to pass, but I had so much to do for the next day, I decided to soldier on. It was good for a laugh as I tried to write instructions on the board. Luckily the numbness that usually shows up waited a bit longer than usual to make its presence felt—or not felt as the case may be and then it centralized itself in my right hand…luckily after I’d finished writing my instructions! I made it about a half an hour down the road before the pain hit, by that time I had taken some over the counter Migraine meds…nearly useless but usually enough to take the edge off. It did take the edge. Picture a wave, a big wave, and skim about a foot and a half off the top, the rest is on you. Oddly it came from the front this time and just sorta enveloped me real slow. I figure that’s what poison is like and plan to describe it in my journal for some future death in some future story.
I got home, got something to eat and I’m now going to take a long hot shower and try to sleep it off. My mother-in-law is coming at 05:45 tomorrow morning for the L.A. trip. Gods, I hope she doesn’t want me to drive. This is all the writing I’m going to do tonight. No two hours or 2k today. Hell, I’ve yet to get “2k a day” since NaNoWriMo started, and right about now, I could give a shit.
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.
I flew home from school thinking I was going to get a few hours with Marirose, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. She was asleep when I got here, not surprising seeing how the next few days are going to be a real challenge for her. It’s now pretty late, or should I say late for me with the 04:00 wake up call, and she has not stirred a peep, so I am guessing I will not see her today.
It is a hard thing to love someone, live with them, share their lives and yet feel lonely, missing them even while in the same house. It would be easy to think of the practice sessions, gigs and performances as interlopers that have come between us. “Wake me when you get home…see you in the morning.” It would be easy to see my place in her life is no longer what it was, that I am now, ‘only’ a best friend, an odd combination of big-brother, crock-pot-full-of-comfort-food, and faithful hound. I am the guy you call without embarrassment when the dog brings a dead rat into the house.
A best friend, is not chopped liver, however. Someone who is truly a best friend tries to focus on the good of the other and not on what their own needs might be. Yes, I see the danger of what might result from throwing myself totally on that path, but no relationship, or even life-point of circumstance, ever stands the balance’s test all the time. Those who believe it should, who require it as a standard, are only fooling themselves. Is life ever balanced? I think not. To expect it to be so, is to assume a skewed and crippled view that leaves one open to dreadful surprise and renders one’s contemporaries a source of disappointment.
That’s the path I choose to walk. Music is her passion. It has been ever since she was a little girl. It is what saved her through all the tough times before I knew her. It is the stuff of her soul, what makes her unique. The music of who she is led me to fall in love with her in the first place, though the irony of that is not lost on me. Music is for her, what writing is for me. I cannot imagine if my hands were taken. What would I do? Write with my mouth, brush or pen clenched tightly in my jaw. If I could not see, what would I do? Dictate my stories in a voice recorder. Unless I was rendered nearly inoperative, a stroke or terrible accident, I would find a way to ‘write.’ It is my passion. Music is the same for my resident singer-song writer. I will not in any way stand between her heart and that passion with anything as false as a demand for attention. On Thursday she is going to have her abilities recognized for all the hard, hard labor she has invested in them. She wants me there with her to celebrate, to lean on, to support her—that is good enough for me. That is what love, true love—equal parts admiration, respect, affection and attraction—is all about.
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.
A hundred thousand welcomes, laddie! My third grandchild and first grandson arrived yesterday at about 01:30 in the afternoon! My amazing daughter and number-one son-in-law did an inspiring job—his: being a patient solid pillar of strength and hers: the heroic task of bringing young Lùcas into the world. Things were a little touch and go toward the end as mom began to flag strength-wise, but she rallied and brought the boy forth to the delighted applause of about nine nurses, her doctor, husband and mother. Though great-grandmother and I had been shooed from the birthing room as the main-event began, we were privy aurally to all that went on but a few steps away. Later, when we were all allowed back into the room, it was a further joy for me to see big-sister Ceilidh take her first look at little-brother and check to make sure mom was okay. We are all so thrilled. My brother assured me that the lad would be quite please himself to have been born on brathair mo seannair’s birthday
They have named him Lùcas, but intend to call him “Lewey, or Lughaidh the “Shinging One” in the Gaelic…and that suits me just fine—not that seannair’s opinion means a whole lot, but there it is and I am pleased nonetheless.
Mom and bairn are doing great and hope to go home this evening. What a wonderful, wonderful day…a day that will only be matched when my fourth grandchild, another sweet lassie this time, is due in but a few short weeks!
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.