Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Only Fly

When I existed in the other realm with my favorite angel, Michael, I asked him to teach me to fly. His wings were stronger than my small, delicate ones, and he often let me ride with him, stretched out on his back, my head resting softly against the warmth of his neck. But I really wanted to fly the way he did, with wings that stirred the air into a swirl of colors; spectral colors which later would be captured by an artist on earth and lovingly placed on canvas, (for everything which becomes beautiful is first brushed by angel wings).

As we climbed the highest mountain, Michael told me stories. Of human wars and human loves, of the contrasting strength and frailty of the human spirit, of the absence of love which is fear.

"What does fear feel like?" I asked.

"There are a thousand ways I could tell you," Michael answered, "but it is better that you feel it for yourself. Are you ready?"

I saw then that we had reached the summit of the mountain. I nodded.

Michael instructed me to take his hand. "When we leap," he said, "feel the movement of your wings, how they stretch and move and hold you aloft. Focus on the beauty of the smallest thing you can see. Don't look backward to where you were, or forward to where you are going. Only fly."

And we leaped from that great mountain and flew, my hand clutching Michael's hand, his light and energy pouring through my being. I smiled, turned to look at him, and he was gone. Then I faltered; my wings stopped beating. I looked behind me, searching for Michael. I turned and looked before me, searching for Michael. And there was no Michael, only me. Something within me shattered and fell. For a few minutes I tried to move my wings, but they were paralyzed by a feeling I didn't recognize, and soon my body fell with whatever had broken inside of me.

I felt pain when I landed; felt the strange liquid which fell from the corners of my closed eyes. When I opened them, there was Michael's face, looking down at me. The liquid fell from his eyes, too, so I reached up with my hand and touched it.

"They are called tears," Michael told me. "When you go to earth, you will know them again. They will come for one of two reasons: whenever you cannot contain the love that is in you, or whenever you believe that love is absent."

Michael helped me stand and brushed the debris from my being. "What did you think of fear?"

"I didn't like it at all. It made my wings feel frozen, and I stopped flying." Michael nodded.

I thought of something else, and tilted my head as I looked at him. "When you left, you took love with you."

"Only this one time," he said. "So you must forever remember one thing."

"And what is that?"

"No matter how much you may think otherwise, love is always with you."

Separation: The Great Illusion

Or so they say. We're all connected, every day of our lives. A few minutes ago, as I tossed dirty clothes into the washer, all I could think of was the last time my son came home, and we were looking for him at the airport. His plane had landed about an hour before; my family had split up to look for him, and I walked out of Starbucks with hot coffee in my hand when I saw him walking toward me through the terminal in his desert camo, looking older and more like a man than ever. I had thirty seconds to watch him before he saw me. He's not a very observant soldier - I was three feet away before he knew I was there. He put his arms around me with a hug of superhuman strength, and kissed me on the cheek in that way sophisticated world travelers have. This man, flesh of my flesh, is a spirit which I carried in my body for nine months. How, then, can he ever be separate from me, even if he's on the other side of the world?

Band of Angels

I like birds because they remind me of certain angels I have known. My favorite angel was Michael - dark, beautiful Michael - whose feathers were always a bit oily and unkempt. He had a long, straight nose and a quirky smile, and eyes that burned red-brown like Georgia soil in summer. He was quick and muscular and built as much like a racehorse as an angel can be. Whenever he returned from his travels on earth he'd bring me souvenirs of rocks or leaves or flowers. Then we'd race each other along the golden river (he always let me win) and across the water to the big rock island that sleeps in the middle. It was there I'd spend eons preening his wing feathers and listening, rapt, to his war stories and the occasional bawdy joke. Sometimes he smelled of whisky. If Michael had been born on earth he would've been Irish. I loved him the most.

There was Raphael, that shining angel of death, who enjoyed his occupation more than anyone. He was a practical jokester who could convince the minor angels that not even they were immune to his power, and so he would bring them lambs blood to smear over their doorways at night, in exchange for cigarettes. His favorites were Lucky Strikes, and it was always amusing to watch the lesser angels reappear suddenly in the heavens, girded with tobacco.

Of all the archangels, Gabriel was the most beautiful. He looked like John Schneider at 18, only more golden. And his eyes were not only blue - they were that blue you have seen only once in your lifetime - remember it? That blue. The one that made you stand in quiet awe until some shift of light stole it away. To look into Gabriel's eyes was to no longer thirst; to be in his presence was paradise.

When Michael and the other warrior angels were away, I'd listen to Israfel play his flute. Israfel rarely spoke except through his music, and we had between us a quiet understanding. His hair was curly and blonde, soft as a toddler's, and sometimes when he slept I ran my fingers through the silk of it. With his flute he created the sweetest of songs, a keening and a longing, a melancholy lilting that was like the wings of hummingbirds lightly brushing a thousand silver windchimes.

And among them all, my friends, my angels, not one of them warned me that being human would hurt so much. If I had known, I would never have left the sheltering love of their wings.

The Sum of My Experience

Every human being on this earth is born with a tragedy, and it isn't original sin. He's born with the tragedy that he has to grow up. That he has to leave the nest, the security, and go out to do battle. He has to lose everything that is lovely and fight for a new loveliness of his own making, and it's a tragedy. A lot of people don't have the courage to do it.
Helen Hayes (1900 - 1993)

I've left cyber footprints on The World Wide Web. Many have been erased. This morning I learned that a lot of my marks were obliterated forever in a massive, late December drive failure over at Journalspace.

Just so you know, this place is not permanent, and can be gone in the blink of an eye.

So I wonder what to do. There is something so convenient about writing online. But I know that if, at the age of 10, I had written my childhood musings on the as-yet-undreamed internet, instead of in a diary or on index cards, those words would most likely not exist anymore. Exactly the same way my hundreds of private and public entries at Journalspace do not exist anymore, except in small, imperfect caches at Google. And even those will go away eventually, and can in no way be tied to me. You know...the me whose name is on a birth certificate and census records.

Even as a child, I was driven to leave a mark. I wanted to be a Famous Author, or at least remembered. So where, now, is the sum of my experience? Only in my head. Not on paper, not chiseled in stone. This THING I'm talking about was my biggest regret when my father died. That a brain that contained so much information was going away. Massive drive failure.

So do I start over here, or on paper? Or both? I'm tired of losing everything lovely.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fashion Faux Pas Through the Ages

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way I dress, and particularly about my inability to find clothes I want to buy. When I shop, I have these elaborate fantasies of finding things that Sophia Loren would have worn in the 1960's, but all I can find are either a) teenager clothes, or b) things that Mama Cass would have worn in the 1960's. Since I'm trying very hard to not dress like a teenager anymore (and failing), it occurred to me that I have a European body instead of an American body. The only thing that will save me is a trip to Italy to buy an entire new wardrobe.

But the truth is, I've never been a fashionista. Ever. And I have proof. My sister and I used to affectionately call ourselves The Goodwill Sisters, presumably because if Goodwill Stores had advertised back in the day, we would have been their walking billboards.

Since most photos from my childhood are still in albums at my mom's house, I can only go back to about 1974 or so.

Here I am as Lady Godiva, at Swope Park in Kansas City, Missouri. This outfit was most likely purchased at Kmart, and my mother probably objected to it because it's obviously too tight. I have to confess that I still seem to be wearing clothes that, well, aren't baggy.

This is me in 1975? Here you see my very first pair of blue jeans. That's right; I was 13 before I ever had jeans. I wanted jeans so badly that I made sure they went halfway up my chest. Obviously, my philosophy was that chickens don't care what you wear. Also, I wore that blue t-shirt until it had holes in it.

One of the blizzards of the late 70's? I think this was my birthday, and my sister and I were tired of being cooped up in the house. So we both donned the bridesmaid dresses from our brother's wedding, grabbed our shawls, and went outside to illustrate the striking contrast between the piles of snow the snowplow had just left behind, and our keen fashion sense. No, that's not a snowball hitting the side of my head, it's a flower.

I believe we're at Kings Island in Cincinnati? 1976? That hat! That hair! I don't know!

I'm confused by the date on this photo. It says June 81, but I thought it was our parents' anniversary in August. It's very likely that the film stayed in the camera until the next year, when we finally had the photos developed. Anyway, the important thing is that my sister and I created an elaborate Italian dinner of spaghetti, and served it to mom and dad as an Italian man and woman, hence the penciled in moustache on my sister. This is as close as I ever got to dressing like Sophia Loren.

Here I am as a Senior in high school, flanked by two Indianapolis Colts football players who came to my school to play basketball. I want to reach through the photo to fix my collar and close my mouth. This was the first time I ever saw a man.

I can't explain this.

This is me as a 44-year-old mother, trying to resurrect my Lady Godiva phase. Please tell me I'm not in my underwear.

It's obvious I need help. There must be a world beyond cotton t-shirts, tank tops, and denim. If anyone would like to foot the bill for my shopping spree in Milan, please let me know.

Friday, December 26, 2008


There is a timelessness in fog. Nature, in sudden modesty, veils herself in white gauze. Fog whispers to us of mysteries, begs us to come forward and see, allows us to hide. It makes time stand still, and dresses Winter in quiet beauty.

Post-Christmas Stress Syndrome

To put it plainly, I look like dog crap. My eyes have packed their bags, and are ready to board the next red-eye. My fingers look like fat little sausages. This is my body's response to three things: too much sugar, too much salt, and too much stress.

How many times have I said to myself - I'm never going to be caught shopping on Christmas Eve again. I'm going to start Christmas shopping the day after Halloween, and have everything wrapped by Thanksgiving. Okay, maybe I haven't really ever been that ambitious, but I'd like to be.

Holy cow, it's raining AGAIN. I know this, not because there are any windows in my office (at work), but because I can hear the downpour on the roof. Plus I just peaked at Yahoo weather and it said Freezing Rain. Yay.

But back to my rehashing of Christmas. Usually, my family has a 100% gift success rate. But yesterday, five things failed to fit: the jacket I ordered for myself online (my husband marked the box To Laura From Laura and put it under the tree), a pair of insulated coveralls from my son to my husband, an insulated vest from my son to me, a pair of boots from me to my husband, and a set of floor mats I special ordered for my son's truck. And who do you suppose will be responsible for returning all these things? Me. It will be like having to go Christmas shopping all over again, only with even longer lines. Bah humbug.

On a lighter note *cough*, the first thing I did this morning at work was to look through the latest Associated Press slideshow from Iraq, to see if there were any pictures of my son. This is a habit very similar to buying a lottery ticket, and of course nothing ever comes of it. But it's nice to hope.

Monday, December 22, 2008

This is not my blog.

This isn't really my blog. The real me is at another site; a site that crashed 3 or 4 days ago and is inoperable for at least another week. The site owners had to mail the drives containing all the site information to someone who could raise it from the dead, and the word is that recovering everything will cost more money than the site generated last year. If I were the owner, I might have to consider shutting the place down forever. Not that I'm advocating that.

That's why (if anyone is reading this at all) you're going to see a lot of crazy, sad, weird, scattered, nonsensical posts from me for a while. Because that's who I am at the other place, and well, that's who I am. In the immortal words of Marshall (Slim Shady) (Eminem) Mathers, "All I can do is be myself."

In other news, it's bitterly cold. It's the kind of cold that sticks to your skin long after you've gone indoors, that makes you want to wear an undershirt like your mom used to make you do, that tempts you to touch a metal pole with your tongue. Huh? It's late January weather, and I'm disappointed in it. If the weather were a student, and I were weather's teacher, I would give it an F minus. Or a minus 20 F.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Crazy Cat Lady

Merry Christmas from Spivey.

Spivey was sick recently with what I believe was The Dysentery. So he went to see Dr. Casey and his staff, who had to poke him in the bottom, not once but three times. Then they gave him medicine, which his owner faithfully gave him morning and night. And now Spivey is all better, and enjoying the Holidays.

I made a Christmas card from the first photo, for Spivey to send to Dr. Casey and his staff. He wanted to thank them for making him all better.

Dear Santa:

If I could have a beautiful house of my own, even if it was empty, I would have everything I ever wanted.

And maybe a few chickens.