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Sounds like the title of a gothic novel, doesn’t it? But it’s an exquisite place in Wales, that is still steeped in an air of mystery and devotion. The buildings on the grounds date from 1136 to 1536.  Would that we still valued our past to retain our buildings for nearly a thousand years.

Tintern, Monmouthshire, Wales.

Quote of the day: “Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic.”  —  Herman Melville

Daily gratitudes:
My happy (if slightly manic) daughter
Positive attitudes
Sharing with someone you love
My pork green chile so spicy it makes me weep
Faded roses
Mornings that feel like fall

 

As I have revived the Weekly Wednesday poem, I am also reviving the Original Thursday poem. [Insert applause here.] I have hundreds of poems from the past that I can share with you, and I hope that the revivification of this feature of the blog will inspire me to create more.

Devil With A Forked Tongue

One golden morning early,
You looked in my eyes across the table,
And said,

“You’ll never find another man like me.”

I was touched.

Yes.

Touched in the head.

In hindsight,
I should have stabbed you in the tongue with my fork
And run.

Yes.

Stuck a fork in you.

We’re done.

Having a teenage daughter makes you walk back into your own past. You see the things that she is going through and, if you are open, you can remember how you felt at that age, what you were feeling, how you reacted.  I was going to say “if you are lucky”, but I must admit that revisiting my teenage years, even in my mind, is sometimes a painful thing. Adolescence isn’t something that most of us would want to go through twice, at least not without the benefit of the wisdom we gain in our futures – and now, I WILL say “if we are lucky”.

I was a late bloomer. I didn’t have my first date until I was almost 16, didn’t have my first kiss until I was actually 16. (You don’t get any more details past that point, sorry.)  I was a miserable 14- and 15-year-old. I didn’t know why no one was interested in me. I wanted to believe that I was so pretty that I scared boys off, but my Mother told me that was not the case – she did it gently, but I still remember that conversation – exactly where we were and everything.  My best friend Sarah and I felt like we were wearing some sort of sign that said “Never been kissed.” And just like a lot of other things in life, if you didn’t have experience, no one seemed to want to take a chance on you. Sounds like trying to find a job, doesn’t it? Of course, the corollary is rather true as well – if you had too much experience, people weren’t really interested in you either.  Strangely enough, also like it is in the business world.

Anyway, as I said, I was a grumpy, bad-tempered teenager (until I could drive and then the world literally opened up before me. I became much nicer once I found my wings.) I didn’t want to be seen with my parents. I stayed in my room almost all the time that I was home, entertaining romantic notions of escape, and what my life would be like. I spent a lot of time in a dreamworld. The scarring experience of my pre-teen years likely played a role in this confused isolationism, and while I remember that, I don’t add it into the equation when I think about my teenage years in the grand scope of things. I guess I remember being a typical teenager.

Well, bloom I did, robustly and delightfully. I think most of us do, even though we think it will never happen. And once I came into my power, I felt invincible.  Sometimes I still feel that way. Invincible, yes. Loveable is a little harder to believe, but I’m making good progress on it.

As I watch my girl and her friends go through their teenage years, I compare my own experience to theirs, and draw up from the depths of my soul the turbulent emotions surrounding change, acceptance, love, hormones, justice, freedom, adulthood, social quandaries, sexuality, school, frustrations, and delights. I don’t know if I’m right in applying my own perspective to their situations, now some 35 years later.

But on some level, I think that young women are young women (even if those of my daughter’s age are a bit more worldly than most girls of that age were in the late 1970s), and that the emotions that swirl around aging haven’t changed. In fact, as I find my half-century mark rushing up to meet me squarely in the chin, I realize that I am still experiencing a myriad of emotions around love, escape, freedom, satisfaction, work, frustrations, justice, time demands, acceptance, and delights.  I don’t think of myself as much older than Kelsea or her friends at heart. I still feel things just as fully, innocently, and honestly as they do, as I did back then.

I was a late bloomer back then. Perhaps I’m a late bloomer now. Perhaps I am just eternally in bloom. But I am reminded of those lovely roses that bloom until early in the fall, their petals full and lush, their fragrance sweet. And when it is time for them to go, those petals fall like velvet tears, their scent still lingers in the air.

Photo of the day for January 30, 2012: Late Bloomer

San Francisco, California.

Daily gratitudes:
A lovely weekend
MKL
The man who leaves walks down Wynkoop every day playing his mandolin at 5:00 pm
Cases of San Pellegrino
Silliness

Instead of a quote of the day, I have a request: Please send prayers to Sarah Bennett, one of Kelsea’s friends who was seriously injured in a car accident during the weekend.

There are times in every person’s life that are transforming.  They can be triggered by emotions, events, or age-related milestones – read, desperation, death of a loved one, or turning 18, for example. When these milestones appear in our lives – or we draw them to us – we have a lot of choices.

We can choose to cave in and cower.  We can choose to run away.  We can choose to adopt a victim mentality that may well define the rest of our lives. We can choose to make dramatic changes in our lives in terms of our location, relationships, and direction; sometimes those changes are well considered and sometimes they are knee-jerk reactions. I think regardless of how we approach those changes, they are essential to the process of completing whatever transformation we are undergoing.

Most of the time, we do not experience this transformation in some sort of isolation chamber.  As we are struggling through it, and gasping for air, our inner panic (or lack of peace), and flailing through life will impact those around us. We may hurt people we love by whacking them with our wildly revolving selves.  It’s not intentional, but yes, it happens.

And here’s where we can still have conscious choices, no matter where we are in the transformation process.  When we hurt someone, they have every right to say something about it, even if they understand what we are going through.  They may even say something that hurts us in return – not because they want to hurt us, because remember, they love us, but because they are speaking their pain.  If we care for that person, we listen. We have a dialogue. We do not just turn and say, “How could you say that?  Don’t ever speak to me again.” In short, we do not burn our bridges. That is, if we are seeking the path of wisdom, which I am.  Which many of us are.  We do not turn away from those who have long shown their humanness and devotion, from those who have shown themselves worthy of being a part of our lives, standing by us through thick and thin and all the meat-slicer settings in between.

As part of the path to wisdom, we apologize.  We explain. We ask for patience. We take off our own blinders of pain and shame and guilt and anger at who-knows-what, and know that when we do so, our true friends will be right in front of us, arms extended, there for support, because we are not alone in this journey.  Even though in some ways, we always are, and in other ways, we must be. 

Again, it’s a choice. Leave the blinders on. Put the old life in a trunk, wrap it in chains, and send it to the bottom of the sea.  Start over pretending you have a clean slate.  I’ll wish you the best of luck, because you’ll need it.  Or leave the doors open.  Be gentle with yourself and others, because we’re all human. Take breaths and realize who is true to you and worth your spirit.  Go back to the rules of kindergarten.  I think one of those was “Don’t play with matches.” The adult version is, “For god’s sake, don’t set anything on fire.”

Transform, yes.  But not by the light of the bridges you burn.

Photo Title:  A Prickly Seat

Outside Loveland, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”  —  John F. Kennedy

I am indulging myself with The Bonnet Channel on this windy Saturday morning.  It’s one of my favorites – The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn.  Big sigh for Errol Flynn – if only he hadn’t been such a dissipated rogue, although I guess that was a large part of his charm.  (I’ll write more about Erroll, and about Robin Hood, one of these days.)

Watching this film, set in 13th century – though I must say Hollywood seems to think that fashion in the 13th century was much more regal than I imagine it actually was – I started thinking about how and why the world has changed in to the last 900 years.  (Cue “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” intro narration.)

It is hard to separate the idea of native intelligence from the intelligence of this technology-driven world in which we live.  I am certain that the men and women of the year 1266 were just as smart as we are today.  So why could they not figure out the things we have been able to in subsequent centuries?  We have always had the basic resources – which really come down to the four elements of which everything is composed, and from some variant/combination of which everything has been developed: earth, air, fire, water.

So were we just new enough that we were spending our evolutionary childhood figuring stuff out like infants and children do? I can’t get a peg on how long humans have been on earth; some sources say 200,000 years, others say 4,000,000, and still others guess any number before, after or in between.  If we’ve been around for four million years and we were still in our childhood 900 years ago, then we’ve had a serious growth spurt in the last few centuries.  Or else we’re now in our adolescence and we have an absolutely astounding adulthood before us.  Unless we burn ourselves out and leave a decent-looking corpse.

Anyway, the question is, were people intelligent enough 900 years ago to figure out things like how to make plastic or microchips or cars?  If so, why didn’t it happen then?  Were they just too busy trying to subsist from day-to-day?  I know most farmers don’t have the opportunity to spend their days or nights trying to create new inventions.  It seems that the issue is less the intelligence of people 900 years ago than it is their lack of leisure time.  But then the idle rich weren’t the ones who invented things – isn’t necessity the mother of invention?

Do you get what I’m thinking?  I’m not sure I’m expressing myself very well, but I’m going to put it out there for discussion as is.  I may come back to it later, once my brain has chewed on it some more. 

It’s nice having deep thoughts again for a change.  But it does help to have a dialogue about them.

Today is my birthday.  I’m 48 years old.  I could think that’s old, but I don’t.  For one thing, I’ve been saying I was 48 for months now.  I just forgot, or got confused, or wanted the year to be over, or felt like I’d earned another year.  Or something like that.

It has been a nice morning.  I woke early, refreshed.  I wrote a little.  I read a little.  A friend called.  I dozed for another hour.  I got up and correctly [insert wild screaming cheers here] installed my Digital Transport Adaptor, which makes it sound like I should be able to teleport a la Star Trek, but really only enables me to watch my TV, now that the cable company has “improved” service.  I made soup.  I got a shout out from Swinemama on Facebook.

I’m lunching with my sister.  I have some work to do, and I have a friend coming over for dinner.  Tomorrow, Kelsea and I are off to Steamboat Springs for the hot air balloon festival.  If you haven’t seen them, you can check out my pictures from last year’s festival on Monkeyeye here.  I had a great time last year, and I think she’ll really enjoy it.

The vet called and my darling Dusty (the cat)’s blood work all came back normal – he’s been ill the last few days – it stared with a sort of weird gagging/choking sound, and now he’s hiding, and won’t eat, though I did get him to eat a little baby food yesterday.  Next step is an x-ray. 

Pat called to say “Happy Birthday”, which was nice of him, but we got into a bit of a tiff about taking the cat in for the x-ray – it was a money issue and a control issue.  He wants to watch the cat to see how he is – which makes no sense to me, as I watched the cat and determined that something was wrong.  Why does he need to do it too?  We also batted around whose financial responsiblity it was.  I say we should split it.  He says I should pay for it – on top of the $266 I paid yesterday.  And we snipped about bedtime rules for Kelsea – he’s of the mind that she’s 13 and should go to bed at 10:00.  And so they fight about it.  I think she can stay up later – she’ll learn that she needs to go to bed earlier if she screws up her next day.  He says she’s not old enough to make her own decisions and that I’m just acting like her best friend.  He says she needs to listen and learn.  My argument is that she needs to make her own mistakes and learn.  And I don’t think I’m just acting like her best friend.  So I guess this proves that even in a “pretty good divorce”, you’re still going to have issues and disputes, and they’ll be very similar to the ones you had when you were married.

Anyway, that was a mini-rant, wasn’t it?  A departure from the point of this post.  Back to the subject at hand. 

There hasn’t been a birthday that hasn’t had me in tears for longer than I can remember.  I think last year, that’s all I wanted – a whole day without crying.  I didn’t get it.  It’s just always been something (often with Pat) for years – a fight, or he’ll forget, or something else.  Maybe I put too much importance on my birthday, but I think if you’ve been with someone for 25 years, you should be able to remember their birthday.  Which made it really nice that he called with birthday wishes today.

This morning though, I realized that maybe I have placed too much importance on other people celebrating me.  It makes perfect sense for ME to be the one celebrating being born.  I’m (finally) happy to be here.  I’m happy to have the friends I do.  I’m happy to love as I do.  I’m buying myself a AAA membership and a book on old Route 66 for my birthday.

I’m viewing today as the start of a new year – a chance to set new goals and walk through new doors, see new places, keep working on that life list.  When the next birthday rolls around, I expect I’ll be even happier.  There will be bumps in the road, but you must take the roughs with the smooths – it helps you appreciate the smooths more.

So, happy birthday to me!  And just FYI, the buttercream frosting roses were always my favorite part of the cake.

Again, we pause to contemplate the unexpected, yet questionable, wisdom – and humor – of the lowly bumper sticker.  I offer this sampling for your amusement:

Life would be much easier if we came with easy chairs. Birth would not.

Age brings wisdom.  Or age shows up alone.  You never know.

Never knock on Death’s door. Ring the bell and run, he hates that.

Without ME, it’s just AWESO.

If going to church makes you a Christian, does going into a garage make you a car?

I found Jesus – he was behind the sofa all the time.

I poke badgers with spoons.

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

Can you think on your own or do you need the media to think for you?

Don’t get even – get odd.

Love is for the courageous.

Guns don’t kill people – gaping holes in vital organs do.

If you believe you can tell me what to think, I believe I can tell you where to go.

I’m an agnostic dyslexic insomniac who lies awake all night wondering if there really is a dog.

My idea of a White Christmas is a White Sand Beach.

Look! A Distraction!

Can’t sleep – clowns will eat me.

Life is too complicated in the morning.

Art is everywhere.

Never leap the chasm in two bounds.

People don’t change, they just reveal themselves.

Do you live by fear or by passion?

Remember who you wanted to be.

I am homesick for places I have never been.

The idea is to die young as late as possible.

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