Snail’s Pace

Snail’s Pace

baby-and-mama-snail

It’s all hitting me again. We’ve lost so many beloved musicians, poets, dancers, artists, writers and journalists this past year that I can’t even begin to count them. The sense of loss I feel at their departure has me turning to look inward, to contemplate what was, and sometimes, to contemplate what might have been… To put it bluntly, their departures leave me feeling deeply bereft of hope for the world yet ahead, as well as feeling acute heartbreak for the culture and world we’re leaving behind.

The present is doing things to me tonight. In this moment in time I dearly miss my husband, the man I remember him to have been, the times we enjoyed together, the music we made, the friends whose company we enjoyed…. I miss that certain, specific life very deeply. I miss the chance we lost to be a family – all three of us; mother, father and child.

I wonder at the familiar things lost to us; a growing up, a journey, a shared story… Even now, years later, I can’t fully understand that he is gone, that he is a different person. That he is not coming back.

Elihu and I enjoy a full and rich life, yes we do. But somehow, the sorrows of the day have amplified that tiny, mostly-dormant voice of regret and loss that begs for some witness… a leaning, that, on most days – on healthy, vigorous and forward-looking days – I easily dismiss as a momentary weakness. Hopefully this week’s melancholy won’t last, as I’m feeling far more nostalgic and weak than is good or productive for either one of us.

My past may be gone, and my current weakness may leave me soon, but the Trump term will remain our new reality for the next four years, whether we voted for it or not. Just gotta get some sleep I suppose, some exercise too, and then re-boot for the months to come. At first I was merely sad. But now… I am scared, too. I’m scared for my son and for me. And beyond that, I feel a deeper, much realer threat for the citizens of Korea, and for those in the Middle East. And for we US citizens, too. And for all the innocent people in between who have nothing to do with the egos and agendas of a couple of narcissistic fellows in power trying to broker deals. My neck is beyond tight and my gut tells me I might have the flu, but both are simply physical manifestations of my deep concern for the state of the whole goddam world. Tylenol and Alka Seltzer don’t do much good when I’m feeling like this.

Trump and his cadre won’t take away our food stamps and heating assistance, ya think?? I can’t even entertain that idea right now; I’d collapse under any other outcome. Hopefully, in a year’s time The Studio will be my generous employer, and my son and I won’t spend another year in lack and apprehension for the future… Damn. Everything felt safe until now. Now it’s sad, scary and frankly, absolutely unpredictable. But I suppose in complete truth, that could be said of life on any given day. I’m fully aware that as natural-born citizens of this country we’ve still ‘got it good’. For now.

So never mind. Forget about it. We’re good. Shit – I’m even overweight! Is that not a signature problem of the middle class? Yeah. That helps calm me down. Honestly, forget it. I’m cool. We’re cool. Really. Don’t worry. Just venting here. Let’s all check back in a year from now and see how our realities have changed. My guess? Things won’t be all that different for those of us who live at the bottom of the pond… We snails move pretty slow, after all. It’s the minnows and the sharks that get all the action, not us. Snails are integral to the holistic profile of the environment; they’re low-maintenance and cost very little to feed and for the most part, no one notices them. And no matter how large they get, their curves – and their no-nonsense, keep-going attitude – are what make them the beautiful, resilient creatures we know them to be.

So onward we lowly snails go, eyes on the horizon (or safely retracted inside our heads, whichever), sure-footed yet cautious, and ever-moving into the future…

 

More Perfect

More Perfect

tattered-flags

Mel Ziegler’s Flags at A More Perfect Union, Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, New York

 

This time it doesn’t feel like business-as-usual. This time, this election, things feel very different. Or at least that’s what I had thought to myself a few minutes ago. And then I re-read my post from election night four years ago. Seems there were many more similarities to this time around than I’d remembered. But still… even taking into consideration how much this season shares with the one four years before – I’d still say 2016 is a different ballgame. The very least bit of evidence to support that is that one of the candidates is a woman.

Looking for a bit of humor to lighten our collective emotional load, I unearthed some long-forgotten material on Pat Paulsen. This comedian had run – legitimately – for president on numerous occasions. (I’d also learned that comic Gracie Allen, among others through the years, had also run for President in 1940 as a member of the Surprise Party, whose mascot was a kangaroo, and whose slogan was “It’s all in the bag”. Ha!) Elihu and I pulled up some videos and to my surprise, a lot of the material was just as funny all these decades later. I particularly liked Paulsen’s slogan “I’ve upped my standards, up yours too!”. For real, that’s some good shit. Right?

But what was altogether mind-blowing and wrong about that era – for as insightfully as those comics may have mocked the process and the politicians – it was still a time in our culture (not all that long ago to my 53 year-old mind) in which a girl was never even considered a possible future president. In fact, when we heard a bit of video in which narrator Henry Fonda speculated that every boy in America (at the 50 second mark) had likely imagined at one time what it might be like to be president, I had to replay it. What? I mean, really. What? My mind flashed to something my mother had said once about being pregnant in the 1960s: you pretended that you weren’t – up until the very end. There was no pantyhose made for pregnant women, instead you cut up the middle seam to accommodate your belly. To put it simply: it was not a women’s world. I’m still not sure it is, and even if Hillary does win tonight, I’m still not sure it will be a woman’s world anytime too soon. But thank God we are making some progress towards that universal goal.

Ok. Nothing to do now but go to bed. I’ll need a good night’s rest, because tomorrow morning I’m driving some of Elihu’s eighth grade classmates on a field trip to Albany, our state’s capital, as part of their government study block. Such timing, huh? It’s times like this when I’m grateful to be self-employed and able to participate. I want to be there, taking in the majesty and promise of those grand buildings and massive foyers… That feeling of hope and wonder one gets when standing in the midst of two hundred marble stairs a half-block wide… Oh how I pray the day is augmented by one of our nation’s most historic victories.

We know that good things come to those who wait, right? I mean seriously, how about them Cubbies? It wasn’t something any of us Chicagoans could’ve truly believed until that glorious moment. And so, as I go to sleep tonight, I can relax in knowing that victory is possible. Girls have the same rights as boys. And a really great country can still become even more perfect.

All Saints (Go Cubs)

All Saints (Go Cubs)

Were it not for the directives written on the kitchen’s dry erase board, yesterday I would have had no idea what to do first.

The morning had the distinct feel of a ‘morning after’. Clothes laid draped over every single basket and chair back, contents from purse and backpack had been hastily dumped to make mad, last-minute searches for lost objects, and both Elihu and I had comically bad bed hair. Me, I still wore a raccoon’s mask of the previous night’s witchy kohled eyes. Finally, we were there. The day after; November first.

Halloween night had seemed like a distant dream – like a storm arriving after great anticipation, it had caught us up in its frenzy of costumes and clutter, pumped our systems full of sugar and then swept off into the distant night leaving us exhausted and in great need of a long night’s sleep. On the morning after I awoke in a cold, motionless space. My head was free of to-do lists, free of immediate concerns. For one rare moment, I was not in a state of mild panic. It was just me and a silent house. The day was sunny and clear, and there were almost no leaves remaining on the trees. My head was as still as my room, as bare as the branches. After stalling for a good long while in my horizontal position, I finally rose and walked, bare feet on the cold floor, to the kitchen and turned the kettle on. The quiet had seemed somehow extra quiet. I tried to think, but no thoughts came to me. I must have had things on my mind – things that desperately needed doing… but what on earth were they? Thankfully, the me from the day before – the one going a hundred miles an hour – that thoughtful woman, she had written a list. What a relief. As I cupped a warm mug of coffee in my hands, I allowed my mind to remain vacant for a good long while as I stared out of the window to the mountains beyond. And then I dove back in.

Although it was a mere day and night ago, the morning after, All Saint’s Day and day of the dead, the day of the thinnest veil between the here and the hereafter – it seems already to have been last month. So much has happened in the past thirty-six hours. Many wonderful and serendipitous meetings have occurred. There have been dozens of tiny errands, a handful of new financial scares and a few stressful concerns, but the final take is that things are off to a pretty good start. I’ve made some mistakes, but I suppose none are for naught. I am definitely learning.

Yesterday is what I personally consider to my own New Year’s Day. For me, Halloween is always the raucous end to a long, long year, and the cold and silent morning after is the quiet beginning of a new one. This coming year promises to hold some fine surprises. The challenges – especially the financial ones – are not over, but I’m beginning to feel a little hope. Some friends encourage me to embrace only the possibility; they insist that my holding onto fear and ‘scarcity’ thinking will only bring more of the same. Maybe so, but my hope is still guarded and a bit weary. One never knows though. And certainly one should always hope for the best…

The Studio is taking on a new life; people are finding me – and the space – and becoming excited for the potential. I’m beginning to realize a couple of things in the process: firstly, that I am clearly not my father and must dispel for once and for all the romantic notion that the space will continue in the same manner in which it began (namely a performance space for early music) and secondly, that I must embrace the new programs that are now coming to the venue. There will come a day when Baroque music will resound again within those walls, but the reality doesn’t indicate it to be anytime soon. But that’s ok, because a great new adventure is beginning.

Oh ye saints, if you can still hear me on this day after, I pray that you will watch over me and my new friends as we pilot this little community arts center into the future. And, please, while you’re at it, do you think that you could see to it that the Cubs win the World Series? If you could, it would be really nice. Don’t fret too much over it though. Whatever happens, I’m sure it’ll be ok. But still..

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Post Script: A heartfelt thanks to all Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones. 108 years is a long time to wait. So thanks. Really. Thanks from all of us. Down here we’re grateful and happy as we’ve never been before. We appreciate any energetic help you may have tossed our way… After all this time, it seems that we really needed it! Luck, skill, tenacity or divine assistance, howsoever it came our way, we’re delighted to the heavens for having had it in our grasp when we needed it most. Saints be praised….