These are blossoms on one of the Chinese Magnolia trees in my Mom's front yard. They smell so good right now, kind of subtly sweet like honeyed water.
I haven't been writing because I've been using all of my free time to finish up this ridiculous Holiday/New Year/I-Don't-Know-What-The-Hell-It-Is card that I am still planning to send to you. Now my deeply perfectionistic streak thinks I've made everyone who was so kind to send me a card, wait so long to get theirs in return, that I have to repay everyone with some kind of collage masterpiece. Which, given that I'm only me, aint gonna happen.
So, I'm still working on it, and embarrassed as all hell, but still doing it nevertheless. What a deeply subconscious and tangled psychological process this has been for me. Like my dreams last night that Scott so aptly cut to the heart of in order to help me skip past all of the details to get to the relevant themes. There's never a shortage of stuff to dig up and work on, more material for self improvement, if you just go in and look.
Here comes the dream. You can just skip right over the italicized part -- I do this so you can scroll past my dreams if they bore you. I just like to write them down so I can refer back to them if I need to;
Beau and I are on the road traveling in our car. We're in some strange Arizona border town where all anyone can speak is Chinese. It's located somewhere near Burning Man. We seem to have come here for some kind of anniversary visit, or as a way of honoring our connection to Burning Man. It seems like we are living both now, in contemporary times, as well as in the past, in some kind of British colonialized past.
Our car is parked in a tight small space in front of a store. The buildings are raised up a few steps from the street and have a kind of wild west frontier town feel to them, and yet the stores are filled with the coolest of things. Melrose or Fifth Avenue in some alternate universe.
There is a handsome cop lurking around by the back of my Ford. The car is packed to the roof with our stuff. I'm worried that he's going to notice that my tags have expired, but he's more concerned about the amount of stuff we have in the car. He thinks all of this junk will block my view while driving.
Beau is standing on some steps nearby talking with someone. I go over to talk to him, to explain the problem with the cop, and ask for his help. But while I've been away doing this the police officer has managed to take all of our stuff out of the car and take it down the street and around the corner, where he has dumped it onto an enormous pile of stuff that the main Chinese family, who seem to run and own this town, are giving away. Our stuff is mixed in with all kinds of cool things I would love to gather up and take away with us. There are all kinds of delicate, elaborate, embroidered, flower covered, Chinese objets; lanterns, fans, paper flower lamps, posters, art work, and furniture. But I am mostly concerned with retrieving all of our essentials so I run over to rescue it, but I need Beau's help and he's not here. He's still standing over there with his friend -- distracted. I call out to him for help but he doesn't hear me, and people are already beginning to gather; picking up our stuff along with all of these other wonderful things.
There is a woman here with a little girl on her hip, and another in a stroller, and she's picked up one of our sleeping bags and is reaching for another. I try to explain to her that these are our things but she's greedy and aggressive and won't give them up so we get into a fight. I try to explain to her that these sleeping bags, clothes, purses and things are ours, that it was just a mistake that they were dumped off here, but she argues that they belong to this family and that she can take anything she finds here. I am worried that even if I manage to get our stuff back to the car, that the policeman will make us take it all back out again. Without my purse, wallet, keys and money, our clothes, sleeping bags, and food, our trip will be ruined. I need help.
I am inside a kind of old fashioned hotel. There is a bar with an enclosed outdoor porch built around it. I am looking for help. I appeal to this older British man who I see sitting in a chair by the entrance. At first he doesn't want to help me, he thinks I am pulling some scam and am trying to take advantage of him in some way, but when he realizes that I am confused and genuinely upset, he decides to step in and try to assist me. He speaks Chinese and takes me across the street to speak with this family who seem to run everything around here.
We are in another city now, a larger, more populated urban city, where we had originally booked a room in an upscale hotel. Apparently Beau and I had checked in to this hotel, stayed there for a few nights, and then packed up some of our stuff and left on this little road trip. We kept the room and left a few things behind.
Scott is here with me and I am so relieved to have him here to take care of things for us. I feel safe and cared for. I don't mind leaning on and relying on him to get us through this weird confusing situation. I can't wait to show him our luxurious room. I'm hoping we'll have a little time to ourselves before Beau comes back. We walk into the lobby and I reach into my pocket for the room key but can't find it. Somewhat aware that I am dreaming, I try to will it into existence, but it doesn't work, so we go to the front desk to get another.
At the front desk we are told that my credit card has been rung up to the max and is now being refused. Our room has been given away and our things have been put in storage. I am really upset. There is no way this should have happened. I had already paid our bill and left a thousand dollar deposit when we left. The snobby young women behind the desk are dismissive and rude. One of them says, "I'm sorry you're having financial troubles, but you have to pay your bill. I'll run your card again, if you like, but I've already tried several times."
I feel so embarrassed and ashamed, like a poor girl who can't even afford to stay at this hotel. But none of this makes sense so Scott sticks up for me and starts to argue with the women behind the desk. One of the women prints out our bill and starts to read off the charges and that's when we realize that something has gone wrong. Someone else has been charging food and drinks, a lot of food and drinks, to our room, while we were gone.
One of the room service waiters comes to tell us that some famous DJ has been staying in our room with a bunch of teenagers and that they were having a pretty wild party that lasted for several days. The people in the room next to ours had called the desk to say that they thought something weird was going on, but nothing was done about this. I'm just relieved that we won't have to pay for any of this, and that we have a place to stay for the night.
As soon as the gals realize there's been a mistake, they become super conciliatory, almost too polite, smarmy even. They offer to comp our stay and suggest we go upstairs to our room to see what has happened, to see if anyone is still there in the room and to help us find our stuff that is not in storage as they had previously thought.
There is an odd narrow little elevator that we have to ride in to go upstairs. It's painted red inside and covered with gold Chinese writing. There is only room for two people at a time so Scott and I go up first. There isn't a door and as we ascend we can see the cement blocks that make up the walls in between each floor. People have written graffiti all over these walls and I try to make out what they've written as we slowly inch past each floor.
When we get to our floor, we get out of the elevator to wait for the front desk gal, who has had to wait for our elevator to return for her. There is a beautiful antique table with an elaborately carved gilt mirror mounted on the wall above it. On the table is the room service tray that has been left by the people in the room just next to it. There are so many pretty things on the tray, as with everything else in the dream, all of these things have a Chinese feel. There is a pretty floral arrangement, an elaborately embroidered sachet of some kind, and some gifts wrapped in pretty Chinese paper. And that's when Beau woke me up to remind me that he needed me to buy flash cards and poster bord for him for his biology report.
This is one of the many wonderful black birdies who live near my house. There is a flock of about twelve of them that hang out together. I would give almost anything to be able to pet one of them, but they are way too wary and shy. It's a miracle I was able to get these pictures, usually they fly away as soon as I approach. But they're just so cute with their clacketty little beaks and the way they hop fly. I had my camera with me when I went over to play with my Mama the other day, so I was able to take these pictures. I'm trying to spend more time with her because I don't want her to be lonely, and I don't know how much more time we're going to have together, she's forgetting things...
I'm sorry I haven't kept up with my journaling. I miss it. I miss the routine of it, the discipline of writing and documenting my life. I've been kind of stubbornly avoiding doing it -- putting it off until I could catch up with myself. Worried that if I entered a new post, it would mean that all the unpublished posts would get buried and forgotten. I told myself that I couldn't write anything new until I finished up all of the old one's and linked to them. But time keeps chugging along, I still haven't finished them, I owe you Happy Birthday wishes, and I have these pictures to share, so here I am again.
I love taking pictures around my neighborhood, there's always something alive and beautiful to marvel at. I don't know what kind of tree this is, but it's so pretty, lush and pink and full of blossoms while everything around it is stark and grey and dead to winter.
Atra had a party for her niece Amita's birthday last night. They had two hundred and thirty guests, two bouncers, three bar tenders, and two DJs. A couple who no one seems to know went into Atra and her husband Arta's bedroom and started screwing on top of all of the coats and sweaters. Atra's best friend Sepide, who is a devout Muslim, (I prayed with her once -- super interesting and fun), walked in on them and freaked out. She went to tell Atra and they all forced poor Guilan, Atra's shy artist daughter, to go back into the bedroom and ask the rude lovers to leave.
Poor Guilan, I can just imagine her trying to negotiate this with them; She asks them to leave, they ask her to go away and give them ten more minutes, she tells them to go screw in the laundry room instead of on her parents bed, and they BEG her for just enough time to finish up. Finally Amita's fiery friend Sara had to be called in and she got them out of there in a hurry. But the funny thing is, and you'd have to know my friends to know how outrageous this kind of behavior is, the couple came out of the bedroom, zipping up pants and buttoning blouses, and instead of acting embarrassed, as they walked by the entire family who were all lined up in the kitchen, they acted put out at having been interrupted.
This picture is kind of fuzzy and small, but I've put two bigger ones behind the cut.
We have a new cat -- for now. His name is Whitey and someone abandoned him here in our neighborhood, the jerks. Apparently he's been going door to door looking for a family for some time. It's so sad because he's so sweet and deserving. Some nice neighbors rescued him, fixed him, and I've taken him in, with the hope that a friend of Atra's is going to adopt him. She wanted a white cat and I didn't have one to give her. All of my white boys are spoken for. I took pictures of him yesterday and sent them to her, so we'll see what she thinks when she looks them over tonight.
He's so sweet, but super frightened and has kind of turned a bit macho/wild from having had to fend for himself for so long. We had him fixed yesterday morning and I can tell that his balls are tender because he sits so gingerly, carefully setting his bottom down, and then slowly wrapping his tail around himself. It seems to hurt him to sit down, poor guy. I feel so sorry for him.
Of course I had to go and give him a bath, adding to his distress, because I wanted him to look nice for Maryam, wanted to increase his chances of being adopted. His pretty white fur was all grey and greasy and she wanted pictures, and I didn't want all of his fleas to hop off and feast on us. But I'm guessing he thought I was trying to kill him because as soon as he got his first clear shot at skin he bit down as hard as he could, neatly sinking his four pointiest teeth into my wrist right up to his gumline. Oh I could tell this was going to be a bad bite, but there I was, naked in the tub, holding a wild wet cat, who would more than likely bite me again if I even allowed myself a fraction of a second to react. When I pulled his teeth out of my flesh I could see these big round open holes where the teeth had been and then, of course, they started to fill up with blood. Much pain, to say nothing of the many welty scratches I always get when I give any one of my poor hapless cats a bath. Umm, cats don't like baths, you know, just in case you didn't know this.
So now I have a big bandage on my wrist, and four tender, bruised, red, and fairly swollen, puncture wounds that I have to keep putting warm compresses on, swabbing with alcohol and slathering with Neosporin. Believe me, alcohol in an open wound, no matter how much it hurts, is always better than the alternative -- cat bites can be really bad, but not as bad as a human bite. I would have used Betadyne, if I hadn't run out. Plus I kind of dig the pain -- it reminds me that I'm alive ; ) And here's the cool thing about this; I would do all of this over again -- the bite and the scratches, the fleas, the smell of newly neutered macho wild cat spray that is now permeating my once nice smelling bathroom, and the chance that Maryam might not want to take him, just for the chance to help this cat -- it's what I live for. Scott made some comment about this the other day, about my being a woman whose best friends are cats, and after I thought about it for a while, I realized that he's right, and I don't care. I love these guys -- they're my family.
I'm listening to Art Bell speak for the first time on the radio since his wife died. It's heartbreaking. I've been crying for him. I'm so glad he's back on the air, glad he's doing something to keep himself connected and busy. I've been thinking about him a lot and wondering how he is. I sent a e-mail to him, when I first heard that Ramona had died, telling him that I love him, because I simply do. I feel so bad for him. I wish I could go over there to his house and just sit with him, hold his hand, give him hugs, do his laundry and his shopping, until he finds someone else to love and be loved by. I bet that there are thousands of people out there who would gladly do this for him, who would want to help walk him through his grief, but he won't be able to allow strangers to come in and help him out like this, how could he? It's really sad how badly we all need each other and how hard it is for us to trust people and let them in. Maybe I'm naive but I think there are so many opportunities to love and be loved if we just reach out, if we're willing to risk being hurt, if we can keep on trusting despite the hurts that come our way. I suppose fame make things weirder and more complex for people, but it shouldn't have to.
Art sounds so lost and heartbroken. He said he had a debate about suicide with himself and a big bottle of Valium, and that he's struggling to find a reason to live. He said that his five cats, and the fact that his wife was a big believer that we should always play the hand we're dealt, are the only things that are keeping him here. At the beginning of his interview with Dr. Michio Kaku you could hear a loud alarm going off in the background and he had to leave the radio to go check on it. Turns out that a listener in Oregon had called the sheriffs in Pahrump to come and check in on him to make sure that he was okay. I'm telling you, this is just...so...sad. I'm amazed he's speaking about this so openly. And yet, he seems to be handling it really well. I love Art, and I loved Ramona, and I love their cats. I hate that this had to happen to them, for whatever reason : (
It feels good to love this way though, to be able to love like this. I'm grateful for my ability to love so unconditionally, to love someone I've never met. I'm grateful for so much, for the faith I have always had that keeps me from having to be an atheist or even an agnostic. This grace I've been blessed with that allows me to believe in someone loving who planned all of this, in the rightness of things, right there in the face of tragedy, and in the midst of pain and unfathomable horror and cruelty, always grateful that no matter what the situation, there it is, this surety, this belief that all will be well, no matter how horrible the situation. If I didn't believe that there was something beyond this funny veiled world that we live in, then how would I be able to go on, how would life have meaning or value? What would the point be if it were all just random chance?
Our new cat friend is calling out to me from the bathroom. I think I'll go see if I can cheer him up a bit, poor guy.
Here are some bigger pictures of him for you to look at.
These aren't the best shots, but here he is, my big, studly, macho cat man. Isn't he cute? Don't you want to marry him? I know I do. But that's just me, I always want to marry everything I like.