Tag Archives: New York City

And I Would Do Just About Anything For You

4 Jan

  On a day when so much progress was made with someone who could actually be someone, and somehow I also got so much work done, just like a real and functioning human, the thing that has made me cry as I go to sleep is this:

“It’s my birthday on Thursd–”

“I know.”

The most important person knows and I don’t even have to finish. The strangely strangulating tears come now because I know how much he truly holds me dear, and now we both know that it won’t change a thing. 

I know, too. 

And I hold in my hand the book he sent me for Christmas, and I pull the pile of blankets up over my hooded-sweatshirt self while outside the temperature drops to the billions of degrees below freezing it was the day I was born, and I choke like one of those movie weepers. Because this birthday was already the worst by a factor of eighty (picked the wrong holiday season to quit SSRIs, hah-cha-cha-chaaa). And now it’s just brutally even more distant from anyone who knows. It’s the most self-indulgent form of loneliness that a person can have in a city of eight million, but it’s distinctly my own. Or maybe it’s someone else’s, too. So I’ll write about it, and hope it gives them somewhere to put this weird angst, too. 

Hiding in Plain Sight

1 Jan

IMG_9163We were just stepping away from the wood-fired pizza hearth out into the mild winter Brooklyn night, squinting under street lamps and marveling at the scent of smoke clinging to our coats, when the whole scene gained one more very fitting element. Wildlife. I looked up and saw the biggest raccoon I’ve ever seen—truly, bear-like in stature—scrambling up a bare and spindly tree across the street. He (I have to think it was a male, the poor creature was gigantic) kept wiggling clumsily upward, alternately backing and forwarding himself further out onto branches that didn’t look like they would support his weight. The further up he went, the more sparse the coverage got, and soon he was as conspicuous as an errant helium balloon caught on ascent.

But actually, he was not nearly conspicuous enough to attract attention in this city. No one looks up. Ever. Especially if other people are looking upward somewhere in the vicinity. People looking skyward are either tourists, lost souls, scammers trying to draw attention to themselves, or staring at some source of trouble that will require some sort of action. Each of these scenarios are repellant to most New Yorkers. Except me and my friends. We look up.

We were doing so for a few minutes, making gasping noises and sharing commentary about the size of the raccoon and the proximity of a fairly large park, and of course, you know, the presence of that picnic source for urban wildlife, garbage cans. No one else stopped walking to look up with us, and finally, as the raccoon took increasingly fearful note of our gaze, my friend said, “Oh, he’s terrified. Let’s leave him alone so he can find his way back down.”

We headed our separate ways, and I have every confidence that our furry friend was clever enough to soon find more adequate shelter. Wily raccoon lore lends plenty of credit to the species, even if this particular member seemed a bit out of sorts with tree selection.

That was my first raccoon sighting here, but there are frequent eye-witness accounts of all sorts of wildlife on these islands. (I can hear people grumbling about the marginalization of wildlife in urban habitats, and let me reassure you that there are plenty of animal advocates here in NYC, so calm down.) What’s more intriguing to me is the number of people who missed out on the temporary thrill of knowing that there was another midnight-snacker outside the corner deli that evening.

At any given moment, we’re missing out on plenty of stuff here, and everywhere, all the time. In fact, as the late, great poet and philosopher John O’Donohue pointed out in an interview with Krista Tippett on the NPR show “On Being” in 2007 (they replayed the conversation this summer, and I was thrilled because of course it turns out that he was the author of the Irish Blessing I’m so obsessed with, but that’s another story)… we’re missing out on quite a bit even  when we’re sitting at the same table with someone. He put it this way:

“I think the beauty of being human is that we’re incredibly, intimately near each other. We know about each other, but yet we do not know or never can know what it’s like inside another person. And it’s amazing, you know, here am I sitting in front of you now, looking at your face, you’re looking at mine and yet neither of us have ever seen our own faces. And that in some way, thought is the face that we put on the meaning that we feel and that we struggle with and that the world is always larger and more intense and stranger than our best thought will ever reach.”

There certainly can be some slight despair associated at all we might be missing, either in terms of what we don’t see or cannot know, or maybe in terms of what we don’t show others as we attempt to protect ourselves, hiding among spindly branches and wishing other people would stop looking directly at us…  but I’m going to try to remember how O’Donohue so aptly defined that notion as beautiful.

And if that’s not enough, I’m sure the universe will keep gently presenting the unexpected to remind me that it’s what we can’t know that is truly beautiful. Like yesterday, when I just happened to pull back my curtains and look outside at my backyard precisely as a huge possum ran along the back wall. A possum! Verifiably that, and not another type of city creature, was making her way through the shrubbery, and I have to say, looking rather pleased with herself for being so bold and yet so invisible at the same time. Just another pedestrian going to work, she was, and I think I may have been the only one who witnessed her in that moment. More proof that you should always look up.

Do Whatever You Want

29 Dec

IMG_1983

It was the best kind of double-take. One that I certainly didn’t orchestrate, because I was playing invisible on tonight’s urban hike. It was finally cold enough to wear hat and scarf and gloves, so I was nestled into a woolen cocoon, winding my way around and through the rotary at Grand Army Plaza with a private glee at having used almost all the criss-crosswalks on my round-trip.

Brooklyn was mine, it was all lit up above and dark below, and the statues hovering above Prospect Park were luminescent cutouts against a dusk that only I raised my eyes toward. Everyone else was looking phoneward. Except the runners, moving smugly in spandex robotron packs, but I couldn’t begrudge them their mutual glee at finally being able to use our winter gear. Finally!

Hidden under my hat too were earphones, which completed my little private universe with a delectable new Michael Mayer mix from Köln. I’d rather expeditiously obtained my fancy new NYC ID card from the library, which will now enable me free access to sooooo many city institutions, and I was carrying a parcel of actual photographic prints picked up from the drug store. Photos! On paper. Picked up after work, in the manner of regular people with jobs.

The total effect of all this fast-walking list-ticking was jubilance. I felt my spine doing that thing they’re always talking about in yoga, “lifting upward away from the pelvis,” and I guess my open heart was more conspicuous than I realized, because by the time I reached the main commercial street near my apartment, I noticed a repetition of actions I haven’t marked in quite some time. Handsome souls were actually lifting their faces from their phones, and looking in my direction. I automatically assumed they were watching for the bus, or trying to ascertain where their beautiful girlfriend was, so I just kept bounding along. But then I saw one handsome actually crane his neck to maintain his view after I passed a large tree.

Well, I’ll be darned. All that stuff that my craniosacral massage therapist and everyone intelligent in the world says is true. When you feel good, you look good. I’ll probably go back to shrugging my shoulders up around my wish to be invisible tomorrow. BUT tonight I was as bright as those statues, because just like them, I assumed no one was looking up at me.

Overwintering Your Heart

24 Dec

IMG_1556All summer long, I watched my fuchsia plant react to sunlight and heat the way I do, shriveling up and running for the shade. Except the poor fuchsia couldn’t run. It doesn’t “have agency,” to put it the way I heard someone on the radio describe the imbuing of inanimate objects or ideas with motility.

There wasn’t much I could do for the fuchsia’s placement, given the limitations of my south-facing, 50-square-foot (extremely wobbly) deck. But because I was working at home this summer, I provided the fuchsia with agency. I went outside several times a day and picked up its planter and moved it to the rotating pockets of shade cast by the slotted railing throughout the day. It wasn’t enough, though, because it was just too hot for the poor thing. (Next year I will finally get a canvas sail shade!)

So my fuchsia went dormant. Summer dormant. And when the autumn came, I repotted it with a plan to bring it indoors for overwintering in my building’s basement. Everyone online says fuchsia’s have to be the basement, because the house is too warm to let the plant know it’s winter. But honestly, I hate the idea of putting the plant in this building’s particularly grim basement, so I put off the move until the first frost.

…Which never, never came in this El Niño winter. It’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside right now. So, since September the fuchsia has remained where I left it outside. I peeked at it every morning, just to see how it was doing, wondering how dormant versus dead it was. Then, a few weeks ago, right around the time my Christmas cactus was in full, vibrant bloom indoors, I noticed bright, new pink bulbs forming at the end of the fuchsia’s healthiest branch. It was loving life, getting ready to bloom again.

I know I should be horrified, I know I should feel bad that the plant is confused in our weird climate pattern. But I am so happy to see that it’s living, and it actually obviously just needed me to leave it alone for a while cooler temperatures so it would recuperate.

Meanwhile, the plants I brought in for the winter, my kitchen herbs, have died. I researched this move, too, but fearing a sudden drop in temperature during a two-week trip abroad that I was taking in November, I skipped the step of repotting outdoors and letting the plants adjust to the new confines outside before dragging them inside. Well, that was a mistake.

And this mistake was something I was lamenting this morning while I did yoga in the presence of a withering rosemary plant on the window sill. I’d moved it inside, then closer to the heater when the window got drafty and cold, then again closer to the window for more sunlight when it was warmer, trying to help it weather the ups and downs of temperature fluctuations, and yet there it was, regretfully having to make its exit because it preferred to roam free outdoors. The soil was wrong, the pot was wrong, the depth was wrong, the poor plant, which never really got established this summer outdoors, was now overwatered, over-coddled and overcome.

So I googled “saving a rosemary plant brought indoors for overwintering” and found a helpful website that basically told me I did it all wrong (but in a very polite fashion), and I frowned. To lose a plant life is not something that happens often in this apartment. I am the plant rescuer! I am a hero! How could I accept this defeat?

Then I saw a helpful and very relevant quote in a column next to the overwintering article:

A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.
—May Sarton

And I exhaled. Okay. Yeahhh… even though a plant loss feels far more severe than discovering that a skirt no longer fits (even immobile, plants are alive, of course), I guess it’s something that happens, even to the best gardener.

I was sort of not really accepting this truth, promising myself and the universe that I’d have all the right overwintering materials and practices in place next year (this is only my second year of having a real garden), when some more fortuitous words leapt into my frame of vision.

It was my new mantra, one I’ve written about on this site previously, but not one I was ready to actually live out until my return from Spain and France a month ago:

“Stop leaving, and you will arrive. Stop searching, and you will see. Stop running away, and you will be found.” 
—Lao Tzu

I moved the plants around frantically, just like I move myself around frantically, but they only really flourished when I could let them rest in one place. Given the right conditions and a little time to take root, plants are pretty resilient.

Already, only one month into my new practice of not flying away from New York the minute I get antsy or a little to close to getting what I want at work, I can tell that I’m getting stronger, and new work ideas are arriving. If I want all my big career moves to happen, I have to stop moving. If I want to enjoy all that I have, I need to stop looking elsewhere. And if I want to be discovered as the whole person that I can be when I just sit still and let myself be whole, then I need to stop running to the airport. Constantly. Although I’ll definitely enjoy my Delta Gold status next year!

 

May the One You Long for Long for You

19 Jan

paperThere are three poems I carry with me, sometimes as a little bundle of folded pages worn at the seams, sometimes just one important piece at a time. I am a girl of many handbags and totes, and so each day I must reassemble which items travel with me, and even when I keep my load light, I pack at least one poem. I can always feel the carefully selected verbal talisman there, leaning against my hip through canvas or jostling around with too many glasses cases in pockets of suede.

It used to be just one poem I always carried, and so I memorized it. It’s a very long poem, too. But I know it. Still the pages are smooth as river stones now, so I carry it like some might wear a tattoo. I know it, but I need it outside myself, too.

Another joined the ranks last summer when I was riding the subway very, very late one night and sharing thoughts with a stranger about a poem displayed in one of those “Poetry in Motion” public service ads. I turned to him as I dangled from a handrail and said before he could take off his beat-laden headphones, “Do you know anything about orchids?” When headphones rested on hoodie and he asked me to repeat myself, he nodded no. But we had a very lovely talk about what could be known about orchids and what we needed to learn. We agreed to seek out more on the subject matter when we got home. “Google it!” he said, as I disembarked. I hope he googled it, too.

In between the ancient relic of a poem that I memorized and the relatively new one that came from beneath the streets is the most important poem ever. It is an Irish Blessing that one of my dearest yoga teachers read aloud in class four years ago. I almost didn’t make it to that class, I was tired and whiny, but like the most intrepid of yogis, I made the effort to drive to the farthest studio that was in my orbit in Utah. It turned out I was the only one who would show up that night, and it was fortunate, because I needed to unburden my heart, give voice to a big truth I’d reduced to a little trembling trifle.

My teacher and I, we were (and are) both the sort who find meaning in incidentals, coincidences, serendipity, happenstance and several other words for magic. We talked while we waited for no one else to eventually arrive, and then when she opened her bookmarked page and began to read the text she’d selected for that evening’s class, she actually began to cry, instantly. I didn’t panic, as it was not abnormal for me to witness. I tend to be in a lot of amazingly emotional exchanges with relative strangers. I’m like the Hallmark card commercial guru. Have thirty seconds to start weeping about your neglectful father? Here, have a Kleenex-brand tissue.

The poem, the Irish Blessing, is by this guy John O’Donohue (legit Irish name, check). I purposely have never looked in to who he is or what era he lives in, but I’m fairly certain he’s probably a contemporary living Irish Blessing writer, because his subject matter is a superior blend of eastern and western philosophy.

“Blessed be the longing that brought you here,” the first line says to the weary yogi who traveled from at least 15 miles north. Alright, so that made me cry, too. And the rest of it was so amazing that I copied down her yoga-abbreviated version of the text by hand on a piece of paper before I left the yoga studio that night. It was evidently so mystical an experience that I didn’t even try to google it then and there… how odd…

Anyway, the next day, I called Unrequited and was kinda like super demanding and said we had to have dinner before I left town on a two-week trip the next day. He agreed to meet me after work, and I folded up my pocket poem and carried it with me to the restaurant. Then, after the appropriate amount of small-talk, I tucked the folded paper under the edge of my plate and declared that I had something to say.

I was afraid to say it, of course, so I read the poem first:

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity, and friendship–
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

***

That’s pretty good, right? I finished reading, folded paper, and put it back under the edge of my plate. Then I told Unrequited that I had cleared a huge place in my heart for him, and it was a permanent place. And now that place also included his two sons. “I hold you all in my heart, I always have since I have known you, and I always will. I felt this way since the moment we met, and it’s always been there, and it will always be there, so nothing will change.”

His jaw was actually dropped when I was silent. His eyes were wide and his gaze was upward at nothing. Then he started to smile in slow-motion (just like in a Hallmark movie!), and he said, “That is the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me. Thank you.”

Of course nothing came of it then, otherwise he wouldn’t be called Unrequited, right? But for all you devoted Bunky fans out there, waiting for the best happy-romance-movie-ending ever, Unrequited and I spoke yesterday and he said he’s coming to visit me in New York.

I can hear at least one of you grumbling (WriterHero), but dude, let a girl have some poetry now and then. I’ll see Unrequited in two weeks anyway, when I get my hair done in Utah. But then he’s coming here. For me. FOR ME. And the quaint village of New York City.

Electrical Conductor

6 Jan

waterSomeone very recently tangled up a whole mess of ideas trying to explain to me the virtues and excitement associated with sitting “backwards” on a train. So the scenery rolling by is the future, they said. That doesn’t make much sense, I wanted to say, but I was smiling politely. They continued to elaborate and the knots became more taut. “No, because, you’re looking at what just passed, and that’s the future.”

Truly, you haven’t even given me a thread to cling to in my insatiable quest for life metaphor. Nope, not even inverted, does it make sense. All you’ve done is make me a little bit irritated every time I take a train, wondering what the hell you were getting at, and I don’t even remember who you were.

So I’m backwards today, putting my back into the journey south and slightly west toward home. I have a long, long expanse of uninterrupted window alongside me and up ahead, because I am in my rolling executive office, the cafe car. It’s all beach, all shoreline and marina between Providence and New York, and I’m surrounded by conductors who roll New England syllables around until they accumulate into a bumpy laugh.

My view here is ideal. Sitting meditation-straight in the conductors’ living room and tossing gentle banter amongst passers-through. I’m a pleasure traveler in a business world. I guess I’m going backwards into the future, but I really look forward to it.

And Again

3 Jan

againThe train tracks of the Northeastern corridor know me by now. I’ve been traversing them since 1998, rolling on quaking metal between New York City and Providence to go to a place where I can be still with the people I love. I make my temporary home in the attic room of my friend’s gigantic Victorian house, and day by day, after wandering the woods and beaches of mostly coastal Rhode Island, we come home and have tea by the fire and retire early to read books. Unless we’re going out to have cocktails.

I am the most fortunate of humans, because I have long embraced my nomadic instincts. But now, as the wetlands roll by and I suddenly see a cluster of at least ten wild turkeys (what?!? did anyone else see that?) on a golf course, I gotta be honest with myself. Do I keep moving so I never finish anything? Never keep anything except the new, new conversations, people, sights, sensations, passions brought to you by wanderlust.

Somewhere in one of my notebooks piled high on my desk at home is a quote that I wrote down while visiting the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. An early 20th-century painter said that artists must recalibrate periodically by visiting the mountains and the sea. I can’t remember if he said anything abut the plains or stuff in between. But I agree with him completely, and I feel ridiculously fortunate that I can indulge my starving senses on a nearly weekly basis.

Why stay still? Because then I would be done with getting ready for a trip or catching up after a trip, and I’d be in that functional limbo where I could actually be at peace and write pages and pages of the novel. Don’t you love how I call it “limbo”? Yeah, because being home is a kind of purgatory, apparently, no matter where I live. I guess it’s my Viking genetic code, seeking to plunder and possess more, more, more.

It makes me feel lost. But apparently I never want to be found.

Connect-mas

25 Dec

treeA week ago, my brother and I divided up the remainder of our mother’s estate. Of utmost concern to her in her waning life was the legacy of our greatest family treasure: her collection of Christmas ornaments. Together, we amassed this pageant of emblems, building on the Scandinavian pieces from our parents’ early years, adding glass and painted baubles we created as toddlers on a sunny day in our kitchen. The post-divorce years of our triumvirate holidays saw the accumulation of still more items of significance, each with a back story that my brother and I cherished. We developed voices and gestures for certain pieces and imbued them with our crafty wit. Some characters on the tree were purely comical, some were beautiful. All were part of our Christmas legend.

Every year that my mother was alive, she lamented the Christmas we weren’t having. Gathered around the tree, presents unwrapped, she would apologize for not giving us more. And every year, my brother and I begged her not to apologize. We were there for her, for us. We didn’t need a pile of presents to feel loved.

In the end, our mother knew that the ornaments were the most important collection she could leave to us, and she asked often about their whereabouts. My brother was the one who shipped them home to New York, and until we sat down with his girlfriend and pondered our bounty of colorful memories, I have to confess I was not really that bothered with whether or not I kept any of the trinkets.

I have long been the bah-humbug of the family. Not a Scrooge, exactly, but definitely a non-believer. I was sure that following my mother’s passing I could abandon any obligation to celebrate this busy-body, materialistic holiday. But then my brother unfolded and unwound the bits of red and green tissue paper in which she had last wrapped the ornaments, and my tiny Grinch heart flinched awake.

My mother loved Christmas. She covered every surface with decorations. Ridiculous snowmen, tacky Santas, red and green hand towels, even special kitchen towels and an entire set of Christmas dishes. Most of which we trashed before she passed. I am glad I wasn’t there to see where they ended up… but I remember my mother was a bit sad, if not surprised, to learn that we didn’t want her prized Christmas dish set.

With the ornaments sorted into collections of similar traits in front of us, my brother and I did what our mother taught us to do. We quietly, and peacefully, talked about how we each felt about every piece. We shared memories, we gauged our levels of attachment to certain bits of our heritage, and we generously gave each other more than we knew we could give. I know that my mother, observing this exchange, would be so proud that my brother and I are still the devoted friends and caretakers of all that she cherished about our family. We were in it together, and we are in it still. We love each other with an understanding and the gentle perception and encouragement that she constantly offered to us.

Packing up my new objects near the tree that my brother and his girlfriend had set up in their apartment, I promised to get my own small tree this year. I have never had a tree in any of my homes in the past 20 years. But I was going to use these decorations so as not to disappoint my mother.

This Christmas is such a strange and significant one for me, in a million ways. I quit the job I’ve held for 16 years, finishing on the last Friday before the holiday break. I listed my apartment on a vacation rental service and accepted a reservation from two guests who would occupy my home from December 21 until January 6, the day before my birthday, January 7—the day on which my mother would take down the tree. January 7 is the Feast of the Epiphany in my mother’s Catholic tradition, and it’s Christmas Day for the Eastern Orthodox Church.

There was so much significance in all these dates… but still I dragged my feet on buying a tree, not knowing where I would be staying for Christmas while I had paying guests in my home. Then, in a miracle worthy of the Hallmark movies that my mother and I loved to watch, I discovered that the friend for whom I would be house-sitting had a little, living Christmas tree, decorated only with lights in his apartment. It needed ornaments. And I had ornaments.

The plot thickened when in the last few days before the holiday, a Hallmark Movie Man appeared in my life, and in direct accordance with a plot my mother and I would have written had we ever actually created the Hallmark scripts we wanted to develop, the Hallmark Movie Man melted my heart with stories of the gifts he was buying for friends and family. He was running all over town, thinking about them with so much joy, going to the post office before the rush each day to send more parcels, wrapping presents each night before going to sleep. So, inspired by his generosity, I started procuring gifts for friends and family, too. I went into shops with a smile and saw pieces and ideas that would bring holiday cheer to those around me. It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my heart.

Then came the best part, and I know it was sponsored by my mother. I had no expectations for opening any gifts on Christmas Day this year, and I was fine with that. I didn’t really like Christmas, remember? But Hallmark Movie Man, seeing my grief over my mother and knowing that I’d opted to be alone on Christmas morning, surprised me with three separate packages filled with wrapped gifts for me to put under my tiny tree.

And so it came to be that I have presents to unwrap, from a Hallmark Movie Man, on Christmas Day.

Behold dear reader! Right now, right this very second, as I sit the sunlit kitchen of my temporary holiday accommodations in Brooklyn, as I type about my unfrozen holiday heart, I am hearing the notes of “Silver Bells” drifting up from the sidewalk outside. As the sound grows closer, the crooner sings, “It’s Christmastime in the city,” and instantly I am crying. As the music grows louder, and I realize that it’s someone passing by, delivering a recorded version of caroling. A glimpse out the window shows a man pushing a dolly festooned with a portable CD player and speakers, head down and serious.

Seeing him, I have to say out loud to my mother in the ongoing conversation I keep with her, “Thank you, mom. Thank you. I saw him. I heard it. I’m glad I’m back in New York, and I know you would have loved what just happened.”

Writing about her now, with that amazing coincidence rolling by, I will tell you most assuredly that I believe in the connection wrought by Christmas. Whether or not you celebrate the holiday, this time after the Winter Solstice is a time to pause, take a break from work, and hang out with the family. And whether or not that family looks like the one you expected to have, or if the celebration falls short of what you see on TV, remember, what you’re going to take away are the silly, little incidental bits of tradition that bind you together. What you’re overlooking is what you’ll treasure later. I assure you.

Utter Desiccation

22 Dec

I dreamt it so much worse than it really was. It was one of those horrible iPhone dreams, where your constant use of same has entered the permanent vocabulary of your subconscious. The screen filled with words redundant to a previous missive, but this time they were excessively harsh in their assertion of the same facts previously reported.

I was what only the English have properly defined as “gutted”, feeling the pit of my stomach inflect at the assault. As in all of my dreams, there was meanwhile a barrage of activity all around me, so my realization and pain were immediately hidden beneath a socially acceptable exterior.

Lending others, specifically men, the power to validate or strip me of worthiness is a specialty of mine. Classic Freudian stuff, of course. But I guess that doesn’t make it any less prominent in my experience.

Every time my subconscious loans me a bit of favor in my dreams, it’s always with a short and tenuous lease. A man falls desperately in love with me just before I leave for the airport. Or if he has loved me in the past, he reappears to eradicate that approval. Better yet, men who seem to love me in real life suddenly unravel that security completely.

It’s astounding that in my waking life I smile and smile, and make good friends, and rarely experience rejection except at my own hands, and in my imagination. Is there any proof that the subconscious can also bolster our spirits? I suppose I’ve had one dream earlier this year which did just that—I was in New York City and meeting a whole bunch of people who were changing my life positively, and then I confidently tried to hail a cab in the rain (impossible, as you might know). That was months before I made the move in real life, and yet it appears to be a verifiable premonition.

Dear inner soul, how about some more positive programming?

 

Let Us Consult the Stars

19 Dec

right trackLike all hipsters, I scrapbooked before it was cool, and as soon as it became “mainstream” I abandoned the art and just tucked all my favorite bits of paper and cultural ephemera away in file folders. Rifling through these last night, I found two amazing artifacts in my own archaeology. Somewhat embarrassingly, both pertain to astrology. Yes. Astrology.

First, a postcard from my favorite Long Island resident out in Patchogue, sent on April 23, 2002, two days before her own birthday, incidentally. All she wrote is, “FYI” over two bits of newspaper column scotch-taped so they could be read together, with key phrases highlighted in blue by her own editorial prognostication:

“Ms. Dunaway is a Capricorn, and Cappies have a tendency to recreate themselves every few decades. They become younger as they grow older. They are born their own parents and live in reverse, ending their lives with rosy cheeks, light hearts and the twinkling eyes of true children.”

I should explain that this friend happens to be the mother of my college boyfriend, and she always saw me most clearly. Years after she sent this postcard, I told her that I loved being in my 30s, and she said “You’ve always been 30. You were just waiting to fit in to your own skin.”

I’ve been quoting this “aging in reverse” thing about Capricorns for YEARS without knowing the source. And here’s the most cosmic thing of all! The postcard is postmarked Long Island, but it is a promotional card from a comic book store in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City! The city I would move to, completely randomly, in 2004. Two years after the card was sent. (Cue theremin.)

Next up from the scrap pile, a horoscope I saved and very astutely timestamped with a carefully pasted newspaper date header right on the clipping (some people handwrite dates, but I edit a magazine for a living, so I tend to be very layout-centric). Please, cue more theremin:

“Capricorn: Terrific wins through flirting, showing off your assets and maximizing the attributes of your sex. Couples be careful: Partners get miffed when you’re the more popular one. regarding the talent you are developing: You can study, be coached, encouraged and taught, but at some point you have to take action. Release the need to get it right or do it perfectly the first time. If you’re not risking rejection or failure, you’re not fully living.”

The date: December 6, 2003. One year before Utah, my last December in New York City before my very recent return to this fine place last month.

Friends, I am most definitely on the right track. I saved the latter cosmic butt-kicking all these years, one whole decade, because I knew it made sense, but I knew I wasn’t living it yet. Well, now, (cue romantic comedy happy strings), I am living it!

Every day since I moved back to New York (and I do not exaggerate), I have met someone new who has very rapidly become an important influence (and I count you among those, my WordPress soul friends!). I’ve met writers, musicians, producers, artists, cleaners, exterminators, hardware store proprietors, coffee roasters, wine shop aficionados, outerwear designers, electrical engineers, IT security experts, professors, woodworkers, actors, poets, bartenders… I will stop listing them, lest you think I’m keeping a tally just to collect and trade them all. 

I only want to point out that you don’t have to grimace your way through New York City. You can look up, smile, and compare notes. Ask a knitter where she got her yarn, and meet a soul friend.

And… right on cue, one of my landlord’s cronies just buzzed my apartment. He’s got my new oven, just in time for Christmas Cookies, and after I apologized for the breakfast detritus scattered all about, he said, “I’d rather see this than the mausoleums,” he gestured around the place, “Life!”

I think, friends, that I may have actually found a bit of Christmas cheer. Thank you, all, who would never let me live in a mausoleum.

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