I’m Keeping on Keeping on…

I’ve been feeling a bit stuck lately, in my writing, in my work, in general—stuck.  I hold my breath and hold myself back. There is something I’m not seeing, something I’m missing, some door that isn’t opening.  On the outside, I appear cool and confident and on the inside I’m a bundle of nerves.

It’s funny, people will tell me I’m courageous and that I’m a risk taker and I’ll be quaking in my boots or wondering if I’m making the ‘right’ life choices.

When I was waiting tables at Old Venice in Manhattan Beach back in the 90’s a gal that I knew from high school came in and I had to wait on her.  I wasn’t exactly embarrassed, even though it was Halloween weekend and I was in cat makeup. I was more uncomfortable, worried about what she would think.

After I brought them their drinks, while taking their order, we caught up a bit.  She went to college, law school and got married. “What about you?” She asked.

My cat ears were twitching. I’d rather chase a rat than tell the story of my life up to that point to someone that together.

“After UCLA I worked on some features, then, after my Dad died, I worked for Camden Artists, then Triad.” I said.  She was leaning toward me, looking up; she seemed interested in what I had to say. “Then I went to Europe for 6 months and I found a job at a patisserie…” I said.

It went on from there.  How could I tell her every detail? I didn’t. I didn’t tell her about my move back home, the garage sale where I sold all just about all my stuff—including that fabulous orange flowered print skirt and matching shoes and ribbed mid-drift pullover I bought in some crazy expensive store in Santa Monica.

I didn’t tell her the details of how I found my first apartment and my first job and all the other jobs when I moved to Santa Barbara where I worked as a waitress – at The Jolly Tiger coffee shop, at the San Yisidro Ranch, at a bowling alley, at Pascual’s Mexican restaurant, then there was the Turkish company, Telanav, they were doing something shady and they wouldn’t let us leave for lunch, then there was Market Place Media—that’s where I learned how to use PageMaker.

I didn’t tell her that after Santa Barbara there was Venice and Value Health Sciences, Inc.(VHS) and that the reason I left Venice and moved to Redondo Beach was because my roommate was a psychopath who delivered a bag of garbage to my office with a note that said: ATTN: CAROLYN, because he was mad I was moving.

I didn’t tell her that only way for me to get promoted at VHS was to leave and move to Phoenix.  I didn’t tell her that I worked in the marketing department at  Eye Care Plan of America—they turned the storage closet into my office—ahhhh my first office.

I told her that I hated Phoenix because I tell everyone that mentions Phoenix that I hate Phoenix—when you’re wearing jeans and cowboy boots on a 90-degree day, side-stepping cockroaches the size of my dying Mustang convertible,  it’s time to head back to the beach.

“So, I moved back to Redondo Beach and I also work at Gold’s Gym in Redondo.” I said, summarizing best I could. “I want to be a personal trainer.”

“Wow.” Her smile seemed to go from ear to ear.  Her husband was smiling too.  “I envy you.” She said.

“Why?” I asked. She was the grown-up here.  She had a career, she had a husband, she had a house.  She was a real person.

“You’re so courageous,” She said. “You didn’t just do what you were supposed to do like I did.”

There have been quite a few more lefts and rights and even some U-turns since that conversation 20 years ago.

curvy path

twist and turns ahead

I am still zigzagging along on my path.

It seems these days that I’m not the only one, there are others. The world has changed and the straight and narrow isn’t as straight and narrow as it used to be–we are explorers all of us.

Still, at times, I find myself gasping for air.

I sometimes have to remind myself to breathe.  I have to remind myself that I have courage, that I am brave, that I am in the right place at the right time, and that if history does indeed repeat itself, well, I’ll be just fine…actually, I’ll be much better than fine.

Are We There Yet? ***

Journal Entry: June 29, 2014

It was early. I was watering the lawn. The sun was still hiding behind marine layer and our street was quiet. It had been hot the last few days.  Finally a bit of June gloom. The breeze cooled my sun-browned skin—you’re as brown as a berry, my Dad would say to me as August approached. I watched the grass drink.  Here’s what I realized in that moment: I was in a rush to be done.  In this gorgeous, perfect, feel-good moment in time, I was in a rush.

I rush. I rush a lot.  I rush  from one thing to the next. I’m not fickle. It’s not that. I’m loyal, sometimes to a fault. I’m loyal to my clients and I’m a loyal client. I’m loyal to my friends, my family and my husband.  When I rush from one moment to the next, I’m not loyal to myself.

Sometimes, the journey is a good thing.

I like cleaning. I like making something go from dull to polish. I love bleach and I love being clean and having cleaned.  Feet up on the coffee table, arms crossed, I survey the sparkle and shine of my clean wood floors, white whites and sparkling surfaces.  (Geez, I sound like a friggin’ commercial.)

I love writing and I really love having written!

I enjoy editing too, but I love the finished product even more.

At the end of a good book I’m sad that I won’t be visiting that world anymore. I miss the immersion into another person’s language.  I once had this friend  who could speed-read.  She made the biggest deal about it, she was proud that she could rush through a good book. Okay, if I could speed-read when I was at UCLA I would have maybe been ahead of the curve and caught up just once. Other than that I just don’t get it. I don’t want to speed read The Great Gatsby, The Poisonwood Bible, Memoirs of a Geisha or a poem by Richard Jones or Ellen Bass.

Sailing, now that’s all about the journey.  Sailing is something you do to get nowhere. We’ll take the boat out for a few hours and go back and forth, towards Marina Del Rey, back towards Palos Verdes, tacking and jibing in and out of the wind.  Still, after three, four, or six hours on the rough Pacific, (should have been named the Belligerent Ocean) I really want to get there already.

catalina thanksgiving 3rd annual 2004 009

Enjoy The Journey

The ride to the orgasm is amazing.  So is the orgasm.  I’d like the ride and the orgasm to last as long as possible.

I want time to slow down and I want to slow down with time. I want to lick it, feel it’s texture on my tongue, taste the sweet thick syrup slide down the back of my throat.  I want to savor each moment.  Ahhhh the irony of the human experience—being in such a rush to grow up and get there that when we finally do, we want to go back.

*** This is an excerpt of something I’m working on for my next book.

Submission Guidelines

 

“No poems about your morning coffee.”

But I love mine.

It’s organic,

French Roast,

expensive.

I prepare it the night before.

I think about how

the black liquid

will turn tan

when it mixes with the ½ and ½

on the bottom of my mug.

How I will stand at the kitchen sink,

look out the window

purse my lips

and sip.

 

Maybe that editorwoman-drinking-coffee_300

doesn’t understand

the hint of jasmine

on a spring evening,

the brush of your lover’s

finger on your thigh,

or the perfect cup

of coffee

kissing you full

smack on your lips

each morning.

LIP GLOSS

 

LIPGLOSS

My new year’s resolution this year is LIP GLOSS.

More shine
More sparkle
More glitter
More smooth
More softness
More satin and silk and suede
I love me some suede
More leather like butter
What the hell
More butter
Sweet creamy or salted
More open
More writing
More reading
More books
More of my words read by more and more and more people
More of my poems published
More of me published
More of my pieces published
More of my books sold
Even more love and joy and passion and happiness
Even More sex
More sex
What the hell
More sex
–You know it is the cure for the common everything
More grace
More gratitude
More appreciation
–Given and taken

 over exposed

So far, so good
We are three weeks
into 2014 and I leave the house
Lips Berry Beaming and Glossed
I’m Ginger Sensed and smiling Origins

My new years resolution this year is LIP GLOSS

What’s yours?

Has the Universe Left Me?

 

My note from the universe didn’t come this morning.

My note may be lost.  It might have slipped under the doormat with the other bills that the mailman drops through our door.  Maybe it was pushed or kicked or blown under the sofa, under my pillow, under the bed.  Maybe the cat got to it, crumpled and left in the corner with his favorite green mouse; the one that jingles as he carries it in his teeth, jingle jingle stomp stomp stomp jingle jingle jingle through the house.

My note wasn’t in any of those places.

My note didn’t appear.

I went to the site searching for my daily inspiration, and there was no note, no message.  No reason, no explanation.  Has the universe gone?  Am I alone?

IMG00259-20100711-1617_2

one of many hats

Am I alone? A question I used to ask myself a lot, especially when I was dating Brian.  He would disappear on the weekends, “Babe, just calling to say goodnight, so if you don’t hear from me, don’t worry, I’m turning my phone off.” By Sunday I’d have to speak out loud, ask myself, “Can I hear me?” Checking to see if the chords still plucked.  My girlfriends vanished too. Not fans of the Brian-Carolyn connection.  I went to movies alone, went to dinners alone, had a drink at the local bar alone. I walked many beach fairs alone.  I would buy a hat. “Am I alone?” I said to the girl in the mirror as I adjusted a new black and white hat with with a wide brim.

I own a lot of hats.

fullmoondance

no full moon ecstatic dance

Has the universe left me on the Winter Solstice? Is the internet down, connection fried? I know, maybe it’s because I won’t be shredding, burning, dancing under a full moon, Stonehenge chanting, crop circle tracing, meditation candlelight walking, praying through labyrinths. I won’t be saging, Ayahuasca trip sitting or tea journeying.  They say the universe likes ceremony.  They say the universe wants me to have more pomp, circumstance, leather fringe, drum circle, ecstatic dance, hot coal fire walking in my life. They say, the universe likes when you ritual with others not alone.  They say I don’t live up to the standards. Maybe that’s why, because the only thing I’ve planned is writing, reading, American Hustle love making and a bit of red wine.

I don’t go to parades. I eat gluten, dairy and meat. I leave before the fireworks. I don’t eat eggs or tofu and I will eat bacon. I don’t like women’s groups or meditation groups, or girls night out, I prefer the men join.   Sometimes I’ll skip the party all together. I believe in attraction, not The Secret. I’m not a fan of yes yes crocodile tearing gurus that oversell and over-tell.  I like the real deal. Someone once told me I was the spiritual anti-christ.  I get it, I said to her, I am contrary to popular belief.

I’m surprised when I find myself in the middle of the picture, the women grouping, forming, molding themselves around me, even though I choose a seat in the back closest to the aisle.   I’m happy on the fringe.  Don’t push, stop pulling, it’s time for me to go, I’m ready, I whisper to them to myself and slip out the emergency exit.

Boyfriends and girlfriends have come and gone.  I’ve moved through women’s gestalt wine goddess Tuesday’s relations.  I’ve felt the rope burn from untying knots. It leaves a mark, a tale to tell around the fire; full moon hanging low evening at the beach.  Feet dig in cold winter sand, toes wriggle for warmth.  Fire pits glow along the coast as cars whiz by above.

I am my own ritual.

Two hearts link themselves in a dark bar on a smoke filled night.  The smell of schnapps and beer, voices of drinkers and smokers scratch above the click of pool cues scratch and the scrape scrape scrape of  blue chalk on felt tip. Hazel eyes, black lash, a smile, some words.

History unfolds in a moment and the Universe might not work weekends.

 

 

Let It Be Me

 

September comes and the days go tight.  Tentacles grasp, snatch, twist themselves, vines rooted deep crawl through my toes, wrap around my ankles, up my legs.  I watch the greens and pinks slip away to browns.  Slow hurries into quick, rushes about, reaches for dreams, planted from the year before.

Time runs click tock.

All those things folded and tucked away for another day.  All those things that have to be pulled out from underneath the brush, all those things in rooted under beds rotting in corners of bed rooms and offices and kitchens.  All those things to be dug out from the back of junk drawers, unearthed in kitchens to be tilled and spread, seeded and separated.  Thank you’s, happy birthday’s, congratulation’s, good job’s, rsvp’s, broken promises to be studied, analyzed, organized, donated, tossed, remembered, burned, ritualized, scrubbed clean. Stapled, paper clipped, rubber banded, shredded. Candle burning sticks and stones may break my bones and what about the Elmer’s Glue from years and years and years and those years so long ago?

Time is winding down.

Leaves change and let go they fall fire red decompose yellow. Die transparent.  Crackle crisp under the boots of plaid skirted pony-tailed schoolgirls that carry pink and purple backpacks and text on their smart phones.  We wrote notes on lined loose leaf that we  folded into triangles and passed back and forth at recess.

In September my skin catches fire.leaves fire

It reminds me
I have been attached to grief.

Rattled. Shingled. Raw.

I remember.  I feel back into the pins and needles and numb of twenty-five Septembers ago.  I remember winding my 280 ZX through Laurel and Mulholland and Cold Water.  I remember swerving and skidding and the squealing breaks, let it be me, let it be me, let it be me, let it be me… slicing through thick canyon on heavy Autumn days.  I remember careening into Beverly Hills. Let it be me.   I remember white piles, powder dumped from brown glass onto dirty mirrors sniffed from pinkies and thumbs and tiny spoons and keys, the razor clicks divvy out lines to be snorted and sucked up and smoked and the rolled dollar bills, used and smelling acrid sweet. Absolute bloodied white light late night Marlboro Lights rock line shots and Hendrix till sun light .  Let it be me.

Hot fire harvest moon shines.
I remember
that dream.

Time brands.
I itch.
I scratch.
I pick
I irritate my scars.

Meanwhile, September speeds up, plows through October into November and burrows under the white winter blankets of drift for hibernation.

I am awake
I remember a dream.

Let it be me.

Earth Crisis

 

“It wasn’t butter it was earth crisis we were eating last night,” says the tall work-study. The work-study philosophizes about life. “The circle of giving keeps giving” he says.

We’re all philosophers.  Breathing into the dusted sepia pages of books, stacked from floor to ceiling in rooms scented with musk and memory.  Sunlight streams from skylights and neglected windows.  Cars whiz by on Laurel Canyon and Magnolia and the Pioneer Chicken on the corner will outlast us all.

I want to be outside but the cigarette smoker exhales feathers of tar toward saltwater.   The ocean cries and the wall of voodoo forms on the horizon, waiting to hug the cliffs and paint everyone in mist.

There is always a choice.  Today it’s between the all-saltwater-roll-your-own and the voices of those that live among the trees.  Voices that echo in canyons, Love me, free me, color me blue, violet, blood orange yellow and pink; a kaleidoscope of light that winds its way up the trunks of trees.

The trees.  The trees plant themselves into hillsides.  The trees push themselves from rock and stone.  The trees, older than the birds thatwhat of the trees perch themselves, wings spread ready to hunt, older than the iron, stone and wood structures built around them, older than the smoking man. And what of the rocks?

The earth shook and a piece of cliff set itself free.  Tumble, bounce, crumble crash.  Particles disperse and morph into another time.

The wind is hollow. The blue jay hunts for food.  I wait.

I don’t move.  I can’t spread my wings until I know I am home.

I can’t find a home and so I pick up my cup of tea, my crumpled packet of Truvia, my bent spoon, my pen, my new red cap and my bottle of Fiji.  Ten years ago I walked along a beach in Fiji. The Fijians have flat feet. They climb the palm trees and drop-thud the coconuts to the ground.  I thought about moving to Fiji.

I’ve moved before. I was young and splintered. I tread water for a long time.

We all tread water, burn ourselves into a blue flame until we suffocate or stroke.  I butterflied my way to a south-facing beach, crawled up on shore, my home strapped to my back.  Sloshed through thick wet sand. Why not let the sea push me into a dream where the sun sets in the North?

Glue me together.

And what of the dirt that I can’t seem to clean from the bottom of my feet?  Is that from a stone that fell hundreds of skies into my South facing ocean?  Lightning striking sand, melted it into long, thin tubes that sucked themselves toward the beginning.  Volcanoes erupted melted rocks. I am stained by my earth.

Today I stepped on a shard of glass.  I didn’t see it, but I felt it.  I had to stop, sit down and pull it out of my toe.  I am ground fine like glass. A window to peer through, a crystal to fill, to drink from and then place under my husband’s foot.   I have left behind pieces of myself, on pillows and in sheets and wrapped in the souls of those I have loved.

I Am 50

 

I woke up and the clock struck 50 today.

birthday roses

The Clock Struck….

The pink roses my neighbor brought over yesterday are opening.  I feel like one of those pink roses.

I am open.

Till, dig, cultivate the earth, offer worms, cut spent blossoms, thin out dead, diseased and damaged stems, pull weeds, fertilize and deep water.  I have done this. On my knees, hot sun beating down, sweat pooling, dripping, fingers earth-digging, clearing.

I planted seeds.

 

New friends.
New opportunities.
New ideas.

I am giftwrapped.
I root myself
Spread far
Vines spiral, reach, circle, stretch

I grow long
tall
thick branches
strong trunk
I am lush green
I blossom  pink, red, blue, purple and white
I burst
sprit lifts
I bend back
arch my back to the sky
I am a bough heavy with ruby fruit

I am 50

That Was Then…This is Fabulous

 

It’s been a year since I started this blog.

My commitment was to put it out there
It, I mean Me…put me out there

I might write something I’m unsure of
Something that makes me feel uncomfortable
Vulnerable
Something that makes me think I’ll be judged
I post it
Float it out there

I’m surprised with the response I receive
positive
a post on Facebook
or an email
thanking me
‘me too, I’ve felt that way too’

with the letting go
I’ve create space
for new friends
new fun
new writing
new perspective
new adventure
new avenues
new ideas
rekindled relationships
exploration
even more love

Space enough for a huge party
Yes, that’s right
I’m planning my BIG birthday party.

FUN
Lists upon lists
Of friends
That grows
Lists upon lists of
menu ideas
Caterers to call
Lists upon lists of what to do next
a backyard barbeque
with Ruffles potato chips and
onion dip
has turned into
a catered event

we’ve planted new grass

A celebration
Fabulous at 50
Maybe that’s what the cake will read

The other day someone asked if Bill and I were going to have children
We smiled.
“We gave it the college try.” I said, my arms around Bill.

“That was a compliment”.  Bill said to me on the way home, “He thinks you’re 40.”

Some years ago, when I was still mourning miscarriages, my best friend from high school had called me.  I wrote about our conversation.

Naomi hadn’t changed.  She was judgmental, tight, nasty.  At her wedding, a weekend affair in La Quinta, she asked me which of her guests I thought was the prettiest.  It’s your wedding Naomi, do you really care? I said or I thought, I can’t remember which.  In high school she was the pretty one everyone wanted to date. She called me to catch up, she said.   She was complaining about her husband, how he wouldn’t let her talk on her cell phone when he was around her, he needed her undivided attention, he was like a kid; her friend had hung up on her during a political discussion, (Naomi loves Rush Limbaugh).  Her Laguna vacation house was under construction; she wouldn’t be able to spend weekends there with her three kids, husband and two of their four cars.  She asked me how much money Bill and I earned. She asked how large our home was and how much we bought it for.  She had a checklist.  She asked about our vacations, our boat, our cars and then “Well you guys can do whatever you want because you don’t have kids.” She said.  Spitting at me through the phone line..

In that piece I wrote about the assumptions people might make because Bill and I don’t have kids.  Like my Dad used to say to me, Assume makes and ass out of u and me.

I thought about getting a t-shirt.  The front would read, I DON’T HATE KIDS and on the back, JUST REPRODUCTIVELY CHALLENGED.

I choose to glide into this new chapter
with grace
why carry with me
the heaviness
that belongs to someone else?

It has nothing to do with me

That was then

Fabulous at 50

Fabulous at 50

And this is Fabulous

Lessons Learned From Writing a Book

I’ve started working on my next book of poetry.
I loved how I felt when I was working on as simple as that. 

Driven,
focused,
relaxed,
happy,
passionate,
excited
creative
juiced

Yum

I imagined that once it was published I’d sell lots and lots and lots of copies.

“Honey, I wish more people read poetry.  They’d buy your book and love it.  Its mesmerizing.” Bill said.  as simple as that cover

I was sitting on the sofa, editing a poem for my blog.  He was standing in the doorway holding my book open in his hands.  I love the cover.  It’s a picture I took with my Blackberry one day when Bill and I had driven to the Esplanade to look at the ocean after a rainstorm  The sky and the ocean were the same color, slate gray; separated only by the sepia setting sun pushing it’s way through a cloud filled sky.   That day, I had no idea I’d use that picture for the cover of my first book.

“Yeah.  Well, I know I’m nuts, I thought I’d sell a few more copies.” I said.  It’s true. As embarrassing as it is to admit, let alone write about here (but I am getting naked after all), I thought more people would buy it.  I sent emails to my community and posted it all over Facebook.  I even changed the signature on my email to read, “Have you purchased your copy of my book yet?” with a link to my blurb bookstore.

My ego toys with me.

I was too attached to selling it. According to the Buddhists, attachment and avoidance are the causes of human suffering.

A gentle lesson.

I  thought that all the people that I support and have supported would support me back.  Did I give to others expecting for something in return?  That’s not the reason to give.  I know that’s not why I gave.  But, I can’t lie, I thought that the people in my ‘community’ would give the way I had.  Have I stopped giving? NO!  I have stopped expecting.  Isn’t expecting something in return the same as being attached?  Expectation. Attachment.

On Friday, I was walking to my car from spin class and a women came up to me.

“Can you spare some money for a cab?  My car broke down and I can’t get a hold of my son to come pick me up.” She said.  She was pretty, with dark hair pulled to the side in a pony tail, black rimmed glasses and a striped shirt.  She was holding her smart phone and her driver’s license in her left hand.

“Oh.” I said. She followed me to my car.  I opened my trunk.  “You don’t have triple A?” I asked.

“My son is a mechanic. I know the whole electrical system is shot.” She said.  “I’ve been calling and calling him to come and pick me up. He’s not answering his phone.”

My purse was in my trunk.  I placed my spinning shoes next to it and grabbed my wallet and opened it.  I had three ones and a twenty.

“This is all I have and I don’t think three dollars will get you very far.” I said.  I handed her the twenty.

“Thank you. Can I give you my contact information so I can pay you back? Here’s my license, take my information. She thrust her hand forward at me and showed me her license.  “I’m really telling the truth. People have been so mean to me. I’ve been asking for help. No one would help me.  Thank you so much. I don’t know how to thank you.” She said. She seemed as if she were going to cry.

“Don’t worry about it.” I said.  I put my wallet back in my purse and took it out of the trunk.  I slammed the trunk shut.  “Good luck with your car.” I said.

“Thank you so much.” She said.

I walked to the driver’s side, opened the door.  “No problem.” I said.  I opened my car door. “Good luck”.  She waved at me and I got in my car.

Over the next two days, two other people came up to me and asked me for money.  They didn’t seem as sincere and I had used the last three dollars  in my wallet to buy Bill an Italian ice.  I keep forgetting to get cash. I don’t know if this woman was ripping me off or not.  All I knew is she needed the money either way.  So I gave it to her.  I left the parking lot that morning with a smile on my face.

I like giving.

A gentle lesson.

I ordered thirty of my books to use for poetry readings and give as gifts.  I’d love to give them all away for free, but that doesn’t feel quite right.   There’s a lesson in that.

Here’s the woo-woo. Are you sitting down?  It’s an energetic thing.  Yup. Energy.  I want to receive.  I want to be paid to write.  You get my drift, yes? I want to receive.  With grace, with joy, with ease. I want to receive.  Yes? Yes! You do get my drift. I know you do. I see you swooshing down the slope.

I was accepted to write for Demand Media.  I’ll get paid for each article I write.  Energy.  I’ll be receiving money for my writing.  Energy.  (I met a writer in dance class.  She’s a screenwriter.  Lucky you.  I said.  I laughed.  I’m a poet, I said.)  Ahhhh, but who knows how the future will unfold.

Meanwhile, I walk by the stack of my books in my office. Sometimes I’ll stop.  Pick up a copy.   This is my book. I say.  I feel its weight in my hands.  Marvel at the shine of the cover, how good I look in the picture on the back.  I’ll read the ISBN number.  I’ll open it and read a poem.

I wrote a book.
I published a book.
I have a book.

It’s gorgeous
It’s good
It’s worth-while
It’s touching
Funny
Silly
Astute
It’s real
It’s true
It’s my book
I wrote it
And at poetry readings
I read from it

I’ve always wanted to stand in front of the room
Open my book to a page marked with a pink post it
This is from my collection of poetry called ‘as simple as that’ I say to the audience
And read a poem from my book

At the last reading I went to, a man came up to me
And asked to buy a copy of my book
And I signed it
And handed it back to him
And he smiled, he said thank you
And I smiled at him
“Thank you” I said