Saturday, September 20, 2008

the next season approaches

In two days it will be the autumn equinox - on Sept. 22nd. Fall used to be my favorite season for reasons I've batted around forever.... it's cooler.... school began and I have cellular memories of being back in school and out of the house.... wow, check out the leaves!, no wait, I live by the beach, we don't have that many deciduous trees here, oh well... perhaps some karmic lifetime hoo-hah. "I've always hated summers," I've moaned. Wait wait, surely there's an audience... listen to me whine! I can elucidate this wretchedness, you know. And then this past summer came out of the attic, dusted off its need to be real, and I had the best SUMMER since I don't know when. 

I couldn't paint or draw well as a young child. Matter of fact, I don't find myself doodling now, basking in the glory of chest-beating artistic bliss. So I would get paint-by-numbers kits from some pokey Santa Monica art shop and make believe that I could paint. Put this color here and that color there. And it would almost look like a horsie or a mountain. I needed direction and I loved the seamlessness of connecting the dots. In a chaotic childhood, anything that made sense to my mind was a refuge in a storm. Even a $2.99 paint-by-numbers kit.

I am connecting the dots from summer and finding gifts that bless and surprise me. "There" and "here" used to be separate universes. Three guesses which was better, safer, quieter, yearned for. Not here. So this little survival glitch has followed me for quite some time. Of its many voices, "Go NOW!" is one of its most insistent. Battling with that voice has brought numerous opportunities for AFGEs (go ahead, Google it). The Good Girl voice says, "You be good. You show THEM how well you can be ... strong/committed/brave/intentional/{ad nauseum}." That's right! And then I fall into another dissociated depression and wonder what went wrong and where's the Holy Spirit? It just might be considered an instance of "tempting God" when I cut myself off at the heart chakra and solar plexus while I tell a Power Greater than myself to shower me with balance, blessings and not a small amount of chocolate. 

I am connecting the dots from summer and finding marvelous things. I am learning that I can have an authentic voice, clear boundaries, yippy pleasure and not be a self-indulgent 3-year-old (sometimes; I'm still a work in progress). This summer, to my quietly trembling surprise, wasn't an either/or. "I had a really good time and so I'm going to go NOW!" Of course I can. Why do you think I drove almost 8,000 miles? So I could say "yes" or "no" to all that I encountered, a pattern I negated in myself in times past. Control issue? Sure. But not only that and it doesn't mean I'm merely an unevolved wimp-ass. I am connecting more dots, giving breath to more voices and finding cohesion where before there were little neat, separated compartments that had no intercoms or walkie-talkies between them. The DSM-IV has cool names for this kind of stuff (e.g. dissociation) and they can play with it. I'll color slightly outside the lines and take God's grace where I can breathe it in.

On another hand, I can tell I'm back in California. I was joshing with a friend about Botox, mildly bemoaning a few imperfections I'd like to make go away. It's a joke, of course. I mean, really. Botox? Please. How..... critically voiced! And my friend responded, "Well, you know the costs have really come down in the past few years." Thud. And those embarrassing spider veins in my legs, well, maybe it's time I saved for that non-insured cosmetic visit to the dermo and lunge again for some physical perfection now that I'm chugging along in midlife wonder..... 

There's a car with North Carolina plates parked on my Berkeley street. They too drove a long way. It's dusty. I wrote in the dust on the back window, "Welcome to Callie!" I didn't know we wuz called that until I drove back East. Last night I parked behind this car and wondered if he or she would've washed off my friendly intrusion. Beneath my still-scrawled words were "Thanks!" I added a little more. Eventually I'll get to introduce myself.... or not. The financial markets have been outer-galactically insane lately (perhaps you've noticed). Little bits of earthiness give me a reason to be present in my life with and without reminders of Ram Dass's Be Here Now catapulting through my consciousness. 

I am connecting the dots from this summer and today, here is a very good place to be. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

7,884 miles and 7 weeks later

I made it back to Berkeley (photo proof at left, if there was any doubt).... in one piece for the most part. I will share more deeply as I continue to untangle the fluttered pattern of this summer's outstanding gifts from the giddy-up thud in a re-landing. In other words, a closing paragraph..... that ooooh-no of the college essay. I will be accepting applications for various titles. Prize options will be subject to my approval and mood at the time, not to mention legal, financial and moral applicability.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Eye Five

I can tell that it's time to return to a less exhaust-fumed normalcy when my 
attempts at humor annoy even myself. I'll shoot up the famous San Joachin Valley Interstate and land back in Berkeley sometime this evening. It's probably reasonably clear that I have no excitement about doing so. Were it not for the facts that I have a boatload of work to catch up on plus that I miss friends from my church, my choir and other spiritual corners of my life (you know who you are), well.... I'd be doing something else. And it's being swirled about and prayed over.

Susan and I hit PCH yesterday and cruised to Malibu. Portions of the beach are clearly delineated; this area for surfers only, this for swimmers and those otherwise sloshing about. The weather was Southern California perfect, in the upper 70's with a gentle haze muting too much glare and melanotic taunts. The traffic was normal, meaning almost bumper-to-bumper en route out. Alice's Restaurant is no longer at the Malibu Pier, I am sad to announce. No star sightings, although we looked while trying very hard to seem as though we were not. 

I did however spot a true California Beach bunny! 

It must be a Malibu phenomenon. We never saw them in Venice.

I saw a roadrunner scamper across the highway as I entered Arizona. We'll see what I-5 has to show.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

heading for Venice Beach

I'm heading to Venice Beach right now to say hi to my Dad. I grew up on Ocean Front Walk, before the Venice Pier, before the Marina del Rey was dug out and created. My dad passed away in 1988. The tug and sensations are powerful. 

It is at least 15 degrees cooler in West L.A. than the Bay Area, so I am here for now!

I'm staying with my friend Susan. You can tell we took this photo just yesterday! For those who are au fait with code, we'll be heading to the Brentwood Thursday night meeting tonight. When I phoned Central Office to verify that it was still around, the woman quipped, "Sure is!" It's a rather large and popular meeting. "So I'll arrive half an hour early to save a seat, right?" I said. "You should arrive three days early to save a seat," she said. That's the Westside!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

here in Arizona's Verde Valley and then soCal

... or as new friends from North Carolina have referred to my old stomping grounds, "Callie." 

Click here for a new Gallery of photos from Sewanee, Tennessee to Sedona and Cottonwood, Arizona.

Tidbits from the road include kokopelli overkill, more Historic Route 66 souvenirs than one could possibly consider brainstormable, do NOT mess with Mother Nature thunder- and hailstorms, and a renewed visit with cherished friends here in the Verde Valley (that's sort of kind of northern Arizona). Nickie & Dirk & I met over 21 years ago in northern Virginia; Pushpa & Brent & I go back a mere 15 years. 

Tomorrow, West L.A. for 2-3 days, and then..... back to Berkeley. Sigh. 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

hotel hair and deep brain thrombosis

Chlorine in the water gets my hair every time!

Gilda Radner - bless your spirit always - is one of my secular saints. When at the end of my rope, when every available recourse from decades of spiritual practice seem a distant there-there now, I can hear her voice saying as a character I can't quite pinpoint now, "It's always somethin'!" Once in a blue moon that keeps me from continuing to take myself so seriously that I land in a heap on the floor, panting.

Long drives and more to come.

Friday was Lonoke, AR to Oklahoma City. Saturday motored on to Santa Rosa, NM. Today I head for Flagstaff, AZ, pondering Sedona. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

the angel of safe journeys

I have been wished good and safe travels from those dear to me and those I have passed briefly while journeying. This angel hangs on a wall at St. Mary's in Sewanee, Tennessee. She exudes grace, beauty and quiet strength. I'll carry her and my friends' wishes with me as I journey on each day.

Somewhere in the back of my brain, however, which can resemble a fairly disheveled attic without a heads up (look! we're having a disheveled brain moment!), I decided that the key to a successful road trip was putting as many miles in a day as one could do without succumbing to serious physical or psychological damage. Fortunately the wisdom and clunkiness of aging also allow me to reconsider such lunacy. I don't have to pull 18-hour driving days - or even half of that. But oh how those old ideas die slowly. Somewhere in my cellular memory is the utter conviction that if I drive forever, I've done well.

"It's Friday night. Book the room online now, don't just drive 'until it feels right' or you begin hallucinating." An inner wise parent and the Holy Spirit are coming through.

So instead of fueling the hours on the road with more than too much caffeine, just enough pure water to nod in the direction of hydration, listening to my Fr. Tom 12-Step CD collection once more, the occasional stop and blurry-eyed glance through kitsch shops with funky postcards AND that slightly naughty sense of I'll drive until I'm damn well done driving, thank you very much, I have a room booked for tonight. I feel so boring. I also feel as though I'm acting mildly intelligently. 

I drove through a fairly severe thunderstorm yesterday about an hour to the east of Memphis while driving westbound on Hwy. 64. I had checked the weather on TV and online that morning and noticed the band of heavy thunderstorms moving slowly N/NE. Well, by golly, they were right. Cartoon scary movie lightning bolts shot through the charcoal gray skies while rain pelted my little car. I slowed. I thanked God for my new Michelin tires. I dialed 511 and tried the voice prompts to check for flooding alerts. The obsequious recorded voice, who otherwise sounded like a rather hunky guy, could not make out my clearly articulated words. The failures of voice recognition systems were again demonstrated this morning while I watched the Weather Channel with the sound muted. The text read, "Saddle light images show......" Well giddy-yup meteorology! So it rained, I drove slowly, I got Google Maps up on my iPhone (which checks for traffic but not sinkholes as far as I can tell), I prayed, I called two friends to ask them to check for floods, I made it.

Today I'm leaving Lonoke, Arkansas. A Super 8 Motel. Tonight, a Holiday Inn Express in ..... come on, be nice, I'm not a kid anymore..... Oklahoma City! 358 miles give or take. See you then.