happy, i hope

January, 2013. Happy new year. 

My knees have recovered from the dancing I did to usher in 2013, the dancing I did with other parents as our new teenagers gaped disdainfully at us from the couch. At least none of them had smart phones out with which to document our middle-aged boogie business and post it online. How devastating it would be to actually see those moves that feel so good and right while I’m doing them. Because they give me the same emotional lift they did when I was a teenager, my inner picture of my grooving self is of that 13-20 year old body, not the much higher-mass version I live in now. 

And so this theme for 2013–to focus on the feeling rather than the appearance. Because to the rest of the world, and most especially the young people by whom I am surrounded, I will likely never achieve cool again.

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I don’t know if she’s wondering at all. That might be the hardest thing. The no-contact, that can be spun as normal. I can pretend that it’s just the business of life that prevents conversation; pretend that she isn’t on facebook, pretend that she is interested in talking to me, if only she had the time. I do accept that she is not interested, painful as that is. But does she wonder, at all? I do. And I wonder about her wondering.

And in truth, I must amend: the real hardest thing is that this post could be referring to more than one woman that I have little hope of ever getting back.

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sigh

I goddamn did it again. Just when I think I have a handle on things, especially my own reactions to emotionally significant situations, I punt. And now to spend days obsessing over the too big steps I took and why I took them. I want honesty to be the road, but I keep ending up in the ditch.

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on unadulterated joy

Is it a condition of youth, only? Do you have to be wholly present in a way that is nearly impossible to find in middle age? Do you have to be a puppy? I’m hoping not. I want me some of that.

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently reflecting on that heady age of 23, when unadulterated joy was something I had access to (along with u.j.s darker cousin, unmitigated sadness). I was between relationships, a little fragile (had just been stomped on by someone who didn’t deserve me anyway), and looking for what, or who, would come next. I had a job that demanded very little from me mentally, but offered constant access to the one thing that sustained my emotional wellbeing: music. I was cleaning houses and could listen to whatever I wanted all day. I’d be scrubbing toilets, thinking about how I was wasting my brain and education, and then, say, John Linnell’s sweetly nasal tones would hit that upper register, resonate in my ears and right down through me, and everything was good and bright and right for those minutes. I’d put that toilet brush down and just drink it in–that musically generated joy that fills your chest so palpably you could reach right in, wrap your hands around it and give it a look-see. But why would you ever take it out?

One of my favorite bands came to play Chicago for the first time just then. From the minute my friend had put their first record into my hands, I was completely hooked on the smart-longing-lyric, jump-inducing perfection of them. They were all I listened to for a year, and they were coming to town. And she was visiting. Profound alignment. Truly. A sparkly perfection decorated every second from when they hit the stage until they left it. Their sound was even more delicious live, and they were tight. We jumped and bounced and spun, singing at the top of our lungs. So happy. So fucking happy. The music I loved being made in the room with me, surrounding me. And when the front man took note of us, two girls singing along with every word in a town they assumed had never heard of them, the joy intensified. He and I made eye contact–joy feeding joy–he making me so happy, my happiness making him happy–this crazy circuit of good and right and true–a profoundly deep connection between total strangers in those minutes of notice, one that carried the message “I am seeing you, YOU, right here, right now, and you are perfect.” Maybe that’s what other people are talking about when they say they’ve seen god. It certainly felt divine. The divine through the physical. We needed the loud and the sweat and the chords and the dancing to get there. I’ve rarely felt so in alignment with everything in the universe. Except the three other times I saw them play. Beautiful.

The eye contact intensified with each show, fed by a crush-y blush-y sweetness that I still miss. If there’s anything more intoxicating than someone looking into your eyes and singing your favorite song right on into you, I’ve never encountered it. Those moments sustained me during the weeks between gigs, helped me get over feeling like the left-behind loser shlub my ex turned me into. [My attempt to drag that connection out of context, out of its present, destroyed it. Now I think I’d be better able to leave it where it lived.]

You really can be in love for just a few minutes at a time. I didn’t understand that then–it was all or nothing for me at 23. Love defined as truth, of being totally present with another person, open and vulnerable but sure too. Connected. A flash that’s just enough to see by. When I see two people onstage that I’m compelled by, it’s because they’re tapping into this. Being a little in love with each other.

I refuse to accept the idea that because I’m 43 I no longer get to participate in that.  Not that I’m looking for some singer to flirt with me onstage. That’s not what I’ve been talking about, and that’s not going to happen anyway. I want communal joy access–the presence. Between friends, strangers, or whatever. Shake off this middle-aged, frumped out existence and reacquaint myself with THAT. Get the hell out of my own head and be here. Renaissance indeed.

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what the what

In light of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, this post is going to feel self-pitying at best, and ridiculous at worst. But we cannot help our feelings, and I must attempt to sort out the confusion of my own life regardless of the misery going on in the rest of the world. The heavy and the worry about the lingering ill health of the children and my overwhelming sense that I’m not doing enough for them. Not able to keep up with work and the house and their needs and my relationships and my creative life. I get older and time accelerates, leaving me actually less time to do these things in, with more of them to do, and my unstoppable tendency of finding myself staring into space instead of attempting any of it. I hate the mid-life shut down, and I want to transform it. Mid-life renaissance, he said, and I want that. The reinvention. Seeing the crazy as an opportunity rather than an unqualified disaster. To accept where we are now–releasing the comparisons to a long-held belief of where we would be now, and what we would be doing/feeling. To commit to this path, the one we are on, and seeking another fork up ahead if we must but walking. Not sitting down on a rock with head in hands, getting bitten by mosquitos and ticks, mourning the path not taken. This is the one we took. For better or worse, so get yer ass up and get hiking.

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No Olympics for Chicago

Well, B.F.D.

I will admit to being utterly ambivalent about the whole enterprise. Sure, it would have been exciting—I love the Olympics (even with all it’s many faults), and watching the events in real-time with my teenage kids (yikes!), and being able to host out-of-town family and friends for it sounds awesome. But the simple fact is that this city (this administration most specifically) can’t be trusted with an event of this magnitude and expense. Chicago can’t even get the CTA to a functional place for its citizenry; I can only imagine the mess it would make of things trying to accommodate the Olympic crowds. And that’s just one small piece of the logistical puzzle.  We’d wake up some morning in 2013 to a headline that read, “Daley croney charters luxury cruise liner for staff with Olympic money,” or something similar. No thanks. Let Rio have it.

And to the Chicago man quoted by the AP as saying this “is the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,” hey asshole, have you never read a newspaper? What about a 16 year old beaten to death for walking to school? No? How about the fact that other kids videotaped it and put it on fucking youtube? No? The Olympics going to Rio still trumps that for you in the sadness department?

I see the AP replaced that quote in a more recent version of the article, so I couldn’t get the guy’s name. I can only hope he regretted those words as soon as they came out of his mouth.

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Hypocritically adding to the problem

I liked Michael Jackson’s music as much as the next middling fan, but really now, enough is enough. I’m not even watching the memorial service, but it’s still getting at me via osmosis. The sighs and sniffs around me are telling the story of an insane, overwrought spectacle. Truth be told, I’ll probably take a peek on youtube at some point today, and I will feel bad about myself when I do. Where was this kind of national day of mourning when Paul Newman passed? Though it’s better this way. He was too classy and human for this madness.

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