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Just a Quick Note

Hi all, hope you enjoyed the guest post last week. I just returned from a week’s vacation, so at the moment I have no new posts to push out. I hope to resume my normal schedule by Friday. Twice per week is actually quite a difficult pace to maintain, so I think I’ll drop to just weekly, either Mondays or Fridays depending… (on what, no clue!)

Thanks again for hangin in there with me and for reading. It means a lot. Leave a comment if you have any ideas on what I should write about, or any questions or rants you’d like me to read. Love & light ❤

if my husky doesn't like you, i probably won't either
Someone should buy me this shirt.

Reaching Life Goals – One at a Time

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Recently, I found the list of goals I had made in high school, and despaired at the time. I took a look at some continuing education classes offered, both locally, and nationally. With overlapping requirements, as well as those things I didn’t have to have a degree in (like some of the gardening and basic education areas), I came to the conclusion that I would finish school sometime in my 80’s. And for one that is looking forward to a life full of excitement and learning, that was a bit much. So I tossed the list aside, and started studying only a few of the things there.

However, I’ve found a reason to start on one of those goals: I need to understand multiple languages. I had German, French, Italian and Spanish listed, because that was what was referenced in a book I was reading.

And yes, at that point, Esperanto would be simple. 🙂

Deciding on this, plus the potential of shifting location to near the Canadian border — and the probability that there would be those around me that spoke French — I started looking around for resources to learn. Having tried both Spanish and German in school, I knew that was no the way for me to learn language.

I found several resources, and a delightful assistant (not specifically in this area — he was trying to get me to express opinions, even if incorrect, so I could be taught) in Roman Podolyan, who was generous enough to share a video that encouraged me to start back on this list. And, I’m slowly applying it to other areas in my life.

There have been many other helps along the way — likely present all along, but since I wasn’t paying attention to them, they slipped by without making an impression. Now that I am looking for them, they are common. And welcomed!

So, I am working on getting at least one of those goals finished — and well before I’m 80! Also, there are many other areas that I have been able to say “Yes, I can do this” with the explosion of internet resources.

What have you always wanted to do, that you now notice that you are doing or working toward?

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Layers, Masks, and Shades

Nope, this isn’t a Photoshop / photo-editing post. Catchy title though, right? No, it’s about what we all do in our online social profiles and presence and content. Including me. Yes, dear reader, even this is but one of many layers; a mask, perhaps at times; a shade of one of many colors that comprise the entirety of this person that is me.

Layers

You all know the quote from the original Shrek. He’s got layers, like an onion. Not like a parfait. Or a cake. An onion. Because he’s smelly and slightly bitter. Turns out, this analogy works quite well for a human, too. I mean sure, some of us are less bitter than others — you’ve got your sweet Vidalia onions too. But the point is that you don’t get to see the inner layers until you’ve peeled away or broken through the other layers.

onions have layers, ogres have layers.
And you can tell your parfait to kiss my big green arse!
(Pretty sure Shrek never said that, but I’d like to think he thought it, at least.)

Trauma, such as the loss of a loved one, cuts us deep, often piercing right through nearly all of those layers at once. Which is why it brings out the worst and the best in people, sometimes even both simultaneously. Yet, as any living organism will do, we try to heal ourselves as rapidly as possible. Often that means masking some of the more ugly scars or unsightly layers with something that’s not quite pure, not quite “genuine grade-A self”. Over time, eventually, hopefully, those impostor layers get replaced by what truly belongs there, within and about us as a person, and we, in colloquial terms, “become whole”.

Of course, the analogy doesn’t hold up completely at that point. When you lose a spouse, a child, or someone who meant the world to you in some similar way, you’re never really “whole” again, because that person had become a part of you. Their layers had intermingled with yours; you had become this sort of freakish hybrid double-onion that doesn’t really exist in nature. (Or maybe it does; I’m not National Geographic.) So it’s not a perfect metaphor, but it’s alright.

Masks

All the world’s indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another’s audience
Outside the gilded cage

Rush, Limelight

We all put on a mask sometimes, intentionally or otherwise. To get us through the day, the week; to hide the fact that we can’t stand one more tantrum or meltdown from a cranky 2 year old; to pretend that we’re “doing fine” when our heart wants to scream out in pain. This is especially true in grief, where the world’s expectation is that you “must live on” and “honor the memory” of your lost loved one.

But what if the mask’s purpose were reversed? What if the mask was a facade of grief, and the face behind it was secretly, surprisingly, despite the odds and expectations, actually thriving? No, surely this does not happen. Does it?

all of wear masks, full quote by Sarah Connor
From the show “The Sarah Connor Chronicles”, according to Reddit.

Shades

As a literary device, a ‘shade’ is often a ghost or spectre. It represents a lost remnant of a person, a soul that has not found rest, or that has been called back from the grave against its will. Apt, I should say, for a griever to consider. We often try to “bring back” our loved one in some form, be it a memorial service, a shrine, a re-living of their favorite activity or adventure. But these are not “the real” him/her, not even close.

Luminous beings are we! Not this.. crude matter.

Yoda, Empire Strikes Back

We are, indeed, an amalgamation of so many colors and hues, of light and dark. You see the bright spots, most often, on social media; the “highlight reel”, the colors that we want others to see the most. Not the darker, more mysterious, less appealing colors of our personal rainbow. Those, we hold close to the vest, only willing to let them show under the utmost trust and confidence.

Occasionally, they slip out, unintentionally. They fly off with a spark and we’re left to contrive some socially acceptable explanation, some attempt to quell the tide of contempt that it brought upon us, as if everyone else has never had those same dark inscrutable colors escape from their own personal paint palette. Oh trust me, they have.

What’s your point?

Touché. I suppose I needed to fill some space, and had thoughts swirling around my head. Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes and we try to do better. Often we fail. But sometimes — oh rare but glorious sometimes — we succeed. ❤

it's okay to not be okay sometimes
TinyBuddha is kinda neat for this sort of thing. 🙂

Monday Movie Madness!

Because alliteration, why not.

As I’ve been doing occasionally, I went to the cheapo 2nd-run theater by myself tonight. I saw Shazam!. (Do you put punctuation after it, even though it already has one in the title? I’m confused.)

Oh trust me, the confusion doesn’t stop there.

But rather than bore you, dear reader, with one mere movie review, I thought to myself: “Self, let’s kick it up a notch!” Then I realized I wasn’t Emeril. But I digress.

You don’t say?

So without further ado… I give you, the first of many maybe some definitely more than zero… Monday Movie Madness! In which I review several movies at once, lightning-round style, because ANGTFTD.

Shazam!

shazam dancing
I feel pretty, oh so pretty…

“Say my name, b*tch!”

Wait what? Grab the guy’s staff and do what now? Do these people even realize the amount of double-entendre they’re pushing on our young audiences! Won’t somebody think of the children!?!? Well yeah, turns out they did. Most of this movie was in fact squarely aimed at the tween-teen crowd. Not that it sucked entirely.

OMG another! Enough with your filthy language mister!

It was, surprisingly, not as bad as I thought. Not as cheesy as the previews made it look. Oh don’t get me wrong, it was cheesy. But there was plenty of SRS BZNS about inner demons and self-doubt and family and pride and all that good stuff.. and.. things..

ZOMG what is JERRY doing here!!?!? JERRY!!! MA DUDE! Holy crap are you still doing that zombie show? Christ, what is that like 9, 10 seasons? Jesus! No not that one; he’s cool too, but it’s a figure of speech. A figure.. never mind. Go swing your axe at shit. Love ya buddy.

Now where was I?

OSHIT, it’s freakin Lionel Luther! He’s like, playing the same character here as he did in Smallville! That’s pretty awesome, I’ll give you that. Well played, casting directors, well played.

Also, is it just me or does the oldest foster daughter look like a younger hotter Charisma Carpenter? No? Whatever. It’s an okay movie, just don’t have high hopes or lofty expectations.

Dude, do you not remember Bats vs Supes Dawn of Plot Holes? 40 Thousand Justice Leagues Under the Sea? Hah, I amuse myself. Oh, look, a segue…

Justice League

So we’re going in backwards order? Cool, cool cool cool, cool cool.

Well no, I’m skipping Aquaman, because that shit is actually worth seeing & having its own review. And don’t yell at me about Wonder Woman either — chronologically she’s WAY before all this crap, and she also made a helluva solo movie. So just pipe down.

Justice League was kinda a hot mess. The kind where you see her get up in the morning, her bra is way over there, she’s got one sock on, half her hair is covering her face, and her left arm is cramped, but you’re still like… Yeah, why the hell not, round 2. (Or 3, if the metaphor needs to match.) You know? It’s kinda fun, it’s a little dirty, and there’s probably some Steppenwolf playing in the background.

Yes, that was the actual name of the villain. I KNOW, RIGHT? As Deadpool might say, “lazy writing.”

Also, you’re totally being sexist right now.

Yeah, but I’m doing it for the sake of analogy.

Batman vs Superman

Speaking of dead things… Ohhh crap, spoiler alert! Sorry, sorry, my bad. Nope, nobody dies here, all is happy kittens and rainbows and sunshine. No? Oh right, that’s the Marvel Universe.. pre 2018 anyway. This is DC. Shit gets dark. Sometimes. Until 2019, because apparently we have to play “keeping up with Disney” now, even though they have more money than God and own nearly every other franchise-able comic-based multiverse there is.

Which is why we have multiple dead Avengers (again, spoiler alert!) but no notable casualties in Shazam at all.

It’s just… Okay, I get that Batman and Superman had beef. Affleck is obviously jealous of Cavill’s good looks, and Cavill’s obviously jealous of Affleck’s Oscar(s? I don’t even know..). But really, it’s not even the center of the plot. When you give something a title like that, you expect to see some mano-a-mano, no? Oh sure they spar a little, they grimace & growl at each other for a bit, but by whose hands does the Man of Steel actually die? Ah that’s right, the actual villain.

Really? That’s your major gripe with this movie? Surely you must have more! The overacting, the over-production, the under..wear. Underacting? Underwriting?

The lazy writing, yep. Well, lazy film-making in general. The actors were actually quite impressive. I even bought into Ben’s Batman for a minute, which I swore I’d never do after The Dark Knight trilogy. (Don’t get me started on the Joker, though. Gawd.) Speaking off…

Suicide Squad

Now THIS. This was a frickin’ MOVIE. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn? Spectacular. Will Smith. Ike Barinholtz. Viola FREAKIN Davis. Holy mother.

So.. we’re just kinda pretending Jared Leto didn’t exist?

Yeah, pretty much. Because honestly if you take him out of the movie.. well okay, not literally. I mean, if you take out his ridiculosity and his lack of depth, and just kinda avoid leaning into his character or his backstory for anything of substance, then it totally works.

Just watch it. You won’t be disappointed. Except with the Joker. But it’s OK, you can cleanse your palette afterwards with Heath Ledger. Promise. ❤

Other Superman, Other Batman

Oh wait, Affleck’s Batman hasn’t had his own movie yet, has he? Oooohh… ouch. Sorry bud. Hopefully next year? Eeehhh, right, you’re being replaced by a sparkly-ass vampire. Damn. Tough brakes man. But hey, at least you won’t completely bastardize the franchise single-handedly, like some people. I mean, we all know Christopher Reeve is still rolling over in his grave. Mentally, at least.

Wow, that was cold. Have you no soul?

I don’t know, maybe I’m just jaded and tired of re-made superhero properties. I mean really, after the 41 Flavors of Spidermen, can you really blame me?

No, but I can tell you to quit yappin’ and finish while you’re ahead!

Yeesh. The voice in my head is not happy with me tonight. He probably needs some Christopher Nolan goodness. I can’t disagree with him there.

Adios, my friends, and enjoy that popcorn. ❤

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Little Moments

Since I forgot to prepare something for Friday, these are few random tidbits from my grief journal about little things that remind me of her, sometimes catching me off-guard. I hope that you may find some solace in knowing that they happen to every griever, in a million unexpected ways.

N.

I found myself talking back to a movie like we used to do. It was Shooter, with your boyfriend Marky-Mark (Wahlberg). Such a fantastic movie. But as I was talking to it, I caught myself in a moment as if you were with me. Then it faded just as quickly. We won’t ever do that together again.

This sunburn spot below my neck is driving me insane. You would have reminded me to put on sunscreen for the snow. I miss your reminders. I love you.

After they leave, I gather my strength for one last clean sweep of the old apartment. I purge a little more, I stow the rest in the pickup, sweep and sweep, and finally say goodbye. There is no emotion nor attachment left to this place. You are gone from it; you are with me, but above me, like the subtle hint of rainbows spilling across the sky yet touching the ground somewhere undefined. I know that no matter how close I come to the source, I will not find it again.

As I’m sifting through our old gadgets, I reminisce about our early days. There was that infamous call from the peak of Mount Lassen when I went camping the summer of 2008, just after we’d started talking – the “smile ten-miles wide”. I can still recall that first ten-mile-wide smile on your warm inviting face, those deep steel-blue eyes, that sunny blond hair and sun-kissed California skin. Life began that day. And ended the day you passed away. Nothing in this world will ever be as beautiful as you.

rare fire rainbow in cloud formaion
Called a “fire rainbow“, rare and beautiful.
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A Letter to an Absentee Father

Let me be perfectly clear. This is NOT about my own father nor about my immediate family. Anybody who knows me knows that I damn-near idolize my father (most of the time, heh!). This is a collection of observations and thoughts regarding a general problem that I’ve been in close proximity to with some notable frequency and duration.

This shouldn’t be all depressing, though. June is, after all, the month of Father’s Day. So if you’re reading this and you think, “Hmm, I haven’t talked to my Dad in a while. Maybe I should try to talk it out, try to forgive him a little, and see if we can still make things work.” — DO IT. Life’s too short.

Or, if you’re like me and you love your dad, TELL HIM. Tell him why; why you admire him and respect him, why you wanted to be like him when you grew up. He loves to hear that sort of thing; it makes his heart swell with pride and joy.

Love and peace, friends.

N.

I can’t do this anymore. I can’t continue to be the peace-maker, the bridge-repairer, the message-passer. You need to make an effort. A true, unabashed effort. Make it personal. You say you’ve called? Call more. You say you’ve left messages? Leave more. Leave them until their voice-mail is full. And then text. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. Hell, maybe more. Don’t just say “Hey it’s Dad, call me.” You’re gonna need to apologize. You’re gonna need to grovel, even. You’re not going to like it. It’s going to be hard work, difficult and painful. And I can’t say the words for you. But try starting with something like this.

“I love you, son/daughter. I’m so sorry for everything. I want to try to be a part of your life again. And your kids’ lives — my grandkids. It hurts me to know that they’re growing up without knowing who I am. I know that I messed up. I know that you don’t want to give me another chance. I know that it’s not my right to ask you to. But I’m begging you. Please let me try to repair things. Let us try. Please.”

Do you understand why it’s come to this? Do you really get it? You weren’t there. You ignored them in their times of greatest need, and would not celebrate with them in their achievements. You abandoned your family because you could not work out your relationship with your wife. You refused to believe that she had their best interests at heart, or that you still could try, despite your newfound contempt for their mother. Which, by the way, was largely baseless. Sure, nobody’s perfect, but you made no effort to be the bigger person, to apologize with grace and to carry on with dignity. To remain the best father you could be to your kids, even when you were no longer a husband.

And now you want to make amends. NOW you want to set things right. Most of them have written you off. Most of them call you a lost cause. I’ve seen both sides. I’ve heard your hurt, and I’ve seen their struggles. But I’m not them. I’m merely an outside observer, a desperately-attempting-to-be-neutral party. I’m not the one who needs to hear your side. THEY are. HE is. SHE is.

That’s why this is going to be so difficult. That’s why this is going to be so painful. They’re not going to build you half a bridge as you build yours. You need to build THE ENTIRE THING. The whole bridge, down to the very last stone if you must. Maybe you’ll get lucky. Maybe once they see how far you’re willing to go, how much toil and sweat and tears you’re willing to expend, they’ll be ready to lay down a few bricks too. MAYBE.

But if they don’t? You better keep going. You better not give up. You better wipe that sweat off your crackled brow, dry those tears from your tired eyes, hoist that depressingly heavy hammer, and keep on layin’ that brick. Because if they see you give up now, they truly WILL be done with you. You WILL be that lost cause. And you won’t see those grandkids. And you won’t have anywhere to go, or anyone to come and see you, when you’re old and gray, and needing that little sparkle of joy once in a while just to keep you from collapsing in your retirement-home rocking chair and never getting up again.

And I’m sorry it’s come to this. I really am. I wish that I could help you more. I wish that I could build that bridge for you, even just a little. I wish that I could be that peace-maker, that man who stands in the middle of the great divide and says “Come, let us sit and take fellowship together, and let our past transgressions be forgiven, as difficult as that may be. Let us break bread and drink, and become family once more as we were, while we — while you, specifically — have what little time may yet be given us.”

But I can’t. I’m not. And I won’t. This is on you. As awful and terrifying and cosmic as that may sound. It’s ALL on you.

The choice is yours. Make it right.