Thursday, September 10, 2015

Colors

It's happened.

We did it.

We stepped forward off the precipice of relunctany and into the deep abyss of responsibility.

We put a bid in on a house.

*     *     *

I was taught, at that big fancy art school that I went to, that before you undertake a big design project, you should first make a idea board. This idea board used to be composed of whatever inspired you for this project. Real things. Actual fabrics stapled on. Coffee grounds and red lentils adhered with toxic glues. Pictures from old tour guide books and Polaroid photos.

It was real.

And it came from you.

Now we have Pinterest. Some of the photos are uploaded from actual independent Pinners (like me!). A lot of the pictures are digital copies of magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens (which, by god, I still have boxes of ripped out pages from somewhere in the garage, so I'm totally not judging). And then, there is the evil that lurks in the form of purchasable Pins that will link you to a page to actually buy that item. All in all it's quite the circus of Pantone color trends and cat memes, however, it does save you from having to make a physical idea board and BONUS it can be toted anywhere.

I was making one of these virtual idea boards today when I spotted something so familiar that I couldn't help but snigger a little and squint deviously. It was a color. A brand new color. A fresh and updated color worthy of any home wall or relic. A color that just so happened to be the color of my sixth grade tea dress.

Don't know what a sixth grade tee is? Neither does most of the world. In fact, I don't know if you spell it tee, like a golf tee, or T, as in Mister T, or tea, like 'social tea' cookies. I'm guessing tea, because it is, or was, in my mother's mind a great gala of an event that I would be attending. It was in actuality a graduation. Not even so much as a graduation as much as a march across a gym floor while names were being called.

And while other lads and lasses tromped across the floor in jeans and maybe a button down shirt, I debuted in watermarked satin; tiny baby's breath woven into my braid. This was during an era that your local shoe store would dye one of six styles of heels to match your dress, and wouldn't you know that my dress and shoes were both a dazzling and blinding 'peach'.

Anybody who's anybody (and really who is anybody anyway?), now calls this glorious color something else. Coral, blush, sweet rose, or pinky buff, call it what you will: it's peach. It varies from shade to shade, from insidious to deafening, but it's still the color peach. The color that I was so enamored with that I begged that the practice room I had in my little two bedroom childhood home be painted the exact same color.

There are certain colors offered in your local paint department that should never be used on walls. They are the colors offered because with the tints and bases the store stocks, the color is possible. Possible does in no way infer practical, beatiful, or something you will stop seeing when you close your eyes. But, because my parents loved me, they let their fingers slide across the chromatically ordered paint chips until they found the correct match.

After the room was painted, it was on good days: a bit bright, and on bad days: gaudy as pirate hooker. Every nice person who saw the room would just ignore the color the way you would 'unsee' plentiful dark hairs on a woman's upper lip. Every *not* nice person, which I was to find out later would be all be the boys that started to seek me out in quiet corners, would say the room was hideous.

As I got older, the tides shifted. The boys were more important then the fragile flowers tucked behind my ears at imaginary teas. The color I loved became the color I loathed. It represented the naïveté of my so recent childhood and clashed splendiferously with my new bad girl persona. It was the focus of my teenage rage and also the last window into my less complicated past. Soon there would be things like condoms, and combat boots, and lacquered lipstick... None of which would be peach.

When I spotted the color peach amongst the other colors on the page I was touched. Touched in a way that is hard to explain. The way your heart feels when you visit a playground from your youth that was so amazing, and even though it hasn't changed a bit, it's not so big now, not so amazing. Well, my peach was neither as amazing or as terrifying as I remembered. In fact, according to the article the paint was featured in, it's an accent color that goes well with dark greens and warm woods. That doesn't sound like the nightmare I recall. That makes the color sound down right pedestrian, friendly almost.

And guess who has warm wood and dark green countertops in the house they just put a bid on?

Sometimes, I almost believe everything is connected. That everything comes full circle, possibly many times, in one lifetime. Or maybe it's simultaneously as chaotic and cohesive as an orchestra tuning. Either way, I'm considering buying some "blush" paint. Pssss, don't tell my 16 year old self.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Poem 3

Poem 3

When I came into your life I was so small,

But you taught me stature doesn't matter at all,

You said I could sail boats and even conduct trains,

When I still was afraid I'd slip forever down drains.

You gave choices from which I could choose,

You gave me clothes, You gave me shoes.

You gave me a father, a mother and brother,

When it would have been easier to choose another.

And when everyone else, used only their eyes,

You gave me the occasion to which I could rise.

You gave me strength in a world that is brittle,

I am Stuart... and I am proud to be a Little.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Poem 2

Poem 2

I wove words from pure silk.

I wove words from my own juices, my own mind, my immeasurable universe.

I did it to save you pigs from yourselves.

In your bloody world of consumption, I distracted you.

But you made me keep spinning.

You needed more from me each time, and eventually I turned inward,

My voice only heard by a few, and one was my lover.

In the end your loneliness swallowed only a few of my children,

But most set forth with their own juices, their own minds,

Into this immeasurable universe.

I am Charlotte,

I did not let you feast on innocence.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Poem 1

Poem 1

This is me.
I am more than this.
But all you can see,
Is this.

I am dreaming,
The colors are so vivid,
Things twirl and dance on strings that I hold in my hands,
But all you can see, is this.

It's not your fault,
I am no magician, no telepath, no sorcerer,
I would give you all my colors,
But all you can see is this.

It is not a shadow,
It is white light so pure and hot it burns me,
You think it is empty but it is bursting
But all you can see

Is this the only way you can perceive?
The only way you cast your ballot
Based on the gap so wide,
we could both fall and never be found?

That is you,
But all I can see is this.


I am Fredrick,
And the winter is almost upon us.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Rabbit and the Wolf: A Story About Anxiety Disorders

There was once a rabbit, who being at the bottom of the food chain, worried incessantly about being caught and eaten. One day the rabbit came upon another group of rabbits who were nibbling clover in a rather dangerous place. The clover was much too close to the dense woods so that they could not see what hid amongst it's border. The clover was also very well exposed to the sky were a bird of prey could swoop down and snatch the dining rabbits.

The worried rabbit cautioned most urgently to the group, "You need to find a place to fill your stomachs that will not land you in the stomach of another!"

The group was not concerned and ignored the warnings of their brother, so the worried rabbit began again only this time quite angrily, "You are so amazingly stupid my fellow rabbits. Do you desire to be eaten? Then I am glad you are risking your necks, for that will save my own when the wolves have already had their fill of you!"

At this, one of the group became mad and retorted, "Do you know of a place that clover grows that is neither under the skies or close to the woods?"

And because the worried rabbit did not have an answer he hopped along down a path and ignored the jeering from the group. What the rabbit did not know was, there was a wolf watching the entire exchange between rabbits. Now, that wolf stepped out of the vegetation and the worried bunny froze in fear.

"Why did you treat your brothers so rudely?" Asked the wolf curiously, then he drew his lips back to show his many pointed teeth, "All animals must eat you know."

The worried rabbit stuttered, "Because they are my family, I love them, and I do not want to see them hurt!"

"But, you did not sound concerned, you sounded hateful and full of spite," insisted the wolf.

"I see that now," muttered the worried rabbit, "I should go back and apologize, but I will never have the chance to let them know my true intent because you will devour me."

The wolf contemplated the worried rabbits dilemma and said slyly, "If you can tell me the answer to your brothers riddle, 'what place does the clover grow that is neither under the skies or close to the woods?' Then, I will not break your neck with my sharp teeth."

The worried rabbit pondered furiously, and then he realized the answer remorsefully and turned to the wolf,

"The only place that clover grows that is neither under the skies or close to the woods is: in my own mind."

The wolf took a moment to weigh the worried rabbits answer and inquired, "If the only place that this certain clover can grow is 'in your mind', is not your argument with your brothers fruitless?"

"Yes, that is true," acknowledged the worried rabbit, "My strife with my brothers was only ever all in my own head. Will you now let me go back and apologize?"

The wolf had no choice but to honor his deal with the worried rabbit and he released him to make his amends. The worried rabbit tried hard to keep the simplicity of the wolfs wisdom fresh in his mind on the journey back to the clover, but the more he thought about it the more ashamed he became, and the less grasp he had on the concept. When the group of rabbits again came into sight he cowered just out of their view trying to find the right words to make things right.

It was then that the worried rabbit was caught and killed by a fox.

************

Note to the reader: I have been the worried rabbit many times. In my attempts to make things beautiful or perfect I have alienated that which is most priceless, my friends and family. What seems real and dangerous to me, may have actually been no more than the unavoidable uncertainty of a situation. In many cases, once I realized I was attacking the people around me in my panicked state of fear, it was too late. The relationship was revoked.

While it might seem I am trivializing the excruciating emotions involved in having an Anxiety Disorder by condensing them into a fable, I believe fables represent with concise clarity the reality and scope of our human intentions. There is always a rabbit. There is always a wolf. And sometimes, there is a fox we never expected, who cuts our time short.


Friday, February 20, 2015

You Must be Lunar to do That

I started writing a post yesterday about celebrating the Lunar New Year, but before publishing it I had a major anxiety attack about its authenticity. I'm no expert of the exact details of the tradition and don't like to just put empty words out there. I like my words to have meaning. I like for each of my posts to reveal a piece of myself. I do this in hopes that you will go forth more comfortable in sharing pieces of yourselves. I do this so that even if I can't express myself in person with an ounce of dignity or precision, at least there is this forum.

So....Before I share some excerpts from yesterday's writing, let me give you a few facts about the area I live in to get the juices pumping. In 2013, 86.3% of Indiana's populace was white. Of the remaining percentage, 1.8% of the population was Asian, with only 0.11% of any color declaring themselves of an eastern faith. Therefore, there isn't a lot of celebrating the Lunar New Year in Indiana, which is what prompted me to write the following dialogue about our family celebrations.


Me: Happy New Year!

Typical Hoosier: Didn't we already do that a month ago?

Me: Well, yes! But, this is the new lunar year.

Typical Hoosier: That sounds all new age and like hippy shit.

Me: ...yes, well. Asia follows a lunar calendar, which follows the cycles of the moon.

Typical Hoosier: Sounds confusing, here in 'Merica we do things the right way! 365 days a year, every year.

Me: What about leap years?

TH: ....

Me: There are more than 4.4 billion people in Asia, compared to the 319 million in the U. S. of A. I think if they feel like celebrating the beginning of their year on a different date, they are going to go ahead and do what they've been doing since before we were even a democracy.

TH: Why do you care anyways? You ain't Oriental.

Me: Technically no person is 'oriental'.

TH: What now?

Me: Look, if I need a reason, I celebrate because I'm Zen Buddhist.

TH: So you worship cows?

Me: You know, here's a bright SHINEY clementine, take it.

.............

Here's the truth about my family celebrating the Lunar New Year. We do it because it's fun. Buddhist celebrate the Buddhist New Year, which depending on your background and country of origin can be a date as early as January and as late as April. The thing is, I'm white, I'm from Indiana. I may have traveled around the world and feel most comfortable practicing the theology of Zen Buddhism, but in the end I'm a hick from Indiana. I'm a Hoosier. Nobody is forcing me to celebrate, I'm doing it purely for shits and giggles.

Did you know that in Korea they take reservations for Christmas at Kentucky Fried Chicken? Do you know how happy that makes me? First, there is no religious event in Korea that mirrors our American festival of Christmas, and yet they do it anyway. And because turkeys are scarce in Korea and fried chicken is delicious, they just choose to celebrate it at an American institution, KFC. And as ridiculous as that sounds it's not much different than little old white me trying to find a recipe for Nian Gao (a Chinese steamed cake) on Pinterest.

In a way, I feel like the growing popularity in our (American) holiday season in Asia and American's similar interest in a Chinese New Year makes perfect sense. The Chinese Lunar New Year marks the biggest migration of people on earth, as Asians from all over the world travel home to be with their families, just as in the States were singing, "I'll be home for Christmas" for a reason. Airports and roadways are clogged with people going home for the holidays. So instead of calling it the Chinese New Year, or the Lunar New Year, or whatever else you can think of, I'm tempted to start referring to it as Asian Xmas.

If your game for entertaining this crossover holiday in your home I recommend also borrowing some of the symbolism used in creating the traditional feast. Things such as long noodles (for a long life), whole foul and fish (for family unity), rolls and dumplings (wealth), oranges (luck), and seeds (for fertility). And why not chow down on some buttermilk biscuits (for cholesterol) and mashed taters (for patriotism) while you're at it?

Or, you can do what my family did. Go out for pho, which is Vietnamese. That would really make the local chapter of VVA happy. Did I mention that one in eight people in Indiana are over 65?

Whatever you do, or did yesterday to celebrate, be proud. Be proud that you are not closed minded. That you are making this "a small world after all." And, if you didn't celebrate, consider doing so next year. Just take my advice and don't stress the exact reason why you are celebrating or try desperately to find ingredients that nobody stocks. Celebrate because every day deserves to be a celebration. You don't need to know the exact ins and outs of the traditions. All you need to know is: it's a day about food and family.

"Compassionate people are geniuses in the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security, and joy of humanity than the discoverers of knowledge."  - Albert Einstein



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Immigration Problems

Right now in Indiana, it's bitter cold. Not, pretty snowflakes cold. Not, let's build a snowman cold. Fricking freeze your face off cold. Like a windchill of -15 to -24 degrees. So, it's not surprising to me that we are having a little immigration problem. That is, a shrew has decided to illegally cross the border between outside (where it belongs) and inside my apartment (where it most definitely does not).

Being the soft squishy Buddhist that I am, this is a dilemma of karmic proportions. I can't, like my grandfather, just get one of the two thousand rusty mousetraps he keeps scattered around his beer fridge and leave it set out primed for murder. I'm too sensitive, too gentle...

Okay, the real reason is: I'm too squeamish.

I mean, it's killing. I'm not hungry and without food, I'm not feeding my children; I would just be taking a life because that life threatens my own cleanliness. Honestly, if the little thing didn't pee and poop, I might be more lenient to its using my pad as a winter home. I mean, people, it is not exactly going to eat me out of house and home. Not crazy about it chewing up my belongings to make a nest, but we could work out some arrangement I'm sure. Well, no, probably not... I don't want to find it in my cereal box.

My first thought was, If I can't do it, I'll make someone else do the dirty work! Someone fittingly evil, someone without compassion or ethics. Someone, like a cat. Actually, an actual cat would be perfect. I would just be helping the natural order of things along. It's not murder, it's nature.

So, I started putting my feelers out for an assassin, I mean, a cat. I offered a brand spanking new can of premium tuna and the satisfaction of being top predator to any willing parties. I got a few bites, but the issue was I have dogs, and most of the assassins' bosses (I mean cat's owners) were afraid that the dogs would scare the cats. Ironically, it was the shrew that was scaring the dogs.

Now I know some of you have already gotten the broom out in your imagination and are standing over the last know whereabouts of Mr. Nibbles waiting. You don't understand why I'm not defending my home the American way, with both barrels blazing. Oh, and I get where you're coming from. I'm the one carrying mace, with throwing knives in my bedroom, and a ten pound flashlight by the door. But let's face it, humans are dangerous. If a human tried to get into my home, I know it's not to tip over the garbage.

But are all humans dangerous?

I'm sorry to say, that the same grandfather who doesn't sweat killing a mouse, also doesn't give a rat's ass about deporting all the illegal immigrants. Actually, if he had his way there would probably be huge looming "people traps" set up along the border.

But my heart is different. I don't know better, I just know different. I wouldn't want to keep these people from knowing a life without poverty. I wouldn't swoop down like a hawk and pluck these neighbors from knowing the simple happiness of having enough food and clean water. I am not a hawk in the grand scheme of things. I am a shrew. And for this reason, I pity the shrew, feel for the shrew.

*snap!*

I pitied the shrew. I felt for the shrew. But in the end, my husband put a trap out.