I was out walking yesterday morning and came upon some sea gulls fighting over a discarded slab of pizza – or at least what passes for pizza here in Southwest Florida. One of the birds persistently pecked at the pizza until it was light enough for him to carry it in flight. In this manner, he was able to get it away from his opponents and have it all to himself.
[pullquote]Strategy that works is definitely a competitive advantage. Just make sure that what you are fighting for is worth it.[/pullquote] This little tableau, which took less than a minute to play out, illustrated an important point for me. Strategy that works is definitely a competitive advantage. Just make sure that what you are fighting for is worth it. I mean, FLORIDA pizza? C’mon! 😉
Is there any reason I should continue to channel sincere effort toward the conventional, when it’s not really what I want? As I told a few friends recently – I’ve been praying for the wrong thing. I’ve been focusing on a job. What job should I choose? Will there be any jobs available? What if I don’t find a job? Job, job, job – wrong, wrong, wrong!
I don’t want a job. I want INCOME. I’m not saying that I don’t want to work. I’m saying that we all work for a reason, and that reason is to get some money so we can support our lives. So what we really, REALLY want, at the very core, is INCOME. A job is just ONE way of getting that.
Since I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, I’m confusing the Universe by asking for a job. So, let me clarify that for you, Universe.
I want INCOME.
You get to decide how you’re going to deliver it to me.
And no pizza, please – not unless it was born and raised in New York 😉
[pullquote]My friends have entered into an unwitting conspiracy on my behalf – a conspiracy designed to help me see that this is not a time of bell, book and candle…[/pullquote]
“Clock, keys and Light…. clock, keys and Light….”
These words represent ordinary objects routinely encountered in everyday life. But last night, as the ritual annual viewing of “Love Actually” provided a flickering yet sufficient glow for the addressing of Christmas cards, “clock, keys and light” morphed into something akin to one of those pesky “ear worm” songs (Like this one. You’re welcome). Virulently pestilent, “clock, keys and light” repeated itself over and over in my mind with a cadence similar to that of “bell, book and candle”, a phrase used long ago to describe a once-popular method for the excommunication of sinners from the Catholic Church. When used in an excommunication ritual, the “bell” represents a death knell for the sinner’s soul, the “book” is shut to represent cutting the sinner off from the teachings of the Church and the candle is extinguished, leaving the sinner in the darkness of damnation.
(“Bell, Book and Candle” is also the title of a film, a romantic comedy starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novack. I recommend it, if only for the delight of hearing the actors utter one of the great cat names of all time – “Pyewacket”. Go on and say it now. “Pyewacket. Pyewacket. PYEWACKET!” See how delightful that is?)
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You might say that I’ve suffered something of an excommunication recently. Early in September, the bell tolled for the death of my 19 year career at Too Big To Fail. After having handed in my badge, the door slammed behind me and I no longer had access; I was shut out of that institution forever. Darkness descended, sort of a radio silence. I no longer know anything about the day-to-day doings there, or of the people with whom I’d enjoyed daily contact for so very many years.
Whereas “bell, book and candle” are punishments, “clock, keys and light” are gifts. They came to me from some of the intended recipients of the cards I was addressing last night, which is what prompted the chanting inside my head. Oddly – or perhaps not – all three items arrived in the mail within the last month, and all three were sent to me by people I met online. One woman hails from Colorado, another from the Midwest and the third right here in Florida. Ironically, the Floridian is the only one of the three I haven’t actually met – this, despite the fact that until last year, we were at most 30 minutes apart by car.
“Spotty” is from Colorado. I met her on an internet forum in connection with our mutual love of all things Disney. We’ve attended a few meets together at Walt Disney World, most recently during the inaugural Princess Half Marathon, which she finished despite a very painful knee. Spotty is the one amongst these three online friends with whom I’ve spent the most face-time. The fact that a good chunk of this face-time occurred in a tequila bar should not, in any way, be construed as a commentary on the quality of our interactions. It was fabulously fun face-TIME and therefore, Spotty is naturally the giver of the clock. The clock arrived on November 12th. It’s a tiny, shiny, perfect little gifty-treat, a memento from some anniversary celebrated by Disneyland in California. The face of the clock bears a portrait of my favorite Disney character, Tinkerbell. I did not save the SMS text exchange that preceded its arrival in my mailbox, but I have a vague recollection that Spotty was performing a purge of possessions when she found the clock, and since I am known elsewhere on the internet as “Tink *~*~*”, it made her think of me. I was touched at her thoughtfulness in asking to send it to me.
“GPC” is a blogger who hails from the Midwest; you can find her at Shedding The Wolf. I originally met her online as “Sandpail Gail” on a forum dedicated to discussion about Sanibel and Captiva, the magical sub-tropical islands which lured me to relocate to Southwest Florida from Da Loverly Isle Of Long. It’s an unfortunate hallmark of the times in which we live; GPC has also been recently “excommunicated” from her career, so we can definitely relate to one another’s current respective plights. In the surprise package from GPC were two key blanks that can be cut to fit the lock of my choice. They are pretty much the same size as my current house keys. These gifts arrived on December 11th and like the clock, they also bear the visage of Tinkerbell.
Last but certainly not least is “Maidenshade”, my fellow Floridian and kindred spirit – so kindred, I’ve actually friended her on Facebook, which is something usually reserved for people I’ve met and spent time with. “Maidenshade” is the name of her business, where she hand-crafts beautiful lampshades and night lights. One day last summer, I was accosted in the aisle of a local home goods warehouse by a massive framed piece of art. It’s a bold and stunningly modern departure for the woman whose home is filled with ornately carved antiques. However, I was inexplicably drawn to it. I knew the moment I clapped eyes on it that the large expanse of bare, white wall over the garden tub in The Palace (my master bath) would henceforth be barren no more. I posted a photo of it to Facebook and now Jen has cleverly gone and made me a beautiful night light to match. I took delivery of it on December 14th and immediately installed it in The Palace, marveling at how impeccably made it is.
Why am I writing about these gifts? Well, it’s like this. I saved the return addresses on all three packages so that I could record them in my contacts list on my phone and send “thank you” notes in the form of Christmas cards. Last night, I assembled all the essential implements of Christmas carding and laid them out on the blue suede damnsofa – the requisite smelly candle (it’s called Yankee Candle “Sparkling Snow”), the seasonal entertainment (the aforementioned DVD of Love Actually – although, Christmas music can also be used), the cards with scenes like Santa posed inappropriately beneath a palm tree, the pens, stamps, return address labels, phone with the contacts list and a cup of Tazo decaf chai.
The first three cards I wrote were for the recipients listed on the return addresses I’d ripped from the packages containing the clock, the keys and the light. And as I was writing, the phrase began to sing in my head – “clock, keys, light…” – which eventually transformed itself into “Time! Answers! Illumination!”
My friends have entered into an unwitting conspiracy on my behalf – a conspiracy designed to help me see that this is not a time of bell, book and candle, not a time of death, imprisonment and darkness. It is, rather, a period in my life rich with gifts. Time, unfettered by work-a-day obligations, is a gift. Time permits me to explore, to discover answers that have lain locked behind obligation and practicality, to open the doors to my secret (so secret, it’s hidden even from me!) calling and illuminate what lies inside.
How did you all know just what I needed, and in just such a combination that would capture and keep my attention and fire my imagination? I think you are all remarkable, but I bet you didn’t – know, that is. There’s another explanation, however – episodic Memos From The Universe. That’s what this is. And I thank you all for answering whatever call from the Universe it was that you heard, which has led me to relax, if just a little, and believe, if only for a day, that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this time, doing pretty much what I’m supposed to be doing.
You know what pisses me off? I did this already. I wanted to sing well and perform. I got some training, fought tooth and nail for it. I wanted a better job, one that paid more and had great benefits. I wanted an unencumbered life. I wanted a degree. I wanted to live in paradise.
I made all that happen. I am freakin’ TIRED of making shit happen. I’m old now! I am not 20 or 33 or 40 and I am not Madonna. I don’t have endless financing with which to execute the next personal reinvention.
I was settled. I was content. I hate being derailed yet again. I worked to get here. Why is it an endless fight? I want to stop moving. I am tired.
The author points out protestations about age, about the established versus the unencumbered. I think it’s more than that. Anyone past their 20s has had shit happen to them. Therefore, they come with a pre-crushed soul. We KNOW that bad stuff can and does happen to good people. We KNOW that happy endings are not only optional, they are rare. Even the soul-crushing day jobs are rare birds these days. So if one cannot get one of those, what makes one think one can get a dream job?
See? The fact that I even typed that sentence is evidence of my own pre-crushed soul. How can you un-learn what life has taught you? How can you un-know the certain knowledge that life sucks and then you die, and that everything else is a lie, a fantasy that you use to soothe yourself?
I had that dream I always dream sometime after someone I know dies – the dream that tells me they are moving on. Sometimes it is only a matter of a few weeks until they are ready to go. Others take months.
I dreamed of Lisa. I believe it’s been three and a half months. She’s ready now. In my dream, she was alive again, returned from the dead. Well, not really. Apparently, we’d all been mistaken and she’d never really been dead to begin with. I knew that this would happen again, but it’s alright because the possibility of coming back yet again is always there.
She was wearing a plain dress with a skirt that would be good for twirling around. I hugged her, hoping she could forgive me for some transgression, and I was sorry I could not go with her.
I think of her each time I go to the beach, as though all oceans are connected, as though somehow she will come floating in towards me on the next wave.
I realize now that I’d been looking forward to being able to be friends with her instead of colleagues. I feel disappointed for myself that she died before the layoff happened. I miss her 🙁
So, have I mentioned that I am going to a writers conference on Sanibel? Four days of immersion in readings, lectures and writing workshops await me. Gary and Tootie are going to let me stay with them so I don’t have to "commute" each morning. This means an extra hour of sleep, which is a precious commodity these days, so their hospitality is much appreciated.
Here are my favorite implements of writing – a marble-covered composition book and a handful of blue ink Bic Stic medium ball point pens in the original "crystal" casing. And they all still have their caps. And none of them are chewed.
Years ago, when I was a child first learning to write, these marble-covered composition books came only in black. I have filled a few of the black ones in my time! In more recent years, the marble-covered composition book has become available in a wide array of colors. I’m quite taken with the blue ones; you really can’t expect different from a person blogging from the comfort of her blue suede sofa.
"Marble-covered composition book" is such an iconic phrase. In my mind, it’s right up there with "little red-haired girl" and "you bet your sweet bippy". Repeat these phrases to people of a certain era, and they know exactly what you’re talking about. Language can be a huge part of the shared cultural experience. That’s one of the things it has in common with music, the visual arts and food.
I’ve only just returned to my comfy little home after a long (10 days) stay in Orlando. It feels like a bit of a burden to be leaving again so soon but I am sure that once I get there, I will be happy that I signed up.
I googled Mary Quant – she practices what she preaches!
I don’t happen to think that God gave me the right hair color. I look so much more natural with the one I invented with my colorist after chemo. I am way too pale for ashy-brown-dishwater-blond hair. Pretty much everyone I’ve asked agrees that strawberry blond was the way to go for me.
There’s this school of thought that says that you should accept yourself the way you are and that everyone else should, too. But I disagree. I think we are all empowered to change what we don’t like about ourselves, to improve, to grow. Let’s face it, we have precious little control over anything else in life but we are ALL masters of our own destiny. We can ALL make ourselves over in our OWN image.
Too few people, especially women, realize that it’s within their power to reinvent themselves either continually or until they are satisfied. I think it’s one of the things I have loved about Madonna over the years. Self-reinvention has become something of lifetime practice for her. We never, EVER have to settle if we don’t want to. We are all lumps of clay in our very own hands.
Start sculpting 🙂
(took a picture of that in a magazine and now I cannot remember which – pretty sure it was either Real Simple or else it was O.)
Treading the fine line between "alone" and "free"…