It Always Rains In April

Another “Storm of the Century” in these parts. (Remember when the news and weather folks used to just give you the news and weather? Now they read from corporate scripts and try to put a dramatic angle on every gust of wind.) Just another stormy day in the Pacific Northwest. Same thing every year. Even climate change hasn’t altered the usual April rain.

Oh, we were, and still are apparently, supposed to have howling gusts of winds, capable of toppling trees and washing onlookers out to sea. Buckets and buckets of rain, too. Well, we had a beautiful, sunny, warm, blustery morning. The air was fresh, the wind chimes chimed, and the springtime flora dazzled in the sunshine. The afternoon turned grey, the winds became a little more brazen, and we had a typical spring downpour. The air was still warm.

No Storm of the Century, however.

Aside from my persistent allergic sneezing, I love springtime in these parts. A very close second to autumn. April and May are the best. Warm, rainy Aprils beget vibrant, warm Mays. Not worthy of a dramatic news headline – just the way it is.

Which brings me to the point of this entry. (As much as love to discuss the weather, I’m not here to give you the local forecast.) Why can’t we just accept some things as they are, just enjoy the beauty and changes of the natural world? A spring storm doesn’t have to be breaking news. I don’t need constant updates on the one tree that fell over, which was probably so old, it was due to topple. I also don’t need constant admonishments from officials to stay indoors. Life can be risky sometimes.

I, for one, will sleep peacefully tonight. Rainy Saturday nights are good for sleeping, especially when you can sleep in on a rainy Sunday morning. A few glasses of Spanish red wine help the snoozing process, too. The attic door will rattle if it’s windier than usual. I like it – makes me imagine ghosts in the attic. Although, that’s more fun during blustery autumn nights.

Sometimes I wish the world would just take a moment and have a collective calm down. No breaking or headline news. Just observe, breathe, and be. Yes, the Buddhist spirit lives within me.

Time to curl up with a good book, sip some wine, and listen to the wind chime symphony. And look, 70 degrees and sunny on Monday. I’m looking forward to simple beauty of springtime sunshine after the rain.




Chaos and Calm

Write, write, and write. This is what I tell myself every morning. Sometimes at 5AM; other times a little later, after coffee. (Speaking of coffee, it’s almost noon and the coffee I made at 7:00 is getting a little mudlike.) Back to writing. I’ve had about six weeks or so to devote to my first love, the written word. As usual, life gets in the way. I’ve been jotting notes here and there. However, most of my writing has been life planning. Not all that exciting.

I know why writers lock themselves away in a cabin for months in order to create. Perhaps I’m too engaged with the outside world. Social media doesn’t help, especially when it becomes the news. Where to find the balance between isolating myself, yet keeping in touch with life. Having a plan while trying to be spontaneous.

The world seems to be a bundle of chaos right now. Well, the world is always chaotic, isn’t it? Chaos is a fundamental aspect of life. Up to us to find the calm. My calm is writing, accompanied by music and a beverage. Today’s writing music is Tom Waits, specifically “The Early Years: Volume 2.” I find it’s easier to be creative when I’m experiencing another’s creativity. Just let the words flow, and try not to think about it too much. As a chronic overthinker, this can be a challenge.

The story I’ve been working on for a very long time, emphasis on very, is fluid. I think I’ve got it, then it changes. Or perhaps my feelings about it change. This is what happens when you attempt to write an epic tale loosely based on personal experience. I’ve mentioned this before, but my mind travels back to ‘The Wonder Boys” and all those pages of an unfinished book. My pages are confined to a Chromebook, thankfully, and not blowing around in the wind.

So onward I wander through the chaos, trying to find the calm. You can be sure I’ll be writing about it as I wander along.

The Groundhog Was Right

Six more weeks of winter. Isn’t that what Punxsutawney Phil predicted a few weeks ago? Seems like forever ago. As I revealed in my last entry, I decided to move on from my most recent job to new adventures. It hasn’t even been two weeks, but two weeks seems so long ago now. Much to do, much to plan. A few moments of anxiety in between.

However, let’s get back to the weather. In all seriousness, where would all of humanity be if we didn’t have to weather to discuss? Well, things have been rather interesting around here the past week. Old Man Winter made his return, in a rather spectacular fashion, a day or two after I set out on my new existence. Hm. Not sure how I feel about that. I’m not one for omens, especially bad ones.

I can’t remember the last time we had this much snow, this late in the winter. (Apparently, we had a foot of snow in mid-February 1995. I don’t remember a bit of that.) Nonetheless, this week we’ve had not one, but two, somewhat significant snowfalls. If you’re from the Midwest or East Coast, please just ignore me. Our two, four-inch snow “storms” are probably laughable. This is a West Coast blog, OK?

As this city enjoys the opportunity to shut down for a few inches, this week has pretty much been awash. Why even bother to try to do anything significant? Sit back and enjoy the winter beauty with the rest of the crowd. Maybe that’s what was making me so anxious – taking snow days when I feel like I have so much to do. All I wanted to do was cook delicious pot roast in my dutch oven and curl up under a soft blanket. I need my early Spring energy and mojo back!

Alas, even though a few flurries fluttered to the ground at sunset this evening, the snow is melting. The days are longer. I didn’t turn on the porch light until after six. Buds on the flowering trees are eager to bloom, even covered in snow. The sun feels much warmer when it makes an appearance. The aisles of my local grocery store are lined with plush bunnies and chicks, pastel-colored baskets, and bags of plastic eggs. Oh, and a rack of delicate, mini-daffodils outside the main entrance, holding on for dear life against the elements. Spring is on the way. Renewal, rebirth, and new chances await. The past week or so has just been a little test. Can you withstand a bit of frosty adversity?

And so I keep moving on. Of course there were moments during the past week when I marveled at the quiet beauty of winter snow. Waking up at 5 AM a couple of mornings ago, to experience the majesty of a snowy, winter sunrise. Watching night turn to morning, against the glowing winter snow. This evening, I gazed at the snowset. (My word. Can I trademark it?) The blazing sun taking over, as if to let those frosty flakes know their time was limited. Made me think of Heat Miser and Snow Miser from “The Year Without A Santa Claus.”

Find the beauty where you can. Everything will change soon enough.


Everything Changes, Nothing Changes

Today I decided to move on from my job. In common lingo, I quit. Nothing dramatic, like throwing papers, giving a dramatic speech, and marching out the door. No. My exit was quiet. A nice, formal resignation letter and email. Professional and lacking emotion. I do have a knack for cold, concise business writing. And this wasn’t a sudden move. I’ve been pondering the pros and cons of leaving for at least three months. I just finally pulled off the band-aid this morning.

Trust me, the decision wasn’t an easy one. Giving up a comfortable salary with benefits, good working schedule, reduced cost mass transit pass for… Likely back to the uncertain life of a contract worker. Ah, but now I can return to the book. If I give myself a month of writing, every day, non-stop, I should be able to at least finish a rough draft. Then, I can get back to the mundane business of office work. I’ll have to live like a pauper for the next month, but I’ve done it before. And nothing makes me happier than writing. These are the things I’ve been weighing in my mind over the past several months. My head was telling me a million things, while my heart told me one thing. Finally, this morning, they met in the middle.

After the deed was done this morning, I didn’t want to wait around the house for the likely texts, calls, and emails, imploring me to reconsider. I didn’t have the heart to suddenly intrude on the roomie’s usual weekday alone time. So, I left the house just as I would to go off to work, and explored instead. The sky was a perfect clear blue and, by afternoon, the sun had permeated the brisk winter chill.

I bought a day transit pass and boarded my first train. I headed out West, toward another former employer. The book smelling business. Now that was a strange job, one that I thought I would like at first. However, it quickly went to strange places when the boss told us to make sure we weren’t listing pornographic materials. Uh, ok. Are these cheesy romance novels what you consider porn?

Once that little jaunt down memory lane was over, I headed back into town. As I passed the zoo, I reminisced about the wonderful summer concerts. Chris Isaak, multiple times, Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar last summer. I considered hopping off and wandering around the zoo, but I had other places to visit. Besides, I’m now on a super strict budget. Can only afford free attractions at the moment.

The train traveled under the Vista Bridge and my mind wandered back to that cool June night in 1997. The one and I shared our first kiss on the bridge, after a midnight walk. I was wearing the blue print dress; he was wearing that blue jacket, and Levi’s, of course. One of few truly romantic moments over what would turn into an almost 20-year relationship/friendship/not-quite-sure-what.

Got off the train and strolled around NW. I stopped at the store, bought a box of hair color, and found a bag of mini-Heath bars, made some small talk about favorite candy bars with a nattily dressed and chatty old woman. I passed the building where the one used to live with our mutual friend. Still that light yellow color. I gazed at the big window where he used to sit and wait for me during the Summer of 1997. He was always strumming his guitar, with his feet propped up on the window sill. We used to spend hours listening to his vast record collection in that apartment – Stan Getz Bossa Nova. Tom T. Hall. Boston – More Than A Feeling, in particular. Funny… That building now houses $400,000 condos. Twenty years ago, the rent was $700 for a two-bedroom apartment. Spendy in those days. Oh, this city.

Where to next? How about heading toward my childhood and young adulthood? Nothing more comforting than thinking of those days when things are a little crazy. South of the city this time. As soon as I stepped off the train, and looked at the familiar, yet new, surroundings I thought, “Home.” OK, there are an alarming amount of tweakers in that part of town these days. However, enough of the old remains to make me immediately recognize the place as home. Walking through JC Penney, where I had my first job after high school and into my first few years of college. Those were the easy days, even if they seemed hard at the time. Working and going to school, my entire adult life ahead of me. I had yet to experience real heartbreak, as I would many times later. I was going to save the world back then! Idealistic Sociology major.

Everything seems so big, wide, and expansive out there in the ‘burbs. I’ve spent the past 26 years living in the inner city. I’m used to crowding. Almost makes me want to return to the suburbs. My 25-year-old self would be aghast!

Finally, I headed North, toward the airport. The afternoon sky was especially blue. I love watching planes take off and land against the sparkling sky. I stopped at Target, to grab a few necessities while I still have the money. Then, I ordered a delightful Valentine’s Day-inspired Cherry Mocha from Starbucks, found a bench, and watched the planes with the afternoon sun warming my face. Lots of Southwest and Alaska planes. Short flights, I imagine. I wondered about that Delta plane. Was it an international flight? My omnipresent wanderlust. I need to squelch all thoughts of international travel, at least in the near future. That’s definitely one of the cons.

It was getting close to 4:00. I longed for home. I needed to start planning and plotting this new phase of my life. Yet another new phase. I seem to experience a new phase at least once every six months. As I walked in the front door, I felt different than I have the past year. The roomie was oblivious. I unpacked my belongings and thought about dinner. And writing. And sticking to my budget for the next few months. Tomorrow I’ll still wake up early, knowing I did what I had to do, what I thought was best for me, and move on. I’ll write, tweak the resume, scan the temp gigs, obsessively revise the budget. It’s also Valentine’s Day. Look at that.

The Winter Tree, 2018 Version

I took a moment to look at the Winter Tree yesterday. The usual bare branches stood firm against the gray January afternoon sky. The 2018 version of the Winter Tree is pretty much the same as the 2017, 2016, 2015, etc. versions. The branches are the type an artist would sketch to depict the bleakness of winter. Although, compared to last year, this January has been downright balmy, Pacific Northwest style. The Spring Tree and it’s little green buds of hope isn’t far behind.

What prompted me to gaze out the window at the sturdy Winter Tree was a commotion. The sing-song chirps of many birds, as they glided in and fluttered down for a landing atop the bare branches. What a delightful sight! So much life, so much activity on a blah winter day.

I was reminded that, even in the darkness of the season, life goes on. Nature doesn’t stop for a gray day! Birds don’t suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Quite the contrary… They take joy in sitting on their favorite tree branches, leafless or not. They keep on living their lives. I need to follow their example. Another life lesson, courtesy of that magical, old tree.



The Letter

This is the letter that I’ve written in various forms. Some I’ve sent in emails; some versions go the way of the recycle bin. The thoughts are filed in my brain. The feelings now part of my soul.

Dear (Insert Name),

Where do I start? I hope you are well, in the way I hope all of humanity is at peace. Oh, who are we kidding? I know you are doing well. Social media tells me so. It’s weird seeing you so happy and light-hearted. I was there during one of the worst times of your life. Not necessarily by choice, but I was there. Or have you forgotten?

Maybe you’re doing the right thing by conveniently forgetting those years. Yes, years. Not a few months, rather years. Believe me… I try to forget. However, I’m left with the reminders. I think I finally threw out your old, well-worn cowboy boots. Or perhaps I buried them in the attic among the boxes of holiday decorations. I still have the weird unicorn art you sent to me from middle-of-nowhere Montana. I enjoy it as a bizarre art piece. Looking at it reminds me of better times, at least between the two of us, back when I thought we would be BFFs forever.

I tried. I swallowed my pride and gave you your space. Yet, in the end, none of that mattered. You made your choice. Over two years now. I thought you would be ready to speak to me again after six months. Not this time. What else can I do but respect your decision?

Just because I accept your wishes, it doesn’t mean the hurt dissipated into the atmosphere. It comes and goes. I’m good at distracting myself when necessary. I have a new job, new people in my life, am celebrating the holidays with as much joy as ever. You used to call me the holiday lady. That made me giggle.

What hurts the most? Not that we are no longer in each other’s lives. I know people come and go in life. For the universe’s sake – I’ve come and gone from many lives! My issues stem from your ability to completely deny that period of your life ever existed. You’ve completely erased me from your history. I gave you shelter and worried about your well-being, when no one else did. Ah yes, I’m the martyr. The invisible martyr.

When I am able to put the hurt aside which, believe it or not, is much easier to do two years on, I feel like a survivor. I’m as independent as ever. I might be good at playing the martyr, but I’m not bitter… well, most of the time. I’m human. I have my moments. When I look at our past, I see someone who survived the kind of heartbreak I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So, thank you for making me stronger. You may float around in my head a little too much, yet you’ll never break me.

And now for the strangest part of all this. I feel vindicated. You were always a potential Trump supporter, even eight years ago. I, of course, was not. You gave me holy hell for being, what was it, a lefty, too liberal? More than one of our arguments stemmed from you watching Alex Jones on my computer, under my roof. Well, look at the state of things now. Guess you were wrong, and I was right. Silly and childish? Perhaps. A vindicated survivor. Thanks again, dude.

So on we go about life, travelling down separate roads, with new people and old friends. I really do wish you well, in a broad sense.

Keep it real.





And Then the News Broke…

All my introspection from earlier this morning seems pointless. Well, not pointless, just a little self-centered and woe-is-me. Leave it to world events to bring me out of my own head. I’m talking about the horrible, disgusting, violent shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas today. Here we go again, I thought. We live in a society where violence is the norm. As a lifelong pacifist, I don’t know whether to be cynical, sad, or both. This is how people lose hope.

Yet again, both sides of the political aisle will be bickering and yammering, and nothing will be accomplished. See, I am a bit cynical. I am one of those nutty types who doesn’t think this is an entirely either/or issue. We have a mental health crisis in this country, particularly among white men, and we sure as hell have a gun crisis in this country. What are we going to do about it? Nothing, again? You reap what you sew.

I’m not a religious type. Wasn’t raised as such. I was raised in a household where you were free to believe in God, or a god, but didn’t have to attend church every Sunday to prove it. However, there is something peaceful and serene about churches. Maybe it’s the stained glass windows, the floral arrangements, the candles, the organ, the dark wood. Old churches are beautiful, architecturally speaking. Even the most non-spiritual person likely feels a little spiritual pull when stepping into a church, or any place of worship. They are sanctuaries from the chaos of the outside world.

Schools and churches are supposed to be safe places. However, the violence they have endured over the last couple of decades is heart-wrenching. And no, I don’t want to live in a society where teachers and preachers are packing heat.

So yet again, I’m left to ponder why people choose violence over peace. I know the answer is complicated, a mix of society and psychology, and easy access to killing machines. I might not pray for peace, but at least I can hope for it.