I’ll Just Be Over Here With My Stone Tablet and Chisel

because I can barely figure out how to post anymore. During one of my long absences, WordPress made all kinds of changes, which I have to assume are for the better, but which leave me stymied. WordPress has very kindly made instruction available, even a Blogging For Dummies-type lesson, and they have live help at certain hours. But I’m about as interested in attending a WordPress class as I am in taxes or dental work. It’s the same deal: I know it will be good for me and I know I’ll be glad afterwards, but MAN I don’t want to do it.

Does anyone remember WordPerfect, from the 80s? I miss it.

While my blogging pal was a whirlwind in the kitchen this weekend, I made 2 things: a rhubarb upside down cake, and a freestyle potato salad. Both were for get-togethers with friends and both were delicious (yeah yeah: the food, not the friends). I did lots and lots of gardening, including sentimental things like planting my mom’s window boxes and taking some plants from her garden that I had originally put INTO her garden when I sold my house 7 years ago.

The man I fell in love with last summer had to back out of the relationship, first temporarily, and then indefinitely. Well, he would probably say it was indefinite from the start. I had to think of it as temporary at the start, and then slowly wrap my mind around the idea/fact that it was indefinite. He had hit his wall and decided to work on dismantling it as best he could, but couldn’t be with me while he did. I was stricken with grief, I truly was. I still kindof am, but not all the time. I don’t think of the breakup as indefinite anymore. I wonder sometimes if the future will bring us together, but I think of our relationship as over. Not “over for now,” but really over. Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. But I’m actively open to meeting someone.

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Playlist

The man I fell in love with had surgery this fall. I made him this playlist for his recuperation. I realized anyone could enjoy it; no reason it should be only for him. So, here’s the Playlist for Healing and Restoration.

Heal Us Now. It has some Hebrew in the beginning, then lots of English.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBkC6yxIzOE


Ozi V’zimrat Yah.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqK4IhNghmI I like the commentary too. “My Strength (balanced) with the Song of God will be my salvation (Psalm 118:14, Exodus 15:2)  In this practice I find and express my strength, my will, my effort and desire when I chant “Ozi.” When I chant “v’zimrat Yah,” I open and surrender to the God-song and let it be sung through me. Then in the last phrase, “Vayahi li lishuah,” I balance those two aspects of my practice.” — Rabbi Shefa Gold
I like how she seeks the balance between will/strength and opening/letting go.


Great song!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0ZZHNRHA2g

I have almost worn a groove in the CD on this song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9h2QC3nM-Ec

Ditto about the groove.  One commenter called this an anthem.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc6HloRYZGc

Thritto, altho not an anthem.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXPhjDIljU8

Quitto (which means this fourth one is the last one). This one I’d call an anthem. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx9VTFXMsRg

I was glad to see that lots of commenters cried as much as I did when we first heard (and sang) this song.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg1xFYpXuWA

Great advice.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kHFdAh7XSM

So sad, true and beautiful. (But perhaps not fun getting well music.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90Ssi-T28zg

Bobby and Robin tell it like it is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3TZjBZgrno

NOTHING about this is less than perfection.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTWH1Fdkjow

In case you want to catch your breath.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smb6l0by_Js

Another trio.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbgQITWRTbQ

The life of Jesus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_ZHhe0rBbk

You said you wanted to lay low while you recover.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCCY5n2KhhI

And in case the pain meds don’t work.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhj7DFX2Bs4

Just plain fun.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oALKAh_bL5g

Going out on one of the sweetest notes possible.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQg1cvEhDjQ

2021 In Words, Screens and Tunes 

WORDS 

I’m dismayed, and a bit ashamed, about how little I read this year. I sank so deep into my phone it was ridiculous. Also I fell in love, and that really sapped my concentration. I did read plenty of news stories, yes, and political and topical tweets, but still, books are where it’s at for me and this year I was not where it’s at. Here’s what I read: 

What Is the  What.  Oh my gosh, what a book. It’s the story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. His village was attacked when he was about 7, and along with about 200 other boys and one adult leader, he walked from Sudan to Ethiopia to Kenya, then lived in refugee camps there for ten years, until he finally was able to come to the USA. His story is staggeringly violent and tragic, but he never lost his humanity, his reverence for life, his need to do good and to act honorably. Just stunning. 

The Lemon Tree  I disliked this book. It calls itself a novel but it’s really a history book with a little dialogue thrown in. It’s about a Palestinian family who lived for several generations in Jerusalem and who were forced to leave their home when the state of Israel was created. It’s also about the Jews from Bulgaria who made aliyah to Israel in 1948 and were “given” that house. From the book jacket I learned that Bashir the Palestinian and Dalia the Ashkenazi Israeli meet and form a friendship despite their considerable differences. I never got to that part, because the book is such a dense account of the most minute historical facts in the long and exhaustingly complicated thing known as Middle East politics that I gave up before I could get there. This book is every reason I didn’t take history classes in college. I’m very interested in the personal stories and the history that’s interwoven, but the parts of the book that I made it thru were 95% history and 5% personal. Feh. 

Sometimes You Have to Lie A biography of Louise Fitzhugh. I worship Harriet the Spy, and reread it periodically. I was overjoyed when M was old enough for me to read it to her. (She didn’t love it.) I read great reviews of this bio, but for a biography a great writer with a gifted editor, this book had neither.

I’m so sad to say that I can’t think of another book I read last year. Ugh. 

SCREENS 

“Far From the Tree” (didn’t finish but want to) Wonderful documentary about parents of kids with special needs or who are otherwise different from what the parents expected. The love and patience are awe-inspiring to me, a parent who has not had to live this. 

“Brooklyn 99” Hilarious! I love it so much! It’s not quite Galavant-level excellent, but it’s great! I worship Andre Braugher and he is sooooo delicious here with his deadpan delivery. The comic actors are great too. Joe Lo Triglio! Melissa Fumero! Stephanie Beatriz! 

“30 Rock” No explanation needed. 

“Shtisel” Wonderful, funny, poignant story of an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem. This is not “Little House on the Prairie” transplanted. This a modern, complex and multi-layered family. 

“Ordinary Love” Liam Neeson and an Irish actress I don’t know play a middle-aged couple in Ireland facing her breast cancer. It’s wonderful. Highly highly recommend. I had culture shock at the Irish medical culture’s way of dealing with cancer. Plus I’ve never heard Neeson act in his own accent before. Although his Ethan Frome accent is probably a close cousin. 

“Call My Agent” Tres tres drole! A French comedy/drama about actors and their agents. 

“Je Ne Suis Pas Un Homme Facile”  BITINGLY clever French farce about sexism.  

“The Comedians” Billy Crystal and Josh Gad in a remake of a Danish show about an old and a young comedy star in a show together (the show-within-a-show construct). So funny!! Loved it. Can’t remember what streaming service I saw it on, or I’d finish the series. 

A few episodes of my beloved “Homicide” while at my sister’s house. God what a show. 

MUSIC 

The Wailin Jennys. Gorgeous harmonies, lyrics and music from this trio of, what, folk-style singer/songwriters? They are phenomenal. “Asleep At Last” and “Birdsong” and “One Voice” carried me through so many hard times, as well as good ones. 

The Low Anthem. I discovered their 2018 album “The Salt Doll Went to Measure the Depths of the Sea.” It’s just as beautiful as “Oh My God Charlie Darwin” and “What the Crow Brings.” 

Simon & Garfunkel, and Paul Simon. Finally bought new cd’s of these old favorites that I had damaged over the years and been without for way too long. 

Bobby McFerrin. The Live In Barcelona album. You know how Elvis is The King and Bruce is The Boss? In my house Bobby is The God. If you want perfection, listen to The Voice, which is I think his first CD and is out of print. 

Spell Songs. The Oxford English Dictionary decided a few years ago to take out a whole slew of nature-themed words from their kids’ dictionary, to make room for modern words, most of which are related to technology. Acorn, raven, heather …  Hard to believe, right? MacFarlane wrote a book called The Lost Words, and Jackie Morris illustrated it, and it is hauntingly beautiful. My favorite song on the album is The Lost Words Blessing. 

Thanks to Spotify, I’ve spent time with old loves The Roches, Greg Brown, and Ferron, among others. 

My True Nature?

My best friend sent me a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote and asked me if I think it’s possible both to accept one’s true nature and to keep working on improving oneself. I answered:

As far as accepting our true nature, I think first we have to spell out what we believe it is. And be as specific as possible. 

I think our shortcomings are natural and understandable and real. But I don’t think they are our true nature.

I can also offer this about accepting myself, which may be relevant and may not be. For so long I’ve believed there is something wrong with me that keeps me from a loving, permanent relationship. I believed there was some fundamental defect in me, or else why would I not be in one? In the last year more than at any other period, I’ve been experimenting with the idea that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. In all ways, not only as applies to love. (And I don’t know how possible it even is to make that distinction.) At the retreat I went to last month I had 2 intentions: not to let fear stop me from doing things that felt important, and to keep experimenting with this (for me) radical idea. And that’s when I fell in love with Will. I do not believe for an instant that I could have connected with him in the ways that I did if I had still been where I was a year ago, or even a day ago. I was in pretty great shape the day before the retreat, but I was in even greater shape at our first listening circle when I spoke my intentions aloud. 

All that is re: accepting our true nature. Heck, RECOGNIZING our true nature. I think that’s a Herculean task, because we’ve been fed so much wrong information about it. From our parents, from frightened and angry parts of ourselves, from others…

So, I want and need to keep  working on my impatience, judgment, fear, hurts, dismissiveness, etc. All the while, knowing I am at my center a loving, kind, creative, compassionate, courageous, wonderful person.

lots of love,

[MPH}

An Update On M

Ugh. It turns out that unbeknownst to me, M has been smoking pot daily and vaping daily for three years. She spent some time smoking cigarettes too. She experimented with other drugs, but has stuck with pot. It helps her insane anxiety, which is almost at PTSD level. (Her SSRI would help too, if she would give it a chance without the pot.) She’d asked me countless times in the last few years if I would let her try pot and of course I said no every time. Turns out she was hoping I’d say yes so she wouldn’t have to hide it anymore. Who does she think she’s dealing with?

She spent the last week with our extended family and with my best friend’s family, all here on vacation. She went through withdrawal during it and had one particularly rough night, plus her usual shtick of complaining about everything and everyone except her cousins. By the end of the week though she was her old self and even said “I love you, Mom.” We have pictures galore of her leaning close into me and us beaming, and she didn’t object to any of the many kisses I planted on her.

She went home two days before I did. When I got home, there was a roach on the table on her porch. DAMN but it was nice while it lasted. The next day I told her I’m not going to go on the five-day kayak trip I’d planned next month, because I don’t want drugs in my house. “That was a one-time thing, Mom!” she raged. Yeah, except for the full pipe I found on her dresser one day when she thought I’d be out for a while. And except for the next time, whenever it will be. I don’t pretend I can control her using, but I’m not going away and leaving an addict alone in my house.

Satisfaction and Mistrust

I am deeply satisfied over a little thing I just did in Excel. I have almost no business using Excel, because I don’t know how. A friend talked me thru making a spreadsheet to use with my bosses. I can’t do any operations without her telling me what to do, but I can do some minor editing.

Today I’d googled how to change the name of a file. That was a tough thing to find, not least because Excel doesn’t call them files, it calls them workbooks. I spent probably 15 minutes being dogged about it but not figuring it out, and getting that hopeless and frustrated feeling I am so familiar with. I kept trying though, and all of a sudden I figured out what I needed to do, even tho it wasn’t actually spelled out anywhere. I just kept noodling around until somehow, I figured it out. I tell ya, that felt good. Not confident and triumphant good, because I have no expectation that I’ll solve my next Excel/tech problem that way, nor that I’ll have the time to. But a deep and solid kind of good, unattached to any expectation of a repeat.

And now I can call my FILES heh heh heh exactly what I want to!

I was in a meeting with my two bosses today, discussing the info in said workbook. The bosses are on me all the time about being too detail oriented and inflexible. They’re really obnoxious and insulting about it. During the meeting, one of them commented that I’m the only one of the staff who color-codes her schedule. He said “your schedule is so detail-oriented and so organized;” he meant that I can tell at a glance exactly what type of session I will have and how long it will last. Other people have to go into their individual appointments to find that out (altho they may know by heart and not need to). I know that boss meant it as a compliment, but there is such a history of them slamming me for being too much that way, that I couldn’t quite trust it as a compliment. (If he hadn’t said ‘detail-oriented,’ I think I would have trusted it.) I responded by smiling and shrugging and saying “that’s me.” But it didn’t feel clean. It felt like I was zinging him a tiny bit, which I was, tho I hadn’t planned to. But it didn’t feel GOOD. I wish I could have simply said “thanks. It works for me.”

I do not trust these bosses, 5.5 years into my tenure at this practice. They’re judgmental and inconsistent. Every now and then they do something fantastically kind and helpful, but it can be long stretches in between, and I kindof have my guard up most of the time. There is another practice I could apply to. It’s been hard to gather up the ooomph though. I don’t remember if I wrote in this blog, in May 2016, that I got 3 job offers in two weeks. I’d done well at job-hunting and at my interviews, and I was flying high. I’d love to find that energy and harness it right up.

PS I looked up mistrust and distrust; they’re synonyms. According to my collegiate dictionary, anyway. The OED may have something else to say.

My 2020 On the Screen and On the Page

With all credit to AvocadoMoon for the idea, I’m gonna yack about what I read and watched in 2020. I didn’t have extra weekdaytime because of the pandemic, because I was able to work remotely. I may have had a little more free time on weekends, tho luckily I was able to see friends a lot, outdoors. Man am I glad I got to take 2 watercolor workshops last winter before it hit.

Shows & Movies: (Hulu, Netflix)

Galavant. It’s Monty Python Meets The Princess Bride Laced Throughout With Mel Brooks. It is *sparklingly* funny and intelligent. It’s a musical comedy!

ER Season 1. What a pleasure to see the very first episode, which I’d missed originally, and revisit Love’s Labor Lost, and so many scenes I’d remembered all these years, and so many great ones I’d forgotten. Those actors were CHILDREN! Sherry Stringfield and Julianna Margulies are just as wooden as I remembered them. Season 2 was so clearly inferior that I didn’t finish even the 2nd episode.

Normal People. Be.Still.My.Heart. I rewatch the whole series periodically. And the book is exquisite.

Veep. I got to watch half a dozen or so eps, while HBO let us Hulers (?) watch free at the beginning of the pandemic. What a marvel of a show. SO funny, so political, so smart, so scathing.

Barry. Ditto, tho only a few eps. Bill Hader, much more contained than on SNL, plays a hit man who takes an acting class to relieve the stress of his work, and can talk about his job since everyone thinks he’s making it up for acting class.

Ben Is Back. Julia Roberts is the mother of an addict in trouble. A very serious look at addiction; nothing schmaltzy at all in this movie. I’m not even sure I laughed once in it.

Normal People. I wanna list it again because I love it sooooo much! Also the Irish accents are a treat. And wow do those characters drink a lot.

Mrs. America. About the fight to ratify the ERA. I lived this and I love this series. Cate Blanchett is a marvel, as ever. There’s some SCATHING dialogue.

(can that be all? I reserve the right to revise)

Books

The pandemic is the reason I learned how to use Libby. It’s great! I didn’t think I’d like reading on my phone, but it’s eminently doable. I much prefer a real book, but this is a great 2nd choice. COVID and my dear indie bookstore are the reasons I bought a few more books than usual this year, including hardbacks, which I almost never treat myself to.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Nowhere near as good as The Handmaid’s Tale. Too many plot contrivances, and her first-person narrators sound too narrator-ish.

Oryx and Crake by same. (First in a trilogy.) A masterpiece.

The Year of the Flood by same. (2nd in the trilogy) Same problem as The Testaments: too narrator-ish. Plus, I was confused with the non-chronological way it was written. I didn’t finish it; it was not gripping the way Oryx and Crake was. I will try the 3rd book tho; I’ve come this far, and when Atwood is good, she is stunning.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. Fantastic, what I’ve read of it.

How To Be an Anti-Racist by Ibrahim X. Kendi. Fantastic, the parts I listened to. (had to return to library)

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. Delightful, sweeter than pie, hilarious, touching, complicated, fascinating.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Excellent story, interesting characters, intriguing moral dilemmas.

Hunger by Roxanne Gay. Gay was raped at 12 and quickly and intentionally became morbidly obese. This is her memoir. Didn’t finish, too repetitive and needed a better editor. (audiobook) I am glad to have discovered Gay though.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Totally gripping, horrifying, believable, heartbreaking novel about a teacher who grooms and sexually abuses a student and how she lives her life from there.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bakman. Sweet and lovely.

Gmorning Gnight! Little Pep Talks For You and Me by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Unbelievably inspirational and comforting.

Dear Girls by Ali Wong. Not as funny as her Baby Cobra show, which was almost illegal, it was so funny. Didn’t finish listening.

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish. Didn’t finish: not that funny or interesting.

Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel. AMAZING. Iraq and Afghanistan vets and PTSD and how our country is failing most of them.

Missing Her

I’m in a 5-day writing workshop, meeting for an hour at noon every day this week. Today we did a meditation and it brought me to the constant ache I have for M, the M of her young years when she was available to me, actively connected to me, when we shared things as naturally and as often as breathing. I think of her preschool years, her K-2 years, and right thru 6th grade even, when she’d still want to go to a movie with me. We live very separate lives now, and I profoundly miss having fun with her.

So here’s what I wrote. Then I read it to the group, while crying. (But not crying too hard to talk.)

* my bright shining child*

those lively eyes

that impish face

that beaming smile

those stormy brows

i was allowed, then

[PS WordPress has changed things and I no longer know how to format the way I want to. There should be indents and different spacing, and I couldn’t make them happen.]

Just a Few Drops?

For a blog with Juice in the title, it’s been pretty dry around here. I just read ReBel’s latest post and was shamed/spurred to write a quick one.

The pandemic still sucks (shocker, I know). M is still fairly uninterested in spending any time with me. We are fighting a bit less though. I found a way to back off. It means I clean the sink when I want it cleaned, even though she’s supposed to. It’s worth it though. I never thought I’d take that approach. I’m usually a stickler. But having a teenager has changed me, by God.

That’s all for now.

Out of Empathy

I was  texting with some  friends and one talked about not having had any physical contact since the quarantine began. She lives alone.  I live with a teenager who rarely wants much to do with me and is very selective about the hugs she’ll give me. Rather than having no-one to touch, I have someone who frequently refuses touch. I had a distinct lack of empathy for this friend. Feeling that way feels terrible. I hope my compassion comes back in the AM when I’m rested.