Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A whiter shade of cold

A few weeks ago the grass was still green, the squirrels were still dashing between cars to cross the street: I think I even saw a mosquito still flying around . . . and I was blabbing, I mean blogging, about the strangely warm temperatures. Well, subzero has finally arrived. I thought I'd be better prepared given all the unexpected extra time. I thought I'd have all my acorns in a row. But all the extra time gave me was the illusion that I had a lot more extra time. I guess true preparation needs a deadline of sorts . . . it needs a reason, real or imagined. I used to have the Girl Scout mentality and discipline of preparedness. I carried, with me, everything I thought I'd need 'just in case.' I could have lived out of the trunk of my car. Of course, it never rains when my car is dirty. I never got to light my emergency flares. Of course, I always remember the way when the map is in my hand. I never needed my water-proof matches. Of course, my emergency overnight supplies are only used at my girlfriend's house. So I have changed my attitude, leaning towards the superstitious beliefs . . . and now I float through life with nothing more than the basics. I want to feel surprised, occasionally caught in the rain without my umbrella, without a definitive plan or hopeful agenda. (But not caught in the lady's room without a spare square, please!) I want to open myself up to possibilities that only exist under Murphy's warped Law . . . the day I don't shave my legs . . . Mr. Right (or now?) will show up to my horror! Reverse the curse of the expectation. I expect it will be mighty cold in the coming weeks!
(The photo is Lake Saint Clair, Michigan)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lights, camera . . . lots of action

So many events, weddings, parties lately. For me, it's either all or nothing . . . feast or famine . . . I love the night life and I love social events, but I also love kicking back back on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a good movie (and a friend, too, when possible). Seems like I have been spending a lot of time putting outfits together, makeup on, blowing out my hair. But, I take what comes my way because it's life in motion. Things are always changing, including my moods! I'm a woman . . . and like a Viper - I can go from zero to sixty in 3.8 seconds!
Although, I think things are beginning to calm down for a time . . . I don't see any more invites laying around on my desk or stuck to the refrigerator door. Soon, I will begin to feel a bit unloved and forgotten about, and I will have forgotten my own wishes for quieter days . . . but until then, I am breaking out the face scrub, moisturizing mask and a good book.
The photo above was taken (with a camera phone) at a DIA fund raiser / grand opening of our new (Bashar) salon, HB, in the Somerset Collection last Thursday evening. I had a great time and the event was a huge success. Last night I attended a friend and co-worker's wedding. Today, I have a a few errands to run and some other catching up to do. I have some popcorn stashed away (my house is a revolving door, so I have to hide the goods sometimes!) I think I will watch an on demand movie . . . maybe "My Super Ex Girlfriend" or some other light-hearted chick flick comedy. I hope my eyes can resist scanning my calendar as a child scans the inside of the refrigerator . . . again and again . . . just in case something should appear that wasn't there before.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Beauty - Pain Relationship

When I die, I want to be buried in my Dolce & Gabbana boots, as long as I don't have to climb too many stairs to get to the pearly gates - because, unlike Nancy Sinatra's famous go-go boots - these boots were not made for walking! They are just a small discomfort and only one example of what I endure - the quietly suffering aches and pains - in the name of fashion and beauty. I'll suffer with the most of them, but not with he best of them. For example, I won't go as far a having surgery on my feet, like some of the women I know, in order to continue wearing extreme stilettos. No . . . I put my foot (my God-given foot) down on that one.
Throughout time, and as early as the Egyptians, women have endured discomfort and pain and have even risked death all in the name of beauty. In this twenty-first century, botox injections (a form of botulism to temporarily paralyze expression lines, minimizing wrinkles), starvation diets, breast and buttocks implants, to name a few, almost pale in comparison to the Victorian days when pale skin - the sign of an aristocrat (while the working class were marked with tans) - was achieved by using toxic combinations lead oxide and arsenic in powders to whiten the skin. Leaches were even used to bleed the skin to give it a paler appearance. (Dracula may have been the first doctor of beauty) For that dreamy look, women dropped Belladonna, a poisonous herb, into their eyes to dilate their pupils. Metal-framed corsets that impaired breathing and restricted circulation in the 1870’s (just two of ninety-seven listed corset-induced ailments), gave way to the modern girdles of the 1970’s. The highly flammable, rash inducing horse-hair and straw-filled crinolines were improved upon in the 1860’s by using a cage-like frame of steel or whalebone hoops that measured ten yards around and made it almost impossible for a woman to maneuver in. One hundred years later, women traded up by wearing five inch platform shoes that made walking an activity that should have had its own separate insurance policy.

Getting back to these modern times of today, the desired looks may have changed, but our means of achieving them, and the dangers we knowingly and readily submit ourselves to, have not lessoned with time and experience.

Today, we risk skin cancer to look like we can afford wintering in Palm Springs or at least monthly weekend trips to South Beach. We voluntarily starve ourselves and vacuum out our fat - because unlike the days when plumpness was a sign of abundance, being anything more than skinny today means that one cannot afford a nutritionist or a personal trainer and can only afford a Big Mac and fries.

Who sets these standards of beauty? Is it the collective consciousness of society? The fashion houses of Paris, Milan and New York? The A list pawns who must play the game to be queened in the socialite and Hollywood circles?

Can beauty be achieved without pain? According to some writings, thoughts and research, beauty and pain go hand-in-hand. Pain is a reoccurring theme in the study of beauty, aesthetics and life experience. Pain brings, with it, gifts. The pain of childbirth brings a beautiful life into the world. The pain of a broken heart births poetry and beautiful stories. Pain makes us more receptive to life and more alert to beauty. Pain protects us. Pain brings growth. Pain is a teacher. The hero or heroine must suffer to win the love and respect of the people. Beauty, love, pain . . . are all in inhaled in one breath.

"Beauty and pain are linked," poet David Bergman says. "Sometimes beauty is the compensation for having experienced pain. Sometimes beauty has its own pain because it's not going to last. If we're only willing to experience pain or experience beauty, then we're going to live on only some of our gears."

So, as I was saying earlier, please, when I die, bury me in my boots . . . for the pain I will have endured while wearing them as I walked my path in this life (though, nothing compared to the pain of their price tag)is my ticket straight into heaven without having to stop in purgatory.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Steven Hawking was on one of those Science Channel programs to disprove his thirty-year theory about black holes. He once believed that black holes, swallowed up and absorbed information, hiding that information, forever, from the outside world. He was now out to prove that black holes actually keep emitting radiation and eventually open up and reveal the information hiding within. I find this to be fascinating and parallel to human life and experience. We are all essentially little universes. And while not every universe or person has a black hole, the ones that do . . . well . . . that information is not, after all, hidden away forever. In other words . . . the truth (as information) is always revealed because the TRUTH wants to be revealed. The black hole in one's soul that hides that truth emits clues (hence the radiation) and reveals itself. It is a beautiful thing: The TRUTH cannot be swallowed up and forgotten about. The TRUTH cannot be hidden away forever. The TRUTH is not revealed, the TRUTH reveals itself!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Knocking on Heaven's Door

"There's a lady who's sure, all that glitters is gold, and she's buying a stairway to heaven . . ."
The grand illusion of depositing money into that heavenly account happens every Sunday in church. But the fact is, buying a trip on a stairway to heaven, or rather an elevator to the stars is not as impossible as it sounds. A space elevator, a concept popularized by Aurthur C. Clark in "The Fountain's of Paradise,' is actually closer to reality than science fiction - according to a recent Nova program I watched. I wonder how much a ticket to ride will cost? I wonder how safe the ride will be? But it might be a fairly good investment - I mean, even if the elevator doesn't make it safely to the top, the rider will be about 22,000 miles closer to heaven.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

a thing in motion . . .

movement. for every action . . . a reaction. perpetual motion. connecting. interacting. brushing. passing. bumping. crashing. the ripple effect.
i look around. i see people everywhere. going here and there and about. i wonder . . . where do they come from, where are they going. what do they carry inside, what do they hide? what things do they know , what have they seen, at which degree are we separated from each other and from reality? what was that? did he look at me or through me . . . or past me? we have more in common than not. from our place in human race to a shared bed. i feel the ripples from when it first dropped.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On Becoming My Own Product

SELLING OUT . . . What is the modern meaning of "selling out" these days? I used to tout the fact that I would 'Neeeeeeeeeeeeeever sell out!" Selling out was a sin. It was a lowering of one's standards. It was crossing the picket line of integrity and good taste. Looking back, I think I was setting myself up for a life of hardship, debt and privation by holding onto my arrogant and self-righteous claim.
I had girlfriends who 'sold out' and left our modern dance company to dance in 'Gentleman's Clubs.' (One went on the Vegas.) A couple of my girlfriends admitted they would never settle for anything less than a man who was very financially well of. (Which, by the way, my romantic ideals of love left me a single mother, while 'some' of my girlfriends are living in houses too big to clean - but that's what their housekeepers are paid for.) I swore if I ever went into show business I would never be in a commercial for something like hemorrhoid cream or that bad fire breath. I held strong to the belief that one day people would appreciate my ancient poetry and poetic prose because to admit I could write a mean Sara Lee jingle would be a nightmare in the literary community!
Well, well, well, could I have been wrong all along? I mean, maybe writing instruction manuals and information guides could have led to publishing my first book!
I am questioning my old beliefs, re-examining my ethics, morals and standards - maybe they are all TOO high.
My question has changed from, "What would I do for love?" to "What would I do for money?"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Thank you for the flowers

In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends - Kozuko Okakura

Where flowers bloom so does hope - Lady Bird Johnson

The Earth Laughs in Flowers - Ralph Waldo Emerson

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:

Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream - Ernest Dowson, 1867 - 1900

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom - Anais Nin

It is at the edge of a petal that love waits. - William Carlos Williams

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers - Claude Monet

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses - Abraham Lincoln

Let us open our leaves like a flower, and be passive and receptive - John Keats

And 't is my faith, that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes - William Wordsworth

One of the most attractive things about the flowers is their beautiful reserve - Henry David Thoreau

Flowers leave some of their fragrance in the hand that bestows them - Chinese proverb

Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose garden - T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Monday, January 15, 2007

Blood and Water

My dad always used to say, "blood is thicker than water." What he meant was that blood, the family, is all we can trust and count on. This kind of scared me as a child, especially growing up around the insanity of alcoholism. I love my family, but a part of me knew, even as a young girl, that I couldn't count on them for everything at all times.
Then I wondered about the 'thicker' part of that expression. What did that mean? Thicker meaning more substantial? But isn't thicker also slower? Thicker can clog and back up on itself.
Anyway, that expression always stayed with me through my growing years, even though it felt more like a subtle threat or gentle warning than parental advice. And for a time, I did not look to the outside world for much support or understanding. I kept myself surrounded by a thick skin of family. I remained safe within the familiarity of the dysfunction.
As I got older, I started looking at the 'water' part of it. If blood represented family, than water must represent the outside world . . . like friends. It made sense to me. We can't choose our blood, the type, or from where it came, just as we can't choose our family, its type, or from where it came. (Excluding the karmic and spiritual explanations.) But we can choose our water (and there are a lot of choices these days) . . . where we get it from, how much we want, when we want it. And it is just as important as our blood. It is a life sustaining element.
In fact, I am very much a water person. Water calms me, inspires me and exhilarates me. We are baptized in water, we cleanse ourselves in water, we cool ourselves in water, we swim, we dive, we explore, we float and yes, we can also sink and drown.
There are many things that are all equally important in the grand scheme that is life. At certain times and under certain circumstances, we may need one of those necessary things a little more than the all the others.
I guess I'm feeling a little anemic these days.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Humpty's Dangerous Fall

Broken coffee cup handles broken vase stems broken teeth broken bones broken bank accounts broken fingernails broken tree branches broken vows broken promises broken spirits broken dreams broken hearts broken lives

Can things that have been broken ever really be repaired to their original state and strength? Will the cracks always be visible? Will the glue eventually come undone? Will the broken thing be more susceptible to breaking again? What can be fixed and what must be discarded and forgotten about?

Where have all the king's men gone?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Nine Lives of a Cat Lover I Knew

He pretends he is everything he wants to be, but he is, in actuality, everything he says he despises.

I knew a guy who loved cats. Now, I love cats and dogs and animals, in general. I presently have two cats and one dog. But this guy, he especially loved cats.

Cats have always represented to me free-spirited, independent little beings. Whereas dogs, well, I have heard it said that a dog if left alone in the yard would wait, faithfully, until its owner returned home to feed it, while a cat would not wait long before leaving the yard to find food on its own. Now the latter sounds like a smarter choice . . . but maybe just an instinctual, primal one. The former sounds like a ‘not so smart’ choice . . . but maybe that choice is based on loyalty, trust and love.

I have often wondered what was meant by the saying, “a cat has nine lives.” I used to joke that one of my cats (may he rest in catnip heaven) was using his nine lives up one by one because of all the trouble he used to get himself into. I thought maybe that was what the nine lives thing was all about. But, I think I may now have the real answer to that riddle.

Two years ago, and after the second of my two cats (my previous pet generation) died, a new cat, a beautiful one year old Siamese seal point showed up meowing at my door. I began feeding it outside, on my porch, and when it kept coming back to see me and to eat I assumed it to be a stray, probably abandoned because the owner could not have a pet in his or her new place. (There are a lot of new lofts and condos that went up in my area.) So, with the urging of my children, we took the cat into the vet for a checkup and vaccines and then home with us. But all the while, I had a sneaking suspicion that ‘my’ cat was also being fed by a neighbor across the street. My kids and I would jokingly laugh that ‘our’ cat had many houses to go to for food, and he would choose whichever house offered him the better meal at the time. Well, this joke of ours may be how outdoor cats really operate . . . in other words . . . they could be leading nine lives – nine different lives simultaneously.

So, back to my story about the cat lover . . . he was also my lover. And I recently found out that he lived, does live, different lives . . . many lives . . . perhaps nine.

It’s sometime difficult, if not impossible to know if a cat on the street is a feral cat, a stray or somebody’s pet. I have collars on my cats, the safety breakaway kind, so if they get caught in something the collar opens allowing them to break free. So, many times my cats come home wearing no collar at all. It became a joke in my house so I bought them each a few collars with engraved name tags that spell out where they live and to whom they belong: me.

Some men are very similar in that way. They wear ‘break away’ wedding rings and many appear to be strays, even feral, when in fact they do ‘belong’ to another.

I took my ‘stray’ man in a year and a half ago. I fed him and took care of him and loved him. Now, I find out that he, like my seal-point Siamese, was out looking for the best breakfast, lunch and dinner he could find in one day.

Please, I am urging all women if you have the slightest feeling in the pit of your stomach that things are not 'right' - because the signs are always present, but we may chose to either ignore them (go into denial), qualify them with 'reasons.'

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine said, "It only takes one red flag for me anymore." How very wise, time and energy efficient and self-loving. I now have learned to see red flags as blinking red traffic lights at possibly dangerous intersections . . . they mean stop and look all around you before proceeding. Even when they (the warnings) come as a whisper, or a light tug inside the heart, they are REAL signs that something is not right.

Well, I named it to the Universe - my first and most important New Year's resolution: To heal myself into wholeness . . . into oneness. This is a huge step - a giant leap on my new path of relationship (including the relationship I have with myself) enlightenment.

It is no surprise that my old ‘cat-lover’ friend does not let his cat outdoors. He knows what really goes on when cats are ‘trusted’ to roam the streets.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Chasing the Dragon

A few nights ago, the phone rang and woke me up at 3:00 in the morning . . . the sound of the phone in the middle of the night almost always means trouble or disaster. My twenty-one-year-old son, Adam, was on the other end of the phone.
"Are you alright?"
"No, not really."
My heart sank. "What's the matter? What happened?"
"I just found out a friend of mine died."
"Oh, Adam, I'm so sorry. Who?"
"I don't think you knew him. He died while I was in Chicago and I just found out."
Adam had been in Chicago for New Year's Eve.
"How did he die?"
"He overdosed on heroin. I didn't even know he did heroin. I haven't seen him in a while."

We spoke a while longer. I tried to console him the best I could.
"I'm so sorry that I called you this late. I just needed to talk."
"You can call me anytime of the day or night."
"It makes me sick that herion is making such a big comeback, and especially here . . . it's gotten even worse than Detroit. Hey, if you wanna do some heroin, just come here to Royal Oak!"

I remembered reading about the three eighteen-year-olds from Royal Oak who were taken to Beaumont Hospital over the Thanksgiving weekend and treated for heroin overdoses. They had mixed heroin with another drug, Klonopin (an anti-seizure drug).

Mixing or following heroin with another drug like cocaine, or a prescription drug like methadone; Klonopin; OxyContin ( a narcotic drug used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain); Xanax (for treatment of anxiety); Adderall (a stimulant used to treat hyperactive children) to amlify the high is known as "chasing the dragon," and has become dangerously popular among teens. Unfortunately, Narcan's effects (heroin's antidote) are limited when heroin is mixed with another drug.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard stated that Oakland County has seen a 50% increase in heroin cases in 2006 compared to 2005. He also noted that these cases were not just traffic stops where narcotics were found.

During 2005-2006, about 133 people died, in Metro Detroit, as the result of heroin and cocaine overdose - the street drugs were laced with fentanyl (a dangerously strong narcotic analgesic used in the treatment of severe pain such as cancer pain). In May of 2006 alone, the problem reached a crisis level in Wayne County when 33 people died in one week.

Heroin is gaining popularity among teens in the inner ring suburbs, like Royal Oak, to the rural areas, like Almont, because it is inexpensive and readily available. The teens are snorting it now, and so the old stigma that was once attached with heroin use in earlier generations is gone.

I asked my seventeen-year-old son, Luke, who attends Royal Oak High School, about heroin use in school. He told me that he can't count on his hands how many kids he knows who are doing heroin. He also knows of kids who have died from over-dosing on the drug.

With everything we now know about the real dangers of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and sexually transmitted diseases, why is it that our children are putting themselves more and more at risk. Are we as parents, teachers, adults, society and the media putting too much pressure on our youth of today? Are we all living in denial of what is
really going on? Are these kids crying out for our help? And are we all too busy to stop, listen and act? Or are these teens playing this Russian roulette because death looks lovlier than the lives they are living?

Well, the dragon has been named. What can or will we do to slay it?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Six degrees of Chuck Woolery

My friend, Mike, went a little 'click' happy with Kim's new camera toward the end of Kim and Chuck's wedding reception last July. I guess one could call this my "official MySpace weird angled photo." (MySpacers will understand) We all snapped a lot of photos during that weekend in Vegas . . . CLICK . . . "This one's going on my MySpace."
A small gathering of close friends stayed at the Bellagio in Las Vegas to witness and celebrate the wedding of my best friend, Kim Barnes to (my new best friend) Chuck Woolery.
I remember when she phoned me a few years ago to tell me that she had been on a blind date with Chuck, We never would have thought that this was her true Love Connection (of course, fun/pun intended).
For anyone who saw the wedding clips on Entertainment Tonight, I was the woman in the mint green dress, front row left, snapping photos of the ceremony.
What a great and memorable time. Chuck has now become my (ever so frustrated) date/relationship adviser and worthy political/religious debate opponent.
If you like Metal Rock check out my friend Mike Fasano's music page on MySpace
Due to popular demand - I have added my YouTube video

Still Waiting for the Winter Fairy

anuary 3 . . . this is winter, right? I do love the sun and the heat, and I am not a big fan of freezing temperatures, but I did grow up here in Michigan. Winter time always conjured up words like blustery, sub-zero, wind chill factor, snow flurries, ice storm, ski conditions, snow days, etc. And although my body is never truly prepared for the arctic blast, my mind is feeling out of sorts with this warm weather.
I let my dog outside this morning, sun shining, grass still green, and something did not feel right.
Winter has always been a quiet and peaceful season for me. I slide into a state of hibernation both within myself and within my home, my cave.
Some may call me crazy for actually liking the winter season (and I can't say I actually like it - it forces me to let it in and live with it), for it represents death, gloom and a sense of aloneness for many. But for me, it is a time to slow down and rest, to take inventory of my life, regroup and then recharge in time for the arrival of spring. There are no high expectations during the winter. If one doesn't like to ski or sled or ice-skate, that is acceptable. If one does not want to venture out into the ice and snow and cold, it is understandable. We live at the mercy of the weather conditions (which takes the pressure off of having to make so many choices throughout the rest of the year). And we all have something worthy to collectively complain about if we so desire.
The winter, ironically, brings us together - the commonality of our feelings of separateness. We come together to help each other during the snow storms, we care about the elderly living alone, the homeless living in the cold streets. We shop and shovel or blow snow for neighbors who can't get out (I don't think I've ever seen anyone just mow a neighbor's lawn as a favor). No pressure to keep up the yard, keep up a tan or look good in a bathing suit. Just throw a big sweater over the extra pounds, curl up by a warm fire, wrap up in a down comforter, embrace a hot cup of coffee and read a classic (See Stewart's blog).
Now, when this winter weather kicks in, as I'm sure it will (this anticipation is worse than the plummeting temperatures and icy conditions will ever be) please . . . I don't want to be reminded about how great (I said) the winter can be. The pain and the hate are part of my process.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Sum of my Parts

My first resolution of the new year (yes, before dieting and daily exercising and all of the other little procrastinations) deals with the adage: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." I have come to realize that my biggest issue with mySelf and with my (mostly unsuccessful) intimate relationships is the fact that I am but a sum of my parts . . . I am not whole. Somewhere in my past I fragmented mySelf. I disintegrated into the roles that were "expected" of me either by society or by my family or by me and my unreasonably high expectations. I became an expert at each individual role . . . polishing them to perfection. I thought of myself as a chameleon . . . going from Estee Lauder to June Cleaver to Saint Therese to May West with record speed . . . leaving even Mario Andretti in the dust. But, a chameleon knows what it is. It adapts for protective reasons. I, on the other hand, though my reasons may also have been of the protective nature, I lost my point of reference. I forgot who I was . . . unlike the chameleon.

So, in my pseudo-chameleon ways, I eagerly and enthusiastically changed colors time and again over the years. At times, I was accused of no longer playing the role but becoming the role . . . no longer a stereotype but now the archetype. The part of me that had surfaced, dominated and cried out to be healed - would then melt into the role / person that could "see" it, feed it and meet its needs.

Looking back over the many faces of me throughout my years, I can now make sense of my extreme choices. The child in me whose ideal perfect family was shattered by familial alcoholism set out to become the perfect wife / mother by creating the illusion of a perfect family with the perfect family man . . . until the day the spiritualist in me emerged, starving, and found a twin soul spiritualist in another who recognized that part of me. Unfortunately, he was not the family type (which still was and is a big part of me) and so, eventually, that union also ended as the rebellious teenager in me - the one who was stifled by my stern father (not unlike my former lover - no blame intended) broke free and found a teenage man to hang with. My teenager grew up and soon tired of the boy/man who was not merely playing a part . . . he chose to remain eighteen.

Now, I find myself a bit exhausted but ever so enlightened by my self-discoveries. I can move on with the knowledge I have gained and I can begin to integrate my selves into my Self and become one being . . . a whole being and a whole woman.

This, is my first and my most important resolution for the new year 2007: to heal myself into wholeness . . . to become greater than the sum of my parts.

Everything old is new again

Well, I don't know what to call this . . . it's not my first time anymore, but I have not been at it long enough to be making a "comeback." So, I will just quietly slip back into the blog scene, hopefully not unnoticed, but definitively without a bang or a scandal or rehab discharge papers. I missed all of you - my readers and my fellow bloggers - and I appreciate your comments over the holidays. Things are better: my son has one last doctor appointment today for a final chest ex-ray and the official "ok" to return to school; and I have set up a mini camp in my private quarters where I can write / blog on my new laptop without being disturbed by the natives when they become restless (I now have a desk in my bedroom!).

Everything old is new again . . . from blogging to resolutions. HAPPY NEW YEAR!