Sing the Chorus with Me

I am writing a song.  If you’re thinking, “I didn’t know Danita knew how to write a song”, you’re right! I don’t have a clue, but I do have a teacher, a great deal of motivation and something I need to say. I have gotten this far, 66 years old as of Halloween, and it seems to me that making a life is all about learning, having mentors and teachers and lots of motivation. I’ve got a sharp pencil, a good eraser and blank music sheets.  I have good hearing but I doubt I have what’s referred to as a “good ear” for music; what I do have is “”me” and the desire to write my song come hell or high water . I don’t have to create my song as much as I need to uncover it and write it down.”I got the music in me.”

Lyrics and a melody are the first elements of a song. I play banjo so I use a  scale on my banjo to find notes to arrange into a melody. Those years of piano lessons really pay off now and I can use my keyboard too. Notes is notes whether on a banjo or a piano. Mozart, Bach and Lennon and McCarthy all had the same raw materials to work with but their music is vastly different. Of course I will not ever be in such talented company. Do I want to write my song country, or rock and roll or folksy? I could rap it, but banjo and rap do NOT go together. I want to use Adele and Lady Gaga as my muses. The song in me is one of a kind, boisterous and wonderful. I may write a bad song but the cost of not writing even a bad song is too high.

So I play a note and question how it fits in my song and with my lyrics. Which pitch is better-like an eye exam, “1or 2?” fiddling with the lens and again “1or 2?” These choices get the doctor to the best correction for my eyes and this seems to work for writing my song too. There have been lots of times in my life when I have been unconscious of myself in the world, but I am very conscious of my process right now. I am closer to the end of my life and wasting moments is turning my back on myself. When is now.

There’s a mess on my kitchen table, which is always the epi-center of my home.  My keyboard, my music sheets, my lamp and that ever present cup of coffee. Oh yeah there’s also some beads that I am threading unto the fringe of a cowl I crocheted.  My banjo is in its stand next to the table. I sit in the chair that gives me the best view out the window and let my fingers do the talking. A lot of the time I sit and look out the window and listen to the sounds in my head  I hope I can channel onto my music sheets. 

What’s the point? The chances of my song becoming a hit song are 1 in a million, unless of course Lady Gaga sings it. It’s an experiment, it’s learning something new, and right now it gives me joy. Reason enough. It does seem to be banging me on the head lately, Sing Me!

My Star was born a long time ago and my light is finally reaching the earth. We are all stars, everyone of us. Join me on the chorus!

Irish Twins

My brother Neal and I are the same age from Sept 14 to October 31. Let’s just say we are both Medicare eligible this year. The other day I introduced my brother to a co-worker and explained we were the same age for 6 weeks of the year. She said they call that Irish Twins. This was news to my brother and I, but I liked the name, it sounded endearing, and I  wondered what the source of the name was.  I was surprised to find out that the term was rather derogatory.  “Irish twins” is actually an insult. The term was used to ridicule Irish immigrants who were low on the totem pole.

From the Urban Dictionary: Firstly, the term pokes fun at the stereotypical fertility of Irish Catholic families, which traditionally do not use birth control. In addition, it implies that the Irish lack the ability to plan ahead or control themselves, having children in quick succession rather than responsibly spacing them. Finally, it suggests that the Irish do not understand the medical definition of twins, which involves two children conceived and born together. 

Not very flattering is it? We did come from a large Catholic family, but not Irish— actually  from German and Bohemian stock. My parents most certainly did not use birth control as Neal and I are members of a crowd of 13 siblings. I would never call my parents irresponsible, just rather devout Catholics who followed the no birth control pill edict of the Catholic Church. Whatever the religious and cultural values of our rural farm neighbors, most comments that were made mentioned the “two in diapers” or  “ that was quick”. I can’t speak for my brother, but I thought it was pretty cool to be the same age for part of each year. I still do.

There are a couple of photos of Neal and I: in a crib together or proudly standing together with a tractor tire as a background. I do remember a couple of episodes of giggling in church. We did get the giggles fairly often. Because of the cut off birthdays for assigning grades in school, we were in different grades.  Neal’s “footprint” in school, especially high school was bigger than mine. He was popular and dated all the pretty girls and was into sports. He married his high school sweetheart who is the light of his life and a wonderful, much loved member of our family. My life wandered a bit but I found love too. 

My brother visited for a few days last week and I still like him!  In high school he yelled at me( under the influence?)as I came into the gym “Hey Sis!” and I gave him a small wave. I liked his attention.  What I know for sure is that we have the luck of the Irish because we are Irish Twins. I am so lucky.

To Plug or Unplug?

On my kitchen counter is a basket I use to corral all of my charging devices: phone, iPads, Fitbit, Waterpik, etc. Its a tangled web of plugs and cords but they are in one location so I can  locate what charger I need for what device. Oh shit! I only have 10% battery charge on my phone. What does my phone charger look like? I plug one end into the outlet and the other  into my phone and the magic little light says my battery is charging.  Crisis averted! It’s like  Star Trek Captain Kirk tells Scotty “I need full power” and Scotty says “Aye, Aye Captain.” and off they go where no man has gone before. 

So am I addicted to my electronic devices? Just because I become very nervous when I realize I left my phone at home, or the internet is down, doesn’t mean I can’t do my day without them. Of course I can be a social techie user, I can control myself and use like normal people. One hour on my IPad  doesn’t mean I will be unable to stop….  I think I may be self medicating! I am running from something or I have a hole in my soul I am trying to fill. I don’t have a charger or any power source to plug into, how do I recharge myself?

If watts or volts of electricity can’t power me up, I need to think about what can. Unplugging from worry and resentment allows me to rest my mind and experience some peace. I meditate every day for at least 10 minutes and usually I will feel more clear headed when I am done. I worry about checking out too much and just hiding and isolating from life. I just realized that overuse of my electronic devices serves the same purpose— I can isolate and hide from life. Damn! That means I need to find some balance of plugged in and unplugged, but living in balance is not one of my strengths.

Taking a walk is one way I know to recharge my soul but still feel at peace. Life is a marathon, so resting and recharging means I can be ready to run when I want to. Regularly allowing my muscles and mind to rest gives me a reservoir of energy to draw on. Constant stress and power surges increase the amount of cortisol in my body.  I am simply overloaded with bad ju-ju and my body is so stressed that I can’t respond anymore. Too much of anything is not good for me. I can eat to give my body energy but if I overeat I am a lethargic sofa slug. When my phone or IPad is 100% charged, leaving it plugged in for 24 hours more will not increase the charge more than 100%.

I wish I knew where the sweet spot of energy use and energy recharge was. Until then I will just need to experiment and keep my devices charged up. Put me on a desert island with no electricity and I would still try the tin can and string Walkie talkie to reach you!

Raspberries and Toads

There are times when life brings together two words which appear to be totally unrelated. Toads. Raspberries. Friendships formed with nothing in common. The “odd” couple that defies the rules of engagement and cultural expectations. The bond or connection that is real and felt strongly, but can’t be explained because similarity or shared culture are absent. Trust me, raspberries and toads do fit together, so follow me….

My sister, who lives in Alaska, is fortunate to  have a “public” raspberry patch in her neighborhood.  She picks them, eats many on the spot, and brings some of the sweet and tart fruit home.  Unfortunately she blames her raspberry picking, and all the  reaching and straining, on a muscle pull in the middle of her back. Besides the thorny bush, there is a cost to picking raspberries! A few days after she told me her story I was walking on a path behind houses in my neighborhood and I spotted a raspberry patch in a “public” yard. I smiled and mused how many times I had walked past it and not noticed it. My hand reached for one of the raspberries and I smiled as I ate it thinking of my connection to my sister thousands of miles away.

So that’s the raspberries, but what about toads? Labor Day weekend I had family visitors and  we decided to walk through the sculpture park in Loveland. Walking at a leisurely pace we viewed and discussed each sculpture. There was a frog sculpture and the question was posed “What is the difference between a frog and a toad?”  My answer was “ You know toads have bumpy bodies like raspberries.” Whoa!!  There’s  the connection!  I know I have a million bits of memory stored just waiting for the opportunity to connect with something. Missing pieces are filed away just waiting to be needed again.

 

The connection between toads and raspberries is really part of a much larger connection I share with family. We are connected by blood, but what really counts is our connection by love. We walked at our own pace through the sculpture park and walk our own pace through life. One of us may lag behind, but family “waits up” so we can all walk together. If someone runs ahead we know they will circle around and join us again. Family does have an “I” in it so we are all individuals , but family is a indivisible bond.

connection :

c : a relation of personal intimacy (as of family ties) 

Breaking News

We have breaking news, this just in.….We are all going to die. Physical and emotional pain will happen to all of us. Some days are better than others. And truth isn’t truth.  I must confess that I get a little thrill or trepidation when I hear the announcement  We have breaking news.… I am a news junkie and I am speaking literally not figuratively!  I can ride the gym recumbent bike hard if I am focused on MSNBC on TV or on my phone. Sweat pours off me as I am focused on how f-upped the world is. I am incredibly biased against Trump and am very over-invested in his political ruin. There is a lot of breaking news about Trump. I know because I pay close attention.

Should I be worried about my news addiction and my obsession with the current, sad state of U.S. politics.?  I am a little bit worried or I would not even be asking the question. When I hear from my friends who say they binge watched a series on Net Flix,I feel better, but then I remember they did use the word “binge”and I realize that I binge on the news. I am insatiable for current political news so I am acutely uncomfortable if I don’t have access to it. What’s the deal?

If my focus is on the news, what am I not paying attention to? My mind is filled with news bites and headlines so it’s too crowded for much else. What is my emotevation——what emotion motivates me to bury my head in the news feed? Fear is a primary motivator for me, so knowledge, or current news is power over fear. Nothing happens in the Trump Administration that I don’t know about. I am informed, an expert, but I can still be surprised, shocked and disgusted by the news. There is simply no way to insulate and isolate myself from the “bad news” in my life. Breaking news can break my heart: my husband dies or my sisters get cancer, and I am way past the halfway point in my life. My dreams of being a famous author or a dancer are old news now. 

What if “breaking news” are also the moments when life shows me something new or I am surprised by beauty or joy? Am I looking for good news or bad news? This morning I saw a hummingbird flitting around a bush, breaking news for me and it was good news. I enjoyed the sight and felt gratitude for seeing the hummingbird. Then there was a cute dog to see, a smile on a friendly face and a nice breeze—all news to me. When I was a young girl I used to pretend that I was a newscaster, I had a desk and looked into the “camera” to report the news. Even then I felt the power of news. I wanted the truth to be told, to expose the lies, to talk about heroes and storms. Today I still want to know “What’s going on?”

Lucky You

My family and friends love to play Zilch, a dice game.  Zilch is 99% luck and 1% strategy. Know when to hold em, know when to fold em; win big…or lose big. Conservative players take “a bird in the hand”, and others willing to take bigger risks, “go for it”. Either way the dice roll is what you get. You can pray, put ju-ju on the dice and rub your good luck piece, but in the end it is just dumb luck.  What is dumb luck?  :the way in which something good happens completely by chance, without being planned or deserved.  So the part of this definition that really pisses me off is “without being planned or deserved.”  Basically I can’t earn dumb luck; I can’t control my way to dumb luck, and a mass murderer is just as likely to experience dumb luck as I am. Is this right? But wait, is dumb luck always “good” luck? Joe just happened to be standing under the tree when lighting struck the tree and he was killed. This  “completely by chance, without being planned or deserved” sad occurrence seems just as much dumb luck as hitting the jackpot in Vegas, of course with vastly different outcomes. 

Am I just playing with words again? This notion of good luck and bad luck feels very central to my angst at the moment. I tried very, very hard to bring some justice to my good friend who has been wronged by our HOA Board. Orson Welles said: Nobody gets justice, people only get good luck or bad luck.  My cynicism says my friend has the bad luck to live in an HOA where the Board has an adversarial approach to their neighbors. She did not cause the damage to her home, but she has the bad luck to face an unethical board. She had the bad luck to have a pipe the HOA is responsible for leak for a long time inside a wall, and eventually cause enough damage that mitigation required her kitchen be gutted. This after she asked them repeatedly to check the pipe because she smelled mildew and moldy smell in her cabinet. It seems there is no justice for her and nothing but bad luck.  If Mr Welles is right that nobody gets justice why not just give up and let the chips fall where they may. If Lady Luck is random is there any reason to seek influence with her?

Bad things do happen to good people, and suffering, destruction and distress are the result of  random tragedies. Hiding in your house with a blanket over your head does not guarantee that tragedy will not find you. The roof could collapse or an earthquake could rock your safe world. Do we make our own luck? If the universe is just a collection of random events, then we are not that powerful.  Maybe we can work hard to be in a place that can better allow good things to come into our lives. Maybe.  I think I may need to accept that uncertainty, luck and randomness are a fact of life, but I do have control over a very important variable: my attitude. I can choose to view negative events as catastrophes or as learning experiences. This sounds a bit hollow to me right now. I am not really sure if I could answer “Yes” to Dirty Harry’s question “Do you feel lucky?”

In the meantime these 2 quotes gave me a chuckle and I am so lucky I can still laugh!

Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit.  R.E. Shay

I believe in luck: how else can you explain the success of those you dislike?  Jean Cocteau

Lonely Hearts Club

No one ever wants to admit they are lonely, and it is never really addressed very much between friends and family. But I have felt lonely many times in my life.    Bill Murray

There are certain things that are usually not talked about, loneliness is one of them.  Who wants to admit that they feel disconnected from others, don’t fit in and aren’t popular?  But lately I am lonely, I can’t shake this feeling.  A ghost you can see through. I don’t register on the radar, there’s no blip for me. This loneliness is not a pity party; it is more visceral than the particulars of a good whining session. I am looking in the windows of other peoples lives, an observer, not a participant. Maybe I am scared because sometimes I am too comfortable being alone. I fear I will not be available or reach out to others, so I will never have another love relationship. I hold all of these conflicting feelings. In the meantime, I sometimes feel lonely.

Ambivalence is a messy feeling, a push/pull of emotions. Pros and cons don’t do the deciphering for me. Is it a moral failing to be lonely? Is it all my fault? Do I just need to unfold and shake myself out?  All questions I ask myself, to help me make sense of this loneliness lurking in the corners of my life. Is a male/ female love relationship the only antidote to loneliness, or is it even an antidote? That kind of love relationship is nice, but I don’t think it is necessary to relieve loneliness.  I am 100%, no one can “complete” me.

I don’t turn on the T.V.  when I get home in the evening, the noise aggravates me. I have heard people say they have the T.V. on even if they are not watching it so they don’t feel lonely. I do talk to my doggies a lot: “What would you like for dinner? Do you need to go outside?. They know when I am sad and do their best to comfort me. My special four- legged lovers are often easier to love than people. Love is Love.

I am convinced that loneliness sells a lot of records or DVD’s, CD’s,videos etc. “Lonely” has to be one of the words used most often in lyrics.

Sgt. Pepper’s lonely Hearts Club Band  (Lennon and McCartney)   And bein’ lonely, makes you wonder why. (Neil Diamond)   Too lonely to fall in love.  (Neil Young) Hey there lonely boy, lonely boy.  (Ruby and the Romantics) Down at the end of Lonely street at Heartbreak Hotel.  ( Elvis Presley)   Lonely days, lonely nights.  (BeeGees)  Lonely without you.  (Porter Wagner) It’s a lonely man who wanders all around.   (Elvis Presley) You get the idea…

So many people share the feeling of loneliness. If they all got together, would they still be lonely? I feel less lonely.