Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No Phone, Internet, Electricity

The Universe has been trying to tell me something since I moved into the apartment and thankfully; I have been able to listen.

Due to a massive fuck up by Verizon and therefore Cavalier I have no telephone service. This also means I have no Internet access at home.

The unstable summer weather has brought many thunderstorms to the area that have caused many power outages, some lasting hours, some only a few minutes. In any case these outages have forced me off the computer and on to other activities, or no activity at all. While thunder rattles the building and lightning scares me, the sound of rain has always had a soothing, comforting effect on my being.

All these inconveniences have been blessings, beneficial to me, and overall; I now kind of welcome them, especially the storms. I stand and watch through my large window how nature acts and reacts to the winds, rain and lightning.

Reading, praying, and listening more has nourished my mind and spirit.

Physically and emotionally I am in a healing place and something tells me to take full advantage of the experience.

More later.


Hairspray & the Women of Tin Pan Alley

Saturday, July 28: A couple of friends invited me to spend this afternoon and evening with them in Ocean City, Maryland, and what a time it was. Traffic wasn’t bad, for a Saturday, and I made good time getting there.

Following a light lunch we headed off to the movies. We were supposed to see “Sicko” but the theater showing it had sound problems so it wasn’t playing today. The second choice was “Hairspray”. While I really want to see “Sicko” – which has vanished from local screens this week – “Hairspray” was just the right film for today. It’s uplifting, very funny, well acted (yes, even Travolta) and the dance/musical numbers were high energy and toe-tappingly delightful. The dance number featuring Walken and Travolta is not only hilarious, but quite lovely. Yes, campy, too.

All I can say is if you haven’t seen it yet, go and see it soon. You’ll have a great time.

After the movie we went back to their place and talked about the film while sipping glasses of wine. I found a few glaringly obvious continuity and editing mistakes, but they didn’t bother me in the least. I didn’t even bring them up in conversation.

My friends have just returned from a few days in Maine and as we sat down to dinner they told me about this small country store/gas station where they found the most unusual video/DVD rack, especially for rural Maine. On that rack they came across a DVD of a PBS American Masters documentary about the women songwriters of Tin Pan Alley going back to the 20s & 30s. They bought the disc and the rest, as they say, is herstory.

So, as we had dessert we watched this amazing documentary that, by the way, is partially hosted by Betty Buckley. It was a fascinating piece and all the songs, if not their writers, are standards still today. The only writer I knew was the wonderful Dorothy Fields whose career spanned five decades. Everything from “I can’t give you anything but love, baby” from Blackbirds of 1928 to “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity and so much more in between. Including writing the lyrics to Jerome Kern’s music for the Astaire/Rogers film Swing Time.

Driving home tonight I realized I was smiling to myself and remembered that this was the smile on the faces of all who left the theater after having seen Hairspray. Yes, it had that kind of influence.

More later.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Finding a Balance

Note: I still have no Internet access at home, but that may change before week's end.

It’s been 12 days and the apartment has been a good thing, though it’s taking time to get used to being alone. Still, I’ve had time to think, pray, and meditate in my quiet surroundings. No one to tiptoe around in case they’re in a foul mood, and more importantly, no orders to vacate. There is the lease.

While the unpacking is going well I have to wonder if the “things” surrounding us are really our possessions, or if they possess us. Coincidentally, I’m attending a 4 part series on “a balanced Life” at church and it’s been fascinating to note the parallels between the material we’re covering in the group and the personal epiphanies I’ve experienced.

What do I really need to get through life? Conversations with a few folks (outside the church group) this week begged that very question. These are people who are downsizing because they want to, or out of necessity. There is something to be said for “simplifying” one’s life.

Just such a life is lead by the friend I stayed with while waiting to move to the apartment. Simple, open space, and efficient furnishings. Excess “stuff” was nowhere to be found. The atmosphere was elegant, light and peaceful. Isn’t that all one needs?

Many of the items in storage right now, haven’t been used in months, even years. I’m pretty sure I can get along without every one of them. Things are nice, but they’re just that…things. Sure, we purchase things to bring us pleasure or joy, and sometimes simply to impress. However, there are things we don’t need to store ourselves.

Way too many books was one observation by everyone in the group. (Many of these will be available at the next book sale at the library.)

Personally, the joy experienced viewing a favourite film on DVD is well worth the storage space, and weigh much less. Some might say that Blockbuster is as convenient as a library and that may be true. But I purchase films that will be viewed repeatedly. One might rent “The 40 Year Old Virgin” (not I) but one may want to own “Judgment at Nuremberg”, “Walkabout”, “Citizen Kane” or an Astaire/Rogers collection. These give many hours of enjoyment, especially if you love classic film, and are not likely to be found in that chain store.

There are boxes of photo albums from the defunct 30-year relationship, but should they be kept anymore? Sure, they are reminders of happy times, except those times are past. A reader of this blog wrote privately that the first thing discarded after his breakup was the photo albums.

Living life in the present may be much simpler without so many things cluttering it up, gathering dust, and in this case costing money in a rented storage unit.

How much, if anything, is the past worth, except as a teaching tool? It can’t be altered. We are changed by the events of our past and (hopefully) learn from them.

Example: as a collector of long-playing vinyl records since childhood there were a few thousand by the time CDs came along. Still many of the favorites were not released on CD at the time, so the records were still played and enjoyed. When we switched over to the new medium, we still kept the collection. When we moved to the beach they went into storage and when we moved into the house in 2000, they went into the garage where they remained until this spring as we were moving out and realized there was no place for them. They were left behind and what became of them is unknown. A dumpster, possibly. Some of them are sorely missed because they were rare and have never been re-issued on CD, but still life is easier without them.

Why is it so hard to let go of things, I wonder? There is that cliché that “the one who dies with the most stuff, wins.” One has to wonder if it was the stress of looking after all that stuff caused the death in the first place. It will take some time to sort this out and decide if there is a storage unit sale in the future.

If you have any ideas or insights, please feel free to leave them in comments.

More later.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Have You Been to New Orleans?

Just received this from a friend from New Orleans and thought it worth sharing. Enjoy.

New Orleans. How wonderful those words sound when said with no quirky emphasis on odd syllables. They always seem to elicit some response.

Have you been there?
Have you ever been to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait and gone back every morning of your visit?
Have you ever sat for hours in the piano bar at Pat O'Brien's sipping hurricanes?
Have you ever been to Mardi Gras - Bacchus? Endymion? Rex?
Have you ever had oysters at the Acme House?
Have you ever sat out on the "fly" eating crawfish and drinking Dixie beer?
Have you ever taken a walking tour of the Garden District?
Have you ever sung karaoke at Cat's Meow?
Do you know who John Folse is?
Have you ever risen at 6am to roam the streets of a "quiet" French Quarter?
Have you ever been to Galatoire's? K-Paul's? Emeril's?
Can you remember when Zulu threw gold-painted coconuts?
Have you ever ridden the street-car down St.Charles Avenue secretly sipping your strawberry daiquiri?
Have you ever had a mint julep on the porch of The Columns Hotel?
Have you ever been to Audubon Park? City Park?
Have you ever been to mass at the St. Louis Cathedral?
Do you know who Harry Connick, Sr is?
Have you ever had breakfast at Brennan's?
Have you ever been to the original Tipitina's?
Have you ever been to the Superdome? Saints game? Super Bowl? Final Four?
Have you ever had cheese fries at Fat Harry's?
Thrown peanuts on the floor at O'Henry's?
Have you ever been to the Rendon Inn?
Can you remember the New Orleans World's Fair?
Have you ever been to the campuses of Tulane and Loyola?
Have you been to a crawfish boil? Sucked the heads?
Have you ever been "on the lake"? "Across the lake"? To the "west bank"?
Have you had a Ferdi from Mother's and wondered what "debris" was?
Have you ever been an unexpected invitee to a jazz funeral?
Have you ever been to Jazzfest ---- first or second weekend?
Have you ever been to Pontchartrain Beach?
Have you ever stood in line at the Camellia Grill?
Had a po-boy at Uglesich's? Oyster and artichoke soup at Mandina's?
BBQ shrimp at Pascal Manale's? Gumbo at Dookie Chase?
Have you ever been to a plantation home?
Have you ever been to the French Quarter festival?
Can you pronounce Tchoupitoulas? Thibodaux ? Boutte?
Have you ever been to Clancy's? The Upperline? Brightsen's?
Have you ever been to the Biloxi beaches?
Have you ever had a monsoon at Port of Call? Breakfast at the Blue Bird?
Have you ever seen the Neville Brothers? Cowboy Mouth? The Radiators?

Have you ever been to New Orleans?
If you've been there, undoubtedly one of these things found its way to your itinerary. You probably also saw the dirty streets, the tired shotgun houses, and cracked sidewalks. You've heard about the high crime, poor public schools, poverty, and racism. And yes, there are many housing projects.
It is very hot in the summer, people are generally overweight, and the city is always a hurricane away from being flooded.
Each visitor chooses to see the New Orleans they want to see. Luckily, New Orleans has the amazing ability to win over many more than it loses. It can cause one to see the big oaks hovering over St. Charles and not the trash on the sidewalks.
It can cause one to focus on the street musician and not the street beggar. It can cause one to see the wrought iron balcony rather than the dilapidated building.
What is it about the Big Easy that makes most see the positive and not the negative?
The answer to New Orleans' allure may, on the surface, seem different
for locals and tourists, but I suspect that there is a common thread - the people, the heart and soul of New Orleans.
There is a culture and tradition in New Orleans that is sweet and simple.
No need to over analyze this. It recognizes that the enjoyment of family and life is as attainable for the poor as it is for the rich. A hand on a shoulder and touch on the arm is just the way we say hello. We know that good music, food, and drink is made all the better when friends, social gatherings aren't seen as "excesses" but as something you just do.

New Orleanians don't believe they've cornered the market on this way of life. They recognize it when they see it elsewhere, and they applaud it. What makes New Orleans special is that they have a concentration of people who have it and foster it. It's generational. It's hereditary. The challenge to New Orleans, to the New Orleanian, is as great as ever.

Its reputation temporarily tarnished by the things that occurred in the aftermath of Katrina, it is up to those who live there, have been there, and adopted this city to not let these terrible scenes replace the ones they have of the Big Easy.

While money is needed to rebuild, preserving that feeling and attitude that New Orleans gave you on that last visit is just as important. Did the flood waters wash away the New Orleans way of life? Not a chance.

Not a chance that New Orleanians would deprive future generations of this breeding ground of the good life. With the vast destruction of parts of New Orleans now clear, the question is being asked repeatedly, "Is New Orleans worth rebuilding?"
To that, I can only reply, "Have you ever been to New Orleans ?"
To end, here is a quote from Chris Rose, the Times-Picayune Columnist:

"We dance when there is no music, we drink at funerals.
We talk too much, and live too large and, frankly, we're suspicious of
others who don't...
When you meet us now and you look into our eyes, you will see the
saddest story ever told.
Our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces. But don't pity us, we're
gonna make it.
After all, we've been rooting for the Saints for 40 years...That's got
to count for something."

More later.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Happy, Happy Birthday

To Me!


Great Day! Great Weather! Great Friend! Great Dinner!

More when I get Internet Connected at home... Film at 11.

More Later.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Update: Beginning, again.

This is being composed from the new apartment on Saturday, July 14, 2007. Of course, the first agenda item was to connect the PC. The slow process of unpacking personal items is under way. All else is in a storage unit. We’re doing this today while the events of the past 3 days are still relatively fresh in what passes for a mind these days.

Wednesday 7/11: After work, took a full trunkload to the new place and had a chat with the landlady about moving in a day earlier (she had already said to begin bringing things in anytime, so we were hoping she wouldn’t mind the extra night – which we were prepared to pay for – and she said YES!). Returned to the other place and disconnected the PC and continued to prepare small boxes to be filled with last minute items and toiletries. It was a sweltering day and the house was very uncomfortable. Had a long shower and went to bed. It was not a good night for sleep and not much came.

Thursday 7/12: Movers arrived 8 a.m. and began to work their magic. Friends said that these guys were really good and they didn’t disappoint. The owner was a regular Chatty Cathy and spent entire time talking about anything that popped into his head; be it the town, people in town, old families, adventures with the people he had moved, movies, kids, Bush, and on and on…while his sidekick was almost stoic by comparison. It was pretty funny and admittedly it certainly made the time go by quickly. All the furnishings and boxes were in the storage unit by 12:30 p.m. (missed the Service of Healing that day) so we were off with another trunkload to the new place. All personal possessions were out of the house by 7:30 that evening and we were exhausted - and sore. At a friend’s apartment that evening we took a hot shower, had a very light supper and went to bed early since Friday was a workday.

Friday 7/13: Again, after work took another trunkload – books, DVDs, and CDs this time. Arrived to find the landlady in the apartment installing sheer window treatments because, she assured us, with these installed she could not see in from the pool area. It was a privacy issue for her. Much appreciated, too. We sat down and did the lease-signing thing and it was a done deal. Back at the friend’s apartment we took another hot shower, enjoyed a comfort food dinner, played with the cats and went to bed. Sleep came quickly and peacefully.

Saturday 7/14: Awoke later than usual. Enjoyed a tall glass of orange juice with the friend who was on their way to work, and planned to run a few errands while traffic was relatively light. This a resort town and it gets crazy. What with all the weekly renters departing in the morning, and others arriving in the afternoon, roadway navigation can be a nightmare. Received a phone call from another friend with an invitation to breakfast. Sounded great. Well…Since the errands were done in time, we (all 6 of us) enjoyed a relaxed time and a good meal. Traffic was difficult and while driving to the new apartment it was decided to stay and unpack, perhaps watch a DVD, read, or play a CD, but not attempt drive anywhere else that day. The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 seemed appropriate for that afternoon’s work.

No phone installed yet. Posting from elsewhere. Irregular posting will resume once the new line is in.

More later.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We're Transmigrating

No, the site isn't being moved.

We are physically moving into a new space and will be offline posting little over the next few days.

The new space offers peace, serenity, privacy, and renewal. We will cherish all. We will post as the spirit moves us and hope to offer some insights into what this change means to our life.

The band of movers arrive tomorrow at 8 a.m. and there's no telling when it will end. They are a determined bunch and no one knows how many will show up to lend a hand.

Meanwhile there are boxes everywhere. Some full and some waiting to be filled with last minute things that we simply cannot live without for the next few days while waiting for the lease & occupancy. You know what I am saying here...

Tonight's dinner was peanut butter on saltines. Call it a Zen moment. Worked for me.

We will depend upon the kindness of not-strangers for two nights, and after that, we depend upon only ourselves in a new place (at least by the lease) that is ours.

More later.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happy 5th Blogiversary Mr. skippy!

WOW! Five Years. To one of the most beloved, interesting and funniest bloggers in all blogtopia (yes, skippy coined that phrase)! Go over and wish him well.

He found this site somehow and it was only up a few days. I wasn't ready for company, but we made do.

Thanks for being here skippy.

More later.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

(Not Quite) Paradise Found

It may not be paradise but, it will be my space. Not shared with anyone else. It's a nice place in a good location with privacy - for which I am grateful - and I am looking forward to living there and getting some needed peace, and healing time.

Since the place is pretty much furnished, most of my things will go into storage, and that's fine. I probably ought to have had a garage sale before this initial move. It would have saved me money and so many headaches this time round.

More on the move after I am settled in. I cannot wait.

I just need to get through the next 5 days of being here. Movers arrive on Thursday morning at 8 a.m. to take most of my stuff to a storage unit. I will take with me the basics and personal items. It promises to be a long and exhausting day.

Meanwhile, just know that I will be without internet access from Wednesday 7/11 until the following week. So, don't expect a post after that date. I will post as soon as I have a phone line and have the computer hooked up.

I am alternately spent, drained, excited, exhausted, worn out, elated, and numb in my mind and body. I am looking forward to some rest and relaxation with no one around unless I want them to be there.

There are three books I have been wanting to read, and I intend to get to them this summer. I have already started the first (probably not my best first choice): "The Place of the Lion" by Charles Williams, it's difficult to sink my teeth into while I am so distracted with all this other stuff.

More later.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

All I Want...

...is a room somewhere.

I only want a peaceful place to sleep, read, do web work, update the blog, and watch a DVD once in a while. Is that so much to ask for? It would appear so;

Bedroom/bath: w/ heavy smoker, alcoholic who is drunk at 3 p.m.

Bedroom/bath suite: smoker, just lost his partner of 4 decades. Not grieving well.

Full Suite in lower level of main house: not ready to share with someone else, needs privacy. I can understand that.

Single wide mobile in nice park: unable to rent, must buy…misunderstanding. Nice people.

A Divorcee with home and external apt for family use: Not quite sure wants to rent to someone they do not know. Have rented space only to friends in the past. Been burned, enough said.

At church today many folks asked about my “situation” (hey, it’s a small town) and continue to keep me in their prayers. I am grateful. The service, music and message were just what I needed today. I was asked to sit in with the choir, but was not in a good place emotionally, that is, until the music began. Then I was sorry I didn't accept the offer. Maybe next week. Things will get better. They have to. As the old song goes, "been down so long, it looks like up to me."

There were two messages on voicemail this evening. One from my sister, and one from an old friend who seems to zero in on “troubled times” with me. He's always right on target. Can't fool, or lie to him. I will return their calls when I have excess energy and can handle their questions.

Tonight is not that time. I am so tired, and I work tomorrow. A very long day.

I “interview” with another prospective landlord on Tuesday after work. Thank G** I have a session with my therapist on Thursday.

More later.


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