Monday, April 16th, 2018

Brooding

Boy, it’s hard to stay true to Truth Burping. It’s so tempting to put a good spin on life. And I do have plenty to good spin about. But today the thought that is in my head is “brooding”.I love words. I trust them. I thought maybe I just wanted a break to muse which has a nice meditative quality to it. “Oh, I think I’ll just gently muse about my life. But no, I trust my unconscious and it just won’t let go of “brooding”.

And wouldn’t you know it, the definition is “deep unhappiness of thought”. Darn. Or “feeling sad, worried, or angry for a long time”. Yikes! Where did my joy go? I prefer the definition, “engaged in deep thought”. Some dictionaries focus more on how a person looks rather than how they feel. Merriam Webster talks about being serious and sad. Bingo. I am serious and sad right now. I carry a lot a lot a lot of joy. That’s my default position but I am sad and serious today. Here’s why.

I am not sure how I want to spend my time and that irritation is trumping my joy. Writing (with deadlines) is demanding and takes time. I love it. I love this. This is my truth place. I’m already slipping away from brooding as I write. I love my kids and grandchildren and some live very far away. Mexico is good, very good. We have an entire alternate life here, which takes us away from our other alternate life and home. Reading is essential to my breathing. Lots of reading.

This could be all an embarrassment of riches except for one thing.I have a major deadline approaching that burdens me. It’s called death. (Are we still having fun?) It looms. I have ten more truly productive years—if I want to produce!! Am I morbid? No realistic.

I have always been aware of death from the time that my brother’s fiance’s family were killed in a car accident caused by drunks. Grandparents, parents, nine year old boy, 9 month old baby. One seven year old girl lived as did my brother’s fiancé. This is when I learned to cherish.

I write this on the date my dad died. I forgot thinking about taxes.Then my daughter texts to say my granddaughter had a bad dream about me—that we were in a bouncy house and I went into a section full of light and she tried to follow me but I was gone. Well, then.

I have two projects with deadlines, people wanting to be clients, five grandchildren I enjoy as people, a husband writing a major tome, a million books to read, beauty to relish and grocery shopping to do.

I am brooding but I now kind of smile as I say that.It’s too important sounding. I want to choose how to spend my life energy with careful choice or go totally random and enjoy the ride. But I’ll probably choose a touch more of denial and go my merry way.

The awareness of finite time can be a pain in the—-neck or a gift to stay awake. Not “or” Both.

I have a very funny story about literal brooding of chickens that involves Hubert Humphrey. Later. I’m too busy brooding with the touch of a smile.

 

 

 

 

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Monday, April 9th, 2018

Lovely Pang of Grief

My parents have been dead for twenty-four years. Weird. They had great deaths. And great living.They were quite alive until the very moment of dying. They died easily and within ten days of one another. My mom died on April 5th, my dad on April 15th of the same year.

I have wonderful stories about their deaths—funny and poignant and not terribly sad, which does not mean I was not hit hard. On another day, I will tell the story fully. Today, I’m saying I’m surprised by a wave of grief.

My mom died three minutes after my April 4th birthday so the two milestones are automatically intertwined. Megan’s birthday is three days after the date of my dad’s death. I was just made an officer at Hannaford the year my parents died and never got to tell them.

Some years, I sail right through this crazy first fifteen days of April. Happy, sad, happy, sad, bewildered. This year I have a sharp grief. So I will honor it and be a sad and still.

At their funerals the mantra was, “Oh we had fun.” “Oh we laughed.” I can’t think of a better descant for a life. And I hope, that 24 years after my death, my kids might have a renewed pang of grief missing me.

 

 

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Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Here I am in the land of Easter and I dropped out. I didn’t color one Easter egg for the first time in my life. Now I am big on decorations in general. I have great Easter decorations from Sweden, Bruge in Belgium and the Czech Republic. Gorgeous eggs with intricate designs, tiny glass eggs, pewter ornaments for Easter. I always have a tree branch that I decorate with ornaments. My fireplace mantle always has Easter bunnies made of paper mache and happy chicks of all kinds. And then, there is the Easter table cloth. And the Easter curtains in the kitchen (made of dish towels with Easter eggs on them) Over the top?

Yep. Makes me happy.

Now those decorations are in Maine and we are often in Mexico for Easter (on steroids) I have usually had neighbor kids come over to decorate eggs and hunt for candy. Not this year. We have a gap. We have young adults and babies. Did not matter to me. I did not drag our one seven year old over to play Easter with me.

There was plenty of Easter going on here. Processions galore. The churches decorated with oranges, wheat grass, gold foil and chamomile. The church bells were silent all day Saturday until Midnight. On Easter Sunday, life size effigies of Judas are hung over the street. They are filled with fire crackers and when set off they blow-up one by one and kids scramble for a piece of Judas to take home. Often they make forms of famous people are not popular.I wonder who it was this year. Hmmmmmm. Let me think.

Anyway the rhythm of the season permeates. I was very happy to hear from my grown kids about what they had done to celebrate Easter and our family rituals. One had a tree branch they decorated, one mentioned using a list to help kids find candy (what would you do with five kids where one always got all the candy in the first five minute???) and another colored Easter eggs with the familiar fragrance of vinegar in the water bringing back memories.

No one works here on Easter. No one. It was hushed all day Sunday.The weather was perfect, glistening with new leaved and popping with bougainvillea. David and I wrote, then sat, then wrote, then sat. It was a protected moment of beauty that carried the sacred easily.I was gratified to have my kids do the traditions of Spring and Easter.I didn’t feel left out or lonely. I felt like my job was done—well. I was content.

 

 

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Monday, March 26th, 2018

Holy Week Begins in San Miguel

 

It’s Friday in San Miguel de Allende. I have two different writing decisions and deadlines that are making me nuts—a mixture of self-doubt and excitement and pressure to produce. I choose this particular cocktail so I choose the side effects too. (This is what I am trying to tell myself which is so sappy and Puritan that I stop.)

It’s Friday in San Miguel—Viernes Dolorasa. This is Sad Friday. We are heading into Holy Week. Sad Friday recognizes Mary’s sorrow as she realizes what will happen to her son Jesus as prophesized. Here is how it is celebrated. First there is a Mass. Our church/temple is small and old, parts of it are from Colonial times. I like to touch the tiles and think of a Spanish priest touching it. (By the way, the first wave of Priests were like social workers or Peace Corps volunteers and did good works galore—next waves, not so much.)

The church is decorated with oranges, chamomile bunches and wheat grass. And a figure of Christ in purple velvet robe on the cross that is laying slanted against a rock brought in for the occasion. David enters and looks huge among the smaller Mexican congregation. Huge and white. Doesn’t matter. People know us. As weird Gringos they are used to.I sit outside on a bench with our neighbor who is nursing her baby. The music is haunting and strange. There is a tuba and a clarinet that dominate. It sounds out of tune—beyond discordant.A slow sad oomp-pa-pa. I am sure that it has Indian origins. (It reminds me of the armadillo shell stringed instruments played at Indian funerals that are purposely out of tune)

Mass ends and kids run to the nearby streets to knock on doors. To honor Sad Friday, each house builds a small alter with pictures of Mary, Purple and white flowers and—-oranges, chamomile bunchs and pots of wheat grass. AND they pass out pop-sicles or cups of ice cream. It is exactly like Halloween trick or treating. I ask about it. I think it started with sips or salt water representing Mary’s tears and turned to sugar water. I may look it up. I respect how early priests taught a non-literate culture with fun and ritual. Lots of ritual.

Saturday we go next door for Birthday party.  It is for a two year old Matias. Decorations with a theme I don’t know—a cartoon little boy who wears a funny big checked green hat. Candy spread out on a table for kids to take home. Food is served to guests at tables with white table cloths. Lots of balloons. All kids dressed up with new clothes. No activities. Grown-ups sit and watch kids run amuck. Every child shakes hands hello and good bye. Every child. We leave early which is not liked. Now that we are “family” we are expected to stay. We leave.

Saturday night, a local couple and their daughter come to dinner. We thought we were to go to their house. They come to our house bearing lasagna (with peas in it) as a gift to our Gringo taste for Italian food. We came close to passing by one another each to the wrong house. We sit on the portico of the guest house and talk, which means I do endless translating and we all laugh late. Juan is a carpenter and Irma manages a property ownded by an Italian. Their beautiful fifteen year old daughter comes with them always. There is a tragic story behind that. She is like a show animal, groomed and protected. I have know her since she was a toddler. I was relieved to see her absolutely fall apart with uncontrolled giggles when David said something kind of –well—pompous. She knows just enough English to pick up on it. I guffawed too. It was a lovely rude moment together. I have hopes she will become her own person.

I am tired from speaking Spanish and fussing about my work projects lurking in the background of fun.But Sunday is Palm Sunday. We used to watch all the happenings but we are now embedded in our community. We are expected to participate. The street is decorated with tall palms and big red and white crepe paper flowers attached to trees and houses. I don’t know the significance of the colors, but people have on red and white clothes as well. We walk to the end of the street and join a forming procession. A few people are dressed in costumes. There is a Virgen (our neighbor MariCruz) and John the Baptist riding on a Burro, two angels with big feather wings and a Mary Magdalene traipsing along. John (The Baptist) has a hard time getting on the burro.

He tries to sit in the wooden cradle saddle and yowls as his private parts hit the hard wood. He gets down with no dignity but great good humor, pulls up his white gown showing his Adidas sports shorts and sits again but behind the wooden saddle. Christ is there too carrying a huge cross. Both Jesus and John the Baptist are about 18 years old and carry the tone of the procession on their backs. They do it weill.. Most of us carry decorated braided palms and small wheat sheaves in our hands. We approach the church and the bells go wild and everyone wiggles their palm bouquets high in the air.

We arrive at the church and a Mass is set up outside the church with chairs and an altar covered with red cloth and a kids choir dressed in red shirts. The day is warm with a constant breeze. I bask in the sound of the Spanish words blasting from a sound system and murmured by the people surrounding me. I am touched as people kneel to pray on the hard ground. Humble, simple, unquestioned belief is in the air and is comforting to bath in it. I am grateful.

Mass is over. Chaos resumes. People line up for food prepared by the church ladies. Chairs are formed into family groupings. We walk down our street glad to be alone for awhile. We have been baptized into what tribal feels like—comforting and safe and sane and a magnet that holds tight and forbids too much asserting of the individual. I carry an echo with me for the rest of the day—the dilemma of that balance of family and individual. My own family struggles with these pulls as we prepare for our bi-annual whole family get together this coming Summer!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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