Bluebonnet Birthday

Wow. Smack dab in the middle of my forties. This morning I’m 45 and still alive! Twenty years ago, I was smack dab in the middle of years of suicide attempts and an inability to see myself ever finding the capacity to feel joy or carry on. Either I did, or time just wore me down. A little of both, I imagine. What would it be like to enjoy my twenties like I do my forties? More energy and effortless beauty, to be sure, but no more fun. I’m pretty good at that, no matter what age I reach.

45 is square, solid, standing on the horizon, looking behind and ahead, pretty darned satisfied. I loved 44. I don’t know why. I’ve joked that it’s because Obama was #44, but I loved it. I don’t know how. It was the hardest experience of my life. I’ve struggled giving myself permission to say that. I came up in an abusive home and entered my twenties in a tailspin of someone else’s choosing. I chose drugs and alcohol, and had the fight of my life in my thirties getting clean. How could those 3 weeks last September be the worst thing I’ve ever been through? I don’t know, but it was.

I also wonder how I can feel so fond of 44 when I’ve noticed a disturbing change in myself. For the first time in my life, I feel jaded. I don’t feel it in connection to what happened last fall, necessarily. I feel like that broke it loose and now it’s here to look at honestly. Texas, therefore, was exactly what I needed. I can’t process anything fully without my best friend.

Rebecca confirmed the shift and actually pinpointed the beginning of it to years ago in a shitty little temp job I felt superior to. I was only there for 4 and 1/2 months, but she was absolutely right! It was then that I stopped “choosing higher,” in actions and attitudes so small at first that I didn’t notice it happening. Here I am several years later just a little bit… uglier, I guess, than I’m familiar with.

In spite of my lifelong struggle with dark thoughts and despair, my nature is optimistic and buoyant. I didn’t consider that, like everyone, I have to do the work. My habit has been to keep close to home when I’m in a bad space. I don’t isolate. I let friends know that I’m not my best, but it’s usually not too alarming. I always come back to my playful self. That has remained true, but there was this piece that had changed.

I’m at a place now where “resting on your laurels,” as my mom would say, doesn’t cut it. When I catch myself looped in angry, unkind thoughts, I have to redirect. It’s not enough to wait for the real me to come back. I have to fight for her.

So I love 44. It was a year of learning. And I love my best friend. Going home to her family is a respite and my second greatest joy. (Cats are superior to all things.) Here are pics of me finally making it to Texas at the height of bluebonnet spring!

bluebonnets

We painted fake lilacs to look like bluebonnets and decorated hats.

rebecca and farrah

I found the most beautiful blue bonnet for Farrah’s first bluebonnet spring! LaFleurBonnets, Etsy

hannah and me

This is the 3 yr-old who named me Christie Redhair 20 years ago.

 

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Happy 222!

There’s a National Margarita Day?!

margarita

2.22.18 @ Green Pig Pub in Downtown Salt Lake

Today was a convoluted mess. I’m glad there was a margarita at the end of it.

I’m in a bit of a Fibro flare, have been for several weeks. My pain level is not as high, even in this extended episode, as the every-day-run-of-the-mill that was the last 5-6 years of my life, so I’m pretty grateful. But it is wearing on me, and I’m utterly exhausted.

I got everything wrong today. Left my card in the wrong pants and had to drive 45 minutes back to town and 45 minutes back to my eye doctor to order my glasses, and then spent nearly 2 hours at the Apple store, on an empty stomach because I don’t eat breakfast and I spent an hour and a half of my life, at lunch, to drive in frustration rather than feed myself.

They couldn’t replace my battery, which holds no charge, because it had “expanded.”

“What does that mean?” I ask. I can’t conceive of why a battery might bloat.

“Lots of things can do it,” I learn. “Usually, it’s just part of the dying process. Different compounds break down and the carbon dioxide makes it swell.” The young man delivering this news proclaims it like nothing-out-of-the-ordinary.

“We’re talking about exploding gases,” I say. “Shrapnel. And it’s right next to my head!”

“Yeah.” He was unperturbed, but he replaced my entire iPhone for the cost of a battery. Friend, that was worth 2 hours!

I’m reading a book by Adyashanti, “Falling Into Grace,” another I nabbed from the book exchange I worked in several years ago. It’s a nice depiction of losing the self, and timely after yesterday’s dumbass move of the day.

I think my life is about having my ass handed to me. My ego trips me up. That’s universal, of course, but my ego really trips me up. Adyashanti does a good job of helping me understand what the hell is meant by relinquishing the sense of self. (Attempts usually leave me irritated by pretentious hippie-chatter, and no more enlightened.)

So I’m enjoying that, and most things on this annual act of marking time. It’s nice, because I’ve noticed that late February is often a bitchy time of year for me.

Oh. And my optometrist recommended bifocals. Ha!

Happy Blogiversary to me. Happy 222 to you you you!
6-year-anniversary-pic_orig

Honest Review

A critical one, I’m afraid, but the writer walked away from the night enjoying himself, nonetheless, and praising the gusto and heart of our little community production. I chuckled at what could be a stretch to find something nice to say about us, but it really did warm my heart: “The company’s exuberance and commitment filled the space with energy,” he wrote, and he’s right. “I couldn’t find anyone doing it halfway.” In other words, Wellll, they tried really hard, and good on ’em. (Thank you.)

I appreciated the author, too, because he was very thorough and thoughtful, and because his findings are precisely how I feel about our show’s weaknesses. For whatever reason, they chose to do these cheesy-ass projections behind us on set. I finally watched them Saturday before the show, and they’re worse than I could have imagined. Awful! So distracting, awkward, and embarrassing.

(Oh, and the face I complained about weeks ago is up there larger than life. Not even one smiling shot of Adelaide to introduce her. Just that bitter, angry mug of aged disappointment, haha! That was so dumb on the part of production. “Angrier!” the photographer commanded, with no sense of character and variety. Production told him “Angry,” so he got one look locked in his brain. He wouldn’t even take the shot unless I exemplified something akin to rage. So ugly and out of character. Duh.)

I’ve also been sincerely annoyed by our choreographer, bless him. While I do appreciate his demand that we Level Up, he has to choreograph to the group’s ability as a whole. It’s so disjointed and glaring. Some are dancers, and some are not. You blend. That’s your job. But his ego required this frenetic, intricate stuff that some simply can’t do, and it looks out of balance and amateur. I can, but barely. (I’m OoooooLD, and man! My feet are starting to scream.)

(I get to wear my beloved patent-leather red stilettos for 5 minutes in the closing scene. I will pay for this.)

Finally, the performances. He liked us, though we don’t “overflow with triple threats.” (Ouch!) He said that my choices “told a million tales in subtext,” which I appreciated so much! I always wanted to play Adelaide’s sincerity. She’s a caricature; that’s why she’s great. But she’s a real girl with a broken heart and massive, hilarious anxiety. I love her.

I love our amateur production. I love my castmates. I’m glad I have time left to appreciate and enjoy our show and my new friends. Hell Week is hell. I try always to keep that in perspective, but ours, as I mentioned, was the worst I’ve ever experienced. I was pissed.

I was also moving, having a nervous breakdown, and being terrorized in a tag-team assault by my ex-boyfriend and his new bride (whom he dated for 5 weeks). Stuck in the home with them when they didn’t need to move in together before my apartment became available 3 weeks later – and hadn’t planned to before they decided to torture me in their first act as family. The man with whom I was trying to have a baby just months before, who had chosen my move-out date, was now mercilessly harassing, abusing, and mocking me and I couldn’t get free. Oh, and motherhood slipped me by. That answer is known at last, at 44. I’m no one’s mommy. Ever.

I forgive myself for losing perspective.

It’s back now. I’m looking forward with some hope and joy.

Quiet Hush

I’m sharing a video posted to my friend’s Facebook page. I expect that it won’t be as touching and lovely to Anonymous as it is to me. Playmill Theatre is staple entertainment in the tourist-but-untouched town that is West Yellowstone, MT.

Nostalgia does that, but this is beautiful. Take a moment to enjoy a quiet hush: Lullaby

That curved stage shaped my childhood. I spent every summer in the audience. The thing I loved best was riding alone in an old pick-up truck with Grandma and Grandpa, on the way to our cabin in Idaho, singing every round there is: “Horsey, Horsey,” “Three Little Fishies,” “One Bottle o’ Pop,” and all of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

I danced and sang in those lights just one year before this 90s clip was captured.

Lisa Burton Carter, her husband Jeff, and their friend, Linda, have proven themselves to be 3 of the most solid, decent people I know. I called them out by name in my Home Page Novella, “How I Got Here.” They appeared at the razor’s edge of youth and adulthood, onto which I walked with little more than trauma, pain, anger, and grit.

At just the time when there were officially more holes in the dike than I had fingers, Linda and Lisa loved me, and Jeff wanted to paint my portrait.

I wanted to die. I wanted to kill them. It was 1993.

I needed this quiet hush today. I needed a reminder of good people and love in my life. More importantly, I needed a reminder of their example. If you can’t take your eyes off of the mother and daughter in this beautiful melody, it’s because what you see is authentic and deeply good. By choice, by act, by very conscious effort. (Also, ripping hilarious and talented as hell, that family, the whole lot of ’em!)

****

I still have trauma and grit. Today, the angels have sent another reminder that the time has come at last to get my kit together. I have the awareness and maturity to see what I lack, appreciate how I survived as long as I did, and alter it – just the tiniest, albeit significant tweak – to finally achieve the peace and success I long for and deserve.

photoshoot 1993

courtesy Jeff Carter, 1993 (I refused to “sit” for the artist, but after an entire summer he finally talked me into a photo shoot, from which he painted a portrait I’ve still never seen.) (That’s an authentic Native dress! ~ Aho Mitakuye Oasin ~ For us capitalists, that’s a value of $100,000!)

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The portrait I did sit for, in 1984, was for an important artist and teacher, Sergei Bongart. As with Jeff (and that incredible Native dress), it was later that I came to understand the enormous honor. Sergei fell in love with my hometown and summered there until his death in 1985. In southeast Idaho, he found “magpies and wild lilacs,” as in the Ukraine of his childhood.

sergei bongart

Sergei Bongart as a young man

Gen X Women

Interesting. I said to myself just yesterday, “Generation X was the perfect name for us. We’re nothing but a bridge between Boomers and Millennials. Crossbeams. We hold shit up.” Then my friend posted the following link on Facebook.

This article is long, validating, terrifying, and excellent. Ambiguous Loss has a name! And I’m not alone in rage.

The New Midlife Crisis

“Like X, for whatever,” I thought aloud. “I give up. X for cancel us out. X, for cross right over us. Without us, Millennials couldn’t ‘speak their truth.’ We fucking insisted on it!”

Gen X was pretty much there just to be a battering ram against the old guard, as far as I’m concerned. Thing is, the Boomers were the original revolutionaries, and look what planet-killing warmongers they became!

*sigh*

Maybe we’re all just assholes.

X is whatever value you give it. Perhaps in mid-life it’s a negative integer, but screw the “U-Turn” the article describes for other generations. X that shit out and start over! Isn’t that what we’ve been doing all along?

Perhaps I’m just an Oppositional Defiant. Perhaps I’m a fucking survivor. Today I feel depressed, displaced, discouraged. I’m still getting up tomorrow.

X marks the spot. Start here. Start now.

Murky Full Moon

I still feel spun near the center of a Universal smack-down, but I’m ebbing out of the survival zone. Last month’s eclipse is still with me and hurting, specifically because my ability to have fun with it made it all the more bittersweet. Sometimes it makes me sad to see how good I am at making the best of a bad situation. I don’t know how to explain that, except to say that the little girl growing up beaten, abandoned, furious, and scared to death just figured out how. And this middle-aged gal still has it. How can that be sad?

It’s bittersweet, too, because though I was able to make a joyous occasion of it, I could simply have gone home and enjoyed my family, the spectacular countryside, and the magic. I chose instead to scrape out another miracle of mood-alteration. I guess I needed to believe I still could. Nice it didn’t take drugs, like the old party girl would.

I hope in the second half of my life, I’ll finally let go the need to prove myself to myself. It’s like the first half was so hard, especially the nascent beginning, that I simply refuse to believe that anything is real or solid or sticking around if it doesn’t just suck.

Thing is, that’s childish, and I’m the only one who can grow up, or refuse to. I’m in danger of not doing it at all if I don’t get this shit behind me, like, yesterday. I’m 44.

Christie, trust that the skills are in there to enjoy and appreciate magic and beauty every day. They don’t disappear or stop coming if you know that. Expecting miracles is different from taking them for granted. They’re your right and your routine.

I suspect that they’ll become more powerful if I let them in every day, rather than needing each one to be epic. It’s just the way it is. I’m connected and I know it. So are we all. Nothing special, just a walking marvel, ‘s all.

So, here I am in full moon energy during the day, a red-gray sun snuffed by wildfires severe enough to cause evacuations in northern Utah. It’s bad. The throat and eyes sting, mountain beauty’s blotted out, and the whole damned planet is burning or flooding or turning night at midday, just 2-odd weeks ago. It’s eerie and spooky, and everyday run-of-the-mill. It all is, and I’m busy cleaning up the mess I’ve made, of my life, my family, my namesake, my most important friendship, and my last relationship.

****

Today, this memory popped up on Facebook. It seemed especially poignant and timely, so I’m marking it here to make myself accountable. Of the memory, I wrote:

“Two years ago, the last of my 3 best girlfriends left Salt Lake City. At that time, I began planning my move, too, to the next phase/location of my adventure, but found continued wonderful reasons to stay, as one does. The last month+ has got me asking the Universe, sincerely, “Is Utah kicking me out?” I’m anchored through November with a passion project 24 years in the making, which would make any big transitions impossible until the end of whatever lease I’m able to come up with next month, which tells me: ONE YEAR. My life purpose for one year is to look at 20 years in the Promised Land and squeeze in all the personal goals I meant to reach but didn’t, face character deficits I ignored or pretended away, and set myself up for the second half of my life. I don’t want to leave next year, but I’ll have a picture of and real progress toward a clear 5-yr intention, with no particular destination in mind. What’s next? It’s terrifying, exciting, bittersweet. It’s time.”

jojo's good-bye

Jojo’s good-bye… Germany, here she comes! Aug. 29, 2015

 

Drum Circle

My cousin recently moved to Elko, NV, and had the idea to start a drum circle. She asked me to help, so I brushed up on a few basic rhythms, packed my extensive collection of noise-makers, and drove west.

First, I detoured north, to visit family in Twin Falls, ID. This was an epic winter for the Rocky Mountain desert plateau, and Shoshone Falls is higher than it’s been in decades.
shoshone

Farmers have already diverted massive amounts of water to river-wide irrigation ditches all across Magic Valley, and it’s still roaring!

Impressive as Shoshone was, I liked Cauldron Linn even better. You can walk right to the edge and dangle your feet over the river, which seems to boil as it crashes over rocks, and narrows into steep igneous canyon walls downstream. It’s deafening!
cauldron linn 3cauldron linn 4

The drum circle was small, but it went about as well as it could have, I think. I left feeling festy-buzzed, and the drive home was familiar and sweet. It’s the road that took me to and from Burning Man a lifetime ago. I’m going back this summer, for the first time in 7 years! It’s the 10-year anniversary of my virgin burn, and I can’t begin to quantify how different a person I am today, largely because of that strange thing that happens every year in the desert. It’ll be interesting to go back after so long away.
drumsOnly 5 people joined us at the Peace Park in Elko, but I was thrilled. My biggest fear was that someONE would show up. (That would be worse than none!) They all arrived within 15 minutes of each other, and we banged around for an hour-and-a-half straight. We got one groove going that was pretty darn meditative. Each drum’s voice met my ear like a conversation. It was joyful and trancey, and that, my friends, is a drum circle!

Best part? I realized I’d never seen my drums in the sunlight! I started this project last fall and my drums, like me, spent winter indoors. They are so beautiful!

I’m so lucky. Blessed, I think. I got to play at something risk-free that’s given me pleasure, respite, laughter, music, and a sense of accomplishment. I wouldn’t have done it if it cost me anything; the risk of failure is more frightening when you put money on it, in the view of a Taurus and a girl with a frail ego. A loving universe put me in the path of this wonderful, wild, generous artist. Marko and I met at Burning Man in 2007. We camped together the next year, and have been inseparable ever since.

Those drums are the thing I’m most proud of. Even without the positive feedback, they give me so much. They make my heart sing. Thank you, Marko!

brc '08

Black Rock City, 2008

(I can tell you one thing that’s changed in 10 years. People ask me now, “What’s your relationship with Marko?” These are the same people we’ve partied with for a decade, and now I seem age-appropriate for a man who’s older than my father?)

Oy! The 40s are for humility.

drumming-on-the-wall

Oh, I lie. I did see my drum in the sun at last year’s March for Love in November, after the election. It was a different experience to see them in the hands of others, with a little distance and perspective and, as mentioned, drenched in all that delicious light.