Sunday, February 27, 2011

Caffeinated Babe: What's under the bed...

Caffeinated Babe: What's under the bed...: "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it. ~Oscar Wilde I like to think that ..."

What's under the bed...

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.
 ~Oscar Wilde

I like to think that I'm psychic sometimes.  Doesn't everyone?  "I knew it was you before the phone rang..."  or..."I was just humming that song before it came on the radio."  I am a huge fan of the supernatural, and frankly, wish I had more finely honed psychic skills.  Though I could write a whole book about my fascination with the otherworldly, this blog entry is about a very specific facet of my ability to see my own future.  Believe me, it is plenty scary indeed...

About eleven years ago, our family was going through a turbulent time.  By this I mean to say, lots of people died at once.  First, my mom, then Ed's grandmother, then my grandmother, and then, finally, Ed's grandfather (he was not a "go gently" kind of guy, which is probably how he made it home from Omaha Beach).  My mother was the trail blazer;  the others didn't start dropping until about a year later, and then faded within a few months.  At the same time, I was expecting my first child.  There was a lot of "challenging transition".  Polite code for:  "the shit is hitting the fan.  it is too late to duck."  But I digress...during this turbulent time of challenging transition...

I often visited Ed's grandmother, Elizabeth, while she was living in the Gloucester House, an assisted living facility nearby.  This was not an easy time for Elizabeth for several reasons, the zinger being that she was dying.   To add insult to injury, she was dying in the Gloucester House, amidst the indignities of afternoon card games and mid-morning cookie breaks.  Elizabeth had felt very much like a grandmother to me, so early in her illness and my pregnancy, I tried to visit her often.  I confess that I failed toward the end of both projects, and rarely saw her the last few weeks of her life.  But here's my vision:

While visiting Elizabeth, and, eventually, her tough old husband, Woodrow, in the Gloucester House, we got to know some of the residents.  There was a troubled old lady who shuffled around muttering "I'm a wreck, I'm a wreck, I'm a wreck, I'm a wreck, I'm a wreck of the haspiriss."  (I don't know what the haspiriss is either...)  And I can't remember if it was her or another resident who often sang out "I'm ready!  I'm ready, ready, ready, ready!  Ready for ice cream!"  But my favorite character, my future self, was a quiet little thing whose eyes darted suspiciously all around.  She was especially concerned with unfamiliar faces.  Well.  Aren't we all?

Her secret was this:  she hid books.  They say that she darted furtively all around the Gloucester House, snatching any form of the written word.  Books, pamphlets, magazines, religious tracts...nothing was safe from the old lady (let's call her Bessie) on a mission.  Once she had captured her prize(s), she would slip away to her room and squirrel her printed material into the space under her bed.  Every so often the staff (I don't remember if she had family on the scene) would have to clear out her stash.  If I were Bessie, I would be pissed right off.  Taking my books!  That's rich.

So.  I'm feel pretty confident that I will end my life hoarding books.  After all, it's what I do now.  I, too, have books and magazines everywhere.  If there were room under my bed, hell yeah, I'd stash some goodies in that hidey hole!  Who knows when you might need a pamphlet about "Dialysis and You" or a magazine with an article about that island you always wanted to visit.  And the article is so good, and in depth, it would be tragic to toss is, but who has the time to read it right now?, so under the bed it goes.

For now, my under-the-bed area is inhabited by ferocious dust bunnies, abandoned pacifiers and a few boxes of family pictures.  But my print collection grows and grows.  I've got a lot of books of poetry.  We have a righteous collection of "personal growth" type books.  Tons of really excellent fiction.  Progressive theological explorations.  Biographies.  Car repair manuals.  Some real doozies too, I admit.  A lot of superb reference books, if I do say so myself.  And lots and lots of these books, I've never read.  God help me, probably won't read.  But I am happier knowing they are here, should I need to consult them.  And I cannot imagine that my penchant for books will lessen as I age.  So many things to learn!  Good to know I've got so much knowledge, so much imagination, so much adventure, available to me with the rustle of a page.  The bonus?  The icing on the cake?   The pages were made for me, not I for them:  they are just fine on their shelves, in their baskets...waiting for me to catch up with them.  And I will, you wait and see.  Which is probably exactly what sweet old Bessie said too!

In the meantime,  if you need a pamphlet on "Caring for your Gums for Life", or our church bulletin from three Sundays ago, I've got you covered.  I just know it's here somewhere...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Caffeinated Babe: I don't mind the drive...

Caffeinated Babe: I don't mind the drive...: "'The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our..."

I don't mind the drive...

"The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium." ~Norbet Platt

Greetings and Salutations--

Today is a red-letter day in my little world.

Many of you know that I have begun taking a class at The Muse, a writer's center in Norfolk.  If you haven't checked out the website,   For your own artsy edification, you should peruse immediately.

Today is the day my rockin' Intro to Fiction Writing Class resumes.  There are so many parts of the event to love: escape from domesticity with an excuse to put on make-up; time alone in the car to listen to loud, sometimes bad, music; hanging out with a whacky little group of writer people who don't mind laughing and crying together; occasionally producing something on the page which makes me look twice.

Anway, for what it's worth, I love my trips to Norfolk,  It is a chance to be with other people who love books and enjoy the jolt when the truth and the page collide.  I would drive almost anywhere for that.  But it helps if I get to pick the music.
More later...I have to go get my groove on, peeps!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Caffeinated Babe: Hospitals and other red flags...

Caffeinated Babe: Hospitals and other red flags...: "'Life is not orderly. No matter how we try to make life so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, drop a jar of ..."

Hospitals and other red flags...

"Life is not orderly.  No matter how we try to make life so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, drop a jar of applesauce." 
Natalie Goldberg

Natalie's words ring true to me.  Just when you think you've got things figured out, under can count on some chaos.  In my case, if the Universe doesn't provide some, I can always whip some up!  In fact, self-made chaos is the best--that way I can pretend I have some influence on the outcome.

But that's not the flavor of chaos I'm discussing today.

Right now I'm thinking of how it feels having a flat tire on the way to the interview.  THE interview.  I'm thinking of finding out that you've been downsized.  Well, yes, your company, but really:  YOU.  And how about those doctor's visits?  "The bloodwork came back..."  Unless the next word is NORMAL, who wants to know?  I'm talking about catastrophic chaos.  The type that takes you a couple of years find some humor in, and that's if you're lucky.

Catastrophic chaos usually has an element of surprise to it.  Here's what happened to me this past week:  early in the week, I got a call from a friend who lives nearby.  She calls me frequently, sometimes just to discuss the latest headlines (she gets her news from talk-radio and I get mine from NPR--still, sometimes we  recognize a headline or two from the other's news source).  My friend told me that she was feeling sick, some kind of stomach thing.  A couple of days later, she called again, asking me to bring by a few things because she was not well enough to shop herself.  I was happy to do it, left the goodies on her doorstep, as requested.  A couple of days after that, my phone had been suspiciously quiet.  Not even a commentary on the latest Criminal Minds episode.  I stopped by her house again.  There was no answer to her door or phone. 

Which, it turned out, was because she was barely conscious. 

She is now in the hospital, in intensive care, receiving treatment for her illness.  She is expected to recover, but currently cannot breathe without assistance.  Yikes.

Needless to say, this post is not about my catastrophic chaos.  My friend is dear to me and I am grateful that she is expected to recover, but her illness reminds me how very fragile our selves really are.  Sometimes it takes a hospital visit to remind me of that.  Sometimes, though, life is not that obvious, and you DON'T have a flat tire on the way to the interview, or you get a NEW job after the downsizing debacle.  As Natalie says, sometimes you drop a jar of applesauce.  On a good day, you fall in love.  Mostly, it's not up to you.

Life's interruptions, big and small, miraculous and catastrophic, they're all coming, to each of us as we continue our spin on the planet.  It reminds me to be humble and to be ready.  Whether it means changing the tire, getting to the hospital, sending a love note, cleaning up the damn applesauce, as long as you're here, you're in the game.  So play hard and clean, and remember that tomorrow is coming whether you invite it or not.

But if you can, PLEASE stay out of the hospital--it's so much harder to get your groove on there!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Caffeinated Babe: Happy New Year, every day.

Caffeinated Babe: Happy New Year, every day.: "The beginnings and endings of all human undertakings are untidy.  ~Anonymous New Year's Eve has come and gone, along with Christ..."