Marti's Theory

Archive for the ‘Slice of Life’ Category

So let’s talk about time today.

I understand that we need the chronology of time in order to navigate this world, in the same way we need gravity.  Without either, things would be, well, a mess.  Hunger alarms can tell me when I should eat (yeah, like I wait that long) and heavy eyelids let me know when to sleep.  But how would the showing of Star Wars, The Force Awakens and I hook up?  See, I understand we need the concept of time.

But the more I accumulate of this chronology thing, the less I understand the value. What I particularly don’t understand is our tendency to hold on to it, to try and hit the pause button.

I write this as I sit at a desk that was mine for eight years, in a community that was mine for twenty.  But in the past seven years and ten months, my life has been elsewhere.  And by this evening, it’ll be there again.  So today I think backward and in a few hours I’ll begin to think forward, while in each case, trying to gently bring myself back to now.

Why is it so hard to think in the present?

And in the Cause & Effect department,  “time” produces an even more perplexing concept:

Age.

Tomorrow I turn 62 and I think that’s partially driving this post.  It isn’t my “age” per se.  I mean, yes, I’d prefer to forego the wrinkles and creaky joints and yes, I’m wondering if I should do some future care planning.  But for the most part, I’m cool with my age.  It took about a year, but I like being in my 60s.  It’s like having permission to gleefully not give a shit about unimportant stuff on so many levels.  Or more specifically, to have the clarity to see how increasingly unimportant so many of those things we value really are.

The part that has me totally flummoxed is —

WHEN DID 62 YEARS HAPPEN??!!

And that’s the part I just can’t grasp. Seriously. It seems like about 30 years or so have passed. I have maintained friendships with people I’ve known since my childhood and teen years and when I talk to them, without consciously thinking about it, I feel no different from the person I was at seventeen. Or seven. Or whenever.

I’m about the hit the 400 word mark, so it’s time to tie up these somewhat disjointed musings.

What’s the bottom line?  Well, it’s not very original, but still resoundingly true:

The passage of time is a constant in this life.  It doesn’t stop, it keeps moving, and there’s nothing we can do to change that.  But the hard-to grasp good news is this – that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.  Not only can I accept 62, but I also accept that next year will be 63 and – if I’m still here – ten years from now will be 72.  And that one of those years, I won’t be any longer.  The clock is running and eventually I will get a big “DING! Time’s up!” And that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.  I don’t exactly know what’ll happen next, but I know something will, and it’ll be some kind of adventure that I couldn’t possibly grasp yet.  But good.  I know that.  So what the heck …

My wish for you and for me, today and within all these crazy increments of time is simply to keep reminding ourselves to be present and to keep remembering to enjoy the moment, big or small, tender or funny, intense or easy.  It’s ours. And it’s ours to do with what we like.

Happy 2016, gang.

(click for James Taylor, still singing about the Secret of Life, 2010)

jt

James Taylor, from JT CD cover. 1977

 

 

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Around January 3rd-ish, my goal was to try to post a weekly blog.  I blinked and it was February and I thought, “Okay, monthly then.”  One-third of the way closer to March and I ask myself, “So … you got a plan C in there somewhere?”  In the past six weeks I’ve had at least ten blog ideas that pop into my head while driving, standing in line at Safeway or in the shower (never mind that one), but they’re only one short thought that has to be fleshed out in order to become a REAL BLOG POST.  Hence, plan C: Short, one thought, shallow blog posts.  Case in point:

Long Hair

Right now my hair is longer than it’s been since Denver in the 1970’s  When wet, my hair goes about an inch and a half past my shoulders, so it’s actually just longish.  And why do I say “when wet?”  Well, as every curly-haired person knows, only wet hair is measured by length. Dry hair is measured by width.  To whine further- when you have a long neck, it takes FOREVER for the length get down there far enough to officially register as Long Hair. But I digress…

Longish hair takes some getting used to.  First of all, when getting dressed it gets caught under my bra strap and I never figure that out until I’m fully clothed and have to fiddle around with where it is and how to unleash it.  Same principle for trying to turn my head while driving or when leaning back in my office chair.  The worst, though, is when I wear something sleeveless. A fast turn to the right and I am immediately startled by whatever or whomever gave me such a light touch on my left shoulder.  And then I remember: Oh.  Right.  It’s the hair.

But the negatives of longish hair are far outweighed by one major advantage: I can toss the whole thing into a maintenance-free ponytail and forget about it all.  Unless I’m driving, or sitting in a high back chair, that is. [Picture someone seated with her head pitched two inches forward] Then it’s low pony all the way.

Yeah, this was a pretty pointless blog.  But that’s how we’re gonna roll this year.

This illustrates the flat iron magic of Salon Bella Maui’s Kim Willits. Six times a year, I have “normal human” hair.

From the Marti’s Theory archives.  Wrote this about eight years ago, but I like it.  So here it is again. Yes, all true

I can’t believe what I just did. I also don’t really know what happened. It was like the middle of a CSI scene, with the agent standing there, trying to understand the sequence of events or root cause.

It started with a bowl of chopped turnip greens.

Let me try to recreate the scene of the crime for you:

I was in the middle of about three tasks (red flag #1) – computering, cooking, unpacking. Had forgotten to eat lunch, (red flag #2) or go to the store, so I was tossing together whatever I could find in my freezer and trying to just nuke it all.

The next part happenend within a timeframe of about five seconds, so I’m still trying to understand it–

The microwave beeped as I was walking back into the room. As I reached for the door, I heard the chime that I get when there’s an I M message, so of course that diverted my attention (red flag #3). Instead of walking to the other side of the room to get the potholder (MAJOR red flag #4 here) I figured, oh heck, I’ll just sort of dance the container over to the countertop, changing fingertips en route.

Big mistake.

As (and picture this in slo-mo, for the right effect) I grabbed the container with one hand and tried to deal with the loose lid with the other (yeah, I KNOW- red flag #5) it was hotter than I anticipated, so it decided to sort of fling itself across my kitchen, releasing a torrent of green shit along the way.

But my kitchen–
I swear, it looked like someone tried to bless my house with chopped turnip greens.

Let me try to trace the spatter trail for you–
Out of the microwave, onto the scanner.
Across my NEW package of just opened computer paper, down INTO my stash of Diet Dr Pepper (yes, in the nooks and crannies of the plastic thing that holds them together). Across the floor, onto the fridge, all over the stuff magnetted to the fridge (including my brand new souvenier magnet ), UNDER the fridge, into my coffee pot, until finally landing neatly in the sink. (Now THAT was magnificent – just stood there with a silent “wow…” when I saw that. Not sure but I think I saw my dog hold up a little sign with a 9.5 on it)

Oh yeah, and did I mention that my Living Room and Kitchen are all one big room? So yes, the open suitcase that I was unpacking got blessed as well.

I’ll tell ya…
I think I topped myself this time. In fact it was almost as bad as the time I accidentally dumped a pound of coffee INTO my bookcase. (Think about that one for a minute. Let it digest.)

Am I the only one who does things like this? Is this really my life, or did I get trapped in some I Love Lucy time warp continuum?

Please tell me you do stupid shit, too.

And if you don’t, then lie.

Not me.

Not me.

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I was a fourth grader, and had spent Sunday at my grandparents’ farm.  I didn’t care whether we left and got home BEFORE The Ed Sullivan Show started, or whether we watched it at Baba’s and left after.  All I knew was – my ten year old self just had to see what the hype was all about.

By this time, I already was aware of how influenced we could by our friends or the cumulative roll of public opinion.  I couldn’t articulate it in those terms, but it made me cautious.  Excited but cautious.  Like … all this hoopla could be a crock.

So I waited.  Ed did his introduction, calling them “youngsters from Liverpool.”  I remember that he pronounced their name funny – everyone else said it was though it was spelled Beadles, but he said it, either as Bea Tells or Bea’les,  I found that odd.

Girls screamed their way through the intro, while my parents and uncles cracked jokes.  The camera switched to the performing stage and there were the Beatles. Weird hair (for the times) combed forward, matching suits, looking pretty much like they did in photos we’d seen.  Okay, let’s see what this —

“one, two, three four…”

“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you, remember I’ll always be true…”

From the first three words, I was transported.    Where?  I don’t know.  It wasn’t just that I developed an immediate crush on Paul. It was about the whole experience.  All these years later I still cannot explain it.  The best I can do is say this – some gut-deep part of me that I didn’t know existed was opened, awakened.  It was exciting.  Scary exciting.  We had laughed at the photos of British teens fainting in a state of hysteria but as I watched them, I understood.  As dramatic as this might seem to those who were not “there” – it was a true paradigm shift.

And the first of many such shifts, I have to say.  For the next six years, they did it over and over again.  Every Beatles album took us someplace new, someplace we hadn’t even imagined.  And the musical world followed.

As the band broke up, I continued to listen to them individually.  Loved Plastic Ono Band, thought All Things Must Pass was heaven. Switched loyalties among the four of them over the years (yes, Ringo, too), thought they all went on to great individual careers but I always missed the alchemy of “The Fab Four.” When I later learned what the word synergy meant, I understood it by thinking, “oh, like the Beatles.”  Alchemy, yes.  The universal elixir, turning base metals to gold.  That’s what it was.

In the past twenty years or so, younger friends have asked in in total earnestness:

“What was so great about the Beatles?”

When asked that, I pause.  I can tell them that everything they ever did, they were the first ones to do it.  I can site classics like Yesterday and rattle off a dozen tunes from the Lennon/McCartney song writing team.  I can point to George’s superior guitar skills, even at the young age of 22, or John’s cutting edge insights or Paul’s ability to know an audience.  But the truth is, I can’t explain it.

You had to be there.  You simply had to be there.

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I see a lot of year’s end “letting go” posts as I scroll through my Facebook page and I decided this time I’m going in the opposite direction.  So last evening, a friend and I had a conversation that we called The Best of 2013. We casually and without a lot of direction compiled our own list of Favorites from this year that is ending.   Starting with the usual Favorite Movie, Favorite Song (I couldn’t come up with one) type stuff, we eventually wandered into increasingly more specific and ultimately more meaningful terrain.  Just a few of our 2013 Favorites were:

Favorite new toy

Favorite phone pic

Favorite Facebook post (neither of us really came up with one)

Favorite thing to wear

Favorite holiday experience

Favorite new friend

Favorite event

Favorite moment.

That last one gave us each pause.  What was my favorite moment in 2013?

The funny thing was, it came to me instantly.  In a year that held a million wonderful memories during a great mainland vacation, my favorite moment took place only one island away.  I was at a restaurant with a friend, listening to a jazz trio after a killer great meal.    The lead guy invited his niece up to sing “When Sunny Gets Blue,” one of my all-time favorite songs and I was so happy.  Could this night possibly get any better?  She took the mic, opened her mouth and … totally SUCKED.  We were about five feet away from the band and I tried my damnedest to keep a straight face.  It took a great evening and made it absolutely perfect.

Now the memory is a little bittersweet, as the past is – well – the past.  So what’s the takeaway?  What, from that moment (as well as the other Favorites)  do I take with me into 2014?  I guess it would be along the lines of:  Be present.  Surround myself with the people and environment that I truly enjoy.  Allow myself to feel that all is right in my world.  And above all – don’t take any of it TOO seriously.

Wishing you the same in 2014.  And hoping you get to bring your “favorites” along for the ride…

xo,

Marti

Okay, Christmas..

For years I’ve tried to distill the meaning of Christmas into its essence, into something that doesn’t divide us, but instead offers something we can all relate to. And for me, it comes down to one concept:

Hope.

There the world was, a few thousand years ago, in the middle of political unrest, caught between a burgeoning economy and an expanding empire that utilized an increasingly brutal use of coercion to maintain that empire. In other words, things were kind of a mess.

In the middle of all this, a child was humbly born who would, as a young man, try to explain that rather than brute force and politics, the better (and frankly, more practical) route would be love and compassion. And to top it off, he tried to explain that every one of us carried the potential for those traits – love and compassion – within us. Really? Dang!

Hope.

Things are a little dark out there this year (arguing over whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Really?) but for me, a good focus for this time of year is to believe that he was right – that love and compassion do, in fact, exist within us all.

My wish for us all (myself included, lol) is that we are able to access those traits within ourselves.

Hope. Now THAT’s a gift.

star-body

“Hey, did you guys see this thing for POW bracelets?” Cathy came bounding into 14D with a mail order flyer. “We should order some.”

It was November of 1972 and I was a college freshman at an expensive but academically mediocre all-girl junior college in Miami, Florida. I took the paper from her and began to read aloud. “Over a thousand American soldiers have been held as Prisoners of War in North Vietnam. Our goal is to make sure this stays in our awareness until each soldier is returned to us. Please order a POW/MIA bracelet and pledge to wear it until your soldier comes home.” I checked the cost – only $2.50 for the standard bracelet and $3.50 for the copper one – which, even by 1972 standards, was really cheap. The idea appealed to me instantly. “Yeah, let’s do it!”

So on that day, several young women from Bauder Fashion College marched up Flagler Street to the post office, got our money orders for $2.50 each, slapped our 8 cent postage stamps on the envelopes and ordered our bracelets from the address on the somewhat amateurish but passionately produced flyer.

Several weeks passed before I received the small lumpy manila envelop in the mail. In it was a bumper sticker : POW/MIA: I WANT THEM ACCOUNTED FOR!, a multi folded sheet of white paper with program information, and a silver plated cuff type bangle bracelet with an engraved rank, name and date. The point was to clamp the bracelet onto our wrists, and keep it there until the person whose name was on the bracelet came home. I studied the inscription:

LTJG E. James Broms
8 – 1 – 1968

Wow, my guy (as we thereafter referred to ‘our’ soldier) had been missing since I was in eighth grade and less than a month after Bobby Kennedy died. Bummer, I thought. My fantasy of celebrating his homecoming by triumphantly removing the bracelet lost a little steam. Nevertheless, a deal is a deal. “Okay, E. James, here we go.” I put the bracelet on my right wrist, squeezing the ends together.

And there he stayed. I only took it off once – to emcee a beauty pageant- because the designer thought it “ruined the lines of my silhouette.” All evening James flashed into my mind and I vowed to never take it off again. And I didn’t. Through my college years…through graduation…through my return to Ohio and job interviews, job placement and through my wild and crazy early 20s social life. Day or night, professional or partying…when I slept, showered or even while “doing the deed” the bracelet never left my arm. Until one night in 1977…

I was in a Columbus area night club with friends. A man with whom I had an intense to-the-depths-of-our-souls type of relationship, and hadn’t seen in months, walked into the club. I saw him, gasped and the bracelet broke off my arm into two pieces. No kidding; it really happened just like that. I placed both pieces in a secure pocket in my purse and turned my attention to the situation at hand. The next morning I was scheduled to make a quick visit to the warehouse of the clothing chain for which I worked and while I was counting Jones of New York jackets, someone slipped into the break room through an open window and stole my handbag. Money, license, keys – replacing all that was inconvenient, but what could never be replaced was E. James Broms.

I’ve often wondered about the cosmic implication of those events and the only thing I can come up with was that it’s not about a strip of metal and it’s sure as heck not about me. It’s about one soul honoring another. It’s about a man who put himself in harms way – either by choice or by draft – rolled the dice and lost.  Honoring such a person transcends politics or our opinions about war, specific or in general.  Could I have done what he did?  Nope. I simply do not have that type of mindset.  But I sure appreciate those who do.

The last contact anyone had with James was while he was piloting an A4C Skyhawk over the Gulf of Tonkin. He was flying the fourth position in a four plane airstrike, and his last transmission was “Puffs all around me.” That’s war, I suppose. He was 24 at the time.

In the mid 80s I was able to visit his name on a traveling replica of the Vietnam War Memorial. When I finally visited DC in 2004, I couldn’t wait to visit panel 50W of the memorial and etch/rub his name as a keepsake. Unfortunately, the wall was being renovated and I was unable to view that portion. “It’s not about a strip of metal, it’s not about me” echoed through my thoughts.

If James is still alive, he turned 68 earlier this month.  I know it isn’t likely.  But when my thoughts shuffle past the “stuff” of bracelets and walls and self congratulatory ego, I know what’s important. The spirit, the essence of who this young man was is definitely rattling around the cosmos somewhere. And to that spirit I say, “Mahalo, James. And Godspeed.”

LTJG E. James Broms MIA.8/1/1968

UPDATE: If you’re reading this for the first time, you MUST read the conversation that transpired because of this post.  Just click on “comments.” 



    • ronmitchelladventure: Truth be told, I wanted to ask, "Can we touch with anything we want?" Decided not to ask, as sometimes a sick sense of humor falls flat. Plus, I was c
    • martiwrites: On one hand, I actually facilitated those training classes for years. On the other hand, I'm a Serb living in the land of aloha. Double whammy and h
    • ronmitchelladventure: As a manager, I refrained from my cultural hug and kiss on the cheek greeting after attending sexual harassment training for managers. We learned that