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Flying High

Yesterday was 4/20. THE day for marijuana, for reasons I just learned. A Facebook friend in Colorado was lamenting people openly celebrating by illegally smoking in public and hoping 4/21 would suddenly become random drug test day. I could not disagree more and not because I am any type of pot head. Yes, I smoked AND inhaled. It was nothing to write home about, save that one time when I got so high that I hallucinated, and, much to my concern and dismay, awoke to find my brain still buzzing some sixteen hours later. There are people who envy this, but for me, it felt more like a burden. I was not myself, and I kind of like who I am. I am silly and crazy and goofy and fun. I do alright without outside help. And before you think to mention my great love for whiskey, being intoxicated by it isn’t my desire. The hubster laughs at me when I ask not for a drink, but to share a glass, just so I can savor a drop on my tongue and, best of all, smell it in between his sips, because that heady woody sweetness is truly divine.

As for our disagreement, I don’t believe smoking marijuana in public is any different than smoking cigarettes or consuming alcohol. All are destructive to the body in one fashion or another. All can be pretty vile. All can lead to people behaving badly.

So why not in public? Who are we protecting? Children? That doesn’t really fly. Kids can see people smoking cigarettes on just about every street corner in America, and especially in Pittsburgh. Yowza, this city has not gotten the Surgeon General’s memo. I am constantly baffled by the sheer number of smokers here. So what’s the difference if the smoke is from weed rather than tobacco? Neither is great for the lungs or air quality. And much to my surprise, neither can really give the passer-by a contact high.

Children can see people drinking just about anywhere, too. Sidewalk cafés, restaurants, concerts, sporting events, in their own homes. All of it is perfectly legal. So why the stigma? Growing up, I saw legal drinking and drunkenness on a scale that frightened me. Adults smashing beer bottles and brawling. Adults crawling because they were too drunk to stand on their own two feet. Adults vomiting on the neighbor’s lawn after a wild night of partying. And the absolute worst, adults driving children in their protection, wild, fast, and furious, hoping not to get stopped by the cops, while I watched in terror as the center line drifted to the left and the right.

But marijuana, it’s real trouble and should be kept hidden from the public eye. Sure. Tell yourself whatever you like.

Have you read the blog post by Revolva (a fiery vaudevillian, literally and figuratively), relaying her experience with an Oprah producer who asked her to perform for FREE on the The Life You Want Tour? To say that I was utterly deflated and depressed by it is an understatement. I mean, jeepers, Oprah is supposed to be the one who gets it; who understands the big picture; whose magazine is chock full of thoughtful insights and well curated quotations; Oprah, whose rags to riches tale is an inspiration to women everywhere. This same Oprah wants people to work for FREE? In the name of exposure? On a tour called The Life You Want? Bummer.

As someone who considers herself to be an artist, the life I want does not consist of working for free, though something in my nature must smack of it because that is about all I am offered. A million and one great opportunities by people unwilling to pay for my talent. And they’re so enthusiastic about it, too!

“Oh my goodness, your pictures and stories are so awesome! Could we reprint them? We’d give you credit!”

“We could really use someone with your vision, enthusiasm, and skill. Have you ever considered volunteering?”

Don’t get me wrong, volunteering can be pretty awesome, and I have done an awful lot of it for some pretty terrific organizations: serving meals to the homeless, helping distribute books to youth in juvenile detention, being a Big Sister (how I met sweet Solveig!), planting trees, stuffing envelopes, organizing files.

I’d also like to mention that I am as frugal as the next person, maybe even more so, but I do know the value of good work, and it is NOT nothing. So I asked the hubster how often he is asked to volunteer. The answer? NEVER. His LinkedIn profile is not littered with job “opportunities” for unpaid positions. He is, quite to the contrary, actually asked to apply for well paid jobs, because he is a skilled software engineer and deserves some respect, but someone who dances with flaming hula hoops (Revolva), tells stories, takes pictures, draws, or paints? That person apparently doesn’t deserve anything?

It is an interesting question.

Measure

I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately, and how to measure it. As is my wont, I vacillate between opposing poles, one moment intensely satisfied with my lot, and then, quite dreadfully, woefully disappointed by it. You do know that I’m a Gemini, right?

On the plus side, I have a successful marriage with the most stellar man I have ever known. We love each other kindly and profoundly. We rarely argue. We enjoy life, the loud spacious laughter, the soft quiet, the hours and days together and apart. It is all GOOD.

We bought this house together, shabby, peeling paint, flea ridden, dead car in the back and a garden with more weeds than any other growing thing. Now it is lovely and fine, each room its own special place, comfortable, welcoming; full of love and awe and beauty, with the sound of birdsong in the air. It is HOME.

I am healthy. My body is s t r o n g. I can speak two languages, almost three (Yes, oui, si!). My friends are the best, kindest, and brightest. I am a good cook and have a mostly green thumb. My love for this universe and her occupants is ENORMOUS.

And then, there are the moments where I cannot measure my success at all. My stories and poems go unread. My drawings are worthless scribbles. And financially, independently, well, I could not, at present, survive. Quite perplexed, I ask, “Where did I go wrong?” I do good work. I joyously sweat and toil at what I love. I want more for myself, to know I could survive by my own means. I wait for my time. Perhaps my train is slow to arrive, last to the station after an interminable day? Or maybe, like this quotation that so often floats about in my mind, it is never meant to come, and I must appreciate the work and my passion for it for its own sake. Not always easy. Sometimes plain WRETCHED.

I have no answers, but I plod forward, sometimes even skip(!), with as much grace and patience as I can muster.

I am middle aged. Forty-two. The hubster and I have been together for twenty-two years. And this very evening, this boyish utterance, in a half-awake state, “I was dreaming about bananas,” though sweet and funny, was hardly a surprise. There aren’t any surprises left. I have seen all of his cards. They are lovely and fine and worn at the edges. Beautiful, even.

This is not about me wanting to be with someone else. The hubster is everything I love in a person, everything, and me being with another would look an awful lot like me with him, because I am not keen on that other jazz. I had a friend who was obsessed with dating a bad boy. Her ex, who was not kind, terribly insecure, and cheated on her, apparently was not bad enough. I dated plenty of them as a young person, men who were unkindly about my appearance or casually told me they spent the night with other women as if they were talking to a wall and not a real-live person with feelings. It was awful, and I hated it.

I just get a little terrified when I think that if we live to be ninety, we will be together for seventy-one years. This is a long time by human standards and sometimes discomforting to think how much more worn those cards will be, down to gossamer and still no surprises. I kind of like surprises, novelty. It is why I watch so many movies (recommendations coming soon!) and know so many restaurants in town. We ate there six months ago. It’s just too soon!

Then I read Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and she kind of rails against married couples talking about how hard it is. But it is! The hubster will never be as detail oriented or questioning or interested in home improvement projects as I am. I will never be as tolerant as he is or love discussing software design. It took me eight hours to update the look of my blog (Did you notice? Century Gothic rocks!), and I was nearly insane with irritation. He does this kind of thing for a living, every single day.

There is no map for this territory. People get married and stay married and don’t really talk about the day-to-day, the boredom, the irritation. Why people take up hobbies and have separate vacations, I suppose. Sometimes marriage is wildly difficult, and I wonder if I am insane to do it. But most days I know I am one lucky gal, plodding along in my peculiar way with the finest human I have ever known and think, seventy-one years is nothing, really.

 

Hello from Colorado! I’ve been there and back again, a full dance card with not nearly enough slots for everyone and everything dear to me. So I pick and choose and hope not to offend.

I took this photo and the one above at 44th and Tennyson, a gem of a neighborhood with many a fine place to eat (I had really good pizza and spumoni gelato at Parisi’s), sweet and curious shops, and that bit of old that always sends my heart singing.

At Washington Park now, and this Red Winged Blackbird sang its heart out for me.

The hubster grew up across the street from the park, so it is always fun to return and see it from his childhood eyes. He darts about with enthusiasm, gesticulating and speaking rapidly, showing me his his favorite trees and hiding places and soccer fields. It’s like he’s just returned from play and more than twenty years has not elapsed.

Though much has changed, the essence of the park remains the same, with soft stone faces and the snow capped peaks looking down on boisterous children, runners, and scores of of people making new memories.

This is the gate to his best childhood friend’s yard. We stood reverently while he reminisced of epic Star Wars battles, mischief, and fun. It’s much smaller than he remembered but no less special.

The hubster and I met in Fort Collins and spent much of the first two years of our time in and around the city. This is College Avenue.

It has its own fine patina and scores of new places, too.

Old Chigago is the site of our first date. I wore a denim skirt and a cream colored blouse with Indian Head Nickel button covers. He wore rolled up jeans, a rugby shirt, and the most dazzling smile.

Stopping for coffee at the new-to-us Bean Cycle and Wolverine Farm. We sipped fine beverages and bought a lovely book.

I made a friend there, too. Peek-a-boo…

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