Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ode to Vonnegut.

Joe, a young man from Pittsburgh, came up to me with one request: "Please tell me it will be okay."

"Welcome to Earth, young man," I said. "It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, Joe, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of: Goddamn it, Joe, you've got to be kind!"

I woke up early this morning with a touch of a migraine, getting up around 5’ish to take my Imitrex and fall back into bed. It must've been an omen or some sort of sympathy pain, because I awoke an hour or so later to S.O. touching my arm softly and saying, “Hey babe, Vonnegut died last night.” At least S.O. was the one to tell me gently, and I preferred that much more than being told by Matt Lauer or something. I’m just not a Matt Lauer kind of girl...

I know I never met the man, but just like countless other of his fans, I felt like I knew him enough to know that I liked him. That’s the mark of a gifted artist – to make you feel as if you can identify with him in some way. And, I did. Just as Marvin Hamlisch and "The Entertainer" made me want to play the piano at age five, Kurt Vonnegut made me want to be a better writer. He made me more honest and unapologetic.

With his passing, it was as if I lost my favorite great uncle today. He was 84, so he lived a great and very meaningful life, but it still sucked to see him go - for all the selfish reasons we have when someone dies. He was supposed to be here in Indianapolis, speaking at Butler University, on April 27th. In fact, they’ve made 2007 here in his home city “the year of Vonnegut,” which is pretty apropos. I will never do his work justice in a blog, but I can at least pay homage the best way I know how and tip my proverbial hat. He was a visionary, and he will always be in my “top five writers of all time” list.

...what made being alive almost worthwhile for me, besides music, was all the saints I met, who could be anywhere. By saints, I meant people who behaved decently in a strikingly indecent society.

Perhaps my favorite thing about his writing style – and the way I presumed he lived his life – was his raw honesty of how he viewed the world and who he was. No bullshit, no pretense, and no apologies. A writing style that I could only hope to emulate. A way of living I hope to emulate, really.

So, I’m wearing my “READ VONNEGUT” shirt today. And, if I had a beer in my hand right now, I’d hold it up for a toast and say,

"No matter how bad things get, the music will still be wonderful."

Amen, Mr. Vonnegut.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Spirit Guides, Jobsites, and Basements, Oh My!

Today (or yesterday, I think) was Easter. It was a very calm day, full of errands and day-to-day stuff. Life stuff. The stuff that happens when you're busy making other plans. Today, I was planning and just getting by, really. Allowing life to go by. Tonight, it's time to catch up and unload a bit so I can actually sleep. It's past midnight, and I'm still up. Partly because I'm a chronic insomniac, but also because I have a lot going on and the old noggin' needs clearing. And my poor blog has been like a neglected child - I'm trying to feed it to ease my own mind and to avoid the mental equivalent of Child and Family Services.

This weekend, I met my hippie-chick friend "T" on the other side of town for some tea and conversation in her favorite New Age store. When I arrived, she informed me that she'd signed me up to do a "reading" with her favorite psychic, Dave. Dave is an Indian man who channels your so-called spirit guides and tells you what they're saying to him. It's interesting. He asked me my name, my date of birth, then he closed his eyes and spewed for exactly 15 minutes (he had a timer to make sure we didn't go over). I wasn't expecting much - I try not to when in those situations, as I know most of them are clearly full of shit. I look at those experiences as entertainment. And, I try to think things in my mind to see if they can read it. It's a fun game. Things like, "Damn, I'm hungry" and "Did I remember to mail that bill?" and "God, my ass itches right now...I need to scratch it"...just wondering if they'll pick up on it. So far, no psychic has ever said, "Just scratch your ass already, OK?"

Dave told me that my primary spirit guide was an older woman - more than likely a grandmother that had passed. She'd be in her 90s if alive today. She's spunky and strong-willed...very liberal in her thinking. A somewhat mythological - yet very real - figure in my head. This could only be one person, and I wasn't shocked to know it was her if I indeed have a spirit guide. My paternal grandmother, of course. He brought up the regular things like job changes and marriage(s) and potential offspring. He talked about how my aura is overtly passionate and fiery. "Glowing and almost overpowering when (I) walked in the room," he said. I thought that was cool - to have an obnoxiously vibrant aura. But, above the predictions for me "having many, many more changes over the next six months and I'll be happy no matter what path I choose in life" I thought it was ultra-cool that he said my Dad's mom was my main spirit guide. I mean, some people pray to God. Well, I talk to my Grandma a lot, truth be told, so maybe I'm not so crazy after all. At least Dave gave me hope that I'm not...worth the 10 bucks, for sure.

I suppose it was sort of apropos for me to see a psychic dude this weekend. After all, so many changes have been occuring in my life, and it's exciting as hell. I'll start with the job front. I'm looking again...jobsites never left my side, to be honest, as the nomadic part of me never will. I've accepted this wholeheartedly, and I am proud of the fact that I'm adaptable on most days. I work in a volatile small business. Totally up my alley and a great match for my need for excitement on a regular basis. But with the everyday "rush" comes a lack of security. I love the people I work with. And, I'm part of what's considered "senior staff"....this doesn't really make me important or able to sling around some big title. I could care less about that. Rather, it makes me just that more accountable and part of both the big picture and the details. I'm in the trenches - helping to build a business. I'm also a vague figurehead. It's challenging, and I like that. But, like a lot of other small companies, it's a simultaneous crap shoot. The proverbial ship looks like it may sink, so the rats are starting to scatter. And, I know I must develop a Plan B as a result. I'm used to doing this. Hell, I'm the chick who delights in that delicious ambiguity. No big deal, but yet another change on the horizon (I'm sure) nonetheless...another reason for that chronic (yet sometimes welcome) insomnia.

Our home is on its way. It's as if a year and a half of "maybes" have come to fruition. Excavation has been completed, and we now have a big hole that will be our basement in the near future. The basement is pretty big. S.O. and I walked around in it the other day, and you could even hear an echo. It's the foundation of something new. It felt good.

In dream interpretation, basements symbolize the past. Past loves, past lives, the need to sort things out before starting anew. I've had a lot of opportunities to do just this. Several things I will replay in my head as long as I'm breathing, I believe. "Why did I do it that way?" What could I have done differently to avoid that situation? Did I really want to avoid that situation? Why did I allow that person to treat me like that? Why in the hell couldn't I see the truth - the forest through the trees - earlier? Why in the hell did I actually think that outfit looked cool?" Those types of things. What's left lurking in my subconscious? A lot, just like everyone else. But this time...this particular's just different. It's as if the house - that basement - is dirt in my hand. A tangible foundation that I can finally see, smell, and touch. It's not just in my mind. It's my reality.

In so many words, Dave said that my Grandma was telling me to "just live, and don't worry so much about past mistakes or future ones. Just live."

To some, it's a hole in the ground. To me, it's yet another fresh start to do it right. To live as rich as the soil I hold in my hand.