Sunday, October 26, 2014

Back from the Dead

Having not posted on this blog for months, I found I'm tongue-tied by the prospect of return.  Like most things, writing is a habit, and when you fall out of the habit, picking it up again comes with the aches and pains of, say, trying to start jogging again (another habit I am trying to resurrect).

Confession: The last months have not been full of giant creativity.  Until very recently, my easel remained disturbingly dusty.  Last week, I finally brushed off some very old short stories for some revision.  But largely, I reached a What's the Point moment with art, which led to an extended stall, and so I explored other avenues in my eternal quest on How to Feel Good.

This wasn't made any easier in July, since it became clear my beloved 17-year-old cat Leo was heading down to his final decline.  In the weeks in between the 1st anniversary of my mother's death and her birthday, he was diagnosed with cancer, and became so weak that he could no longer walk. I had to have him put to sleep. I cried a lot in July.

Leo sporting his acupuncture needles. 
Aside from innumerable veterinarian visits, I also spent a lot of time in an easy chair napping with needles in my ears, arms and legs -- I discovered the magic of acupuncture. Typically, my cat received acupuncture first (from a vet), with the hope that it would help his pain issues, at first thought just to be worsening arthritis. And it did seem to make him feel more relaxed.   Given that animals have no interest in the placebo effect, it seemed a good bet it might help me too.  I found a community acupuncture clinic (for humans) ( and got myself into that lounger. On my first few visits, I was near elated post treatments, perhaps a sign that I really needed to calm the heck down.  More recently, my reaction has been less intense, although I still leave relaxed and soothed.

In August, I started a couple of classes at the local community college in environmental science. Given that it's been twenty or so years since I've taken a science class, that was a mild shock to the system.  And yet, my 20 year old student self persists in some ways, with notebooks full of doodles and journal entries interspersed with actual notes. I still sit in the back of the class and daydream too much and still manage to cram my way to As on exams (which probably pleases me more than it should, the gold star of intellectual approval). College campuses are, from the small sample of my recent exploration, more or less the same, except for the addition of cell phones.
You missed seeing this amazing mural from the exhibit My Generation:
Young Chinese Artists. 
It closed at the end of September.  Still time
to see Jamie Wyeth's Portraits of Rudolf Nureyev though. 
There are still guys on skateboards weaving between very young women trading stories about their, yes, prom dates. Color me Methuselah.

Through most of my silent summer, I continued on at work at the museum, and continued to be impressed by the kindness of most of my coworkers.  I left that job at the end of September, as their kindness no longer successfully masked the inherently dull nature of processing memberships. I saw several coworkers at the last exhibit opening, where I was just a civilian again, there to see the art and collect a little shop gossip. I'm immensely grateful to the people there for their good will during my odd transitional first year here in Florida, something I worry I failed to make clear.

In the last months, I've also spent a great deal of time looking for a house to purchase.  I've looked at zillions, thanks to a very patient real estate agent, and even made offers on a couple, but nothing has quite come together, which has left me questioning the whole project.  Is buying a home going to make me feel rooted?  Or trapped?  Will I feel at home, or like an impostor? Will I just add inability to decorate to my list of character flaws? Could I overthink this more?
17-year-old Hazel pointing out that not only is she still
alive, she is also still darn cute. She'd also like a backyard
for lizard hunting. 

In my online searching, for a time, I was also looking for dates when not scanning real estate ads. The process is not dissimilar, where you scan through pictures and profiles and see what you can live with (no garage, but a lovely fireplace) and what you can't (appears to be screaming racist and not-so-bright). Thanks to the wonders of online dating, I met with four people in person, and three of them were pleasant enough, if not fabulous love matches, a reasonable percentage all things considered. But then I reached my saturation point. Right now, I'm not sure I want to hear about more divorces and broken hearts (and this also begs the question, if you've only been divorced for 45 seconds, or you're desperately hung up on your all-but-perfect ex, or you're not sure, but you might actually hate all women, then why exactly am I sitting here having a cup of tea with you? Do I have a special gift for picking people who are unavailable? Or am I just too picky in general? Am I supposed to be so fanfuckingtastic that I make all forget any previous woes? Sorry, that's clearly not gonna happen; we all drag our baggage into the event, as evidenced by this mini-rant).

The aptly named Sunset Beach, Treasure Island, FL
Maybe despite all my relentless questing and researching and occasional successes all things are not found on the internet. Shocking. I am trying to spend less time tangling up in the world wide web and more time out wandering in the real live world.

Throughout my tenure in Florida, I've remained dedicated to my sunset walks the beach and enjoying people watching happy locals and tourists. A week ago, a woman was standing stock still at the tide line because an enormous dragonfly had landed on her.  She was beside herself pleased with its magical presence: "He thinks I'm a great big flower."  Yesterday, I saw a woman sauntering along with a brightly-colored parrot perched with great dignity on her shoulder.  Never underestimate how delightful it is to watch the tide slowly devour a sandcastle or how in-tune the herons are with the possibility of snacks as they linger by the fisherman.

Philippe Park
Besides my beach trips, I've been checking out local parks, mini-road trips to find new views.  The slightly-busted camera that lives in my purse is getting a work out, and I've explored places like Philippe Park, which is just crazily beautiful.

I know this much: happy does not come from basking in some external bullshit socially-acceptable status checklist. I know people with houses, jobs, relationships, friends and full bank accounts who are also flat out miserable, and desperate for someone/something to blame (a bigger house, a "better" job, more money, a spouse or partner who doesn't or does __[fill in the blank]__, losing just 10 more pounds, waiting just one more year for ____ to happen).  Who I don't know are that many people that are actually, on balance, mostly content with their lives.  Some, mind you, many even.  But not as many as you'd think given their full checklists.

And maybe no one should be too content, lest that be too close to complacent.  One review of the news is enough to verify that there is no shortage of pain, tragedy, misery and horror out there, the real stuff, not my first-world middle class angst. Should anyone be content in the face of the sad state of human nature, the environment, governments, world politics, religions, wars, swaths of --isms and violence run amok?

Or is that just evidence of my bad attitude, an inability to thoroughly embrace the power of positive thinking?

That's something to ponder as I walk the beach and see if I can capture a photo of a pelican in flight, something to mull on while I  breathe the sea air.

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