Tag Archives: hope

As Sleep Creeps In

Sometimes Christmas feels a bit melancholy, and I once despised David Benoit’s tunes for The Peanuts that reminded me so. Now I love them, thankfully. Here’s another somewhat melancholy tune because melancholia sounds better when sung in French, from retro times past.

It was just Christmas a blink of an eye ago, and I was smiling internally all the morning through as I caught glimpses of the accumulated snow out my windows. Standing in the kitchen, I pressed down on a lemon, beginning to roll it along the cutting board to release all its juice before cutting into it for the sweet ginger syrup I was making for the blackberries. I’d just finished preparing an incredibly decadent Butterfinger pie the likes of which Bart would be proud. As I pressed, I looked down to find my hand wet and stinging, juice having found an invisible cut along my index. A first time for everything, there is, juice shot outta the skin of a lemon not yet cut- strength on my part or a lethargic lemon throwing in the towel early- you choose.

Squirrels are just daytime rats with a penchant for nuts. I gathered this while attempting to walk past the recycling bins this morning on the way to the car. I say attempt, because were YOU to be wearing my shoes on the (sneakily) icy pavement, you too may’ve spun ‘round twice, stumbled, and recovered just as I did. A solid 8.5!

I’m reluctant to stop watching holiday movies, as I started late this year. There’s one on in the background, even now. Someone’s late night/early morning shower has started in the building somewhere, which I find soothing to hear- the white noise of it, maybe. Trying not to be afraid of the new year ahead because there’s no use in that, but nevertheless. Hope brought me snow on Christmas, it can bring a heckuva a lot more. I want new and good things for my loved ones to start. ♦

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FACEBOOK CXIX

“Hope

And I thought I was done wrapping… just a few more added to the pile a bit ago. For those of you that love bits of tiny, white, frozen MAGIC that sometimes fall from the sky in bulk, join me in hoping for some come Christmas! The fact that it’s even been forecast is really gift enough for me. <3 ♦

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Insert Moniker Here, er, Title

“Blimey”

“Swiped”

“Modicum” and “moniker”- words I’ve never really used- only read- that I’ve found myself using multiple times this past week. Take this trip to (ug) McDonald’s where I ordered a burger with guacamole on it. In theory. I pulled the burger box top back and all appeared well. Gee, thanks for the lime wedge, Mickey D’s, and the thoughtful sheet of deli paper that preserves the fancy-schmance roll. Several bites in and why no flavor, no textural sensation? Pulled off the bun and holy-no-guacamole! A mere modicum of the red and green that should be. In fact, it looks as though they wiped it off rather than put any on. That lime’s got a lot to compensate for.

“Wimpy”

I shoulda just made dinner at home like this tasty one from last year- cilantro burgers with sriracha mayo. I prefer thinner burgers, but these guys were like beefed up sliders (proudly making Dad jokes and puns with the best/worst of ’em since age fifteen), so the chunkified meat worked well.

And now for something tasty from the “words” department.

Brain Pickings is a marvelous site dedicated to defining what it means to live the good life- talks of love, traits of character, themes of thought, truth, beauty- a focus on the heavy handed stuff that truly matters over the fun and fluff that has its place and to which I most certainly subscribe. Its author, Maria Popova, often chooses a theme and explores it by stitching together a variety of excerpts from famous writers in times past. She (more than) once shared the words of Albert Camus, words written during WWII that as she points out, still hold relevance today.

We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks we take a long time to accomplish, that’s all …

… The first thing is not to despair. Let us not listen too much to those who proclaim that the world is at an end. Civilizations do not die so easily, and even if our world were to collapse, it would not have been the first. It is indeed true that we live in tragic times. But too many people confuse tragedy with despair.

I love that a word seemingly beyond our capabilities, superhuman, is made attainable by Camus defining it as something simply requiring time. That he confines tragedy to moments in that time, mere events really, rather than a collective whole. To not despair, to never give up. It’s the base decision from which to rally from, to rise up and continue from, a main theme in my own life, and an absolute necessity in our terribly wonderful, horribly frightening world. ♦

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On to the Next

“Spiderwebs”

“Spiderwebs”

“Spiderwebs”

The murkiest of days recently. And on every post from here to there, a web to be found heavy with droplets. I maintain, there’s always something to be grateful for, sometimes it just takes a moment to see it. Last year’s end and this year’s beginning- four months total- were sheer hell. Daily trips to hospitals and care facilities. At constant guard against letting the fear in. Living on hope and calling on faith. Made it through. Alone. I know I’m strong, but I grow weary with having to prove it. Thankful for laughter and joyful moments and the hope of opportunity and dreams to yet come true. Thankful to still have my dad around through it all. ♦

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How It Remains

So, there I was just 5-years-old and faced with unbearable temptation. It was late afternoon and the half dozen Matchbox cars we’d been puttering with held little interest. Danny, my mostly rival, sometimes friend had wandered over to the coat closet in his family’s small downstairs rec room. I followed. He drew back the door, and there in the shadow of coats along the inner wall rested the guitar. Ooooooooh … AAAAAhhhhhh … barely contained exuberance and total reverence on my part. Occasional family walks around the block had provided me with glimpses of Leonard, Danny’s father, sitting on the porch stoop in the evenings strumming away on that guitar. I felt sure, given the chance, I, too, could strum away with just such ease, recreating any song to my liking. And there was my chance. All that stood between me and the object of want was one none-too-tall, ruddy-haired, freckle-faced, fairly mean boy.

I made a decision, chose my temptation.

I looked at Danny. Danny looked at me, looking at the guitar. I weighed the options. Employ an air of nonchalance, feigning lack of care with the risk of the closet door being shut forever more. Be completely forthright in my want of the guitar and hope for favor where there’d been none prior, or stoop to the undignified act of begging, pleading with someone I found quite despicable. A smirk crossed Danny’s face replaced by a look of superior lording. My option was clear, all pretense dropped and urgency took over. I meekly asked if I could touch the guitar. Just touch, one little touch. A nearby door opened and the tromping of heavy footsteps approaching further compounded matters. Not waiting for a response on Danny’s part, I made a decision, chose my temptation. Leaping into the closet, I pulled the door shut behind me, my hands eagerly grasping for the guitar, searching for the strings, the frets. I moved my fingers across, up and then down. And again. Why wasn’t it working? The door opened just as quickly as it had shut. There stood Danny surrounded by his entire family, mom, dad and two brothers, stern looks all around with a triumphant “nanny nanny boo boo” on the face of Danny. Cheeks afire in embarrassment, I sheepishly surrendered my hold on the guitar and trudged home feeling disillusioned with the thought that maybe all of life’s pleasures were to be just as tough in coming.

This past January, after playing Guitar Hero for the first time, I looked back on the hours I’d played and thought how those hours could have been spent practicing my actual guitar that has sat in solitary, encased and propped against the living room wall for ever so long. I took it out one night soon after and began playing. Make that practicing, what I was doing was a far cry from playing. Remembering back to when it seemed that just about every guy in high school was attempting to learn the guitar, memories of dutifully listening to them perform their latest bit of song progression over the phone gave me hope that I will actually improve at some point. After a great start, with enough practice time in to have acquired bloody fingertips even, a load of more pressing activity has taken its place. My guitar now resides alongside my bed and in the dark of night I absently stretch out my fingers to graze the strings returning again and again to the same few notes, finally placing their familiarity in being from Nirvana’s Lake of Fire.

Acoustic Guitar

Last year, I sat in a blackened movie theater and viewed the August Rush preview. From the very opening, I was hooked and by the end in such enraptured elation and simultaneous agreement of the move’s tagline “Music is a harmonic connection between all living beings” that I turned to my dad for confirmation. He was looking down rooting around in his popcorn. “Yes, yes! A harmonic connection!” I whispered. His response, “Eh.” Eh? Stopping to consider the source, this from a man who considers anything produced past 1949 to be “screams set to a beat,” I still find it hard to accept that one can’t concur with such a statement, at least as a general consensus, if not personally. As someone who looks to music as a source of exultation, of communication, of absolute renewal and downright comfort at times, “eh” was kinda hard to swallow. Months later, in watching August Rush (a sweet and sappy flick, though, once this fact is accepted, thoroughly enjoyable), there came a scene to cause the memory of my guitar closet rendezvous to come flooding back. Look, see …

There, the boy, his very first try, off he goes playing it up like a pro, just as I once felt sure I could. Vicarious moment, I tell you, thank you, Hollywood. Though I’ve always harbored a passion for drummers, and am an admitted out ‘n’ out sucker for piano players, I am in want of the ability to produce intimacy. The kind experienced in the presence of a lone acoustic guitar played ala round-robin out around a campfire, in a room where others gather to worship before a Bible study, or in a cramped cafe filled for open mike night. An intimacy that draws others closer and provides a space in time in which all are very much harmonically connected. Music is integral. Responsible for moving many a movie along, for one, engaging the audience, building suspense, accenting the poignancy of a moment. The crescendo, the arc in scale, the rising, taking over, floating above, falling below. Music is power with its capacity to both calm and soothe, enliven and rouse. And I wanna be a part of that, to evoke and provide such things for those in my own life, as others have for me. ♦

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The Occasional Reminder

I woke up to the words “Call 911. Somebody, please!”

These words, I’ve awoken to before, kids being kids, they joke about most everything in their little world just a stone’s throw from outside my window, so I wasn’t exactly leaping into action. Then one of the kids called out the full apartment address and I knew they were serious. Flung back the covers, still groggy, straight out of a vivid dream to fumble my way over to the window. Pulled the blinds up calling out, “Do you need help?” to the girl down below. Her reply, “Call 911, there’s a car on fire!”

Briefly looked out to where my red car is normally parked in full view of the window. On rare occasion, there are no such spots left in view. Such as the night before. Glanced over to where I did find a spot to park … hidden behind the overhang of the roof … from which a steady billowing stream of dark smoke was pouring upward into the sky. Was pulling on some pants and reaching for a top all the while thinking “What if it’s my car … no, it can’t be my car … somebody would come to the door and” – KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK! Thought I must still be dreaming. The knock came at the door just as I thought it. From outside I heard the words “They’re on the way!” No longer needing to call for help, I opened the door to a teenage-ish boy. He began, “Do you own the red car out there parked along the road?” “Uh, yes, why?” I asked, already knowing the answer. “It’s on fire, there was a guy and he was under the hood working on it, he had a can of gasoline and then there were flames and he took off in the car he came in. Cars kept driving by and no one seemed to be stopping or looking, so we thought we should call 911.” As the sirens of the approaching fire truck, dispensed from the station just down the way, wailed on, I followed him down the stairs.

Had never seen this particular car, mine’s the only red one in the slew of vehicles often parked out there.

Walking across the lawn, I could see peripherally that there were several handfuls of kids standing around. I didn’t allow myself to look up, in hopes of delaying the inevitable, until I’d nearly reached the edge of the grass where the sidewalk began and my car sat just a few feet away. At last, I looked up. And started to laugh. There, a red car parked. Behind mine! Praise God and hallelujah, it wasn’t my car afterall! Had never seen this particular car, mine’s the only red one in the slew of vehicles often parked out there. Looked around then, hoping the owner of the torched vehicle wasn’t nearby feeling put upon by my flagrant display of relief in the form of said laughter accompanied by a gigantic smile across my face.

Thing was, all the evidence seemed to point to the fact that, yes, indeed, my car was the one ablaze. Yet I clung to the hope and possibility that, no, somehow it would not be my car, and I refused to let anger and the worry and inconvenience of no wheels wash over me until I saw with my own eyes. Basically, I was confronted with the old adage “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck” only to be rewarded with the truth. Really, it could be just a dragon doing a duck impersonation. Meaning, things are not always as bleak as they may appear, there’s always room for hope. A lesson I thankfully learned long ago, though it’s always, always nice to have the occasional reminder, even if in the form of such hoopla. And it just goes to show that not all such adages are what they’re quacked up to be …

I snapped a few discreet camera shots

In looking around, I was happy to spy yet another obviously just awoken person standing a few feet away in varying degrees of dress: No shirt, puffy winter jacket, jeans, belt dangling down unbuckled, no socks, shoelaces dragging on the ground. Tucked under one arm, he carried the fire extinguisher provided with each apartment. The firefighters had set up shop, one aiming the water hose at the sea of flames filling the entire front end of the car engine compartment, flare-ups frequently curling out up and over the hood causing the small crowd to rear back slightly. As the flames diminished, two others attempted to pry open the hood with crowbars, after which I snapped a few discreet camera shots.

Fireman Lifting Up Car Hood

In discussing possible theories concerning the rationale behind what had occurred, the crowd consensus was that the guy had been purposely sabotaging the car in an attempt to have it deemed “totaled” so as to receive an insurance settlement. The inclusion of daylight and witnesses though, not so bright. Most car fires rarely blow up in action movie fashion. All the same, I was thrilled to find I didn’t take on my own bright idea by trying to save my car in the moments before the fire truck pulled up, and in so doing possibly have sparked fumes, the pit of flames and/or the puddles of gasoline along the blacktop. Getting blown up doesn’t mesh well with my summer plans. Turns out, I didn’t leave completely unscathed. A girl nearby, asked if the other red car was mine. From where she stood, she could see the back end had begun to melt. Visions of dripping pools of metal and red paint came to mind, possibly an indiscernible license plate to boot. Alas, no, simply a melty red bumper. I’ll take it! It has a curvaceous ripply wave to the passenger’s side now with the markings of receded paint blisters. Kinda like Two-Face from Batman. Lastly, once I arrived home, I caught my reflection in the mirror only to detect that my fly had been down the entire time, exposing indigo blue undies which stood out quite nicely against the cream colored pants.

So, this latest fiasco was a week ago from this past Monday, allowing just enough recovery time for me to look forward once again to flames galore in the form of a grill and backed by the dark night sky. Independence Day! ♦

Painting by Marina Petro

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