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It’s all in the details

May 7, 2010

It’s all in the details.  Hello Bloggees, and Happy Friday.  That title – you sort of see it everywhere, don’t you?  I thought twice about using it for just that reason, but then I thought, “No, that really is what I want to say.”  You see, at first I thought I would title this Cafe in the Sun (or plural thereof) but then I realized that would never do because it’s so much more than that.

So, here goes.  I felt kind of tired this morning and the sun was shining so I thought I would skip yoga and walk up the street to my local cafe to get a large cup of strong coffee and a scone.  I took my notebook with me, because, as you probably know by now, I’m sort of geeky like that.

Anyway, I was sitting in the sun at a corner table, writing away, when suddenly I was flooded by the awareness of conversation, and relationship, going on around me.  The funny thing was, everyone was talking about food. 

Two young mothers at the table across from me were talking about the best way to make vegan chocolate pudding (and watch out for making it too starchy), a crew of painters taking a break were talking about pork chops (some girl’s cooking, along with a couple of other treats he had sampled last night), and a man and a woman near the front door were speaking in a language I didn’t understand–maybe Ethiopian?–but whatever it was she was quite vehement about it, and punctuated her conversation by tearing off large pieces from a baguette and popping them into her mouth.

And I felt the commonality of our lives and I felt like I belonged, like I was integral to the scene, like I was supposed to be there; sitting at a table in the sun, with my notebook and pen, and my scone–corn/cherry no less.

And then I immediately thought about how different  this was to the way I used to feel.  I never used to go to a cafe and sit in the sun.  I never felt like I belonged.  I lived in a motel.  I woke up at noon, went to go get some chinese food, came home, ate, took a nap, then got up, put on my makeup and got ready to go to work.  Out on the streets.  Because that’s where I thought I belonged.  I was isolated and alone, trapped in a world I thought I deserved, unaware that I was trapped.  I couldn’t even conceive of a life otherwise.

And then just that quickly, I was spun back to the present, back to my sunny corner table in a cafe, back to my life today.  A life that’s not always what I want it to be, and maybe not always what I think it should be, but definitely, definitely, greater than I ever imagined it could be.

Life, Freedom, Happiness.  It’s all in the details.

Love & Perseverance

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Too much thinking

May 6, 2010

Too much thinking.  Is there such a thing? This morning, as I sat writing my three pages of longhand, all of a sudden the world stopped.  I breathed in, and for one moment all I could do was let my mind drift away; into the sun, into the dark green needles of the fir tree across the street, into a place where everything was still.  Then I breathed out.  The moment was gone, and the world was back, spinning out of control, cars chugging down the street below my window with their radios too loud, a train whistling in the distance, and oak leaves shaking in the breeze outside.

But in that quiet moment, a world of thought existed all around me, I guess in the same way that–how many angels, is it?–can dance on the head of a pin.  And then I shook my head and thought to myself, I’m doing too much thinking. I’m supposed to be making headway, supposed to be getting ready for my day, supposed to be getting my mind in order, writing lists and working out the course of my life, but instead, I’m drifting off to a place I can’t even name.

So here I am a few hours later, trying to write about a moment I can’t quite describe. 

I guess I’m like a traveller always moving toward a horizon slipping further into the distance, or a deep sea diver who glimpses phosphorescent lights moving at the bottom of the ocean.

Or maybe I’m simply a writer who thinks too much.

Love & Perseverance

Dry as a bone

May 5, 2010

Dry as a bone.  Yep, that’s me today, dry as a bone.  Sitting here at the computer, legs crossed, chin in hands, trying to squeeze some blood out of a turnip. I’m the turnip.

Anyway, I had this cool idea earlier today, to write a little essay.  An essay about a moment when I ran into someone from my past, and she didn’t recognize me.  It was an odd moment.  Just one of those little internal jerks that happen.  A moment of shock, then gratitude.

It happened a couple of years ago, in fact.  But the other day, in my wanderings, I drove by the place where it happened and it sprang to mind.  The memory was so strong, I even grabbed my notebook and made a note.

So today, being dry as a bone and all, I thought, “Hey, I can use this.  I can blog on this.”  And then I thought, “What the hell.  I’m sick of the past, I’m over the past.  Who cares about the past.”

Then I decided to go out shopping to get the perfect pair of chocolate slacks to wear with my taupe top so I can look just right for my first Board Meeting of the WNBA.  That’s the Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter.  I joined a while back and have been hanging out with them quite a bit.  I was elected to a position on the Board.  I am, of course, more than thrilled.  They are a great organization, and a great group of women.

Here’s a link so you can take a look at their website. http://www.wnba-sfchapter.org/

Okay. back to the matter at hand.  The essay, about that moment. 

I was actually going to title this, She Didn’t Even Know Me. So I may as well. Here goes.

I was running on all cylinders, from the office to the courthouse, and then to the process servers.  Not for me.  It was my boss, you see.  He had a long list, of collections, that is.   Clients who had stiffed him were put on the list, hounded for a while, and eventually sued.  And I, as his Executive Assistant, was the one who called, followed up, hounded, and filed the paperwork.  For me, it was just another part of the job plus a chance to get out of the office now and then.

The process server had an office worthy of Dashiell Hammett, stuck at the top of a long flight of stairs in one of the more antiquated buildings in downtown Oakland, right around the corner from the jail and the bail bondsman’s offices, and directly across the street from a mission for the homeless.

It was a beautiful day in May, just like today, and no matter the task, I was glad to be out of the office, walking around in the sunshine.  Lunch was also included along with this errand, so I was looking forward to at least a few hours away from my desk.

I parked close by, fed the meter, and walked around to the process server’s office.  I buzzed the intercom and he let me in.  He was always mindful of security because of the area.  We exchanged paperwork and a quick hello and in less than five minutes I was headed back down the stairs, thinking about where I wanted to go for lunch.

I was so busy trying to make a decision between the mexican restaurant around the corner or the chinese restaurant down the street, I didn’t even see her at first.

My old friend, that is.  Well, maybe not so much a friend, but definitely a one-time compadre, someone who I shared a common life with, someone who I listened to when she complained her man had beat her again, someone who I used to give a ride home to occassionally, someone who I laughed and drank with when I would visit her corner one block down.

Someone. Who was just like me.

She walked out the doors of the mission and came zigzagging across the street, refusing to be ruled by the crosswalk, even thinner than she used to be.  And she was always a slim girl.  At first I couldn’t quite believe it was her, but as she got closer, I saw there was no mistake.

I thought to myself, “What will I say to her?  What should I say to her?  What is there to say?” I wanted to turn away, disassociate myself from her, pretend that, no, I didn’t know her, no, I didn’t see her, no, that was never me. Rooted to the spot, I watched her come closer and closer.  And then my fear left me.  Why not say hello, I thought, why not acknowledge the long ago.  Why be scared, it’s different now.

I looked up and smiled.  But she didn’t smile back.  She looked right at me.  And there was nothing there.  No smile, no comfort, no life, no peace, no God, no hope.  She didn’t even know me.

There but for the Grace of God go I.

Love & Perseverance

Pssst, come here, lemme show you something

May 3, 2010

Pssst, come here, lemme show you something.  No really, I mean it.   It’s something important.  A secret. Hey Bloggees, another glorious Monday has rolled around.

You know, Monday, or any othe day of the week for that matter, used to mean nothing to me. 

Wait, No.  I take that back.  Tuesday and Thursday were Vice Nights.  I will explain.  Tuesday and Thursday nights were always set aside by the police as the nights for concentrated efforts on vice, hence, Vice Nights.  Sounds silly doesn’t it.  I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well if everyone knew Tuesday and Thursday were the nights the police were going to patrol extra hard then why not just stay at home?”

Aha.  You obviously do not understand.  First of all, living day to day, you can’t afford to just stay home, and second, well, it’s sort of like a direct challenge.  Catch me if you can and all that.  So I used to really like Monday.  Sort of quiet, sort of orderly.  The beginning of the week for everybody else, just another day for me.

Then the world changed. For the better.  Now I understand the whole Monday blues things.  There you go, having fun on the weekend and then you run right back into Monday, and, if you’re working for someone else, someone else’s idea of what your schedule should be.

Ah, such is life.  But it’s not so bad.  Tuesday and Thursday no longer mean Vice Night,  more like American Idol instead.  (Wait, I’m having a strange upside down confluence of the universe moment here…..good is bad bad is good right is wrong…true false…) Okay, stop.  No more thinking about American Idol.

Okay.  Circling back around to that title.  What have I got to show you?  What’s the big secret?  Alright, here goes. 

Yeah, I know, it’s one of those funny little postcards.

 And what does it all mean? Well for me, it goes like this.

You know, I used to psych myself up every day so I could go out on the streets and put my life on the line and run around all night playing games with the police, all the while truly believing that the only worthwhile thing I owned was my body, and that I better use my smarts to sell it.  That was the very least in this world I could believe in, and so I did.  No disappointment there. 

But still, I was able to believe, and I will admit, many, many times since the world changed for the better, it’s been hard to believe in myself, hard to believe in my talent, hard to believe in a God that truly cares for me, hard to believe that love and perseverance will lead me to a promise of divine goodness.

But this morning, as I was writing my pages of longhand, my pen started making patterns that said,

I am not allowed to give up hope, I am a talented writer, and I believe in myself.

And you know what?  I sort of believe it.

Maybe I do have a product I truly believe in.

Love & Perseverance

Live by the Gun

April 30, 2010

Live by the Gun.  Hey Bloggees, strange title, I know.  But it’s not what you think.  Okay, here goes.  I was writing my three pages of longhand this morning–I know, sounds geeky, but it works great.  Clears out a lot of the residue from the day before and who knows how long ago, and in the process lots of stuff comes to mind.

Well, this morning, what came to mind was…Live by the Gun.  And how I still do that.  Even all these years later when no-one is telling me I better do this, or I ought to do that, or I should be doing such and such, or, well, you fill in the blank.  You know what I mean.

And that brought me to thinking about choice.  I have a choice, don’t I?  Well then, why is it so hard to choose?  Aren’t I free?  Don’t I get to be me to the best of my ability?

And then I thought about how much I like to blame people for hurting me, even when I’m well aware that they, too, live by the gun, and that they, too, just like me, probably do all sorts of things “under the gun” the same way I do.

And then my book fell open to several loose pages inserted in between the others, pages I’ve printed out because I found something which meant something to me, pages with prayers I’ve wanted to remember, pages holding important notes I’ve written to myself, which I’ve made sure to keep so I wouldn’t forget them, and all of which I have, of course, forgotten. 

Anyway, what fell out first was a page on which the top two lines were:

….on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

You know, the last two lines of that old standby, the Lord’s Prayer.

I looked at it, read it, then read it again.  Then I read it one more time and really tried to see what it was saying. 

And then I thought, that’s right, I’ve got to forgive in order to be forgiven.  Damn, there’s always a catch.

So.  Came in here to write the blog, looked up at my wall.  Stared at my favorite “thought” on the wall for a while.  Here’s a picture of it.  You can see for yourself.  I got this from a book by Iyanla Vanzant years ago and I liked it so much I framed it.

And I especially looked at the last two lines for a while, and I answered my own questions.  Yeah, I am free, yeah I do have a choice and yeah, I do get to live life to the best of my ability.

But the one must in my life is that I train my mind to believe it.

Because, Lord knows, I don’t want to die by the gun.

Love & Perseverance

Sometimes I just don’t know

April 29, 2010

Sometimes I just don’t know.  Well actually most of the time.  I think it’s just that sometimes I’m a little more aware of this state of affairs. Today is one of those times.  Actually, a few or so years ago I used to be pretty militarized, on schedule, datebook ready, up and at ’em with my sergeant major barking at me in the background……..but not so much in this incarnation.

It was great for getting stuff done, although not so great for long term sanity.  But that’s another story.  A novel, hopefully.  Of course I’ll have to call it fiction because no-one would believe me anyway.

Even the stories from Over the Edge have garnered a few odd looks and a few comments like,  “Kate? This is really you? This really happened?”  But, as I always like to say, “Hey, you just can’t make this stuff up.”

But I digress.

Back to the not knowing thing.  This morning, I actually thought “Hey, why blog?  I’ll just let it go another day.  I feel yucky anyway.  Sort of depressed.  Sort of tired.  Sort of anxious.  Sort of sort of.  Besides, I thought, I don’t know what I’m doing, and what does it matter, anyway.

I know, I know.  What happened to the perfectly perfect day girl, you ask, the one who wrote the poem and reveled in the spring rain?  Well that was Tuesday, and it turned out to be a short term relationship.  Serenity can be fleeting, you know.

So here we are, back again in the “sometimes” series.  If you don’t know what I mean check out these other “sometimes” posts — Sometimes I get lonely  — Sometimes I dream.

So.  What changed my mind about blogging today?  What’s getting me over the apathy hump?

Well, a friend of mine, someone local, who reads this blog regularly, saw me at yoga class and said, “Hey Kate, you didn’t blog yesterday.  I missed you.  You know you have to keep it up for all your fans.”  Pretty nice, huh?

So, whether I have one fan or many, or even none, I guess it doesn’t matter, I guess the point is I just have to keep on going, no matter what.

And I guess that’s all I have to know.

Love & Perseverance

A perfectly perfect day

April 27, 2010

A perfectly perfect day.  Nice mellow title.  Probably won’t get any readers.  Ah, who cares.  I do, on one level, but today, because it is so perfect, on another level, I don’t.

Why all this bliss, you ask?  Well, if you must know, I woke up this morning with words swirling around my head.  Good words, not stringy, dry, harsh words circling around a million times, but new juicy words, different beginnings, solutions to problems, and even though I couldn’t quite hold on to them in my six a.m. brain, still, they alerted me to something going on.  Something happening.

And that feels good.  Then I got up and wrote a poem.  Yeah, me.  That’s right.  And why not.  It felt pretty darn good.

It’s raining here today.  But it’s spring rain.  You know, that nice misty rain that doesn’t pelt down.  Instead it difts down with the wind and settles on the ground in flat patches of water, barely making puddles.  I like that sort of rain.

Anyway, I came  home from yoga and thought, I’m going to tidy up my vanity, the poor dusty thing, and I’ll clean out my closet too, and I’ll listen to all my Cd’s I haven’t listened to in so long, something sunny like Antonio Carlos Jobim, something moody like Randy Crawford, something soulful like Phyllis Hyman, and something beautiful like Miles Davis.

Are you getting the picture?  Okay.  Before I go further, I know.  You’ve got questions.

Kate, what was the poem about? Kate, you wrote about your vanity in your  book, what about a picture?

See, I hear you out there in the ether.

So, not being one to disappoint, first… the poem (Now, remember, I’m not a poet, so be kind.)  And maybe it doesn’t make any sense to anyone else, but so what, here goes.  But I will give you some background.  As  a teenager I went to school in London, and lived in Hong Kong.

Through a Window

Red cars and bicycles

on a tree lined street,

a blue umbrella over boots

hurries around the corner,

and in the distance white apartments

rise up into the mist.

Springtime rain, like London

waters the pavement, like Hong Kong

shrouds the sky in grey.

Life circles, twists, and spirals back,

and in the silence promises wait,

unlocked, remembered.

Ta dum. Oh, and the formerly dusty vanity?  Well, let me proudly present the renovated article.

Doing all this sort of, dare I say it, nurturing type stuff also makes think of a fellow blogger and creativity coach by the name of Mary Knippel (Creativity Mentor, Workshop Leader & Writer) whose workshop I attended at the beginning of spring.  In said workshop, I created a vision board, which I must say, works wonderfully.  On the days I get totally stressed out in my pursuit of all those long held dreams, I look at the vision board and break into tears.  Now that’s stress relief. 

Anyway, I’ve put her blog on my blogroll to the right.  Thanks, Mary.

So, enough of work, enough of blogs, enough of the pursuit of long held dreams on rainy afternoons. 

After all, I wouldn’t want to spoil my perfectly perfect day.

Love & Perseverance