Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Like Rice Crispies In My Brain--!

A week ago I had the most strange mental cognition experience I think I've ever had, at least without the benefit of self-applied pharmaceuticals for entertainment purposes, so it's been DECADES, at least! A friend of mine has been planning, for well over a month, a driving trip from Southern California to Estes Park, Colorado, for her nephew's wedding, incorporating a week in Durango with a tutor very talented at assessments of children, having this woman spend some time observing my friend's three-year old very precocious 3 year old. I spent some time trying to work out driving with her and going to the wedding (having been invited) and finally, sadly, recognized it was simply going to be too much time and money. I didn't realize how seriously my friend wanted an adult companion until she asked me to consider driving out with her and the 3 year old and then flying back home (eep!) - so I prayed about it, considered it, checked out frequent flyer tickets and saw that I could do it without too much expense, giving myself a couple of days in southwest Colorado after the drive, before spending hours on airplanes coming back ("you deserve a break today" -- at least!).

We talked about leaving on Wednesday and she called me last Tuesday morning, caught me walking out the door, and I said, "I'll have to call you when I get back from San Diego for my Mom's birthday," and she said, "but I need to talk to you about the trip - we leave tomorrow morning!"

Snap! Crackle! Pop! "No, we leave a week from tomorrow!" "No, we leave tomorrow!" I was well and truly flummoxed - I recognized very quickly that we'd been talking days of the week and not *dates* but the sensation was so very extraordinary. In sorting it through, it turned out she was spending not only a week with this tutor in Durango but nearly a week in advance of the wedding in Estes Park (thus an additional week, one for which I had not accounted). Simultaneously, I was realizing that I'd spent the previous day getting ready for the Colorado trip, running various errands, and being pleased with myself that I was doing it so early (I confess to inveterate procrastination - I repent, but I have yet to reform - would that it were so easy). So I went to my appointment, trying to mentally juggle all the assorted balls and see if it was feasible to drop everything and just go. I ran home to make a few inquiries before running to church (a long-standing prayer commitment) and I called my priest only to learn that the two other available pray-ers had just called and cancelled, so I was free for the rest of the afternoon.

Everything fell into place so quickly and effortlessly (even to changing my award-travel flight home) I had to laugh because, of course, none of this is a surprise to God, but it sure was a surpise to me - and such a curious, bizarre sensation, mentally!

I am now home from my whirlwind tour of four states, but still intrigued by the mental experience...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

L'Escalier Spiral du Mort

I did, in fact, come back and share my amusing story of humiliation with the landlady (well, the owner of the hotel, where I've stayed for years - they indulge me, laugh at my bad French but encourage me nonetheless) and told her all about "L'escalier spiral du mort." Several years earlier, I met my good friend Wendy's future husband in the lobby of this hotel (I'd heard of Michael but never met him, and here we were, about to set off traveling through France together for 10 days!) and the owners had a lovely large German Shepherd (Alsatian) dog and Michael turns to me and asks, "Does your dog bite?" and we proceeded to do the entire Clouseau routine, much to Wendy's dismay and confusion (she was entirely unfamiliar with the Pink Panther movies) - so the lobby of this hotel has witnessed a lot of interesting behaviors (and questionable accents) - happy, the lobby cannot be subpoenaed...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Spiral Staircase of Death

being a good soul (generally speaking, at least), I've been pottering around the various other blogs and, due to the use of my name in Miranda's Maudlin Meanderings, I visited a site she mentions, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and *there* (is this becoming sufficiently obscure? I do so long to be sufficiently obscure...!) I found Kevin Dolgin Tells You About Places You Should Go In Europe and, as I like to go to Europe and have been to a few places worth going to, I figured I'd check out his list, where I found "The Door To Hell: Paris, France" and I knew immediately he was talking about the Rodin Museum which does, indeed, include Rodin's magnificent bronze doors which are titled "The Gates of Hell."

I was further delighted to see him follow the theme and write about the Catacombs of Paris (not just in Rome anymore!), where I spent a wonderful day wandering and pondering (which *almost* rhymes) with my pal Ellie as we recuperated from the week-long Tolkien Centenary Celebration at Keble College in Oxford back in 1992.

You slo-o-owly make your way down underground and might not realize how deep you've gone - until you finally realize you're hungry and tired and desperately need a pee, so you make your way to the exit, only to discover The Spiral Staircase of Death - a narrow (one person wide) ancient spiral staircase that rises probably 5 stories (maybe more, but, if so, I don't want to know about it!) back up to street level. Ellie makes like a young gazelle, being slim and fit, a resident of San Francisco who walks a good deal, but I begin huffin' and a'puffin' about the 3 round and finally I have to stop for a breather. I apologize in my childish French to the family behind me who now must stop and wait for me to recover enough to continue, and they respond that they were grateful for the rest and felt they couldn't stop as long as the fat lady in front of them could keep going... (!!!).

ah, life... at least I didn't sing for them.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Thomas Wolfe was right--

My dad died in January - he was exactly 80 years and 11 months old. My siblings and I have all rallied around our mom; married for nearly 59 years, it's a huge adjustment for her but she's really doing well - I'm VERY proud of her. But this has required the selling of the home they lived in since the early 1970s (side note: my three siblings all lived in that house with them, at some point, for some years - but not me; I never lived in this house with the rest of the family). Still, even though I haven't lived in it, it is nonetheless the home to which I've returned for Christmases and Thanksgivings and assorted birthdays and other holidays, the home in which loads of childhood memories reposed, having moved with them from Los Angeles to San Diego.

Back in 1973 when they sold the house in L.A., I wrote the following song - and it's been resonating in my head for weeks now...

Cannot Go Home Anymore *redux*
Feeling awkward and clumsy - and fallen from grace
the doors and the windows are closed in my face
I feel displacedall the locks have been changed
and we cannot go home anymore

The woman is awkward, the child is wise
so look at this placed through those innocent eyes
they don't see the lies that live in the woodwork
and we cannot go home anymore

I wish that I could do without it
sing and laugh and shout about it
wish I could see through the walls
and the curtain calls
that put on this show, but no--

The lighting is different, you can see that at a glance
and standing divided we are trying to dance
they sealed the past
revealed at last
that we cannot go home anymore
(copyright Moonbird Music Co., 1974 - all rights reserved)

The past is converging on me--

In the last week I got phone calls from my first ex-husband (hey, when you have MORE than one ex-husband, you have to find humor where you can) and my favorite lover (the one I didn't marry, the one *between* husbands). I really don't have any relationship with either one now... well, I suppose that's not entirely true - the old lover and I have kept in very loose contact over the years, but it's been 3-4 years since we talked. It's like, the bombers are circling... strange sensation.