Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pirate's Life for Me

My niece turned 6!

She had not one but TWO parties.

This was preparation for her Pirate Party for all 25 kids from her kindergarten class. The night before, she got a purple tulle tutu dress from her other auntie, replete with silver elbow gloves, silver purse, and jelly-glass slippers. She ran to the bathroom to try it on and emerged with her fanny showing from the back of the dress. She immediately grabbed her pirate sword and was therein deemed the Pirate Princess. And that's what she is.

The funniest part of the day was that I kept forgetting I was a pirate. I couldn't understand how the woman at Pizza Hut guessed my order was for a kids' party. Maybe because of the large cheese? But we ordered 2 green chile, and surely that should have thrown her off. Hmm... Then as I was sitting there waiting for the pizzas to be done, everyone coming in kept doing a double-take when they saw me. I'm thinking, I showered, so I can't look THAT bad, and I know I don't look that GOOD... What's going on?

And then it would hit me. Oh, right. I'm a pirate.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Cornucopia Me

next to mousse,

cabbage goodness
in panting breaths,

I’m terrible
in bite-size
pieces –

artichoke leaves
no heart,

peeling orange,
crab apple,
pineapple spines for miles –

a whole field
of wormy

How many ears does she have?
Why can’t she hear the difference
between planted and planned?

Words to remember

Virgo's NEVER get good horoscopes. We're the "straight" man to every other sign in the zodiac.

This month's horoscope is a lovely exception:

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) You're in the process of a quick change of costume, or potentially an unexpected change of identity. You now get to put away an entire dimension of who you thought you were, and bring out someone you have long wanted to be. I suggest you indulge in the pleasure of this, and also in the pleasure of finally facing your worst fears. I mean, if you're going to bother to confront that which scares you, it might as well be what scares you most. You're in a rather fortunate position, as compared to those born in the other 11 signs of the zodiac: that state which is the most disturbing to you is precisely the position in which you are strongest. The true revolution of the moment is having arrived in the space where no one and nothing outside yourself has the power to tell you who you are.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


What's so bad about thinking? I call it being conscious.

A friend just lost a friend, and one of the reasons given was that her friends (me among others) are just too analytical. We never stop.

I have friends that avoid me just because they're too tired or too ... happy? to dissect their lives day after day after day after day.

But that's what I do. It's what makes me feel alive and my life seem real. If I go too long without soul-searching, it's like I'm fast-forwarding my life, so there's no sound, no emotional attachment, no ... storylines to follow.

And as I've said before, I'm all about storylines. I'm all about finding the stories that make up my own life. I don't think life inherently has meaning; I think we create it. And if we're not creating it, we lose the opportunity to have it mean something.

I admit sometimes I get tired, and I just want to be zen-accepting of the moments as they come. And to be really honest, I'm that way more than anyone would believe. Mostly because I've so integrated the meaning-making that it's no longer an effort.

Those are the good days.

In the darkest moments, it's agonizing, but made valuable because I know that pain without meaning is just animal reaction. Pain with meaning is growth.

And so I grow. And trust me, the shooting pains are sometimes the very best stories. As long as they have a point.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Space Aliens

Space aliens have taken over my family. No really.

Met up with my sisters and brother-in-law because my favorite great-aunt's son, Norman, was in town. This was my grandmother's sister, one of a set of twins, my Aunt Dorris and Aunt Dottie. Both were fantastically nuts. Beautiful, artistic, and off-their-ass crazy.

My Aunt Dorris lived in Flagstaff and was a founding member of the bikini ski club. She also had a mousetrap with this shrivelled up Mexican bean that she'd chewed on to get it looking just right on her coffeetable for years.

My Aunt Dottie lived in San Diego. She had a recording of the worst opera singer ever to perform in Carnegie Hall. Turns out she was this rich debutante who rented the entire hall and put on a series of performances that sold out because people just had to hear for themselves how bad she really was.

Aunt Dottie died about 5 years ago. At the Renz family reunion in 2000, we all visited her grave -- or actually -- visited their grave. They've got a double-plot and double headstone. Aunt Dorris kissed her sister's side of the stone and then flopped down on her own grave and posed for a picture. "Yep, this will fit!" she screamed, amid peals of laughter.

For anyone who's met my grandmother, this picture of her sisters comes as something of a surprise. Nanny is as tight-lipped, judgmental, dour, sour, and uptight as they come. She was the oldest of five children raised by two very serious German immigrants on a farm in Michigan. Dottie and Doris were the babies of the family. As carefree as they were, the more work was left to my grandmother. They were indulged, to say the least. Everyone responded to them with joy; she got to play the straight man to their comic routines for the rest of her life.

But that's not my point of the day. My point of the day is this: My cousin Norman works for the Pentagon. He's been a test pilot his whole career, and although he recently retired, the Pentagon wooed him out of retirement to help improve the performance of weapons we're spending billions of dollars developing and then are unable to use because they lack reliability. Ahem.

Also not my point. Here's my point: we got to talking about aliens. My brother-in-law Darryl owned a very successful t-shirt company that made its name from the alien craze of the 90s, just in time for the anniversary of Roswell's Hanger 51 (or whatever number it was). It was called alienware, and I admit, it rocked. Some crazy started e-mailing Darryl first with information about classified events that broke the news weeks later and then with death threats, after which Darryl reported him to the FBI and never heard from him again.

The more we talked aliens, the less cousin Norman spoke up, until we all got the distinct impression that we should just shut up, because there was too much he couldn't say. That, or he was just trying to work out just how much DNA we share so that he could distance himself appropriately. One of the two.

Oh, and the other thing. For those of you 9-11 conspiracy theorists out there, Cousin Norman says the plane struck the ground in front of the Pentagon and then bounced up into the building, accounting for the lack of penetration in the building. And the Pennsylvania plane was most likely not blown out of the sky but rather broke apart in the nose dive to earth.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Shameless Cut & Paste from Cyberspace

For you lovers of good writing, these are the 10 winners of this year's Bulwer-Lytton Contest ~ AKA Dark and Stormy Night Contest ~ (run by the English Department of San Jose State University), wherein one writes only the first line of a bad novel.

10) "As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it."

9) "Just beyond the Narrows, the river widens."

8) "With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description."

[my personal fave, having just seen it happen in real life on an m-pyrical comment]

7) "Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: 'Andre creep... Andre creep... Andre creep.'"

6) "Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved."

5) "Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eeking out a living at a local pet store."

4) "Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do."

3) "Like an over-ripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor."

2) "Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning of the word 'fear'; a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death -- in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies."


1) "The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, screaming madly, 'You lied!'"

Heading Internal

Time to pull in for some major self-tuning. Journaling the other night, I realized just how much of my life is driven by the powerful fear of rejection. It's amazing to me how intensely I crave the sensation of being "special" -- in whatever way. To be perfectly honest (in a blog? really? yes, really.), I think that's the root of my perfectionism. The whole love-through-performance syndrome. And when I'm not in touch with myself -- really listening and seeing who I am -- I find myself relying on other people's perceptions of me to feed that gigantic furnace that is self-esteem.

It's eerie, though, because as soon as I take the time -- literally spend the time -- to be with myself, I remember that I do like and value who I am. I remember that I don't have to convince anyone, and if they need convincing, I don't need them in my life.

So, here's a picture of me and my biggest source of unconditional love. Ah, that we could feel this adored all the time. It's a horrible self-portrait, but it does speak volumes about the connection between me and the pup.

Here's to all inward journeys.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Strange Silence

Everything's moving so fast, but somehow I'm not panicked, because I sense strongly that things are actually revolving, which means I don't have to track anything. If I miss it, it will be back soon enough, and I can try to deal with it again at that point, and maybe I'll have more of what I need to be effective or patient or loving or strong or assertive or graceful.

I don't have many words of my own at the moment. Narrative fails me. So I offer the poems below from a new treasure trove of a poet: Simon Ortiz of Acoma pueblo.

Thanks to Levi Romero for turning me onto him. I've immersed myself in his book Woven Stone, a collection of several of his early volumes. And I mean volumes.

Another hint about where I am:

Virgo (August 23-September 22)
You’re being asked to live without something, or to live as if you were without it. Think of this something as part of yourself. Imagine that you’re in a psychological experiment where you’re relieved of the burden of self-consciousness. You’re free to be you without that peculiar human quality of regret, or of seeking something better in the past or future. Note how you relate to your own needs in this space, particularly your need for companionship. Notice how it feels to offer yourself to others from this unusual point of clarity.

Evening Beach Walk

by Simon Ortiz

I don’t really feel like walking
at first
but somehow I feel I must
since I have come
this far
to this edge,
and so I walk.

The sun is going downwards
or rather one point changes to another,
and I know I am confronting
another horizon.

A dog comes sniffing at my knees
and I hold my hand to him,
and he sniffs, wags his tail
and trots away to join a young couple,
his friends, who smile as we meet.

I look many times as the sun sets
and I don’t know why I can’t see
clearly the horizon I’ve imagined.
Maybe it’s the clouds, the smog
maybe it’s the changing.

It’s a duty with me,
I know, to find the horizons,
and I keep on walking on the ocean’s edge,
looking for things in the dim light.

What I Mean

by Simon Ortiz

Agee. I don’t mean that Agee,
I mean Agee from home.
He was just one of us, but a hero.
I mean not in a big way but real,
because he was one of us.

He was a young guy
who never got beyond nineteen.
We were the same age though in school
he was always behind
and the teachers were always on him
for not doing well.
Agee was always laughing and fooling around
and talking Indian
(you couldn’t do that)
and making English sound like Indian
(you couldn’t do that either.)
English had to be English,
that was the real American way,
and Indian was just Indian—
the teachers so much as said that to us.

Agee quit school in junior high
and went to work in the mines.
He went to work because his family was poor
like all our families were poor.
He was one of the first guys from home
in the mines and probably the youngest.
After high school when I started working
for Kermac Mill at Ambrosia Lake,
he was at Haystack working underground.

You know it’s funny—
I mean this: teachers in school
were always on him
because he couldn’t read
(or wouldn’t)
or couldn’t talk English
(or wouldn’t)
but once when I was in Grandma’s Café
in Milan where the guys I rode with
sometimes stopped to pick up bag lunches,
I was surprised.
Grandma’s was usually crowded
with miners and millworkers
but not many of us Indians
ever went in there, and Agee was there.
And he was talking. I mean talking.

That may not sound like a big deal,
but this is what I mean:
We didn’t talk much.
Some people say Indians are just like that,
shy and reserved and polite,
but that’s mostly crap. Lots of times
we were just plain scared
and we kept our mouths sut.
I mean Grants and Milan and the mines
between haystack and Ambrosia Lake,
all that area used to be Indian land—
Acoma land—but it was surveyed
by the government and stolen
at the turn of the century
and there was plenty to say
but we didn’t say it.
I mean being Indian wasn’t the safest
thing to be in town
so we didn’t say much, much less
be in Grandma’s Café arguing
with white miners who made jokes
about squaws and called you chief.
I mean Agee was talking.

And he was reading too,
from the union contract
which was the issue of the argument.
That was right before the strike in 1961.
Most of us few Indian workers
didn’t know much
about the mine unions and Agee
wsa one of the first members from home
and he was arguing for the strike.
As I said before, most of us
didn’t say much of anything.
We were just glad for the jobs we had,
union or no union, but Agee,
when te workers went out on strike later,
spoke for us saying that Indians
were just like other workers
and he wasn’t shy or reserved
saying that in English that sounded
Okie and Mexican and Indian.

Later on,
Agee went down to Silver City
when the workers went on strike there.
He was always doing that,
helping folks, especially old folks,
and it didn’t matter who.
Well, down there, one night,
he was changing a tire
or pushing a stalled car or something,
he was struck accidentally—
that’s what they told folks at home,
and maybe it was. And maybe too
it was because Agee was
just another worker,
just another Indian,
there was nothing else necessary
for them to tell us.

But what I mean is:
Although Agee never made it beyond young,
the mines were still there
and the workers were still fighting
and old people still needed help
and the language of our struggle
just sounds and reads like an Indian,
Okie, Cajun, Black, Mexican hero story—
that’s what we mean.
That’s what we mean.