Being Martha Louise Hunter

Being Martha Louise Hunter also appears on Wordpress as www.beingmarthalouisehunter.com

 

starting over

 
martha louise hunter writing

     that was the name of one of those 80's movies. kind of cute movie starring jill clayburg & burt reynolds.

movie poster had her biting his ear, i think.  & this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with that.

i have some great news.

if you're thinking i'm going to say the painting juliana audio book is ready -- hell, no.  i was hoping christmas. nope. end of school? not yet.

bummer, right?

imagine me in the recording booth.  it is a blast! i mean, who could read juliana but me?

 when i flub a word or hate the way i say a line -- the wrong inflection in my voice, or whatever -- well, i find myself saying this a lot:

"CUT!"  

after listening to the recordings, there'd still be edits to make.  i'm not sure what was wrong with me, but one day, i'm telling you, i sounded like a complete bitch, which clearly wouldn't work.

when i had to re-record the entire chapter, I reminded myself of what my dad would say:

if it was easy, martha, everybody would be doing it.

but, why's it taking so long, you wonder?

well, there's my producer. his name's nacho. short for ignacio, & i promise he wouldn't mind me throwing him under the bus.

nacho is so freaking busy, it's ridiculous.

he plays in 3 bands. heavy metal, brown grass (like blue grass, but trashier) & punk, or, maybe it's cool jazz -- i forget.  

he's worth it because he does incredible work & he's a genius.

no, i mean, the real kind.

just when i thought we were about to pick up the pace, he got a job as the night desk clerk @ a marriott in town.

i love him to death, but i was like, seriously?

deep, calm, cleansing yoga breath. 

if it was easy, martha, everybody would be doing it, I remind myself.

things happen for a reason, so chill out, i say under my breath. 

good things are worth waiting for, but ......

aaaaaaa-aaaaaackkkkkkkkkk!

so, back to the name of this blog post -- I'M STARTING OVER, RIGHT?

relax. not the audio book! merciful heavens, no!

i've started a new book.             

that's right -- a new FREAKING  BOOK, like the real-deal, hardback. 

the kind you can hold in your hands with pages made of paper that just smell so damn good.

i'm tired of people saying, martha, are you working on anything new? & me saying, oh, yeah -- totally, when i'm primarily writing the book in my head.

or, wasting time doing a blog post.

don't take it personally. I love talking to you, but blogging does make me feel guilty.

when the book-words really start flowing, like they did yesterday,  i kind of think of it like throwing up. 

i know that sounds gross, but when it happens, i can't write fast enough.

i also write in longhand. on a yellow pad.

archaic? maybe, but there's something about that process of the words traveling from my brain, down my neck, shoulder, my arm, until they reach the pencil in my fingers that works for me.

there's a woman i'm working with. some brainy phd psychologist who's helping me with some research on night terrors for the book.

(that's part of what the book's about.     ssssshhhhhhh!)

anyway, i was writing her this email, & the ricocheting ideas -- well, my head was like a pinball machine.

so, that's all. just wanted to share & just let you know it's coming great.

i'll work as fast as i can.

TTFN --     ta-ta for now!

 

marching saints

 
saints go marching

i read the newspaper every morning. sit in bed next to my dog bitsey & sip my coffee. the crazy stuff in there blows my mind. 

did you know there was this man who lived with his mom in this teeny-tiny town, came home to find her dead of natural causes, then went around town with a rifle & killed 6 of his cousins? like the bates hotel meets american sniper or something...  

i also saw an article about the "brisket bandit " who loads his grocery basket full of beef in the HEB meat department while his old lady waits out front in a yellow, souped-up buick le sabre. there was also one about someone's jumbo meat-smoker being ripped-off.

wonder if anyone made the connection but me. 

i read the obits every morning, too. maybe it sounds backwards, but some of them make me feel happy -- like the ones where a woman lived to be 100 & her photo is of her at age 19. i really love those --  it's how they'll be remembered & i think that's nice. 

it's why i tuck them away inside my bedside drawer. when i look at them someday, let's just say that i look forward to remembering them when i do.

hey, maybe it's just me, but do you think it's weird when people put happy birthday messages to their deceased loved ones in the obits? as if that's where the person's going to be looking, or something?

you know those obits that are 9 miles long & take up 3 columns that include a huge list of the person's career & education accomplishments? the ones that list the prominent social clubs & country clubs a person belonged to always make me cringe. this might be odd, but it always goes through my mind how difficult & time-consuming they must've been to write, & i wonder who it was that wrote them.

lots of people write their own obits. i bet you've known someone like that. completely obsessed with it -- & i'm not saying that's a bad thing. they just want to leave a precise record of the important things they did while they were on earth. 

i wonder if right before they took their last breath, they'd scratch it all out & start over. to tell the things that were really important.

i remember when my father died. i drove down the highway as fast as i could. found my mother & my dad's sister sitting at the kitchen table working on his piece for the newspaper.

i gave it a look. very short. i remember thinking, that's all my dad's worth -- a short couple of paragraphs, when there's so much more to say about this man i worshipped?  i spoke up, & said, don't you want to put something in there about him that's personal? who answered, my mom or my aunt, i really can't recall, but, "people who really knew him already know those things," is what i heard.

i didn't like that answer much, but maybe when it's my time to bury my husband or my brother, God forbid, i'll have a different perspective than i did that day, i don't know, but i remember telling my mother something really important. something my dad had told me years & years before.

"what do you want your funeral to be like, daddy?" strange question, i guess, but i really wanted to know.

there was a friend of his who had one of those big, beautiful baritone voices. mike sargent, was his name. my dad said he wanted the man to sing, "when the saints go marching in."

i think that's really beautiful, don't you?

mr. sargent predeceased my dad, so, to close the service, the whole congregation belted it out  instead.

Oh when the Saints go marching in
When the Saints go marching in
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

the organist was really getting into it -- cranking it up & adlibbing some jazzy riffs.

what an incredible send-off for my dad. zippy & upbeat. the tears became tears of joy.

if i know my dad, & i do, he was smiling. & laughing, too, i'll bet.

how in the world did i get off on all of that? i'm writing about the brisket bandit, & next thing you know, i'm writing about a funeral.

doesn't matter, i guess. but, if you want to steal my dad's idea, go right ahead.

me, i've already put in my order -- it's what i want my friends & family to be singing at mine.

TTFN    ta-ta for now.

 

eat, pray, love & kahil gibran

 

"you don't need a man, liz," he says. "you need a champion."

a line spoken by that hot actor with the bedroom eyes, dimples & accent. think his name is javier bardem.

i've resisted watching eat, pray, love since it came out, & resisted reading the book, too, by elizabeth gilbert. 

it was like 8 years ago, right? something like that. i think it's because i had a pretty good idea what it was about.

i don't watch movies as much as i used to, & i need to work on that. you can learn a lot from movies, not to mention books.

this liz woman seems to be julia roberts.

&, I'm not even watching the movie now, anyway, even though it's on the tv -- says at the bottom of the screen, "26 minutes left."  below that, it says, "a woman comes to the realization that she is not happy. so after a divorce, she sets out on a journey across the world, during which she falls in love."

same old familiar story, right? unhappy, divorce, expensive vacation, love.

hey, wait a minute... where's the eat & pray? oh, yeah -- coming in with only 26, now 24 minutes left, they must've done that already.

okay, here comes love. it would seem that now they're falling in it. julia has that weepy, sideways look in her eyes. javier is watching her with an "i've got love on my mind" expression.

gracious. he just popped something like "girl from ipanema" on the hi-fi. now it's the dance, the seduction... followed by,

the closed door. 

change of scene. more dialogue: "love is scary. dangerous." it's the woman who's treating julia for a bladder infection.

"we've only spent 2 minutes apart for the past 2 weeks," julia says.

"too much happiness. too much pleasure. you make yourself sick," the wise woman says.... "be careful, or you lose yourself."

i know what she's talking about. i know. you might, too, if you've ever been in love.

you spend so much time together - it's just so fun -- intoxicating -- it's all you want to do. you don't want to be apart.

but javier lives in bali. julia lives in new york. when he proposes they try finding a life in the middle, she freaks out.

"you're afraid to love again," he says. "do you love me, or do you love me not? look me in the eyes & tell me. i know you feel the same way i do. why can't you say it back? you're terrified?"

julia says in tearful exasperation, "i don't know why you can't understand this. i found something & i can't give it up."

"the balance you think you found is meditation & prayer," he says back. "listen. balance, my darling, is not letting anybody love you less than you love yourself."

"don't say darling to me again, or i'm going to lose it," she says angrily. "i don't need to love you to prove that I love myself."

"don't run away from me," he pleads. "you're running away from all of the great possibilities of your own life."

but, she does.

she puts his photo in her travel bag & zips it up.

on the way out of town, she visits her medicine man, ketut.  "you healed me ketut. i wouldn't have come back to myself."

he looks at her knowingly. "you love your new boyfriend."

"i ended it," she says.

"don't understand why you do that."

she shakes her head. "i couldn't keep my balance."

"listen to ketut," he says. "sometimes, to lose your balance for love is part of living a balanced life."

the movie's almost over. but, we've seen enough of them to know she never makes it to the airport.

in the meantime, julia gives a voice-over about "the physics of the quest."

        "If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself... then truth will not be withheld from you.

Or so I've come to believe.”

that's one kick-ass speech, don't you think? julia didn't come up with it spontaneously -- elizabeth gilbert put those words in her  mouth & she's a damn good writer. plus, she's definitely onto something.

julia meets javier on the boat dock. of course she came back.  

they kiss, they smile. they speed in a fast boat across the ocean, breeze in their hair, sparkle on their eyes, into the sunset.

when I got married, the priest took from the teachings of kahil gibran. tonight, i turn to these words in my mind-- i believe they speak to this "balance" from eat, pray, love. see what you think --

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow
— From "On Marriage" by Kahil Gibran

i'm glad i got to catch the last 26 minutes of the terrific movie tonight. what a gift.

i also love javier's line, the 1st line i caught from the movie, because it's so meaningful to me. it says a lot.

"you don't need a man, liz," he says. "you need a champion."

that's love. & believe me, i'm grateful.

truly grateful. & blessed.

TTFN

 

 

passion

 

i love it, don't you?

simply intoxicating -- there's nothing better.

just so exciting. all-consuming. it makes you feel alive. 

feeding that passion is the best reason in the world to crawl out of bed in the morning.

& you never have to wonder what you're going to do with yourself all day again.

         but, to not have passion? a burning passion? i tried that already, so no thanks.

"what do you want to be when you grow up?” 

ask a child & they'll tell you right away, no problem -- because the sky's the limit.

me, i wanted to be a movie star. not an actress, a movie star- there's a big difference.

i remember what my family said. all sarcastic. "martha thinks she's such a glamour puss." like it was stupid -- & i thought i was so cool & awesome.

i remember thinking, "well, what's wrong with that?"

&, it kind of hurt, really. yes, it did.

what happened?

what happens to a lot of us, i guess. feeling like we can't do it. that it's unattainable, whatever it is.

buying into beliefs we let people put on us.

i knew there was something about me. i was the funny kid. maybe it came from being the youngest of 4 children, desperate for attention, but it doesn't matter. i made people laugh, & i knew not everybody could do that.

often jokes at someone else's expense, i'm sorry to say, but it's true. what accounts for humor, sometimes... i mean, look at joan rivers' routine. she was pretty damn hilarious.

anyway, we get out in the world & lose our self confidence, our ability to trust ourselves, & even the feeling that we're worthy of having it at all. besides, following a passion is indulgent -- a useless idea we picked up somewhere along the line.

not only that -- following a passion can take really hard work, you know. & it could be we're just a little lazy.

just thought i'd throw that in...

still, i had a way with words & i knew i could communicate. down deep inside, i knew it.

so, think about it -- what about you?

maybe you know what happens when you shove things down. end up with someone else's dream. spending your time living someone else's life when that's really their job -- not yours.   

passion defines us. it's who we are.

do you still remember what you said you wanted to be when you grew up?

maybe you can't put your finger on what's wrong, exactly --  just that there's an empty, disjointed sensation you just can't shake. like you're not fully experiencing life. & it's beginning to feel uncomfortable...

it's like when your stomach is hanging over your jeans. they just don't fit anymore. maybe they never did in the 1st place. they've finally gotten so tight that they suddenly split up the back when you bend over.

that’s probably an awful analogy, but i think you know where i'm going with this.

so, what happens?

there's a person i know who i've been thinking a lot about lately.  one of my favorite people in the world & they're going through a hard time.  i've known this person forever. my whole life, really, & in many of my earliest memories, this person is there.

looks, talent & a killer personality. not only that, he's smart –like brilliant-smart, in every subject. smarter than i am by a mile, & i kind of hate those people, know what i mean?

still, with so many things going for him, my friend's jeans split up the back. maybe it was cut-offs & not jeans he was wearing, but that’s not important. what popped out was an inner-feeling, i guess. just a distorted, scary picture of himself. not real.

what popped out was a damn lie.

so, what went wrong?

i’d tell you if i knew the true reason --  I'm not a mind reader, but like i said- i’ve known this person a very long time, & i think he bought into some people's ideas that were neither fair nor true, & rather than proving them all wrong & following his passion anyway, when the opportunity came to take the easy way out, he took it.

then, easy became a habit & what came next was not a pretty picture. sapped self-worth, a loss of confidence & some really lousy choices. in his words, "it's a pretty shitty deal."   

but, then, maybe i'm completely wrong about my friend.

i mean, what do i know? i wasn't exactly leading the passion parade myself. 

i had this desperate, gnawing fear that wouldn't leave me alone. i’d see myself as an old woman sitting in my rocker on my front porch looking out at the stars. just kicking myself. so disappointed in myself, because my potential was nowhere.

when i'd had every opportunity to change my life every step of the way.

i was about 40 when my wheels came flying off. to tell you the truth, i basically lost my shit. time was running out & i had no idea how to stop it.

& it only gets worse when you have kids of your own, you know?

i had a notion earlier today. something every kid should learn in school. i mean required, serious, no-kidding classes, early-on where they’re taught to follow their passion & hold on tight.

i finally got help. 

yep, from one of those paid professionals who you can tell your deepest secrets to.

mine was a man. a kind man. not a lot older than i was really, but he seemed much older -- an old soul, that's what he was.. 

twice a week for an hour & a half, i’d be crying on his same blue-striped, velour sofa. i felt like i was crazy, & there's probably something to that..

there was a breakthrough one day.

with one question, just a string of words, the man saved my life.

it wasn’t groundbreaking or earth-shattering. nothing anybody on the street couldn't have asked just as easily, but it must've been the right time. his question was simple:

“what's the thing you want to do in your life more than anything?”

“write a book.”

the words tumbled from my lips, free-falling from the cobwebs of my troubled mind.

his follow-up question -- what he said next truly startled me. probably shouldn’t have, but i’m telling you, it truly did.

he tilted his head & looked at me intently. again, a question just so simple:

“why don’t you?”

seriously, i mean, really - think about it. unless they're shoveling dirt on your casket, it's never too late.

it’s not.

so, about that word passion.....

what do you think it means?

i just happen to have my dictionary right here on my desk. can't live without it. random house dictionary of the english language

the unabridged edition

pas-sion (pash’en), n. 1. any emotion or feeling, as love, desire, anger, hate, feat, grief, joy, hope, etc., esp when of a powerful or compelling nature.

here’s another definition – i personally think it fits:

6. a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything, i.e: a passion for music.

a few entries down the page, my finger stops on another word. a sad word.

pass-ion-less (pash’en lis) adj.  not feeling or moved by passion; cold or unemotional; calm or detached.

i’m telling you, with his two simple questions, that man saved my life.

what's your passion?

i hope you're one of those fortunate, fulfilled people with their fires still red-hot & blazing.

& what about those kids of yours? they don’t have to be your blood-kids – maybe someone else you can motivate. look around you -- people are everywhere.

in case you’re concerned about the old friend of mine, don’t be. i was there in the very beginning, & I know what he's made of. & that he can move heaven & earth.

to ignite smoldering coals of passion, all it takes is a little fanning & they're a flame.

TTFN

 

feeding the dragon

 
0jabba

the very moment three particular words came out of my mouth, i heard a noise.

two noises, really.

thunder.  & a crack of lightning, like the cackle of a scary, old witch.

a little dramatic, certainly. & they got my attention.

because the words i'd just spoken were serious words. they were a total "integrity statement."

but, i didn't say them on purpose. not really.

you see, the person i said them to -- he had something that I needed. & in order to get it, i had to... well, have you ever heard the expression, "feed the dragon?"

it's not a pleasant thing. it means you have to put up with something torturous from someone -- pander shamelessly, if necessary, all in the name of getting what you "need."

imagine the old star wars movie return of the  jedi. you saw it, right? the one with the character jabba the hutt -- the nasty, fat & slimy alien-monster who looks like a huge, greasy glob of dirt jello. if you saw the movie, you certainly remember jabba the hutt.

in the movie, he captures carrie fisher's character, princess leia & turns her into his slave girl, & makes her wear iron chains & a metal bikini? princess leia endures jabba the hutt's rank foulness, not to mention his putrid breath, when she could've actually wrapped her slave chains around his neck @ just the right moment & strangled him to death. but she didn't because she was waiting for the chance to save her lover-man, han solo.

uhm, hello... played by harrison ford? at least you remember his character from star wars, right?

okay - so, how did i feed the dragon in my situation? that's what you really want to know.

i had suffer through listening to MY jabba the hutt's story over lunch one day, as i smiled pleasantly, nails digging into my palms, because his story was all a load of horse manure.

when the waitress finally brought our food, it was down to business at last. but, not before he blithely said:

"i hope i can count on you to keep our conversation confidential."  translation: don't tell the person i'm talking about, even though she's one of your closest friends.

did i mention it was a STEAMING load of horse manure? &, if he was telling his story to me now, he had already told it to any & everyone who would listen.

with the squirmy sensation that i was heading straight to hell, i looked him in the eye & said these words:

"i don't rat."

hearing the roaring thunder & witchy thunderbolt, i reminded myself that telling him that rather than telling him off would allow me to still get what i needed, because i couldn't risk pissing him off.

plus, he was also paying for my lunch.

life takes finesse sometimes. a little smooth choreography to help things go our way.

the more i thought about it, i felt really used. like i was his garbage can or something. & besides, when princess leia had to feed the dragon, at least she got to look smokin' hot in that metal bikini while she did it.

i mean, truly -- did carrie fisher ever look better in her life?

i waited a few weeks before i told my friend what he'd said. i couldn't help myself, because she deserved to know. maybe i could've thought, what she doesn't know won't hurt her? no, because i didn't see it that way. it took far more integrity to tell the truth to my friend than to keep jabba the hutt's confidence.

but, let's be honest. a little part of me wanted to pay ol' jabba back for making me feed the dragon.

through her seething anger, my friend told me basically the same thing i told jabba -- "i don't rat." that she wouldn't tell him what she now knew that he'd said about her.

do you hear the thunder rumbling in the distance? & how the air smells like rain?

but she did tell him. & loose lips sink ships.

what just happened here, i wondered, as i was pulling myself out from under the bus.

it's called karma, baby.

my friend couldn't help herself. just like me.

but, that's not true.

i could help myself. every step along the way, i knew better. i knew it was possible that he would learn that i'd ratted him out to my friend.

maybe you remember what happens to jabba the hutt in the movie. oh, princess leia ends up choking him to death with those chains, all right. to big cheers from the audience. for my money -- it was the best scene from every stars wars movie combined.

i fed my jabba the hutt to get what i "needed" when i should've just said, "hey - i'm not listening to this," whether it pissed him off or not -- but that train had left the station.

so rather than lie to jabba about having told my friend what he had said -- it wasn't much fun. root-canal-fun, actually, but i owned it. because i had to be able to look at myself in the mirror again.

karma can be totally annoying. but it's also kind of comforting in a strange sort of way, knowing that it's ready to slap us silly when we need to learn a lesson. know what i mean?

& here's the lesson i learned:

I'm done feeding dragons.

TTFN

 

gratitude

 

with the exception of the years i gave birth to my children, 2014 has been the most wonderful year of my life. come to think of it, i gave birth again, this year.

i gave birth to my novel, painting juliana.

it actually happened - my lifetime dream.

i am grateful.

to God, my spirit guides & angels, ancestors, & everyone who's helped me, whether i've actually met them or not.

& i say thank you.

thank you for helping me.

my heart is filled with joy.

TTFN


 

procrastination & prayer

 
procrastination & prayer

forgive me, oh blog followers. this is my 1st blog post in 3 weeks & i apologize. i really do. it's just that procrastination is my nemesis. i find myself putting off new blog posts because they take so damn much time.

but, i learned something important today that i need to tell you about. it's about control, i guess you could say.

control as it relates to prayer.

there's a heartbreaking tragedy going on in someone's life who's close to me right now. a dear friend - her brother was in a crazy freak accident, bitten by a rattlesnake of all things after finishing a 5-mile run on the exercise trail behind the hospital where he works. venom went straight into his vein & pumped through his body at an astronomical speed.

none of it makes sense. it's all just so bizarre.

the man is a father, a husband, a brother, a son. a surgeon. in fact, it was between surgeries when he took his run. he's been on life support & a respirator for coming on a week now. they found a second set of bite marks - not just on his ankle, but his wrist, too. & now, pneumonia has set in. just where it's all going -- well, who knows really? God does, i suppose.

of course, He does.

i've been overcome with sadness - so sad for my friend his sister, his dad, his wife & kids. his patients, present & future. a tremendous sadness like one i've never felt. so many tears. it's been all i think about.

the prayers i've said - what i've said... please God, save his life. his work here on earth isn't finished. Jesus, raise him up like Lazarus -- i know you can. he's got so much more to do.

struggling, i called another friend this morning. my special phone-friend who helps me talk through difficult things. he's the kind of person who's a real truth meter, who i feel safe telling anything to.

SPOILER ALERT -- i'm one those "woo-woo" people. i guess you could say i have an open-minded approach to things i don't understand, & if that's a turn-off to some people -- sorry. but, writing this blog, i've got to keep it real. know what i mean?

so, i told him everything i've just told you. plus, that with how i'm so consumed with it, it's like i'm involved on such a personal level. my friend's brother & i knew each other in college. not well -- she was my roommate & he would come to visit, but i was always super-crazy about him. he was her younger brother, for heavens sake, so don't get the wrong idea. but there was something there. i'm not sure what, but it was something.

these overwhelming feelings of mine have to do with a past-life experience between us. i know it sounds weird, i can't explain it & i can't prove it, but it came over me with such sudden intensity, i knew it sure as chocolate when the words spilled out of my mouth to my friend on the phone.

i also felt like this past-life thing between my roommate's brother & me, my overwhelming feelings have to do with the fact that i was unable to save him before. unable to get there on time. like i said -- something. something deeper. it was personal.

praying - more like demanding that God save his life, my trying to impose my will on roommate's brother, how do i know what his will is for himself? And, what God's will is for him?

i don't. it's none of my business, really. it's their business. together.

& as soon as my phone-friend helped me understand this, i was able to give up my wanting to control. it wasn't immediate. it took a little while because i really want him to live. & i'm pretty stubborn.

but, a feeling of peace & calm came over me. it's what i've felt ever since.

control. i have none. over anyone but myself.

in case you think i'm giving up on prayer -- not a chance. those things i don't understand, i'm not always going to. faith. trust. it's what i have for now.

His will be done.

 

which are you? a back-row or a front-row person?

 
front row or back row person

me, i'm naturally a back-row person. it's a great place to hide so people won't bug you. sure, there's the occasional sadistic teacher who takes great merriment in calling on the back-rowers anyway, but it's a risk worth taking. i'm not the least bit competitive, either. plus, i'm not especially comfortable with public speaking-- think red face & throbbing neck muscles.

you get the picture.

it's how I spent my life, up until junior year in college when a light bulb came on.  hey...... i remember thinking. i'm as smart as those ass-kissers on the front row & if i sat up there, too & actually engaged, i'd probably get better grades, not to mention, i might actually learn something. so, i grudgingly hauled my little self to the front row where i steadfastly remain.

sometimes.

i migrated back there last weekend. the back row, i mean.

i was traveling. i'd been in san francisco visiting great friends. a really cool getaway that i really needed. i'm telling you, i'm either chained to this computer working or doing book promotion or whatever & it's damn exhausting. oh, boo-hoo, you're probably thinking. we all have jobs, so get over it.... you're right, but i just needed a minute to whine.

okay, i can continue now.

trips are really sweet until the last day when you have to get on a damn airplane. &, no, i'm not some sissy who's scared to fly-- i'm not --it's just a total drag. you know what i mean.

my friends dumped me off at the airport super-early. it was the husband's idea, go figure, so he could zip down to san diego & hang out with his friend, daniel. oh, it wasn't a big deal-- i loaded up on four packages of chocolate kit-kats, jumbo-sized, & waited a couple of hours for my flight to vegas where i'd have a little layover before my final leg home to austin. don't judge-- chocolate while traveling is essential.

then i waited some more because the flight was mega-delayed- you know the drill. i kept looking @ my watch, wondering if there'd be time to catch my connecting flight. at the airline desk, i found out that i'd be boarding soon & they had everything completely under control.

moments after getting my seatbelt fastened & tray table in the upright position, i was hustled off the plane, knowing that my luggage was flying to vegas without me.

i didn't get irritated, annoyed, grumpy-- none of those things. i went into back-row mode. survival mode. hunkered down.

it wasn't just me getting hustled off the plane, but about a dozen other people were in the same predicament. bringing up the rear, i followed them outside & waited half an hour in the scorching sun for a shuttle bus heading to san jose so we could catch a direct flight to austin.

a shuttle bus-- can you believe that? but, i stayed chill.

finally time to load up, this time i was first in line-- that's how you get a seat on the back row. brilliant, i know.

so, i settled in next to a swarthy little guy who smelled like pepperoni.

did i mention that i hadn't uttered a single word since i'd gotten to the airport? partly because my mouth was full of chocolate, but i seriously hadn't spoken at all & i planned to keep it that way. i'd need every ounce of strength i had if things got wild-- you never know, i might have to spring into action & commandeer the bus like sandra bullock in that movie speed. plus, i've seen the poseidon adventure & titanic.

this was when i began checking out everyone sitting in front of me- nonchalantly, you understand. we'd become a group now-- a little family. the 30ish woman with the braided ponytail & ball cap who never got off her iPhone. her snuggly boyfriend whose bald spot she stroked intimately with her free hand. the white-haired older woman with skin like powdered vanilla. i squinted to read the words tattooed down her arm-- "jesus loves you, but he loves me best."

i couldn't help watching one man in particular. i'd noticed him when we were standing on the sidewalk. you could tell just by looking @ him that he was a high school basketball coach with his broad shoulders & striped, collared t-shirt tucked neatly into his dress slacks-- that & the fact that he kept mentioning it in a crisp voice. i thought he was just being helpful before, & i'm sure he was, but now he was asserting himself as the alpha dog-- our self-appointed dad.

i could see mr. pepperoni to my right bristle when the man looked from face to face, assuring everyone that the bus should make it in time for us to catch our flight & to remain calm. then, mr. pepperoni said loudly, "i've been in this identical situation plenty of times before."

when not one person acknowledged him, his eyes darted in my direction, begging me to say something-- to please back him up & help him be daddy, as if we were forming alliances like on that old tv show survivor.

"can't help you, bud," my silence told him. "because if things get wild, ain't nobody gonna be daddy but me."

but, i'm not competitive-- that's what i told you, right?

it doesn't come naturally, i'm not going to lie-- but if the situation calls for it, i'll kick ass.

it's one of those things that comes with putting yourself out there. i'll never make it with this book promotion thing, otherwise.

what writers have to do is completely contrary to their nature. think about it-- writing is a solitary, holed-up, keep-to-yourself endeavor. then your book's published, & you have to actually tell people what it's about? book signings? okay, try this one-- reading passages out loud? like in front of real-live people?

egads.

but, crap-- what else are you supposed to do? hide on the back row?

trust me, it's crossed my mind.

you would've been really proud of me. @ my book launch, i got up in front of tons of people & read a whole chapter. i promise, it was a really short chapter. nobody likes an insufferable bore-- you know the type-- but i did it, & you know what? it wasn't fatal.

here's another one-- are you ready for this? i went on TV. got interviewed on this news show. me? seriously?

it's not how i want to spend every afternoon, & i'm not saying i was awesome, & no one else did either. there were a couple of cringe-worthy moments, plus the news anchor said i should've worn darker lipstick... but, hey-- i did it, & like i said-- it wasn't fatal.

tell you the truth, i learned a lot from the book i wrote. i made the heroine do tons of stuff she didn't want to do, so what type of hypocrite would i be, lounging on the back row 24-7 ?

i'm not perfect, & i still like it there for sure, but, everyday's ass-kicking time, don't you think?

'cause daddy's home.

TTFN

 

love letter

 

here's what an old friend said when i asked if they'd be attending our 25-year class reunion.

"if I wanted to see any of those people, i'd be doing it already, so why spoil it now?"

what a snotty comment to make, i thought to myself. well, okay - it's not like i'm exactly going to be nominated for the dali lama award either, because with regard to a few choice people, i understood completely what this friend was talking about... but, may i also mention that this friend is also a "facebook holdout?"

so, what's THAT about?

part of the reason... well, let's be honest -- i wasn't especially clamoring for a seat on the facebook bandwagon myself.

i remember the 1st time i heard about it.

"so, it's this awesome connectivity website," someone told me with breathless excitement, "where you put pictures & stuff on there about yourself!!!!"

"are you crazy?" i said. "i don't want people knowing all my personal crap, & i SURE don't want them looking @ my picture!"

& i wasn't just talking about sexual deviants & serial killers -- the whole "peeping tom" aspect in general bugged me. what i looked like, what i was up to, & what my personal views were on any given subject, not to mention my DOB was frankly, nobody's stinking business. when people kept nudging me, i'd smile pleasantly & say, "yeah, yeah, i'll get around to it."

like never.

then, someone said one day, "hey, i saw your facebook page."

"whatttttt??? that's impossible. i didn't put anything on there!"

"well, i guess someone did it for you," they said.

& the picture looked nothing like me at all....

mystery man

a disgruntled member of this new facebook club, i'd shake my head at the people who'd post every time they went to the bathroom. are these people that bored, i thought, or what? seemed like every photo was either someone's stupid cat, a unicorn or a rainbow. assorted inspirational drivel & the occasional rant about obama or quote from ann richards. took me about a year to give my 1st

like thumb

i've never exactly been a wallflower, so i finally decided to be a sport & shifted from voyeur to actual comment-er. messaged with cool people i hadn't talked to in forever, but my "presence" wasn't especially heavy-duty.

then, something strange happened.

a sweet old friend from high school who was kind of one of those bathroom-posters, well, her little grandson came early - super early. a very preemie-preemie in a life-or-death situation. everyone was riveted, watching picture after picture of the tiny little guy with an oxygen tube & IV's sticking out of him. every one of her updates had over a hundred likes & comments. she asked for prayers & she got them. from all of us. even when i wasn't online, i would think about them; i really came to adore him, & her, too.

& i realized something. this tiny little guy was a connector. he brought all of these people together toward a common goal. it was phenomenal, really. it truly was. & you know what? he got better. photo-by-photo, day-by-day, but he did, & now my friend's posts are of him playing with a huge, belly-laugh-smile on his face. & he's just so damn cute. had all of these people's prayers worked?

yes.

& as he got better, i felt like i did, too. everybody did.

the power of facebook

& the power of love.

so, that's why I'm writing this LOVE LETTER.

it's a love letter to facebook, definitely, but it's also a love letter to all of my old & dear friends who've welcomed me back into their lives.

i'm just so grateful for all the love & support you've given me.

in case you're reading this, thank you. really & truly, thank you.

see you tomorrow on facebook, i hope.

i wouldn't miss it.

TTFN

 

hey, forest - give me a piece of chocolate

 

       do you ever feel like you're in the right place @ the right time? like kind of strangely in the right place @ the right time? i do, & lately, it's been happening a lot because i've begun doing things differently. mama's got a brand new bag.

it's not a big deal. nothing more than following the things that are put in front of me -- no stopping to question them or falling into familiar analyze-mode. being in the moment is the key, really. with non-resistance. when you start trying, when you start thinking, that's when it becomes hard.

don't think? that's a new one, isn't it? then, how will you figure out what to do? that's the point. there is no figuring out. it's easy. be open to new things, old things - it's not important. just follow what's in front of you.

i'll say it again: in the moment. no thinking, with non-resistance.

the cool thing is that it moves you out of your comfort zone. maybe i should tell you what mine feels like -- it's super soft & cuddly, like a warm, snuggly bed that i really, really, really don't want to get out of. but this new way of doing things, that cozy comfort zone, wiggly stage fright or whatever else you want to call it becomes rearview-mirror.

this leads to that, that leads to this -- just follow the bread crumbs & next thing you know... the right place @ the right time.

you have arrived.

&, now here's a nifty little treat in the box -- you find yourself looking at things in a different way because there's an exciting new orbit you're operating in. & i truly hate dull, don't you?

i understand your reservations -- i get it, because it does take a little practice. here's a little tip to help you know what to follow. it's usually so damn obvious you could trip over it, but have you ever gotten the same message more than once? as if everyone seems to be saying the same thing, until it's practically being screamed in your ear with a megaphone? that's a good indication.

sometimes, it's just plain, old gut-instinct. just be aware.

no thinking. in the moment with non-resistance.

you'll know.

TTFN

 

#100dayshappy

100 days happy

as if I don't do enough social media without taking this on, too. i saw a post on twitter. maybe it was twitter. either that or Google+. the person who posted about #100dayshappy was a total stranger, so it couldn't have been facebook -- you get in big trouble on there for trying to friend peeps you don't know. it's not important how I know that.

so, anyway, this #100dayshappy is a thing -- a challenge, really -- that for 100 days, you're supposed to post a photo of something that made you happy that day. doesn't sound too hard, right? go on their site -- 100 Days of Happiness Challenge, i think it's called -- not too hard to find. site says the #1 excuse people make for not taking the challenge is that it'll take too much time. but who doesn't have time to be HAPPY, they want to know?

well, i probably usually don't. i mean, like hardly ever. well, maybe sometimes, that is if i'm not too busy on social media. hmmm-m. but perhaps this could actually HELP my social media situation. a "kill 2 birds," type-thing. sounds great, i said...

i'm IN!

day #1

0rose

day #1

pushing my cart through the grocery store when i saw these. perfect, right? stop & smell the roses... i was off to a GREAT start.

 

 

 

 

 

0jesus

day #2

cruising down the road with my 90-year-old aunt in san angelo, texas. not the kind of thing you see every day. or at least i don't.

 

 

 

 

0reece

day #3

driving to houston for a book signing. i never, & i mean NEVER go on a road trip - changing zip codes qualifies - without eating at least 4 of these. reason being, they make me happy.

 

 

 

 

 

0q

 

 

day #4

i was thinking about taking the photos a lot. kind of freakishly, now. @ maudie's, the tex-mex place around the corner from my house, people were beginning to whisper, why is that fruitcake taking a selfie of the trash can? i was beginning to wonder myself.

 

 

 

maudies

 

day #5

maybe i was having more fun than i thought. seemed like i was going out to dinner a lot, anyway. i ate there 2 nights in a row.

 

 

 

 

el arroyo

 

day #6

wheeling into downtown austin past the iconic changeable letters sign @ el arroyo restaurant on 5th street. had to get this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

stephen colbert

 

day #7

just when this new happiness thing was becoming a habit, i went & blew it. almost midnight & i had no photo for that day. watching stephen colbert on tv, i knew this was just the right thing!

so... 100 days happy is off to a great start -- stay tuned!

TTFN

 

the makeup artist

 
the makeup artist

a good friend of mine is one - a makeup artist. she's got a resume long as your arm - movies, mini-series, politicians on tv, all of that cool stuff, & she knows dishy gossip galore ...

celebs tell you a lot while you're an inch from their face, knowing that you're in charge of whether they look hellish or heavenly in front of the camera & they better not piss you off.

anyway, maybe i'm weird, but it's just that another meaning for the term "makeup artist" popped into my head when my friend & i were @ dinner last week.

wait a minute -- you're wanting to know if she's done johnny depp, right? dunno. i'll ask her & get back with you.

his makeup. get your mind out of the gutter.

so, anyway -- i was thinking that, couldn't a makeup artist be someone who's realllly good at making up after a fight?

like, within my dysfunctional family of origin, here's how it works. the only way you know someone's mad at you is when you get the silent treatment. the quiet game. whatever you want to call it, the phone doesn't ring.

until, one day...

hello? that's me.

how are you? pretend that's my sister. chipper tone. it’s been 3 months since we’ve spoken -- highly unusual because we talk all the time.

i'm good me again. neutral tone. notice how I didn’t say something snarky like, "oh, so we're talking now?" that would be poor form.

well, that's good. my sister again. see how she doesn't say, “i've been being a shit-turd,” or, heaven forbid, "i was wrong?"

guess what? still her.

you're absolutely NOT gonna believe it. it's her breathless, secret-confidential-gossipy, voice. the one i just love.

tell me. hear the smile in my voice? -- it's as if we simply set the phone down for a minute & we're picking up the same conversation we've had a million times before. & my sister & i are buds again.

she's the makeup artist.

& it's kind of messed-up, don't you think? but, that's how it's always been done. especially the part where there's no, "i'm sorry." but, maybe that's okay. i mean, we were taught to never tell a lie. if george washington would've chopped down the cherry tree in our front yard, you wouldn't want to be on the premises, trust me.

but, how about addressing the problem, talking things out -- you know, like a constructive, grown-up conversation? oh, hell no! nowadays, parents say, "use your words," which i find totally annoying & i want to pinch their ninny little heads off... but, you see, no one in my family is confrontational. what we had was more like a hit & run protocol. probably sounds strange, but then, maybe it doesn't -- you decide.

&, something else -- in all these years, it's always my sister who initiates these makeup calls. she's kind of a hot-head, & i'm what you'd call the roll-over type, but you probably figured that out already, but here's the thing -- when we're finally talking again, neither of us wants to spoil it. bringing up the reason we haven't been talking opens the possibility of another 3-month silent period, so where's the sense in that? besides, saying ugly words to each other is off limits -- it's our sister-code. ugly words, we reserve those for our mother. not the really bad ones we'd whisper to each other in our bathroom when we were growing up -- i mean, come on -- it's kind of lousy to say things like that about a white-haired, 5-foot-tall octogenarian.

anyway, i'd like to say my sister calls when it finally gets to the point where she misses me more than she's mad at me, which sounds all warm & fuzzy, but deep down, i know the true reason.

without me around, it'd be just her & our mom.

god, i love my sister.

you're wondering something, aren't you? who's older? it might surprise you.

TTFN

 

make your bed

 
make your bed

scenario: unexpected guest rings your doorbell. for some unknown reason, said guest enters your bedroom & your bed's not made. & it’s afternoon.

how does that make you feel?

mortified? humiliated? dreadfully ashamed that the cat’s out of the bag on your dirty little secret?

now, maybe it's none of the above, & you'd think to yourself, well, who gives a crap? & besides, what’s this nosy creep doing in my bedroom anyway?

but, if it's one of the first things, or even all 3, why is that?

now, i'm just throwing this out there -- it shows that you’re a slob. yeah, that’s probably part of it. especially if this person came back the very next day & saw the same thing.

but, the real reason? maybe a subconscious reason… you know deep inside that you don’t take care of TCB.

for you non-aretha fans, that means, take care of taking care of business.

why don’t we make our beds?

for me, sometimes i’ll think to myself, well – what the hey? i’m just getting back in there later… so what’s the point? besides, bed making has an extra-negative association with me. oh, boo-hoo, i know, but when i was growing up, it seemed like a daily test of perfection. rather, my non-perfection.

my mom was, and still is a total freak about the correct way to do it, & it drives me crazy. like totally nails-digging-into-my-palms, ape-shit crazy.

the blanket must be pulled to the correct distance from the top of the mattress – precisely 3” from the headboard, no more, no less. now, this next part with the sheet takes a little advance preparation, because the amount it must be folded down over the blanket must be that same 3”, because that is the exact measurement between the top edge of the sheet & its hemmed cuff.

it is also imperative that the amount of sheet & blanket hanging down the edge the mattress is equal on both sides. i'm talking completely equal, & if you’re incapable of eye-balling it, there’s a yardstick under the bed.

right next to the slide rule.

now, once they're devoid of the mere hint of wrinkles, it's time to tuck the sheet & blanket under the foot of the mattress. neatly.

oh, hell – i forgot to say that before you can put the blanket on top, the corners of the sheet have to be squared first, at strict 90 degree angles. if you forget this crucial step-- well, don’t, because, aye yai yai!

my mom will make you start all over.

i was always like, what's the big damn deal? why make an all-day event out of it? & for a total non-rule follower, like me who’s a little more free-style in my approach to life, & just about everything in it, i was thrilled beyond thrilled when i moved out on my own & could make the bed like i damn-well pleased, or, not at all, thank you very much.

which brings me to the next part of this story.

an old buddy of mine was “invited” to attend AA several years back -- strictly a stipulation of her probation, she said, but who really knows...

anyway, a really pitiful young woman in the group was horribly addicted drugs, & not the kind found on the shelves @ your neighborhood pharmacy. maybe you didn’t know this, but not everyone in AA is sober, & for her, it was a daily battle that she didn’t always win.

in a desperate state one day, the young woman stood up & completely bore her soul. heartbreaking. many years had passed when my buddy told me this story, & she said she'll remember it until the day she dies.

when the young woman sat down, the room was pin-drop silent for several moments.

until an older lady stood from her chair. easily sixty-five years old. honey, she said.

make your bed.

the young woman looked @ her dumbstruck. everyone else in the room, too. like, what a stupid & insensitive thing for the lady to say. but, she explained.

if you can do that, just that one, simple little thing, it starts your day off right & you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

hmmm-m

in case you think i'm going to sit here & tell you it solved all the young woman’s problems, i'm not, because i honestly don’t know -- & besides, if making your bed was the world’s best therapy for addiction, my mother would be running a halfway house -- but i have spent a fair amount of time contemplating the lady’s advice.

think about it -- to make your bed, you have to get out of it first, & for some of us, some days, that may not be all that easy to do.

plus, after going to all that trouble, you’re going to think twice before crawling back in it, right? not only that, but by starting your day doing something you’re not all that fired-up about doing & find out it's not fatal, you know you can do it the next day, too.

i started this blog post this morning. in my head, that is, mulling over the lady's advice as i sipped my coffee while looking down @ the rumpled, twisted blankets on my bed. hell, no, i don’t make my bed every day – i think we’ve already covered that (nice pun). but, as i took extra care smoothing the wrinkles from the comforter & arranging my fancy pillows on top, i knew that not only would i be good & damn ready if some nosy creep happened to wander back into my sanctuary, i had a feeling that it was a good start to a pretty great day.

&, i was right.

TTFN

 

he makes me better

 
he makes me better

i met him in our very first class on our very first day of high school. kind of a genius. he'd be the first one to tell you that. also, kind of goofball. he'd be the first one to tell you that, too. in fact, he pretty much reveled in it.

tall, hilarious & outrageous, it didn't take long till we were like jenny & forest.

what would we have thought back then if we'd seen this historic picture? I know I'd have been surprised. him, I don't think so.

his name is mark, & he was going to be president of the sophomore class.

 

that's what he said. i had my doubts.

especially when he got on stage dressed as uncle sam for his campaign skit.

blue & white striped, high-water pants, red bow-tie with matching suspenders, plus a ridiculous, foot-tall abe-lincolnesque top hat -- pasted all over with white stars. not exactly what you'd call cool.

but, that's what high school is supposed to be all about, right?

not really. not if you're mark.

he had something far better. confidence. it's one of the main things that drew me to him. i mean, opposites attract, right?

but, did he win? that's what you really want to know.

not even close. but, let's not focus on that, or the fact that he lost junior year, too -- there's more important parts of the story.

senior year came along.

"we'll be running-mates, martha," he said. "me, president, you, vice-president. it'll be great -- you'll see."

i wasn't so sure. besides, me running for class officer?

my opponent, the ever-smiling, everybody's buddy & champion gymnast, gerald martin did flip-flips across the stage to thunderous applause. all my skit amounted to was someone throwing a whipped-cream pie in my face.

oh, the head-shaking irony.... yes, i know.

but, mark? it was hello, mr. president.

now, please don't think for a second that i was bitter. are you kidding? nobody was happier than me. i was grateful mark was my friend & thankful, because i knew that because of him -- well, he made me better.

here we are, all these years later, & nothing's changed. he's been mr. president for years now. his own huge company, enough accolades to fill that foot-tall, abe-lincolnesque top hat many times over, not to mention richer than God.

& me? this past week, i achieved a lifetime goal. maybe you noticed that the count-down date for "The Most Exciting News on the Planet Earth," on the sidebar has expired.

that's right -- my 1st published novel, painting juliana is finally out, glory hallelujah!

who do you think threw me a book launch celebration? who was standing there to introduce me, propping me up with pride & adoration? well, it wasn't gerald martin.

he makes me better

 

& in case you're reading this, mark, my cherished, loyal friend, thank you.

even in four-inch heels, i'm still looking up to you.

you make me better.

TTFN

 

night owl

 
 
nightowl

whooooo

whooooooo

me.

guilty as charged.

i think sleeping is so boring.

i do — i mean, it’s just not that thrilling to me.

maybe if i remembered my dreams i could write them down in a dream journal or something — that might be cool, but to me, the best thing about sleeping is waking up & having my lunchtime coffee.

yeah, i know — sleep deprivation is supposed to be bad for you. that know-it-all ariana huffington of the huff post — it’s her new thing she’s touting. wrote a book about how it was causing serious problems in her life. i saw her talking about it on marieTV, btw - look it up on youtube… marieTV is my idol marie forleo’s show, & don’t think it's all stuffy just because she had ariana on. besides, i'd never watch a show like that.

sorry — i just had to get off on that for a second.

okay, back to ariana. am i spelling that right?

in case not, let’s call her AH. okay – seems AH was taking her daughter to look @ colleges – excuse me, institutions of higher learning …. places in paris, rome, barcelona & bejing, no doubt. anyway, her daughter goes, listen mom — i absolutely insist you leave your blackberry in the hotel room & only check it @ night — which i'm sure to AH was right up there with cutting off her left boob, or something.

so, in the middle of the night, AH wakes up face-down on her keyboard with a huge, bleeding gash on her forehead. it was her wake up call. did you like that one? i couldn't resist.

hearing this, i told myself, all right, all right… i get the picture. but were there any changes on my part?

hell to the no.

then my mom called last week. you know, martha, she said, we’re both vain & care about how we look.

okay…

& not getting enough sleep is going to age you.

so, what are you trying to say, mom, i said, that i looked like i was 90 when you saw me a couple of weeks ago?

well, i didn’t say that, dear, but not getting enough sleep causes bags under your eyes & it won’t be long until they begin to sag.

say what?

i stared at my reflection in my computer screen, as i’ve been known to do on occasion. my mirror is in my bathroom, but that would take actually getting up from my computer.

&, you know, dear, she couldn’t help saying, that means your cheeks, too.

why do i even answer my phone sometimes?

i went to dinner with a couple of close friends on friday — the kind that you dispense with the pleasantries like, how’s your dog & get straight to the nitty-gritty. when i told them the situation, you know what one of them said?

martha, if that’s the time you’re most productive, just do it & stop beating yourself up.

exactly why i love this friend.

but my mom’s declaration that i’ll soon be looking like an old hag was still looping in my brain. not only that, but although my friend is a night owl, too, she’s also 20 years younger than i am.

so here’s what I’m going to try tonight. or rather, tomorrow morning: the mere thought of it gives me the riggers, but 1:00 am will be beddy-bye time.

i’ll let you know how it goes.

TTFN

 

what is art?

 
 
0Art

 

essential.

it made me cry tonight. like with tears rolling down my cheeks.

that's the thing about art -- it makes you feel.

because art is an interactive experience.

that probably sounds heavy, i know, but you didn't see the dance performance that I saw tonight.

think how staring at a magnificent painting can make you feel, reading an incredible piece of literature or listening to a symphony & maybe you'll understand.

it was modern dance -- the kind that some people would say, that's not dance, just because it's not conventional. the dancers were male and female, different shapes, sizes, & colors, but none of that mattered. it was the dramatic emotion they were able to convey that was important. with just the dynamic movement of their bodies set to music, the dancers were able to make me understand things i never had before.

the art was that powerful.

i'll never forget the night i went to a concert -- it was a beatles cover-band, so i thought i knew what to expect -- a little "eleanor rigby" & "love me do," but it was so much more. the music lit me up in such a way that i couldn't wait to get home & write.

i set my computer keys on fire that night, & the story ideas & word combinations were so exciting -- well, i didn't come up with them all by myself.

have you ever seen ballet performed to hard rock? i have, & it changes the experience entirely, in a way that's damn cool. it's the unexpected that makes you consider things in a whole new way. & that's good.

so, yes -- art is an interactive experience that inspires the expression of the human soul.

no kidding.

TTFN

 

larger than life

 
 
0larger

a dear friend of mine was having a special birthday -- you know one of those dreadful birthdays with a zero at the end?

anyway, i was lucky enough to be invited to the party.

the hostess asked everyone to bring a story of their favorite memory of the birthday boy, because it's a shame that people usually only do that at funerals. totally rotten timing for the corpse, not to mention a being a tad anti-climatic.

& this story -- you weren't just supposed to jot something down on a napkin -- you were supposed to like think about it & actually print it out. then @ the party, everyone took turns reading the stories while the birthday boy tried guessing whose was whose.

this took a while -- I hang out with a bunch of writer-ly types, some of whom are rather VERBOSE, and you know who you are...

anyway -- my friend is a super cool-cat. one of those guys all the women want & all the men want to BE? you know the type -- they kind of make you vomit a little bit because they're so damn awesome, but not this guy. several people, myself included, mentioned the fact that not only is he tall, dark & handsome with perfect hair, no less - but he was also his high school valedictorian, lead singer & guitarist in a punk rock band -- I mean a groundbreaking performer, used to play at raul's on the drag & even LA (how rockin' is THAT?),

he's also a best-selling novelist & an accomplished historian. oh - & a kick-ass lyricist, bass player & showman. plus, he's funny as hell & that humor comes out in everything he does. & i probably left half-a-dozen things out.

& he's a loving & devoted husband & father. couldn't leave that part out, because that's the most important thing of all.

so, anyway -- one day, he up & decides he wants to become an artist. like a month later, & i'm seriously not kidding, he's showing in a gallery on south congress avenue. not too shabby. next thing, he becomes a blues-man. changes his whole musical schtick, pulls out the standing bass -- you know one of those huge things, like a 10-foot-tall guitar - & starts composing & yowling like muddy waters or something. if muddy waters was like somebody you could actually stand listening to. you know what I mean.

many of the stories said my friend is a master of reinventing himself.

yeah, that's right, everybody nodded & said.

then, another story said something profound. or, at least it was to me.

that my friend wasn't reinventing himself, he was simply calling upon parts of himself that were there inside him all along.

it makes it sound sort of easy, doesn't it?

easy enough for anyone to do it, right?

i guess in the back of my mind i was thinking.... hmmm. i've always wanted to be a potter. not a stoner. i mean like throwing pots. ceramics, okay? i seriously imagine myself doing it. sounds like fun, you know? wouldn't have to get all artistic -- lopsided pots can look kinda cool, in an avant garde sort of way....

you've got something like that in mind for yourself, i'll bet.

come on, yes you do.

i don't mean self-improvement especially. more like self-enhancement. making yourself larger than life.

or, how about larger inside your life?

just a little something to think about.

because i sure am.

TTFN

 

pennies

 
 
pennies

a friend of mine picks them up every time she sees one & she sees them a lot.

she was going through a hard time many years ago. she moved back to her hometown from los angeles. her family needed her.

this was the 80's. you remember the 80's, right?

the decade from hell, according to my friend, & not just because of the unfortunate fashions. jobs were scarce & she couldn't find one. so, she did what most of us seem to do when we're in trouble. she talked to God.

I mean really talked to him while she'd be out taking a walk.

that's when she started seeing pennies. lots of pennies.

she'd bend down & pick them up off the sidewalk & slip them in her pocket.

soon, she noticed it wasn't only on the sidewalk she'd see them. it seemed like they were everywhere.

sitting on a windowsill.

on top of the morning paper outside her door.

pennies.

a flicker in the grass would catch her eye. she could see it from a mile away.

beautiful, copper pennies.

sparkling in the sun. like they were following her.

she got some spotty temp jobs, a demeaning stint peddling yellow-page ads. she had to sell some of her things, but somehow, she always made rent. & she knew she had a lot to be grateful for.

she pulled up to a traffic light. there on the pavement next to her car.

a penny.

she opened the door.

hello there, she said. you're so pretty & shiny, & i know you've been working hard all of your life & you've got to be tired. why don't you let me give you a lift?

as she picked it up and looked down at it in her palm, she remembered something.

she'd sucked her thumb when she was little. it's how she comforted herself, always wrapped up in the same soft, satin-edged blanket.

& like kids do, she gave her blanket a name.

penny.

that's when she knew what they all meant.

the pennies were God's way of comforting her now. letting her know everything wasn't going to just be okay, it already was okay.

now, if you're thinking i'm making this up, or that I swiped it off the back of readers digest, or that my friend's a wackadoodle, which she's not, just work with me & listen to the rest of the story. okay?

do you always pick them up, i asked her.

the 1st penny was over 30 years ago & even now, she finds one almost every single day.

absolutely, she said. of course.

what do you do with them? i imagined them spilling over her flowerbeds at home.

lots of them are in piggy banks, & regular banks, too, she said, because she's traded lots of them in. but, she also has books & books of them under her bed. she'll tape them to the pages and write a little something alongside. like where she found them.

& how she was feeling that day, before she found them & after.

she's been seeing the same penny on her drive to work. right in the middle of a busy street & she sees it again on her way home, too. twinkling on the pavement, it seems to wink at her.

it's been several weeks now, in the middle of all those cars whizzing by & the penny hasn't moved.

freaky, huh?

all right, remember that line from grease? somebody's got to say it, so i guess it's got to be me.

"see a penny, pick it up. all day long you'll have good luck."

i think it sounds like a spectacular idea. don't you?

TTFN      & for anyone who doesn't know what that means, it's ta-ta for now.




 

yes, i am OCD

 
 
yes, i am OCD

i hear it a lot.

the voices inside my head tell me.

the television, too -- when i'm watching that show hoarders.

but mostly, it's my computer who lets me know. you see, i'm obsessed with my website. maybe you've seen it -- http://www.marthalouisehunter.com

maybe that was a shameless plug, but my fingers just type that uncontrollably. my dog, bitsey thinks i'm weird at night when i start typing it on her head in my sleep.

maybe you don't realize it, but all of this social media stuff is a pain in the ass.

yes, i said it, & you can even tattle on me for cursing, because at this point, i really don't care.

this site of mine -- jeez louise, martha louise, -- it's so time-consuming, you wouldn't believe it. well, maybe you would, but here's the thing that's really the worst. have you ever noticed when you pull up a website on your phone, it's an adorable little mini-version of the one on your computer?

did you think it shrinks down like that like magic?

there's not a little genie in your phone. it's me.

it takes hours upon hours to get it right. not only do things move around all over the place, sometimes you lose them altogether. you should've seen me searching for the stupid amazon icon earlier. poor little thing was hiding underneath the little twitter bird.

this one time, i changed one teensy-weensie thing & my face looked like gertrude stein.

so, next time you look at something online, give a big old "you're AWESOME" to the little computer geek who made it all happen.

omg, i'm ocd... look @ the time. seriously? it's 3:25 a.m.

i know my posts routinely have typos, but this time, seriously -- get over it.

TTFN


 

casino a-go-go

 
0casino

gambling makes no sense, but these places are packed, i'm telling you.

i've heard they pump casinos with oxygen to cause subtle mind control. i looked it up  online to see if that's true.

the answers were mixed. a couple of sites say no, but ask.com says they do it to keep people awake so they won't wander off to bed in the early hours of the morning.

even if it's not true, SOMETHING'S going on & it's working.

here's what happens: you sit down at the slot machines -- the one-armed-bandits. you load in your dinero & keep pulling down the handle even though you're losing your ass. but, I've just GOT to win, you think. I've already lost so much that it's only fair.

now, repeat after me: nothing @ the casinos is fair.

i mean, come on! everything is rigged. how could they afford to have a million tuxedoed blackjack dealers & scantily-clad cocktail waitresses swarming the place, otherwise, not to mention those rows and rows of flashing slot machines?

here was my personal low-point of the weekend.

oh, sorry -- i was @ a schmancy casino in lake charles, louisiana & i forgot to tell you that part.

i plopped down in front of "pharaoh's fortune." there was another machine called "kitty glitter" -- like kitty litter, get it? a little casino humor there.

& about those scantily-cocktail waitresses -- you have to feel sorry for them, forced to dress like a bunch of hookers in head-to-toe gold sequins with 4 inches of cleavage & their belly buttons hanging out, because they're really sweet people & don't deserve that. i became BFF's with a few of them while i was losing my ass, but I'm getting ahead of myself, here.

i finally won $200 with one pull of the handle. old pharaoh threw me a bone.

woo-hoo, i thought, but like a total doofus, instead of taking my golden tokens to the money cage, cashing in & calling it a night, i kept going until i lost every cent.

so, why is that considered fun?

must be the risk. like jumping out of an airplane.

or maybe it's not oxygen that's pumped into the air, but stupid-elixir.

or it could be plain old peer pressure -- you are surrounded by masses of idiots, after all.

and, we sure had a good time.

TTFN