Being Martha Louise Hunter

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

 

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

 

 

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.

 

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

 

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.