Time Traveling

During every round of household excavations, i find something that stops me in my tracks.  This time?  No exception.

Viciously tearing through bookshelves heaving with excess, i was in good form.  Thirty year old textbook on “Plastics Engineering”?  POOF!  That “Principles of Modern Physics” that tortured me for an entire year of undergraduate studies?  Get outta my life, Drs. Halliday and Resnick!  Paperback novels bought in airports over the past few decades of travel?  Banished to the thrift store box!  Find a new home!

On the same shelf?  A small book of poetry.  A gift, long forgotten.  Opening the cover i discovered the handwritten inscription from 1978.

To Daisyfae –
Finding an old book is like reliving the past.  As the dust is swept away by the hand, the mind recalls memories of different times and old friends.
Merry Christmas!
With love,
Jenny

As if my excavations weren’t slowed enough?  A book of photographs – with the following written inside the cover:

Daisyfae,

Well, the day we’ve looked forward to for so long is finally here… May 18th, 1980, better known as the day we graduate.  I don’t know where we’ll be ten years from now.  I do know you were one of my dearest friends in high school (that’s four long years), and that we went through our “formative” years together.  Also that if I can’t remember your name when I’m old and grey it doesn’t matter, because our paths have crossed, and each will be forever different because they did.  We’ll never forget each other because we’ve grown and changed together.

Keep reaching for that higher plane, and always remember the simplistic beauty of the laughter we’ve shared.

Love Always,

Jenny

My evening of excavations was delightfully derailed as i tripped back to a time when i was angst-ridden and alive… So much of the goofy-assed, drunken, bon vivant that i happen to be these days can be traced back to those four incredibly formative years – with Jenny and Jeff as my best friends.

When we went to different universities in 1980, we lost touch.  The next time i spoke with Jenny?  i tracked her down in 1986 to tell her Jeff had died.  She knew why i was calling as soon as she heard my voice.

After that?  Another brief reconnection ten years ago, as i was in southern California on a business trip.  We had found each other by e-mail a few months prior, and planned to meet for dinner.  Our lives had taken decidedly different paths, but we were able to pick up the conversation as if we’d been in constant contact through the years.

Her route?  From teaching English literature in the Los Angeles public schools, she followed a path that led to law school, and eventually to private family law practice.  She was delighted to find that i’d survived the dark years and managed to follow my girlish dream of being a scientist.  Not quite astronaut, but we both considered it a success in that i hadn’t been found dead in a gutter.

After finding the inscribed books, i grabbed a beer, and set about a “missing person” search.  Found her.  Sent an e-mail to let her know that as an 18 year-old, she’d successfully managed to reach forward in time.  i also thanked her for being such an erudite little shit that she could reach in and play with my heart from so far away – in time and distance.

time traveling

Here’s to old friends.  Here’s to time travel.

Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle

About 3 years ago, i wrote about a reconnection with a long-time friend, JK.  We’d found each other again after a solid gap of five years — and vowed not to let so much time pass between our conversations.

Well… Three and a half is less than five, so i guess we kinda sorta almost got it right.

Known for his brusque style and ability to follow through on projects, he carried a massive workload before he retired.  He was one of my first, and probably most frustrated, mentors.  We made quite a team back in the day!  Me in the miniskirts and stilettos stumping for funding.  Him doing all of the detail work, and keeping me from overselling the science.

Since our last conversation…

He’s finished up the renovation of his home on a lake, more than doubling the size.  Still has the sailboats, he had to give up competing in the national regattas because he’s blown out his knees.

Still painting… “I’ve got about 48 unfinished canvases in my studio”. 

Gardening is now a larger part of his life…  “You oughta see the size of my cucumbers!”

Filling him in on my adventures over the past few years?  On my second motorcycle.  Added a third gentleman to the rotation.  Continuing to attempt to learn to ski – and failing miserably.  Horseback riding lessons have been more rewarding – and far less painful.  Certified as a Master SCUBA diver last year.

JK:  SCUBA?  One of my brothers is pretty serious about that.  I’ve always been curious.

daisyfae:  It’s easy on the joints!  i’ll dive with you…

JK:  …

daisyfae:  And don’t you dare say it!  Don’t you DARE!  i dive with folks in their 60’s and 70’s!

We’ve each got daughters living abroad – mine in Turkey, his in Central America.  Sons pursuing arts and trades.  Everyone healthy.  Balanced lives – at least for the moment.

As we were planning our next lunch, and i prepared to go back to the office, he mentioned that his son is a finalist in the International Glass Prize competition in Belgium.

JK:  I don’t have much presence on the internet.  I don’t “tweet” or facebook or anything.  It’s some ‘popular opinion’ prize, in addition to the adjudicated prizes.  He could win grants, fellowships and shit…

The plan?  To continue the conversation in his double kayak once the weather warms up a bit.  i’m pretty sure i can talk him into taking out the sailboat again, too…

There are some remarkable works here – and if you feel compelled to cheer for a very talented young man, his work is entitled “Bottle”.  One vote per unique ip address…

Mirror, mirror…

An unexpected visit from an old friend this week – she was flying into town on other business and took the opportunity to stop in and catch up a little.

We met somewhere along the way in our tweens – middle school, maybe?  Got much closer in late high school, and stayed connected through the college years and beyond.  We had an opportunity to meet last September, when she came to town for the 30th high school reunion.

Smart, accomplished, insightful and carrying the sort of professional responsibility that can break lesser souls.  She’s a police chief.  To me?  This is unimaginable stress, but she was born to do it.  Speaking of stress?  She birthed triplets almost 7 years ago, and is a devoted mother.

She arrived Thursday, after my busted business trip this week, and the ensuing lack of sleep… also lacking sleep due to her own set of airline travel disruptions due to weather.  We talked late into the night, through the exhaustion, over a couple of beers.  The sort of stream of consciousness babble that only old friends can manage…

Demons were presented, dissected, and studied.  Some old, some newer.  And a few still spewing fire, and hacking at us with sharp claws.

Discussing the perils of alcohol, and youth.  Binge drinking is a tremendous challenge to law enforcement officers, and she just dealt with an alcohol fueled death of a teenager.  i talked about my own challenges – dating back to the high school years.  And those of The Boy.  How i learned to manage them.  That he’s doing better…

daisyfae:  i had to learn my triggers. Know when i was susceptible.  Moments of stress, combined with a drinking environment.  But the key trigger?  Being with those few friends i trust with my life – knowing they will have my back when i lose the ability to make a rational decision.  i established ‘rules’ for myself.  Awareness.  i told those trusted friends what to watch for – lest they end up dealing with my sorry drunk ass again…  It works.

We continued the conversations the next day, digging in on our emotional walls.  Quite similar in our emotional inaccessibility, we have developed different strategies.  She has committed to one person – one alone has been let inside the fortress, and there shall be no others.  My approach?  Arms length, and a stiff arm at that.  Multiple companions, each with a built-in “barrier to committment”, i’m adept at keeping people out.

daisyfae:  To keep that distance, i’ve established some boundary conditions, in addition to those “barriers to commitment”.  Rule One has always been “no one spends the night”.  If you start having breakfast together?  It becomes all ‘relationshippy’.  Too intimate.  Too much like playing house. 

Chief K:  As long as you’re honest with all of them, I guess no one gets hurt.

daisyfae:  It’s part of the overall strategy, and seems to work.  So why have i invited Mr. X to stay over Saturday?  Not really just because he lives out-of-town… i think i’m reconsidering my rules.  Maybe it’s stupid and artificial, and i’m just kidding myself?

Chief K:  Rules aren’t always a bad idea.  You have the rules you place on yourself to avoid binge drinking…

daisyfae:  Yeah, that’s different.  That’s just to keep myself from getting hurt…

Chief K:  Ummm…. Yeah…

Social network angst….

Facebook is a pretty fucked up place in the universe.  i liken it to attending my own funeral – people from many aspects of my life are present.  Work, childhood, theater, family, the blogosphere.  Oh, and then they start interacting.  Weird, to say the least.  i’ve got a cousin, whom i hadn’t seen in years, who has a slight crush on one of my gentlemen friends.  Ok, so it’s weird and a little kinky, too…

Randomly, over the past weekend, i’ve had “friend requests” from many folks who are either just getting involved in Facebook world, or are just getting around to finding me and sending the request… Killing some time whilst cooking up an industrial size vat of adzuki beans and wild rice, i went to the home page of one of my newly rediscovered old friends.

BF and i have a 30 year history.  When i moved to town to attend the local university in 1980, we met through a mutual friend, and immediately hit it off.  She was a single mother of two young sprogs, in her early 30’s, and i was an 18 year old full of the ‘throw down party girl’ spirit.  But we got along well.  i’d babysit for her kids, then she’d come home and we’d get drunk as skunks together. 

Music was another connection, as we’d play guitars and sing.  And drink.  And be really stupid.  She was just the sweetest woman i’d met, and she seemed to have infinite patience for her young, stupid and wild friend. 

i moved in with my now ex-husband.  She met, and married a younger man, and moved to Colorado.  My husband and i rented her house, since it was a great bargain, and a chance to get out of the student-infested apartments we’d been living in for a year.  Later, we went on to purchase the house.  That was where we brought The Girl home from the hospital a few years later.  Our first home, it had also been her “re-starter” home after her divorce. 

Fast forward another decade, and BF and her husband return to the area.  We both had sons around the same age, and her husband and i coached a softball team, while our male offspring beat balls with aluminum bats for three summers.  Once again, almost two decades after meeting, our families entwined.

Over the past few years, we’d get together for the occasional lunch, catching up on family and other friends.  Professional frustrations were at the forefront the last time we met – for both of us – but all that was trumped with the unexpected death of her father, and a young cousin within days of each other.

That was about a year ago, and i’m now living only about a mile away from her home.  Yesterday, she’d “friended” me on Facebook, and i took a few moments to look at her profile tonight, with the intention to send a note and see if she wanted to get together soon to catch up on the past couple years.

And there it was:  BF is a member of Grassfire.org: Join the Patriotic, Resilient, Conservative Resistance, and the local TEA Party organization.   All of which are somewhat counter to my personal political wiring diagram at the moment… But the killer?  She  is a fan of Sarah Palin.

i can deal with well-thought, conservative positions, grounded in principle and logic.  Yes.  i believe they exist.  In my heart?  i’m a centrist, with nowhere to go. 

But i really struggle with “stupid”, from any source, and Ms. Palin is the epitome of “dumber than a bag of hammers”, combined with “incompetent and unaware of it”.  As a woman in a leadership position?  She sets us all back to the stone ages, and i have a deep and abiding disgust for the woman…

(sigh)

Will still arrange lunch with my old friend.  But will steer far and wide from any discussions that might bring us toward uncomfortable topics…  She was patient with me, and i owe her no less over a difference of opinion.

Past Blasting…

Had a ‘down day’ Saturday – due to the cold weather outside and an unexpected crush of estrogen imbalance inside.  Finally got around to accepting the “facebook”* invites i’d been getting from friends** and family members… Within about an hour, i was in touch with a good friend from childhood.  i’d met him when we were nine years old, and we were friends through about 10th grade when i dropped out of band…  He got me connected to my best friend from 7th grade within another hour…

The efficiency was astounding!  She and i yakked back and forth until quite late.  She dropped out of school in 10th grade, and was headed into some serious darkness – drugs, fast living and all that.  i was astonished to find her yesterday, happily working a management job, living in the suburbs with a smokin’ hot hubby, raising four kids and a GRANDBABY?  Huh?  She’s MY AGE?  WTF?

But the words flowed as if we’d never lost connectivity…

In our formative years, she and i got in deep trouble for our work as editors of the 8th Grade Mid-Year Literary Magazine, “Santa’s Shorts”.  Instead of being light and fluffy – as the title would suggest – most of the shit we collected was dark, acne-encrusted pre-teen angst. Kidnappings, runaways, abusive parents and young love misunderstood by the oppressive parental units…  Oops.  The School Board eventually got over it, but we were bonded for life as rebels… seeking to push the boundaries of artistic freedom to obliterate censorship.  Oh, and smoke as much ganja as two girls could ingest without collapsing like fleshy black holes into our very own navels…

Even more fun?  i had rabid “homely hippie chick lust” for her twin brother (sigh).  Beyond dreamy, he was the quiet, stoner-intellectual.  Dry wit, long hair and a closet full of anarchist t-shirts – what’s not to love?  We’ve already swapped some e-mails, and i’m looking forward to seeing where he’s been for the last 30 years.  And if he still likes hippie chicks…

Funny how it works, though.  We are who we were.  Crustier of soul and doughier of body.  How much do we really change?

"New Orleans? You were SUCH a bead-slut..."

"Remember New Orleans? You were SUCH a bead-slut..."

* i think with the addition of so many of us “old folks” out there in the social networking world, suspect that the young ‘uns will abandon it for implanted RFID chips + GPS tracking and virtual reality software… or whatever the next thing shall be…

** Theater folks love facebook… i went from zero to 60 friends in just over 24 hours… Trippy…