The Whole World

My dad used to knock on my door in the mornings and say, “It’s a jungle out there. The whole world’s ahead of you.” There’s a double entendre in that. The whole world is full of opportunity. The jungle part made it pretty clear though that he meant everyone else is winning the race while I’m still in bed. No wonder I have anxiety issues. Yesterday morning I was invited to go to a yoga class at the Japanese Friendship gardens in Balboa Park. This is how I started my day—balancing on one leg in tree pose while koi floated underneath me. When on my back in bridge pose, I could see the giant goldfish float by in my peripheral vision. While in supine twist, I watched watched the glittering of the reflected light on the ceiling. In shavasana, I listened to the waterfall.


While in shavasana, I plan my day….

Okay, I’ll be honest, while in shavasana, I planned out my day like I always do. Shavasana is where I get some of my best thinking done. There is no time for relaxing and reflecting. I did all those things above, and appreciated the beauty, but I also start thinking about that whole world that is ahead of me while I’m lying prone and I can’t help but make preparations.

One of the many things I planned was to go to this yoga class every Monday through May before I leave for my summer in New York. I also planned to write a short, maybe 100-200 word, blog post every week. Just a few thoughts. I used to do a blog on The Better Half of My Life. Then the better half caught up with me and I couldn’t stay the course. I’ll write some more of that, but some more about pies, and some more about writing, and some more about my anxiety and maybe even some pieces about my dog.

Today, what I’m thinking about: the book project I’m collaborating on and how it seems it will never be finished, my mom’s death, my Nancy Drew novel, and another proposal I need to write. All anxiety inducing. All part of the jungle that I will never be able to slash my way through without it growing up again faster than I can whack through.

The Whole World’s Ahead of Me!

Obituary Blog

My last post was so long ago, November! So much has happened in the meantime. But I wanted to stop in here and write about an idea I'm thinking of starting. Two ideas, actually:

1. A place for Ordinary Obits. I miss the old fashioned obituaries at the back of newspapers. I don't get newspapers delivered anymore. I read both the LA Times and the New York Times online now. Sure, celebrity obits are still rampant, but not for the cool folks who lived a good hard life and they are remembered for being the ceramist to the stars, or playing in the mariachi band at JFK's inauguration. These are the folks' obituaries I want to see if I can hold a place for. Maybe here? Or at least start here. Not sure how this will work.

2. Graveyard Gossip. My Death Cafe friend, Karen Van Dyke and I are avid cemetery walkers, and we have the most delightful talks while we wander the gravestones. I walk the graveyards of New England and other parts of the world when I travel. We are thinking about starting a podcast of these talks. I will like to post those here too. Stay tuned. We are due for a walk soon.

These are what are inside my mind right now. I'm busy on book tour. I'm doing the usual book stuff, but I also have some fun "death panel" gigs with Susan Henderson, author of Flicker of Old Dreams. We have been touring together and sharing our love of death. Or, let's say we love to open the discussion of death so that folks aren't so afraid of talking about it. Death is scary enough as it is without going into it without someone to talk to or hold their hand. Or have a few laughs with. We, my death friends and I (Karen, Sue, and others) want to do that--be there. Until we can't. 

Graveyards, Cemeteries and Necropolises.

I had to look up the plural for necropolises. Necropoli? Nope, necropolises. The etymology is Greek, not Latin. Or maybe it's other way around. I know it's not Anglo-Saxon because those Vikings just tossed the bodies overboard. 

Do you ever walk through a cemetery? Maybe read the tombstones? Do you ever wonder about the dead laid out, their stories? Everyone has a story, especially the dead.

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I read the gravestones and gather stories.

My memoir opens at a gravesite. A necropolis, actually. The largest pre-Colombian necropolis in the world. Maybe this is where I got my love for walks through cemeteries. I don't mean the sneaking around after dark and after hours. I prefer the quiet meandering walks along the hilly, grassy graveyards on a bright and sunny day. I read the gravestones and gather stories. The story that repeats itself in my head every time is who are the people, mostly women, who so willingly put their name next to their dead husband's with a blank end date? I want to know what happened when I see a grave with the husband’s year of death say 1953 and the wife’s date of death is still left blank when her birthdate is 1899. It’s unlikely she is still alive. So, did wifey hook up a new guy somewhere around 1955 and leave her dead husband for, well, dead? Is she buried across the cemetery with another guy? Is there any guilt in that? I mean, besides the betrayal, the promise broken, there must be at least a little guilt for the extra money spent for the engraving on her first husband’s tomb, money that was wasted. Or was it all for naught? Did she never intend to be buried with him? Was it her final act of defiance? Was it his final act of control? Did he insist she be buried next to him and she reluctantly agreed? Or maybe she never imagined she would meet someone else. When Hubby #2 comes along she never knew she could have it so good. She’d been with Hubby #1 starting in  her teens and well into her 50s. Suddenly this new guy gives her a whole new lease on life.

Do the kids approve? Are they thinking, Mom, you promised Dad! Or maybe they are glad, maybe they fixed her up with Hubby #2 because Dad was an asshole. Maybe they are relieved to see her living out her old age with a fun guy who takes her swing dancing and on cruises. Or maybe he teaches her about literature and good wine. Or she teaches him and he’s a willing student unlike the jerk she was married to before.

Or maybe she moved away. Her kids lived in North Carolina and after Dad kicked off she was still young and vital and they had bushel of grandkids that needed day care so they moved her east to an unfamiliar place. Maybe they promised her they’d bury her back in that graveyard when she died, but she didn’t die for another 40 some odd years and everyone had forgotten both promises by then, or by then they figured it wouldn’t make a bit of difference if she was lying next to the dried up corpse of her husband. Or maybe, that was just it—who wants to be laid out next to a sack of bones? Maybe she had a better life after his death. But I still wonder if the one left alone was forgotten. 

I wonder about all of the stories that waft over the cemeteries I walk through. I always stop into a cemetery when I’m traveling. I visit my local cemeteries regularly. So many stories that come from what I quite literally stumble across. I’ll probably share more of those here. Cemetery Blog.

Will you go? Will you tell me what you find?  


My Hats

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Creating a new website is like creating a new resume, only better. It’s not just my boring jobs, instead I get to see all the hats I wear. What kind of hats do all my persona wear?

Writer Hat. This hat is filled with characters and memories. It has tentacles that reach inside my head to the frontal lobe that snatch emotions and reactions. This hat has receptors that find ideas and are connected to electric zappers that keep my adrenalin flowing when that new idea strikes. This hat is very heavy and makes my scalp itch and yet I never get to take it off. I wear all the other hats on top of this one.

Teacher Hat. This hat syphons off from the writer hat. It takes what I’ve learned and presents it in some sort of order that makes sense, or at least makes it sound like I know what I’m doing.  This hat can often take different forms, like sometimes it’s scholarly and other times it’s a court jester hat when I need to keep the students awake.

Editor Hat. This hat sits on top of the teacher hat that sits on top of the writer hat. It likes to read, and it likes to solve puzzles and it tries to figure out the best way for another writer to express themselves. This hat invests itself in every story it devours.

Baker Hat. This is like a chef’s hat, a toque blanche only it’s mostly pie-shaped and instead of white it’s blueberry or cherry or beef bourguignon-stained. It’s not very tall because I have only one specialty, or two if you count that I like to bake both sweet and savory pies. This hat soothes the crankiness of all the other hats.

Other Hats. I have plenty of other hats I wear: Dog owner, middle-aged woman, grandmother, Southern Californian, friend, traveler, hiker, biker, political ranter and more. In this blog, I will write about all my hats and the adventures I happen upon while I don each one. Who knows what hat I will be wearing on what day! I might wear the pie hat and scholarly hat on the same day. Or, I might wear the court jester and grandmother hat side-by-side. But I will always be wearing the Writer Hat. No matter how itchy it gets.