Friday, March 16, 2012

Refined Table Setting

Recently, I challenged a dear friend with the question: "Who would be at your table?" Meaning, if you could invite ANY person from ANY time in history to sit and eat and talk with you for a few hours, who would you invite?

It's a tough question, for a few reasons:

1. People will often adjust their answers depending on their audience, like mentioning "Jesus" to look holy and spiritual, or saying "Rush Limbaugh" to look like an asshole, or "Brangelina" to look socially and environmentally conscious, as they throw their Styrofoam lunch-cases in the trash and drive away in their Hummers.

2. Others delve into instant fantasy world and conjure the dreamy objects of their affection, thereby revealing their sexual un-fulfillment or shallowness... These are the ones who go home still believing that this game may have a piece of reality attached to it--where is George Clooney? I ordered him an hour ago. They then become rabidly depressed in a few days when they hover back toward reality.

3. Few will allow the best, purest, and most influential folks in their lives. It's a tough list to narrow.

I struggled myself when I first wrestled with the question. I cannot post my list for fear that those NOT included will be offended. I know it though. And I know who's at my dream table: The humans that have challenged me to live fully and without regret, those who've pushed me past materialism and shallowness, past surface congratulatory life circumstance, those who've met me at the deep center of myself, those who've ignited my desire to be the best possible person I can be, those who've spoken to my soul. They are there. And it's intense. And marvelous. It's one fine dinner. Oh, and it's catered.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Refined Poetry

No offense intended to the writers of these lines, but I've chosen (for selfish purposes, like most things I do) to trim your lines down to the few that have meaning to me right now: to "refine" them. Special apology to K.D. Lang since I have been channeling her songs lately to inspire a "Canadian vibe," which is sort of like trying not to sneeze: a valiant and creative effort that inevitably ends up defeated.

In fact, it's as if I've been having my own sweet conversation with K.D. and she has no idea. Or perhaps I've gone off the deep end... you decide.

K.D., do you know what it feels like to leave a place filled with family and friends that you love and know deeply? To leave the people that have suffered the dark nights of the soul with you, and also dropped everything to celebrate life's simple joys, like when your child scored his first goal? People who've driven your drunk butt home or ordered you to get a taxi? Who have laughed at your weight gain and celebrated your stylist's choices? People you've called bitch and ass in the same sentence as "I love you," both of which you meant sincerely? Who have known your kids since before they were conceived? Who have answered their doorbells at the most inconvenient times when you were afraid? Or just really sad? Do you know? Could you know?

"Sometimes it feels all that you wanted... has been taken away."

And what if you chose this new venture in spite of the pain to rediscover something in yourself, to prioritize your family, to connect on a deeper level with your spouse, and to hopefully contribute (through that powerful connection) to your children: How must one feel about a spouse in such a situation?

"I love the best in you. You love the best in me."

Ah, the best. That commitment I made when I was 19 years old. The one that tied me to the man that does indeed see the best and most hopeful in me. In spite of myself. That vow that provides the anchor God knew I would need to get me through... Yes, I'm willing to move with that.
But. Then why was I planted here in Denver for the past seven years? What could the purpose have been? Right now it seems like a wasted effort.

"Maybe it was to learn how to love, how to choose, or how to fight, to how to lessen our pride, how to laugh, how to cry."

Yes, I've learned those things. And it's hard, K.D., it's rips out my guts some days. Feels like I just found out a party of my body was going to be severed. Creates gallons of tears at the worst of times, like in the midst of a family dinner. At a restaurant. Prompts my dear husband to ask me: "Are you pregnant?" Do you realize the agony?

"And though it's not always easy, lovely, lovely..."

Certainly not lovely. This is kind of ugly, in fact. I feel needy, and I abhor needy.

"We will walk in good company."

So you promise, K.D. I have my doubts, but I'm trying to be hopeful. I like to think that I did something meaningful here in Denver: that I've left a legacy, or at least left something more lasting than a few laughs. That I did more good than harm.

"I gave my love, didn't I? I gave it big sometimes; I gave it in my own sweet time"

I tried; I did. And I confess I didn't do it well or consistently. I know I did it full of my own weaknesses and darkness and insecurities. But I did give my love. As best as I knew how. As much as I was capable.

"I'm just leaving."

Yes. But not as in, I'm giving up. in, I'm moving on. Though not without tremendous loss.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

refinement rather than fashion

This is the third line of Ellery's poem. And since it is the third month of the year, perhaps I should venture here next.

Refinement vs. fashion.

Well, since I am not much into fashion, this one isn't too tricky for me. Refinement sounds cheaper, which I like.

First, let me prove that I am nowhere near a fashionista: I went shopping with a friend of a friend, who is a model, and a gorgeous one at that. I guess they all are. And we tried things on in separate dressing rooms, but then stood side by side looking at ourselves in the mirror. Well, really, I think we were both looking at her. Her tiny bod, and her perfect face, and the whole package of it would vault any woman into the dangerous land of coveting. Ya. Stand next to that. She did, however, offer several suggestions for me and my "closet" to which I responded:
-no, too much work
-nope, too many layers
-no, I'd look like I'm trying to look 20, which I'm CLEARLY not
-nope, ridiculous, even if it IS in style
-no way, TOOOOO expensive! Seriously?!?! 150 dollars for a t-shirt!?!?

So, I will wear what I like, what is relatively inexpensive (unless it promises longevity, then I'm all for spending a bit).

But refinement inspires a different dilemma: On first impression it smacks of British snobbery, like you should say it with an accent. On further thought, it brings about images of breweries and processing plants. Or maybe that's refineries I'm thinking of. Lastly, I conjure things I don't particularly care for, like fancy teas, perfect table settings, all the things my Stager (meant to be pronounced with a British accent btw) made me do to my house that took 1,000 hours. (But they worked, btw, first show = contract. Damn, we really are moving to Canada. I'm not ready.)

I suppose that refinement means taste. Proper stuff. Even though I associate it with snobbery, it does indeed have its place. I know I should teach my boys to eat with utensils instead of their fingers. But. I do make them wash their hands beforehand. Okay, most of the time. When I remember. Okay. Really not all that much. So, they'll be miserable failures on their first dates.

Perhaps I'll break it down: "re" means again, repeat, back to the original place, again, as in "reincarnation," reinvention," "remember." And "fine" equals delicate, finest quality, highest good.

The word implies things/peoples/ideas that are improved, excellent, polished, and this process involves the removal of impurities and unwanted elements, clarifying by making small changes...

Like the solar flare which is currently causing us to rid ourselves of bad stuff, according to some of my metaphysical friends who believe in the energy levels this solar flare is creating... apparently it is challenging us to rid ourselves of extra baggage, and only a few of us will. And those of use who do rid ourselves deal with the discomfort of it.

Yes, it a pain in the ass to rid myself of all the extra stuff in my house,
Yes, it is painful to cut myself off from people I love and know who love and know me,
Yes, it is uncomfortable to look honestly at my own weaknesses,
Yes, it hurts to examine my faults, bad habits, selfish tendencies,
Yes, it sucks to admit that aforementioned weaknesses cause other people harm.

But. If I want to be refined, I fear I must.

The truth will set you free... that was Jesus.