Dita Parker

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Between the bird cherry and the lilac

Mellan hägg och syren. According to the Swedish byword, the most beautiful, most magical time of the year falls between the blossoms of bird cherries and lilacs in full bloom. It is but a fleeting moment in the intersection of May and June, spring yielding to summer. You can feel it in the air, in the ground, all around. Summer is almost here. But not yet.

Mornings can be cool but they come with the promise of warmth. Days are temperate; never too hot, the air fresh and fragrant. In a month, heat will have driven off the crispness and dampened the smells, turned them rancid even. I don't mind the heat, dry or humid. I'm a summer gal through and through. But there is something about this threshold, this moment between the bird cherry and the lilac, that calls to me as loudly and clearly as any summertime day.

The urgency of now pulls me outdoors and takes me to the ground, quite literally. It has me digging in the dirt, planting, weeding, tending. It has me working on the porch whenever I can (laptop=pop-up office), and when the working day is done, it makes me resist going inside. Not that anyone else in the family wants to, either. Not yet.

It's hard to stay indoors unless you absolutely have to. You've waited months for this. It's here. It's finally here! Life, live. You don't want to miss a thing: the sight of bumble bees at work, the call of a stock dove, the taste of the first straws of chive, the scent of earth as it warms up, how supple it feels beneath your feet. The ground will grow hard; summer will try to dry it up. But not yet.

You don't have to travel to reach it, you don't have to budge to grasp it. All you have to do is pick a spot and open up your senses. In a few months, you'll need the memory of every sight, scent, sound and sensation. Here today, gone tomorrow. You know that. You remember that. You don't want to, not actively, but the knowledge sits there in the back of your mind. The sensory overload will turn into deprivation. But not yet.

Winter was long, and as snowy and thus overflowing with outdoor activities as it was, you can only take it in a few hours at a time; because it's not only cold, it's so very dark. In the winter, all days are nights, but now... Now the nights are days, the sun awakening in the wee hours of the morning and going to bed after you do. The progression of light will come to a halt and do a U-turn at another intersection: Midsummer. Eventually. Soon. Just not yet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The final countdown

So. Another judgment day came and went without verdict or incident. I was so relieved, dearest denizens. I had planned to impress my mother-in-law with a very nice Chenin blanc (organic! fair trade!! save the planet, have some wine!!!) that very same Saturday, and what a pity it would have been had we never gotten around to it, it was delish! [Have I told you how my mom-in-law is the greatest? She is this simply great teeny-weeny woman.]

Some might disagree about the wine, or the apocalypse. I'm not being cavalier or callous about it, oh no no no. Serious business, both the grapes and the grapes of wrath. It's the end of the world every weekend in some parts of the world. Fridays of rage, they're called. Slaying after praying. Come Saturday, it really must feel like the end of the world for some. Climate and nature acting up, economy acting up, individuals acting up; it's the end of the world Monday thru Sunday for too many.

The Code of Hammurabi is doing well some four thousand years on, give or take a century. As slow as evolution is, we still have great difficulty keeping up and evolving, don't we? It never seizes to amaze me. It's all good and well to learn to think like your opponents do. Start acting like them and, congratulations, you've invented perpetual motion, and that machine will never run out of steam. I like what Margaret Atwood has said on the subject: "An eye for an eye only leads to more blindness." Look at the world down the barrel of a gun and is it any wonder all you see is an enemy.

In other news: Windows is out the window for good here at the den. Before Finland gave the world Angry Birds, Alan Wake and text messaging, she gave humankind the gift of Linux. I promised Hubby that next time my laptop started acting up, I'd convert for good. I am a woman of my word. I am a woman of many words, some of them swear ones as I adapt and evolve. What I need of the olden days and ways is hidden inside my precious in something called a sandbox, I believe. Put that in your W7 and...well, you know the drill.

Breaking news: I'm to be an aunt again, my brother is having another baby! Awww. Since I've decided enough is enough, I'm happy my siblings are younger than moi and only getting started with the business of having babies. I get to enjoy yet another without the hassle of actually having one. Ahhh. [And have I told you how my brother is the coolest? I have never seen him angry or upset. The day I do, I will know the end is nigh.]

Stop the press. We're not off the hook quite yet. Rapture will give it another shot in October, so hurry, sweetie darlings, it's never too late to mend, you know, to make love not war, because a life wasted hating and worrying is a life wasted, is it not, and really, believe what you will, just don't sell or yell, okay, because some are more susceptible than others, and some take things far too literally and/or seriously, and that is a pity since none of us will make it out of here alive, that is one thing we can agree on, surely, so why not put a sordino on the doom and gloom and concentrate on making life livable and bearable and perhaps even enjoyable on occasion, for everyone, instead.

You have five months. Up and at it, dearest loveliest denizens. Go. Before it's too late. Go go go. And the world can't end in October, I have food that expire in 2013! My niece/nephew is due in December, for crying out loud.  If I die before that, I'm going to be real pissed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Road to nowhere

How are you, sweetie darlings, on this fine day in May? Hmm? One at a time, people, please. But seriously, did I promise to shut up until I heard something regarding that submission of mine? Was I that foolish? Let's pretend for a moment I never said that, and this relates, it does it does, kinda sucks and blows too, because it took a detour, my baby did, and isn't that just the story of my stories. It's supposed to be a teeny-weeny back in a jiffy one, so here we are, once again, waiting patiently, or I am since ye three of little faith abandoned ship a while ago to go hang with the published authors. You know, the ones who offer books and not laments to read.

I can hardly blame you. When I start thinking about those detours and delays and some back office stuff I've had to deal with this fine week in May, I find myself on a fast track to a not-so-happy-place, Things Beyond Your Control (est. right about now, population one soul with half a mind to get out of Dodge). Funky town, that one, every route you take a dead end like those infinite loops by Escher. You start thinking about other signs you may have passed along the way. You thought nothing of them. Go Away. No Exit. Turn Around. No Trespassing. You're suddenly very certain that's what they said, but for some reason you decided to pay them no mind.

Before long, you start having a bad feeling about things. Before you know it, you're beating yourself up. You're beating yourself real hard with a Give Up Stick (pat. pend.) thinking do I need this, who needs this, do I want to feel like this and wouldn't it be good not to feel like this and how you wish you could stop feeling like this oh if you could only stop feeling. And you think about the relief giving up would bring along; the tidal wave of relief letting go could grant you. And how about a good hard cleansing cry, hmm, snot and all, the kind that clenches your chest and has you fighting for breath. How's that for a sweet hereafter? (Give up give up give up *whack whack whack*)

What person in their right mind wants to deal with this, voluntarily, you wonder. Some manner of crazy person, surely. Your heart doesn't hurt enough as it is, hmm? Not enough to work out, get over, deal with, hmm? Hmm? So you start thinking that maybe, for all your protests, you are a masochist after all. And you think about time, how somewhere a meter is running. Do you really have time for this? You don't have more important things to do? Good fights, more meaningful battles, places to go and people to see, things beyond and outside yourself, roads that actually and eventually lead somewhere? It's not as if anyone would notice or care if you gave up on this. (Give up give up give up *thump thump thump*)

And you look at authors smooth sailing their way into publication without glitch or delay and envy rears its hideous head. But it's not them you envy, not exactly, that would be so unfair because it's not their books you wanted to write and see published, it's your own. So what do you envy then? The process? Another dead end, my friend, in the land of Things Beyond Your Control. Pointless. Petty. It doesn't lead anywhere. Still, thoughts of how much faster and better and whatever those authors have to be blindside you at five in the morning and eleven thirty at night. You consider that, the possibility. Maybe you shouldn't, you know it's unwise, you said you never would, and still you do it because you believe you've seen signs, and maybe you're in denial. (Give up give up give up *pow pow pow*)

And then you remember what else you promised. You promised you wouldn't lose heart and you wouldn't lose your head. And so you force yourself to calm down. Calm the hell down and hold on for one more day, just to see how it goes. The world owes you nothing. It's the other way around. So you thank the universe for the love of a good man; a man who knows just what to say and when you need to hear it and who knows when he needs to shut up. And your friends... Thank you universe for those amazing solid awesome women and one very special lady in particular who called and asked if she could see me and could we talk and could she bribe me with and interest me in a movie after, an Almodóvar. And you know which one it was? Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. And when I realized, I just had to laugh, so hard, and she joined me and couldn't stop because I wouldn't and we made a scene and so what. 

The disarmament summit was, I'm happy to report, a success. Because if we didn't laugh, we'd be crying, and I've seen signs that suggest that, for the time being, I'm all cried out.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Echoes, silence, patience and grace

Temperature: 11 (Celsius); scorchio gone, scorchio all gone

Eating: tom kha gai soup

Drinking: lassi; that soup was hot Hot HOT

Watching: spring go green; everywhere I look, green!!

Listening: to absolutely nothing until Kate Bush's Director's Cut comes out

Reading: The Adventures of Tintin (as in each and every album) to my youngest (who intends to follow in the footsteps of one Henry Jones Jr. and is all over adventure stories right now; I'm just waiting for the child to start swearing like Captain Haddock)

Writing: just added another 1,000 words to my WIP. And whatever happened to that story I was asked to revise and resubmit? Hey lady, enough with your stupid ass life and other catastrophes, where's that book? Hey dearest denizens, keep your shirts on, it's in the Cave, okay?! You'll be the first to know. No wait. Shouldn't I be the first to know? Should you get word, please let me know. There's something wrong with that saying.

Feeling: restless, a little aggressive even, the good kind of edgy that makes for great workouts, which is exactly where I think I should head before Hubby and the karate kids descend upon me. See you soon, sweetie darlings. And if you can't be good, please promise you'll be careful.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The da Vinci mode

You know whose birthday it was a few Fridays back? Oh he's been dead for almost five hundred years. A day here, a decade there, well, neither here nor there, right? If I ever got my hands on a time machine, I'd be spying on the man in a jiffy. Which could well turn out to be the longest day ever if he just sat there thinking, which is hard work, mind you. [My man gets it, he totally does. I lounge on the couch. DS snickers. "Mom's sleeping." DH: "No, she's working." Was too! That's my story and I'm sticking to it.]

And where were we? Yes. About to sit down for dinner at a friend's house, except I'm held up in the home office slash library picking someone's brain via their bookcase. And what do I see? A da Vinci. Not Brown. That Renaissance man. The Renaissance man. Leonardo, a polymath par excellence. What did he do? What didn't he do. He's like a superhero of art and science except he is real, as superhuman as his CV sounds.

This particular da Vinci looked suspiciously like a self-help book, and I'm suspicious of self-help books. Too often they're a Band-Aid for someone bleeding from the jugular; an easy fix to some complex problem. Well, by the time dinner was ready, I had helped myself to a hefty dose of da Vincian personal development principles. Ethanol emergency and friends forgotten, I was gobbling the thing like a platanna yelling, "Yeah yeah, in a minute," then muttering, "I mean, it's da Vinci," as if some of Leonardo's genius would magically leap across time and off the pages and anoint me with the balm of brilliance.

And maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge the shiny happy people trying to make others so. After all, what do most self-help books do but recite things we know at some level but don't practice for whatever reason. (That's why they're so damn annoying, isn't it?) Full disclosure: I did snap out of it and sit down for dinner like a good girl and guest, I haven't touched the book since nor am I affiliated with the author of the book or his programs, but if your interest was piqued as mine was that night, I dug up ze deets for ya: How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael J. Gelb. 

I don't know about your corner of the world,  but up here in the northernmost north April isn't the cruelest month. May certainly isn't. (November is. Says I. Need a second opinion? November is. Says I.) Spring is shaping up nicely. Everything is coming up if not roses then some sort of sprouts, and all but the most hardened souls are feeling quite rejuvenated. A brand new season, a spanking new opportunity to be born again.

What would Leo do? He would read something no one else is reading. Think something no one else is thinking. Do something no one else is stupid or brave enough to attempt. He would learn from experience and treat these uncertain times of ours as an opportunity. He would cultivate holism. Try to harmonize mind and body and hone his senses. He would do whatever it took to nurture a dispassionate view and understanding of the world while passionately embracing and experiencing it, I guess. And that, sweetie darlings, is easier said than done. Is it any wonder some reach for Elastoplast.