Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

The Devil in tarot is not something you necessarily want to see when consulting the cards. Just as the card Death doesn’t mean you’re going to die, the Devil doesn’t mean you’re going to hell in a handbasket, but it’s definitely a possibility. The old goat on his hellish throne with his chained slaves before him is not an image that inspires confidence in the future. Determinedly upbeat interpretations see it as an invitation to seek empowerment in one's passionate nature, but look at that damn card. Does that look inviting to you? I don't go to the tarot to be constantly reassured, I go to get in touch with inner truths, and they aren't always easy. Doing the right thing rarely is.

I use tarot to ask questions of my subconscious. The mythical, archetypical, contradictory images prod my imagination while focusing my concentration. It’s almost like a meditation, but a meditation with a story and pictures. Typical; I'm drawn to the practice that includes an illustrated book. But, it’s not a spiritual belief system for me; more of a tool.

Methinks she doth protest too much. We could debate the relative merits of a variety of practices, but let’s not. Leave it to say, the Devil came up in my tarot reading, you know, Lucifer, Beelzebub, ol' Scratch. To me, he's a symbol of attachment to the world, destructive desires, enslavement to impulse. He was in the position of “what crosses me” and, hell yeah, I struggle with attachment to my desires.

The final card in a spread symbolizes the possible outcome, the result of the choices made and yet to be made. The Tower came up. There are three cards that I would just as soon not see in a reading, and two of them came up in this one: The Devil and The Tower. The Tower represents destruction. A skyscraper-like turret under attack, light in the sky, fire, people falling to their deaths. Does that sound horribly familiar? And no, the card does not mean that a plane is going to hit a building (again). It advises that following a particular path, continuing to make a particular set of choices, will result in disaster. Disaster can manifest in many ways, mundane or cataclysmic, but it's never a good thing and is to be avoided if possible.

The Devil and The Tower. The wages of sin are death. That’s a strong message from my subconscious to get my shit together, check my intentions, and act with integrity. Good advice, regardless of how I accessed it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

If It's After Midnight, I Must Be Typing

After years of bitching and procrastinating, I rented a tiny cabin in Ashland last week, 240 square feet of former garage remodeled into a free standing bedroom suite. It's completely overbuilt to meet Ashland ridiculously strict building codes,I mean all new insulation, windows, drywall, plumbing, electrical - I've lived in suburban houses that had fewer outlets. It's going to be a stretch financially, but I can make it work if I'm careful, The owners are coming back next June, so I didn't have to make a long term commitment. It's cute, snug, and all mine. We have rented a space in town once in the last twelve years and we didn't move in until January. This is the first time since 1996 that I won't be commuting over the pass in December.

The landlord rented to me on the understanding that one person will be living there. I talked him through my situation, explained why I was looking for an apartment in town (I used the term "respite from the commute;" he actually used the phrase "pied à terre.") Sequoia will stay with me from time to time, but he can't live there. It's my space; I signed papers to that effect. It feels - - decadent. I left my parents' home two weeks after graduating high school and never had enough money to live by myself. I always lived with roommates and have been living with Sequoia since I was 23. I'm 50 years old and am living alone for the first time in my life. It may take me awhile to adjust.

The place is cute, cozy, quiet and I can walk to work. I love the lifestyle, but it hasn't done any favors for my insomnia, which was already particularly bad this summer. This big transition caused the sleep train to completely jump the tracks. I haven't slept more than a couple of hours all week long and only dozed for a few minutes at dawn last night. It is always thus when I'm in a new space. I came out to the Colestin tonight so looking forward to sleeping and yet here I am typing at 1:00 again. Perhaps this is my new normal.

As I branch out from the Colestin, I find myself branching out from Hamfist as well. I got to play another Green Show tonight with a completely different set of folks. Two OSF actresses and I sang back up vocals for the One Night Band, a baker's dozen of male actors and theatre technicians banging guitars and living out their rock star fantasy. Who am I kidding, I was living out a fantasy of my own. Throughout the process, the men called us the Ladies (pronounced "Ladeez") and were most deferential. It was a bit of a throwback, but I ain't complaining; I got to wail behind Jesse singing "You Cant Always Get What You Want" to a huge crowd and I walked away with $30 in my pockets, which is more cash than I've ever cleared from any Hamfist show. It was a stone cold gas. Next week I'm playing a set with another new set of musicians called the Bathtub Gin Serenaders. We're playing jug band jazz and ragtime from the teens, 20s and 30s. It's challenging material and we're new to each other so it's still rough around the edges (hell, it's rough in the middle, too) but I love their song choices. We're playing a set for the Elks, so the stakes are very low, but still, it's a little nervewracking.

Hamfist is playing Stillwater again in October. Those guys are my heart, my family, my priority, and I'm grateful for every minute we get to play together. Still, I'm enjoying exploring other avenues, challenging myself, pushing the limits. It feeds something in me; I admit, I have a low tolerance for boredom. It can be a roller coaster. When it's good it's really, really good, but when its bad it's devastating. I take it all too seriously, I take it all to heart. I guess that's my blessing and my curse.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Have New Respect for the Catholic Church

Got this from Michelle Conniff. Dunno where this church is, but I want to join!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

News from the Subconscious

I dreamed of Arly Sue last night. In my dream she was about six or seven years old. No-one ever looked so sweetly vulnerable, so sadly trusting as Arly at age six. She had perfectly round cheeks, bee stung lips and dewy eyes that always looked like they were about to spill over in tears. In my dream she was curled up in my lap as I tried to explain why we were moving somewhere new yet again. As I told her all the usual lies about how everything was going to be great at the new school, she'd make new friends and we would have a nice party to say goodbye to her old friends, I watched her little heart break. She fought back her tears and struggled to trust me one more time.

When I awoke, I realized that wasn't Arly in my lap at all; that was the scared little child who is hiding in my heart, terrified of what I'm going to do next.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My aunt Linda told me this story at my mother's funeral: My mama was one of 10 kids and Linda was the youngest. I figured it out one time: my grandmother Nellie must have been pregnant or nursing for more than 20 years (no wonder she died young.) Mama was 9 years old when Nellie died but for reasons I never clearly understood, the bulk of Linda's care and feeding fell to her.

They lived way out in the rolling hills of northeast Arkansas on a dirt poor cotton farm, fried their bacon on a wood cook stove, pumped their water from a well. Mama had to muck out barns and work the fields, cook and wash, and then carry an infant with her to the one room elementary school where she scratched out an education. It was a hungry, dirty, hard life and my grandfather was, by all accounts, a hard man. She had every reason and excuse to be hateful and bitter, but she wasn't. She was gentle, kind, nurturing, funny as hell, stubborn as a mule. She was loving, genuinely loving, and she genuinely loved her family.

So, here's the story Linda told me; when she was about six and they had all gone to town of a Saturday. As they were walking past the shops, Linda saw the most cunning, darling little white coat and cap on a girl mannequin in a window display. She thought it was the prettiest thing she'd ever seen, and told my mother so. Mama took a look at it and said, "well, you better ask Santa Claus if he'll bring it to you for Christmas." Linda pined after the coat and hat for the next several weeks and every time she brought it up, mama would tell her she better ask Santa for it. Linda finally forgot about it turned her mind to something else. On Christmas morning she found a long white box with her name on it. Of course it was the hat and coat. My mother had picked cotton every day after school for the money to buy them.

That was my mother. She was always taking care of others. She didn't do as good a job taking care of herself.

I'm not my mother, and I was never as good at taking care of others as she was but, like my mother, I haven't been taking very good care of myself, either. I'm self absorbed enough to want to do something about the latter. I'm making some hard choices and big changes in a last ditch effort to achieve something like healing in this life. I don't know how it's all going to play out exactly and I'm superstitious enough to want to avoid the attention of the gods while I'm in transition because, as they song says, they'll fuck you up. But I'm taking some steps. I don't know exactly where they're leading, but it ain't here.