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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kirk's Fault, Birthdays and Growth

OK, I'm not exactly apologizing for my musical obsession below. Just sayin'. It's Kirk's fault. I accept no responsibility. All right, I'd accept responsibility for the Civil War, so maybe I'll take on just a little of that here. For sometimes, someone has only to say a little tiny something and it gets me going. All he wrote was "Knocking on Heaven's Door" and I was off . .  OK, it's short, easy to remember, conjures up different visions in all of us, I imagine, and there appears to be no worthy artist who has failed to do it ~ and do it well. I understand it is an easy four-chord tune for the musically inclined to play. So, in no particular order of appreciation, here are some versions that made me dance this morning. Yeah, I have a favorite version, but it may not be yours.

And that is not at all what I wanted to write about. David's birthday approached. I'd been back at work for a month. I like to cook for him and he likes what I make. It's been ages since I put on any form of a whoop-dee-doo, and I was in the mood. I spoke at length with my AA sponsor. This would not be a gift for David if I pressured myself to the point of breakdown. But a little challenge to myself could be a very good "next right step" as I find my way along. I started to pencil a menu. I needed to transport food for 25, set it up, serve it . . . Jennifer was soon on board. "I'll help you. I make killer fajitas!" (She does, too!) I pulled recipes, bought ingredients, cooked for 3 nights after work. Rice, beans, albondigas soup, chile relleno casserole, all the condiments, gourmet cupcakes, and Jenn's fajitas. I pondered why I had ever stopped cooking and making whoop-dee-doos since I love those things so much. Oh, wait. When one drinks as much as I was drinking, such things as complex plans, recipe cooking, shopping for ingredients and executing the whoop-dee-doo become insurmountable. Yet another of life's pleasures I sacrificed to King Alcohol.

Jenn cools her jets
with My Dog and
The Greatest.
But not this time. We both got up at 4:15 that morning and I picked her up by 6:00. We hauled my new purchases, a cupcake stand and an appliance used when one wants to take loose ingredients to make a quesadilla rather than just take fajitas and side dishes. And we hauled all that food. We invited Mailman Steve to pop in for a meal and FedEx driver Ray. They came! We made platters of "take-out" for the carpet technicians who were out working at lunch time. And we still hauled home mountains of food. The last cupcakes went to AA with us, where many recovering alcoholics enjoyed a little treat. "What, did you women give a party or something?" Boy, howdy.

Birthday Man with a little
wrist action on the paper plate.
OK, everything was not perfect. Sometimes I go in too many directions at one time. Who knew my camera had been set on macro and left that way? I barely remembered to run to get it before he blew out his candles and started to chow down. It was a rare event to see David without a baseball cap. He looked grand and I pitched him. "Sir, we haven't had our picture taken together in a long time. What do you say?" He said, "Yeah!" The crowd was thinning and we posed ourselves. Jennifer took the shot. Oh, it would be a sweet scene if we could clearly be seen. Alas, the macro setting! However, I love the picture. I know it's David and me. I know it was on the occasion of his birthday luncheon just after I'd returned to the place I know I want to belong for the foreseeable future. I know I need to slow down and pay attention to the details. Maybe the reader can imagine viewing the photo through a veil of sentimental tears, eh? That's how I look at it. And so it goes . . .


  1. wahahahahahah Balance oh yea, like any of us have it.

    Except for Holidays and when family comes, I don't cook that much anymore. Small things like cookies for fiends or a covered dish is about all any more.

    It sounds like you did fine and in the end all that counts is did David enjoy the lunch and did you have some fun ?
    By the way you look fabulous.

    cheers, parsnip

  2. @ Parsnip ~ Oh, come on. All the women's magazines I've read since the early '70s have assured me I can achieve balance. And also home birth 6 babies without medical intervention while successfully executing a career like - oh, say doctor or lawyer. I believe that stuff, you know?

    David DID enjoy his lunch - that menu was all about his favorites, and he chowed down. Left with a haul of cupcakes, too. I did have fun, but even more, I learned a lot about what I've regained of my former self. I lost many, many things to my insanity, but maybe not all of them permanently.

    I surely thank you for the "fabulous". Right now, it's hot, I'm tired, I'm frustrated with a collage I am making for a friend's birthday and realize I started too late . . I'm not feeling too fabulous. So I appreciate your kindness.

  3. Wonderful Leslie. It's s good to read about your return to life and health and good will and hard work, which you do so well. So what about the blurry photos. sometimes they're better than the magazine-fit ones.

  4. @ Elisabeth ~ Oh, Lis, you caught right onto the spirit of my posting the bad pictures. The image is so clear in my head, I don't care that it's less than perfect. It pleases me you caught that. And, yes, I am returning. I'm not the same as I ever was at any single past moment, but I'm much like she who walked across broad expanses of my time here. I recognize her as I learn about the newly opening woman. My life is good and full to overflowing. I hear it doesn't get much better than that.

  5. I keep planning on making albondigas soup and for one reason or another I procrastinate. It's been at least twenty years now. Perhaps next week.
    Does balance include pissing off the people who love you? I'm having trouble with that lately, though in my defense I'm usually the one who gets angry first. Fortunately I can walk next door and talk with Dean about old cars and sea stories.

  6. @ Mike ~ It's the best soup! Inexpensive and easy, with a little flavor zing to it. Sometimes I make a huge pot and freeze about a zillion portions for myself. Got your recipe?

    Oh, Mike! Maybe pissing off loved ones and balance ARE mutually inclusive, because I'm not doing either of them - these avoid me right now. The balance is a real struggle for me to find. I work hard to keep out of the pissing people off field since I am the one who can't seem to handle the heat.

    Go hang with Dean. Tell stories. Your loved ones will be glad to see you come back when the time is right.

  7. Sometimes I go in too many directions at one time.

    That seems to be a common problem these days. This is a very stupid example but at the time it really freaked me out. A couple of years ago the family and me were at Disney World and we found ourselves literally running trying to do some many things at once in an effort to beat the crowds that the vacation was becoming more like work.

    The insanity of trying to have "fun as fast as possible" really through me for a loop. The biggest problem was that after we went into a calmer low gear I saw we were doing it even worse back home in a normal daily lives.

  8. @ Beach Bum ~ I'm convinced it's not even our fault (personal fault), either. It's a societal problem that is not restricted to the U.S. In all industrialized countries, the people have been flogged for decades to hurry up, step it up, speed it up. We're delivered both subliminal and blantant messages to hurry, do many things at one time. I'm not the only one on the planet who spins. And, yes. I'm often exhausted at the end of a nice, relaxing day or a nice evening out with friends. I don't care for it at all. I don't do it as effectively as I once did.

  9. You forgot Eric Clapton's version!

    No, no, don't go looking for it. It's no big deal.

    Not much of a cook myself. As I live alone, my meals consist mainly of cheeseburgers and Red Baron pizzas. I loved my late mother's spaghetti, and kid my sister that she took her secret recipe with her. My sister reply was that there was no "secret recipe", anybody could make it. See, the thing about that spaghetti, there was no meat balls, but instead the meat was mixed in with the sauce. My sister showed me exactly how to make. You break up ground meat and simply stir into a pot of Ragu. As simple as that sounds, I'm nevertheless reluctant to do it myself. I know I'll screw it up.

    Life is imbalance. You gotta make like a trained poodle and stay on the ball. Maybe you'll get a biscuit out of it. And the clown shouldn't withhold biscuits from poodles that can't stay on the ball. It's not like dogs volunteer to join the circus, and--

    Oh, my, I'm afraid my metaphor is out of balance.

  10. @ Kirk ~ you wise balancing act! Actually, I didn't forget Clapton's rendition, but it is very familiar to me and some of the others I chose were more novel. Just to me.

    Being single, it is a rare event for me to actually rustle up anything resembling a meal. I do soups a lot, sometimes a plate of roasted veggies, once in a great while, a burger or slice of pizza. I CAN eat anything that doesn't eat me. I CHOOSE to be sensible and take on as little as required to keep me healthy. For reasons that are likely obvious to anyone who visits here. Funny about "Mom's recipe". I recently had been seeing a man whose mother had died within the past couple of years, affecting him deeply. He mentioned some favorite dishes she made and I happened to know how to make some of them. I asked if Mom used any secret ingredients I needed to know about. The man went off, for reasons still unclear to me, but the situation escalated until I had to file a police report. Talk about sensitive! Don't mess with Mom's recipes!

    If I had to be a trained circus dog, I'd be a terrier of some variety. I'm a terrier at heart. But I like your metaphor.

  11. Dylan for me - evry time's different with him..I love that picture - the fuzz says more than any words could. Just lovely - and I mean lovely in a Yorkshire way and not in that half-hearted, non-committal way such as nice or interesting - the picture is truly lovely. You know, where I'm from, men call other men love - even total strangers... a' reight, love?...shutting up now...

  12. @ Rachel ~ I love that picture of Dylan and Knopfler, as well. I think they look like they are deeply communing. But I also love the Jerry Garcia AND the Avril Lavigne and Kurt Cobain, and did anyone other than I enjoy the Leningrad Cowboys & Red Russian Army Choir? I mean, PLEASE! To take nothing away from GNR and U2 - the reason Bono was singing it "papa" instead of "mama" is his father had just recently passed away. Good stuff. All of it.

    You know, Rae, I understand and maybe even speak (as a second language, of course) YOUR English. I'm OK with men calling each other "love". I call women that kind of thing, too. You never have to shut up or even censor yourself here.

    BTW, I saw Dylan play during his Modern Times tour in 2006. It wasn't a "Bob Dylan concert" as citizens of a smallish community reminded each other in the streets the next morning. No Mr. Tambourine Man. No Highway 61 Revisited. No Nashville Skyline. Just god damned good music, yet his next incarnation. I dressed up like an old hippie chick (I was 53). His mother bought our tickets and we reimbursed her. We walked to and from the concert, chatting in the streets the next morning with others who had been there. I was once in the presence of a god.

  13. I like Avril's version and, of course, Dylan's. I've never learned that song so, I just got out my Martin and ...... G, D, Am, G, D, C. Yes! Thanks.

  14. @ Bill ~ Hey, I'm pleased you stopped by again. And if you were inspired to break out the Martin . . GOOD on you! What a grand tune it is. We all get it, whatever it means to us individually. If you'd play it, Bill, I'd sing it, with heart. Oh, I don't sing well at all. I just sing with everything I've got. In the shower, in the streets, before friends and before strangers. "Mama, take this badge off of me . . "

  15. @ Rachel ~ late breaking: oh, hell, Rae. It just occurred to me that you may have been referring to the fuzzy picture of David and me, NOT Dylan (with his fuzzy hair) and Knopfler. And if that is the case, thank you for that, too. I'm looking at it as two sharp, angular people with all the edges rubbed sweet. Because that's where and how we are right this minute. He will never be my (actual, literal) brother, husband or lover, but David is one of the top three most important persons in my life. brought to me by the angels. I don't know why he loves me, and how he can do that, but he does. And I give back the best I know how to give.

  16. @ Everyone - Wow. In the harsh light of day, the Guns N Roses version HAS me. My coworkers are looking at me oddly since it's been played for hours in succession. I like Axl Rose and what he does with a snarl and a growl.

  17. It was the photo of you but you did my brain good getting me to work out where the hick I'd referenced Knopfler - though, he is a Sheffield lad as far as I know, so a veritable stones’ throw away in terms of Yorkshire lineage - and he writes SUPERB lyrics - you heard the one about the battle of Orgreave? Ace. Anyway, fuzziness aside, you are exceedingly lovable!

  18. @ Rachel ~ That's me: doing good for (other peoples') brains. Too bad I can't get my own in order.

    So, Knopfler's a Sheffield lad, eh? I didn't know the song you referred to. I've just Googled it and had a good, hard cry. Unionism! Idealism! My rights vs. your iron hand. I just kind of lost it for a short time there. I thank you for pointing me to it and I think I may write on that theme eventually. Sometimes I miss . . well . . I stopped that work a long time ago for mamy good reasons. But I never changed my stripes.

    If I am lovable, then I have succeeded at what I set out to achieve. I know I'm a prickly pear cactus and difficult to love. I deeply appreciate those who navigate the labyrinth and love me despite myself. Truly. I've never been more sincere.

    "The same old fears and the same old crimes
    We haven't changed since ancient times" ~ OMG, I won't soon get over this! Thank you, as always, Rachel Fenton, my dear friend.

  19. @Kirk take this opportunity to learn to cook for yourself. Heck Start wih Les's Albondigas and freeze the leftovers for another cold day. I like to add lots of heat to my recipe so I pour on the red pepper.
    I have too many women around, one of them hmmming, but I have already spoken of that. No definite plans yet but I may be coming back out to Hemet soon. Mother calls.

  20. @ Mike ~ OK, first - Kirk, if you want a recipe, I've got it - cheap, easy, with the Cliff Notes of short cuts. Or not, my love. It ain't my job to tell you that you must cook, or how to do it. Just don't go nuts on me if I ask about Mom's secret ingredients. I'm a little sensitive these days. And, yeah, I put some fire into my food when left to my own devices. But that's not a requirement. I don't like recipes that are too stiff.

    Michael, if you come west and I do not get to see you, I will harbor a resentment. When one goes visiting (you), it's possible to become frozen in place by another's expectations (like one's Mom's ideas). But one can call out for help and a friend will appear (like ME, who would appear at any beckoning). It's simply miles and I can handle miles, Mike. Just say, please. Hell, I'll bring a meal, too! Love you so.