A Glimpse For You and Me

A new poem I wanted to share with you:

 

A Glimpse

I was sitting by the ocean

The sky was gray

Clouds thick and unbroken

The sun unseen anywhere

So disappointing

I love how the sun dances on the waves

Making it brighter and multi-faceted

It never fails to lighten my mood

Help I needed that particular day

About to rise, I noticed

A single spot of light

Well out in the distance

A bright horizontal patch

Of dancing waves

With tips of pure light

I reveled in the sight,

But expected it to fade quickly

The clouds would re-form

And the show would be over

Instead it persisted,

Not moving with the canopy

Beautiful, inspiring but also puzzling

Perhaps it was the sun,

Confirming its presence

And making a statement:

Even when there are clouds

There’s always light

You need to be patient

Or know how to find it

You just need to believe

To catch your glimpse

Feeling Reflective

So I’m going to share a new poem with you. Love to hear your thoughts.  Here it is:

 

Optics

I used to think that what I saw

Was an accurate reflection

Of what I gazed upon

My eyes were sharp, undistorted lenses

The resulting picture

Was true, clear and objective

An image I could rely upon

For opinions, attitudes and emotions

It was hard to grasp that others

Might see something quite different

My picture was true, my conclusions fair

Why didn’t everyone see that?

Were their instruments damaged

Or in need of calibration?

Mine, surely, was precise

But life has taught me otherwise

There is more than one consideration

When capturing an image

And what one sees reflects more

That merely what is being viewed

The object of interest

Provides structure, physical data

But what we see and feel

Is far more complex

I now believe that what I see

Is largely a function

Of how I see it

And how I set the scene

My heart, my soul and my mood

Affect the prism of my eye,

Like lighting and aperture change

The look and feel of a photo

I’d like to think

I’m objective and impartial

But I’m just human

An imperfect instrument

In need of constant calibration

Catching Up/Stepping Out

Hello again; sorry I haven’t written in a while.  Not too much “new” in my life, so I’ve been a little short on motivation to write.  No way to treat a blog, right?  Ok, so here’s a bit of a make up post.

Not a great deal on the personal front, except….I did enjoy a “quasi-date” last Saturday, put together by some mutual friends.  Yes, I will admit to some nervousness prior, but it ended up being a very nice, fun evening of “adult socializing” as my quasi-date put it.  If nothing else, it was good to get out and feel like I was interacting on a somewhat normal basis.  And, for an evening at least, I didn’t feel like I was alone.  I’m grateful it was arranged.

Ok, a couple of things to discuss on the food front.  In my last food reference, I was bragging about the ham/sausage/peas/garlic alfredo penne I had made.  That “success” did encourage me to try again, so, I pulled out the slow cooker and made a really sweet pulled pork, which I served on a bagel (you didn’t think I was going to forget my namesake bagels, did you?) and, with not much else in my fridge, put some yummy applesauce on the plate with it.  When I say really sweet, I mean it both ways.  I made it using Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, which is both tangy and sweet (a REALLY good sauce) and I added some honey as well.  Everything else was pretty much standard pulled pork, but the BBQ sauce and honey made the dish awesome.

That simple but tasty dish was so good, I tried it again a few nights later, this time with chicken.  Same recipe otherwise.  Oh, and this time served on King’s Hawaiian rolls.  THAT is the definition of sweet on sweet. Both pictures follow.  Yum Yum.  Talk soon.Pulled Pork on BagelPulled Chicken

Music and Madness

Hello again.  I wanted to share with my small but attentive group of followers a really curious and perplexing change that has occurred in my life, related of course to the big life change with which I’m dealing.  It’s about music.  Not too critical, right?  Read on…

I haven’t said much in my posts about my family of origin and formative factors in my early years.  Without boring you by getting into a long description, I will say that I came from a large, loud, contentious and extremely unsettled family.  I’m the youngest of seven surviving children (two others died), with an overworked, overstressed, rage-filled, abusive and alcoholic father and an overtaxed, severely depressed, shut-in mother.  Fortunately, I was raised more by my caring siblings than by my parents – but there was no escaping the impacts of the madness that existed in that household.  To sum it up: my friends NEVER came to play at my house!  You get the idea.

Well, in that kind of environment, sanity and survival depend on both adaptability and finding escapes or diversions (both physical and emotional).  Starting as young as 6, I spent most of my days and evenings away from home – roaming the streets, at friends’ places, playing sports and games, etc.  I put off my return home as long as I could.  When I was in eighth grade, I found another type of diversion – music – which I embraced immediately.  I absolutely loved to fall under its spell – it helped me forget about my family madness and stirred my imagination as nothing else had.  I was VERY fortunate that I had an older sister whom I convinced to take me with her on her frequent visits into Georgetown (Washington DC) where she went to places like The Cellar Door and other intimate venues where top-notch talent played (I saw Clapton at Cellar Door).  Of course, the fact that I was well under drinking age was a bit of an obstacle, but one we always managed to overcome.  And yes, I drank, but never much – I was too enthralled by the music.  And a bit scared of the crowd as well.  Until I got older…

As you can guess, music became a life-long pleasure, shelter, comfort and calming influence for me.  I listen to music all the time (prefer vinyl at home, but any way I can get it is just fine), and really count on it to help me keep my equilibrium.  I still think of it as a shield against madness in my life – mine and others’.  So now to my dilemma: I have known and been in love with my wife almost 42 years.  Most of the music I prefer has come into my life during that time frame.  And, the memories and emotions associated with my music are very much wrapped up with her, our relationship and other related aspects of my life (my children, for instance).  And most of those associations and memories are rather painful to me right now.  So, when I’m down or needing some emotional transformation, I can’t really count on my music.  Every time I put on my headphones, I hear something that brings up painful memories and strong emotions about her – about US, really.

It’s a real challenge for me.  I miss my wife.  I miss us.  I miss my music.  I still listen and still love what I’m hearing.  It’s just a lot harder to enjoy.  I have to work at it; so, it has gone from a clear shelter to being something much more complicated.  I love it and need it, but….  I thought you might enjoy/understand better what I mean by looking at this picture. It’s my wife and me posing and playing in front of a Bob Dylan poster.  It was taken quite recently – October 2016 – on a three day trip to “Oldchella” in the desert near Palm Springs.  Great trip; we look happy, right? This was less than three months before our split.  Complicated.  Here’s the pic: Dylan Poster/OldchellaI wrote a poem about all this, entitled “Tangled Up In Blue” (one of my favorite Dylan songs).   The link is here…Tangled Up In Blue

Long post; sorry.  Hope you enjoy the poem nonetheless.  Talk soon.

Back At It

I’m aware that my posts have been rather short on entertainment value of late.  Lots of talk about my emotional struggles and very few shares about food.  Hey, I’m not particularly funny or entertaining when I’m running on all cylinders, so I can imagine the impact of my posts as I’ve been slumping the last few weeks.  If it’s any consolation, it was also REALLY hard to write those posts.  Sorry about my self indulgence; I’ll see if I can pick things up some and find more interesting stuff to share.  Oops, hope I didn’t over commit on that!

I do feel like there’s something stirring for me.  I’ve been more active physically, pretty productive with work and career matters and enjoying some very nice summer weather.  OK, that’s not much to say, but it’s a start.  Better than dwelling on my losses as I’ve been.  And I will definitely take any progress I can make.  Cheer me on.  Whip me on.  Give me pep talks.  Any help is appreciated.

OK, finally, another food mention.  Honestly, I didn’t feel too much like creating and sharing new dishes during my recent emotional slump.  Sad to say, it just didn’t seem worth the effort.  But I am now back at it.  Last night I pushed myself to come up with something that I found appealing.  You know that I love pasta, so I put together a penne dish with ham, sausage, sweet peas, sun-dried tomatoes and a creamy garlic alfredo sauce that I spiced up very nicely.  It was really good – not too heavy but tons of flavor.  The ham and sausage were very complementary, too. Glad I pushed myself on this one.  I was also smart enough to make some extra sauce with all the ingredients added.  So next time, my pasta of choice is all I need.  Can’t wait.  A picture of the dish is below.  Feast your eyes – and don’t hate me.  Hehe.  Talk soon. Ham Sausage Pea Penne

Getting By

I have not made a secret of the fact that I am dealing with a divorce and that I’m sad about it.  So, I get a LOT of people greeting me with a concerned look and the question, “How are you doing?”  Well, early on I was likely to be open and thorough in describing my emotional state.  But these folks have heard all that, so now I’m inclined to answer, “I’m getting by”.  Which IS an honest answer – I’m putting one foot in front of the other and so on.  But to me “I’m getting by” is shorthand for “It’s a struggle” or “I’m trying hard but not where I want to be”  Something along those lines.  Apparently, however, that is NOT what most people seem to hear.  When I say “I’m getting by”, the most common reaction I get is “Good” or “Glad to hear it”.  Like I’ve told them things are going well.  I always wonder “Good?  Compared to what – going crazy, committing suicide (or murder), maybe being homeless in the streets?”  I’m perplexed.

You see, I’ve NEVER been a “getting by” type of person.  I was conditioned from the start that only excellence and achievement were laudable – heck, even acceptable.  I watched my father struggle against incredibly high standards, despite a sub-par education and many other challenges.  And I saw the frustration (and rage) that resulted from his perception that he was falling short. I heard him and my mother relentlessly preach the gospel of excellence. I often experienced his disapproval, even when what I thought was a noteworthy achievement fell short of his expectations (such as, after I graduated from one of the best colleges in the country magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with a 3.8 GPA, oh, and as an All American swimmer, he told me I could have been Valedictorian if I had tried harder.  That sound you hear is the air rushing from my body as I quickly deflate…).  Now, I have by no means adopted my parents’ standards or expectations, but I have ALWAYS expected excellence of myself, applied myself to that end and often achieved it.  So, to me “getting by” is far from attractive or “good”.  Frankly, it feels pretty dismal to me.  Come to think of it, it kind of feels like what my Dad so vigorously railed against all his life.  Yeah, “getting by” seems like a pretty bad status to me.

But apparently not to others around me.  They say “good” or “glad to hear it”.  Maybe I need to understand why.  Or to think about what it would mean if “getting by” became good to me.  Would I be happier?  Would I struggle less?  I’ve thought a lot about this, and my best guess is that they are saying that as long as my health and sanity are intact, I’m ok and should be happy that I’m making progress and pushing forward.  A friend of mine once stated, quite eloquently, “Being OK is underrated”.  For me, “OK” was never the goal.  It was never particularly desirable, either.  Maybe I need to reassess that attitude.  Like my father, setting expectations that are not realistic or achievable is probably hurting me – specifically, adding to my sadness and poor self image.  And, right now, I really can’t afford that kind of impact on my mood.  So, I’m going to work (for now; it doesn’t have to be permanent, right?) on learning how to accept and embrace just being OK.  And getting by.  That should keep me plenty busy.  And challenged.  Wish me luck!  Talk soon.

 

Alone In A Crowd

It has been pretty rough 4th of July holiday weekend for me – a very LONG weekend at that.  My apartment is located immediately above a major recreational area – containing a harbor, pier, boardwalk and beach plus lots of restaurants, bars, etc.  You get the picture.  Of course, this is a huge holiday, right smack in the middle of summer.  Which means that families are out in big numbers.  I am used to taking long walks with my dogs and bike rides along the beach.  Usually those activities pick me up and brighten my mood.  But for the last 5 days, I have felt surrounded by people, noise, and, most difficult of all, lots of happy families.  Sigh…

Mind you, I LOVE families and especially small children.  I enjoy watching them interact and usually end up thinking about similar times or interactions with my family – my wife and kids I mean.  Until recently that was a really good thing.  But now, I tend to spiral downward into real sadness when I observe other families and think about mine.  I am painfully aware that my family, as I loved and cherished it for so long, no longer exists.  It makes even my best memories hard to enjoy.  So, the last five days have been a real challenge – inundated with the sounds and sights of happy, busy families that remind me of what I have lost.  And nowhere to go to escape it, either – it’s been crazy busy EVERYWHERE.

Today I decided to try and embrace the holiday.  It was a beautiful day and I needed exercise.  So I decided to take a bike ride, enjoy the sun, maybe watch some beach volleyball.  Well, the bike path was jammed the entire way – people riding slowly and erratically, others walking three and four wide, and just lots and lots of bodies.  Not much relief there.  OK, I dealt with that; managed to get a decent ride in anyway.  Felt a little better.  One for the home team.  Next, tonight there was a fireworks show very close to me.  My deck looks right out to the show area, but I thought it would be a good thing to take my dogs down to a big grass area where folks were gathering.  Thought I might feel more a part of things.  The park was very full, but I found a good spot, sat down, played with the dogs for a while and waited for the show.  But the whole time I was very conscious that I was there by myself.  I was surrounded by families, lovers, groups of friends, etc.  And, despite the presence of my two cute dogs (usually a sure conversation starter), not a single person spoke to me.  It was a lovely night, but a really bad experience.  Halfway through the show I headed back to my apartment – where I saw the rest of the show very nicely.

So, I’m not sure what the next step is.  I don’t want to live in the past, especially if doing  so is causing me pain.  But I have so many and such vivid memories of times I cherish – and now miss – that it’s hard to keep from being lost in them.  Most of the time I can minimize the damage.  This week I was overwhelmed.  But of more concern is my inability to enjoy those precious memories without focusing on my losses and becoming morose.  I have a lifetime of beautiful memories I want to keep whole.  I wrote a poem about this very subject.  It is entitled “Preserving The Memories” and its link may be found here: Preserving The Memories

I’ll try to be more up for my next post.  I’m glad to have July 4th behind me, though.  Talk soon.