Sunday, July 8, 2012

You Got to Know When to Hold ‘Em

Espanola (squiggly over 'n'), New Mexico is deemed the "Low-Rider Capital of the World.” 
I saw first-hand that this is true.  I also saw Rockin Christian Church (where folks rock out with Jesus) and Mighty Modular Fine Pre-Fabs (as opposed to the cheap, nasty ones). 
The business sign, in Espanola, that made me laugh out loud was at a brake & tire shop.
It was a big, bold neon that read:
“If You Can’t Stop, Then Wave.”

Espanola is population 9,000 and the majority of folk live in double wide communities and hang out at this burger joint. 
You’d think a girl like me would feel at home, but I got the hell out of there fairly quickly.

The road north out of Espanola gave me my first peek of the Rio Grande.  As a little "dyke tyke" my dad used to tell stories of the Old West and how the cowboys saved us all from the blood-thirsty savages etc, and he always hailed the Rio Grande as one of the biggest, most powerful rivers in all of America.
There has been a drought this year in our southern states, (Let’s not call it "global warming." That’s a crock.) and though it was a breath of fresh air from Espanola, it was no raging river.

I grew up in Ventura County; land of lemon orchards, strawberry fields and neighbors that went to church on Sundays, whether they needed it or not.  We, on the other hand, prayed and idolized "The Duke" and at one time, we even had a painting of John Wayne on black velvet.
He was altar-worthy in our house.
Right up there with Roy Rogers, Johnny Cash and Ronald Reagan. 
As essential to our daily lives as The Brady Bunch, bicycling until dark and Hamburger Helper made with high-fat ground beef from the sale bin. 

I saw a lot of Espanola in the folks at the trailer park.  Simple folk just like you.  Just like me.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that I really wasn’t the right person for the manager job there. 
I suppose this realization has come to me in hindsight, as lessons often do.  
Leaving the park was a thought-out decision and more so, an action that had to happen.
I was becoming a pathetic, co-dependent, guilt-ridden manager; trying to appease the
whack-jobs/residents, while trying to enforce all the “regs” and all the while, attempting not to drink as much as they did.
When I left the park, I continued blogging, much to the egotistical put-downs of my former writing partner who, with his cold, flagstone face, remarked more than once, “Hmmm...I don’t know.  Your blog has taken a turn and it’s just not as good since you left the trailer park.  It’s as if you’re speaking in two voices now.” 
At that time, I was consumed by four-letter words, which were exploding in my head like granddaddy's sawed-off shotgun.
"You self-absorbed, domineering, lookist , misogynist, control-freak!” were just a few of my thought-bursts directed at him. 
But time is often the best teacher and soon I realized that my drive for writing is hard, strong, tough as nails and my action to leave the trailer park has, in fact, opened a huge vat of creative possibilities.  And time is the perfect guide, showing a girl like me how to "let go"of folks that stand in the way of those possibilities.
If I live, breathe and write within that realm of possibilities, the world is mine and there are endless situations, opportunities, potentials.
Decisions/actions can be like that, you know.  The old saying “There will be consequences for your actions” can, in reality, manifest itself to instead be, 
“There are possibilities for your actions” and those possibilities are phenomenal; transforming the way we look at things and how we walk in the world!
Think about it.  When we (finally) take action to exercise, we are overcome with endorphins and a euphoric feeling that gives us energy and a positive outlook for the rest of the day.  
If we buy a homeless man a cup of coffee and a sandwich, we are touched deeply by his gratitude and therefore we are able to see our own.  When we are struck with insomnia, (y’all know who y’all are)  rather than lie there and fill our heads with angry, bubbling gases that feel as if they'll  burst out of our skulls, we make a decision, take action, to get the hell up out of that bed and read a good book or write a poem or even clean the damn kitchen!   And because of our own action, the outcome has grand possibilities: we either are able to go back to bed and slumber or we see a sunrise.

Last week, at my humble little tea shop, my life took a turn down Serenity Street when a couple from out of town walked in to browse.
Instantly,  I was drawn to the woman’s ability to offer up eye-contact, a warm smile and genuine conversation that flowed so naturally from her mouth, one would believe she and I knew each other in some weird past life kinda place.
Sometimes you just meet people like this. 
I took action, although some might say I just made a small, insignificant decision to engage with her, but in my heart of hearts, and for the purpose of this blog, I must tell you, I took action and allowed any walls to crumble down with the same ease and steady pace equivalent to hers.  This action opened a door and that door is a door to possibilities.  Rose lives in Long Beach and I in Monterey, but we've been emailing ever since.
Now some of you might be thinking, “Big deal, Lucille.”  but I, on the other hand, am thinking this: “Meaning-full.” 
Whether we choose to call it simplistic or extraordinary…insignificant or monumental…
dull or magic…At the end of the day, it’s that choice that leads to either a consequence or a possibility, and in a world that will not only push us around, if we let it, but also pass us by if we aren’t paying close attention, why not choose possibility!?!

Last year, I was on a flight from Austin to San Jose via Denver.  I was determined not speak to anyone on the plane and had made a conscious decision, prior to boarding, to fold 'em and fake sleep during the flight.  Well, that didn't happen because the plane took drop dead drops all around Denver and I grabbed the arm of the man to my left, scared shitless we were all going down. (If I were Catholic, I'd had said a few Hail Mary's.)
His name's Curt and he, his wife and their kids all live in Denver.  He was different.  Special.
I felt it; knew it from the eye-contact he gave me. Caring. Genuine.  (Nothing like my ex-writing partner.)   When he got home, he facilitated an introduction, via cyberspace, between his wife, Susan and I.   Susan is this cool, vibrant mom, writer and executive director of an educational program called Lily's Truth, which is implemented in classrooms as an anti-bullying tool.
She's also the author of a frolic down Menopause Lane called Smokin Hot Mama!
And Susan is a stranger.  She and I have never met, but there's magic there, and someday we'll see one another face to face. I'm sure she has great eye-contact too.  I'm certain our energy will flow as if we were sisters in a past life.

Last October 15, my partner and I answered an ad that a woman had tacked to a bulletin board.
She was seeking 8 weeks of temporary housing. 
The ad described her as a single woman in her mid-sixties, fixed income, learning disability, seeking a room for 8 weeks while finishing her AA degree at the local college.
No drinking.  No smoking.  Quiet…the flier went on to say.  
I called immediately.  I called because we could use the extra cash.  I called because I have a tattoo right smack in the middle of my forehead that says, in bold font,
“All weak, differently-abled humans and animals in need, call me for help.”
Isabelle moved in October 15, 2011.  Isabelle is still with us as of July 7, 2012.
You might be asking yourself, “Did my actions bring consequences or possibilities?” 
Both.   But in this moment, I would say, mostly possibilities. 
For sure, she’s a teacher among us, though her teaching style often leaves one laughing out loud and excessively drinking wine at all hours of the day and night, simply because she can be a bit odd.
However, she’s a compassionate cat-sitter, a Squirrel Whisperer and wise sage. Because she is vehicleless, she knows the weather and bus schedules like nobody's business.  I like that.
I’m lucky she’s passing through my life.

Just like I was lucky to have known Space 16 and 19.  Space 16, reminded me of the importance of innocence. She also gave me the chance to listen to Karen Carpenter again.  Space 19, who I had an ‘entanglement’ with, which wasn't pretty at the time, turned out to be quite sweet and gave me the gift of acceptance.
I wouldn't have known that, if I had chosen to fold 'em.  Instead, I did what any trailer park manager would do... I made Space 19 a Bundt cake. 
Because of  that action, all future interactions were pleasant.
It's kinda like not caring if the wine glass is half full or half empty 'cuz either way, there's still room for more wine.
You gotta hold ‘em or fold ‘em in this life, and if you choose to hold ‘em, OMG, you'll reap
an armful of possibilities!  

I am reminded of my dear and holy friend, Shem, who comes to mind because she walks in this world with her eyes wide open.  She never folds.  And if she does, she's somehow able to dive deep into the how’s and why’s and then remarkably shovels her way back out.
She's able to embrace all that is good and true.
The list of adjectives to describe her is incredibly long and, suffice to say, would fill an
entire blog by itself.  But one thing I would like to bring to your attention:
Shem has a camera.  And she is the Mistress of the Lens.
This camera is an extension of her eyes, yes, but more so, it is an extension of her soul, and with her camera she, again, never folds.  Always noticing, always searching, always capturing the essence of life’s possibilities, whether in the salty waves at her feet, on the dirt path lined with delicate grasses that move freely in the wind, or whether it's in the faces of the people who aren’t looking.
Shem’s photographs, as well as her actions, define her and define all of us if we remain
open to such chances.

I’m on a natural high this evening; take me down country roads Johnny Denver kinda high and
I'm hoping it’s infectous and contagious for y’all.
My partner has a big bowl of ripe, juicy cherries right now and she won't share even
one with me.
No big deal.  
She can have her cherries and eat ‘em too. 
‘Cuz I’m just merrily rollin along…


  1. I was right...this is a wonderfully refreshing up-beat blog. I think I just may have to go back right now and read it again. So I will...

  2. Awesome, Val! I love your writing style. Deep. Funny. Real. Honest. Feisty. And GOOD! This blog was exceptional in it's message. I love that concept: Consequences create possibilities! A great, and new approach to choices. As usual, you had me laughing out loud:
    1. I called because I have a tattoo right smack in the middle of my forehead that says, in bold font,
    “All weak, differently-abled humans and animals in need, call me for help.”
    2. I did what any trailer park manager would do... I made Space 19 a Bundt cake.

    LOL! Thanks for the inspiration. It IS contagious. : )

  3. Dear Val, Anonymous Amy says you have turned the lemon orchards of your youth into some soul-quenching lemonade! As usual, your blogs are engaging to the point of complete absorption, poignant, yet with that ass-kickin' punch. And usually full of timely advice...thankyou, I needed that. Love, Ames

  4. Stacey----Angela's little sis : )July 14, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    I look forward to your kick ass blogs. I love to read them because of the messages and things I learn from them, and I can't wait to read the next and the next. My life has been difficult lately and your blogs help me.... LOVE, LAUGH, SND ENJOY LIFE!!!!!!