Monday, May 30, 2011

It's a Good Day for the Blues

Not only is that one of the greatest songs ever written, Malford Milligan, Storyville's soulful, sage, black-albino lead singer is right, "Sometimes you fly so high, you can't find a place to land,” but still... "It's a good day for the blues." Well, I get it. Though I am the recipient of countless, huge blessings (I’m marrying an amazing man this summer, the children we share in this space are healthy and happy, we’re building a beautiful home that’s one step closer to finished every day, etc. etc.), I find myself complaining about something... nothing... everything... anything, and frankly - it's ridiculous. In fact, when I went home to Appalachia a little while ago, my mom was so exasperated that she called me on it and said, “mkromd, do you think we created language as a species to accommodate your inner need to whine? If so, do you suppose Mother Nature gave me feet to walk away from you while you do it… or to simply put my foot up your ass so you’ll stop?”

I ask you, in all honesty - is it all becoming clearer how I became this person? Is it?

The worst part is that she’s right. Scratch that, the WORST part is that she had my family jump on the bandwagon. And I don’t mean my brothers and sister – people with whom I can actually fight back. I mean her cousins and aunts, women in their seventies, eighties and nineties. People you simply can’t debate… and not just because they’re deaf or because your mother will kill you for being disrespectful. Women you can’t bitch in front of because they actually have reasons to complain… and still don’t do it. Women who have buried children and partners, witnessed more than one war, and fought for the right to vote, the right to fair pay, and the right to live their lives as they see fit. Women who did all of it with a stiff upper lip... in a corset... silently... grateful for the things they had - not miserable over the things they lost.

So, when these women tell you, “You’re missing out on the happiest times of your life.” You listen.

And then you loosely remember the words of comedic genius, Louis CK, who basically said, “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy. In my lifetime alone, the changes in the world have been incredible. When I was a kid, we had a rotary phone - a phone that you had to stand NEXT to and you had to DIAL it. It was so primitive that it actually sparked, and it made you hate people with zeros in their numbers - because it was more work. You were like, ‘This guy's number has two zeros, screw him.’ And if someone called and you weren't home, the phone would just ring lonely by itself. There was no voicemail… And if you wanted money, you had to go INTO the bank (during the three hours it was open), stand in line, and write yourself a check… like an idiot. Then... when you ran out of money, you just couldn’t do anything. You were broke and you were done…

We live in an amazing world, and it's wasted on people who don’t appreciate it. Everyone has their own phone and we all complain if we lose a signal - even though that signal is going to space and needs a second to get back… And that's not even the worst of it. FLYING is the worst.

People come back from flights, tell you about it, and make it sound like a horror story. They actually turn their flight into the equivalent of the Oregon Trail and make it sound like the worst day of their life, ‘First of all we didn't board for 20 minutes. Then we got on the plane ONLY to sit on the runway for 40 minutes. We had to SIT there.’ To which I want to reply, ‘Oh really, what happened next? Did you fly through the air like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight? You were flying! That's amazing! Everybody on every plane should be constantly telling themselves, ‘Oh my God, WOW, we’re flying. We’re sitting in a chair in the sky... and sure it doesn't go back a lot… and it smells... but we’re FLYING.’ Cause, here's the thing. People talk about flight delays, but you can go from New York to California in FIVE hours. That trip used to take thirty years and a bunch of you would die along the way (and/or have a baby)... Seriously, you'd be with a whole different group of people by the time you got there. Now you watch a movie and you're home…”

Or something like that. I could never do him justice, so you’ll have to Google it. In the meantime, have a great week, and don’t sweat the small stuff, because - to quote the true God of comedy, Woody Allen, “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon.” Talk to you later.

Monday, May 23, 2011

To quote the Buddha, "Attachment causes suffering."

... and to quote my best friend at lunch last week, "mkromd, even your emotional baggage is Prada." Personally, I think both of them are saying the same thing... which is unfortunate for me because I tend to be that person who keeps good luggage for life. But I digress. This post isn't a silent cry for help about my Prada “problem.” It's actually about a book I'm re-reading called, "A New Earth" by Eckhardt Tolle. If you haven't read it, you should. It's life-changing. However, I should warn you - it's not an easy read. It's about learning to extinguish your ego.

Now... at this point in our story, it should be noted that my ego is the Mohammed Ali of egos (except that it doesn't fly like a butterfly, it flies coach because it's incredibly cheap when it comes to airfare… how do you think I can afford Prada on my budget). But that's STILL not the point. The point is that my ego will not go down without a fight. In fact, it's SO massive that the other night, as I was lying in bed reading this book, I honestly said to myself, "Self... what if the eight people who don’t know you but read mkromd anyway think you've stopped writing because you were taken on May 21 by the Rapture? Perhaps you should write something - just so no one wonders.” Yes. Really.

At any rate, I apologize if you were worried. I wasn’t raptured; I’ve just been swamped… especially a few weeks ago, when I was summoned home (to Appalachia by my family for my nephew’s graduation party not by God to avoid Armageddon – just to clarify). And, while there, I ran my ego’s end-of-times concerns past my mother, who ACTUALLY said, “Yes, you and Kissinger must have been worried sick about the people you’d leave behind.” When I reminded her that our former Secretary of State’s out-of-control ego orchestrated the Vietnam War for personal and political gain, she had the nerve to add insult to injury by replying, “True, but if there’s only one slot left, and it’s between you and him, he has a Nobel Peace Prize.”

Thank God my ego isn’t just massive, it also suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, which makes it hard to hold a grudge (well, truth be told, it has ADHD and something else, but when my therapist diagnosed me, I wasn’t really paying attention, so I have NO idea what all I have).

On the UP note, while I was home, I also got to spend some time with my brother (who is an incredibly gentle being that was badly damaged in an ugly divorce but has found solace in organic gardening). So we’re standing in this amazing vegetable patch he’s planted and he’s explaining to me why he doesn’t know if he can come to my wedding because he just doesn’t believe in marriage anymore and he doesn’t want his negative energy to impact my happiness, etc. etc. When I asked him if he was at least dating (it’s only been seven years), he jokingly said, “I don’t know. Maybe I need a sign.” And that’s when we HONESTLY (I swear on all that is holy) heard, “THIS IS THE VOICE OF GOD….”

But… to tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.

Several years ago, our oldest brother was in a horrible accident and almost died. He was thankfully life-flighted from our local hospital to a state-of-the-art one an hour away, where they saved his life. In return, my parents and several of their friends donated land in the woods near their homes for another helicopter pad - should anyone else ever need that kind of medical assistance. And from time-to-time, even though it’s fenced and gated, because it has Loud Speakers for Public Announcements, people use it for non-medical events as well (tornado warnings, etc). However, given the May 21 Rapture madness, this time it was being used illegally by a religious group. Yes, they broke in and started proselytizing.

Now… that they broke into a gated helicopter pad so God could easily find and take them wasn’t the good part. That they were announcing their location to him… JUST IN CASE... was AWESOME. And it wasn’t just that they were crazy… it’s that they were crazy and shouting the BEST questions like, “Are you a crack whore? Are you a womanizer? Have you tried to find Jesus in a bottle...” that made my brother and me drop EVERYTHING and haul through the woods to answer them. Too bad the cops showed up before God. I REALLY wanted to confess that the Devil does indeed wear Prada.

At dinner that night, when we told our mother what we had done, she said, “Be glad you weren’t caught. You wouldn’t just be gettin it from your Uncle, the town Judge, you’d be Armagettin from me.” At seventy, she’s still funny.