Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Expanding my experiences

The new job has opened up my hours. Before, I used to work every evening, every holiday, every weekend.....in other words, every opportunity for actually having a life.

Now I have off on Monday, and I have Wednesday and Saturday evenings free. And it's looking like I'm just flat out gonna go for it, and lose my one single day at the restaurant on Sunday.

I've been going out and doing things. There are my trips to Laurel Hill Cemetery. I just went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art yesterday for the first time since I was a teen. And I'm going to a concert at Pennypack Park on Wednesday. I have other ideas for places I'm going to go to in the near future.....places that are of cultural or historic interest, and places that just seem like they'd be a lot of fun.

I hadn't realized just how profound of a void I've been living in until I'm not there anymore. Yeah, I realized that my opportunities had been severely limited because of my restaurant hours. Yeah, I realized that I was probably missing out on a whole lot of "normal" life experiences. But I didn't know just how much until recently.

I'm also realizing that I finally have the time to explore my other latent passions, like creating artwork and researching topics of interest. I'm also going to have the financial resources to make all of this happen.

Life still isn't perfect. But at least now I feel like I can breathe.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Laurel Hill Cemetery




I've been taking these day trips out to Laurel Hill Cemetery on Ridge Avenue and Kelly Drive. This historic landmark was founded in 1836 as an alternative to the overcrowded churchyard burial grounds and small family plots that were losing the battle of continuous city construction and expansion. Laurel Hill was designed as a peaceful alternative - the rural cemetery, safe from development and rich with horticulturist delights, beautiful monuments, and a spectacular view of the Schuylkill River.

On my single day off from work, I'll often pack a lunch (ask me to explain my "two drink strategy" sometime) and head on down to this new favorite place of serenity. As soon as I walk through the arched gateway, I feel as if I've entered a secret delight where the rest of the world can't touch me even if they could find me. I'll spend hours walking around barefoot and exploring.

I'll often wonder if the younger generation could spend an entire afternoon in a place utterly bereft of technology and gadgets!

I do make use of a little technology while I'm there in the form of my cell phone. I'll use its internet connection to Google the names on the grave markers of people who have caught my imagination. And I'll use its camera to capture glimpses of beautiful things that inspire me. I'd really like to finally purchase a real camera to do the place proper justice. I think maybe I'll do that next month! Oh no.....does this mean I'm actually getting a hobby?

The grounds of the cemetery are spectacular. I've seen many of its moods, whether it be a sunny springtime afternoon, a rainy or overcast summer morning, or the ridiculously colorful backdrop of the Autumn trees and sky. I've even witnessed the surreal sharpness that it chooses to reveal to its initiates in the Winter.....crisp dark lines of bare tree branches and the almost alive sculptures in start contrast to the vivid blue sky in the background. It is a place of true magic when there's snow on the ground. It's amazing.

The stones will speak to you if you take the time to listen. Sometimes the engravings on the sculptures are quite detailed about the people they're memorializing, and with a little Google search, you might even find pictures of them while they were still alive along with the stories of their lives. Most of the time, however, it's a lot more subtle. You might only get some names and dates. But if you have your mind open to the experience, some very real stories start to take shape. The stories contain horrific grief and suffering at times. But they also speak about love, hope, passion, faith, imagination, and the uniquely intelligent and inspired nature of humanity.

Many people who know me can't understand how a cemetery can be such an attraction for me. I can only tell them that they'd have to go to see it for themselves. Even if they don't get as hypnotized as I have become, at the very least they would get a perspective on its historical, artistic, and horticultural value. And they would understand that I have not become one of those ghost hunter nut-jobs or a goth kid. I haven't gone over to "the dark side". I've simply found a very beautiful and significant place to explore.

I hope I never grow tired of visiting Laurel Hill. It seems that every time I go there, I notice something new and amazing. I hope the cemetery never stops telling me its stories. I'm becoming a very good listener.








Friday, May 20, 2011

Apocalype, please





To quote my son Tommy regarding the May 21, 2011 Apocalypse......."Man, there's gonna be a lot of fundies offing themselves when they figure out there's been a glitch in the Matrix."






Sunday, May 15, 2011

Breathing

I was just sitting outside on the balcony, sipping on a sugar-free Slurpee and smoking a cig, and watching a beautiful thunderstorm. And then it hit me.....I am still in love with life. And I think I'm still in love with my life.

The past seven months have been hell. I had been basically molested and taken advantage of in the worst way possible. Then I had a chance at genuine love again, only to have it quickly ripped away from me before it was fully realized. I struggled to get my new career launched, with several false starts and frustrating detours. I moved twice. I was at the point where I was feeling lost, terrified, unlovable, washed up, horrifically betrayed, exhausted, old, and ugly. I wasn't even sure what was the point of getting out of bed. I had felt like the Gods had utterly abandoned me.

There are still moments when I suffer complete panic attacks.....the kind that catch me completely off guard and startle the living daylights outta me because I thought I was finally over that crap. My heart pounds, I sweat, I cry hysterically, I feel like the entire universe is crushing in on me, and I can't breathe. I feel terrified. I swear I would rather die than experience those sensations. But I eventually recover, and wonder why I let myself feel so weak and helpless. I move on.

With the attacks becoming less and less frequent, I'm beginning to enjoy a whole lot more clarity and perspective. I'm beginning to appreciate a sense of feeling like I have been taken care of by some loving force all along, even though it sure didn't feel like it at the time. I haven't been put out on the streets. I've had enough work to keep me afloat. I'm surrounded by dear friends who are more like family than my own family had ever been. I've realized that two jobs that I did not land would have only made me miserable, and instead I've almost stumbled upon the perfect job for me. I still have my own private clients. And it even looks like I'm finally going to be able to quit my restaurant job in a month or two! I've even reconnected with my sister after a couple of years of absence.

I'm still feeling lonely. I can see the road ahead of me is still going to take some careful footing and patience. I know there are no guarantees. But I'm starting to breathe. I'm learning. And I'm full of hope.

After all of the sorrow that has taken up residence in my heart for so long completely rent-free, all that I can say now is I'm glad the worst is over, and I can finally start to look forward to some of my tomorrows.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Just for today

Just for today
I will not worry what tomorrow will bring, no
I’m gonna try something new and walk through this day
Like I’ve got nothing to prove, yeah
Although I have the best intentions
I can't predict anyone's reactions
So I’ll just do my best
I'll put one foot in front of the other
Keep on moving forward
And let God do the rest

I don’t know what’s gonna happen
That’s alright with me
I open up my arms and I embrace the mystery
I don’t know what’s gonna happen
That’s alright with me
I open up my arms and I embrace the mystery

Just for today
I’m telling the truth like it's going out of style
I'm gonna swallow my pride and be who I am
And I don’t care who don’t like it, yeah
I feel the fear but I do it anyway
I won't let it stand in the way
I know what I must do
There’s no guarantee that it’ll be easy
But I know that it’ll be fulfilling
And it's time for me to sure improve

It’s okay not to know
Exploration is how we grow
It’s okay to not have the answer
Cuz sometimes
It’s the question that matters

I don’t know what’s gonna happen
That’s alright with me
I open up my arms and I embrace the mystery
I don’t know what’s gonna happen
That’s alright with me
I open up my arms and I embrace the mystery
India.Arie

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hope

Even when the sky is heavily overcast, the sun hasn't disappeared. It's still there on the other side of the clouds.
Eckhart Tolle

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Starting Over

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.
Chinese Proverb