All posts by Bridgesburning Chris King

The older I get the more amazed I am at the simplicity of life and at the same time the complexity of it. I think sometimes we make the simplicity complicated by our own ingenuity and the insistence that something so wonderful cannot be simple. Perhaps our greatest failure is to make complex that which is not.

7 Reasons Why I Could Never Be a Real Girl

  1. As a child I had no interest in dolls.  Yup, when all my friends played with their ceramic, stuffed or plastic family, combing, washing, feeding, changing, burping I watched and thought ..ugh.  I had my share of these, even one as tall as me, in a wedding dress, Walking Doll, and found their company boring.  I envied my brothers their Meccano Sets with the nuts and bolts and wrenches.
  2. At about three I had a miniature tea set and table and chairs and my grandmother would visit and we would have ‘tea’.  It was a good way to learn proper table manners but I remember my three year old brain wondering why anyone would pretend to pour tea and pretend to drink it.  No satisfaction there.
  3. Books were my big interest and instead of imaginary friends I daydreamed of being in the far east with Pearl S. Buck’s characters, thinking I would make a pretty good missionary or geisha girl, or working as a nurse with Dr. Tom Dooley in the jungles of Africa healing the sick and stamping out disease.  I also lapped up all information on martyrs and considered that like Joan of Arc I could go out in flames.  I just knew martyrdom was my destiny (that goodness I was wrong on that one).  For a long time I was an archeologist having adventured with Howard Carter in finding King Tut’s tomb and the curse of course.  I wasn’t that crazy about Nancy Drew but could not get enough of Trixie Belden.
  4. I had crushes on boys but not in that sighing lovey way, I wanted to be on their team while they skated in our backyard in the winter and dove on the high diving board in the summer.
  5. As an adult when at parties with other couples I had no interest in sitting with a group of women chatting about style, hair, or gossip.  I wanted to be swimming, climbing, laughing with the boys/men and I usually did.  When visiting in England once, following tea the men said, “Well we are off to the pub.”  I don’t think my female hostesses were too pleased when I jumped up and said, “Great! I’m going too.”  And I did.
  6. I am not a shopper and it seems almost blasphemous to admit it when I have dear friends and loved one who LOVE  to shop and will do so for hours at a time.  My SIL calls it retail therapy and can even go for hours, not buy anything and come home feeling satisfied.  I just don’t get it.  If I need something I shop and hope the stars and the universe are aligned so I can find what I need quickly and painlessly.  I do have to say I envy their results in finding great deals but everything I like at a particular moment is not on sale.
  7. This one I think is probably the biggest sin in ‘girl world’ and I hope none of you scorn me for it but…. I just cannot see what the fuss is about purses, handbags, pocketbooks, bags… well you get the idea.  Now I know men can carry them too, but an inner voice keeps telling me they must have been invented by men to keep women subservient and dependent upon their protection.  With our arms full we cannot defend ourselves or move freely. Think about it, men generally walk free, while we tote a thing, which to my mind slow us down, weighs us down, and stops us from freedom.  And why do we want to subject ourselves to that?  You can imagine my horror when women began craving not only the dreaded purse but bags that cost hundreds of dollars.  Just to be able to say the words – Coach Bag.
  8. coach handbag***I have given in somewhat to purses large enough to hold my computer or tablet as these are definitely important but oh my I do feel like a genetic outcast because I cannot embrace ‘The Bag’

It is What it is OR Is it?

It is What it Is

Or

Is it?

Lately it seems I am hearing the statement, IT IS WHAT IT IS more frequently than ever before.  Perhaps I am just sensitive to it because for some reason it rubs me the wrong way.  People interviewed on TV are saying it, people around me are saying it.  Something about it just doesn’t sound right.  So I have to ask why.

I guess most would mean it to sound like a situation or circumstance is real, and there is merit in that but somehow it is, to me, an incomplete thought.

This is what I hear when that sentence is spoken:

It is what it is – finality

It is what it is – therefore nothing can be done about it

It is what it is – so suck it up

It is what it is – nothing can change it

It is what it is – and like the proverbial leopard unable to change its spots neither can we change this

It is what it is – so give up

It is what it is – accept it

This is what I want to hear when that sentence is spoken:

It is what it is – but what can it be?

It is what it is – but how can we change it?

It is what it is – and we will change it.

It is what it is – but we still have hope

It is what it is – but nothing is impossible

It is what it is – but we will not stop trying to improve it.

It is what it is – and we will change it!

Simple – Drama Free – Natural

Simple – Drama Free -Natural

 

On October seventh, two thousand and fourteen at ……wait, wait, wait! This is not a report filled with dot dot dot facts closely documented and devoid of feeling, it’s a telling, of an experience. So I start again.

In the fall of this year; not late September, or early December, and certainly not November I had an experience so simple, drama free, and natural feeling I find it difficult to talk about it.

It seems to me that we have been groomed by media, government, world leaders, teachers, purveyors of life and wisdom, to respond to enhanced drama. It’s what sells. Hamburgers, cars, life styles, attitudes, beliefs, politics, religion, acceptability – all sold as a big WOW!

Is it age or is it developing maturity of mind and soul, not age related, that leads me to conclude that the very basis, the very core of our existence lies in a quiet place untouched by human interpretation?

Certain recent events have me playing with ideas and questions that appear elusive and difficult to nail down. Not disturbing in an agitated way.

I had an anaesthetic for an aforementioned problem. I’ve had them before on occasion for some routine matters probably three or four times in the last fifty years and sometimes I remember the odd recovery room event but generally the PACU (post anaesthetic care room) experience is at best pretty foggy.

This one I remember, the experience, clear as a bell as if it happened moments ago.

My first awareness was intense. I felt myself breathing, or really not breathing. A distant part of me felt as I exhaled my last breath and it seemed such a pleasant easy thing to do. I was aware of being at the head of the stretcher and seeing myself lying before me. No, unlike other stories I have heard on this I was not floating above anything looking down.

I was first aware of lightness, NOT the light at the end of a tunnel thing, just feeling very light. Not airy, just aware, young I think, and my only conclusion for thinking that is what I was aware of. For the first time in years I had no pain. No sensation of pain. No sensation of weightiness.

I looked around the large recovery room and was aware of five stretchers along a far wall most with 2 staff at each. The colors were vibrant. The walls, sheets, nurses, machinery.   My stretcher then a vacant space and then another stretcher against a far wall perpendicular to the long wall with the five stretchers.

I felt amazed at how perfect my sight was. Everything was absolutely clear. Then I became aware of my hearing. I could hear everything, distinguish every word spoken softly by staff at each station. And its not like conversations going on at the same time, a muddle of noise. I could hear the exact words of each conversation as though I could just zero in at will to each one. I remember thinking I must remember to tell a nurse across the room something related to her vacation she had just returned from.

While I was so clearly attuned to everything around me, in the distance I could hear something clanging, buzzers going off and some sort of activity I felt quite removed from but which seemed to need my attention.

One second, or millisecond I said, “Am I dead?” as I grew more amazed at all around me and at the same time more aware of the kerfuffle going on with noise and activity in my more immediate area. No fear as I recall, more a question of interest.

That’s when it occurred to me that perhaps I should try breathing and at the same time had a flash of wonder at how I was going to get inside this body of mine.

It all seemed to happen in a flash. One moment I am free, unencumbered, weightless and pain free and the next I found trying to take a breath difficult, with a great belt of pain around my body and aware I should call for help, and trying to raise my right arm and thinking that bodies especially arms are so weighty, so heavy.

Finally I could make a sound and kept trying to say, “Pain, high epigastric….” – Thinking to myself that is often symptomatic of cardiac problems in women.

When I opened my eyes the anaesthetist and what seemed a large number of people were around me. A nurse to the left of me was injecting something into my IV and saying to the doctor, “ I am injecting dilaudid now and have already given her oxycodone.” I remember thinking first that I did not know either of those drugs could be given intravenously and second that it was a lot of medicine to be giving to anyone.  The anaesthetist told me my EKG was normal.

It worked and my whole body relaxed. I drifted off to sleep now and then for the rest of my recovery room experience and remember a couple of times remembering how nice it was that last breath had felt. I had enough awareness to hear the alarm go off as my oxygen levels lowered and one nurse starting at my bedside saying to another, “its okay, just watch, she will correct herself and start breathing again.” And I did. It took some effort but I did.

I related this story to someone whose immediate response was, “Is that because of the anaesthetic because I don’t believe in religion.”

My immediate response was that this was not a religious thing, it was an energy thing and I was surprised to find myself saying that. I realized also this was not what some might call a Near Death Experience. If it had to be labeled I think it would be more an Out of Body Experience.

This does not negate in anyway religions, believes, or afterlives. This was something that happened that was more immediate more personal, more intimate than can accurately be described. And my fear in trying to write about it that I make it sound more shallow than it was.

Was I afraid? Not in the least.

When it appeared for a short time that I might require more surgery I fussed to myself about the idea of having another anaesthetic. It took a bit to define just why. In this consciousness I am aware of all I would be leaving for a time. Family, friends, love.

The feeling of being unencumbered – the closest word I can find to describe the indescribable, is tempting and I am not sure that with the next occurrence that I would have the strength or desire to come back.

It was nice but even with pain and distress and life in general this is an existence I do not want to give up too readily.

**As a little catch up –after much investigation further surgery not necessary, chemotherapy not necessary, – radiation starts sometime in next couple of weeks. Medication I have to take for next five years is decidedly unpleasant, but I must count myself lucky and blessed.

When You Are Six

The greenest snow angel
The greenest snow angel

Sunday morning there was a sprinkling of snow and a little bit stayed on the ground.  The air somehow always seems purer as though those first flakes filter the world’s impurities making each deep inhalation seem cleaner and more energizing (but at the same time makes me suspicious of the resulting ground cover).  When I was a child the key was to not eat yellow snow, but now I wonder just what toxins may cling to white flakes lying aground.

When you are six and you see those first few flakes falling first thing in the pure morning sunlight, regardless of what else is happening in the house, the city, the world or the universe, there comes a call to suit up and get out there.

That’s what happened Sunday morning.  I was pouring my morning coffee, the family sat in comfy chairs reading newspapers or whatever held their attention on this wintery day, when I noticed a bubble of energy all dressed in the season’s first wearing of snow pants, hat, mitts and boots, standing by the front door barely able to contain himself in excitement.

My inclination was to say ‘later’ and I think I actually did say it, but the thought of  ‘six’ and ‘pure joy’ overcame my natural tendency to shield myself from the elements and I found myself saying, ‘I’m getting dressed, lets go play!’

It was a lot of work to scrounge up enough snow for a snowman but we did it – all 12″ and no play is worthwhile without a snow angel that removed that fine layer resulting in the greenest snow angel ever but oh boy, it was worth it.

Oh and today is minus nine, real feel minus seventeen and yes if that boy wants to play after school we will!

The biggest snowman we could make
The biggest snowman we could make

Rebeginnings

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”  – Friedrich Nietzsche

Beginnings can be difficult, the difficulty for some being that nervous flutter laced with excitement in the pits of our stomachs.  For others it is a downright gripping paralyzing fear that may have more to do with failure and a host of related psychosis stemming from childhood, adulthood, or whatever hood our minds allow.

Rebeginnings can be even more difficult and may stem from a fear of goshcanidothisagainitis.  Getting back to blogging belongs here and the well known procrastination crutch thrives in any rebeginning.  Tomorrow, tomorrow, is more than a song from ANNIE, that wonderful story where tomorrow is about hope of better things to come, whereas tomorrow for us procrastination prone folk is more about delay.

Eventually a trigger occurs and for some reason it just seems right to fire up the beast, sit in the cold chair long abandoned by a warm tush, turn on the screen, find your link to WordPress and wonder if you have forgotten your password.

I have long embraced Nietzsche’s statement about facts and perceptions.  In fact I spend a lot of time thinking about it though those wondrous thoughts never see the light of day in written word.

I have been off my game for many months and it is not so much that problems have been resolved as much as I seem to have found my footing, my sea legs.

A few months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had surgery, and soon will start radiation.  Ah now don’t cringe or moan.  I am fine and seem to spend a lot of time reassuring others.  In all gratitude I am blessed.

The cancer hospital feels like it has become home, because believe me, too many days a  week are taken up with appointments for one thing or another, and I see so many others facing worse challenges and they are my inspiration, as I want to be theirs.  My goal once my treatments are done is to volunteer at this very place.  One nurse told me that most patients say this very thing, and then she stopped and looked down and in the pause the unsaid words hung -but many don’t make it.

This is not about bravado.  The fact is that there are many kinds and stages of cancer and I drew one of the luckier kinds.  Too many are not so lucky, but I must say that since a similar diagnosis and surgery seventeen years ago a lot of progress has been made.  There is much work to be done but we have come far.

This is the last I will speak of my situation and hopefully my screen will stay on, WordPress will become my daily companion again and this chair will be warmed daily and I will have lots to say on other matters.  But I know better than to make promises and perhaps that trigger will continue to inspire.

Oh yes, what  was that trigger yesterday?  Why it is our old friend Kathy McCullough who is always reinventingtheeventhorizon.wordpress.com

I will try a proper link here just to see if I can do it. Oh my will have to spend sometime reacquainting my self with WordPress.

I’m Your Man

 

I’m Your Man

There is a truth in fiction that can never be found in most non-fiction save those factual by measure or geography. As I write that sentence I wonder how many exceptions may exist, but generally. In my mind anything biographical or autobio is suspect.

Why? Perception. To perceive something, even that experienced by self, is flavored by condition, circumstance, past, belief, and personal understanding.

Fiction has always been my preference but the wisdom of age encourages me to widen my knowledge base. Seek new things, learn new things, do new things. My friend Joss Burnel who is one Crowing Crone Woman of Wisdom leads by example in stepping out of one’s comfort zone.* I can’t link for some reason so Joss can be found at crowingcrone.com.* I am not sure there is much bravery or adventure in broadening one’s reading preference as she now travels the world having really stepped out, but it is a start.

My own perception of age is changing from a youthful belief that old age is a time to take it easy, a well-earned rest, to one that continuing to change and learn and work is vital. To stop learning, to stop changing is to stop living and all of a sudden having reached the sixth decade and soon to see it in the rear view mirror of life, the ability to learn seems crucial. Now when I check out of the library every few days I include at least one non-fiction in my haul. Included are several bios and autobios as well as books on religion, politics, sciences, well, almost anything that catches my attention. Almost all autobiographies are difficult reads, presented in very two dimensional slices with gaping holes big enough to qualify for the Swiss cheese designation. I have read biographies that seemed to have way too much of the author’s persona imbedded too deep to recognize resulting in a ‘barely there’ subject leaving me feeling too much has been glossed over. How much do we really want to share about our lives anyway? How much should we share?

I have made several starts at a family history, something I think my children might value. Part way through it occurred to me to question exactly how much information should I be passing on? We are all entitled to privacy I think and I believe our paths are very private. We all make mistakes and that is how we grow and learn. Do we need to hang out all the dirty laundry?

Celebrities and the over exposure of their lives make for great entertainment, at least as far as the public is concerned. God knows every magazine and entertainment show knows this and they reap mega bucks in the revelations. Mind you some so called stars beg for the exposure and then whine when lines are crossed.

The thing is, people tend to believe what they read. Good fiction makes you feel the possibility. Do you think that is true? I mean look at those who so wanted to believe Dan Brown’s story The Da Vinci Code that they now believe. Of course that is why I love fiction – I, you, any of us, can make it real thanks to the wonder of imagination. The greatest skill, the greatest gift in any work of fiction is to make it real.

Is there any truth at all in biographical non-fiction? Probably about as much as there is real milk in some so called dairy products? Does it matter? Perhaps not. One recent book of biography was a welcome refreshing exception to my perceptive bias. And a bias it must surely be since I have not read every bio ever printed so can only judge on very limited experience.

I’M YOUR MAN: The Life of Leonard Cohen

Sylvie Simmons was a new author to me and of course the initial draw to the book was the subject, Leonard Cohen, someone to whom I would declare complete and total admiration. Why? I guess because he did it his way with no apology. Did he do it right with no regret? Of course not. Are there any of us who have no regret? I’d sure like to hear about it if he/she is out there. Without dissecting the content I would just say it is a good read that felt more honest than most.

Courage Is

Originally posted on The Chatter Blog:

I know these people.

And every day takes some courage from some people.  Maybe moments.  Maybe hours.  Maybe forever.

I wouldn’t for a minute underestimate the courage it takes to get through life.

These people, I admire.

Courage is the young father and husband who is terrified he can’t provide for his little family.   Who gets up and goes to work each day.  And fears the powers above him that could take away the small security of having this job.  This job that is not all he can do.  But all he can get right now.  He knows he can do more.  And plans on it.

There’s courage in the dark of night for the aging widow who never spent a night alone in eighty years of life.  And now she sits every night without the comfort and security of the familiar face.  The familiar face that shared joys…

View original 279 more words

Why do you read Fiction?

What do you think about when you pick up a story?  I hesitate to say ‘pick up a book’ because stories are accessed in many ways today.  The most obvious answer is entertainment, a peek at, and an opportunity to enter someone else’s world for a while. To become a part of another experience and by the time the last page is perused a sigh perhaps of satisfaction, or frustration, or contemplation.

Most of us have favorite authors we depend on, knowing what we will get, not necessarily in the events contained within, but a guarantee of familiarity.  What I like to think of as the Comfort Food of literature.  Some of you follow the top sellers keeping abreast of what’s in, providing opportunity for new experiences and thoughts.  I make it a point during my weekly library trips to include new authors, at least to me, and when a book is recommended by a friend, I read it.  I am not much for romantic themed or erotic stories and therefore have never read Fifty Shades of anything, the series that brought shades of education and blushes to the cheeks of females who otherwise may never have admitted publicly taking delight in sexual adventures.  When pressed by many acquaintances to at least give a read, my response has consistently been that I do erotica, I don’t read it. Ha Ha.  Whether that is true or not is not for discussion, but it was a glib enough response to satisfy and take the encouragers off on another path.

My Comfort Food Fiction list is fairly extensive and is the source for rereads as well as waiting in anticipation for the next volumes to appear.  Included are Koontz, Crichton, King, Cussler, Meyers, Rowling, Buck, and Dickens.  Of course those that have passed on can only stand as rereads and that is fine.

Comfort is hard to come by with a few authors and yet I embrace them heart and soul.  Reality in fiction can be sad, even depressing but the struggle, or rather surviving the struggle is a story worthy of notice.  I wonder in this western culture of pursuing happiness, if we have done ourselves a disservice and weakened our ability to survive by believing that happiness is indeed the gold ring of achievement and not survival itself.

Reynolds Price wrote a book published in 1998 called Roxana Slade which was referred to me by a friend.  It almost seems that this man merely channeled the voice of Roxana who at ninety odd years relates her life tale and takes you, the reader on a journey of struggle, loss, and survival.  His (the author) is so skilled that you quickly embrace Roxana and fold her being into your existence.  Whenever I put the book down for a bit, the characters and situations stayed with me, and I found myself thinking about them throughout the day until I could again curl up and turn another page.  Now that is amazing writing.

I have another favorite author that I simply cannot allot to my Comfort Food Fiction list, and that is Patricia Cornwell.  Her Scarpetta Series and characters are as familiar to me as my own family, but I seldom feel a sense of comfort.  The most recent read is ‘dust’.

Cornwell is a must for me even though I know there will be questions, anxiety, and frustration from time to time.  All of her characters are flawed and not in the cute little way popular fictional hero characters are flawed but overcome, but in a haunting kind of way that strikes me at times as too real.

As a Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta always has a mystery to solve but the story is more about the struggles and survival of our characters, the things they battle internally to still carry and on and succeed.  People get unjustly fired, are not well liked, have struggles with what they wish life was like and is not.  Justice does not always prevail.  Solving the mystery, catching the bad guy is often anticlimactic to the process, the living, the surviving.

Frankly, for me, experiencing the discomfort of some of these stories, the reality and the survival helps me keep my own reality in perspective.  There are sad, bad, unjust, horrible things in life. But there is much more to be valued.

Have you found the same thing?  What do you get out of Fiction?  Why do you read Fiction?

In a Train with Funeral Party – February 1924

Bridgesburning Chris King:

Gretchen is one of my must reads. She wrote a regular newspaper column back around the twenties. This one in particular is applicable today in a lesson or two. Her interest ‘was intensely human’ and I can’t help but think a little more ‘human interest’ would be a good thing.

Originally posted on Gretchen:

I walked almost the whole length of a long train before I came to a third-class compartment that was not marked “Smoking.” There was a woman already seated in it, and she remarked as I sat down, “Although it isn’t a ‘smoking,’ this smells vilely of tobacco smoke, and look at the floor!” I then related to her an incident of my journey up that morning.

At one station there entered a little company of passengers, obviously of what are termed working-class. There were two men of middle-age, a youth and a girl in their mid teens, and a small boy of five or six. They were all dressed in black, from which I inferred that they were on their way to a funeral.

The men wore black bowler hats stuck on the back of their heads, leaving visible a well-oiled fringe of hair adorning their foreheads. The youth’s cloth…

View original 822 more words

Puzzles and Patterns

Bridgesburning Chris King:

These very thoughts have been tumbling about for me this week taunting me into a need for expression but leaving me without. Now Miss C? She just said it all,

Originally posted on thekitchensgarden:

As we slowly slide up and down the temperature scale, wandering through another wintery season of inclement weather reminiscent of the 70’s when I lived here last.  I am struck by how much easier life is when you allow the inevitable flux of patterns and puzzles and allow Time herself a voice in your daily analog. Giving the passing of time a value in your calculations. not-many-018

I am a terrible one for answering other peoples questions before they ask them, finishing their sentences before they have their thoughts in order, rushing to and fro at a furious pace often without my mind even Turned On.  I want everything done right now and just so. Head down to combat the wind thinking only where is it coming from, who is in a draft. Which doors should I shut. Is that ice underfoot? Not: what has come with this wind? What followed…

View original 1,009 more words