My Northstar

 

 

As the long dark days and nights went by

you were there.

The lonely days only a special child could bear.

you were there.

A single light in the darkness.

you were there.

I knew you understood…

from the kind eyes you had.

from the big heart you had.

from the sadness in that smile you had.

from the soft whisper in your voice, when you spoke.

you were there.

when lost like mangled driftwood in the sea

you were there.

A guide, high in the sky… you were there.

My North star

You were there.

jml

 

 

 

 

Deflated

I was thinking a lot about my dad recently. I go thru periods where I think of him constantly and then I can go weeks without thinking about him at all. If you told me that ten years ago I would have told you that you were crazy. I guess I get caught up in the day to day business of living. I am  always so surprised that I don’t dream about him more. I always thought he would show up in my dreams more. It’s funny how our dreams work. I don’t understand them. They are so random and bizarre. I never dream about the people I love , why is that?  Anyway I was thinking about the blog I wrote called Monsoon in Chinatown; a letter to my father. I wrote that years ago after he died. It was an exercise to help me get over his death.  I posted it below in a previous post. I was told by a therapist it might help to write him a goodbye letter. So I did. It was a long private letter but I posted part of it. I never spoke about the day he died but It was the worst day of my 38  years of living. I felt like writing about it today. I remember being depressed, vacant, sick, scared and well not very present. I was there but I wasn’t there. I think somehow my brain couldn’t handle all the emotion so it shut off. I wasn’t myself and I was somewhere inside myself. I felt like a turtle who went back into it’s shell. I know this seemed distant and selfish to others but I couldn’t be any different at that time.. My brain was in charge. I was who I was then. My life was in shambles and this was the Main Event.

I  went to my parents house on New Years Day, my dad was still with us. I was living by myself and had slept at my apartment the night before. I would have been there already but my biological relatives invited me to go out for New Years Eve. I didn’t want to go but my mom told me to go. I had just found my biological Aunt and she asked me to spend New Years Eve with her and the family. I went. I had been spending a lot of time at my parents house when I wasn’t working watching my father wither away. It was the holidays and I think my mom thought I needed a break so she told me to go out and have fun so I went.

Have fun, what a strange thought.

I was so happy to find my biological  relatives but it was such a bad time for it to happen. I wasn’t in a good place. For many different reasons.

I had spent Christmas Eve sitting with my dad thinking he would pass…but he didn’t. The Christmas Eve I will never forget. It was me and my mom and two of her friends there in the house that night. I was sitting with my dad in his room and we watched the Christmas Story together. That was the last thing we did before he slipped into a coma. In fact the last thing he said to me was a line out of that movie. He was repeating  one of the lines out of the movie over and over.  I can’t watch Christmas story anymore without reliving that night.

I would doze off and wake to his thin frail bony frame staring at me over the railing of the bed. I don’t know if he knew I was there but I think he did. As I was sitting there with him I heard something down the street like singing. I figured it was Christmas Carol Singers so I looked out the window behind my father’s death bed to find about fifty or so people walking up the street. They were holding lit candles and singing. Next thing I knew they were in the house. The minister of my fathers and mothers church came in between Christmas service with half the church behind him. They were all holding candles. It was like one of those sappy  hallmark movies. They loved my dad, the minister loved my dad, the congregation loved my dad, everyone loved my dad. if dad couldn’t be at church the church would come to dad.

I left my dad’s side and went downstairs to be with my mom and all these people who so kindly came to pay their last respects. The minster and his flock.  My mom let them in and as they filed into our small house singing they formed a crescent in the living room and held hands.  My mom stood there with the poise and strength that her generation seems to have mastered. She was the perfect host; kept her game face on for those divine people while I melted. I couldn’t hold it together and it took every molecule of my being not cry out loud. I could feel eyes on me with their kind sympathy.  My mom on the other hand was a strong upright force that was there for them as not to make them feel uncomfortable. I will never forget the look on her face when we all prayed. Her strength was at its glorious best. She was in the hands of her god.

After the prayers had been said and the songs had been sung they left, the candles burned down and there was one more Christmas Eve sermon to be given and they had to get back. I went back upstairs to sit with my dad, my daddy, my best friend.  He made it to Christmas day. In fact he made it all the way to New Years Day. I spent the New years Eve with my new Aunt and her family and then went back to my apartment.  I came back New Years Day morning to be with my mom and my dad, I was depleted emotionally, tired and totally spent as we all were. I went up to see him and then I went back downstairs.  I remember I was watching the twilight zone so as not to think, trying to distract myself from the pain that was all around me. The craziest thing happened. My favorite twilight zone show came on the TV. The reason it is so crazy is because it’s the one with young Robert Redford when he plays the Grim Reaper. That was such a rare show that they never played. It was one of those 24 hour twilight zone marathons that they do on New Years Day .  As I was watching the Charming Redford as the grim reaper conning that poor old lady, my mom came down the stairs crying and told me he was gone. I ran back up to him and watched my mom finally break down. Her life partner for fifty years or so is gone.  I called the funeral home and whomever else I was supposed to call. I watched Mark, the flustered and devastated minister knock on our neighbor’s door before he realized he was at the wrong house.  He was there minutes after my dad passed to help console us. After a while my sisters started to show up with their husbands.

He finally left us on New Years Day and he waited till I got there. I was so glad I was there. Mom thinks he waited to New Years day so that she would get an extra year of his work benefits. I knew he wasn’t ready to die. He was 73, he wanted to enjoy his grandchildren, he wasn’t ready. I saw the looks on his face as he was dying. He knew the cancer had spread all over his body and even though he NEVER complained in the six months he got the cancer and died from it; he couldn’t hide his disappointment from me.

Everything happened quickly, the Hearst showed up from the funeral home and took him away. My sisters were consoling my mom and I was back in my turtle shell. I was in shock I think. After  a while reality sunk in and I had to go back home, My mom wanted to be alone and I had to get ready for the funeral.

I went outside to drive home and as I walked outside I realized my tires were completely deflated. Someone cut my tires on the day that my dad died. Are you kidding me? I just stood there looking at my tires in a state of shock.

Was I really going to have to get my tires fixed on the day I lost my father. I guess so. No one was offering to help so here it is. It is already starting. The one person that would have helped me with my car was gone. After staring at my car for what seemed like an hour.. I had my god damn deflated car towed down to the tire place and got my car fixed.

At that moment I never felt so alone.

I was in the waiting room waiting while they put new tires onto my car. They were not fixable.

There was a woman and child waiting with me in the waiting room and the child kept crying. I felt like I was in a nightmare. My nerves were shot, the child’s screams were killing me.

Then the guy at the desk decided to make a pass at me. WTF…like some kind of sleazy offer with a wink. I remember thinking  if there is a hell I am in it right now. yes..This is definitely hell.

My tires were fixed and I went back to my apartment alone and there I sat ….still.

Thinking about my mom, my dad, what was to become of all of this.

Yes, that was the worst day of my life.

Knowing then that it was also the first day of the rest of my life, a life that would never be the same without him.

 

 

 

Two Women in Town

The other night I stopped to get some beverages at the local convenience store and two women decided that they wanted to start a fight with me. They kind of parked behind me and waited for me to come out so they could start some stuff. Whatever. They said something to me and seriously I was like really, were doing this?  I didn’t fight back, I blew it off but I wasn’t in the mood for their  bullshit.  I have never done anything cruel to anyone in my hometown but for some reason there is some serious hate coming my way. It is fine…I can handle it but you have to wonder why?

Now these two women didn’t say much but it was more about the way they insulted me  .. like they actually knew me. I didn’t know them. How dare them!. My anger grew as the night went on. Then I thought to myself how easy it would be to fight back and just maybe make a tragic mistake that could affect me and them for the rest our lives. That’s how it happens. It can be that quick. I am not a confrontational person and I am a non-violent person. I know myself. But they better watch out because you can start a fight with the wrong person and well..you never know. You here about Road rage all the time.

I always wondered how someone could get to that point where they would actually cross that line.  I would never kill anything or anyone but the anger I felt in that minute gave me the insight, I mean I would never hurt anyone intentionally,  I will always take the highroad and walk away but I am ashamed to say I fantasized about taking a knife and stabbing those two women in the neck.

Now it was just a harmless fantasy but it made me think about people and  how someone could lose themselves if enough shit happens to them over their lifetime. I remember thinking that no matter how hard I tried or how kind I was to people bad things kept happening to me.

Now there is a lot of great stuff happening too so I am so grateful for that.  I have now learned how to ignore the negative stuff and will not let it affect me anymore. My hard work has paid off and I know I am where I want to be. I was angry but I let it go fast.

I refuse to let it affect me anymore.

Every time I watch Dateline I sit there and wonder ..how the hell could she kill her husband like that or how could he kill his best friend like that? You know, it was always inconceivable for me.

I’ve thought about this often. It fascinates me and frightens me at the same time. The human condition I guess and how easily a life can change over one bad decision.

After I saw Eugene Oneill’s Play, Hughie, on Broadway I was reminded how much I love his work. I was always attracted to his plays because he wrote about people on the edge. The depressed, the addicted , the night people. The darkness of his work and the darkness of his own life always kept my interest. I went back and read some of his plays recently. I re-read his most popular play Long’s Day’s Journey into Night.  I even love that title and completely understand it.. There was a quote in that movie that I was familiar with but I think for the first time I really understood it to the fullest of its meaning.

“None of us can help the things life has done to us. They’re done before you realize it, and once they’re done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you’d like to be, and you’ve lost your true self forever.”
Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey Into Night   

The saddest 48 words ever spoke in my opinion …. but nothing could be truer. I know this happens to a lot of people and they have no idea how it happened. It’s like a rolling avalanche, once it starts moving you can’t stop it and it keeps destroying everything in its path. That very thing almost happened to me; losing yourself forever; but a little luck, strength, resilience and resistance was the key for me and so I was saved. I remember thinking how did I get here? This isn’t who I am. For some there is a turning point and they are saved, for others there is a turning point of no return. My heart breaks for the latter.

I understand how easy it is to end up there.  The unfortunates in the world, prone to addiction or mental illness or violence or bad luck.

Maybe they were born poor or have no family. Maybe they were abused and cast out into the night. Maybe they just made one bad decision. Maybe they trusted the wrong person. Some people have to pay for that one bad decision for the rest of their life.

That breaks my heart. I can’t help but think about them. It reminds me of a movie  I love called Two Men In Town.

It takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I think it’s a great movie with a powerful message. Forest Whitaker and Harvey Keitel are reunited again in this film, whenever they work together poetry happens.

I loved them both in the movie Smoke. Harvey Keitel was a cigar shop owner and a Poet in his spare time. He took a photograph of the corner where his store was located every day at the exact same time of the day, every day.  He kept a photo album of his life’s work. I loved that. So Poetic. Great Movie.

Anyway in Two Men in Town Forest’s character (William Garnet) was a murderer who got out of prison after 18 years of serving his sentence.

He was model inmate that tried very hard to control his anger and become a peaceful person. Forest Whitaker was incredible in this movie by the way. I saw it when it first came out but watched it again recently….a few times. I know I’m a super fan but no one can deny the brilliance of his performance in this movie. There was also this bad ass parole officer Emily Smith…I loved her in this film. Imagine this scene..so she sits listening to I think , Edith Piaf,   while cleaning her guns in the desert night under the stars. That was probably a nod to the French Director; Rachid Bouchareb in this movie.

That scene sets the precedent for the whole film. Dark vs. Light, Good vs. Evil, Love vs. Hate, Beauty Vs. Beast. She was the female heroine trying to help Garnet through the whole movie. A tough but fair ethical parole officer with a heart. Brenda Blethyn was the actress. I also loved her in the movie Secrets and Lies; another great movie. She is an incredible actress.  So like I said, the movie takes place in Albuquerque New Mexico. Some scenes are breathtaking while others are just dust and ashes.

Walls and Borders are a big part of this movie too; geographical borders and emotional borders.

After Garnet served his 18 years sentence the sheriff (Harvey Keitel) in town wouldn’t let Garnet alone. He had an old score to settle with Garnet and had no forgiveness towards him. The sheriff kept harassing him, and no matter how hard Garnet tried to turn his life around Agati ( Keitel) was there to derail him every time.

Every step forward was a step back. The heartbreaking scene between Garnet and his adoptive mother (Ellen Burstyn) is heart wrenching. While she speaks with a almost detached and disappointed voice about a scorpion that was loose in the house (symbolism) I understood Garnet’s frustration because he just wanted his mother’s love; love she couldn’t afford to give.

This movie makes a huge statement about redemption over a Dark Past and  working toward New Beginnings. It seems we don’t like to let people have new beginnings. We don’t like to let people forget their past. For example; We don’t let prisoners have a second chance in this country. We let them out with no money and let them fend for themselves. It’s tragic on so many levels because so many prisoners are locked away too long and the crime doesn’t fit the punishment in the first place. It seems to be getting even worse in this country . People are going to Jail for thirty years for minor Crimes because of Corrupt judicial system. Three strikes your out? There is Big Business in putting folks in prison now a days. The increasing stats are overwhelming.  It is very sad and unjust. The song Let my people go comes to mind, Paul Robeson https://youtu.be/gtLcELU1brA

There is a lot of symbolism in this movie as Garnet washes his hands of the past. Not letting someone start again, and live their life is a sin. You can watch the movie and no matter what your beliefs are about prisoners and murder you have to appreciate this well-acted story about new beginnings, redemption, and the tug of war between good and evil.

So..when those two women in town started with me at the convenience store it reminded me of a fight I got in when I was about ten years old. Now that I am back in my home town I am reminded of childhood memories. You can’t help it, there are reminders everywhere. So I was ten and me and my best friend were walking down to the same store that I was just talking about. It had just snowed and my friend had a snow pants on. I was dressed in jeans, These two girls, older but still girls, bullies, started to make fun of my friend in the snow pants. Back then snow pants weren’t cool at all. lol.

Well I thought it was important to protect my friend ( I am very loyal) so I told them to stop and to leave us alone. Well because I spoke out they decided to turn their attention to me and  left my friend alone. They then started to jump me and I remember them slamming my face down into the snow and punched me a couple of times. I heard my friend start to cry  because she got scared because she saw blood. My nose started to bleed and there were little rivers of blood oozing into the snow…like a bloody snow cone. The two girls saw the blood and they got scared as well and ran off. I still know one of the girls names. I ended up working with her at a restaurant when I was sixteen and she played on the same softball team as well, she picked on me there too but decided after a while that she liked me and left me alone. God, I couldn’t get away from her.

The other night when those two women in town started fighting with me in that parking lot it reminded me of that day in the snow, I was ten again and I had a bloody nose. The snow was red and my face was covered in ice. Its funny the things we hold onto. I could have fought back or even went further and caused physical harm. My life could be changed in an instant. So when I got home I decided to write some words down to shake off the anger I was feeling, first I vented to my friend, god bless her…and then wrote a poem about how I feel about some of the people I have come across recently. Anger is something I’ve had to deal with and try to minimize. It has been a work in progress but I think I have mastered it. I am sick of being accused of things I never did. I am sick of being mistreated. I am sick of being patronized and  I am sick of being misunderstood but I know how lucky I am to be here to write, love, work , sing and laugh. I am making my comeback. My turning point was in the direction of up; not down and I am so grateful for that. Don’t look back don’t look back don’t look back, only forward. The ten-year old is now fifty looking forward to love and light. Your perceptions of me cannot and does not matter anymore. I am only feeling the love coming towards me, the rest will be ignored, no more anger, no more violent fantasies.. only love and light. I can no longer care about the big hoofed herds and their opinions of me. They are wrong but I know longer need their approval. I will only let the light come in. I have washed my hands of the past, scrubbed them clean.

88 Birds Plus One

I was just sitting there in my car. It was a gloomy day and I was thinking..or at least trying to but my mind was in circles, nothing was connecting. I was in a parking lot of a less desirable mall in Livingston New Jersey. I was there for my job and I couldn’t get out of my car. I was distraught, confused, depressed and a host of other psychological malaise going on that I didn’t understand yet. I’ve been dealing with these painful feelings for years but today was an extra bad day. I felt almost out of body on that day sitting in my car. I was waiting for a sign to get up, feel good and walk into the mall to do what I had to do. I mean I couldn’t sit there all day. I drank some water and felt it slide down slowly thru my body. I was hyper sensitive and felt everything that touched my body, the water, the sweat, my heart beating. I felt something had to happen because I hadn’t felt this bad in days and I felt there must be a reason. I thought about my life and what was to come of it. What would happen to me. I was unsure. Uncertainty had made me fearful before but I was too confused to even be scared this day. As I tried to get prepared to continue my day a white bird flew on the top of my car and landed. After that I saw many birds fly on the car next to me. I could see them as they landed, eye to eye in fact. They would come and then go ..come again and then fly away….one after the next. There was so many.

Was there really 88?  There were probably more but that number stuck with me so I used it. They all came and went except for this one bird. He stayed while all the others flew away. This bird sat there and just stared at me, face to face. We were playing that who will blink first game. I looked at him and he had a very angelic glow around him. I kept thinking this must be the sign. I was waiting for a sign and here is this bird just staring at me. I started to think it was my father. He had died a few years before from pancreatic cancer and sometimes I would feel his presence with me. I started to feel like this was my dad telling me to get up and do what you have do and figure it all out. Figure out a way to feel better. Somehow. Get help. I had my cell phone with me so I took a picture of this bird. I wanted to make sure he was really there. If the camera sees it then its real. The way I was feeling I wasn’t ruling out hallucinations or visions. You never know. He stayed with me for a good five minutes. We just looked at each other. I was thinking he better catch up with the other birds but he didn’t, he just sat there and kept staring. He would tilt his little head every once in a while which was quite adorable.

Was it a sign? Was this a special message or was it just a bunch of birds giving the owner of the car next to me a reason to go to the car wash. Who Knows. The spiritual me would like to think it was my dad giving me a kick in ass.

That moment has stuck with me since and I remember taking away this thought while I sat in the parking lot that day. You have to figure this shit out and get better… you must figure this out.  No one will figure it out for you. Your life depends on it. Just do it. Don’t Give Up!

The bird finally flew away. I wondered how he was going to catch up to the rest. I drank some more water, took a deep breath and got out of the car and did what I was supposed to do. IMG_0960IMG_0959_2IMG_0958_2IMG_0957IMG_0956IMG_0955IMG_0954_2IMG_0953_1

Monsoon in Chinatown- Excerpt from a letter to my father

After my dad died I was having a really hard time dealing with it and I was told it might help to write a letter to him for some closure. This is a part of that letter:

I was soaked; I was working and there was a Monsoon in Chinatown that day. The cheap umbrellas kept turning inside out from the wind gusts. Two of my umbrellas were already broken and I kept buying more. I don’t know why because I was already soaked. Maybe in my subconscious I already knew I was losing you and you were my umbrella from the storm. You are my life protector  and without you what was to become of me.

When your father dies, say the Irish

You lose your umbrella against bad weather.

People were bustling and getting ready for the holidays. There were many smells that protruded through the wind gusts and heavy rain. I remember the smells – they were so strong. There were roasted ducks and pigs in the shop windows and the smells of fresh fish everywhere. The Christmas and Neon lights were blurry from the water in my eyes. I couldn’t tell if it was raindrops or tears anymore. You were (my father) dying and there wasn’t much time. People seemed to look at me and wonder what I was doing there in China town that night. I must have looked out-of-place. It felt like a surreal dream and I might wake up at any moment. There was a Caucasian man who lingered in the shadows and looked at me with such deep eyes; he asked me if I was ok. I said yes, and we both smiled briefly. I could feel his eyes upon me as I walked away. I didn’t feel safe. I finally finished my work and I was driving home. I remember sitting in traffic on the FDR highway in my wet clothes in a strange kind of trance. Nina Simone’s Don’t let me be Misunderstood was on the radio and I kept thinking; what was I was doing in Chinatown when you were so close to death.

Startled, I got an unexpected call from a friend and It broke me out of my trance as I continued to drive home. The caller lifted my spirits.

The next day I returned to Chinatown. It was Christmas Eve and you were leaving me,  the sun was bright and everything looked different.

The light of the morning decomposes everything.–Haruki Murakami

 

chinatown one

Photo By J. Lozier

chinatowbn 3

Photo By J. Lozier

china town 2

Photo By J. Lozier

 

By Jloz. Love and Happiness.

 

Ripples

 

When I was a kid my dad used to take me on bike rides. When I was really little I would sit in this little black seat that was attached to the back of my dad’s bike. I would be so very happy while my dad would be pedaling us to the park or wherever he decided to ride to that day. My pigtails would be blowing in the wind, fresh air on my face.

I was very happy to just spend time with my dad and It really didn’t matter what we were doing, as long as I got to be with my dad. Some of the strongest memories  with him were the bike rides, days at the beach, watching him fix our cars. He spent a lot of time under those two old cars we had. A big old Chrysler station wagon and a little ugly dodge dart. That big old rusty white tank of a car saved our life one day but that is a story is for another time.

I got very used to just seeing my dads legs as he worked tirelessly under those cars for hours at a time trying to keep them running. Sometimes I would just sit there and pass him tools or just sit there and do absolutely nothing and sometimes I would talk to him about whatever kids talk about, who knows if he even heard me but I would have whole conversations with just his legs. I loved my daddy like breathing air.

They always said I was a daddy’s girl. They were right.

As I got a little older I would have a bike of my own and I would be following along behind my dad. We used to ride our bikes to this park where there was a stream that I would play in. In that little  stream we could see small fish and there was a little sandy beach and that is where my dad taught me the art of skipping stones. First we would spend time looking for just the perfect flat shiny stone.

My dad would say it has to be a special kind of stone, not just any stone would do. Once we had the stones we would start skipping then in the water, with a side arm kind of throw. He was really good at it. He was very patient with me and we did it over and over again until I could make the rocks skip over the water too just like dad, three times was cool but four or five was the REALLY cool!

One day we were at the park skipping rocks and he said do you see all those ripples that the rocks make on the water? I said yes. I was hanging on every word, because my dad was a quiet man. He was a wise man but he was a quiet man.  He said that is like life. Its a ripple effect, one ripple brings on a next ripple and so on and on and on.

He said when you are nice to someone it can make them happy and then when they are happy they can make another person happy. Just like the ripples in the water. Do you understand? So it’s always good to be nice all the time. Ripples are important. Always remember that. OK?  I said I would.

It turns out I did remember that and I never forgot. I always thought about that day in the park and what it really meant to him. What made him tell me that on that specific day? What was he thinking about? What was he feeling? Was he happy or sad?

As I grew older I began to understand that he was the kind of man that everyone loved, not just me. Just as my three sisters had to learn to share their dad with me;  I had to learn to share him with the world.

I mean as a child I loved him instinctual, he was a super hero to me but as I got older I loved him even more for the special kind of man he was. His heart was huge.

He wasn’t perfect but he was beautiful.

The truth will always show itself if enough time passes. I realized he lived the way he told me too that day in the park at the river’s edge. He was ALWAYS kind and he made ripples everywhere.

He was not my biological dad but you couldn’t tell. We were so close. People always told me I looked like him. Probably just mannerisms and all but I liked it when people said that. I was a foster kid that came into the house and it was supposed to be temporary foster home. I wasn’t supposed to stay at that house but he loved me so much he never let me go and so ..I never left. First Ripple.

He had been going through a tragedy of his own around that time so looking back maybe I was a distraction for him. Maybe I was his little project to take his mind off of his own suffering. He already had three daughters of his own. Why bring in another? Money was tight. If it hadn’t been for him I might have gone back into foster care.  Who knows from there what would have been. My mom took most of the responsibility of raising me and I don’t forget it. I will speak of her at a different time. Ripples. Just like the ripples that were made to put me into foster care, different Ripples were what got me out of foster care. Ripples can change a life. Destroy a life and Create a life or just make someone happy or sad.

I miss him as I breathe.

I still skip rocks today. It’s one of those little rituals I’ll do to be close to my dad. If I find the perfect shiny flat stone, not any stone will do; I pick it up, put it in my pocket and keep it for next time I am at the river’s edge.

Mother Teresa I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters and create many ripples

 

DAD and the Seashore