Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Crash 09

Just to be clear, cuz folks want details and want to know everything's cool.

I did lose control of the Vespa, going about 30 around a curve, in the right lane. Water + speed + curve = no es bueno. Simple physics really.

And THAT's where that limit is. Good to know. Moving right along.

Road rash on the ankle. Shin is numb, bruised and swollen. Closed fracture on the middle finger tip. And thumb, but that one's not so bad at all. Apparently I was giving Someone the finger as I was going down? Bad Shel!

I have insurance. It's being towed to a repair shop. All is well and right in the world. Except that neither the strippers nor nurses ever showed up.


I ruminate. I attempt to not change verb tenses and therefore start in the present. Cuz that's where I'm going to wind up, telling any story. I'm transported there. I might be here, typing away, talking to you through my fingers, but I'm there, baby.

I'm there.

Every song sounds great to me right now. Annie Lennox is giving me a HA! like only she can, straight from the first track of the 1984 soundtrack. Beautiful. Gorgeous.

I just read Ali's blog and was SUCKED IN and transported to a spot where a Yogi Penguin showed her a place where you can always find a stretch of time, in between the moments.

If music is about the spaces inbetween the notes, then is life between the moments?

I am and I am here and mostly put together and that my friends is amazing. I could have little face. I could have broken bones. I am battered but whole. Story of my life. Dig it. Own it. CANNOT bring me down, baby. Goes down and gets right back up. Witness.

Watch me. I don't care. Watch me win.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hand to Heart - Can you feel it?

There is a tempo
a definite beat
deep and through and through
shakes you over there
and tremors here

electromagnetic ethernet
elements whizzing
you there she where
we left her stretching
out over the unseen
over the nettweetsphere
reaching touching true

between the planet's rhythm
and the electric connection
there is a symphony of
breathing walking knocking
me to you and you to she

waves of optimism
crashes of oh no oh no no no
mundane my brain
but you connect know see

movement soulwise, bonded
progression? evolution?
which why how where

we're moving together
this is true regardless of recognition
where are we going?
where do you want to go?

so many directions
all the bits and bytes don't represent
even part of the options
imagine that

imagine the solution is
just you
just me
must be in the connection
the ethernetsphereweb
the electricity in the band of rain
stretching across the land
pulling across oceans

assuming the sum is more
I'll ask again
where are we going?

The rabbis used to say: make
Peace where there is strife.
Strife caused by: fear, hunger
Protection Provisions

A Plan

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Frantic whirling is going on, but it's all in the head. "I shouldn't have said that," I insist, silently and only to myself. "I wish I could take it back." But I can't of course. What's said is said and what's done is done and that's pretty much the problem with life in general.

Twice now in recent days I've been reminded of my "wrath". Twice. By two different people. Two women. (Men, I assume, would simply think "oh shit" and dissapear. This is a vast assumption.) I do tend to get riled up. It's true.

And verbally... those damn words... I can really let 'er rip. After the fact -- after my wrath has been called out -- I wonder if I didn't actually mean my words, or if I simply should've come up with softer, better ones.

This is my pet project, really. Myself. Bringing out the strengths of this tattered ego and unfurling the flags of my psyche. There's a goal in here somewhere. A reason. A truth to be told. A story to relay. A soul to defend.

Yes, that's it. A soul to defend.

I am somehow naturally inclined to defend. I defended the kitten being swung by it's tail when I was only six. Got my first black-eye. I defended the girls being chased by the boys... or at least the ones running behind me screeching "Save me!" I defend the religious against the non-religious, and the non-religious from the believers. I mean to defend hearts from being broken, and then I break them myself. I am a perpetual traffic cop, just wanting the flow to keep flowing. I am quick with the advice and adamant about the suggestions. Bullyish, though my heart is is the right place.

That's just it... easy on the bullying, Shelby T. You can't make anyone do anything. That whole free will thing, remember?

Needs. I do have needs. I try to minimize them whenever possible. Something from Taoism tickling the inside of my frontal lobe is telling me if I am small enough I won't get hurt. If I bend enough, I won't break. Still I need. I need things spelled out for me. I need the obvious stated, and then re-stated again not too long after, because I might not trust my memory. I need clear stop and go signs. I need a manual, that I won't read closely but I will stick a bunch of post-it notes in at odd angles with little scribbles like "yes!" and "important".

I need petting. I need kisses. I need snuggling. Need need need. Knead. Twist turn, punch down. That's what you do with dough.

Punch this shit down girl. You've got stuff to do. You can't wait. Go! Go! Go!

Note to Self

Note to self... she's just not that into you, so start thinking of something else. I know you've tried this before. It's becoming so very necessary. Think!

Note to self: focusing on Hebrew is not easy. Try lubing up the grey matter with a little grain alcohol next time.

Self of note: You get taller every time you work out at the gym. And those oblique exercises make your cramps feel like they're going all the way around your gut. Does that mean they're working?

Note to self: Stop farting around and do something. Waiting sucks.

Selfish note: Must find snuggling. Stat.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pacing in the Darkness

Waiting. Waiting mostly for more time. More hours in the day. More days in the week. Everyone wants time to do something. Me, I want it to slow the fuck down.

Slow down! Give me more time. I feel like I just woke up. I feel like I just got my driver's license. I feel like I just figured out what it is I want to do. I just realized my hands aren't shackled.

Now my boundaries are determined by what I can and can't take, what my personal limits are. How long can I sleep only five hours and still study and do martial arts? How will my work suffer? I've taken the girlfriend metaphor that I've struggled with for eighteen years -- longer -- and have transposed it onto myself. Folding it over, living with myself... dating myself, as I told a friend once. Dealing with myself, with no one else to blame.

I'm not a bad date. We definitely have a lot in common, me and me. I've taken myself out for concerts and dinners and movies. There's never any tension about whether or not I want to have sex. Although amazingly enough I do yell at myself for dirty dishes in the sink and the complete disrepair of whatever is in disrepair. I am kind of a slacker.

When I said, right after graduating from college, that I wanted to spend the next ten years watching T.V. I meant it. And, I did. And now...

You know my career has chugged along. I'm smart and fairly sociable. This goes a long way in the corporate world, especially when you're find yourself amongst programmers and other geeks. Especially when you wind up managing them, at some level. But even at work I am prone to slack. I need deadlines. In some cases a little frenzy is good. Or extreme work hours. If I put everything off totally then I have to pull an all-nighter... well this is just what I do to myself.

And that's what I'm watching: what I do to myself. Partnerless, after being partnered for so long, it's astonishing to realize what crap is yours.

So... I'm dreamy, which can make for motivation sometimes. There is nothing holding me back but my own mind. Unfortunately, there's a lot to that. I'm pretty good at fucking with myself, and not as good with doing what I need to do. I give in and eat a Honey Bun because I know for those three minutes that I'm stuffing the sweet, warm gooeyness into my pie-hole I will feel as delicious as it tastes. Nevermind that ten minutes after I'll wish I hadn't done that. I'll watch a stupid T.V. movie -- live and with commericals -- rather than study. I'll stay up late just to try and squeeze out a blog post. (er.... )

Most days are a combination of a good job keeping to the plan and a handful of oh-well's. Today I didn't study but I did go to the gym. I consider writing to be part good deed, even if it takes me a minute to get into the space. I was good at work today. Big meeting; my part was easy, easy, easy. (I ended with the phrase, "I've got some work to do." What else can you say when you list all the things you still need to fix?)

Some days I slip. Badly. Some days I call in sick and hide in bed. Some days I *am* sick. Some days I drop everything. Like, on my toes. And figuratively as well.

I love it when I think I did well, and then find out after that I bungled something.

Check, check, recheck. Measure. (Hmmmm.) Tall enough? Strong enough? Smart enough? Loveable? Liveable? Contributing? Helping? Doing the Right Thing?

It is an obsession, I think, to worry about such things. And I think it is also necessary. Otherwise, I'd just watch T.V.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I Promised

I promised myself that I'd write something today. I knew it was going to be a weird day for me: baby shower in the early afternoon, followed by leading a mixed group of Jews and non-Jews through the traditional mourning service the same day as the funeral.

The baby shower I thought would be easy. My overly-simplified plans of just giving a wad of cash went out the window during a consultation with a close female friend. So close that she could say, no cash, here do this instead. The This being handmade gifts from Etsy -- I got two, a cute print of a bird on a bike and a onesie with Obama stenciled on it -- way classier, for sure. Just the touch the gift needed. (And where was my Work Wife for this task? She would've made me buy something too, certainly. As would've Pig. Frankly, I thought Sparky was channelling Pig when she said it.)

So, I got a card, and with my printed out map and directions I was off on my scooter. I got lost. I was late. Like seriously late. One hour late would've been cool, probably. I was buying the card at CVS then, though. The house was someone's mother's house, out in Virginia, the place where I am most likely to get lost. I did get lost. I found my way and snuck in, awkwardly pulling my blue Doc Martin's off at the bottom of of the stairs. Everyone was upstairs and the Games were underway. I was trying to avoid those. I regarded the collection of shoes. There were a ton of sophisticated, nice casual women's shoes and about four pairs of huge men's shoes, only one of which were sneakers. I considered I might be under-dressed. Oy. Late and underdressed.

At least when my white face emerged from the stairs Felicia and Von both let out a hearty "Shellyyyyyyyyyy!" and came to hug me. Please give a hand to the only cracka in the room. Thank you. Where's the food?

I was also the ONLY person from the office, where Felicia used to work with us. I'm sure there's some sort of weird something because the organization did let her go. And during the "game" where we went around the room to introduce and say how we all knew the couple there was a dull silence when I mentioned my company by name. I said we bonded on a work trip to Arkansas, and Felicia added where she feared she'd be lynched by the white folks.

Hello my name is Shelly. I can vouch for this black persron. Really. Who am I? Just a cross-dressing lesbian jewish convert. Is that a gun?

To their credit, Felicia and Von have awesome friends. Most they know through church or the programs through the church they help run. Good people. Solid. Preggers. I say it's a boy (it's a small belly!) who'll come in the early afternoon.

Still, I didn't know anyone else there besides the center of attention people. And I was not feeling, you know, gregarious. Even for how sweet the people were. I told them I had to cut out and snuck back down stairs after about a total of 40 minutes at the party.

I zoomed home. Still a beautiful day outside, I was seriously enjoying riding around. I got home promptly at 4:20 and opted for a nap. An hour later I needed to get up and move. The Shiva Service was to start at 7 and I wanted to get there early, unlike my two hour lateness at the shower.

Google maps, again. Print, again. Helmet on, again. This time I've got a bag of prayerbooks with a half a dozen shiny black kippot stuffed in there. "I hope the hats don't come flying out down the highway," I said to Milkshake. She was unconcerned.

Zipping down the road, getting on I-270, I tried to remember the name of the woman who I was supposed to contact at the house. I recited the name of the man who died. I got there about fifteen minutes early to find that, since the funeral already happened, the whole crowd is there. They've been noshing on the vast spread for at least a couple of hours now. Actually I have no idea how long they had been back from the grave site.

The house is huge and beautiful. There is food or beverage on every surface. There is one non-white face in the whole crowd, and she was there to do the dishes. Boom.

I met the ex-wife of the deceased, and the sons. It's the daughter though, whose house we're all at, and who is my contact. I met cousins and close family friends. "Hi, I'm Shel West, from Washington Hebrew." Pressing hands, meeting eyes. A blur. Finally I met the daughter. She is feeling this, big time. Her face says to me confused, sad, overwhelmed. "I'm so sorry," I said I explained there's a part during the service where the familly can address the crowd. Even just a sentence or two, I assured her, you don't have to do it at all. People move, more faces, hands. I got introduced to a cousin who is a lay cantor and they'd love to hear her sing. "Sure!" I said, honestly exuberantly. We talked about the flow briefly and her smile was a great welcome to me.

People moved. Some folks got ansty about starting, other folks would stand around and talk forever if you let them. I tried to ride the crowd's emotion, letting it do its thing, perhaps not reining it in enough. A couple of times we started to talk about the prayer books ("there's more in the front") and kippot ("you don't have to wear them if you don't want") and the page number. The page number. Forever Jews will be yelling out the page number. G-d bless 'em.

The cantor-cousin started singing a niggun. She had said "that'll calm 'em down." Herding Jews is like herding cats. This is Moses' true miracle, moving that many Jews all at the same time. God must've known that.

Anyway, the service part was fine. You know me, nose in book, talk to the kippah. Cantor-cousin sounded awesome which reminded me that I am flat, flat, flat. And not a cantor. I do love it though. It was good. It was going a little long with extra singing. I felt some people start to shift and wiggle. Twice we were silent, once for the "optional" daily prayers... yadda yadda redemption, yadda yadda Jerusalem... ah, we'll pick up on page 30. The second silence was for the silent prayer. I've been at services enough to know the silent prayer routine, and gave the idea a go for myself... written words, words of the heart. Yadda. It was good.

When it was time for the "family to say something" I looked up to where I had spotted the daughter sitting the one time I looked up earlier. Her eyes got big as saucers and she started making the "time-out" or "he's safe" motion, I couldn't tell which. "I could not...?" "Of course," I said, trying to not miss a beat. "Let's continue on page...." Thank God for the page call out, the most reliable segue ever.

I read a fair amount from the pre-printed, kosher-for-Reform, temple-distributed prayer book. It's a special one for the Shiva service. It's got some nice words in it, although sometimes I feel like it's a little too God-focused for someone who might be really pissed at God at such a moment. (Ach, God, I know. I want more. I want less. Who could put up with me but You?) I took it nice and slow on the Mourner's Kaddish. I thanked the crowd for coming, and for joining, and reminded them not to say goodbye, but instead l'chaiyim. That's how they told me to end it. And I'm a good little soldier, sometimes.

So folks go back to the talking thing. I thank the cantor-cousin and she thanks me. The cousin who was handing out books came by. Some woman I hadn't seen before at all comes up to me and grips my hand fiercely as she thanks me. "Really," she says. "Really." Death grip. I look her in the eye, really. "Good luck," I say. Then the daughter comes to up to me. Her face! My God. She is crushed. A face of strength, softened by bludgeoning grief. Eyes, just overwhelmed. I might be giving her the death grip. I wish I had said, "I wish you a good night's sleep" but it might be too soon for that for her. What I did say was something about wishing the best for her. I don't remember. She wanted me to eat. There was a LOT of food. I declined, thinking my garbanzo beans would be soft when I got home.

I spoke to the daughter's husband too, once before the service and once after. His face also will haunt me tonight. His face said "Help me" and "I'm exhausted." I wish them peace, soon but not too soon.

May we all get what we need.

Killing time

I am in a place I often find myself, put myself in fact. I find it comforting and like home. I had it last night when Shawn was over, and I get it all the time at Wunderland, Chez Emperor. Playing some game, hanging out, music playing, talking or quite possibly not.

It's not necessarily productive time. Once I tried to study while playing multiple games with E. Yeah, no.

Still... There's so much interaction in the competitive jibbing (?) and playful taunting. It's a dynamic I get, I can deal with. Works.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I'm cutting myself a break. Just for the moment. It's a hard balance because I'm one of those who will take a mile when given an inch, even when I'm doing it to myself.

No, I'm giving myself permission not to be perfect or even try to be for my university level Hebrew class. It's probably an excuse, but I really need it right now. I've been physically ill, on and off for over a week. I'm trying to cram this language into my brain and do my job, which is easily more than 40 hours a week. And I'm trying to take care of this body in a way that I haven't been for the first 39 years of my life. And, you know, do the dishes and shit.

I feel like a slacker, though, I do. I know people with children who are doing as much as I'm trying to do. I know people with children who are doing more than I'm doing. I try not to compare, but I do. No one really knows, I explain to myself, how heavy my brain is on me, how complicated this existence is. I should say how heavy my heart is, because that comes into play too, in complication, and in stretching out time.

Time is so stretchy right now. It disappears from me. I sit still in silence in my living room. The T.V. isn't on. There's no music on. Milkshake comes by periodically, and the green digital clock on the VHS player tell me that time is passing. I feel a moment, and the clock says it was forty minutes. 40. And where was I? Lost in thought for forty minutes.

I'm overwhelmed, between class and work, and I need time to get lost in my thoughts. And I feel like I don't even have 40 minutes anymore. It's not really any wonder that I'm sick.

So... I'm patting myself on the head, and putting in stupid T.V. and probably falling asleep on the sofa. I'll get up, go to work and go to class and look Rivka straight in the eye and say: Yeah, I didn't do it yet.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Screen reading

I just tried to eat lunch without reading text on a screen. I made it about ten minutes before I pulled out my Blackberry.

Even my internal thinks seems to require a keyboard.

Why is it that I am so easily moved by an old soul in a young body? Why is it that I feel my life depends on Hebrew? Am I really supposed to go back to shuffling through papers and playing traffic cop to electrons in cyberspace when there are bigger issues out there, even in my little world?

People are sick, suffering and in pain. I know only a handful of them and am still overwhelmed.

I wonder if God gets overwhelmed.
(Yeah, I know, I actually left the O in. Shocking. I had shrimp the other might too, just to reinforce to myself the Reform nature of my commitment.)
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Monday, March 2, 2009

On being better

Not perfect, just better.

Today was a snow day, and plenty of people who could have come in and prolly shoulda come in just didn't. It was a giant excuse for everyone to stop.

You know, I stop. I do. I slack. I fart around at the office. I write blog posts and entertaining personal emails there.

It's not that. It's not that because that's a down moment, not a standard. What seriously disturbs me is the effort to maintain that lifestyle.

That's technically awful isn't it? To judge and publicly disapprove of how someone chooses to live? Even if that way of living is doing the minimum possible and expecting other people to give you even more than need. That sense of expectation, deservedness. Privilege. It pisses me off.

Don't worry. If you're reading this, it probably doesn't apply to you. It applies to Alicia-with-a-dot in Hebrew who talks during class like she's the only one there. She complains that her homework should get an excellent, because for *her* it was excellent. With all that red. Or the horrible teacher who just wants a captive audience. The person who wants a government job so they can barely show up and still get paid, who winds up getting promoted just so other people can get rid of them.

Where does the total lack of motivation come from. You can't blame it on weed. I know too many smart and productive pot-heads.

I know. Rant.
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