Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Frida Underground

Wow, with a week containing Solstice, the first day of summer, Father’s Day and a new moon, I am happy to report only one nostril/food-related incident. ‘Twas Saturday last at the illustrious Market and I was in chemical need of caffeine, so I made the journey across the two lane road to the food court. Surveying my options, I noticed a sign advertising a blended iced coffee drink.

Arms outstretched like a robot, I marched toward my favorite vegetable: coffee beans. I was about to order their version of a chilled mocha java when the “barista” jammed a bored index finger into his left nostril up to the second knuckle.

This behavior had its own chilling effect. I stopped in my tracks and stared. He looked at me looking at him, grinned with pride, pulled the strawberry-digger out, appraised his treasure and then proceeded to insert it back into his other nostril.

Suddenly I didn’t want a coffee so bad.

For those of you paying attention to my segues, transitions and content, I have been on an unfortunate wavelength for the past two weeks that has me engaged with nostrils and things either going in (fingers and corks) or coming out (strawberries and boogers). This condition is likely caused my time spent with an active 15-year old relative who is delighted and proud of every one of his body functions.

Logically, since I am grossed out by them and offer plenty of resistance, the Universe is having a good time at my expense, sending more juvenile antics for me to observe. Or perhaps there is another explanation. I am in vibrational alignment with pesky, hormonal teenage energy.

There is plenty of evidence to support this theory. I am often cranky. I cry at commercials and dance shows. I want my way. I am moody, swinging from this branch of emotion to that branch in record time. I am flexible as long as I don’t have to change. I need others to change so that I can feel better. I think everyone’s stupid. I am amazed at how smart and talented everybody else is.

Which is why Groom and I are going underground for the next five days. Okay, well, not exactly underground, just turning off our cell phones, shutting down the computer and attending a five-day, 12-hour a day personal growth seminar. It’s part deux of the one we participated in a couple of months ago.

We had to fill out a fairly extensive questionnaire, answering what we’d like to learn while underground, locked in a room, or whatever they do to help us get at our personal itch. I wrote that I wanted to – oh, did you think I was going to tell you? I wrote that I wanted to stop seeing boys pick their noses.

Not really. I mean I do, but I think the issue is that I’m stuck in a particular chapter of my story and I’m getting bored with it. Here’s an example of somebody else’s behavior to describe my own, which is what the behavior is about. Confusing? Read on.

I know a Malaprop man (when complimenting my decorating style he said, “I like your decorum”) who loves to insert himself into other people’s home improvement projects. He starts all kinds of things, which the person may or may not have requested, and then becomes distracted before he completes them , leaving the project mid-mess only to start another one.

At one point, when he was complaining to me how many disorganized, unfinished projects he had going, I asked why.

He looked at me like I was an idiot and stated, “So I don’t have to deal with my own stuff.”

Oh.

I’m much more like Malaprop Man than I care to admit. Until recently, I believed I was in service, offering help to people in crisis, even though they may or may not have requested it. I thought I could take away their pain. As I hinted last week, people no likey.

This week, I am coming to understand that as I try to squelch their pain, I am unwittingly (and ineffectively) trying to take away their lessons. God and the Universe no likey.

It has also been pointed out to me that I am motivated to take away their pain because I am unaccepting of people as they are. I want to change them. I want them to change so that I can feel better. I am interested in other people’s home improvement projects so that I don’t have to deal with my own stuff. Uh-oh, now, me no likey.

Furthermore, I was guided to understand that I have to discover in myself those feelings and reactions I’m hoping to receive from others, such as approval, appreciation, validation and love.

I am all bass-ackwards. I somehow believed that I would find self-love by getting others to show it to me first as an exchange for siphoning their pain. Sucker.

God’s Minion gave me some excellent feedback, which deserves its place here: Resistance. I have been thinking of that word so much in recent years and I try to immediately transform it into the word fluidity...fluidity.... fluidity. It even rolls more easily off the tongue.

Resistance is the condition that keeps us from being our best self and from seeing the best in others. In the book Lazy Man's Guide To Enlightenment the author says: “What is it that you think needs to be loved?”

Perhaps even, dare I say it, the cutting of a tree (or the picking of a nose)? He says once we can love everything then we are in heaven and he does mean EVERYTHING. Our human condition dictates that we have judgments about as much as we possibly can, as much as we can cram into a day and even keep ourselves awake with at night. The universe is neutral. How comforting, the universe is neutral. No judgment, just response to the frequency being emitted. EMIT LOVE. Wow.

Yes, wow. As I type these last words, a car passed by honking and the driver leaned out the window and yelled, “Yeah, you’re number one, too!”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pain-snatchers

I’m a time traveler at heart. The first place I’d go visit is Paris, 1889. La Dame de fer, or the Iron Lady as the Eiffel Tower was nicknamed, stands brand spanking new, serving as the entrance to the Exposition Universelle. I’d meander down the Champs de Mars, the Trocadero, and the Quai d’Orsay on the left bank of the Seine.

I’d be smacked with anti-P.C. culture shock strolling by the “Negro Village,” a major attraction with hundreds of indigenous people on display. I’d probably try to sneak photos of Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley in the Wild West Show with my digital camera or catch a glimpse of French composer Claude Debussy at the first inspiring moment he heard gamelan music from Java.

But the first person I’d want to find is Vincent van Gogh. Now he’s someone I’d want to sit down with at a sidewalk cafĂ© to share a snootful of grande woodworm Absinthe. If la fee verte (the authentic green fairy, not the synthetic one), were to be released, I’d like to ask him what really happened with his ear. However, the answer might be disappointing and ruin the mystery.

I’d like to tell him not to kill himself, that he will go on to become one of the most beloved artists of all times. Then again, what would happen if he listened to me and history didn’t turn out that way at all? He’d still be steeped in alcohol, turpentine and poverty, but angry with me.


I romanticize the past, caught up in the illusion that people were kinder, more genteel, but truthfully, it’s the costumes, the fashion of the day that thrill me. What I’d really want to do is go power shopping and get my hands on some authentic steam punk togs.

I understand that human drama is human drama, but if that’s true no matter where you go, then let’s talk setting. A divorce, an illness, or a difficult time paying bills is much more interesting in a French villa than, say, a trailer park.

Speaking of white trash rash, I had a weird day on Saturday. Groom asked what crevice in the earth opened up nearby and why all the escapee’s decided to come to Market? Anyone who knows me understands that I have a thing about hygiene. I tend to flush toilets with my toes, wash my hands before and after everything — well, you get the picture.

So it was with consternation (a sudden, alarming dread resulting in utter dismay), that I witnessed a hairy beast lumber into our booth and, while gawking at the jewelry, stick his claw (okay, hand) inside his pantaloons and scratch the becooties out of his behind, only to sniff his fingers afterward. I almost wretched.

This class act was followed by a ferret-faced gentleman proffering strawberries in a helium, high-pitched voice. “For you,” he said staring, his eyes set close together like a cartoon. When Groom politely took two, I was thinking back to last week’s question where a man pulled two strawberries from his nose, and decided to take my own advice.

The gnome started licking both hands from the base of his palm to the tips of his fingers. While I was silently bargaining with God for him not to touch anything, Groom calmly said, “Just so sweet, you can’t help yourself,” which appealed greatly to the strange little man with the helium voice.

I seem to resist everything while Groom has an ability to go with the flow. I heard a racket outside this morning and the first words out of my mouth were, “I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like it.” Turns out I was right. As I sit down at the computer to drivel, one of my daymares is coming true. A large, glorious historical tree is being murdered next door.

Sure, one measly limb falls off during a violent storm and a rain gutter gets dented and the next thing you know, the chain saw massacre is unfolding. Men in hard hats and suspenders are milling around the property, testosterone and stupicles all atwitter, comparing whose tool is longer or has a bigger diameter.

A cacophony of dueling saws rattles the windows. Deafening, buzzing roars try to drown out the spirit of the wounded tree, but I can still hear it. I was just curled up on the bed in the fetal position, mourning the loss. And don’t even get me started on the willows….

I love trees. I adore them. Wandering through the forest, I feel as though I am in God’s cathedral. I read somewhere about one tree’s roots intertwining with a skeleton buried nearby, the mutual limbs entangled like lovers. That’s exactly how I’d like my remains to rest in peace.

My mother called the other day and told me batches of beautiful trees were being taken out near where they live. I was bereft. I had a tanty, I keened.

My mother called the other day with news that one of my classmates had died. “Really, when?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

I asked the next obvious question. “How’d she die?”

“Don’t know that either,” said Mother.

“Well, how did you hear about it?”

“Hmmm, someone, although I can’t think of who it was, told me.”

I called my girlfriend, who I’ve known since junior high and began the conversation with, “Do you remember Jane Doe?”I didn’t have a chance to say another word before she exclaimed, “Jane Doe? That wench? She was the most vile, heinous, nasty person to me at school, oh she was evil, a horrible human being, why?”

“Um, well, I just heard she died.” Apparently this was not bad news.

“Really? How, when?” She wanted to make sure I was not kidding.

“Mom told me, but I don’t know anything past that. She doesn’t even remember where she heard it.”

My mother called the other day and said, “I can’t help but notice you had more of a reaction to the news the trees were killed rather than your classmate.”

“Yes, but the trees didn’t do anything to me or my friends.”

Maybe it was time for this neighboring tree to go, I don’t know. But as energy reflects energy, perhaps the tree and I are already intertwined. I am experiencing a death of my own. I am being recalled. I have always wanted to know my purpose, to have a passion that I could throw myself into, but instead, I am split in many ways, carrying around a mass of conflicting energy. This resistance does more harm than good and I’m weary of it.

It should be no surprise to me then, that I often encounter heavy resistance in others. In my bumbling attempt to discover a purpose, I have been attracted to the study of energy, healing and miracles. I’ve witnessed several spontaneous healings up close and personal and these experiences have left me desiring more. Eagerly, I have tried to share information on pain-release, but I am consistently met with protective anger.

Recently, I met a man with a very large bump on his arm. Since we were already discussing health and healing, I made a casual comment that Groom’s similar bump on his elbow went away after some energy work.

The man immediately covered the protruding lump with his other hand, as if it were a precious thing, and said quite sternly, “This isn’t going away, it’s mine.” And that sums up the human story. This pain is mine.

Oh, people will be quite patient with those that inflict it, calling them possessive nouns like my stalker, my persecutor, my whatever, but heaven help the one who tries to lessen it. People react strongly to pain-snatchers.

While resisting the resistance, Groom offered me a different story for the soundtrack outside our house. “What if this were a hundred years ago, Sweetie, can you picture the yells and verbal assaults of the dock workers? Can you picture their unwashed bodies, the hoots and hollers as the ship comes in and the barrels roll out? We’d be so excited, looking forward to the merchant’s shelves being restocked with all kinds of interesting things.”

I think about that. I’d have all kinds of patience and allowances for the romantic setting of the past, but wince at every sharp sound and vagary troll in my daily environs. I bet Mister van Gogh was smelly, unkempt and off putting. Sure, I want to buy him a drink now because I know of his brilliance, but what if I had been a neighbor? Would I have rolled my eyes and recoiled when I saw him stumbling down the street or clenched my fists in frustration when he fought with Gauguin — again?

Resistance is futile. Pain connects us. It is not my job to disconnect. Bad puppy!

Au revoir, beautiful tree.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Frida

Questions are trickling into my mailbag and I’ve collected enough of them to introduce a new feature: an Ask Frida column. But it comes with a warning…I’m abdicating all responsibility for my answers. I shall not be held accountable for their tone, efficacy, or people’s behavior resulting from obeying my orders, er, advice.

I shall iterate, lest it slip your minds, that Frida is neither a licensed or trained professional in the medical, mental or culinary fields. However, a fashion police badge can be found in my over-sized bag, so beware.

Some of you might wonder why this Everyday Anthropologist, a self-proclaimed student of human behavior, is considering helping others suss it out.

For two elemental reasons: One, I’ve discovered that most of us are struggling with one area or another, and two, people keep asking.

Okay, I admit it - I’m socially awkward. On the other hand, as much as human behavior puzzles, it has also been said that I have an ability to laugh inappropriately at problems while simultaneously offering strange comfort.

Okay, ready for this week’s experimental grab bag?

Dear Frida,
While eating dinner at a friend’s house the host was holding court, and us hostage, with stories from his work. Suddenly I noticed he had the biggest nostrils I’d ever seen in my life. I’m talking sarcastically large, like he could fit a wine cork in each one. Excited, I got up from the table and opened random drawers, looking for a ruler. When I finally found one, I began measuring his enormous nose holes. Was that rude, or should I have waited until he was finished talking?
Curious

Dear Curious,
I suggest you stick a cork in it!

Dear Frida,
My dog recently chomped down on my little finger. In the subsequent days that have passed, my pinky is grotesquely swollen, I can’t bend it, it looks like little worms are crawling out of it, my entire arm is red and it hurts worse than when I donated a kidney or had two grapefruit-sized tumors removed from my belly. Should I go to the doctor’s or wait until the infection has tunneled its way to the bone, then have emergency surgery with the possibility of amputation, spend a few days in the hospital, and have a PIC line implanted in my other arm all the way to my heart for broad-spectrum antibiotics?
Sign me,
Actually Insured in America

Dear Actually Insured in America,
Well, that depends entirely upon your schedule. Is there anything impending that you would like to avoid, say, a family wedding? If you ignore the wound long enough, you can finesse it to get out of In-law patrol. Or, if it’s not schedule-dependant, consider if you’ll actually need your finger, hand, or arm for anything in the future. If you don’t anticipate using them, or if the pain isn’t driving you, by all means, save the gas and time getting to the doctor and instead, savor away your afternoon eating chocolate and watching soaps.

Dear Frida,
I tend to vacillate in the weight department and I’m tired of cinching up my dresses or letting them out depending on the fat factor. Any suggestions?
Feeling Frumpy


Dear Feeling Frumpy,
Here’s a simple solution. Make an appointment at your local piercing store and have them install permanent corset hooks into your back and then you can save gobs of time by threading colorful ribbons through the metal, allowing you to cinch up your fat rather than all your pretty fabrics.

Dear Frida,
Last week I bumped into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen for about 12 months. The last time I spoke with him, he was a bi-ped, but now he’s mysteriously transformed into a double amputee. Should I have whistled gaily while avoiding eye contact and asked, “Hey, how’s it going, what’s new?” Or jump right in and casually point to the two shiny nubbins with jagged scars and the wheelchair and say, “What’s with the new ride?”
Call me Stumped


Dear Stumped,
As one who has spent a wee bit of time in a wheelchair myself, most folks try to dance around the subject, so the next time you see him, ask if he got a two-for-one deal.

Dear Frida,
On Mother’s Day, I took mine for a stroll and we passed a Japanese tea ceremony in progress. Although it was occurring in public, we stood to the side so as not to interrupt. A Japanese woman in kimono knelt on the ground, whipping a bowl of tea into a frenzy. Although I wanted to pay close attention to her every movement, a gentleman in the place of honor was digging for gold in his nasal cavity. The first time he pulled a large strawberry from his nose, I shook my head to relieve the cobwebs, for I could not believe what I was seeing, but the second time he went mining and pulled yet another strawberry from his proboscis I looked at my mother in horror only to see the exact same expression on her face. Since I know you’ve been to Japan recently and attended a tea ceremony, would you explain what that part meant?
Culturally Unprepared


Dear Culturally Unprepared,
The frothy ceremonial green tea can taste quite bitter and attractive sweets are a part of the ritual to soothe the tongue. However, I would avoid eating anything that gentleman might offer.

Well, that’s it for this week’s mailbag. If any of you have more questions, please email them directly to Frida.Chiquita.Kahlo@gmail.com . If they are quirky or awkward enough, then I might just use them. I do my best work when I’m cranky or PMSing, so pretty much anytime.

Go ahead, take my advice… I’m not using it anyway.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Spookaloo

This installment of the weekly serial about Frida’s adventures takes place in Spokane, Washington. Each little segment may not be specifically related, as in theme and focus, but they are tangentially connected by what we saw, observed and experienced in the “Lilac City.”

For instance, did you know that the word “lilac” is an Arabian word for blue? This piece of trivia won’t particularly relate to anything else here today, but it is something we learned while visiting this Pacific Inland city.

Which smoothly leads us to back to the first paragraph. A moment ago, while trying to spell tangentially, I made an error and typed in “tangenital.” Whoops! This mistake reminds me of a conversation I had on the phone this week. Somebody I know received a reminder email, “genitally prodding” her for something, which has nothing to do with anything other than I find that typo humorous and I heard about it while in Spokane.

If you can’t tell, I’ve received some constructive feedback on my writing segues and thematic material. One genital reader is offering to help guide me to better and clearer transitions, so I am practicing by telling you what I’m going to write about, then writing about it, and then telling you what I wrote.

So now I’m going to introduce you to Spokane. Kimmm’s grandmother referred to this Eastern Washington burg as Spookaloo, which I think is a fine nickname and henceforth perhaps I shall call it that, too.

My first introduction to Spookaloo occurred last century, in the year nineteen hundred and seventy-four. My father and I took a road trip in our 1967 Chevy Impala and stopped for the World’s Fair. Remember the big whooptie U.S. fair of the Bi-centennial era? It is the scene of a now funny, then traumatic experience with my paternal figure called The Bumper Car Saga.

My 10-year old self had never ridden a Ferris wheel so big. It was the world’s tallest at the time, or maybe it just felt that way, and the people down below looked like ants. Stop, you say. What does a Ferris wheel have to do with bumper cars? Yes, I can see how this might bewilder. Let me explain.

In the larger context of the World’s Fair, I was about to make a long-term memory (although I didn’t know it at the time). It began with the Ferris wheel getting stuck for a brief eternity. I was riding alone and my open-air bench seat was just cresting the top when the whole thing came to a sudden stop. I’m making the comparison that it was a little frightening to be caught up there while waiting for it to be fixed, but nothing compared to the trauma of The Bumper Car Saga.

In my short history, I had always ridden amusement park rides that were wholly controlled by nefarious looking carnies. It was within this framework that I hesitantly took my dad’s suggestion and got in line for the bumper cars. When it was finally my turn, I had to let go of my dad’s hand and allow the thrill-ride engineer, with his skinny body, meth breath and bad teeth, lead me to a car and lower the security bar.

I waited for him to start the ride, but nothing happened. Abruptly, without warning, the other kids started crashing into me. It was jarring and confusing. My bumper car would not move with the exception of being smashed into. Within seconds, I was the favorite target and like a magnet, all the other cars were aiming straight for me. My body was knocked side to side and I looked up for help. What I saw was worse than getting hit.

Floundering, I had drawn a crowd outside the arena as well. The adults waiting for the ride to end were laughing and pointing at me. But that was not the worst of it. My father was in the lead. He was pointing and laughing at me. I died a couple of deaths. One from being targeted and crashed into over and over again for the entire time and the other from being humiliated in front of many people including the man who was supposed to have my back.

I had no clue that the bumper car came equipped with a foot pedal to power it myself. I was waiting for an outside source to make my car vroom and instead, I was stalled in the middle of a hostile crowd. I was temporarily helpless and I burned with the shame of it.

When that circle of hell ended, I climbed out of the stupid car with as much dignity as I could muster and it was the first time I was more angry with my father than afraid. I did not look at him.

I could not look at him.

He tried to take my hand, but I would not allow it. The joy of the World’s fair was gone and replaced with the knowledge that kids and adults alike could be cruel. The color and fun drained away and I even ignored my father’s offer of an ice cream cone. Epic.

Because I was hundred’s of miles away from home, I eventually had to talk to him and he explained that the exact thing had happened to him as a child and that now, as a grown up, he could understand why the adults had been laughing. That didn’t make me feel any better. Nor did the phone conversation with my mother later that evening when she broke the news that my kitty, Mr. Bojangles, had disappeared.

I cried and felt very alone and let down. That was my introduction to Spokane.

I agree. It was very brave of me to return to the scene of the crime. While at the Waterfront Park, I peeked at the bumper cars and eerily enough, they were cordoned off with yellow caution tape. The arena was empty, but the echoes of laughter still haunt the place.

Shaking off the past, we toodled around downtown, gawked at Spokane Falls and on a whim decided to ride the gondola. We attended the Museum of Arts and Culture and caught a glimpse of the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat just in time for the 70th Anniversary of the Wizard of Oz.

After playing tourista, we visited extended family who live on the lake and we lazily enjoyed coffee and conversation on the dock. A pair of loons nodded as they swam by and then Mr. and Mrs. Duck greeted us. The fish were jumping, an eagle swooped nearby, and a marmot ran for cover.

The extended family includes a hormonal 13-year old boy. Nana says that his “whores are moaning.” The kid is quite active, funny and unpredictable. After the first day, he asked if he could go to Italy with us. We were impressed because that took goolies.

He made up a word for boys who think with their dangly bits instead of their brains and calls them “stupicles.” Nana said his “stupicles” were definitely descending. It is one of those multiple parts of speech words, used frequently in this household to describe both the person and their actions. I will now provide you with an example.

As we walked the short distance from the lake to the house, two young boys buzzed us on quads. I was about to comment on the potential danger when Nana gestured discreetly that one of them had already crashed in an earlier accident resulting in permanent brain damage as well as losing half his face. I’m new to this vocabulary term, but I think the parents were demonstrating stupicle behavior.

Remember, I’m still in thirteen year-old world. He walked around with his iPod, reading us random stupicle jokes. Here are two of them: “Your mama is so stupicle, she brought a red magic marker to the hospital because they needed to draw blood,” or “Your papa is so stupicle, he sold his car for gas money.”

I had a much longer list of things to mention about our week in Spokane, but it looks as though they might need to be put on hold for another time. To follow-up, as you’ve probably already deduced, we did not hit the mega jackpot lottery in last week’s drawing, but someone else, appropriately from Winner, South Dakota, won in our stead. Congratulations!

I told you I would write about Spokane, I wrote about Spokane and now I’m telling you that I wrote about Spokane.

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