Archive for April, 2009

A Word for me today…

“Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (part of Exodus 14:13, KJV)

I get up each morning and read a devotional from this torn little book I received from the pastor of my mother’s church about a thousand Christmases ago. The book is one of those perpetual ones that goes the whole year and then you just start over; mine is tattered and you have to be careful when you pick it up because there are pages that have become dislodged from the binding. Anyway, this was the verse with today’s devotional text. The text suggested that there are times when we can do nothing, in fact should do nothing, but stand…and wait on the salvation of the Lord. In other words, if I just keep still, keep my busy little nose out of God’s business, He will handle my situation, or at the very least provide me the strength, endurance, skill/ability and proper timing to handle it on my end.

This made me think about the word “salvation” and the first thing that came to my mind was the word “salve”–an old-timer’s word for healing ointment…and yes, I use that word so I am including myself in the category of old-timer. Anyway, when I thought of that, immediately to mind came the image of some of the unlabled gooey stuff my nana used to rub on my cuts or scrapes–salve–and how it kept dirt out of the wound and how after a period of stinging (because it always had something horrible-smelling in it that cleaned out the wound, like uber-alcohol…) the cut or scrape felt a zillion times better.

Funny, God is like that too.

I decided to do a quick study on the word salvation and this is one tiny piece of what I found:

Since the Bible was written in both Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament), we will begin our study with the literal definitions of the word “salvation” in these languages. In the Hebrew language the word for salvation is yasha, from which we have Joshua. Yasha has this meaning: “to be wide, or roomy – a broad and spacious place.” Yasha communicates the idea of freedom. It is “liberation from confinement, constriction, and limitation.” The word for salvation in the Greek language the word is sozosoteria, whose the meaning is “cure, recovery, remedy.” (from the Grace Valley Christian Center website)

Wow–how perfect a Word for me today…God will cure, recover, and remedy my issues. He will liberate me from confinement, constriction, and limitation. So here’s the deal: if I hold still, mind my own business, and let God do what He does, He will heal me of my issues and deliver me to a place of freedom. Now that’s deep.

Thank you, God; I need that freedom right now. Freedom from broken-heartedness, freedom from a confused head, freedom from a deep guilt that I could have done more for my friend–that I could have gotten over my own weirdness to at least try and reach out and find him…I need to know that You, God, forgive my lack of initiative in this area and that someday, when I too cross through the veil I will see my friend again and we will laugh together.

Peace.

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 Confessions of a Cave Dweller No Comments

Last night a DJ…

I’m sitting in my dimly lit office, trying to figure it out. A few minutes ago, the words to an old “hit” popped into my head:

Last night a D.J. saved
my life from a broken
heart.
Last night a D.J. saved my life

That’s one little bit from the song “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” by Indeep. I’ve been on a music kick this last week…it’s the one of the few things holding me up, keeping me from staying in tears all day I think. I burned a CD that had some old hip-hop/ska/house stuff and today have a few house mixes playing from my house playlist on Imeem.

I’ve been feeling the urge to dust off my DJ skills; not that I want to go back into radio, even though I received a compliment about my voice yesterday…I had a short spell where I enjoyed creating my own mixes (a la Cool Edit Pro kind of stuff) and might try my hand at it again. However for now, I am enjoying the fruits of the musical labor of others. I am thankful to each of them, from Todd Wilson who has a great house mix, to the O.G.’s of various music genres that I’ve found on Imeem as well.

Keep on rankin’…

ska(image courtesy of streetlightkid at the purevolume website)

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 Confessions of a Cave Dweller No Comments

On life with a friend, Rod Serling, and caves generally…

You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Night Gallery Presents...
No, that’s not quite right but close. Hey there, kiddies! Are you ready for today’s harrowing adventure?

So it’s about 2:30am and I’m drafting this on my Blackberry so it feels like I’ve crossed over into something. Don and I used to keep crazy hours like this. We’d sit across a late-night pizza and trade Monty Python or Ren and Stimpy lines faster and with more finesse than professional chess players trade moves. His cave was great for that; at the time he lived in a little town called Edison in a basement apartment; it was the best place for a good round of randomly yelling “Dinsdale!” at one another (if you don’t know Python the reference is lost on you…it was really quite hysterical).

What does that have to do with Rod Serling? Dunno, I’ve always been a fan. Anyway, that is what was on my mind when I woke up at about 2 this morning. I’m trying to work through this whole loss thing and it seems like each day (night?) I remember more tidbits about life when Don and I were in the same part of the space/time continuum. It helps; it makes me smile, such remembering. And makes it seem like he’s really not that far away.

spiny

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 Confessions of a Cave Dweller No Comments

On my mind: woman cave identity and cats…

So I’ve had a number of things on my mind since early this morning, the least of which involved the identity of a proper woman cave. If you search for woman cave on Google, you may find some interesting things.

googlewomancave

Some of the posts have switched it around (“cave woman”), which may fit, depending on the person, but in my case was completely unsuitable. I found what I suspected I would in other cases: sewing rooms, exercise spaces in basements, and such. Not to say that these are not suitable or proper; they just are not my thing. I shake my head in dismay, wondering where my sister technogeeks are. Let me describe to you the perfect woman cave for me–for the full effect, imagine it being read by Rod Serling:

Picture if you will a room of average size, walls covered in bookshelves (which are of course filled with books); minimal lighting from a few mismatched lamps procured from yard sales and/or Freecycle; one of those fold-up wooden tables that have taken the place of the old metal ‘tv tables’ of the 60s–although one of the metal ones would be great; a laptop placed precariously atop the fold-up table; a comfy couch/sectional/chair; and a tv with its own home-designed surround sound system (not one of those things you get in the box with one subwoofer–what is that about?!–but the kind you build from scavenged audio parts, procured from various pawn shops at a great deal, that have to be tapped and/or talked to on occasion to work properly). Upon exit from said room, one is conveniently close to the kitchen and an exit to a patio with access to the southern California sun.

Now that is a woman cave. While the space that I have claimed is actually our family room, it does have some of these amenities. It is next to the kitchen and has access to the patio. The bookshelf is in the kitchen, so I can see it from the sectional, where I sit to access the laptop on the wooden fold-up table, while watching tv and listening to its sound through the homemade surround sound (thank you Christopher for your talent in this area).

So what does all that have to do with cats? Nothing, except I am usually forced to share some of my space with one of the three who live in our house (or whose house we live in, if you were to ask them). However, this particular thought about cats has to do with a specific cat. I shared my grief over Don’s death with my friend Christine in  a Facebook ‘conversation’ and she remembered when I cat-sat for him once. He had to go away for about a week on a band gig and asked me to watch Barge; the name fit because he was a big black longhaired cat. I like Barge a lot and was happy to take care of him for my friend. Christine fortunately has a better memory than I do–I have more dust in there than on my old 45s (it’s okay if you don’t know what they are…ask an old person who played music on anything that existed before a CD player…)–and reminded me of this experience. He scared me twice: once by showing up on the top of the refrigerator unexpected and once by showing up perched above my head looking down at me from my dresser when I woke up early in the morning. At least both times he was purring and quite content. When Don took Barge back home, he hid for 3 days; payback for abandonment I guess. As I read her reminder of my week with Barge, I had to laugh and felt pretty good about that. It was a good memory. Don and I used to laugh a lot about the ways of cats and I am sure he would enjoy the three we live with now. I’m sure we’d be crying with laughter over some of the stories I could tell, not to mention the ones we could make up after looking at some of the pictures of past and present cats, like this one:

pepper1

Remember, nothing can soak up tears like laughter.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 Confessions of a Cave Dweller No Comments

Five stages, almost rolled into one…

Dr. Kubler-Ross found that in general, folks who experience grief go through five different stages: 1. denial/isolation, 2. anger, 3. bargaining, 4. depression, and 5. acceptance. There is no time limit on how long each stage lasts and she goes on to say that some may be in your head for a few minutes while others may come around again–a cycle of stages, as it were.

I studied all that in college but wanted to reflect on how the death of my friend has affected me. I have the feeling that I have managed to roll the first four stages into one…for the last two days I’ve pretty much stayed to myself, immersed in music, which is about the only thing that makes me feel any bit better (if one can truly feel better about such things), so the isolation is there. The denial is mixed in as well, since it is so hard for me to imagine Don not being on this plane of existence right now. Anger is there, since I have to ask God if there was anything I could have done–as I mentioned, could I have searched for him and tried to reach out more earnestly (I do of course know that it is tough finding people these days if they are not FaceBooking, Twittering, or some other nonsense regularly, with real photos along with past and present contact information…). There is no question that depression is there–I spent almost all of yesterday’s church service crying and am still trying to wrap my psyche around it.

I keep thinking about Brockmeier’s book “The Brief History of the Dead”.  Here is a bit of the review from Publisher’s Weekly:

Meanwhile, the planet’s dead populate “the city,” located on a surreal Earth-like alternate plane, but their afterlives depend on the memories of the living, such as Laura, back on home turf. Forced to cross the frozen tundra, Laura free-associates to keep herself alert; her random memories work to sustain a plethora of people in the city, including her best friend from childhood, a blind man she’d met in the street, her former journalism professor and her parents. Brockmeier (The Truth About Celia) follows all of them with sympathy, from their initial, bewildered arrival in the city to their attempts to construct new lives. He meditates throughout on memory’s power and resilience, and gives vivid shape to the city, a place where a giraffe’s spots might detach and hover about a street conversation among denizens. He simultaneously keeps the stakes of Laura’s struggle high: as she fights for survival, her parents find a second chance for love—but only if Laura can keep them afloat.

It is a must-read for all heady cave dwellers. Or those who love thriller movies–I mean the real ones, from the 50s and 60s, the psychological thrillers that made you think about whether there just might be something out there (or even worse, it might be in the closet, right now, breathing). Even if you just go buy it for the cover, which shows a coat on a hanger being held open by a pair of hands, do it–you will read it eventually. No head, no body, just an empty coat on a hanger with hands…Anyway, if Brockmeier’s altnernate universe exists in any of the various space/time continua, Don is there. I know this because I couldn’t possibly forget him, and as long as video exists he will be there–alive and wonderful on YouTube. Yep, I think I like Brockmeier’s worlds. Now if I could just get rid of that pesky ball of stages and get to acceptance…

don

(Photo courtesy of Iron Leg)

Monday, April 27th, 2009 Confessions of a Cave Dweller No Comments

How to exist somewhere between the cave and the surface

There are times in life when one must face their true self. I am a cave dweller, one who prefers low light, minimal maintenance, and spaces shared by few. Thanks to the miracle of technology I can reach out through space and time without saying a word…my fingers do the talking…

However, since moving to California I realize that I enjoy the sun. I anxiously await the weekend days where I can go out and sit with my eyes closed, enjoying the radiance. I have a pang of depression on perfect sunning days when I have to go to work in an office away from home instead.

Yet I run back to the darkness of my cave when needed and truly could not imagine being a permanent surface dweller. Is there something in between? How does one balance this juxtaposition?

Monday, April 27th, 2009 Confessions of a Cave Dweller No Comments

A dream, first raging, goes silent; like a light, then goes out…regarding the death of a friend

How to explain? First, let me give you two bits of vocabulary so you can read the rest of this probably long post:

1. cave dweller: someone who enjoys prefers low light, especially as related to where conversations and tv watching take place

2. surface dweller: the happy folk who like bright daylight and function best in it

You heard it, didn’t you? A sound, carried on a southwest wind, that reminded you of plate glass smashing into dust. It came from southern California and it was my heart breaking last night. The tears didn’t truly come until this morning.

Now that I got that out of the way, let’s get to the story which began over 20 years ago.

I was a freshman at Rutgers and was struggling with all the surface dwellers. I had no friends there; I knew people but had no friends, no other cave dwellers with which to hide in cozy dark spaces. One day I was in psychology class and saw this person who looked, well, cool. I sorta kept an eye on him and one day he sat in my row (giggle, snort–sorry, it’s a freshman flashback thing…I think) in this big lecture hall. And how about this: one day while walking from class he caught up with me and we talked (giggle, snort–sorry, there I go again). We became fast friends and I finally had another cave dweller to spend time with. We ate pizza, hung out, and eventually joined forces at the college radio station, WRSU. His name was Don Buchanan and he was oh so much my most excellent friend. This was a Forest-Gump-peas-and-carrots kind of friendship. So often where you saw one of us in those days, the other wasn’t too far away. When I started at WRSU I was, like all newbies, on the overnight shift; Don worked nights and when he could he would call me, while he listened to my show. Now that’s a friend. He frustrated me because he was so smart; that psychology class was the first of many I would take since it was my major and he could ace the tests without studying–made me so mad and jealous. We would laugh about it. He was a great musician and in addition to the early band stuff he did, he managed to get a spot with one of New Brunswick’s favorite bands, the Mad Daddys.

Mad Daddys album cover

Mad Daddys album cover

See the fella under the hat, second from left leaning on the car door? That’s Don. Most of us wore leather jackets, regardless of the weather, because it’s what we did. He had a Thunderbird, which was one of my favorite cars then.

Life takes interesting turns. I got married the year after graduating from Rutgers; Don and I talked around Thanksgiving of that year and that was our last conversation. However, I never forgot my friend. Through everything–the death of my dad, the premature birth of my son, the various moves (from South River to Dover, DE, to Pennsylvania), the death of my first husband, more moves (from Pennsylvania to Salem County, NJ, and finally to southern California in 2007)–I never forgot Don. I tried here and there to find a connection to him online but never could. Periodically I would try, especially after marrying Christopher–I thought he’d like to know I wised up and married a musician, was happy–truly–for the first time in a very long time, and that I missed him still.

So here we are, in April 2009. I was online searching for some other stuff and happened across a MySpace page dedicated to the lead man of the Mad Daddys, Stinky Sonobuoni; while scanning the page eagerly, I saw this one small post, dated April 4, 2008: “Rest in peace, Don”.  A cracking began, and I searched the web more earnestly. I came to another WordPress blog by Iron Leg that told the story. I saw the photos, so I know he was talking about the Don I knew. The plate glass shattered then. I searched and found a brief comment in the Sentinel. It was tough to click on it because I didn’t want to believe it. It hurt too much.

It is selfish, but I admit my horrible humanity. I was tortured through the night with questions–if I had searched more earnestly, might it have made a difference? All those years of dreaming of seeing my friend again, the fleeting attempts to find him, to come to this. I was a year late and am emptied, broken, by it. I sit now, and view a late 80s performance at the Brighton Bar, and remember my friend. That’s him there, working the guitar. We were cool then, young and happy in our cave dwelling.

Pray for me but more importantly pray for my friend Don’s family.

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 Confessions of a Cave Dweller 2 Comments