Monday, February 28, 2011


I realize that, a few months from now, the entire context of my life, as I've known it for the last four and a half years, is going to disappear. I'm going to have to reinvent myself, start over; base my life on…something else. A tremendous opportunity, I suppose. And at the same time, overwhelming to the point of inducing paralysis. Even now, I'm feeling the frayed ends of my life starting to flap in the breeze. So much of what I do is centered on the restaurant…how could it not be? Withdrawal from that entanglement bordering on obsession is going to be a long and painful process, I suspect.

Here's an example: I've always loved to shop…it's a form of relaxation for me. (Luckily, I generally know enough not to buy everything that strikes my fancy.) During the Café Years, I have been so tied to the place that I couldn't shop nearly as much as I would have liked. And if I did get the chance to enjoy a stroll through a shopping mall, I inevitably ended up buying something for the café… a piece of art, a kitchen gadget, a jokey gift for one of the girls. Now, that entire focus is gone. A cute coffee-related poster or a great price on an immersion blender can literally bring tears to my eyes. I have to turn on my heel and walk away from things over which, six months ago, I would have caught my breath and cooed, "Oh, this would be perfect for the restaurant!" or risk embarrassing myself in the middle of a crowded store.

There are people out there who seem to have unlimited ability to start over. I have friends who are older than me, yet seem always able to look forward to, and even muster a breathless anticipation for, the next adventure. If anything, their age is a minor disadvantage to be noted and dismissed. Up until now, I may have been that way. But this experience has left me extraordinarily exhausted and…used up. Some possibilities for future livelihood are floating around in my consciousness, but I'm too tired…and too sad, just now, I think…to wrap my arms around anything specific, to make real plans, to entertain real dreams.

In fact, if I let myself think about it too much, I would probably start crying and never stop.

And I still have a restaurant to run, for at least the next sixty-two days. Which is why I have to just keep my eyes looking ahead (but not too far ahead) and keep putting one foot in front of the other until I get into the clearing…that place which is not cluttered with tables and chairs and grills and ovens and needy but nasty members of the consuming public. I need to focus on extricating myself from my current livelihood with the least possible amount of outward angst. (This should be easy. Like peeling a turtle.)

And then…take it from there.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Power Animals

I know that wherever my spiritual odyssey takes me, animals will be with me. I've always loved animals; somewhere around the middle of my life, I realized they were becoming increasingly important to me. As my human connection has dwindled and shrunk, animals have filled the gap and become my family…my community.

So the concept of animal spirit guides does not sound at all far-fetched or fantastical to me. It seems very possible and real, and probably already an intrinsic part of my life's journey. All I need to do is open myself fully to the concept; consider what the animals and birds appearing and re-appearing along my path might be trying to communicate to me.

Being more or less of a neophyte at all this, and not having the time or the mental wherewithal to do justice to a real study of shamanic spirituality, I've done just enough reading to…confuse myself. I recognize that I've been visited by animal spirit guides in the past; but I am feeling called, now, to identify my "power animal"—that animal which represents my connection to all life, my qualities of character. My power.

Over the years, I have felt drawn to many animals…mostly birds, actually. Cardinals. Geese. Herons. Cranes. Most recently, the bald eagle. And I think each of these has been or is one of my spirit guides. I kind of hoped that one of them might be my Power Animal. Most particularly the eagle. Because I understand that Eagle visits me at times of particular need in my life. But, no… The book I have on the subject explains the attributes of one whose Power Animal is Eagle:

You're a very spiritually evolved individual and a born leader, and people gravitate quite naturally to you.


So. How about Heron?

You're always willing to look at yourself with detachment in order to see the truth of your inner workings.

Well, maybe. Ideally, that's what I would like to be, but I don't think I'm there yet.

Let's look at Goose:

The majority of your activities are centered on your home, community, school or church.


And so it went with every animal I was attracted to or had felt some affinity with over the past months.

And then, I noticed that this particular author has included less traditional animal spirits in this book. For example, most shamanic spirituality discounts domestic animals, since they are already "in service" to man. But here in this book, we have horse, and donkey, and dog.

And cat.

You're introspective and listen to your own internal guidance more than others' advice.

You're independent, sometimes to the point of doing exactly the opposite of what others expect or want you to do.

Your most creative work is done at night.

At times you come across as rather self-absorbed, seemingly oblivious to those around you.


In truth, I need to meditate, possibly even ask for a dream, in order to discover my Power Animal. I need to do some serious study and research, instead of fifteen minute internet searches and relying on this one book as my manual of shamanic spirituality.

But it really will not surprise me if "Cat" does turn out to be my Power Animal.

And I would happily live with that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Day

Today was such a day. It had everything. Magic. Sweetness. Confrontation. Ugliness. In the end, lessons learned and moments of weakness overcome.

I learned what my priorities are—what they need to be, going forward.

A little woodpecker told me that it was the right thing to do, to go into the restaurant a little later, to take the time to run to the store and replenish my bird seed supply. No, he doesn't eat seeds. But he stopped by just to say, "Look. I'm pretty!"

Mr. Mojohowitz let me know that it met with his approval that I had procured a new carton of kitty cream on that same short shopping excursion. I left the house filled with love and hope for the day.

An ugly encounter with a customer, not twenty minutes after my arrival at the café, popped my hopes for the day like an over-inflated helium balloon. From full of promise to flat and empty, lying on the floor at my feet, in a matter of seconds.

I so fervently wanted to lock the doors forever, then and there; the fact that I knew that not to be feasible soured my mood and turned me to stone. I was miserable and I didn't care who knew it. I wanted to wallow.

But…I reached into my pocket and gripped my crystal—the rose quartz carved in the shape of a heart. And the thought came to me that everything is not about me; and so I sucked it up, slapped on a smile and sallied forth, for the benefit of those who would have to work side-by-side with me in my tiniest of kitchens.

I pretended to care. It's hard.

Today, the Universe showed me where my peace is. And where it isn't.

And left me once again counting the days.

One hundred and ten.

Maybe less, if I can work things out right.

However many, it won't be a day, a moment, too soon…

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

News That Makes Your Head Ache

Here's the big newsbomb of the day: Due to some kind of renovations, seat-shuffling, or temporary seating arrangements that were not completed by game time, Cowboys Stadium in Dallas was, apparently, not adequately prepared to honor all the tickets sold for Sunday's game. You know. The Big Game. The one I'm not allowed to use the name of because the NFL has that moniker copyrighted.

Anyway, some 1250 fans—holders of tickets for which they had shelled out $800 a pop, not to mention travelling and hotel costs—arrived at the stadium for the game to find they literally had no seats to sit in. Alternate seating arrangements were scared up for about two-thirds of these folks. Leaving 400 or so out of luck. Bummer. Big bummer, to be sure.

Certainly, the NFL owes these folks something. A refund on the ticket price. Re-imbursement for travel and lodging costs. Maybe season tickets on the fifty yard line of their favorite home field for life. At a cost of peanuts to the money-generating behemoth of the National Football League, they could go a long way toward smoothing the ruffled feathers of the fans involved.

The league, however, seems to be offering no more than an official, "Sorry—our bad!" and free tickets to next year's championship game. Huh? What if my team isn't playing in next year's game? If I'm a die-hard Cheese-head, why would I want a free ticket to see, say, the Bears and the Giants duke it out in 2012? Duh.

In return, some of the fans are intent on taking this to their own level of hyper-stupidity. One Pittsburgh Steeler fanatic was so po'd by the goings on that he has decided to hire a lawyer. And to try to draft others of the 400 or so affected fans to join him in a lawsuit. From the story:

Rush has now started, one of at least two websites for fans
mulling possible lawsuits over the seating issue. He said he is obtaining legal
counsel and is urging affected fans to get in touch. So far he has heard from
about a dozen people, he said.

"We're still figuring out what our rights are, whether damages come into play or not," he said. "This is more than just a breach of contract. ... This was a very traumatic experience for a lot of these people."
Where do I start?

1.)I submit that anyone who would pop for an $800 ticket, plus the travel and lodging costs, to personally witness a bunch of astronomically over-paid and over-promoted adult men elevate a kid's game to the level of kill-or-be-killed blood feud, already has more money than sense. They don't need a windfall from the NFL.

2.)Damages? What damages? Do you still have both arms, both legs, all your fingers and toes, and all the brain cells you had the day before you went to the game? Are you able to get up in the morning, go to work, play golf, swig a brew or two at your local pub, kiss your wife, hug your kids? Damages? Give me a break.

3.) And this one most of all: "This was a very traumatic experience." Traumatic? You have to be kidding me. Do you have a clue what real trauma is? Trauma happens when airplanes fly into big buildings, or when you watch your nine-year old get shot in the head by rabid border-control fanatics, or when you drive a jeep in Iraq, waiting for the next roadside pile of rubbish to explode and send you to kingdom come. Trauma. If you can manufacture a crippling case of PTSD out of losing your seat at a football game, you also have more issues than any amount of money is ever going to fix.

Go ahead. Be bummed. Be pissed. I'd be pissed. I'd want my money back, and then some. Maybe a few "gimmes" from the guys who were so focused on squeezing every dollar of profit out of the event that they oversold the damn stadium (nothing, by the way, that the airlines don't do every hour of every day.)

But let's not raise this thing to the level of lingering emotional damage and trauma. Get your refund, get a few coupons, and GET OVER IT!!!

And to the NFL—surely you have enough loose bills lying around that you can figure out how to put a smile back on the faces of 450 righteously disaffected fans. Put one of your seven-figure-salaried marketing executives on that, will ya?

Monday, February 7, 2011


There are times when things seem almost bearable. When it looks like everything might just work out. Like I might come out of this thing with my marriage at least intact, if not stronger for the experience. I've learned to lower my sights, some…

Last week, the kettle boiled over—the one containing the mélange of heartache, frustration, battered ego and loneliness; the one I've been trying to control by turning down the flame daily, by increments, beseeching it not to do that thing. To no avail. I am nothing if not completely consistent in my inability to mask my feelings, to live as if the elephant in the room wasn't merely huge, but had not fouled the entire block with its elephantine…emissions. Completely counter to the Universe's urging on the subject, I could no more "leave him alone" than I could have walked away if he lay bleeding on the sidewalk. The husband, not the elephant.

So as we sat down to dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant, against my own better judgment, I went on the offensive. I was, by god, going to drag the thing out into the open and poke it. I don't even know why, since we've had the conversation numerous times, and it always ends the same: everything is MY fault and he never does anything wrong.

The "discussion" went on well into the evening. In the restaurant over dinner. In the car all the way home. From our favorite chairs in the growing twilight in the family room. My sister came home and we smiled and exchanged pleasantries and enjoyed a companionable dessert together. Then she went to bed and we ripped right back into it without missing a beat. Quite a performance. We should put it on YouTube.

I didn't have an agenda, didn't expect a resolution of any kind. I just knew I couldn't hurt in silence and solitude anymore. It was poisoning my whole life, not giving me a minute's peace, and it had to go somewhere.

But, lo and behold, I think he finally heard me. I said something—and I don't really know what—that made him get it. Maybe it was when I wondered why in god's name he stayed with me if I was such a source of irritation and evil in his life. Maybe it was when I told him that I really thought that what everybody in my life needed from me was for me to just disappear. Maybe it was when I apologized yet again, and reminded him that I had apologized time after time for being a total bitch to him. I knew I had f'd up. I admitted it. I apologized. And he never heard me.

Until this time.

I'm not going to say our marriage has undergone this miraculous metamorphosis, but…things have improved, some. He doesn't run away from me every chance he gets. He does the little things he used to do all the time, back in the olden days—like get me a bowl of ice cream or a glass of water if I'm in the middle of something I don't want to put down. He kisses me goodnight, even if I've been in bed for hours and am snoring like a buzz saw when he comes up. He offers to help at the restaurant, and doesn't roll his eyes and act like I'm flogging him if I ask him to wash a few dishes or smile at a few customers.

So, at the moment, life may not be perfect, but I don't feel like I'm dragging myself through every day with one hand clapped over my mouth and the other hitting myself in the head with the claw end of a hammer.

Could be worse…