This post is LONG overdue–Ultra Marathon-length overdue. Nevertheless, with a genuine heart, abiding determination, and an appropriate amount of “delay shame” I present Update #8, a reminder of a thing you may have forgotten you contributed to–as well as the outstanding invitation to take advantage of the “Kick-in-the-A** Starter” Money Back Guarantee…(*backed by the good faith of the Canadian Looney)–and finally, insight into what I’ve been up to.

Spotlight on Big Sur Beauty

Big Sur, California. A person can see photos of a place of stunning beauty and think, “Geez, that sure is puuurdy…”, but not until the sight of it–the stimulation of the optic nerve and the brain colliding in perfect harmony–does the “awe factor” strike the soul. As I made my way westward in 10, then 5-hour chunks of driving at a time, (stopping, for all you Facebook Foto Fanz out there, at a disturbing number of Dairy Queens), I felt like an old “Land of Milk and Honey” migrant, headed west to something better; headed west to something inspirational via the swift wheels and stick-shifting prowess of Argento, the Fiat 500.*

I was on my way to a writing workshop called “Jump-Start Your Memoir: Write it From the Heart”, led by Nancy Slonim Aronie, a woman even more raw, real, and incredible than I’d imagined. What’s interesting is when I was first made aware of this magical place, Esalen, it was for a different workshop. But, since things work out as they should, that workshop was full. So, after 1,313 miles and “more than one” delicious Blizzard treat, I arrived–not with the expectation that this workshop would generate the rest of the material I need to finish my book, not to meet an agent who would whisk me and my book away towards publishing bliss and instant success, not even to write about what I need to write about–my most life-changing year–but to gain inspiration; to get a snippety-boost of “Hey, you can actually write, kid”; to feel out whether to keep going or to become a plumber.

I gained that and more…

What I experienced, true to her description, was an environment of complete safety and total encouragement. In fact, the only “rule” required of our 20-some workshop participants was to vow to only offer up praise. “No criticism–period.” The result? Not comments like, “Umm…yeah, Sally, I thought your use of the word ‘the’ was, yeah–um…dead on.” Nope. The result was a roomful of every single individual creating outstanding work. Words and phrases and sentences of depth and humor and raw emotion. The result was comments about each others’ work that were sincere without hesitation or reservation because the work was that good. 

“Susan, I wouldn’t change a word. It was gorgeous writing.” 

All I can say is we need more of that in our lives–praise, positivity, and prose. So get at it, and so will I. It’s gonna be good.

I'll Cross That Bridge When I Get to It

I’ll Cross That Bridge When I Get to It

*34 mpg highway, by the way, and it’s NOT a hybrid and yes, I’m gloating.

Current and Final Issue

January 31, 2014

January 31st, 2009, was my worst day.

This cannot be understated–nor should it be overstated. It was still a day. People still got up and went to work, dropped their kids off at jiu-jitsu, sang along to the radio…but for me and all who knew him, it was a day of immense sadness and loss. He left this little spinning planet of ours and I still have so many questions, new gags, and jokes for him it is difficult to quantify–not to mention all the new-fangled inventions he missed out on (Swiffer Wet-Jet was just the beginning…). But, 5 years later, the ever-evolving-yet-always-the-same Gig of Life continues, and the best we can do is cherish the Oprah-esque “L” trifecta: Lessons, Laughs, and Love.

Because I’m sort of a perfectionist, I am compelled to mention that I have written this “on the fly”. Not because I haven’t thought of it until now (“wait, hold the phone…it’s the 31st of January?”), but rather because I’ve thought of it so constantly that sanity required a healthy little dose of anti-OCD serum. So if you’re like my mom, who said to me yesterday (God bless her sweet soul), “Susan, half the time I have no idea what you’re talking about”, never fear! Because the point of this post is other than my words. It is to re-introduce the newsletter Dan started way back on July 13, 2003*, Babble-On, found on the interwebs at Babble-ONline.

Certainly I’ve written the following before to all you 10 readers out there, but back in 2008, when I thought about The Worst happening–if Dan died–I decided I would become a nun in Africa, or do something extraordinary–become famous! Start a foundation in his honor! Be something Important to justify my existence when his was snuffed out too early. I’m not saying I don’t still think of those things, or feel them as Realities of an ongoing Grief, but I know in my rational mind they aren’t necessary. All I need to do–all any of us need to do, is to live a Happy Life. To make ourselves smile and allow the contagion of our smile to infect! (easier said than done sometimes, right?).

It is in this spirit I re-present the collected editions of Babble-On, the newsletter Dan started in 2003 whose purpose was, in Dan’s words, to promote Fellowship amongst friends and family who would otherwise only communicate at weddings and funerals and 20-year reunions. Additionally, the creative work in Babble-On could serve as a mirror held up to each and every person’s face of their innate (albeit sometimes reluctant) creativity. In layman’s terms, your fart jokes and recipes are more interesting to others than you think!

If I’m honest, sometimes this little “endeavor” drove me crazy. As many of you know, (and you’ll pardon the expression), I can be a bit of an “attention whore”. I likes me some ATTENTION!!! (lookie at the dancing monkey!) But when Dan was in Newsletter Mode, there was no breaking his focus. Even shouting, “Hey, look! It’s a flock of Victoria’s Secret models!” did nothing to distract him. But I loved it because he loved it. And we worked together. And all of us–even those of you reading this who were harassed by a constant stream of emails that sometimes bordered on blackmail or Spam, will probably agree: it was all in fun, and every submission WAS indeed creative. It kept those chained to a desk sane, those stuck in the driver’s seat of a Dodge Caravan amused, and those wishing their children still lived at home, connected.

It is in this spirit of fellowship that I, with the super hero help of the multi-talented Nathan Beach, who has impeccable timing and is responsible for getting this back up online (thank you from the bottom of my heart, Nathan), honor Dan’s memory today, January 31st, 2014. How do I imagine him now? I see him fulfilling his flying dreams, the ones he woke up to saying, “I wish I could go back to sleep–I was having a flying dream”. Flipping and floating around somewhere and laughing at all of us Ants marching down here on Earth.

Babble-On, Dan, Babble-On.

*Note: Click on the “Archives” tab above “Volumes” to find all the back-issues.

Deal or Big Deal?

October 4, 2012

When I was a kid–probably about 8-years-old since I’m always 8 when I think of myself in “when I was a kid” mode, I had buttons. Buttons with a Capital B! Loads of buttons! Junk drawers full of glorious Buttons! I’m not referring to the functional kind, though. These were Buttons with Sayings! Buttons like those they call “flair” in the hit movie Office Space! Button-Collector Buttons! And while I’d like to convince myself that my passion for buttons occurred during a bubble-in-time when buttons were authentically cool, that’s like saying everyone looks GREAT in gaucho pants when, in fact, no one looks remotely ok in these monstrosities. Similarly, everyone knows that buttons are, were, and will always be for people who aren’t quite smart enough for chess; people who spent a disproportionately long time at the Orthodontist in 7th grade (“Miss Thus-‘n-Such, I have to GO…my retainer is waiting for me at Dr. Who’s Its”). People who…

The fact is, Button Lovers are people with an altered sense of themselves and the impact their political inclinations, opinion of Terriers, belief in 4-leaf clovers, and support of “off-season” holidays have on the general population. In my defence, however, my passion for buttons was not formed in some kind of loser-vacuum. No, sirree Bob! There was an actual day at school created especially for button aficionados. ‘Twas a day in which students, teachers, and custodians alike were encouraged to sport their most gaudy be-pinned badges with the gusto of Jimmy’s soccer mom at the Championship Game. And since I know you’re interested, if I had to pinpoint the genesis of my button fetish, I would say it began at the Holiday Village Mall with the purchase of a small phrased button. It said, simply: Just Visiting this Planet The ‘JV‘ and ‘Pwere a bold dark purple,and there were tiny shooting stars in the background barely distinguishable to the naked non-alien’s eye.

I liked everything about this button: the font, the size, the shape–even the delicate closure that was easy to pin onto backpack and sweatshirt material alike. Most of all, however, I felt like this button understood me. Not because I actually believed I was an alien (although my own mother would neither confirm nor deny this suspicion), but because I didn’t always feel welcome here on Planet E. I felt like if I said what I was really thinking or, for example, what I had really done one day during summer vacation (experimented with attempting to turn grapes into raisins in the microwave but actually causing a microwave fire and producing a charcoal-like substance which was in fact not a raisin at all but a messy substitute for chalk–a substance with which I then used to write cryptic messages onto the driveway…), I would be disqualified as a qualifying Human Being; I would be told, “Go to your room and don’t come out until you’re 18 and have your Welding license!” 

But you see the problem was (and is), if indeed I am just visiting this planet–if I have limited time, I kinda want the experience to be interesting; to be a Big Deal…in fact, I would like to be a Big Deal while I’m at it. Not necessarily “The Next Big Deal” a la Justin Bieber (I’ll take your lame example and I’ll raise you a YouTube star); just a good old-fashioned capital B.E.D.: Big Enough Deal. Big Enough Deal to get a free refill when refills cost 52 cents; Big Deal enough to tell inappropriate jokes at Christmas parties and get away with laughs; Big Deal enough not to own a yacht, but be invited to “hang out” on my best-aquaintence’s private one without feeling compelled to eat as many free snacks and drinks as possible…after all, Big Enough Deals are invited again…

Why do I feel the need to be a B.E.D? You see, I have it in mind that when I’m a B.E.D., things like the following will occur naturally: my hair will always be the perfect length–noooo need for bobby pins or apologies to my hairdresser–it will look perfect always. I will never feel hot or cold. I will only get sick when it is convenient for me (like when I just don’t feel like doing another cameo role for Jimmy Fallon’s latest low-brow episodic). I will never be too hungry or too full–except when I’m attempting to fit into the latest piece of haute couture my new friend, Mr. Fashion Designer X has created especially for a one-size-smaller me. And, because claiming to be a slow, deliberate reader will still be in fashion, my Big Enough Deal Status will furnish me with a socialite friend in the defense-phase of her PhD. She will compile for me special “Slow Reader” version Cliff’s Notes for the most Significant New Books.

When I am a Big Enough D…

…but then I wake up from this daydream and I’m on a bus from the graffitied ‘burbs of Rome which, I realize, counts as fairly Big Deal for a semi-hick from the semi-sticks, but…’burbs are ‘burbs everywhere, and dog poop will always appear on your shoe at the most inconvenient moment until the point where you!–You!! YOU!!! are so authentically Big Deal that the Great “They” in the Sky places red carpet beneath your feet.

You see, there are all sorts of moments in life. Dim moments, sure–moments when the bulb’s burned out in your heart or the switch is temporarily broken in your mind. I’ve had a “couple 3” of those myself…but there are also bright moments–when the bulb’s been traded, upgraded; when the switch gets swaped and you can see again. These puzzle pieces, individually, are sometimes illuminated so brightly it’s impossible to see them when they are in front of you, just like you can’t look at the sun with your naked eye. It’s only with sunglasses or the muted-ness of Far Away that it’s possible to view them directly…like seeing the shapes of the continents by viewing the Earth from a different planet.

Still–we ride, we fly, we bus, we Metro/Subway/Underground–we experience–Big Deal or No. Each day we put on our metaphorical buttons and watch what happens. Sometimes it’s though a book or television or the internet or our nosy neighbor or the voices inside our heads. Other, rarer times, it’s on a yacht or a Gulf Stream or a ski lift high above in the Alps. Whatever the modality, everything moves…and this fact alone is a miracle. It is a Big Enough Deal. It is the axiom that states “Go, now! Your time here is limited. You are ‘Just Visiting this Planet'”.

Chasing Summer

July 22, 2012

Allow me to provide you, precious reader, with a bit of exposition to set the stage for this long overdue snippet of All the Suz.. But first I gotta turn down Pandora (Now Playing: “Lazy Projector” by Andy Bird…never heard of him either. It’s a bit depressing in a way only the “Today’s College Indie” station can achieve, but heck–a girl’s gotta try to keep up with the times somehow!)

MacBook P. ‘n Me have decided to “take in the night air” as folk and machines did in the time of Austen and Dickens. Thus and therefore, I am out o’ doors, sitting in an Adirondack chair on a deck facing the Pacific Ocean. To keep out the chill, I am clad in a parka and cocooned into a hunting-scened sleeping bag (think if Napoleon Dynamite and Ernest P.Warrell gave birth to a sleeping bag).  Only the crashing of the waves and the sound of the voices in my head can be heard.

Now, if you hail from a big city, I imagine this scene could seem frightening–something out of an oceanic adaptation of The Shining, but to me, it’s a thing of beauty. The Suz is not easily bored, so although I love the company of those familiar and strange, I enjoy spending minutes, hours, and days solo. This has always been true, and will probably always be so, but in this particular case my self-induced exile is for a pretty annoying reason: I’ve got a case of the Poison Oak*. These red, violently itchy spots surfaced in a couple-three or more places on my body (wouldn’t you like to know), but most disturbingly on my freaking face. I look like a burn victim who’s left eye is about to shut. It’s pretty gruesome, so I’ve gone into seclusion at a generous (is there any other kind?) friend’s place in a cool section of our planet to calm the skin situation down…all the while lamenting that I’m missing out on the sunny benefits of my very favorite season, SUMMER!  Aside from that complaint, I’m not complaining. In fact, this cozy coastal nook is actually a great place for reflection. A place to conjure up memories while memories in the making are deferred like that student loan you took out Spring semester of your senior year…

Let’s be honest, how the heck any of us gets out of bed sometimes is a mystery greater than the whole building of the Pyramids deal, but at least for me, a bit of warmth and sunshine makes the endeavor a heckuva lot easier. Unless you live somewhere with those black-out shade thingies that allow a person to sleep for days, the best summer morning moment is waking up to brilliant beams of sunshine. Somehow, though, I have been chasing summer all spring…just when I almost reach its rays or verce-visa, I’m out-run. It’s not that I’m all wistful about the sounds and smells of family BBQs (a Boca burger actually cooks better indoors) or the promise of 4th of July tailgating in a Dallas Cowboy’s halter top (mine’s in storage). It is, quite simply, the weather! The sun! Not the promise of it  à la “The sun’s bound to come out ONE of these days”, but the guarantee! I need sun like I need my multi-vitamin or dose of The Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion Part II Recap!

To those of you who’ve ever seen the hue of my skin after the age of 5 when, according to my mother, I was “brown as a berry”, it appears I avoid sun like the Plague of Your Choice. I make cave-dwelling albino rats look like rodents who radiate a “healthy glow”. So no, for me summer is not about 8-hour days sun of worshipping, but about the heat it provides. I love being able to walk outside with a Grandma Sweater for use ONLY in air-conditioned indoor settings. Sure, I sweat like a pig-who-tried-to-run-an-Ultra-Marathon-whilst-in-a-steam room, but nevertheless, I’d rather be mocked for my schvitzing than miserable from my shivering. I have discussed this, the Hot vs. Cold argument, at length and could go on vehemently for days, but with a brief synopsis, you’ll either agree or you won’t.

Ahem: In my world, there are exactly 2-degrees of wiggle room where it’s either too hot or too cold. My body’s “temperature control mechanism” is disasterous in general, but when it comes to warming up (which first requires thawing out), it takes an external heat source and/or a couple of hours to combat a serious bone-chill. So if I’m freezing and I enter a heated room, it still may take an hour by the fireplace and/or the help of a hairdryer (I’m telling you, it works wonders on the feet–you try it! You try it and you’ll see!) to thaw out. On the other hand, even though I know some of you say “there are just so many layers a person can shed in public…”, if I’m in the heat and find a place that’s cool or at least shady, my body temperature drops relatively quickly, and peace and harmony is often restored without an elaborate external cooling source.

“But the sun is, well, sunny…and you’re translucent, so…this isn’t making sense, Suz.” 

Fair enough and point taken, but a girl can still enjoy the yellow hue of our solar system’s biggest star from underneath the shade of an umbrella and her Disney Princess towel. Sure, even when doused in SPF 70, those “cute” little freckles aka: Age Spots-in-training, make their annual appearance in full force, but it’s worth it to experience what it must feel like to be a flower blooming to life.

Each summer has a specific trajectory of memory and when I squeeze my eyes, the act of remembering is like the act of placing tinfoil on rabbit ears; adjusting them just so, and when I find the sweet spot, I hold still and experience.

There was the summer…

Staying up late: 10:35 PM Mountain Time Zone after the late local news, watching David Letterman on the rocking couch half my size while I sometimes enjoyed a Reece’s Peanut Butter cup/Cookie Dough-combo DQ blizzard. My mom calls this couch the “cuddle rocker”—the same one she used to rock me to sleep in as I cried through many months of chronic infant ear infections. Could I have imagined I’d someday be an intern there…?

The summer when our backyard on Beech Drive in the neighborhood of tree streets was overtaken by the City of Great Falls. A previously unknown sinkhole was about to swallow up our new 2-story white-and-brick house. For many summer days and nights we endured the sounds and smells of Cyclopean slurping pumps as they corrected what happens when a house is built on property-formerly-known-as Swampland.

The summer when I roller-bladed every night to Sting’s Fields of Gold, making myself go just far enough to break a sweat and make it through the song at least 5 times, varying the route for maximum benefit and pretending I was in off-season training for my burgeoning speed skating career.

Brownies summer: I washed dishes outdoors cloaked in a poopy brown Brownies uniform when all I wanted was to wear Girl Scout Green. This was supposed to teach me the ways of Girldom; preparation for the real deal Green. I never made it that far. “One is silver and the other’s…outta here!…”
The summers at our family friends’ beef cattle ranch. Chickens with their heads cut off. Calves being birthed. The tabby cat brothers we brought home even though I was allergic.

The summer I went to Disney World and then on The Big Red Boat cruise with my dad. I got blood blisters in Nassau, Bahamas, and encountered my first taste of what poverty looks like as little kids sold their wares from the shore and in the ocean. I also found out my cat, Dewey (a.k.a Friskers/Friskey) had been bitten by a rattlesnake and nearly died–but not until I got home, thanks to my mom compassionately withholding information.

The part of the summers I went to the local basketball camp, a mostly humiliating experience for a kid who was tall but not necessarily “mean enough” to elbow other girls (one of whom cruelly bore the nickname “Gorilla Girl”) in the face. A mostly fruitless experience, although I did learn that one Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bar is not enough to fuel an entire day’s play.

The many, many, summers spent at my grandparents’ cabin on Flathead Lake resting 30 minutes before swimming in the lake of the lurking Flathead Lake Monster, cooking bacon on a giant skillet, and pretending to make calls from the rotary phone. One summer I split open my left big toe on a rock and received my first 7 stitches. Zap! It still makes me cringe. It also makes me more than cringe to know that the place is gone–overtaken by a not-so-nice family member but, well, that was a different summer…

Reality TV summer (see above, ongoing)

The summer which simultaneously fills me with regret and happiness. Regret for not embarking on a European backpacking adventure with my friends and late husband, and happiness for staying back and taking some of my favorite college courses at NYU. After all, when else could a person create a papier-mâché flow chart where John Stewart Mill-meets Foucault in a class of 5?

The summers, the summers…the seemingly endless summers.

The times when 3 months seemed to go on forever and then, poof! Those Back to School ads appered in full force. Just how many Crayola Crayons would I be able to talk my mom into this year? Time to start 5th grade. Only 2 more seconds until middle school, that living nightmare of pimples and crushed crushes. Use a scalpel to dissect a frog; accidentally poke scalpel through frog’s skull and become insanely disturbed. Become Vegetarian. Live life of ridicule/question/praise thereafter…

Summer of hope
Summer before I knew what I would know.
The summer I sang backup for Bob McGrath from Sesame Street at the Montana State Fair…my shining moment was the “Dino Rap” which, yes, I can still remember word for cringe-worthy word.

The summer when I worked at the Cine 4 Movie Theatre just before going off to my first year of college at the University of Pennsylvania…this was the very same summer I got my now infamous star tattoo on my right hand (although if you’re a kid reading this, yes, I draw it on every day). And boy howdy is THAT a summer story…

The summer I came to my new makeshift “home” at the Hidden Villa Cottages in Cannon Beach, Oregon, to “relax and rejuvenate” when the lease was up on the Wall Street apartment I shared with Dan. This was the summer my mom first fell and the “Saga of Linda’s Dislocations, The Wound VAC, et al” began.

The summers, the summers…the endless summers. 

But now…those memories are part of what makes me who I am; part of the collective memory I carry to the grocery store and in my carry-on onto a plane right next to the zip-lock baggie of 3-oz. liquids; what it means when people I meet ask,

“What’s your name? What do you do?”

I could say, “My name is Susan.” I could say, “My name is your name, too. I do what you do.”

I could also say, “My name means ‘lily’ in Hebrew. My name means ‘Full of grace'”.

I am created by Summers, formed by the magic rays of our solar system’s largest star.

Walk, skip, jump, run, or take the bus, but chase summer.

*********

*Note: before press time, I suspected these hideous marks to be Hives, but found out after a quick trip to the doctor (Zoomcare…hopefully the wave of healthcare’s future) that even though the marks appeared days later, it was indeed the Poison of the Oak. Zounds!

Like Sweet Tea

April 13, 2012

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After much debating, erasing, and replacing, I have decided to shut myself up (well, mostly) and let these photos speak for themselves. That is, after all, what the old adage says, right?

A picture may be worth a thousand words,

but sometimes it’s better to keep them to yourself.

So take a look, but know that these photographs are not the best of the bunch of over 2000 taken during a couple of days in and around The Dutch Oven, a Mennonite owned and operated restaurant in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Sometimes “the best”, however, doesn’t tell a story. These photos purposely disguise the faces of most of the subjects (with a few carefully chosen exceptions), because this is a community that does not own or use cameras. It is, to use the phrase seriously for once, “against their religion”. Long story short, it took some mild-mannered Mountain-West convincing to be allowed to photograph these folks at all–with a promise to use them for personal growth as a beginning photographer–not personal gain as an opportunistic voyeur.

At the end of the day, I have a LOT to say about this amazing group of women, girls, and some of the men not pictured who allowed me into their lives, their homes, and even their sacred church. I am humbled and honored to show them to you not because they are great images or even cohesively compiled images, but rather because Joy radiates from these subjects–and it’s infectious...and we could all use a little more of the J-O-Y.

Like Sweet Tea is my first Photo Story–the product of Barefoot Workshops‘ “Photographing the Mississippi Delta”, a week-long adventure in what could also be called “How to take your camera from Automatic to Manual in 7 days” in Clarksdale, Mississippi (home of the Delta Blues…and more!) I took my Canon Rebel EOS t3i from automatic to manual with the help of the incomparable Chandler, Alison, and the amazing Amy Toensing, who is, incidentally, a freaking National Geographic photographer…and a freaking amazing one, at that. Just sayin’…

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I love my MacBook Pro. When I turn it on, it makes that cute 80s sound that reminds me (and possibly those of you born before Nirvana and Pearl Jam were considered “Classic Rock”) of the good ‘ol days–days spent watching someone else play Quasar and Lode Runner on the only Apple in a 15-mile radius; a more innocent time of dreams written on floppy Floppy disks. Indeed, this “bong” helped to retrieve me from the ledge of Windows despair back through the stable door of the functional Mac. That being said (re: lets don’t quibble over machines), I continue to trust in my Blackberry. Compared with the super-hip iPhone, whose pointer finger friendly keyboard renders me helpless, I can use my thumbs to type on my Crackberry at lightening speed. Why not use a “real” computer? Well, when I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a story or the realization that I’m about to run out of peanut butter, I can thumb it into Mr. Blackberry’s calendar, and the next day, my friendly device reminds me to, “GET PB”.

Where am I going with this line of trivial drivel, you ask?  Well, of the many snippets and lists I have recently written, many of them relate to this day, January 31st, 2012–the day when, 3 years ago at 4 in the afternoon, my husband Dan left us all here to figure out what to do next without him.

It was 1-31-09 when Leukemia stole him away. It was 3 years ago. It was yesterday. It was today. It was a thousand years ago.

People sometimes ask me what it’s like or how I cope or if it gets easier. If it gets easier–in some ways, a polite way of asking, Do you ever forget? I have given this much thought. Much thought, indeed. Here is my Blackberried calendar response, dated 1-27-12:

I forget what happened in the same way as, I imagine, a single-amputee forgets about his missing arm. I forget to remember him and our life together like I forget to remember to remind my heart to beat. In other words, never. At best, the reality of the event lives and breathes in the background. It is my life’s screen-saver–ever ready to resume its place when the work is done; while Word is being saved; after I’ve declared today’s Facebook Status Update. But, quoth the raven…

No, I never forget, and that is important to me, because after the initial shock, one of my greatest regrets was and is that so many people never met or came to know Dan. Many people I am close to, for various reasons, only knew him by name or through photos or anecdotes and stories (The Myth, the Legend…). Although objectively I know this has to be enough; although I know his spirit lives on in the lives he affected personally and beyond, it is, somehow, not good enough. I, like most people, have my limits when it comes to objectivity. We, all of us, needed more time–more chances to ask, “What did you think about this, Dan? What are your thoughts on that?”

To Dream the Impossible Dream…

I think it’s acceptable to throw these mini-Pity Parties once in a while…especially on an anniversary such as this. I don’t think Dan would mind it too much, but at the end of the Party, I know he’d also say this:

What a gift it is to be alive! Your gift. What a privilege it is to “remain behind”. Your privilege. Don’t cry, don’t cry. Go grab a coffee, and live! Have a double-shot for me.

What do I do with this Screen-Saver Life of mine?

I employ a strategy likely used for generations–far before the digital clock allowed us to hit a button and “snooze”. I take a deep breath and soldier on like the buffalo girl from the plains of MT I was raised to be. And when the spirit moves, unlike in electronic-less days of old, I bring the memory back to life with my thumbs.

It seems I’ve been on “hiatus”–which is really code for what an 8th-grade biology/physical education teacher somewhere would quippingly (also not a word) call “PROCRASTINATITUS”.  

“Suz, could you please use PROCRASTINATITUS in a sentence?”  

No problem.

Read in 8th-grade biology/P.E. teacher voice:

Myhr, where the heck is your assignment?  Looks like yer suffrin’ from a case ‘a Procrastinatitus this week…make sure it’s on my desk by the end of 5th period, k?  And do us all a favor and leave the fruit tights at home. Have you ever hear ‘a Levi’s? Since when are shrink-to-fits out ‘a style?  C’mon, now… (a few readers may remember from “back in the day” my amazing taste for interestingly*-printed nylon stockings)

 It’s true, and it will happen again (not the fruit tights, hopefully), the future hiatus-of-sorts, but now at least you know the unscientific, yet somehow valid and ready-made reason.  Hopefully this makes it easier for all 3 of you readers to cope. Dope?

And now, before I present to you 3 quickly-written, poorly-structured, non-poetic poems, I will also add one more obligatory self-effacing justification about the justification of this article–that is, on the right. And here it is:

“I felt like it, comrades…and it adds to the artsy-fartsy nature of the project.”

And like your 7th-grade Art teacher (the one who smelled of Sandlewood before you knew what sandlewood smelled like…the one who wore the wrap-skirt she found abandoned on the sawdust-covered asphalt of a Renaissance Faire) taught you when you had to make that awful clay pot in order to appreciate how easy it really is** to burn yourself on a kiln, a piece of equipment you will neither see nor use again in your natural life:

“As long as it  looks like art, it is.”

******  

5-Dollar Bill

And then I picked you

Up

Instead

Even though

There was a five-dollar bill

Lying there

Sandy Gum

It was over a year ago

By now

I went to the beach

Collected shells

Collected sand

Whether I wanted to

Or not.

Now

My gum is crunching

Is crunchy

There is sand in my gum

A thing

I did

Not

Want

“Outen the Light”

 Lying here

Waiting for sleep,

The eye in my mind

And

My memory

Spies a that thing that

Hides the wires…

That thing for a light

A Light Plate

A Switch Plate

An Outlet Plate

It’s called.

This one

The one I see

The one that said

“Outen the Light”

Is

The one

I never understood

******

*You remember this word, right?  You know, since you have read EVERY SINGLE post from All the Suz…no?  Ok, I will refresh your failing memory.  EVERY SINGLE use of the word “interesting” is Mountain-West (see also When In Rome: Smile and Say “Grazie”) code for “sucky”.  In other words, it ain’t a good sign if my mom tells you your Coconut Chutney tastes “interesting”.

**I have been jonesing to re-re-read The Catcher in the Rye lately, which is why, I think, I have taken such liberties with the italics function.