Archive for December, 2018

Wise Friend,

My heart and soul are healing I think, but it’s very slow. I found out that Michael has had another woman for a long time (don’t know how long) and my kids have known too. Lana was sworn to secrecy. Alex made the judgement–wrong in my opinion–to not tell me because he thought I was under enough stress. I’m still recovering from the duplicity and humiliation of it.

Lovely Friend,

I can imagine how you and Lana feel. And I’m sure that Michael is smiling along and sees it as nothing or as life. “You, those within my close family around me, take on all my rubbish because I know how to smile.”
I’m sure that he plays down Lana’s feelings, would she try to talk with him.

Wise Friend,

I don’t think she tries to talk to him. She rather tries to be grown up and cool about it all. It’s with me that she shows all her emotions and contradictions and anxieties. Some recent comments: “I’ve lost my father, I can’t lose another parent. I hate the fact that I wasn’t given a choice of whether to like Beth (the new woman). I just had her presented to me, and it was assumed I had to like her. I hate the way she just assumes I’ll be coming to the wedding and doesn’t understand why it’s so hard.”

Lovely Friend,

He seems to think, “The experience is going to toughen you, kid. I’m too weak to plan it differently to spare you the pain.”

Wise Friend,

He might think “They are my children, and I’m polite to invite them to my wedding.” They have to learn how to socialise, and they have to learn that and that.

Lovely Friend,

This just shows he didn’t change. How out of touch he is with those closest to him. He has no idea how to sacrifice some social requirements for the wholeness of Lana’s emotions. Though, which ones?

Wise Friend,

It’s a bit like some many things happening around the world. If you deny that something specific exists, then there’s no related consequential problem, is there? So, if he denies that any of this is a problem, then he doesn’t have to cater to the complexities. I’m so tempted to see a teenage counsellor, but no. It’ s hard, opening the wounds again (not that they were ever really closed)

Lovely Friend,

When my son was a teen, the primary drive was my love for him and the correctness of the situation. Until they are 18, you are not supposed to let them take all their decisions. They need your protection much of the time, and they don’t always know how to protect themselves.

You might not look cool, and you might bring on another crisis with Michael. Lana doesn’t want to create any waves. She would feel guilty. Parents re-marrying messes up children as young as Lana.

Deep down they didn’t solve the issues of their parents’ separation. Deep down they still hope for reconciliation. Look at TV shows and movies exploiting these feelings depicting parents getting back together. Only adult children, not even all, can take re-marrying easily.

If you feel that this is a betrayal, I promise you they know that. I don’t think their decision not to tell you is an act of betrayal or duplicity. It’s a tough decision between protecting you and delivering the hurtful message to you. A lose-lose situation, any one of us (including yourself) has found oneself in. Not only once. Children of divorced parents have no way out of many such incidents.

Lana is still a child. She must be shown consideration and basic care and willingness to deal with her. I’m not ignoring Alex here, but Alex is at an age where he has to put up with rubbish. He might choose not to. In a way even Lana has to. All kids of all age have to put up with conflicts. Sometimes, we must protect them, though it would be not healthy for them to protect them each time.

Wise Friend,

Yeah, I think Lana wants me to give her kind of moral permission to attend the wedding. I can’t do this in an honest way, because I think that Michael has behaved atrociously through all of this. Attending the wedding means accepting all the rubbish has passed. I don’t know how to do what she wants and still be true to myself. The counsellor, I am going to, says that I only began to progress through all this dirt when I started to be honest about my own feelings. E.g. by telling Michael not to come here any more and cutting off all contact with him. This really hurt Lana, but it’s the only way I can function – with him completely out of my life.
God, I want to have a day when the thought of him does not cloud my mind.

On the personal level, Michael’s wedding invitations are out and apparently, Lana and Alex are going to be invited. Lana is torn in half. Alex, I don’t know. I feel like a dog that has been whipped and now is having its head kicked in. I’m supposed to allow them to make their own choices; I imagine that’s what all the good books say. Why then does it feel like such a betrayal if they attend? Lana said ‘other kids have their parents break up and they are happy with the remarriage’ or ‘break-ups are painful for everyone.’ I wish it would all just go away.

Lovely Friend,

It’s painful, and you have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of them. What a cliché, I’ve just written!. Yet, you’re the adult and sometimes, you need to bite your pain and do what is right for Lana and even for Alex. About Michael coming to your place, tell Lana you have a right to privacy and to your home. That, she needs to swallow.

Lovely Friend,

Your ache is your way to doubt yourself and still attack yourself; knowing that aches me. Right now and for a while you’ll continue to be unfair to yourself, but this is such a complicated pattern to break.

OK, OK, you still want to turn this pain on its many sides. I promise you it will go away.

FB37671D-82F4-49B6-8D87-B304A3535C56

You seem to refer a lot to the physical part of you: to your looks and weight. I can only tell myself you have an unusual sweet smile. Your voice! Your voice is so pleasant one can drown in it. You are caring, intelligent, giving, with a great sense of humour. You brought so much to my life and to many others who crossed your path. Consider your children and your relationship with them.

Michael didn’t appreciate these in you, and he never had the skills to lavish himself in this generosity. You were the best thing that happened to him, and he didn’t know how to handle it, so he chipped at you and proceeded to destroy you. I know you know all that and the pain drags you down.

Each one of us, man or woman, has deep needs one wants the other to fulfil them, even without being aware. It goes both ways, though in many marriages or liaisons, one may give, while the other not.

I don’t understand why partners, who don’t give, destroy. But right now, each time you feel the pain you are hurting yourself. This is tough to unlearn.

Wise Friend,

If I hang my head in shame, what will you think?

Lovely Friend,

I was sure you’ve concocted enough shame. I didn’t imagine there is more room. It seems the container is made of live skin, and it expands.

Take a little plastic bowl and for each shame and anger drop a small pebble inside.

I will continue and risk repeating myself. The way you use the English makes it a song in itself. I always wanted to hear more and more of it. When you called the Offen(s), they both remarked the voice, and they mentioned that. Lana inherited hers from you.

Wise Friend,

This is such a beautiful letter like an arm around me offering love.

By the way, I love getting little musings notes from you. There is so much nice energy, despite your addiction to Latin and “mea culpa.”

In one note you wrote, “Despite his perfect words, Elvis was a bastard.” I like this. Why didn’t I think of this? I would have written “in spite of” instead of “despite”. What’s the difference? It’s “in spite of” and there’s no difference in meaning or use, I suspect. I find “despite” neater.

Going to bed now; I send you my best thoughts and loving fond wishes.

Lovely Friend,

Latin and “Mea culpa”?


(image “Glass Tears” by Man Ray 1932)

Wise Friend,

Years ago, I attended an evening with an author. I’ve found the notes I took. I didn’t write the author’s name.

Sensitive Friend,

So unlike you!

Wise Friend,

Yep. I looked up the quotes or expressions he used, and I found none. Why did I go? Was I interested in his books? No. So why? I tend to check things out.

His father was black, his mother Jewish. He talked with the usual American accent of a person who read and studied a lot.

When he read from his books he used a fast black accent.

I looked at him in amazement–I hardly understood him–wondering if his thoughts changed when using that accent. Were his passion and anger more intense when writing with that accent? It fascinated me. Am I permitted?

Sensitive Friend,

I do the same, and therefore you have my permission.

Wise Friend,

Later he answered questions from the interviewer and from the audience.

I enjoyed his answers: “Writing is a dream. You have to dream every day, and you keep on writing from 30 minutes to…10 hours. You have to know how to put yourself in that state of dreaming. Like meditating.”

Sensitive Friend,

I like that. He is correct the dream state allows you to flow.

Wise Friend,

He quoted a poet who said: “If a poem comes I catch it”. What a lovely expression!

He talked about the importance of dialogue in books, “All the writers write and scrutinise the world. The trick is to do this and to entertain the reader.”

Sensitive Friend,

Scrutinising is valuable to oneself and others only if one is wise.

Wise Friend,

The readers must be wise, too.

Somebody asked him, “How do you keep an edge?”

“Tell the truth once a day and your life will go in the direction you want.”

Hmmm!  Idealistic or am I getting too cynical, after 20 years doing business?

Sensitive Friend,

He is one writer whose truth many will allow and cherish.

What is more important than truth, the social skills to tell it well, choose your moments, and to decide when to throw all prudence to the winds and say it, anyway?

Wise Friend,

I went to a community dinner. I didn’t like the surroundings. I joined, hoping to interact with people from that city.

In the beginning, I chose a table and sat next to Myra, a lawyer formerly from Mexico City, a lovely lady with a great sense of humour.

Later, Pat and her two daughters joined our table. There was something so humble about her. She mentioned somebody had invited there and she didn’t know people around the room.

I told myself she must have been a single mother and probably that someone invited her for being relatively poor.

Sweet Friend,

I wonder why?

Wise Friend,

I asked Pat if she was working. “I wish I would. However, I’m on a sabbatical after fifteen years working on community committees. I wonder if this isn’t a waste of my degree.”

I replied that it was a fantastic idea, muttering something about being able to afford the break concerning putting bread on the table.

Pat said her husband had been very generous since the children were born.
“Hmmm!!!,” I thought. So Pat wasn’t poor!

Sweet Friend,

Funny, isn’t it?

Wise Friend,

Myra, the lawyer, moved her seat closer and asked Pat from where she knew her. Pat mentioned her full name and Myra seemed satisfied with the answer. I was clueless.

Three of us chatted about children, dyslexia and schools.

Pat left. I told Myra that initially, I had thought Pat was a poor single mother. Myra laughed and said that Pat was the wealthiest woman in the city (I’m not sure if in that community only or, in the city at large). Pat’s husband did not support her financially, as she was wealthy herself coming from an extremely wealthy family.

Myra knew Pat from the media, as Pat frequently had appeared in newspapers and on TV organising this or that event, donating vast amounts of money to this or that charity.

Sweet Friend,

Wow!!! How far from your initial assumptions!

Wise Friend,

Wow, indeed! My dearest son has been begging forever not to make any assumptions. Each time I think back to that evening I smile and my son comes to mind.

I reflect on my experience with these communities. As I travel, I found a way to join events of local communities. I met many comfortable, wealthy women in Sydney, Beverly Hills, Houston, NYC, and elsewhere. Many times, I heard wealthy women dress ostentatiously, wearing glittering fabrics and jewels. I never witnessed that.

I visited beautiful homes and met elegant women, but nothing glittery as such. Clothing-wise, I noticed modesty and elegance. Sometimes, though rarely, some dress in bad looking and or cheap clothing. Maybe some great jewellery though not excessive. ,

Even at evening events women rarely expose their backs, wear extremely short hems or low-cut dresses/blouses.

Now, I’m wondering about these comments about wealthy women, both from the outside and inside the communities as such.

Sweet Friend,

You are very observant about life. Reading your emails is like watching a movie.

Wise Friend,

I went to Houston to meet some new acquaintances. I was there for a week.

Sensitive Friend,

“Acquaintances?” Who, besides the British uses that word? I find people expect me to call them “friends” since calling them “acquaintances” hurts their feelings.

Wise Friend,

I experienced the same. I can afford to be precise with you. Such a relief!

 

I

I toured Houston in stages.

On my way to meeting them at their office, by the tollway, all areas are flat. I lost my way, and I didn’t like the neighbourhood. I knew I was close, but how close?

I was driving back and forth under the tollways/freeways, faced with concrete strips and poles sustaining those strips. It was a dry image from a movie of cities without souls. I imagined myself living in Houston, and I already felt trapped for years in an unattractive city.

On my way back I drove again by concrete sustaining concrete, concrete running by concrete, concrete running under and above concrete. It wasn’t for me!

Also, I could not find even one classical music radio station or even one with political commentaries.

Sensitive Friend,

I don’t remember Houston being so dreary. Hmmm!

Wise Friend,

Next evening, Jeff, one of the guys, hired a 15-seat van and took us around, showing us Houston’s beautiful suburbs. The city has a lovely downtown, alive in the evenings. A stadium built downtown years ago revived the nightlife.

Its medical centre is humongous, a city inside a city. Hospital near hospital, a place to get lost and treated if needed. “If you want to be sick Houston is the city. It’s at the same level with Boston” (I hope we never would need that.)

Houston has beautiful architecture and stunning mansions on charming streets with wonderful gardens.

Some of their high risers have a very delicate design. The Transco Tower, near the Galleria, is tall and slim with vertical lines created by its relief and attracted me the most. It’s the tallest skyscraper in the USA outside of a downtown area. Whatever this means!

Jeff took us around golf courses, and parks, along jogging allays and walking paths.

I asked Jeff about classical music radio stations. He pressed a button and Voila! 92.1. He pressed another button—political commentaries!

It rains frequently, and therefore Houston is lush. Next day, I looked out of the windows their office. This was my fourth day in that room. This time I saw the greenery of this city—a sea of treetops from grey-green to bottle green and in the distance the elegant skyline of Houston downtown. The things our mind filters based on wants, fears and again those so self-limiting assumptions!!

By now, I warmed towards this city.

Many questions welled up. I concluded that I don’t know how to visit a place, that I need to return again and again, force myself to open my mind and with it, my eyes would open beyond my assumptions.

Sensitive Friend,

The same goes for some books. When I joined the Proust club in my city, I repeatedly remarked I had not read it correctly. I had read it differently. Indeed, I had noticed and interpreted things in a novel way from the others, but we all missed on parts, depending on our interests and background.

When I miss on details, guilt overwhelms me for at least 30 seconds.

Travelling, like fine arts, antiques, and music, requires experience continuous drilling, keeping in touch, and probably some talent.

It can’t be done from home, books or libraries.

(Photo – pixabay)

Wise Friend,

Parents need to show children what is beautiful around them, while very young.

Sensitive Friend,

What happened?DXTE34-1024x682

Wise Friend

I’ve become more and more aware of walking by beautiful objects, be it art, flora, buildings and not noticing them. Always focused on the final destination. I remember how families in the neighbourhood went camping, hiking. Not us. We had extraordinary parents. They were not nature people. Their focus was on art, books, and literature.

Sensitive Friend,

That focus (art, literature, music) is about beauty.

Wise Friend,

Yes, but it was not about the beauty in nature. I love what they offered us and how much all that has enriched our lives forever. However, we missed on learning how to look around. It’s not a reproach about them, it’s an observation. Each family with its own quirks.

Sensitive Friend,

What brought these thoughts to mind?

Wise Friend,

Last night I was walking along my street. For some reason, I was slow and looked around at flower beds, at buildings, their hedges and gates. I looked at views between buildings of valleys and mountains. I noticed details I missed for months. I said to myself: “Those first seven years at home!”

When I was an adolescent, and during my university years I went frequently hiking. Long gruelling hikes. I used to be very effective in reaching the destination of the day. The mountains were steep and impressive.

I didn’t know I didn’t see them. I loved hiking, though. During one such hike, a close friend told me, quite annoyed, we have to stop and look around and we can’t just push ourselves to reach the final target. I didn’t like what he told me. I stopped in my tracks to accommodate him. I forced myself to look at nature. I loved it, but my body wanted to start moving. I decided on the spot to let my friend decide the pace.

In time, I admitted I lived in an incredibly beautiful country, and I never saw it, although I hiked all around. I didn’t know how to see. Friends would talk about a place or another, describing them, describing their magnificence and I remembered nothing. I knew something was strange, but I didn’t know what.

Sensitive Friend,

The capacity to identify and discern subtleties requires love, passion and persistence.
This is true of any type of art and true for hiking or mere walking as well. A taught, imbued, and educated love.

Wise Friend,

I started to see (notice the surroundings) only in my twenties. What was the trigger? Maybe, because I lived for a few years in a place quite arid and anything green was a shock to my senses.

Later I moved to a city as green as one can imagine and want. Initially, it amazed me. I never got tired of its beauty.

I remember a street, named Ocean Avenue. Arriving from that arid place, somebody took us to Ocean Ave. The trees took my breath away. They had tall and wide trunks with so many ridges, so rich colours and leaves I could not take my eyes away from them. I went back many times. Then I lost touch with Ocean Ave. Years later, I went there in search of the same feeling of awe. The trees were not so thick any longer. They were still stunning, but they seemed to have shrunk. I was wondering if I was on the same street. And suddenly, I understood that initially, after the young trees in the previous place with not enough water, these trees seemed so full and big. With time, living in this lush green city, I got spoiled with lush trees so when I went back, the trees “shrunk.”

Sensitive Friend,

I went once to visit Australia and friends drove to show me the Blue Mountains. I was beyond disappointed. After the New Zealand mountains or the European Alps! Were these people serious to call them mountains?

I turned my back, and I didn’t return for years during my frequent visits. Five years later, I was curious again, and I went to see the Blue Mountains by myself. I strolled, was quiet, and discovered a splendour I didn’t know it was there. During that walk, I learned how to notice the flowers whose exquisiteness is so subtle, and you better stop to look attentively at details and thus learn to see. Then your soul changes. I was sitting here, and I realised that the first time, I walked by the music and lyrics.

Wise Friend,

That what I meant.

 

(photo http://www.sydneywildernesstours.com.au)

Sweet Friend,

For the first time, I’m going to Nevada. I dislike gambling, but I’m looking forward to seeing the opulence of the casino. I wonder what changed since those old Hollywood movies and now. How is luxury displayed? How are women or men dressed? I’m looking for my tuxedo.

Wise Friend,

I flew once to Reno Nevada for a conference. During the flight, I sat next to a beautiful American woman from Reno, who told me the Hilton hotel has a great shopping centre under the hotel, a grand casino at the entrance and a great night bar ‘The Garage’ in the lobby. I was so excited! While passing through Los Angeles, I had time to buy a gorgeous blood red woollen dress with a turtleneck.

I entered the hotel, and in the lobby, I saw tens of poker machine, an image I distaste, and I forgot what she told me.

I went to a party of the conference. Those attending were aged hippie-computer-geeks with body postures affected by sitting twenty-three hours a day in front of their computers, and not enough hours dedicated to fitness—movements and behaviours frozen in the sixties, looking sad, trying to catch up with times. I watched them dancing.

There was something so grotesque about their sense of dress and dance. Everybody was keen to pick somebody up for a night of “romance.” I didn’t want to see any of them undressed. Among them, there was one dancer who knew how to move. He looked better and fitter. I watched him and with my passion for dance, I enjoyed the only graceful person on the dancing floor.

Sweet Friend,

Anybody in a tuxedo?

Wise Friend,

No.

By the evening, I understood that the poker machines were the casino (duh!).

Nevertheless, I put my red dress on and was ready to walk through the casino. I was looking very well, but I expected to be the most modestly dressed woman. I expected glamorous women with gorgeous evening dresses, with naked backs, great low cut fronts, and men in tuxedos. Everybody was dressed in jeans, sweatshirts and pants. Some colleagues, who liked me, told me I was looking like a model. The ones who never liked me asked why I dressed up. From modesty, though in red, I was the glamorous one. Disappointed but flattered.

I gave in and gambled $20.00. I won a bit in between, lost it all by the end – my tributes to this world of strange fun.

The next day I visited the shopping centre—a lousy array of cheap shops.

Later, I decided to go the ‘The Garage’, I in red, they in jeans. A colleague of mine joined me. I ordered a virgin Marguerite (which I found out means without alcohol, duh!) and then I had a great time watching the locals. They came in couples and danced ‘western dancing’. I’m not crazy about non-couple dancing such as line dancing. I watched only the couples, and I had such a good time. The western swing is so gracious and requires great skills. I loved it. My colleague left. I didn’t want to go to bed. Imagine, being alone, watching couples dance and being happy. Not bad!

Take your jeans and a t-shirt. Leave the tuxedo at home.

Sweet Friend,

Ruined it for me.