Closer To Fine

How the hell did my life get to this?  I asked myself while lying in bed (alone) last night.

It’s been over three months since I have written any kind of story and I have been working like a dog. This has led me to that nasty place where I start to play the movie of my life in my head over and over and over again and try to figure out where I went wrong.

Could I try to rewind the film and find THE MOMENT where I “chose” the life I am living????

Let’s see……

I am having my 20th class year Optometry reunion this year. I don’t have any regrets about living four years in the beautiful state of Oregon and meeting the people who are still my best friends. We had a blast and the physical landscape of that state remains a part of me. So, that is not the moment. The being an optometrist part has had its ups and downs but I figure that must be the way it is for all occupations. (Please say, “Yes, GGJ that is the way it is for all occupations.”)

After graduation I had to figure out where to live next. That was a real bitch to figure out.   In hindsight, I didn’t really want to leave my friends and the greater Portland area- but almost all of us were leaving- and I was like a little bird who was getting kicked out of the nest.

Optometry at that time was a little backwards and you graduated and then took your last board exams and then you waited all summer to get a license to practice. You then had to go to the individual state you wanted to practice in and take their own test and wait for their results to get a license. What??? This basically means that you have no way to make a living and your student loan payments start coming in… and there were a lot of stressed out optometry graduates.  Medical doctors have long ago figured it out and they basically have one test and if you pass you are in…. you pay the fees and get your license the next day. But, no. Optometrists do it the hard way.

My Mom was a super Mom and helped me drive a U-Haul truck that was leaking oil from Portland to Wisconsin.  Then we went on a road trip to Austin, TX and I took and passed that test. But, I wasn’t sure about TX. I liked Austin a lot. But, it’s really hot there and I am a fair skinned, blue-eyed part Irish gal that would burn to a crisp.  Can you say melanoma?

One of my best friends was living in Winston-Salem, NC and I went out there and took that test. That test was well known for being impossible to pass. They don’t let in a lot of doctors to the great state of NC.  Luckily, I had to bring a “patient” to the test and my girlfriend agreed to be the guinea pig. She just happens to be gorgeous and was wearing a lovely little sundress. The exam building was freezing and she was clearly uncomfortable. The head examination guy took off his crisp, blue blazer and hung it around her shoulders. She wrapped herself up in that jacket and we went from station to station and I examined her eyes….

I was convinced I had failed because the test atmosphere was not exactly warm and fuzzy. I cried a lot and we went to the beach for a few days.  I was a complete train wreck and not an easy person to be with- I owe my friend a vacation (and possibly my NC license- thanks for wearing that dress)!

I drove back to Wisconsin in complete despair, certain that I had failed. I hadn’t failed any tests up to that point so I was freaking out. I waited another six weeks and the letter came….. I opened the letter…. and….. I freakin passed! Yay!  In the coming weeks I got a whole bunch of letters from doctors looking for associate doctors. It was manna from heaven.

I ended up accepting a position in Charlotte, NC.  Is this the moment you ask? No, not this one. But, this one was a test.  You see, I was stupid.  I picked the wrong city in what possibly could have been the right state. I went for the money. I should have either picked the city where I actually had a friend, or the city where I would have like to have lived. Had I chosen Asheville, NC – my life may have been completely different.

North Carolina is a tough state to move to when you have just spent four years in the Pacific Northwest.  North Carolina, and specifically Charlotte, was a banking empire- conservative in all areas of thought/politics/living and was definitely an alien place for this Yankee.

It has its perks though.  Any state that has both mountains and coast is one to be considered as a desirable place to live. I still love Asheville.  I keep my NC license active (just in case) and go to a conference there every once in a while. It’s at the Grove Park Inn which is a place that deserves a drop by if you are ever in the area. The Biltmore is also a fun place to see. It’s like Downton Abbey only in America.

North Carolina was a close call- but not the moment that could have changed my life forever.

I have to go back further.

While an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin I was a pretty good student.  I could have been a lot better of a student if I actually went to class or studied.  I think we are getting warmer…..

I was such a putz though. No one tells you that when you are 18 years old and have just left your friends and family for the first time that you are on THE PATH for the rest of your life. I really wish someone had told me that and that I would have actually listened.

I lucked out a little bit. Freshmen year I was hanging out with some hippie types. There was a lot of listening to the Grateful Dead -American Beauty CD.  I just happened to be stumbling through a calculus problem not understanding one bit of it when one of my hippie friends sat down and explained the whole thing to me. I learned that one problem.  Lucky for me- that was the problem to solve on the test… and I got a really high score! Yay for me.  Everyone was stunned, including myself.

I was in a jam trying to figure out what my major should be. I always thought I would be a writer. But, then I took a whole bunch of science classes and got good grades. My Mom and Dad really, really, really wanted me to become “something.”  I finally settled on being a History of Science major.  My Dad said, “What do you do with a History of Science major?” and I laughed and said, “Oh Daddy, nothing!”

Not to poo-poo history or science. They are both interesting subjects to learn and to possibly learn from… you know that whole thing about history repeating itself?? We are certainly in an interesting historical/scientific period right this very moment.

Living in Oshkosh is working out in that department. We have a couple of really nice museums here in town. For artsy fartsy stuff the Paine is excellent and the Oshkosh Public Museum has a lot of good traveling exhibits. My favorite is probably the EAA museum. It doesn’t get much cooler than to see the how the invention of flight has changed the world. History of Science, baby.

Many years ago I went to a D-Day talk at the EAA museum. It was a dress up kind of thing where we were supposed to wear period attire.  Looking back at it now, I was border line inappropriate. I went with my now ex-boyfriend/still friend and his Mom. They put together some outfits from his Dad’s gear from WWII and I rented a little blue air force jacket from the crazy lady down the road who does Halloween costumes. I wore the jacket with a blue mini-skirt….definitely NOT up to code. But, my legs were good so it didn’t matter too much. I don’t think I wore anything under the jacket…. Oh my!

As we were leaving a bunch of young active duty soldiers asked me if I would dance “half a dance” with their superior officer (who had a really good outfit).  I said, “Ok.”  We danced half a dance and then he sent me on my way. The ex-boyfriend/still friend and his Mom took it in stride and danced half a dance too.  When a soldier asks you to dance, you dance.

I had a chance to be brilliant while being a student at Madison.  I had applied for a position to help a professor with research to cure (I can’t remember what we were trying to cure) something. I accepted the position. When I returned to our rental house on Pinckney Street I was super excited and told the news to my housemates.  They asked me what it was all about and I told them. Then I got to the part where I would have to inject dogs with stuff and then take blood samples.  Silence. Then came, “There is no way you will ever be able to inject dogs with anything.  You have to call that professor and quit.” I came to my senses and called the professor. Sorry, gang. Maybe we could have cured something like diabetes- but I just don’t have it in me. I would have let all of the animals loose and gone to jail.  Dodged a bullet on that one.

The moment that changed my life forever was Thursday April 23, 1988.  That was the first day I was a bartender at Clearwater Harbor in Waupaca, WI.  I was barely 19 years old and did not have a clue.

Opening day is always crazy and that first day (or actually night) was a lesson for the record books. I got my ass handed to me- both figuratively and literally. At that time it was still a beer bar (the liquor license would come sometime in July of that year) and we were a bunch of newbies playing full contact bartending – shoving and pushing to get our cold beer into our thirsty patrons sweaty hands.  I happened to be standing in front of one of the bottle openers that are screwed on the front of the beer coolers. An old timer stuck his hand between my legs and opened a bottle of beer to serve to his customer.  Should I have been horrified? Or, was it okay that I liked it?  There goes the nice, sweet GGJ and here comes the fun….

I learned a lot of important life lessons tending bar. I had to toughen up or get run over like a freight train. I learned some common sense.  I learned a lot about relationships – both good and bad. I learned a lot about friendships- all of it good. I learned how to handle cash, drunks and myself.

My first day, I sucked. Year after year, I got better. I learned a skill.  I figured out when you should talk and when you should stay silent.  (Talk when someone is low and needs a laugh. Shut the hell up when a big shot walks in the door with a girl who is not his wife…)

The best lesson I learned is to look up.  Yes, look up.  A lot of new bartenders have their heads down- because that is where the booze is, where the glasses are, where you store stuff…. But you have to look up in order to see who needs you.  You have to look up to see if someone is low on their drink and needs a refill. Don’t make them ask. Go to them and ask if they are ready for another one. Look around, see who has been waiting first.  Go to that person, not the big loud mouth who just muscled his way in and thinks just because he knows you from that one weekend last summer that you are going to wait on him first. Take care of your patrons, and they will take care of you.

Life is like that too. Look up. I have seen a bunch of bald eagles and other neat birds.  Some people say that they have never seen one.  Well, if you live around here you should have.  But, you won’t find them if you don’t look up.

I used to bartend Sunday mornings with Bender.  He was and still is a great food and beverage person.  We would be getting the bar stocked and cleaned and would listen to this Indigo Girls song….

I’m tryin’ to tell you somethin’ ’bout my life. Maybe give me insight between black and white. And the best thing you’ve ever done for me Is to help me take my life less seriously. It’s only life after all.

Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear. I wrap my fear around me like a blanket. I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it. I’m crawling on your shores.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain. There’s more than one answer to these questions Pointing me in a crooked line. And the less I seek my source for some definitive, The closer I am to fine. The closer I am to fine.

 I went to see the Doctor of Philosophy With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee. He never did marry or see a B-Grade movie. He graded my performance, he said he could see through me. I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind, Got my paper and I was free.

 I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain. There’s more than one answer to these questions Pointing me in a crooked line. And the less I seek my source for some definitive, The closer I am to fine. The closer I am to fine.

 I stopped by the bar at three A.M. To seek solace in a bottle, or possibly a friend. I woke up with a headache like my head against a board, Twice as cloudy as I’d been the night before. And I went in seeking clarity.

I go to the doctor, we go to the mountains. We look to the children, we drink from the fountain. We go to the Bible, we go through the work out. We read up on revival, we stand up for the lookout. There’s more than one answer to these questions Pointing me in a crooked line. And the less I seek my source, the closer I am to fine.

 Songwriters: AMY ELIZABETH RAY, EMILY ANN SALIERS

They say (who is they anyway?) everything happens for a reason. You cannot see it at the time… but things have a way of working out for the best.

Is it just a coincidence that I woke up with this story in my head and today also just happens to be the opening day for Clearwater Harbor in Waupaca, WI?  I think not. Everything happens for a reason.

I won’t be there today. I might be there this weekend.  If you get a chance, stop by for a cold one. The sunsets are spectacular. Look around to see which bartenders are looking down. Tip them a little extra. It’s their first day. Who knows? They might end up being your eye doctor someday.

I learned how to laugh at myself and not take everything too seriously. I listened to some great bands. I made some life-long friends. We worked hard and we played hard.

My life hasn’t always gone according to plan or worked out the way I thought it would. That’s okay- I’ll just head over to the Harbor and see what happens next.  Change a thing… not a chance.

GGJ

Harbor 1990-1991 (2)

 

 

 

 

Skinny People are Boring

Skinny people are boring. There, I said it.

Before you get into a tizzy let me explain. If by some chance you are skinny by nature or have a metabolic disorder or are trying to cheat death because your arteries are clogged….then you get a free pass and this does not apply to you.

But (and the important part always comes after the but) if you are skinny because you want to look great- then your chances of being boring are greatly increased. Something happens when people get skinny. I don’t know why but it seems like their personality dissolves with all of the fat.

I have been a chub my whole life. Not exactly fat, but definitely not skinny either. I am also very healthy. I exercise and eat mostly healthy foods and drink relatively little for living in Wisconsin. My last life insurance health tests and blood work put me in the cheapest category. Yay! Still, why do I feel like I should be skinny? I am going to stop that kind of thinking right now. I think it is good to want to be fit, healthy and strong. Being skinny is for the birds.

Years ago, (about 13 years I think) I did get skinny. I was coming off an ACL knee surgery and had put on some weight. I joined Weight Watchers and dieted down to my goal weight (which was too low) and became a life time member. I could fit into my sisters jeans and she is four inches shorter than me… it was great. Boys liked me and I was getting a lot of attention. I was a skinny chick aka tits on a stick. Ok, stop right here. Let me state for the record that boys that like girls who are tits on a stick are morons. That alone is enough to call it quits and eat a cheeseburger.

Girls, listen to me…. If you ever get a smart, funny, sweetheart of a guy who likes you just the way you are- he’s a keeper. I have also found that guys who are a little chubby themselves are great in the sack. I think they have to try harder and develop certain skills to keep the ladies happy. Try it, you won’t be sorry.

I was skinny for a while. Finally, one day my sister told me, “You are skinny, but you aren’t fun anymore.” She was right. I had restricted myself to zero alcohol and practically zero carbohydrates. I was weird about eating in restaurants and ….I WAS BORING!

This weekend I came down with the hives. I don’t know why but it started out Saturday morning and by Saturday night I was a mess. I met some good friends to watch the Badger game and have a few drinks and dinner. I showed them my hives. Everyone agreed they were super gross and felt bad for me. Because they were good friends they still let me sit at the same table and shared a few bites of food with me. As the evening progressed, my hives seemed to be getting worse. A friend went to the bar and got a marker and circled a couple of welts on my arms. We continued to eat and have a few beers and watch the game. Awhile later we checked the marks and I thought maybe they were the same….but then my friend told me they were worse. It takes a good friend to tell you that your hives are worse.

I went home and took a bunch of Benedryl. The next morning I woke up and looked in the mirror. OMG, they were spreading to my face. I freaked out and took four Benedryls. Then I put some clothes on and walked to the ER which luckily is only two blocks from my Mom’s house. It was 7am so it was very quiet. I checked in and the lady took one look at me and I said “Hives” and she said, “Yup” and she got me in right away. The nice lady doctor took one look at me and I said, “Hives” and she said, “Yup.” and we talked about the possible causes but it can be pretty much anything and the treatment is the same so it doesn’t really matter. She gave me a prescription for some steroids and I was back to my Mom’s in 20 minutes. Then the 4 Bendryls I took kicked in and I was too far gone to operate a motor vehicle so my Mom got the steroids for me while I took a sedated nap.

I spent the whole day hanging out and napping at my Mom’s. We watched tennis and car racing and read our books. We weren’t super hungry so my Mom made up some toasted ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner. Then around 9pm she made me an ice cream cone. Butter Brickle on a sugar cone. It was amazing.Cone

I wouldn’t have been able to have that at my place. I wouldn’t have had the bread, the ice cream or the cone. That really got me thinking…..(keep in mind I was still stoned on Bendryl)

It really is the simple things in life that make us happy. Being too fat is bad and being too skinny is bad. We need to find a good balance. Restrictive behavior is a drag. This applies to many aspects of life. Who likes being told they can’t do or have something?? Not me, that is for sure.

So, I am going to try to adopt a new way of thinking. I can have or do anything I want within reason.

One last thing about being skinny. It makes you look older. My chubby wubby face is keeping the wrinkles at bay. I like that. When I take a good look around, it seems like the people who are laughing and dancing and enjoying life are somewhere in the middle… not too skinny and not too fat. Have you ever noticed that skinny people are afraid to dance or look silly? It’s the pressure that comes with being fabulous.. caring about what people will think.  It becomes restrictive all on its own. I think that being in the middle takes the pressure off.

It all comes back to finding balance. Zen baby.

My hives are going away. I went to the grocery store and bought a lot of healthy things. I also bought the makings for chicken enchiladas which I love. I will put the recipe below.

GYPSY GIRL JILLY’S CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

  1. Buy a rotisserie chicken for 7 bucks. It will save you time and money. Wait for it to cool and then pluck the meat off it.
  2. Add a can of Original Rotel. (tomatoes and onions and spicy stuff in a can.)
  3. Add a packet of taco seasoning mix.
  4. Add water to get it a good consistency and make the spices stick to the chicken. Don’t worry if it is watery- it all gets cooked and absorbed.
  5. You will need either flour or corn tortillas. Put some chicken in and roll them up and put in a baking dish. Or you can be lazy and layer the enchiladas and chicken like you are making lasagna.
  6. Pour over canned Red Child Enchilada Sauce (I use La Preferida Mild.) I like the big cans but you can’t always find them so then buy 3 small cans.
  7. Stick the whole thing in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
  8. Let it rest so you don’t burn a flap of skin on the roof of your mouth.
  9. Generous dollops of sour cream go on top. Eat and enjoy.

Gypsy Girl Jilly Makes a Friend

Yesterday I moved. Again. It’s been a recurring theme for me over the years. I have never been attached to a property- but I do get attached to the people who make a house a home.

When I first moved into the house over 7 years ago, it was chaos and my place was a total mess. I had spent several months gutting the house and replacing a lot of things… so I had been around but hadn’t been living in the house. One day I was in the kitchen getting ready to go for some exercise. I had some bottoms on but I was topless digging through a laundry basket and putting on a jog bra -with no curtain in the window.

My neighbor Jerry just happened to be returning my garbage can to its rightful spot when ….BAM….he got a full frontal assault of my considerable rack. We both panicked. His eyes got wide and he was heading across the driveways in record time. I knew it was a crucial moment. This would record me as the nutty naked lady or I had to fix it. So, I quickly got some clothes on and yelled out the door, “Hey Jerry, I didn’t mean to give you an eye-full!”

He came back and said he was really sorry, he was just putting the garbage can back for me. He told me he had raised four daughters so he was used to seeing stuff like that. We both laughed. It was going to be okay. Just like that….we were friends. A few days later I come home to a little sign tucked beside the window that said “BEAR AREA”. It hung in my carport shed for the next seven years.

One of the first summers I lived there, we had a mama snapping turtle come up the bank, dig a hole in my yard and lay her eggs. We marked the spot with a stick and waited. And waited. One day, there was some activity and we watched the baby turtles emerge. Jerry and I felt we had an obligation to make sure that the baby turtles made it back to the river without being gobbled up or smooshed. We took our baby turtles named Harry, Hermione, Ron and Lord Voldemort down to the river. I kind of tossed one of mine in the river. Jerry said, “Well, that’s one way to do it.” He put his turtle gently down on a stick and let the baby turtle find its own way into the river. I learned something. When you are trying to save something it is best not to kill it before you have a chance to save it. Patience, little grasshopper. I did better with my second turtle.

It’s not like it happens overnight. But, little by little I would reveal bits and pieces of my past to Jerry. He was a good listener. He had a very successful marriage, so he was pretty good at giving out love life advice. He spent a lot of years in the automotive industry so he would take notice of the vehicles that would sometimes park in my driveway. Sometimes, he would ask where the Honda went and I would say, “He’s long gone Jerry”… and he would say, “He’ll be back.” And then we would laugh. He lost his wife a few years back and asked me if I liked being alone. I told him I liked being alone more than I liked being with the wrong person… but I would like it better if I could be with someone who didn’t drive me nuts. It’s tough out there. When you find someone who doesn’t drive you nuts, I would recommend you hold on tight. I think Jerry would agree with me. See, I was listening.

Winter in Wisconsin can be tough. Early on, Jerry showed me how to use his snow blower ‘just in case’. I really never had to do any snow-blowing because he would do it for me. He knew my schedule and I would hear the snow-blower start up around 6 am and he would plow me out. He did my driveway before he did his own. That is a major act of kindness. Last year, I did get to do some snow-blowing because Jerry had a bum ankle from falling on the ice. I would go over and fire up the snow blower and start plowing his driveway. He would yell at me to go do my own and leave his for later. No way! This was my chance to finally reciprocate. It’s a good problem to have when you and your neighbor are yelling at each other for getting the others driveway plowed first. Kind of like when you go out to dinner with old friends and everyone fights over who gets to pay the bill. Those are the days! By the way, snow-blowing in the moonlight is kind of fun in a weird Zen way. Just trust me on this one. I think it may have something to do with sniffing gasoline.

I travel sometimes and would most often remember to give Jerry a heads up about my absence. He hung a little thermometer in my kitchen window (scene of the nakedness) so he could check to make sure my heat worked during the winter so I wouldn’t have frozen pipes if something bad happened. Sometimes, I would forget to tell him about my traveling so he would call my Mom to make sure I was okay.

When you live alone, it is nice to have someone notice if you might be dead or not quite dead laying in a heap at the bottom of the cellar stairs.

I really could go on and on… about the time we took on the City government for giving us tickets for improper sidewalk maintenance and we were victorious, or our many garden projects including the ill-fated asparagus patch or the hornet’s nest incident…. You get the picture.

When I had to leave for the last time, we both got really teary. I told Jerry, “I refuse to say goodbye.” He said, “Okay.” As he was walking down the driveway, I yelled “I love you Jerry!” and he yelled back, “ I love you too, Jill.”

If you are going to yell at someone, those are the best words to use.

GGJ

Fake Air, Tight Butts & The Power of Love

GGJ and Cousin Vodka
GGJ and Cousin Vodka

I just returned from my latest adventure.

I went to Las Vegas to help a gorgeous young lady turn 21. Yep, 21 in Las Vegas. We were a motley crew. Two sweet young things (SYT 1 and SYT 2), The Mommas, GGJ, and an Aunt and an Uncle hereby known as Cousin Vodka and Cousin Whiskey.

It was a loose arrangement and for a group that large amazingly flexible. Fun was had by all. Along the way a bunch of stuff happened. We arrived at different times and by various routes. It was like we were planning a caper and had to make sure our true identities could not be traced.

We stayed at the The Flamingo which is a great central location and the price is right if you are planning on spending your money on gambling and drinking and shows. No time for relaxation babies, this was a whirlwind. We upgraded to a Go-Go Room and it was worth it.

Immediately upon arrival we played some slots. I became very fond of a ‘Spartacus’ machine and we spent a lot of time together. Picture a heavily muscled man wearing armor carrying a shield (WE ARE SPARTANS!) whirling around on your screen… Nice!

Over the next 2.5 days I was in a bunch of casinos. Some nicer than others. What was very striking was the difference in air. As in, fake air. I would love to get a behind the scenes tour (hint, hint Vegas people) of how they go about blending and concocting the fake air. Cousin Vodka was with me most of the time and we both liked the air at the Palazzo the best. It reminded us both of a Mediterranean breeze. Very calming and relaxing.

Surprisingly, the air at the Quad was very good as well. Surprising because it is not as upscale as the Palazzo. The Quad air smells like a very clean attractive man. We really liked it.

We spent quite a bit of time at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Casino and bar… of course that air is fantastic! Hints of coconut, salt….why sure, I’d love a Margarita! Why not?

The air at the Bellagio is really good too. We took big hits of air….inhale, exhale… the air smells….expensive… la-di-da. Enjoy it while you can.

The last night we were there we went to see The Thunder from Down Under at the Excalibur. My sister wanted to see the show years ago and I said no, which was a huge mistake. I already told her that on our next trip to Vegas we will go and it will be my treat. It is a super fun show and it should not be missed if you are with a bunch of girls and want to have fun. (Cousin Whiskey didn’t care and did a little gaming while we were at the show.)

The show itself is fun. There is a little something for everyone and it was interesting that we all liked different men the best. Loved the fire man! Ooh-la-la.

At the end of the show you can go up for a picture with the guys. Cousin Vodka and I were at the end of the line and the fire man was giving the instructions of how the picture thing works… we were listening to that Australian accent and gazing at his beautiful body… then we were onstage waiting for our picture to be taken. Cousin Vodka said, “I missed about half of what he said because I was mesmerized by his accent.” Then she poked the ring leader in one of his pectoral muscles with her long pink fingernail and said, “Dang, you sure were a surprise!” For the first time all night, he was speechless. We then climbed upon some super-hot Thunder man laps and had our photo taken. At the end another Thunder guy takes the time to give you some hugs and skin on skin time as you exit the stage. Brilliant! Simply brilliant… everyone feels loved and cared for…plus you get a real photo as well as an emailed photo.

Memories….light the corner of my mind…misty water colored memories. (Cue the music.)

Cousin Vodka had some words of wisdom for the SYT’s. After the show SYT 1 told Cousin Vodka that the long haired hot Thunder man told her he liked how her dress looked on her. Cousin Vodka said, “Did you tell him it would look better on his bedroom floor?” Zinger. Bow-chic-a-bow-bow.

This trip restored my faith in humanity. What????? In Vegas????

GGJ, are you still totally wasted?

Here’s the deal. You would think that it was a recipe for disaster. I kept waiting for the SYT’s to ditch us and go get shit faced and/or need money. It didn’t happen. (Actually, maybe it did happen but I wouldn’t know because I skipped dinner one night and had Corona Lights instead and I was the one that had to go home early.)

The Mommas were super cool too. I saw with my own eyes one of the mommas supply a 100$ bill for two lemon drop shots for the SYT’s and she didn’t even flinch (too much.) They let the little birdies fly. They must have done a good job of parenting because they are fine, just fine.

Cousin Whiskey was instrumental in teaching the SYT’s the ways of the blackjack table and 3 am breakfasts. I hadn’t played for a long time and made some mistakes on the blackjack table. Thanks, Cousin Whiskey for helping me figure it out and sorry we lost …it was fun anyway and those 200$ worth of “free” drinks were tasty. Also, he was good at getting us in cabs and from point A to point B and is a very good tipper. Yay. Love, love, love Cousin Whiskey.

Last but not least I must give some proper love to the head momma (HCH = head cat herder) for organizing the trip. It’s not easy to bring together a bunch of unusual suspects and have it seem like an effortless, spontaneous event. I know that was not the case and she pulled it off. Masterful in every way.

There was a lot of activity, and it was ok to either participate or not. There was no pressure. It was ok to say yes, and it was ok to say no. It was a beautiful thing.

What makes it all work?

The power of love is what makes it work.

Make new friends, but keep the old…. One is Silver and the other Gold.

We were Gold all the way!

Since I got back last night, it would seem like there is some trouble in the world. I think for the right price I could get the motley crew together for a “brain trust” and we could straighten things out. Just let me know.

GGJ

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

I recently had my hair done.  My friend and stylist was telling me about an interesting woman that she had just met. She prefaced the story by asking me if I was okay with ‘woo-hoo’ hippy vibe stuff. I said, “Sure, I am a little woo-hoo myself.” So anyway this woman was very interesting and they had a great visit. As she was leaving she told her “Ask the Universe, and the Universe will answer.”  Hmmm…okay.

So we talked about what that meant and basically concluded that you have to be aware of stuff to figure stuff out. I know, super deep! At which point we made funny jokes about the people or things in our life that require answers from the Universe.

Yesterday I received my answer from the Universe.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

It started like this.

I was hanging out with my sister listening to a great band and having a few beers. It was the Wing-Ding-Fling-Thing at the Wheelhouse.  All of the usual suspects were there.  We laughed, sang, danced a little (not as much as usual because it was raining and I was wearing a white shirt and was trying to not become obscene.) The last song played as an encore was Helter Skelter. One of the guys we were hanging out with asked me if I knew what/who that song was about.  I said, “Charles Manson!” I got it right, Yay! Then I was asked if I knew what In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was about.  No clue. Hmm, let me think about this.  They said it real, real slow.  In…A…Gadda…Da…Vida.  In my Corona Light enlightened state I said, “Something to do with Good vs. Evil.” They said, “You are so close, but nope that’s not it.” They told me it is an Iron Butterfly song famous for two things, it is super long and it was supposed to be titled In the Garden of Eden but the guy who wrote it was smashed and was a little slurry and it came out In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida instead. The band liked it that way better and kept it.

I can see how that could happen.  I sometimes say things differently after a few beers too, and sometimes I get an accent.  Anyway…

For the large part I have given up on daytime television of any sort.  Too depressing! But I do sometimes watch the Dan Patrick Show.  It was a busy week and I didn’t get to tune in as much as usual.  But as I was puttering around my house and getting ready for work I heard Dan Patrick mention In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Then they cut to a commercial and I missed finding out whether it was a reference to the length of the song or about the happy accident of making something fabulous while being hammered. Still, it got my attention.

I am Facebook friends with Anthony Bourdain.  Well, let me clarify.  I am Facebook friends with Anthony Bourdain, he is not Facebook friends with me. He recently posted some tunes that were his faves and gave a shout out to his dad for dutifully taking him to an Iron Butterfly Concert. There you have it again…In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

Anthony Bourdain is living the life I wish I had…traveling, writing, eating and meeting interesting people. His book Kitchen Confidential is a great read.

All of a sudden it struck me as weird and possibly relevant. I had never even heard of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and now it is everywhere.  Is it a sign? What does it mean?

It’s the Universe.

I am actually fairly content right now and am not aware that I have been asking the Universe any questions. What do you do when the Universe answers anyway? I feel compelled to listen.

In a gadda da vida, honey Don’t you know that I’m lovin’ you In a gadda da vida, baby Don’t you know that I’ll always be true         

-Iron Butterfly

I kind of like having the answer before I know the question. That leaves it open to interpretation.  Here is my question. “What’s next?”

It’s time to let go! It’s time to get out there and live with passion and see what happens…the spontaneous version may end up way better that the original plan.

In a gadda da vida baby, in a gadda da vida.