My heart is made of sweet words: whispered, giggled and shouted;
with soggy bits where tears seeped in and found the cracks and crevices.
My heart is made of fur: long and silken, short and coarse, baby fine and bunny soft;
with purrs that run ragged, silver, rumble and holes of black and white.
My heart is made of memories: rioting with laughter and curses;
scented with coffee, tea, flowers and balsam; and held tight in a squeeze.
My heart is full, and yet broken;
because of all that it has, and all that is gone.
So, you know those random quizzes that pop up on the internet? “What does your favorite color say about you?” “We can guess your favorite color!” There are more, but those are basically the themes. And of course, people will ask, often for perfectly mild reasons – they found a shirt they think you’d like, and it comes in a variety of colors, and they want to get one you’ll really like. Or they want to avoid one you hate!
I dislike those moments. The quizzes make me roll my eyes, if I’m in a particularly grumpy mood. Or I just pass them by if I’m in a good mood. I try very hard to answer close friends and family who ask. (Although, to be honest, most family have more or less learned not to bother or if they ask it’s more along the lines of “how do you feel about greens this week?”)
My dad worked in theater and television for a good bit of his life. He especially worked with lighting and stage design, but his card also allowed for costume work, and he did some design there, as well. Colors were tools that could shift your mood, tell you about the history of a place, or the rank of a person. I don’t remember if I ever asked him what his favorite color was. I knew he loved all colors for different reasons.
You could put a straw gold light gel in front of a lamp and get a certain mood out of how that light hits a set painted in terra cotta orange with red and yellow accents. It’s a hot, dry sort of feel. It’s the desert, or at least somewhere that might make you think of the desert. Or you can use a certain pale blue with a shimmery metallic gleam gel, cast down across a set painted in navy and indigo blues, with hints of turquoises, soft greens, gentle dove greys and the slightest hints of purple and aubergine – almost black – and you’re in an ocean, perhaps even at night. It’s so very cool and quiet.
A gentleman of a certain period – it isn’t just the fabrics he wears that declares him a gentle man to all who see him. If he is wearing vividly dyed fabrics with heavily saturated hue, he must have money! Those red and purples were hard to come by on trade routes, and only the most wealthy could afford them. Similarly, bright yellows could be dear, depending on where he lived at least.
So truly, I love all colors. I love autumn colors best, but there are days when a spring rainbow better suits my mood. And of course, a wintery rainy series of blues is surprisingly cozy and comforting, even while it might look chilly.
I look good, sometimes, in reds. But in reality, red is rarely a favorite. It’s so often a shade of pink that I find too pale, and too candy-like, rather than a good rich blood red, or brick red, or scarlet. I like salmon and coral, all right, but in some light, those shades turn to pink again, and it’s just too difficult to find one I can stomach. I’ve given up and bought some clothing, here and there, that is indeed pink. Mostly, because I wanted to fabric and the other colors were shades that were worse somehow.
I can also wear green, sometimes, depending. I think I look better in forest and olive and army greens, for example, as opposed to lime or pale mint. I’ve still bought those colors because, well, they’re still pretty. But sometimes I look very worn out wearing them, and people ask if I feel okay.
So no, I don’t like picking colors, particularly. I like all of them. And it’s more likely if I’m asked, I’ll ask you to explain why you want to know, so I can give you the best answer for the application you’re working in, for me. If you’re just asking, I might answer “all of them” or “rainbow” if I’m feeling particularly sassy.
One color people keep deciding I like, since I was a small child, is in fact red, pink, or any color along that general line. I’m often surprised at that. I understand that often, if I’m coloring my hair something non-natural, I lean toward red; but that’s because it looks good with my coloring more than anything. I’ve had it purple, and I’d secretly love to have it blue or mermaid or even rainbow. But until it turns more naturally white than it is now, I’m not going to have a lot of luck with that. My hair’s too dark, naturally, and the stripping process to get it that color is hard on it. I even have, as I’ve said, chosen to wear red before. Because it looks good on a brunette with a faint olive tint to her skin. But my favorite car color, so far, has been a deep, shimmery brown that made me think of silken chocolate and coffee. And yet, a salesmen recently encouraged me to try for a red number! (It wasn’t immediately available, so I went with grey – a titanium shade that luckily picks up other colors around it, so that’s bonus!)
But I remember even my parents, would hand me a red thing, another sister a purple thing, another a blue or yellow thing, and the other would get softer shades of browns, peaches, and earth tones. I always wished I could have those earth tones. Or at least the occasional green.
And these are, of course, all solid things! It’s not even getting into things like auras or chakras or other things that people say one might be, based on their moods or where their pain is locked up. The best one I ever read was an old DOS program, that decided my aura was silver, with flecks of lightning and yellow in. It just couldn’t decide. I haven’t really tried in a very long time to see what I’d be classified as, but for the longest time, roses and reds would come up, because I cared about relationships between friends and family and love.
These things are interesting to me, perhaps because I do think about how colors can describe a person – their nature or their characterization; and to me, red is a very angry or high intensity color.
I hope I’m not perceived as angry or constantly vibrating with emotions. I suspect I’m not. I suspect most people don’t even think about color that way. They just think, “This color looks awesome on her! She must love it.” And then they move along with their day, sparing not another thought to colors and how complicated they can be.
I was thinking about it the other night, when doing the dishes, and I can’t really remember not knowing someone who is not straight. I can remember not having a word for it, or not completely understanding why we never got to meet the person they were dating, but for as long as there have been “not blood family” people that interacted with my family, there were always men who didn’t have girlfriends or wives, and occasionally women who didn’t have boyfriends or husbands in my life. I’m 43 years old. I’m not a kid.
So when people would say things about men being bad to little boys, I’d have extreme doubts they knew what they were talking about. Because J was one of my favorite babysitters. He was an awesome cook, he would listen to the reasons for building cushion and tinker-toy forts the way we built them (you have to use the tinker-toys so you can make a tent roof out of sheets), and realize that yes; I’m a girl, but I still don’t believe he’d do bad things to little boys. And when I finally got around to asking mom why he didn’t have a girlfriend or wife, because he’d be an awesome daddy, and she explained he didn’t date in town and why, my first reaction was: Oh, okay. And then I was sad. Because it was stupid. I was so excited many years later to know he DID get married and he and his husband had a daughter they adopted. And I was even more sad to know that he passed away later, and I’d never gotten to hug him again. I think I first met J when I was 5.
There are others, obviously, that have been in and out of my life. Students and co-workers of my dad’s, my own teachers, students I went to school with (and occasionally had crushes on). But non-straight people have been people who were normal (and yet very quiet and careful) for more or less all of my life that I’ve been aware of other people. And to me, literally the only different things about them were: they loved someone who was the same gender as them (mostly, I don’t remember many people as a kid who said they were asexual, although I wonder about a few and if they just didn’t have a word for it then), and they were almost always scared to talk about it except with very trusted close friends and family. And I always accepted what they wanted, because it’s their life, but it still made me sad.
A lot of those friends and family are scared now, and I believe they have every reason to be. And I keep trying to figure out why there are still people in the world who judge people who are LGBTQ+ as evil, or sinning, or anything negative, and I wonder if it isn’t because they’ve never known that they know people who are. I grew up in a town of under 9,000 people, you see. Yes, I had the advantage of that town being home to a four-year university of about that size enrollment, but still. It was in Texas. There were more than 100 churches of various faiths (but mostly protestant type Christian – some evangelical) there. And I still was aware. On the other hand, I have also been aware that my habit of taking people at face-value can be rare. I’ve been accused of being overly optimistic by those who are more jaded. At the same time, I’ve been accused of being pessimistic when I’ve tried to be careful – because of being jaded myself by people’s reactions.
So I still get trapped in a circular headspace of how? How do you decide that just because that woman on TV loves another woman, she’s a sinner and horrible; when you know nothing else about her? Why assume that a man who loves men is broken in some way, when you know nothing else about him? If they have done something else – robbed a store, thrown a burning match into a school, stolen their neighbors identity to buy a car – then fine! They are obviously not nice. But just about who they love or want to have sex with?
Bi-sexual people are not immediately kinkier than anyone else just for being attracted to two genders. I myself, for a very long time, have noticed women more than other women seem to. Yes, quite a few women look at other women or will objectively note that one or another is pretty. But I really sometimes wonder – am I actually attracted to them? There have been feelings for individual women that have been really close to what I’d call a “crush”, based on crushes I’ve had on men. I still can’t decide if that makes me bi-sexual. And frankly, writing this paragraph scares me because I am putting it out in public, and my face is on my blog. But beyond being supportive in my votes and my charitable contributions, perhaps I ought to just also be more open about myself.
Because I would be very willing to bet that the straight cis people who keep othering those in the LGBTQ+ community know more people in that community, trust more people in that community, go to church with and shop with more people in that community, than they think they do.
I picked up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition) recently, and finally got around to reading it Tuesday night. According to Amazon it’s 320 pages, and I sort of remember that, but some of that is table of contents and biographies and cast and such.
Because, when it comes down to it, it’s a script you know.
Scripts read somewhat differently than novels, although not a lot. To be honest with you, once I’m a handful of pages into either my mind’s eye takes over and it all sort of flows with words and voices and images of the setting and they feel about the same, except scripts go a teeny bit faster. I read quickly anyway, but normally 320 pages would probably have taken me closer to 5 or 6 hours, and it did not take me nearly that long.
I enjoyed it. I had seen some things on the internet (spoilers) about specific people missing from the book and how that was important/horrible/weird, but in one case specifically they aren’t “missing” they’re just … off-stage. And the characters on-stage react to their existence very much as if they’re part of the world, and in fact, important there. In a play, this is considered normal and is a useful device. In a book, it’s somehow less common (although honestly still happens, but I think people don’t think about it with characters who once had speaking parts and somehow don’t now in this book).
I got to thinking about it though, and I think I’ve been reading scripts since I was either 5 or 6 years old. That I can remember, at least. Mom and Dad had the collected works of Shakespeare in the house, of course, but Daddy had shelves of scripts. I still own some, in fact. I was in an original children’s play as a very small child. And in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as an older child. And Murder in the Cathedral as a teenager. Not to mention plays for school, like Lilies in the Field and others I can’t currently recall. I didn’t particularly like being up on stage, in front of people, but I liked playing a part. And I really loved helping with set creation and lighting and talking about costuming choices and blocking; so I enjoyed reading scene direction.
All of that meant that I have very clear ideas and opinions about what the characters in The Cursed Child look like. And how some of the story line would force some interesting costume changes. (I’m particularly fond of Hermione and Ron in one bit, I’d love to see that live and interpreted on stage!) I have a feeling for where they’d be on stage, and where they were in the universe of Harry Potter. It felt as fleshed out, in many ways, as the books. Perhaps this worked because I’m already familiar with the universe? I think it must be that, to a large degree.
It does make me miss Mom and Dad more, though. I can’t recall if Daddy liked the Harry Potter universe or not. He didn’t read long form for fun all that often, although it did sometimes happen. But he watched a pretty wide variety of television and movies and they would have been within the realm of things he’d be interested in. Mom I know loved the books and movies well enough that she had a favorite line.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
She’d hand written it, copying out of the book, and kept it on her desk from having fallen in love with it until she died. And I think she’d have been very interested in this installment. Plus, I could have talked to them about the mechanics of reading the different formats and how that feels in your own head, which would have been really good. Most of the time, when I miss my parents, it has less to do with wanting them to fix a thing, or know about an event, and more to do with wanting to talk with them about small daily things and things that made me think of them, and of course, to get hugs and just see them with my eyes again.
I think Rowling understands those feelings so much. And in the end, she explores it quite well in this book. I’ve already lent my copy out to a co-worker, who expressed an interest after she discovered I’d read it the night before. I really hope she enjoys it.
I have a Facebook account. A lot of people do, anymore. It hung on better than MySpace and continues to adapt and suck in other websites and spin them and twist them into its own useful web. If I allowed it to, I could cross-post this blog there. Sometimes, I rather hate Facebook. Somehow, the newsfeed has shifted over the years to become a graffiti wall on a college campus. People post funny comics, neat flyers about music and art shows coming up, and diatribes about whatever they like. And sometimes they yell at each other. It’s both anonymous, because you aren’t actually face to face, and not. I keep threatening to back off and just use it as a way of keeping up with distant relatives and then something will happen and I get sucked back in. Sometimes, there are funny things there, you see. Sometimes there are things that make me think.
And sometimes there are the rabbit holes. Someone posted a picture of a newspaper clipping, unattributed, with the in-set quote: “People need art in their houses. They don’t need Bed Bath and Beyond dentist-office art. They need weird stuff.” Ezra Croft, art show producer And I thought, well, who is Ezra Croft? What art show? And of course, I liked the photo that was shared by my friend, because really, I agree. Although I do have some Bed Bath and Beyond dentist-office stuff, because sometimes that’s just weird and cool too.
In our home, we have photographs. Yes, family photographs, but also photographs my dad took and had blown up of the sun setting through the field and trees, and a street lamp in the fog through one of the bois d’arc trees. They’re a matched pair, and I have the vertical set. Another sister has the horizontal set. He couldn’t decide which print he liked better you see. I display them both because he took them, and because I like them.
We have prints. Upstairs in the guest room I have prints of winged cats and butterfly winged dragons. I have beautiful anthropomorphic ladies my talented friend created. I have a small print on the nightstand of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet. I have a print by Ursula Vernon that came with her book Digger that I helped support with Kickstarter. Downstairs I have prints of Neil Gaiman quotes, gifts, illustrated by David Mack and Chris Riddell. I have a painting of a silo, hay barn and a small house that my father created years ago. I have metallic and a wooden Kokopelli figures, piping back to back around a corner from each other. I have wind chimes that only sing when the cats tap their pendants, because they’re inside and never feel the breeze. I have a blown glass dragon, a painted paper rhino and a panther, and a piece of Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass. On the stairwell a piece of set from a play hangs on the wall, and in the bathroom a self-portrait of my father as a clown. In my mother’s glass secretary cabinet there are small knick-knacks of a wide variety; from an onyx Madonna to an Under Milkwood miniature to a small weyr of dragons. And rocks. There are of course rocks and sea shells scattered about the house. And I haven’t even gotten to the things with words on that hang in the house, be they in English or languages I don’t read. Scrolls found and kept because they were lovely.
For me, it’s all unique art, but I’m not sure any of it is weird, you see. Because it all means something to me. If you ask me why I have it, invariably the answer is because it was beautiful, and I wanted it. Or some pieces, simply because “my parents had it in their home, and I loved them… and it.” Like the portrait of my parents kissing under a bridge in Pittsburgh, near Three Rivers, framed perfectly, that my uncle took and someone had blown up and framed. Or the prayer that was framed, that was found in a church, that was given to my mother, and the words are lovely, even if I no longer feel particularly Catholic.
I was thinking about these, and others not mentioned, when I stumbled back over the quote and tracked it down. It was in the San Francisco Chronicle, an article written just the 28th of July, about Ezra Croft, who had an art show dedicated to Bill Murray, the comedian. Mostly, it appears to be homages to the actor. The fun thing is, the quote from Mr. Croft? When asked where his day job is? It’s Bed Bath and Beyond. What I took away from the article was that what he really wanted was art to be about connection. Well, he wanted the city’s connection and quirkiness to be back. And maybe, just a little bit, when we see a Peanuts cartoon strip with Lucy’s Psychiatry Booth reimagined as Cthulu’s Psychological Trauma Booth, or other random things on Facebook, some of that connection occurs and keeps some of us there longer.
Then again, for me, art has always been about connection. So perhaps, my art is and always has been just a little bit weird, by those standards.
I’m very okay with that. I like the comfort that weirdness brings.
Sometimes, like most people who lost their parents too young, I wish they were still around.
For me, it’s usually when a niece or my nephew does something awesome. Or just plain exists. My youngest niece occasionally takes my breath away in pictures my sister takes, where a gesture or a knowing side-eye smirk at the camera or just a sweet smile reminds me so much of my mother. The fact that both of the girls are all about the glitter and pink would amuse the heck out of mom, as well. None of us were particularly girly as kids. I guess it skips a generation. Sometimes my nephew does sweet things that reminds me of our dad, and then I want both parents to be able to see. Dad’s been gone longer, and it takes different things to make me want to show him things. More often it’s artistic or light (the sunset, the sunrise, the way light is breaking through clouds and bouncing back off water to bounce again like a giant soft fill) or just landscaping. Sometimes I draw something well enough I just wish I could share.
Or there’s a movie I want them to see. Or a musical taking the world by storm. Or a game. Or any number of things really. Sometimes I just want to ask “Hey, how did you make this dish” or “You know, I think Sister would love to touch base with you about something, but she’s probably been too busy to call” or “come visit! I want you to meet my sweetheart so much”.
Mom’s birthday is tomorrow. She would have been 70. A grandmother of 3 smart and beautiful kiddos. There are new fur-babies in our lives and we’ve lost some she knew and cared about. I’ve gotten re-married; and she would be so pleased, relieved and content to know that. At least she got to know him. We’re looking at buying a house, before the year is up. She’d be so happy we’ve been able to save. She’d be happy knowing that she’s helped make that possible. She’d be totally clueless about my work, and she’d find it completely hilarious (as do I) that I mostly work in accounting when I detest math in general as annoying and nonsensical. She’d be happy that my sweetie’s work situation has gone back to a field he prefers and that he’s doing well in it.
There would be things she’d worry about, because of course she’d worry. She’s a mom. Same for dad.
For now, I’m going to focus on hoping she’s somehow aware of the good things coming up and happening. Happy birthday, a little early, mom. I love you.
I have two posts sitting in my Drafts folder right this moment talking about attraction. One of them laments the fact that I seem to occasionally fall for people with personality traits that I have a hard time working with. The other discusses physical types and whether or not I have one.
Both of them dance around my past experiences (and inexperiences).
I’m married, again. I’m happy. (Which is… so awesome. I have a hard time putting into coherent words how awesome it is.) I’ve been married before.
I have never, ever, in my whole life, dated lightly. I have flirted lightly, and attempted to be clear with my lack of actual intention in those cases.
I mull things over when I can’t sleep, you see.
Why do I not seem to have a specific “type” of guy that I’m attracted to? Mostly, they’re taller, but not always. (Plus, at just a smidge under 5’3″, being taller than me is hardly a challenge.) Some are very slender and graceful, others aren’t. Some are incredibly charismatic, others are almost painfully shy in large groups. Some see things in strict black and white truths, while others are more willing to discuss the complications that make different things true for different people. The only thing I can think of that most of the men I’ve been attracted to have in common is that when they smile, their eyes crinkle up at the corners, even if their lips move hardly at all. I like curiosity. I like intelligence. I like focus. I like empathy. I like kindness.
And yet, the women I’ve flirted with, well. Those are more type specific. Incredibly feminine curves. Pixie-cuts. Vibrant colors of hair. Extreme blondes. Deep chocolate red hair. Fire-haired goddesses. Women full of sass. Women who are not me. Not entirely my opposite, but definitely not me.
I grew up, at a certain point (let’s be honest, sometime around puberty) learning to fear other women, who seemed to see each other as competition for everything. Men, jobs, scholarships, the next thing. And yet, part of me wanted desperately to be able to be friendly with them. Or, on a few rare occasions, maybe more. I’ve gotten over the fearing part, and have even re-learned how to be friendly with women again.
The thing is, part of me still doesn’t quite trust the way I did as a kid. I want to, and for a while I do, especially new friends on-line. But in person? In person I see body language that suggests a dozen small fibs told, and my own walls go up to protect myself from getting hurt again.
If someone had asked 18 year old me if I’d be better at making friends at 42, I … think I would have said “I hope so, but … maybe not. It depends.” Because honestly, I’ve always been a thoughtful, honest, literal thing.
I want to be optimistic, but… at some point, some part of me always remembers the moments that someone I truly liked expressed how odd, wrong, and not attractive I was. So. It’s hard to share when I like someone, even for platonic reasons, now.
Which brings me back to being so happy in my current marriage: he encourages me to try. All kinds of things: things that are scary to me (athletic physical things! new jobs!); things that I liked once upon a time, but maybe let go (playing games with friends! drawing! writing! experimenting with baking!); and things that are both (going out and socializing and making new friends… inviting them to our home).
I may not be good at anything like that still, but I am still trying. And those two posts? Well. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll flesh them out better some other time. But I think this is the post that I’ve been trying to get out for the last couple weeks.