Thursday, August 30, 2007

A good nap

It will be no surprise to anyone who has read this blog before that I have some issues with sleep. Getting to sleep, staying asleep, all the things that involve or revolve around or evolve into sleep are problematic for me.

Lately I'm having some damned fine sleep. Go figure!

It may well simply boil down to being happy. It may also be a result of the fact that I got hit with a crummy summer cold the other day. I'm going to give credit to the happy. Or maybe I should call it a contented happy. How the hell do I define levels of happiness? Oy! I think it may be about finding a component of reassurance and safety that was not so pronounced before. Despite having those feelings of "everything is great, I'm happy" there seem to have been bits I was not quite latching onto.

My ability to trust is somewhat underdeveloped.

There are not many people I trust all the way down to the ground. There are a few. That's probably all anyone needs. I think allowing myself to trust just one more, someone who I instinctively knew I could trust (way back in the days when I still trusted myself above all others), may have been all I needed to be able to close my eyes and actually let myself fall asleep. And STAY asleep for more than 2 hours at a clip.

This probably doesn't make any sense. I think I may have a teeny bit of a fever. I sure as hell have a raging sore throat. But I'm so amazed by the fact that I'm sleeping - and sleeping well - lately that I felt compelled to share.

A lifetime of insomnia may not be gone for good, but for now it's taking a hiatus. I'm going to take advantage - it's nap time!!!

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz-ahem-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, August 27, 2007

Our shared despair

Last month one of my bloggy friends, Bella, posted about a movie called The Bridge. It is a documentary about people committing suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

I finally had an opportunity to see this film this weekend. My feelings on it are, as you might imagine, mixed.

I applaud the filmmakers focusing on the topic of suicide, as this is a subject I am clearly interested in; but I'm not sure I quite understand the point of making it. Of course anything that brings this 'taboo' subject out into the sunlight is fine by me - but I don't know that it actually educates. Maybe I'm too close to it, maybe for people who have no prior brushes with suicidal thoughts or suicides among their friends or family would find it a good introduction. But.... I dunno.

I bring it up here not so much to encourage anyone to watch it, because as I said, it's not particularly educational, but more to describe what watching it did to me, emotionally.

Babies, I wept.

Oh not the entire time, but there were moments I just bawled. The one thing that was pointed out, not in the film itself but in a supplementary feature on the 'making of' which is included on the DVD, is that the filmmakers who were staking out the bridge for a year and filming actual jumpers all noted something interesting. When they began the project they didn't know what they were watching for: until they knew. It seems they would watch anyone who looked agitated or furtive as they might be potential jumpers. But they never knew exactly who might try (or succeed in) jumping. Until they saw someone who truly was going to do it. And they KNEW the minute they saw them. It seems instinct kicked in. They couldn't put a name to it, but they knew "this is a jumper". To their credit, when they could do so they called the Bridge and alerted the officials who could interceed and hopefully stop the attempted jump - but they didn't always have enough forwarning to get help out in time.

The interesting thing here is how the filmmakers reacted.

In this supplemental 'making of' film they described the jumpers they caught on tape and how they sensed that they would jump. Then they described how they felt. All of them expressed a sense of loss and shock, almost devastation, that would stay with them always. The witnesses who were on the bridge and saw jumpers expressed a similar viewpoint.

I find this fascinating.

The family and friends of the jumpers who were interviewed appeared cut off from the stories they related, yet the strangers who were witnesses to the jumps are forever marked by the experience.

It makes me wonder about instinct, the shared subconscious and how incidents like this prove how truly connected we all are. It also makes me wonder why it takes such extreme circumstances to highlight it and make us aware of that connection. We are individuals, true, but we are joined in ways we do not understand. Not joined simply by being members of the same species. Not joined by living in similar circumstances. Joined at a completely visceral level, a spiritual level that, if we explore it, might be the one thing that could save us all. We are all tiny parts of a greater whole and if we could join hands in love instead of trying to kill each other what wonders could we perform? What sufferings could we not cure?

Yeah I know, one minute it's Mothra videos and the next it's Jungian theory, but we're all made up of so many little quirks, aren't we?

The despair someone feels when they contemplate suicide is so profound, and so all-encompassing, it isolates them from that connection to the world, to other people - especially to those closest to them. Yet it is possible for the outside world to feel and empathize with their pain and hopelessness and offer a hand in comfort. For me it was a shock. A complete and utter shock to realize that I was not the only human on the planet who had felt the type of pain I was in. It was that recognition that startled me out of my despair just long enough to get the help I needed. And as I've said here before, that help came from a total stranger.

When I hear stories like the ones told in The Bridge I am reminded of that connection, and that feeling of "oh... I'm not really alone here". We are none of us as alone as we think we are when we hurt so badly that the only option we can see is death. We're really never alone. We are all here together, and we are all joined far more fully than we realize.

I read on the 'net this morning about Owen Wilson being hospitalized and that it may have been a suicide attempt. It breaks my heart. We look at someone like this and think "what does he have to feel despair about?" My answer would be: what do any one of us have to feel despair about? I know as well as anyone just how easy it is to hide those feelings of self-hatred and sorrow from the people closest to me. Sometimes it takes a stranger to sense that pain and be open to our deeper instincts, the ones that let us see that despite our differences the stranger next to us is more like us than we ever dreamed.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

I remember when I was a kid getting a fortune cookie was a big deal. It was not just a cookie but a cookie with a toy surprise inside! (Yes, I enjoy Cracker Jack's too, don't distract me with thoughts of candy-covered popcorn!) True, a fortune is not, strictly speaking, a toy but the anticipation of what it might say was almost as good as a toy.

Over the years I have gone through phases of eating the cookie, eating a bite of the cookie, or passing on the cookie altogether and saving it for my dog, but I always look forward to a great fortune whether I'm eating the cookie or not. They seem to be more "eh, what now?" than fortunes. In fact they tend to be more advice than actual fortunes nowadays. Still I go through periods of having to clean off the front of my refrigerator, where I save fortunes under a little magnet with a picture of Charlie Chaplin on it, because they do pile up. I like to save the fortunes that sound like good life advice - even though I know they are being written by some overworked, underpaid copy writer who just wants to slog through his day and get outta there.

So sometimes you get something totally nonsensical (the goose flies at midnight). Sometimes you get a fortune that turns out to be scary prophetic.

A few weeks ago someone quite dear to me got a fortune cookie and in passing conversation read it to me. It said:



And that means what exactly?

Yeah. Well. Oddly enough it means a great deal.

In retrospect it says more about defeating your inner fears than I could express in endless postings here, and says it concisely. And poetically. Really, picture it: you're Wile E. Coyote chasing that Road Runner... you take a step, you float above the chasm. Before you can take that second step you're falling to the ground despite your brand-new set of Acme wings.

It takes a big step to get across to the good stuff.

Now I have been a proponent of baby steps for a long time, simply because huge enormous changes seem to be part and parcel of my mental illness. Big moves, huge gestures with no forethought, no planning, simply 'oh let's go to London for the weekend! - TOMORROW! (of course I did that when I didn't have a pot to piss in, nor a window to throw it out of which is WHY it was a big mania-induced jump). Things like that. Big steps, no small jumps. To avoid over stimulation, or triggering a bit of mania - which might lead to depression - it seems better for me to go with the baby steps. Little inches towards wellness, little steps to being whole, a slow journey but worthwhile.

For the past few years I've been taking LOTS of baby steps. Purposeful, in the right direction, and without much of a sprint. This has worked well for me and has kept me happy, sane and in a place of peace and wonder instead of one of turmoil (for the most part).

However.

It seems the fortune cookie wasn't screwing around. After years of coasting on life is good, everything is fabulous and good lord am I glad I didn't kill myself I found myself at the edge of an enormous, scary-assed chasm. Not a pair of Acme wings to be seen. The choices were run back, go where I knew it was safe, knew I was happy and secure and peaceful - or face my seemingly insurmountable fears and leap across that puppy, wingless and freaking out, to find something even more amazing.

One of my all-time biggest fears was of the water: then I learned to swim.

The two big fears I have now? Becoming sick again and trusting someone to love me. I think I can work the balance of staying healthy. I'm damned determined to, that's for sure. The second one? That's a damned big chasm, we're talking gaping maw, abyss-like depths below. And I've often tried to cross it in two (or 10) small jumps. Hasn't worked out so well. In fact, I'd have to say it was wrought with horrific failures all around.

This was not a fear I ever anticipated conquering - and while the prospect didn't exactly delight me, I was okay with it. Actually I'm not sure I'll ever fully beat this thing, but I'm not going to negate the possibility. And I did take a gigantic step. All those baby steps leading there made that possible. There may be more chasms to come... I may not have the courage to cross them, but then again, I'm not the best judge of that.

Life is chock full of scary, terrifying things. But if we can fight our fears and push through to the other side, we find that we really are our own worst enemies. We talk ourselves out of the good stuff because it's so terrifying to take the risk of having it... which in truth is the risk of losing it. But our fears kill us a little bit at a time, our strength is in fighting our fear. Losing what we feared to obtain is painful, but the delight of having it is so beautiful it feeds our souls.

I'm not entirely sure where I'm going. I'm not sure I won't be hurt. That's not something you can get a guarantee on. But I'm feeling pretty damned brave about right now. And I'm trying to keep the balance of right here, right now and enjoy that more than worrying about what might be. I have to tell you, that's a new strategy for me. And it feels okay. Still a bit scary, but not nearly as scary as jumping the span of that chasm - and a helluva lot less scary than going backwards.

The next time I get a fortune cookie: no matter how silly it sounds, it's going on the fridge and I'm following its advice. Of course if it says the goose flies at midnight I'm gonna need some help interpreting what that advice means. Hopefully someone will lend a hand. I'm going to trust that they will.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Niagaras - Friday - Brooklyn - Be There!!

PLACE - Magnolia Restaurant & Bar
486 6th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn
718-369-4814

When - THIS Friday, August 24th

TIME - 9:30 PM sharp - 2 shows!

COST - FREE!



No complaints about the quality of the vids here please. This is just a sample. You want quality? Go to the show, you'll get quality!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

oh the boredom...

Oh no, not me: I'm about as far from bored as is humanly possible. Basil, however, is another story. Can you feel the sigh coming out of him? Seriously.

This is not his usual dignified pose, and as soon as the picture was taken he was up and brushing off his metaphysical tuxedo. Poor guy's a bit arthritic, which makes this position he's in here all the more tragically pathetic. But I started him on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is safe for dogs and not long after this photo he was up and, if not overly perky, definitely seems to be improved!

See this look? This is the sort of 'take' he usually reserves for me. This was actually the second half of a double-take he was giving the cat who was grooming himself. I kid you not, the dog is a reincarnated borscht-belt comedian. This is what I live with.


The great thing about the new meds he's getting is they seem to be working. And quickly! He even wanted to go out today a few hours after the first dose. IN the daylight!! It's cold and drizzly and he still wanted to go out. This is such a relief I can't describe it. I imagine it's a relief to him as well. Poor guy. Hey wait just a... he's getting all these drugs and supplements enclosed in gobs of yummy peanut butter... hmmmm. I think he may not be hating that so much.

As far as how I'm doing, please know that I am in one helluva a happy place right now. A heretofore unknown happy place in a world I thought was pretty god-damned happy and I am more shocked than anyone could be. I am just really tired and preoccupied, I will be posting something more substantial soon. Honest I promise! But for the moment, I give you my photogenic pup to stand in for me. He's getting a little bored with my giddy giggling around the house, but as long as the peanut butter keeps coming, I think he'll bear with me. I hope you will too. It's all so damned good 'round here.

Oh - complete topic switch - if you would, keep in your good thoughts the wonderful people of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico as they brave hurricane Dean. Thank you!

Monday, August 20, 2007

I love these kookie-kids

I do love the Godzilla stuff. I thought I'd share a bit of Mothra-mania I found on youtube.




Back with the regularly scheduled blog-stuff soon.

No really, I'm serious!

Until then, remember: YOU'RE ALIVE! And so am I. And isn't it great??? You bet!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Aieeeeee!

I'm crazy busy but I will be posting soon!

Promise!!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Reflections on healing

When you have a physical ailment, a cold, the flu, a broken bone, advice for healing is often the same: rest, lots of liquids, and of course, more rest. And those are indeed the basics. The body has a great capacity for healing itself if you give it a chance. Sure sometimes you need more: surgery, medications, but the basics always remain. Sleep. Hydrate.

When the problem is emotional things become slightly trickier. Rest, hydration: these are still the mainstays to healing - but when your illness is emotional you also have to work.

Sucks, don't it?

Throughout a lifetime of emotional issues I have often wished that simply sleeping (well. Sleeping is simple for some) and drinking lots of water would just magically make all the bad go away. Unfortunately it doesn't. In fact too much sleep can just accentuate Depression. Oh the wackiness of brain chemistry. Balance, balance and a little more balance - that's what the ol' computer in our skull requires. Sadly, that balance is not so easily attained as, say, balancing on a bicycle. But like riding a bicycle it requires a constant series of tweaking to maintain the balance. For some that means readjusting medications every few months, which is a bitch and I'm grateful not to have had to deal with that. I got very, very lucky in that I responded beautifully to Zoloft. But not everyone does and so the tweaking of dosages and of various chemicals is necessary.

For me the balance is about me doing my own work. While it's less fraught with side-effects than medications, it's still tough. Mainly because it requires me to actually focus and be aware of myself and what patterns I might slip into and what habits I need to avoid and force myself to change.

This, my dears, sucks hard.

It sucks because it is hard, and because it's scary as hell.

For the past (nearly) three years I have been working on the most general levels of survival. That sounds like I've been hanging on by a thread - that's not what I mean. I mean learning to be happy in the broadest sense. Learning to accept the world as it is, learning to accept myself as I am, and learning to appreciate it all. Every wonderful and awful thing. It also means learning to relax and not stress over the future or the past and be here now (as my favorite Beatle would say).

I can say with total confidence that the past (nearly) three years have been the best of my life: purely because of finding that appreciation of the now and the acceptance of all the good and bad that is being alive. I have done things I would never have imagined I could or would do in this time of healing. I have found that I can actually LIKE myself - even while I'm pissed at myself for something stupid. I have found that just stopping and breathing is totally okay - and sometimes it's the only thing to do. I'm still working on not beating myself up for every little thing, and honestly I'm much better about letting go of my missteps and mistakes - being more appropriate in my responses to my own internal screw-ups. More forgiving of myself.

The thing about balance is that there is always something that will come along that will force you to make those adjustments. Some monkey in the wrench if you will. It can be a little thing that reminds you of something that hurt you in the past, something you didn't even realize you were holding onto until it smacks you in the head. Or it can be something bigger and a lot weightier that scares the ever-lovin' crap out of you to a degree you did not anticipate at all.

That's when you realize you've been coasting. Okay, enough of the third person. That's when I realize I have been coasting. Yes, I did a lot of balance-adjusting over the past (nearly) three years and not all of it was particularly easy, and I managed - but I find now that there has been a big ol' elephant sitting in my living room just waiting for me to notice him. Hello, Elephant, yes, I see you now - you can stop dancing around and waving. Damn. Put down the flag already, Pal, I said I see you!

It may be that this is the biggest balancing act I'll have to face. It may not be. Right now it is, and I have to admit there is a very large part of me that wishes I could just bury my head in a book and pretend it's not there. But it's hard to ignore a cheerfully adorable pachyderm that wants to snuggle with you. At least it's hard for me. I've always been very partial to elephants.

So here I am approaching the end of my self-assessed three-years and I'll be healthy and 'normal' mark thinking I've got it all together and I find I've been slacking. And the biggest, most important part of my "get your shit together, Sybil" has finally decided to pop up and (metaphorically) bite me on the ass.

I didn't learn to ride a bicycle until I was 13. I taught myself in secret (long story) and loved it. Thirty years later I find I have to learn to ride a different kind of bicycle, and unlearn the less than graceful way I used to ride. I have to remember how exhilarating it was to learn how to ride when I was 13, and how liberating it was when I could finally do it and maintain my balance. Maybe remembering that will make re-learning easier. . . of course, I never rode a bicycle with an elephant's help before so this should be interesting. Scary. But interesting.

Monday, August 13, 2007

When Good Dogs Eat Junk Food

There are some things I know well enough about myself to avoid. Baking cupcakes for instance. I know it's only 'safe' to make them when I have a place to give 'em away. So I only make them on Thursdays knowing full well I can get at least 7 of them out of the house the next day without actually eating them myself. I meet some friends every Friday and I use them as cupcake guinea pigs. Yes, I'm still left to contend with 5 but it's better than 12.

I also know that my all-time biggest weakness in the 'don't eat that you dope' category are potato chips. Plain old ordinary Lays potato chips. It's true: you can't eat just one. Well I certainly can't. So I don't buy them. Except sometimes... that potato chip crack dealer on the corner will waylay me and I find myself shocked to be in possession of an all to delectable bag of potato-y goodness.

It is at that point that I call on the assistance of my faithful furries. Lays potato chips seem to be crack to them as well. Basil is insistent about getting some - Nick will just poke a paw into the bag, or actually try to pull them out of my hand. I'm SURE he does it to save me from the ravages of grease and starch. Yeah. Right.

I know they aren't the best things for the boys, any more than they are for me, but every now and then my genetics win out - I'm doubly doomed you see. Irish and Polish? How the hell am I supposed to deflect the genetic imperative that says EAT POTATOES? I mean, c'mon. Seriously. And when I'm eating them, so are the critters.

Today we had an incident after a bag that had somehow found its way into my apartment the other day was finally empty. The incident was that Basil felt compelled to make sure there was not one speck of salt, oil or potato crumb left in the bag. Fine, I thought. Let him play with the bag, it makes him happy. I was reading and not paying too much attention to what he was doing with the bag. Though I heard the crinkling and knew he was still working on it. Persistent pup I have here.

Then something made me look over at him. And then my evil side said "grab the camera".

His head was stuck in the bag. And I was not only laughing, but taking photos.
Sometimes I'm a cruel mom.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Gringos in Mexico - Playa Del Carmen and A Mayan Sacrifice

That's me wondering why I'm STILL posting about this trip....
maybe it's the tequila.

It's unlikely that anyone has dragged out a description of a trip for longer than I am doing here (without being being bludgeoned by friends who were sick and tired of it, that is). However, long-windedness will not deter me! (Certainly never has before.)

Since the days all flowed together, day upon day of beautiful sunrises, one gorgeous day of quiet and escapism after another, eventually all became one and I'm not sure what we did on any given day I'm going to lump our quickie excursion into the town of Playa Del Carmen and the fabulous Mayan Sacrifice show at Lafitte into the same day - although I'm sure they did NOT happen on the same day. Do you care? Of course not, I'm just being anal. Typical.

In Playa we just wandered and shopped for a couple of hours. Though I am sad to say so many of the fun stores that were there on my last trip have closed and/or moved due to the extensive construction that is taking place so 'shopping' was limited.

Seems no matter where you are in the world, you'll find pizza.
Playa has become a wee bit more tourista than I recall, even from my last trip less than a year ago. I know the burgeoning economic growth is great for the people who live and work here, so who am I to say anything, but I can't help a twinge of regret seeing a Häagen-Dazs shop here. There's also a Burger King... but I don't like to dwell.

Next is a Talavera tile store. Every piece is more beautiful and colorful than the next. Displayed outside on either side of the steps are these sinks - gotta admit I covet these things, big time. I have an eBay notification set up so that when there are new ones available I get an email. But all I can do is look. The way the sink is set up in my apartment these just wouldn't work. But I can dream. On the plus side: because I can't buy one any way, I don't ever have to choose one pattern over another. (Though I'm really partial to anything with suns and moons.)
I bought a fabulous mirror here - and I was lucky to have had an easy choice:


I love me some geckos, even on tiles. Gary got a similar one with sunflowers that is just delicious but, sadly, I don't have a photo of that one.

When we were through shopping we had some time to kill while we waited for our ride back to Lafitte. As it turned out the pick up spot was directly in front of a little restaurant that was having a happy hour. We plopped ourselves down and splurged on "2 for $5" margaritas. Possibly the strongest drinks we had on the whole trip. And who could resist these funky hot-pink glasses? Happily neither of us thought about the fact that these were made with ice... who knows if it was purified or not? Certainly not us! Though we kissed 'em up to god, they were great and nobody got sick. Yesssss!

Gary took this and the shot of me at the top with his cell phone! Not too shabby.


This adorable couple is Cal & Cindy (not their real names!) Those are the names we gave them, truth be told Gary came up with the names... to go with the back-story we made up for them because we will entertain ourselves. Look, what's more entertaining than your own imaginations? Okay, maybe a Niagaras' show. But other than that? Exactly.

They were terrifically fun and I'm glad we met them - I found Cal throwing the rubber spider into the pool in front of Gary particularly hilarious. Yeah, I'm kinda cruel that way. But c'mon, rubber spider? When is that not funny?!

One of the many, many wonderful things about Capitan Lafitte is that they provide live entertainment in the evenings. The mariachis are my particular favorite, but I love the Mayan Sacrifice show as well. Lots of adorable, half-nekkid men wearing body paint and feathers... okay now we're going back to Niagaras territory. Sorry. I drift. I drift.


This young woman isn't looking too happy, but then, she IS the object of the sacrifice so I don't suppose a big-sunny smile would really be appropriate, would it?



Here you can watch a quick 30 seconds to get some of the flavor of the show. I find this tune really infectious.

One of the Mayan Sacrifice dancers in a reflective moment.


I have sooo many more photos (and video) I'd love to post, but I think I'd better quit before I end up posting all 900+ photos.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

No Global Warming, huh?

F2 Tornado in Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

A Tornado.

In New York.

Global Warming?

Nahhhh. Couldn't be.

Right.

*sigh*

More Mexico is coming, honest!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Impetus of Thought

It seems like it's been a bit too long since I ruminated here on the original purpose of this blog. I've been so busy indulging in my happy places that I've been letting the road that got me to those places drift away into the background. Which, I must admit, is good for me. But recently I was talking to a dear old friend who I have not heard from in an estimated 4 billion years (yes, that's an exaggeration, it's only been a million years but 4 billion sounds funnier). In the conversation, as we were catching up, it was natural that the topics of my ups and downs (if I may be so blasé) should come up. And these discussions have set me to thinking. Oh no, Joy's been thinking again everyone: DUCK!

He has been through his own ups and downs, as everyone has, and he mentioned that he actually embraced all his emotions: the good and the bad. (Yes, I'm talking about YOU, deflate-deflate!) I think this is a wonderful thing. To be able to accept yourself, accept and embrace, the things that make you unique. When I look back on my various episodes of blackness I do know that they all had a part in making me who I am now, so they are not to be dismissed. But I don't know that I actually embrace them. I don't know that it is safe for me to do so.

A verrrrrry long time ago I was speaking to someone who also endured some hellish depressions and I put forth my feeling that, despite the pain these episodes brought us, there is also something bordering on pleasure inherent in them. That's not something I've spoken of since, as that theory was rebuffed entirely - but I'm going to say it again, because I still believe it to be true. Despite the pain, there is something familiar and comforting in returning to that darkness that makes it addicting, and yes, that is pleasurable. But also destructive and terrifying. My understanding is that heroin addiction also has quite a pleasurable draw - doesn't mean it's something I want to be a part of.

To discuss my darker times, (and despite enjoying my manic episodes - for the most part - I do include them when I say darker times) in anything but an intellectual or humorous manner, runs me the risk of actually recalling the feelings of those times - and by 'recall' I mean 'feel'. To feel that darkness again I fear, runs the risk of it taking hold. I hate to admit my cowardice about this, but my fear of going back to those dark places ever again is so intense, and being in those places so dangerous to my life, that I don't know if this is a fear I will ever overcome. Or in fact one that I ever want to overcome.

I've heard people espousing the theory that there is no such thing as mental illness. That it is hype. That it doesn't exist. I have two words in response to that.

BULL and SHIT.

While I agree that there are many roads to healing from mental illness - some pharmaceutical (which is the only thing that worked for me), some more holistic, some situational, some physical or dietary this does NOT mean that mental illness does not exist. The sciences that explore brain chemistry and mental illnesses may be young, may not have all the answers, but that does not mean the illnesses they investigate are not real. The brain is part of the body - our bodies endure illnesses; to say there is no such thing as mental illness is supremely illogical. Just because someone may have spontaneously healed (i.e. their brain chemistry adjusted by natural means) does not negate that they were ill to begin with.

Sorry. That was a mini-rant.

Back on track now.

So while I feel the idea of embracing all your emotions is an excellent one, complete acceptance, very Zen and something to aspire to, I think that for me, for now, I must accept and embrace my better emotions and accept and give a hearty handshake from a safe distance to my less healthy ones. We'll see how that works. Maybe one day I'll feel secure enough to see if I can touch those darker places without getting sucked in. There may be things there that I need to remember and feel again (briefly), but that time is not now. And that is okay.

Now how's that for acceptance?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Gringos in Mexico - Tulum and a cenote (at last!)

Sunrise on the day we visited Tulum was all pinks and soft clouds.
This is the view of the dining room during sunrise - look how close the water is. That's a result of hurricanes.
I found these conch shells (and the cool red scallop) washed up on the beach that morning. First time I've ever found conch shells. I was thrilled with my haul!
This is typical breakfast at Lafitte. The watermelon was particularly sweet. Don't you love their place mats?

They say three is the charm, and it seems that is the case. Tulum is only about 45 minutes south of Capitan Lafitte, but I had not gotten my sorry butt down there until this third trip.

Gary really wanted to see Chichen Itza, but I had gone on my first visit to Mexico and knew that it was a serious side trip, which was not the real deterrent. What is a deterrent is that it is completely inland. That means no shade, no ocean breezes, Mexico in July. I did my best to dissuade him. I was so happy when, after a couple of hours in the sun at Tulum (which is on the water) he was able to agree for himself that Chichen Itza would have been unbearably hot. Because Tulum was crazy hot! And whether or not he actually believes me, having seen both places: Tulum is by far more beautiful. But one day I'm sure we'll go back and see Chichen Itza - in a cooler month!

There may be more history at Chichen Itza, but Tulum... oh my god. It's simply breathtaking. No photograph I could take would ever do it justice. The brilliance of the colors around you - the blue of the sky, the green of the trees and plants, the pops of pinks, purples and reds that are the flowers - are enough to leave you with your mouth hanging open, wondering how in the world anything can be so beautiful and still be real.

As in Chichen Itza, Tulum is home to many fat and sassy iguanas. These happy lizards bask in the sun and give the tourists bored, "oh, hello, yes we live here and you don't. Sucks to be you, huh?" looks that make you wonder who is really the one with the larger brain?
"Hola, Gringos. Now move along. I tire of you and your cameras!"


We had gotten a private driver through the tour desk at Lafitte. We were told he would be "English speaking, special for you" Well. Not so special. Not a word of English, and between Gary and I we had maybe 6 words of Spanish. But it was fine. The only thing about it that was a problem was that he was clearly a really nice kid and I would have loved to have been able to really converse with him. Though considering our mutual language barriers we did alright.
He's the one who took the shots of Gary and I together - but honestly, why didn't he blur the focus on me? ACK!! If ONLY I had more Spanish! That'll teach me to study more before I return to Mexico!

While we were driving back from our visit in the ruins of Tulum he asked us if we wanted to see a cenote. Well HELL, YES! We hadn't discussed a cenote with the tour director simply because we were pretty much pooped (yes, laying around napping will make you exhausted!) so we didn't want to schedule ourselves too much. But our guide suggested it and it seemed like a great idea to just make a quick stop on the drive back. I had never seen a cenote (yes, I too wonder what I did on those previous two trips) so I was really excited.

He pulled off the main highway onto an unmarked dirt road, made a right and pulled up next to a bus that was already there and parked. We got out of the car and were, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere. No other signs of life besides us and the bus.

We walked about 10 feet to an inauspicious clump of rocks that turned out to be a cave. We bravely followed our guide and this is was our reward:


The green rope you see near the left is a swing that people who swim here have set up.
The people from the bus were swimming, well not so much swimming as wading. But still, so nice.

The water was so clear it was invisible. This is a shot through the water. Maybe 3-4 feet deep.
Gary stepped in and the water barely made it to his knee. So of course I was also going in. You can see him if you blow it up. The shadows in the cave were not conducive to fine portraiture.

Did I mention the water was nearly invisible? Yeah. I had no depth perception whatsoever. I stepped in and *plunk* went in to the waist. Ah well... it gave everyone a good laugh. A pratfall will always transcend language barriers, so it was worth it. You see, Gary was smart enough to step onto a rock ledge. I was a few feet over and ... well. I have a gift for grace.

Later that night after a nap, and some ping-pong, Gary caught this sunset while I floated in the pool. That's looking back towards the entrance of Lafitte. Could it be prettier??

A beautiful end to our beautiful day in Tulum.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More Mexico!

Oh no, I'm not done yet. There are many more photos, many more stories.

While I prepare the next full installment in the saga "Gringos in Mexico" please enjoy the brilliant colors that are the flowers of Mexico. Some of these are from Lafitte and some are from Tulum. All of them are stunning. I wish I could have flowers like these at home.