The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

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Annual December Hiatus, Y’all

 

Dear Readers,

Once again,  I am taking the month of December off to focus on business (my busiest month) and also to settle in to our new place.

It’s going to take me a month to recover from the move!  As regular readers know,  we just moved.  It’s been a nightmare from beginning to end!  Things were delayed on the front end (NYC move) which made the move out of our weekend home a big rush.

It took nearly ten  hours to move out of our apartment in NYC, during a miserable ice and snowstorm that basically shut down the greater NYC area.  It took  seven hours of white knuckle driving to get to our hotel,  (normally would have taken two)  arriving at 4am!  Then, we had to wake up at six a.m. to meet the home seller to get the keys.  The movers were originally supposed to meet us at the house in the morning, but they, too, got caught in the storm so the move-in was delayed for 24 hours which was fine with us!  Gave us a day to rest up!

Then,  a week later, we had to move out of the weekend house where my husband also had a wood shop and an art studio.  So much stuff!!!   The unpaved hill was so icy and the turn into our driveway so sharp,  the mover couldn’t get his big truck up to the house.  This necessitated THREE smaller truckloads,  three trips.  over three days.  When it was finally over, we were so exhausted, we could barely walk, move, think.

And now the work of unpacking, painting, etc etc, begins.

So,  I’m really going to need at least a month to recuperate!   I will return in January,  hopefully with some new stories.

Until then, I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season.  Don’t forget,  the book makes a great gift! (hint, hint!)

With much love and in complete exhaustion,

-Adrienne

____

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne
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Way to Go

first published Nov 12, 2016

 

Az

Sometimes, when you are hurting, you just want to be with someone who loves you. You don’t necessarily have to say or hear those words, because even unspoken; it’s understood. Sometimes, when you are sad and confused; flailing, near drowning, in a stormy ocean, you need an anchor; someone to keep you from drifting out to sea. You can put on a brave face to the world, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone to hold you when you fall apart, away from judgment.

I had a lot of close acquaintances in my life — people I laughed with when times were good — but there were not too many who took my confession. I protected my fragility well. Not too many breached my walls.

I grew older, one by one, they started to die, leaving a landscape pocked with gaping chasms of loneliness. Gone were those precious few humans whose souls resonated with mine; who knew where the shattered pieces fit.

Soon, there was nobody left who knew me; nobody left who could look me in the eye and see clear down to my soul. I was old and alone. I wasn’t sick, but at such an age, infirmity can overtake you in the blink of an eye – a bad fall; a cold that becomes pneumonia; a stroke; the wear and tear of time on the body and then the final straw that snaps the back. I lived in dread of that day coming upon me. I would end up alone in some awful place where they put old people to die, surrounded by strangers who would take care of my body while ignoring my heart.

I couldn’t let that happen to myself.

There was nobody left who cared enough to warrant a note or a goodbye. Most would just see a sad end to an old person who had nothing left to live for.

But that’s not really how it was. Not exactly.

I didn’t kill myself because I had nothing to live for. I killed myself because I wanted to leave before I lost control of my own story. I didn’t want to lose my autonomy. That would have been worse than death.

Once the death spiral began, there would be no pulling out. Worse, there would be nobody who would save me from the horrible end. There was nobody left who loved me enough to pull the plug, disconnect the tubes; nobody to slip me too much morphine so I could go in peace.   No, I’d have to ride it out, counting the minutes until it would all be over.

That is not a way to die. This is one of the greatest tragedies of modern man, but if you took a survey among the living, it wouldn’t even make the list.

Only a handful of people were at the funeral. Some relatives were there out of respect (respect for what, I have no idea). A couple of good-time pals from the old days (who weren’t looking too great, themselves) Some hired religious figure, who’d never met me, to say a few blessings.

If I’d had pills, I would have used them, but in the end, I did it with gas. I wasn’t brave enough for violence. I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. I was serene and sure. In those last hours, and just until I lost consciousness, I really missed my dearest friends. But this time, it was tempered with the joy of knowing I would soon be with them all again.

____

—-

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne22

The Universe Has Its Own Plans

The Ashokan reservoir on a wet fall day

 

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the move has been delayed for at least a week so I beg your indulgence a bit longer.  Either the Universe (or our buyers’ mortgage company) has other plans for us.

Initially I was livid but I’ve mellowed out considerably, literally trusting that what is meant to be, will be.

Meanwhile, I can feel the narrators “nibbling” at the edges of my consciousness.  They want to tell their stories but I’m too scattered and distracted by other things, both personal and political, to give them my full attention.

I’ll lie in bed before dozing off, and I’ll get an image or the first line of a story, and then suddenly my mind will shift to the pages-long checklist of all the things I have to do before and after the move.

So unless these narrators can lift boxes and move furniture, they’re going to have to wait.  But, it’s not as if they’re in a rush…they ARE in the eternal afterlife, after all.

Once we’re settled in, I promise to be much more mellow, and hopefully I’ll soon have a bunch of new stories to share with you going forward.  (We’re moving to the Woodstock, NY area which is Mellow Central. Even the wild animals are laid back. The bears will give you a “Namaste” before mauling you.)

Thanks again for your patience.

-Adrienne

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Day!

Hey All,

Please be patient with me for a couple of weeks! We’re moving on Monday and as you might imagine, I’m a bit scattered and stressed out!  (Sometimes I WISH I could live in an alternate reality!)

If you can spare some positive energy, please send it my way.

Back atcha as soon as I can breathe again!

Love to all!

-Adrienne

Show Me the Place

 

leonard

first published Sept 25, 2015

A post from me:

Today is  Yom Kippur. Although it’s been many decades since I observed the Day of Atonement in any traditional sense,  this year I spent all day listening  Leonard Cohen, who is, after all, a great rabbi.  Actually,  I listened to one song in particular  again…and again…and again, each time hearing it anew. The song, “Show Me The Place” is from the Old Ideas album.   I found myself moved more deeply than  any synagogue service or rabbi ever could.

LISTEN

The song addresses the struggle shared by so many of us; of trying to remain “in the light” while dealing with the necessary mundanities of real life – earning a living, having to interact with those who test our ability to forgive, to curb our anger at life’s indignities and injustices.

Most of Leonard Cohen’s work deals with his own quest for peace through love and spirituality; his struggle to overcome the depression, self-loathing, fear, cowardice, shame and sense of unworthiness which have plagued his entire life. His songs have always been filled with imagery of submission and slavery and supplication.

“Oh, take this longing from my tongue; whatever useless things these hands have done.”

        –Take This Longing  

I asked my father I said, ‘Father change my name’. The one I’m using now it’s covered up with fear and filth and cowardice and shame.”

     Lover, Lover, Lover.

In the 90s, he spent five years in a Buddhist monastery, where he eventually became an ordained monk. He credits this time of study and the Buddhist philosophy as having helped him greatly to understand his own pain and to ameliorate some of his emotional suffering.

By the late 90s, he was in a good place.  Then in his 60s, he had ample income from his music, and was able to devote his time to writing and recording, living a peaceful life of meditation and introspection  writing about the things that moved him without financial worry, insulated from many real world distractions.

In 2004, he discovered that his long-time manager, a trusted family friend, had embezzled millions of dollars, draining even his retirement account. There were lawsuits and counter-suits aplenty. One  can imagine his state of mind at this time. Ripped from a life of relative peace,   and thrust into nasty legal battles and heavy financial obligations to others. He had to go back on tour; back to working for others, relinquishing his well-deserved freedom.  (“There were chains, so I hastened to behave.”)   It’s easy to imagine him overcome with very un-Buddhist-like feelings of anger, betrayal, frustration, even hatred which must have been difficult to assuage. He may well have lost the ability to keep his depression at bay.

All those years of living in the light, of letting go of ego,  and suddenly, all the lessons feel lost to him. He tries to hold on as best he can, but can only salvage a shred of light – “a particle, a wave.”

In this song of supplication, he is entreating God to tell him where to stand so he can regain the old perspective, so he may once again live in a state of grace.

It is a song of supreme sadness and pain. It put me in a tender, weepy state. Nevertheless, I’ve been listening to it on repeat for two days straight.

For me (and I know many of you readers), it’s a constant struggle to forgive those who need forgiveness most; to open my heart to those who hate or who have hurt me. I work every day to separate the needs of my ego from the path of my higher self.   Although I would be most content spending my days in spiritual contemplation, I must work to make a living, often forced to deal with people who fill me with some very UN-spiritual thoughts.

This song is a hymn to that struggle in all of us – to hold on to the Light in the face of darkness;  to truly live in the light and not just pay it lip service. I don’t always win that battle, and the losses are always filled with pain.

Show me the place, where you want your slave to go
Show me the place, I’ve forgotten I don’t know
Show me the place where my head is bending low
Show me the place, where you want your slave to go

Show me the place, help me roll away the stone
Show me the place, I can’t move this thing alone
Show me the place where the word became a man
Show me the place where the suffering began

The troubles came I saved what I could save
A shred of light, a particle a wave
But there were chains so I hastened to behave
There were chains so I loved you like a slave

Show me the place, where you want your slave to go
Show me the place, I’ve forgotten I don’t know
Show me the place, where my head is bending low
Show me the place, where you want your slave to go

The troubles came I saved what I could save
A shred of light, a particle a wave
But there were chains so I hastened to behave
There were chains so I loved you like a slave

Show me the place
Show me the place
Show me the place

Show me the place, help me roll away the stone
Show me the place, I can’t move this thing alone
Show me the place where the word became a man
Show me the place where the suffering began

 

yom-kippur-prayer


FYI,  Leonard has a new album out next week.  Click to order.

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days, and they are getting more and more interesting. I promise! Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward and/or share on Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

 

 

—-

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Who By Fire?

Originally published  5/15/14

Sati

Ra

I was nine when I was betrothed to him;  fifteen when we married. He was an old man to me at thirty-four; older even than my own mother. I went to live with his family – his brothers and their wives, and his proud and unkind mother. She was haughty and arrogant about being the mother to five children — all boys — who were obligated to take care of her. Their wives were just another set of servants required to cater her. She ruled the roost, not only at home, but in the village, too.   She acted as if having boys was all her doing; that she was somehow responsible for this stroke of fortune.

The first time he took me, I didn’t know anything about sexual relations. It hurt. There was no pleasure in it for me…not that time, and not ever. We didn’t even sleep in the same bed. I slept with the other wives, on mats on the floor in a small bungalow off the main house.

He called for me when he wanted me and I had to go.

I liked being pregnant because then he didn’t bother me too much. His mother made him leave me alone lest he hurt the child growing inside.  Although he had control over me, his mother had control over him. She could overrule any decision he made.

I was hoping for a boy, because then he could take care of me when I was old. I could make his wife a servant. But I had a girl. She was a disappointment to all.

My next child was a boy, but he was born sickly and weak and he died very young. I prayed so hard for him to get well, but when he didn’t, I just assumed it was because the gods didn’t listen to women like me. I was not important.

The next was also a girl and now my status was very low, indeed. She was a smart one, though. I could tell even when she was a tiny baby. The way she looked around and took in everything. She didn’t cry like normal babies. She just seemed to understand that nothing could be done about her discomfort. That was just the way it was.

I secretly hoped that she would break free somehow and not follow my path. One of the other wives knew how to read a little bit, and I begged her to teach my youngest the letters and words that would hopefully someday make her independent. She agreed, but as payment, I had to take her most unpleasant tasks. I didn’t mind. I was used to hard work. Every slop bucket I emptied, every floor I cleaned, gave me pleasure. I had no power in the world, but still I’d found a way to invest in my daughter’s future.

Normally, girls didn’t go to school but she was very curious. She was forever bothering her boy cousins with questions about what they’d learned in school. To their credit, they answered her, mostly because she was able to grasp it quickly and explain it back to them. She actually helped them with their schoolwork. She borrowed their books and would hide herself behind a tree or out in the field, and read them all.

When she was ten, I convinced my husband and mother-in-law to send her to school. My argument was that she was smart enough to someday get a real job, and bring money into the family. And so they did.  She did well, and wanted to continue her education.   There was no secondary school in our village, so she went far away and stayed there while classes were on. I missed her, but I knew she was happy. I wanted her to succeed.

Meanwhile, my oldest daughter was already married off; also sent to live with her husband’s family.  Her husband was closer to her own age and he seemed to love her. Fortunately her mother-in-law was a generous and pleasant woman. Her situation was already better than mine. It was the best I could have hoped for her.

When I was forty-two, my husband died. His mother, now very old and on the verge of death, herself, wanted me to commit sati. I did not want to die. I barely knew my husband as a full person; I obeyed him as was proper, but did not love him. I certainly wasn’t going to mourn him. The old witch knew this and it made her angry. In her mind, I should suffer from his death as she was suffering.

Truly, it is a mother’s greatest sorrow to bury her child. She didn’t seem to remember I, too, had buried a son.

Sati had long been outlawed, so I refused. Legally, she could not compel me. This was the first and only time I stood up to her and I was defiant. Better she should throw herself on his funeral pyre. She couldn’t have had more than a few years left, anyway. My defiance only angered her more. Who was I, a mere nothing, to refuse her command?

She seemed to back down, and I naively thought I’d won, but do you know what she did, that evil woman? She had me drugged! While my husband’s body was burning, I was led to the fire by her other sons, where I was half- hypnotized, half shoved into the flames.

She, herself, only lived a few months more.

 

—-

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Whoops! Double post… Sorry about that…

Sorry about that, folks!  Scheduling boo-boo.   I will repost the last one again in 3 days, which will put me back on schedule.

FYI, I’m packing to move sometime this fall — and man,  we have a LOT of stuff!!!  As you might imagine, I’m rather stressed and distracted, so I’m not going to have much time to meditate/channel for a while. Thus,  for the next few months or so, most of the posts (with a couple of exceptions) will be repubs of earlier posts. Hopefully once I’m settled in,  I will be chill enough to start channeling in earnest.  I’m really looking forward to getting back to it.

Thanks for your understanding and patience and hanging in there.

Stay cool…if you can!

-Adrienne

____

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

The Weirdness Continues

First published April 12, 2018

My husband, M, is already awake and having breakfast.  As usual, I’ve lingered in bed, drifting in and out of dreams.  But this is not a dream. Or, if it is, it’s an extremely lucid one. It feels more like “imagining” and “seeing” than dreaming.

I am in the very musty attic of an old house somewhere in northern Europe; maybe Bruges or Antwerp or Groningen. A small window under the eaves looks out onto the street. I can make out the other houses across the way, looking as I imagine they have for hundreds of years.

The footprint of the room is fairly large but without a lot of usable space. The roof is low and steeply canted; parts of it are even too low for a small child to be able to stand up.   There is a strong smell of mildew and rot. It is quite dark inside  — the only light is coming from that tiny window. Still, I can just make out some kind of old broken discarded wooden equipment off to the side – perhaps a  spinning wheel or loom.  I can’t tell.

The room is not only unused but hasn’t been entered in a very long time. Decades at least. Maybe much longer. The people who now occupy the house below don’t seem know this room exists, but I don’t understand how that can be. The small window should be clearly visible from the street.  Most of the other houses are built roughly to the same plan,. They all must have attics. Wouldn’t the current owners assume this house has one, too?

I sense that at some time in the past, access has been sealed off and the doorway plastered over, in a very purposeful way. Still, with real estate everywhere being at such a premium, I find it strange that none of owners since, were curious enough to do some exploring. I cycle though possible logical explanations why that might be, but none make sense.

And then I start to get a story about this room. It pops into my head as fully-formed knowledge.

A long time ago a servant girl lived up here.  She was very young when she same to work, maybe 8 or 9.  She slept in a corner, on a mattress made of ratty ticking which had been taken from an old bed downstairs. It was stuffed with leaves, rags, old horsehair from discarded family mattresses – anything she could find or they would spare. It barely kept her tiny body off the cold floor. The roof leaked and her bedding was damp, smelly, moldy and very lumpy.

Another servant — an older female — was put in charge of her training, and taught her the basics of housework; instructed her in low-level chores such as cleaning, fetching firewood and coal, washing dishes.   The younger girl almost never interacted with the family. They left the managing of the girl to the older maid, who abused her charge.

This girl was terribly lonely. She had no friends, no family. The only person she came into contact with on a regular basis was the abusive maid. She hadn’t had much love in her own home, but this was so much worse; never a kind word or comforting gesture. She was too numb to cry. What was the point, anyway? Nobody was going to help her. This was her life now.

She was fed once a day, a paltry meal of negligible sustenance. Sometimes, she managed to grab a scrap or two before it went to the dogs. In the summer, the attic was brutally hot and stuffy, and when the autumn came, it was cold and raw. There was a small stove in the corner of her room, but she was barely allowed any wood or coal. By the winter, the attic was freezing. Her breath plumed out in grayish puffs.

She died before spring came, from a disease which could have been easily prevented or cured if she’d been fed properly and kept warm through the brutal northern February.

***

Had I made the whole story up or had I been channeling something from The Great Beyond?  I honestly did/do not know.  I can only say that it did not feel like a normal daydream, nor was it anything like the process of creating a written story.   I felt, I saw, I  smelled that room.  I can still see it clearly in my head.

As a writer, I am happy to take inspiration from wherever it comes, so I wrote it down, then went to eat breakfast.  I assumed it was just a one-time experience.  Boy, was I wrong!

—-

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Le Scandal

Originally published April 7, 2015

 

frenchscandals

Pila

I was on a trajectory to a perfectly normal life. I was mostly good, though sometimes a bit naughty. There were times I was full of certainty and promise and other times I was crippled by misgivings and frozen by doubt.   Sometimes, I felt myself to be invincible; other times, I felt vulnerable and bare. In other words, I was perfectly normal.

And then the scandal.  I was only a peripheral player. There was no reason for me to have been brought into it at all, but the silver ball of fate landed in my number. I was in the right place at the wrong time.

Soon, everyone had an opinion about me, most of them bad. Any why? I’d done nothing so different that many others did before and after me. Except others don’t get caught in such a spectacular way.

After that, my life was never the same. The press hounded me.  When that finally abated,  many still whispered about me. My name was synonymous with my shame, and I would never be free of the taint.

I tried my best to rise above it; to develop a philosophical attitude. I managed a fair degree of success in no longer caring what the strangers thought or said about me, but I never was able to get over that initial punch in the solar plexus when I’d be recognized in a social setting and the murmur  of whispers and surreptitious glances would begin afresh.

I went on with my life. What else could I do?  I would not hide. Pourquoi? I was not a criminal! More than one person suggested I change my name. I refused, on principle. None of those who threw hypothetical stones at me were without plenty of sins of their own.

I lived a much smaller life than I had before. My friends and family closed ranks and kept me sheltered from the gossip and petty ill will of others.

Eventually, the public forgot. My transgression was too far in the past for anyone to care about it. There were far more intriguing sinners to star in the morality plays of the self-righteous.

And slowly, I started to live again.  But those were decades I would never get back.

I won’t say those years were wasted but it took me a long time to appreciate all I learned from the derailing of my life.   I am learning, still.

 

_____
Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Important Life Lesson – Addendum

Charlotte Fox was one of the world’s most well-known mountain climbers.  (Read the obit).   And in the absolute irony of ironies,  she died not tumbling into a crevice on Everest or by any of the hundreds of other ways one might die while ascending the world’s highest peaks.   No.  She died falling down the stairs at home.

Imagine all the times she came home from a treacherous climb,  grateful at having successfully conquered another ascent, her friends and family undoubtedly relieved to have her home where she was safe and no longer in mortal danger.

It certainly seems that at times the Universe/God/The Gods/Fate gets a sadistic thrill out of kicking humanity in the pants, if only to teach us that we know nothing.

RIP, Ms. Fox.

 


Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

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