Hella Green Grass, Butterflies in the Wind and Not-So-Soft Knocks

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If you go back seven or eight years in this here bloggie, you will find many-a-reference to “The School of Mostly Soft Knocks”.  This is how I fondly referred to my life.  Ha!  I guess I have since graduated.  Because the knocks ain’t so soft no mo’.  I was tickled remembering this outdated version of me though…


But today in honor of the spirit of Soft Knocks, I shall mine my mind for mundane pleasures and glistening fragments of beauty which pave my Path… and put them in one, palatable pile.  Sorta like those birds that build nests out of glitzy, shiny objects.  My most recent garland of blogs have been so heavy and dark… which is fine, because I’m not here to present myself other than I AM.  (Mostly…)


But today I’m in the mood for lightness.  Lightness with a tinge of bleeding heart romanticism and wistful longing, of course.  Grin.


This morning Karuna said she saw gorgeous butterflies courageously navigating strong wind.  This is exactly what I mean.  Beauty-full… with a hint of tragedy and a splash of shattering paradox.


Perhaps I am a stunning butterfly, bravely navigating a violent wind storm.  Maybe we all are.  Exquisite and fragile… mostly invincible in our surrender.


It’s laughable that everyone else’s grass seems so much fucking greener than mine… And yet, this region of Italy in the springtime, is the greenest place I’ve ever seen.  Soft, rolling hills that sprawl on infinitely.  I was driving Serena to school this morning and she said, “Mama, do the red poppies remind you of Grandma Sumitra?”


I told her that once…  And now she occasionally feeds it back to me, precisely when I need a heaping dose of Mama.  These poppies are insouciant spots of flaming red, bursting from the endless, undulating sea of green.  I imagine driving along these country roads with my Ma sitting shotgun… her singing sincere praises of these occasional, glorious bursts of red.


My mom loved to take scenic routes and drive slow.


The poppies remind my inner child “Dawnie-cakes” of the cans of fruit cocktail she devoured back in the “good olde days”.   Remember?  Grapes, pineapple, peaches, pears… and occasional RED CHERRY.  Probably only three per can.  The scarcity made them utterly thrilling.


(How did I survive my sugar-laden childhood???  My mom bought me bags of chips ahoy and oreo cookies and set NO LIMITS on my consumption!  I could eat them till I was sick.  And I did.  And sometimes Cap’n Crunch cereal.  Which I consumed in the same over-indulgent, carefree spirit.  Kraft Cheese and Macaroni- implemented with real cheddar cheese in addition to the hella tasty, neon orange stuff in the packet…. And speaking of cheddar cheese, there’s no such thing here in Italy.  Which occasionally bums me out.)


And speaking of my mom, allow me to delight in the memory of being twenty years old, and taking a “metaphysics” class with her at our beloved Unity Church on upper Filmore Street in San Francisco.  Taught by the charismatic, southern wonder, Revered Maureen.  Ma would pick me up from my cheap, filthy house in Oakland, and drive us in her Volkswagon Rabbit convertible.  Sounds hella stylish, right?


Well, the caveat was that the top was broken, and would not go up… so we had to navigate the windy Bay Bridge and the nocturnal, foggy city scapes and sketchy lower Filmore neighborhood, totally exposed.  She kept her semi-trusty steed equipped with a mexican blanket that I desperately swaddled myself in.  She sported a decently warm jacket.  What especially tickles me about this, is that it is SO signature “My Mom”.  There were always breakdowns, challenges and struggles born of financial scarcity.  But it never stopped her from Living Life.  She still took us out to lunch and we luxuriated over many-a-latte.


In fact, she drank lattes until the day before she died.  My brother left our camp in her hospital room and went to the awesome coop grocery store just down the street (in Grass Valley), ordered my mom the latte she requested “on her deathbed” and said “Please make it GOOD.  It’s for my mom and she is about to die.”


In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.”


And speaking of lattes, there’s my Dad, on the opposite end of the spectrum.  He drinks Folger’s Crystals.  Religiously.  Haha and he calls it “coffee”!!!  Two cups in the morning.  Ever since I’ve known him.  Upon reflection, I LOVE THIS.  I’ve never considered him “the perfect dad”… but from the perspective of a writer, GOD YES, he’s a quintessential character in the Story of My Life.


Not too long ago, I wrote about how “fucked up” I felt by my relationship with him.  But lately, as I’ve been navigating this multidimensional web of difficulty and heart-ache, he has showed up and totally has my back.  He doesn’t always show up when I “want him”.  But when I “need him”, he is in my corner.


His name is Bart.  I always thought that was a funny name… and even a bit embarrassing… you know, because it rhymes with fart.  But since I’ve been pregnant with a boy, I’ve been more curious about name meanings.  So I googled “Bartley name origin”… And I was tickled to discover that a primary origin is Scottish, and means “Birch Meadow”.  I dare anyone to tell me that’s not just fucking LOVELY…


And dig THIS about my dad- he’s a CRAPS DEALER.  In the Biggest Little City….  Has been since before I was born.  Which is getting on forty years.  Speaking of being forty, maybe the haunted fun-house I’m lost in is a symptom of midlife crisis!  I never believed in those things… but perhaps they are real after-all.


Anyway, don’t you think that’s perfectly poetic for me???  A dad who drinks Folger’s Crystals and deals craps in Reno, is married to a spanish woman named Mercedes, who is twenty years younger than he… Oh, and he LIVES TO GOLF.  When we used to talk on the phone, golf was THE topic that would bring him alive.  I mean how much is there to SAY about GOLF…. But… it didn’t matter, because it was said with raw PASSION.


My parents separated before I was two… but I spent summers with my Dad as a kid.  Traumatic summers.  He was emotionally volatile.  And pretty damn narcissistic.  He would totally lose control and yell about dumb shit.  He had a knack for making the most simple things complicated.


And then I married him.


Yeah, I guess I’m workin’ the shit out with Giordano.  He’s too much like my dad.  I should say, like my  Dad USED to be… Dear Bartley has calmed down and smoothed out in his “old age”.  It’s actually moving to recognize my papa’s soul growth.  I feel like a proud parent when I tune in to his noble Becoming.  Yay Dad!


Anyway, I hope I pass this rigorous ”class”, and don’t need to repeat it…  In regards to working out my core wounds and karmic… I wanna say “garbage”, because I totally hate it… But I suppose one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.  By the Power vested in me, I declare myself vast enough to swing BOTH WAYS- I can hate my Path, and celebrate it’s nutrient-dense rightness too.


Well… how was THAT for a hearty dose of lightness?!  Haha!  I dunno about YOU, but it hit MY spot!


Oh Life….


You Unwieldy Beast…





Let the Bullshit Burn

Ladies and Gentlemen, live from the eye of the needle… Please give a warm welcome to our beloved linguistic exhibitionist, Mrs. Athena Grace, LMNOP!

I guess you know you’re living the right life when you look out your eyes, and extend the tender, invisible fingers of your heart to grope about the immediacy of your environment (within and without, because, duh, “as above, so below”), and you say to yourself, “Wow, I’ve never been HERE before.” Mmm, I like that spin on this moment as breathed by yours truly. This moment feels prickly, though potentially benign… like a threatened porcupine. Lately I’ve been having this experience of people asking me how I am, and noticing that what comes out of my mouth sounds more pathetic than I mean for it to… Powerless. Irresponsible. (God, I hope I start my period soon. I feel like a bursting, glutenous tick.)

I dunno about you, but lately, I have been attracting a loud, clear message that our personal and collective karma is rising to the surface to be healed, digested, transmuted. And I’ve been asking myself what that IS for me… What are the personal stories of lack, limitation and bondage that I have been lugging around? I think the dousing rod of my self-inquiry is drawing near to something powerful… because I suddenly feel like I could burst into you-know-whats. But I won’t collapse. I’m just here to take an honest look at myself. Because I want to be my very best.

“But then,” pipes in my resident philosopher, “What is my best?… It *seems* like it’s that loftier-than-thou, demigoddess image of who I *could* be… if… I wasn’t all tangled up in myself. But I’m not that. I’m THIS me. Who is sitting here on the cushioned bench at Pizzaiolo, steeping in the thick din of decadent first world existence, musing on who I am, who I could be, and dare I say it, who I *should* be.”

I thought I believed that everyone truly IS doing their best… but today, I’m not so sure. Personally, I think I could be doing better. It hurts to say that. Because it doesn’t feel very self-loving. But I don’t want to keep letting myself off the hook. It’s painful to be as powerful and brilliant as I am… and incessantly drift across my finite days here on planet earth, uncommitted, untethered, uncertain. I’m coming to the point where feeling myself in this all too familiar place MAKES ME SCREAM INSIDE.

And that brings us back to the subject of karma. As I mull over this subject, what’s coming into focus, is the unhealed little girl in me, who just wants life to do it for her. She is nauseatingly comfortable in such phrases as “I can’t, I quit, I dunno…” The image that arises is an atrophied muscle. I welcome the fiery anger rising up from my belly and spreading into my chest.

The nebulous call of my destiny is coming into increasingly sharp focus. I cannot continue to collapse in crusty, pathetic habits. The fierce and steady desire to be a mother, to bring a child into the world is pressing me up against an excruciatingly uncomfortable edge inside myself. This longing tugs at the depths of my being every single day. And I wonder, “how on earth can I take care of another human being, when I can barely take care of myself?…” And I feel shoved against the oppressive wall of my own self-imposed limitations. God it pisses me off. How can I articulate this texture of my experience in such a way that you can taste the gravity of it? Is that enough? The fire is growing in me. I pray that it becomes hot enough to consume my feigned weakness.

Who is the woman in me who is “qualified” to be bestowed with the great blessing of motherhood? I feel some self-judgement arise in admitting that this is the question around which I aspire to organize my life. But one thing you can count on here in Athena Graceland is raw honesty. Mostly… unless I’m too chicken on a given day. But generally, I’m all about ripping the bandaid off…

Besides, it’s all tied in together. This karma knocking, the deep longing to become mother, and this rising fire inside… is a call to embody my strength. That’s the essence of it. The version of me, who is banging at the door, demanding to be realized is the leader. The teacher. The author. Grrrrrr I just want to stand up tall and bold and strong and CALL FORTH A WORLD OF PEACE.

Karma. What’s a bitch gotta do to break through? Well… I’m here. And I’m writing it down. And I’m letting my breath flood in and stoke the flames of longing. Feed the fire, Mrs. Grace. Feed the fire. Let nothing be spared. I’m fucking tired of half-heartedly calling myself a writer, covertly pressing the “publish” button, and hoping *someone* will hear me… and find comfort or strength, illumination or inspiration in what I have to share. I want to let my voice be heard, far and wide. I want to trust what comes through me. I want to give myself to a vision big enough that it scares me, stretches me, calls me forth.

I will! But I must break free from this prison of indecision and powerlessness. What is the next step? Today… Now… May I have the clarity and wisdom to recognize it, and the courage to say YES.

Live A.