shifting sands

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Books were a major element in the story of my childhood/young adulthood. And many of those books crossed my path because of my mother.

One of these, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, became profoundly significant to me. Beyond the look into a world that is so incredibly foreign, it was a book of possible magic. It was also a glimpse of a non-western religion, which fascinated me, and I was equally fascinated by the realization that there were people in my every day life that defined themselves as Buddhist rather than Christian, Jewish, or pagan.

My mother was one of those people.

She had a statue of Babaji, the deathless avatar, in her home, and I think that out of all of her belongings, it is this humble figure that I associate the most with her.  It’s not that we discussed Babaji, or Yogananda, or even the book very much, if at all.  Our spiritual discussions were much more about Ramtha and Shirley MacLaine.  Still, she gave me a copy of Autobiography, and it’s one of my ‘comfort-food’ books, always possessing a spot on my bookshelves even when most of my library lives in boxes.

Recently, I discovered there was a documentary about Yogananada on Netflix.  The name of the film is Awake, and the trailer is at the top of this post.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the list of people I know that have watched Awake, and know about Yogananda.  When my mother brought up the film in a conversation, though, it was not the conversation I expected to have with her.

“Have you read the book?” she asked.

I was floored.

“…Yes.  You bought me a copy,” I reminded her.

She had no recollection of that memory.

I accepted, a long time ago, that there’s a long list of experiences my mother has forgotten over the years.  She’s told me repeatedly that I have an amazing memory – and I do; I still remember living in Florida when I was 3 or 4 – and that she doesn’t remember varied parts of our history.

But to not remember this was a shock.

Perhaps it is as simple as we all hold varied things to varying levels of importance.  It’s certainly true that I’ve had people tell me, “You said something kind to me once and it meant the world to me,” and I don’t remember that exchange.

Once Upon a Time, having our histories not mesh would have thrown me into a tailspin of confusion and unsureness about what to believe, who to believe, what stories to trust, because for a good chunk of my formative years, my mother was my fellow traveler along the path to enlightenment.  She was my touchstone to sanity.  Which is not to say I put her on a pedestal; I simply depended on her emotionally in a way that I’ve not seen mirrored in other mother/daughter relationships.

But.  Things change.

Relationships change.

A few years ago, I found myself in Yuma.  “JZ Knight lives over there,” my friend Sherry informed me with a nod of her head.  It felt odd, to be in that place and not be there with the person that bought me the white book.  I wonder now if, had I called my mother, if she would have remembered that shared history, or would it be another question of oh, have you read that book?

I can’t capture in words how weird this all feels, how odd to realize that my spiritual path has been solitary for longer than I realized, how startling it is to discover that the relationship I thought I had wasn’t as profound as I thought.

So. This is the state of me, on shifting sand.

I am sadder than I want to admit.

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
Jalaluddin Rumi

 

 

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the not-a-friend friend

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Two things have floated past my Facebook feed today that have inspired enough thoughts to justify a blog post.  The first reminded me of a friendship I took a long time ending but, in the end, his confession many years ago that he did not in fact defend me in my absence was the beginning of the end.

10600616_729315847173351_5772921761439119439_n(Because yes, I think this stuff matters.  A lot.  Speak your truth,  man. And in this case, don’t tell me someone slandered me and then tell me, “But I didn’t correct them.”  No excuse.)

And then there was this post shared by my friend Luna, in which the author talks about the benefits of having a friend that’s not really your friend and about what you can learn from that relationship.  In particular, this quote stood out:

Between putting me down, questioning everything I did, and spreading lies about me behind my back, I realized that you weren’t actually my friend. You were just another person who was stuck in their insecurities, who needed to put others down to keep yourself up. You were more focused on yourself and your own problems than on our friendship. That’s not the kind of friend I want in my life. While I was blinded to this side of you because you were a new shiny friend for a couple months, I finally realized we had no friendship. Initially, this realization saddened me, but, in the end, I’m better off without you.

There are friendships, relationships, that never really leave you.  For better, and for worse, that connection is so entangled in your brain that even when the person is gone, their ghost never leaves you.  I’ve known people that get mentally and emotionally stuck in that ghost-relationship, rehashing the grievances, the hurt, the memorized path of how things went wrong, that they can recite the history at a moment’s notice and never move past the pain.

These are among my least favourite ‘discussions’ to have, because it’s not a discussion, there’s no resolution or healing, there’s just mental gear grinding.

The quote above reminds me of one of those people.  She’s someone I wish I could send that quote to, because that’s exactly why our friendship ended 10+ years ago and I didn’t have the words then to express the why to her then.

We were friends from 4th grade until well into our adulthood – or so I thought.  Unlike the first friendship I mention in this blog, it didn’t take me years to figure out I was better off not knowing this person.  No, sadly, our relationship started to end when I learned that she was describing me to others as ‘a waste of human flesh,’ and, when called on it, replied, “I’m sorry you head that.”  This discovery led to others, other negative descriptors that was in direct contrast to what she said to my face.

I’ve been sad about the way things went for a long time.  In part, I’m sad because I know she still hurts from the ending of our ‘friendship’ and because I know we have mutual friends wishing we could make amends.

But ya know?  I read that quote, and I thought, ‘Yes.  This.’

The people in my life today are people I trust, completely and utterly.

…I find myself wanting to say more about that, but I don’t think I need to.

People like C and L have taught me what I expect, what I need, out of a friendship.  What I want to give to a friendship.  And today, I may have just finally hit a point where I can be thankful for that lesson instead of sorry for the loss.

 

 

Sean “Bazil” Duran: November 25, 1966 – April 30, 2016

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I have so much I want to write and I have no idea how to write it.

So let’s start with a present.

bazil 2

“I have a present for you,” Chris said, somewhere around 1993, and handed me this little plaster Day of the Dead sculpture.  “Bazil made it.  He made a bunch for a gallery in Chestnut Hill, but when they told him they were gonna sell them as authentic Mexican art, he said no and took them back, so…this one’s for you.”

When I think about Bazil – Sean – this story always comes to mind.  I didn’t know him well, but I knew he had strong convictions and would not only stick to them, but would also make sure the people around him did as well.

Sean was one of the iconic actors at my beloved haunt, Grisly Gothic Gables.  He joined the cast to help him learn how to talk in front of crowds (or so I’ve been told), and perhaps one of the reasons I can’t think of Grisly without thinking of him is that he proposed the haunt’s name to the owner, Allan, during a brain storming session.  His butler character was funny-bizarre, vaguely slobby, definitely frenetic…my favourite haunt memory of him is him filling in for a clown scare, still dressed as a butler.  When the time came to scare visitors, he rose out of a hollowed out bed holding a fake butcher knife and announcing, “I’m not a clown, but I’ll kill you anyway!”

(Lesson:  As long as you understand the scare and what’s expected of you, improv – even if it’s on the bizarre side – as long as it’s in the character of the haunt?  It works.)

I suppose it helps to understand that I became a haunter not because I loved scary movies (which I did) or because I thought Halloween was pretty (which I did), but because the first time I saw Grisly Gothic Gables, with Bazil and Janice at the front of the house looking like everything I’ve ever wanted to see in haunt actors…well, I fell in love with the haunt, with the cast, and at the core of my haunter-heart you’ll still find that perfect visual.

You’ll still find Bazil.

Bazil was the one that helped my ex husband understand why haunting is fun.  “Do you know what a pig pile is?” Bazil asked one day.  “You don’t?  Ok.  So let’s say you enter a room through a door on the left side of the room and the exit door is clearly visible on the right side.  How do you leave the room?  No, you don’t go out the exit door, you jump on top of each other LIKE THIS!! and then you knock down a wall behind you and you leave that way.”  Despite being jumped on and nearly knocked over, my ex agreed to come to Grisly to see what a night of haunting was like, and he ended up doing tag-team scares with Bazil.

…Good times.

At the museum where we all worked, Bazil did so much that most people don’t know, rather like at Grisly, where he designed several of our t-shirt designs with no credit claimed.  He (along with fellow Grisly Peter Cook and Peter’s wife, Lisa) worked on a book about our dioramas that has been used extensively by the teacher naturalists there, and can be found now in the Drexel University library.  He discovered a forgotten mummy by literally tripping over it in our collections. He restored Edgar Allan Poe’s raven, which now resides at the Philadelphia Free Library.  He worked on the butterfly exhibit where I became a butterfly keeper, and helped create The Big Dig, an interactive looking-for-fossils exhibit I helped maintain over the years.  (I’m told he was inspired by Peter and Lisa’s visit to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.)  He and artist Ray Troll worked together on several projects, including one at our museum. He was instrumental in creating the Crazy Critters Chuck Jones exhibit that I have…way way too many stories about working.

For someone who touched so much of my professional life at the Academy, you really would think we would have seen each other more. Alas.

Bazil moved on to work at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami, where his resume is truly amazing. Like, amazing in a way that you look at and you think, ‘What couldn’t this guy do??’ I think I speak for many of us when I say that Bazil was the kind of person you quietly make a role model and you hope someday to be even a fraction as good at..well..ANYTHING as he was.  Because he touched so many people’s lives and varied worlds, I’m sure there’s an incredible amount of stories and discoveries to come that will astound those of us that knew him.  (Heck, just from the bit of research I’ve done here, I’m in awe of the man.)

Bazil is survived by his wife, Kat, and his daughter, Bridget…and he’s mourned by too many people to count.

Thank you for touching my life and for inspiring me, you most perfect Grisly.

bazil

Info about a celebration of his life:

13151813_10208988289125406_6052856665183054380_n

More info about Sean:

http://www.frostscience.org/blog/a-loss-for-frost-science-and-miami

https://sciencemuses.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/your-listening-hue/

http://blog.orselli.net/2011/09/why-we-do-what-we-do-interview-with.html

http://www.martinhsu.com/press.php?p=50 – Dinosaurs of China exhibit

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article6718815.html – Amazon exhibit

http://www.frostscience.org/blog/miasci%E2%80%99s-sean-duran-awarded-prestigious-noyce-leadership-institute-fellowship

http://www.frostscience.org/blog/green-roof-tour

bazil

 

 

but what’s my motivation?

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Last year during our haunt build, our electrical wizard pinged Bones and asked if he could help with a video project.  This resulted in a pause in building while Bones went through our makeup supplies, transformed himself into a disagreeable older gentleman, and Became! A! Star!

…Sorta.

dustin old

Dane and his team – Team Ventura, so you know it’s awesome – participate in Public Media Network‘s contest, Cinema 2880 Film Festival, in which participants have 48 hours to create a short film that must contain certain elements or words.  Team Ventura does a great job, and I’m always wicked impressed by what they can get done in such a short amount of time.  (Last  year’s video is here.  It took first place in Facebook Viewers Choice.)

This year, they needed a grim reaper, and they were planning to film that scene in the same location where we were having our haunted event, so..meant to be!

My desire to take photos was discouraged by the crew.

20151125-172955.jpg

Bones…er, Death… was, as always, a professional.

Shooting happened pretty fast (48 hours includes all the editing/production time, and the team had varied filming locations).  The final result may be found here…this year, Team Venture took First Place in Facebook Viewers Choice again – yay! – and third place at the festival.  🙂

a snippet of home life…and a new venture

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Me:  So guess what I just did?

Bones: Hm?

Me:  Well, I was in the bathroom, looking at my phone, and I took off my glasses to see the screen better, and then when I was finished with, um, what I was doing, I couldn’t find my glasses.  Then I realized there was something in my pant leg, and that something was my glasses.

Bones:  ….

Me:  I dropped my glasses down my pants.

(we both laugh)

Bones:  And this is why we will be married for the rest of our lives.

Me:  Why?

Bones:  Because you can just tell me that story without apologizing, without telling me first, ‘Wow, this is really stupid.’  You trust me enough to just tell me this ridiculous thing because you know I won’t judge you.

Me:  True story!

Moral of the story:  When you find the person that responds to proof that you’re a bit of a hot mess with laughter and love? Marry that person.  ASAP.

In Other News….earlier this year, I created a product on Zazzle for a friend’s birthday.  Much to my surprise, other people have found my product listing and purchased ones for themselves.  This has resulted in a whopping whole $4 of accidental profit, so I figured hey, let’s see what happens if I actually try to sell something.

And so…la!  I have an actual Zazzle store! And I spent waaaaay too much time today playing with this, and with a store for my haunt that has some truly ridiculous items in it that I’m not sure will ever actually sell, but..what the heck?  There’s a link at the top of my blog page to the store, and if there’s something there you like, please to be purchasing it.  I make about a buck off each item, and I promise that money will all go into the haunt fund.  So, ya know, Watch That Space, as there will be more stuff coming along as it crosses my squirrel-filled mind.

Speaking of squirrels, I swear I’ll be finishing up the China haunt story soon.  Very soon.  I swear.

Today is #GIVINGTUESDAY! Give AND buy pretty things to help my mom finish kicking cancer’s butt!

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This has been an intense few months…not just because of Halloween!  My mother, Iris, had a recent surprise bout (and defeat!!) of  a wicked rare form of cancer this year. She’s had some health stuff pile up as a result of her surgery, and the bills are..impressive. Here’s a pretty way to shop for $WINTERHOLIDAY presents and generate donations for her!

Some of you may have seen Bravelets – bracelets and necklaces in varied styles that bear the slogan “be brave.” Money raised from these sales goes to varied fundraising efforts…and this one is very important to me.

Bracelets purchased on this page will generate donations to my mother to help her with her medical bills …even with Medicare, that stuff is *expensive*.

Today, all purchases on the Bravelets page will generate ***$20*** in donations, not just $10! So if you’re looking for a shiny present as a $WINTERHOLIDAY gift, please consider clicking and shopping here. That would be awesome of you.

THANK YOU!!!! (And yes, please consider boosting the signal!) ‪#‎GIVINGTUESDAY‬

https://www.bravelets.com/b…/help-iris-kick-her-cancer-bills