On Travel

I've been bitten in the butt by the travel bug again.

I can tell because I've been spending inordinate amounts of time on Mapquest, mapping out hypothetical and random roads trips between here and various theres in the Western US.

I love maps and road trips and yes, just plain travel.

Our kids have inherited the road trip gene - they're positively Pavlovian when it comes to car excursions. They immediately begin packing, upon hearing of said impending trip - regardless of destination - and then a full hour prior to departure, they can invariably be found already ensconced in their seats in the vehicle amongst myriad pillows, snacks, electronic gear and stuffies. Repeat rituals on return journey. Suffice to say they are stellar travellers.

Speaking of stellar, our quick and dirty road trip this week took us to Vancouver, BC. In honour of this homecoming, I decided to crank Canadian tunes all the way, whilst deftly avoiding all the speed traps set up along the way. Listening to Klaatu was very retro - I was making wide-eyed nanu-nanu gestures at passing vehicles while singing 'calling occupants of interplanetary most extraordinary craft.' (The Klaatu thing throws people who assume this to be a Carpenters tune - wrong-o).

What can I say? I was on the stretch between Marysville and Bellingham, WA and I was bored.
But not only was I pretending to be a Heaven's Gate cult member on this drive, I was also channeling my inner cuckoo nester, when I switched to glide by grooving to The Kings. One of my favourite ways to frighten my children is to belt out lyrics at the upper limits of my vocal range to songs they don't know. This is a particularly gratifying activity when said lyrics necessarily entail yelling: 'lunatics anonymous, that's where I belong!'

Sigh. My thrills, they are cheap and infrequent, especially in the road trip department. Road trips are stupendous and wondrous, but they are sadly lacking in our life lately, given our collective if impossible schedule.

I recognize that these are the best of times and the worst of times for we are in both the best and worst kind of vagabondage right now; encumbered by our dharma and lot in life, which is that of householder (2nd of four Hindu stages of life). The operative words here being house and hold.

On that note, here are some excerpts from a piece by Pico Iyer that I love, entitled "Why We Travel: A Love Affair with the World."

"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again -- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.

We travel, then, in part just to shake up our complacencies by seeing all the moral and political urgencies, the life-and-death dilemmas, that we seldom have to face at home.

We travel, then, in search of both self and anonymity - and, of course, in finding the one we apprehend the other. Abroad, we are wonderfully free of caste and joy and standing; we are, as Hazlitt puts it, just the "gentlemen in the parlor," and people cannot put a name or tag to us.

And precisely because we are clarified in this way, and freed of unessential labels, we have the opportunity to come into contact with more essential parts of ourselves (which may begin to explain why we may feel most alive when far from home). Abroad is the place where we stay up late, follow impulse, and find ourselves as wide open as when we are in love. We live without a past or future, for a moment at least, and are ourselves up for grabs and open to interpretation."

Some final thoughts on travel:

"We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what."
George Santayana

"We carry within us the wonder we seek without us. There is Africa and her prodigies in us."
Sir Thomas Browne




The leaf tips bend
under the weight of dew.
Fruits are ripening
in Earth's early morning.
Daffodils light up in the sun.
The curtain of cloud at the gateway
of the garden path begins to shift:
have pity for childhood,
the way of illusion.

Late at night,
the candle gutters.
In some distant desert,
a flower opens.
And somewhere else,
a cold aster
that never knew a cassava patch
or gardens of areca palms,
never knew the joy of life,
at that instant disappears-
man's eternal yearning.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~


Happy Heart Day

Holy Daughter went to school this morning with a gigantic, bouncy spring in her step. She was so excited for Valentine's Day because she wanted to show off her special Valentine's box creation, which all the kids made as a container for their classmates to stuff their Valentine's cards and treats in.

We seldom do things in small measures in the Schmidt house. Her Valentine themed box was no exception.

Normally the cat itself, woulda coulda shoulda sufficed, but she was worried it wouldn't hold all the cards and candy. So what started off as a heart-shaped cat-shaped box, soon turned into the cat and a huge honking, diorama cat house, complete with bed, room decor, kitty litter and food. Check out the lightbulb she made at the top.

She had a ton of fun making it but I had to giggle because of course, the lion's share of kids showed up with wrapped shoe boxes with a slit cut in them.

Oh well, go big or stay home, I always say. Actually I never say that, but I began doing so today. This being the big splurge day and all. I can't believe the retail expenditure figures for Valentine's Day - $17 billion in the U.S.?

OK, that. is. insane. If ~ instead of buying flowers that die, and chocolates that make us fat, and cards that kill trees ~ we all redirected those funds towards providing much-needed vaccinations, food and safe housing infrastructure for the world's needy, think what a massive act of love that might be.

Anyways, tonight we're having a romantic Valentine's dinner at home, fam-damily style. If I'm not mistaken, it's the only free night on the calendar for the next month and a half. Holy Son will make homemade heart-shaped pizza for Holy Hub & I, Holy Daughter will mix up (perhaps literally) some raspberry mousse in chocolate cups, and we'll drink wine and eat salad by candlelight, while Holy Son makes his cello gently weep in the background, and while Holy Daughter cuddles the guinea pigs til they squeak. Sound romantic?

Welcome to my world.

"To hide the key to your heart is to risk forgetting where you placed it."
Timothy Childers


Spring in my Step

Seasonal Affective Disorder
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The birds are chirping, will you be my friend? and the sun is lighting the canvas behind a pale, light gray/blue sky. I'll take it. January and early February were beyond miserable. All the mountain passes nearby have been closed several times because of avalanche danger.

Holy Son's weekly snowboarding school pilgrimage was great but he claimed there was almost too much snow, although he said he did manage to nail a back grab or whatever it's called. I wouldn't know because I don't speak Snowboard. I just nod my head and pretend I've understood what he's excitedly imparted to me. So apparently they were knee deep in powder and it was too much. What boarder complains of that? Especially on the West Coast where you take the rain and slush with the snow and pretend its a stellar run.

But enough about snow. With the longer days equating to brighter mornings when we drive to school, and the advent of winter and spring breaks upon us, I can't help but think spring.

Even our one superstar Venus Flytrap, John, thinks so. He's been stuck beneath a fluorescent bulb - lucky dog - light is one thing we lack in these parts, artificial and otherwise. So all that warmth and brightness had him sprouting a big tall flower. It will soon be time to move him outside, now that nicer weather is upon us and Holy Son's science experiment is almost over. Feeding John, Jake, Jim and Joe has been interesting though. I've learned mealworms don't fight as much as earthworms. And that you need to squeeze the cricket a bit and then hold it down firmly in the trap before it closes and even then, wait a few more seconds before attempting to extract the tweezers. Crickets are feisty and quick and they'll fight to the bitter end for life and limb, as necessary.

Of course the greatest irony is that all those disgusting giant house and callobious spiders that set up house and home downstairs this fall are nowhere to be found. Who can blame them though ~ I'd be making tracks to the Bahamas to escape gross Seattle winters, too, if I was able.

Yes, thoughts of spring have sprung in the Schmidthouse and so, too, a manic schedule. Let me qualify that - more manic than the already manic schedule.

The Comedy of Errors
Northrup Frye dubbed spring to be the season of comedy. I think he was onto something because running around with my head cut off will be nothing short of comedic to those who will be watching from the wings. Like my poor, long-lost friend, Cor, who is coming to visit the last week of February in what might prove to be the busiest, logistically speaking. I will take her to see Pike Place fish market and ride the Monorail. It will be her own week's version of Planes, Trains, Automobiles ~ because the rest of the week, she'll be riding shotgun while we ferry the kids all over hell's ten and a half acre.

That's because the kids have each been cast in spring community and school plays March/April/May, with rehearsals starting today.

That's a total of three plays, on top of the regularly scheduled weekly programming of Brownies, Scouts, Irish Dance, soccer and ballet. There might even have been two more spring church plays on Sundays had I not schemed to blow the UU-boat and Jonas the whaler up and off the schedule. I don't know much German but I do know how to say das ist verruckt, which sounds similar enough to what I might have said in English to convey the gist of my newfound mania.

The kids are tickled though. Holy Son landed a good size role in Romeo and Juliet as a Shakespeare in the Park sarcastic commentator. It's his biggest role yet - 25+ lines - and I'm tickled because he'll getting his first taste of Shakespeare. Or Marlowe. Or Francis Bacon. Or whoever he was. Or wasn't. That is the question.

Holy Daughter, not to be outdone, nailed a very funny line in her audition so they have decided, rather astutely I believe, to cast her as the punctuation punchline snail in Sleeping Beauty. So she'll get the last laugh in each of her scenes, which is perfect for her....she has a natural sense of comedic timing. She will also be doing a group performance role in her school production of Pinocchio as one of Geppetto's puppets.

So between juggling those three rehearsals, on top of her Irish dancing in prep for the Seattle St. Patrick's Day parade, and ballet and Brownie cookie sales deliveries and spring soccer; and his Scouts and winter/spring camping and cello lessons and soccer and four hours of homework a night, I'm thinking they won't have um....much time to get in trouble. Mind you, neither will Holy Hub and I.

It's all part of my master plan to have them fall into bed by 8pm each night, meek and spent. This plan will invariably backfire, of course. I'll be the one falling into bed by 8pm - they'll be like revved up thespians who stole the second wind from beneath Aladdin's carpet as they beg for time to 'unwind and relax'. Code word: Wii.

That's right we are now official members of the new millennium. Wii'ved joined the Wiivolution and even video-game phobic Holy Mom (OK, so what if the last game I played was Ms. Pac-man, at least I played that so there) has occasionally been known to get in on the action. Never mind that Holy Daughter kicks my petunias in bowling. She is wickedly good. She maneuvers her aim this way and that and then delivers a throw that would knock even good ole Freddy on his backside. I ended up doing what I think it a superbly-executed release that always turns out to be a backwards throw that hits all the animated Wii spectators. They point and laugh at me, as does Holy Daughter, and the whole thing is rather humiliating, in an cartoony and thus, unreal kind of way.

Even Holy Hub can't touch her score and he can Wii pitch at 90 miles an hour. It's pretty funny ~ this business of eight year olds being far more technologically-proficient than adults.

But that's not the end of the technology story. We also bought a couple of new Samsung flat panel TVs - one for the master bedroom and one for the kitchen/family room, where the hole in the wall has been fairly begging for us to place one. I ended up getting Best Buy to price match Amazon - they claim it's against their store policy nationwide and that Amazon is a dot.com not a store retailer, but Google Best Buy price match Amazon for sport, and you'll see it's happening everywhere. Even here, in Amazon land. That was one of the many arguments I wadded up in my tenacious little straw and spit back out at them. We ended up saving $400 which equates to a free Wii, games and controllers so it was all good.

OK, and since I'm feeling magnanimous today, I'll even admit to our last purchase. Two brand-new Toto toilets to replace our old ones. Is that fascinating blog reading or what? Judging by the kind of Google search queries of my new and unsuspecting visitors, I would have to say yeah - inquiring minds do want to know these things.

Lucky Charms
Anyways, back to the crazy schedule for a moment. If you're a regular lurker on this site or my old site, you may recall me blogging about my new gold parade dreams. Well, guess what, I may not be a Red Hot Mama yet, but I would bet even they had to start somewhere. Check this out - I actually get to be in the St. Patrick's Day parade too ~ showing off my Mighty Quinn roots. Never mind that I'm adopted and so, thus, not technically Irish. I happen to believe Irishness is not so much a nation state as it is a state of mind.

Or so I will be convinced after drinking a couple of pints of beer for courage that day. Speaking of Irish and drinks, there used to be a day and age when I thought people from Ireland were called Iris - I thought the sh was just the Guinness slur that was added for good measure and froth.

Harmless slurs aside, I may rope Holy Son into joining along in the festivities with some of his friends. We could all dress in green and go as Gang Green. Spectators will be green with envy or some other reaction, I'm sure. Holy Daughter will be decked out in her Irish dancing gear in prep for an afternoon dance performance following the parade. And yes, I'll take pictures and post them here for posterity. Actually Holy Hub will take pictures because I know he'll want no part of the parade, save the pre and post Guiness drinking, of course.

So now I need a new dream to add to my Top 10 dreams list. I think it will end up being journey related. I'm always scheming and dreaming about new places to go rather than things to do. Like spring break. We're busy planning a fam damily getaway to Vegas but I haven't officially booked it yet, mostly because I feel like Vegas is been there, done that. I haven't been in 15 years so it's changed wholesale, but still I'm less than enthusiastic. I'd much rather we hooked up our GPS and tent trailer and set our sights due southeastlyish enroute the great American whirlwind road trip. Like to Yosemite or to Zion National Park or Yellowstone or some equally wild, west locale. Not that Vegas isn't the wildest place in the west but it's urban and my brokeback heart is craving rural.

Speaking of brokeback and hearts, I had a quasi-interview with a pharmaceutical company a couple of weeks ago. Long story on how the hell I, hater of drug dealers, ended up making nice with them, but what I realized in that fatefully-aborted job prospect moment was that I really do not need to sell my integrity to become gainfully employed. And I certainly don't need to get dressed up to schmooze a pharma suit dudes when I should be working on the big kahuna headhunter instead. I've decided I'm going to scheme my dream part-time, lucrative, summer and school holidays off job and paste it on a four leaf clover on my bulletin board, or I'll put it in my universe in-box and then see what shows up. God only knows what will happen, right?

I do have a couple of prospects in my industry - fingers crossed, but both would entail a ton of work and probably too much travel. To say nothing of the kids' after school schedules.

If nothing materializes right away, so be it. I suspect 'll be too busy living and volunteering at the local theatre and lamenting, oh, home-o, home-o, wherefore art my home-o....to notice anyways.


Kicks are for Trids, You Silly Wabbit...

Holy Son was dubbed the Josh Brown of indoor soccer today by one of his coaches.

He booted the soccer ball from his spot midfield, just behind the half-way line and managed to score the most amazing goal of the season. It was a film footage-worthy event but well...all the good schmidt, lollipop and visits to the candy shop moments happen when you leave your camera at home, don't they?

Oh well. I suspect he will have the moment permanently etched in the temporal lobe responsible for storing random heroic incidences.

They ended up still losing the game but that's OK. As he left the arena floating on a soccer cloud, it was apparent that he was preoccupied with formulating his acceptance speech for impending induction into the Soccer Hall of Fame.

"I'd like to thank the Soccer academy for making this all possible and oh yeah, my Mom, because she drove like a banshee today to get me to the game on time."

Yeah, I'm sure that's what he was thinking.

Kicks are for trids and melusional doms, you silly wabbit.


Archetypical Moments

Oceanography 101

I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people who tends to bumble through life, rather oblivious to what's really going on. The best analogy for that is to say that I am to the waves, drops and mist as enlightened beings are to the oceanic depth ~which is to say, I'm a surface dweller, a.k.a. not very spiritually-intuitive or grounded. But I'm learning to swim deeper without my trusty life jacket, and to hold my breath for longer periods of time.

To my credit (and oft detriment), I will admit that I happen to be a great deal more socially-sensitive and attuned than most. I get non-verbal semantics and can read conversational signs, cues and icons - perhaps overly so - I will never overstay my welcome or impose or monopolize, except by deliberate design. And I do most of my conversational reading between the lines, which is dangerous and discursive footing, to be sure. Or is it?

I have a nameless, blameless family member who has absolutely no clue that my entire perception of her is based on verbal cues, or lack thereof, that I pick up during our rather awkward phone conversations. I suspect some people assume that hiding behind a telephone affords them an opportunity to shirk all that non-verbal body communication - which supposedly accounts for between 65-90% of the communication and which more to the point, the other person isn't able to see.

Unfortunately, the non-verbal sets the tone and ends up being the shadow projected on the wall. This is why the slouching, insecure telemarketer who fears rejection will more than likely receive it. What you give is what you get. Smile and the world smiles with you, even (or especially) if you're a telemarketer.

On this same note, I also have long-time friends who I have finally given up on after years of ignoring the blatant, blinking neon signs they were flashing my way: if I wanted to continue the friendship, the street sign marked effort was going to have to be one-way.

But lately, I've been switching these intuitive radar signals inwards, in order to pay closer attention to my metaphorical thinking, such as what my life outlook appears to be at any given time. And what I've learned is bound up in some of the archetypal theory that Caroline Myss expounds in her book, Sacred Contracts. Stay with me: the nouveau age mud gets clearer.

Life Poirpose
Myss identifies 4 universal archetypes that we all share - child, victim, prostitute, saboteur - and goes on to list 70 additional archetypes, 8 of which each of us owns to some varying degree (in addition to the first 4). My 8 other archetypes, in no particular order, are: mother, addict, dilettante/amateur, networker, poet, student, guide, and seeker/vagabond/wanderluster.

One or a chimera of a few of these is my life calling, I suspect, but I have yet to delve deep enough into the ocean to fully know that yet.
So what I've been noticing lately, in relation to these archetypal realms, is the degree to which I resonate with them at any given time.

Myss suggests this exercise for determining one's archetypes, but here's my metaphoric alternative. Simply ask yourself this question: if you were to visualize and then compare life to any one thing or concept, what would it be? Then fill in the blanks 8 times.

Life is a....

Here is my list, together with my corresponding 12 archetypes who took ownership for the statement.

Life is a(n):

1) blank canvas or book (artist/poet)
2) Silk Road (seeker/vagabond/wanderluster)
3) school (student)
4) accidental ordeal (victim)
5) wondrous gift (child - magical/innocent)*
6) epic adventure tour (guide)
7) womb (mother)
8) revolution (saboteur)
9) free market economy (prostitute)
10) social opportunity (networker)
11) dress rehearsal (dilettante/amateur)
12) buffet/bar/bottle/plant/hotel room/slot machine - simply substitute your addict's chosen noun here (addict)

* this answer changes depending on my child. My wounded child identifies with 'life is pain and suffering,' just as my orphan child thinks life is a hero's quest.

My Many Coloured Days

Anyways, I have no idea why I've blogged about this little philosophical pondering of mine, except as a way of positing to all of you friends, Romans and countrymen who have lent an ear and eye, as to where I'm at this early-Feb morning.

The truth is, a series of unfortunate events (how to tell I'm in victim mode) has me feeling very reflective, pensive and confused about the big picture lately.

  • I attended a funeral Saturday for a truly, exceptional woman that I barely knew save through a mutual friend/acquaintance. I felt compelled to attend for reasons entirely ineffable. She had an incredible lightness of being and energy, and I was drawn to that (and judging from the packed church, countless others were, too) even as her candle extinguished much too soon. I find it remarkable that we shared a Pythagorean pattern of birth date numerics and life's purpose ~ 34/7 ~ and yet we couldn't be any more polar opposite. She clearly achieved her life purpose as mystic, mentor, spirit guide - I'm still reading the guide book, packing, making trip lists, and and scratching my head in veritable confusion, trying to figure out the best navigation to destination unknown. The old adage - one day my ship will come in but with my luck, I'll be at the airport rings true here. The Universe is probably pounding me over the head with my life purpose sledgehammer, but I'm too much of a numskull to know it.
  • To add insult to injury, a recent and relatively minor communication with a virtual stranger has me licking my wounds and feeling entirely disconcerted, debilitated and desolate about my whole lot in life. Holy Hub is astounded that I've let such an insignificant exchange affect me so much - I put way too much stock in what I perceive others might think of me. And while I know it's self serving, or thus spoke my ego, I also know it's not soul-serving. Quite franky, it's getting out of hand lately and has me treading water, gasping for breath and sinking amongst the stormy wakes.
  • Job hunting is continually discouraging and an exercise in prostitution if ever there was one. Last week, I got tarted up and sprayed my Charm perfurme on to go do a local job fair/dog & pony show, but most of the employers in attendance were not companies I (nor you) would choose to work for. And I come back to the constant dilemma of how it can ever be possible to find meaningful, gainful and lucrative employment on a part-time basis, wile still maintaining some semblance of a dynamic after-school life for the kids. As you can tell, I do most of my job hunting with my inner Saboeteur: it's right out of an AmEx commercial ~ I don't leave home without her. But seriously, I don't want them to be latchkey kids, although the irony is, if I don't find work soon, they'll be motherless and latchkey anyways.
  • I feel bad about my neck and other exciting psychoses lately and this has me wondering if it's possible to inherit hypochondria memetically from my dear, deceased grandmother who wasn't, technically speaking, blood related. It's the age-old nature/nurture t hing. In the past week, I have had occasion to believe that I am fighting a terminal battle with breast cancer, liver disease and other untold endocrine disorders that might be manifesting within me even as I contemplate them. I have lived to blog another day, but alas, I may not have many more.

Such is the daily battle and parade of my archetypes.

I feel like the many-faced Eve sometimes ~ minus the books, movies, notoriety, interesting personalities and manic tea parties. So there you go. Life's a bitch and then you die. Hmmm...I wonder which hidden archetype dared voice that analogy aloud.

Must be my inner Queen. God save her imperious ass....and all other utterances both noble and nebulous.