Respect Your Elders

Me and the blonde.

Me and the blonde.

I am so unmoved to write these days.  I have blamed it on the visual nature of my work in the arts, and not without merit.  Writing has become about what I see, feel and need to communicate, rather than simply what I feel and need to communicate.

Tonight, sitting in my husband’s studio after closing the gallery, the same old woman came to mind.  Why does she inspire me so?  Particularly her line, “…better people than her don’t like me.”  I laugh to no end at that.

I’ve written about it before.  Once, I told her, smiling, “I don’t think she likes you”, speaking of my step mother.  Both of us knew she didn’t, but I felt, as always, the need to share my opinion.  (Sorry, not sorry.) There was a hatred, based on a fear…a fear of loss of control (of my father)…which is of course, an illusion anyway, witness, the divorce.

Before she died, my grandmother put her wedding ring in my hand, and asked me to keep the family together.  Ugh.  I tried, because I love her so.  Also, I failed. They just weren’t that interested.  Additionally, after two years, I had enough.

Though I boast an insanely similar personality to Miss Edith Margaret Taylor Goodman, I don’t hold the same sway over my elders.  Once I came to grips with the fact that I failed the only person in this world who ever understood and loved me unconditionally for the passionate and difficult creature I am, (that she also was, this is a woman who flipped a table at a bar in rural Mississippi in the ’40’s over anti semitic remarks in relation to her propriety), I began bonsai’ing my family tree with a vengeance. Fuck it.

As I sat in the studio with my husband / boyfriend of 22 years, reminiscing about the fabulous woman she was..is…will always be…it occurred to me.  She wouldn’t hate me for the chop, chop, chopping of the old family tree.  She’d understand, be disappointed, but respect me for it.

She routinely called one of her daughter in law’s a shit stirrer, and never related to the, Hi, I won’t answer the front door when you visit, but here’s a Happy Thanksgiving card. I tried, to make nice, as she had done, but had to agree, she was a shit stirrer.  Snip, snip goes the bough.  Another, the recipient of the best comment of all time, “…better people than her don’t like me”, I gleefully cut that branch off with a fucking chainsaw laughing all the while.

Other sick limbs fell. Those, I cried over, but they were rotting and needing to go, or risk infecting the rest of the tree.  It was sad, and took a fair amount of intestinal fortitude.  If a bud ever grows back, I’ll nurture it, but it’s not up to me.  She’d have recognized and appreciated that.

Ultimately, I am so grateful.  Grateful, that she raised me, or “trained me”, as she liked to say.  Grateful she met two of my three children…the third bears her name, as promised, Sophia Margaret… Grateful she knew my husband, which is where tonight’s conversation began.  That man got the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

He called her out.  When she was dying.  …of bone cancer…  He told her she was being selfish in not letting me see her.  He told her I cried when we got off the phone.

Her response?  “Your husband gave me a sermon.  He said I was selfish for not letting you come see me.  He said you cry when we get off the phone…like I don’t know you.  …but don’t tell him I told you or he won’t talk to me like that anymore.”

Respect.

S. Conde

The Olympia Theater : WORDS! In the Lobby Lounge

olympia theater, words, stacy conde, the red speck, s. conde,
I am delighted to participate in this event at the gorgeous Olympia Theater.  Come join us on Wednesday, February 3rd for four readings from fictional works by Miami authors: Chantel Acevedo, JJ Colagrande, Vanessa Garcia, and myself, Stacy Conde.  Each reading will be followed by a jazz interpretation of the work, performed by the Gary Thomas Quintet.

Doors open at 6pm, the readings start at 6:30 pm. Cocktails will be available at the cash bar.  
Attendees are invited to enjoy a guided tour of the historic Olympia Theater during intermission. This is a free, open to the public, event.

Presented by the Olympia Theater, in partnership with DASS Miami. Grant funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami Downtown Development Authority & Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs.

A Letter : My Gratitude

I received this in my email today. What an absolutely beautiful way to start the morning. Thank you for taking the time to express yourself. Letters like this encourage me tremendously. Thank you.

“I really must tell you about my relationship with The Red Speck.

So it all began innocently enough. Strangely when I first got it, every time I sat down to read it something would come up. So on my bed stand it sat. A few months go by and I’m resolved to just read it already. Most of the books I get I read within the first week.

Finally the day comes, and there I am with The Red Speck. 20 pages in I’m, how do I put this, hysterically crying. I’m laughing now as I write this but really, sobbing hysterics. I know “the red speck” in the distance too well. SO in my hysterics I fling the book back onto the night stand and sit sobbing to write a letter I’ll never send, to my speck… I was an emotional puddle on the floor. Determined not to be a total emotional blob, I am now cursing the book and telling it to kiss my ass. Yes, so it sat there. Then it began stalking me. YES the book stalked me. In the bathroom? I didn’t put it there. It fell on my head twice while I was sleeping and I woke up with it on my chest.

Kicking and screaming, I become resolved that this book will not allow me not to finish it. The next 20 pages had me in tears again. Not just crying, but releasing pain that for too long I’ve held to my chest.

A few weeks later I finished it. WOW, when the universe wants to tell you something it doesn’t mess around. What a wonderful, cleansing, healing calm this little book has brought me. Kicking and screaming the entire way, because why do anything the easy way?

Remembering who you are is the gift I took home from “The Red Speck”. It will forever be on my book shelf next to my Richard Bach, who is also amazing. Well done Stacy, well done indeed.”

-Lyric Thompson

(published with her permission)

Lyric was also kind enough to post a review on Amazon.

Undone

What we love with passion undoes us. This is known.

So in choosing love we accept death.

Embrace it.  Know that it comes regardless.

Some claim to love life, yet simply fear death.

The inevitable.

They straddle the sidelines.  Forever safe.

From a comfortable distance.  And they live.  They exist.

But what life is this?

Is it better to risk all and love with passion?

…or quietly from the womb like cocoon of a reclining chair?

 

S. Conde

 

 

 

A Lack Of Vision

Moved to silence by my eyes.

Engulfed in the raucous visual.

External images, human interaction, social activity…

A buzz in my head.  White noise.

Detached from the me, the I Am.

Split in two.

Longing.  A quiet craving, it comes.

Eyes wide shut look within;

and follow the silver tether home.

 

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S. Conde

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking In The Vernacular

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She had a cadence to her voice.  A pattern to her speech. Sublimely Southern in her delivery.

Rarely did she volunteer her opinion.  When asked, she chose her words with care.  She spoke in a kind of code. Responding indirectly,  answering questions not yet asked.

She could cut you down, lift you up, make all clear in a phrase.  You’d remember what she said, because you’d feel it, everywhere, all at once.  Her words had a way of traveling through your ear, bypassing your brain and attaching themselves to your soul.  …or maybe that was just me.

Revealed by her words was a peacefulness which came from the country.  Swinging slowly with the breeze.  Sipping tea.  Rocking in a chair on the porch.  Friends with time.  At one with the natural rhythms of life.  …or maybe that was just her.

She made me feel calm.  Safe.  Loved.  Scratching my back softly she’d sing to me.  Sometimes just repeating two words over and over.  “Purty baby, purty baby…”

She wasn’t perfect.  She had a short temper, like me.  No patience for ignorance, like me.  Once she decided she didn’t like you, chances are she never would.  Like me.

On my stepmother:  “MeeMaw, I don’t think she likes you.”  “That’s ok baby, better people ‘n her don’t like me.”

On my ex husband: “MeeMaw, what do you think of him?”  “I don’t know.”  “What do you mean you don’t know? I’ve been married to him for five years.”  “I mean, I don’t know.  He never says anything more to me ‘n what I wanna hear.”

On me, while married to my ex husband:  “What the hell happened to you?  You didn’t used to be afraid of nuthin’.”

On my husband who’d cornered her at a family gathering after she’d been diagnosed with bone cancer:  “Your husband gave me a sermon today.”  “He did?”  “He told me I was being selfish for not letting you come and see me…and that every time you get off the phone with me you cry.  Like I don’t know you.  …but don’t tell him I told you, or he won’t talk to me that way anymore.”

On cigarettes:  “I guess I shouldn’t have smoked, but I did so enjoy it.”

On dying: “MeeMaw, are you scared?”  “I’ve never done this before baby.  Should I be?”

I listened closely when she chose to speak.  For as she was fond of saying, it is not a babbling brook, but still water, which runs deep.

 

 

 

 

Faith

It’s easy to keep the faith when times are good.  When times are tough, however, when uncertainty reigns, it’s not so simple, is it?  …not quite so easy.

Staying positive and knowing all will unfold as it’s meant to; learning the lessons set before us and rolling with the waves of stormy seas, is what must be done.  Fighting the tide, struggling against the current, bring exhaustion, even death, for none of us are stronger than the patterns of life.

Losing ones self in the overwhelming onslaught of change is the danger.  Forgetting who we are and reacting in desperation reduce us to nothing more than rats on a sinking ship.

Step back and breathe.  Look at the big picture, minimize the risks as best you can, and capitalize on the opportunities.  Then just roll with the ebb and flow of the tide.

Control is an illusion.  Our lives can be set up in ways that increase certain probabilities, but we control nothing.  Obsessing over things completely out of our control is at best a waste of time, at worst a stress inducing killer of both health and sanity.

I am not omniscient, omnipotent, nor infallible.  I am not the proverbial monk meditating in silence on a hilltop.  I am a real person, like you, who suffers and struggles as everyone else.  I work hard to practice what I preach, and not always successfully.  Still, I try.

Now give us a kiss, a smile, a laugh, and let’s see what happens.

S. Conde