Night Marchers in the Bathroom Help Me Discover Another Fabulous Friend

When New Friends Meet

“Oh my God, Lisa! You have to get in here!”

The cry came from the bathroom of my apartment in Hawaii. It was a strange cry coming from a relatively new friend, also named Lisa, who was taking a shower at my place when a day of getting to know each other better became one long string of adventures.

The next thing I know, she bursts out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, gorgeous red hair streaming water. “I’m serious Lisa, you’ve got to hear this.”

I hesitantly follow her back into the bathroom where the shower is still running.  ”What is it?’ I ask. Everything seemed the same as when I had taken my shower just a short time earlier.

“Shh! Listen, can you hear that drumming?” I listened carefully, and suddenly tuned in on what sounded like distant rhythmic drumming. It wasn’t water in the pipes. It wasn’t a drummer practicing a set. It was the very distant drums of ritual.

“What is that?” I asked.

“It’s the Night Marchers.”

“The what?”

“The Night Marchers. And I think we are lucky that we were taking showers, because it probably saved our lives.”

“What?”

A true friendship formed as she explained the legend; a friendship that started when Nathan introduced me to one of his best high school friends and has lasted through the years as she became a truly fabulous woman, mother, and citizen of this earth.

 

This story reveals how my fascination with the supernatural opened the door to another amazing person in my life who I wish to celebrate.

The Legend of the Night Marchers

The Night Marchers are

ghostly apparitions of a band of beings who move with purpose to the beat of primitive pounding drums. Some say they are armed spirit warriors en route to or from battle, toting archaic weaponry and clothed in decorated helmets and cloaks. Other accounts tell of high-ranking alii (ruler) spirits being guided to places of high importance or to welcome new warriors to join in battle. (http://www.to-hawaii.com/legends/night-marchers.php)

In Hawaiian legend, to look upon the Night Marchers and meet them in the eye means death, as the Marchers take them with you on their lonely march. However, you can save yourself from this fate by averting your eyes and crouching down. Or, according to Lisa on that particular day, “they won’t take you if you are naked.”

Good thing, isn’t it, since they seemed to be moving through my shower?

Lasting Friendship Formed

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I think our meeting with the Night Marcher’s came on, perhaps, the second day of our friendship. Nathan and Lisa had been best friends in high school. When she came back to the island for a visit after Nathan and I started dating, he introduced us, and within minutes it was like we had known each other forever.   Nathan was not with us on the day of the Night Marchers, I believe we had decided we just needed to get to know each other better and have a girls’ day. It became one of those days where you plan on doing one thing, and then you add on another, and another, until all of a sudden you’ve had a complete day full of adventures. I don’t remember all the details of that day (although I do recall a cop trying to pull us over for an out-of-date sticker or something, and Lisa managing to talk us out of it because her dad was a policeman and the cop recognized her–I was impressed).

I don’t know if the spooky beginnings cemented our relationship or what, but I have been honored to know Lisa these many years, and to count her among my closest (although long-distant) friends. Lisa is one of those amazing women that fights for what she believes in, and especially for justice, equality, and the rights of children. She used to work for Teach for America, then went on to pursue journalism, where she eloquently wrote about education. She then moved onto working for the public education system. Throughout it all, she has provided a passionate pursuit for change and the importance of an educational system that truly succeeds. She hasn’t always had it easy, as she became the victim of politics (as often happens to good people). But, despite the struggles, she always keeps a positive attitude and a caring heart. When I last spent time with her (she’s the one who took me for my first pedicure) she was trying to alleviate tensions between an offended rabbi and some people who unintentionally insulted him through naiveté. (I’m not sure the end result, I’ll have to find out).

Her husband, Matt, is also an incredible person, advocating for and supporting first-generation college students to help them succeed. Together they represent a truly caring, intelligent couple that wants nothing more than to live a life full of love, and share that love with others.

Lisa and Matt

Lisa and I are more than just friends. In many ways we are sisters, and I am so lucky for that. I was there when her now husband Matt proposed to her. While I wasn’t there when she gave birth to her first child a few months before I gave birth to mine, those two girls have since met and immediately became fast friends. In many ways, I think the spirit world has intervened to make souls come together who were destined to meet.

Instant friends, sisters at heart.

It just goes to show you that eerie things might happen, but perhaps messages from beyond are messages intended to help, not to harm. I’m sure Lisa and I would have been friends anyway, but it didn’t hurt to get a little nudge from the Night Marchers. (By the way, I only heard them one more time in that bathroom, and I listened for them all the time).

Farewell is a Hard Word to Say

Sometimes I wish I had been one of those people who never left home, and was content staying in the town she grew up in living among family and friends who have known her forever.

But I’m not. Instead I have been a person who travels, gathering experiences and friends wherever I go.

Yet, I find it difficult to make friends, difficult to trust. Not because of my travelling ways but for numerous other reasons that are difficult to explain or understand. I am shy. I doubt my worthiness as a friend. I don’t feel cool enough.  I don’t want to intrude. All of these reasons and more make it challenging for me to become close to people.

So when I connect with people in a deep way, I don’t want to let them go. And yet, inevitably, the time comes for the next part of journey and I have to say goodbye to people I’ve only just begun to know. This time is particularly bittersweet, as our stay here has been so short.

While I know I must say goodbye, I hope that the connections I’ve made in this world continue to grow and strengthen. The people I’ve met along the way have all become part of my story and I hope that I am still part of theirs.

Farewell my friends from Independence. I will miss you all.

Don’t call me Drama Queen and Other Rules of Interaction

A few years ago, at Thanksgiving, I tried to share with my mother something that was really bothering me. I don’t remember exactly what it was; I think it had something to do with my sister. But that doesn’t really matter, what does matter was that she actually responded with, “Lisa, don’t be such a drama queen.”

I lost it.

“I hate when you call me that! Just because I feel something doesn’t mean I am a drama queen.”

And that’s the truth.

I learned to keep my emotions to myself, to the detriment of my own health. I learned to keep things inside because letting them out leads to accusations of being over-dramatic and over-sensitive. But of course, keeping things inside add to the truly dramatic moments such as this particular one with my mother, a crying screaming fest of hurt feelings and accusations that led nowhere.

Sarah is a lot like me, in that she is emotional and is very hard on herself. Yesterday she started crying in the morning when I asked if she had practiced the piano the day before (she spent the day at the theater with Nathan, while I tried to get some things done at home).

“I forgot,” she cried. “And I have a lesson today!” The end of the world as we know it.

“It’s okay, Sarah. Michelle will understand.”

When I picked her up after school she said, “I’m sorry I got so upset this morning.”

“Why did you?” I asked.

“Because I was angry at myself.”

She is me.

So, how does one interact with a person who internalizes every perceived error as further evidence of the imperfections of her own personality? How do you comfort someone who sees the world through emotions? How do you help someone who is  hardest on herself?

How do you interact with yourself?

Here are some suggested rules of interaction with this type of individual:

  • Don’t call her drama queen. It hurts and it’s not true.
  • Acknowledge her feelings and then try to get her to look at them intellectually. “Why do you think you are so angry at yourself for dropping the cup?”
  • Allow her to feel things, but remind her that not everyone sees things the same ways she does.
  • Tell her you love her even when she makes mistakes.

And of course, perhaps the most important rule of them all:

Don’t feed the Drama Queen! It makes her fat and even more dramatic.

Stumbling into Romance

My first week in Hawaii before I started Graduate School was full of conflicting emotions.  I had never been to the island before, and was experiencing the beauty, color, smell and sunshine for the first time. I had just left my home of three years, Okayama, Japan so my heart was filled with the sadness of departure and letting go. I held the fears of a new adventure, as well as the stresses of starting over somewhere completely new. I needed to find an apartment and some kind of job to help support me through a three-year graduate program. There was also an error in my acceptance packet, so I had to convince someone to let me into the three-year MFA instead of the two-year MA–needless to say my emotions were all over the place.

At the first meeting of the new graduate students, I found myself thinking, “I don’t belong here. I can’t do this.” Why? Because this handsome Asian man walked into the meeting sporting a portfolio filled with images and I had nothing. I looked around me as the people in the room shared their various experiences and felt like I had even less than nothing.

But this isn’t about that.

The handsome Asian man walking into the room would represent a significant change in my life. I remember thinking, “He’s cute” and then immediately dismissing him from the realm of possibility. In my mind, if I thought he was cute, I had no chance with him.

Despite my 24 years I had very little experience with men. There was the Japanese man who stole my heart, but it would never lead anywhere, as I have written about elsewhere. There was also that short fling with an American man (Oh, Michael. Six-foot-something. Dark hair, blue eyes. Sigh!). But that was it. That was the extent of my dating history. I had a couple of pathetic dates in high school, and one or two in college, but I don’t know that those counted.

The story of me and men was a short one. And, I was there for grad school, not romance. (If I said that to myself often enough I wouldn’t get lonely or feel bad about my inability to connect with men).

I next met Mr. handsome Asian after I got hired by the Theater Manager to work in House Management (which would eventually include a tuition waiver–woo hoo!). I was talking to the PR Director, another grad student named R Kevin who also happened to go to undergrad with my brother, in a tiny office that used to be a storage closet. In walked Nathan, R’s best friend. We chatted for a little while, and then the guys asked me if I wanted to go play video games with them.

“Um, no thanks,” video games were definitely not on my radar, “I am still moving into my apartment.”

And that was the beginning. Throughout the semester I alternated between having a crush on R Kevin and having a crush on Nathan–but it didn’t really matter as I also began to accept my destiny as a singleton.

Of course, I then learned that both guys had just been broken up with before I got there–by women who they both loved and who would also become friends of mine. So, not thinking romantically was easy–I didn’t want to be the rebound relationship.

I focused on studying, working, trying to get the occasional Hawaii experience, and trying not to succumb to the craziness of my roommates, and eventually finding a new living situation (another crazy story).  I really did not think much about dating (although my crush on Nathan was getting stronger). Eventually, however, it felt like Nathan was paying extra attention to me. I won’t call it flirting, but it seemed like he talked to me an awful lot.

But nothing happened, and I was too shy to do anything about it myself, so friends we remained. Nathan says that he actually asked me out several times (but usually to be part of a group) and I kept saying no because I was busy. Naive. Busy. Who knows.

Eventually, at the end of the semester, we were all at a party at R Kevin’s house. Nathan kept coming over to talk with me and I was very aware of that. We talked about how few people were going to be around during the break. I  had a Christmas break temp job at a television station starting the next morning, so I didn’t stay long. Before I left, Nathan said, “Maybe we can go to the movies sometime over break.” I said sure because it was nice to have a friend to hang out with.

He didn’t call.

Then, about a week later he called said he was sorry, he had been sick all of break. I said, “No problem” as I still thought it was just friends. We made a plan to go to the movies, and the movie choice added to my assumption that this was just two friends going out.

The movie, Dumb and Dumber.

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Granted, I was a little thrown when Nathan picked me up and handed over this jean jacket of his that I really liked. “I don’t wear this anymore,” he said, “so I thought you might want it.”

“Okay,” I said, my heart fluttered a little but I still thought that all fell within the realms of friendship.

During the movie I felt like I was in Jr. High. Is this a date or isn’t it? Does he like me? What’s going on? I still had no indication until near the end of the movie, when he took my hand.

The rest, shall we say, is history.

ItGetsBetterBroadway’s Channel: We Need More Voices

 

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...

Image via Wikipedia

 

I needed to hear this song today.  YouTube – ItGetsBetterBroadway’s Channel.

I know it is for GLBT youths, but isn’t the message really for everyone? I believe that a lot of the hate, the bullying, the abuse, etc. comes from fear. Fear that somehow, if that person is different than “I” can’t be happy. People put others down because they are insecure in their own lives.

Yes, some of it comes from ignorance, but mostly it comes from fear. So this song is about everyone. If you live and trust in yourself and life, it gets better.

It is too bad that more people can’t see that.

While I appreciate these artists for doing this, and those who step up to give their own testimonials, I see a problem. Theater is always perceived as gay. I am in theater, I love theater, but here is a reality about theater: people who don’t get it, or don’t really understand it assume that anyone who participates is either promiscuous or gay. We all know that is a stereotype, but it is a well-known one.

So, kudos to these artists for doing this, but now let’s get some athletes, action/adventure stars, or more politicians to stand up proudly and share their stories that say “It Get Better!”

Until there is no reason to hide anymore, how can we honestly tell young people it gets better?

Memory Receding

A moment of panic in the dark. Where am I? Who am I? What day is it? Why am I? This was just a dream or a moment of waking from a dream. A moment of unknowing that I cannot forget.

Is this the daily existence for a man who lived in his brain, my father?

Just a couple of years ago he was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, after his symptoms took a turn for the worst. He’d been showing them for years, but nobody paid attention, blaming his mood shifts and other difficulties on hearing or alcohol. But it wasn’t that.

It was the loss of his being in his mind.

He still knows us, but has moments of not-knowing, or moments of pure memory. He is still my dad, but then again he is not. I am not with him often, but when I am there he is not with me. Not really.

I feel like I should mourn, but I do not know how. He has always been the person I went to when I had questions that involved the mind, but I cannot say we were ever truly close. I don’t know that anyone in my family was ever truly close.

My memories have faded as well.

It is painful to know that this man who used to  be so vibrant and who used to charm all of my friends, is somehow fading into himself. I never even really talk to him anymore, as the phone is my only contact with my family and he never talks. I think my family somewhat resents my physical distance which makes it even harder to call. My physical distance is becoming metaphysical.

In all honesty I am afraid. I am afraid of watching someone dwindle and disappear right before my eyes.  But  at isn’t the only thing I fear. I am afraid of watching my future. Am I destined to disappear in a similar way, my mind receding back into memory until there is nothing left but emptiness? I can’t live life like that.

I miss my dad.

Thank You for Being a Friend

 

Dew on a spider's web in the morning.

Image via Wikipedia

 

Thanks to my good friend Sue’s response to my post “I’d Like to Introduce . . . Myself” http://lisawieldswords.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/id-like-to-introduce-myself/ I have had an epiphany: I can be defined by the relationships I’ve made and the people I’ve had in my life.

When I look back on the number of incredible people I’ve met along my life’s journey, it gives me chills. I’m not in contact with them all. All of my relationships haven’t been perfect. Some people have hurt me along the way, and I’m sure I have hurt others. But still, the incredible journey of meeting and greeting, connecting and disconnecting, finding soul mates and losing loves, all make me who I am.

Some people have been in my life for years and will remain there forever. Some people have come and gone and come again. Some are merely wisps of memory, but memory is a powerful tool.

I thank each and every person who has ever touched my life and left, with their touch, a new depth of meaning and a new connection. I’ve explored this topic before, but today it has new meaning.

The previous incarnations are:

Dots, Lines and Connections

http://lisawieldswords.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/dots-lines-and-connections/

and Connections  http://lisawieldswords.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/connections/

I guess I have a common theme often. ;)

I am defined by the people who have become a part of my life. They don’t give me a definition, they become part of my definition. And, based on the incredible people who have welcomed me into their lives, my “definition” is rich.

Thank you all! <3

The Responsibilities of Thinking

Vector image of two human figures with hands i...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday a friend started a discussion about gay marriage vs. polygamy. This discussion isn’t about that, although she raised some interesting issues for me.  The discussion led to some really passionate responses on both sides of the issue, but very few thoughtful arguments.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have some pretty strong opinions as well. But, what really struck me about the entire conversation was the idea that we, as a society, tend to react rather than think and act. We cling so passionately to our belief systems that somehow we can never meet  in the nebulous middle where honest discourse and discussion can occur.

I wonder how the world would differ if we could learn to enter discussion through thought rather than through passion. Of course, that could make things worse because people would be forced to see that there are multiple sides to every issue not just two. That makes things complicated. But maybe, through honest discussion of complexities more could be achieved.

But, humans are passionate. In America, we cling to the idea the idea that we are free to think as we wish. We are free to express ourselves as we wish. We are free to worship as we wish. Those freedoms make us powerful, but could they possibly weaken us as well because we cling so tightly that we cannot let go. We can never meet in the middle. We can never follow intellect without passion dictating some of our thought processes.

On the other hand, do I really want to live in a society that is only guided by intellect and not by passion? My answer to that has to be “NO!”.

So then, where does that lead? what are our responsibilities to ourselves and others as thinking passionate beings? I don’t know how to merge the too successfully, but I believe that somehow we need to find a way.

Keeping Up Disappearances

I admit, sometimes I choose to disappear. I stop writing; I avoid Facebook (or at least I avoid public appearances on Facebook); I only respond to necessary e-mails; and I censor my calls. I usually do that when I am feeling most out of control with my own emotions. I don’t want to dump those emotions on other people, and I don’t really know how to reach out for help. So I hole up in my inner self and disappear.

BUT, there is a big difference between choosing to disappear to regroup, and being made to disappear. Currently I am facing the latter, and it is making me angry. In a way, though, anger is good because it has made me choose to reappear. I refuse to be made to feel inferior anymore. I know that I am talented. I know that I know my stuff. I know that I have a lot to share. If I’m not welcome, then so be it. I’m going to find my own path. I still don’t know what that path is, but I’m sick of this. So, hello world. I refuse to disappear anymore!!! I’m here to stay.

Dots, Lines, and Connections

 

Netti's "Connect The Dots"

Image by The Infatuated via Flickr

 

When I was younger (and even sometimes now during a boring meeting) I had one doodle that I would return to regularly. It always started with a few dots, anywhere from 3 to 5. Each of those dots then had to be connected with another by lines. Then I would begin to add new dots one at a time. Each new dot connected to the other dots by lines. Out of this grew an intricate web, sometimes looking almost three-dimensional. Sometimes I used different colors. It would grow bigger and bigger until I either ran off the page or was finished with whatever was going on. Sometimes I tried to do it on art paper, with color and variation . . . each dot sprouting lines of different color and thickness that link to all other dots on the page.

As I’ve gotten older, I have tried to find and connect the dots in my life. Each dot represents a person or an experience. My own dot is in there too, near the center, but there is no true center to this complex image.  Sometimes the lines don’t connect smoothly, and twist around to reach other dots. As this complex web grows, sometimes dots never meet, never link, never connect. It is impossible to connect everything to each other, everyone to each other. But I am fascinated by the intersections and the connections that bring people in and out of my world.

In the living version, lines stretch into the distant past and sometimes break. But sometimes they reconnect with stronger cords.  There is some old saying that says something about friends being there at the right time in your life. Perhaps that is true, but once someone has become a part of my life, I’ve connected the dots between myself and that person. The line may stretch and fade, but they never truly disappear.

Thank you to all the dots in my life. You’ve made my life a rich tapestry, and I hope that I have helped do the same for you.