I Might Have Superglued my Nostrils Shut

I taught my first jewelry class today as part of a sisterhood retreat weekend centered on telling our stories. I thought working on a memory pendant would be a perfect fit. These were the very first pieces I did back when in 2012 when I was just starting the idea of a business. Like this.

No fire involved. I prepped all the metal beforehand. I put together toolkits so everyone would have what they needed. Ok ladies, this is what we’re making. Go. Make this. Easy peasy. Yep. Piece o’ cake. Not so much. 14 women looking to me for guidance. Using tools for the very first time that, for me is like brushing my teeth, but for them might be like getting behind the wheel of a spaceship. Throw in bench pins that don’t fit on the tables, connectors that aren’t quite long enough, the daunting task of fitting a two day project into two hours, and superglue flying. As am I. By the seat of my pants. What am I doing to these poor people? Recipe for disaster, right? But these women. They stepped up. They made some kickass stuff. Did they make what I envisioned? Some. Some took the metal and beads and doodads and did their own amazing thing. Did we finish them all? Nah. Did I take a few home that I am going to finish up for them? Yep. Happily. And as I stew and fret a little in the wee hours of the morning because I’m not 100% sure I gave them the best experience, I picture their beautiful maskless smiles, their laughter, their complete faith that I have every right to guide them in wherever this particular story goes, I think, this. This is what sisterhood is all about. Joyous, glorious mayhem that probably won’t go the way you planned, but is accepted with an open, grateful heart. Thank you, my sisters, my אחיות.

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“Such Pretty Forks in the Road” -Alanis Morrisette

“My true self is perfect wholeness”. This was the centering thought in today’s meditation with Deepak Chopra. It’s all part of my quest for purpose. To find my self, my space, and according to the tenets of Mussar, fill it, “no more than my place, no less than my space”. Whew. Sounds like I’ve bitten off quite the chunk, no? In historical fashion, my first inclination is to say, “F*#% this s@#*”, and spit the damn wad out. But, curiously, I’m sort of enjoying the process. It’s illuminating to finally accept that whining about the present, crying about the past and fearing the future, and doing it in such spectacularly public a fashion is pretty much overflowing my space and possibly holding everyone around me’s space hostage as well. All cause I don’t feel equipped to fill my space in the first place. I know, I’m starting to sound a little Dr. Seuss-y. I cannot, will not find my place, I cannot, will not fill my space. But seriously, folks, y’all know I’m going through some stuff here as the world opens up. Blah, blah, Blah. Who isn’t? The trick is to balance the inner and outer me. The soul and the self. The true self, which is, just by being, already perfect, and the self I have created, which is, let’s face it, a mess. This is, obviously, a long process. I, of course want results yesterday. “Come on, true, perfect self… I know you’re in there, come on out!” Meanwhile my true self is telling me to F*#% off and leave a family-sized bag of m&m’s before I go. *Sigh*. Obviously this is gonna take a while, but what’s the hurry? Isn’t the journey as much of the fun as the destination? Truly, whoever said that? They are full of it. Sometimes the journey is just trudging up a mountain in the desert in high heels. Yesterday, I placed my usual online order for this particular ice cream I like. But, instead of ordering 4 pints, I ordered 4 cases. Didn’t even notice until after I submitted the order. And because the order gets fulfilled like, the second they get it, there is a good chance that I’ll be getting 32 pints of ice cream. Imma have to buy a meat locker. So, yeah, sometimes the journey is frustrating and lonely, and scary. But it’s also hilarious. And sweet. And fun. And enlightening. And if you’re really lucky, you have all sorts of amazing family and friends right next to you, complaining about blisters on their feet and the desert heat. Ok, True self. Be that way. But I’ll be back. No m&m’s. But I will have ice cream.

Necklaces in Progress, not yet hiding behind the outer self

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Go This Way…

As the lockdown winds down and life begins to open up, I, like many others, am facing a crisis of faith. As horrible as this pandemic has been, it has been a period of calm for me. I answered to no one but myself. I needed to be nowhere and I created for only me. I didn’t stress about what I was missing, because we were all missing…something. And now? As we begin to remove our masks, I am suddenly afraid. What happens next? What do I do? Where do I go? I can’t live on the dole forever. I need a job. Don’t I? Can I keep living in this cocoon of calm and creativity, this bubble of peace, hiding behind a literal mask? Can I turn a quirk of fate into a life that resonates with joy? All of these questions have me a little stuck, loathe to leave behind the comfort of this quarantine life, but knowing I can’t stay. We all talk about the new normal. What is that supposed to look like for someone like me? Do I retire? Do I look for a new job? Do I sit around and hope my old job still exists? Or do I do neither of those and figure out what the life I really want to live for the next chapter looks like? Maybe it’s not just fear I’m feeling. Maybe it’s excitement, anticipation. Maybe it’s ok to be afraid, not for what we’ve missed, but about what’s to come.

Don’t look back

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If You Need Me, I’ll Be Under the Bed

A dear, wise and wonderful friend sent me a volunteer opportunity she believes I am perfect for. It involves coaching high school age students in under-resourced areas so that they can envision a brighter future. A worthy goal. I immediately got a stomach ache and knew in my soul it wasn’t for me as I have nothing to offer. Yes, I am, as she pointed out, a supporter. A cheerleader. I offer time. Interest. I make people feel valued and important. All good stuff. It does not make me coach worthy. I am aware of the gifts I possess. I’m funny. Creative. I act. I create jewelry. I write. I am pretty good at all of this. But interestingly enough, these gifts hide behind a mask. I create a character. A piece of art. A blog post. All of these express who I am without me doing the talking. I am, in person, not particularly articulate. I stuff things inside and mutter to myself instead of saying what I need to say, eventually blowing a gasket or making an ass of myself or both. I interrupt because I’m sure people will either lose interest or ignore me altogether. This is not news. Especially for the 6 people who actually read this blog. But, when I act? Or create a piece? When I write? I am something else. I am articulate and funny and real and I feel just a little bit ferocious. I remember talking about auditions with my nephew years ago. I hate, I mean hate them. I have never figured out how to show my best self in two minutes or less. Just give me the part. I will kick ass, I promise. Coaches of any stripe can’t hide behind a mask. They give of themselves freely and share their wisdom generously. What in the world would a timid, inarticulate, not particularly successful, completely self-absorbed woman with a raging self-esteem issue and a perpetual stomach ache have to offer that any young person would want to hear? So of course I sent in an application email. And even as I write this, my left eye is twitching and I feel like I might throw up. Pretty much like every other day. Maybe I’ll go solder a mask.

Mask of Comedy & Tragedy.

http://www.carynjune

That’s the Most Ridiculous Thing I’ve Ever Heard!

In this current world we live in, Zoom has been a life saver, a connection to those we love, to friends and loved ones, to religious community. There are more, let’s say, mature people who are still having some trouble navigating all this relatively new technology. We’ve all read the story about the gentleman who couldn’t figure out how to remove the kitty filter during a business meeting. Heh heh heh. There’s a lovely woman in a community I’m part of who tends to talk. A lot. The facilitator of our group has taken to starting every question with, “let’s hear from someone we HAVEN’T heard from.” So the other day, this person has her hand up and the tech support says, “So & So has her hand up”, and I hear, from someone else who obviously hasn’t figured out how to mute themselves, “Oy”. And I am looking around to see if anyone else heard it cause I want to laugh so bad. I, of course, am pretty dang tech savvy, so heh, heh, heh. A knee slapper. Well last night I participated in a wonderful program with my Sisterhood. It was informative and moving and inspiring and all those really good things. But, somewhere in the middle of it, I noticed a friend had her background blurred and I thought, “ooh, that’s cool, I wonder how she did that!” So, I briefly clicked on filters to see if I could find it, but no luck, so I clicked it off and turned my attention back to the event, only to notice that I had applied a very faint mustache to myself. Not a Groucho Marx mustache, more like a, she could really use a good waxing, mustache. So, I’m all “WTF, what do I do? What do I do? I don’t even know how I got it in the first place!” So, I’m sitting there covering my upper lip in what I hope is a look of intense concentration for a few seconds, before it occurred to me to just turn off my video and figure out how to turn off the filter. One of the many things I’ve come to know during this time is how much I don’t know. And really, so what? There’s always gonna be someone smarter than me, but I’m sure they’ve also run a whole load of laundry with no soap, or only noticed before getting ready for bed that they’ve been wearing their shirt inside out the whole day. But, I like to think I’m the only one special enough to give myself a ‘stache during a Zoom meeting.

She Could Use a Good Waxing

Retiring in Brigadoon

“An elephant never forgets.” “I remember the first time I..(fill in the blank).” “It’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget.” As the years go by, I am stunned by how much I’ve forgotten. Whole swaths of my life are, not gone, exactly, but…kind of…you know…F*#% it, I forgot what I was trying to say. See what I did there? I have a friend on Facebook. Apparently I share a past with this person, experiences, mutual friends. We’ve been friends on social media for years. And to this day? I have, literally, no idea who they are. I mean none. Nothing. Bubkas. I feel terrible. This person was present in my life for a lot and I can’t remember. Or I was too full of my own drama to even make an effort to know who they were! How self-involved is that? I remember a friend from Pitt posting a program from a show we did together in the Studio Theater. And I looked at it thinking, “Was I in this show? I mean, I see my name, but, was I there?!” Whole shows. Whole epochs. Whole people. No wonder I can’t grow and move forward with any ease. If I put all the things I remember together to form a life, I’m like…six! The last High School reunion I went to was in 2016. It was my 40th. I was amazed at how few people I really knew. I was struck by the wonderful memories flying that I wasn’t part of. Don’t get me wrong, I do have great memories of really close friends. But I also know that there were experiences in my life that caused me a great deal of pain and humiliation. ( Don’t make me tell the peeing in my pants in junior high school story again!) I know that these experiences changed the way I viewed the world, well, my world. I was convinced, in my heart, that everyone was whispering about me and laughing at me and all I wanted to do was disappear. And I did. For years. I was always shy and gawky, but I no longer knew how to navigate my life safely. If I tell you my face is bright red and I’m a little teary even now, decades later? Not exaggerating. To this day, I have to tread lightly because I know it won’t be long before I either humiliate myself or hurt someone else, thereby humiliating myself even further. Quite the burden to carry through decades. And ironically? This, I never forget. Like riding a bicycle. And please, forgive me if I’ve already told you all this, I forget.

The Bicycle, or Blonde with a Flat, Commission

http://www.carynjune.com

Has Anyone Seen my Tassels?

Dust off your lampshades, people! It’s that time again. It’s time for the Birthday blog! This year I’m turning 63. Who would have believed this time last year what the coming year would bring. Pandemics and unemployment. Fear and uncertainty. Racism and revolt. Protests and an election that brought us back from the brink of democratic destruction. Murder Hornets. Sarah Cooper. Randy Rainbow. No one could have imagined, when we heard of a virus way far away in a little town in China that has nothing to do with us, that we would be unable to hug our friends. Celebrate birthdays. Sing Karaoke. Go to a Show. Eat in restaurants. Raise your hands if you thought this would all be over in a few weeks. Yeah, me too. But, we are resilient. We have found ways to teach our children when they can’t go to school, earn a little bit of money while our employment future remains uncertain, keep healthy when gyms and dance classes are not a safe option. We share our conversations on Zoom, we tell people we love them a little more than we used to. And we look forward to the days when life goes back to normal. And the silver lining just might be that the new normal? It probably won’t look or feel quite like the old normal. If you had asked me what I would do if I couldn’t work, go out without a mask, travel, eat in a diner, or pretty much go anywhere for a year, I would have spiraled right into an anxiety attack. But I am fine. I’m more than fine. I’m working on my jewelry. I’m 34 pounds lighter than this time last year. I make my own coffee every day and I’ve embraced my air fryer. The new normal might mean we wear masks for the foreseeable future. Or wash our hands a lot. Or go to a show where every other seat is empty. And maybe we’ll work more from home even when we don’t have to because we know we can. And get puppies. And we’ll still tell the people we love how much they mean to us because we know that life can turn, and fall, and end on a dime. We cannot go back to the old normal, because we have all grown, and the old reality now fits like a cheap suit. But, if it makes you feel nostalgic, I will continue to worry about everything, feed my addiction to Yahtzee and Gunsmoke, interrupt others because I’m afraid if I don’t talk fast, people will get bored before I’m through, and blame everyone but me for whatever ails me. But I will do it with a lampshade on my head.

Monster Under the Bed

http://www.carynjune.com

Losing my Religion

I am not you. I may spend my whole life trying to be you. Trying to have what you have. Be what you are. Accomplish what you have done. But I will never be you. Not being you is a double edged sword. I am not as pretty, as athletic, as rich or young as you. But I am not as lonely, as sad, as sick or frightened as you. Not being you is a double edged sword. I want your status, envy your wealth, crave your children. And I feel your sadness, wear your fear, carry your pain. I am not you. The hard part of not being you, is it is nearly impossible to be me. To delight, to relax, to live each day, just being me. Not wishing for your life, or taking on your pain. I have a life. I have plenty of pain. Why carry more burdens than I should? Why is it so hard to believe that every soul is given the joy and the pain that they are supposed to have. And to wish someone else’s joy for yourself, to take on pain that isn’t yours to take, isn’t fair to them and is an impossible burden on me. Yesterday was the 8th yahrzeit for my dad. And it occurred to me that wishing to be you? That means that all of those that came before me were irrelevant. Not quite good enough. Not as perfect as those that came before you. Because my nose? My Albert Einstein eyebrows? Dad. My red hair? My Grandma Cilly. My name? My great-grandma Channa. My anxiety, my impressive, if migrating, chest? Mom. But from them, I also got my brain, my sense of humor, my creativity, my empathy, my talent, my red hair! It is a new year. It is a week until I turn 63. That milestone brings its own joy and pain. I do so love being the center of attention. Joy. I’m a year older. Pain. See that? Just like any other day.

Woman Praying

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Zzzzzzzzz…

I cannot sleep. Everyone has a sleepless night now and then, but combine menopause and a pandemic schedule that requires me to go nowhere? Forget about it. I’m like a teenage boy. And as I lie awake, tossing, turning, playing Yahtzee on my phone, all of these mysterious and vagrant thoughts loop endlessly in my head, not the least of which is, I may have a bit of a gambling problem. Sorry, Digressing. Hang on a minute, Imma delete that Yahtzee app real quick. Ok, let’s just close the eyes. Deep breaths…Inhale in. Exhale out……Nope. Who am I kidding? I’ve got a good couple of hours before my brain will even consider taking a break. Hey, here’s an idea! Since I’m up, and you’re up…oh, sorry, were you asleep? Well, now that we’re both up, how’s about I share some of my thoughts with you? Ya know, a little stream of consciousness thing. What d’ya say? I’ll use bullets, they make everything look so professional, dontcha think? Yea, totally. Ok, here goes…

  • The pieces I’m working on for a friend looked better in my head than in reality.
  • I keep putting off that Excel assessment test on the job site ‘cause I’m not nearly as “proficient” as I say on my resume.
  • I totally cannot die before Ralphie. He doesn’t know where anything is.
  • Will there ever come a time when we go a whole day without wearing, washing, buying, or reading about masks?
  • The only available COVID-19 vaccine in NY at this time appears to be in Plattsburgh. 276 miles isn’t that far….
  • I wish it were time to get up, so I could have my coffee.
  • I feel guilty about the fact that I love my “My Pillow”, cause the CEO is a douchewaffle.
  • Lefty Lucy, Righty Tighty
  • What, exactly, is wrong with people whose TP rolls under instead of over?

Should I go on? Wait, are you sleeping? Huh. It’s only 1:30! Well, ok. I’m fine by myself. I know, lemme show you something!

Abandoned Bracelet

http://www.carynjune.com

It’s a mess, right? It started off as a commission for a dear friend and it was literally a heartbeat away from being done, but when I was putting the final touches on it, it looked like two giant breasts. Breasts on a bracelet. Yep. Threw it in the scrap heap and started again. But ya see on the right side? Where it looks like the animals have started feeding? I used part of it for the bracelet that eventually graced the arm of my friend. What’s the point? I don’t f*^#ing know! It’s two in the morning!! Ok. The point. The moral. Well, I could unearth the old chestnut about beauty born out of something scarred and unacceptable. That’s always a good one, no? Nah. I just love looking at it. It’s like Chernobyl. It’s abandoned. Forlorn. But if you go there now? Still abandoned but literally covered in this lush greenery. It’s kind of amazing. Yup. Yup. K, Imma try to sleep now. Thanks for staying up with me. We’re both gonna look like two miles of Chernobyl tomorrow. It’s temporary.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen

What constitutes success? What is it, exactly, that you can look at and say, “Well done! Ya did good!” Certainly, there is the obvious. A fabulous career. Plenty of security. 2.5 beautiful, equally successful children. Perhaps fame, or the eternally youthful good looks that every “older” person seems to have only on commercials and soap operas. But is that it? Does that mean that if you don’t have at least two of the above, you are not a success? Or worse, you may even be a, *whisper*, failure?! As anyone who’s ever met me, or read a word I’ve written knows, I’m not any of those things. I haven’t yet found a paying career I love, I don’t have children of my own, I am not famous anywhere but in my own head, and it’s quite possible I will be living in a refrigerator box in the not too distant future. Am I a …failure?! My aunt called last night to tell me that my cousin got a promotion, and I couldn’t be happier or prouder. But when I got off the phone, I started to cry. WTF, what’s that about? I didn’t feel envy or resentment over his success. I was genuinely thrilled. It took me a second to figure out that the person I was feeling sorry for wasn’t me. It was my mom. I felt bad that she didn’t have a reason to call everyone up and brag…….Ok, now that I’ve written that down, let’s call bullshit bullshit. it’s pretty clear that it’s 10% about my mom and 90% about me. Fine, 100% about me. OK? Stop hocking me! I admit, I don’t always feel like the most successful person that ever lived. And looking back, I think that is a mantle I’ve worn since I was a kid. Why? Who the hell knows? Can I blame my parents? What’s the point? I’m not a child anymore, there is no more finger pointing necessary. There are many measures of success. Certainly there are the obvious. But what about the not so obvious? Are you loved? Do you love in return? Do you try to give back? To leave this world even a tiny bit better than it was before you got here? Do you make people laugh? Do you create something of beauty? (Remember, it only needs to be beautiful to you…) Do you learn something new? Do you teach another something new? Can you look back and see growth? Can you look inside of your perfectly imperfect self and say, “Well done! Ya did good!”

LoveBugs, in honor of Abigail and Liza

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