Wednesday, November 28, 2012

H.H. The Dalai Lama: "So I Got THAT Goin' For Me!"

H.H. The Dalai Lama 
nTelos Wireless Pavilion
Charlottesville, Virginia

On October 11th of this year I was lucky enough to be able to witness His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama speak in Charlottesville, Virginia.  This was a significant trip for me, some 5 hours away, but it was incredibly worth it and was one of the greatest experiences of my life, one of the few that I consider “Bucket List Epic”.  It was a wonderful day and an amazing honor to be in the presence of a man who could be considered a true holy man of our time.  I was asked by a friend to accompany him on this journey, and I am very grateful that I was.  Our day of travel became a wonderful experience as well as a spiritual pilgrimage road trip, of sorts. 
Signage for the Dalai Lama on the Downtown Mall

In case you are unaware, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual and political leader to the Tibetan people.  He is the head monk of the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.  He is a simple monk whom many believe to be the reincarnation of the Buddha himself.  The Dalai Lama, however, claims to be nothing more than another human like you or I.  This is, however, untrue, because he is quite a remarkable human being even if he isn’t the reincarnation of the founder of Buddhism.  He was chosen to be the Dalai Lama at the age of 4 and now at the age of 77, has been living in exile in India since the age of 15 after Tibet was seized by China in 1951.  I have always found the Dalai Lama to be an incredibly fascinating man.  I’ve obviously been intrigued by him because of my interest in Buddhism, but regardless of his religious views; he is filled with wisdom for living a compassionate life based on kindness and tolerance.  Seeing him speak was a remarkable event in my life. 

Crossing into nTelos Wireless Pavilion Land
After arriving in Charlottesville and finding a space on the top level of the parking garage we made our way to the Downtown Mall.  This area of Charlottesville is very amazing.  It’s a gorgeous street without vehicle traffic that is lined by shops, restaurants and museums.  There are huge trees going down the center of the street, which are apparently rather old, I would guess some of them to be 75 to 100 years in age.    There was only one gate into the pavilion so there was quite a long line leading up to the entrance.  The Dalai Lama is guarded by the Secret Service while in the States so we were given the ol’ wand swipe and pocket search on our way in.  We made a pilgrimage walk of sorts from the car through this beautiful downtown area to the nTelos Wireless Pavilion where we would see the man some deem to be a prophet, a holy man, and a great political and spiritual leader.  The Dalai Lama means something different to everyone, but regardless of religious background, to most who know of him, he brings forth the idea of compassion.  His newest book Beyond Religion:  Ethics for a Whole World was on sale and we both purchased a copy, as it was the focus of the Lama’s speech on this day.

Post speaking, under the Pavilion, we were seated to the right in the white chairs.
Our view, although obscured by the heads of those in front of us, was actually not that bad considering the seats were considered to have an "obstructed view".  Our seats were relatively close and it was exciting to think we were in such close proximity to His Holiness, even if he is just a man.  After getting seated we enjoyed the cultural performances that were presented to us before the DL’s arrival.  There was some interesting Native American dancing being done in different styles by women and then came a chief with some “wonderful plumage” who would later present the Dalai Lama with a handmade necklace.  At the end of the performance all of the dancers joined each other on stage to move in their own style in a dance that they dedicated to all Mothers and others, including all those Native American warriors that had fallen. 
The Wall on the Mall, filled with messages in chalk.

After this there was a performance by a Tibetan folk artist living in exile named Techung.  I really enjoyed this part of the event.  Techung used different Tibetan instruments; he started out with a song on a flute and then performed another on an instrument that is a Tibetan fiddle of sorts.  He positioned this on his leg as he used a bow to play it.  It was beautiful.  Techung announced that one song was arranged using the poetry of a woman on house arrest.  I wish that I could have understood her words as they were sung, although one phrase was repeated in English, “on the road again.”  I found it quite enjoyable. 

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for.  The woman moderator announced H.H. the Dalai Lama!  This was quite thrilling; I had a smile fixed for quite a few rounds of standing ovations and my eyes welled up with a light film of tears in excitement as I saw him before me in his traditional monk garb and greatness.  The man who I had accompanied had been trying to see the Dalai Lama speak for years at this point in his life.  His face was adorned with a grand grin of happiness as he stood clapping beside me with his eyes fixed.  It was a life goal for him that he fulfilled on that day.  Bucket list epic.

After being announced and seated, the Dalai Lama was presented with a performance from a group of third generation American Tibetan children.  He was then presented a handmade necklace by the Native American dancer with the beautiful plumage.  The necklace had an Om symbol on it, and the Lama laughed and joked, pointing out how it was a Hindu symbol even, and not Buddhist.  He wore the gift around his neck the rest of the time proudly. 
"Practice Thinking!"

 It wasn’t surprising that the Dalai Lama’s speech was centered on compassion, as this is his newest book’s main message as well as his most fundamental message as a spiritual icon; when we think of the Dalai Lama we think of compassion.  One of the first things I remember him saying was him addressing us as “brothers and sisters” and saying how he believes it is important to view everyone as such, stating that we are all the same.  A notable message in his speech was that of motherly love.  He said that a strong bond and sense of love from the mother creates a strong and loving person, and if there was a rift or problem in that relationship there was fear in the heart of the individual.  He spoke of trust and how it is the most important factor in any relationship.  He said once that trust is broken it is very hard to attain again.
We left our marks on the wall.

His Holiness also spoke of morals and ethics and how these things should be upheld in humanity regardless of ones religious beliefs.  All religions, he said, are focused on the similar key concepts of compassion, love and tolerance.  He spoke of religious tolerance and his view of secularism as well as his belief that morals and ethics “beyond religion” should be taught in schools. This comment got a roaring applause of agreement from the audience.  The concepts he mentioned and his delivery were momentous and it was interesting how it takes the words of such a wise man to point out the obvious to society.  It seems that his teachings chime with something deep inside of every human, they speak to a common thread we all share.  That’s the point of being wise, I suppose.  You see what others can’t see, or simply don’t see.  Again, it’s all about perspective.  It is hard to believe that all people don’t believe these teachings or feel them in their being.  In our hearts, I believe that we do.  This is what the Dalai Lama reminds us of, this is what his iconography stands for.  He is an immense outward symbol of our brotherly and sisterly love.  He is the physical manifestation of our collective human heart.  He is a true holy man. 

- MS


The Dalai Lama in Charlottesville, Virginia, October 11, 2012

Caddyshack ("So I got THAT goin' for me!")

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Review

I can remember the exact moment that I saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time.  I can vividly recall being overwhelmed with a new found laughter and excitement, loving what I was viewing in this never before seen [by me] classic.  I had at that point only heard of its following and of the huge cultural impact it had in the 1970’s.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before and seemed to chime with something inside of me that I didn’t even fully understand at the time.  It was ridiculous!  It was fantastic!  It was ridiculously fantastic.  I was in the 9th grade; young, curious, fascinated, seeking.  I was compiling myself as a person, taking a piece from here and a piece from there as I went, as we all do.  In the years that would directly follow, The Rocky Horror Picture Show would become one of the movies most quoted and watched by my friends and me for a good chunk of my teenage life.  I guess your bucket list should include things you’ve wanted to do for a long time.  This past Saturday I was able to accomplish something I had wanted to do for over 17 years, so I think something should be scratched off that list!  On November 17 I finally attended a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a shadow cast at The State Theater in State College and I could not control my excitement!

Columbia and Frank-N-Furter's shadows  in full attire
The Rocky Horror Picture Show came out in 1975.  The film was directed by Jim Sharman, it was a horror/comedy/musical based on the musical stage play "The Rocky Horror Show" written by Richard O’Brien, who also stars in the film as Riff Raff.  The movie was based on B movies and science fiction films from the 1940’s/1950's.  After being released, the movie found fame as one of the biggest “midnight movies” of all time.  In early 1976, audiences started to participate in the film, shouting out responses and tossing props about.  There is an entire script of shout outs and replies that go along with the film that has been developed over the years.  People bring props to use during the film, arrive in full RHPS attire, and shadow act the film on stage in front of the screen for the audience.  A huge cult following has continued on with the film even after 37 years.  It’s really something to experience.  If you are excited about the RHPS at all, you will squee with glee as lines are shouted out at the screen, cards and rice are thrown about and used during scenes and people dance in the aisles and the like.  It was thrilling and nostalgic!  

The film is about Brad and Janet, who become stranded after getting a flat tire on a back road.  They make their way in the rain to a house that they see and are answered at the door by the butler, Riff Raff (O’Brien).  They are ushered in, and stripped of their wet clothes.  They are a little surprised to see the head of the house, Frank-N-Furter (played marvelously by Tim Curry in the movie) who is just a sweet transvestite from the planet Transylvania in the galaxy Transsexual.  They spend an interesting night at the house, filled with unexpected sexual trysts and shenanigans.  Their characters are transformed into different people by the end of the movie.  I don’t want to review the movie or give it away if you haven’t seen it (SHAME if you haven't).  If you haven’t, I suggest you view it.  It’s well worth it.    It introduces Tim Curry, boasts a young Susan Sarandon and even stars Meatloaf himself.  It’s a CULT CLASSIC!
Magenta and Riff Raff on stage and screen

The soundtrack to the movie is also quite excellent.  Some of the songs are so heartfelt, you could compare them to many popular songs of the same time.  Others are ridiculous, others are mysterious, others are sexy and sensational!  Songs like “I’m Going Home” are reminiscent, sad, yet hopeful.  The Time Warp has become a cult dance phenomenon that has stood the test of time.  The movie spouts the line “Don’t dream it; be it!”  Quite the proper motto for a movie such as this.  I may have a biased view of this soundtrack, but it really is surprising how good it is as an album.  

The RHPS Shadow Cast at The State Theater
The shadow cast that performed at the State Theater deserves a shout out.  They all did such a great job acting out the movie as it played on the screen, it was like seeing it on stage, only better.    They were all done up in the proper attire for their parts and really got into the scenes and their roles.  Frank-N-Furter’s shadow was remarkable, and really rocked the outfit he was wearing and totally got into the Frank-N-Furter spirit.  Rocky’s character was actually shadowed by a woman, which seemed odd at first, given the masculine nature of the character in the movie, but I loved that they had done it that way by the end.  It seemed so fitting for RHPS; she was great!  Riff Raff, Magenta, Columbia and the others were equally entertaining.  The characters even came out into the audience for different scenes.  It was a good show; it was entertaining, exciting, and about damn time! I was singing along and absolutely could not keep from bouncing in my seat.  Thank you all for helping me scratch a must do off of the ol' bucket list!  I will surely be attending again, with more friends who MUST experience this with we can do the Time Warp again, again!

- MS

Wikipedia:  The Rocky Horror Picture Show
TRHPS Official Fan Site:
Many, many viewings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Thursday, November 22, 2012


In the spirit of the holiday, I would like for my positive side to make a fuss over my daughter now, because there is really nothing in my life that I am more thankful for.

It is funny to think of how fragile a human life is, in general and on the web of existence. They are each such tiny stands in the fabric of time, yet they can powerfully touch so many lives.  There is a delicate balance that holds them in 'being'. Had anything happened differently in the course of my life, there would be no Celie Ruth.

Anyone can say this, but do you truly grasp what that means? Anything. Obviously, had I not married and mated with my husband, she wouldn't be here, but the nuances of fate are even more delicate than that.  If I hadn't had an early miscarriage before conceiving her, she wouldn't be here. If I hadn't waited until I was 29 to conceive, she wouldn't be here. If I had EVER used the pill as a contraceptive, suspending my ovulation and the order of my eggs...she wouldn't be here!

Those are some odds. Are they really odds? It just seems to me that this is the way it was supposed to be, the Universe wanted its Celie Ruth. While I was pregnant with her, I would tell the Universe in my head, ' This is your child...' I was but a vessel for the amazing thing brewing inside of me. Something has far greater hopes and dreams for this critter than even I can imagine. She is a child of the Universe, my daughter, but my little sister in creation as well.

I know that she stresses me out a lot and can drive me crazy, but I would surely be lost without her. She is seriously cooler than about 78% of the people I know. A friend was warning me the other day about becoming too much of a friend to her as sometimes happens to single parents. This is something I'll surely have to struggle with, because unconsciously I am just hanging out everyday. We are alone together so much and I am alone with her so much, we're going to have to make sure the parent/child line is distinct. I'm not a single mother and could never imagine the hardships those women face daily, but as a SAHM all week on her own, I experience a tiny sliver of that life.  When you are lonely, you lean on a companion you can, and I have her.  We'll see how the balance unwinds as she gets older.

Mostly we hang out and listen to music, watch our favorite shows, read books, color, draw, talk, and play pretend. Sounds like best friends to me! What does that say about me, then, if my two year old is my best friend? It means she's one cool cat, that's what it means!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fetal Hoarder Syndrome: Know the Signs

You know how I know I am a fetal hoarder?  While dejunking my bathroom I found, of course, some junk, including a few odd items that I had stashed on the shelves above the washer and dryer.
This is normal, most people have junk. Is it normal to save your cleansing bottle from your hospital stay 2 years ago when you birthed your first child? It's a perfectly good bottle! Could be used to hold some fluid? To squirt onto a wild fire, perhaps, or some outbreak of the plague in your nether region? I certainly wouldn't be letting anyone borrow said bottle, so what were my intentions? I have no idea. No idea.
THANKFULLY I also found those two pieces to the glider chair that we burned earlier this year! Awesome. You never know what those miscellaneous pieces of wood could be used for. They're already varnished, even! Ch!
The Downy Ball is important, right? You need that fabric soft and if you don't have a reservoir in your washer you are shit not of luck. I needed this Downy Ball when I was in college. The washer in the house I lived in needed it....over ten years ago! I have never required the use of this item since then, but you just never know when I could be suddenly surprised at the door by someone needing to borrow one, or if I wake up one day and my washer is different. It pays to be prepared... sometimes.
Samples of shit are great for when you run out of shampoo or lotion! What makes them even better is time. These random ones I found hale from the college era, just like the Downy Ball. Because what I want when I am completely out of conditioner, which never seems to happen, is a shot of goo that has lost all of its color, scent, and possibly potency as well.
Outdated emulsion is always handy, too, and by that I mean when the hell would I ever use this? You never know when I would feel like doing some screens just for fun that wouldn't turn out or expose at all.
An empty bottle of men's shampoo? Why not. The tiny remnants in the bottom of the bottle are more than enough to offer to the random men that show up wanting to wash their hair that I just don't want to disappoint. Why? No, I mean why did this end up here?
No collection of junk is complete without an unopened, stashed pack of travel tissues that you have had intact for no less than 4 years. What better place for them to remain than right next to the remote control to a DVR box we have never used. (Remember, I found these things in the bathroom.)
All of this stuff is useful and has value, you haters probably don't even know what a perfectly good cardboard box is worth either, just like my husband. It's sad, really.
Yes, Missie, very sad indeed.
Chair pieces, empties, and questionables.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Cheese Man Cometh

So, let it be known first and foremost! My father really is a cheese lover from way back and he turned me on to the wonderful stuff at an early age like any caring father in his right mind with a soul would. We feast on mass quantities of the stuff for We cover it with pesto, lay it on crackers, or just enjoy a chunk by itself. Multiple kinds, flavors, milks, we love it all. We're Italian...cheese holds a big place in our hearts. IT IS ONE OF THE BEST CONSUMABLES INVENTED BY MAN!

Okay, so I love cheese but what I love me some more of is a Cheese Man! No, not a man made entirely of cheese, although that would be quite impressive and delicious.  My dream man...tall, dark, and sharp. Anyway, NOT a life sized Man of Muenster, but the artisan behind the taste, the texture, the smell (and did I mention the taste?) of cheese. Well, I have met such a man in my travels. I don't know his proper name, most simply call him "The Cheese Man".  If you get to the Avondale Hotel on the right day, you'll see him and if you have any lucky piece of bone or cartilage in your body at all you will get some cheese.  He periodically stops into the local pub with his local cheese, and a couple of weeks ago he was back!!  Cheese Man used to take an order sheet, but now it is FIRST COME FIRST SERVE!  Eek!  I know!  They were out of Swiss Rye by the time I got there, but thank goodness he still had Garlic...and Horseradish...and's GOOD stuff, trust me.  Cheese Man will talk to you about the fine art of cheese making if you ask him, he's very approachable despite his celebrity, he meets and greets his fans, always!

The Cheese Man makes his cheese in 1 1/4 lb. blocks.  He used to offer a smoked and non smoked version of each kind.  Now he only appeared to have the smoked cheese, unless I totally missed it?  You're better off, as I am told that the smoked cheese will last you a great deal longer than the regular even though most people find it hard to keep their cheese in the house for very long.  Rumor has it the cheese will draw you out of bed at night to eat it, the is stuff is that good!  True story!  The blocks are wrapped in cellophane and marked.  He has boxes of cheese; it's GLORIOUS!  Cheese so pungent that you can smell the delicious fire smoke through the Saran coat.  It's an exciting day at the Avondale when the cheese comes in.  Usually SOMEBODY cuts into theirs and shares.  This time we had a Cheese Party, with 4 blocks opened up for our sampling by awesome friends.  Someone even contributed crackers, as I was slacking and didn't have a box of Triscuits on me.  (I don't know what I was thinking.)

It is moments like these that I wish I had my Moleskine with me more often, but there I am, Twisted Tea in hand, chatting it up with the man of the hour!  I "interviewed" CM this time, asking him many questions about his craft, but I can't remember exact names of places.  WHAT is interesting and commendable, though, is the fact that Cheese Man strives to keep all of his ingredients coming from Pennsylvania.  He makes the cheese in "The Cheese House" that is a small little house that was used, I assume, to produce cheese on his family's farm back in the day.  He and his brother, I believe he said, acquired it from the family for cheese making.  He hand builds the smokers and chooses to make multiple smaller ones instead of larger ones, so as to have more control over the smoking process.  He purchases his milk from a local milk farm.  He acquires all of his ingredients and flavorings (the peppers, the horseradish, the rye, the garlic, etc.) from Pennsylvania.  He JUST stopped making CHIVE which was possibly my favorite, so this is sad.  Cheese Man said that this was because he couldn't get the particular chives for in it that he had before in prior batches, the suppliers seemed to have simply fallen off the map.  So, because of his cheese making integrity, he didn't even proceed with an inferior product this time around.  We'll see if he is able to find something in the future.

"CHEESE PARTY!" at the Avondale Hotel! From the bottom left going clockwise are blocks of Swiss Rye, Horseradish, Garlic, and Super Hot.
The Cheese Man also takes great pride in the smoked flavor of his cheese, he is very particular about the hickory chips that he uses to produce it.  These also hail from Pennsylvania.  There is something about this taste, smell, flavor, feeling...I swear I can FEEL the smoke, now!  I have had a fridge full of smoked blocks of cheese for over 2 weeks now; I am inundated with the aroma every time that I open the door.  Our milk is smoked.  It's like someone has a camp fire in my refrigerator.  GLORIOUS! 

"Air is cheese's worst enemy!"  -  The Cheese Man 

I bought 5 blocks of cheese off of the Cheese Man on this day.  2 I got for us, 2 for friends, and a block for my dad.  We've all but finished off our two, and I cut into a block of Garlic that was supposed to be for my buddy today.  I broke down.  I couldn't take it.  I only had a half inch of horseradish left and I panicked!  I made Celie and I gourmet grilled cheese with it tonight for dinner. I have that block of garlic and a full unopened block of HOT for my dad.  The smoked lasts quite awhile unopened; in the words of CM "Air is cheese's worst enemy."  I thought Dad would LOVE it, so I grabbed him a block.  After all, he's the one that started this.  He will love this cheese and he will also appreciate the tale of the man known in my local world as The Cheese Man.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Desk Is Lava

There is the theory that all outer chaos mirrors inner chaos, or visa versa. It's an idea, a thought, a hard truth? I'm a believer. I'm constantly struggling to fit all of my stuff into my space. I have been working on cleaning out some dark recesses again this week. I am aware that I have some hoarder tendencies, and possibly too many possessions for our humble home.  I'm not a crazy materialist, we just all need stuff and I've been collecting it my entire life!  Also, I have a home business and about a million hobbies. Plus, I lost my office when we decided to breed, so the dining room is where the remnants settled.
My Desk is certainly a hot spot, to say the very least. It's sometimes a volcano spewing lava. I have the OCD to create an excellent system, I simply also have the ADD to not follow through with said system. I'll reinvent, follow, tire, fail and repeat! THAT'S MY ROUTINE! I feel like I finally manage to get on this bucking bull, only to lose my grasp again. Flung to the ground. That's a metaphor. My inability to schedule and organize myself stems from something far greater than laziness.
This is my Desk, which is basically a glorified shelf, or a waste basket filing system? It has better days than others. There is some order in this chaos, though, you better believe it...I'm just not sure where I put it right now.
So, is my inner chaos mirroring my surroundings? Or is my outer chaos a reflection of my confused inner realm? I'm not sure, but if they can meet in the middle, maybe I can ride that bull a little longer this time! Either ride the bull or live with the lava!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Errands and Escapes

Yesterday, my husband stayed home to get the kiddo down for a nap while I ran to town with two of my friends to pick up a few things. It was amazing.
We took a semi back way getting there, I love this place because there are so many options for your traveling pleasure. We grabbed our stuff and got some things for the ride, then we took the long way home.  I mean the long way, because we ended up stopping at Black Moshannon State Park to use their rest room. We had taken a scenic detour, the sky was gorgeous and it was a surprisingly warm day for November.  After our pit stop for a pee and peek at the calm, iced tea water of the Black Moshannon, we then took Huckleberry, it's a wonderful road.
I guess my main point was how wonderful this simple pleasure was. The shear act of getting out of the house without the child, and focusing on the journey instead of the destination.
I enjoyed the company and the journey, soaking in the scenery as we slowly crept along the dirt roads, like a float in some wilderness parade where the trees were the bystanders, only in lieu of tossing candy we threw smiles of awe out at the majestic span of their limbs.  We waved to the years that screamed out of each and every thick trunk.  We appreciated what was passing us by instead of just driving through it, anxiously anticipating our next stop. That's a metaphor.
I always take the long way home, if I can help it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

7 Thoughts by The Good and Bad Voices

Why I Feel Bad For My Daughter
  1. She got the short end of the stick.
  2. She is only a toddler and is aware of my fluctuating moods.
  3. She sees things in her mama she shouldn’t see. 
  4. She is my blood relation.
  5. She has a high chance of turning out just like me. 
  6. She has a highly depressive, artsy, flake of a mother.
  7. I’m selfish.

Why I Feel Good For My Daughter

  1. She got a piece of the stick!!
  2. She is only a toddler and is empathetic enough to understand when I am down.
  3. She sees the good in me when I can only see the bad.
  4. She is my blood relation.
  5. She has a high chance of turning out just like me, only stronger. 
  6. She will understand how complicated people can be before I send her off into it.
  7. She is learning independence. 

This has been a random pointless list brought to you by Self-Loathing and Positive Thinking.