Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Thankful today and every day

 Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Why? For one thing, the whole day is centered around food, friends, and family.  That’s obvious. It’s also centered around being thankful. I know that’s obvious too, but it’s a whole day to remind yourself of how good you have it.  No matter what you’re going through, there’s always something to be thankful for, and that’s the key. Sometimes you have to pull it out of the rubble, but you’ll find it if you do.

 Last Thanksgiving, my life was in turmoil. The whole year was the year of one loss after another. Another time I  experienced that amount of loss was when I was committed to Topeka State hospital in the early 80s. I had lost my job of four years, the longest I have ever worked in my life.  I lost my apartment, all my belongings, and my social life. I also lost all that was familiar to me in the cosy little town outside of Wichita. I spent a year trying to gather my thoughts, my life, my new direction, whatever that was.

This year is different. Yes, I lost the life I knew, my health, my job, my apartment, my social life, my cozy little town, and much of my belongings, but this time was different. I may not know what I’m moving toward, but I know I am not alone and I have a purpose. It’s an exciting time of transition, of surprises, of having a clean slate. All of this was with my full consent even though I had no idea what was in store. I moved into Roz’s house, sight unseen. She tried to describe my area of the house, so I had a good idea, but so much was unknown. The transition was difficult. My MS acted up the first night, and my skin broke out in welts that I swore were mosquito bites. I finally went to a doctor who said it was dermatitis and gave me steroids and antibiotics. The welts disappeared after a month, thank goodness, but for most of the first six months, I felt like a fish out of water at my new place.

Now, nearly a year later, I just can’t imagine still living my old life. I have 7 roommates now, yes seven! It’s a miracle I am here. Having even one roommate was something I swore I would never do, but this feels so right. My roomies have their own lives. They are all respectful and peaceful and clean and quiet. All of them! This giant home is a miracle. My life is a miracle. I am freer than I’ve ever been. I am financially stable even though I only work part time. The key for me is living beneath my means no matter what my income is. This situation allows me to do that. The irony is I feel more abundant than ever. Abundance has little to do with how much money you make or what you own. Abundance, for me, is about the day-to-day life, the moment that is now. Nothing beats that. I am thankful for the miracle that is my life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My Queen Story

I was introduced to Queen in 1976, age 14, when my boyfriend Ken describe A Night at the Opera during Art class. I'll never forget his descriptions of each song and how each song was amazing on its own. He had also perfected Freddie Mercury's moves, which I learned to do from him rather than Freddie. I had not seen Freddie perform yet.

After about a year of hearing about Queen, I finally saw them on the Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack. They showed Queen performing on the popular BBC show, Top of the Pops.

When I saw Freddie Mercury perform that night, nothing existed but Freddie running around on a tiny stage as if he were performing for thousands. Intrigue pulled me into his world so that I could escape mine. After that night, I grabbed the TV guide and scoured the pages to see if Queen was playing anywhere on TV  that week. I just had to see Queen again! Thankfully, Queen was featured regularly on the Midnight Special for several years.

That Christmas I got the album, A Night at the Opera. It was the first year I didn't ask for the latest Osmond album. Shortly afterward, I was kicked out of the house and given a bus ticket to California. I had nowhere to go, but if you're going to be homeless, choose a warm state! I also knew my biological father lived somewhere in California, though I didn't know him at all or where he lived. I packed my suitcase, just one, and threw in some clothes. The only non-essential possession I packed was A Night at the Opera.

By some miracle, I found my father in Westminster and moved in with him and my new family. I had three little brothers! I promptly introduced them to A Night at the Opera, which they devoured. I still have audio cassettes of them singing "Death on Two Legs." I lived with this family for about 6 months, then went back home to Arkansas because, well, I was 16 and very troubled. My grandmother agreed to take me in. I eventually landed at my parents, which lasted a year before they kicked me out again. By that time I had many Queen albums, and I brought them all with me to an apartment I rented with Ken's brother. 

The little apartment, which was condemned after we left, was a party spot for everyone in our circle. Queen music was played constantly, and we even got a kitten named Queen. The landlord was not impressed and kicked us out as soon as he discovered the kitten. I couch-hopped for a while in Arkansas until I had run out of places to stay. My aunt Lela in Kansas invited me to move in with her, which I did immediately. Of course, my Queen albums came with me, along with my boyfriend, Ken, but that's another story. 

In 1980, I read in Circus Magazine that Queen would be performing at the Kansas Coliseum. I also saw that I could order tickets through the magazine. I ordered tickets for me and three of my friends. Our road trip to Kansas City was an event in itself, blasting Queen tunes the whole way. We had 8th row on the floor seats. Those were the days that drugs were offered in the open. We all passed on the cocaine but I may have smoked a bit of weed.  I cannot describe the concert. I honestly don't have the words.

After their North American tour, Queen didn't come back to America. It was difficult keeping up with what they were doing, but I enjoyed the music until I went through a backward masking phase and burned all my albums in my Grandmother's burn barrels while she made fried chicken. I was not going to be influenced by a band that has hidden messages in their songs when played backward! Thankfully that phase didn't last long, but the burning of the albums was forever. I can't even tap into the regret I feel over that. I just had to start from scratch with my Queen collection.

Queen music was the soundtrack of my life. They are so ingrained in my consciousness, I can't imagine being without their music. After Freddie died, I lost touch with the band until 1996 when I discovered a Queen chatroom on the internet. I taught myself web design and created a website about Brian May titled "The Official UNofficial Page for Brian Mayniacs.

"The Official UNOFFICIAL Page for Brian Mayniacs
does most of the things that May's pages at the
official Queen site should do, but fail to..."
Record Collector, Oct. 1999

I became the co-owner of until 2002 when Brian May himself came online and retrieved the domain from Tim Davis, the other owner of No money was exchanged - it was a gift to Brian - and he owns it to this day.

Also in 2002, I worked with Paul, a Queen fan I met online who happened to live near me, to host the first North American Queen convention and raise money for AID Atlanta. The convention was repeated the following year and every year since in different states. The conventions were filled with Queen activities, such as an art expo, raffles, trivia, auction, karaoke, Queen impressions, rarely seen videos, and of course Queen music everywhere. Jackie Smith, the president of the Queen Fan Club in England, and video messages from Brian May were also present. I paid my way to the conventions by drawing the band members and selling the prints. I sent one of my originals, "Baby Freddie" to Jer Bulsara, Freddie's mother. She sent me a Christmas card with a lovely handwritten letter of thanks. Wow... just wow.. to think one of my drawings may be hanging in Freddie's childhood home.

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Queen is so much a part of my life that when Bohemian Rhapsody came out, I was moved to tears from just seeing the trailer! The movie itself was beyond what I had imagined. I gave my review in another post. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My Experience of Bohemian Rhapsody

I am a superfan of Queen since the 70s. I see Bohemian Rhapsody as a long overdue celebration of the music, the band members, and Freddie Mercury.

No, it was not entirely factual. The timeline was mixed up. It didn't show a lot of Queen milestones. For example, Queen was invited to perform on Top of the Pops but couldn't make it, so they created the "Bohemian Rhapsody" music video to be shown in their place. It was the beginning of music videos as we know them today. Also, Queen toured a lot more than what was shown. They were the opening band for Mott the Hoople in the US. It was a huge break for them in the early 70s, but Brian got sick and they had to cancel after the tour got started. They performed in Sun City, to the dismay of all the other bands who refused because of Apartheid. Queen was non-political, though, and just wanted to play for the fans. Queen stories go on and on, and I imagine it was very difficult to choose which stories would make the cut in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Regardless of the inaccuracies and timeline, I was mesmerized by the movie, because it was so current and alive. It was a celebration of a band that was mostly forgotten after Freddie Mercury died. Queen never got the full recognition in the States after their Hot Space flop in 1982. Younger people had no idea that many of the songs they grew up hearing were from Queen. 

The movie did the most important thing a biopic can do: it captured the essence of Queen, their music, their energy, their success. I felt like Freddie was alive again for two hours. Rami Malek could not have done better at capturing Freddie's gestures and nuances, as well as his personality.  When I learned that Brian May and Roger Taylor would be involved in the film, I knew it was going to be good. They would never allow for Freddie's life to be about dying. Freddie never stopped living, never stopped writing songs, even on his deathbed.  They made sure that Freddie himself would be satisfied with the movie. I just wish Jer Bulsara, Freddie's mother, had lived long enough to see it, but she died three years too soon. She would have been so proud.

Those are the things I thought of while watching the movie. Rumors had been flying for years about a biopic, but I assumed nothing would come of it. I honestly didn't see it coming. Now I plan to see it as many times on the big screen that I can. It wasn't just a movie, it was an experience!

Friday, November 09, 2018

Drastic changes in my life

I know, I know. I have let this blog go. But it's worth saving. So much has happened since I was living in Decatur and working at the Peer Support and Wellness Center. Now I live in Atlanta, the West End, and I work part-time at the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. My responsibilities are to support Roz, the Statewide Coordinator of the Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Centers in Georgia. I support her with the administrative duties that go with the job. I work primarily from home, which is also where Roz lives. Yes, we are roomies, along with 6 other people in this large, 8 bedroom house owned by Roz.

So you could say that my life has changed drastically. I don't even recognize it anymore, but I am loving the clean slate. My responsibilities take just a few hours every day, and then I am free to do whatever my heart desires. This is a far cry from working 24/7 at the Center and having a gazillion responsibilities. Truly, it was the best job ever, but my time is up. Multiple Sclerosis has spoken, and here I am. I believe my time was up regardless.

 Ten years is a good run! Everything changes. It's just part of life.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What if you knew tomorrow was...

What if you knew that tomorrow was your last day on earth and you couldn't go anywhere and had to keep it to yourself ?

 Take a minute to think of everything you would do the rest of the day?

 Now prioritize that list.

And then...




 This is a reminder for myself and my procrastinating ways. No, I 'm not going to die tomorrow or anytime soon, but I don't know that for sure. Nobody knows when or where they're going to die, and everyone tries not to think about it. Well most people anyway.

Not me, I'm morbid.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Superiority does not exist

When someone acts superior toward you, what does it say about that person?  For one thing, it says that person believes that superiority exists. It's true the illusion of superiority, or inferiority, does exist, but Superiority, in reality, in the larger scheme of things does not exist. Superiority is a creation of human beings living, navigating, experiencing, and surviving behind the veil of forgetfulness.

I wonder what our world would be like if humans remembered that superiority doesn't even exist.

When someone acts superior toward you, it only shows their ignorance.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

So life has been...

Life has been many things this last decade. The Peer Support and Wellness Center has been my life, my identity, and I am so proud of its success.  If I die tomorrow, I will die fulfilled.   But I don't plan to die tomorrow. There's more for me in this life. My art, for one thing, and my writing for another   I wonder how far I can take either one. Both have taken me to the zone, tapped into my passion, given me an incredible high.  And that's the path I'll follow.  Life has been incredibly good, to say the least, and it can only get better as far as I'm concerned. I don't care who's President of the United States as long as I can draw and as long as I can write.  Although I must say it's been wonderful having Obama as President during my time at the PSWC. I wonder how much will change if a certain candidate gets elected President in a couple months. I have only one word to say about that.