BB Webb as BB Webb!

Exploring the Possibilities

Bob Banta births BB….Awwww Dad! November 22, 2010

I hadn’t put it together until just this evening, but my father, Bob Banta, (who dubbed me Barbara Suzanne Banta) was a BB as well.

Happy Birthday to my father, Bob Banta. He died some time ago and honestly, I feel a greater bond with him since his death than perhaps when he was of flesh.

Odd thing to say perhaps, but I ‘get’ him a bit more since his passing.

BB and Bob, November 2005

He was not a warm, fuzzy guy, prone instead to temper tantrums and outburst of ‘crazies’. Though part of me now understands him a bit. Actually, MORE than a bit. And I love him dearly. Totally and dearly!

We are all part adult, part child. The child parts show up in the most profound (interesting)? ways….and I’ve found for myself, often embarrassing ways. We all want to FEEL we are so entirely ADULT, but what indeed is that.

But none of us is ‘complete’, I feel on this planet….we are all unfinished specs of humanity doing our best to make our way. Some of us have a savvier intellect, or are more affable, some negotiate good business, others terrific family relations….but we all have ‘work to do’….and to me, that’s what makes life interesting, if not frustrating in moments.

We all have our world view, my Dad clearly had his. We grow up with our ‘rights and wrongs’ our ‘preferences’ so to speak. My Dad was a most rigid sort. He had a box in which he lived and anything outside that was deemed wrong. Imagine me, budding artist, creative soul living in his household!

My Dad found me a bit too LARGE for life, too animated, lively, loud, BIG and certainly dramatic. And, I am. That doesn’t make me wrong, merely ME. Me. Not him. Me. I clearly judged him, his box, his disapproval mostly, sadly. I know better now. You do NOT fight fire with fire. I prefer to ‘fight’ with boundaries and love!

And so as I’ve mellowed in SOME regard, (others not so and perhaps never will or care to), I realize that there are things we must just accept within ourselves, others we can maybe tweak but again, I am reminded of Popeye and his ever popular, ‘I yam what I yam’ declaration.

And so should you be. And if I find I am not fitting into the current choices in my life, I’d best find other digs. My brothers moved to Montana when they found the surrounds and growth within our once rural Pennsylvania, not fitting. They needed a new place to thrive and get what they needed. Certainly traffic in Bozeman is far less hectic than in an ever growing outskirt of the Philadelphia surrounds. I admire their decision making.

I too am outgrowing things in my life and it’s almost comical to watch me ‘burst at the seams’ as I do. My father perhaps never found his groove until later in life. Business was a huge stressor to him and I think the role to which he was thrust at that time in the world and in how he grew up, a mother more concerned with cleanliness that teaching ‘Bobbie’ how to love.

A funny memory is my Grandmother telling us not to sleep out in the backyard as kids as ‘bugs will get into your ears’!

Bob's 2005 BD, our last together with my brothers.

Though far from warm and fuzzy or generous with his compliments, he was a master at the back handed compliment, i.e when reading an article written about me in the local newspaper when I’d brought my play, ‘Through Ruby’s Eyes’ to my hometown….I shared the ups and downs of being a traveling artist. He said to me,

‘in other words, if you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, get outta of the kitchen!

Bingo Bob! And that was his way of saying, ‘atta girl. You’ve got the right attitude.’ But he was unskilled in using words in that way…in the same way that some people are not effective speaking their truths in person, they need instead to write what they feel, my Dad had his own style for communicating his feelings. Though I’d hardly say he was ever much IN TOUCH with them.

I recently received a mail package of things my brothers procured from my father’s estate. In my bundle was every letter I’d ever written him, (and, effusive I am) along with trinkets I’d made for him as a child. I was moved beyond tears to guffaws of joy AND sadness. I wish we’d known one another better. I wish he’d been open to my brand of communicating and ‘being me’. I wish I’d known how to reach him better to let him know how deeply, deeply loved he was by me and how badly I wanted him to see me and tell me I was his own special girl.

But I know that now….not just because of the found trinkets and letters kept, but I feel his presence in uncanny ways. We speak to one another and honestly, he’s so damn proud of me and I feel that. He edges me along in my business, challenging me to think bigger, to create, to work my magic which he knows I have. His sense of the Universe is so much grander from where he sits now and I am the beneficiary of his vision.

He was a good man with a broken heart and a fractured soul. We’ll meet again no doubt and he’ll feel me and know on NO uncertain terms that he is valued, loved, found capable, smart, loving and special for just being who he is.

I love Bob Banta. With every inch of my fiber and more. Thank you for the gifts I’ve received through having you as my Dad, warts and all that we both have….I may be a similar pain in the ass to others that you were, but I’ve now both scienter and a heart filled with both forgiveness and love and I dare you, dare you dear Dad, to beat that.

Happy Birthday…you’d have been 89 years old today.

Love your DDD. Barbie Sue.

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Awwww…..no one will see the back. February 24, 2010

When I was 11 and 12, (ugh….with absolutely NO breasts, skinny as a green bean), in preparation for school, my OH so patient mother would painstakingly help put hot curlers in my hair to make it bounce, as otherwise my very curly hair would have a plan of it’s own and rebel conformity, (as if I didn’t understand). I was so particular about how the front looked, but when in a hurry, (which was every morning as I dawdled til ‘haircurler time’, In my most whiney manner I’d command impertently, (she should have smacked me)….

‘Don’t worry about the back moooooom, I can’t see it anyway. The buuuus is coming!!!!’

My Lord I had a patient mother. I was petulant at times, impatient too, emotional, and once when my brothers drove me one more time to distraction, I threw my hairbrush across the my bedroom and put a huge dent in my wall.

I’m thankful that I wasn’t thrown out of the family.

Watching my mother’s slow anger come to a steam was something I deserved and almost relished to see. How much would it take to make her blow her whistle. (Isn’t that a child’s job, to test the boundaries, the water, their mothers)?

As a sidenote, (cause I’m in the mood), that raucous bit of bad behavior was only surpassed the time my brother Johnny turned off the lights in our basement and left me downstairs.

( I was both scared of the dark AND that cotton pickin’ basement, dadgumit).

I somehow catapulted myself up through the darkness, flew open the door with a strength and speed which only Hercules or Wonder Woman could exude, (I’ve always been strong and ferocious when angry or backed into a corner), and slammed the door right into our 1970’s wood paneled television putting a hole right through the door and ruining the gorgeous wood paneling on this then, very expensive piece of television furniture.

Ooooooh, who was in trouble THEN?

My point….I have one. I think….

Back to ‘hair curler-land’…..Is it important to finish all sides of a project? If you can’t see ‘the back’ can anyone else and does it matter? I remember an author friend of mine telling me once that if he didn’t like a book, he didn’t finish it. I was somewhat aghast. ‘You’re kidding,’ I thought, ‘isn’t that weak? What if it gets better at Chapter 7.’ (I’d suffered through so many Greek tragedies in college I was used to muscling through assignments).

But how freeing, if after a measure of effort, if something isn’t a fit, let it go. ‘Run Forrest, ruuuuun’! (My new favorite saying…(Forrest Gump)! And so, if I began a book and didn’t like it, after a bit of concentration to endeavor to ‘get into it’, if it didn’t jive, on to another as there are piles in every room of my house that have yet to be read. (I like having books around….they’re like friends who at the right time, you open and discover something new….when you are ready).

And then completing projects. I’ve always been creative and needed outlets for expressing my creativity. My mom had a needlecraft shop. I learned to knit and could barely sit through 1/3 or a completed scarf.

‘Good God,’ I thought as a 10 or 11 year old….’you want me to SIT here and KNIT? Are you out of your flippin mind? Sit???’

So, I needed active creative projects as I’m not a good ‘sitter’ (‘and how much easier is it to buy a $5 scarf than knit one’ I thought, and I still do).

So, I don’t think all things need to be ‘finished’. I know when I used to paint paintings, that there never seemed an ending point, but at one point, I needed to move on from my painting. I rather liked the idea when performing plays that with each performance you could add something, evolve the piece, try something new….and at the end of the evening, it was done. You could walk on the bare stage at the end of the evening and feel the energy that was still in the room, but the play was OVER. Unlike a painting, it was not tangible, only in people’s minds.

I think perhaps this is my favorite sort of creation. Create it, then off into the ether.

I loved Joni Mitchell as a teenager, was given ‘Court and Spark’ (in album form) by my trouble making brother Johnny when I had my wisdom teeth out. (Despite driving me mad as a child, I simply adored him as a boy and even more as a man….regardless of his brotherly ‘affection’). I remember listening to that album til it had grooves in it and became scratched and worn.

Years later when Joni’s style and voice really took on a new tamber, I felt betrayed, ‘where had the other Joni gone?’ She’d grown, she’d evolved. I understand now. I get it.

Years and years ago, after I’d put my ‘Through Ruby’s Eyes’ play to rest, people would ask, why don’t you perform it again. Why? Why?

Because I was done. That was then, this is NOW. I was done.

So, when a piece is done, (or half done as my curled hair was), that’s enough…it’s time to move on and that is lovely. For what is ‘done’ anyway, (unless of course you’re talking about cooking chicken. As an event facility owner, I do have my standards, well, and so does the health department), but in other things of life, might not our passions be with the moment, not subject to unnecessary rules or expectations.

Try this, don that, wear this new style until no, I prefer it THIS way, have this favorite food and tomorrow call something else your favorite. Well, why not? (But you always liked tangerines BB….). Well, not now, I’ve changed, I like green olives now….for now. Ask me tomorrow and it might be toast, cooked extra dark, nearly burnt like my mommy used to make it!!

We have the opportunity to shift and move in life….nothing is permanent nor should it be. Loving, the work we do, the friends we choose, the foods we prefer, the work we take on, our lovers, habits, predispositions, policies, homes, customs or traditions. I don’t like doing the same thing every Christmas. One year in Bali please, another in Montana with the family, they’re fun, New York City the following year….and what about Berlin or the ocean??

I’m considering as I sit at my dining room table with dogs strewn about, how I relish the ability to shift and turn, to eat my words, to be more gracious tomorrow, less a push over today, more a grump when moody if I choose, or less so if I choose not.

We have choice and should we not care if someone sees that we’ve not curled the back of our hair, and that it matches the front not at all…..so be it.

Carpe Diem my friends. Joi de vivre!!

Love, BB Webb

 

For Johnny Pole…. December 10, 2009

Anne Sexton, the woman and poet, intrigued me greatly as a young woman. Her personal story I found fascinating, her death, shocking and her friendship with Sylvia Plath I understood.

One of my favorite poems of hers is ‘For Johnny Pole on the Forgotten Beach‘.

I have a brother named Johnny who I love dearly. He has never been, I feel, a terrific communicator, is a highly sensitive soul and has developed survival mechanisms which both frustrate and move me. I love him more than I might ever express. We are blood and I value the history we have shared. He is my brother.

I think of him somehow in this poem, how one season in life can be so different from another, the wounds we carry, the death of and possibly rebirth of many of our ‘parts’. To me it’s a most beautiful poem and Anne Sexton, a woman misunderstood in her time.

FOR JOHNNY POLE ON THE FORGOTTEN BEACH, by Anne Sexton

In his tenth July some instinct

Anne Sexton

taught him to arm the waiting wave,
a giant where its mouth hung open.
He rode on the lip that buoyed him there
and buckled him under. The beach was strung
with children paddling their ages in,
under the glare of noon chipping
its light out. He stood up, anonymous
and straight among them, between
their sand pails and nursery crafts.
The breakers cartwheeled in and over
to puddle their toes and test their perfect
skin. He was my brother, my small
Johnny brother, almost ten. We flopped
down upon a towel to grind the sand
under us and watched the Atlantic sea
move fire, like night sparklers;
and lost our weight in the festival
season. He dreamed, he said, to be
a man designed like a balanced wave…
how someday he would wait, giant
and straight.

Johnny, your dream moves summers
inside my mind.

He was tall and twenty that July,
but there was no balance to help;
only the shells came straight and even.
This was the first beach of assault;
the odor of death hung in the air
like rotting potatoes, the junkyard
of landing craft waited open and rusting.
The bodies were strung out as if they were
still reaching for each other, where they lay
to blacken, to burst through their perfect
skin. And Johnny Pole was one of them.
He gave in like a small wave, a sudden
hole in his belly and the years all gone
where the Pacific noon chipped its light out.
Like a bean bag, outflung, head loose
and anonymous, he lay. Did the sea move fire
for its battle season? Does he lie there
forever, where his rifle waits, giant
and straight?…I think you die again
and live again,
Johnny, each summer that moves inside
my mind.

BB Webb