Sista Monica – Live your Life – Brave and Bold

Note to my blog readers – I write a majority of my blog posts when Mr. C is still sleeping – very early in the morning. They are written fast, prior to me beginning to work on various, creative projects for my upcoming boutique. These letters are in rough draft format.  Please be kind when reading them. I thought that I’d show the world a peek inside of the process of imperfection prior to something transcending into perfection. I would much rather start somewhere, correcting my mistakes as I go, than never starting because I’m fearful of showing the world my imperfections. The support of my readers encourages me to move forward upon my journey towards greatness and fulfilling my dreams. Thank you for supporting me.  For those of you who have followed my blog for numerous years, thanks for remaining with me as I continue to adventure onward on this journey called – Life.

 

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5/13/2016 –

 

Dear Henry,

As I’m recalling all of the great people who I have met and have greatly inspired my life, as well as living through some of my most frightening moments in my life, I am reminded of an amazingly, talented woman – the late, great, blues legend, Sista Monica – 1956-2014.

During this time in my life, when I wrote the Sista Monica reviews, I was very young – my thoughts were continuously lost in my own world, my feet dancing to the unique beat of my own music.  If I would’ve known more about Sista Monica’s history, which has made her a legend in blues music history, I would’ve been much more frightened than I already was, prior to interviewing her.  I had to walk boldly where very few souls have gone before, moving forward, courageously, one step at a time, to get through my interview with a woman of vast greatness and the intense power of a Lioness.

I recall being terrified, as I was being led to the green room to meet Sista Monica, after she performed so vivaciously on stage. My entire body trembled like a high strung, Chihuahua.  I can still feel the tightness and trembling in my throat as I interviewed a woman with a strong, fearless presence, and how my voice quavered with apprehension.  I could hardly swallow the remainder of spit in my mouth because my throat felt very dry from nervousness.

I wrote this music review after meeting a powerful woman who continues to greatly inspire my life.  It was the beginning of my career as a published writer and my marriage to Mr. C – RIP Sista Monica.

 

Sista Monica

Live Review – Famous Dave’s

November 24, 2000

Mia Jennings

 

The week prior to Sista Monica’s live performance at Famous Dave’s in Calhoun Square, Uptown Minneapolis. I had just finished writing a review about her newest CD,

“People Love The Blues.”

 

Instantly, I fell passionately in love with her rich, sultry vocals long before I observed her perform magic live on stage.  The day that I’d finished writing Sista Monica’s CD review – our furnace had broke, only weeks after our water well pump had broken. To fix each – cost over sixteen hundred dollars. Needless to say – I wasn’t feeling very grateful the week of Thanksgiving.  The only thing which helped soothe the pain was the sound of Sista Monica’s voice, which played on her CD repetitiously, while I cried the blues.

A ray of light emerged when I was asked to write a review for Sista Monica, after she played live at Famous Dave’s in Uptown, Minneapolis.  I was thrilled.  At this point, a little bit of gratitude began to warm my ice, cold heart.  By the time I walked through the doors of Calhoun Square, on that Friday night, the feeling of appreciation was all around me and I could hardly wait for the evening to begin.

Sista Monica opened strong wearing a leopard print garment to match her ferocious style, as well as her deep purrs and seductive growls.  On stage she vocalized her extreme energy, her amazing spirit, and even revealed the most vulnerable areas of her soul, to many cold, Minnesotans on this particular, autumn evening – warming our souls.  Sista Monica brought a bit of the Santa Cruz, California sun with her. She overwhelmed and captivated the audience with her passion. She was so hot that she could’ve left sparks on forgotten, rustic, train tracks.  Eventually, each one of her sweet, soulful notes made me forget all about my troubles. They vanquished into the night, like ghosts at dawn.

In between Sista Monica’s vocals I could hear her joyful soul in the echoes of her deep bellied laugh. She performed with great animation, instinctively knowing just how to involve the crowd.  Her passion was exposed to all who watched her on stage and indulged their ears and soul with her music. Sista Monica’s a storyteller, informing her audience about her roots, her Mama, and her mother’s crock pot.  She sang, “Mama whatcha cookin’ in the crock pot?”  Mama says, “she’s cookin’ soul food.” Sista Monica vocalizes, “Good, because I don’t like Tofu!”  I don’t blame her, bleh.

Sista Monica sings with passion and sweat dripping down her face.

“Soul is just soul, it’s a feeling in your bones.”

That’s precisely where her music hits too – deep in the soul.  So deep you feel a good kind of ache in your bones.  Her music is sometimes the roots of the blues, sometimes the roots of Gospel, sometimes the roots of funk, and many times quite a bit of all each.  Sista Monica even had the ability to put tears in my eyes when she sang beautifully and passionately in acapella.  Her sleek, sad yet triumphant voice – wrapping her musical notes in a soft, velvet melody, richly bellowing out the words to, “Amazing Grace,” in remembrance of her past tenor/saxophone player, Ken Baker.  Her heartaches reached out, grabbing me with intense emotion – often stopping my heart – leaving me breathless.

This Blues Lioness drew in a great crowd, on this particular night, as well as a couple of well-known musicians.  Chubby Carrier was in the house enjoying the show, as well as The Steele family, who joined her up on stage towards the end of the evening, entwining their spectacular vocals together to make a memorable moment in music history.  To remind me that I shouldn’t worry and be happy, Bobby Mc Ferrin graced the room with his presence. I wasn’t supposed to make a big deal out of it, but since the shows over, I can let the cat out of the bag.

(I was unaware at this time that they were most likely other great Minnesota musicians in the house at Famous Dave’s on that evening in Uptown, Minneapolis – possible musicians such as… Jamecia Bennet – The members of the Sounds of Blackness – Ann Nessby – Paris Bennet – Toki Wright – Cynthia Johnson -) I didn’t learn of their greatness until I began creating the art work for the Minnesota Black Music Awards 2010 and 2011. )

The buzzing energy at Famous Dave’s was intense!  The service was wonderful.  Ron Healey, the head of security was an absolute angel, and Pat Nelson was very accommodating.  By the end of the night, I had my opportunity to interview – Sista Monica.  Her presence was warm, and so was her hand, which she shook with mine.  Because I’d just written a CD review on her, and had done quite a bit of research on Sista Monica’s roots, I didn’t want to ask the basic questions that I already knew the answers to, and waste her time, as well as mine.

(To be honest, Henry – Sister Monica’s indomitable force and strong presence scared the Mother Fucking shit out of me, much like riding the Big Shot Ride at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas). I could tell that the evening’s performance had taken quite a bit of energy out of this blues legend.  So I proceeded to tell her about how ungrateful I’d felt during the week, feeling blue about my furnace and water pump at home had broken.  I told her how her music on her CD eased me through my difficulties in life.  I told her how she’s touched me with her music that evening. I thanked her graciously.) 

The main question that I asked Sista Monica was, “How does it feel to know that you’re touching so many people with your art, and making a difference in so many lives?

Sista Monica’s response – “That’s the whole purpose of performing – touching others and making a difference.  When my band and I go out on the road, we never know who we’re going to meet, who we’re going to make a contribution to, but we always hope and pray that somebody out in the audience will enjoy the music, get a message out of it, listen to the music beyond just the groove, and get into the lyrics and what we’re saying.  When I write the songs I write from my own experiences, and I hope someone else can go through a process while listening to it.”

I don’t know how many other people who listened to her music beyond the groove and felt what I did after her performance on stage.  I don’t know how many people went home with a grin on their face as large as mine, and new hope ignited in their souls.  But I do know that this magnificent, blues legend – Sista Monica’s purpose – being a singer/songwriter – was met when I listened and witnessed her perform on stage at Famous Dave’s in Uptown Minneapolis.  Every one of her delicious notes and atoms of vibrant energy hit me deep inside with immeasurable intensity.  Her music, soul, as well as lyrics had the ability to move me beyond the grim and into the light.  Thanks Sista Monica for such a fantastic evening.  It’ll be a memory I won’t forget!

If you want to learn more about Sista Monica, check out her web site at http://www.sistamonica.com.  If you want to pick up her CD, “People Love The Blues,” you can purchase it at any Best Buy store, or Bestbuy.com, CDNow.com, as well as Amazon.com.

I was an extremely young – fresh as a published writer. I had never interviewed anyone until I met with Sista Monica, after her heart stopping performance.  I had walked forward with blind courage into a realm where people of greatness reside. Until this unexpected chapter in my life, I’d only written poetry. Soon after I met the highly, talented, Minneapolis musician, Ross William Perry, I began writing music reviews for the TwinCitiesbluesnews.com.  It was this young man with amazing talent, who encouraged to begin my life as a published writer, writing for the Twin Cities Blues News.

My great cousin, who is very special to me, is paralyzed from the neck down.  He has always had a great passion for blues music, ever since I can recall.  He plays harmonica just like my older brother.  I’ve listened to stories being told about how he has played his harmonica with some of the great blues musicians in Minneapolis.  I didn’t have an education in music.  I learned a little about music history when I was in choir – my junior and high school years.  When I began writing for the Twincitiesbluesnews.com – I didn’t know much about the history of blues music.  I only knew about poetry.  I felt that music and poetry have much in common.  Each took the pain in life, transcending it into something golden and timeless.  I didn’t spend my time researching the depths and the history of blues music, each genre, or the richness of where our music today got their roots.  I could only relate to the pain it took to create something timeless with words and rhythm.

I felt out of my league when I entered the green room at Famous Dave’s in Calhoun Square, Minneapolis, where Sista Monica was wiping the large, beads of dripping, salty, sweat from her exhausted face.  I sensed that she was on guard – and that she really wasn’t up for dealing with an interview from the media.  I didn’t blame her. I wanted to run, or stand there shaking in my shoes, speechless – peeing my panties like a small dog in fear.  This legacy, who has entertained millions all over the world, including ex-President – Bill Clinton, was staring at me as if to say, “If you start asking me stupid questions, I’m gonna beat you with the last bit of energy I have.”

I had just experienced the worst week ever.  I knew that if I could brave through a domestic nightmare, I could move forward, completing this interview.  My body melted into Mia Mush when Sista signed the cover of the CD which I had listened to, repetitively, time and time again, when our interview was complete.

It was Sista Monica’s music and her voice which comforted me, as I cleaned up ankle deep, water filled with shit in my bathroom, due to a broken sub pump, crying with frustration.  I listened to her CD relentless, as Mr. C and I did whatever we could to come up with enough money to fix our furnace.  I knew that I had to find the courage within me to finish this interview.  This was my one and only chance.  I knew that I had to ask this woman of greatness something that other interviewers might never ask.

I haven’t read this interview in over a decade. I was embarrassed to look at it, because it wasn’t written like other music reviewers have done. I felt ashamed that I didn’t know much about the music scene.  I wrote what was in my heart and gut. I didn’t know if Sista Monica’s music was the Delta Blues or the Chicago Blues, at this early age in my life.  All that I knew was that I loved her music, and that it greatly inspired me. I had reviewed numerous CD’s from blues musicians from all over the world before I received Sista Monica’s CD, People Love the Blues.  Her music was what I’d been craving for. It was the reason I was inspired to write reviews for blues musicians.  It hit in my soul, filling my darkness and vanquishing despair.  Her music was so rich and deep, like expensive, Swiss Chocolate melting on my tongue – savoring it as such – note by delectable note.

This morning, after re-reading the interview I wrote for Sista Monica, so long ago, I’m glad that I found the courage inside of me to ask this past, blues legend, who has shared the stage with numerous greats like Etta James and Koko Taylor – one of the most important questions I could ask – I will repeat it because I feel it is important.

“How does it feel to know that you’re touching so many people with your art, and making a difference in so many lives? 

Sista Monica’s response – “That’s the whole purpose of performing – touching others and making a difference. When my band and I go out on the road, we never know who we’re going to meet, who we’re going to make a contribution to, but we always hope and pray that somebody out in the audience will enjoy the music, get a message out of it, listen to the music beyond just the groove, and get into the lyrics and what we’re saying.  When I write the songs I write from my own experiences, and I hope someone else can go through a process while listening to it.”

 

Sista Monica’s words lit my dreams to become a better writer and successful artist, like an Olympic torch.  Unfortunately, this blues lioness is no longer with us on this plane of existence. Her memory remains vividly inside of her my mind – her words remaining to resonate deep in my soul. She died in 2014, from Lung Cancer – Synovial Cell Sarcoma – the same type of cancer my stepson was diagnosed with, years ago and is now in remission.

My next paragraph’s difficult to write, because once I do, I have to hold myself accountable.  It’s been difficult to smoke a cigarette, ever since I did a Google Search – Sista Monica – learning of her death.  It’s been an interesting 24 hours for me.  I’ve been working my way towards quitting for numerous months – it’s time that I take the jump – quitting this horrible habit of mine – for good.  I’ve done it once before – I can do it again!

I’m unsure of which road I will travel upon when I get to the fork in my main road, with the signs nearby reading, Smoke or Don’t Smoke – guiding me onward during my journey in life – my direction remaining my choice.

I’m uncertain if Sista Monica would’ve liked me when she was alive, because of her Gospel roots and deep passion for God.  Numerous people who believe in religion don’t really care for me.  I’m okay with this. I am also a big enough person to realize that deep beneath our differences, we are all the same. We realize this once we as humans, move beyond our fears and differences, and find something to converse about on common ground.  Do our fears keep us from being united – especially if we come from two, entirely different view points from such strong individuals?  I would like to think not.

Near the end of this chapter in my life – writing music reviews for blues musicians from all over the world, I experienced an incredible opportunity. Throughout my career as a music reviewer, I never really comprehended the importance in the words I wrote.  I felt like my reviews didn’t measure up with other music reviewers and other highly established, blues magazines.  I wasn’t as knowledgeable about the blues music scene as others. I wrote how the music made me feel deep inside – not about historic facts or musical terms and genres which I didn’t understand.  When I was faded from this chapter in my life, moving towards another, new chapter in my life  – Go – Go dancing at Ground Zero Nightclub in NE Minneapolis – an important publicists from Martin Scorsese’s office contacted me via email, asking me to review Scorsese’s documentary on the history of blues. Soon after, I receive a PR packet and a stack of videos in my snail mail.  I had the opportunity to watch several, but not all, of them, prior to airing on PBS in the palm of my hands.  I felt like the luckiest woman alive!

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I might not have written my music reviews in a conventional way.  I may not have used the correct terms, grammar, or proper language when my series of music reviews were published at Twincitiesbluesnews.com – but, I must have done something right in order to receive the opportunity of a lifetime.  I never wanted to read the pages I wrote, when I was at the beginning of my career, cringing at my errors.  I felt ashamed of my beginnings. I wanted to leave them and my past far behind, like a hitchhiker with a creepy disposition, along the side of desolate highway.  Presently, I look behind me for awhile, at all of the metaphorical miles I have adventured upon – the twisting roads, hills, rugged mountains, flat terrains and deep valleys.  I smile, appreciating the beginning of my journey, and all of the fabulous people who I have met along my way, much like the little girl from Kansas, Dorothy, in the story book by Frank S. Baum – The Wizard of OZ.  I feel an intense rush of warmth thinking about the individuals who have offered me wisdom, insight, their time and intelligence,  shared their stories about courage and adversity, their compassion, guidance, generosity, and most of all the courage to live my life being the person that I am – the person that I’ve always been – Me.

To me, Sista Monica was like a brave, yet compassionate lioness.  As I type this letter to you, Henry, I can hear her singing the blues, her voluptuous body appearing in a thin, opalescent vapor ( FYI – I don’t really see this – don’t fill my blog comment box up with how you see ghosts).  Sista Monica bellows out rich, musical notes with a maternal scold on her face –

“Put that smoke out – I see you – uh huh – don’t pout

If I was alive I’d swipe that cig from yer lips

As fast as my hands moved from my earth shaking hips

You don’t wanna mess with this Lioness – uh huh – that’s right

I’ll sing to your soul –  All day and all night

I’ll sing ‘til you can’t stand no more

When you’re up late at night – pacing the floor

Be true to your words – follow them in what you do

Live your life bold – don’t sing the – I can’t win blues

Stay young in the heart – don’t let it grow cold

Live life out loud – live it bravely  and bold

Or I’ll sing to your soul at twilight, dawn and in the hot afternoons

Don’t mess with this mama  – don’t mess with this mama – don’t mess with this Mama blues.  

My brother recently moved to Chicago where Sista Monica’s roots are as a blues musician. I believe that she’s originally from Evansville, Indiana (please don’t kill me if I am wrong about this). – I’m looking forward to getting to adventure and eat my way through the heart of Chicago. My older brother’s a passionate, harmonica player.  Some may have heard him at Grateful Dead type festivals.  I think I recall my bro telling me that he’s learning much more on his harmonica from some of Chicago’s finest musicians.  I love his new girlfriend, who he recently moved in with. I hope to see him perform on stage in Chicago in the near future.  I’m my brother’s biggest fan.

I wish that I was a restaurant reviewer or food critic – so I could afford to eat at the wonderful restaurants in Chicago – upscale to low scale – except Mc Donald’s.  I’m dreaming of dining at Chef Graham Elliot’s Bistro – even if I have to save for a year to afford it.  I enjoyed watching Master Chef and Master Chef Junior (My favorite)- and viewing the culinary world through Chef Graham Elliot’s artistic glasses, when I was feeling the most ill from my hyper-thyroid condition. I wanted to eat anything that wasn’t glued into my fridge and cupboards. I think Chef Gordon Ramsey and I would get along well.  Can you image the interview, Henry –

I’m ending this letter, Henry – I am excited to start working on the Picasso Project.

Bisous, Mon Amour,

Mia

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Greatness Hovers with the Stars above Washington and Idaho State

In Memory of Holger (Hal Jensen) Jensen – December 26- 2013 – RIP

unclehal

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remember that you are going to die is the best way I know how to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs.

5-7-2016

I met one of the most intriguing man with a warm heart in late, April 1987 – He was a groomsman in my wedding to Mr. D.A. (My first husband) – We were wed in a small, Minnesota town – 5-2-1987 – our marriage lasted a decade.

“How the Hell did you ever meet this girl?” My ex – husband’s uncle (Holger (Hal) Jensen) asked him. “What did you do to deserve her? She’s special, I can tell. You got lucky. She’s a feisty one.”

I knew right then that I liked this gentleman. Uncle Hal always treated me with kindness and deep respect, unlike his nephew. I didn’t see in myself what he saw in me, but I felt genuine warmth that was difficult to deny. I also felt a deep sense of greatness in him and observed kindness in his heart and eyes. If I did see myself as Uncle Hal did, I would never have married his nephew. That would’ve been a shame because I never would’ve met this fascinating, inspiring soul.

This letter’s difficult to write because I am over emotional and exhausted. I’ve been working hard for numerous months, without taking the time to rest. I have a severe, ear infection that I have been battling for months with a fever and chills. My energy’s low. I am in intense, physical pain. The drastic, fluctuating weather during the spring in Minnesota can be a bitch for people with old injuries. The medication prescribed is making me so drowsy and nauseous. I don’t like it. I want to create and to write. I don’t have any Mary Jane to help ease my pain and nausea. We can’t afford it. We are once again waiting for checks to clear the banks. Big companies don’t seem to empathize with the small, business owners who are attempting to strive, and sometimes take their time to send payment. I am hungry – cupboards are bare once again. Mr. C and I live one day at a time. We only think about the now – the present moment – in order to survive. We live our lives second by second in order to continue forward on our journey upwards towards success.

This afternoon, I felt like giving up on my dreams. When I feel this low – my flames of passion spark but never ignite. I feel grief for my best friend who passed away this week – my dog, the alpha of our dog pack, Rudy Patootie – my protector. I feel sorrow for the neighbor lady who passed away two days ago. I just found out this morning. She had been a dear friend of Mr. C’s mother for a very long time. Her sons played with my husband growing up. I can see them grieve today as they take care of her home and say goodbye to their mother. My empathetic soul feels their pain and loss – especially since tomorrow’s Mother’s Day. I also feel my husband’s sadness. The neighbor lady was one of the last, great women on our block who was here long before most of our neighborhood. Mr. C’s working a long day to distract himself from his melancholy. He’s been working very hard lately – his energy’s low like mine is. We need to rest, relax, have sex and recharge our batteries.

I’m trying to work, but it’s difficult to focus. My mind’s foggy. I wanted to paint beads for my Mary Godmother (I’ll tell you more about her later) who has supplied me with most of my beautifu,l burlesque costumes throughout my burlesque career ever since I began, making me feel like Cinderella at the ball. Tomorrow’s Mother’s day. My heart aches with anguish because my children don’t appreciate their mother and never really have. They call me a bitch. My son told me I was a fucking cunt in a text message many months ago because he didn’t get his way. I punished him with silence. We have not communicated for months. He doesn’t get why I won’t let him live with me. It’s unfortunate that both of my children feel this way. I’ve always attempted to do my best at raising them. I wasn’t a perfect mother, no one is, but I never gave up trying to be.

I feel my daughter’s pain because the love of her life tragically passed away on Mother’s Day 2013. I’m going to nick name him Mr. Motor Head, because he loved cars. Unfortunately, his life was cut short, because a car tragically fell on him as he was working on it. Because my daughter and I are not talking to each other, I can’t comfort her on the worst day of her life. I would think that she would learn NOT to treat the ones she loves like crap after he passed on, because she treated him poorly when he was alive. I know that she regrets it because she told me so on numerous occasions. Near the end of his life my daughter continuously complained about him, and all that was wrong with their relationship. She acted like a horrible, spoiled brat. She’d been searching for another relationship, hoping to move on. When this very special guy passed on, it was dramatic and the end of the world for her. I’ve told her repeatedly to never treat family or loved ones poorly because they are the only ones who will have her back when she needs them the most.

Mother’s Day will never be the same for me or my family. I cannot think of this day fondly. I spent the day with my stepchildren at Como Zoo when I received a horrific phone call from my daughter about this tragedy. She and Mr. Motor Head lived seven hours away near the South Dakota border. Mr. C and I abruptly left the zoo, rushing to get to her. It was a slow, agonizing, heart wrenching, road trip.

Victim-Victor

A caterpillar named Victim inched his way through the tall, spring grass

Until a young boy scooped him up and placed him a tall jar made of glass

Victim cried out, “Woe is me – I’m so small –

If I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all.”

At the bottom of the jar the boy scattered tiny newsprint

Victim’s eyes caught one line no larger than a small piece of lint.

It read – one can change the way they think 

with just a nod and just a wink

Victim thought – “Why not?

My life couldn’t get worse than life in a jar

I’ll dream of wings and fly like a monarch.”

Transformed by thought the monarch bloomed

A glorious creature born from cocoon

Victor had bloomed from Victim’s circumstance

To soar high in the sky on the winds of chance. – Mia Malone – Jennings 2001 – Whispers of Gold.

I don’t believe in the Hallmark moment bullshit. I would appreciate it if my children showed me respect, love and appreciation on every day – not just a Hallmark holiday. My daughter wants a mother who will coddle her – especially when she complains about being a victim in life and how the world has done her wrong. I’m not a Leave it to Beaver type of mother. I’m not June Cleaver and I’m never going to be. My daughter doesn’t understand that I’ve had to be the maternal and paternal figure in her life, which is difficult to do and exhausting– especially when I was dealing with working three jobs, attending college full time and enduring many surgeries when I was her age.

Her father has Peter Pan Syndrome. I don’t think that he will ever grow up and become responsible for his life or his children. I don’t wait for him to do so. I have had to do whatever it takes to do make sure that my children survived when I was raising them during the early years in their lives. They have no clue what their mother is about. It’s a shame – maybe someday. Until then, I’m living my life.

I’m grateful for my stepchildren. My stepdaughter, is one of the closest people I hold near and dear to my heart. I admire her bold strength, uniqueness and intelligence. She’s in her early 30’s and a clone of Mr. C. She graduated from a top, Minnesota college and presently works for a great publishing company in Minneapolis. Sometimes she has to be the matriarch figure in her relationship with her mother. Neither of us have the perfect mother and daughter relationship with our blood relations, making us love, cherish, respect and appreciate each other much more. Our relationship’s deeper than blood, bonded by our love, not by relation. I think that she’s amazing –  a survivor and a great inspiration to me. She’s one of my heroes.

My stepson’s a lot like me – I’ve helped raise him since he was 13 years old. He’s a cancer survivor. He doesn’t have a college education like his sister does, but he works harder than anyone I know. He kicks ass. I’m so proud of him. They both demonstrate how much I mean to them all of the time through their actions and not words. They don’t wait for designated days to do so. They rock!

I get to spend Mother’s Day with them tomorrow with Mr. C and my fur babies – Mama Chi Chi – Little Frida and Diego (Daring Diggy). They are amazing chihuahua We are having a picnic at the Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis – one of my favorite destinations to have a picnic and enjoy the fresh air. In Minnesota, you learn to appreciate the warm, sunny days – never taking them for granted.

As I reflect upon my life while creating items for my upcoming boutique – during my long days and evenings, I think about people who reflect greatness inside of them, to keep me inspired. I think about Uncle Hal, recalling how excited he was about his career when I visited him in Everett, Washington. He spoke with excitement and great passion about his career as an engineer, showing me blueprints and explaining his intriguing occupation. He was influential in the Washington State Transportation System – appearing proud and passionate about it. I loved his energy and his enthusiastic spirit.

My best memory of him was when he introduced me to coffee lattes at an unfamiliar, coffee shop at the time – only heard of in Washington State – Starbucks. This is right before they were known throughout the United States. After one sip – I fell in love. Uncle Hal made me a coffee latte every morning during my stay with him. Unfortunately, my kidneys don’t like high, zipping doses of caffeine. He spoke with vivacious energy about all of his favorite places in Washington – taking me to his favorite destinations like the Victoria Islands, the Puget Sound and Friday Harbor. We dined at some of the best restaurants in Seattle. He pointed out destinations which he greatly influenced, by the work he did as a successful engineer.

The reason why I am writing you all of these letters about my life experiences and the great people I have met during my amazing journey is because I need to reflect on my life and gather inspiration from all the fabulous people that I have met directly or indirectly. I am grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know, Holger (Hal) Jensen, who is of Norwegian descent. His nephew – my ex-husband – didn’t have much inside of him to inspire me. He took a lot of my energy, devouring my soul like a vampire feeds on blood. I was exhausted a majority of my marriage to him. I was also extremely young and very rough around the edges. I didn’t become a more refined individual until I left my ex husband and turned the age of 30.

Uncle Hal didn’t live in Minnesota. He was much too smart to endure the crazy, brutally cold, Midwestern weather. He was originally born on a farm in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota and the youngest of nine siblings. From the moment I met this amazing person, I knew that his soul required more than an ordinary existence. I admired what appeared to me at this time early in my life, a high style, jet set life, whenever he would fly to Minnesota to visit and he’d speak about some of the exciting things he was doing in Washington State. He was much more refined than his relatives – his soul shone bright like a star. He was an important engineer in Washington State and Idaho. I say was, because he tragically passed away, December 26, 2013.

Near the end of Uncle Hal’s career he worked for the United States Bureau of Reclamation. He slipped on icy terrain at Pinto Dam, falling 35 ft to his death at the age of 62. I didn’t attend the funeral, my ex – husband did. I hadn’t been apart is his family for over a decade when this tragic accident occurred. It doesn’t matter because I don’t need to attend a funeral or visit a grave site to recall such a great man. He is with me in spirit whenever I think of him and how much he had to offer this world.

Hal left the Midwest to get away from icy conditions. It’s ironic how he died. I’m saddened by the way his life ended. I haven’t mourned his death until now, as I’m writing this letter. I miss him and his sister, who is living out the rest of her life in a nursing home. When I was married to Hal’s nephew, I never thought that I’d ever get to live an exciting life – so I admired him from a distance in a small, boring town in Minnesota. It wasn’t until I left my ex when I began to start living an adventurous life, never wasting a moment of my time.

Uncle Hal’s older sister – Bunny – was always good to me. She was my second mother – always thoughtful, kind and loving. She treated me like the daughter she never had. She always believed in my talent. It was her who had the patience to teach me to use a sewing machine. She told me that I could be a fashion designer if I put my heart, soul and talent into it. She spoiled my children with extreme love, possessing a warm, loving touch. It’s a shame that my children didn’t appreciate it, until she was unfortunately diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. My children lived with their grandparents, right before she began her slow descent into a horrible illness. They treated her poorly, throwing tantrums if they didn’t get their way – often physically hurting her and verbally abusing her. She was softer in the heart than I – more pliable and patient. I wouldn’t permit my children to treat me in the same way that they treated her and they think I am a bitch for that. She never gave up on them until she couldn’t recall who they were. She offered them so much and they took advantage of that.

She wasn’t as strong in spirit as I am. She lived her life in fear and regret, much of her life, relying on God and the Catholic church to save her soul. She often punished herself for having her son out of wedlock. She could be easily manipulated, which’s why my children didn’t want to live with me and their stepfather. They didn’t like structure or rules. It was easier for them to get their way with her. She spoiled them, giving them everything they asked for, and they repaid her with violent tantrums.  I continuously drilled into my children about the law of karma ever since they were young. When they did something wrong and I had to punish them, I would say, “What comes after action? Consequence comes after action – especially if it’s a negative action.” I hope someday, when my children are older, they read some of my letters written to you, Henry, and they really get to know who I am. I hope by telling you this story about their great uncle Hal that they’ll recognize that greatness runs deep in their bloodlines – and that it’ll inspire them to be great individuals who follow their passion. I wonder if my children will appreciate me after I pass on and regret all the time they wasted hating me when I was alive.

I can’t recall the year Mr. C took me took a great book store in Stillwater, Minnesota . It was on Mother’s Day, well over a decade ago, to purchase a first edition book of yours, Letters to Hoki.  This is where my journey with you began. I had recently watched the movie, Henry and June. I fell in love with your spirit – needing to learn more about you. My empathetic soul felt your pain when I read your letters to your fifth wife – Hoki – about how sad you felt whenever she didn’t write letters to you. After a few years, and several of your books later, especially the ones containing the letters you wrote to your lovers and friends, like Anais Nin and Lawrence Durrell, I was inspired to begin writing letters to you, telling you about my magnificent life. Thank you for the inspiration.

I didn’t have much respect for my ex husband, but I had a deep respect for some members of his family like his uncle Hal – Holger (Hal) Jensen and his older sister. As I read about him online today, I discovered more about his life and occupation which I was unaware of. His tragic death at Pinto Dam made me think about the magnificence of Hoover dam – the only dam that I’ve ever witnessed in real life. I’ve visited Hoover Dam numerous times. I’m always in awe at how something so magnificent and powerful was created during the depression. The dam inspires to me continue forward on my adventure, knowing that buried within the ashes of despair, great things can emerge and ignite. I can see that the area of Pinto Dam is gorgeous as I view images of it on Google. At least Uncle Hal departed this plane of existence at a gorgeous and powerful destination. The magnificent way that Holger (Hal) Jensen lived his life with purpose and passion inspires me to go after what I want and never stop.

“Washington is a marvelous state,” Uncle Hal said during my first visit to Washington. “Seattle’s awesome, if you ever get the opportunity, Mia, you should leave Minnesota and live here.”

Even though I love the state of Washington, I was never brave enough to make the move to another state that was located a long distance away. If I would’ve been aware of burlesque, its roots and Gypsy Rose Lee, I would’ve moved there in a heartbeat. But, if I did I would never discovered the importance of Minnesota’s burlesque legend, Lili St. Cyr. Several years ago – Mr. B – my past benefactor/lover took me to Seattle right before my granddaughter was born. I thought about how Uncle Hal had greatly influenced this city with his engineering talent as I explored it while Mr. B was attending business meetings.

I’m ending this letter, Henry. I will tell you about the first edition book of yours, Letters to Lawrence Durrell, that I put on layaway, when I purchased, Letter’s to Hoki.  This book contains something very special taped to the inside cover. It took me months to purchase it because it was expensive – more than I have ever spent on a book before. The tale that goes with it is a seductive adventure and the beginning of a wonderful journey with you. It’s an erotic tale about the gentleman who entered my life briefly, shortly after I read your book, Letters to Hoki.

Good night, Mon Amour – Bisous

Mia

RIP Holger (Hal) Jensen – Your spirit remains to be a part of me. It was wonderful to get to know a man of such greatness. Thank you for the inspiration and believing in me. Xoxo

To my blog readers – these letters are in rough draft format – please be kind when you are reading them. I’d rather start somewhere, correcting mistakes later, than never starting. Follow me on Instagram- Mia Malone-Jennings – to see progress on the projects I am creating for Mia Malone’s Shabby Chique Boutique & Thrift. Thank you for your support.

Former Everett man dies in fall at construction site near Ephrata

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Associated Press
Published: Thursday, December 26, 2013, 7:16 p.m.

 

BOISE, Idaho — Authorities have released the name of a Boise-based employee of the federal Bureau of Reclamation who fell to his death earlier this week at a dam in Washington state.


Holger “Hal” Jensen, formerly of Everett, apparently slipped Monday on icy concrete and fell about 35 feet onto concrete at a construction site at the Pinto Dam east of Ephrata.


Jensen, 62, was taken to Samaritan Healthcare in Moses Lake but died.


The Grant County sheriff’s office said this week the state Washington Labor and Industries will investigate.


Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said the agency’s “hearts are heavy” with this loss.


Jensen lived in Everett before moving to Idaho two years ago.


He’d worked for Reclamation as a construction inspector from 1972-80 and rejoined the agency full time in 2011.LOCAL NEWS

Local newsStory
THURSDAY, DEC. 26, 2013, 9:45 A.M.
Dam worker dies in fall near Ephrata
From staff reports
Holger “Hal” Jensen, 62, worked for Bureau of Reclamation

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A 62-year-old Bureau of Reclamations employee died Wednesday of head injuries sustained during a fall at Pinto Dam near Ephrata, according to a news release.

Holger “Hal” Jensen fell about 35 feet to the concrete at the facility, which forms Billy Clapp Lake in eastern Grant County. According to the Bureau, Jensen, a civil engineer, was examining construction at the dam that would enable the storage of more water when he fell.

A graduate of Washington State University in 1983, Jensen previously served with the Bureau before obtaining his degree in civil engineering and taking a job with a consulting firm in Everett, according to a news release. Jensen then moved to Idaho, and rejoined the Bureau in 2011.

In a statement, Lorri Lee, regional director of the Bureau in the Pacific Northwest, called the incident “heartbreaking.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Hal’s family as they face such sadness especially at this time of year,” Lee said.

Jensen was being treated at Sacred Heart Medical Center, according to the release. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was informed of the incident, and the Bureau is investigating the fall as an accident.