Monday, August 31, 2009

Fear of the Unknown and a Recap and a Look Forward

Have I mentioned that I have a fear of the unknown? I realized this from my session with Sister Ellie today. There's a lot I could say about it, but I'm not going to. (Maybe I will in the future; it just sounds kind of boring right now.)

I had the laziest day imaginable yesterday--it was fabulous! I slept most of the day away yesterday. I bummed that I missed my jog, but, well, that's that.

I just bought a few groceries and opened up the windows in my apartment. Queenie is making her call to the birds (she wants to eat them) and I am definitely ready for some coffee.

I am going to spend the day studying and making some lesson plans. (Working ahead so that I can be ready to go to CO when the niece comes along.) V sends an update: apparently she is waddling through the grocery store right now with the husband.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rivers

My niece has still not decided to be born yet--ok, fine, Miss Thing!

Yesterday, her due date, S and I went with a group of people from school to float on the Illinois River, near Tahlequah. It was such a lovely time! I liked being quiet and watching other people interact with each other and their surroundings. I really like the people that I get to go to school with.

It was a lovely day, yet I'm afraid that so many of us got sunburned. S's poor legs (which have been awkwardly burned all summer) got another awkward burn. I have a little bit of a burn on my knees and chest. Others, I fear, are crispy right about now!

As far as animals go, we saw a couple hawks and quite a few fish. (No noodling, though.) And I swam nearby a snake. I was hoping my delusion could get me through ("oh, it can't be a real snake"), but everyone insisted that I get back in the raft. I think I still had my ass dragging in the water as we passed the snake, which was black and quite long. And wanting to ignore me.

In the midst of this, I was thinking about Val Plumwood's explanation of ecofeminism and how she theorizes intention/intension. She describes rivers and says they have intention. I was thinking about how a drop in the river cannot help but be a drop in the river--it doesn't fight it's nature. I was thinking about how a drop in the river, just because it doesn't fight, doesn't mean it isn't going somewhere. I was thinking about how a drop in the river allows for other things to not be drops in the river, even though everything is all as one.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Braggin'

Oh guess what? I applied for my passport today! Woo hoo; goin' to Canada! Also, in the midst of feeling anxious last night, I actually did 20 minutes of work (that's like 10 hours of work, in grad student time). I believe I have found a method of studying for exams that will work for me. And I began in on it. I also spent just five minutes on each of the two conferences papers I'm working on.

And Little Sister says she's feeling something, and so we know that the baby will soon be here!

Also, I love to teach (who knew that was happening?!).

Also, FLOAT TRIP TOMORROW!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Letting Go of Attachment to Outcome

Yesterday and today I worked myself into quite a state of anxiety and panic; I called Sister Ellie today, out of desperation, and she was gracious enough to meet me in an emergency session today.

I don't think I can really describe how valuable our talk was to me. I was so anxious about school and I was able to tell her (because she asked) what goes on in my head when I set out to do different tasks. And she was able to take my thoughts and describe what's going on.

We discussed my motivation for doing things (I only feel motivated to do things if I believe in them or think they are the right thing to do), and she was able to see how this connected to my sense of honesty (which is something we frequently talk about because she encourages me to gain a deeper sense of nuance).

And then we had the best conversation about institutions and how to live in them while also not believing in them. This has been very difficult for me lately and I've never believed that I found any advice that was able to address some of my central concerns. Today, though, I was encouraged to not believe that my relationship with institutions needs to be an adversarial one.

This is really hard for me to believe! But Sister Ellie made a convincing argument about how resistance doesn't do me or anyone else any good; this certainly wasn't her way of minimizing my concerns, but rather a discussion on how this resistance will show up in other places.

I had been believing that my stomach ache this past week was connected to the fact that school just wasn't for me. I haven't felt anxious like this since right before my separation. But now I can put my head around the fact that all the energy I spend in believing that I'm in the wrong place is taking it's toll on my body.

Sister Ellie asks me to consider whether I can accept things the way they are now. I realized that I liked accepting things better when they were going my way! I told her that I wanted to trust myself and so I didn't want to do something that I didn't believe in (and if ever there was a thing not to believe in, it's goddamnfucking qualifying exams).

She has been going over this with me for about a year now, and says that it sounds like I have an attachment to feeling better. And maybe we talked about this, but I can see how this attachment is deeply connected to my sense of control. (It's an illusion, by the way, Court.)

In other news (which might be the same news): my period is, for the second month in a row, exactly a 28 day cycle! This is the best news ever because I feel connected with my body. A few years ago I was having 40-60 day cycles. I'd like to believe that as I'm getting to know myself, the more free my body feels to do it's thing. Do your thing, body!

Thumbs Up, Senator Jim Webb, Part II

Sen. Jim Webb recently went on a diplomatic trip to Myanmar; he wrote about it in the NYT the other day, and here's a segment ("We Can't Afford to Ignore Myanmar"):
For more than 10 years, the United States and the European Union have employed a policy of ever-tightening economic sanctions against Myanmar, in part fueled by the military government’s failure to recognize the results of a 1990 election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. While the political motivations behind this approach are laudable, the result has been overwhelmingly counterproductive. The ruling regime has become more entrenched and at the same time more isolated. The Burmese people have lost access to the outside world.

Sanctions by Western governments have not been matched by other countries, particularly Russia and China. Indeed, they have allowed China to dramatically increase its economic and political influence in Myanmar, furthering a dangerous strategic imbalance in the region.

According to the nonprofit group EarthRights International, at least 26 Chinese multinational corporations are now involved in more than 62 hydropower, oil, gas and mining projects in Myanmar. This is only the tip of the iceberg. In March, China and Myanmar signed a $2.9-billion agreement for the construction of fuel pipelines that will transport Middle Eastern and African crude oil from Myanmar to China. When completed, Chinese oil tankers will no longer be required to pass through the Straits of Malacca, a time-consuming, strategically vital route where 80 percent of China’s imported oil now passes.

If Chinese commercial influence in Myanmar continues to grow, a military presence could easily follow. Russia is assisting the Myanmar government on a nuclear research project. None of these projects have improved the daily life of the average citizen of Myanmar, who has almost no contact with the outside world and whose per capita income is among the lowest in Asia.

It would be wrong for the United States to lift sanctions on Myanmar purely on the basis of economic self-interest, or if such a decision were seen as a capitulation of our long-held position that Myanmar should abandon its repressive military system in favor of democratic rule. But it would be just as bad for us to fold our arms, turn our heads, and pretend that by failing to do anything about the situation in Myanmar we are somehow helping to solve it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sometimes the Universe Cannot Be More Wonderful

Something has been goin' on deep down inside me--who even knows what it is!? In the midst of trying to juggle beginning of semester concerns, I was feeling a little stressed. And then, pop, the Universe sent a visit from two of my favorite women!

Just now Beamish stopped by the office with our neighbor, who is someone I admire. Our neighbor talks freely about anything, and she seems to have such enthusiasm about everything (like nature and music). (I think she's covering up some deep deep pains, and for that I grieve for her and wish her health as she goes about her life.)

To me, my neighbor reminds me that life is crazy and the only thing you can do is be yourself. And she shows me the important, in fact life-saving, value of being able to laugh--at yourself and the absurdity of life. As she was leaving, I hear her exclaim, "I think I'm going to go back to school! I was always good at enrolling!"

Talk about reframing negative self-talk into something positive! I love it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Middle Sister Edition!

I am so so happy to tell you that today's Talk to Me Tuesday segment comes from my sister E, the middle child of us three girls. E tends to be on the quiet side, keeping her emotions and thoughts to herself. So it came as a surprise that she would answer these questions at all! (That and considering our propensity to fight all throughout childhood.)

Sometimes you look at your family and you say, "Wha?? How are we even related?" And you mean this in a bad way because you don't even understand that other person's motivations. And then there are moments where you can stand back in awe of this other person and wonder how you even got so lucky to be related to this person.

So my sister and I pretty much look exactly alike. One of the striking differences between us, though, is that she's just wickedly smart without even trying. I look up to her wisdom and sense of humor. And last-but-not-least, she's a great mother (there's a ton more to say about that, but I'm just going to leave it there).

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?
I don’t know that I consider myself a feminist, per se. And I think that is because I have an extreme idea of what a feminist is in my head. I have visions of bras burning and picketing for equal pay for equal work. While I do understand the, for lack of a better phrase, freeing comfort of burning a bra and the reasons for picketing for equal pay, I believe that feminism more to me means being able to just be who I truly am and who I truly want to be. I don’t want to have to live up to someone else’s ideals, that just because it is the 21st century, I have to have 2.3 kids, a full-time job with some corporation and dinner on the table by 6:00 in order to have it all. I want to choose the pieces that work best for me and be comfortable knowing that as long as I am happy then I do have it all. I do believe in equal pay, but not just because I am a woman, but because the work is truly equal, not just the same job title. And I wonder if it goes vice versa for a man in a largely feminine profession such as nursing? Do they get different treatment just because when you hear the word "nurse," most people automatically think of a woman?

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?
Concerts, especially at Red Rocks; the top of really tall buildings, the Space Needle being my favorite.

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?
I tend to not recommend a whole lot because I know that my friends’ tastes vary a lot from mine. I like romantic and popular books and such, whereas a lot of the people I know like more science fiction and obscure entertainments. I do try to take in books/music/movies that are recommended to me, though.

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?
Every day--I have a 5 year old son! Example: we have to massage some ointment into G’s nostrils every night and last night during this process, he closed his eyes and proclaimed, “Ahh, this is the life, baby!” My kid is full of wonderful insights.

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?
I’m the same in that I still dream big. I’m different in that I know the work involved in making my dreams come true.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?
Education has been a big one for me since becoming a parent. I don’t agree with simply “teaching to the test,” but I don’t believe that teachers are given the freedom and support to do anything else. And can we get over the idea that it is the sole responsibility of the teachers and schools to teach our children? Last time I checked, parenting requires a level of involvement in your child(ren)’s lives and education. Just because you send them off to another building to read a textbook or take a test, does not mean that your job is over! (I have a sneaking suspicion that my parents’ jaws just hit the floor that I just said this :) )

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?
Ha, there is not enough space here for all of that! Mostly I think it boils down to that I have learned to be more communicative in my needs. I’ve also learned the real difference between a “need” and a “want” and am finding out that I can live without a lot of what I thought were needs.

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?
Be a good mom, move to Seattle, bake a really fancy cake for a big fancy party.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?
Hanging with family, reality TV, reading anything I can get my hands on, singing along with my favorite songs, sleeping (“ahh, this is the life, baby!”).

Is it possible to get your opinion on this poem?

I could use some help. I COULD USE A WRITING GROUP ALREADY!! Goddamn. I can't take Sheila's class this go 'round because of other commitments. I see myself flailing here--WILL ANYONE PLEASE WRITE WITH ME?!

Like: is this poem even any good? I could use some help. I like it right now, but it still seems doughy to me. Like fluffy. Like a lot of it could go.

An Ode to the Electric Guitar
VERSION II

There is no doubt that vibrations shake our bodies;
what pulsates ever so intimately can stir up the storm of our core.
In the advance of technology, the professor warns against misplaced nostalgia:
“We don’t grieve the loss of the scroll or stone tablet,”
he says while pointing to the benefits of electronic books.

Perhaps I can’t stay up with the times
or perhaps I’m only fearing the future,
but make no mistake:
if we ever lose the electric guitar,
then we will have lost sex itself.

Destined for guitar-playing,
I’d air guitar with the flagrant confidence
only a six-year-old possesses.
I’d strum a real guitar ten years later
and ten years later date a real guitar player.
The truth about guitars, though, is that I can’t posses it in order to have it.
I get guitars second-hand.
They rub off.
And they rub off everywhere.

Last night I stood next to my lover
in a crowd of other people.
It was dark and he was wearing black.
My fingers traced down his shoulders to the
little lump of his butt.
I clung to him.
I told him we could make out in the bathroom.
He suggested the hardwood, famous floor we were standing on.
Neither of the fantasies was fulfilled.
Instead, in the anonymous, dark space of the concert hall,
I smelled other men’s smells—
their deodorants and laundry detergents.
I wanted to touch their beautiful wives and girlfriends.
These women, with their exposed backs and short summer dresses.

Sometimes it is a delicious pleasure
to fantasize about sleeping with someone new.
There is the raw anticipation of where tongues
will go and where hands will roam.
There is always a new spot the other person uncovers—
a spot previous lovers couldn’t find
(even with months, years, of experience and a GPS).

Last night I touched myself in a new place.
In what could have seemed like self-protection, I reached my
hand to the front of my neck, where my collar bones
join together. I felt my pulse.
My pulse joined in the chaotic movement of all
the men and women around me.
Where did I begin and how were these pulsating bodies
separate from my own?
I wondered this as I felt my neck.

Disappointment is surely the only result in a search for root causes.
But I’ll ask anyway:
What makes all of this so?
All of these bodies, this blood rushing, the darkness, the kicking lights?
The smells, the flailing desire of legs and arms?
The craving?
The delight?
The rootedness and the disembodied sense that
trails in the path of passion?
Why it can only be the pure, primal scream of the electric guitar.

Six strings, a shoulder strap, ten fingers, and an amplifier.
The rawness of life localized into a few fingerpads—pressing, pressing down.

Man, Why Do Some People Have To Sleep?

All my friends had to go home which is such a bummer because I know everything right now. Seriously! Ask me anything! I feel aware of all my patterns and I kind of believe everything is going my way--like if you ask, then you shall receive.

Which now makes so much sense to me. It's like the story where the buddhist monk went to the butcher and asked for the best cut of meat; "They are all the best," the butcher replies. And then the monk was enlightened.

If you ask, then anything you get will be an answer, and they are all the best.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Venting to Myself!

Despite (or, probably as a result of) my desire to avoid getting wrapped up with the beginning of school excitement/depression, I'm in it! BLEH!

I've been drawing on every strategy I have in my toolbox: jogging, meditating, timed work periods, hanging with friends, writing, reading, working, singing, dancing, list-making . . . and I still feel stressed out!

So, well, this is how it feels to feel stressed out when you don't want to feel stressed out. And this is how it feels to want to have your syllabus done and every novel in American literature read (AND REMEMBERED). And this is how it feels to drink Diet Dr. Pepper straight from the bottle. I win afterall!

Inspiring Article!

A friend posted this article on Facebook, and I just wanted to post it here. I've been reading about women and power in this month's issue of O, The Oprah Magazine and it's making me think quite a few things. And then this article comes up: "Rapper Behind 'Roxanne's Revenge' Gets Warner Music to Pay for PhD."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

LINK TO THE CUTEST POLL EVER!

Oh God, my sister just sent this right now: It's a poll on when she's going to have her baby!!

I had to post it! Go vote! (This is what's playing now: "Better get yourself together, darlin'. Join the human race. . . . WE ALL SHINE ON! Like the moon and the stars and the sun." So true!)

UPDATE: Maybe I'm superdumb, but I can't find a way to vote on this thing. Maybe you can? Vote that she's going to go longer than her due date by more than a week (that's just my hunch) and that she's not going to cuss during labor.

I'm Goin' All Preachy Now

I just want to share something that I've been learning this year, which is to ask others how I can help them. Deepak Chopra recommends spending every day asking "How can I help?" When I first read his recommendation, I thought that was way too hard. Way. Too. Hard.

I thought it was hard for many reasons; mostly because it was difficult for me to care about other people's situations--I was bogged down in my own situation. I wanted other people to care about what I was going through and what I wanted.

One situation a few months ago arose where I had asked a friend if she needed help on a project. She did, and I set about trying to work on it. While working, I found myself becoming kind of angry; "Why can't she do this herself?" I wondered.

That was the start of a powerful breakthrough for me because it made me realize that I was being hard on my friend because I was so hard on myself. I expected so much from myself and even when I thought I was working towards selflessness, I was still expecting a lot from everyone else.

It's perverse, right, to get mad at a friend for giving you what you asked for?! And yet I've had a couple recent conversations with people I adore who say this very same thing: "Why are they doing what I asked them to?!" We all realize it's nonsensical, but I have the hunch that not too many of us have an effective way to get out of this type of pattern.

Not be supremely bossy, but I think I have an effective way! And that is to start asking ourselves what we can do to help ourselves. This makes it easier to ask others what we can do to help them.

I think I was afraid to offer myself and others help because I was extremely afraid that I/they would ask the world from me. And then I would have to say no (which isn't too fun, you know) and then I'd probably feel guilty.

In reality, though, our needs and wants are pretty simple. Often we just want to believe that someone hears us and understands us--that someone is on our side. We don't like feeling so isolated from ourselves, so out of touch with what we need and too wrapped up in what we think we need.

This might sound so lofty; I'm not talking loft here, my dears. I'm talking about paying attention to what you actually need. For me this means I often don't need to eat as much as I think I do. I don't need to talk as much as I thought I did. This weekend I discovered I didn't need as much sex as I thought I did--that was a huge surprise! Heehee!

When I think my needs are limitless, I believe others' are, too. But when I notice my needs, oftentimes that's all I need to feel better. And when I talk to people who are so upset about something someone else has done to them (and I have certainly felt this way; and I imagine I'll feel upset again in the future), often they just want that person to care about his/her feelings.

And that caring can happen in the tiniest of ways.

All of this has helped me realize how fun it can be to ask people if they need help. At first it was fun just because people would view me with such skepticism and doubt. And rightly so, since I have a history as a type of self-righteous complainer.

I noticed that so many people can't name what they want. At first this seems so strange, but then it seems so clear. For some reason we believe that we don't deserve what we deeply, deeply want. We believe we are too much. Or we believe that others don't want us to have what we want to have.

We can't be too much; if we were too much, then we'd die. And we will die, but a lot of us aren't dead yet. ("I'm not dead yet!") And others want us to have what we truly want. In fact, others are usually too busy caring about how they are going to get what they want to even care about your own wants.

(Did you even bear witness to that persuasive argument on how everyone wants you to have what you want?!)

Once we see that our needs are pretty tiny and that we can meet most of them ourselves, it can be pretty simple to ask others for help. And then to actually help them. The thing about doing something someone wants you to do is that it feels good to finish the task and to believe that you have actually been useful to someone.

If you're someone who believes you've been useful to everyone, but that no one notices, well, still trying asking people how you can help them. You might be surprised what they'd ask for. And they also might notice what you actually are already doing for them.

The thing about helping is that then people will start to think you're wonderful (which you are, just admit it) and then they no longer put their bad stuff onto you. You become an ally instead of a hinderer. This is what you become to yourself, too, you know. And it's really cool. It's really great to not view yourself, your friends, your partner, your coworkers, your fellow drivers, your fellow grocery store shoppers, etc. as enemies.

I've had some really nice encounters with strangers just by being open to their own needs. And I've been able to work at transforming some longstanding relationships this same way. It's empowering to help others, and it's awesome to realize that it can happen on such simple simple levels. No need to be a saint; opportunities to reach out to people (people you already like at that, too!) are all around us!

Ok--end of soapboxing!

Dear Diary

Man, I miss writing! I feel like spending the whole day writing away! Good thing that I get to do it, too. I was working on my syllabus last night (for about half an hour, which isn't too long, but is amazing nonetheless), and revising my ground rules. My rules for the summer session were so feisty. I feel similarly, but less feisty this semester. I'm realizing that I love writing out my teaching ground rules because at least I'm starting from an honest spot and can set up the expectation for honesty throughout the course.

I've never been so excited to teach as I am this semester--I'm so thrilled! I want to meet my students and engage with them. I miss my old students, especially the ones I had last spring. I hope they have a good semester lined up for them.

So today began with a nice phone date with Sassy, and I anticipate a few more phone dates to follow. I have a lot of talking to do today. And I penciled-in my Artist's Date for today. I'm going to be (perhaps) revising a poem and working on a little meditation guide.

Sassafras suggested that LZ might be acting like a bully because he needs more attention, so I'm going to try to give him some extra love today. And I have a jog to do. Jogging has been slow going this week, so I'm not exactly thrilled to get to do it today. I actually jogged on Friday, an off day, to try to feel better. How weird of me. Now that feels like extra credit, and I kinda want to cash it in and not go today.

I just want to whine, I suppose!

Um, what else? I think that's all, actually. Oh, no it isn't. Last night, in addition to doing some work, S and I went to Walgreens and we got some great stuff. Boric powder to try to kill some roaches under my sink. I've actually made peace with them, but it's probably a good idea to not have them around anymore. They are tiny and just come around if there's food in the trash. Otherwise they stay gone. Anyway, I also got more dusting solution and some green nail polish! So I'll be painting my nails green today, as part of my artist's date.

I almost forgot the best thing we got at Walgreens: ice cream. We got two kinds of Ben and Jerry's: Steven Colbert's Americone Dream (THE BEST) and Half Baked. We ate some ice cream and played a couple rounds of dominoes last night. It was really nice.

It's chilly out this morning; a reminder that fall is so so close.

And speaking of things that are close, the new addition to our family, my niece, is due next Saturday. Which means I expect her any minute! How lovely and exciting!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

CFP: Talk to Me Tuesday

I'm almost running low on responses to Talk to Me Tuesday. Please please submit some responses to me! And what if you're one of my adoring, anonymous followers? ;) Well, I don't know. Become unanonymous! Thanks!!

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

I cleaned my apartment today! It's like the second time in the same month--fucking crazy! I just showered in the clean shower; I was almost done with the shower until I remembered what a joy it is to use the clean apartment pieces right after they've been cleaned.

This past week was orientation, and it's made me realize a couple things: 1) I really like trying to intuit people's needs and asking them how'd they'd like me to help them and 2) while I love helping people, I do not gain my energy from interacting with them. I'm such an introvert in that way!

I feel mostly ready to drop out of the PhD program. I think, though, that while I'm trying to find something else to do that I can finish the degree. Which is to say, I've been worrying about the future. And this department, while I do like the people a lot, wears me out. I feel like an outsider, and I guess that's probably one of the most common feelings. But I've been doing a good job of speaking my mind on things just as a way to offer a new point of view. This speaking up instead of bottling things in and then getting really mad when no one understands my feelings/thoughts. So, yay me.

S and I are going to do homework together tonight. This should be really good, but I would kind of rather go to a party or something. This desire may be why I'm dragging my feet on going over to his place!

In other news, I'm feeling pretty positive when my mind happens to wander to past relationships. I was listening to Pandora and old songs came on that would have made me feel blue. I didn't feel blue, though, and that made think that maybe I actually am growing up! And accepting myself, to boot!

Oh, yeah, and I realized this week that Facebook kind of depresses me because it sometimes makes me feel more like an observer of my friends' lives than a part of them. It sometimes feels isolating to me. But I do really like to use it to tell people hi. Just a mood I'm going through, I guess.

Also, I'm pretty ready to Wikipedia it and prep for my exams. That shit just needs to happen already! AND I WANT TO REFUSE TO GIVE UP READING FOR PLEASURE AT THE SAKE OF READING FOR SCHOOL. Goddamn. I was getting pissy the other day realizing that in one hundred or two hundred years people are going to be seriously studying today's video games. English is like studying the historical equivalent of the video game. Only now we think it is so. im.port.ant. It ain't.

It is, though. The thing is, I'm just tired of being a part of other people's delusion. Is that even fair to say?! I feel so judgmental! It's just I don't think I'm where I'm supposed to be (which kind of doesn't even make sense, when you really think about it), so I'm going to be working on developing my patience and my sense of service to those around me. I think these skills will bring such pleasure.

But even if they don't, then I know I will get pleasure from doing other things that will help me develop these skills (like jogging and yoga and sleeping. Oh yeah, and meditating.).

Isn't this picture of LZ and I pretty cute? I had to pause and show what it looks like here while I write. This guy is my baby. S is allergic to him and so Elz (nickname) just doesn't get enough love sometimes. Good thing he has me around. Good thing he is around.

Merritt's Bakery in Tulsa

The following comes to me from my friend, Daniel the Mad Scientist, in regards to Merritt's Bakery reversal on depicting same-sex couples on their cakes. I wanted his opinion, because he volunteers for the Oklahoma Equality center, which received an apology cake from Merritt's a couple weeks ago; was this policy reversal genuine? I wanted to know. According to Daniel, yes, this is a genuine case of learning from each other! Hooray! From Daniel:

Toby (Jenkins, president of OkEq) gave me the detailed story--

The Equality Center is open to the public after 3pm Mon-Sat. During the non-public hours, a rotating group of volunteers help out with custodial work, office duties, etc. Well, during this time last Tuesday, someone showed up at the front door carrying a huge Merritt's Bakery box and rang the service bell. Denise was there doing some cleaning and went to answer the door, but upon seeing the giant Merritt's box, was hesitant to let them in, thinking it had to have been a mistake given the controversy. The gentleman insisted that yes, this was in fact a delivery for OkEq, a gift to demonstrate that Merritt's regretted their actions several months ago (in which they refused to depict a same-sex kiss on a cake, when in the past they had made cakes depicting heterosexual kisses). He then opened the box, revealing a huge rectangular cake emblazoned with a rainbow Pride flag--causing Denise to burst into tears.

Toby called Christian Merritt later that day to get the "official word" (they'd been in regular contact since the issue erupted earlier in the spring), which is: "Merritt's will be willing to do for every customer what it has been willing to do for one customer." Toby, the big ol' softy, was struggling to keep from bawling while relating the story to me.

So...my opinion? *Absolutely* genuine. Though I can't say for sure what prompted it. It could have been the financial strain of people passing over Merritt's in light of their hurtful rejection. Or it could have been Toby's impeccable knack for persuasion (in case you didn't know, he spent 16 years leading a Baptist megachurch). Or maybe it was the result of a person devoted to his religion and takes pride in operating a Christian business thinking long and hard about his Savior's teachings.

And the cake was so so so incredibly delicious.

So it's not exactly a reversal of DOMA, but it does demonstrate the power of peace, love, and understanding. Feel free to spread the word!

Daniel

(I'd like to point out a couple things about Merritt's and the controversy. First, Merritt's never had a policy of refusing to serve LGBT customers or make LGBT-themed cakes or anything like that. In fact, they've done cakes for gay weddings, Pride flag cakes, etc, on several occasions with no problem. They just hadn't depicted a gay couple kissing. The image in question was to be a photographic transfer of a picture of two men engaging in a simple, innocent lip-peck. Nothing explicit. I'm not certain that it even depicted a gay couple--I saw the photo, it could just as easily have been two grown men in a simple greeting. Anyway, Merritt's had produced cakes with similar designs depicting heterosexual couples before, but felt that a same-sex kiss would violate what they were calling their "suitable content policy". This is what they have since changed; obviously they will continue to refuse to produce sexually explicit images, as well as anything overtly violent, vulgar, and generally offensive. Also, Oklahomans for Equality never called for any boycott or community pressure against Merritt's--after all, they are privately owned and operated and free to implement any policy they choose-- we simply told Merritt's that we could no longer refer people inquiring about same-sex weddings to their services. Though, obviously, that has changed again!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Computers and Service

I got this via email from Idealist.org. If you have computer experience and would like to volunteer an hour or so to a nonprofit organization, then consider participating in Mozilla's Service Week:
Idealist is partnering with Mozilla (the organization behind the Firefox browser) on their first annual Mozilla Service Week which will match thousands of "techie" volunteers around the world with nonprofits in need of help with IT, web design, programming, blogging, and more.

Mozilla Service Week will take place September 14-21, 2009, and organizations are so eager for volunteers that a couple of thousand of them have already posted their opportunities.

If you are comfortable with technology and would like to help out, or if your organization could use some help, please go to:
http://mozillaservice.org

And to help spread the word to nonprofits and techies around the world, please go to:

http://www.idealist.org/if/mozservice09/en/Spread/default

Abortion and Ultrasound Laws in Oklahoma

(This comes to me through my friend V.)

It used to be that anyone wanting an abortion in Oklahoma had to have an ultrasound first; that law was struck down by Judge Vicki Robertson, but I guess some Republican lawmakers are going to file an appeal.

V recommends we read these articles:
"Oklahoma Still Trying to Force Women to Have Ultrasounds"
"Abortion Law Backers Vow Oklahoma Appeal"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Humor and Life

I found this quote over on Have a Great Day!!!, which looks sassy and fabulous:
God is a comedian playing to an audience too terrified to laugh. --Voltaire


I think it is so true.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Noticing the Feeling (and Not the Trigger)

I have a ton of stuff to say about people-pleasing and the mind poison of greed. I have been playing with my greed in conjunction with the idea of "following my bliss" (which, my dear Michael, I did confirm that Joseph Campbell said that).

Orientation started this week and school is such a huge trigger for me--out comes my people-pleaser and then out comes the feisty bitch that doesn't want to admit that she has a desire for other people's approval. Both of these parts are parts of me. I've been angry ever since I got home from the Paul McCartney concert last night (oh, have I mentioned that I saw Paul McCartney in concert?!).

The really fucking perverse part of this anger is that I've been angry that I've been angry. So this evening I went for a jog and then in the shower I was really talking to myself about this anger. I connected it to my mind poison of greed, which I believe is main go-to mind poison. I start to believe that my anger is infinite and that it will be around forever, so I would do best not to indulge it.

In the shower, I thought up the best metaphor for me regarding school. Being a fat girl, food has always been a thing for me. And I usually turn to food to help me explain ideas. So I was thinking how school is like a donut shop and I'm saying that I don't want to want the donuts anymore. So I don't go to donut shops. But, right right right now, it's not really feasible to not go to school; nor do I even know if that's what I want.

Once out of the shower, I realized that by going or not going into the donut shop, I was still being controlled by those damn donuts. This is how I feel when I diet--I become regimented out of fear that I'll eat too much otherwise. And this fear just isn't rational. Even when I've eaten a lot, I've never exploded or anything like that.

So I was able to say that I just can't be controlled by school anymore. And I did notice last night how my anger is so intimately tied to my people-pleaser. Making my happiness contingent upon other people's approval of me is not logical and, further, it's a completely fail-safe way to keep myself forever unhappy.

In the midst of everyone's orientation needs and my own history with school, it's practically a miracle that I could even have some insight right now. (Welcome to the part of this post where I reassure myself that I have my own approval.) I'm doing my best and I actually believe I'm doing a good job. It would be lovely to have other's affirmation, but it would be unhealthy to believe their opinions over my own.

All of this is to say that it is getting easier for me to drop some story lines and not become so invested into what I think is going on with other people (individually and collectively). These stories perpetuate my unhappiness and keep me believing that I should be anywhere else than where I actually am, doing anything else than what I'm actually doing. Focusing on my feelings, instead of on the triggers, is a step forward in learning who I actually am.

This process, at it's core, feels isolating, but rather than despairing in that isolation, I feel an almost infinite connection to this world. (How beautiful and how bizarre!)

Sending you some peace (on this beautiful, cool Tulsa summer night)!

Talk to Me Tuesday: Michael Edition!

So the following comes from my dear friend, Michael. The latest word from this guy is that his new office is in a horrible basement. Hmm. Maybe someone should have stayed in Tulsa?

Hmm.

Besides being susceptible to guilt (it's not too late to come back to Tulsa, Mr. Michael), he is also the most encyclopedic person I know. Movies, music, books, tv--he's on it. He has the best laugh ever in the history of all laughs. He's totally romantic, but then also fiercely cynical (these traits just might go hand-in-hand in most people).

There is, of course, a ton more to say about Michael. But, mostly, I just want to say that he was my neighbor for a couple of months, though I hardly saw him, and now he's not in this town, and now I wish I could hear his booming voice in Zink Hall, telling everyone just how it is. So, here's how it is (in written form):

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?
Why? Well, I think that I am feminist because of my schooling. I would like to say that I was always a budding feminist because of how I grew up (with a single mother who is all about the woman-power). However, when I was in middle/high school, I think I was so obsessed with school work and making good grades that I didn’t really understand what it meant to be ideologically driven for certain issues/causes. Upon entering college and having classes with the greatest feminist mentor of my life (Dr. Holly Stave), I certainly became feminist in that I read up on the history and theory of women and began to care more about women’s right and equality. I also think that I have tried to maintain my status as a feminist because of my own status as a minority sometimes and also because of my own dedication to liberalism, pseudo-radicalism, and equality.

What does it mean? To me it means that I am willing to support women in all avenues. Being a feminist does not mean that I want all women to be single mothers and corporate CEOs. It also means that I should, can, and must support them in decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with such as teenage pregnancy, abortion stances, marriage, and body issues. I think being feminist means that you are dedicated to this idea that woman’s inequality is linked to a long chain of inequality, and that as a feminist, you must support women’s causes and rights. I think for me, feminism also means you are willing to show a dedication to liberal thinking in the sense that you are willing to challenge notions of gender and sexuality.

I would say here that my notions of feminism and being feminist seem very intellectual and heady. I have been very little practically to help women’s cause besides support my friends and teach my students what I know about women’s history.

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?
This might seem kind of contradictory but I would say kitchens/dining rooms. I know most people would probably say that being outdoors or riding on a rollercoaster make you realize how alive you are because you are surrounded by the living world and pumped with adrenaline. However, for me, I think of the moments sitting at my kitchen table at my home in New Orleans or the table in Natchitoches or the table in Jami’s apartment, and I remember all of those strands and threads of connection. That makes me feel alive.

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?
Blogs – Well, everyone should read my blog, Laminated Fragments. I haven’t actually recommended this to anyone, but one of my friends from undergrad has a blog, This Ain’t No Bank Robbery. He writes a lot about sports, but his stuff on music and movies is really interesting. I talk about feministing.com at least three times a week. And HuffPost is my life blood sometimes.

Music – Duncan Sheik, anything Wainwright or McGarrigle, Natalie Merchant. I kinda fell in love with this song “American Boy” by Estelle recently. I would also really recommend Angus and Julie Stone and Arcade Fire—two recent discoveries that I really enjoy.

Movies – Funny Games, Jackie Brown, Empire Records

Books – I haven’t been reading all that much lately, but I did manage to get several people to read The Time Traveler’s Wife this summer. I am currently still in love with Iris Murdoch’s The Bell and plan on continuing the work I did on my Master’s Thesis to work on this essay. Byatt’s latest book, The Children’s Story was amazing!

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?
I laughed a lot at The Ugly Truth. I think chronologically that would be the last time, but there have been plenty of moments in the past month that have been pretty great.

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?
I think that I am different in that I am way more chill and patient these days than I ever really was as a child. I have been trying to develop a “roll with the punches” attitude over the past eight months. I think I have been succeeding. If anything, I would also say that I have been taking certain things less emotionally than I was as a teenager. I think my biggest development is that I can finally see myself in the past year or two getting away from the stereotypical teenager attitudes – moodiness, self-centeredness, know-it-all-ness. I’m not saying I don’t relapse into these, but I can see a development away from that into some sort of maturity (if that is the right word).

I think I am in the same in that I am still very much an imaginative child. I also still like to sing a lot, even though I don’t sing very well. I still watch tons of TV and read a lot. I still like to argue just as much as I did when I was a child.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?
Abortion. I think women should have the right to have an abortion, and I think that we should have more positive images of women that have abortions in popular culture.

Equality. I think gays, lesbians, and transgender people need to be recognized as valid and equal members of society and that political structures should recognize that.

TV and Movies. I think that television and movies are amazing and that exploring this facet of pop culture reveals quite a bit about human psychology.

Besides that, my passions tend to waver with the times. When the election in Iran was all the rage, I followed it daily. When the Olympics were on last summer, I watched them every day. I would like to say that I am obsessively always passionate about certain things all the time, but to be honest, I really am a more ride-the-tides-of-time type of person. I think this is partly the Gemini in me, or at least I would like to blame it on that. I would like to say that I want to care 100% all the time about the need for clean water and immunizations in under developed countries, but to be honest, I also recognize that if I put all of my energy into being passionate about issues that I intellectually care about, I would devastate myself psychologically. I don’t know if it is a sort of self-preservation impulse or not. I do think this is something I would personally like to work on though. Learning to walk the walk.

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?
That it is the simplest and subtlest of things that are worth enjoying, not the big grand gestures.

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?
I want to get my three PhDs (English, Art History, and Philosophy) that I have always wanted. I want to have great friends forever. I want own a house and have kids.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?
I enjoy watching TV with Jami, David, and Matt; playing cards with the gang; obsessing about Harry Potter; reveling in all forms of anticipation; and making “Ah, Prom Night!” references.

"Here Today"

A storm is raging, and I feel wide awake--what a perfect time for me to relate some details from the SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY concert.

It was A.MA.ZING. Which is to say, lovely. Inspiring. Cheesy? A bit, at times. Curious? Yes, at some points.

This was my favorite part of the concert: when he asked us to remember John Lennon and then he sang "Here Today." Then we started chanting, "All we are saying is give peace a chance" and then he moved into "Let It Be." (This could totally not have been the order of the songs, but it's how I remember it. Kinda. Because I also remember him playing an upbeat, existential song somewhere in there, too. I'll look up a playlist sometime. But whatever.)

And he remembered George Harrison, too. And he mentioned Linda before playing "My Love." Sigh.

He kept playing and playing. And there was one point where I thought that if he only looked 95 degrees to his left, then he would see me.

Anyway, there's a ton to play with here as far as music, performance, art, product and process, class, race, crowd mentality, memory, death, and love go. But, you know, the storm seems to have subsided and this sleepy body is going to try to rest now, perchance to dream (I couldn't resist that last part).

Here's "Here Today":

Monday, August 17, 2009

Women and War

I've only read the first page of this, but I want to post this article on women in the Iraq war. It's hurting my brain and my heart to read this because the role of women in war is so complicated/contradictory.

From the NYT, "Women at Arms: Living and Fighting Alongside Men, and Fitting In," by Steven Lee Myers.

Right Now

So, today is going to be a day! Orientation starts for the new grad students (and there's some things I need to do for it today), I have an appointment with Sister Ellie, I'm going to try to get my new driver's license, social security card, and passport (or at least take steps to get the DL) (getting these documents is really important to me because it means I'm ending some delusion that the fire happened; to me it means that I'm facing my own reality and starting to set down roots again; that I plan to be around for a while), and perhaps the most exciting thing of all time is happening tonight: S IS TAKING ME TO SEE SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY! (I'm not even kidding about that; I'm so spoiled.)

I was feeling all levels of anxious about today, until I realized that I'm not going to enjoy any of today's activities until I could enjoy this moment right here. That helped me find my smile (which I've come to associate with my power). So, approximately 40 minutes after being awake, I found my power (I kind of wish it had happened sooner, but at least it happened!).

I was feeling really anxious last night, too, thinking about how today would go. Before bed I did my dishes (they are staying caught up, strangely), took a melatonin, and then meditated for twenty minutes. I crawled into bed with a book, but I didn't read a thing--I was so tired that I fell asleep right away.

Then, I woke up nine minutes before my alarm went off, and I was ready to get up. But then I thought that I could afford to sleep about twenty more minutes. So I tried to sleep, but couldn't. And that's when I realized that I was doing my body some harm if I was ready to be up but staying in bed regardless. It was counterintuitive for me, a girl who loves to sleep in.

But I listened to myself. During breakfast and meditation (I knew I needed some extra meditation to help with this anxiety) is when I realized that all the good things that are going to happen today won't be pleasurable if I can't take things one at a time and follow my sense of bliss and pleasure throughout.

So I'm taking the pressure off myself today and I want to just be where I am in any moment--what pleasure!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vision and Mood

According to O, The Oprah Magazine (September 2009) (and their source, The Journal of Neuroscience, June 2009):
Rose-colored glasses really do help you see. New research shows that when you're in a good mood, your visual cortex takes in more information--a greater number of objects in a new image, for example. Bad moods, on the other hand, result in tunnel vision.

I really think this is true.

I experienced this the other day on my jog. I hadn't been jogging in about a week, and so it was slow going when I picked it back up on Thursday. This might sound goody-two-shoes or fake or braggy, but this is just method as of late: I think about what's weighing on my mind so that I can do breathing meditation for those people during different segments of my jog. This really helps me in a number of ways. I decide, even, when I don't want to think about anything in particular and just experience whatever's around me.

At the end of my jog on Thursday, I was feeling cranky (it was hot out and I had to take walking breaks when I really didn't want to). I had reached a stage where I wasn't doing any meditation. In my mind flashed something grumpy, but then I immediately thought, "That grumpiness is taking up a lot of my energy." In the next moment, I started looking at the flowers around me and listening to the fountain in the lake. And then in the next moment, I thought, "Am I just looking for good things to take my mind of the bad?" My immediate answer was that I didn't care. It just felt better to witness the beauty around me than to complain about the heat and my lungs and body. And I let myself indulge in that pleasure--it felt wonderful.

The point is: I think depression is partly the ego's way of keeping us unhappy. For some reason, a depressed brain seems more likely to believe the bad (and think the bad is authentic) rather than believe the good.

What I'm saying is that there may not be anything more authentic than pleasure. Noticing the good things doesn't have to come at the sake of ignoring the bad. I think when we pay attention to our pleasure there comes various times when we realize that energy we expend on negative things (energy that seemed so necessary and essential to ourself) no longer works in a pleasurable way. In that case, I say, let it go.

When you're ready, let it go. And if you aren't ready, don't let it go. Regardless, though, taking time to see something new (something beautiful, right under our noses), really does feel good.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Feeling Accomplished!

From the Oh-So-Braggy Files:

Okiefeminist, Beamish, and I just put together and submitted a panel proposal for the Contemporary Women's Writing: New Texts, Approaches, and Technology conference. If anything, it's been such a pleasure putting together ideas, writing, and revising with these women. (We'll find out in a couple weeks if the panel is accepted.)

(Also, it's in San Diego, July 7-9, 2010. Fabulous!)

Thumbs Up, Senator Jim Webb

Look at Senator Jim Webb (D, Virginia) going to Myanmar for some diplomacy! From the NYT article, "American Senator to Meet Myanmar Leader":

The senator, Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, would be the highest-ranking American official to meet with the junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, in at least a decade. Senior administration officials, speaking anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the trip, said Mr. Webb was traveling independently and “not carrying a message from the administration,” although he was briefed by the State Department before he left.

Officials described the visit as welcome and called it an opportunity to open lines of communication between the United States and Myanmar. As a military planner, journalist and novelist before joining the Senate, Mr. Webb has traveled extensively in the region. In the Senate, he is the chairman of a subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee dealing with East Asian affairs.

I kinda like/hate this

Author, Valerie Frankel, writes about complaining, "Do You Complain Too Much."

File Under: Oh, Yeah, I Get This Now:
Amanda Rose, Ph.D., associate professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, conducted two studies of 1,600 girls and boys and found that "excessive talking" about problems is linked with depression and anxiety. What's considered excessive: "When girls hash and rehash every detail, talk about problems when they could be doing something else, and spend the vast majority of their time together talking about problems," says Rose.


I remember reading this study a few years ago and telling Sassafras about it--surely it isn't true, I said! She hesitated, and I think she disagreed with me. I tried to use the whole, it's not complaining, it's bonding, argument. Which, at the time, was very true of me. I've used complaining as a form of bonding for a long time. I remember an incident in college when a classmate told me that every day I walked into class with a complaint. I thought I was just making small talk! I thought I was being kind of witty and cute. His comment hurt me and I started to not say anything to him because I didn't know what to say.

Not that his interpretation of me means more to me than my own interpretation (although it did at the time), and not that I did the best thing in shutting up. But his saying something to me got me thinking and now, years and years later, I am getting something out of it.

When I try to force positive thinking, it just doesn't really happen. I even tried to force some positive thinking today, and it didn't really work. Or maybe it did. But not when I forced it. It was such a simultaneous event, actually, now that I think about it. I was at the end of my jog, and walking back to my apartment. I was wondering why I couldn't be there already. I was so complainy. And then I thought that it didn't have to be this hard. And, sure enough, I started to notice the sound and colors of the world around me. When I forced it, I still felt a complaining part of me, even for a brief microsecond. But then I was able to enter into something easier and truly pleasurable.

So I think I finally agree with the author of Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? I think if you let everything out while you're feeling it, soon you will get better at noticing things. And then in that noticing, you start to learn some different responses to each situation. And then it becomes easier to respond in positive, constructive ways; I just think it's natural.

Yes, I used the word "natural"; yikes and hooray! (For what is ever really natural, and what is unnatural?)

Also, when you just let things out, you learn to know when you are being a crazy bitchface and when you are suppressing your crazy bitchface and when you just don't have your crazy bitchface out any more. So suck it, anyone who doesn't agree with me!

[insert smily cuteface]

PS: I posted that article link before I read all of it. I just finished reading it now, and I don't really care for it. HAHA I'm complaining about the article complaining about not complaining! Ok. I did think some parts of it were funny; I was hoping she'd change her mind about noncomplaining, though.

My New Theory on Love

This is not actually new nor my theory ("Discuss!"), but it's just something I was thinking about regarding love:

I don't have to do [insert any activity that I may think of doing regarding a former lover (or any other person from my past)] because if we're both acting out of love, then we'll get it and we won't believe our only option to show this love would be to be with each other. Because we'd already be there.

You can't get there by going there. You are just there.


Another piece to this is that in relationships we recognize the other's vulnerability, but we don't realize that we recognize it (until we love ourselves, I think).

(Can anybody go here with me?)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sad/Happy Guitar Day

So, Les Paul passed away today. (Sad guitar news.)

A friend posted this video on Facebook, and I wanted to share it here. It's amazing; Prince is amazing. (Fair warning: I had an orgasm watching this.) (Happy guitar news.)

In Brief

I have the attention span of a gnat right now, so here are some quick things:

*I GOT ACCEPTED TO A CONFERENCE IN CANADA! It's called States of Emergency: Crisis, Panic, and the Nation; I think I will learn so much there.

*This means I MUST get my identifying and traveling documents. And learning about Canadian geography might help a lot, too.

*I feel guilty about sleeping in so long today.

*Vic says this is me, if I were a lolcat (pretty funny, yes?):


*I am hungry (I didn't mean to write that--it just came out).

*I have a handful of links from the NYT and The Compassionate Eye that I've been wanting to share for about a week and a half now. I have no energy to excerpt them, though, so maybe posting them is a waste of time. Whatever; I just want to share anyway!

*"Iraq Censorship Laws Move Ahead" (NYT, August 3)

*"Conspiracy Trial for 100 Dissidents Begins in Iran" (NYT August 1)

*Welcome to the I-C-U, by Michael Brown (a PDF on noticing emotions that I found helpful. I got the link from The Compassionate Eye)

*Also, I'm sending some love!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ooh, wisdom!

New thought: isn't it so cool that the phrase "Follow your bliss" uses the word "follow" instead of "pursue," or some other more active verb? What else can we really do but follow along? (This is what I wonder right now.)

Listen up!

I'm going to type out this long-ish passage because I love it so much! I love everything about it, including what it makes me think about.

From Elizabeth Berg's True to Form:
I like when you walk far enough that a kind of relaxation happens and you can be inside the rhythm of your feet. Your brain shifts like a car; you settle down, look around and feel ah. In a more slow-motion way, you see where you are. And where I am is outside and free, on a summer day. There are times you know your own luck.

The thing about seasons is that when you're in one, you can't believe the others will ever come back. It feels to me like summer has its feet planted far apart and its hands on its hips: I am here. Gardens are full of primary colors, grass sprouts from cracks in the sidewalk, bees fly heavy and low, like you could just reach down and grab one. You can smell the heat trapped in the concrete, that ironed pillowcase smell. Windows are open, and people seem open too--there is no hunching over from the cold, keeping your eyes on the sidewalk, concentrating on getting to where you're going so you can be warm and not freeze to death. When you pass by someone, you take the time to nod a greeting or even stand and have a little conversation, the sun making a disc of warmth on the top of your head.

Curtains move in S-shaped dances from the breeze, or puff out dramatically, then fall straight and still, like they're denying they did anything. Kids with Kool-Aid mustaches run in and out of the house, banging the screen door and yelling to their mothers, and you can hear the faint voice of their mothers yelling back not to bang the door, how many times does she have to tell them to not bang the door. There is a different weight to the air. People sit on their porches after dinner, reading the paper or sitting idle, their hands behind their heads and their ankles crossed, waiting to see who passes by. There is a low happiness in them that they can't explain.

I walk far enough out of the neighborhood that the houses end and open fields begin. I don't know who these fields belong to. I don't see how they can belong to anyone, really, how any land can. I wonder sometimes how it all started, that land got owned. Somebody came someplace new and didn't see anybody else around and said, 'Huh. Well, this is mine.' And then they stuck a flag in. And then came war.

I wander far out into the middle of a field and lie down in knee-high grass. What a fine smell; you can understand why horses eat it. I close my eyes and listen to the drone of an airplane overhead. Now I have been on an airplane. It is in my bag of experiences, which mostly is empty. I wonder when I die what will be in my bag, and why. I think of Mrs. Wexler, and how her bag must be pitiful flat, and then I think of the Randolphs and how each of their bags would look like it was about to explode. I don't know, really, why it ends up that some people get so much and some so little. Some they can't help it, but some they can.

I sit up, take out my notebook, smooth the page with the flat or my hand. I want to try a poem about a summer day. I want yellow and green in it; I want heat and drops of water and the slow flap of a new butterfly's wings. I think I'll end with something I saw on the way over: a slide on a playground, the metal glinting so hard in the sun, a line of kids all waiting to go up the ladder. Whenever I start a poem, I feel like my heart is about to break. Because of all there is, because of how every single thing can have such a pure beauty that aches to be known. I take in a deep breath, and then all there is is the scritch scritch scritch of my pen, trying to say something so true. What if it works? Then when I read it again, the little voice inside with say, Yes. Yes. Yes. And there will be this rare excitement that makes me bend over myself with pleasure, then rise up smiling, my fingers pressed over my mouth as though to keep things from bursting out. I am lucky on the inside.

Yoga Class Dilemma

Apparently the inevitable is happening and school will begin again soon. I have no idea how to schedule my days. I'm teaching TTh from 3:30-4:45 and I need to plan ten office hours for my position as the Writing Program Assistant. I could probably throw in another hour or two in case students ever show up. Ever. (That's not bitter, just a noticing--I swear!)

And then which yoga class to take? Anyone at TU want to take yoga with me? (Michael, I miss you and your yoga ways!)

Yoga for Life with Louise 9/9-12/4 MWF 12:00p-1:00p $50

Yoga with Louise 9/8-12/3 Tue & Thur 8:30p-10:00p $50

Do I want to commit to being on campus five days a week (no, not really) or to being on campus late at night (no, not really)? But I love yoga and I love Louise--I've missed her this summer!

OH THE AGONY OF DECISION-MAKING!

The Compassionate Eye Blog

I know I've said it before, but I really love this blog, The Compassionate Eye. Here is an excerpt from yesterday's post, "Do You Approve of Yourself?"; the author, David Ord, is writing about insights from the movie Julie and Julia (which I really want to see):

A borrowed identity can never fulfill us, though it is often how we begin the journey to awareness of our true greatness. We get a sense that there’s more to us than we know, a deeper person within us than we have yet discovered.

We begin searching, but we search externally—and hence the borrowed sense of self that Julie conjured up from what she knew of Julia.

What has to happen is that the transfusion of identity we are getting from someone or something else has to fail us. It’s then that we might make the discovery that what we have been searching for has been within us all along.

I’ve never met Julie in real life, but just going from the movie Julie and Julia, she ultimately found that the joy she had been seeking was already within her—and she didn’t need Julia Child’s approval of her after all!

All she needed was to approve of herself.


I love that idea that it is so helpful and then unhelpful to "borrow" another's "identity." I see how I've done this my whole life (and it's only been within the past year that I've been thankful to have such wonderful mentors in my life), and how I am probably still doing it. But, you know, whatever! How can I not, if that's where I am right now?!

Some Things I Wonder About

I can't really sleep right now, and I wonder (to some degree) about these things:
*I wonder if we made a 3x2 chart and wrote along the left side "Time" and the top "Events" and in the three boxes along the left (going down): past, present, future and in the two boxes along the top: Pleasure and Noticing the Pleasure, in which boxes would we place our xs or check marks?

*Where should we put our exes?

*Does it create more drama to stay or more drama to go? (As far as any decision goes. But mostly in regard to the question of whether I should drop out of the PhD program and pursue an MFA instead. Or in regard to the question of if I should drop out of my relationship or not. Or in regard to the question of whether I should join a convent or not. Or in regard to the question of if I should make a pot of coffee or not.)

*Does patience really exist or is it a constant judgement that you are somehow doing "now" wrong? Would we even need or understand patience if we were constantly living in the present moment without judgment?

*How do we even know what discernment is? Especially when things always seem like a good idea at the time, otherwise you wouldn't really do them.

*What happens if when we die?

*Is our whole life waiting to see what happens when we die (especially since we are dying every day)?

*Is death the whole point of life? Do the dead understand something we don't, and that's why they are dead?

*Or, is everything an accident?

*I used to think suicidal people knew things for they way they were. Then I thought they had, to say the least, a tragic relationship with time. We're all going to die, I'd think, and so there's no need to make it come sooner than it has to. But what if they know that already? What if their relationship with time isn't tragic so much as just different?

*I wonder if the times I really believe I'm communicating with others I'm really just communicating with myself. (Like when I write love poems or angry emails.)

*I believe, like Sara, that animals and stories are among the only things that help us keep going every day--because they are the things that can take us out of ourselves in such a way as to take us further into ourselves.

*I wonder why I still act like a kid in so many areas of my life. When will I ever stop wondering what I'll be when I grow up: will I be pretty? Will anyone like me? What will I do?

*But in what ways does this curiosity keep us going?

*In thinking about reform and acceptance, I just don't know how the desire to want things to change isn't a deep form of violence.

*I wonder about reform because I want things to change. But then I wonder if I just haven't found my niche yet. So I wonder when that niche will come. And I wonder if a niche is a delusion.

*And I can't help but wonder why, even though I like her, Elizabeth Berg is among our society's respected writers.

*And why was the garbage being picked up at 12:30 yesterday morning and 4:30 this morning--isn't that too early?

*I wonder these things, and now I feel anxious about them. But now I actually feel ok about them. I just needed to write them out, I think, in order to feel better.

*And as a parting thing to consider, I think it's fascinating to think that we cannot spend the rest of our lives doing the same thing. Our bodies are constantly moving. What if we allowed them freedom of range? What would they do? Mine would fall asleep right now, I think.

*Because this is what I really want to know: what is up with desire? Is it rooted in the body, or is it something we made up to keep us constantly miserable? What if it brings us pleasure to have desires? And what if our deepest pleasures comes of thinking about past desires--does that mean we live in the past, present, and future?

*Who even knows? Or cares?!

*And why do I get jealous? Or possessive?

*Why do I often believe that people don't know me?

*Will I be embarrassed to read this later? Or will I get me? And are those ideas really at odds with each other?

*And so on . . .

*Like, should I change the layout of my blog?

*How much does the internet make me unhappy?

*And should I make that coffee yet, or am I ready to sleep? And, does it matter?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Sara Edition!

This week's column comes to us from the best neighbor in the universe--Sara! In addition to being an awesome neighbor, she also happens to be one of my best friends. Chances are she's one of your best friends, too!

Sara is a good listener and is really invested in helping people. (This has made her help in the English department invaluable for many people, for example.) She's funny and feisty and always up for exploring new things and new ideas. Also, she's not pretentious, even though she has every reason in the world to flaunt. Also, she is the absolute cutest person ever!

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?
because i am a human being. it means that i support gender equality, sexual education and exploration, transgendered and cisgendered women and men, androgyny, a woman's right to choose, healthy bodies and minds and spirits of all kinds. it means that i try to work on these issues locally, regionally, and globally. or at least to be informed about them. i read feministing.com and am a member of NOW, NARAL, and the HRC.

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?
rivers. mountains.

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?
oh, a ton. always something different. The Map that Changed the World (book), The Holy Mountain (movie), Josie and the Pussycats (movie), "Maude" (tv show), "The Mighty Boosh" (tv show), Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (book), etc.

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?
with kay and lauren this past weekend.

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?
different: i hated onions; now i can tolerate them. i wanted to be a doctor or a vet. i lived in the country in small rural towns full of mostly intolerant folks but also some very decent people. was an athlete for a while.

same: addicted to reading, sometimes bossy, city-dweller (for now), love to be barefoot (hate shoes), like animals.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?
education, literacy, the constitution, meditation therapy, inner work, deconstructing binaries, CHOICE, first amendment, separation of church and state, NOT legislating morality, adoption rights

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?
more than i could have ever imagined. every year surprises me. every day surprises me. in the past year, i started meditation therapy, learned to meditate, read amazing books and stories of inner work, reconnected with my family, met the first significant other i've ever had whose love for me is simply/complexly/wonderfully/amazingly an echo of my love for myself, moved in with a roommate (haven't had one since 2000! and apparently i like it!).

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?
perform in a staging of Chicago. travel to as many different countries as possible. learn as many new languages as possible.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?
meditating, sitting with my cats, visiting friends and family, traveling, reading. bonus: potlucks!

Aung San Suu Kyi: House Arrest Continues

From the NYT:
“The outcome of this trial has never been in doubt,” Jared Genser, her international counsel in Washington, said Tuesday after the verdict was announced. “The real question is how the international community will react — will it do more than simply condemn this latest injustice?”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Checking-in

I spent this weekend in my home town, celebrating the impending birth of my niece. I had a great time, and Vic's baby shower was a lot of fun. The babe is full term, and we're hoping to see her anytime within the next three weeks--hooray!

I had a great time visiting with my family; I had a lot of good conversations with them.

Vic loaned me some novels by Elizabeth Berg: Durable Goods, Joy School, and True to Form. Due to the fact that they are short, young adult-y, and that I had a long flight delay, I read two of them today. And that helped me remember what a joy it is to read a book. I underlined not one thing! (Although, I wanted to.)

In the midst of this nice trip, I can feel the stress of the approaching (encroaching?) school year. I'm a little nervous about teaching. I think more so, I'm just feeling a tug to be home--especially with a baby on the way--and I'm not sure how that big event will fit into my teaching responsibilities. It's just the unknown I'm worrying about; that and the kind-of rallying-of-troops (although, I don't like war metaphors) that I need to do before meeting new people (new people in the program, new students to teach).

Not to mention, I need to go to the grocery store and buy a few important items (like coffee). Sheesh--could things be any more difficult right now?!

Well, enough venting! I think I'm going to go eat a bit of chocolate and put on some comfy pants. I can't believe tomorrow is Tuesday already--what a fast week!

I hope this post finds everyone well.

(PS: I forgot to bring my camera home, so I don't have any cute digital pictures of the baby shower. Sad face.)

(PPS: I have a couple cute Super G stories I'll have to share later!)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pattern-Changing

So, I don't want to do that one thing where I dwell on a really positive experience and make a whole story out of it by combining various (and often fragmented, random) bits of my life in order to explain that story. Bu-ut . . .

Yesterday I had such a fabulous experience and do a happy dance because this girl is coming into her own!

I paid attention to my insidious approval-seeking ways and while meeting with an advisor yesterday, I totally owned up to what I wanted to study and where I was in the exam studying process; all without making or relying on any excuses. I accepted myself the way I was and this allowed us to have a really productive conversation. I'm starting to know who I am and make the distinctions between wants and needs (my sister's forthcoming Talk To Me Tuesday entry helped me think about this some more this week). This helps me not freak out when others can't fulfill what I want. And I don't sink even further in and try to find someone else to fulfill these wants. Maybe I don't even, anymore, look to myself to fulfill these wants.

Instead, I chill the fuck out. I stay with myself and cut out all the stories and reasons and bullshit that I've accumulated over the years to explain things.

As Sister Ellie says, this stuff works with the saturation method. I'm soaking in these things that I'm learning. Which causes me to change shape and learn other things, all through the same method.

How Are My Ovaries Even Staying In Place?

Ohmygodthereisababykidsleepinginmyhouseandsheissocutesqueeeeeeeeeeee!

I'm babysitting for a friend and her little girl is so cute. She's a year old and we got to go for a walk in the stroller around Swan Lake, with Argo by our side. This amazing fact, combined with the fact that I'm heading to Ye Olde Home Towne for my sister's baby shower, well, it's all too much. Last night I packed the baby clothes I bought and, sigh.

And Queenie loves this little girl, who is napping right now--it's so adorable. The babe and I didn't do a whole lot together before nap time. She's so quiet--a little observer. She wanted to pull pens out of the jar and put them back inside; she didn't get frustrated when the jar kept falling over. I think she was saying the word "blue," after I read a couple pages of a Sesame Street book to her.

She was really frightened by Argo's barking and running around. Argo seemed oblivious to her cries, though, and he was a little gentleman on our walk. (And I only ran over his paw once with the stroller. I'm amazing.)

(Being in the throes of the reproductive years . . . what's a girl to do?)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Post Where It All Collapses Into One

Dude. Two things I love from yesterday, all in one:

A Couple Relationship Articles

Here are a couple of excerpts from articles on relationships that are kind of blowing my mind. There are links to the whole articles.

From Laura Munson's "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear":
“I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.”

His words came at me like a speeding fist, like a sucker punch, yet somehow in that moment I was able to duck. And once I recovered and composed myself, I managed to say, “I don’t buy it.” Because I didn’t.

He drew back in surprise. Apparently he’d expected me to burst into tears, to rage at him, to threaten him with a custody battle. Or beg him to change his mind.

So he turned mean. “I don’t like what you’ve become.”

Gut-wrenching pause. How could he say such a thing? That’s when I really wanted to fight. To rage. To cry. But I didn’t.

Instead, a shroud of calm enveloped me, and I repeated those words: “I don’t buy it.”

You see, I’d recently committed to a non-negotiable understanding with myself. I’d committed to “The End of Suffering.” I’d finally managed to exile the voices in my head that told me my personal happiness was only as good as my outward success, rooted in things that were often outside my control. I’d seen the insanity of that equation and decided to take responsibility for my own happiness. And I mean all of it.


From Rachel Howard's "The Love Fast: Giving Up Neediness and Finding True Love":
One morning in the middle of my 40-day love fast, I awoke with a realization: I already had all the love that I needed. I had it from my mother and brother, from my friends, even from the memory of the love that my father had given me before his death. Consciously giving love to others—and seeing them spontaneously give it back—had made me recognize the love in my life more clearly. Most important, I had all the love I needed from God, or whatever you want to call that larger reality of the universe. I didn't need Joe's love. And yet, I still wanted it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What you missed in meditation class last night

You missed a man, a stranger to everyone, coming/storming into the meditation hall near the end of class and shutting himself in the kitchen/bathroom area. We near the end of class and this man comes in, doesn't say a word, and goes to the bathroom. Those of us in class didn't know how to respond. The man shuts the door and one of the guys in class asks Sister Ellie if she knows that man. She says no, and so that guy says we should look and see what's going on outside. We don't see anything, and it's decided we should get our stuff and leave the hall. We go out into the rest of the building while another person calls the police. The man who intruded then runs out of the meditation hall and runs through the building, being chased by the guy in class, who turns out to be a reserve officer. The officer can't find him, and about that time the police show up.

We take stock of the hall and this man didn't steal anything, but he made a mess of the place. We all agreed that he acted like he was drugged up--his behavior was so strange. He didn't say anything to us. After the police got there, a couple of us left. A couple blocks later, I saw the police had found the man. They had him in handcuffs and he was sitting on the sidewalk talking to the police.

It was one of the strangest experiences I've been a part of in a while. I went through a range of emotions in a short period of time. And it brought up a lot of questions about police and race. Everyone in meditation class last night was white and the intruding man was black. When I saw the man was caught, there were five police cars by him--all of the officers (as I recall) were white.

Personally, I kept thinking that this guy could have been one of my students (he looked young and athletic), and I wondered (of course) what was going on with him. It makes me wonder what the police wondered when they saw him, and what other Tulsans driving by him and the surrounding cops thought about him.

It makes me wonder a lot about safety and the sense of feeling threatened. When the man first came in and shut the kitchen door, I wondered if he was going to come back out and attack us. But then I also thought he was completely non-threatening. I let other people take care of things, and I was more of an observant. An easy target, perhaps, but then no one was shooting/attacking.

I tried to find more information on the situation today, but none is readily available. Just, over all, a really strange thing to witness.

Love: A List

I am going to steal my friend Tara's blog form and make a list of things that I love. (Tara has a feature, "Things You Never Knew You Needed Until Now," and it's pretty fabulous!)

Some things that I love right now:

*The fact that I wrote my dissertation yesterday (It might look just like single words connected to each other by lines on a single page, but it's a finished dissertation. Don't worry.):


*Extravagant oatmeal (butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon).

*This totally inappropriate Ween song:


*This lovely/cheesy Paul McCartney song:

*Talking with dear friends

*Babies and baby showers!

*Realizing how awkward I can be at communication. Man, I can be really awkward! I'm good intentioned, though.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Mom Edition! (Hooray!)

It is barely Tuesday, but just Tuesday enough to post "Talk to Me Tuesday," which features my mom! Without a doubt, I'm a feminist because my mom normalized feminism for me while I was growing up. Mom and I have had many conversations about feminism and politics; during many of these conversations I think to myself "But if she could only see such-and-such point I'm making!" When I reflect on these conversations, I usually see how wise she is and how often I overlook her wisdom (this happens even in conversations that don't deal with feminism and politics). My mom has the mysterious ability to be right about everything, even when she seems dead wrong. It's weird. She's smart, sassy, and creative--my favorite type of woman!

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?
I am a feminist as I believe in equal pay for equal work and equal opportunity for all. But I believe we may have gone too far with this working thing. As women we have put down those who have chosen to be housewives and have promoted this "Superwoman" persona, which I believe has added too much stress in our lives. I have heard people say that men have been working and raising a family for generations and that as women we can do it also. In fact, as women we seem to think we don't even need a partner to help, we can be single parents! But if you look back at it historically, men have had women at home doing the cooking, cleaning, running around, watching over the servants, and whatever so yes, they could go to work and know that the house and children were safe, and then when they got home they would have dinner, maybe play with the children for awhile, put the kids to bed and then relax. Women have not given up any home jobs, but have added working outside of the home, and in too many cases for me, have even decided to do without a partner at all to help with the kids. Do we really still need to work 10 times harder to prove we are equal?? I don't feel it is wrong for a woman to decide to stay home and raise her children, or even just take care of her man, anymore than I think it is wrong for a woman to decide not to have children and/or a husband. And keep in mind that I think every decision we make is not cast in stone. We can always change our minds!

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?
Standing in a field of prairie grass in South Dakota in the summer time. I love the sound and feel of the wind and the cool, dry air. Of course I would love to have buffalo there, but they would have to be far away, or I would have to stay in the car, as they are too large for me to try to walk with.

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?
I don't usually recommend things to people as I fear they won't enjoy it and then it will reflect badly on me in some fashion. But.....the latest movie I have really enjoyed was The Hangover. I thought it was very funny without being sophomoric. I am going to try to read The Time Traveler's Wife, per your's and Vic's recommendation, so I can see the movie this fall. Otherwise I only read romance novels---I always want the happy, predictable ending! I only read your blog and I have missed my gospels so I am in the process of putting them on my shuffle.

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?
I don't even remember, but I imagine it was with my family playing Balderdash!

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?
I believe as a child I was much more carefree. I was the baby of the family and felt I could do no wrong. I am the same now, in that I try to do what others expect me to do, which causes me to take on a lot of responsibility. I am planning with my retirement, if that ever happens!, to become more like my child, carefree and not tied down. Maybe that is why it is called a second childhood?

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?
I am menopausal, so I am pretty much passionless about everything! I really try to stay open to everything as I am not sure what every passionate person's agenda is. I believe we are fed information in such a way as to make us respond in a certain way, so I try not to respond to anything, although....... Don't park in my driveway!!

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?
That I was a better mom than I am a friend. I don't stay in touch with people as much as I should.

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?
I would love to retire and enjoy just spending my time whatever way and where I decide. I would love to make a fortune from some needlework I created. And, of course, I would love to write the Great American Novel!

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?
Reality TV shows, needlework, irritating your father, my job, and being surrounded by my dogs (although I think I am ready to have more than the two I have). Oh, I also love watching College Football, or most sports, on TV.


Me with Mom, in Tulsa. Photo by Dad!