Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On Love and Writing

There are qualities of people's emotional lives--thicknesses and textures--that lead me in believing that I know who they are and where they are going. Perceiving this type of thing overwhelms me when I am in groups (which is part of the reason why teaching can be so draining). When I am at my best, though, I can use my perceptions and understand things better. I can understand that person better, understand life better, and understand new issues better.

These things happen in waves. Sometimes other people's anger clouds understanding; sometimes my own anger clouds understanding.

When I get angry, I get blocked up. And I'm starting to understand that, for me, it comes down to a couple of things that motive me. I might get blocked up in my writing or in my intimate relationship.

I'm trying to lead to the idea--and I don't know why I'm even writing what I already know--that for whatever reasons, I've always associated writing with passion and romance. When I'm in love, I want to write about it. When I'm at the opposite of not being in love, I want to write about that, too.

Over the past couple of days I have found myself in a situation where Bill and I went to Planned Parenthood in order to buy (and for me to consume) Plan B, Levonorgestrel, the emergency contraception pill. (It's $35 for the generic and $40 for the brand medication. Available without a prescription to those over 17. Why not by some for that special woman in your life this holiday season?)

There are a couple of ways I could tell this story. I could paint a picture of a very caring boyfriend who made sure, after I took the pill, that I was feeling alright. I could paint a picture of a relationship that is building that wants to be very conscious of when, where, and why we would bring (a) kid(s) into the world. That picture would be very close to how I feel this relationship is going. Or, at least, that picture would be my deepest wish for how this relationship is going. And writing that story of things going well and me being cared for by a man who is responsible and open would be (yea could be?) . . . boring, show-off-ish, later proven wrong, unfunny, etc.

It would break my heart, that is, to find out later that I could be so wrong!

I am hypervigilant about my relationship. (And about my writing?)

The funny interpretation of the Plan B story, the one I wanted to write and post on this blog, paints me as an unwitting, urban-y, sophisticate (-ish) woman and Bill as a modern man, able to deal with a Plan B situation (even after Plan A was a real plan that would normally work). This story would rely on me and my utter ambivalence on having children (How much bearing did a particular pregnancy pact have on me? How much information on overpopulation, economics, education, and psychology would I have to ignore in order to go forward and have children?). Such a story has a great punchline ("I ain't gonna throw up the Plan B in order to have your baby!")

Somehow I've internalized the idea that my writing and my intimate relationship needs to come at the cost of myself--my most vulnerable and sensitive parts--in order to be considered good. And somehow I've interpreted that I can only have one or the other.

It's hard for me to convey my feelings in spoken word. And it's hard for me, after I've written something, to realize that not all of what I meant can be conveyed.

I guess I feel challenged, right now, to open up to the things that are going to help me. I think what my little brain can't understand is that sometimes opening up means keeping some stuff to myself. I don't have to divulge everything that I think or feel into either my writing or my intimate relationship.

Actually, it's more like this: It's more like I'm learning my own boundaries. And it's really hard. It's hard to want to see all the best things about yourself reflected back to you because then you spend so much time in competition and comparing mode. It's hard to be so indecisive and open because then anything can come along and send me for a ride (and I get so tired of rides sometimes!). The point isn't that things are hard.

The point I was trying to make was that today, in the sixth grade, I talked with one girl I over-identify with, and thought, "I don't want this girl to ever think she isn't good enough." I worry about her and what she may hold herself back from all because she believes she will never measure up. In the next period of sixth grade, another student that I simply adore (the whole sixth grade is pretty much adorable) gives a good answer and exclaims, "See, I can be deep, Teacher!" And then proceeds to talk about how--no matter what--people shouldn't give up on their dreams.

I was jogging earlier, and made a note of it on the scrap of paper I keep that lets me know when I went jogging, and I noticed that I've been working on this particular jogging/walking pattern since July. In case, like me, you think it is still July--let me tell you. It is now December. July was five months ago.

I was thinking about me in the sixth grade. Was I vacuous? Did I watch too much tv? Get crushes on too many boys? Was sixth grade the last time I read a book a day? Who was I? Who will these students turn out to be? I was wondering about all the books I read that contained adult material, and I wondered if letting kids read about sex and drugs was actually the best approach. Let them get it early, I reasoned, because life isn't always so dramatic. It's in these moments of sailing along, getting to some unknown destination, that . . . well, I don't know what happens in these moments. They don't necessarily make for good writing, I suppose is what. Without such drama, I don't know what my writing is. I don't know what my relationship is. I don't know how to be comfortable and stimulated at the same time.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hague Conventions

Sometimes I must be the dumbest person on Earth. Am I the only one who doesn't know what the Hague Conventions were?

And what's up with me learning on Wikipedia? Jesus. I might as well be calling my latest Etch-a-Sketch drawing a work of art. (Man. I wish I really did have an Etch-a-Sketch right now.) I swear, I encouraged a 7th grader to use Wikipedia on his research project a couple of weeks ago. He was all, "That shit ain't reliable." And I was all, "Don't use 'ain't.' And use Wikipedia."

I am a horrible person.

[Wikipedia link to the Hague Conventions.]

I thought this was interesting partly because I thought 1899 was early to be talking about setting up an international council to solve problems, and thereby eradicate war.

Does 1899 seem early for that? (Or do I seriously need to pick up a history book soon?) I mean, seriously, this is still the Victorian Age.

And what the hell does this Wikipedia post mean by a neo-Kantian pacifist? Man. I don't even know my philosophy or history of philosophy either.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

There is so much to be thankful for today. Today I am particularly thankful for difficult conversations and easy conversations.



And this is funny, from Shakespeare's Sister.

Much love on this Thanksgiving day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

PTSD

I've been really interested in trauma and PTSD. Recently Spring told me that times of transition are more stressful for those in trauma. She referenced a study on soldiers saying they were more likely to commit suicide between missions/assignments as opposed to when they were in the midst of moments of heavy stress.

Sister Ellie told me something similar as soon as a couple weeks had passed after my apartment fire; she said that it is once we have lived through something traumatizing that we start to wig-out (so to speak) about it. It's a challenge, I suppose, to say the least, to realize what we can live through.

(After all these years, we can still surprise ourselves!)

I read this article, "A Voice of Post-Traumatic Stress," over on a NYT blog. I left a rather lengthy comment over there because I was piecing together what the topic meant to me. I'm afraid my comment sounds rather naive. Yet I am so desiring a space to talk about both the practical details of a traumatic event as well as any of such an event's larger esoteric repercussions.

In fact, I have just named my central issue! I am working on how to trust my larger feeling of something while also paying more attention to details. Unfortunately, in doing so, I sound simplistic. Alternately, I could also just be hearing the sound of my voice for the first time.

Anyway, the larger point on PTSD that I wanted to make in this post is that I find it fascinating.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Letter to an Ex-Boyfriend

Dear X,

I didn't mean to create an ambiguous last email. [Unsaid: Sara said that if you had a direct question about what I said, then you could just ask.] [Unsaid: That was a pretty nicely worded question, wasn't it! I didn't mean anything by it, and I'm evily gratified knowing it threw you off. Your long pause indicated you were thrown off.] [Unsaid: Your long pause throws me off now. It is like I wrote the other day in a bad love poem to Bill: rhythm is everything.] I've just been thinking a lot about job goals and life callings; I was just curious about your view of your career.

I am very glad to hear that your transition into your 40s is going well!

[Unsaid: Some of the cutest men I know are in their 40s!]

[Unsaid: When you said your 30s ended "pretty good" and your 40s started "great"--what does that mean? What changed? What got better?]

[What I want to ask is: are we are friends, or am I writing to you to see how you're doing? Do you know that there are a trillion things that I am not saying?]

[I swear, I have to thwart off everyone's anger towards me. With every new day, another person is mad at me. Can I be blamed for wanting to find a comfortable place? That place always seems to be in the arms of someone new. I don't know why, exactly.]

[Are you seeing someone? Have I asked you that? Do you miss me ever?]

[There are so many things I understand better now. There are so many things I can't share now.]

I hope your job is still going well. I'm glad you're in a company where you would want to stay and advance.

How is the band? Which Clutch songs are you guys playing?

I am playing the guitar now! [Unsaid: It might be because I am working to get over you.] I can play four chords by memory (I can almost quickly transition between them. Kinda.), and I'm learning the blues/pentatonic scale. [Unsaid: Almost every day I check the pads of my fingertips to see if they are calloused in the way I know yours are.]

[I don't miss you at all. I'm lying, kind of. I don't know who you are anymore, yet I see reflections of you in who I'm with now. He has women in his life that have behaved the way I behaved in your life. It makes me angry and jealous . . . and understanding and calm.]

That's too bad that you have to work on Thanksgiving. I will either be here in Tulsa or with my family. I will find out for sure tonight, I imagine. I will be home for Christmas, and I look forward to reconnecting with my family and with the mountains/landscape.

[Unsaid: Tulsa has been feeling stifling lately. I wish I could shrug it off because I'm kind of scared of what the future might bring. That's just my state right now--kind of scared. I want to stop talking to you when I'm kind of scared. How to communicate out of care instead of fear? I don't know how to do that with you yet.]

[Unsaid: I wish you the absolute best. Always.]

My friend who is giving me guitar lessons has been reading a book on music and the brain. I think it's called, "The Brain on Music." I just looked it up; it's, "This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession," by Levitin. It looks gay. I use that term now in an ironically pejorative way. [I guess I just went pseudo-public with that truth.] The book I gave you for that one Christmas--that looked gay, too. I'm sorry I got you that dumb book. And the dumb book before that one. I'm so bad at gift-giving, and here we are upon yet another holiday season. It's a game of how many dumb gifts I can give this year. Ugh! So stressful! [Unsaid: I just realized what I want to give everyone this year. Thank you for your help!]

[It is so hard to just say what I want to say. It's hard because there are so many ways to interpret things; and it's hard because there are just so many ways one can interpret things.] I don't know how to convey just how much you mean to me and how much you don't. Haha! Seriously! How can I say this?! I wish we could talk all the time always and only in meaningful ways. [That's what I wish with everyone I know.]

All the best,
Courtney

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This is (Part) of the Reason I'm Crazy

I'm sittin' here on the living room floor with dear Beamy, and I'm figuring out, through the help of the Indigo Girls' video station on YouTube, why I'm crazy.

(I've been wanting to write a music post; inspired by this one by cute Trisha, at Menopausal Stoners.)

This Melissa Etheridge song, released when I was 16 and just learning how to drive, is part of the reason why I'm crazy. The song, in sum: I'm in love with you and I'm obsessed with you; I should punish myself with that fact, or I kind of like this passionate side of myself (as do you, or you don't).



I've been obsessed with love and thinking about love. Bill and I have been spending a lot of time together and I am just like, "What?! What is this?? What has everything else been?" I've been mired in insecurity this past week. I knew I have been, too.

And now something interesting is happening. I started seeing Bill when I didn't have a telephone. And now, now, after three months of living without a phone, I have a phone again. Thanks to Bill.

Having a phone is wigging the shit out of my boundaries. I feel overwhelmed by it. I don't know how to have boundaries! And to be in love with someone and not have boundaries? That's a recipe for freaking disaster.

I think I'm at a point where I just want to have fun in love. And I wonder if fun is enough? What kinds of things are fun and easy, and is it enough to share the fun and easy things? What kinds of things are hard? And why are they hard?

It's hard to get over the past; that's what I was thinking earlier. It's hard to get over the knowledge of being madly in love with other people to only start doing it again with someone else. It's hard to know that the other person has been madly in love before, too. It's hard to know these kinds of things.

It's hard for me to know that I have such a jealous streak!

I'm used to hearing, "You aren't like other girls. You are more . . . You are less . . ." With Bill I hear, "Oh, I know that one. You are like so-and-so."

It's comforting to find a man who knows how to handle my various whatevers . . . but it's also totally frustrating, too! I guess it's just hard because there is this competitive side of me, and a part of me that is always measuring itself against other people. That's my insecure side, and it can so easily dwell inside me and obscure reality.

I'm trying to be more aware of that part of myself. I guess it's like anything--I can give it part of my attention, but I can't give it my whole attention.

Here's what I can almost play (if the song is slowed down about 500%):



And, honestly, if anyone wants to swoon over me, then s/he may! I swear--I am not playing guitar for myself here! I would love some goddamn accolades! I can switch between four chords during the course of ten minutes--I'm like a goddamn guitar genius!

What else? This old song by Joan Baez reminds me that a) talented women existed way before we made a huge deal about talented women, b) I love emotional rawness, and c) it's not always pleasant to listen to such rawness. As Beamy put this sentiment, one which I feel with my writing, "Just because I put it in a song [or in writing] doesn't mean I think it's good." Some people are both: raw and talented. [And I am totally frustrated with myself; I am nothing but a hack! But, I have to start there. I have resigned myself to being bad at everything I do for the next few years. I am just getting started with the things that I actually want to do, and it's going to take a lot of practice at getting good at them.]



In all, I just want to post that I am still only thirty years old. I am still cleaning out some negative stuff from my past. It's a good time to do such cleaning activities.

Beamy and I talked about how we can refine the past and create new associations with things; she said she learned this with help from our dear friend, K. And K is right. So here's a new association I would like to make with a song that has meant a lot to me; here's to cleaning out the past, being ourselves, being in love, and forging new bonds. Here's to not letting the past mean more than all the good things we can glean from it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I'm an Ethicist Now

Sources from my living room futon and cnn.com report that the Pope is reversing the Catholic Church's position on condoms. Apparently condoms are ok to use in the prevention of diseases, yet not in the prevention of kids (instead of "the prevention of diseases and kids" or "the prevention diseases/kids").

In a fascinating statement the Pope says:

"There could be single cases that can be justified, for instance when a prostitute uses a condom, and this can be a first step towards a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, to develop again the awareness of the fact that not all is allowed and that one cannot do everything one wants."


"Pope says condoms may be OK in some circumstances"

"A first step towards moralization?" I disagree that this is "first step" because a stance against the use of condoms is already a moral judgement . . . but, then again, is it?

What makes something a moral judgement? I think something that is a moral judgement conveys a true sense of what is right or wrong; and many people have argued that a sense of right or wrong is always subjective. But aren't some things pretty clear, such as the Pope's statement that "one cannot do everything one wants"?

To me, that sounds like a truth, and isn't truth moral? It's moral to tell the truth, but is telling a truth moral?

Well, if the truth was that one should keep one's mouth shut about something, then I suppose living that truth would trump the telling of the truth of what one knew. So there are gradations of truth, then, I guess.

This is the fundamental thing, I suppose. Truth is not absolute, yet it's not subjective either. There is such a thing as truth and it is true that there are some things that are more true than others. Or some truths that have a greater gravitas--some things need to be told sooner than others. I suppose, again, that's why it's difficult living in a world with a time component. The way we experience time is in a linear fashion. Sure, things will come around again (in the sense that in looking back on the past, we take in things that we never did before) so it's easy to believe that what's not important now may become important in the future.

And then, I suppose, there are gradations of importance, too.

I guess I'm playing around with ideas of morality, truth, importance, and time; and, in a perverse way, a competitive side creeps in. And, I think a competitive side is related to authority. On what grounds does one know which truth is the one to relate in a particular moment?

The Pope creates his own soup of ideas: importance, morality, responsibility, truth, desire. We can't always do what we want, so sometimes we have to wear a condom. To me that just makes sense (in the literal sense, and in the larger sense where condoms serve as a symbol of anything that is meant to protect us).

What is interesting to me is the connection between things that make sense and morality. Part of the Pope's statement seems to me to be that as soon as an issue can be argued in a moral sense, then a) he has the authority to make a judgment upon it and b) it becomes worthy of discussion. That makes me feel weary, I suppose. And yet that may not be at all what he's doing. Sometimes, I think, it just so happens that people who are in positions of authority happen to make sound decisions regarding the things that I think are important. And they do it in a very un-self-conscious way.

I guess that's part of what I've been trying to work out here, too: self-consciousness.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Me: Sans Fire Phobia!

I just started a fire in my fireplace--all by myself! All alone!

This is a new chapter for me, and I feel strong. I'm also ass-cold because the patio door needs to stay open to air out all this smoke.

Trade-offs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Love and George W. Bush

The other night Bill and I were talking about our relationship. Along the lines of we're still getting to know each other and the lines of we're still evolving, he made the comment, "I"m not as great as you think I am."

I forget what I said after that. (Sometimes I just don't say much around Bill.) But I thought, "Yes, and you don't know how gross I am!" That was my secondary thought, though, because I know that Bill isn't as great as I think he is. But I also know that he isn't as not-great as he thinks he is. I also know that it's not my job to love him in accordance to his level of greatness. I suppose it's a mix--how we love each other is a mix of what we think they are and what they are, actually.

I can't really say other than to hope that my image of Bill and Bill's image of Bill will only be refined and shined in a way that shows development, loving-kindness, growth, beauty.

In an old issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Thich Naht Hanh commented that being loved means being noticed. We grow, like flowers, under someone else's love for us.

On "Sunday Morning" this morning, there was an interview of George W. and Laura Bush. Of course his memoir is out, and, seriously SERIOUSLY there needs to be a study on post-traumatic disorder and and Bush presidency. I was too young and unprepared to deal with a president like that, and seeing him just reminds me of how horrible everything was. I know I'm not the only one.

At one point, Laura Bush is saying something nice about George W. Bush, and he had a look on his face that showed that he thought he was worthy of his wife's praise and adoration. (That was my reading of the moment, anyway; it sounds harsh to say so.) I thought that George W. Bush would never, like Bill told me, tell Laura Bush that he was not as great as she thought he was. I thought that was a shame.

George W. Bush stands by his idea that he had a successful presidency because he held to his ideals and his beliefs. I have respect for that; I think what is the huge disappointment is the framing of standing by your morals against that of learning and growing from your actions. I don't know, exactly, what I mean or if that's what he's doing; that's just how it comes across to me.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hope

I think what I couldn't communicate in that last post was a sense of hope--a sense that things are on the right track and are going to work out in wonderful ways. Some things don't feel quite right just yet . . . but they are close to feeling so!

I Want to Write Write Write

I have been figurin' some stuff out.

I've been thinking about how to move on. I've been realizing that some things are not my fault.

I've been noticing that my time of living without television or a cell phone is coming to an end.

I've been realizing how scary it is to care about everyone so much.

I've realized I need some healing. I've noticed that my own education, my own school, belongs to me only.

In all the mind-racing, it is difficult to care so much about so many different things. It is scary to feel so many pulls in so many different directions.

(The opposite of love is fear.) I know where there is fear, my love resides just underneath. The healing I need to reach it involves me feeling safe and comfortable. It involves having little things around to help me connect with material pleasure. What I have made so difficult has been so difficult because I had my own lessons to learn.

I feel confident saying that I have learned them. (It is almost as if my life now is the montage scene where I wax on, wax off, paint the fence, sand the deck and then do that crane kick. "Show me moving, show me divorce, show me class issues, show me gender war, show me activism and politics, show me debt, show me other people's babies, show me fire, show me loss, show me intelligence, show me physics, show me art, show me crafts, show me Christianity, atheism, Buddhism, Islam, show me stepping out of a comfort zone, show me music." I will do it. I have done it. I've achieved something, and I want my own recognition. So I'm giving that to myself.)

What I can do, I know everyone can do. But I also know not everyone does it. And that's just how it is. It is very hard, very lonely, sometimes.

That has been my journey for much of my life; hard! lonely! Of course it could be worse (and it is, in part, a Wizard of Oz story of realizing home has been around all the time.). But the pressure I have put on myself to make this journey something other than what it has been, has astounded even me. And all the bullshit I've assimilated?! The depths of delusion . . . I don't think I need to wade in them any longer. That's what I'm trying to say. Delusion is a real thing, and it's compelling and has its own feeling. It is ok to let it go. Even though it is something real, it does not need to hang around. (One does not choose to wear a lead jacket just because it's around.)

Something isn't being communicated in this writing.

The very tangible is going unsaid. I have been angry at my ex-husband. I've been angry that I even have an ex-husband. I've felt like a horrible ex-girlfriend. But I see this as a way to show me that it's ok to get over things. It's ok to stop beating myself up. It's ok to have tried at something. It's ok that not everything has a story to go with it that casts everyone in a good light. It's ok to move on. Pick up, dust off, keep going. I'm tired of the question, "What did you think was going to happen?" What I thought would happen was that someone would stand by me and try as hard for me as I tried for him; that's what I thought was going to happen. There's a whole mess in that line of thinking, but there's a truth there, too; the truth is that I have given the best of what I had to give and it's so sad to know that my best wasn't good enough. It's sad to know that I am not perfect--that I'm not even perfectly imperfect. I just feel a couple of tugs from previous partners telling me that I should feel really horrible about myself and who I was in these relationships. I feel really sad in feeling these tugs. I've wanted these men to be happy. Who they think is me is not me at all. Who they thought I was is who they wanted me to be.

I do a lot of dumb things; I do a lot of things badly. But to hold that against me is hurting me (and I get angry when I hurt). It's hard to explain this one. It's hard to explain a sense of men's anger directed at me.

And now I am in love again! (And someone loves me again.) This felt like a burden just a few days ago; just imagining the reasons why we would come to blame each other started making me sick. Picturing how the start of this relationship has been like the start of my other relationships was making me sick, too. I felt obligation and ensnarement.

Bill and I talked about this last night. It was no biggie. As in: of course one would feel this way. As in, of course. It's amazing to trust someone. It's amazing to have faith. I think it's amazing how people follow their desires, in spite of failing and being hurt before.

It's hard to know which lessons to learn and which lessons aren't lessons at all (but just huge loads of crap that block the real lesson).

What else is going unsaid is information about my job. I am in such a predicament because there is so much to share about working at the school, and yet I would either look like an asshole sharing it right now or it just wouldn't be prudent because I am still learning so much. I feel like I am in another world, even though I am right in the middle of Tulsa, where I have been for years now.

And in the midst of this world, I haven't had a cell phone. I've been hesitant to mention that because I had been worried about my safety. But I am not afraid anymore. I have protection. It's been fascinating to slow down communication; it's helped me weed out a lot of bullshit in my life. It's helped me learn.

And in the midst of this, almost all of my very best friends are pregnant. There is no good way to talk about this! Motherhood has to be the most magical thing. I don't know how to be supportive of my friends' journeys. (This is not a new problem, though.) It's just: this is very hard for me, and I don't expect anyone's sympathy . . . but I still want to whine! Why is everyone pregnant right now? Whine whine whine. Doesn't anyone realize that babies are going to lead to problems?! HAS ANYONE BEEN AROUND A 7TH GRADER LATELY? Has anyone been around the human race lately?!

That's the thing that I mean: it's so hard to love and to care that much. It's hard to watch these women embark upon a journey that is going to be marked by such pain. Love, too, of course. Of course! But still . . .

In the midst of everything that I'm learning, I realize how badly I want to write. Any plans I have made lately have been thwarted, over-analyzed, left in the cold. No longer, I say! Can anyone help me with this? I need to write, you know?!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Unserendipitous

And sometimes life is not so wonderful!

And then sometimes it is again.

It's been a rough couple of days. Someone close to Bill has passed away. And that's upset me, and I'm all PMS-y moody. So I just feel sad. And I've had to deal with some stuff at school that's been stressful. I went to bed on Sunday feeling angry that I was angry. And I was reminded of tonglen meditation . . . and reminded of how nice it feels to breathe for someone else. I haven't meditated in a long time.

I've been going for more walks this past week, and it's occurred to me that all the things I love can't stay away from me. I was out today writing; I was in such an emotional and mental bind! And then I had to say to myself, "I'm not a basketcase; I'm just having emotions!" I've been piecing together the fact that I know more about myself and know more things than I give myself credit for knowing.

I get so used to berating myself for having feelings and for not already being what I want to be. It's been hard to "let"; it's been easy to run in circles over everything!

Yesterday I was driving to work and I realized that everything in my life has worked out the way it has because that's what I thought I needed to feel safe. I'm working on trusting my intuition, which is what I think I've been asking for permission to do every time I wanted to make a major change in my life. I believe that my intuition is guiding me in the right way, even if it may not feel safe to follow it.

All the things that I love, like meditation and walking, can't stay gone for long. I'm noticing that life isn't about figuring out what we can do to get by. Instead, it's about figuring out what we love and to follow.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Serendipitous

Sometimes life is so lovely! This is one of those times. I'm working through some personal demons and coming out victorious (perhaps I'll blog more about this later). I also just finished a marathon of productivity by grading student essays. On my drive home from the library, the setting sun was lighting the most beautiful fall tree I've ever seen. The tree was bright red--such a beautiful combination of light and color! And while I was seeing the tree, this song was playing on the radio. I had never heard it before, and now I am in love. It's "Dog Days are Over" by Florence + The Machine. Love!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thank you, Halloween candy!

Since I don't like to brag, I've kept many of my amazing food combinations to myself. But this one, my friends, is too wonderful to not share!

To create a cafe-worthy coffee using your own broke-ass ingredients, you will need the following:
-coffee
-heavy whipping cream (which you don't usually have on-hand, unless you are stealing someone's alfredo recipe)
-tootsie rolls (from a Halloween discount, meant to be eaten by your students)
-suspended disbelief

Pour a larger than normal amount of heavy whipping cream into a cup of coffee. Stir liquids together using the tootsie roll (the longer ones work the best). Alternate eating the stirring end of the tootsie roll and drinking the coffee. Tell me that ain't a mocha latte!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Some Creative Writing from Yesterday

I just feel like posting something a little more creative, so here's what I wrote yesterday.

The fierce fall breeze whips up tears--fills the eyes with water and prompts them to cry just because they can and they know how. Respite this afternoon comes not far from where I drop my paper- and pen-filled bag--where the keys and wallet have their special, daily tray. Where shards of cat food linger underneath the washer and dryer. I call this an unreal world--not having other adjectives to place the junction of the turnpike, man-made lakes, and suburban homes. Two degrees to my right and straight ahead, US Air Flight Not Known is is descending into Tulsa International. A little stretch away on the mown incline separating the cars from the water is a lone bird feather. A plastic grocery sack flaps in the wind--it being caught on the chain link fence, a not good enough neighbor. An unreal world because earlier the ducks were swimming and one could only hear traffic in the distance. Now the trucks and cars warble their passage, and there are no other signs of life other than these tree lining this pond with its algae growing around the perimeter. Earlier the ducks were only adult ducks--no babies. In adult land we think too hard and adult ducks paddle for food. The only sign of a child is marked by a playing fort--with slide--in someone else's back yard.

Charles tells me he'd like to unsee Otis Redding's corpse. He can't listen to "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," and hasn't since he was just a kid. We all have things we have to get over and Charles' memory of dead Otis Redding is not one of them. Nor is it a mother who has been followed--haunted--by the FBI for many years now. That spot in our brains where loss lives, where paradoxes don't have the swift mercy to crush us . . .

I have the image of learning the grace a fall leaf has at the moment of its release from the branch. The miniature spoon-ended leaf just lets go when it's ready. For the past week nothing has come of this image--it is almost too easy to use. I strum on the guitar something that sounds like, "leaf leaf leaf."

Today I see an old man hobbling from garage to yard and I know his gait is around sixty years old. I wonder what he wonders about his time left alive . . . I wonder about his days and coffee spoons and I wonder if I listened closely enough to other 60-year-old men's existential angst.

Life at thirty is no fucking picnic. I think of all the changes a body goes through and I wonder what will change as years progress. I forget I haven't sat or laid on the earth for months now. I wonder about going back to that wonderful summer after sixth grade and getting the photo taken with me looking west toward the mountains and the setting sun. Me sitting next to Christine; our feet playing in the hose water and silt tricking in the gutter. My author's shot--that's what I wanted. To be known as someone who writes books. Now I teach sixth grade and seventh grade, and I don't understand the point of children anymore. How did their parents know to keep the species going? I miss my previous thought, of Charles and woo woo wo wo. A-wo-a-wo-wo-wo. A wooo a wooo--dock of the bay. Wasting time. Knowing things we know we are capable of knowing; knowing others do not and are not.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hiding and Resting (and My Zit)

So, I have a huge zit on the side of my nose, near my right eye. I swear, there is nothing like acne on a 30-year-old.

Yesterday, right in the middle of teaching, a sixth grader shouts out, "Whoa, Teacher! You have a huge bug bite by your eye!"

Thanks, kid! I wasn't about to correct him, "No, it's a zit."

I've been reading Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person, and I've been flipping through some books on empaths that are available on Amazon.com. It's been helpful to me to read more about how to set boundaries. And to hear stories about people finding their way in a society that can be really harsh.

One thing Barrie Jaeger mentions in Making Work Work is that there is a difference between resting and hiding. Oftentimes, she argues, a Highly Sensitive Person may need to rest from all the stimulus s/he has been exposed to; yet, in this resting, this person may actually be hiding.

This was just a distinction that I found to be interesting. I can sense quite a few times where I've gone into hiding, rather than acknowledging that I need some rest.

Monday, November 1, 2010

On Guilt and Defensiveness

NOTE: the following sentences are in no apparent grammatical or logical order.

It's like this: Alanis Morissette has a song, "It's Not All Me," and I was thinking about how I don't really care for my job. I was thinking, "Part of the responsibility of me not liking this job is my fault/problem, and some of the responsibility is not mine." I disagree, to some degree, with the idea that everything is our mirror. It's very hard to live that way when I'm miserable because then I think I deserve my misery. I guess I'm really caught up on the idea of deserving. Which, all of a sudden, sounds like a really interesting word--to de-serve, to un-serve, to have someone serve you.

I notice a lot lately how I am not in service; I feel out of line and belligerent--like I have been caught in something I can't get out of (and it's in my own head!).

Teaching is a profession, like engineering, where people feel called. I do not feel called to be a teacher. But I wish I did. Just like when I started college a trillion years ago, I wanted to be called to be an engineer. I notice that I want to be called to a profession. But, basically, I think I am meant to wear pajamas and lounge around my home. Seriously. I seriously think that's my calling. I'm not sure how the rest of it will fit in yet. And, actually, I don't think I'm meant to wear pajamas. I think wearing tights and doing my hair and make-up to an audience of me and the cats is closer to my calling. (But keep the whole staying in the house thing. Only add: going to the library and sometimes the grocery store. And there. That's basically my calling.)

I read a little article on the body language and pathology of liars. Liars are more likely, according to this article, to take the defensive. I feel defensive almost all the time. And I feel guilty a lot. Guilt and defensiveness go hand-in-hand for me, yet I do not see myself as a liar. But when I thought about how frequently I try to take on so many problems, I thought that I was lying to myself to believe that I can fix everything. Maybe I feel guilty because I take on a huge chunk of life and then when I can't conquer it, or it turns out to be gross, then I don't know what to do. If I knew before the taking-on what was going to happen, then I never would have taken-on.

It's hard to know that I'm making mistakes! It's hard to know that I have to make about a trillion more before I can be good at anything!

As my guitar teacher, Ryan, has said: these first few months of learning to play the guitar are the "big black hole of suckiness." It's going to take a long time to learn how to play the guitar.

As the principal has told me: it's going to take three years to learn how to teach.

I think it's like jogging; I have to know where my limits are and when it's ok to push something. I only know that when I try.

I spent the weekend with Bill, and yesterday I was not even about to leave his house, despite polite overtures that he had other things to do besides take care of me. I told him that I was feeling needy and just wanted to be around him. He said that was fine (and I thought, "What? Since when is being needy alright in a boy's world?") and that I should try to find what I need.

So I hung around and I did find what I needed because if you try sometimes, you just might find . . .

It's very weird to me how vocalizing some of my biggest hang-ups is helping me get beyond them. Some things just feel like less of a hurdle today, and I am very thankful for that.