Monday, May 30, 2011

Some Things I'm Thankful For

1. This long weekend! (Another) One without grading or lesson-planning--crazy. I really almost didn't know what to do with myself today.

2. So I cooked up some healthy food to last me for lunches this week. I'm ready to eat better . . . at least for this week!

3. I haven't mentioned this device yet, but it's wonderful--the Evolve Ladybug Showerhead Adapter. (This was part of my birthday present from Bill.) The adapter cuts off water flow to your shower once it reaches a certain temperature. This means you can wee, brush your teeth, figure out what you're going to wear for the day, and pet the cats while your shower heats up. And when you're ready to shower, you just pull the handle and your shower is instantly hot. (Sometimes too hot, though, because there is no upper limit on the water temperature.)

4. It's been the annual Cleaning of the Shit I Stored in the Freezer. A year ago I was holding on to everything I came across so that I wouldn't be wasteful. So I kind of felt like a dumb ass throwing stuff away anyway. It is such a gift to not be living in that place of desperation.

5. But others are living in that dark place, and I am struck by Gil Scott-Heron's death and his poem, "Whitey's On The Moon." In the midst of the smell of freshly baked veggies and in the shadow of a nice evening spent with someone I love, it's my hope that my gratitude will help sustain me as I work to make the world a more just and nice place to spend time. That's what I ask for tonight: vision to see what's around me and the ability to work towards towards something even better.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Some Things I Love This Week

1. Bill and I saw Werner Herzog's The Cave of Forgotten Dreams last night . . . in 3D! It made me queasy in parts, but I agree with what I heard others have said--that the 3D filming goes very well with the content of the film.

There was a quote from one of the scientists saying that we are trapped in history, and I agree with him. I think it's part of the reason we are so neurotic. Bill and I were split on Herzog's postscript to the film. I liked it mainly because it was fun (without spoiling anything) to think of what kind of mutants we've become and what it means for a mutant to look at itself. Not that I think there's anything inherently whole or pure about primitive man and that we, by comparison, are more unhealthy. But, at the same time, I do think we are really unhealthy and living in scary times.

So I liked the movie, it was an impromptu trip, and a completely lovely way to spend the night.

2. I'm listening to Eddie Vedder's album, Ukulele Songs and ohmygod it's amazing. Beautiful and lovely and everything I like about listening to something new (which hasn't happened in about a month because Florence and the Machine's album, Lungs, has taken up near-permanent residence in the cd player). You can listen to Vedder's album online at NPR.

3. This lovely quote from Barbara Kingsolver's beautiful novel, The Lacuna (featuring my absolute favorite, Frida Kahlo):
It was a true conversation. About whether our ancestors had more important lives than we do. And how they've managed to trick us, if they did not. Frida felt it helped them not to put anything in writing. The people at Teotihuacan had no written language, according to Dr. Gamio. "So we can't read their diaries," she pointed out, "or the angry letters they sent their unfaithful lovers. They died without telling us their complaints."

She is right about that. No regrets or petty jealousies. Only stone gods and magnificent buildings. We only get to see their perfect architecture, not their imperfect lies. But it's a strange point to argue for an artist whose paintings are rants and confessions. Without regrets and jealousies, she would have blank canvas.

"You'd better burn all your paintings then, Frida. If you want people in the future to think you were heroic."

She fingered her beads and knit her eyebrows. Raised her glass up to the light and rolled the red liquid around, studying it. "I think an artist has to tell the truth," she said finally. "You have to use the craft very well and have a lot of discipline for it, but mostly to be a good artist you have to know something that's true. These kids who come to Diego wanting to learn, I'll tell you. They can paint a perfect tree, a perfect face, whatever you ask. But they don't know enough about life to fill thimble. And that's what has to go in the painting. Otherwise, why look at it?"

"How does an artist learn enough about life to fill a thimble?"

"Soli, I'm going to tell you. He needs to go rub his soul against life. Go work in a copper mine for a few months, or a shirt factory. Eat some terrible greasy tacos, just for the experience. Have sex with some Mexican boys." (199)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Change and Love

The other day, Sister Ellie posted a quote I found really inspirational and others made some insightful comments:

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
-- Thomas Merton


This has been at the forefront of my brain these past couple of days because I have felt really brand new (as opposed to plain ol' brand new, I suppose) with this job change. I felt a shift in myself early last week and going away to Oklahoma City for orientation confirmed that I am on the path of something that feels more like me.

It felt hard to feel like a new person and have my relationship at the same time. I articulated this to Bill, who understood, but I still felt mopey around him this weekend. We talked last night and I got the closest to explaining myself that I ever have for another person. I told him that I can change easily and make substantial internal changes that may not be apparent just by hanging around me. I was afraid of changing and leaving Bill behind, so to speak. I could feel myself closing down in some ways because I felt different and was assuming that Bill wouldn't want me to change. (I didn't know I was making that assumption until just now.)

I don't know how I got so lucky--I mean, I really don't think a luckier person on this planet exists--because Bill starts talking about change and says that it would be foolish to assume that things could go on being the same. And he doesn't say it in a saccharine or obvious way, either (Saccharine Way: "Everything changes." Obvious Way: "Well, everything changes") but in a wise, supportive way (Wise, Supportive Way: "Things will change, and change doesn't have to be a bad thing." That quote is something like the Wise, Supportive Way, but it's probably closer to being unquotable.). It's just I see Bill as a person that Merton encourages us to be; he can't be in love with a reflection of himself because he's willing to let everything go away. Most people aren't that open. I don't mean that as anything . . . I'm just trying to articulate how nice it is to be in love with someone and to know that it is real but also unfinished, and thus incomplete. No, that's not my thought, either! I'm trying to find some new thoughts for this . . . I think I'm trying to say that it's nice to feel supported by someone so unconditionally--the conditions usually being the role I play in someone's life. I think those conditions, in the past, were probably a combination of self- and other-imposed. But it just feels so nice speaking up for myself and learning that I can be who it feels like I am. And knowing, too, that such a self-definition may need to be tossed out the window in the future.

It feels amazing to be understood and taken on my own terms. I can say (eventually) what I think/feel/mean and be responded to in a substantive, generative way. I don't mean to sound like an asshole, but I haven't really had that experience with another man before.

Last night's conversation has been stashed in the ever-growing file of Reasons Why I Love My Boyfriend. These concepts of change, love, self-confidence, and gratitude are all mixing around in my life, and it feels alternately very wonderful and very scary.

I think many people are going through huge transitions right now, and I just want everyone to be the easiest on themselves as they possibly can. Change is happening and we probably don't need to worry it to death.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The World IS Ending!

I just finished a sewing project! Hold on for the end of days, people!

The pink dress, which was conceived when S and I broke up (the first time, a couple of weeks before the final time) back in March 2010, is now complete! Completely makin' me look fat . . . but still. It's done and I was able to modify it so that it fits better. I'm want to get some of those sucky-in undergarment things and maybe a belt, too. I'll post pictures when it looks good. Or when I can come across a dress form.

Anyway, I'm excited to finish this project!

Area Woman Decides to Leave Self Unimproved For One Day

The people who peddle the wheels inside my head deserve a break today. What a whirlwind this past week has been; I feel completely different from who I was a week ago. I have to say that not going to school has felt like a huge weight has been lifted. If there could be a way to work with kids without having to teach them anything, then I think that could be a lot of fun. Just brainstorming: I could still propose a reading/writing/movie series for sometime in the future.

That's enough making plans for the future, though. I have enough going on. I'm trying to be as easy on myself as possible and it's working. I realized that it's just a matter of putting my brain to rest and giving my heart a chance to speak. That might sound foo-foo-y, but the distinction has meant everything to me. I noticed last week when my brain was going a trillion miles per hour that I could say, "Is this my brain speaking?" And it was, and I could feel a warmth coming from my heart. (Again, this is just the truth; I can't help if it sounds like I'm being uncritical or dumb.) The heart was calm and strong and reassuring; the brain was worried and scared and busy. All the thoughts I have, I feel confident that I've thought them through. And there's not a whole lot I can do on many things except just continue to work or just wait and see.

I get scared about a lot of things. Mostly I hear voices from people who have given advice over the years, and for too long I gave those voices a lot of undue credit. And now I see that using my own voice is what is going to work for me; I don't have to wait until I'm famous or in a respected position before I can start using my voice. There's not really a connection between my station in life and my voice. I don't owe my voice to any cause or anybody just because I happen to have certain qualities and capabilities. And no one owes me. This doesn't mean I'm outside of things going on around me. In fact, I find myself quite angry with the state of things. Today I'm angry because of the Famiy Radio group taking advantage of people and taking their life savings to tell us the world is going to end. I'm angry it has been on the news so much. I'm mad that newspapers (like the USA Today), busses, and billboards have allowed this kind of advertising. I'm angry that money can buy exposure to the dumbest ideas and that there are no protections (heaven forbid we do our best in just watching out for each other) for people with bad ideas. I know if someone is going to do something, then there's nothing you can do to stop him; but I don't think we have to give them the best resources with which to self-destruct. I think capitalism, as it stands, enables people to make dumb decisions. End soapbox.

My larger point was just that I finally know that I'm doing alright and I know that I'm where I should be. All the feelings that I have associated with myself and my world are not all positive, and I'm trying to let myself feel my feelings. I'm trying to be more honest with myself and discerning when it comes to expressing myself. That's all! That's why this morning when I was feeling some mix of melancholy and self-pity and I didn't look to something else to try to improve who I am. I didn't need a grand plan on how I'm going to lose weight or get out of debt or be more open in my relationship. I just realized I felt how I felt and that I could still go on by just being.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bridesmaids: A Brief Review

Bill and I saw Bridesmaids yesterday, and I loved it! I wasn't expecting a whole lot from the movie because the previews looked funny enough, but not multidimensional. Maybe it's just because I am super-moody lately, but I found myself in tears a couple of times during the movie and completely laughing at many moments in the movie. It's not the silly movie I was afraid it was going to be; it's deeply funny and relatable. I loved it, actually!

Tulsa Needs This!

Let's scrape together our money and do something funky!

Friday, May 13, 2011

"It's a bitter sweet symphony, this life . . ."

Well, today was my last day of teachin'. I'm all teached out. All assignments I've been given have been graded. All lesson plans have been planned. All important information has been passed along.

It was recommended that I not tell the kids that I'm leaving. So I made them bookmarks and wrote a note to them telling them their great qualities that I see. I told both grades that I am so proud of them. The seventh grade asked, "So where's our potential now?!" I raised my hand to my shoulder. "Oh, so our potential is about as tall as you?"

I smiled. It's funny how something can be pretty bad, but you know you're going to miss it anyway. I got an "I love you, Teacher" from one of my favorite students. I told her that I loved her, too, which felt weird, but strangely true.

The sixth graders are my favorite group because they are funny, respectful, and smart. Yesterday, while the girls were in art one of the boys said to me, "You know you like us better when the girls aren't around! Just admit it, Teacher!" They were making me laugh about something. Today all the sixth graders were wound up because they got to turn in all three of their textbooks. It was a free reading day for them, and another one of my favorite students was sitting up at my desk. He drew a picture of a plane on fire with people parachuting into the open mouth of a shark. I looked at him and said, "What does this have to do with Hugo Cabret?!" He said, "Nothing." I wrote on his paper, "Yikes!" Another student saw this and said, "I'm surprised you didn't write 'Explain'!" That made me laugh. When someone has your number, they have your number.

Like in the seventh grade today, I turned on the radio that was in the classroom. Only one station came in, and it wasn't bad. But when they got too loud, I'd turn the radio down. And then, magically, they would be quiet. One of the worst kids, who's turned in about zero work this whole year, said, "Great. now she knows our weak spot." And I thought, "Great. Now I know their weak spot." Rest assured, though, that that strategy would fail if I could try it again on Monday.

Even this kid, though, waited around for the bookmark I made for him. He has shunned candy before, and I can't help but think that he does care about what I think of him. I want only what's best for these kids; I want them to see that they can do so much more. I'm leaving the year thinking that parents have so much influence and control over kids. It's been my experience that my influence has accounted for jack shit. But I also hope that they will recall that at least one moment in their lives, someone believed they had more in them than they could imagine. I hope they don't settle for being ordinary, even when everything else in their lives might tell them that it's ok.

One girl in the sixth grade told me that I made another girl cry. That girl responded with, "Well, she told me I could be anything." The message I was getting in first grade this girl is now getting in sixth--I think, as a society, we can do better than this. After the sixth grade left, I started crying. I just am going to miss them!

And then I received the mail today. I have a new employee orientation in Oklahoma City for two days next week, and I am qualified to stay in OKC for two nights! I feel like a fancy pants. I have this weekend to decompress and get ready for the next, new adventure. All the guilt I've accumulated over the years and all the responsibility I feel towards so many things, well, I'm going to try to shed all of that. If the hotel in OKC has a hot tub (which I know are cesspools of disease and filth, but still), then I think that sounds mighty nice right now. At the minimum, it has a free breakfast. Hot damn!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do I Live With the Donald Trump of Cats?

Tonight Bill posed the idea that LZ might be the cat equivalent of Donald Trump--asshole to the nth degree. I tried to protest and said that LZ isn't nearly as ignorant as Trump, but Bill shot back by saying maybe LZ attacks Queenie because she's darker than LZ.

Bill suggests LZ go into the motivational book business.

I suggest LZ better straighten out his cat attitude if he ever wants to get out of time-out again. And don't even think time-out is in your room anymore, buddy. Bathroom. For real. Tear all the toilet paper you want--that roll is nearly out.

I've been wondering, partly because it's in my face every school day, what I would do if I ever had a kid that was an asshole. I would hit my kid--no doubt. LZ has been getting face whacks and butt spankings on his way to time-out. And I've rolled the exercise ball at him as a pre-emptive strike before he pounces on Queenie.

LZ is totally frustrating and he might spend the whole night in the bathroom for all I care. I cannot tolerate the cat fighting any longer.

To LZ:


Also to LZ: We can order this in comb-over red/gray/brown(barf).

I Love This Blog!

I came across a new blog the other day, Awful Library Books, and it's a fabulous site! Two librarians weed out old books and post the funny and/or atrocious results on their blog. Today's gem: Guerilla Television (1971).

Monday, May 9, 2011

I Am So Good To Me

I am on Me Being Good To Me Time. I am anxious about starting my new job, and my brain was in overdrive last week. This week I am just aiming to finish up the last school stuff I need to finish, and I want to relish being done with that job and relish moving on. I have made some plans for myself, and damn if I don't love them. This morning I woke up in the most wonderful way possible and now I'm drinking some iced tea. I'm listening to music, which is going to be key during Me Being Good To Me Time. I'm planning to talk to some friends and be productive and go outside for some exercise. But right now I'm planning to crawl into bed for a bit and read and probably get a whole face-full of cat. Creatures love me and I love them and I love me. It feels pretty nice that way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Momoirs"

The NYT Well Blog has a good post on writing six-word memoirs about your mom; they are calling them "Momoirs." I enjoyed clicking through and seeing what other people wrote. And I added one of my own (which I don't feel like sharing here). I just know that I got lucky with the mom I got!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Couple Happy Things

I've hit the stage where I am overwhelmed with the news and feeling very sensitive and fragile. So I'm trying to keep the ol' chin up! Something that is definitely helping is reading Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna--it's a beautiful book.

Something else that is helping is realizing just how far my students have come in their writing this year; I swear they are all doing so much better!

Something else: I'm pruning my old writing and am ready to jettison all the crap I've written. I can't say that I will miss it at all!

Tavis Smiley's interview on NPR, on his book Failing Up gave me a smile. I love hearing when shit happens to successful people--it gives me hope for my own life! And I do believe that there is something to be learned in everything we do. Kenneth Branagh's interview on "Sunday Morning" had a similar theme; he said he learns more from his failures than from his successes. Learning is so important!

My family/friends are also making me very happy. Here's to wonderful people!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama bin Laden

I'm listening to Geraldo Rivera on the radio telling us that Osama bin Laden is dead and his dead body is in US possession. Bill called me on his way home to tell me. And it's so weird because, at dinner, I saw a plane circling low on its arrival to Tulsa International Airport and I asked Bill, "Where were you on 9/11?"

Does this mean we can get out of Afghanistan now? What will happen there? What will happen in Pakistan?