Monday, August 30, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Mulling over lock-step routine, of waking up and facing a day that is the same as the last one, every single day. I’m thinking of petty frustrations and short tempers and impatience, and teeth-gritting at the end of the day. I’m thinking of how I got to that place, why I should have this irritating gravel of discontent in my chest. How did that gravel get there?
I’m thinking of big ideas, about the decisions that have to be made to change the shape and texture of your life, of the hard work it can take to get there. I’m thinking of impossible dreams, dreams so big they’re almost unfathomable: dancing on your toes from star to star, swinging from the crescent tip of the moon. Gossamer things. Delicate wishes, crystalline hopes, the things so big and so beautiful you’re afraid that if you touch them, they’ll shatter.
Then there’s the pull of the two ideas: how to appreciate the moment while at the same time working to get yourself out of these moments because you yearn to be somewhere else.
How the answer is a seed of something inside, a small, round core that shines all the time when you let it. There should be something good in you, something to be content in, no matter where you are. And how I lose sight of that core all the time, how I let it lose its luster.
I’m sitting in an office, surrounded by square things. But inside, a small flare, a solar burst boundless and shapeless in the making. A light to live by.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I wake up and march toward another day.
These days are okay. They could be anything,
but they are unfurling coils; they are unraveled ribbons.
Each day is a chance to grasp at the multi-colored strands,
each day is a chance to make something.
To be something. And by this, I mean gentle. I mean forgiveness.
These days are beautiful because my limbs carry me to and fro,
because my lungs pull in air and let it out again, because I can blink.
Because today I can reach out, because I am filled with love,
because I choose to believe in it.
Because these days are everything.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I scroll and scroll and scroll. I note the word pussy used three times, once with capitals and exclamation marks. I get points for avoiding the word 'awesomesauce' but I lose points for almost throwing up on the side of a highway. I see rants and despair and I see that I'm much less resolved than I thought I was. Then I see the Humpty Dance. There is a no-fault clause for the writing about Liam but the rest is an increasingly directionless knee-jerk, a counterpoint. I write occasional darkness. Then I write hot pink with watermelon-scented glitter so that you don't turn away. But it's cheap tricks, all of it. Happy clown / sad clown. Either way, I wear bright green shoes and I can't look a Giller Prize nominee in the stars.
She asks her readers for advice, stories, perspectives:
...tell me about a humbling moment in your writing, art, sports, life. Anything. Tell me how you managed to leave the hotel room and fake it, so to speak, despite that crushing humility. And tell me what happened after that. I'd really like to know.
Her commenters are just so wise. A few of my favorite responses:
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Relax, I am telling myself today. Life is still quite lovely. Remember to let it be that way. Maybe if I remind myself over and over again, it will eventually become ingrained.
Monday, August 9, 2010
air, and how you grew toward the burbling river.
Friday, August 6, 2010
I just didn't see the lovely in yesterday, not at all.
So I thought about it and remembered that yesterday morning, before the day had really much begun, I stopped to get coffee. And some kind soul had left a large amount of money with the cashier to pay for other people's coffee: my scone and latte were free of charge, as was the coffee of the five people and everyone who was behind me.
What a lovely gesture of generosity.
And in the afternoon, leaving work for the last time, I got a little wink from the universe when I turned on my car and heard a snippet of lyrics that perfectly encapsulated exactly what I was feeling right then. It felt like a confirmation that I made the right choice to leave, and it was something I needed to hear just then. Thank you, universe.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Being home with the girls during the day has always been a huge priority for me, and I am endlessly grateful for all the time I've been able to spend with them. At the same time, work seeped into every aspect of my home life, and even the time I was home with them during the day has been colored with work: deadlines and office drama and all the other stressors that come when the line between home and work blurs to where there really isn't a line anymore.
At the same time, my general job satisfaction has greatly decreased in recent past, due to a great number of factors, to the point where it was just plain ol' time for me to go.
The new job is a great opportunity -- better title, a very well-known organization, more money, and what seems to be a good team to work with.
But less face time with my girls.
Here is what I struggle with: If you wrote down the facts, I think the facts would tell you that I chose my job over my family.
And here is what I am hoping is true: That my decision to change jobs was a decision for my own happiness, and that making a decision to find happiness is actually the best decision I could make for my family.
Basically, on Monday, I feel like I'm stepping into this grand experiment. I could fail. I could be miserable working the 8 to 5 grind and not seeing my girls as much as I would like.
Or it could work out exactly as I hope it will -- that it will be tough but rewarding, that life will be better when I'm not miserable in my work, the area of my life that zaps so much of time in the first place.
This was a tough decision, and it might not work out, or it might -- but either way, I know I will learn something invaluable, something I'm not yet able to put into words -- about myself, about what's important in life, about where I ultimately want to be.
And here is the lovely in all of this: The beauty of choice, of options and opportunity, of taking big steps in your life just for the sake of seeing how it will work out. And wherever this choice leads me, I am so excited to watch it, to see how my own life will unfold.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
My favorite is the one called "Dearth," which tells the story of a woman who wakes up one morning to find seven potatoes in a pot on her stove. She didn't order these potatoes or buy them in the store -- she doesn't even particularly like potatoes -- so she throws them out.
They come back the next day.
This repeats for several days, as she grows more frustrated by their existence and tries a number of different ways to get rid of them, even mailing them to Ireland.
During the struggle, the potatoes start growing into little potato babies: "Her heart pulled its curtain as she held each potato up to the bare hanging lightbulb and looked at its hint of neck, its almost torso, its small backside. Each of the seven had ten very tiny indented toes and ten whispers of fingertips."
She still tries to get rid of them, even resorting to eating one. When only six come back the next day, she is horrified and wracked with grief.
By the eighth month, the potato babies are fully formed, and in the nine month, they come tumbling out of the pot and are these moving, living things. She steadfastly ignores them and eventually buries them in the backyard, reasoning that they belong in the ground anyway. It's then that she feels like something is missing in her life: "She sat for long spells, over the course of the next week, and watched the sky drift overhead. It all felt very familiar, and she recognized the shape and texture of her life before, but it was if someone had put her old life in the laundry and washed it wrong."
At the end of the week she digs them back up and the potato children are fine. She takes them to the cemetary to visit the graves of her mother, father and brother, and on the way home, it rains. The potato children are entranced by the rain. And it is here where the author writes some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read:
"They seemed to enjoy it, tilting their faces to the sky. She had never seen them wet before, and rain, falling on their dirty potato bodies, smelled just like Mother at the sink, washing. Mother, who had died so many years ago, now as vivid as actual, scrubbing potatoes at the kitchen sink before breakfast. How many times had she done that? Year after year after year. Lighting the new fire of the morning. Humming. Her skirt so easy on her waist. Her hands so confident at the sink. They were that memory, created. Holding their potato hands up, they let the rain pour down their potato arms, their potato knees and legs, and the woman breathed in the smell of them, over and over, as deeply as she could. For here was grandmother, greeting her grandchildren, gathering them in her arms, and covering their wide faces with kisses."
I’ve never even attempted a layer cake before.
I was going to find the perfect recipes for the cake and the frosting and make everything from scratch. But then I thought, why not just do it? Why not stop getting caught up in the planning and the pursuit of perfection and make something mostly effortless. An easy lovely.
So: cake mix and jarred frosting.
The outside was sloppy, the layers clearly evident, frosting all over the place. The bottom layers of the cake broke, so much that I laid the cake on its side so it could maintain some structural integrity. It was not a beautiful cake.
But then I called the girls ‘round and we watched, anticipating as I cut the cake open.
It was even better than I thought, the happy surprise of rainbow layers I was looking for coupled with the awe on the faces of my girls.
And the face plants into the frosting because the littlest didn’t want to get her fingers dirty.
Monday, August 2, 2010
He handed me the Ah Hum cassette and I scanned the song titles, boldly deciding to take my lie to the next level. “I like ‘Devil Woman’,” I told him. “That’s the only one I really know.” I had never heard it.
“That’s a great one,” he said, and I relaxed into my seat, feeling as though I had passed some test. The song filled the tiny space around us, and it was, at that moment, one of the most amazing songs I had ever heard. The horns were low and swelling, groaning, even, and Mingus’ voice was nothing but a deep, soulful moan as he sang, “Gonna get me a devil woman....Angel woman don’t bring me no good. Gonna get me a devil woman....” and the horns underscored the deep urgency.
I was for sure blushing now, I thought, and my stupid body was struggling here, some kind of fight or flight thing. Run away or kiss him? The “run away” part was winning, and my hands lingered on the door handle.
Was I sitting right? Should I cross my legs toward him? My arms! Uncross them! No, wait. Are you shaking? STOP SHAKING, IDIOT.
This was terrible, awful, and mostly because despite my overwhelming anxiety about being in such close quarters with this beautiful boy, and despite my sudden inability to form a coherent thought, much less speak one, I had this tiny fluttering bud of hope growing inside me. He must like me, I was thinking, and at the same time, despairing: Your shyness will kill this before it starts. I tried to crush that hope, because I knew that the other side, the more grim side, was right, but the hope wouldn’t be stopped. It was raging.
It was a short drive to my apartment and he dropped me off with a nonchalant wave and a “see you in class” comment, and I spent the next half hour explaining to my roommate the amazing and awful thing that had just happened to me.
The semester passed with several meaningless moments stacking up to feed the pathetic flames of hope, until summer dawned and my roommates were gone for vacation, and one evening there was a knock at my door.
“Do you want to go get some food?” He asked. “I know a great place.”
“Sure,” I said, and that was the last thing I said for the evening, really. We ate at an Italian restaurant where his friend was playing jazz piano, and he tried in vain to make conversation with me over the candlelight. I said “yes” and “no” at the appropriate times and then continued the active conversation thriving in my head. You’re eating too fast these jeans don’t look right on you, in fact, you should have dressed nicer my god he is pretty and he knows so much about music I know lots about music SAY SOMETHING ABOUT MUSIC until dinner was over.
I knew it was going terribly and I just wanted to go home and cry because Poet Boy, you are the one I wrote about in my journals in high school and I am here with you and apparently lack the finesse to HAVE you, but he invited me over to his friend’s house.
She was older, pretty, quirky and completely comfortable with it. She had interesting art and books and lived in a refurbished house from the 20s. They chatted and I wandered around her open living and dining room area, examining her book titles and studying the paintings and sculptures. She had done most of the art.
Does he like her? Why did he take me here? Probably he likes her, I mean why not. She can speak more than two words to him. They should get married They probably will OH MY GOD I JUST NEED TO GO HOME.
Eventually I did go home, and it was awkward and terrible, and then I went home for the summer.
When I got back to school, I found out he was sleeping with our poetry professor, who was 44, very smart and witty and self-involved. And THAT was the horrifying end of that, except “Devil Woman” is actually now one of my all-time favorite songs, and Mingus’ version of “Stormy Weather” is the reason I met my husband. We have two beautiful daughters now, so it worked out, I GUESS.