Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
I must say I like the word better than layoff, but I think it's a little silly for these times.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
"D" said tonight that her students tell her she's too optimistic. I think she's grand just the way she is. And I'm willing to bet her students adore her for seeing the best in them and drawing it out, and they just want to make sure nothing bad happens to her because she didn't see it coming.
On the other end of the spectrum, I'll admit that I chide Mr B for being too pessimistic. To which he counters he's a realist. Something about the glee in his voice when he talks about the next looming catastrophe makes me think I'm right. Then again, he's the kind of guy you'd want in your corner when that catastrophe does happen.
I read something in Oprah's magazine recently about the advantages of being a defensive pessimist. Sounded like a really good way to be. Which is part of the reason why I'm curious about whether we can change. I'd like to say that I see the glass as half full and half empty, not one or the other.
According to Helen Keller, "No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit."
Call me an optimist, but I find it hard to argue with Helen Keller.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
I peeked under the soggy mulch along the east side today and discovered the field pussytoes have plump green leaves and have spread farther along the garden bed. On the north side, stubborn clumps of snow have almost melted away with the soft rains these past two days.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Honestly. I love kids' recitals. I don't even have to know the kid. I could sit for hours listening to scratchy melodies eeked out of violins, staccato tunes plunked on pianos, or pirouettes spun in tiny tutus.
I look at those terrified faces and trembling hands and think about the courage mustered to put themselves out in front of us, all for the love of their art form (or because their parents made or bribed them), and my heart simply turns into cotton candy.
And I like it when my heart goes all soft and sweet like that.
I tell everyone I know with kids to pul-lease invite me to a recital. But very few take me seriously.
Why is my earnestness so hard to believe? For goodness sakes, people have been inviting professional criers to funerals throughout the ages, so why not recitals?
Oh, did I mention that, from time to time, a tear or two wells up? That's not too embarrassing or anything, is it?
Images: Tutu, crying ladies
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Let us hold
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I still don't know exactly why I was so deeply moved, but I'm sure that Natasha Richardson's performance together with Jodie Foster and Liam Neeson evoked something very deep in my bones about the breathing-taking forms that love and loss and love-again can take.
Natasha's death this week has rattled me to the numbing point of denial. I could not bring myself to read about it or even try to piece together the chronology of her demise from snippets of overheard conversation. Usually I fixate on such events, one, because I'm drawn to all things medical, and two, because I'm a movie star junkie.
But not this week.
My beloved firstborn has had so many head injuries from soccer and snow sports, we began to think of the emergency room staff as next-door neighbors. And while hate is not an emotion I that experience often, it's the precise feeling that springs to mind when I think of head injuries. And I have one.
And that's why I snuck out of the room on this tragedy. Not because of the unbearable grief that accompanies Natasha leaving two young boys and a bereaved husband and family. Not because of the vacuum created when the world loses one so luminous and gifted and young. But for baffling selfish reasons.
I'm alive. She isn't. My fall 5 weeks ago could have dimmed my lights for good. But it didn't. I had nasty symptoms and a hematoma outside my skull. She didn't. I was immediately whisked away into the blessed vortex of savvy, compassionate, nearby medical care. She wasn't. I'm recovering. She won't.
I'd like to say I'm grateful, but the word isn't big, rich, deep, wide, or beautiful enough.
(For a cogent take on this tragedy, I suggest you visit the beautiful post by A Tidings of Magpies)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I'd crawl into bed, snuggle up with my mom, and listen to her perfect voice read a perfect tale.
The first words I learned to sight-read were these: "he said" and "Buck."
I'll never know what possessed her to read aloud Jack London's The Call of the Wild to her 4-year-old. I don't even understand how a preschooler can grasp the language, let alone endure listening to some of the savage imagery.
But I did. Oh, how I did.
Browsing through the Wild Rumpus bookstore recently, I found a Dover Thrift edition for $1 and couldn't resist buying it, if for no other reason than to elicit those tender memories.
If you don't know the story, I don't want to spoil it for you. But I will say that Jack London's classic tells a tale of greed and of hard choices made during a hard time. And, my, doesn't that sound familiar? It also speaks of redemption.
I call myself a musher, because I've been bitten. Not by a dog, but by a call from my childhood that turned into a dream that became a reality for me last year and has now settled into my marrow.
People do crazy things when this happens. They sell all their belongings, move somewhere insanely cold, and start surrounding themselves with wolfish dogs who sing and jump around like frogs when someone appears with a harness that to them means freedom. Such joy is wildly infectious, and I can understand how people succumb to it. Only Mr. B stands between me and the same madness.
Today, Lance Mackey won the fabled "Last Great Race," the Iditarod dog sled race that remembers a period in our nation's history of which Jack London wrote so elegantly. No superbowl, final 4, or world series will ever compare in my mind to this race of everyday men and women who have gone mad for the love of dog and wilderness.
From The Call of the Wild by Jack London published in 1900...
John Thornton was eating dinner when Buck dashed into camp and sprang upon him, in a frenzy of affection, overturning him, scrambling upon him, licking his face, biting his hand--"playing the general tomfool," as John Thornton characterized it, the while he shook Buck back and forth and cursed him lovingly.
For two days and nights Buck never left camp, never let Thornton out of his sight. He followed him about at his work, watched him while he ate, saw him into his blankets at night and out of them in the morning.
But after two days the call in the forest began to sound more imperiously than ever...
Good night, Mom. Thank you for reading to me.
Good night, Victor, Grasshopper, and Dizzy.
May you all rest in peace.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Camp 1: People who give you a good amount of detail
Camp 2: People who answer with one word: "fine"
Camp 2 people seem like geodes to me: I want to know what's really going on inside. Once a reporter, always a reporter, I suppose.
So what does that mean, exactly, "fine?"
I heard one person call the word an acronym for the following: Feelings Inside Not Expressed
And just today, my friend Amy said she has a pal who likes to say: "I'm fine...but I'll be alright."
I'm going with online Webs definition #3: delicate, subtle, or sensitive in quality, perception, or discrimmination.
I'd sure like to be that kind of fine person--and depart Camp 1.
"The bigger the hair, the closer to heaven."
Only the best Texas governor ever
(It's been a lonnnnnng day, and I think it would be wise for me to go rest my brain now.)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
One of my favorite things about growing up Catholic was lighting candles. I'd bend my legs to rest on a kneeler in a dark alcove, plunk a few coins in a metal box, light a wick (preferaby in a red votive), and say a little prayer for someone in need. Sometimes, I even lit a candle for myself.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Just look at those dogs go!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
A dear friend of mine knew I was fretting about something, and she sent me the following quote:
"At the moment of commitment, the universe will conspire to assist you."
Thank you, Marly.
- Sleep, a lot
- Sleep, more than you can imagine yourself ever sleeping
- Sleep, sleep, sleep
- Let people know your limits and limitations; this isn't the time to pretend all's well
- No matter how frustrating, hang on...to hand rails, to someone's arm, to hope
- Remember you have 5 senses, and if your eyes and ears cause you trouble, check out touch, smell, and taste
- Snuggle with your pets, if they're the snuggling type; otherwise, a mushable stuffed animal should do just fine
- Listen to guided meditations, unless they give you a headache
- Listen to Krista Tippet's interview with Matthew Sanford
- Figure out how long your "charge" is and keep any activity within that timeframe
- Take the elevator, not the stairs; this isn't the time to try to lose weight
- Believe your doctor when you're told, "It just takes time"
- Cut yourself some slack; this isn't the time to overachieve
- Limit your screen time; seriously, no cheating, unless you're searaching for podcasts
- Get a massage
- Get acupuncture
- Take lots of deep breaths, especially when you've had it with your head injury
- Work at home, if you can work at all; the travel time really eats into your "charge"
- Eat yummy things in little portions often
- Ask for help; people are amazingly kind, and this is the time to discover this wonderful truth
- Apologize if you snap at anyone because you're out of you're ever-lovin' mind with boredom and frustration
- Listen for the lesson in all the forced rest
- Going to a movie, unless you want to feel and look like you're a drunken sailor on your way out
- Trying to push yourself to the point that you get stupid, sloppy, and sick to your stomach
- Blogging longer than 15 minutes
- Thinking you're still a spring chicken and will get better faster than your doctors predict
- Ignoring doctor's orders
- Going postal out of frustration and doing something stupid
- Giving up hope, though it's OK to give up controlling
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Bless her soul, my mother saw to it that I got braces. Every couple weeks after school I walked to the orthodontist to get my wires tightened. Along the way, I passed through an empty lot filled with long leggy grasses. No matter which way the wind blew, at least some of the fuzzy heads on the tall grasses bent my direction as if to whisper, "We love you." Grinning, I tried to touch as many as I could. I think that was my first sense of God as nature.
Many years and hard times later, I went on a weekend treat to Clare's Well, a place abundant with grasses and God. I was exhausted and trying to understand the baffling concept of "letting go," of not being what Sean at age 6 termed so"controlsive."
On the second day, I took a walk to the pond to sit in the sun. Along the banks, I spotted a small paddleboat and thought to myself, "I can do that. I can muscle the boat upright, get my feet a little muddy, push out into the water and set sail--all by myself. And I did. Proudly.
I figured out quickly how to use the rudder to choose my direction and began paddling. Within seconds, a rope completely tangled up the paddle gears. It hadn't occurred to me to put it inside the boat. I was good and stuck.
Oh, for Pete's sake, I thought, now what do I do? Scream for help? Try to use my hands as paddles? Sit there helplessly till someone rescues me? I drifted. And as the breeze carried off my bone-weary problem-solving skills, the tears let loose.
I don't know how I long sat in that miserable state, totally adrift, but at some point, the wind gently nudged the boat close to a marshy spot where tall wetland grasses grew along the edge. I reached out and grabbed them, pulling myself closer to the shore. Hand over hand, I clutched bunches of the strong, smooth reeds and slowly pulled myself back to the dock. Making my way to safety and thinking how silly I must have looked, I couldn't help but laugh, somewhat from relief, but also from imagining God chuckling to herself, shaking her head, and saying, "When will she ever learn?"
These days, I keep a sweet little pot of decorative grass on my desk. It reminds me I that I am still learning. And of God.
Cattails photo: Wiki Commons
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
By kids I mean young adults, somewhere between 18-28, give or take 5 years. Boomers (my gen) seem a little more cautious about contact. I'm not really sure why. But those Y kids, they just hug with abandon. Good ole back slapping hugs, gentle embraces, "air" hugs for the shyer types. Doesn't matter. They just do it.
Best of all, they hug me, too. God love 'em.
News Flash: It's not just Minnesota kids! I just found out about the Free Hugs Campaign, so I'm posting some pictures from it. You've got to watch the video on the site!
(And thank you for permission to use the international photos, Flickr)
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Lately, meditating's been a little hard. I've found some guided meditations online that help. I like this one with Jon Kabat-Zinn. Problem is I keep falling asleep, which I suppose isn't entirely a bad thing when you're under doctor's orders to rest your brain, but it's not quite the same thing as meditating, which I really like.
Today I read something about the concept of Monkey Brain. That's where you have all kinds of thoughts brachiating* around your head when you're trying to quiet your mind. Zenlike folk suggest you simply acknowledge these distractions and return to meditating.
So one time I tried a little something to help with Monkey Brain, and I found that it worked like a charm.
As soon as the "monkeys" started clammering for attention, I told them they were welcome to stay but they'd need to be quiet. One by one, with puzzled looks on their faces as only monkeys can get, they stopped swinging and chattering and came and sat down around me to watch. I admit, it was a little strange to have an audience of monkeys observing me meditate. But they did quiet down and so did I, which isn't a bad thing.
*Is this not the coolest term? I first heard it when I was an anthropology major at the University of Texas at Austin and a professor demonstrated brachiation in front of a class of 500. That was one term no one missed on the final exam.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
On the first day of the month, for good luck, they say:
Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit
I worked with someone once who had been through a spate of disasters, so I shared the tradition with her--and she hasn't stopped since. These days, we text each other with the words. No one seems to know how the tradition started, but I guarantee you, no one ever forgets to say or text it.
Who you calling superstitious?