Monthly Archives: June 2011

At a Standstill

I am currently in a place where all the irons I had in the fire have gone cold. No one wants anything more from me than a well-trained monkey could do. I am trying to use this quiet time to accomplish some things that need doing, like organizing areas of the house in detail and finishing the quilt I started years ago. I want so desperately to sink my teeth into something.  I want to feel that deep connection to action and purpose.

Why am I writing this here?  Writing used to be a means of connection for me.  The more disconnected I feel, the harder it is to reconnect.  Perhaps if I reach out blindly, bravely, forcing my foot forward, the next step will become obvious and come easier.

Some Really Old Poetry

From a journal in 1998

Poem of belonging

Quiet place in my mind

Watching the world go by

Watching them leave with a sigh

Turned away at the gate

Put no coins on the plate

Wore your jammies to your date

Thinking dreams will escape

Through the hole behind your ear

Through the drop of your tear

Endlessly we appear

In the magic mirror

Poem by a cyclist watching cars pass by

driving by in fossil-fueled cages

blessings of rain never wet your hair

arrive home late with your curls still tight

the questions still festering in your soul

It is funny to remember when poems came to me and I befriended them with ink on paper.  I think there was a time when I wanted them to be good; now it is enough to hear their dissonant silly voices echoing.

My Anger

I found an old freewrite from 1996… making me realize that I’ve been struggling with feelings of overwhelming anger for far longer than I’d been mindful of.  By way of warning, I think this freewrite gets a little intense, but when I do these kinds of exercises I try not to censor myself.  The words express the intensity of the emotion more than representing any kind of reality.

I carry a really heavy anger, it’s shaped like a cube with orange and purple stripes all over it.  I keep trying to lose it, at the bus stop, in the grocery store, under the pews at the church, but it’s got my name and address written in permanent marker, and I’ll be damned if people don’t keep bringing it back to my doorstep, all heaving and sweaty from carrying that horrifying weight.  “You left this ugly thing on my porch!” They shout at me.  “Keep your stupid crap out of my face!”

Often times I’ll leave it outside for a while, try to pretend it doesn’t exist.  But sometimes I actually miss it.  I’ll bring it in and put a little doily over it, put my feet up on it while I watch the tube.  I’m not sure exactly what it’s for, sometimes someone’ll piss me off when I’m out walking and I’ll think about throwing it at them.  But somehow I know I’d never get the red stains off where it bashed their skull in, and then it would be an even uglier thing to carry around.

Who Comes to Us in our Dreams?

When we pass the night in our sleeping fantasies, do we really get to see people who have passed on?  I have to say yes.  To awake with the solid certainty that I have been in the presence of a loved one is a feeling I cannot question.  If somehow it is just an illusion, then I will gladly remain behind that curtain.

Many years ago I lost a partner to a drug overdose.  We’d been together for a few intense, sometimes violent months. Beneath the storm of our external relationship there was a deep, true connection that could not be severed.

His goals in life were to be the next Great American Poet and to make sure he never ran out of beer.  My goals were to write the Great American Novel and to get him to quit drinking.  Something we had in common was that we wanted to have a child together.

On September 29th, 1995, I learned that he had died the previous evening of a heroin overdose.  That night, after finally passing out from the exhaustion of crying my soul out, I dreamed that we were in each other’s presence again.  I told him we needed to make love again, to try to make our baby.  He just smiled a really big, peaceful, joyful, knowing smile, an expression that clearly said, “Don’t worry about it,”  and hugged me.  As we embraced there was no boundary between us, where his arms ended and mine began.

On October 13th I discovered that I was pregnant.

In the last week I had a dream about my Grandma who died in December of 2009.  In the dream she was laying in a bed, curled up facing away from me.  Somehow I knew that when she turned around, she might have any kind of face, even the most nightmarish rotting flesh from a horror movie (and I avoid that genre for just that reason).  But I knew that it was my Grandma, no matter what she ended up looking like, so I curled up behind her, just to be near her.  As she turned around we both sat up to face each other —  and she was very young, early 20s, the age I imagine she would choose to be if she were given the option.  She was glowing with joy.  She somehow morphed into a young man, or he came on the scene and the focus shifted away from her, but however it happened, I knew in that moment I would be granted a wish.  I immediately begged with tearful sobs to be healed of my poisonous anger, the explosive frustration that attacks me and the people I love all too frequently.  (As you may know, anger is something I’ve struggled with for a long time, such as in this earlier post.)

Well, since then I’ve had the same frequency of outbursts as usual, but yesterday at the thrift store I found a book called “Anger” by Thich Nhat Hahn.  It seemed to be a little gift from the universe, a little push in the right direction (hopefully.)

I don’t know where the certainty is that I’ve really seen the deceased person.  As I say, it may be wishful thinking, it may be a foolish desire to hang on to something I’ve lost, but no matter what, I , who am pretty open to critical analysis and alternate explanations, refuse to doubt.

The Job Hunt

Interestingly enough, the two schools where I’ve submitted applications (as well as resumes, letters of recommendations, AND am in friendly contact with the teachers I would be replacing…) are the two schools that my son would be going to next year.  I feel like our fates are tied together.  His old school in the district where we used to live is where my daughter graduated last year.  There’s no way I’m trucking him all the way over there (18 miles round trip, which I’ve been doing twice a day for the past two+ months) unless I get to park when I get there and go to my own classroom.  The other school is in the district we’ve just moved into.  Both potential jobs were just insider tips, fed to me by the same person, actually.

I have my fingers crossed but I’m not holding my breath, just to represent the situation bodily.  Mentally I go back and forth between,” They’re going to be impressed with my experience and enthusiasm and it’s going to be a match made in heaven!” and “I don’t have a license and there are probably 20 other people who look better than me on paper and I don’t have a chance in hell.”

The suspense is killing me.

Even the gig I’ve been hired to do isn’t a sure thing.  I was asked by a local community college to teach a couple of Spanish conversation classes this summer, but all is contingent on there being enough enrollment.  They gave me big glossy posters to hang up, which I dutifully did at 5 different libraries in the area and as many businesses.

I’ve also got emails out to recreation center directors and day care center directors, offering to teach Spanish classes,  but I don’t know how many have even been read.  I’m not sure those opportunities even exist, or if it’s just something I think should be available.

I know I was meant to teach.  The thought of it gives me an enthusiasm that feels bottomless.  I keep coming back to the idea that it is so stupid that a person with talent, skill and drive should have to beg for a chance to be a useful, contributing member of society.  Can you imagine living in a primitive situation and begging the tribal leaders for the opportunity to practice your vocation?  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Being a Good Neighbor

I’ve always wanted to be an integral part of a community.  Living in a Habitat neighborhood I feel like I have a great opportunity to be part of something really special.

We’ve all been through a pretty extensive screening and application process, followed by a whole lot of hard work including classes, construction hours, working at the resale store, and whatever else we’ve been asked to do to earn our place as a homebuyer.  This experience gives us common ground that most neighbors don’t have.  We are already part of an extended family of sorts.

And in my two months of residence, I can see that some of the interactions resemble family as well, with some bickering and bitterness, some strained relationships and some difficult situations.  I feel like I can be a peacemaker, being new.  No one really likes or dislikes me yet; I’m not on either side of anyone’s fence.  And I don’t intend to be.  I’d like to stay on the side of reason and compassion, if that is possible.  Never having been in this sort of intimate relationship with a neighborhood before, I don’t know how much of my intention is naive, but one has to start somewhere, and I think starting with high hopes isn’t the worst idea.

Habitat has built about 25 homes in this subdivision and there are 3 more to go.  After that, they will pull out and leave us to our own devices, a neighborhood governed by our own homeowners group.

At my first meeting of the homeowners, I saw a lot of hesitation and concern that the Habitat representative hadn’t shown up yet.  There was a lot of anxiety expressed about issues that might give us trouble once we could no longer count on a Habitat rep to be present.  I don’t share in this sentiment at all.  At the present moment, I feel confident that we can resolve our issues and even accomplish projects that we agree are important if we keep communicating and remember our common interest as residents.  I feel like I can be instrumental in this process.

One idea I have that I want to think through before I suggest it is to have a Facebook group for our neighborhood.  I feel like the only way people communicate right now is on the street (which granted is the very best way, face to face, but is somewhat haphazard), through snail mail or email that Habitat sends out, or in our every-other-month meetings, which seems to be a very slow way to get a message out.

If we had a Facebook group, I think it should be closed to the public, of course.  Members wouldn’t even have to be friends with each other on Facebook, so if there were animosity between people they wouldn’t be opening themselves up to someone they wanted to avoid.

Its purpose would be quick communication: posting something for sale, announcing a meeting or a neighborhood clean-up, sharing a good deal you found at Home Depot or some other homeowner-related treasure, things of this nature.  I think there might also be a way to resolve some conflicts if there were an administrator function whereby a member could tell the admin a problem they were having, say with someone’s dog, and the admin could post a general reminder that the city has a leash law, or some such.  Like a first line of defense against a conflict becoming full-blown.

I can see the whole thing turning ugly, but with an admin on top of it, deleting any thoughtless comment someone might make, it might be more useful than harmful.  Anyway, just the first idea that popped up.  I’ve got another month and a half to think it through before I can bring it up at the next meeting…

Quiet Times

I think about this blog every day. I have a million reasons why I don’t actually post anything. A lot of them have to do with the fact that there is no quiet time in my real world, thus all is quiet in my cyber world.

When I get on the computer I waste time on Facebook and some assorted parenting gathering sites, always hoping I will walk into some deep connection or learn something new. Almost unfailingly disappointed. The only times I feel satisfied is when I’ve posted something or I read the wonderful posts on the blogs of those people I’ve found who have something I need to hear.

This was supposed to be the space where, if nothing else, I can connect deeply with my own self, arranging my thoughts on “paper” and trying to make sense of “it all.”

Here are some posts that I am officially promising myself that I will post in the very near future:

— my recent dream about my Grandma
— my relationship with my new neighborhood
— my longing for spiritual companionship
— my relationship with my faraway family members
— progress (or the lack thereof) on my quest for a career/vocation

That’s all that’s coming to mind right now. It’s enough to start with.