Monday, August 30, 2010
So, my sister and I were talking about guys and how it annoys us when they act corny and over the top "romantic." For instance, I had a boyfriend who would write me these really mushy, corny, stupid poems. It really annoyed me, but I would always pretend that I liked them. So he kept writing them. Anyway, I think the next time I am in a relationship, I will try very, very hard to be honest. Because it can be so easy to pretend I'm someone I'm not or that I like the things that I really don't. My sister showed me a poem that I think fits this topic really well:
"Indian Summer" by Dorothy Parker
In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.
But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Ben asks for milk, so I pull the gallon of milk from the fridge and get a cup to pour it into.
Ben: “No, not that kind. Don’t we have soil milk?”
Me: “Uh, no. I don’t think we have SOIL milk.”
Ben: “What?! But Mom said you borrowed some.”
Me: “Nope, buddy. I bought some almond milk though…”
He opts for the regular cow’s milk. But not the kind in the already opened jug. That stuff tastes funny. So I open the new jug of the Prairie Farms variety.
Half an hour later....
Abbie (my sister): “Don’t bite me!”
Ben: (laughing) “That’s the bestest thing a kid could do to a….teenager.”
Friday, August 27, 2010
Here, I was just being goofy. Or bored. Or I don't know, really. But aren't those apples lovely? They are from the tree in my backyard.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
A year ago, I took a Native American Literature class, and it was one of the best classes I had taken in college if only because it opened my eyes to a nearly forgotten culture that I rarely think about. The poems and stories coming from individuals of that culture surprised me in their richness and originality, and in the way that they spun old myths and legends, the ways that they showed the poet and the storyteller as the revivers of a community. I will never forget that class or the poems and stories that I read. During the course, we focused on the writings of both Simon Ortiz and Leslie Marmon Silko.
I posted a poem by Silko yesterday. Unfortunately, this site wouldn't let me keep the format of the poem, the way Silko splays it across the page so that the line breaks and spacings are not all straight down the page, left aligned. That is one thing I liked about her poems. They moved. Here is a link to a website where you can find a video of Silko speaking her poems and stories. It is called Running on the Edge of the Rainbow.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Indian Song: Survival
We went north
to escape winter
climbing pale cliffs
we paused to sleep at the river.
Cold water river cold from the north
I sink my body in the shallow
sink into sand and cold river water.
You sleep in the branches of
pale river willows above me.
I smell you in the silver leaves, mountain lion man
green willows aren’t sweet enough to hide you.
I have slept with the river and
he is warmer than any man.
I heard ice on the cattails.
Mountain lion, with dark yellow eyes
you nibble moonflowers
while we wait.
I don’t ask why do you come
on this desperate journey north.
I am hunted for my feathers
I hide in spider’s web
hanging in a thin gray tree
above the river.
In the night I hear music
song of branches dry leaves scraping the moon.
Green spotted frogs sing to the river
and I know he is waiting.
Mountain lion shows me the way
path of mountain wind
up to Cloudy Mountain
It is only a matter of time, Indian
you can’t sleep with the river forever.
Smell winter and know.
I swallow black mountain dirt
while you catch hummingbirds
trap them with wildflowers
pollen and petals
fallen from the Milky Way.
You lie beside me in the sunlight
warmth around us and
you ask me if I still smell winter.
Mountain forest wind travels east and I answer:
I am the wind
I am the lean gray deer
running on the edge of the rainbow.
Have you ever gotten annoyed with yourself?
That was me a few days ago. I was constantly annoyed at other people and annoyed at myself for being annoyed at them. I felt lazy and completely self-absorbed. I have always been on the more selfish side I suppose, thinking more about myself than other people. It’s just a bad habit that I haven’t succeeded in dropping. Not that I’ve tried very hard or anything. Well, until recently. I feel like I am making progress. I am on my way to being a kind, thoughtful person.
See? I bought this large, red elmo head balloon for my little brother. That’s being thoughtful isn’t it? And I know, four dollars doesn’t sound like much, but hey, I don’t have a steady job just yet. This isn’t something I usually do either. So that’s saying something. It was quite spontaneous. The whole day was quite spontaneous actually. It all started when Ben broke his shiny blue balloon on a prickly plant in our backyard. Of course, he blamed me…I was the only one standing in close proximity (approx. 15 feet) to the incident. “You distracted me!” he roared. “It’s all your fault!” And then he folded his arms angrily across his chest and proceeded to cry as he marched toward the broken riding lawn mower and climbed onto it.
Okay, so I felt bad. Even though, it technically wasn’t my fault. I didn’t tell him to bang his balloon on a pointy plant thing. I try to calm him down, and I tell him I am going to find him another balloon. He tells me that it’s not possible (well he roars at me that it’s not), but I’m determined. I march into the house and upstairs where finally, after digging through multiple totes filled with random birthday items (i.e. streamers, party hats, bunched up tissue paper, and reusable gift bags), I discover one tiny orange balloon. One. But hey, it’s better than none. So excitedly, I show this to Ben who is still not very happy. And then I try to blow air into the thing. Apparently, he is right. With all the breath in my body, and my cheeks puffed up like a monkey on steroids, this just IS NOT POSSIBLE. So, the next best thing… fill it with water! Ben’s idea of course. Gosh, he’s such a smart little thing. So that is what we did. I filled it with water. He wanted to throw it at me, but I was able to convince him it would be much more fun if I threw it at him. Okay! Didn’t need much convincing (thankfully). Not that I don’t mind getting wet or anything.
Later that same day, I decided it would be a smart investment if I went to the store and bought some more balloons. So armed with a bag of 50 balloons (specifically for water), I see a display of those birthday balloons made out of some kind of foil. Feeling impulsive, I pick out the elmo one, one of the two that did not say “Happy Birthday” or “Get Better Soon,” and I proceeded to the check out line. Standing in line, I couldn’t stop a big smile from taking over my face, and I realized that I enjoy making people happy. Now, I’m embarrassed to say, this is a new emotion for me. It’s not one of those things that comes naturally. I’m usually the kind of person who thinks, Okay, what’s in it for me? All the while pretending that that’s not what I’m thinking at all.
So I waited and gave him the balloon after dinner, which turned out to be perfect because he had just gotten yelled at by dad for being a little boy at the supper table. (You know talking while other people are trying to talk). Anyway, he was sad again. So I showed him the balloon and he immediately got this big, quiet smile on his face. So did I mention that I love making people happy?
P.S. Perhaps next time I will be smart, and fill the balloon with helium. Just a thought...
Here is a poem I wrote a while ago. Hasn't seen the light of day yet.
Twelve lantern moons guard raven skies
and lead her blind through wild mustard,
tall grasses swathing hilly paths to Downer’s creek.
Drop silken ribbons to the dust, freeing hair—heart—
from ancient confines. Toes brush silver water,
transient upon lily pads, lotus buds for survival.
Life hung upon a tree, picked for mid-day snack.
One pair of dusty footprints beg for another’s reflection
in the shimmery wetness, another hand to hold—
falling into eyes brighter than her own.
She craves secrets pried shut like moss-gray magnolia buds,
held tight by another’s quiet lips, enchanting in their roughness,
untouchable, tempting in their hesitation.
The life they breathe, longing to topple wooden fences
in whirlwinds, tornado skies, dangerous lightning sparks.
Fall fast from the house of sanctity that keeps
everything a far off dream, a warning, a circumstance
to be avoided, that forbids the connecting of hands,
skin and bones in cahoots with the Maker of Saturn and Mars
and the star shaped freckle in the crook of her elbow.
She sees her own reflection and the stars glittering in the water’s depths
taunt more effectively than her mother’s wistful words.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
It's funny how a poem can capture a feeling, a moment, that was so real at the time, but as time passes, is no longer ours to feel. When I read this poem, it is like I am looking at a different person, not who I am now, but who I was in that moment in time, a blip of time quicker than the open and close of a butterfly's wings. A speck, really.
The firefly beat from your car speakers
drums my heart, slow and sure,
flickering on and on
circling insistent rivulets in my ears
incessant prods at my heart
melding with raindrops on the windshield
as you drive down country roads
passing rust-wire fences
shivering grass fields reflecting
the sky's cloudy dullness.
And your car smells so good
and your scent intoxicates
its own music around my head
pricking pinpoints in my spirit
never before touched, never understood,
never knew existed
to burst their wrappings and
The road winds past houses hidden in thickets
sheep grazing the rain's goodness
and the music intensifies
builds upon itself growing stronger
the way I want us to be.
Keep driving, never stop.
If circles encompass our lives,
we never need go back.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Week One: Recovering a Sense of Safety
Here are some excerpts from The Artist’s Way, a brilliant and inspiring book written by Julia Cameron. I have found it immensely encouraging and helpful. I read through it a while ago, but now I want to go through it again, week by week. There are 12 chapters in the book, 12 weeks, and at the end of each chapter, Julia gives a list of tasks for the artist to do, helpful for whatever discipline the artist might be pursuing, whether writing, acting, filmmaking, painting, dancing, etc.
Week One’s purpose is to create a sense of safety for the artist. Perhaps the artist grew up hearing only negative responses to their art, and now they have stopped trying. They have no confidence, no faith in their own abilities. Julia eases the person back into their art form. Don’t judge yourself, in order to be an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist first. Just begin, she coaches.
The following excerpts will give a glimpse at Julia’s tone and style, and they are excellent insights for any person who dreams about creating art.
“Shadow artists are born when artists do not receive the encouragement and support they need to pursue their artistic passions. Often, parents do not respond positively to a child’s dream of pursuing an artistic career. Instead, they encourage their children to become doctors or lawyers or something else that pays high money. As the artist gives in, they slowly forget their dream, thinking it was not meant for them.”
“Remember, your artist is a child. Find and protect that child. Learning to let yourself create is like learning to walk. The artist child must begin by crawling. Baby steps will follow and there will be falls—yecchy first paintings, beginning films that look like unedited home movies, first poems that would shame a greeting card. Typically, the recovering shadow artist will use these early efforts to discourage continued exploration.” (29)
“In recovering from our creative blocks, it is necessary to go gently and slowly. What we are after here is the healing of old wounds—not the creation of new ones. No high jumping please! Mistakes are necessary! Stumbles are normal…Too far, too fast, and we can undo ourselves.” (29)
“It is an awkward, tentative, even embarrassing process. There will be many times we won’t look good—to ourselves or anyone else. We need to stop demanding that we do. It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time.” (30)
“Remember that in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist….By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps, over time, a very good one.
“When I make this point in teaching, I am met by instant defensive hostility: “But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano/act/paint/write a decent play?”
Yes…the same age you will be if you don’t.” (30)
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
It appears that I am going to be a Substitute Teacher. Today I have to go get my fingerprint done for my substitute teaching application, and before I left, I skimmed through the newspaper to find the headline, “ROE offers substitute teacher training. The article begins, “In order to address area school districts’ increased need for substitute teachers…” Talk about serendipity, perfect timing, affirmation, or whatever.
So there is a need! That’s good because it solidifies my decision. I have been so indecisive lately. Yesterday I had decided that I wasn’t going to substitute after the receptionist at the chiropractor’s office mistook me for a 16 year old! “Oh, you’re very youthful looking,” she said, tactfully. “That will be great when you get older.” Ah, yes, but I’m freaking 22 for crying out loud! And I’ve heard that line so many times that I can almost mouth it along with whichever person is commenting on my age.
How can I put myself in a teaching position, I thought, if everyone thinks I’m a high schooler? On the missions trip to Montana, people couldn’t get over the fact that I was 22. Once they found out the truth, every time they would look at me, they’d say, “I can’t believe it!” It was quite depressing. I know I should be getting used to this because it happens so often, but every time it does happen, I just want to cry. Honestly, I don’t know what to do to make myself look olderm beyond wearing make-up. Should I act differently? Should I dress differently? Wear my hair differently? Or should I just laugh and make a joke out of it? Perhaps a combination of all of those…
Anyway, this morning my mom talked me into becoming a substitute again. I mean she’s right after all. I don’t really want to work at the library. Or anywhere else in this cramped town. Plus, the money would be a little better and I would be able to pick and choose when I worked. Ah, freedom! And, most happily of all, I will have time to focus on my writing, which is what I really want to do.
I am coming to the realization that I can’t let people pigeon-hole me because of my age. I can do whatever I want, and if people are astounded at my age, that’s their problem, not mine. Yes, I know. So much easier said! But I do need to keep reminding myself of it.
Does anyone else out there have the same problem as me?!
Monday, August 9, 2010
“All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones are moving easily under the flesh.” –Doris Lessing
Why have I been in such a crabby, selfish mood lately? I woke up at 9:30 a.m., six hours of sleep under my belt, and I felt groggy beyond all reason. I could not wake up. I could not smile, say anything remotely cheerful or congenial. And my grandparents were downstairs visiting from Kentucky. They leave tomorrow. I felt bad that I couldn’t talk to them because I was feeling so groggy, depressed, and disgusting all at the same time.
There were also the two little boys my mom was babysitting so that their mom could work. I had to avoid those kids too. I don’t mind Johnny, but Jacob…he is this overweight 8 year old who goes around touching everybody, giving random hugs and pats on the head. Sure, he probably needs attention, but even on a good day he grates on my nerves.
Really, I can’t say why I was in such an incurably bad mood. My back is healing! I can walk straighter than I have in a month! My leg is no longer in horrible pain from the bulged disc that was pressing on my sciatic nerve. I can actually function like a relatively normal person. I should be ecstatic, happy. But no, people are driving me crazy right now.
I must say, my dumb mood didn’t last all day. Thank goodness! I was beginning to annoy myself. Yes, I know how I probably appeared to people. A sullen, antisocial, bumbling idiot perhaps?? Ah, “idiot” is harsh. Anyway, I played Apples to Apples with my family, and I actually laughed pretty hard. Which probably wasn’t the greatest thing to do. Laughing makes my leg hurt! Ugh. Oh well. I love to laugh. It makes me feel so much better, like a big dose of chocolate injected into my veins.
Sometimes I wish my mood was like a magic wand that I could wave in anyway that I wanted. If I wake up feeling miserable, I could simply tell myself to snap out of it. Ha! If only it were that simple.
Once my back is completely healed, and I can walk, even run, jump, and dance, I will remind myself not to take my health for granted. I love the quote by Doris Lessing. Never before have I longed so much to simply stand and know that I can move easily, gracefully. When that day comes, I will try to be mindful of that fact every moment of every day. Even now, I can work on my mindfulness. Yes, I can walk, where before I couldn’t. That in itself is amazing to me. When I stand with a straight back, when I walk without stooping, I feel a flicker of hope and excitement.
All in all, I definitely feel more empathy for those who have injured themselves in a way that prevents them from ever walking again. At least I know that I will one day be back to normal. I also know what it feels like to be an older person, where every movement racks me with pain. This experience has definitely honed the empathy I feel for those suffering extreme chronic pain.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I rolled out of bed this morning and soon realized that I could walk in a slightly straight position. Without pain shooting down my leg. This made me very happy as I haven’t been able to do that for several weeks. Three weeks I think. I’ve lost track by this point.
It is now 8:11 p.m., and I’m feeling it. In my lower back, most specifically. And my upper back as well due to weakened muscles used to stooping as I walk. Actually anytime I walk, my back muscles tighten up as I struggle to straighten my spine and walk at the same time. Ah, so frustrating, but the progress I have made is nothing short of phenomenal because it means that in the days to come the pain will become less and less.
I am the kind of person who likes to take what I can from everything in life. In other words, I try to learn from my experiences, and it seems that I learn the most from the bad that is happening in my life. I feel like a broken record talking about my injury so much, but I realized something the other day as I was searching for the good hidden behind my situation. It was doing a pretty good job of hiding until it just jumped out at me one day.
This injury has caused me to sloooow down. It has forced me to connect more with my family. And I have found myself reevaluating my life and what I want from it as I lay immobile on the couch icing away the pain.
But first of all, isn’t that what any sickness will do excellently? SLOW YOU DOWN? Keep you from working, going out to LOOK for a job, from cleaning the house, and doing the thousand other things begging for your time and attention. Those things that prior to you getting hurt were very necessary requirements. You HAVE to work, you HAVE to keep the house clean, you HAVE to cook dinner, go shopping, and whatever else falls into your daily routine. But what happens when you simply can’t?
For me, a number of things happened.
1. My job search skidded to a halt. (Who wants to hire a girl who can barely walk?)
2. I had to make my 16 year old sister drive me places.
3. I found myself relying on my parents for things.
4. Unfortunately, I could not clean the disastrous mess of a house that I (unfortunately) was confined to. No matter how much I really, really, really wanted to clean said house.
5. I became very much more aware of my body. How I moved, what I ate and how it made me feel.
6. I stopped sleeping like a normal person. The pain in my leg would only allow me an hour of sleep at a time.
7. I finally forced myself to take pain killers. I hate pain killers!
So there I was, permitting myself to lay around all day and go with the S-L-O-W. No more playing tennis, or swimming or taking walks with friends. No more job interviews. I couldn’t even cook like a maniac as I had been planning to do.
And then I found myself playing with my 4- year old brother more than I had been. (I became his new best buddy). I also felt humbled. I had to rely on my parents more. I had to let them take me to doctor appointments and chiropractor appointments. I felt like a burden and still do because I am not completely better yet and able to resume my responsibilities again. Yet in the midst of all that, I found myself talking to them more, having actual conversations with them which I usually had avoided doing before. I realized that I should treat them better, give them more of my attention and respect, especially after all they do for me.
If I hadn’t gotten hurt, I wouldn’t have realized these things. Also, my sister wouldn’t have gotten extra driving practice.
Has anything happened in your life that made you slow down or take a better look at how you have been living?