Saturday, December 31, 2011

better late

so i am compiling my works for a reading in nyc on jan 5, let me take a moment to plug that gig:

this thursday, january 5, 6-8pm, at les petite versailles in the east village, i will be giving a reading. it is an outdoor art installation, which is heated and quite cozy i'm told.

anywhoo, i'm preparing my work, and reading the pieces aloud for my first timed reading (this is my standard practice before a reading).

it comes to me that the way i read my poems is not how they appear on the page.

the lightbulb finally flickers and illuminates, i need to make my work look like i read it.

i tell this brilliant idea to my poet friend jacque who is visiting from baton rouge, and she says,
i told you that last year.


:D

well, friends, i am nothing if not stubborn. she said,
you wouldn't listen.


i said,
i get it now.


she just shook her head. i changed the subject. fortunately the night provided many diversions.

so that is the first phase of revision for me, breaking lines and using space to convey to the reader how my works sound as i read them aloud.

change is slow, change is hard. but i am listening. even if it takes me a full year to see the merit of an argument, i don't claim to be speedy in how i apply what i hear, i only promise to listen. and someday, to change.

lucky me if you are sitting with me when i have that realization.

lucky me if you can say,
i told you that a year ago.


it proves that i have friends who accept my many flaws and trust the process with me. i am grateful for such a band of poets and ne'er do wells. though they're not such a bad bunch as all that.

Friday, December 23, 2011

contending with shadows

it has come time for me to face my work again. to turn a hard cold eye to it, and attempt to fashion it into something publishable. those words seem strange to me because i don't view poetry that way, a product of manufacture. that, perhaps is my greatest liability (i have many).

having recently been told in the most brutal way that i need to revisit my manuscript, i am now faced with the task of doing so. and so i shall.

sometimes, change comes that is unexpected. we grow through much pain, but we grow. that is the task before me now, to not shy away from the pain of growth, but to
breathe into it,
as sophie says,
surrender to the screaming hip.


i have no more foresight at this juncture of my life than i have had at any previous. i only know how to trust. i said last night,
there are two doors.


what's on the other side


i don't know.


you see, i never know. none of us have that luxury.

i had a thought last night that i haven't had in a great while. that i wished some hawk was still circling overhead, looking out for me. that was then though.

how to use my winter break. i had thought to escape, to run to the hills and be alone for a while, but i may stay and reckon with shadows. with the darker nature of my life. dig out, as it were, the piles of papers under my desk. dust off the manuscript that has been sheathed since the dogpile. and dogpile it was. a most unlovely public flogging of an event.

but i'm still standing.

what does the future hold.

i do not know. but i trust.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

awakenings

my love told me to watch this movie, an old movie, with robert de niro and robin williams. it struck me as the kind of movie that screams wake up and live your life.

i was comforted by the fact that i do feel i live my life. that i'm paying attention. that i'm feeling it. could i do more. of course, everyone can. but in terms of loving those in my life, i certainly do that.

in each of my classes this semester i would get images of the faces of those who sit before me and feel an obligation to them, to do right by them. and i tried to engage them. to respond to that calling.

as one class ended thursday, i got a hug, a few,
hope to see you agains,
one,
i hope you're teaching my next class,
and it was nice to know that there was mutual regard. the backward glance over the shoulder of a young person is significant.

i spent the better part of my semester sitting across the table from the kids in my writing course. the way i teach i engage them and their writing one on one. i look into their eyes. i listen to them. i read their words and ask,
what are you trying to say.


by explaining it to me, i can usually help them navigate their way there. it's the ones who don't know what they are trying to say that i have the most difficulty helping cross that cavernous void of wordlessness.

one young man would arrive late, fall asleep in class, and was generally out of sync. but when i found out why, i couldn't help but respond to him. he worked the night shift, then slept for a couple hours, then attended classes all day. he was trying to change his stars.

more than once, as i can see his eyes before me now, did i sit with him and say,
tell me.
and he did. he spoke softly.

i'm not entirely sure why people enter our lives.

a woman i know very well uses this phrase which i've tried to incorporate into my repertoire,
an abundant exchange of energy.


what does that mean. i'm not entirely sure. in a moment by moment exchange it could be thirty cents for the copier or twenty dollars for a cd, or my book for yours, or just presence. attending to one another's lives in whatever context we might find ourselves.

looking back over the semester i wonder if i served them well. i'd like to think i did the best i could. that i genuinely showed up. i trust that when one person actually engages others are obliged to or leave. the weight of actual presence has that repelling factor to it. if i can't show up for you, i won't. i will leave. that is how i experience it anyway. so when another does persist. slogs through the mundane to meet for an abundant exchange of energy, the other must reconcile that presence. or walk away.

walking away is one way to deal with it. but i hope to engage those eyes again next semester. the questioning, the bored, the delighted.

and i trust those that stay will meet me with their presence.

for an abundant exchange of energy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

trust into it

yes, i've a pile of dishes and need to shower, i just got in from yoga and have to go give a final to a class. but that phrase just slipped out of my noodle and i had to push pause.

last night's yoga class with sophie was divine. i couldn't get the easiest things right, because my mind was cluttered from the day, a good day, albeit, but there was a lot going on. i didn't find the bodywork so challenging though, it was more the mind work.

this morning, sophie teaches an am class which is the twin of the pm class. i had trouble getting up, bed was warm, dreams were intriguing, but i drug myself there and found my mind in it, my body, not so much.

sometimes when we're in a deep stretch sophie will say,
breathe into it.

let the breath take you deeper.


i try. yoga has the ability to make one realize what a rigid frame develops over the years. i'm still locked up in many ways, but find that if i just breathe and relax, i can slip deeper into a pose.

so my dear friend is struggling. i told her,
trust into it.


that is the phrase that got me.

it is pretty much how i live my life. when i breathe and trust, i can slip deeper into presence. into now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

huzzah!

sometimes good things happen. i'm grateful for everything, but the good things are really nice. sometimes, most times, they are also very scary. what happens when we finally start getting what we want. there are no more excuses. it's time to step up. then you begin to realize, this is a lot of work, being happy. at least that is what i've realized.

wait, wha--

exactly. i've found that desire fulfilled is not just joy. it is also work. it takes a lot of energy to do the thing you do. the good thing is, that thing generates enough umph that you continue to feel it worthwhile. after all it is what you wanted to do, right.

if it do not, then perhaps the work is about realizing what you thought you wanted wasn't really what you wanted. the reconciliation of dreams and ideals to reality. everyone goes through it.

so, no reconciling here, i'm getting what i asked for. it's wonderful. it's work.

i'm rolling up my sleeves and diving in joyously. though sometimes i tremble, that is part of the learning curve. that is part of the deal. just because it's a wish fulfilled, doesn't mean it's going to be a free ride (can i use any more cliches).

i'm grateful. that's all. just plain old fashioned grateful.

Monday, December 05, 2011

separate self

i've come to the stunning paradox that we are individuals, some would say,
alone till we die,
yet in the buddhist texts, at least, we are trying to stop separating self from other. yet, the paradox--i am alone, and in relationship, be it intimate or otherwise, i am together in my aloneness.

this idea, this reality, made me realize that i've never overcome the separateness in my past relationships. never even gave it a thought. it was how we operated. i retreated to my corner, he to his, or she to hers, depending. only now, do i find the piercing eyes of my other pressing in, even when i am most unlovely, reminding me not to let it take me out.

don't forget who you are,
she says.

who am i. really.

there are moments i think i know. and moments i'm certain i do not. this weekend was a mixed bag of reaction and observation. at least i was able to stay present in my sucktastic moments, and by that presence to observe what has come instinctively to me my entire life.

in short, to run. pack up, take off, head for the hills. and if i can't get bodily away, to wall myself in, typically with silence, an averted glance. so many defenses. it was hard to see through them, until finally, i just kept watching and found some words to describe what exactly was going on.

i came across this passage in everyday zen:
if we truly want to see fundamental unity, not just once in a while, but most of the time--which is what the religious life is--then our primary practice has to be with what Menzan Zenji (a Soto Zen scholar and teacher) calls the "barrier of emotion-thought." He means that when something seems to threaten us, we react. The minute we react a barrier has come up and our vision is clouded. Since most of us react about every five minutes, it's obvious that most of the time life is clouded over for us. We are caught within our own selves, we're caught in this barrier.


forget for a moment, the threatening initiation of this defense. consider only, as i was forced to, the barrier. i said at one point,
i'm walled in and can't get out.
because i could no more force myself to see beyond the barrier than a fish can live on land. it just wasn't happening. so i stayed with it. i languished. it wasn't wallowing, i wasn't berating myself, i was just watching things going through my head, hearing the past chime in, the future, for me is easier to keep out, i tend to be very now, but even the past wasn't so painful as it had been. that could be considered triumph if i hadn't had the awfulness of the present moment to contend with.

what i came to understand through the course of that most difficult night, was that sometimes, other will press in. sometimes, other will want to engage, even see you through the mindfields. :) i like that word. it felt a lot like that this weekend. like i was navigating my past, my habits, my defaults.

perhaps, having navigated them, and mind you, i've come to no resolution about the insult (or perceived threat), i have merely begun to be released from the stranglehold of my coping mechanisms. will i do better next time. i sure hope so. but we'll see. karma, threat, growth, all have their uncomfortable moments. my boss has said,
if you're not uncomfortable, you're not growing.


well folks, i'm growing. that's all i can say.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

unsupported

it occurred to me while i was napping this afternoon that the majority of the word unsupported is supported. i aspire to be unsupported, to attain that, somehow, but i realize it is a complex matrix of support which leads to moments of un.

today in yoga, i was in bridge position, laying flat on my back with my knees bent, arms flat to my sides pressing into the mat. the first time we went up, i could feel the urge to go into a full backbend. so, without hesitation, i did. i flipped my arms back over my shoulders and up she went. i didn't stay there long. it was my first unassisted backbend of my entire life, so, i thought it best to take it slow.

i spent a bit of time this weekend draped backwards over a pilates ball. rolling back and forth, first my feet losing touch with the ground then my hands. something about this practice made me want to do the full backbend. and so i did.

my friends remind me to take care of myself, to reach out when i need to and ask for support. i'm not always the best at saying,
spot me.
but i think they can see when i'm floundering.

after we devoured my bestie's scrumptious persian turkey stew with walnuts and pomegranate, served with decadent home made cranberry sauce over persian rice, i began to slump in my chair. she sent me directly to bed with my partner accompanying me and the instructions,
do whatever it takes to make her fall asleep.


the mandated nap ended, and i settled into the couch between my loved ones. i've been working a lot these past weeks, but i'm in a new job, with many demands, and i'm trying to keep a roof over mine and my daughter's heads. sometimes it feels like the weight of the world.

but it is a delightful feeling, making ones own way in the world. attaining those un moments. i realize, they are within grasp only after i've been fully supported by life, by love, by the universe. the un moments are not where any of us live. they are the moments of the small child bouncing on the trampoline, the high flying moments of wonder. all that is required is a trampoline to propel one to such heights, and wonder ensues.

i feel a bit like that in my life at the moment. a lot more joy than i've ever known. a lot more presence and goodness. i'm still learning how to write about it.

seems i have about five readings fleshing out through the spring and i'm looking forward to them. reading is definitely my bliss. the moment of wonder entirely. the un moment.

in the meantime, i manage the city every weekend, sometimes finding myself surrounded by those i love most.

supported.

Friday, October 14, 2011

floor me

next week, we won't even get off the floor,
sophie said, as if it was some kind of consolation for the upright twisting and turning she was putting us through.

true enough, we stayed on our mats the entire time. but she twisted our guts till they felt like they would shoot out our nostrils. i wonder if everyone else feels like a rusty folding chair threatening to snap. or is it just me.

though i am stretching deeper, seeing progress.

my mind has been a whirling dervish of late and i only wish it was to rapturous effect. but not so much. so today, as i fitfully woke from my fitful sleep, i found my way to nurture me, a hot salted bath with oils, lit candles and silence. just looking out the window at the trees.

i'm grateful,
that was all i said in that moment, i listed off everything, even the things that might not seem such a gift, but in reality they are, i'm grateful for it all.

i then, soaked and oiled, went and enjoyed a nice cup of japanese tea on the porch with my neighbor. i asked how he keeps his calm peaceful demeanor. he enlightened me.
positive mental attitude. after i learned that, i was never the same.


yes,
i told him about the internal climate.

we sat in the haze of a moderate fall day and spoke to the neighbors passing by, the landlord stopped to feed the cats, another neighbor brought me an article about teaching she thought might interest me.

it seemed the world converged and smiled upon that brief spot in the sun today.

and when it ended, i came inside and waded through the pile of dishes, found my way to the library, and retrieved my child to convey her to stage crew. she's there now, every day for a month or so, building a set for the coming play.

when her chosen school club was cancelled, i ordered her to join
something, anything,
and this is what she came up with. she said to me last night,
i'm glad i joined. it's fun.


i'm glad she joined too. it makes my heart happy to see her making her way in the world. to know she is making choices that will better her.

the rain is letting up, i was sitting out on the porch with the other neighbor who sits the evening shift, until the rains started drenching us. we ran inside, to our respective caves, and i'm certain we'll wander out again. i don't let a lot of people in, close to me, to witness my life.

they seem me come and go, they offer kindness, which i'm grateful to receive, and today, i realized, i need them. they are my neighbors. never really known my neighbors, till now. it's nice.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

temple

i walked into yoga with sophie today, it was lovely, she's so kind. i said to her,
i really enjoy your class.
i don't often speak to her because i can be mostly shy particularly around people i really like. go figure.

and she said,
thank you.


i went on to tell her,
it feels like.
and i paused while i thought about it.
temple.


she smiled. and we walked inside.

today has been a tough day. but not unseasonably tough, just tough in that i am learning new lessons, trying my wings. tottering on a very high wire and am not sure i know how to get down.

sophie had us in eagle pose at one point and we corkscrewed our arms and legs, then she had us hinge at the waist while we stood on one foot and sight our prey.
go after what you want, the eagle has no enemies.


when you spot your prey,
she said,
unfurl your wings and take it.


it was a beautiful lesson i needed to live today.

i am learning a great deal. wanting to perform the tasks at hand and broaden my repertoire. so yesterday when asked if i wanted to go to the beach, i said,
yes.
i knew it would involve stripping and throwing myself in the water, but i did it anyway. the water was freezing. i needed to do that, experience it.

sometimes it is easy to stay home, stay safe, stay out of harm's way. but lately life has been calling me to grow. this growth involves pain, i believe all growth involves pain.

pain is not always the enemy.

we tweaked into pidgeon pose, a prone position pose where your leg, let's say your left leg draws up toward your chest, and your knee goes toward your left wrist, and your ankle toward your right wrist. your right leg is outstreched behind you with toes flat on the mat, then you rest your body, hips balanced evenly over your splayed body. sophie said,
surrender to the screaming hip.


that is what it felt like. i have to, on occasion, surrender. my mind doesn't know what is best for me in most instances, but my instinct, that core of my being, does. i am not always the quickest at interpreting these signs, and i have to depend heavily on trust. trust that there is some plan. some way things work out for the highest possible good for all involved.

i am trying to learn and grow. i can ask only for the strength of will and mind to be open to new ideas, to suggestions, to keep surrendering to the screaming hip and staying with what will ultimately better me.

i will say this, i saw marked progress in my life today. in a way that i could not have measured by other than adversity. that is the boon of unexpected turbulence. you get to ride it out, to learn how to navigate through stormy weather, and to find, that the sun rises and sets, the clouds break and goodness does prevail. eventually.

Friday, September 30, 2011

hello jello

last night's yoga class was subbed by john. john is amazingly athletic. when we were standing outside one woman asked me if i knew what he was like,
he's athletic
i said.

how do you teach athletic yoga
she asked.

you'll see,
i said. and left it at that. went and tucked myself into my favorite dark corner and stretched out.

as we were limping and gimping toward the door after class, i passed her and said,
see what i mean.
yes,
she replied and laughed.

at one point during class when john was putting us through the pasta maker of a routine he dreamed up, i said,
i never thought i'd be so glad to go into plank.
i hate plank. it is hard. but after he is through with his vinyasa torture, plank feels like a walk in the park.

i attempted crow, but was more like hopping baby chick than crow. my pigeon was more lopsided than ever, and he came up and gently moved my lower back so my hips were centered and floating. it was a graceful adjustment. he doesn't adjust much, but by that point in class, i was oozing all over the mat and completely out of form.

it was good though. i came home tired of mind and body.

sometimes that is what is needed most.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

good for who

tonight sophie says,
doesn't that feel good


as we are twisted in some pretzel the likes of which this body has never seen or been before. i let out a laughing gasp, it was all i could muster, and the rest of the class snickered. my body felt like it was going to snap from the tension, but i just tried to breathe and stay with it.

at one point she even said we could put our leg behind our head if we wanted. wanted isn't exactly the word i'd use. again, i laughed. she said,
i've seen someone put both legs behind their head.
i am grateful to just make it through a class and be in proper form, the flexibility will come, is coming. but, like all good things, it takes time.

her classes are packed, except the night classes, so i'm going to do the night classes. i got nothing going on at night anyway. no problem there. plus, i get all my obligations out of the way in the harsh light of day. that works for me.

my life has fallen into a particular cadence that i'm beginning to let myself enjoy. i have to trust this is really, truly my life. that there is no turbulence up ahead, the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign and i am free to move about the cabin.

the wonderful thing is, i have the people around me that i love. my friendships are solid. my family is healthy. i couldn't ask for more. i am not asking for more. i'm just grateful.

there is so much coming up, very soon, that i need to establish some rhythm to my life now. now is my chance to find my stride. if i don't, i am not sure how i'll manage. i haven't yet found that flamenco class, but i'm sure it's there, someone will know where to send me. they always do.

the thing about it is, we don't need to know the path until we are ready to embark upon it. i may not yet be ready, but then again, i may.

i've spent a lot of time of late finishing books, purging excess from my life, cleaning my apartment. i'm beginning to feel some semblance of peace in my life. nothing weighing me down. trying to just feel that. to experience it. to know that this is really my life. i'm grateful to not have to struggle in the ways i did in the past, i want to never forget those times. they keep me humble. and today, as i was talking to my mom i realized, i was once the thorn in someone else's side that may be stuck in mine. leave it at that.

yes, it all comes around and goes around.

today dr. clarissa pinkola estes reminded me again of my true language. symbology. i had forgotten. sometimes i have to retrace my steps to be reminded of what would otherwise lie fallow.

i am grateful for this reminder. life is, in fact, in deed, in graciousness, good. it always has been. i just get to experience a little bit of it and hope to be able to share this joy, this peace, this wonder. it is uncharted territory for me. i can't wait to explore.

Friday, September 23, 2011

say what

what is there to say when good things actually start happening. i am sitting here giddy, i've finally stopped whooping and hollering about the news. it's just so wonderful.

i was just phoned, while i stood in line at the library, and told the news. that was where i let the first whoop slip out. the librarian trying to encourage me to shut up and get off the phone, as i just kept right on beaming and gushing.

please hang up the phone,
she said, though she was already done processing my haul.

i just got into a poetry master class in the city, it's a major deal.


congratulations,
she said. these librarians have seen the stages of my life, the growing of my child, the loss of my long hair, the marriage that ended in divorce, they knew when i was homeschooling and carted away crates of books at a time. and now, they know i have just finished my masters and got my dream job.

it's almost like family, except she just wanted me to shut up and leave.

i am going to have to learn how to write about the good stuff.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

believe again

it seems i keep coming to this place, where i can divorce myself of my heartfelt beliefs or i can hold fast. cling to them as a morning glory does a chain link fence, climbing ever higher, ascending the neighboring tree and sending out a cascade of nurturing blooms, so hummingbirds dart about in the heights, and fat black bees, all crawl in to nectar full bellies and pollen laden legs.

so much beauty.

as i walked home from yoga tonight, in the dark, remembering there is a gorging bear in the area, he frequents the dumpster just outside my front door, imagine it's a black bear, i remembered he was in there, crackling in the underbrush, seeing me, while i could not see him. not only was it dark, i'd left my glasses at home. don't need glasses for yoga. or a phone. so i'm walking in the dark, and a firefly lights up. reminding me of the simple beauty of darkness.

and i went to the garden middday, the garden i've only seen at night, with her. we walked the rows of roses and sat by the fountain, but there was one large white blossom, i could tell it was a nightbloomer. something unafraid of darkness. and i wondered who pollinates it, who delights in its nectar.

so many different flowers that i couldn't see during the night, i could see during the day. i looked into the face of one flower that had a blossom as big as my head. it was gorgeous. that nature just does that. creates beauty for no real reason other than to be lovely.

so tonight sophie was gentle with us, but twisted us to pretzels, which was what i needed, because my back, even now has begun aching again, and i'm not entirely sure why. i realized when i went to cali for a month and didn't do any yoga that i was essentially my worst enemy. now i'm back and not doing as much as i could, getting used to this teaching schedule and all the activities of late, i just haven't made it my priority. but i need to.

so i believe we are here for a reason, in this life, not another. with the people who are surrounding us at this time. i must believe there is a reason and that as our lives unfold, like a beautiful garden in its own right, we will ultimately compliment each other, and learn to live beside one another in beauty.

i believe this. i strive to this end.

and when someone is less than attractive, when i am less than attractive, i try to remember the fallow season comes, the garden must be turned and planted again. the seeds lay low in the darkness, until the fullness of time. and the garden blooms again.

winter is coming. and it will be well. a time of joy and prosperity.

i believe this.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

the weight of nothing

much has changed since last i wrote. literally. i have avoided page and pen in favor of eyes open heart open mind open. there was a lot going on. there still is, but i will attempt to find my way back to word. to that end, i have applied for a master class in the city. hopefully, i will be working on my poetry thesis for the next academic year in preparation for its subsequent publication. that is the plan. in conjunction with that, i will find a flamenco teacher and learn how to dance flamenco. there is one class but it butts right up against the thesis class and i lack the ability to teleport, but i know that when i am ready for it, i will find it. that is how my life works. i step out, the stone appears. not before i need it, not even before i extend my leg, just as i'm about to shift my weight to nothing.

then, the stone, as if it had been there all along, and of course it had, rises to meet my foot, to carry my weight, to further me along in my journey.

yoga was good today, vinyasa has been a challenge for me, but i'm finding i enjoy it more and more. i'm even knowing what comes next. i think that's part of it, not feeling like a complete heel, but moving with the flow. it makes one feel some kind of progress has taken place. and of course, it has.

we did this standing up, lift your right leg up and yoga lock your big toe, then extend your leg straight out while holding your toe with your thumb and index finger. then bow to your knee. a balance pose, i fell out of once, but i so enjoy the new positions. mostly i was able to angle down to the knee, but i haven't fully got the flat chest to thigh flexibility yet. someday.

this summer in california, when my mind was learning how to focus on the moment, in spite of the headlines (my own personal headlines, not the news, i don't watch the news), i had been applying for every job conceivable. trying to market myself. i'm not good at marketing myself. so, one day i applied for about a hundred jobs with this quick apply thing and it was so rediculous that i started laughing and i quit chasing after jobs. i just knew that i would have a job when i came back. i had written down what i needed in a job and was trusting that i would get it.

this is where the mind wanted to buck and spin wildly out of control. i cried some, i doubted some, i trusted more. i wrote a list of what i wanted in a job. pay rate, being able to take my daughter to her bus stop every morning, driving distance, dress code. i am never gonna be a dress to the nines kinda gal. as i said once long ago, i'm maybe a five, maybe that's pushing it. but never a nine.

so, i come home to an interview. i get through the preliminaries of the interview process and get bogged down in the references part. it's amazing how i have to take the SAT and pass with a score of 600 or better in the writing and reading sections, and the references are what held me up. the lady said,
do you want time to study,
i said,
no, let's just get the test over with.
either i was going to pass or not. true to form, i took the test, passed, and was ready for the next stage. well, life happens. one of my references never phoned in.

in the meantime, a friend told me about a job posting she had seen and i applied, post haste before taking the girls to a concert in central park. panic at the disco, incase you're wondering. the concert was lovely, and i knew i was going to get a call. i woke up tuesday morning and said to my lover,
i'm going to get a call today and i'm going to get the job.
sure enough, later that day i got the phone call.

let me tell you what we need,
she said.
the class starts tomorrow.


fine!
i said,
i'm so excited.


and i went in for an interview. she liked me so much she gave me two courses in stead of the usual one. she said,
i can tell you can handle it.


i said,
anything you need. i am available.


that's good to hear,
she said. and proceeded over the course of the next couple days to give me substitute jobs and an additional semester class. so instead of just one class, i have three. i hope for a fourth as things are still being ironed out in our department.

i am now an adjunct professor of english and teaching three classes. it's a wonder. a joy. i love it. it is my dream job. the kids (i know they are college aged adults, but i still call them kids), the kids are delightful. i can demystify the english language, the writing process and i can help them achieve their goals.

all told, i applied for the job on thursday, interviewed the following tuesday, and was teaching wednesday morning. that is how my life happens. without exception. i found i needed to withdraw my application at the tutoring gig (where i had to pass the SAT) and resign at the two papers i had been writing for, it was too much running around and i need to focus on my career now. i get to focus on my career now. that is the joy of it. i am in the door. miraculously.

what i could have met with dread during the summer, the thought of this time in my life, has become the best time of my life. dread wouldn't have prepared me for this season, only trust. only peace. i am grateful for this season, for the harvest that has come from the years of toil. that i have grown up.

Monday, August 08, 2011

what have i done

today has been one of those, wtf days. i called a friend and cried,
my life is ridiculous.


she said,
no it's not.
and proceeded to list the ways in which my life, in fact, matters very much.

this, is how friends have kept me afloat my entire life. when i'm foundering on the rocks, certain of imminent doom, my friends, my loved ones, say,
no, look. just there, help is on the way.
their eyes can see where i have lost the vision. they remember my course when the navigation has failed me and i no longer remember what the journey was about.

i get on a train in a few short hours, and meet up with another friend, someone who has brightened my life with her love. i will rest in her arms, and spend the night in her home, and trust the balm of affection to soothe me. weary am i.

there are a lot of things for me to figure out, some of them i am told to just walk away from. and i will, i am trying. but in the meantime, i stack the stones i've gathered along the path, and they seem like nothing. that is, until my friends come along and stack their stones with mine, and that amounts to something. together, i am reminded of who i am. who they are. why we are together for this journey. and it begins to make sense again.

trust is what it amounts to.

trust that help is on the way.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

beach!

since last week's impromptu beach trip went so well, we're off to the beach again, sans stuff. we'll return home hungry and tired and that will be good for everyone.

my daughter is here now, so it will be nice to see her out and about at the beach, there are some tidepool caves i've yet to explore and i hope to get to that today. i need an adventure.

i'm reading a book called, a secret sadness, which has proven to be very enlightening.

there are a lot of things that i'm trying to change in my life at the moment. not trying, so much as, believing will change. my relationship patterns are on that list.

the thing about relationships is, they are complex. they involved people. there is no mold or copy you can follow, you just have to follow your heart. at least i know how to do that. but i would like to establish different patterns in that heart response than i've been inclined to follow in the past. i'm ready for my life to change.

so, i'm ingesting a lot of information here, which is good. i haven't had time to read for leisure in about three years. i am making up for lost time. still wading through thoughts without a thinker, which is also an excellent book.

my sister bought this book at my behest and i hope to read it before i leave. it looks like something that would interest me.

plus i still have one more from the library of my own that i have yet to make a serious dent in. but this is the joy of vacation, much time to read.

the weather out here has been lovely, last week after tuesday it was too cool to go to the beach, we were wearing sweaters. but it has warmed up again and so, off we go. my mom visits tomorrow. that will be nice, hopefully she will have my aunt in tow.

my nee is up, time to get moving into my day.

Monday, August 01, 2011

thank you

i say it alot. i mean it. i'm grateful for everything. for the love of friends, for the kindness of strangers. for the bump in the road that makes me pay more attention because my mind wandered.

so i'm finding myself in a place where i look to the multiplicitous effects of gratitude. the a few loaves and fishes points in the road where we must share what we have and trust what we need will be shared in turn.

that is always the trick, not hoarding. not amassing stuff.

i am acutely aware of this place, this crossroads in my life, the tin can outstretched and me holding my last coin. do i drop it in or hoard it.

sometimes i drop it in, sometimes i don't. but i always get the chance to face the can again. to make the choice.

times like now make me wonder if this kind of feeling, this kind of angst in my life is what fuels my writing. do i need trials to write. is it part of my process. is that gritty sadness all i will ever write about. i hope not. i want to progress. to change my stars.

the only way i can conceive of doing this is to be grateful for what i've got. the bad and good stuff. the lonely nights and the overabundant days. they are where i'm at today. and so, when i drop into bed bone weary, and rise before i want to, i trust it is for a reason. there is a point to this dance.

i don't understand it. i don't pretend to.

but i come again to the point of letting go. of resisting the urge to cling.

there are poems i must write, but i've never been the kind of writer who formulates a plan. and so, i've watched through my days for the whispered words in my ear, listened for the glimpse of a poem, but none has come.

i understand in some ways i have been afraid of what will come and that has never been the case before. i have always let myself just go with it. but i'm not going with it anymore. trying to change my life. but maybe that's the problem. i'm focusing on it too much and getting lost in the process of change.

i have sat down with my journal a couple times. jotted down a few things, nothing poetic, just my thoughts. but it's nice to not have to force myself to poetry. poetry must be allowed to come of its own accord. poetry must flow. no grasping. and these are the moments i wonder if i'll ever write again.

i know i will. i look at this last book and remember when it was just a title in my mind. i told her the name of it and she said,
yes.


i told her the name of this next book and she said,
wow.


it will come. and i will be grateful when it does.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

on tap

big family picnic today, we're slowly pulling it together to eventually make an appearance. how long that appearance will last is the question. i imagine we'll have an enjoyable time once we get there, if we ever get there. and my nephew is packing a thousand water balloons just to keep things interesting.

i haven't seen my closest family in three years, haven't seen everyone else in at least ten, maybe longer. probably my wedding which was fifteen maybe sixteen years ago now, i forget.

how life goes by, we change and grow. i'm grateful for this, in some ways it's an opportunity for a new beginning.

i told my girl, after bickering with her a bit last night that i probably had one more time of threatening to ship her back to her dad before she got over it. she said,
no you won't, you missed me too much.


the bummer is, i wore a necklace of hers with venus symbols and i lost it at the airport when i went to get her. i'm was so bummed about this, and fixated on it, because i was going to return it to her and checked my purse (i took it off at secruity) and it wasn't there. so picking up my kid cost me a necklace, but she didn't care.
don't worry about it,
she said. i hadn't asked to wear the necklace and then i went and lost it. my bare neck still pains me, but i have her. i woke up early and just watched her sleeping for a while.

it is so good to have her here with me again. my heart is whole again. my heart is whole.

so for two more weeks, i am going to be here, with my family, with my girl. friends plan on visiting and since so much has changed in my life, i'm pretty locked into being at the mercy of visitors. my one friend is coming in from arizona to spend a weekend here and i told her i would spend as much time with her as she'd like, and she said,
all of it.
so, hopefully, we'll have a lot of time to connect. she is the one i belly danced for in arizona on her fortieth birthday. what a riot that was.

my best friend from high school lives out here and i will hopefully get to see her too. another friend from college, a masseuse, whom i may or may not see, lives so near it kills me not to see her. but as i said, life has changed the way things are going down out here.

it's all good. i'm grateful. staying in the moment. being with those i'm with and loving them the best i can.

it has been a hard road getting here, but today it seemed okay. like it was all, every bit of it, going to work out.

it always does.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

au naturale



so i've been communicating with someone who expressed an interest in getting to know me and when her list of requirements included
waxes eyebrows
i flatly said,
um, so not me.


it's interesting the kinds of things that repel or attract people. i don't understand it. but i do understand fussing over my eyebrows has never been part of my schtick. and it never will be. not for anyone.

believe me, i have enough hair to tame without finding places to meddle. lovely visual, ha.

anyway, life is too short to have to maintain imposed standards. i feel that way about writing too. i think that is why residency was such a challenge for me. but, at least, i finally got to show my stuff. i got to stand up there and do what i do, and was told i
brought down the house.


this pleases me.

this is a picture of me before my reading, i wore my daughter's knee high converse to feel her near. she will be here tomorrow. so excited!


but now in real life, i have to figure out how to navigate my path. i've chosen the path of most resistance, and, well, no one is to blame but me. but i don't know that i would ever have been able to choose differently. it is who i am. i swim up stream. bottom line.

and finally, a picture of me after graduating. i'm coming to the conclusion, life is not an mfa program. which is a joyous and sad conclusion. i didn't think i would miss having to jump through hoops. the imposed community. the total lack of self-navigation. but i'm coming to appreciate the freedom the program being over has given me. i can do as i will. sink or swim. it is time for me to chart my own course, navigate by my own stars.

i am free. and always have been.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

internal weather

i'm reading a book called awakening the buddha within. it is profound. today i read about how we create our own internal climate and stress, tension, and fear. these are all things we do to ourselves.

huge revelation.

i had known that about stress, but i had never made the connection with tension and fear. though i think fear can be reactionary at some level and so am not completely sold on the idea of fear being entirely self-induced, though i do lean more toward believing it than not.

went to the beach yesterday, we needed a change of scenery, so we loaded up the car and kids and spent a delightful day at the beach, impromptu. not carrying a lot of crap, not staying overlong, but just long enough for everyone to get hungry, burnt and tired. all of us got burned, yes, even me. i, who never burn.


anyway, it was wonderful.

today, we've spent the day cleaning the house, everyone, even the three year old twins were sweeping and dusting, all hands on deck and the place looks pretty good. so now it's on to other projects, sewing, job apps, that sort of thing. the way i start my day anymore, i spend a lot of time applying for jobs. my dear aquarian best friend breaks it down for me,
it's a numbers game. just do it, don't get emotionally involved.


i'm pisces, hello. everything involves emotion for me.

but maybe that is my problem. i'm trying to be less emotionalistic, yet, more in tune. tough line to walk.

today is a great day, particularly compared to the past week. one of the things my sister and i realized is that the way we approach things, look at trials has a lot to do with where the head is at. the emotions follow the head.

just got this picture of myself with my group of poets and it was a delightful residency with respect to the chemistry of our critique group. we got along well. not perfectly, but nothing too dramatic.


and of course, in retrospect, it was marvelous.

i look forward to the next phase of my life beginning. but for now, in two days my daughter will arrive and my heart will be whole.

after that, i will enjoy my last two weeks here and then begin to figure out what to do next.

at home in new york, who knows what will happen. i look forward to the unfolding mystery.

Monday, July 25, 2011

ill tidings

the morning carries with it some unfavorable news. news which can send me reeling into realms of the heart and mind that are scary at best, but my task today is, to remain in today. to believe it will be well. that which i need is coming to me.

i am trying to let go of things that must be released. trying to ground myself in the moment, in this day. but i admit, it's terrifying.

so, i will feel the abject terror of it, and move forward.

i have no answers. that is the bottom line. as much as i try to formulate answers, they do not mean anything when i can finally articulate them.

so, my task then. be present. enjoy the moment. let tomorrow settle itself. that is all that can be done at times like these.

and i must remind myself my daughter arrives friday. that is cause for celebration. she's been away too long. it was a necessary absence, but i am ready for her return.

it will be well,
i believe this.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

riddle me this

in the mysterious way life works, things are still plugging along. i try not to succumb to the swirl of confusion about me. i try to just keep steady. this morning, it feels manageable. i'm grateful for this.

i'm not sure if it is because i'm uprooted at the moment, visiting the place where i originated, or what, but i'm sorely lacking in comfort. and i'm trying to abide in the midst of that. comfort can be a distraction too.

so i take a deep breath, try to do something other than pay attention to the whirring of my mind, and be present to those around me. i love them. i never see them, i need to check in.

my aunt and mom came to visit yesterday. it was such a surprise seeing my aunt, i even snapped a picture. she who does not let others take her picture, didn't balk too much at me capturing her. through the years all we have is an arm, or back, rarely a posed shot. this was hardly a posed shot, but i was bound and determined to get one. and i did.

it was as if i was looking at myself years down the road. she is darker skinned than i, and i held her when we said hello. it was nice to be together again. she was a fixture in my life until i married.

my mom is my mom. i love her. she was generous when i showed her the latest poem i'd written about our childhood which includes some images of her. she didn't scold me, she just laughed. i was grateful for that. i really expected a scolding. but i wouldn't have let it change a thing, i think she knows that by now. i just needed her to know it was there. i'm not into hiding things. and so it was the first thing i did, show her the poem.

my professor, and everyone else, really like that poem. they say, you're taking risks,
i told her.

she just listened.

i was glad they were here. glad they came to see me.

i spent a bit of time alone on thursday, walking down laguna beach. i needed the quiet, the alone time to clear my head. i have a lot to process at the moment. i saw three dolphins playing in the surf off the shore, and the boogey boarders were having a blast. the waves were crashing pretty strong, so i only went in about three times to cool down and continued my sojourn south.

i would like to say i know what is coming and how. i would like to say a lot of things. but they just aren't true. i am as uninformed as the next guy. we are all just sojourners here. and i think the goal is to enjoy the journey.

and while i whittle down the days until my daughter's arrival, i try to focus on the tasks at hand. to be present. i haven't done so well. i've been troubled. but i will try again today.

and it will be well.

how will it

it's a mystery.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

better day

yesterday is over, thankfully. i had to endure it. it was a very long day.

sometimes the lows must, wait, always the lows must be endured like turbulence in a plane. there is no option to get out of turbulence, you must ride it out.

and so i did.

today, i sat in the garden with my sister and she read to me. a hawk landed on the wire and the chickens and ducks, scrambled behind us for safety. we watched the hawk circle and scare up a few crows.

after turning and watering the compost, i did the dishes, made breakfast and now i'm ready to go to the beach. to be delivered to the shores of the pacific where i will wander lonely as a cloud. it will settle me. i can talk with my grams there.

and when the tide recedes, i get a glimpse of her, of something familiar. the scampering sandpipers, the crying gulls. the glint of the sun on the ocean.

when the waters lick the shore, i play at their edge, am reminded of so many things that come and go. reminded how to let go. to be still in a moment while everything shifts around.

i find myself amidst wildly shifting sands, more along the lines of a sandstorm in the sahara, but maybe that's just my perception. i am trying to remember to ground, to still, to center myself.

but today, i could use a hand from nature. cleo bunny has been incredible therapy for me. she licks me when i hold her. the chickens lay down on their bellies around my feet as i sat with them yesterday. it made me smile, that even though i feel my energy is erratic at the moment, that these peaceful creatures could come stave off some of my errant energy.

seeing my mom tomorrow. i hope i can keep from telling her my girl is coming. i want it to be a surprise. but i also want to share that joy with her, that my girl is coming to california.

yesterday was a big day for me, in that i made a lot of personal decisions that i hope will manifest goodness. i had this free falling feeling after the choices were made, but there is no turning back, no stopping the descent when one begins the journey down to the underworld.

the fall has stopped, but the terrain has changed, and i seek to navigate by my own compass.

om mani padme hum


sounds in the inner chambers of my heart at the moment.

it will be well. it will all be well.

i trust this.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

betting hedges

hedging bets, whatever. i'm not into it. i'd rather end up with my own issues at the end of following my instict than to lure someone or something along to make me safe, to keep me safe. to try to attain safety, which, i've come to discover, is not a static thing. safety is more of a state of being.

a line in one of my poems says it best,
i can wait out the storm in the safety of myself.


yes, that's it. much as i hate quoting myself, sometimes i've already said what i'm trying to say, no point in trying to reframe it in words.

but i'm feeling the urge, the need to write again, and that's good. writing grounds me.

i want what others want, i just don't want it in the way they do. i've had the family, the marriage, the child. now i need to find peace, peace which includes a place for my child. she is a part of me, a large part of me. there is no peace for me without her.

she has been away from me for about a month, or it will be just over when she arrives in california to be here with me for my last two weeks. i spent every free cent i had to secure her arrival, but i would do it again in a heartbeat. i missed her, it was as if i was inhabiting two coasts. the heart cannot be so divided for long.

i am counting down the days till her arrival. and she was going to be brave,
to stick it out,
as she put it. but i said,
no, come. we all want to see you.


and when i called her and told her she was flying out next friday, she let out a
whoo hoo!
which made me happy. i could hear her joy.

her dad must resign himself to this fact, as she is a young lady now, and her cousins, teenagers, are going to be more interesting to her than being home with a parent. sadly.

it's not about what we want so much anymore, though, i'm grateful she's coming to me. that my heart will be housed under the same roof again. it's about what is best for her. i am reminded of this, in so many of the choices i've been presented with of late, this has been my utmost consideration, however it has looked.

one of my friends gave me a stern talking to about not prioritizing her, but she is all i prioritize. i think of nothing else but her, when she is under someone else's watchful eye, i relax my stance for awhile. single parents are not often afforded the luxury of inattention. so when i have the chance, i relish it.

i have lived fully in her absence. though i live fully in her presence, i'm glad, so grateful she is coming to be with me.

she is what matters.

and i trust that which needs to happen, will.

now to find a real job.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

obliging cleo


after finishing residency with an amazing reading, i returned home to send my sister back to cali and get my life sorted out for my return.

my reading ended up being as i expected, while i messed up twice, it didn't halt me, i just kept plugging along. ultimately, the reading was about me and my girl, our journey these past two years. leaving my ex. it was well received and many people told me it was amazing. my readings are like that though, it was nice to be present in a moment of time so completely. i owned that room while i was reading and this has been my experience with each of my readings. time halts, i inhabit the words, they are my soul sent out to a group of people. when i was introduced, my professor quoted c.s. lewis, which i found quite fitting. she spoke of soul, which was refreshing. she made me cry. i composed myself and went up to read.


i'm still collecting myself, so i'm sure i'll have a better story to tell at some point. right now, i'm just sharing some pictures.



this poster was at the airport when i was making my connection in dfw, it made me smile. and have a drink! though while i was nursing my mango margarita and texting friends, my flight changed gates, so i went to the gate and there was no flight. i ambled over to where it was taking off, and made it to cali. grateful.


this burger is worth the trip across country! too bad these are only available out here, they are amazing.
i am now in cali, with my sister and her beautiful family. after passing out at 5pm and waking up at 5am

my sister's children are delightful. the twins are bright and beautiful. a bit shy yet, but that will change. her pets have begun to accept my presence, and i'm grateful for the rest. i am trying to lure my daughter out to california, i miss her so. i hope she chooses to make the journey. my entire family wants to see her. and some part of me is missing when she's gone. i wish her here, more than anything. another month without her seems insufferable. unthinkable. it is why i opted to be away rather than home crazy from her absence. i hope she comes to join me. i hope.




as if intuiting my need for touch, companionship of sorts, cleo the bunny lit upon me and sat with me for about two hours. she calmed me, and reminded me, as only creatures can, that it will be well. that life must move forward. and i was grateful for her trust. that she could sit with me a stranger, it was our first meeting. that she could sleep and let me love her.


gotta go, cupcakes!

Friday, July 15, 2011

sake for me

after downing most of a giant bottle of sake last night, i got through the reading okay. no major breakdowns. a few tears. but friends helped me through. i got some disconcerting news and am trying not to let it sideline me. life happens. every day.

today, i read. but first the three hour workshop where we'll focus on a poem from each of the poets. this can sometimes be brutal. i have been fortunate in that it has not exacted a bloody toll of my confidence. i have been pleasantly surprised that the prof has given me props for my stylistic choices.

why don't you use question marks,
she asked.

i think it is a prose convention. why is the question mark there question mark,
i replied.
whereas in poetry, if i say a question word, what, it is understood that it is a question.


fair enough. you're making rules.
she said.

the bottom line for me now is consistency. i have been told to use more spaces to indicate pauses and breaks and such. i know i need better control over the pacing of my poems and i told them that.

it's very hard,
i said,
to remove all punctuation from poems.


so today, after eight days of workshops and classes, being around writers and crying myself to sleep, i take the podium and show what i've got. of course i'm excited about this. i'm a natural reader. a literary exhibitionist.

i told one woman when we first arrived that i hadn't prepared for my lecture and she, being a public speaking teacher, unbeknownst to me at the time, after my lecture said,
you did prepare.


i told her,
i should have said, i didn't prepare in the manner in which others prepare.


you wounded me,
she said.

i'm sorry.


but we're good now. she's a poet who will likely remain in my life by the sheer forcefulness of her presence. i need bulldoggish people like that who won't scatter at the first sign of my needing space. because i need a lot of space.

i can see that about you,
she said,
that you need to be left alone.


then yesterday, my poetry professor said,
suzanne is being coy. she wants the reader to get it, she hopes the reader will get it but if the reader doesn't get it she won't change a thing. right suzanne?


i laughed,
of course!


i don't know what will come of this. i don't know how it works out. where i will end up. what job is coming to me. but i'm ready to launch out.

and when i saw another poet, ready to quit, two days left in the program, it helped me feel like i am not a lone. not a complete basket case for struggling through this as i have. each residency has been a struggle for me, this one no less. the writing part this time has been joyous.

today we do kissing cobras, a poem of mine that i know could stand some tweaking.

how will it go

i don't know. it's a mystery.

but i trust it will be well. and when i take the podium this afternoon, i know it will be well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

not everyone knows

i fall apart at night. that i break down and cry, have this entire week. i hope it's not my new normal, because i'm getting tired of it. i have avoided a public show by simply staying in my dorm room and crying. it's pathetic, really.

last night i braved a reading, and the tears just burst out of me like some water main broke. one fiction writer turned to me and asked,
are you okay?


yes,
i replied.

and kept trying to soak up tears that would not stop.

sometimes the tears must come. we're almost through with this process, just a couple more days to navigate. my graduate reading tomorrow. the details of the journey to california will occupy the forefront of my mind, blessed tedium.

i have tried to be honest with myself, and for the most part, i think i have been. hence, the tears.

i've written a few poems. more will come.

but for now, i smile as most people don't know what's going on. the ones who ask nod their heads as i reply. mostly, i'm asked during the day when i'm composed.

then, i can string some words together. not cry.

but the poems in workshop now turn to the matter which is most affecting me and i have to face it. during the day. with all my poet friends looking on.

if i stay silent and breathe, i can probably stave off the tears for the most part. i did yesterday, when the critique of my first poem of this set was met with wonder.

i remember when i wrote it. how wonderful it was.

how wonderful it was.

Monday, July 11, 2011

strangely familiar

i find myself in dorms i used to know in another capacity, and i'm grateful for the comfort of my sister with me. i'm consciously disconnecting from this place, transitioning on to the next phase of my life, but trying not to opt out of being here completely. though it is tempting.

tears always come to me here, the presence of so many people, the conversations, the evaluation of works, of workshops, of schedules. last night was no different. and my sister reports my wimpering in my sleep.

that's how i was feeling,
i replied.

it is time to move forward. in every sense.

yesterday, walking with my sister through the field, she said, as i'm clamboring loudly through the grass,
stop! look!


and i stopped short, one leg up in the air, and began turning my head to get a glimpse of whatever it was she was gawking at.

not thirty feet in front of us, on a bench we were sitting on the day before, sat a hawk. one foot up, completely relaxed. i recognized the speckled plumage as that of a youngster, he must have recently fledged because he was nonplussed by our presence. as if he didn't yet know how terrible humans are, or can be. and i am grateful for that gentle unknowing.

in that way, i hope he knew us, that we were not to be feared, because we weren't.

so we snapped a few pictures of him, and edged closer, then sat in front of him and watched.

ultimately he flew off. and we went to get our lunch. on the way back we searched but could not find him. so we sat on the bench he had occupied.

i saw a hawk flutter in the trees and we watched it fly down to the grass behind us. then we noticed the fledgie on the ground. wings agape, tail feathers spread. the momma hawk seemed to be nudging it to get it to fly.

it's hurt,
my sister said.

no, let's just watch. we don't want to spook her or she'll abandon him.


so we watched him resist her persistent nudging. we could just imagine her motherly internal dialogue,
FLY ALREADY, there are people watching.
but fledgie preferred to run into the bushes than fly. he even lolled onto his side a couple times when she came at him. he was not going to move.

ultimately, he did move. they both flew some, but we sat with the fledgie for hours. HOURS.

he rested in a tree, and we perched on the grass beneath him. we couldn't get very good pictures because they blend in so well. but there we were, less than thirty feet from one hawk, on occasion two.

it was the kind of safari i needed to rejuvenate me.

and then, ultimately, we came back to the dorms. where i cried. and read. and slept. and wimpered through the night.

but i'm awake now. it's all okay. everything is going to be okay.

i believe this.

Friday, July 08, 2011

objective five

having finally finished my graduate lecture, and in spite of my av presentation being lost in translation, literally, i had a few celebratory drinks. my sister went home with my ex, and i fell asleep early. now it's past midnight and i'm awake. not wide awake, just awake.

life last week versus life this week. night and day.

each moment i seem to have a new realization of what a horrible job packing i did. some of what i thought i packed for residency is packed for cali, which only further complicates things. but yesterday was fun. tiring, but fun.

back up to objective three, returning the rental car. my pony, it seems has finally succumbed to some serious issues, and is in the shop getting a transmission rebuild. i had to race around and figure out how to get my sister from newark airport, how to get us to boston, how to get us home again, while having my pony serviced back in ny. it has been non stop.

life was distilled down to a list of objectives. objective one. get to newark. objective two, get to massachusets. objective three, return rental car. it was the only way i could manage what was beginning to feel like chaos.


then my sister and i walk around boston and i don't realize how tired i will be, until i have to stay up until 11pm preparing for my lecture, then wake up at 5:30 am, and continue preparing. but my lecture went real well, those who attended said they were glad they did. i hope to have gifted these writers with something they can use.

i feel as if there is now a respite, that the whirlwind which has carried me will settle for a few days. i have no particular agenda, no list of things to do, until friday when i have my graduate reading. what to read is settled, i just have to time it.

tomorrow starts the round of workshops in earnest, we had a rare free day from workshops since our prof will be arriving saturday. i'm grateful for that. though there are so many of us graduating, and the pressure is off, so it's nice being here. i'm finding connections to a lot of people i haven't had so much luck getting to know until now.

objective five, may or may not have been my graduate lecture. but it is done now. i am mostly recovered from the exhaustion of getting here, and soon, i'll drift off to sleep again only to awake and reenter residency life in heart and mind.

but for now, in the stillness of my dorm room, i realize what the exhaustion has masked and i'm grateful for it all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

what's this

there is a feeling i'm trying to sit with, something i don't like and don't want to entertain, but it's on my plate, it's staring in my eyes. and i'm trying not to flinch.

sometimes i lose the path, can't see for the fog, am wandering. this, perhaps, is one of those times. and i just have to ride it out.

i'm accomplishing tasks, but it's not the tasks i'm talking about. it's the abiding peace i lack.

i sat at the mechanics today, i risked missing yoga to go get my oil change, and miss yoga i did. i've missed a lot of yoga lately, and i'm feeling it. not just physically, but spiritually.

i sat there, reading a book and trying to be present to the wait at the mechanic's. i needed to take care of my car just as i need to take care of my mind and body. so, i tried to just breathe and be patient. that was tough and i jumped the gun once and told the guy,
it's done.
it wasn't. he didn't get irritated, i was grateful.

i went back to sitting and waiting, trying not to complain. trying to just be at peace with where i was at. i don't think one needs a cathedral or a particular setting to enter into a spiritual transaction. i think those are everywhere to be had. the trick is, realizing it.

so i settled back into the ergonomic metal bench and tried to mind my posture. something i thought i was very good about, but realize, since yoga, that i don't have good posture--or great posture. i'm not slouching, but i'm not elongating either. so i stretched my heart up toward the ceiling and felt the curve of my back receive the metal support of the bench and sat there focusing on the words which were also telling me to focus on the moment.

the signs are everywhere, yet i keep trying other roads, different paths. i don't know what it will take to wake me up. i thought i was awake, but now i wonder.

much is ready to change in my life. i'm on a great precipice, and the time is nearing for me to launch out. this is the birth canal. these are scary times in one sense, in that i'm leaving the comfort of a womb i've known, and entering a world unknown. in the best scenario there will be a guide, some motherly figure to ease the transition. but i don't know who that could possibly be. or are some birth canals leading to places where we are unassisted. that can't be right. i think we get the help we need.

today as i walked to the river, greggy, the cat followed me. he rubs up against me as i sit, and i take great comfort from this. i'm not the best cat owner, not the best mom, not the best anything. but i am here, present to the awful and the joyous. alive and free. experimenting and growing. it is the best i can do.

my girl is gone and that is disconcerting to me, but i know these separations, all separations are necessary.

i am trying not to long for reunion but to welcome the discomfort of absence, it helps me to realize what i have when it is in my arms.

so teetering i go, on shaky feet, but going nonetheless. i am trusting that i will know what to do next. that the universe will make a way and provide. with the abandon and openness of a child, i sit with this discomfort and try not to turn away.

Friday, June 17, 2011

hack job

it was ill conceived, perhaps, but then again, what isn't. i don't live my life in a contemplative way in the sense that i ponder the outcome of things. because one can never know the outcome of things. one can project an outcome, but i just dive in and see what happens.

so i finally convince my kid i can do as good or better a job cutting her hair as the hairstylist we've been to twice trying to get it right.

i didn't use good scissors, we were on the front porch and it was dark, these are not indicators of success.

but we were laughing, loud. i had to stop cutting many times because it was so funny. the neighbor pulled in and said,
you aren't allowed to have that much fun.


and we just kept laughing. (she trusts me, poor child.)

what she wanted was a hairstyle she saw in anime. and so, i knew i could do it, those styles are drawn jagged anyway, so why not, i figured, if nothing else, it will be jagged.

she finally let me do it, last night, and then when we came inside in the light (note to self: don't cut hair in the dark), she was saying,
fix it!
because it was, um, uneven. she was laughing when she said this, mind you, if nothing else she has as strange a sense of humor as i do. i love that kid.

well, i did fix it, and i said,
it will be fine. the difference between a bad hair cut and a good hair cut is two weeks. it will be fine.

that is how i live my life, the it will be fine mantra.

and mind you, i didn't cut her hair because i lacked the funds, i have taken her to more salons in the past year than i care to mention, and spent more money on extensions and color, cuts and styling, than i ever spent on myself at that age. seriously!

but what i noticed was the stylist lacked a certain bravado.

i've got bravado in spades, what i lack is the ability to style.

but it's a cartoon drawing hair cut, i mean, come on. bravado is required.

so i chopped off her hair at the hairline, and jutted severely down to the front. which is what she wanted all along.

i was mildly concerned when she hopped in the shower, but i just knew it would work out.

and this morning, when she woke up, her hair was fine. it looked great.

i straightened it for her, and off she went to school, sporting her new hack job.

i should probably buy a pair of shears.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

fly

sophie reminds me to fly. she says,
in our culture it's all about the bottom line, but i want you to open your arms, open your heart and look up. we don't do this enough anymore. people used to throw their arms up to celebrate or receive.


and it occurred to me, she's right.

i got the image of a child throwing their arms up to be lifted either to a place of safety or joy, depending on the situation.

so we stand and she says,
find your shiva foot, grab your toes and extend your arms to the side. fly!


i can do balance poses with relative ease, and this one felt marvelous. it was truly something to extend the crown of the head to the sky and the arms out, including one leg, all while balanced on one foot. the trick is, sophie says,
to fly. not to think of the ground at all because we're not grounding, we're flying.


and fly we do.

i have my body back. now what will i do with it. i feel present to my life. to my child. to my friends in a way i have not experienced before. and each day is full of wonder.

even when the mail comes, and news arrives, i do not fear. i know it will be well.

i am excited for my sister to come to me and to spend over a month with her, but i'm trying to be here in my home, with my people that i love until then. it is so easy to wish it away, to be lost in what will be. but i refuse.

there are moments here, happening now that will not come again. i know this. i must stay in this moment of time.

even the uncertainties, the doubts, they are my teachers. i sit with them and try to attend to their lessons.

be open to everything,
she said.

and i am, i am trying to be, even when it doesn't seem that way.

so i've imposed an isolation of sorts on myself of late. and i'm ready to move out of it. there is much i need to accomplish and i can't do anything from a cocoon. i must emerge. i must fly. sophie is right.

and sometimes, when i'm in yoga, and the patchouli wafts, i am reminded that it is the scent of my liberation.

the scent vendor was not at her usual spot and i have to replenish my stock. also lost my jingly anklet last time i went to the city, i hope whomever finds it wears it with as much joy as i did. it's strange being silent and not jingling my way through my days. but in time, another will come to me, and i will sound again.

i believe everything happens for a reason.

and so, today when i stood, wings spread, chest hailing the heavens i knew everything would be all right. and when i, like a child throw my arms up in joy or for release, i will be lifted up. carried. in that utter surrender only a child knows.

the surrender of a bird upon wings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

come back to me

reunion is a beautiful thing. but sometimes the reality of it is a bit awkward. and i've just experienced it on the smallest scale. but i am grateful for reunion whenever it comes. may it come again. and again.

my cat, i have a few, though they chose me, not i them. the cat that loves me most, the one who nuzzles up to me and sleeps beside me, the one that claimed me early on as his own, had walked with me to the bus stop to get nee. he got a bit scared on the way as it was far (to them) and new. they had never left the safe haven of the farm before. and i had them strolling down our lovely tree covered lane toward the busy highway.

i noticed geenie, that's what i call him, had gone off into the woods to wait for our return after spooking.

i was mildly concerned, but i didn't think he'd be brave enough to venture off alone again. he was so timid on that first walk. whereas greggy, the girl cat who walks with me all the way across the two bridges and to the busy road to wait for nee, walks with me down to the river, and is quite brave all things considered. greggy yowls the entire way and back sometimes, at least she did early on.

but i look back and there greggy is, or she is zigzagging between my legs threatening to trip me up.

i love these cats, they tend my soul in so many ways. but when spring came they were loaded with ticks. so i didn't let them back in the house. i'm brave but not a fool. they didn't like this, though the weather was fine enough. i think they had grown accustomed to sprawling out in front of the heater, they don't realize the heater is not on anymore. and i guess my place is safe for them too.

i understand why they want in. it saddens me that i can't explain to them why i want them out for the time being.

they are ferrel. they belong out.

so, geenie goes timidly with greggy and i to get nee that one day and i see him come out of the woods as we return. my heart sank because greggy always hid by the river if he was hiding, he never went into the woods.

i have since seen greggy in the woods, which also makes my heart sink, but they are themselves and will do as they must. the great lesson of letting go.

so, today, after weeks of not seeing geenie and deciding, though hoping he had found a home with someone else because he is a loving cat. nee walks outside and says,
geenie is back!


i wanted to celebrate right there and then, but couldn't i had to get nee to the bus stop. so i popped open a can of food (which is a cat's way of celebrating i guess) and drove off with nee.

geenie looked skittish and thin. lankier than when last i saw him, but he's growing into his cat self. he let me pet him, but seemed nervous.

i came home, put out more food, geenie was thin (and ate it all) and set about doing what i had to do.

when i finally landed home after laundromat and groceries (ah the life i live is divine, believe me, i'm grateful for the means to do laundry and get groceries), i pulled a chair out on to the porch and sat down. geenie came closer and rubbed my legs. i picked up his long thin body (he was alway solid before, the biggest of the bunch, his thinness is testament only to his being lost i think).

and i found myself wondering if there wasn't someone who loves him now. someone who got attached to him as i had. that someone is looking out their window with a sunken heart and saying,
where did he go?


i know that feeling too well.

so i lay him in my lap and he settled down after a moment, stretching his claws out on my legs and driving his claws gently into my leg as i rubbed his head. when i'd say,
i missed you,
he would turn his beautiful head around and look me in the eye as if to say,
i missed you too.


until i picked him up, we were tentative with each other. i guess that is how it is at reunion. there is a renegotiation of sorts that must take place. the one must ask the other,
do i still belong with you, to you? is there still a place for me.


i kept saying, in his absence,
i don't need him to be happy with me, i just want him to be happy.
i hated to think of him having been a meal for something bigger and toothier, but it was a possibility. there are a lot of things living in the woods.

i spent more time than i care to acknowledge thinking about him in his absence. wondering if he would return.

and today, he did.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

slogging through

it's been a strange week for me. one thick with forest to hack through. i've been slogging away at it, growing weary, trying to keep my chin up, wondering what the hell is going on.

then today, i'm in yoga and the instructor comes up behind me as we are doing triangle pose, and she mirrors me while we're looking in a mirror. she reaches around my torsoe and says,
stitch the ribs together, elongate the trunk,
and uses her other hand to turn my hip out completely, all this while she's flush up against me. we sidebend together into the pose. she has her arms completely around me, holding me in the form with the most gentle pressure.

needless to say, i'm lovin yoga.

she grabs my uppermost thumb, still mirroring me, mind you, and elongates it. she's taller than me, so this is easy for her.

and i'm just there, enjoying the right positioning of things.

it's easy to get lazy. to let the leg roll out or do things that take the pressure off. i'm finding when someone comes along and tweaks my body into that perfect form, the difference is amazing. not to mention, enjoyable.

i know i turn everything into this touchfest, but what is life, really?

a bunch of people thrown together trying to find their way. so we bump up against each other along the way, it helps. in a lot of ways it helps.

so, i'm lost in my thoughts, trying to draw my focus into yoga, and we're about halfway through when the triangle pose happens, and i realize, we do the best we can. it is all we can do.

i'm slogging through the forest of my mind, trying to see daylight and have no clue if i'm progressing. marion woodman, when asked by her analysands how they were doing, replied,
i don't know. i'm making the journey with you.


that's what i'm finding most of late, that my companions have as little perspective as i. which is how it is supposed to be.

i must be mindful of this alone, that i keep trusting. keep believing. keep moving forward for the doors will open at the right time, i need only walk through.

does it always feel that easy? no. i just said it didn't. i'm slogging through.

but sometimes. i get glimpses of where i'm headed.

and those moments, those mountaintop moments are divine.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

gifts

tonight i had a new yoga teacher. like all the rest, she kicked my ass. but something different happened. her vibe is very strong and i was weeping at the end of class. it was powerful. i had a realization that i am grateful for. i rushed home to tell my girl who made me wonder why i rushed home. it was such an overwhelming feeling of being cared for. of loving her.

i irritated her earlier in the day. she shouldn't be surprised by this, i am human. i do annoying things. so when i got home from yoga i apologized and said,
i'm annoying, what can i say. but everyone is annoying sometimes.


yeah.
she replied. then pulled out her eighth grade dc trip picture and we talked about her friends and school.

i don't know whether it is the solitude of today, or what happened, but i broke wide open in yoga tonight.

there are concerns, issues on my plate that i have not discussed with anyone. and in savasana i got a terrible image. which i faced, and released. it is all i can do. trust.

then i came to understand, the way she, my girl, blindly trusts me to care for her, to provide what she needs. that is the way we all are. some of us are more actively engaged in bringing home the bacon, but ultimately, every job, every dollar, every bill is a gift. a circle. we give, we get. sometimes there is disparity, but mostly, it is all how it should be. at least that is the conclusion i am coming to.

i look around my tiny apartment and i have considered perhaps a larger one, but ultimately, i have everything i need. the only thing i concern myself about is how it looks to others. that should be the least of my concerns. i don't have a lifestyle of maintaining things. no lawns, no houses, nothing.

i understand that means i own nothing, but there is little i want to own at this point. i want my people to be happy, to be content, to find joy. i realized tonight, i can do nothing for them. for any of them. i can't keep one of them alive if i wanted to. they are all in the keeping of the universe. and i must entrust them to it.

and so tonight, tears streaming down my face, i released them all again, every one i love. to the trust and care, the providence and grace of the universe. goodness breathe upon them. abundance fill their days. joy lighten their burdens. these are my people whom i love. i can do nothing for them. i understand that. save give them my love. that is all i have to offer. but that love alone cannot do a single thing for them. i am powerless.

and so, i revel in my abject poverty, my powerlessness, and release it all to trust.

and i drove away not concerned about the things that were on my mind earlier, i drove away from yoga knowing, it is all a gift. every last bit of it. every moment we're here breathing and being together.

and i am grateful.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

love

it's such a complicated word. idea. many people have many different ideas of what it means. who has the right answer. is there a right answer.

i sat by the river tonight, who was not as quiet as yesterday, it had a lot to say. and as i drove there, i could hear something that sounded like wisdom. i don't know if you hear things the way i do, or if it is peculiar to me.

there comes a point where i can no longer tell you i love you. i cannot convince you if i try. i can only let you find it in your heart, your mind, your soul, that i love you. believe that love.


now this thought led to another,
then, when you believe it, trust it, my love, that is, i am free again to say it.


what does all that mean. of course i am not entirely sure, but i've no need for certainty before i believe a thing to be true. it is a lot like life that way.

meanwhile, in the background, one of my all time favorite movies, out of africa is playing. now there is another model of love. something that intrigues me.

i want to stop myself from writing now because i feel a poem coming on. i don't write poems here. but it is, again, consciously subconscious.

the river then, darkening as the sun set. the cat i call greggy walked with me to the river and instead of keeping her distance, she rubbed up against me as i dangled my feet in the water, i took her in my arms a couple times but she's never been the cuddling type. she finally sprawled out on a large boulder beside me and meowed. this time, only once or twice. last time she accompanied me, she meowed in time the entire length of my stay there. it was painful. but she's braver now. trusting more perhaps.

and i could see the breeze rustling through the leaves. a calm and quiet was beginning to settle into the dusk. the heat had finally let up. and the warm rocks offset the coolness of the river. when i pulled my feet out and sat embracing my knees like they do in pictures of aboriginals in foreign countries, everything felt right. felt good.

i have trust.

i believe that the next door to open will be the one i need to walk through, and it will open at the moment it is to open. until that moment, i must stay in the present and tend to what has need of me.

i cleaned my apartment today, how the energy changes when neglect is swept away, and haste has been set in order. started the day at the laundromat and then hid out from the unbearable heat outside. i took a nap and retrieved my child from the bus stop. then arranged the things that i've been overlooking. all this to the soothing sounds of favorite movies playing in the background.

i have spent a lot of time in silence of late. i keep the ringer on my phone off as much as possible, and only look when i want to, i was beginning to feel a lot like pavlov's dog and had to break that habit.

tonight in yoga i did a full shoulder stand. it was lovely. sophie said
next week we'll do headstands,
and i laughed. she said,
really.
i probably laughed last week when she said we'd do shoulder stands. it's amazing how when you take it slow and in steps the poses seem to reveal themselves.

i stepped out of a few balance poses and, well, i just tried to get back into them, no worries. it happens. i think it's more about trying than about perfection. there is no perfection anyway.

i'm ready for bed. tired of body, peaceful of mind.

tell me a story,
she said.

and there's my poem again, rearing its head. i will sleep on it and let it come from the halfshell, fully formed.