Monday, January 30, 2012


i'm sitting in the waiting room waiting for my kid to be set free from her cleaning appointment. why do all dentist offices have that weird smell, not entirely even sure how to describe it. but it's part what imagine to be antiseptic of some sort, it's got that weird sterile smell to it, part scorched tooth, or bone as the case may be. a really gross combination that one must become desensitized to because i can't imagine working around that smell all day and actually smelling it.

so i'm sitting there, head buried in a book, trying to block out the news which is blaring in the waiting room. i don't want to see the wars, or the killings, i don't want to know there are predators out there--because honestly, it doesn't make my life any easier, it just fills me full of something close to dread at the human condition and the state we find ourselves in.

so, i turn up my ipod and blast yoga music in my ears to offset some of the negative vibe generated by the news. this is a strange solution, i know. especially since i'm using my daughters handmedown earbuds, only one of which works, fortunately it's the right one which houses the control mechanism. so i stick my finger in my other ear to block out what sounds like a lug wrench and air compressor, as if the indy 500 had a pitstop in the backroom of this office. i can hear all kinds of powertools going, and i am imagining horrible things taking place back there. the finger doesn't work for long, so i put my head on my ear and try to press down my ear. again, not a viable solution.

so, i resign to one moderately blaring earbud and trying to focus on the words on the page in front of me.

block out the images of the man drilling in the head of some person i don't know. let alone the fact that my child is behind those doors getting probed. i don't know why suddenly i'm so sensitive to her and the environment.

when she finally comes out, she mentions the drilling sounds, how they creeped her out and she kept trying, just like me, on the other side of the wall to block them out.

sometimes, i think we are so connected to those we love, we can't help but feel their pain. their discomfort. their distress. i wish i could save her from it, but there is no way. we must surrender to the probe and drill sometimes in order to stave off what would otherwise be great harm, eventually.

she asked me about her wisdom teeth, if they would need to come out. and i felt a twinge in me. there's another thing i can't protect her from. reminds me of my dad who began crying on the phone when i was in labor, just hours before i would deliver my only child.
i wish i could save you from it.
he said.

i had no idea what he meant then.

but i do now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

pace thyself

beginning a new semester is exhilarating. i love the students i'm working with. i love the subjects i'm teaching. what more could i ask for. it is as if somehow my life has become the life i wanted. so many years i've been looking to this place. i walk around now and just smile.

i went hiking saturday with a group of women and at one point when we started out i just hollered out,
it's a beautiful day!
because it is. they all are. even the ones that are not snow encrusted. even the average rainy day, or the muddy slogging cold day. they are all beautiful days.

i'm grateful to be able to help so many young minds grow. watching people's worlds enlarge is highly recommended. i hope i never lose this joy of being with a classroom full of students. i hope this semester continues to be one of mutual regard. today two of my former students leaned in my doorway as i was teaching and waved at me. i just smiled and greeted them by name. i've seen a few others in the hall. we have little catch up sessions. it is so good to know these people. so good to see them grow.

i still don't know how any of this plays out. how i will make ends meet someday. what is going to come of this venture. but i don't need to know today. i just have to show up in class and be present to the students i am working with. that is all that is expected of me. there is not mystery of the universe to unravel, no great dilemma to solve. just one more class, one more day of teaching. the rest will settle itself in due time.

i am blessed. i am grateful. i am, as always these days, looking forward to work tomorrow. it is what i am supposed to be doing with my life. when you find your road. enjoy it. i never knew how good life could be until now. even the upsets, the heart breaks, the trials, even those seem far more manageable because i'm right where i'm supposed to be in my life.

i wish this for you too my friends. wherever you are. may you pursue your bliss each day.

i want to write more poems. i haven't been productive lately, but that has never stopped me before. but i feel the backbuilding going on and know it is just a matter of time before the spigot turns on and the poems come pouring out. i will be ready. i live my life in a state of readiness for the next poem.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

slip sliding away

it was so worth it to get out and go to yoga this morning. there were only two of us there with sophie, fresh from her trip to turkey. she got on the floor beside me at one point and helped me find my first unassisted half shoulder stand. now i know how to do it, and i could never figure it out before. sometimes just seeing it from different angles helps. that and having someone right there baby stepping you through the pose.

she lifted my shirt and looked at my tattoo and said,
i'll have to show you mine.

so before we left class i got to see her gorgeous hip to hip tattoo with a lotus in the very center. truly beautiful.

i've been thinking about my next one. where to put it, what it should be, when. these are all important questions. nothing rash, nothing trendy. just something that is profoundly significant to me. but what.

until i can answer those questions, i wait. rather impatiently at times, but i do wait. sometimes years pass. and that's okay. i can wait. i have learned how.

i've found myself again, i was at the bottom of a hot salted and oiled tub. it seems i must take to water to find myself at times. and then i cried. water begets water. but it's all going to be all right. i will get a massive infusion of beauty tomorrow.

until then, i trust. i rest. i remember who i am.

when she gone

something about when my kid goes away, not sure what it is. but i could best the devil in a duel at the moment. i'm trying just to breathe, to relax. did my dishes, that always has a centering zen effect on me. lit some candles, burning some incense. not sure what i need to do, maybe just write.

things are always complicated. moreso when you have a teenager who plans her own getaways with her friends and i refuse to get involved in the planning. my own worst enemy there, but at some point they have to learn how to navigate their own lives without mothers hen pecking circles around them.

we sat by the side of the road one evening as i was getting ready to see her off on a trip upstate and asked,
why am i letting you do this?

because you trust my judgment,
she replied.


and i do. that is my comfort. my kid has always been solid. sometimes she gets flustered, i am part of the problem, but i've shown her mostly how to get around on trains and such by herself. last time we flew home from cali, i walked behind her and didn't help her at all. she had to ask for help from strangers like i wasn't there. she MUST learn how to get around on her own in this life.

but i sometimes would be more comfortable being there beside her. tucking her in at night. she is still my baby. she will always be my baby.

and in so many ways, she is so much better than i am, and was at her age. she is stronger, wiser, far more intelligent. i trust her more than myself sometimes, and she says,
i'm the responsible one here,
when we are deciding what to do.

it's not that i defer to her judgment, but she has proven, again and again to be wise beyond her years. so when i pull the mom card on her, she defers and when it goes awry as sometimes it does i remind her to make me listen. she has sound judgment. truly.

but she is still my baby.

i still miss her when she gone.

and tonight, i have to trust her to the goodness of the universe. to release her to spread her wings. and watch the horizon for her flight home.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

young mines

fifty or so. writers. i have two groups and i can't tell you how exciting the prospect of influencing young writers is to me. my whole life has been lived in character on page. i am most comfortable there. it is a world i understand. though the effect that world has on the three dimensional world is sometimes beyond my grasp (or even caring), i still am awed by the power of words.

i believe that we are given a task to complete on this earth. lucky woman to stumble upon the path and begin the journey down it. i feel my path has been unfolding me to this place since i can remember, everything, every last instance has been a joy in this journey. yes, even when i'm besieged by a group of writers. i said to a couple friends today,
this is a process i initiated, i must see it through.

how will it end

it's a mystery.

i believe this. finding the road and meeting your companions for a portion of said journey is comfort but it is also cause for growth. growth is always painful. but only by defending my work, by trusting my gut, by staying true to my style am i able to write the works that are imbued with power and ignite a room with passion. i keep asking this of words and words keep delivering. even when i doubt, the words themselves have a life of their own and rise to the occasion.

i love words. i love writing. i love teaching writing. i love teaching reading. that is my third group of young writers, though this group is once removed from the direct process of words through their own fingertips. the flow is going the other direction. i have to learn how to invigorate this process for the young readers in my charge. i want to have the confidence and skill with the readers that i have with the writers. this is a process of time. of trial and error. this will be a most excellent semester, i can already feel it.

and i trust. it will all be well. i know it.

sometimes i think the path finds us. and i, for one, am grateful to be found. at last.

Friday, January 13, 2012

more better

i just had the conversation with a friend, we talked about the things that are going on, she said,
i feel good things are coming.

i replied.
but maybe not the way i expect them.

which means, i have to release my expectations, yet again. this seems to be the story of my life. that i have something new, something i aspire to, something i dream about, and while i invest my time and energy in pursuit of that dream, not so much pursuit as much as observation. let me rephrase: i invest my time and energy in observation of the dreams that light up my heart. by observation i mean, it's like a bird watcher sits, binocs at the ready, waiting with delight and wonder to identify what will appear. and who knows what will appear. who can ever know. the birdwatcher has done the hard work of positioning herself where the odds are high that she will see something grand, costa rica, the sea shore, a mountain top, depending on what one chooses to observe.

bird every bird
is the mantra of those birders i have accompanied on eagle watches. we eagerly scan the trees and rivers, the skies and valleys in search of that which we have come to see. this, then, is no different.

i realized yesterday that i too believe good is coming. what i don't know is the manner in which it will appear. if i have my heart set on seeing it in one particular way, a job, a person, an acquisition, a certain amount in my checking account. if i expect any of these to reflect what i seek, i may miss the joy of the thing appearing from some place unexpected. thus, expecting not to only see eagles, we bird every bird. so the snowy white owl that was perched on a pier piling in piermont would have been missed if we hadn't been open to seeing other wonders. unexpected wonders.

true, i needed a guide, but i have many. and last night, as the tears welled up in my eyes, she whispered to me,
there is something better coming.

it didn't cut as deeply as it could, not realizing the dream in the way i wanted, now i must return again to trust. it is my safe haven. my source. i trust good things are on their way. will i recognize them when they arrive. only if i empty myself of expectation.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


it's such a classic theme. one with which i am intimately acquainted. it came to me the other day in conversation with a friend that the ideas we cling to, even the good ones, are the source of our suffering. this is no great revelation.


what idea do i have to let go of now. all of them. it's not easy. sometimes, i feel that old familiar pang and i have to remind myself, it's not what i want. to suffer in lieu of being present. because ultimately, nothing has changed. the only thing that causes me pain is that my idea, my ideals are not being met. i'm not able to withstand the burden of expectation.

when i reconcile this, the moment doesn't seem so bad. it feels perfect, actually. even though things are still not necessarily going the way i want, they are, in fact, going the way they must. i trust this.

so i ask myself again tonight, what do i really want, some unrealized idea, some fantasy, some dream, illusion. or do i want to trust and stay present in the moment.

i had another realization as i was navigating the city. there are obstacles everywhere. even en route to the city, before you get there, the way is fraught with peril.

or is it.

is not the pessimistic outlook the same as the optimistic in the sense that both are unrealized. there are always at least two roads. which will you choose. for me, i have moments when i see clearly the optimistic moment. the joy of being. the reality that i am calling into existence goodness when i choose the good road.

good has such moral connotations. i do not mean to imply that one way is necessarily good v bad. that is not what i'm saying at all. by the good road i mean, we can walk in trust and openness or not. the good road, for me, is the road of openness. delighting in the trials and tribulations the momentary confusions, the doubts and misgivings that life presents us all with. because i've come to understand it is all good. even the bad, and by bad i mean, that which thwarts my expectation. thwarted expectation is a good thing, it reminds me there is still work to be done. another mile or so to go. we've not yet arrived.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


i have decided on my new year's resolution. it is, welcome new friends.

i can be about as hospitable as an arid desert for a fern given the right circumstance. but, i am trying to change that this year. i will trust those who come into my life are meant to be there and welcome them.

how will this translate to real life, i don't really know. i am going to try a mental shift first. to determine to welcome others. that is my angle on it.

the thing about resolutions is, they can't be impossible, but they really set the tone for the coming year. i wanted mine to be optimistically challenging. to make a game of something i don't necessarily excel at. i can be friendly when i want to be, but usually people have to navigate the brier patch before they reach the friendly patch. very pisces.

this year, will try to engage others in dialogue and make them feel at ease. perhaps, the less i focus on myself, the more outwardly welcoming i am, the easier it will be for them to navigate the brier patch. because if i think that will automatically be gone, i'm just f-f-f-foolin' myself. it will take a process of time for me to change the way that i relate naturally. that process begins now.

i have noticed i don't walk up to people hand outstretched and say my name. this is a courteous, professional greeting and i must adopt it. i tend to go silent when in a group of new people and i will try, earnestly try, to engage in the conversation. mostly when i'm with a new crowd, i will answer questions if asked, but i don't feel the need to dominate the conversation. if someone chimes in and cuts me off, i let them have the floor. i don't need the floor. ever.

this results in my being silent a lot of the time.

mostly because i'm okay with not saying what i think aloud. i don't have any felt need to do that. but i've come to understand that engaging people, drawing them out, is not easier when i'm silent for long periods. because then i ride that silence to shutdown and that has to change.

so, outstretched hand, warm greeting, gentle inquiry and response.

at least that's what i'm gonna try. who knows if it will work.