I feel really sad tonight. its always there, it just crashes back and forth, depending if I can turn the sadness inside or not. when I have to think about other people so much, its easy to turn it inside, to feel it knocking around in my brain and heart, sinking into my belly. it's easier to focus on other people, other problems. thats always been easier for me. I don't know. my best, most full-bellied memories of my family are from when i was a kid, and we were so poor, and he was the easiest person to talk to. if I were to wish anything were different, I'd have to wish he were different and me too, and I don't wish that. If I could wish anything, I'd be in my dad's truck at the bus stop in seventh grade, and he'd be telling me how everything is going to be okay, and I'd reluctantly believe him.
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
My dad hated rainy days. He liked to be busy and outside and rainy days ruined that. On rainy days, business was slow and it was hard to work. And even before the welding shop, he always had jobs that the rain made worse or impossible. I love rainy days. Even now, when I close my eyes and picture the rain in Florida, its always through my parent's living room windows. The big oak trees and vibrant greens. The sound of my dad's truck coming up the drive. The metal slam of the old Chevy's door. Rainy days were the best because dad came home early from work. We would watch TV and laugh, he'd tell funny stories. When I was in college, he'd come home early and we'd drink coffee and I'd try to remember the distinct way he said things. Try to catalog his phrases in my mind. No one said things in the same way he did. No one laughed like him. No one I've ever met was wholly himself like my dad was. When something strange happens, or someone is doing something bizarre, its always my dad's commentary that pops into my head. Two of the most important things I learned from dad are (1) always be yourself. My dad was never, ever like the other kids' dads, and he never tried to be anything different, and (2) you only need one good friend for life and you can get through anything. I miss him so much and remember so much, that I never know what memory is going to come next and how painful it will be. I love you dad and I miss you.
Monday, March 14, 2022
Sunday, January 10, 2021
There are two lines of interaction that I really do not tolerate, not tolerate in as much as I do not engage and I pretty much leave the room in every way possible. These two lines are:
1. When opinion is presented as a golden rule, and
2. Attack on someone's mental abilities or rationality.
The first is easy to understand and needs no explanation. For examples of the second, I will use the names Jane and Mary. Easy examples of the second are when Jane tells Mary that she is crazy or stupid. A more complex example of this is when Jane tells others that Mary is crazy. Further examples of the complexity of the second is Jane telling others that Mary is crazy while also engaging with Mary, consistently hen pecking her with claims that she is crazy.
On there own, examples of the second are a kind of abuse. If Jane has a considerable place in Mary's life, the second line of interaction can severely alter Mary's perspective of herself and how she sees the world. It can hinder Mary's ability to trust herself and how she sees her life. In day-to-day life, Mary would be told to separate herself from Jane. Mary would be told to set boundaries and limit Jane's influence.
However, in the dynamics of our virtual world, this separation is unacceptable.
These two stated lines of interaction are at there worst when they operate in tandem. An example of this is when Jane presents her opinion as a golden rule, and then attacks Mary's mental abilities or rationality when she does not agree. Inside this example, for the most part, others would tell Mary not to engage with Jane, to separate herself.
But for some reason, when it comes to politics or ethics, Mary is supposed to sit and hear Jane out. It's bizarre. In my actual, day-to-day life, if I find a person is toxic and unreachable, I leave the room. If I feel like there is a black hole in a part of someone that is vital to who I am as a person, I leave the room. Why should I give space to someone who I find toxic and unreachable? This should unapologetically apply to the virtual world as well. If you are going to put your political opinions and ethics in the vast ether of political opinions and ethics, and present those opinions as the golden rule, then you should accept that people are going to leave the room. You should expect that others are not going to stand around your soapbox of opinions, waiting for the opportunity to cheer or damn you.
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Do all this and time will pass. Eventually the quiet will be consistent, the unwanted interferences will stop, there will be no feeling that the Trojan horse is on its way to my doorstep. I just had to wait, wait emphatically. And do it all, do all that waiting and living, as gracefully as possible-- be open with my kids, honest in a way that is bright and clear, but also stay out of the really dark corners, and work to stay away from absolutes-- and all would come through. I'd unlock the door, stick my head out of the shelter, and all would be well, better than I'd left it.
But, as you know, 2020 went along with all this. It leveled the ground, made all exceptions absolutes. We all ended up with the idea that fallout was happening, and all of our fallouts happened concurrently. So there we were: separate mostly, all with the need for a candle and a stack of canned goods, push ups and high knees, and the honest-to-God good work of everyday, of mustering the best face that one can possibly make when right in the middle of chaos and stasis.
And because of all the shelters we had to build or find, my need for shelter blended right in, and that was just fine. The physical space of 2020 and the personal space of the individual in 2020 kept together, and they kept to themselves. That's how self preservation happens, I think. That small space between shelter and God forbid is where we make our most important decisions. With our chins to our chests and eyes down, we lean into that small space between chaos and stasis and choose based on the parts of ourselves that we often do not consciously understand. It is there, in that space, where it is impossible to communicate the difference between everything and nothing.
Friday, November 29, 2019
But today is the day after Thanksgiving, and Tim and Langston are still sleeping, Christmas trees lit in the bedrooms, so all the light is kalidoscopic against all the dark. Mornings like this, Evelyn and I usually draw a bath and read for an hour, sometimes emptying the tub half way to warm the water again, my belly a giant island where my book sits. We would usually stay in the bath until Tim wakes up and asks if I want a cup of tea, then we'd climb out and crawl back into bed, back to the golden lamp and stacks of warm blankets, and watch the sunrise through the windows. But this morning, that pretty good blizzard is on the way and will stay here until Sunday; Evelyn is due to arrive in four days, and though she doesn't strike me as a baby who'd be born in a blizzard, I wouldn't fully put it past her. It is also almost the end of the year, so I suppose this morning I thought to write here for the first time in ages, mostly about that. Mostly about Evelyn.
Langston came about like a lightning bolt. Tim and I got married and planned on waiting a few years to have a baby. And I don't know what happened really. I married Tim, and automatically, I saw Langston's face perfectly. I knew Langston was supposed to be there, and then he was. He pounded into the world immediately, all strong legs and long arms. We named him Langston, which means, tall man's town.
The bringing on of Evelyn is very different. We waited for her for years. I mean years and years. In March of this year, I remember being in a beautiful hotel room in Portland, Maine. It was raining and cold, but we could see the ocean. I remember finally giving up the ghost. After the years of waiting for Evelyn and all the medical tests, the months and months of heart-crushing disappointment, I told Tim I couldn't do it anymore. That maybe we could go back to trying after a few months, but that it couldn't be my focus anymore. We decided to stop trying for the year, and for the year, I would put all my focus into writing. That sounded real nice.
And I had no idea that when that absolute decision was finally reached, I was pregnant.
I found out I was pregnant on Good Friday. For a couple weeks, Tim had asked me to take a pregnancy test, and I said no, I said I couldn't take seeing a negative again and that there was no way I was pregnant, even though my belly was soft and I was nauseous all the time. I finally took the test on Good Friday, and it was positive. I still didn't fully believe it. So when I saw my doctor the following week, and I was lying belly-up on the sonogram table, I was scared my belly would be empty.
But there she was. All little and quiet and nine weeks hibernating, waiting for me to come to the door.
Tim will tell you that when I was pregnant with Langston, I not only knew-- weeks before the tests told-- that he was there, but I also knew he was Langston, fully and completely. I like this story. I like to believe I immediately became tapped into that perplexing, psychic aspect of motherhood, being part of the divine Mary, but I am not so sure if that's true. If you would've asked before Evelyn came to town, I would have proudly said, yes, yes, of course. I would've tousled Langston's hair, and he and I would've exchanged the same knowing look we've exchanged since the first moment, in the hospital, when he opened his eyes and looked at me.
But after this year, I think part of my divine Mary was absolute fear. I was terrified of having a little girl because I knew having a little girl would change me in ways I was not ready for.
This is probably going to be the part of all this that's difficult to write, and not just because of the meaning and point, but also because of the language needed.
The thing about being a kid is that we are still not only learning the world, but we are also learning how to translate it. The things that make us happy-- the things we see in the TV sitcoms and on cartoons, the things we read to our brothers and sisters from our Little Golden books-- are easy to understand. We see the same pictures of happiness, hear the same words of happiness, so as kids, we can easily point to those moments and call them happiness. But the dark parts of childhood are far, far more difficult to understand. And the really dark parts, the parts that are singular-- and you're too young to realize you're in an extreme exception and not a rule-- are impossible to translate. The truth is, as a kid, you feel your way through those dark parts. There are no words. There are just colors and feeling.
If those dark parts go on long enough, eventually we learn the words. We've read different books, we've watched different sitcoms, we've overheard the wrong conversations. At this point, when we finally extract the language, it isn't a eureka! moment. It has been too long. Think of how long that shift in consciousness takes. The years that shift in consciousness takes. When you're a kid who goes from color and feeling to full-fledged words, the eureka! moment is the knowledge that you are alone.
I remember the very moment I made it past the colors and feeling and was sunk straight into their meaning. It was right before Christmas. It was dark and after dinner. I was cold and outside, sitting on the wooden swing in my grandparents yard. I didn't have my windbreaker, but I didn't want to go inside. I could see the blue glow of the TV through the curtains of the picture window. I was little and quite, a small blonde mouse, a still stone, hibernating in one spot.
The thing about this, the thing about being a kid and being alone in color and feeling, then finally getting to the language of things, is that the weight was heavy in all those colors, but when the feeling makes its way to words, it is impossible to carry. The real bad part of moving through that though, is the end reasoning: I am alone. There was no one to give my words to. I was nine-years-old. It was almost Christmas. And I really, really wanted a gold necklace for Christmas. But it was the first time I knew the difference between a want and a need. There was something I really needed.
So I talked to God. Did I ever. I begged God. There were so many reasons I could come up with for what was happening.
And if I am completely truthful, I have been stuck in that moment my whole life.
All of me, since then, has still been nine-years-old and without a coat, talking to God from the perspective of a child. As a parent to Langston, I could consciously separate myself so far. I've spent all of Langston's life consciously giving space to our communication and openness, consciously working to parent him outside of my own hang ups, in a lot of ways growing past my own childhood. Before Evelyn, if you would've asked me if this is what I was doing, I am not sure what I would've said.
I think I would point to distance. I would show you the map between Florida and South Dakota, show you the miles, the days it would take to walk. I may have nodded to Tim and Langston. their thick coats and bright eyes, their lopsided smiles and ease. I may have told you the factual bullet points between here and there. Told you I went to college, attained an advanced degree. That I am a teacher, a reader, a parent. Bold nouns as buoys.
But then quiet little Evelyn came to town and everything changed. Evelyn means wished for child. It means little bird or beautiful bird.
The things I learned from being a mother to Langston are easy to define. He made me strong. He made me realize I can do exactly what I say I can do, that I can always find the path, I can love and understand deeply. The things I'm learning from Evelyn, at this point, are more difficult to define. Evelyn has made me recognize the difference between the woman I am now and the little girl I used to be. Evelyn has brought out the colors and the feelings. She's brought out the language, she's dragged in all the good books I used to grow up.
But the big thing, the impossible-to-ignore thing that Evelyn brought me is myself. I can still see the little girl, right before Christmas, sitting outside and talking to God, but I can also see who I am now, as a woman, a mother and a teacher, walking down the path to that nine-year-old girl. Seeing how small she is, how complicated her sadness is. Who I am now would do anything to help her.
And one of the big things I've been able to do this year is see this for the first time in my life. If Langston, my tall man's town, cut the path and held my hand through it, then Evelyn, my little bird, is the one who has made me realize who I am in the story.
I don't think she is the kind of baby to be born in a blizzard, but just in case, I am happy I got to write all this out before the hour.
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Our lecture was called Translating the Muse: The Collaboration Between Creative Movement and Creative Writing. Creative movement is a collaboration with the self and with others. By focusing more on the body and senses while writing, writers can develop a deeper understanding of their world and the narratives and images they are creating through the process of composition.
If you're interested in watching the lecture, you can see the full presentation here
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
I've seriously dedicated myself to writing for about twenty-two years now. This doesn't include being a small kid writing stories and playing them out with my friends, making puppets or building sets out of the few things we could carry. I don't even really think much about the years I've consistently worked, exploring an idea to its (almost) end. I think a lot about that (almost)-- those times when I've abandoned a project completely and then didn't write much of anything for a year (or more) because I knew I had to work something out in my head. Or maybe it's more than that.