Saturday, September 30, 2006

#2-15...and a healthy dose of long-windedness.

Because I feel the need to finish what I started (and because I haven't yet figured out what to write for Sunday Scribblings)....

2. Does your family know about your blog?
Yes. Well, some of them. My husband and brother are the only ones that read it. Just as well though. I don't think I'd want the rest of them reading it. Their judgments are harsh enough. Some of my family, unfortunately, lives a slightly closed minded existence. I suppose they could surprise me, but over the past few years my family seems to have grown more distant, the result of too many divorces and deaths? I rarely talk to many of them anyway.

3. Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?
No and no. My blog has, somewhere along the line, become a part of me. It usually pops up in conversations with friends at some point. However, most of them don't blog or even spend much time on computers. Blogging has remained fairly separate from the longterm friendships in my life.

4. Did blogging cause and positive change in your thoughts?
Yes. Last January I did the Artist's Way with a rather large handful of fellow bloggers (although I knew none of them before starting the 12 week journey). I started a secret blog and even though I didn't keep it secret for long, it offered me a separate world, away from the cynicism that seemed to overshadow much of my experience with grad school. It allowed me a space to explore an important side of myself and in the process everything changed. In the end I think I came out a stronger person because I started to acknowledge and value what I needed the most...and cynicism was nowhere on the list.

5. Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or do you love to go discover more by yourself?
I have my favorite blogs that I visit on a regular basis and I visit those blogs regardless of whether or not I get a comment from them. Sometimes I find myself wanting to find a few new blogs to enjoy, especially on days when I have more time and my "regulars" haven't posted in awhile. However, I very rarely go too far from familiar territory (unless I get a comment from someone new). And the reason is that I invest a lot of emotional energy into the people whose blogs I read. I hate being half-assed about my visits and definitely hate being so with the comments I leave. I don't like leaving comments unless they come from the heart. I feel like if I start reading too many blogs, then I won't have enough energy to give to each individual, that I will spread myself too thin. Anyway, the best part about reading other people's blogs is getting to know them within the context of their journey. And since my blog reading time is limited, I tend to stick close to home. Still, I definitely enjoy the idea of making more connections--especially the kind that are felt deeply.

6. What does a visitor counter mean to you? Do you like having one on your blog?
I like having a tracker on my blog because I enjoy seeing who has stopped by to visit. I've only had it for a few months, but as time passes it becomes less and less important to me how many hits I get. I mean, really, does it matter? I'm much more interested in the quality of my friends than the quantity.

Also, I prefer to leave comments only when I'm able to actually convey my thoughts. Sometimes I like to think about it for awhile or I just don't have time to do anything other than read. I worry that the person might think that I didn't care because I didn't leave a comment. In other words, trackers bother me more from the perspective of the "observed" rather than the "observerer." Know what I mean?

7. Do you try to imagine fellow bloggers or give them real pictures?
Ok, something about this question doesn't make sense, but....
I give real pictures. Even the bad know, the ones where I look like I'm about to keel over and die. Those are the most telling though, aren't' they. I find it interesting though, when I've been reading someone's blog for a long time without photos, and then they finally post one. They usually look nothing like what I imagined. Sometimes I wonder what I would look like to all of you readers if I had never posted a photo. What do I look like according to my words alone? Actually, I would enjoy hearing your responses to this...with complete honesty and including all the hoary details of your imagination. Really, go for it!

8. Admit it. Do you feel like there is a real benefit to blogging?
Would I be wasting my time with this meme if I didn't? The benefits are multi-faceted, multi-leveled, and multi-dimensional.

9. Do you think that blogger society is isolated from the real world or interaction with events?
Hell no! If you ask me, blogging is becoming a form of new world journalism. Anyway, I find it endlessly fascinating to think about the many ways in which people perceive what is real and what is not.

10. Does criticism annoy you or do you think it's normal?
Luckily I haven't gotten much (or any?) criticism on my blog. Would I be annoyed if I did? Yes. I'm a harsh enough critic of myself. I'm not so sure that I need any more than I dish out to myself. However, I welcome constructive criticism on my writing or artwork--at least when I ask for it or am expecting it. If only the world played by those rules. ha!

11. Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?
I am not a very political person, so I tend to avoid political blogs. Not all, but most. Politics depress and frustrate me. Or maybe I should say, those who misuse political power depress and frustrate me.

12. Where you shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?
"some bloggers"??? Who? What? I don't trust the government anyway. Will I get arrested for saying that?

13. What do you think will happen to your blog after you die?
Well, if I were to die anytime soon, I image them reading from my blog at my funeral. My husband would probably do the honor since he is the one that values my blog the most. He knows how much of me my blog really contains. I like the idea of my blog being read at my funeral. It would be a nice celebration of my writing life.

Assuming that I'm not going to die any time soon, I imagine that my blog will eventually evaporate into cyberspace air. Technology changes quickly. Will blogs still exist as they do now? Regardless, I will (hopefully) have printed it out by that time. Maybe my grandchildren or great grandchildren will end up with boxes upon boxes of my journals and blog print outs. They will wonder what in the hell they should do with them.

OR after I die, it will all get published and I will become famous--postmortem style. (I admit, that would be ok, too.)

14. What song do you like to hear? What song would you like to link to your blog?
The Littlest Birds by The Be Good Tanyas. I consider it my life's theme song.

15. The next victims?
Anyone with a lot of time on their hands OR who feels the need to procrastinate something else they should be doing. Leave a comment if you do!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

#1 of 15 questions:

{ok...Melba and miss*R got me started, but the rest will have to wait....}

1. Are you happy/satisfied with your blog's content and look?

The look: Yes, Yes, and Yes! The image on the left side of my blog is from a painting of mine titled "Red Fort" (oil on canvas). The actual painting now lives in my brother's house because it was his favorite from my 2004 exhibit called Portraits of India. In the real painting the man is walking through the sienna colored arches of the Red Fort in Delhi. I remember the moment perfectly. Pairing it with pink was an odd combination, but I doooo like the occasional oddities in life. There will always be a piece of me that remains in India, but since I can't be there physically, my blog transports me in its own way. Anyway, I'd still have a generic Blogger template if it wasn't for my husband. We worked on the design together, but I give him full credit for bringing it to life.

The content: Oh, the content. Geez. Half the time I'm embarrassed half to death by what I publish here. So why do I do it, you ask? Well, mostly because I can't help it. Blogging, for me, has gone through many tranformations. It has meant different things to me at different times, but somewhere along the lines, it has become the writing space that I always go to first. I have always been honest--with both myself and others. Sometimes it is my best quality, while other times it is a serious downfall. this is me. In all my craziness, sadness, happiness, and wisdom. I'm a roller-coaster ride. All or nothin', baby. Here I am. This is my writing practice. It is me writing out all the garbage and goodness of my life in order to get out of my own way. And I suppose I could judge myself on how good or bad it is...but, you see, I'm not going to. Because the important thing is that I'm writing.

When teaching, I had my students do a lot of freewriting in class and I would write along with them. I used to tell them not to stop, no matter what. I would tell them to write and keep writing...that it didn't matter if it was any good or not. Just keep writing. I told them that they might surprise themselves, that even if only one nugget of truth or inspiration comes out of, then it's worth it. I would say some version of this nearly every day. And I guess you could say that it became my mantra. But the thing is that it worked. I saw it working for them and I felt it working for myself. I blog in order to keep myself writing on a regular basis. It teaches me about myself. And even though I might frequently embarrass the hell out of myself, I put it out there because I believe that we have something to learn from each other. I put it out there because it makes me more accountable for myself. I put it out there because I can. Writing creates a connection--not only within ourselves, but with others, too.

So, am I content with my content? (notice the word play? ha!) I was going to say no. But in the process of writing, I'd have to say that I've changed my mind to yes.

The amazing thing about writing is that you just never know where it will take you.

Blogger swallowed my post.

Blogger has been giving me (and everyone else) technical difficulties lately. It swallowed my "Cheers" post which is too bad because I was having fun clinking glasses with all of you.

Blogger bastards.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

big fat tomato untitled.

I want to write something really wonderful and inspiring or maybe even something wonderful and heartbreaking, but I just don't have it in me.

Today drained me. It sucked. I have a headache. I'm sick of everything. And I'm tired. It was my day off, but I did anything but relax. Tonight though, after V. left for a meeting, I did, however, make a whopping bowl of fresh salsa in order to use up all the vegetables that have been sitting in a bowl threatening to lose their beauty. I was home alone. Music playing loudly. I opened up the cellophane of a fortune cookie that was hidden at the bottom of all those tomatoes, cracked it open, and was nearly in tears before I knew what hit me.

The fortune cookie read: "You will have wealth." Funny how 4 little words can evoke such a strong and unexpected response. Wealth takes many forms, money being only one of them, but damnit if a whole day's worth of stress didn't seem to tumble out of that cracked cookie and land on the counter in a pool of white formica and music.

Last time I opened up a fortune cookie, it read: "You will be doing something new at work." And the best part is that it came half-way true. But within the next week or two I'll be starting a second job working at a flower shop, doing the same thing I've done most of my life. All things considered, it's not a bad job by any means. Still, the heavy strings of dread have been following me around like a sick dog. I've been holding all this disappointment quietly inside of me while, meanwhile, carrying the weight of V's stresses, too. This is why I am tired and angry. Or maybe it has nothing to do with anything except that all the things I really want to do aren't happening or can't happen (until I finish my degree). I'm standing here with my arms and heart wide open, asking God or the universe, or empty sky: "Hey Universe, will you help me?" And then I'm very specific about my intentions, but open too. And, good god, all I feel like I'm doing is treading water or running in place, and slipping, slipping further and further away from all the things that I would rather be doing, that I want to be doing.

I've been listening to Vienna Teng's Dreaming Through the Noise every night for the past couple weeks. I listen to it over and over and over.

I've never felt so lost in my life.

In other thoughts, I got an idea for another series of paintings while cutting tomatoes. (note to self: large scale portraits of normal people (or very strange people) superimposed onto conflicting/contrasting environments.) 2 months and I've barely painted a thing. Having to walk past my studio to get to the laundry room, I feel the sharp tug on a nearly daily basis. There is a part of me that feels neglected and dying.

I'd like to be an optimist, but when did everything become such a sad, ridiculous struggle?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: "Instructions"

Instructions on how to live a simple life (even in the city):

Today V's pie baking inspired me to can vegetables. We took turns in the kitchen until the house filled with so many autumnal smells that we had no choice but to take a break from our endeavors to enjoy a warm dinner.

I suppose it's possible that I'm one of the last people from my generation that still know how to can. And, to be honest, I don't even know why I do it except that I'm a glutton for doing things the hard way and an even bigger glutton for filling jars with color and an even bigger glutton for dilly beans! (spicy pickled string beans). I love opening up a jar in the deep, dark, middle-of-winter and knowing that it came from a real garden tended to and cared for by real hands. Sometimes those hands are my own, sometimes they are my grandma's, sometimes they are both.

This evening I read a poem by the Zen poet, Ryokan. It goes like this:
Without desire everything is sufficient.
With seeking myriad things are impoverished.

Plain vegetables can soothe hunger.

A patched robe is enough to cover this bent old body.

Alone I hike with deer.
Cheerfully I sing with village children.

The stream under the cliff cleanses my ears.

The pine on the mountain top fits my heart.

Then I came across words by Dogen that said:
When preparing vegetables or soup, don't worry--just prepare them with sincerity. Most of all, try to avoid getting upset or complaining about the quantity or quality of the food. Practice in such a way that things come and abide in your mind, and your mind returns and abides in things, all through the day and night.

And, finally, I stumbled across the most simplistic advice of all:
When you boil rice, know that the water is your own life.

And so it is with canning vegetables. Or walking the dog. Or building a fire. Or making tea. Or crossing the road. Or brushing my teeth. Or even eating pie. It's about simplicity....and the many ways of getting there...because it is these small moments that I give my heart to.

Dilly Beans
  • Approx. 2 lbs. green beans
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, divided (I put lots more and even add other peppers if I have them)
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided (again, I like more)
  • 4 heads dill, divided

Trim ends off green beans. Combine salt, vinegar, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to boil. Pack beans lengthwise into hot jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 clove garlic and 1 head dill to each pint (double this if using quart jars). Ladle hot liquid over beans, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints and quarts 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Makes: about 4 pints or 2 quarts.
Let sit for 1 month before devouring them!

more instructions here.


It's a beautiful fall day, made even more beautiful because of the fact that you never know when it might be the last. I spent the day reading Eat, Pray, Love and drinking Ceylon tea while taking an hour long bubble bath. Afterwards, wolfie and I went for a long walk along the ridge. The air is cold and crisp; the sun is bright, making dappled patterns on the ground as it finds its way through the canopy of leaves. The park was busy today. We could see people in the distance, but the ridge was ours alone. I wish that ridge could go on forever. As I write, Vinny has an apple pie baking in the oven. I've just come inside after laying in the hammock, reading. The smell is warm and inviting. I have just finished my book. The cat is sleeping next to me.

I wish these days could last forever.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

thoughts from an eternal traveler.

We've only been here 2 months and already V. and I are daydreaming about remote and faraway places. Yesterday as I walked down the street past the coffee roaster shop, past the outdoor cafe, past the butcher shop, the flower shop, and the co-op...I couldn't help but wonder why on earth I would even entertain the notion of leaving--especially considering that we just got here. Before I grabbed the handle of the door leading me back into the bookstore, I firmly chalked it up as the traveler in me. I can't help myself. I've always been this way.

I'm happy here. I love it in this city. But it's hard. V. and I spend a large amount of our time driving. Driving to work, driving for groceries, driving for this, driving for that. All of this driving sucks, I must admit. It's amazing how even the smallest errand can turn into a process that takes half of the day. And let's not even talk about the job scene around here...

Still, I love it here. I am still trying to formulate the words to describe how I feel living here; it's something I've been trying to do this since we our arrival. I want to drink in big gulps of this place. Even my skin tries to absorb as much cultural moisture as possible. The art galleries, the ethnic food, the lakes, the people...there is a richness of diversity here that I was so incredibly thirsty for. Right now, my bones and blood need this kind of place. So much so that there are days that I wish I could wrap this city around me like the blanket of rainy colored clouds that hang from the sky.

These days I find myself trying to get my head around something that I don't quite understand. Hell, I don't even know what it is, exactly, that I'm trying to get my head around. All I know is that my life seems to hold incredible amounts of unexplored territory. My problem is that I want to, at all times, live at the very outer edges of myself. But is that really a problem? I don't think so. The thing is that I've never been able to settle for mediocre. I like to invest myself completely in whatever it is that I am doing. I think the hard part these days, is that I'm not sure I know what I'm doing.

I don't know where I'll be next year, but I can't help but love the idea of throwing caution to the wind. Even though I wish I could have everything all at once and all at the same time, it's easy to imagine myself trading in this urban lifestyle for my flannel shirts, chopping wood and whale watching. All I know is that wherever I am, whatever I'm doing--I want to get started. I've been wishy-washing around in limbo-land for too long.

But right now I'm going to work from my center.
I am here.

This is my start.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the virtues of tomatoes from grandma's garden and being married to an Italian.

found artist: Faustina Black

This is a little piece of beauty that I found this morning and wanted to share. Turn on the volume of your computer and take a moment to, like she asks, sit back, relax, and enjoy. There are times that, through the art of others, I am reminded of just how beautiful this place that we live in and move through really is. And it always amazes me the way each individual sees the world a little bit differently. I wish we all had internal cameras to capture the things we see and experience in this way
...or maybe we do.
and perhaps that is why we recognize beauty when we see it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Books, books, books!!!: a meme

I was tagged by here it is. These books span the decades of my life (all 3 of them!), but I practiced the utmost restraint, really!

1. A book that changed your life:

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Writing without Teachers by Peter Elbow
  • The Book of Promethea by Hélène Cixous
  • Any book by Natalie Goldberg, but especially Writing Down the Bones, Banana Rose, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World, Top of My Lungs....(oops! that's most of them!)
  • Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse
  • House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
  • The Diary of Anais Nin Vol. 1
  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest by Christina Baldwin
  • Noa Noa by Paul Gauguin
  • Teaser and Firecat by Cat Stevens
  • Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
  • The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • Spiral Dance by Starhawk
  • Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
  • May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons by Elizabeth Bumiller
2. A book you've read more than once:
  • All of the above.

3. A book you'd want on a deserted island:
  • Oh my god, may that never happen! …but if it did, I’ve always said that I’d want to have One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (because I’ve been trying to finish that one for years.)
4. A book that made me giddy:
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (and I’m not even finished with it yet!)
5. A book you wish had been written:
  • Mine. You know, the one about India. Or the one about writing. Or the one about hopping freight trains. Or the book of poetry. Or...................... but, right now, the one about India especially.
6. A book that wracked you with sobs:
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (I will never forget it. When I was young, I found it at the back of the school library. It was meant for several reading levels above me, but I savored it like my own personal secret. I have loved many dogs since.)
7. A book you wish had NOT been written:
  • The Norton Anthology of Literary Criticism
8. A book that you are currently reading:
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
9. A book you've been meaning to read:
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (I’m finally coming to terms with the notion that, even though I like it immensely, I may never finish it)
  • Bee Season by Myla Goldberg (what’s up with the bee theme here?)
  • After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away by Joyce Carol Oates (a young adult novel)
  • Horns and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson (also a young adult novel in an attempt to beef up my knowledge of YA lit. since I now work at a children’s book store)
  • Nothing to Declare by Mary Morris
  • Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair

….ok, this is getting out of control. This list could go on forever.

10. Tag! (and, no, I'm not forcing you)
  • bee
  • ruby
  • Nelson
  • someone who reads my blog but has never commented before. of course, that would mean that you should leave a comment and reveal yourself! :P

the meaning of minnesota autumn:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

night time thoughts in autumn.

I made the mistake of reading through some of some of my archives, the first 6 months of them to be exact. I miss the person I once was, but this often happens when I read through old journals (or old blog posts, in this case). Mostly I miss the way I was able to single-mindedly write whatever was on my mind. Maybe my concentration was better back then or maybe I paid less attention to audience or.... I'm not sure.

I was reading about my old dog, Abe, and the way he used to wake me up every morning and lick my face, asking me to either get up or move over so that he could crawl in bed with us. He was a big dog and took up as much space as me, if not more. God, I miss him. I read about my days in the country--about getting up early to endless silence and the crunch of fresh snow under my feet; of knowing my place in the world without the need to take up much space; about looking out my window, thinking about Gauguin and O'Keefe, writing and teaching, the taste of coffee, the shape of the moon. I miss that, too.

I also read through posts about falling asleep in a blanket of books and the never-ending reading that accompanied my first year of grad school. At the time I felt like I was just whining, a pathetic self-deprecating wimp...but reading it again, now that time has offered the balm of distance, I remember just how hard it was for me and am grateful to have successfully weathered that year's struggles in both my personal and academic life. But mostly I'm just sad that I struggled so much at all. Because if I could have my past back I would have stayed in bed and snuggled Abe longer. I would have gone for longer walks and added more cream to my coffee. I would have sat in my slippers writing 'til my heart's content. I would have written about every beating moment. Because now it's gone. And someday I'm afraid that I might read this and think the same thing.

But I might never feel as connected to a place as I did then. These days, I try hard to maintain connection. I get up in the dark of morning so that I will have time to take even the shortest of walks with Anu in the woods. Lately though, the walks seem to have gotten even shorter. Concern seems to have shifted from noticing the subtle nuances of magic to more immediate concerns of whether Anu's done her "business" so that I can get back home and finish getting ready for work. I love my job, but I feel the loss of time sharply. It's not just work that is making me feel this way, however. It is, more simply, the passage of time. And maybe it's not necessary to feel connected to every living, breathing moment of life. But I want to. Every single second is starting to feel so goddamned precious to me these days.

The animal job fell through. I've taken the floral job. Not because it's my dream job, but because I need something and it offers, at least, an opportunity to be creative. I keep thinking about my purpose in life right now. I also keep thinking about the way one thing leads to the next to the next to the next...and how sometimes you don't even what "the next" will be because the universe is much too complex and interesting to ever know anything for sure. And so sometimes you just put your faith in the small gaps of possibility and hope for the best.

I don't know. I guess when I started writing this I was thinking that I don't feel as connected to my life anymore. Maybe I've got it all backwards. All I know is that I've been in tears ever since the second paragraph of this post. And I should know by now that whenever that happens, it happens because I am connected. You know how when you have a really healthy body, you start feeling everything that your body has to say? Well, I'm not saying that my body is exactly healthy, but something about my state of being these days is making me so incredibly hyper-aware of is like watching a red leaf fall slowly,
to the ground.

I want my time to count. Because before I even realize that anything changed, it becomes little more than a ether of dog kisses and all those things that count for something real.

These days I just want to wrap life gently in my arms...ever so gently. Because, tonight, that is all I have the energy left for. And, Life, please be gentle on me in return.

Dear Friends,

I feel like I've fallen off of Planet Blogger. Where do the days go? And why is it that whenever I have an interesting thought, my fingers are so very far away from a keyboard or even a piece of paper?

I've been neglecting my own blog and have been missing out on many of yours these past days, but I'm still here. Even though I woke up from a dream this morning thinking that I was Flat Stanley, yes, I'm here (the bookstore is warping my mind in such interesting ways!).

Right now I need to walk wolfie (whose fur I wish I could just snuggle up into because I miss her, too) and then off to the magical world of Rumpus. I MISS ALL OF YOU, MY BLOGGING FRIENDS! I wish we could get together tonight over a bottle of wine or a big fat mocha. All of us. Wouldn't that be nice?


Saturday, September 16, 2006

survived the day, just barely.

i was a couple minutes late for work today because there was a DOG traffic jam along the way. oh my! i forgot that it was doggie day in the neighborhood where i work. what does that mean? it means absolute, pure cHaOs. it means that there was a dog-friendly scavenger hunt and that the bookstore was on the list of stops. and what does that mean?... well, that means dogs were welcome to come in the store and, my god, you should've seen it! there were PLENTY of them wandering around looking at books (and clues for the hunt) along with the rest of the big and little people. our clue was written on a golden bone that we put in the mouth of the stuffed boar that hangs on the back wall. the funny thing is that i never even noticed the mounted boar head until today. hmmm...interesting.

ugh...of all the days to be sick. i did, however, meet a very memorable german shepard and a collie (not to mention a baby in hot pink and blue tights and a little girl with a bobbed haircut, corduroy skirt, and a book under her arm) that i wish i could have brought home with me. but...uh...never mind........

right now i think it's definitely time for bed. last night i dreamt about dinosaurs (they came out of a book causing me to sit bolt upright and make some sort of strange ahhhhh! sound that definately woke me up); the night before that there was a blizzard where i stood outside in a halo of light feeling the wet snow on my face. i wonder what it will be tonight. every breathing moment is starting to feel like some sort of bizarre adventure. or maybe it's the fever. either way, i feel like i've fallen into the rabbit hole.

good night.

no title, just a few under the weather ramblings.

It's nearly noon and the shades in my writing room are still drawn. The softness of semi-darkness is exactly what the molecules of my body are hungry for right now. I've just returned from an interview at an upscale flower shop and am sitting in the glow of my lamp, eating lunch, and wondering what I should do (I was offered the position. Should I take it?). I started coming down with something lastnight and today I'm feeling just generally ooky and terrible. It's hard to make any decisions under these circumstances. Not to mention, I have to go to work at the bookstore in an hour. I love working there, but today I just want to crawl under the covers and sleep.

I think my body is getting generally run-down from the effects of being new at one job and the stress of getting a second job. Counting my blessings, at least I'm getting offers. One I didn't take because it felt all wrong. That was an easy decision. Then there's this flower shop--which sounds like it could be both challenging and fun, maybe even a little intimidating. But it's a long commute if I need to depend on the bus (which I probably will). V.'s getting more adjuct offers and will, therefore, probably be using the car the most--that's just the way it's working out.

One source of my stress is that I'm waiting to hear back from the place I want to work the most (a 2nd job, that is). It involves working with animals. It is within walking distance of my house. And, at this time in my life, it would be the job of my dreams. A humble job, but one that I've always wanted to do. It would be rewarding in many more ways than a paycheck--but, even so, it pays ok.

So, the question is: Do I want to make extremely creative $500.00 floral bouquets on a daily basis, wrangle up new corporate customers, and do interior design in a very rich neighborhood OR do I want to work with animals? And how long will I have to wait to find out if I will even get the animal job?? And how long can I make the floral shop job wait for me to make a decision?

I'm at a fork in the road and all I can do is be patient for a few more days and see what happens. And, of couse, being sick doesn't help. In the meantime I'd like to just morph into a puddle on the floor. Oh god, what a big baby I am.

But enough whining...
It's time to go to work.

This is what was written in the Southwest Journal about the place where I've been spending my days:

"Once upon a time, there was a little bookstore in Linden Hills called the Wild Rumpus. It was a place where nothing ordinary ever happened. But if you've been to the Rumpus, then you already know that. From the menagerie of chickens, cats and rats that run the store to the child-size purple door within a door, whimsical and wacky are the rule at the Rumpus" (Ellen Kane).

Now really, how can I complain?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dawson College

Not having cable tv and rarely listening to the radio, at times, makes me feel extremely cut off from the world. Sometimes I am thankful for the little bit of distance I am granted in my ignorance of world events. I often make promises to myself to read the news via internet on a more regular basis...but then I don't, at least not until some bit of information finds me and catches me off guard.

Reading about the Dawson College shootings in Montreal on bee's blog yesterday was one of those moments and seeing photos of the incident made me realize why. It reminded me of the Red Lake shootings just over a year ago. As I write these words I feel the air being squeezed from my lungs in a way that I didn't expect. I didn't personally know any of the people that lost their lives, but Red Lake, being within close proximity of where I lived at the time, I know a lot of people whose lives were deeply affected by the horrible events of that day.

Recently I read a young adult novel for work called The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga. The suggestion to read it came with great reviews, but when I sat down to read it, the contents of the story disturbed me, to say the least. I would consider myself to be pretty liberal reader. And, actually, I would say that in many ways it was a good book. It spoke directly to the issues that many young adults face (the effects of divorce, loneliness, ect.)--and I appreciated that about the book. But what I didn't expect was that the main character of the story ("Fanboy") carried a bullet around in his pocket to calm his nerves and that both him and his best friend ("Goth Girl") often fantasized, on a nearly daily basis, about school shootings and taking hostages. Granted, in the end, everything works out and Fanboy's angst towards his peers is replaced by a deeper, more mature, understanding of friendship and family. Had the story not ended this way, I would have been worried. But before I got to this tidy little ending, I found myself wondering why it was disturbing me on such a deep level. Of course it only took me a quarter of a second to know that it was because the subject hits a little too close to home. Way too close to home, actually. While everyone else was either raving with good reviews or impatiently waiting the books release (I read an advance reading copy), I couldn't help but feel the very heavy weight of one thing: Red Lake.

There are some things that get under the skin too deeply to comprehend. Life is so incredibly fragile. And it makes me sad that there are people that are so profoundly messed up that they are incapable of feeling love (if that is what it is??). The picture of this guy scares me. It makes me feel sick and sad and I'm sorry for all the people that have been affected by what happened.

My heart goes out to you.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

just a cheesy little post mostly about gratitude.

After reading Mark's post, I started thinking about teaching and the ways in which my life has changed in order to bring me to this particular moment of this particular morning. I was noticing how the chill of autumn has seeped into the floorboards as I stood in the kitchen in my slippers about to make a cup of coffee. Anu was still sound asleep in her dog house, so there was no rush to take her for a walk. While waiting for beans to grind and water to boil, I opened the cupboard looking for a mug and ended up reaching for the one I drank out of while teaching. It is tall and skinny and has a path winding around itself that ends in glazed sky and blowing leaves. I've written about this cup before--it's the one I bought my first year of teaching because I thought it reflected the path I was about to embark on well.

Every day I miss teaching. Every. Single. Day. But every day I am thankful for the two years worth of experience that I did have. If I died tomorrow I'm pretty sure that I would be able to say that I've done all the things I've most wanted to do in life (but don't get me wrong--I'm not ready to leave my life just yet!). I've traveled, studied, taught, married... Maybe the only thing that is missing is motherhood. My point being: I've lived fully and am thankful for the things I've experienced beyond words. And it's strange the way all those little daily experiences have a way of snowballing themselves, accumulating and gathering force along the way, until they find you standing in the kitchen in your slippers holding a coffee cup while looking out the window at your sleeping dog and thinking: "wow. today is wednesday. how did i get here?"

I no longer carry my "teaching mug" between my office and the classroom, at least not these days. But I still have a cup (many, actually) that is half full. I am still learning, still deeply immersed in the school of life. I miss teaching. But I love the way it has brought a different kind of richness to my perception of things. These days, I suppose I could feel a little derailed from my purpose in life. But the funny thing is, is that I don't. Quite the opposite, actually. I look forward to someday teaching again...but in the meantime I can only appreciate the forest of possibilities that await me

because, from where I stand, it's starting to look like a veritable jungle. Hello Wednesday.

Monday, September 11, 2006

108 ways to just write the damn thing.

I've just returned home from an evening alone at the neighborhood coffee shop where I drank the most divine mocha ever made on earth from a glass mug reminiscent of a fish bowl.

I went there with the sole purpose of beginning eat, pray, love and am caught somewhere between feeling completely jealous and totally inspired. Mind you, I'm only on page 22 but, already, I can tell it's going to be a good book. Maybe my judgment is overly hasty; I decided this from the introduction alone. I was thinking about my thesis as I read how she formatted the book, in that it imitates a japa mala, a string of prayer beads (much like a rosary) used by the Hindus and Buddhists.

And if you don't mind, I'm just going to quote the author, Elizabeth Gilbert:

"The traditional japa mala is strung with 108 beads. Amid the more esoteric circles of Eastern philosophers, the number 108 is held to be most auspicious, a perfect three-digit multiple of three, its components adding up to nine, which is three threes. And three, of course, is the number representing supreme balance, as anyone who has ever studied either the Holy Trinity or a simple barstool can plainly see. Being as this whole book is about my efforts to find balance, I have decided to structure it like a japa mala, dividing my story into 108 tales, or beads. This string of 108 tales is further divided into three sections about Italy, India and Indonesia--the three countries I visited during this year of self-inquiry. This division means that there are 36 tales in each section, which appeals to me on a personal level because I am writing all of this during my thirty-sixth year" (1-2).

For this reason (based on her method of story structure), both jealousy and inspiration have reared their interesting little heads and captured my full attention. There is a part of me that is lit up by an extraordinary feeling of "ah-haa!--that's what I need! Structure!" And then there's another part of me that feels sunk by the notion that Gilbert used up the very last good idea, ever.

I am covetous of the thought of having something as real as prayer beads to hold on to while trying to write the most important story of my life. I mean, really, can you imagine sitting at your computer, completely lost...but never really lost because all the while your thumb is pushing those knobby, dimpled little beads over your index finger in continuous motion, reminding you to "keep going, keep going, keep going..."? Yes, it's true, I'm green-eyed with envy over the idea of having such an incredibly tangible, yet simple, instrument of focus and organization. I mean, focus? Structure? What's that? I don't know, but I need it. I feel desperate for it. 108 short, shorts. And maybe a 109th emergency spare. I could do that. But I can't because the idea has already been taken. Not that I would have ever thought of it on my own, but...(hence my jealousy).

Anyway, the still-tentative working title of my thesis is: Glass Bangles: [and then something more goes here].* That's it. Then I have a couple pages worth of a proposal and a few weak stories that could easily fizzle into nothing, but... it's the underlying theme I'm still grappling with and searching for. I suppose I could begin with just sitting down to WRITE, but who am I kidding? It's much more overwhelming than that. If I could capture the whole sky I would. The problem is that I try to capture it in one fell swoop, in a giant gulp, in a single sentence. The camera lens is never wide enough, or the canvas, or the paper, or even this computer screen. And don't pretend like it's easier than I make it sound, because if you've ever struggled with something that meant a lot to you, know what I mean.

So I picked up Gilbert's book and am blissfully stunned (or caffeinated) into thoughts of possibility. But still stuck. damn. This ever-lasting stuckness is hard to cut myself loose of. Yet, as I drove home, a street light shone through the car window, the shadow of street signs in the grass looked like a running rabbit, and I felt my brain lift, moonlight (or street light) illuminated the fogginess of my mind and I thought: "I've gotta get started--it's the only way!" Because, in the meantime, a second job threatens my writing time. And I've already wasted so many days and months (and years?)...

now if only I could only maintain the internal atmosphere that took hold over me a block and a half away from home. If only...

what if?

for those of you new to me or my blog, my thesis is to be a compilation of creative nonfiction essays based on my travels in India (including a seperate, more critical, defense for travel writing.) i traveled there 9 years ago and have been trying to write about it ever since.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

lost in my own thoughts.

my. where did the time go? i've been reading. and working. and reading. it's cold and i wore a turtle neck sweater for the first time this fall. the quiet has made it easier to listen to my heart and to others. it feels good.

today i found this quote on a card:
"be yourself; everyone else is already taken." ~oscar wilde

i bought eat, pray, love by elizabeth gilbert at a bookstore today. i've read more children's books in the past week than i did during my entire childhood. half of them make me cry. life has returned to center. and i hope it remains that way for just a little bit longer.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

interview with corporate whoreville.

there. i've deleted this post because it's served its purpose. i needed to write about it. it helped me to get it out of my system and make sense of my own thoughts (and this is what i love about writing). and, just so you know, i appreciate your responses (very, very, very much). i have been invited to a second round of interviews. i'm going to go just for the practice of interviewing and to find out how much the job actually pays (curiosity killed the cat?). however, since it is a "conflict of interest" to work at the job i already have and love dearly, i'm not going to take the position. happiness is more important to me than money. things will work out. i know they will. they always do.

thank you Universe, in advance.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

some of the ways in which too much newness can catch up with you...

Last night I laid in bed and thought about how I miss having friends to hang out with in person. I like living in a new city, but the loneliness of it has started to nibble at my toes. I'm not really alone--I have my brother and sister, my husband, and friends who visit from out of town--but these days I'm starting to crave new friendship, someone to hang out with and simply feel comfortable. I miss the friendships like I've had with R. and K.--but time has moved us forward to new and distant locations. I'm not sure what got me thinking about all of this except that maybe it was the girl who knocked on the door petitioning for signatures. Maybe it was the instant "connection" that sprung out of nowhere. In the three minutes that she stood there, we talked about painting, jobs, the woods... She seemed like someone I could relate to and, to be honest, it was downright scary how similar we were--even in appearance. We looked each other in the eyes and both seemed to notice it. Granted, I'll probably never see her again, but it got me thinking about what it means to have good friends in the flesh. Someone to drink too much wine with, to talk about things that mean the most, to take long walks together, to drink coffee in silence. These days I just don't have the energy for shallow friendships. I miss the honest-to-god friends I've known. I miss them, yet look forward to whatever is to come. Funny how, no matter how many things change on the outside, I always feel the same on the inside. And maybe that's the best part of deeply felt friendships: no matter how many things change, their core remains the same.

In accumulation of a tiring day and too many thoughts, I went to bed with an incredible headache. This morning it came back with a vengeance--or rather, it never went away, but only got worse. All in all, yesterday left me feeling a little bit deflated. It was a long day at work--one where I felt like the perpetual "new girl." I spent the day asking too many questions and apologizing for it too many times. Of course, it is all new to me and I'm sure there's nothing unusual about any of it...but, man, I hate feeling like an idiot. I hate being in situations where my best self doesn't shine through. And, by "best self," I mean the person that smiles and makes other people smile, too. Yesterday's work-world lacked connection. Maybe it was me, maybe it was them, maybe it was just the weather...who knows. But today I'm grateful to have the day off and some down time to find my center again. You see, the thing is that I love my new job. I love talking about books, working with animals, meeting new people. I can be my own true passionate self--and that is what I love most about the place. But boy, I'm starting to realize just how much I have to learn. Children's and Young Adult literature is a whole new realm for me. Unfortunately, there's not much time to familiarize myself with the books while I'm working. It's too busy. So I've given myself homework.

For the past 10 years I've done something that I'm good at, something that I'm knowledgeable about, something that I know how to do. Even with teaching I felt more confident and comfortable with what I was doing. I'm not used to feeling like I'm so entirely stupid, so incredibly clueless. No pep talks, please. I know it's only a matter of time and I'll start figuring it out. I love what I do, and hold an honest interest in the books we sell. I'll learn. It just sucks being at the mercy of such newness and ignorance. I feel an incredible lack of control--and it is tiring.

But, on the flip side, the best part about yesterday was being picked up from work by my husband and 7 year old nephew who took me to the ice cream parlor down the street where we dined on oreo ice cream and sugar cones. I listened to Willem (my nephew) talk about his first day of school, explain thermal warming (good god, that kid is smart), and how he and V. played scavenger hunt with wolfie--all while eating ice cream that made a widening, sticky circle around his mouth and nose, all the way to his cheeks--well, needless to say, some of the frustration of the day just sort of fell away.

And I suppose the rest will come. Until then, I've got a lot of reading to do. There are certainly worse things. Anyway, I feel like a trip to the library coming on. The library, the grocery store, the woods and the hammock............where I'll finish just like that, a YA novel that I'm reading for work. It takes place in Minneapolis (more specifcally, places I see everyday)...and maybe that's why, so far, I can't help but love it.

(ps. and something that i just feel the need to say is: thank you, friends. for being friends. you mean a lot to me...and i just wanted you to know.)

Monday, September 04, 2006


Today seems like a good day to post a picture of my coffee because I got up too early. Having just returned from a long walk with wolfie down still-misty paths and wet grass, I've decided to wrap myself in a blanket and hunker down until I wake up a little more. Moonshadow, my old black cat comes in with a loud, gravel-ly voice to tell me he's thinking about spending some time with me. I love the way he feels the need to make an announcement out of it. Viscosa, the little cat, just squirms her way into wherever she wants to be--silently, determinedly. I'm surrounded by cats. Wolfie sleeps outside. She's the only thing that's missing, but she attacks the cats and has therefore been banished to be an outside dog. I miss having a dog laying on the floor next to me as I type. I miss Abe and the huffing dream noises he used to make, one paw moving across the hardwood floor as he ran along in doggie-dreamland. Actually, I miss everything about him.

There are some days when I feel a sense of impending loss...for really no reason at all. As wolfie and I walked: Every time she looks at me I tell her I love her. I realize, for the millionth time, that I don't know what I'd do without her. The idea of something ever happening sends me off on thoughts of being stranded, alone, with no dog to save me from myself or the world. But she's healthy. There's no reason for the direction my mind keeps taking. I want to go camping up north for a couple of days, just the two of us, so that she can run off of her leash. She needs a good bout of gopher hunting. I need a good bout of books. As we walk, I watch her and find myself wanting to wrap my arms around her in an attempt to memorize how good she feels--her fur, her smell, her love. But it's like trying to memorize the sky: impossible. Anyway, she's happy sniffing out the scent of a deer or another dog. She doesn't need a hug just now. She's happy with dirt and air and grass alone.

I want cold days and a fire in the fireplace. I want three dogs and three cats (all inside), another cup of coffee and a good book. I want to be surrounded by warmth and love, to fill my life up so full that it threatens to burst. But that's just it, that is what my life is right now: full to the point of bursting. It causes me to want to pull everything in just a little bit closer. I want to wrap my arms around all of it and hold on to it like this forever. But I can't. I know that. There are only moments. And maybe that's why I write: an attempt to place my life safely on paper so that nothing will be lost forever.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


I went for a walk in the rain. The streets were empty--and still are. Busy mind finally at ease. Silence. Space. Each step bringing me further inside of myself. Layers of green. I could have walked forever. One foot in front of the other.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: "Fortune Cookie"

"Slow and steady wins the race."

The Fortune: What is it about those words that makes me feel so slow and lumbering? I understand the motto's good intentions (and maybe even wish I could apply it to thesis writing)...but something about it makes my hair go limp and dark circles form under my eyes in a wave exhaustion. It's the sort of pithy saying that makes me feel like I've died from the inside out and turned into a dried-up husk of whatever I was before handing myself over to the notion of reaching the finish line.

Grad school: I'm sitting in a small, dark, windowless office at an old green oversized desk in a yellow glow of lamplight. I've been swallowed alive by adjectives, 3 times removed from the actual object and nowhere near where I should be. My arms grow heavy. There are papers and books and empty coffee cups in scattered piles all around me. My head hurts as I begin falling towards catatonic. Looks like, at this pace, it will be another long day. There is never an end in sight. I talk myself into going further...slow and steady...eeking out another sentence...another word...just one more thought. But, aiming for brilliance, I find myself settling for bug smears--defeated. I work until there is nearly nothing left of me, until I'm barely a nub of who I once was. For two years this is what it is, day after day after day after day. I remember it as a time when cold winter days and teaching were the only things that kept me breathing at all.

Presently: Somewhere along the lines, this piece of paper stuck between a shell of flour, water, sugar, and F.D. & C.Yellow #5 has caused me to make a decision: slow-and-steady-winners can go to hell. I'm fire or water, all or nothing, on or off. I burn brightly, but often burn myself out. I get annoyed by cardboard cut-outs of real people lacking all passion and personality. And I wonder: how is it that I've somehow managed to fill such a small, sweet cookie with contempt?

Is it legal to grab a new one? Attempt a fresh start.....

look for more fortunes here.

saturday reasons for happiness.

I'm ready for a change of seasons, but the Saturday Market makes me wish it could stay summer forever.

Fresh flowers from my husband.
Red, red tomatoes, ripe and juicy and full of flavor.
Plump, deep purple eggplant.
Fresh green beans that crunch with wonderful, watery green flavor in my mouth.
Breakfast on the steps of the Guthrie listening to music and the babble of babies nearby.
Urban scenery. Architecture both old and new...a feast for my eyes.
Smell of fresh baked bread.
Coming home and thinking about how glad I am to be here.
Neighbor coming to her window to talk while I brush wolfie at the side door.
Quiet Saturday streets.
Making me even more glad to be here.
The flowers now in a lime green vase in the middle of the table.
Veggies in a pile on the counter.
Cup of coffee and writing time.

The goodness of summer on Saturdays is this.