Let’s be realistic

Do you remember your favorite book from childhood?

I did. It, do not, could never choose one book. As a kid I cut my teeth on Golden Arch books where I made stories fit the pictures since my tiny dyslexic self took a minute to learn to read. I graduated to a picture Bible & comics which quickly morphed into a love (deep and abiding) for fairy tales…for sci-fi…for fantastic literature. None of that had gone away. I grew up with a mind meant for metaphors in a world of sarcasm and similes.

I adored Brownie Bear perched in my grandfather’s lap, waiting through the ritual of filling and lighting the pipe, ready for a beloved story about pushing yourself and still listening to your folks.

I read the CS Lewis books so many times my copies were held to tether with tape, love, and rubber bands. I walked for months with hobbits from The Shire. In sixth grade I was introduced to Shakespeare (who just twisted older tales like a boss) while seventh grade led me to “I have no fear, for fear is the little death that kills me over and over. Without fear, I die but once.” I still look to Lewis, Tolkien, and Herbert when I’m battling The Fear.

In the classroom for 27 years I’ve gotten decent at the reread and recognize story game in Beowulf, The Scarlet Letter, Macbeth, and all the faves. I’m also embracing new faves with more modern and diverse content. What a great time to be living in a place that doesn’t yet ban or burn books, but let’s kids learn and grow…


Summertime Blues

We barely touch 80° today and I’m already feeling it. I don’t do well with unstructured time or heat. And now I have the tiny downside to my move…no central air. First world problems. I’m still in a better head space and I have some preparation done, more to do (always more to do). I also (as usual) got very little done this weekend which was not good as my next few days will be properly slammed.

All of Cascadia is preparing for an early heatwave and I really do think the weather extremes of the last few years are the new normal, not some aberration—this is climate change. I worry that some of the more extreme speculative fiction climate stories I’ve read point the way to our disastrous near future. More fires. More floods. More earthquakes. A few tsunamis in unexpected places. I don’t want to see the Cascadia subduction zone fire off any more than I want extreme heat to make the American Midwest, parts of India & Asia, or parts of Australia actually untenable for human habitation. I’m not keen on water or food shortages. I fear the diseases that will make Covid-19 look like a minor cold.

We don’t know what’s coming other than a need for people to band together, exercise compassion (which feels in shorter and shorter supply if one follows any news), and regional solutions for world problems. The climate crisis won’t be solved by one major shift; it will be solved by 10,000 solutions that fit various regions around the world. We have to look to the past, find technologies that work for where we live, pull together in communities, protect our most vulnerable members, and do the best we can with what we have.

We have to listen.

I’m positive that no government is truly prepared to listen. I doubt most institutions are prepared to listen. I am confident that the solutions lie in with the people who have had to make do…with the people who have been forced to innovate.

I fear we will slip back towards the worst kind of tribalism and othering of people who should be part of our tribes. We’ve already driven head-first into a binary rage system where anyone who isn’t “like me” is other rather than someone to be treated humanely.

Who’s going to listen to me?

May the whirlwinds you reap be full of hope rather than fear…

CP 6.13 (13 Strange Things)

  • Cats growling at corners
  • Cleansing with the moon, the sun, the air instead of incense
  • The protection of prayer
  • Rituals: there are so many rituals in this world for relaxation, readiness, keeping panic at bay, protection, tea or coffee, cooking, holidays…
  • Ellipses are so much more than a representation of missing words in a quote. They let a thought stretch or indicate an appositive that’s softer than other punctuated explanations. They annoy…oh, the bliss of stretching the English language and its guardians of grammar.
  • The pull of naps or twilight daydreams
  • The increasing pollen annually
  • The horrifying entitlements that crash against me increasing the need to flee into words, stories, books, other lives, laziness
  • The way a bedroom can become a safe haven for the spirit even in a bright, happy home
  • Shades of loneliness versus the choice of alone
  • The power we give away
  • The shame we hold inside
  • The odd taste of words swallowed in blood

Waiting for Sleep 230504

Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?

I have a handful of Bible verses & lines of poetry that I hold close to my heart. Every few of years I have a motto for my school year, but it’s been a minute. And, I’m always liking things I read for quotes to inspire writing or loathing of writing in my students.

As did many I fell into a deeper depression during the Covid lockdowns. My bedroom became the safe space in my house and there were too many days I rarely left the bed. It didn’t help that the year before I was on a medication that, while helping my migraines, really did a number in my brain, my memory, my ability to function.

There are wonderful people who supported me as best they could despite my seemingly best efforts to withdraw from life. And I don’t blame some of them for backing off or staying cautious about me pulling myself into a slightly better mindset over the last few months.

The negative pathways in my kind got strong, my tendency towards laziness got stronger, my ability to people got much weaker.

Now, I am reaping my whirlwinds.

I live in a brighter home with less clutter, but I still fight my desire to nap as a rather unhealthy way of dealing with life and other difficulties. I find money tight as I work towards paying off my debts. I can see shadows in the light at the end of this tunnel. I can remember that hell is a state of mind. I understand that God is infinitely creative, loving, and present (I also know that I’m not quite sure what that really means , because the Creator can’t be put into concepts that humans can really understand).

Bad things exist in the world because people have the choice to give into their darker impulses. Bad things exist because some people enjoy cruelty for the sake of the pain it causes others; other people are so convinced of their own rightness and righteousness that they ooze a different kind of cruelty cloaked in religion or personal freedom. Bad things exist because people exist with free will.

Each of us has to make the choice in each moment, each day to reach for our better selves. When I read The Gospel of John I see a Jesus who taught his followers to live love, to give to those who have less, to practice community & compassions. I see a piece of God in the world. An example of what I can be. A promise that it’s okay to fail, to flail, to make mistakes. I know many, many others have a very different understanding.

I have learned that the grass maybe greener, but it’s probably spray painted.

I have learned to ask for help, to accept help.

I always have room to reach for my better nature.

May the whirlwinds you reap be full of love…

CP 3.13 (Sonnet)

Lord help me…

It’s writing time and I’ve been challenged to write a modern sonnet. Wish me luck…

Haikus don’t need to rhyme;
Tupac has more flow than all these kids
Trying to win me over to letting them go.

Soon enough those little birds
Will crack their wings on the whirlwinds
Spinning right round
Pushing up to down

What’ll happen when reality bites back
And they come running home
Tails between their legs
Life reminding them to ask for grace
Teaching them the hard way respect is earned?

Common courtesy builds bridges;
Compassion builds communities.

CP 1.12 (20 Things)

The Commonplace Project begins , so I’m planning on putting each assignment up here to show solidarity with my seniors and give the confused ones mediocre great examples.

A List

  • Gentle hum of chatter
  • Counting
  • Brainstorming out loud
  • No, five more, water.
  • She can’t chase us down
  • I may be old, but I can still write you up
  • Feet pounding their way up the hill
  • Picture taking
  • A door squeaking
  • The breeze is perfect and reminds me that right now my classroom is running hot. It’s always fun to take seniors or poets out to write in different locations around the school. My former students probably remember my favorite spots on campus—if only tptb would stop cutting down the big trees.
  • So many personal devices
  • My inability to type well on my personal device
  • Phone is so pedestrian for these mini computer-communicators
  • Soot on a building that looks like sinking wings
  • Picture taking—twice?!? My hat with my YaYA scarf as decoration around it. (Thanks HB)
  • Chatter as they walk back down the hill
  • Pale legs and arms
  • Bright blue sky
  • Grass already patching to brown
  • Parsing left behind examples into who might still want them, which ones should just be tossed for lack of original effort, and which ones are decent examples of how or what could be done. My big question is do I make them present since we are starting the project so early? We will end the year with a couple of documentaries and related debates.

Shards of Joy

This is my first place with a ceiling fan (upstairs & on the main floor) and they are brilliant. I may change my mind in the midst of a heat wave, but I appreciate what I have and what makes life a little easier. I spend so much time dwelling on the hard or the might-have-been that I sometimes forget about little bits of joy.

Silliness also makes the world spin

Today was so lovely I was able to take several classes out to read in the courtyard. It’s a great little space with different kinds of seating, shade & sun, and everything is within vocal distance when I read out loud or we need to discuss things.

Add books, students, and a breeze.

Harry snuggles on his own terms. He’s a sweet and aloof cat. He also likes to fully camouflage as a bump under the blanket.

Grimm is a little more experimental in his life. He is my pets & purr & chaos cat.

Welcome to the micro.blog…

Random 230402

I am determined to actually do this regularly. I never stick to the blog thing for more than a handful of posts at a time. I have a great habit of planning and failing to follow through. I don’t have a vision for this…I never really have. I just want to practice writing, put my thoughts out there.

I don’t know what I want to say. I just want to be heard. So say we all…

Even though I’m in a new space, my bedroom is still my safest space. Not sure what’s up with that. My world kept shrinking during the Spring Lockdown in 2020 until I was spending most of my time in my bedroom. I have been working my way out of that in increments, but I have a feeling it’s something I’ll have to be watching over the next few years. When I moved, my ideal place was a one bedroom—enough room for me and the cats. I adore the row house I’m renting and am truly grateful to be living here. It’s bigger than I need. Not sure it would be big enough for another person though.

Change is good. I tend to stay in place too long, letting the moss grow.

A podcast I’ve been binging just hit the pandemic and the summer of the #BlackLivesMatter protests. One of the hosts keeps repeating “people don’t change until it’s too painful not too” and I don’t want to agree. But I have been taking stock of things and trying to make positive changes over the last three years. I’ve had some personal upheaval in that time, things that have made me question some of my relationships, my choices, my personality, my career.

Bite my tongue & swallow my words when…

  • I want to diffuse something
  • I want to comment on someone else’s life
  • I want to be heard
  • I think I’m teasing

I will never be my best self. I can only hope to try to be my better self each day.

May the whirlwinds you reap fill your cracks with beauty rather than darkness.

The Tone

I read Naomi Alderman’s The Power as soon as it came out, more than once. I found it fascinating in the way where I wanted a sequel that explored the world Neil Armon comes from. He’s fictionalized a past the we almost live in and now that there’s a version on Prime in technicolor glory, I want a second season that explores 5,000 years in a future that’s “recovered” from the story’s ending…

I also wanted to see a Handmaid’s Tale that dug deeper into the transition. One that isn’t afraid to kill its darlings in the inevitable revolutions.

The problem these shows have is how seriously they take the preachiness. Feminism is stronger when women stand together as, strangely, season 5 of RHOM proved with the fame seeking & embracing “housewives” pulling together for one of their own. The Bravo franchises may have those who preach, but it gleefully embraces the “hoisted on one’s own petard” school of entertainment.

I think a world ruled by women would be just as corrupt as a world ruled by men—oh, the human nature!

I also think that victims don’t have to become bullies. Some become protectors. Some become advocates for change. Some become iconoclasts. And some fall into the corruption of power.

People of all walks of life can become corrupted by power. That’s sort of the point of both The Power, The Handmaid’s Tale, Bravo franchises, and politics of every time and place and space.

Not even stories can manage to truly create a perfect world.

We need conflict to grow. We need darkness to understand light. We have to struggle to find out what we can do and who will support us on the way.

I have only recently started to see a flicker of light at the end of a dark tunnel and I am not sure I’ll ever be able to adequately thank the people who just provided emotional support, who kept on being my friends, who prayed for me or listened to me, or encouraged me. I can keep trying to help others, but I don’t think I’ll ever feel like it’s enough. And, some days, knowing there will be more dark times presses me down to depths I struggle with.

I am such a different person from who I once was. I’ve learned so much about how to handle some types of people and some types of situations. I am still myself though. I still struggle with wanting to fit in or to feel like I am enough on my own. I am finally hearing that my humor comes across as fucking rude to some people and that’s why I need to bite my tongue instead of thinking I’m funny.

I still have a lot of reasons to swallow my words with the blood that comes from biting my tongue, but my idea of humor has finally been added to the (long) list. At my core I just want to be heard, but I don’t think anyone is actually listening.

May the whirlwinds you reap be full of flowers rather than filled with angry lightning…