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It had been ages since I’d contacted her just to have some girl conversation. On the eve of the first day of student’s returning to school, I called Jo. Instead of the needy, ‘rescue me’ voice, she expressed simple happiness for my company by telephone.
When Corrine, her girlfriend from gradeschool, was alive they had extended conversations over long distance lines from Vegas to Portland. Now I seem to fill that gap, finding and acknowledging the humor in our everyday lives; hearing Jo’s mirth and knowing it’s because we were so very intimate, and she still responds to my prompts.
So why is it that when I post my words, the word count on my computer (and my own physical, word-by-word count) always equals 100 words, but when I enter them onto the “100 Words” Webpage, the number reported by the site almost always is 1-6 words more than I’m sure I’ve posted? I understand that adding the necessary symbols for paragraph breaks, etc., will increase the word count, but the overage notice appears before I do any of that.
‘Tis a puzzlement. But I’m good at puzzles, so when there isn’t a logical answer, I ask the question.
I remember pieces of the ritual; my dad said something sweet in assurance as he escorted me down the aisle, the abysmal church piano player massacred Pachelbel’s Canon in D major, the ee cummings poem was perfect. It’s before and after the ceremony that remains most vivid.
Dressed in a lovely, off-white brocade A-line dress my mother spent hours sewing, I sat alone in our living room sipping a gin-tonic. Suddenly a panic of doubt flashed through me: “What are you doing? Call it off!”
Then a calmer voice prevailed: “You made this decision in far sounder mind, go forward!”
Regarding her from the other side of the street, Kara pushed the pram and child forward, while the object of her observation continued to peer into the weeds under the brambles along the roadside. Kara wondered what the woman was collecting as she watched her stuff things from the ground into a plastic bag. Although she didn’t look like a bag lady, Kara was cautious about her baby and decided to steer clear. Maybe tomorrow she would look more closely.
The next day rains discouraged her walk and Kara’s image of the woman searching in the brambles faded.
Gathering the firm, yellow pears from the underbrush, Louise saw a young woman pushing a pram along the other side of the street. Smiling briefly, she noticed a hint of wonder or distrust in the woman’s glance.
Though anyone might collect this harvest, Louse was no longer surprised that few other people did. The ancient, abandoned orchard was on public land, so the fruit belonged to any who might want it.
Placing a gently bruised pear into her bag, Louise surmised her species couldn’t have survived, if a worm hole or bruise had been reason not to eat.
Kara warmed the organic, multigrain, baby cereal in a sterile microwave dish, as her little girl gurgled and drooled over the freshly bleached bib. Kara’s cappuccino cooled as she gently urged the spoon into a hungry mouth.
Discarding the bruised and wormy parts, Louise cored and sliced pears into two bowls, then added a few blueberries, granola and milk. She lingered outside with her husband, relishing the wholesome mix while sipping freshly brewed coffee. Though not really the last day of summer the Labor Day weekend signaled its approach. She savored the flavor of all with each bite.
Some gifts come to us from the universe, some from our people, and other gifts come as a result of the spirit we offer out. For Louise the pears were a gift of nature from trees that originally had been planted and nurtured by humans, and subsequently were left to their own devices. The trees naturalized, continuing to produce despite decades of neglect. In spring, blossoms provided nectar for bees, while greening branches gave shelter to birds, and when ripe, the fruit supplied food for many other species as they fell, were gathered, or decomposed into the earth.
And so it seemed fitting that she should gather the pears when they fell for they were delicious, mostly worm free, and a gift from the universe. Every time she made something with them Louise felt a swell of thanksgiving; for the gift itself, for the wisdom of her ancestors who had taught her never to pass by free and wholesome food, and for the insight that made it possible for her to revere the gift. Insight born of reverence, reverence born of insight, of life experience, of wonder and delight in the simple pleasure of a pear.
At 9:09, on 9-9-09, I heard a favorite colleague yelling “nine-0-nine-0-nine-0-nine-0-nine” in the hallway. Minutes later I read his email encouraging us all to chant it aloud on the minute!
I’d been listening to a local radio station that was airing the newly remastered Beatles albums song-by-song, “alpha
ically”, and only in writting this, does it finally dawn on me the reason why; the fab four had a tune “one after nine-0-nine.” Am I just dense? Ah well, only another missed opportunity to be part of a happening!
collapse of the banking system
demise of Lehman Bros.
mass destruction through airplane Incineration
twin tower murders
punched me in the gut
like Pearl Harbor must have hit my parents
it can’t happen here suzie creamcheese
but it did
eight years past
radio alarm set on 91.5, OPB
Grey Eubank, local announcer, flustered
reading “this just in”
report of an airplane slamming
into one of the WTC towers in NYC
eyes wide open
dash to the TV
and there it was
the smoke the agony
as we stood transfixed
knowing our world was
These children were nine years old at most when the attack on the WTC occurred. Only in third grade. There’s no structured school wide sharing of stories, “where were you when...”, no formal marking of the horrific anniversary other than what may have transpired in individual classrooms.
I awaken to news on 91.5, OPB; the reading of names, the honoring of loved ones by loved ones. My spirit is heavy, my being dense with grief: for those evaporated souls, for the seemingly endless capacity of humankind to inflict immeasurable pain upon its own species, for doubting mankind’s appetite for peace.
no need for expensive presents
or fancy dine-out celebrations
though often lovely
those traditionally expected baubles
are no longer necessary
they’re no longer a coveted reward for
an enduring forty-year friendship
what abides is in the intangible realm:
of a lasting relationship,
a storied, varied history together,
intimate knowledge of strengths
of forgiveness, giveness
of being ourselves in companionship
not needing compensatory gifts
to fill in where heart and mind have lost love
so we plan for a quiet day with friends
for making music together
for a simple dinner
a nice wine
Yes, I’m hopelessly, happily romantic, and I’m a true believer in the cultural and personal value of holy matrimony, a convention which has fallen from popularity among the upwardly mobile thirty-something (and younger) generations. My mother’s age group would have blushed crimson at the thought of couples living together and having babies out of wedlock, an archaic term that no longer implies the malaise it once did. Though I am somewhat befuddled at the no-marriage trend, it does confirm to me that delivery from the stifling and prudish morality of the Victorian era is truly complete. Thanks be to God!
The Audacity of Hope
(2006), I’m proud that Barack Obama is my president. Immediately he confronts root issues, “...the ease with which we are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem.” (p. 28)
His analysis of the state of America’s political currency is consistent with the policies he forwards in 2009. The man walks his talk, he’s right on, smart and perceptive. This nation needs new leadership in the GOP that will walk with President Obama to improve the American condition.
Her dry blond hair shagged over the spaghetti straps of a silken tank top which revealed blotchy skin ravaged by over exposure. Lean and lanky, with a face at once severe and startled, featuring wide open blue eyes set off by deeply wrinkled crows feet, and a splash of creamy eyeshadow.
How could such a young woman be so noticeably aged, I wondered as she jerkily settled into the chair at my desk. With a daughter just 15, this mother was likely in her forties at most. What mental or physical trauma might have caused so much wear and tear?
“To teach is to touch someone’s life forever.” Oh my God, how many people this man’s fine spirit touched! I didn’t even know his name until this morning when I arrived at the high school where he’d taught the past twenty-five years. He died after being struck by a car while cycling home from work/school yesterday. The entire school population was affected, and I was one strand in an emotional safety-net to help them grieve. Students cried, comforted one another, wrote condolences, drew pictures, and from their stories emerged an image of an exceptional teacher and fun human being.
After another half day at the school, the high intensity counseling strand of support was closed down. Exhausted, I drove to my school feeling in a fog. Tonight I just want to be quiet and reflective. TV news is hard to absorb.
I think teachers don’t realize day-to-day how much they affect the lives of students. Whether it’s negative or positive, every interaction between a young person and their teacher(s) shapes that growing being’s perception of life, of self, of possibility. It’s one of the realities that makes being an educator both rewarding and trying, ‘cause there’s no guarantees.
I woke up with the beginnings of a sinus infection clinging at the intersection of my nose and throat. Shit. I hate being sick, especially at the approach of a weekend. Weather changes, stress, allergies all contribute and I’ve no choice but to back off and rest. It’s good for me, but difficult. Though I wouldn’t call myself a “hard charger,” I love to be active, alert, aware; to have projects to complete and the energy and verve to do them. In short, I’m not a very good couch potato so this is no vacation. I drip, therefore I whine.
Time magazine arrived with a photo on the cover that instantly repelled me; a white male of middle age, with crewcut blond hair and defiant blue eyes looking straight at the camera with his tongue sticking out. Gasping, I folded the cover in half to shield myself from his unequivocal insult.
Sticking one’s tongue out is a childish act expressing hatred and intransigence; an immature impulse that we teach our young ones to overcome, to control and channel into productive problem solving. What is this man modeling to the public? What is he doing on the cover page of TIME?
Bummer to catch a cold just when we were to gather. Creighton updated me on the news and conversation highlights, and filled me in on the meal I missed. I was so proud of him for being the LeCoq ambassador!
I'm better tonight, the drip, drip drip is about gone (anyone else remember those awful Anacin and Dristine adds?) but my head still feels full of molten fluid, yuck.
Between asleep and awake today I heard an interview of the grandson of one of the original Algonquin Round Table members. It piqued my interest so I'm sending it to you.
So today I read the TIME article about Glenn Beck, not a person I’ve had exposure to. Fear is his game, and he’s making lots of money promoting fear to a zealous American public. Yesterday I finally watched the movie “Bowling for Columbine.” Fear is the reason we kill one another in the US. Fear is a huge contributor to the GNP. Fear is easy to stir up, hard to combat, is fueled by hysteria, feeds on itself and keeps people ignorant. FDR was right.
Why am I so seemingly unexposed to crazies? I understand the power of vicarious traumatization.
Last day of summer, first day of Autumn; equinox. Yellow-brown maple leaves, big as a dinner plate, begin to litter the grounds and float upon the pond. Hungry Koi plying the waters for grubs and bugs, have doubled in size. Familiar birds, heard but not seen in summer, appear more frequently at the feeders. Dogs loll on the deck, drenched in summer sun, then revive in cooler evening breezes.
I recognize in myself the usual sense of disquiet that rides in on the seasonal change. But there’s something beyond that this time; trepidation, a struggle not to become a victim.
Succumbing to this lingering head cold, I’m home this afternoon and likely will stay home tomorrow. It just takes so much energy to work and my body has no resilience. I nap, read
The Audacity of Hope,
check home and work e-mail, contemplate setting up a facebook presence. Just one more thing to try to stay up with I think. I don’t text, twitter, or cybersocialize except with e-mail, but certainly wonder if I’m getting hopelessly out of touch. Then again, would the technology help me, or would I become the tool of the technology? “The medium is the message.”
And the medium is shaping the way people relate to one another. In school students walk down the hallway, their cell phone (or other device) in hand, face bent down as they send/receive text messages to/from friends, or who? But they don’t verbally interact with anyone they pass. Parents send texts to their kids, kids call their friends to see where on campus they are, IPod’s and earpieces are part of the well-dressed teenagers garb. Friends walk side by side, giggling as they share one set of earphones. There’s a name for this - can’t remember what it is.
Yet still, there is a lot of face-to-face conversation going on among our young people, and the good stuff happening in classrooms should be headlined in the news every day. But it’s not; it isn’t frightening enough. The NEWS has to make us grip the seat of our chairs, cause our skin to crawl and our hair to stand on end. It has to be “out of the ordinary” and that’s sad, because it shapes our national sense of being; our collective attitude into one of institutionalized fear.
President Obama is such a breath of fresh air. He exemplifies possibility.
Our last weekend to enjoy early autumn weather. The air is cool, sun is warm, we walk the dogs at midday and all are comfortable. The windfall pears are finished for this season. Blackberries ripen slowly and begin to harden.
With a touch of sadness I begin the steady process of closing down gardens. Carrots and peas will continue to grow, but zucchini, tomatoes, and basil are about done. An eggplant produced one small fruit and the Anaheim pepper (given to me by a friend) provided two. Roses bloom less profusely while Echinacia, Rudbeckia and Asters head steadily into seed.
If I had five other lives to lead, what would I do in each of them?
I’d be a veterinarian. I wouldn’t have listened as a child to those who told me that girls didn’t become vets. In high school I would have overcome my fear (and loathing) of advanced mathematics and chemistry. In college I would have pursued my interest in the biological sciences, and followed my love and empathy for animals, to become a doctor of dogs, cats, horses. I’d be wealthy from my work, and maybe could even retire early. I’d be a very different Lindy though.
If I had five other lives to lead, what would I do in each of them?
Magically, I’d be independently wealthy and would be able to travel all over the world. I could visit countries and lands I read about in National Geographic when I was a kid. I could seek out my heritage in Scotland, go on a safari in Kenya, tour outback in Australia. There’s no end to the places I’d love to see. But might I feel somewhat lost? Ungrounded? I’d also be able to contribute money, time and energy to support the causes I’m passionate about.
In the end, I really like the life I have, with one exception; I wish I could retire now, not five years from now. While thinking of these five other lives, a common theme emerged: financial independence, freedom from the “daily grind.” Though I’m valued in my place of work, educators are undervalued in this country. I could never become wealthy in this profession. The economic woes of our country, and financial obligations I hold, make it unwise to consider “early” retirement, but somewhere along the way I programmed into my brain, “I’ll be retired by the time I’m sixty.”
I hate it when I have this restlessness on top of listlessness. Can’t light on anything to focus on that gives me energy. Surfing Amazon to build a holiday Wish List just depressed me. Started to finish up a drawing but got stuck wondering what background color to put in and decide I’d best put it aside until I’m sure. Haven’t started my next book, can’t think of anything interesting to write about. Jeez. I’ll blame it on the season - rain’s predicted - and time enjoying the yard and deck begins to decline as the sun rises later and sets earler.
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